book list

 to-read book list covers

So I didn't make it to 52 books last year but it's a new year (and a half) right?

Book List 2013

This was like a YA adventure read - everything works out for them all of the time (spoiler!) but it was fun following along.

2. The Sartorialist: Closer - Scott Schuman                           

Who lets Scott Schuman speak/write/communicate? Because he always manages to make himself sound terribly pompous. The pictures though, as always, are great.

I wanted to like this so much more than I did. The concept is intriguing (how certain objects conjure up memories and meaning) and the physical book is beautifully assembled, but the writing was so disjointed. I found it hard to invest in the story and very difficult to connect with. Enjoyed the illustration in the book though.

It was good! It was HUGE and took a long time to get through due to my inability to cart it around everywhere. Would recommend reading this big old thing on an eBook though the 1Q84 is cover is a beauty.

5. Grace - Grace Coddington                     

Grace is incredible but she (I will give her credit for admitting) is no writer. She drops off a lot of tidbits without getting into detail ("oh and then we had a two year affair" - the end!) but then spends a whole chapter talking about her cats (which are great, but still!) A harmless, breezy weekend read about what you already knew - Grace is the best.

This is a book about people's favourite books (with illustrations) and I loved it.

7. Number9Dream - David Mitchell                        

I liked it but I still liked Mitchell's Cloud Atlas more, too bad that movie was such a disappointment.

Definitely one of the most fun books that I read this year. It was over the top but also really humorous. Don’t let the cover deter you, it looks like a Shopaholic book but it's worth it.

9. A Hologram for The King - Dave Eggers                            

I mean, it was fine but empty – I guess that was the point?

10. Vampires in the Lemon Grove - Karen Russell                            

A mixed bag of her short stories, but one that I liked overall. I think she is at her best when it comes to short stories (see: Swamplandia or don't)

11. The Vanishers - Heidi Julavits                             

Such a good concept (witch college!) and first half but the second part was a letdown. I like her prose though.

12. Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein                

Good but heads up there is A LOT of historical detail which isn’t always my cup of tea, but I liked the YA girl power message of it all.

13. What I Loved - Siri Hustvedt               

Parts were great but it didn't blow me away. Some of the descriptions of the art were overly long and though I really like art fiction, I just never felt that I got a solid sense of the art being made even though it was a big part of this book.

14. And The Pursuit of Happiness - Maira Kalman                            

Illustrated book about US government - I learned a lot! Which I forget now! But I still recommend it.

15. The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller                            

Best love story award 2013! Greek mythology with a twist on the Achilles + Patroclus relationship.

Short story collections are always a toss-up (see: above, Karen Russell) but some of these stories are stunning and stay with you long after finishing them.

17. The Property - Rutu Modan               

More straightforward than her other works - not very forgiving towards Warsaw though.

18. Everything is Perfect When You're a Liar - Kelly Oxford                          

Some parts were funny but some were like just reading e-mails from a friend who is pretty good at e-mailing.

19. Tell The Wolves I'm Home - Carol Brunt                        

Really nice YA read about different kinds of love, YA writers just nailing relationships in fiction these days.

20. A User's Guide to Neglectful Parenting - GuyDelisle               

Funny little cartoons about being a dad.

21. Building Stories - Chris Ware              

Incredible! So intricate. One of the most poignant things that I read (/looked at) this year.

Reminded me of Leanne Shapton's approach – very much enjoyed that in between story & art/picture book feel.

22. Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter                              

Very glamorous and cinematic.  Some people complained that this was too "tidy" but I loved the tidiness! Sometimes it is satisfying to find out what happens to everyone.

23. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P - Adelle Waldman                    

Good book about the Brooklyn literary scene, could relate to a lot in this about being a late 20s early 30s person but was also repelled by/eyerolled a lot of it, which I think was on purpose and very well executed. Protaganist is infuriating but also realistically drawn – everyone knows a dude like this.

24. Bobcat - Rebecca Lee                            

Short story collection, general theme of university/learning.

25. Ghostwritten - David Mitchell                           

Similar concept to Cloud Atlas but even more dense. There was always so much going on in Mitchell's books but I liked this one too.

26. Heads and Straights - Lucy Wadham               

A novella about the author's family life in Chelsea, London - loved it. Very British.

27. The Flamethrowers - Rachel Kushner                            

Feel like this was the hyped book of the year. I wanted to like it more than I did because the writing was great and there was some incredible phrasing - but the plot (if there was one?) was all over the place. Still enjoyed reading it and am still enjoy reading (the TONS of) articles about it as well.

28. Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan                          

Like a Singaporean version of US Weekly trying to pass itself off as cultural commentary. So much talk about designer labels/food and *drama*. Overall a goofy read that was a bit too long. Sold me on Singaporean food though.

29. Waterloo-City, City-Waterloo - Leanne Shapton                       

Great, as always - observations of people on the Tube. A bit confusing at first but then really enjoyed it – probably because this is what I do on public transportation too.

30. Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie                    

Written by "that voice on ***Flawless"- some parts were so good! The observations about race in America and the descriptive writing were especially fantastic. My qualm was that the protagonist was such an unlikeable character that it was hard for me to root for her, not that you always have to root for the character, but the ending left me indifferent.

31. Life After Life - Kate Atkinson                            

I enjoyed it, like a literary Groundhog Day pretty much - a life lived over and over again in different ways, a downer at times (she seemed to always be in every part of London that got hit by a bomb during The Blitz) but then so fun in other parts.

32. The Testament of Mary - Colm Tóibín                            

Good but too short. Would’ve liked more from angry Mary.

33. It - Alexa Chung                       

Oh Alexa, I thought you were better than this. Pretty but vacant. Tumblr in book form essentially and even then, there was barely anything to it. Could have done with a lot more sass.

34. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena - Anthony Marra                             

Fantastic and heartbreaking book about life during the war in Chechnya.

35. Night Film - Marisha Pessl                   

I couldn't put this one down, (the Gone Girl of 2013 perhaps?) there were so many twists! Overall very good follow up to STiCP which was also a very fun read.

36. Sunday Night Movies - Leanne Shapton                       

I didn't read it so much as look at it because it is all paintings but it is Shapton so obviously (ha) I really liked it.

37. Rage of Poseidon - Anders Nilson                     

Modern day updates on the gods of Olympus. Clever story but the best part is the physical book - illustrated in stark black and white silhouettes on an accordion style pull-out.

Reading Goals 2014

- Read a book a week (ha!)

- Finish all of the books & magazines in my house/on my library queue before I order/buy a bunch more that I can't wait to read this year including:
- This bookmark forever and ever - could not justify the cost but it would probably be the first thing I bought if I won the lottery

Happy Reading! Any & all reading recommendations always appreciated.