I like to read. a lot. I’m not too picky, I’ll read just about anything from chick lit to historical fiction. To be honest, I don’t read a lot of non-fiction…I try, I just never get past the first few chapters. Feel free to email me (heather-at-heatherhalesdesigns-dot-com) and recommend a book, or tell me what you think about one you’ve read on my list.
This year (2012), I’ve decided to keep track of all the books I’ve read. I want to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes when I see my success quantified!
1. Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie. A coming of age story about 2 young Chinese boys being “re educated” in the 1970′s. Great story about the power of literature! I only wish the story were longer and included more about how the boys left Phoenix Mountain.
2. Crazy Ladies : A Novel by Michael Lee West. A story of 4 generations of Southern women from Crystal Lakes, TN. Their mixed up relationships and the hardship that comes from feeling unloved and unwelcome in your own family. Women of grit and character.
3. A Secret Gift: How One Man’s Kindness–and a Trove of Letters–Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression by Ted Gup. WAHOO I finished a non-fiction book!! This is a wonderful story about a generous man who donated money to those in need during the depression. The book chronicles the benefactors life and the lives of those whom he helped. I found it a great read, and was humbled to read the first hand accounts of the struggles of those during the great depression.
4. Maisie Dobbs (Book 1) by Jaqueline Winspear- I actually started this series on Book 2 and got hooked, so I bought Book 1 and 3 so I could keep going. This is a great detective story, Maisie Dobbs is a Psychologist and Investigator in 1920′s London. It is light reading, entertaining, sprinkled with great philosophic quotes you can use to impress your friends. I love this series in the same way I love Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series.
5. Maisie Dobbs; Pardonable Lies
6. Maisie Dobbs; Messenger of Truth
7. Maisie Dobbs; An Incomplete Revenge
8. Maisie Dobbs; Among the Mad
9.The Forgotten Garden: A Novel By Kate Morton I loved this book! Morton’s books always take a bit of getting used to, each chapter is written from a different characters perspective and can be from different points in time. It always takes me a few chapters to get used to it, and then I don’t even notice it. This is a fabulous book about finding oneself and the sacrifices one is willing to make in the name of friendship. It deals with self perception on many different levels, and the outward effects. The story is of a young girl who shows up alone on a dock in Australia, you trace her story all the way back to England and the events that lead to her arriving alone in Australia. I finished the 500+ book in less than a week; I just couldn’t put it down!
10. Shanghai Girls: A Novel by Lisa See. I read this 300+ page book in a day, the characters and their stories became very real the more I read and I just could not put it down. I read “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel” last year and really liked it, so when I saw this book was also by Lisa See I grabbed it and started reading. (FYI, Snow Flower & The Secret Fan…the book was WAY better than the movie). This story chronicles the life of 2 sisters in 1930′s Shanghai and the course of events that bring them to America. Their is a sequel to this book- Dreams of Joy: A Novel which I hope to read soon!
11. Maisie Dobbs: A Lesson in Secrets
12. Peony in Love: A Novel Oh I wanted to love this book, I really did. *spoiler alert* I just could not get back into the story after Peony wastes away and dies. I like my fiction to be somewhat believable but I had a hard time believing the spirit of Peony could come back and teach her betrothed’s wife ways to please him sexually. After getting 3/4 of the way through the book I just gave up and returned it to the library. I am not giving up on Lisa See, I still like her writing and story telling. This book just wasn’t for me.
13. State of Wonder By Ann Patchett. Nearly all the women in my writing class were talking about this book, I jotted down the title and forgot about it. Hungry for something to sink my teeth into after the disappointment of Peony in Love I thought I’d check it out. When I first read the plot summary on Amazon I admit I was not intrigued…but thought what the heck. I got it yesterday and finished it today. Could not put it down, despite my disinterest in all things science-y, the story still captivated me! The story follows Marina a former Ob/Gyn resident turned Pharmacologist on her travels into the Brazilian rainforest in search of her former mentor and to uncover the events that led to her office mates death. The descriptions of the Amazon and tree eating women were compelling. Even more compelling were the concepts of death, birth and fertility. Really really enjoyed the read. Will be reading Bel Canto next!
14. A Crimson Warning: A Lady Emily Mystery by Tasha Alexander. The Lady Emily novels your typical ladies detective type books. They make a great poolside read and are such fun to read. I admit, though, this one felt a little flat for me in comparison to the suspense in the previous novels.
