Tag Archives: novel

Beth’s Reading List – Too Many Books, Never Enough Time

50 books from my reading list

I’ve always been a reader. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a book going (and sometimes 2, 3, or 4). If I find myself bored, and there’s a book around; it doesn’t matter what the book is about, I’ll probably pick it up and start reading. Why not?

Which is all to say, I’m not very discriminating when it comes to literary tastes. Novel, non-fiction, memoir. Give me one of each please and keep ’em comin’!

So, I guess it should come as no surprise that I have a rather VAST reading list. Around five years ago, I started keeping track of every book I read or heard about that sounded remotely interesting and recording each title personally recommended to me. As I’m a fan of so many types of books, and find myself interested in a whole slew of subject matter, that list has grown…and grown….and GROWN. I’ve collected hundreds upon hundreds of titles! So many in fact that keeping the list has sort of become a hobby in and of itself. (But, hey! I’m not complaining…I low-key LOVE lists and list-makin’.)

In case you’re curious about the type of books that make it on to my “too long to ever type out in it’s entirety” reading list, I decided to provide you with a sampling. Here goes!

1. You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself by David McRaney

2. Not Becoming My Mother: and Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way by Ruth Reichl 

3. So Many Ways to Sleep Badly by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore 

4. The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls
The Glass Castle, also by Walls, is one of my all-time faves! I can’t wait to see the movie

5. Appalachian Trials: The Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail by Zach Davis 

6. The No Recipe Cookbook: A Beginner’s Guide to the Art of Cooking by Susan Crowther
Cookbooks are books too! 

7. The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

8. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

9. Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine

10. Strange as This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake
Lots of folks who know my love of Barbara Kingsolver have recommended this one to me.

11. Prairie Tale: A Memoir by Melissa Gilbert
For obvious reasons. 

12. The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker

13. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

14. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trooper
I’ve seen the movie but I hear the books is better.

15. The Promise: A Tragic Accident, a Paralyzed Bride, and the Power of Love, Loyalty, and Friendship by Rachelle Friedman

16. A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen

17. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs 

18. Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray
I don’t have kids but this seems like an important read nonetheless.

19. That’s Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us by Erin Moore

20. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
I have a special place in my heart for sports journalism. 

21. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari 

22. Making the Mummies Dance: Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Thomas Hoving

23. Conquering Chaos by Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra
Because MTV reality tv is my vice and I don’t even care. 

24. Between Wrecks by George Singleton

25. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington

26. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

27. Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present, and Myself by Sarah A. Chrisman

28. The Clasp by Sloane Crosley 

29. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub
I have a huge girl crush on this author! 

30. Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

31. Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History by James Higdon

32. Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More by Erin Boyle
One of my favorite bloggers. 

33. Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World by Susan Silverman 

34. Epilogue by Anne Roiphe 

35. Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell
STILL have never read any of Vowell’s books and have GOT to get on it!

36. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

37. Ann Tenna by Marisa Acocella Marchetto

38. The Geography of Madness: Penis Thieves, Voodoo Death, and the Search for the Meaning of the World’s Strangest Syndromes by Frank Bures
I mean COME ON! Tell me that doesn’t sound good?! 

39. Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens 

40. High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed by Michael Kodas
I will read, watch, or listen to anything about Mt. Everest and Himalayan mountaineering.

41. The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West by Lesley Poling-Kempes

42. I’m Just a Person by Tig Notaro 

43. A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran by Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal, and Sarah Shourd 

44. You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein 

45. Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs In and Out of the Kitchen by Alyssa Shelasky 

46. The End of the Perfect 10: The Making and Breaking of Gymnastics’ Top Score – From Nadia to Now by Dvora Meyers
For those of us who pretend to be gymnastics experts every 4 years. 

47. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer 

48. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
May as well see what all the fuss is about!

49. Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson
Can you believe this is the same woman who wrote The Lottery?

50. The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

What are some books on YOUR reading list?

