Monday, January 02, 2017

Books from 2016

Today is our last day of vacation before real life sets in again. I'm not quite ready. Today I will finish taking down Christmas (sorry, I just can't leave it all up until Epiphany), I'm in the process of making bone broth in order to make albondiga soup for dinner, and I still want to get some of my older people together to try out our new game. The younger people also have a play date set up with a new friend. It feels like a full day and it is only just starting.

That is why I am going to take the easy way out and just give you my 2016 reading list. I had a couple of readers tell me that they would be interested in it. Here's how I'll do it. If I wrote a blog post about the book, I'll link back to that post. If there is something particularly interesting about the book, I will make brief mention of it. I've also highlighted these comments in red to make it a bit easier to find them if you are skimming. If it is one that I would recommend, I'll put an asterisks (*) after it. I will also make note of what kind of a book it is (F=fiction, NF=non-fiction, M=mystery, YA=young adult) and if I read it out loud or not (RA=read aloud). I read 74 books this past year, and started, but didn't finish 7 more. Only the most interesting and well-done mysteries will be noted. I read mysteries the way other people eat candy... and for the most part they are equally good for a person.

Here we go...

1. The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra (A Baby Ganesh Agency Investigation) - Vaseem Khan (M)
2. Talk to the Snail: 10 Commandments for Understanding the French - Stephen Clarke (NF)
3. Pagan Spring: A Max Tudor Mystery - GM Malliet (M)
4. The Emporer's Winding Sheet - Jill Patton Walsh (YA, RA)
5. A Demon Summer: A Max Tudor Mystery - GM Malliet (M)
6. Death and the Lit Chick: A St. Just Mystery - GM Malliet (M)
7. The Body Knows its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel - Sian Beilock (NF)*
8. Babel No More: The Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Language Learners - Michael Erard (NF)
9. Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes - Elizabeth Bard (NF) [I've made a couple of recipes from this book and they were good.]
10. Cesar's Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog - Cesar Millan (NF)
11. Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian - Eoin Colfer (YA)
12. The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure - Martin W. Sandler (NF, RA)
13. Path of Beasts - Lian Tanner (YA)
14. Pompeii - Robert Harris (F)*
15. The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World that Values Sameness - Todd Rose (NF)* [Did I tell you he replied to my fan letter? A short response, but still...]
16. Tools of the Mind: The Vygotskian Approach to Early Childhood Education - Elena Bodrova and Deborah Leong (NF) [The information itself was interesting, and I should probably just check out books written by Vygotsky himself. This book? Let's just say I was completely unimpressed with my first introduction to university level education texts.]
17. Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy - Alli Worthington (NF)
18. The Heist - Daniel Silva (F) [If you like the spy genre, then this is a good one.]
19. The Second Mrs. Giaconda - E. L. Konigsberg (YA, RA)
20. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity - Nabeel Qureshi (NF)*
21. Enigma - Robert Harris (F)
22. The Unlikely Spy - Daniel Silva (F)
23. Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder - Shamini Flint (M)
24. Home is a Roof Over a Pig: An American Family's Journey in China - Aminta Arrington (NF)*
25. Inspector Singh Investigates: A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul - Shamini Flint (M)
26. Hotel Moscow - Talia Garner (F)
27. This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All - Marilyn Johnson (NF)
28. The Lark and the Laurel - Barbara Willard (YA, RA)
29. The Death of an Irish Politician: The First Peter McGarr Mystery - Bartholomew Gill (M)
30. Bonnie and her 21 Children: A Memoir by her Long-Suffering Husband Fred Cappuccino (NF)
31. Neurologic: The Brain's Hidden Rationale Behind our Irrational Behavior - Eliezer J. Sternberg (F)*
32. The Interpersonal Neurobiology of Play: Brain-Building Interventions for Emotional Well-Being - Theresa A. Kestly (NF)*
33. Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman's Guide to Igniting the Writer Within - Barbara De Marco Barrett (NF) [Does it sound bad if I say, very often people who write books like this don't really understand what busy is?]
34. Hello Vicar! - Fred Secombe (F)
35. A Comedy of Clerical Errors - Fred Secombe (F)
36. The Crowning Glory - Fred Secombe (F)
37. A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman (F)* [I wasn't sure about this book at first, and nearly put it down a couple of times. A good friend loved it and told me to keep reading, and I'm glad I did. I'm still not sure, though whether or not I want to search out other books by the same author, though.]
38. Reading in the Wild - Donalyn Miller (NF)
39. Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain - Antonio R. Damasio (NF) [Some interesting parts, but also a bit of a slog.]
40. The Spymistress - Jennifer Chiaverini (F)
41. Executive Function and Child Development - Marcie Yeager and Daniel Yeager (NF)*
42. Honeysuckle Sipping - Jeanne R. Chesanow (NF)
43. No Touch Monkey! And Other Travel Lessons Learned too Late - Ayun Halliday (NF)
44. The Hawk that Dare not Hunt by Day - Scott O'Dell (YA, RA) [Not recommended. How the same author could have written Island of the Blue Dolphins is beyond me.]
45. The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett (F) [First, it should be noted that this book was 1000 pages long. Parts of it I loved. I loved the writing, the well-done historical fiction, the cathedrals. But it was so terribly violent in parts, that it got so whenever a certain character was mentioned I started skimming... heavily. The violence was just too graphic. I heard that someone had this assigned to them to read in high school. Parents, if this is assigned to your child, I would definitely pre-read, and I don't normally say that. There is no way I would want my high schoolers to read this book, merely for its graphicness.]
46. The War the Saved my Life - Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (YA, F)*
47. Comback - Dick Francis (M)
48. The Shakespeare Stealer - Gary Blackwood (YA, RA)
49. A Child's Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play - Vivian Gussin Paly (NF)*
50. Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul - Stuart Brown (NF)*
51. The Rose in the Wheel - S. K. Rizzolo (M)
52. The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally - David Elkind
53. The Last Detective: Introducing Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond - Peter Lovesey (M)
54. Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl - Stacey O'Brien (NF, RA)*
55. The Well Balanced Child: Movement and Early Learning - Sally Goddard Blythe (NF)*
56. Vita Brevis: A Gaius Ruso Mystery - Ruth Downie (M)* [The most recent book in the Medicus series.)
57. Napoleon: Emporer and Conqueror - Kimberly Heuston (NF, YA, RA)
58. George Washington's Socks - Elvira Woodruff (YA, F, RA) [When we read this, D. said, "I don't think we can expect a lot of character development in this book."]
59. The Secrets of Wishtide - Kate Saunders (M)
60. Diamond Solitaire: A Peter Diamond Investigations - Peter Lovesey (M)
61. When Listening Comes Alive: A guide to effective learning and communication - Paul Madaule (NF) [About the Tomatis method]
62. Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art - Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo (NF)* [This is non-fiction that reads like a good mystery. Well done and very interesting.]
63. Robert Fulton: Boy Craftsman - Marguerite Henry (YA, NF, RA)
64. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Joan Aiken (YA, RA)
65. Murder in Caleb's Landing: A Third Culture Kid Mystery - D-L Nelson (M) [I wanted to like this series; I really, really tried. But the self-importance and didacticism of the main character just became too much and the second book in the series is one I stopped reading.]
66. The Last Chinese Chef - Nicole Mones (F)*
67. A Rather Lovely Inheritance - C. A. Belmond (F)
68. My Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George (YA, RA)
69. The Summons - Peter Lovesey (M)
70. Bloodhounds - Peter Lovesey (M)* [It is rare that I will recommend a mystery in the middle of a series, but this book works extremely well as a stand-alone, plus it is just a very well-crafted mystery with a lot of references to mystery writers from the heyday of mystery fiction in the middle of the last century.]
71. A Life in Balance: Discovery of a Learning Breakthrough - Frank Belgau as told to Eric Belgau (NF)
72. The Right Hand of Amon: A Mystery of Ancient Egypt - Lauren Haney (M)
73. Red Sails to Capre - Ann Weil (YA, RA)
74. An Officer and a Spy - Robert Harris (F)* [This is a novel of historical fiction which looks in depth at the Dreyfus Affair in France at the turn of the last century. I knew nothing about Dreyfus, except that his name sounded vaguely familiar and I had the feeling that I probably should know something about him. The story is well told, and tackles interesting questions about duty and doing what is right. Highly recommended.]


