In my typical overachiever mentality, I wanted to do better this year, so I bumped my goal up to 52 books . Whenever I mention it, people look at me like I am crazy (except for my family members who are equally crazy). It is only April, and I'm 26 books in. I'll be golden. Here's a rundown of what I've read so far this year.
1: Codependent No More and 2: If Life Is a Game, These Are the Rules
Sometimes, I wish that I had studied psychology in college. It's not that I wouldn't want to be a writer, but I find human emotions and motivations fascinating. Reading books like this gives me a glimpse into one of my alternative realities.
3: Talking to Girls About Duran Duran
Rob Sheffield is funny and has great taste in music. This is a memoir set in the 80's to a most bodacious soundtrack (each chapter is a memory based on a song). I enjoyed the format and would love to read one for the 90's too.
4: The Book of Joe
Apparently, despite the similarity, this book wasn't the inspiration for Beautiful Girls or October Road. I seriously love that movie (Happy piano players work the circus...) and the show. Anyway, the stories are remarkably similar and enjoyable. I loved this book. It was both hysterical and heartbreaking, which is exactly the kind of bipolar novel that I love.
5: Before & After: How to Design Cool Stuff
I subscribe to Before & After magazine. It is a a level of design awesomeness that I aspire to, and I always find the articles inspiring. I have McWade's other books, so a lot of this book was a repeat of the articles and books that I already have. The book was still packed with useful information. However, I bought the Kindle version and was surprised to find that it wasn't formatted very well... I wish they would fix that.
6: Little House on the Prairie, 7: Farmer Boy, 8: On the Banks of Plum Creek, 9: By the Shores of Silver Lake, 13: The Long Winter, 14: Little Town on the Prairie, 15: These Happy Golden Years, and 16: The First Four Years
Confession time. I love Little House on the Prairie. I loved the show and have always had a crush on Michael Landon as Charles Ingalls (what a man!). It still amazes me that these are the stories of real people and are probably typical of many of the first American settlers. I love the adventure of the time period and was totally consumed with the whole series. My favorite book was These Happy Golden Years because it focuses on Laura and Almanzo falling in love. Ahhh sigh.
10: Socs and Greasers
Rob Lowe and The Outsiders. Two of my favorite subjects in the world.
I enjoyed both the movie and book version of Beastly. It is an interesting, modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast that really worked. It was a fun, light read at lunchtime.
12: The Help
Everyone I know who read the book first disliked the movie. For once, I watched the movie first and ended up loving both the movie and the book. I would suggest you go that route too. The book is both funny and shocking. It makes you think, which is pretty rare for anything making the book club rounds these days.
17: The Creative Writer's Survival Guide: Advice from an Unrepentant Novelist
I was lucky enough to have John McNally as a writing professor in college. He always had good advice, was fair in his critiques, and gave great advice. His book reminded me so much of being in his workshop class, reminded me of old friends (Jonas), and filled my head with good advice. It also made me rethink panning a book (or anything really) too quickly on my blog.
18: The Hunger Games
Ok, yes, I read this book again. My sister was reading it, and I wanted to read it along with her. I was also about to go see the movie (enjoyed it). After a second read, I still love this book. It is accessible to many readers, but it still is able to make a lasting point. I respect that in any writing.
19: The Chosen and 20: The Diary of a Young Girl
These books did something magical for me because they made me think about the past and sprouted an interest in my grandparent's lives (Family History). I have always been interested in their lives, but after reading both of these, it made me ask questions and wonder about things in a totally different way. In addition, it pushed me to learn more about the Holocaust, which is a important to never forget about. They taught me about things that I didn't even know that I should be asking about.
21: Tex and 25: Taming the Star Runner
S.E. Hinton is one of my favorite writers. Her books are straightforward and simple enough for anyone to read, yet she is able to pack them with characters, situations, and emotions that are so vivid and wonderful that you can't help but be sucked into their world. I've written about her before (No Jazz Before The Rumble) and feel that both of these novels hold their own. They make me want to run away to Oklahoma to ride horses and hang out with the cowboys.
22: What Do You Want to Do Before You Die?
I love the guys from The Buried Life. They are silly and a bit crazy, but they do some pretty awesome things. I had to have this book. Canadian boys seem so lovely, I think that I need to run away to Canada too.
23: Franny and Zooey
I enjoy Salinger's writer because he knows how to capture a character on a page and make them feel so real in my mind. I've read Catcher in the Rye more times than I care to count (It's history. It's poetry.), and Holden Caulfield is like an old friend (granted a nutty one). I haven't read much of his other work, so that's one of my current goals. I want to get acquainted with the Glass family.
24: Cat's Cradle: A Novel
This was my first Vonnegut novel. I was always worried that he was too weird. This book was totally weird, but it was also hysterical and poignant. At first, I was lost and confused. I wanted to give up on it, but I am so glad that I didn't. Now that I know that Slaughterer Five isn't about working with dead animal carcasses, it will be my next Vonnegut novel.
26: Burning Bright
I appreciate the way that Steinbeck saw the world. He loved his characters and his readers. After reading one of this novels, I feel like I have been transported to their world. I feel like I have lived their life. I read The Winter of Our Discontent when I was 15, and I have carried Ethan Allen Hawley with me ever since. This one wasn't quite as powerful, but I still enjoyed it.
If you want to follow along with my reading, follow me on shelfari (awdylanis). Also, if you have any book recommendations, add them to the comments below. I'm always looking for interesting books to read.