2013 Reads

I have tried on at least two occasions to keep a “book log”, or reading journal, or really any sort of record of the books I have read in a year, but I always taper off after a few books / weeks. Since I enjoy blogging about books I have read, I think I’ll try my hand at a book log here, and I’ll update this post as I read more books. Also, it might serve as a quick way to know what books I would recommend, if you decided to ask me.

Ideally I will link the below titles to their corresponding post on the blog. Of course, this means I have to blog about all, or almost all of the books I read, but that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

So to start –


Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan – Recommend. 

More of a character piece than a plot piece, but those might be my favorite. I really liked the heroine, Serena, and for McEwan fans, I would say this is nowhere near as dark as Atonement.

Winter of the Worlds, Ken Follett – Recommend, but read Book One first.

Because it is part of “The Century Trilogy”, the who/what major historical event / where is a bit contrived, but it’s worth it. It’s a wonderfully intricate character web, if you will.

Grace: A Memoir, Grace Coddington – Indifferent on the reco.

As I wrote in my post on this book – it was interesting, and I learned from it, but as far as memoirs go, it was lacking the and this made my life feel ____, or XYZ happened and I was never the same. It was more of a play-by-play than my favorite memoirs – but if you love fashion (check) and pretend to know things about photography (check), you should read it. It won’t take too long.


Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store, Robin Sloan – Recommend Passively.

Book club book that surprised me by its current-ness. More mentions of Google, Twitter, different generations of Macs than most fiction (that I read), but it was good storyline and a quick read. Perfect for a 3 hour flight.  Apparently, the hardback cover glows, but I read it on my Kindle, so I had no idea!

The Paris Wife, Paula McLain – Wouldn’t really recommend…

Also, a Book Club select, and it was a fiction book that teetered on non-fiction with the thoroughly researched dialogue. The most interesting part of the book – learning about the trip and obsession with Spain that inspired The Sun Also Rises. Mostly, The Paris Wife, made me want to read more Hemingway (not necessarily more Paula McClain).


Salt Sugar Fat, Michael Moss – RECOMMEND! 

Salt Sugar Fat is a fascinating nonfiction book I have forced onto almost everyone I know… but the book tells the story of the evolution of the packaged food industry. Written by a former investigative reporter, you can count on lots of facts, substantiation, details… definitely worth reading.

A Song of Fire and Ice, George R. R. Martin – Recommend 

Finished! Finally! I won’t say anything until the TV season wraps – but you should read it. In order.

I know I normally just post the cover of the book, but I found this picture of George RR and thought it was worth posting. He’s so Gandolf/Dumbledore/Peter Jackson-esque, I had to post it.


The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman – Recommend

Fall of the Giants

Last week, when Sandy struck and we lost power, you could say that I had a bit of time on my hands.

I decided to tackle my third Ken Follett novel – and his MO is writing, at a minimum of 975 pages. Per novel.

I read The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End a few years ago and LOVED them.

The plot of The Pillars of the Earth hinges on the construction of a cathedral, the people who live in the surrounding area and how their lives intersect. Jack is my favorite character. You should read it – it took me a few weeks because my power wasn’t out and I had less time on my hands, but of the three, this one is still my favorite.

World Without End takes place in the same town but two hundred years later. I supposed you could read them in either order because of this, but you would miss some of the backstory. So read this one second.

Fall of the Giants is different from the other two books in that it’s set just before and during WWI. (Think Downton Abbey, Season 2.) I loved the story, the time in history and many of the characters, but something about it just seemed off.

A few years ago, I took a creative writing class and I think the hardest short story I wrote was the one intended to highlight dialogue. Dialogue isn’t something the reader is supposed to even notice, and crafting conversation in writing that reads and feels like real, genuine conversation is actually quite difficult. Throughout Fall of the Giants, I kept thinking some of the characters lines were just a bit contrived. It’s when you notice that the character is talking, that it’s distracting.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed most of the 985 pages, and I plan to read the next book, it just struck me as interesting how much I noticed the author writing the dialogue.

And although it would be a hard thing to imagine saying – one of my favorite characters in the book (Maud) quoted one of my favorite passages – “Whither thou goest I will go…”