21 in Books

From July 26, 2016-July 26, 2017, I will post the books I’ve read (in order) here! Yes, I just turned 21. Yes, I’m talking about books instead of drinks. (It’s a miracle I found someone to love a nerd like me, I say as my husband fist pumps to The Lego Movie’s “Everything is Awesome.”)

  1. We the Animals by Justin Torres–Mm, on second thought, this was a bad one to start off such a prodigious year. It’s one of those heartbreakingly weird stories where you know the author is trying to tell you something behind layers and layers of metaphors, but you’re just too stupid to know what it is and too scared to guess.
  2.  The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti–Ah yes, an excellent second choice. It took The Good Thief to remind me historical fiction is one of the finest genres in existence. We take one detail: body snatching was “popular” in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and guess what? We get to guess on EVERYTHING ELSE. IT’S AWESOME. Bonus: reminded me of The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen, also a wonderful adventure in historical fiction. Please enjoy this picture from one of the best days of my life, when I got to meet a New York Times Bestselling Author. *eek!*
I’m on the left, Tess is to my immediate right, and no one else exists.

3.  7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker–Well, crap. I put off reading this book for a long time (read: was too lazy to acquire a copy) and when I finally did, it changed my life. Read more here. You will definitely be seeing more Jen Hatmaker on this list. Bless her.

4.  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany–Well, all the feels. Here’s how it went down:

It’s announced that there will be another installment: There has to be a catch

It’s announced that it will only be a play and the script will be sold: Mmhmm. I’m not paying money for that. 

It’s announced that J.K. Rowling will only partly author it: Okay, lemon juice in the wound. I already said I’m not buying it. Stop treading on my fragile heart.

Release date of July 31, 2016 is announced: Big deal.

I go to Target first week of July:

Target trolls. You turn your back for a second to get junk food and WHAM.

Starting it is hard, I’ll admit it. You have to keep trucking though because eventually it will read more like a novel than a script as you get used to it. If you don’t want to read it, that’s fine, I was there, but also, you’re dead to me.

5. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut–This one is a bit of a cheat. I started it last year and had to return it to the library when I had only a chapter *clenches fists* left. So this book has only been on my to do list for, you know, ever. It was my first venture into Vonnegut territory and before I leave for brighter skies and happier writing, I want to venture further.

6. kurtvonGod Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian by Kurt Vonnegut–An hour long read that will make you think for ten. I’ve never done extensive research on Vonnegut, but I would hazard a guess that we agree on virtually nothing. Although there was that tension of dissent, he still had me laughing out loud several times and that, friends, is one of the many marks of a great author.

7.  A Man Without A Country by Kurt Vonnegut–In which Mr. Vonnegut (the aforementioned man) complains about how much he hates, well, everything. Still a good, fast read.

8. obituary.jpgThe Obituary Writer by Ann Hood–Flips between the early 1900s and the 1960s. Riveting read. So sad. Two sad thumbs up. (Although it’s a coin toss when you pick up an Ann Hood novel if you’re going to get tame Ann Hood or “let me describe every sensual detail of this scene” Ann Hood.

9. Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates–This book is so real. I wept because it actually hurts to read it. People’s tweets, emails, and other social media posts combine to show us how far we have to go from being a civil race. Although I don’t agree with every opinion put forth, I still can’t say enough about this book. It’s a necessary read for men and women both.

10. Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay–Written in free verse! These are so fun to read every once in awhile. Young adult book.

11.  The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano–I am all about books that follow law enforcement. This one happens to be the Witness Protection Program. A fairly light read considering the subject matter, but a surprisingly heartbreaking ending. Like, excuse me? Why do authors think they have the right to do that? Go do your little typey-type again and write something that will allow me to function like a normal human being after reading your book.

12. 51kfGSBuk-L._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgT4 by Ann Clare LaZotte–In free verse, follows the story of a deaf girl during the Holocaust. A young adult book.

13. What Makes Olga Run? by Bruce Grierson–People, can I tell you something? I am not a science-y person. At all. Because it generally involves having to think, and reach conclusions, and solve formulas, etc., etc. This book, though, I couldn’t put down. Olga is my favorite nonagenarian ever, and I never got to meet her. Read the book! Read it!

14. In the Small Kitchen by Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine–Okay, first of all, saying I “read” this book is probably (read: is definitely) a stretch. I mean, why would I painstakingly read every detail of how to make Eggplant Caponata Crostini if I know in a thousand years I will never make it? Or even learn what crostini means? (What exactly is a “small” kitchen to them if they have eggplant just layin’ around?) Sans some ingredients, these are very doable (but fun) recipes. I’ve stuck a post-it note in about 20 pages, but since it’s a library book I’ll probably have time to do–oh, I don’t know–zero–before turning it back in.

15. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk–Picked up on a recommendation from a friend, you can tell this guy knows his stuff. But, because social media isn’t really my “thing”–I only try to do a decent job at it for this here blog–it was a bit dry. I read a couple of chapters, then skipped ahead to where he pulled real advertisements from real companies and said, “This sucked. Here’s why” or, “This rocked. Here’s why.” Practical and direct advice like that is exactly what I need. He also goes through the Dos and Don’ts of Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Worth a flip through!

16. 418TGG4AJBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgNo Backup: My Life as a Female FBI Special Agent by Rosemary Dew –In all honesty, I got this from the library because I thought it would be a fun, albeit cheesy, fictional story about the fast-paced spy life of an FBI agent. A page or two in, I’m realizing this stuff is real. This chick is the real deal. She spent over a decade in the FBI, starting her career with them in the 70’s, I believe. (You don’t have to imagine how much sexual harassment she endured as it was still so hard for women to be in the workforce, let alone the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She’ll tell it all). But it’s not a book of complaints. She also gives constructive criticism on how the Bureau should improve and the steps they need to take to get there.

Like most people, I hear “FBI,” and am immediately in awe. This is an inside look of what the FBI is really like–corruption, harassment, lax security, cover-ups–and it’s not so pretty.

17. The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen–This is one of those books you shouldn’t read when you’re in a fragile emotional state or looking to unwind after a long day. That’s why I went on to finish others while this sat unread. I finally finished, though, and this book completely, wholly, and entirely solidified in my mind what I was already pretty sure was true: International Justice Mission is what’s up. They are delivering the best solutions in the best way and with the best approach and philosophy. They do such incredible work. The employees of this worldwide organization are truly heroes. ijm.org.

18. 21411081.jpgThe Opposite of Love by Sarah Lynn Scheerger–A unique young adult book on adoption, domestic abuse, family problems, relationships, etc. The author is a social worker who works with at-risk children, so as every new problem arises I can’t help but think, “She probably sees this on a daily basis.” Not an uplifting read, but not the most heartbreaking, so I don’t have to worry about it putting me in a dark mood or leaving me sobbing (like Everyday Sexism or The Locust Effect). Finished it in a few days because I just wanted to keep reading and reading!

19. the_girl_on_the_train_us_cover_2015The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins–If you have read this and liked it, I recommend you read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. They have fairly similar plot-lines, but I think Gone Girl is much better done. Nevertheless a good read if you like thrillers that aren’t horrifying!

20. 41r902ii2tl-_uy250_Mary Kay Ash: The Life and Timeless Principles of the Founder of Mary Kay Inc. by Mary Kay Ash–The one and only Mary Kay Ash’s autobiography! What an extraordinary businesswoman. More than that, she cared about her customers, her employees, and all the people she came in contact with. I have only been with this company for a few months but I’ve already learned so much. This book came free when I signed up to be a consultant. I picked it up more out of a sense of duty rather than interest, but I really enjoyed it.

21. 10163292 The Last Letter from Your Lover by JoJo Moyes–A beautiful book about things that are not beautiful. LOVE it when stories are connected across decades. Finished this in three days. (Okay, so maybe that had more to do with the fact that my boss gave me three days off and the library book was due on the third day).

22. 511UYV2N7lL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg50 Women Every Christian Should Know by Michelle DeRusha–I think I was gifted this by one of my friends or someone in my family. (If it was you, I’m sorry!) I don’t agree with all of the women on this list, but that doesn’t mean the story of their life wasn’t interesting. With only a few pages devoted to each woman, it’s a fast moving book that encompasses many centuries. A good read.

23. 511tofxnmol-_sx326_bo1204203200_The Best Yes by Lisa Terkeurst–Normally this genre is not my cup of soup, but a friend actually brought it to my house from Tennessee, so you know, I kind of had to out of obligation. (Love you Ames 😉 ). This was the first book I’ve ever read by Lysa Terkeurst. It was good, but not incredible. It spoke to me in the season of life that I’m in, and that’s precisely what a good book should do. I’ll be reading more from her!

24. 81xSb00BWtL.jpgNickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich–Unapologetic. A great read. The entire book highlights the reality of how America’s lower class is unable to live on their minimum wage jobs, but there is no solution given. What do you think is the answer?

25. 27131260Furious by T.R. Ragan–Just released this year, I believe this is the first in a series. A schoolteacher’s husband is murdered and her kids are taken. Human trafficking in suburban U.S.? Yep. And Ragan does a fantastic job of making it seem realistic. And by fantastic, I mean horrifying, because you have to read this with the ever-present thought that these things are happening to someone. Maybe in this state. Maybe in this county. Maybe I’ve met someone to whom it happened.

