Books a Million: My Reading List, Part III

My goal for the year was to read 52 books. Currently, I’m falling a bit short of that goal—by four reads. While 22 books isn’t exactly embarrassing, I need to step up my game. That said, there hasn’t been a whole lot of time for reading lately, what with starting my own company, attending entrepreneur boot camp all summer, and hitting all four corners of the state of Tennessee in just a week; although this is my month of “not traveling”—I only consider it that once I board a plane or cross a country/state line—I’ve spent the last eight days in Memphis (to visit these gals), Spring Hill (for meetings and training), Chattanooga (for a magazine feature) and Knoxville (to meet with my former journalism school adviser and help my sister move out after five years of living in God’s Country). So yeah, travel or not, it’s been a busy time.

But! I’m heading to the beach later in July for an eight-day family reunion and plan on making up ground there on my very long reading list, which now exceeds 100 novels. So far, here’s what I read in the second quarter of this year, many of which were your recommendations for me at the end of 2011.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Like so many others, I have always been fascinated by Hemingway. (Random aside: Have you seen the new HBO special Hemingway & Gelhorn starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman? If you haven’t, I highly suggest you watch it via OnDemand.) He’s one of my very favorite 20th-century authors, and I found this piece of historical fiction written from the viewpoint of his first of four wives, Hadley, not only bitterly honest—the man, while brilliant, clearly was a troubled soul—but also rather fascinating, the way the mind (and reasoning) of a genius like Hem works. I also loved hearing about the other famous names, like Ezra Pound, with whom he and Hadley palled around Europe.

Rating: 4.5 of 5

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

My sister-in-law Lisa and I share a Kindle account—we’re kindred reading spirits—and she and her husband downloaded this one and highly recommended it. She’s also of the mindset that “dystopian YA can do no wrong,” so I always listen to her opinion. Plus, so many of you had told me to put this on my list last year, and we’re all kindred reading spirits, too, right? At first, I found Graceling painfully slow and hard to follow—it’s a cross between Game of Thrones with its bazillion characters with difficult names and number of kingdoms, and The Hunger Games with its central heroine being a fighter trained to kill, and bits of Narnia sprinkled throughout—and didn’t think I’d make it through. But I have one of those OCD personalities that doesn’t allow me to leave anything unfinished—the reason I read all of the Twilight books despite loathing them, and continue to see all the films in the theater—and by the second half, I was hooked. I have high hopes for the other two in the trilogy, Fire and Bitterblue, which I will be reading later this summer.

Rating: 4 of 5

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Another recommendation that you guys pretty much forced upon me. Don’t ever say I don’t listen to your opinions, mmkay? While I found the premise fascinating—and who hasn’t been enthralled by the morbid curiosity and mentality behind World War II and the Holocaust?—I just didn’t love this book. I’m not sure why. It was beautifully written. It was heartbreaking. It was creative—told from the view of a Nazi German as opposed to your typical Jewish narrator—with vivid color imagery and a persona given to death. But something about it just didn’t jive with me. It also seemed really long (though I can never be quite sure as I read everything on my Kindle).

Rating: 3 of 5

Royal Flush, Royal Blood and Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness books 3, 4 and 5)

I resisted this series for so long. My mom, with whom I’ve always shared a library, kept prompting me, but while I do love historical fiction, traditionally I’m not one for mysteries, and the Royal Spyness series is billed as a “historical fiction mystery series.” But I finally gave in while at the beach, and now have read all five of the books that chronicle Lady Georgiana—cousin to Queen Victoria, 34th in line to the throne—and her royal engagements and the messes she gets caught up in. It’s sort of Downton Abbey meets Shopaholic, and I love it. The author is finished with book 6 (not yet published) and working on 7 already, and I absolutely cannot wait to read what misadventures Georgie gets into next.

Rating: 4 of 5

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

This might have been one of the most anticipated sequels of 2012 in terms of Internet excitement. Many think its predecessor, Divergent, was even better than The Hunger Games. (Jury’s still out for me until I read the series in its entirety.) Insurgent begins right where Divergent left off with the factions in disarray, and even though I only read the first book in February, I’d forgotten some of the central characters and their stories (too many YA reads of late, I suppose). So I’d suggest re-reading Divergent before delving into Insurgent. I didn’t think it was as nail-biting as Divergent, then again it’s the second of three so I realize that sometimes the author just has to lay the groundwork. It was slower, not as much action and the middle part sort of dragged along. That said, it did have a pretty exciting and startling ending, so in the end, I was satisfied. I can’t wait for the conclusion of the trilogy come May 2013.

