Books are a contact sport for me: 20.

I feel the need to join a book club.  But then I’d have to discuss with other people how I cried, threw, or laughed really hard at the end of a book and that probably wouldn’t go so well.

If you know me personally, you know that I get pretty into my book reading.  I fall in love with characters and hate characters and have been known to throw books at things when I get angry with endings.  I also can have a miserable day after a book ends badly.  I pretty much let books rule my life, if you know what I mean.  Do I sound like a nerd yet?

So, I’ve officially doubled my goal (yesterday) of ten books, and have now read 20 books by the month of August for the year.   I think I’ve secretly changed my goal to 30 books without actually saying that out loud until now, but we’ll see if I can manage that.  I decided to post a blog with a bit about each of the books I’ve read, maybe a quote or two from the book so if you’re interested in what I thought or you need a new book to read, maybe you can find one from the list.  They’re not all fluffy and romantical (which frustratingly enough, isn’t a word), but the first few are, so bare with me.

1. Dear John: Had to read this book, the movie was coming out and Nicholas Sparks book always feed that teen girl love story thing that’s not so deep inside my brain.  The book was (as usual with Sparks) a quick read.  I personally thought the ending was the perfect ending for this book, but I know a lot of people were disappointed with the “not-so-happily-ever-after” effect it had.  I thought it was lovely.  The characters still didn’t meet The Notebook characters in my perspective and it still hasn’t reached that love story value of The Notebook, but Sparks is definitely getting his grove back. I also, unlike every other swooning woman in the world, didn’t fall for John Tyree along with Savannah, I instead fell for his dad, and his dad’s character quickly became my favorite character in the book.  The actor who plays him in the movie does a phenomenal job also and I actually balled my eyes out at the parts with John and his dad, rather then the parts with Savannah and John.

“When you’re struggling with something, look at all the people around you and realize that every single person you see is struggling with something, and to them, it’s just as hard as what you’re going through.”

2. The Center of Everything: I honestly don’t remember this book.  I distinctly remember the cover has a girls face on it with a very large daisy, but otherwise I don’t really remember what it’s about or anything.  I feel like that should tell you enough about the book instead of me going on amazon and trying to reignite my memory. It’s about a teenage(ish) girl and her coming-of-age I suppose.

3. The Last Song: I still can’t believe Sparks wrote a book for Miley Cyrus to play the character, it very much weirds me out.  I still haven’t seen the movie, I hear it’s miserable compared to the book and it leaves out key elements.  I love the preacher, the dad, the little brother, I could pretty much forget the whole love story and just get the dad & daughter elements and it would still be good to me.  The love story is more a side story in this novel for me.  It isn’t really well written and it isn’t one of Sparks best novels to date, but I suppose it’s worth the read.  Let me say this lightly, I skipped classes of my last semester of college to finish this book because I couldn’t put it down without knowing what happened, so in that sense – it’s a page turner.

4. The Charming Man: I don’t know if it’s because this is an Irish author or that she’s getting bored with her 100 of other plot lines of love in her other books (Marian Keyes) but this book is RIDICULOUS.  It doesn’t come together until the very bitter end, and it has four different woman each telling their own story that somehow connect to this abusive politician that they have been in relationships past with.  They all have pseudo-happy endings but most of the endings are just quite shocking.  For example, one woman falls for a cross-dresser, but only when he’s in drag as a woman.  It’s all just very…unusual.  Some people like that in a book though so what can I say, you can find it at Target if you want.

5. The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao: Best book out of the 20 HANDS DOWN. This book is out of this world and that probably explains why it won a bunch of awards.  It’s an amazing book, with a lot of history thrown in (I’m really into history in case you didn’t know) and it tells the story of Oscar and his family, dreams and life growing up and struggling through his coming-of-age.  This is one of the most witty books I’ve ever read and I would literally recommend it to anyone who can read.  Let me just say, this book had so many tabs and so much marginalia when I was finished with it you couldn’t even turn a page without finding a quote I loved.  I left it with my best friend after I was done reading it because it was one of those books you immediately pass on.

6. The Evening: This book took me 3 years to get through. It was made into a movie that I refuse to see because of how slow the book was.  I love Susan Minot (her short stories are out of this world) but this is her worst book to date.  If you want a tangled and hide-away love story though, go for it.