Donna said...

One of my resolutions should be to read more and watch TV less, but since TV is free and good books are spendy I am not sure that will happen. (Most of the books I get for free are a bigger waste of time than TV -- especially when I have the BBC on hand.)
I am a bit surprised by how few of the 74 books you would recommend, not sure what that means other than an observation.
I definitely want to read the book on Executive Function, and am doubly disappointed that despite putting all the Medicus books on my gift list this year, I didn't get any. I read the first one and thought this was a series I would enjoy.
I continue to be thankful to a high school (!) friend who has sent me free ebooks of a good mystery series. I don't binge read them but save them for a day when I can read straight through, rare but enjoyable.
Thanks for the list!
Have you read The Girl from the Train?

thecurryseven said...

Donna-- You have special circumstances about your reading, and I don't blame you at all. If I had to purchase all my books, my reading would look a lot different, and most probably much shorter. I can be frivolous with my reading because the library costs me nothing.

I've been thinking about your comment of how few books I actually recommended from this list. I think it probably has to do with what I think I'm doing when I recommend a book, and less to do with the books themselves. When I recommend a book, I want someone who may go out and actually spend money on that book to be happy with it. In that way of thinking, I'm not going to recommend a book that might be fairly enjoyable, but not one I would actually want to own. I think that's my criteria, if I would want to own it after I've read it, I will recommend it. There are also a few non-fiction books that have a pretty narrow focus. I realize that not everyone shares my interests, so I didn't recommend the narrow-focus non-fiction books unless they were pretty extraordinary and had something to say to a wider audience. It's not that I spent my year reading horrible books, it's just that so few books reach the level of something I would recommend to another person. (The horrible ones, I definitely stopped reading!)

And no, I haven't read The Girl on the Train. I have this little problem with my reactionary nature. The second I hear that every person around me is reading a book, it is exactly the book I have absolutely no interest in reading. :-)


Diana said...

Thanks for the recommendations, I'll be checking a few of them out. I read "The War that Saved My Life" per your recommendation and couldn't put it down!

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