Rating: 4 of 5

Dead Reckoning and Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse books 11 and 12)

Oof. This is another one of those series I just can’t quit, no matter how embarrassingly awful it’s become. I’ve been reading about Sookie’s otherworldly follies since my mom and sister-in-law simultaneously introduced me to the saga back in 2008 (this was pre-True Blood, mind you). The first few were cute and creative, and Sookie was likeable and caught up in a vampire love triangle (often more of a circle or pentagon). But the last two have just gotten downright ridiculous. The (lucky?) 13th and final installment will be published in May 2013, and I can’t say I’ll be sad to part with Sookie. Sometimes, all good things need to end before their expiration date.

Rating: 2 of 5

Looking for Alaska by John Green

You guys weren’t lying: Looking for Alaska was phenomenal. Though I’ve only read two books of Green’s, after The Fault in our Stars and now Alaska, he tops the list of my favorite present-day authors. His writing style is so snappy and fluid, and I don’t know where he comes up with some of his dialogue. It’s Gilmore Girls-esque, but even smarter. Based on the name, I thought Alaska was going to be an on-the-road Into the Wild-style novel. It’s not. Instead, it follows introvert Miles “Pudge” Halter as he goes off to boarding school in rural Alabama—and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good boarding school read?—and, subsequently, falls in love with the dynamic Alaska Young. I won’t say more for fear of giving it away. I still think I liked Fault even better, sad though it may have been, and I’m looking forward to reading An Abundance of Katherines soon.

Rating: 4.5 of 5

Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos

I’m currently reading this one, and as Love Walked In is one of my favorite reads of the last decade, I have high hopes for Falling Together, as well.

Rating: TBD

Now tell me, since I’ve followed so many of your recommendations in the past: What should I read in quarter three? What are you loving this year, new or old?

In my Kindle queue already are A Discovery of Witches, The Maze Runner, Ender’s Game, Fire, Bitterblue, Under the Never Sky, Unbroken, Gone Girl and more Jonathan Tropper.

COMMENTS
  • July 2, 2012

    Love reading lists! Ok, so here’s what I recommend (and lord knows it’s going to be YA-themed!)

    This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers – a zombie book that actually has some serious emotional stuff going on underneath. Read it in one day.

    Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard – she’s a travel writer too, and I think you’ll see this one. About a girl who goes backpacking through South America

    Second Chance Summer – awesome book, but warning – you’ll sob uncontrollably

    The Westing Game – recently re-read this, and it’s just as good now, if not better than it was when I read it in 5th grade!

    Also read (and loved) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (totally awesome, swoony love story) The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (really sweet, addicting contemporary romance, first in a trilogy, all are out now), and Trafficked by Kim Purcell (a YA about human trafficking, another I couldn’t put down. Read it all in one night)

  • July 2, 2012

    i certainly hope that after you took that first picture, you walked ten feet to the right and straight into the tomato head for lunch. and i’m embarrassed to say that i just read the shades of grey trilogy but have since moved on to more respectable literature – londoners by craig taylor, just kids by patti smith (loved it), and next on deck is carol king’s new autobiography.

    happy reading!

    • July 2, 2012

      I didn’t! I know, I KNOW. It was crazy crowded because of the weird Kumba festival in the square. BUT I did eat at Cafe 4 again and discovered my new favorite sandwich: a brisket grilled cheese with vidalia onion jam. Ooooomg. (And I did eat at Tomato Head in April, I should add. I stopped by there en route to Virginia JUST to grab a calzone!

  • July 2, 2012

    DITTO on the Sookie Stackhouse books. I can’t quit them, but they’re limping along at this point. I’m kind of furious how she’s set up the series to wrap up. She has said publicly numerous times that Sookie wouldn’t become a vampire, but at this point, I kind of wish she had.

    I had high hopes for Falling Together, since I loved Loved Walked In and Belong to Me, but I was a little disappointed.

    Favorites read in 2012, so far: The Hex Hall series! Best fantasy since Harry Potter, in my opinion. I also REALLY loved On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta and Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy.

    Most anticipated on my To Read list: Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, and We Only Knew So Much by Elizabeth Crane. Oh and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

    Maybe we should just become GoodReads friends.

    • July 2, 2012

      I only use GoodReads about once a year if that! I just find yet another social media network to be too overwhelming.

      Love all these recs–haven’t heard of most of them. Bummer about Falling Together; I also loved the other, too. Hex Hall sounds fascinating–we’re all huge HP fans in our house, so that sounds like one I’ll make the whole family read.

      Did you see that Charlaine has said there’s no possible way she can wrap up all the story lines? So basically I anticipate a finale even less conclusive than Lost. Blah.

      • July 2, 2012
        Amanda

        Well, isn’t that just FANTASTIC? Thanks, Charlaine. My initial excitement for this series was almost as much as my HP excitement. I stood in a line that wrapped around a city block (twice) to get Charlaine to sign a book for me at the Philadelphia Library.

        Anywho – can’t wait to see what everyone else suggests!

        • July 2, 2012

          I feel like her becoming a vampire in the end is too cliche “Twilight” to happen. Surely she won’t do that to us after 13 years of dedication–right? RIGHT, CHARLAINE?

