52 Books: An Update from 3 Months In

5 Apr

Okay, I will admit it: this sh*t is hard, yo! Turns out that reading a book a week can be tougher than I imagined, what with trying to maintain a 40+ hour a week job, commuting to said job, spending the odd moment with my husband, family and friends so that they don’t thing I’ve become a total book hermit, sleeping, eating, shopping for “fat” pants and all the other things that cut into my reading time.

(P.S. I think there is a definite correlation between increased reading time and my increased waistband. Enough said.)

Here’s where I stand on this day, Saturday, April 5, 2014:

my april book tally

my april book tally

It’s actually not too bad: only 2 books behind (which I still can’t believe – really?? I’m behind 2 books?? How the hell did this happen??), and I’ve read some really amazing stuff. 

Here’s another pictorial look at it (minus what I call the “cheating (sometimes trashy) books” that I read super fast on my iPad mini):

the book books

the book books

But enough of my kvetching, let’s get to the meat of the matter. Of the 16 books I’ve read so far this year, my recommendations are:

  • Poor Man’s Feast – definitely one of the best food memoir books I’ve read in the past few years. If you like reading about food, cooking, eating, New York vs. country living, relationships or you just like good writing, go out and get this book. And it’s so damned pretty to look at. I love a good book jacket.
  • Garlic and Sapphires – this one is a bit older, published in 2005, but it is a phenomenally fun read about the art and work of being a food critic. And it’s mostly set in “the bigs,” i.e., the world of Manhattan restaurants, which was thoroughly entertaining for a post-New-Yorker like me.
  • You Are One of Them – the premise of this book made me want to rush out and buy it (about girl rivalry, the vagaries of friendship and growing up, all set in motion by two young American girls who write to Soviet premier Yuri Andropov at the height of the Cold War era). It’s part mystery, detective novel and thriller and while the ending falls a little flat to me, it’s still an absorbing book overall about American and Russian sensibilities.
  • The Boy – it’s a flat-out, don’t-bother-me-I’m-reading, wow-they’re-at-it-again nugget of a book about a 40-something mother, her 20 year old neighbor and the myriad bad choices she struggles to not make.
  • Annihilation – the first in a planned trilogy that will all be released this year about a mysterious Area X and the expedition team(s) sent to survey it. It’s a weird, atmospheric book that reminds me of a hyper-intellectual version of Lost, sans the giant, ever-increasing cast of characters. There are monsters, unresolved pasts and an intrepid loner stalking through a strange dreamscape. The next “chapter” comes out in May.

And lastly, I feel something must be said about the Mortal Instruments books (City of Angels and the like). Yep, I read all five in a sleep-addled long weekend of illness and pajama-wearing until 5pm. Yep, they’re trashy and not particularly well-written, but they are vastly entertaining, full of fun, made-up worlds and campy characters, and lots of YA, soft-core, lusty canoodling. They just make you feel thirteen again. That’s all. And who doesn’t love that sometimes.

If any of this makes you even feel like reaching for a book, then my work here is done.

Keep on trucking, people.

Jho

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