Finally – Do you have any of the books listed above? I’m ALWAYS down for a book-swap!! I’d love to pass along a book from my collection that may be on your reading list. Let me know!

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Books to Read This Fall

Mourning those Summer months? Me either! I’m too excited about wrapping up, burrito-style, in a fluffy blanket with a good book and something pumpkin spice close at hand.

But for real, what better reason than a temperature turn-down to share a few favorite books I think would be perfect for your Fall reading list.

So, in the midst of all your other autumnal activities (Think: swapping out all your flip flops for riding boots and Snapchatting from the pumpkin patch.) — here are 5 books to read this Fall…

bossypantsBossypants by Tina Fey

Tina Fey’s book is short, messy, and impossibly funny (an apt description of the comedian herself). From her humble roots growing up in Pennsylvania to her days doing amateur improv in Chicago to her early sketches on SNL, Fey gives us a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of modern comedy with equal doses of wit, candor, and self-deprecation.

There’s always something to be learned from the life experiences of fascinating (and funny!) people. This book provides a peek into the worlds of improv, SNL, and 30 Rock–all with Fey’s famous humor.

 

the-painter-from-shanghaiThe Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Down the muddy waters of the Yangtze River, through the raucous glamour of prewar Shanghai and the bohemian splendor of 1920s Paris, and back to a China teetering on the brink of revolution: this is the epic story of Pan Yuliang, one of the most talented—and provocative—Chinese artists of the twentieth century.

Historical fiction so researched and rich in details that you will find yourself completely immersed in another time and place.

 

 

a-secret-kept A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay

Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie’s birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island , where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach. But the island’s haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories.

A French family, a fascinating story, and an unraveling secret at the heart of it all that will keep you reading well past your bedtime. Beware: you may finish de Rosnay’s mystery novel in one go!

 

 

the-namesakeThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. Son, Gogol Ganguli, knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd name. Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs.’

Rather than follow a plot, this book follows a life. The resulting prose is breathtaking in it’s beauty.

 

behind-the-beautiful-foreversBehind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

In this book by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, a bewildering age is made human through the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in a makeshift settlement near the Mumbai airport. Based on years of uncompromising reporting, it carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds—and into the hearts of families impossible to forget.

True to the style of “embedded journalism,” Boo embedded herself in a slum so readers could see, hear, and understand the residents and their challenges.

 

What are YOU reading this Fall? Share below! 

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If you liked Room by Emma Donaghue…

if you liked room read when we were romans

…I recommend you find yourself a copy of When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale. I just finished Kneale’s haunting psychological novel and, just like Room, couldn’t put it down the whole way through.

Both books are narrated by young boys; complete with grammatical errors, run-on sentences, and innocent outlooks on the dangerous world. Kneale’s narrator, Lawrence, is a nine year old boy who would do anything for his mother and little sister, Jemima. The family moves to Rome to escape an estranged father, a man Lawrence’s mother believes has been spying on them. But as their world grows increasingly closed off beyond the confines of their little family unit, you realize something isn’t quite right.

A lot of my friends loved Room and with the popular movie version, I figure a whole new audience is gaining an appreciation for Donoghue’s book. I thought it might be worth mentioning When We Were Romans as a fantastic follow-up read. (Of course, if you’ve never read either…then I recommend a trip to the library to grab ’em both!) Happy reading!

What have YOU been reading lately? Are you a novel person? Memoir? More of a non-fiction reader? Share below!

Kentucky Kicks Ass: Books to read if you love the Commonwealth.

kentucky horse

I love Kentucky. I’m proud to be from The Bluegrass State and was lucky enough to “hang my hat” there for so many years. Now that I’ve moved further South, I’ve been considering the ways in which people connect to a sense of home. Whether it be through a special meal or a well-worn family heirloom, we all maintain tethers to those places we hold most important. Today, I thought it would be fun to explore a few literary connections to my home state. If you, like me, have a soft spot for thoroughbreds, college basketball, bourbon, and all the beautiful scenery between Paducah and Pikeville; then these books are for you. Some are written by Kentucky authors. Some explore Kentucky through setting and characters. Whether you currently call Kentucky home or look fondly upon the time that you once did, here are 5 books to read if you love the Commonwealth:

the coal tattoo

The Coal Tattoo by Silas House

Mining the storytelling tradition of Appalachia, House tells the story of two very different sisters. Lovingly constructed characters, a deep understanding of mountain folk’s religiosity, and strong imagery coalesce  to create a tale about what brings people together and tears them apart. A gripping read.

