A Fluid Book List: What I’m Reading & Why I Don’t Write Reviews

Book Pile2I realized quite recently that I don’t want to review books. So many people, upon hearing that I’m both an avid reader and an aspiring/ procrastinating/ self-flagellating writer, ask whether I write reviews for books on GoodReads or Amazon or any one of a handful of book sites.

Here’s the thing: I’m currently in two book clubs and I love discussing books. In fact, I prefer to discuss books; meaning that I like at least a two-way conversation. Book reviews are one dimensional. Sure, there can be interaction with readers of the review, but sharing my first impression of the book aloud is much more meaningful to me. I love to hear other interpretations and how the story, its characters, its setting, its feeling and mood all affect people differently. We all bring different things to the table in life, and what we bring to and take away from a book is always fascinating and sometimes inspiring.

Unfortunately, I’ve read and forgotten tens upon hundreds of books in the past years. This is not necessarily a disparagement of the book, the author, or the characters. In reality, it tells more about my brain, which is continually spinning, taking things in, rolling them around, and neatly evicting that which it doesn’t seem to need or quite possibly recognize. That’s right, I’ve got a juggernaut up there.

None of us use the full capacity of our brains, myself included. Instead, I rely on lists–usually on paper, but digital ones also suffice. So this will be my list, mostly for myself, but I invite you to peruse it and add your comments too. And, please: Feel free to add your own recommendations to my ever-fluid reading list. There is nothing like the beauty of a well-crafted sentence or the companionship of a much-loved character. I want to meet them all!

Books that I’ve read in 2015 (with some comments):

The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah – loved it because it wasn’t the same old, same old about the horrors of WWII and the Nazis. When I closed the book, I felt the love and not the hate.

The Housekeeper and the Professor, Yoko Ogawa – Wow! I love when book clubs bring a book to me that I’d never in a million years have found on my own. Quick read and you’ll never look at math the same way again. Instead, it lives and breathes.

Hotel Iris, Yoko Ogaway – Ick, double ick, and . I tried to see the beauty, but the story just creeped me out. Read at your own risk.

The Luck of the Weissensteiners, Christoph Fischer – On my Kindle, so I’m not done with it yet. Got through a big chunk of it but put it aside because I just wasn’t made to care about the characters. A trilogy? I hope it gets better.

Touchstone For Us Trilogy, Sydney Jamesson – Because not everything has to be high-brow and I like a little of “that” kind of reading occasionally. I read them all, cringing at the characters nearly the whole time. A waste of time really, but I just couldn’t stop myself.

Reconstructing Amelia, Kimberly McCreight – not the kind of story a parent wants to read, but so well done. Definitely recommended.

Exit Unicorns, Cindy Brandner – first of a trilogy and I voraciously read the whole set. Stories are chock full of history (Ireland, mainly in the 1960s/70s) with well-drawn, meaty characters. Brandner is a master at mood and setting (helped along by Ireland, of course) and the writing is superb. I always recommend these to people who have finished Diane Gabaldon’s Outlander series and are bereft. Waiting for Book #4…

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows – recommended by members of a fabulous FB Women Writer’s Group. Loved it; little gem of a book.

The Golem and the Jinii, Helene Wecker – another one I never would have discovered if not for a book club. Slow going at first; don’t give up–it builds and it’s worth it. The main characters are mythological/mystical symbols of Jewish and Arab worlds, who find themselves in turn-of-the-century (1899) New York City.


Family Life, Akhil Sharma – this one won awards, so I thought I’d take a chance. Never got into his writing style, nor his topic.

The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials & The Death Cure, James Dashner – my son wanted me to read these with him. Why are so many YA books about Dystopia?

Grey – yup, I admit that I read it. I also admit that it sucked. SUCKED. Beyond the awful writing and anything about their relationship, did E.L. really think that presenting the EXACT SAME SCENES from his viewpoint was enough?

Anti-Social Media – Kate Beth Heywood

Bright Aster – J.G. Lucas

50 Random Acts of Kindness – Ellyn Oaksmith

Finding Fraser – kc dyer

Defending Jacob – William Landay

The Boston Girl – Anita Diamant

The Ocean at the End of the Street – Neil Gaiman

Paper Towns – John Green

The Poldark Series – all 12 books

All I Know and Love – Judith Frank

Let’s Get Lost – Adi Alsaid

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