  • July 2, 2012
    Patrice

    Gone Girl is next on my list. If I Stay was a nice story and very quick read. My husband loved Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, but it didn’t sound interesting to me.

    • July 2, 2012

      I’ve actually never read anything by Hillenbrand (yet) but I’m so intrigued by seeing her name everywhere that I feel compelled to.

  • July 2, 2012

    Not sure if you’ve read the book yet but I keep hearing about 50 Shades of Grey trilogy and although I can’t personally recommend it as of right now every time I ask someone for a recommendation for a good read I am directed this way.
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    • July 2, 2012

      I haven’t yet and am not sure I can bring myself to do so either! Not just because of the actual content at hand, but more so because everyone I know who has read it says the writing is positively atrocious. I found the four installments of Twilight so painful to get through for that reason alone. But who knows–my mom is talking about buying it on her Kindle, and if she does, I might be swayed…one day…

      • July 2, 2012
        Tiffany

        Ah makes sense, like I’ve said haven’t read it yet so can’t give you my personal opinion but perhaps your Mom can be the judge 😉

      • July 2, 2012
        Nelson's Mama

        I’ll confess – I’ve read the first two and will probably start the third book today. They aren’t very well written, but, I’m not above reading some literary trash from time to time 😉 My group of friends all agreed to read them so we could discuss them over cocktails!

        • July 2, 2012

          It’s not like I have morals when it comes to content, ha; I just think I’d be dissecting every sentence subconsciously and so annoyed by the structure and grammatical errors that I wouldn’t enjoy it anyway.

          • July 2, 2012
            Amanda

            This is the EXACT reason I didn’t suggest them for you. I read them over a lazy bachelorette weekend and got through them quickly, but still painful.

  • July 2, 2012
    Nelson's Mama

    I’d put off reading “Cutting for Stone” for months and when I finally got around to reading it I couldn’t put it down…

    • July 2, 2012

      I don’t know about that one, but I just added it to my Kindle list. Thank you!

      • July 2, 2012

        Agreed about “Cutting for Stone.” I read it on vacation a couple of years ago and couldn’t put it down.

        Also, as a fellow Tennessean, you might enjoy “My Own Country,” which was written by the same author a number of years ago. It’s non-fiction, about his years working as a doctor in Johnson City during the early years of the AIDS epidemic, and it’s excellent (though sad).

  • July 2, 2012
    Jen

    I am adding some of these to my reading list! I can’t wait to hear what you think about A Discovery of Witches. I loved it and am looking forward to book #2, which comes out this month. I recently finished Swamplandia! and am currently reading Stolen Water (both books about the Everglades…the first a fictional account and the second, nonfiction). I also have Cassandra Clare’s latest in the Mortal Instruments YA series on hold at the library. Happy reading!
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    • July 2, 2012

      I have Mortal Instruments on my to-read list, too! What did you think about Swamplandia!? I started it a year ago and got halfway through (to the part where she’s heading into the Underworld) and just sort of lost interest. Though it was a finalist pick for last year’s Pulitzer for the fiction category (a category, incidentally, they decided not to award as the judges couldn’t decide among three books…silly, they should have given them all one, I think).

      • July 2, 2012
        Jen

        I have to admit that I wasn’t really a fan of the book and the Underworld part was where I lost interest as well. After she got in the boat with the guy, I found myself skimming pages to finish the book. I am really enjoying Stolen Water. Have you read any of the Mortal Instruments yet? It has been one of my favorite series. I just added Divergent to my library list for our trip today!
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        • July 2, 2012

          Nope–not yet! Too many books, so little time. Not sure if I’ll ever return to Swamplandia! though I feel I need to finish it on principle.

  • July 2, 2012

    Insurgent was also one of my recent reads. I think there were too many action sequences in it that Tris just magically seems to figure out. Still not that sold on the series, and I don’t think it can touch The Hunger Games.

    A few good ones that I read recently and recommend to you: Into Thin Air (never read it when it was huge, but damn! I do NOT want to climb Everest!!!), An Object of Beauty (another exquisite Steve Martin book), The Female of the Species (Lionel Shriver’s first book and a fascinating character study), and Girl Walks Into a Bar (super-fast and funny read from Rachel Dratch on how she resigned herself to never having kids, then met an awesome dude and randomly got pregnant at 43).

    I’m faring far worse than you — have only read 16 this year. Ack.
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    • July 2, 2012

      I’m with you, too: So far I don’t think it touches The Hunger Games, but again, I read THG as a trilogy back-to-back, so I have to wait until all books of any series are out before judging as a whole. I definitely liked Divergent a lot better than Insurgent. Right now, I’d say Delirium and Pandemonium–the third of which also will be released next year–beat the Divergent series by a landslide.

      I still have The Post-Birthday World on my to-read list, as well. Right now, it’s fifth in line, so hopefully I’ll get to it by beach time this month.

      Thanks for the other recs! All added.

