Love in the Library

As an unaplogetic Jimmy Buffett fan and someone who has always loved reading, it should come as no surprise one of my favorite Jimmy songs is Love in the Library. The lyrics “Surrounded by stories surreal and sublime…I fell in love in the library once upon a time” always did me in. Who hasn’t fallen in love in the library…….?

That said, 2012 was not the best year for me and reading. The constant morning sickness I dealt with for 4-5 months made reading difficult as the words on the page tended to make the room spin and my head to pound. Despite my slow going, I still read some books that I loved (and a few that were “meh”). You’ll also notice I also have an affinity for forensic crime novels that I read like soup labels, which is to say I’ll read an entire series in two weeks. No judging.

So in electronic format I managed to make it through all of these (with a few exceptions):

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The low points: The Paris Wife, The Hare with Amber Eyes, At Home, Sex Drugs & Cocoa Puffs. Before you shoot me on the last one, I’d like to point out that I think I’d have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been a sociology major- instead I felt like I was reading something for school, which just made it hard to get through. The Paris Wife (which says it is “new” but only because I accidentally deleted it and had to re-download it) was like pulling teeth, and The Hare with Amber Eyes & At Home were book club duds.

The new points: prior to 2012, the only times I dipped into Young Adult novels was to read Harry Potter (nine million thumbs up) and Twilight (haaaaaaaaaaa, mediocre at best). In 2012, when I was suffering from The Pukes for months on end, Young Adult novels were easy to read in short bursts. I really enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy (even if the ending of it all was half assed and disappointing) and Divergent by Veronica Roth was wonderful – the follow up, Insurgent, was good but not great. The Maze Runner was also a fun YA read and I look forward to seeing how the series continues.

The “beach read” winner: A Discovery of Witches. This book took me by surprise and I really need to download the second book in the series to catch up with all the characters. I describe this book as “Twilight for Grownups” which is to say it is totally about witches and vampires but it isn’t about a simpering, annoying preteen/teenage set of characters. Great for beach/travel/enjoyable reading time.

The most confusing: Sarah’s Key – which is totally my fault. I thought it was a young adult novel and it most certainly is not. I spent the first few chapters flipping back and forth and wondering what I’d screwed up. When I finally figured out that no, it was an adult WWII novel, I relaxed and enjoyed the book. Make no mistake: this book has some very adult themes in it.

The most maddening: Gone Girl. I…liked it. It was twisty and turny. The ending left me in a blind rage until it was pointed out to me that, yeah, it had to end that way. But it doesn’t stop me from shaking my fist at the sky and hating the ending all the same.

The high points: 11/22/63, Defending Jacob. Both of these books had fantastic (twisty) endings, were thought provoking and well written. If you have a book club, both of these should go onto your book nomination list. In case you were worried, 11/22/63 is not a horror novel and is just an awesome, fantastic story that involves great characters and a tiny bit of time travel. Trust me, everyone should read it.

Good but not the best: Snow Flower & the Secret Fan, The Marriage Plot, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. I enjoyed these books but I can’t pretend like they were the best reads of 2012.

Best series for anyone to start: as you can tell I read pretty much all of Kathy Reich’s books in 2012 (the series is what the television show Bones is loosely based off of), as well as Karin Slaughter’s “Grant County” series and the Jefferson Bass “Bone Yard” series. If you like those types of books, then I give them all a thumbs up. But if you are just looking for a  more typical crime series to read, I recommend checking out Michael Harvey’s “Michael Kelly” crime series. They are set in Chicago, the get more complex with each book and are totally fun, interesting reads. I read most of them in physical book format and they were worth carrying around while I traveled.

“Real books” worth mentioning: I do the majority of my reading on my iPad, but I still read “real” books from time to time. This year I read quite a few airport paperbacks, the new Patricia Cornwell novel (which I always purchase in hardback), and I started Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants before setting it down (it is an upcoming book club book and I’d like to read it closer to the meeting). If you like forensic crime novels, I consider Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta series to be the reigning ruler- just ignore the weird 3-4 books starting with Blowfly and you’ll be happy.

Current read: The Passage by Justin Cronin. I have a feeling it will be on my “top books of 2013″ list and that is all I’m going to say about that.

Not pictured: The various pregnancy, childbirth and “how to raise a baby” books that I’ve been dutifully working my way through. So far top honors goes to Baby 411.

