First Quarter Reading List 2011

I have been a reading machine this quarter!  It’s too bad so many of these books were unremarkable, but I suppose that’s the nature of the beast.  This, by the way, is why I don’t feel bad for getting all my books from the library.  I’d like to own about two of these books, out of the list of 48.  I’m very happy I didn’t pay cash money for 46 sub par books.

1. Crazy by Han Nolan.  I looked this up on Amazon, but I literally have no memory of it.  Huh.

2.  The Lonely Polygamist.  This book was totally weird and the main character was unsympathetic and oh, I loved it.  I loved it.  Strange and funny and different and wonderful.  I read parts out loud to Mr. E, I laughed out loud, it was great.  Top five book of the quarter for sure.

3.  Soul less. I am sorry, Mags, but I thought this book was el stinkerinoo.

4.  Sunset Park.  I really liked it.  Depressing, but I loved the characters.  Definitely one of the better things I read this quarter.

5.  Fragile.   I thought this was intensely terrible.

6.  Jerk, CA.  Eh.  Not terrible, not wonderful.

7.  Momofuku.  I like to check cookbooks out before I buy them, and I won’t be purchasing this one. I was intrigued by it because Anthony Bourdain raves about David Chang like he’s the second coming, but this cookbook was just too weird and impractical for me to deal with.

8.  Dragon Chica.  You know, it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever read, but it was far from the worst.  About a family that opens a chinese restaurant in rural Nebraska.

9.  Life on Total Loss Farm.  This was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever read, to the point of being indescribable.  It’s about these hippies, and this farm commune.  I think.  Maybe?  Don’t read it.  Trust me.

10.  The Scorch Trials.  This is the sequel to the Maze Runner.  I actually preferred it to the Maze Runner, but seriously? Nothing happened.  There was no resolution, and at the end of it I was no closer to knowing what was going on than I was when I started it.  I find this…frustrating.  Hopefully by the end of the whole deal there will be some explanations.

11.  Artichoke’s Heart.  I think it’s REALLY hard to write fiction about weight loss.  Especially teen weight loss.  This book was no exception to that rule.    It felt…out of touch.

12.  Nemesis by Phillip Roth.  This was a very strange book.  I am glad I read it, but I can’t say that I loved it.

13.  You Are Here.  Also terrible.

14.  The Year We Disappeared.  Non fiction about a family that has to enter the witness protection program. It sounded interesting, but it was just SO WEIRD.  Something was…off.

15.  I Now Pronounce You Someone Else.  Oh puhleeze.  This was just stupid.  Right from the get go, a totally unbelievable premise, because no YAF is going to ACTUALLY be about a 17 year old getting married.  Quite frankly if this book had been about 17 year olds who had actually gotten married it would been about a hundred times more interesting and unexpected.

16.  My Last Supper.  What 50 famous chefs would choose for their last suppers.  Interesting for the first ten or so, and then you realize that every single person says either sushi, bread, or fried chicken.  Also notable for a practically naked picture of Anthony Bourdain, if you like that kind of thing.

17.  The Delivery Man.  Urgh.  Well written, but just…icky.  Like my girlfriend is a hooker in Las Vegas kind of icky.

18.  Split.  Eh.  I thought this was well written, but it was too issue driven for me.  I’m really sick of the issue driven YAF.

19.  Dark Song.  I hate to say it but this book was hilariously stupid.

20.  Girl In Translation.  It got super soap opera ish towards the end, but it was interesting.  Felt like something the author had actually been through.

21.  Chocolate and Vicodin. See my review here.

22.  Some Girls Are.  Meh.

23.  Home Landscaping. I have yet to check out a home landscaping book that I’d actually buy a copy of.

24.  Flip.  Ditto for home decorating books.

25.  Rachel In the World.  This is a hard one for me to review.  I’ve been wanting to read this forever and when I was in Vermont I found a copy on my mom’s bookshelf so I read it there.  This is a non fiction account of the author’s struggles with her mentally retarded daughter as she grows up and ages out of the educational system, needs funding for private care, things like that.  And on the one hand I certainly don’t want to imply that one should write a false account of the realities of caring for someone with mental retardation, but good lord.  This was just so depressing and her interactions with her daughter just sounded so…awful.  It was a hard read.  I would not recommend reading it if you have a young child who is mentally retarded, because my lord, did it paint a bleak picture.  On the other hand, it made me very grateful, not just for my sisters care, but also for my sister.  She has her issues, but she is a genuine joy, for the most part, and it is…not like this with her.  Thank goodness.