15.Heaven Is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy by Stephanie Nielson. I read this in one day, it was a compelling account of how her life had changed and I had a hard time putting it down. The irony was not lost on me as I shooed my children away so I could keep reading about how hard Stephanie struggled to rebuild the relationships with her own children after the crash. I appreciated Stephanie’s honesty and candor with her emotions and feelings through out the book. I had read Stephanie’s blog before the crash (as she was local) and had even met her once at a yard sale (I bought a chair from her!). I appreciated being able to follow the progression of life pre and post crash. She is a strong woman with an amazing family. I wish her and her family all the strength they need to keep moving forward in their new life.
17.Broadway Baby by Alan Shapiro. To be totally honest I chose this book based on the cover and title alone. However, i found it to be a compelling read. It is a depressing story of the life of a very lonely, neurotic woman, who despite her upbringing has a chance at a really good life. But, she is so stuck on herself and living a fantasy that she does not see what is in front of her.
18.22 Britannia Road: A Novel Oh my did I love this book! Set after WWII in England, a Russian husband and a wife who have not seen each other in SIX YEARS, reunite. The husband had been a soilder fighting with the British, while his wife and one year old son literally lived in the forests of Russia. The husband wants to create a simple, traditional life for his family in England but his son is feral from his years in the forests. It is a captivating tale of love, loss, war and the sacrifices we make for the sake of “family”.
19. The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty. Um, this book was ok, just ok. Australia, an island, an “lost” baby adopted by two sisters who grow rich turning the island into a tourist attraction. Only things aren’t as they seem….and the ending was awful. It felt like a cop-out, which kind of ruined the book for me.
20. The Probable Future (Ballantine Reader’s Circle) by Alice Hoffman. I really enjoyed this book! Set in a sleepy New England town, a new generation of the Sparrow women learns of her unusual gift. Stella learns that she can see how other people will die, through very curious circumstances this gift it was bring her estranged family the happiness they could never seem to find. Well written and an enjoyable story.
21. Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman After reading and enjoying the Probable Future I decided to try another Alice Hoffman. I hastily grabbed one off the shelf not even stopping to read the back, just trying to get my three kids and I out of the library before my 2yo started shrieking! What a disappointment, many times I decided I was going to just stop reading, but like rubber necking on the freeway I just couldn’t turn away from the accidents that were about to unfold. This is a terrible (and somewhat vulgar) story of a woman leaving behind all that is good for something that it evil, in the name of love. It takes death for her to realize the error of her ways.
22.Bossypants Tina Fey
One of my favorite passages; “…before we can go back inside. Most people take this as good news. But I’m too smart for that. I know that extreme heat plus a burst fuel pipe means that the ship is going to explode. While people around me start to relax, I keep my eyes on the sea, waiting to be rocketed into it on a wave of fire. I’ll be ready for it to happen and that way it won’t happen. It’s a burden, being able to control situations with my hyper-vigilance, but it’s my lot in life.” Just go read it. Full disclosure, there is profanity.
23. Rules of Civility: A Novel -Amor Towles
I really enjoyed this story! Set in NYC in the 1930′s, this is a snap shot of time into the life of Kate Kontent as her life undergoes a transformation that will have far reaching effects. Wonderful details, rich and deep characters a great piece of historical fiction!
24. The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel-Diane Setterfield
This is a storytelling masterpiece! A spellbinding tale of twins, love and loss that will suck you right in. I stayed up well past midnight to finish this book, I just could not put it down. Young biographer Margaret is hired to write the biography of critically acclaimed author Vida Winter, she overcomes her own loss while she lives through Ms. Winter’s own history.
26.The Kitchen House: A Novel by Kathleen Gissom
Oh my goodness, I could not put this book down. This book is set in Antebellum Virginia and follows the life of Lavinia, a seven year old Irish immigrant found aboard a ship. This book deals directly with the harsh and ugly realities of slavery, race and class. The story was so captivating and so well told I finished it in a day.
27. The Language of Flowers
28. The Seance
29. Monkey Minds
30. Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck. I just adore Steinbeck’s books. I loved Cannery Row and was tickled to discover Sweet Thursday is a sequel of sorts. If money were no object I would retire to The Monterrey area of N. California in a heartbeat.
31. The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas- I really enjoyed this book! It was very much like the Sarah Prine books (These Is My Words (P.S.). The book is a fictional account of frontier life in Colorado at the turn of the century. It tells of the early marriage of Mattie & Luke and the hardships and struggles of life in Colorado.
32. New Mercies by Sandra Dallas A nice story about love (in all it’s complexities) loss, healing and new beginnings. Another enjoyable read!
33. Bride House
34. War Brides
35. Agate Hill