72 in 39

72 in 39

It's that time again! I've made another trip around the sun, and these 72 books came along for the ride.  It's really interesting for me to look through this list as I type these posts each year. To be honest, many of these books I struggle to remember and need to look up the synopsis to recall what in the world it was about--so many of those "domestic fiction" books run together for me--while they are great page turners in the quiet of night, many aren't memorable. It's fun to see the flow of what I've read. I can tell how I may have moved from book to book, and what I felt drawn to based on what was going on in my life (while I don't post here, I do note the date I finished each book in the notebook I keep). It's fun to feel "led" by books. While my TBR list is very long (as-is my library waiting list), I do allow myself to follow something I feel pulled to, whether it's a recommendation from a friend, a book that pops up in the Kindle Daily Deals list I get from Modern Mrs Darcy each day, or something a favorite podcaster/instagrammer/blogger posts about. Sometimes books just fall in your lap, and I love that. This year I allowed myself to do something I have previously never done--read more than one book at a time. I'd never been able to do this before, but a suggestion made by a podcaster I enjoy (Laura Tremaine, formerly on Sorta Awesome, now has her own show Smartest Person In The Room) really helped me figure this out. Since I'm often up earliest in my home and start the day reading, I take that time (usually half an hour or so) and read something non-fiction. This is when I read anything spiritual or self-help or parenting-related. These are the books I generally buy in hard copy, and spend time marking them up as I'm wrapped in a blanket on the couch drinking that sacred first cup of coffee. Then, at night, I get lost in whatever novel I'm reading snuggled in bed by the light of my kindle. It feels like an indulgence at the end of the day, and helps me shut my brain off before bed. I've had several people comment that they could never read this much. While there ARE seasons of life that don't lend themselves to racking up a long reading list, I'm of the opinion that you CAN read, if you want to. If something is important to you, you'll find the time. My single biggest tip is to stop reading a book if you aren't into it. I probably quit an average of 20 books per year. Life's just to short to read books you don't like. Put it aside and move on to something you feel drawn to. Books aren't the boss of you, and I promise that author isn't going to know if you didn't finish their book. OK? OK. Let's get to it, shall we?

72 in 39--My Top 10(ish) marked with an asterisk *

1. Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts by Sally Winston--I don't know how or why I started this year off on such a random, intense-sounding book such as this. This book was really interesting. If you've ever found yourself thinking crazy things (like "What would happen if I fell from this height" or something random and unpleasant like that), you will learn that this is normal and nothing to spend time worrying about or thinking it means something. If you enjoy psychology you'll like it.

2. It Starts with Food by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig--Yes, this is the book about the WHOLE30. No, I did not do a WHOLE30 and no, I do not intend to. Because YOLO, and I need half and half in my coffee like you cannot possibly understand. But I wanted to know what the fuss is about. 

3. Sourdough, A Novel by Robin Sloan--I needed to binge on talk of bread after that previous book. This is a charming novel, especially if you are passionate about food and tradition.

4. The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs--Beautiful memoir, very sad. Interesting to note that the widower of this author is now together with the widow of Paul Kalanithi (deceased author of When Breath Becomes Air). Read that somewhere recently. 

5. Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary

*6. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid--Absolutely loved this one. Hope they make it into a movie!

7. The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

8. Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica--Mary isn't killin it for me with her last couple books. Meh.

9. Slow Down by Nichole Nordeman

10. Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

11. Church of The Small Things by Melanie Shankle

*12. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult--Amazing book based loosely on true events. If you think Jodi Picoult is a has-been, think again. This is her best, most important book ever. Don't miss it.

13. My Glory Was I Had Such Friends: A Memoir by Amy Silverstein

14. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

15. Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush--Yes, really, I read the memoir of the Bush sisters. It was fun! And interesting and I got lots of insights into the Bush family. 

16. My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman--This is actually a prequel to Britt-Marie Was Here, but I didn't know and so read this out of order. The stories stand alone, but I think I would have appreciated Britt-Marie more if I had read this first.

17. A Simplified Life by Emily Ley--I love Emily Ley. I think this book is better than her first (Grace, Not Perfection). I am a full-supporter and user of her planners, and yes, I have a pineapple hat!

18. Finding God In The Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science by Mike McHargue--Really interesting memoir written by "Science Mike" who you may know from The Liturgists Podcast.

19. The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

20. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

21. The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison--This one is creepy. It was a page-turner, but I don't recommend it if you are sensitive.

22. Standard Deviation: A Novel by Katherine Heiny

23. Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

24. Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan--Anything written by Kelly Corrigan is worth reading, though for the record, Glitter and Glue is still my favorite.

25. The One and Only Ivan by K.A. Applegate--I read this for my mother-daughter book club I do with my 9 year old. Loved it.

26. Party Girl by Rachel Hollis--This is actually the first book written by Rachel Hollis and it's a novel that's based on her stories of being a young party planner to the stars in LA. Fun read.

*27. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas--Everyone needs to read this book.

*28. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin--This book blew my mind. Genius storytelling and it sucked me right in. Really makes you think about little decisions you make in life and how they adjust your path. 

29. If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey

*30. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate--Historical fiction pertaining to events I knew nothing about previously--the stealing of children from poor families in the South to sell them to wealthy couples who couldn't have children (who were told they were true orphans because their parents were killed). Crazy.

31. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis--OK, I like Rachel Hollis and what she's about, but I think this book was oversold. Didn't blow me away.

32. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman--This one started slow for me, and I almost gave up. I'm so glad I didn't. I grew to love Eleanor and this story.

*33. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah--Outstanding work by Kristin Hannah here, and it's of the caliber you expect from her. The setting (rural Alaska) makes for a captivating story. One of my favorites of the year, save for the ending. It just wasn't what I wanted.

34. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume--A bookclub read for my daughter and I.

*35. The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine--Ooh this one was good! Probably my favorite of all the "domestic fiction" on this list.

36. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones--I didn't love this as much as all the reviewers did. It made me feel really sad.

37. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen--Another good domestic fiction. Twisty.

38. Homefront by Kristin Hannah

39. Parenting with Love: Making A Difference In A Day by Glen Latham--A really short, but great, book. One of the few parenting books I've read and didn't want to throw across the room, if that tells you anything.

*40. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover--My favorite memoir of the year. Reads like a novel. An unbelievable story. Don't miss it!

41. Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

42. The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever by Jamie Wright

43. The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

44. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle--Listened to this in the car with my girls. I have to be honest that I did not like it. My apologies to the whole world because everyone seems to think it's amazing (and the movie is terrible, by the way).

45. How Not To Die by Gene Stone and Michael Greger--This is a life-changing (or at least perspective-changing) book. Don't let the title push you away. I understand it's a bit dramatic sounding, but I promise the book is not. 

*46. Everybody, Always by Bob Goff--Oh Bob Goff, how I love you so. He is so good at living like Jesus and encouraging others to do the same. Just read this, and while you are at it, read his first book (Love Does) if you haven't.

*47. Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend--Every person alive should read this book. It is the the single most helpful book I think I've ever read. It helped me realize so many areas of my life where I thought I had good boundaries, but actually didn't. 

48. Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall--This book didn't do it for me. I'm still not exactly sure what actually happened. I'd skip it if I were you.

49. The Bonjour Effect by Jean-Benoit Nadeau--This was an informative read about French culture and language nuances. Helped me prep for the Paris trip.

50. The Path Between Us by Suzanne Stabile--I will forever and always read anything about the Enneagram, especially if it's written by Suzanne Stabile or Ian Morgan Cron. So, so good.

51. Matilda by Roald Dahl--Read with my daughter for our book club. Surprisingly, I'd never read it before. 

52. That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam

53. Hey Ladies! The Story of Eight Best Friends, One Year, and Way, Way Too Many E mails by Caroline Moss and Michelle Markowitz--This was such a fun and different read. It's literally written in the form of e mail exchange and text messages between these friends. Has some illustrations, too. It's hard to describe, but trust me when I say that it's quite amusing. Must be read in paper copy--can't imagine all the format translating well to an e reader.

54. DARE: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks by Barry McDonagh--Not as dramatic as it sounds; just a book full of some really helpful tips if you tend on the more anxious side of personalities as I do.

55. The Perfect Mother by Amy Malloy--Didn't live up to the hype for me.

56. Rick Steve's Paris by Rick Steves (duh)--I read this cover to cover for the Paris trip. So informative and helpful. 

57. I'll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara--This was a fascinating read. It was written by Patton Oswalt's late wife (she died while writing it) and ultimately chronicles her search for the Golden State Killer (who was caught after she died, in part due to her research). If you like true crime, don't miss it.

58. Raising An Original: Parenting Each Child According To Their God-Given Temperament by Julia Lyles Carr--Meh.

59. Lunch In Paris: A Delicious Love Story, with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard--I enjoyed this fun memoir about an American woman who met her husband at lunch in Paris and then never left.

60. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell--Well-written as you'd expect from this author.

61. Tell Me Lies by Carola Loverling

62. The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seen: Opening Your Eyes to Wonder by Lisa Gungor--Really, really enjoyed this memoir. 

63. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler--OK this book was just weird. Not my favorite.

64. The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn--I waited a long time for the digital library copy, and it was worth the wait. A couple of twists that I just didn't see coming.

65. A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal by Jen Waite--Just plain crazy story. I hope this woman makes a lot of money from this book. She deserves it after putting up with her lying piece of crap husband.

*66. Beartown by Fredrik Backman--I wasn't expecting to like this book. I didn't like it, I loved it. Can't wait to read the sequel. 

67. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee--Interesting historical fiction about Japan/Korea post war. Covers a lengthy span of time for one family. I liked it, but it didn't suck me in like I was expecting it to.

68. The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian--This was another good suspenseful novel that had some twists I didn't expect

69. A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner--Highly recommend this piece of historical fiction set on Ellis Island in the early 1900's, alternating with the aftermath of 911. I wasn't sure the author was going to be able to neatly connect these stories without being cheesy, but she did.

70. Stranger in the House: A Novel by Shari Lapena--This book was not of the same caliber as this author's previous novel. Bummer.

71. Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris--I was really into this book, until the end. Some good twists, but I just didn't like how it unfolded when all was said and done. 

*72. Off The Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam--I saw this book promoted all over the interwebs and in podcasts so I finally bought it and I intentionally read it as the last book of my 39th year. This one isn't as boring as it sounds, I promise. Tons of helpful advice and perspective on using our time in meaningful ways to create memories instead of just filling it with busy-ness and distractions. I will probably re-read this.