My Favorite Books So Far This Year Have Inspired Me To Get Away With Murder And Sprout Wings

Inspired by a recent Facebook thread and Outlaw Mama’s summer reading suggestions, I decided to share my thoughts on the books I’ve read this year so far.  Most people ask me how I find the time to read so much.  I could tell you that I never go anywhere without a book in my purse (which is true) and how I take every opportunity that other people spend on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter and use that time to digest a page or two (also true).

But the real reason I read so much is because the New York Public Library brings the competitive beast out of me.  I recently added The Vacationers to my queue and I was number 472 on 92 copies.  Why didn’t I sign up sooner?  That could take months!  And you never know when your hold will become available — which means I refresh my position like I’m waiting for Ticketmaster to fetch me something under two benjamins.  When you get your new release you have 7 days with no opportunity to renew.  You’d have to go to the end of the line if you don’t finish.  So by damn it, whatever book comes to me, I WILL be finishing it and finishing it fast.  Here’s what I’ve read so far this year:

GONE GIRL – After years of friend’s raving, something made me finally pick this up even though I’m not a murder mystery type of person.  PS – I didn’t know anything about the plot before I read it but *SPOILER ALERT* there was no way in hell I ever believed she was dead.  I just wanted to know how and why she faked her death.  She’s a fucking sociopath that I relate to more than I care to admit.  That’s why.  I swear I started “hearing” the voice from that book in my head for days after I was done reading it.  Which is technically longer than I took to read it — I devoured every page in less than 30 hours, including two of them with it hidden under my desk at work.  The story, the writing, the characters – I worship thee Gillian Flynn.

Rating: are you HONESTLY still holding out on this book?   READ IT.  Now.  Seriously.  Or I’ll have to kill you.

SHARP OBJECTS – I became instantly obsessed with Gillian Flynn and picked up this older book of hers.  It wasn’t as swoon worthy as GG, but it was a good read.  But it did confirm that I’d pay any amount of money to get in Flynn’s head for 30 minutes.

Rating: if you’re on the fence, do it.  She won’t disappoint.

SISTERLAND – Curtis Sittenfeld – I thought the beginning was ok, the middle almost lost me, but the end?  As predictable as the act that kicks off the 3rd act is, the way she handles the consequences was fresh, interesting and real.  Life is a lot more gray than black and white — and I appreciated that dose of reality in my fiction.

Rating: I’m torn.

THE ONE & ONLY – Emily Giffin – I was soooo excited for this book to come out.  Football, TX, a spunky girl, forbidden love — this is what cult stuff was made of.  It didn’t quite live up to my hype, but EG really got her vibe back.

Rating: the book was faithful to Giffin’s style and better than her last few.  Baby Proof remains my favorite.

THE HUSBAND’S SECRET – Liane Moriarty – is there anything more intriguing than the premise of this book?  A woman with the perfect life and the perfect family randomly finds an old letter in the attic.  The envelope is addressed to her but she’s instructed to open only upon the death of her living husband. WTF?  The author keeps you hooked as you wonder what’s in the letter, but even once we know the tension doesn’t ease up a bit. She’s also got some great gems about the complications of marriage weaved through the story lines.

Rating: Read it.  Put it at the top of your list.  And then tell me which of her other books I should devour next.

ME BEFORE YOU – Jojo Moyes – I know most people have moved on to ONE PLUS ONE, but I was slow to jump on this bandwagon.

Rating: torn again.

THE THEORY OF OPPOSITES – Allison Winn Scotch – I fully admit I picked this up because I read Jen Garner’s production company optioned the rights.  Couple my Jen sized crushed with my compulsion to read anything set for the big screen and this was a no-brainer.

Rating: if you like the genre, this is a solid read.

STILL LIFE WITH BREADCRUMBS – Anna Quindlen.  I love me some AQ so I couldn’t pass this one up.

Rating: a little dry but unlike most books that sag in the middle, the center pages of this book sprouted some marriage-is-hard tears in the corners of my eyes.

A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD – Jennifer Egan.  I give the author SO much credit for writing from multiple points of view, in various tenses, in 2nd and 3rd person narrative — not to mention an entire chapter in Power Point – she’s got some god damn talent.  Period.  Full stop.  But if I were to go on, I’d say this:  the book was too damn pretentious for me.  It was show boating just for the sake of showing off.  I really wish there had been a lot more of Sasha.

Rating: I don’t care if you read the book or not, but you must — MUST — go get the hardcover and read the inside flap.  If you can read that description of the book and Egan herself and explain it to me in a way I can comprehend, I’ll give you $100.  It’s the worst abuse of purple prose I’ve ever seen.

ALL FALL DOWN – Jennifer Weiner – Jen’s a solid storyteller who takes on a big subject — addiction — without any soul crushing personal experience.  She clearly did her research but I wished it had gone even deeper.  All in all she does a great job doing what she wanted to do — show exactly how a “normal” person can find themselves in a world of trouble.

Rating: read it, but then read Marian Keyes book Rachel’s Holiday.  She killed the rehab journey with her humor and insight.

THE INVENTION OF WINGS – Sue Monk Kidd.  Kidd gets me again.  I admit I didn’t want to read this book.  Like REALLY didn’t want to.  But I had been on the waiting list for six months at the library and when it finally came in when I had nothing to do over the 4th of July weekend I thought what the hell.  Oh. My God.  Don’t ask me how I could love a book about slavery and the fight for abolition so much, but I did.  I so did.  The two main characters — Sarah and Hetty — gripped me from page one.  I loved their fire, their confusion, their losses and their conviction.  Every single page of this book was worth reading and when I was done I felt profoundly changed.  I don’t know what or how, but I felt a shift in me and knew I would never be the same.  The book was that good.  I read it in 48 hours.

Rating: really?  Did you read any of this?

So what’s in my queue now?  We Were Liars, Cutting Teeth, Housekeeping, I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You, and Catching Air so far.  Any recommendations for me?  Has any book every changed you or impacted you the way The Invention of Wings did to me?  New or old, I’d love to know.