  • July 2, 2012

    I’m all over the map with what I want to read this summer, but I’m definitely going to enjoy some mystery/thriller action. (IMHO, skip 50 Shades — it was…difficult to get through. I knew the writing would be bad but it was DISTRACTINGLY bad.) Gillian Flynn, Sophie Hannah and Tana French will be in full rotation. Now if I could just find some time! 🙂

    • July 2, 2012

      I think I would just be annoyed that such bad writing could be turned into a bazillion-dollar book enterprise! Glad I have that confirmation from you, too =) Really excited to read Gone Girl, particularly as I was at Entertainment Weekly the same time Gillian was.

  • July 2, 2012
    Beth

    Ugh, I too slogged through Insurgent after loving Divergent, and forgot lots of plot lines/characters. And I’m so glad you read Graceling, I LOVE that book. Fire is different but fantastic as well. Bitterblue is much longer but it’s one of those books I really didn’t want to end.

    Jen, I’ll second both the Discovery of Witches (I’ve preordered the sequel, can’t wait!) and the Cassandra Clare books (the first three in the Mortal Instruments series are great; the others are not quite up to the same quality).

    Also, I will recommend The Night Circus (I’m not one to dote on language but the descriptions of the circus itself are AWESOME), and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (a fascinating read, and the way the author came up with the story is crazy cool).

    I’m teaching a dystopian lit class in the fall (one of the perks of grad school) so I’ve been catching up on my YA dystopian lit. In case you haven’t run across these yet, Legend was really cool (I like the narration switches between the male and female characters every chapter), Starters was good but I’ll wait for final opinion until I read the next book, and and Wither is awesome. Oh, and for a completely different type of YA dystopian lit, try The True Meaning of Smekday – it is hilarious!

    Okay, I’m done now. I read this stuff all the time so it’s hard to stop talking about books!

    • July 2, 2012

      If we lived in the same city, I would be auditing that class. Dream class! I bet it is so stinkin’ fun to teach. I read The Night Circus earlier this year (loved it…so creative), and Miss Peregrine’s currently is slated to be #34 on my 2012 list. Discovery is next, and Cassandra Clare just got a boost after so many people recommended her. I’ve never heard of Smekday, but I love that title!

      • July 2, 2012
        Beth

        I’m teaching it for the first time and I’m totally nerding out while preparing for it. It’s technically a gender class but I’m theme-ing it around dystopian lit. We’re doing some older stuff (Brave New World, 1984), some media/graphic stuff (Twilight Zone, War of the Worlds, Serenity, V for Vendetta the graphic novel), then jumping into YA (Feed, Ender’s Game, Parable of the Sower, and The Hunger Games). We’re also doing a couple of weeks where they get to pick a YA book by group so lots of the books mentioned will be covered then.

        • July 2, 2012

          Reading Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 while in high school were what got me into loving the whole genre in the first place. V for Vendetta is one of my favorite movies of the past decade. And Scott just finished rereading Ender’s Game, so I suppose I will get to it soon, too!

          • July 2, 2012
            Beth

            Oh, Ender’s Game is fantastic! Orson Scott Card is kind of an @#$*& but he writes some good books.

  • July 2, 2012
    Rebecca (Bearca)

    Have you read Devil in the White City? Really REALLY good. It’s non-fiction, but in places it reads like a novel.

    I also second Cutting for Stone.

    • July 2, 2012
      Beth

      Ah, I thought about including The Devil in the White City as well! I listened to a podcast about one part of the book and then decided to read it. I don’t read a lot of nonfiction but I couldn’t put this one down.

      • July 2, 2012

        I have never even heard of The Devil in the White City! This is why the Internet is so brilliant. Three votes for Devil bumps it up in the list!
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        • July 2, 2012

          I also enjoyed “Devil in the White City.” Even better, in my opinion, is the author’s newer book “In the Garden of Beasts,” about Hitler’s rise to power. Great read.
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    • July 2, 2012

      Oh that’s funny! I was going to mention Devil in the White City just because I read that last summer and really enjoyed it and have been trying to get my hands on some more Erik Larson at the library but am still on the waiting list. I second that if you want to read something sort of sinister/serious/historical.

      (Ok, must sign off and actually do some work now, otherwise I will just be here all day talking books in your comments section. HA!)
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      • July 2, 2012
        Rebecca (Bearca)

        Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts is also really good.

  • July 2, 2012

    It seems we might have different tastes in books, but the books I’ve been recommending lately are:
    A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
    State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
    The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
    The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
    Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

    The Paris Wife is on my list for the summer.

    • July 2, 2012

      Not so much actually! My book tastes are all over the map (except horror…I so can’t do a Stephen King novel). State of Wonder was my favorite book from 2011. Did you like it? Art of Fielding is on my 2012 list. The Paris Wife was great. And I’ll add all the others to my list! I like a wide range of books–I tend to read more Oprah’s Book Club/Art of Fielding/State of Wonder-type novels, but this year, somehow I’ve picked up more series that require my attention from start to end (Royal Spyness, all the YA trilogies, etc.).

