2017 Reading List: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

As my coworker and I were browsing a bookstore while on a work trip (because we’re nerds cool like that), she saw this book propped out on a table and told me I just had to read it. But really, it’s been on my list for quite awhile now.

So after my heart-wrenching book about dogs who love their humans, I went to the lighter side with Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.

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2017 Reading List: A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

As I write this, my dog is sitting on the couch next to me, looking at me with her big, soulful eyes. I spend a lot of time wondering what she’s thinking, projecting my human emotions into her animal mind, putting words into her wordless mouth. I can only hope that my imagination is even slightly accurate.

I imagine she’s full of love, adoration, eagerness, and some sass. I imagine she thinks we’re weird and crazy. I imagine she doesn’t understand how much we love her.

So I read the book, A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron, and I found out what he imagines when his dog looks at him with wordless, soulful eyes. And it was amazing.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

This next book on my 2017 list was chosen at random by my office book club. This was the second book we’ve read and, while I read it quite a while ago, we just got together this past week to discuss it.

Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein, is allegedly the most famous science fiction book of all time. However, I’d never heard of it, and neither had most of my coworkers. It was written in the 1960’s and when it was originally published, they actually asked the author to cut it down because it was too long and they believed no one would read a book of that length. He cut it down as much as he could, but he believed everything in the book was important. After his death, his widow had the original uncut manuscript published in 1991. This is the version that I read.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: The Girls by Lori Lansens

I chose my next book because the title was exactly the same as the last book I read. When I was searching for The Girls, by Emma Cline, on Goodreads and on my library’s e-account, The Girls, by Lori Lansens, naturally came up right underneath it. Granted, I wouldn’t have added it to my list if I didn’t think it looked good.

(Sidenote: I read somewhere that our culture has recently had this obsession with the word “girl” in titles of books. Having this word seems to automatically grab people’s attention and indicate subconsciously that this book might be intriguing. Think: The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, All the Missing Girls, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, etc. Just search “Girl” on Goodreads and there are 87,584 books with “girl” in the title. If you’re writing a book, just call it “Girl Something” and you’ve got an instant bestseller.) Continue reading

2017 Reading List: The Girls by Emma Cline

I’ve seen The Girls, by Emma Cline, on a lot of book lists lately. It’s been on the front tables of Barnes & Noble and mentioned by fellow bloggers. So I put it on my list to download and finally got the chance to read it.

This book is the story of a young teenager, Evie, who becomes infatuated with a group of girls who live together on a ranch as a sort of cult in 1969.

This book is really a depiction of Evie and her character. It is less about the actual plot and more about who this 14-year-old girl is and how she comes of age in a year, or a decade really, where children were introduced to some evils of the world at far too young an age.

Evie has a lot of struggles in her life. Her parents are divorced, her mother is dating men she doesn’t like, and therefore her mother doesn’t really have time for her the way she used to. Her friendships are fraying, if not broken entirely. She is preparing to go to boarding school for the first time in the fall. And through all this, she is trying to figure out where she belongs, who she can connect with, and how she can fit in. She doesn’t have a whole lot of role models or even friends to help her navigate. There is no one who is looking out for her- not even the girls whom she comes to worship with such wild abandon.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

I was traveling for work this weekend so earlier last week, I downloaded another book for the trip – Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng. I am not sure how to pronounce that last name, so don’t ask.

I had thought this book was a murder mystery thriller. The first sentence of the book is “Lydia is dead.” And it is described as a “page-turner.” But it was less mysterious and gripping than I wanted it to be. It was about family and race and fitting in (or standing out). It was about the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

I read somewhere, maybe on someone’s blog, that When Breath Becomes Air is a must-read in your lifetime. A life-changing memoir. Whoever told me I had to read it was right.

I read Paul Kalanithi’s memoir in one day. It’s short and I had a lot of time. But it is an incomplete account of an amazingly full and meaningful life that was cut far too short by a rapidly progressing lung cancer. The fact that it is unfinished makes it all the more perfect.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

When I picked up The Darkest Corners, by Kara Thomas, I almost literally couldn’t put it down. Murder mysteries are my go-to when I’m seriously in the mood to read, or I have a long car ride or flight, because no matter how sleepy I am or how much stuff I have to do, I can always find time to read the book and I can almost always stay awake to finish it.

Since I had some travel planned for the 4th of July weekend, I figured this would be a good book to keep me occupied in the car. I also like to follow up a slow nonfiction book with a quick psychological thriller. It gets my heart pumping again.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: Presence by Amy Cuddy

After my BarkleyREI Book Club book, I jumped back into some nonfiction. I realized that I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, but I’ve been very into Ted talks and inspirational blogs, so I’ve discovered a lot of writers who I feel I can relate to, or who research topics that are really interesting to me.

So my next book, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, was written by Amy Cuddy who I discovered from her Ted talk about the “Wonder Woman pose.” Being an introvert myself, I was fascinated by the idea that our body language shapes how we act in a situation, and that I could make myself feel more confident by holding a confident pose for a few minutes.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

We started a book club at my office. There are about 10 avid readers who are excited to read something new, get together during lunch, and talk about books. So this next book on my Reading List is not something I would have picked out on my own. Our first BarkleyREI Book Club book was American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

You may have heard of this book because of the TV show on Starz. But I hadn’t.

I was a bit dubious when I heard that this would be our first book. Our group has some diverse tastes and everyone likes a wide range of subjects and styles. I looked up the synopsis of the book and I could barely follow it. It seemed complicated and weird.

But wouldn’t you know it, it must be the most popular book in the country right now, because I had to put my name on a hold list for a digital copy from the library. There were 25 digital copies available and every single one was checked out. And I was 90th in line. I ended up getting a hold at the “real” library. Every book in the whole county was checked out. But at least I was next in line. Continue reading