Book List

Let's face it, if you're a reader then you're in the market for book recommendations.  I write about the books that I'm currently reading in my weekly posts and do a "best of the best" list in my year end wrap up, but after accidentally writing an "everything I read in 2022" post I thought it would useful to keep a live page of this year's books.

Here's everything that I've read this year so far.  I'll keep this page updated and then archive it into a regular post at the end of the year.

Disclaimer about DNF's and negative comments: it takes two to tango.  If I don't like a book, that's a reflection on both the book and me.  I used to avoid saying anything negative about anything, but I think that it's helpful for you to see what I don't like so that you can assess how well my reading tastes line up with yours.  I just want to be very clear that because I don't like something at a particular moment in time doesn't mean that it's bad or that it won't work for you.  I also like to point out that my number of published books is zero, so it's at least one less than any author whose work I don't like.

2024 Booklist

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo.  2024 reading got off to a bang with this murder mystery set in Amish country.  Heads up that the book's opening murder scene and details of the killings were too graphic for me so I had to skim them but everything else about this book was right on the money.  I finished the last page of the book and immediately picked up the second book in the series.

  • How I heard about it: recommendation from Jess.

Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo, book #2 in the series.  We're back in Amish country with murders aplenty.

  • How I heard about it: continuing the series.

Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change by Maggie Smith (audio).  If you're looking for a two hour pep talk, this is your book.  Now look, it's no You Could Make This Place Beautiful, but it was a pleasant way to pass the time while waiting for my Libby hold for Place to come in.

  • Same author as You Could Make This Place Beautiful, a book that everyone has heard of.

You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith (audio).  A memoir about the author's divorce.  I'm sorry that she had to go through that, but delighted in her word craft in telling her story.

  • How I heard about it: everyone has heard of it.

No Highway by Nevil Shute.  An engineering thriller!  The new supervisor of an airplane research lab gets up to speed on what the staff is working on and learns that one of the engineers is working on a theory that a popular new aircraft will suffer metal fatigue after 1,440 hours of flight.  And that, um, none of his superiors are taking the theory seriously because none of the planes have that many hours of flight, the engineer is a serious kook, and also because no one really wants to know.  Then one of the planes crashes under mysterious circumstances so the engineer's theory gets some legs.  It's a race against time to find out what happened in the plane crash and how seriously to take the kooky engineer.

  • How I heard about it: a reread of a favorite book by a favorite author.

Pete and Alice in Maine by Caitlin Shetterly.  When your marriage is falling apart, but it's March 2020 so you pack up the whole family and go to your cabin in Maine.  I had a couple of quibbles with the ending, but overall this was a wonderful book.

Die With Zero: Getting All You Can from Your Money and Your Life by Bill Perkins (audio).  A book that encourages you to balance acquiring financial wealth with acquiring life experience wealth.  I've definitely been guilty of focusing on the former at the expense of the later.  Lots of food for thought here.

  • How I heard about it: it's the big hot "It" book with the FIRE crowd.

C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton.  My favorite book in the series so far.

  • How I heard about it: continuing the series.

Dover One by Joyce Porter.  A satire of the Great British Detective novels.  A young woman goes missing in a small town.  There are no leads and there are a lot of people who don't want her back.  When Scotland Yard is called in to investigate, they send their hardly-est working detective to crack the case.

  • How I heard about it: this is one of my all time favorite series that I've read many times.  This particular reread was inspired by Jenny.

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman (audio).  I listened to two hours of the six hour audio book and I can't tell you what this book is about except that our time on this earth is limited.  Which made me feel like I shouldn't spend another 4 hours of my 4,000 weeks listening to this book.  DNF.

  • How I heard about it: it's one of those books that everyone is talking about. 

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry (audio).  When you're a big star with a bigger addiction.

  • How I heard about it: everyone has heard of this.

