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 in 2023 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.

2023 Booklist

Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister.  I loved the journey and took my time with this one.  Once I got to the destination, I kind of lost interest.  But yes, good book and I'd recommend it.  

  • How I heard about it: everyone on the planet read it before me.

How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz.  DNF only because I started it too soon after reading another book by the same author.  I will most likely come back to it later on.

  • How I heard about it: big fan of the author, I've got her bookmarked for when I need a surefire hit.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan.  Loooooved it, but you should know that I'm currently obsessed with touring Frank Lloyd Wright houses, so I may be biased a little bit. 

  • How I heard about it: a tour guide at a FLW house recommended it.

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson.  Meh.

The Social Climber by Amanda Pellegrino 😻😻😻

Just One Look by Lindsay Camero.  The wrong email gets in the wrong hands and oh my...I loved this "temp job gone wrong" thriller. 

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (audio).  A beautiful book about hard things.  Steer clear if you're not down for a "my mom died of cancer story", pick it up if you're looking for beautiful writing and food talk. 

  • How I heard about it: everyone on the planet read it before me.

The 100 Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin.  Lenni is 17, Margot is 83, their combined age is 100, and they're both terminally ill.  I LOVED THIS BOOK, but heads up that I spent the last 10% of it sobbing and had a good cathartic cry afterwards.

These Silent Woods by Kim Cunningham Grant.  When you're a decent guy with some issues who just wants to live off the grid in the woods with your young daughter but all of a sudden you have a house guest.  Parts of the book felt slow and I did a bit of skimming but overall this was a good one.

A Brave and Lovely Woman by Mark Borthwick.  The nonfiction version of Loving Frank.  Technically I can't claim that I *read* it - it was too dry & too dense for my taste so I skimmed it and looked at the pictures.  It's a tall order to write a biography when not much is known about the subject.

  • How I heard about it: somewhere on the internets.  I think it was plugged on a FLW Facebook post or something like that.

I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jeannette McCurdy (audio).  This is basically Crying in H Mart with an AWFUL mom, a Hollywood backdrop, and an eating disorder instead of Korean food.  With that said, IMO this is an excellent read.  I'm glad Jeannette wrote this book!

  • How I heard about it: everyone on the planet read it before me.

Jackie and Maria: A Novel of Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas by Gill Paul.  When you're the biggest opera star in the world and you meet the perfect guy...but then he gets a notion that Jackie K should be Jackie O and it's all over.

Bad City: Peril and Power in the City of Angels by Paul Pringle (audio).  A true story that starts with the hotel manager of an upscale LA hotel learning that a guest has OD'd.  She's an attractive young woman, the room is full of drug paraphernalia, and there's a creepy old guy hanging around who doesn't want him to call an ambulance.  Pringle is such a good writer that he could publish his grocery list and I'd be hanging on to every word.  If you haven't read this I don't even know what you're doing with your life.

Choosing to Run by Des Linden (audio). If you're into running at all this is your book.  It turns out that the weather was the least of the drama at Boston 2018.

  • How I heard about it: Duh, every runner has heard of it.

Hello Molly by Molly Shannon (audio).  I don't watch SNL and I can't say that I've seen anything else that she's been in but it doesn't matter.  I came into this cold and not knowing what to expect and I think that's the right background.  This was a wow from start to finish.

  • How I heard about it: Nicole (HI NICOLE!)
The Switch by Beth O'Leary.  A grandmother and granddaughter swap houses for two months - granny gets to live the Big City life while granddaughter gets to chill in the country.  This is lighter than my usual fare and at times it came close to being a DNF.  What saved it for me was that the characters were believable and relatable, but I did skim quite a bit of the community planning details.

A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore.  When it's pre-WWI England but your parents aren't around and you're stuck in a Victorian Gothic world and only your brother understands you.  Or as my blogging friends described it "a weird little book about incest".  But also not about incest.  This was a beautiful, moody book and I can't wait to read more by this author.

  • How I heard about it: co-recommendation from Jenny and Engie.

Like Family by Paula McClain (audio).  A memoir about growing up in the foster system.  The standout is the writing.  Hearing her words gives me the same feeling that I got from looking at the hand carved woodwork in a Frank Lloyd Wright's serious craftsmanship that puts me in awe.  Note to self: read more of her books ASAP.

  • How I heard about it: I loved When the Stars Go Dark by the same author and needed to use up an Audible credit and somehow this popped up on my radar.

"You Just Need to Lose Weight": and 19 Other Myths About Fat People by Aubrey Gordon (audio).  I'm a fan of the author but I couldn't even and DNF'd one hour in.  Yes I agree that fat shaming is a very real and awful thing, yes I agree that the stats on weight loss are dismal, and yes I agree that weight loss isn't always possible/desirable and that all of these things need to be discussed more.  My issue is that I feel like she's saying that these things are true 100% of the time and that too much of the content was recaps of research and statistics which frankly was not compelling listening.  If you're interested in this book I'd recommend the "reader's digest" version in the companion podcast episode.

Trespasses by Louse Kennedy.  When it's 1970s Ireland and you're a young school teacher by day working in a bar at night and you've met an irresistible married man.  I totally got why she fell for him and like her, totally did not see the consequences of the affair coming.

Before We Were Innocent by Ella Berman was a quick DNF, more my fault than the author's.  The "we're lifelong friends but Something Bad Happened a long time ago and it's a Big Secret that we Never Speak Of" genre is a tricky one for me.  I liked the first 50 books that I read on this topic and then it just got old.

  • How I heard about it: for the life of me I don't remember.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrille Zevin was another quick DNF.  This is a very polarizing book that people either loved or hated.  I was neither, it just didn't grab me enough to keep reading.

  • How I heard about it: everyone read it before me (and either loved or hated it).

Currently Reading

Circling the Sun by Paula McClain.  Historical fiction about the early aviator Beryl Markham and a book that I'm gobbling down like mad.

  • How I heard about it: I LOOOOOOOOOVE the author and I needed a sure fire hit after two back to back DNF's.  I'm telling you right now that I will read all of her backlist before 2023 is over.

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche (audio).  Everyone says how hard it is to make new friends as an adult, and the author went on a quest to get the scoop by committing to go on 52 "girl dates" in one year.  

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