26.  One Day.  Oh, I loved it.  Loved loved loved.  Although I will say that 1. I loved the first part more than the second part what with the somewhat disturbing ending and 2. The weird tug of war between the narrator describing the main character as gorgeous and the main character putting herself down as fat and ugly got old.  But I thought it was lovely and amazing and I loved watching the author move these characters around and I loved the places they went and the first few chapters were some of my favorite chapters I’ve read anywhere in a long long time.  Also, Jennie loved this and then she told me that Jonna hated it, so apparently it’s not for everyone.  But I give it a big thumbs up.

27.  Harmonic Feedback.  Eh.  Not the worst YAF I’ve ever read, but a bit dull.

28.  The Big Crunch.  I thought this was interesting while I read it, but I felt like in an attempt to be sort of cool or hipstery or something, it became sort of pointless and stream of consciousness about nothing.  Sort of like a lot of pointless observations linked together. I needed MORE there.

29.  The Lying Game.  No.  Just no.

30.  Close To Famous.  Oh, I love Joan Bauer.  Always have, always will.  This was not my VERY favorite of hers (that would be Rules of the Road or Squashed), but even my non favorite Joan Bauer books are better than 75 percent of the rest of the YAF I read.  Also, this book made me want to eat cupcakes.

31.  Half A Life.  Hmmm.  This felt like maybe it should have been a short story in a magazine.  Not quite enough there for a whole book, maybe.

32.  Elizabeth Street.  This reminded me a lot of The Godfather.  It was ok, but honestly just read The Godfather if you haven’t read that, and if you have, you really don’t need to read this.

33.  Patio.  Again, this landscaping book didn’t do it for me.  I have found more design inspiration on blogs than in any books I’ve checked out recently.

34.  Haven.  Meh.

35.  Delirium.  I was SO disappointed in Delirium.  I loved her first book (Before I Fall) and this just didn’t do it for me.  I just don’t like dystopian fiction where the main character buys so wholeheartedly into the premise of whatever societal evil is taking place.  I mean, really? Love is bad?  You’re super excited to be cured of love?  Phhhhhhbt.  A lot of people really liked this book, but I just loathed it.

36.  Moon Over Manifest.  I have this theory, which is probably incorrect, that ever since the Printz award kicked off, the choice for the Newbery Award has been skewing younger and younger.  And in general I don’t love middle readers, so this means I like the choice for Newbery less and less and find the winners more and more boring.  Or else I just am getting old and cranky.  I don’t know.  Anyway, I didn’t LOVE this book, but I didn’t hate it. It felt like a safe choice, and it was a tad on the boring side (no sex, no bad words, no girls liking boys, etc) but I didn’t HATE it.  It was entertaining and well written, but it was that sort of “old fashioned girls adventure story” that the committee seems to love so much that doesn’t really do it for me as much some other things.  And it did not hold a candle to Walk Two Moons, at least  not for me.  I read Walk Two Moons out loud to my mom.  I wouldn’t read this twice, much less out loud to anyone.

37.  A Sandhills Ballad.  So.  I have read numerous books in the past months in which the main character is TOTALLY MEGA BIG TIME in love with a dude, and then something happens to said dude and she has to marry some other dude for practicality and while I get this idea, in theory, it just…I don’t know. I find it depressing. I’d rather read about the big love than the dude you settled for when your life fell to pieces, you know?  Anyway, that being said, I still really liked this book.  Really really a lot.

38.  Please Ignore Vera Dietz.  Ok, so right about at this point I started to wonder why I even read YAF, because if it was all going to be so pointless or meh or badly written or just crappy and stupid, maybe I should stop reading it.  And then I read Please Ignore Vera Dietz and I remembered why I read it.  This won a Printz honor award in 201o and it single handedly restored my faith in the whole genre and reminded me why I read YAF.  Weird and funny and I’d read ten books with Vera as the main character, because I loved her and all her flaws and her bad ideas and her bottle of vodka under her car seat and this book was great.   And it was a trillion times better than Ship Breaker, which won the Printz, but whatever.

39.  Easter Everywhere.  Seriously? 200 pages of stream of consciousness about your living room is not book worthy.

40.  Remarkable Creatures.   I guess I just don’t get that excited about fossils.

41.  Model Home.  It reminded me of Jonathan Franzen.  Sort of like Franzen lite?  I enjoyed it.

42.  Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie.  This book was not for me.  And I wanted to like it, despite the stupid ass title, but alas, I did not like it.  I found the narrator intensely irritating.

