Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Year End Round Up

I just barely hit the 52 mark for books I read in 2016.  And now I will list them and rate them. In many ways, this is an unfair rating system because I may recommend something to someone that I didn't like, and I can certainly recognize that some of these are very well written even if I didn't enjoy them, but because I am tired of always trying to be objective and wasting time on stuff I don't like to read, this is going to be my personal enjoyment rating, aptly done with a thumbs up or thumbs down emoji, to show the whimsical nature of the rating process. I am not interested in a serious comment based system for now because that is how books like The Scarlet Letter and Moby Dick keep making lists- they are inarguably well done, but hold no enjoyment factor. This is purely whether I liked it or not. The thinking face means I do remember the book, but I had mixed feelings (which is a better rating, in my opinion, than just flat our not remembering the book much at all).

1) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith πŸ‘Ž

2) Adam Bede by George Eliot πŸ‘

3) Ethan Frome by Edith WhartonπŸ‘Ž

4) Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell πŸ‘Ž

5) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen πŸ‘

6) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen πŸ‘

7) Mansfield Park by Jane Austen πŸ‘

8) Emma by Jane Austen πŸ‘

9) Persuasion by Jane Austen πŸ‘

10) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen πŸ‘

11) Jane Austen by Peter Leithart πŸ‘Ž

12) Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James -- I honestly don't remember anything about this book at all.

13) Stonewall by John Dwyer πŸ‘Ž

14) Life in Motion by Misty Copeland πŸ‘Ž

15) Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole πŸ‘Ž

16) Uncle Fred in Springtime by P.G. Wodehouse πŸ‘

17) Cocktail Time by P.G. Wodehouse πŸ‘

18) Service with a Smile by P.G. Wodehouse πŸ‘

19) After You by Jojo Moyes - I don't remember if I liked this one or not.

20) The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay πŸ‘Ž

21) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling - πŸ€”

22) Smith of Wootten Major by J.R.R. Tolkien πŸ‘Ž

23) Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross πŸ‘Ž

24) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro πŸ‘Ž

25) The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough - πŸ€”

26) Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe πŸ‘

27) Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry π ˆπŸ‘

28) The Nesting Place by Miquillyn Smith πŸ€”

29) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins πŸ‘

30) The Matchmaker by Elin Hildebrand πŸ‘Ž

31) Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty πŸ‘

32) A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman πŸ€”

33) Belgravia by Julian Fellowes πŸ‘Ž

34) Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling πŸ€”

35) Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan πŸ–’πŸ‘

36) Born Standing Up by Steve Martin πŸ‘Ž

37) This is a Book by Demetri Martin πŸ‘

38) In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett πŸ‘Ž

39) Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo πŸ‘Ž

40) The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate πŸ€”

41) The Green Ember by S.D. Smith πŸ‘

42) The Black Star of Kingston by S.D. Smith πŸ–“πŸ‘

43) Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle by N.D. Wilson πŸ€”

44) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle πŸ–’πŸ‘Ž

45) Winter Street by Elin Hildebrand πŸ‘Ž

46) Winter Stroll by Elin Hildebrand πŸ‘Ž

47) Winter Storms by Elin Hildebrand  πŸ–’πŸ‘Ž

48) The Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber πŸ‘Ž

49) On Christmas Eve by Ann Martin πŸ‘Ž

Here are four more - #50-53- that put me just over one book per week for the year. I have read much more in years past, but I picked some really hard titles this year -- a few that I will have to finish now in the next year!

50) A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay - I may be done with Katherine Reay. I really loved Dear Mr. Knightley, her first novel, but none of her subsequent offerings have been nearly as good. One thing that even Dear Mr. Knightley had in common with her others is a female lead that I could in no way relate to. I wonder if this is another Elin Hildebrand situation- sounds promising, people I know may love, but just a little too different for me to make a connection- ooh, I also feel this way about Emily Giffin.

51) Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum - I heard about this one because it was on the top rated Young Adult list for Amazon for the year. I decided I wanted to try a little more YA coming up because a good friend of mine has a daughter who will be releasing her first YA novel next summer! I really enjoyed this book but I wasn't sure if the "secret identity" of one of the characters was really supposed to be secret- because it was pretty obvious to me. So did the author way underestimate her audience's intelligence? Or, because it was written in first person, was it just that the other character didn't know and of course the reader knew? Or, I suppose a third option is that the intended audience is a young adult audience and I am not a young adult so perhaps I have a higher intelligence than the intended audience? It's hard to remember what I did and didn't grasp as a teenager- maybe I wouldn't have gotten it back then. I would kind of like to have someone else I know read this book to tell me what they think! It's the kind of book I would think a lot of people would really enjoy- recommended for sure!

52) Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center - In some ways, this is neither here nor there, but people have got to quit putting cupcakes on the front cover of books that have nothing to do with cupcakes. This is really weird to me. I don't understand why it keeps happening. I liked this book. It was hard for me to read because I felt the tension and went on the emotional journey with the characters to some extent. For me, if the ending works, it is all worthwhile, so this really could've gone either way- I could've either thrown it across the room or let out the breath I was holding for the last fifty pages or so and felt okay about it. In the end, I felt okay about it. But it was definitely a journey.

53) The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen- This book is definitely one that falls into the magical realism category. It wasn't quite as strong for me as Tell Me Three Things or Everyone is Beautiful- by which I mean that I wasn't as drawn into the story and feeling the characters were real people-- I was always aware that I was reading a story and never quite as able to visualize the people and places. I will say that that is not uncommon for me- I just noticed it a lot more coming right after Everyone is Beautiful where I was so drawn in. And maybe because there was so much "magic," it was harder to be drawn in. Still, all of the people in this book, without exception, behaved unlike any people I've ever known. That doesn't mean they weren't likable or the story wasn't interesting, it just means the reader really has to suspend the "yeah right" voice in her brain- so anyone's enjoyment of this book is probably going to depend on how loud that voice is inside her head.

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