      • July 3, 2012

        I loved State of Wonder. Ann Patchett is fantastic.

        I’ve never really gotten into series or trilogies because of that need for attention they require and my need to flit from book to completely different book to completely different book. (I actually haven’t even read any of the Harry Potter books… I know. I know.) I’m also not much into dystopian lit, which is what a lot of them seem to be. I ought to give them a try though because they have come recommended from so many people.

  • July 2, 2012
    Rebecca (Bearca)

    Oh! Kristin, have you read either of Alan Brennert’s novels — Moloka’i or Honolulu? I loved them both. Really excellent.

    • July 2, 2012

      No! But you’re not the first who has rec’d them, so I am promptly adding them to my Amazon Wishlist. (Now if only someone would gift me an Amazon lottery so I could afford my reading habits.)

  • July 2, 2012
    Alison

    I’m in the middle of Murakami’s IQ84 and it’s pretty good so far. I don’t think it’s his best work, but if you’re a fan of his then I’d definitely give it a try. Love your book updates btw!

    • July 2, 2012

      Now I feel uneducated because I don’t even know who Murakami is! Obviously, Scott Johnson’s memoir will top my list when it comes out!

      • July 2, 2012
        Alison

        You’re so sweet! Scott’s book has been getting rave reviews in Australia:) Haruki Murakami is amazing! He’s Japanese so you’re forgiven for not having heard of him! Here is his wikipedia — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haruki_Murakami
        If you want to try him out, I’d recommend “Dance, Dance, Dance,” or “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.” His stuff is very surreal and often supernatural.

  • July 2, 2012
    Briel K.

    I had high hopes for “Falling Together” since I loved “Love Walked In” and “Belong to Me” but it didn’t really do anything for me. I was pretty disappointed actually. I don’t even remember what it was about, that’s how forgettable it was for me!

    I wan’t impressed with The Book Thief either.

    I have now read everything by John Green. Love his books!

    I’ve read 33 books so far this year but I feel like some of them are cheating (short childrens books, Roald Dahl, etc.) I haven’t really read anything interesting lately. Right now I’m re-reading some old VC Andrews books. LOL I just received “Everything Changes” by Jonathan Tropper from paperbackswap.com so I think that’ll be my next read.

    • July 2, 2012

      And just like that, I have archived Falling Together…for now. You were the second commenter to say that! Bummer. I might have to pick up An Abundance of Katherines next. What else have you loved by Green?

      And ahhhh, Roald Dahl might very well be my ALL-TIME FAVORITE. I have read The Witches, BFG, Henry Sugar and Matilda more times than I care to publicly admit.

      Everything Changes was excellent! A very quick read.

  • July 2, 2012

    The Art of Fielding! It was amazing – as one of my friends put it – “About baseball in the way that Friday Night Lights is about football.”

    I’m also into John Irving lately – I LOVED “A Prayer for Owen Meany”. Highly recommend.

    Also – don’t be ashamed by your 22, I think that’s very respectable for a person who has a demanding career. At least, that’s what I tell myself. It’s the year of the book! http://thebluegrasstrifecta.blogspot.com/2012/07/year-of-book-halfway.html
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    • July 3, 2012

      Art of Fielding just got moved to the top after so many of you said it’s excellent!

  • July 2, 2012

    I can promise you that no one reads Shades of Grey for the writing, but if you didn’t enjoy Twilight than these books probably aren’t going to be your cup of tea. They do make for fun conversations with your best girlfriends however Books that I’ve recently enjoyed (since I get them from the library they aren’t necessarily hot off the presses) are Bossypants (Tina Fey), Just Kids (Patti Smith – absolutely loved this book!), and Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell). I’m currently reading Londoners by Craig Taylor, which is also an enjoyable read.

    And I sincerely hope that after you took that first picture, you turned right and walked the ten feet into the Tomato Head for something to eat!

    Happy reading.

    • July 3, 2012

      Glad to hear you liked Bossypants. I’ve been going back and forth on whether I want to read it since it first came out (I do love me some Tina). And thanks for the Shades of Grey affirmation–I’m usually all over anything trendy, but I just…can’t with this one.

  • July 2, 2012

    You just bumped Divergent to the top of my to read list. It has been on there for a while but I keep getting sidetracked by books about mermaids (none worthy of a strong recommendation, so far). I’ll be delving into Royal Spyness it seems too . . . Downton meets Shopaholic? SIGN ME UP.