On the Beach by Nevil Shute.  When it's the end of the world as we know it.  This book was written in 1957 and is set in 1963 in a world reeling from the after effects of nuclear war.  Life only exists in southern Australia and Africa, and the ETA on the fallout reaching Australia and wiping everyone out is nine months, plus or minus three months.  So how do you go about your business in this situation?  Everyone keeps a stiff upper lip and tries to live as normal a life as possible.  The story deals with the crew of a submarine who are sent to investigate a radio signal coming from Seattle, where all known life has been wiped out.  If you're curious about Shute, I'd recommend starting with his "not the end of the world biggest hits" such as A Town Like Alice or No Highway before reading this.  Don't get me wrong, he does a good end of the world, but for whatever reason the characters in this book just didn't have the compelling emotional pull that is his trademark

  • How I heard about it: one of my all time favorite authors' most famous book.

Dover Two by Joyce Porter.  A spoof of the great British Detective Novels.  A young woman is shot on a dark and stormy night and remains in a coma until dying nearly a year later.  It's a cold case with no clues, so it's a detective's nightmare.  That's why Dover gets the job!

  • How I heard about it: continuing one of my all time favorite series. 

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.  This one started strong but for whatever reason I just couldn't focus and had to give it up.  I skimmed to the end to get the gist and so that I could follow along in the Cool Blogger's Book Club.

Dover Three by Joyce Porter.  The series is a spoof of the Great British Detective Stories, and this one is a retelling of Agatha Christie's The Moving Finger.   Someone is sending poison pen letters to the women in a small English village.  One of the recipients has enough pull to get Scotland Yard to investigate the case, and luckily Dover has a good reason for wanting to be away from home for a while.  It's the perfect case for Dover, since the letters are just a harmless prank...or are they?

  • How I heard about it: continuing one of my all time favorite series. 

Exit Interview: The Life and Death of My Ambitious Career by Kristi Coulter (audio).  A Tell All about the author's career at Amazon.  Sigh it was fine but nothing earth shattering.  Hopefully it opens the door for more Werk Tell All books.

  • How I heard about it: Lisa 

 D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton.  Did I say that C was my favorite alphabet book?  Well scratch that because D is where it's at.

  • How I heard about it: continuing the series.

Beyond the Black Stump by Nevil Shute.  The story of a straight laced American engineer who goes to Australia and falls in love with an Australian woman...but when he takes her home to meet the folks it turns out that the Outback doesn't mesh with small town 'Murica.

  • One of my favorite authors.  This one is definitely not his best work, but it was good enough. 

E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton.  Forget D being my favorite, E is where it's at.

  • How I heard about it: continuing the series.

By Myself and Then Some by Lauren Bacall (audio).  The "By Myself" part of the book was a juicy memoir about being the hot It model turned movie star and marrying Humphrey Bogart by the age of 19. The "Then Some" part of the book was a snooze so it became a DNF at that point.

  • How I heard about it: I read By Myself a long, long time ago and then my passion for all things Bogie and Bacall was reignited by visiting the site of their wedding on my travelsNicole put this back on my radar.

Counting the Cost by Jill Duggar (audio).  When you're kid 4 of 19 and spend your life working for your parents for free and then you get a letter from the IRS.  This was a seriously powerful book.

Wellness by Nathan Hill.  Um what even was this book?  A small part of it was satire on marriage, parenthood, and modern times and the rest of it was a long rambling mess.  When it was good it was very good and I skimmed the rest.  It was too much page turning to make the payoff on the orgy scene worthwhile.

  • How I heard about it: it's a Hot "It" book that everyone on the planet is reading

Only Say Good Things by Crystal Hefner (audio).  When you have sex with your future husband on your first date...with three other women.  Hugh Hefner's widow tells more than you ever wanted to know, but tells it well.  

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen.  Aw man I've read some good books this year but this is definitely my first 😻😻😻  One day you're a mom to three teenagers and the next day the unthinkable happens.  Please please please please drop everything that you have going on and read this book.

  • How I heard about it: Jenny raved about it in a way that got my spidey senses tingling and I dropped everything that I had going on and read this book.
The Birds and Don't Look Now by Daphne du Maurier (audio).  I'm not a huge fan of short stories, but these two are exceptions.  The Birds was the basis for the Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name.  Instead of the Bay Area setting of the movie, the story is set in rural England.  Birds attack for no apparent reason, and there is no way to stop them.  Don't Look Now is about a married couple attempting to recover from a tragedy by taking a vacation to Italy.  One night at dinner the husband sees two old women staring at them and tells his wife "don't look now".  For one moment hilarity ensures while the couple try to figure out why the women are staring at them.  And then horror unfolds.  An unforgettable story.
  • How I heard about it: huge fan of the author and of Alfred Hitchcock.  I've read these two stories many times.

