This post has been sitting in my drafts for a month and a half now, and I finally made time to complete it so I could share it with you. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, and if there are other topics you’d like me to cover. Maybe next we should discuss cookbooks?!
I know I haven’t done many of these “side dish” posts, but today’s is really what I intended when I started this series: a place to talk about random things that aren’t food related, but that I want to share with you guys. I love talking about the books I’ve read, and I love getting recommendations for new books to read…so who better to “dish” with than my tens of thousands of internet friends?!
So. I did quite a bit of reading in 2015. Lots of books that I enjoyed, some that I really really didn’t like, and a couple that were kinda…eh.
Let’s start with a book that I loved! I’m probably one of many who discovered Liane Moriarty’s books this year, thanks to her super popular new novel, Big Little Lies. Let me just say… I absolutely loved this book. I know that some people didn’t, but I thought the plot was great, and I could.not.stop. reading it! I don’t want to ruin the book for those who haven’t read it, but after I finished, I was thinking about it for days. The thing that really struck me was how she slipped little details and things into the story, that turned out to be important when the ending came along. I liked it so much that I read The Hypnotist’s Love Story and The Husband’s Secret too, both by Moriarty. I enjoyed both of them, but not nearly as much as Big Little Lies. Didn’t stop me from ordering another one though! I’m waiting for What Alice Forgot to come, and I’m excited to read that too.
One habit that Moriarty seems to have in her books (which I don’t love) is wrapping things up very neatly and perfectly at the end. Sometimes life doesn’t end up quite as perfectly as it does in her books. Have you read them? Do you agree?
Another super popular book that I read this year was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I enjoyed it, and found the story emotional and interesting, but I didn’t get quite as into it as some others did. Meaning, I would definitely read After You (the sequel) but I am not desperate to read it.
I also read Paper Towns by John Green. The first book by this author that I read (along with the rest of the world) was The Fault in Our Stars. I enjoyed reading it, and I cried like a baby at the end. But afterwards…I was struck by how empty the story is. Sure it’s emotional and well written, but…that’s kind of it. Paper Towns, on the other hand, actually seemed more substantial. It made me think a bit. It made me laugh. And then it made me google “paper towns” and read more about the traditional definition of it. (You have to read the book to understand that!) It didn’t hurt that there was a lot of talk in the book about abandoned buildings, and I have a weird obsession with abandoned buildings. (That’s probably a topic for another “side dish” post, but I have explored some, and am dying to explore some more!)
The next book I want to mention is pretty different from the others. A children’s book, A Long Walk to the Water, by Linda Sue Park, is super short and written for kids. However, I really enjoyed the read, and it gave me such an appreciation for the modern world we live in, and the ease of our lives. I originally got into this author many years ago (when I was closer to the intended age for her books!) and this year, I discovered one which I hadn’t read yet. Park’s books have a way of making you think, and staying with you for a long time. It’s been years since I read A Single Shard and When My Name Was Keoko, but I still remember both of them vividly.
I read The Cuckoo’s Calling on a whim. I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, and wanted to read more from J.K. Rowling. However, after attempting (and failing) to read The Casual Vacancy, one of the worst books ever published (IMO), I didn’t have very high hopes for this book (written by Rowling under a pen name). The book was readable and interesting, and overall, I enjoyed it. It wasn’t particularly memorable, but it wasn’t bad.
Another novel that I feel kind of parve about is All Fall Down, by Jennifer Weiner. It was okay. It was a believable and readable book about addiction, and how a “regular” woman just like me or you fell into it. But – I didn’t love it. I didn’t feel like it had much of a story line, and the ending was very blah.
Next, let’s talk about the newest novel by the author of one of my all time favorite books: Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova. I read Genova’s first book, Still Alice, about a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, years ago, and found it incredibly haunting, beautifully written, thought provoking and emotional. I’ve read it a number of times since then, and I cry…every time. It’s a powerful book that everyone should read. Following the success of that book, it seems that Genova has built a niche for herself writing emotional books about difficult brain and medical disorders. The next book that I read from this author was Left Neglected, which tells the story of a woman who was in a car accident and was left with a brain disorder as a result. While I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as Still Alice, I thought it was a great book, and very well written. So back to Inside the O’Briens. I kind of had a love-hate relationship with this book. On the one hand, it was great. The topic: a family plagued by Huntinton’s Disease, is interesting and emotional. As with her other books, Genova did a great job of presenting the intricate emotions and difficult challenges that this disease brings. However, half of the book was written from the perspective of a tough, Boston police officer, instead of the harvard-educated, very intelligent, white collar, professional women (just like Genova herself) that narrate the other two books. And I didn’t feel like she did the best job of making his voice sound authentic. Many times, his voice felt horribly contrived, and made it hard for me to enjoy the book. I know, this is just my opinion, and I am sure plenty of folks will disagree, but…that’s how I felt.
Let’s talk about a book that the world loved this year, and I hated: The Girl on the Train. The book itself wasn’t written too badly, but I predicted the ending halfway through the book, and to me, that’s inexcusable. I wanted twists and turns, but instead I got predictability.
Missing You this one (by Harlan Coben) kinda made me scared of online dating, in case I ever wanted to try it. 😛
What The Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell was a great read. I’m a big fan of Gladwell’s books, and I liked that these were essays on various topics, instead of one long topic – it made for much easier reading.
As a history buff, I enjoyed reading Orphan Train and was fascinated by the portrayal of a different time period that seems *so* long ago, but really wasn’t.
If you’ve struggled with weight problems, you will likely enjoy It Was Me All Along (by Andie Mitchell) as I did. It was raw, honest and emotional…and very real. But also, inspirational.
I loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Although I didn’t find it 100% realistic, I liked how it was written and liked that the author really thought of everything (you have to read it to understand!). Naturally, I wanted to read more by the same author. I hated Sharp Objects but I really enjoyed Dark Places. There’s a clear pattern with this author where she develops plots that are very unrealistic, but she makes it somewhat believable.
Lastly, I read The Giver Quartet, by Lois Lowry. Wait, let me amend that. Years ago, I read and loved The Giver, and didn’t even know that there were three more books in the series until last year. Naturally, I wanted to read them. BIG mistake. If you’ve read The Giver, you know that it ends on a fabulously mysterious note. The subsequent books ruin that. I wish I hadn’t read them. Oh, and I never even read the fourth one.
What do you think of my assessments? Did you read these books? Did you enjoy them?
And most importantly…. What should I read next?
Thanks for stopping by and for reading! -Miriam