26. baking-book-cover.2x.jpgThe Sprinkles Baking Book by Candace Nelson–You know, Candace Nelson, one of the judges from Cupcake Wars? Yeah, she knows her stuff. Not just cupcakes, either. Try the Chocolate Chip Cookies on page 138. Worth the checkout from the library just to find those one or two recipes that you love and will make over and over!

27. small-great-things-1.jpgSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult–I will never get tired of Picoult’s crazy courtroom catastrophes. But, as my friends Amy and Bailey put it, this “didn’t feel like Jodi.” The plot is simple: a black nurse is caring for the newborn of two white supremacists. A solid and surprisingly fast read.

28. 51JJjEl5FCL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgReconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight–A girl falls to her death from her school’s roof and her mother feels certain it wasn’t suicide. Read in 2 or 3 days. I thought the author did a good job of balancing the details of the plot so the reader was never completely confused, but also couldn’t see the next revelation coming from a mile off. Cried a little at the end. No shame.

29. 41Cx8mY2UNL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury–In progress! Eerily reminiscent of 1984, and that is a book you definitely only want to read once.

30. TMM-cover-high-res.pngThe Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod–So thankful I got to read this. Because it has changed the way I start my day–every day–it has changed my life. A very quick read.

31. Cover-of-The-Spellman-Files.pngThe Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz–You guys. I won’t even lie–this is a re-read, but I’m so in love with this series. Witty, funny, and everything in between. Even compelling. Years ago I actually signed up to donate bone marrow after reading this series.

32. 71Slp+IuaSL.jpgSay You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham–Fantastic read, but definitely not for the immature reader. (I say “immature” instead of an age, because I think some 13 year olds can handle literature and real life better than some 40 year olds). If you like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, this is for you! Off to read some more Michael Robotham!!

33. 516khe2nqlDave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money by Dave Ramsey–Kent and I read this while taking Financial Peace University. I’m not a fan of the phrase “This ___ changed my life!” unless it is wholeheartedly and unequivocally true, so please believe me when I say the course and the book changed my life.

34. chandleroleary_jessicaspring_deadfeminists_book_169pxDead Feminists by Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring–If you can mentally hold your own against the liberal rhetoric (which is completely unabashed, so good for them for not trying to seem objective) this is such a cool book! Historical photos, incredible women, and mind-blowing art. Really well done.  

35. the-passenger-9781451686647_hr.jpgThe Passenger by Lisa Lutz–Suspenseful. Edgy. Once again, if you liked Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, read this! Be still my beating heart, Lisa Lutz is writing new things!! ❤

36. cvr9781451621426_9781451621426_hr.jpg Where You Left Me by Jennifer Gardner Trulson–Gosh, guys. Heartbreaking. A 9/11 widow writes about how life was changed forever when she met her husband, and then again when she lost him in the attacks. A few chapters in and I was about ready to ditch it because it was so sad.  I made myself read, though, because I don’t want to think about the person I would become if I only read books that didn’t move me a bit. I don’t agree with the author’s viewpoint on several things (at one point she lauds Hillary Clinton; at several times she mentions her foregone faith) but that doesn’t mean I can’t feel for her and her family. She’s one tough New Yorker.

37. 1590979.jpgCurse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz–It’s no worse than the first book (which should be considered a win for any sequel) and it’s certainly no better (because Lisa outdid herself the first time).

38. 51Pi1JKgDpL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey–I stole (borrowed, borrowed) this from a friend Kent and I were visiting. I’m shameless when it comes to books. It’s great though, and chock full of practical tips to plan your day in such a way that you are more efficient than simply busy. Honestly, I feel 100x smarter after reading this book. Go ahead, ask me about the prefrontal cortex and limbic system.

39. Organizing Your Day - book.jpgOrganizing Your Day by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims–In progress

40. 51H3wrGIkfL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_She Reads Truth by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams-In progress

41. 516H2+-h2kL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget by The Writers of Wise Bread (a #1 Personal Finance Blog)–In progress

42. 51r2i3BMPDL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch–Very…strange. Character-ception. Plot-ception. Pretty sure I only understood half of this book, but it was intriguing enough to keep me reading to the end.

43. 3545387.jpgRevenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz–In progress (for the second time) ❤

44. 9781433679605_p0_v1_s192x300The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick–A 40 day challenge for your marriage! My friend Sara gifted this to me. Started reading this with Kent on April 19, 2017. We’ll let you know how it goes! 😉


Number of novels quit due to boredom or confusion:
4 (Including Bossypants by Tina Fey, and How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz)
Number of novels quit due to inappropriateness (yeah, yeah, I know):