    I’ve been reading a LOT lately, but nothing that specifically merits recommendation. Last 5 books: The Siren and The Selection, both by Kiera Cass, Growing up Amish by Ira Wagler, Fifty Shades (ugh), and I’m currently reading Lost Voices (mermaids!).
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    • July 3, 2012

      How have I never read a book about mermaids? Supernatural and fantasy stuff is usually my cup of tea! I hope you love Spyness as much as I do! Perfect beach reads, and the writing is just so clever. Growing Up Amish sounds like something I’d like, too–I recently met a girl at a publishing house whose genre she oversees is Amish romantic fiction. Who knew such a thing even existed (and she says it’s one of the top markets in books right now, too)? I love anything that’s Amish or Mormon or other kinds of lifestyles so foreign to me.

  • July 2, 2012

    “The Night Circus” and “State of Wonder” were two of my favorites this year, too, and I’m working my way through John Green’s stuff. The other thing I recently read, though it’s about 70 years old, is Dodie Smith’s “I Capture the Castle.” If you like historical fiction and England, you’ll love it.

    Also, have you read anything by Geraldine Brooks? All her fiction is great, but start with “People of the Book.”

    • July 2, 2012
      Beth

      It’s like you all are reading my mind! I just borrowed I Captured the Castle from the library. Is anyone else re-watching the tv show Christy with Kelly Martin (so sentimental, but so good!), because if so get out of my house.

      • July 2, 2012

        OMG, whatever happened to Kelly Martin anyway??

        • July 2, 2012
          Beth

          I don’t know, but I LOOOOOVED her. Christy + Life Goes On + that one episode of SeaQuest with Jonathan Brandis = eternal love.

  • July 2, 2012
    CJ

    I just downloaded The Paris Wife! Now I’m extra excited about that one. I’ve read quite a lot of the others and agree with your critiques. As I skimmed through the comments, I saw you said you can’t do Stephen King? I just read his new one ’11/22/63′, which is not horror; it is fantastic. It is about a guy who goes back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination. It has the whole time-bendy/”what if” thing going on, and I couldn’t put it down. I also recommend the Mortal Instruments, and another YA dystopian series, Matched (by Ally Condie). Looking forward to your Q3 Book Report!

    • July 2, 2012

      I should edit that statement: I don’t do Stephen King scary. I’m a wimp, the type of person who hides behind a blanket throughout the duration of a horror flick. But I’m an avid reader (and former employee) of Entertainment Weekly, and he’s been a longtime EW contributor, and I just adore his writing style and candor. I hadn’t even heard of his new one! Will definitely check it out.

      I did read Matched, and it was one of the few YA reads I wasn’t wild about, but I’m definitely going to read Crossed and give it a second shot. And yes to Mortal Instruments! Will read that soon, as well.

  • July 2, 2012

    Love book lists! I am reading “The Book Thief” now and I’m having a hard time getting into it. I just read a ton of books (in vacation!) and loved “On the Island” by Tracey Garvis Graves. It was fantastic. I found it thru Amazon because of the stellar reviews. I also just read “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson aka the Bloggess and really liked it.

    • July 3, 2012

      I wish I could tell you The Book Thief picks up, but it kind of keeps the whole pace throughout. It was very well written and poignant, but something about it just was not my kind of book.

    • August 13, 2012

      I second “On the Island.” I read it in one day, couldn’t put it down! The perfect lazy day read.

  • July 2, 2012
    helen

    i had to reread your last few book posts and realized i read ‘somewhere inside’ upon your recommendation and loved it, so thank you! a few i really enjoyed: ‘major pettigrew’s last stand’ (it sounds kind of fuddy duddy–about two seniors in the english countryside–but i found it charming) and ‘sense of an ending.’ one i really disliked was ‘ed king.’

    • July 3, 2012

      I have heard of Pettigrew but never read–adding it to my list now! I also have Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children on there, which is a similarly odd name =)

      I like that you added what you don’t like. That’s as important as which ones you do! Will know now not to read Ed King.

  • July 3, 2012

    The Paris Wife has been on the top of my reading list for quite some time now! It looks like a great read, especially for the summer 🙂
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    • July 3, 2012

      It’s not slow per se in the traditional sense, but it did take me a couple times of sitting down and rereading the beginning to get into that (I attribute that more to me doing all my reading at bedtime when I’m exhausted than anything). But it’s a pretty quick read once they get to Paris. I just love the autobiographical nature of it, even though it’s technically “fiction.”

  • July 3, 2012
    Thaïs

    I am in love with the Modern Witch series by Debora Geary. They sick you in and are a quick fun read. They are lending enabled and I’d be happy to share it with you.

    • July 3, 2012

      Oh, thank you for the offer! I will definitely take you up on that when I finish the ones I’ve already downloaded. I love anything with sorcery and a supernatural slant! I actually just started A Discovery of Witches last night!