43.  Choker.  Wow.  Just wow.  (And not in a good way.)  The last 20 pages made me laugh out loud.  In mockery.

44.  Last Days of Ptolemy Gray.  I’ve decided I can’t read books narrated by children, crazy people, or old people going crazy.  This book was not an exception to that rule.

45.  Rivals.  Meh.

46.  Other Words For Love.  Interesting.  I liked that it was set in the 80’s.  But towards the end I wanted to scream at the main character to pull her shit the heck together.

47.  The Things A Brother Knows.  Meh.

48.  Rules of Attraction.  Not as good as Perfect Chemistry.  Also, wicked dirty for YAF.

So maybe I should make this years goal 185 books?! Let’s do it!

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15 Responses

  1. where on earth do you find the time??? Between your reading list and your manual labor list I want to take a nap just thinking about it 🙂

  2. Man, I feel like such a slacker for making my yearly goal 40! (I’m 11 in, so far.) I’m about halfway through One Day, and am LOVING it, so far. I’ve only been able to describe it as “sort of a British When Harry Met Sally, but more satisfactory than that sounds.” The Lonely Polygamist is on my list of future reading, so I am happy to see that you liked it.

  3. Fun, I just threw some on my library hold list. Thanks!

  4. Love reading lists and I have a BN gift card burning a whole in my Nook right now.
    I LOVED One day. Loved it.

  5. One of the things I love best about your reading lists – besides the pithy reviews and your use of “wicked dirty” and “meh” – is that I have rarely heard of ANY of the books.

    On this list? ONE. (Lonely Polygamist.) (And maybe Delirium? If Janssen reviewed it at one point?)

    It’s like a peek into a secret world!

  6. I felt the same way about Delirium. I LOVED Before I Fall so I was so sad that this book was barely above mediocre for me.

    (Also, I kind of loved I Now Pronounce You Someone Else, but I totally knew people who got married when they were 17.)

  7. I’m with Life of a Doctor’s Wife here. I’ve only even heard of a handful of these titles. I keep adding titles to my spreadsheet of books I need to check out. Sometimes I like to put books on the list that you’ve meh’d just because I think your brain is sometimes twisted. (I mean that in the nicest way possible, of course.)

    I haven’t read Delirium because…the premise just sounds stupid. I did enjoy Before I Fall, so I might put Delirium on my library list and get it in approximately 80 months. Maybe the idea will be less silly to me by the time I get it. I also thought Some Girls Are is totally worth reading, not just meh.

  8. Could you please read Matched so I will know if I have to read it or not?

  9. I finally got a library card at our new library last week (since we’ve lived here for a year now) and this post could not come at a better time! I am totally going to use it tomorrow to fill up my request list online.

  10. I loved One Day AND The Lonely Polygamist, so I have to recommend Cutting for Stone. Have you read it? Epic, long, difficult, but the best book I have read in ten years. Seriously.

  11. Holy moly, you’ve read that many books ALREADY? Wow. The only one I’ve actually read on your list is One Day–finished it a few weeks ago and agreed with: Part I was awesome, the ending was SO disturbing and came out of left field. Loved it overall, though. And Before I Fall is in my Kindle already (alongside Swamplandia, Ape House, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore and Room) for our Hawaii trip. Currently reading Delta Girls and liking it so far.

  12. Rachel in the World. Yeah, I read that. Oy. I’m glad I did, though – seems like so many books focus on being relentlessly positive. (Did you read the first one, about when Rachel is a baby? that was interesting, to see the journey.) Still. I’m glad to know about you and your sister.

    I liked One Day. They’re making a movie and I’m not wild about the casting. Anne Hathaway?

  13. Wow, wow, WOW you read a lot! I am seriously blown away by this list. For three months’ worth of reading! Holy moses! I also love your quickie reviews. Going to add some of these to my to-read list!

  14. I hated One Day so vehemently that I can STILL GET WORKED INTO A LATHER OVER IT. Still! I hated it! As did other people I know, and it’s funny, NO ONE said they just liked it. EVERYONE said they LOVED! it. Or they said they HATED! it. NO ONE said they just liked it.

    It’s clearly very polarizing. 🙂

    I have several of these on my to-read list already and am anxious to see if our tastes line up outside of One Day.

  15. Our tastes diverged a little on a lot of these.

    Also, there is so much bad YA, it’s kind of absurd.

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