7. Columbine: I was obsessed with this book for a really long time.  I’m still trying to write poems about this book and what I learned from it. It’s an account and pseudo-biography of the Columbine school shooting with the killers and their lives at the forefront of the narrative.  It’s unbelievable.  You really feel like you were there after reading it, I mean the author goes ridiculously in-depth about the lives of the killers and the victims.  I originally picked up this book because I’m into the girl Cassie, because we share a name, that was killed for saying “Yes” to a question of belief in God (although this book proves that this probably wasn’t the whole truth) and the fact that it was on B&N’s list for some type of new, exciting fiction (I tend to trust Barnes and Noble with my soul).  It’s definitely a good read if you’re into history, or the shootings, or just a bit of background about high school and sociopaths.

“Dylan (one of the killers) drew hearts in his notebook for Harriet-he had a heart and emotions too.”

“She (the gym coaches wife) curled up with a pair of Dave’s socks night after night while students returned to the churches in vast numbers.”

8. Illumination Night: This is a grocery store paperback by one of my favorite authors, Alice Hoffman.  I like Hoffman because all of her novels seem to be very normal and seem real, but she adds touches of fantasy and other-worldly things through out that don’t even alarm you while reading.  I mean this book has a giant, who falls in love with a teenage girl in a small town and yet you’re totally accepting of their love story and really want it all to work out for them.  Illumination Night isn’t her best work, but I highly recommend her novels either way.

9. Eat, Pray, Love: Yes, I’ve finally read this book.  Yes, it was as good as everyone says it is.  I really loved the Italy (Eat) part and the Bali (Love) part, but I got a little bored with all the meditation in the middle part (Pray).  This book is definitely a world changer that asks you to go out and have an adventure of your own and forget your worries back home.  I’m kind of upset that they’re making it into a movie, although I still definitely plan to see it.  And she now has a new book about her third marriage that I hear isn’t as stellar as Eat, Pray, Love (but how could it be, that’s like JK Rowling creating something better than Harry Potter).  I haven’t read this next book yet, but with the 2903847 other drones of people, I, too recommend this book.

10. The Time Traveler’s Wife: What a classic (with a twist) love story.   I adored this book and the movie (mostly because I love Rachel McAdams) but it’s a really tragic, but wonderful love story.  It makes me cry every time and for a first book I think the author did really well.  Plus, the cover of the book makes you want to pick it up and read it.

11. Sweet Ruin: This book is about a woman who over analyzes everything in her life and is constantly thinking about cheating on her husband.  It took me a while to get through this book because as soon as I got about 50 pages in I realized that this was a category of book that I actually hate.  “Chick Lit” which I try to avoid in all major used bookstores is a shelving of books with pink covers that they think women will like because they’re about women dealing with “womanly” problems and so they figure, heck, let’s title this “Chick lit.”  However, in the lovely college of NCSU I took way too many gender classes in history, sociology, psychology and literature to accept that this is a type of book.  So, in other words, when I see a Jodi Picoult book in a bookstore (anywhere in the world) I turn all the covers over so the helpless person who reads them doesn’t buy them.  This book felt like a poor man’s Jodi Picoult novel (from what I’ve heard, I’ve never actually read one because I despise Picoult).

12. Into Thin Air: This is a Jon Kraukner non-fiction novel.  If you know me, you must also know I’m obsessed with Kraukner’s writing ever since I read “Under the Banner of Heaven” in the summer of 2009.  He has also written “Into the Wild,” and a few other books.  “Into Thin Air” is his first person account of climbing Everest when a group of people were injured and killed due the mountains quick weather changes.  Kraukner tells the whole story in his non-fiction books to the point where you really feel for, or despise the same people he does.  This book is really good, “Under the Banner of Heaven” is still my favorite about Morman Extremism and Fundamentalists, but this one is up there with all of Kraukner’s work as spectacular.

13. College Girl: The title of this book pretty much explains this book.  It’s about a girls first year at college.  I feel like any girl who has spent a year at a university and none of her best friends went along with her will understand this book and agree that it pretty much depicts the very overwhelming, and sometimes underwhelming experience of a college girl.  This the book that you’re reading along and you say “Oh God, Me Too” and then you keep going. If you’re in college or just recently graduated this book is pretty good.