Dover and the Unkindest Cut of All by Joyce Porter.  This series is a spoof of the Great British Detective novels, and while all of the Dover books are great, this is the "money" one. Mrs. Dover witnesses a suicide while they are driving through a small town en route to vacation, and the local police pull every string to get Dover on the case.  What is it about this small town where so many men have disappeared for a week and come back with different personalities?

  • How I heard about it: continuing one of my all time favorite series
This American Ex-Wife: How I Ended My Marriage and Began My Life by Lyz Lens (audio).  If you can imagine the books You Could Make This Place Beautiful and Counting the Cost having a baby, it would be this book.  The author is from a Duggar-like background and married a man who didn't support her career but was always happy to take the trash out - well, out of the can but not outside.  I had a few gripes with some of the long ruminations on history (I rolled my eyes when she started talking about Henry VIII but that's just me) and there was definitely a "my marriage was bad so therefore all marriages are bad" vibe.  However, this was an excellently written book and well worth a look regardless of your marital status.
Gone Missing by Linda Castillo.  Book #4 in the series (shhh...don't tell anyone that I read it before book 3).  Several Amish teenagers go missing and Police Chief Kate Burkholder investigates.
  • How I heard about it: continuing the series

The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown (audio).  When you're a newlywed moving from Illinois to California, but it's 1846 and you're traveling with some folks named Donner.  If there was ever a book that was meant to be listened to on audio while you're all cozy in your car driving down the freeway on a road trip, this is it.

The Breaking Wave by Nevil Shute.  A WWII veteran goes back home to Australia to take care of his elderly parents, and walks straight into the investigation of the suicide of one of his parents' servants.  Everyone liked her, but it turns out that no one knew much about her and she left no paperwork behind to show who she was.  There's a mystery to solve here.

  • How I heard about it: Shute is one of my all time favorite authors, but I don't remember if I ever read this before I not.  I picked it up because Jenny selected it for her next Shute read, so this is kind of a mini CBBC read.

Dover Goes to Pott by Joyce Porter.  Book # 5 in the series of a spoof of the Great British Detective novels.  When the only child of a small town industrial magnate is murdered, Scotland Yard has just the man for the job.  The only problem is the local industry is toilet bowls and bathroom humor is taboo

  • How I heard about it: continuing one of my all time favorite series

The Woman on the Ledge by Ruth Mancini.  A woman falls to her death from an office building, and another woman who was on the scene is arrested for her murder.  This book started strong, but within a few chapters I was like "uh boilerplate thriller anyone?  And what is with the cliched Hitchcock nods?"  I thought about DNF'ing but something kept me reading and I am so glad that I did.  Yes it's a Standard Thriller With A Twist Plus Hitchcock Nods but What a Twist.  Bravo, and if you're in the market for a thriller please treat yourself to this book.

  • How I heard about it: Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Just when I had almost given up on her as a recommendation source, she nailed it. 
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout.  It took me forever to read The Famous Book That Everyone On The Planet Except Me Has Read and I am so sorry that I was late to this party.  As soon as I finished it I immediately picked up the next book in the series.
  • How I heard about it: well, everyone has heard about it, but the reason that I picked it up is Nicole's review of Pete and Alice in Maine where she said that Lucy by the Sea is the book that she was hoping for.  I liked Pete and Alice well enough (except for the ending) so if she's saying that Lucy made P&A feel like a disappointment, then it's time for me to finally start reading this series.

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout.  The second book in the Lucy Barton series.  Looooove.

  • How I heard about it: continuing the series.

Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo.  Book #3 in the Amish murder mystery series.

  • How I heard about it: continuing the series.

What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love by Carole Radziwill.  When the summer of 1999 reeeeeeealy sucked.  Carole was married to Anthony Radziwill, cousin of JFK Jr, and was good friends with Carolyn Bessette Kennedy.  All of whom died that summer.

Currently Reading

Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout.

  • How I heard about it: continuing the series.

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