night rider

Night Rider by Robert Penn Warren

This is Robert Penn Warren’s first novel and details the tobacco wars which once plagued the state of Kentucky. A classic Southern tale featuring a main character who will do anything to set himself apart in the outbreak of violence.

the memory keepers daughter

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards 

Set in Kentucky and spanning one family’s journey over a quarter of a century, this book is dramatic and captivating and mysterious. Playing out the resulting years after a father makes a split-second decision, it’s plot makes for a story that’s hard to put down.

appalachian elegy

Appalachian Elegy by bell hooks

This book of poetry is inspired by hooks’ childhood in the hollows and hills of Kentucky. She expertly touches on matters both political and confessional, painting a truthful portrait of life in Appalachia narrated by someone grappling with the slow loss of this very identity.

coal miners daughter

Coal Miner’s Daughter by Loretta Lynn with George Vecsey

Don’t ya just love a good rags to riches tale? They always make me think of this cartoon — safely covering both ends of the spectrum! This one tells the story of country music star Loretta Lynn. Covering her early life in Butcher Holler, KY and her rise to fame, we learn the paths she took to become a prolific songwriter and an influential woman in the music industry.

P.S. No brainer: You should also pick up anything ever by Wendell Berry and give it a read! You may also want to read Players First by John Calipari to prove how blue you bleed. Or, if you can get your hands on a copy, Pauline’s by Pauline Tabor, a memoir about a famous madam who managed a brothel in Bowling Green, is AMAZING. Speaking of…if you have MY copy of Pauline’s, I WANT IT BACK!

Now it’s your turn! From Kentucky or call the Commonwealth home? What books do you think fellow Kentuckians should pick up? Not a Kentucky guy or gal? What books connect you to YOUR home?! I’d love to hear! 

The book I couldn’t put down

station eleven book 2

Are you reading anything cool these days? I just finished the book Station Eleven and L-O-V-E, loved it. Real talk: Y’all have GOT to read this book. Kickass novelist Emily St. John Mandel tells the tale of a traveling Shakespearean actress 20 years after a lethal flu pandemic sweeps across the world, leaving few left in its wake. Even if you’re not quite into dystopian/science fiction, I still think you’ll find this book a page turner as it’s pace, imagery and beautifully imagined intertwining cast of characters are all pitch perfect. Heroine Kirsten Raymonde is spunky and smart, and her, albeit fictional, story serves as a beautiful reminder of the ability of art to endure.

I also loved how the plot skipped seamlessly before, during, and after outbreak of Georgia flu, leaving me looking for clues in the past and connecting dots between survivors. The subject matter is dark — death, the shady underbelly of survival, taking the creature comforts of modernity for granted — but the themes of hope and gratitude shine through throughout.

I’d definitely recommend this book if you’d like to squeeze in one more delicious SUMMER READ before the seasons change.

P.S. For links to some of Emily St. John Mandel’s essays CLICK HERE and for more summer read recommendations CLICK HERE.

Book crush <3

Do you ever read a book and just fall totally high-school crush level IN LOVE with it? I’m talking underlining passages, writing quotes in your neatest cursive in the margins of your notebook, keeping it on your nightstand long after you’ve finished just to revisit the pages and cover and words kind of love. Looking for Alaska by John Green is a favorite book crush of mine. I have found in my old age ; ), that Green’s coming-of-age novel is a real heart-breaker with it’s nostalgia inducing plot line and swoon-worthy quotes.

lookingforalaska

lookingforalaska2

lookingforalaska3

Share a book crush below!