14. Mayada-Daughter of Iraq: I already did a full post on this book because I thought it was unbelievable.  Scroll down to read a really thorough explanation of what I really felt while reading this book and how powerful I thought this book was.  I really, really, really enjoyed this as an American woman who has seen and heard about the Iraq war for at least the last ten years and now is finally able to understand the enormity of what we’re fighting against and what we’re fighting for.  (I’m not going to say I agree with the war or not, but this book shines light on the side of the Iraqi woman and what they go through on a day-to-day basis.  It also gives a lot of history of Iraq’s governmental foundations.

15. Charlie St. Cloud: I basically read this because Perez Hilton always talks about his obsession with Zac Efron and he was on the cover of this book and I knew their was a movie coming out and the previews looked pretty good.  Well, I hope the movie is better then the book.  The book took me two hours to read on a plane, so I guess it is fast paced, but it also had nothing new.  There was no new writing for this author and it was all pretty drab, nothing that really stuck out as wonderful or inspiring.  If you like Efron, or a quick (not-so-witty) love story, then go for it.

16. Yesterday’s Weather: Favorite short story book of all time, hands down.  This has the best short story writing I’ve ever seen by an Irish author.  It’s an amazing book, every story is well written and inspiring and breath-taking and I recommend it to anyone in the whole world.  I’m OBSESSED with this book.

17. My Name is Memory:  This is the first installment of three.  I’m telling you that first because I didn’t know that and it completely ruined the entire book for me.  Obviously, Sarah Brashares (author of Sisterhood and The Summer of You and Me) is just setting the scene in this book for the next two books in this trilogy, but I think she sets the scene a little too much.  The story doesn’t really get moving (the plot) I mean until at least three-quarters of the way through and you’re sitting there waiting the whole time for it to actually do something, but unfortunately with this first book, you’ll be disappointed.  I can’t say that after all three are out that I’ll still feel this way because Brashare’s writing is still fun and fresh, but I hate this book right now.  It doesn’t quite have the spark and terrible writing of Twilight yet.

18. Water for Elephants: I finally read this book because DRUM ROLL PLEASE…..Robert Pattinson will be in the movie.   However, I was sadly disappointed in this book, it was slow…and slower.  The ending heated up a bit, but it took forever to get there and I had to push myself through molasses to get there.  I’m sure they’ll make the movie more dramatic, but I just don’t really recommend this book.  It was boring. Sorry.

19. Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson: The second best book on the list. I love Hunter S. Thompson and all his drugs and crazy antics.  And he created Gonzo journalism and was an initial journalist for Rolling Stone and a very affluent political figure.  This book was an amazing story of his life based on a collection of mini-stories from all his friends such as all his ex-wive’s, Jack Nicholson, Jann (his editor at Rolling Stone), his son, Johnny Depp.  I mean, you name them if they were friends with Dr. Thompson and they’re in there.  So, it hardly ever gets boring and you’re always learning fresh things about him.  I love it.

20. The Female Brain: I read this and immediately became angry with my very feminist (which I am totally for by the way) sociology of gender professor for lying to me about half the stuff to do with women just to prove her feminist point.  I’m all for feminism, and I love women and I love women with power, but there isn’t a need to not tell all the facts in order to get your point across.  This book may not be all there because the science isn’t quite all there yet, but it’s interesting and it helps explain why you hated your mother as a teenager and switched boyfriends like the men of earth were going to run out.  It’s a good book to read in parts because if you’re not prego and don’t plan to be for a while, the “Mommy Brain” part really doesn’t have much interest to you.

And that’s it, twenty books later, it’s August and I’m on my twenty-first book by the lovely Joyce Carol Oates and by the time I finish that hopefully I’ll be on 22 and will be able to say that I’ve read 30 by December.

Reading, such a contact sport.

3 thoughts on “Books are a contact sport for me: 20.

  1. bea mannes says:

    I really enjoyed reading a little bit about all of your books. Some of them sound like a should start reading them today, or at the least, make your Dad read them. I still remember the speech given at your commencement ceremony by one of the Professors. He really had an interesting life, and an interesting list of jobs, including day worker. It has made him a very enlightened man. He said that he believed his true education came from always reading a book. He also said that wherever he was, so was his latest read, at work, on the bus, on the train, etc. I see that is so true, especially with avid readers like yourself. He advised everyone of the graduates to always have a book at hand. I can definitely state that you are following his lead, even before he said it.

  2. Sarah Dion says:

    You are like my new york times bestseller list when I need a new book to read, only the ones you say to read are usually ten times better (or more depressing) than any on the nytimes list. So when I am reading a novel you suggested instead of studying or working in the studio, I will blame you and thank you all at once.


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