  • July 3, 2012

    I am going straight to Amazon right now to download ‘Naughty In Nice’, I mean, how could I not! 🙂

    As for my recommendations, so far this summer I’ve enjoyed ‘What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures’ by Malcolm Gladwell which is quite like a literary version of the ‘This American Life’ podcast, ‘Let the Great World Spin’ by Colum McCann a novel which incorporates the story of the Frenchman who walked a tightrope between the World Trade Centre towers in the 1970s, and The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst about a young gay man growing up in Thatcher’s London in the 1980s. I’ve also been reading the Hunger Games because I like to be about 2 years behind everybody else!

    • July 3, 2012

      Naturally, I thought of you the whole time while reading it, too! If you read it, though, you must read the other four first. They are a series, so a lot of the characters and references won’t make sense if you jump in on the fifth. But they’re so fun and quick, you could knock all five out on a vacation!

      • July 4, 2012

        Ooh sounds good and I’ve been looking to download some books for a trip to England this weekend, I’ll check them out!!

        • July 4, 2012

          The first three take place in England, so it’s fitting timing! And given your friendship with the Queen, even more applicable 😉

    • July 3, 2012

      I will second Malcolm Gladwell’s books, any of them. 🙂

      xox
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  • July 3, 2012

    Unbroken is my favorite book I read last quarter, so I’m really glad it’s on your list! I’m also very interested in your thoughts on Ender’s Game

    xox
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    • July 4, 2012

      Oh good! Ender’s Game might take me awhile to get to, but Scott just reread it for the bazillionth time so I feel like I need to move it up in rank.

      • July 5, 2012
        Rachel

        Read Ender’s Shadow too! I loved Ender’s Shadow — better character development, in my opinion!

        I have read both at least 10+ times.

  • July 4, 2012
    Sid

    I have fallen in love with the George RR Martin’s Game of Throne series. Currently reading the the second book. And will probably buy the third before the end of the year.

    If you’re looking for a completely stunning book, I recommend Purple Hibiscus. Read it while vacationing in Bali and I completely balled my eyes out. Such a sad story.
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    • July 5, 2012

      I don’t think I could actually read the books for the same reason I can’t read The Hobbit–the writing style is just a bit too slow-going for me. But! Scott and I listened to the first two books on audio during our road trip last year, and I am a fan of the show. I’ll just have to stick to listening to the books instead of reading them!

  • July 4, 2012
    Sid

    Also I love the first picture.
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  • July 4, 2012

    Rereading “Stiff” by Mary Roach for the 43rd time. It’s a non-fiction exploration of the various uses of human cadavers. It’s grotesquely fascinating, but it’s so fucking hilarious that you don’t feel like a freakazoid for liking it.

    • July 4, 2012

      Given that I can’t hear, utter or even think the word “blood” without passing out–*thud*…sorry about that, but don’t say I didn’t tell you–I think I’ll defer to SVV on this one. He likes grotesquely fascinating reads.

    • July 5, 2012
      Sid

      OMG! I loved “Stiff” too! Sadly I gave my copy to a “boyfriend” and the ass never returned it. If you loved “Stiff”, you’ll love “Bonk” by the same author. Gosh, I love Mary Roach.
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  • July 4, 2012

    Not to completely disregard the point of this post, but I am So Curious to hear about your new company!! Best of luck with whatever it is!! And Happy Fourth : )
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    • July 5, 2012

      And I hate to be so vague–it’s killing me–but we’re going through all the early steps of founding a business at the moment, so I want to wait until everything is fleshed out before talking about it here. But hopefully, in August, I can share more =)

  • July 5, 2012

    I can’t believe “A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas” didn’t make your list! Don’t judge it by the movie; the book is way better!
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    • July 6, 2012

      That’s really a book? Or are you pulling my chain? =)

      • July 6, 2012

        =) I guess it could make for an interesting 3-D pop-up book, with bongs and genitalia popping up, but even if it was real, I’d stick with Hemingway or Green.
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        • July 6, 2012

          Pretty sure you’ve got yourself a recipe for a bestseller right there! I’d buy it just for the entertainment value…but only if NPH makes a cameo.

  • July 5, 2012
    Samantha

    Love the suggestions – I couldn’t agree more with the Sookie Stackhouse series. I’ll add a suggestion of my own. Song of Achilles was fantastic, and also took home the Orange Prize this year.

    Also, congrats on starting your own business – did you mention what it focuses on?

    Best of luck!

    • July 6, 2012

      Nope! Cat’s in the bag until August at least. I hate to be vague but we’re still hashing out all the details, signing clients, securing funding, etc. I will say it’s media-related.

  • July 6, 2012

    Something better than The Hunger Games? I must read it.

    I haven’t read a new book in so long, it is just sad. That’s what happens when you travel in Latin America and are anti-carrying around yet another electronic device just for reading.

    • July 6, 2012

      Seriously, you NEED to add a Kindle to your repertoire of flashpacking gear. It is SO light and cheap ($79), and then you never have to carry another heavy book around–and have constant entertainment in airports, on buses, etc.!