On my 2013 reading list (not including continuing some of the series/trilogies above):

A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
The End of Your Life Book Club (Will Schwalbe)
The Twelve (Justin Cronin)
The Fault in Our Stars (John Green)
Fall of Giants (Ken Follett)
The Age of Miracle (Karen Thompson Walker)
Sea of Tranquility (Katja Millay)
A Soldier of the Great War (Mark Helprin)
A Blaze of Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Shiloh (Jeff Shaara)
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12 Responses to Love in the Library

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  • SA says:

    Age of Miracles is a great book!!!! We read it in our book club, it was so interesting.

    The Fault in Your Stars–beware, what a tear jerker. Seriously. I couldn’t stop reading, and at 2:00 in the morning I’m sobbing in my pillow, my fiance wakes up and asks me what’s wrong.

    And ANYYYYYY John Irving book is good. Read all of them, seriously.

  • alimartell says:

    I want to hand people who are about to read SArah’s Key a GOOD Holocaust fiction book instead, like The Invisible Bridge. Sarah’s Key made me so angry. ICK.

    LOVED The Fault in Our Stars. Loved.

  • Lawmommy says:

    I love Kathy Reichs. I’m always surprised BONES is based off of her books because, while I enjoy the show, I really don’t feel like they are the same characters, even though they have the same names.

    I think you are the first person I ever heard from who read “Lamb” and didn’t either love it or hate it passionately. (I am firmly in the camp of “Christopher Moore can do no wrong and I love him fiercely and every word from his fingertips brings me joy” – but I understand most people don’t feel that way. I’m just suprised that you neither loved it nor hated it.)

    Spoiler alert for anyone who didn’t read Gone Girl –

    S
    P
    O
    I
    L
    E
    R

    W
    I
    L
    L

    F
    O
    L
    L
    O
    W

    It did NOT have to end that way. I would have been happier if they had killed eachother, or if he had killed her after she came back. I would have been much, much happier if the female police detective and the sister solved the whole plot and put that narcissistic bitch in prison. I would have been happier if SHE had killed HIM and figured out how to cover it up and gotten away with murder. But the way it ended I just…oy, it seriously makes me STILL want to send hate mail to the author, MONTHS after I read it.

    Sorry, I will stop ranting now.

  • KtP says:

    OMG. Where to start.

    Yes, Defending Jacob & 11.22.63 were two of my favorites.

    Gone Girl, Snow Flower, Age of Miracles: meh.

    The Fault in Our Stars made me cry uncontrollable ugly cries.

    Prayer for Owen Meany also made me cry, but I loved it. Yes, I’m a big baby.

    I’ve tried The Passage twice and been unable to read it through both times. Maybe you’ll have more luck.

    Are you on GoodReads? I’ve found it useful for tracking my reads and finding recommendations from others.

  • Lonek8 says:

    We have totally similar taste in books. And in at note the sequel to Discovery of Witches was a tiny bit disappointing. Didn’t hate it, by it was quite a bit more “he touched her sacred moon” sexy time which kind of makes me gag.

    The Passage and The Twelve are INCREDIBLE. Can’t wait for the next one.

    I didn’t enjoy the latest Scarpetta at all. But I haven’t kept up with that series, and so that was probably a factor. You might like the books by Robert Crais, if you haven’t already read them.

  • Heather says:

    Loved Defending Jacob too and I feel the same about “Gone Girl.” Now, based on your other comments, I am in the minority but “The fault in our Stars” did nothing for me, and I really do enjoy YA books. It was like Nicholas Sparks for YA. Easy read but totally mindless, predictable and generally not enjoyable for me.

  • “The Paris Wife” – I agree. It would have been better with some more intense editing and maybe cutting of romantic scenes. Nice concept, poor execution. I read “A Prayer for Owen Meany” in high school and enjoyed it. Maybe I need to pick that up again.

  • I think it was you who convinced me to give ol’ Cornwell another try. After I read Blowfly, I just… gave up. (GAH. It was SO BAD.) But then you (again, I think it was you!) noted that it gets better, so I asked for another book for Christmas and YOU WERE RIGHT! Yay! I read two of her books right after Christmas and just bought two more. Phew. I missed Kay Scarpetta and her hijinks.

  • Meghan says:

    Just wanted to email you and let you know how much I appreciate your book recommendations. Just plowed through 11/22/63 and Defending Jacob. And WOW. Those were both awesome. Got any others? Because I realize you probably have nothing better to do (sarcasm), I was just going to pass along a request: adding a “book review” tab to your blog and update it with a simple one word review (loved/okay/no) for each book you read. You have great taste, I think!

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