I feel like this year has been a weird one for me, reading-wise. I've stopped caring so much how many books I read; I don't have any goals or rules. I've reread a bunch of things and plowed through George RR Martin's giant mind-game/time-suck, the Game of Thrones series. I've veered from cheesy romance novels to serious nonfiction. The over-riding theme of it all seems to be MEH. Off the top of my head, I can think of only a handful of really good books from this year, ones I'd recommend to anyone. I don't know whether that's my fault or the fault of the books.
Anyway, in case that intro didn't inspire you to click away, here's what I read through July, August and September. I swear, not all of it sucked.
The Philosophical Breakfast Club, Laura Snyder: I annoyed my husband to no end reading excerpts from this book. It's just so interesting! And surprisingly funny! The club of the title refers to one created by four leading "philosophers" (ie scientists) at the turn of the 19th century. These guys coined the term "scientist." They charted the tides and the stars and created the first computer. They also drank heavily in college and wrote sarcastic letters to each other. I really loved this one.
Agent Zigzag, Ben MacIntyre: Turns out, one of the most famous double agents during WWII was just a very clever criminal with a knack for serendipity.
The Chaperone, Laura Moriarty: My favorite part of this Jazz Age novel was the ending, which rushed through decades to give you just enough information to feel closure but also left room for your imagination.
Dinner: A Love Story, Jenny Rosentrach: This is a cookbook, but the end made me cry. It's also in heavy rotation for menu-planning at our house.
GOOD WITH CAVEATS
The Dovekeepers, Alice Hoffman: My love for Hoffman kept me slogging through the first 150 pages and then suddenly, I was enjoying it and then, poof! it was over.
Wild, Cheryl Strayed: Nice writing, but it was not the life-changing memoir people made it out to be. I have trouble feeling empathy for people who commit infidelity.
Broken Harbor, Tana French: I love her, but this one felt off -- too much of a stretch, not much surprise, too many times returning to the same character tics and overall themes.
Prophet's Pray, Sam Brower: The writing is nothing great, but if you're obsessed with the craziness that is the FLDS, check this one out. Brower was the P.I. who helped build the case against Warren Jeffs.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznik: It's a sweet story. I just don't really like graphic novels all that much.
DO NOT RECOMMEND
Maine, J. Courtney Sullivan: Everyone's a caricature and unlikeable.
Making Piece, Beth Howard: Is anything worse than a memoir with an unlikeable author?
The Juvenilization of American Christianity, Thomas Bergler: Dry, dry, dry augmented with weak analysis.
The Accidental Feminist, MC Lord: The pictures of Elizabeth Taylor were pretty, but the arguments were weak.
The Long Walk, Bryan Caster: This wasn't awful, just not the best war or PTSD memoir I've ever read and that's not exactly everyone's cup of tea to begin with. If you're looking for this kind of thing, it's interesting enough.
The Night Strangers, Chris Bohjalian: You do not like it when authors use second person. You think it's even worse when they switch between second and third person, depending on narrator, and without a rhythm. You also don't like endless creepiness leading up to a predictable end.
I'm leaving out the cheesy romance novel (if you're interested, go to a drugstore and pick up anything with a busty woman in a period dress) and the rereads (I think we all know about Louisa May Alcott).
So, what spectacular books should I be reading?