  • July 7, 2012
    Amy

    I love this! I need some new books. I just read Wild by Chery Strayed (that Sugar columnist on The Rumpus) about her hike over the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m starting Just Kids by Patti Smith right now. Pretty sure The Fault In Our Stars will be next — sounds awesome!
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    • July 8, 2012

      Yes, you will LOVE Fault. And then you will love Looking for Alaska. And then you will become obsessed with John Green and start watching the Vlogbrothers religiously and then fall in love with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries (web series started by his brother) and then you will be on Team Green like the rest of us =) Because I know you well.

  • July 7, 2012

    Okay…I’ve read a ton of YA this past year. I needed escapist reading only during this crazy year! Looks like you are set for months to come, but just in case…
    Any and everything by Sarah Dessen, but Along for the Ride and What Happened to Goodbye are my favs.
    I second everything by John Green. Also, I think I saw that you are watching the Lizzie Bennett Diaries, which are done by his brother. I lost hours one night to watching Vlogbrothers videos!
    Also, I really got into the Tammara Webber series, Between the Lines.

    • July 8, 2012

      I love me a fellow YA girl. And I didn’t know that about the Lizzie Bennet Diaries/John Green–excellent! I do love his Vlogbrothers videos, too.

      Completely random, but your mom and brother were in my dream last night! Weird, right?

  • July 8, 2012

    I’m sad I missed you in Knoxville! Next time 🙂

    I’m reading Gone Girl right now. The first half was fairly slow, but now I can’t put it down. Good fast read. I just finished Orange is the New Black — a memoir by an upper-crust gal who finds herself in prison for a year on drug charges. It is FASCINATING. I highly recommend.
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    • July 8, 2012

      I’m in the middle of A Discovery of Witches–and when I say “in the middle,” I mean at 10% on the Kindle, ha. This book must be looooong as I’ve been reading it for several nights now, and I’m no slow reader.

      Though funny, I *just* bought Gone Girl minutes ago as the Kindle price finally came down a bit. Glad that you recommend it!

  • July 8, 2012
    Ann-Marie

    right now I want to read ‘rules of civility,’ ‘the lacuna,’ and ‘the glass castle.’ have you ready any of these?

    • July 10, 2012

      The Glass Castle, yes! It is excellent. And I had never heard of Rules of Civility, and now you’re about the fifth person to mention it this week alone, so I feel I should add that to my list, too.

  • July 8, 2012
    amanda

    I was so happy to see another book list–your last one turned me on to John Green, and I loved it!
    Nothing to recommend, but have you used Overdrive? It’s a great way to check out e-books for your Kindle from your local library.

    • July 8, 2012

      Best. Tip. Ever. Now I just need to get a local library card so I can log in! Thanks in advance for saving me hundreds of dollars =)

      I actually just bought my next John Green, An Abundance of Katherines. If you love him, you should check out his web series the Vlogbrothers, and then after that watch the delightfully charming Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a series written by his brother.

      • July 8, 2012
        Amanda

        I’ve easily saved $500 and it’s so easy (and you can do it from anywhere–I’m currently in Australia and have no problems accessing or downloading). Some libraries seem to have better selections than others–hopefully yours is a good one! Mine is pretty great, has about 75% of what I’m interested in. Be sure to use the waitlist and wishlist to manage what isn’t available.

        As of an hour ago, I’m the waitlist for An Abundance of Katherines (was already on the list for Looking for Alaska)!

  • July 10, 2012
    Kaylea

    Kristin: I too love overdrive, but have a question for you regarding how you share you kindle account/library. I’m yet to be able to do so and all books I have bought don;t seem to be “share-able” Help!?

    • July 10, 2012

      You can register six e-readers per Kindle account, so my mom, dad, sister, grandfather, Scott and I are all on one account that share archives. This is something we had to set up when we each purchased our individual devices.

      Within that account, we also all have our iPhones and iPads registered, and my sister-in-law uses my login info on her phone and sometimes when books are lendable, I’ll share them with my mother-in-law. It’s kind of crazy that Amazon will let you have so many devices on one account when Apple will only let you have five devices registered to one login (and I have double that number of Apple devices, meaning I often can’t share my iTunes library among my own personal computers!).

  • July 11, 2012
    JeJeluna

    Love all these suggestions! Since Kristin and I share an account…I won’t even have to remember them!

  • July 11, 2012

    I’m in the middle of reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar children and I’m really enjoying it. It’s an easy read and a little predictable at times, but a really neat story.
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  • August 7, 2012
    Ellen

    The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown was a great read, it’s about 3 very different sisters all coming home when their mom has cancer.

    11/22/63 was amazing. I too don’t do horror so I wasn’t familiar with Stephen King. The ending had me crying in the Admirals Club. It’s a page turner but also a love story.

    The Art of Fielding was one of the best books I’ve every read.

    Happy reading!

  • January 5, 2013

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems
    as though you relied on the video to make your point. You clearly know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something informative to read?
    Marcus recently posted..MarcusMy Profile

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