Books

As a New Year’s Resolution in 2008 I started keeping lists of all the books I read. I find that I remember time by the book I was reading. Mention an event or something someone said and I may or may not remember it. Mention a book and I could probably tell you when I read it, where I was when I read it and what was happening in my life at the time.
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Books I’ve Read While in the Peace Corps

  1. Marley and Me by John Grogan: ♥♥ The writing isn’t very good but the story is cute enough to keep reading. This book is a decent read if you have suddenly found yourself in another country surrounded by people you’re not too sure about in a program you’re even less sure about and therefore questioning all life decisions that have brought you to this point.
  2. Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison: ♥♥♥♥♥ Loved it! Loved it! Loved it! This is a memoir written by the brother of Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors) about growing up with Aspergers Syndrome. Not only are Robinson’s life experiences incredible in themselves (hello making guitars for KISS) but the book also sheds a rarely seen light on life’s perspective of someone with Aspergers.
  3. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wells: ♥♥♥♥ Heavy story, well written.
  4. Virgin Suicides, by Jeffery Eugenides: ♥♥♥♥♥ This is book is one of those wonderful things that combines an incredible story with beautiful writing. So often a book is either interesting or written well, rarely is it both. This one is.
  5. Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott: ♥♥♥♥ I love her unapologeticly (yeah I’m making that a word now) honest opinions and witty delivery.
  6. Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer: ♥♥♥ This book started out as a great adventure novel and then got really dense. The educational value of this book makes it worth reading.
  7. Infedel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali: ♥♥♥♥♥ This is probably my favorite book that I have read since being here. Interesting, educational and thought-provoking.
  8. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer: (0 Hearts!) There are no words to describe how much I hate this book! Not only is the writing awful (Thesauruses people! Thesauruses!), it glorifies a codependent relationship with and abusive, controlling man…vampire, whatever.
  9. New Moon by Stephanie Meyer: Reading the second book in this series either makes me naively hopeful or an utter masochist, I chalk it up to wanting to be educated in my opinions. The only thing that makes this book better than the first one is that Edward is gone for most of it. I still hate, hate, hated it.
  10. #1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander Mccall Smith: ♥♥ Cute, not much else to add.
  11. Empire Falls by Richard Russo: ♥♥♥ Fairly interesting, though overly whiny at times and has much too cliche of an ending.
  12. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris: ♥♥♥♥ This book bumped David Sedaris to second official gay boyfriend status, after Elton John, but before Tim Gunn. The writing is so clever and hilarious. His writing is my official remedy for a bad case of the Mondays.
  13. Snow by Orhan Pamuk:This book made me feel like a Kindergartner trying to read Shakespeare. Getting through this one was a chore and I love Turkey! How could I not like a book about Turkey is beyond me.
  14. One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell: ♥♥ This is the first Chick Lit book that I didn’t need a barf bag ready at all times while reading. For over a year I’ve been on a mission to find light reading that I enjoy. My love of intense, dark novels is not so great when I’m feeling lonely or depressed, hence the mission to like chick lit. This is the first one I could stomach. I was also determined to like it somewhat, since I adore the Sex and the City series.
  15. Bee Season by Myla Goldberg: ♥♥♥♥ Starts out so cheery and gets oh so dark, twisted, and wonderful.
  16. Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides: ♥♥♥♥ Virgin Suicides was better. This one was still good and interesting.
  17. White Tiger by Aravind Adiga: ♥♥♥ Decent, thought-provoking
  18. Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: ♥♥♥♥ Thought provoking if nothing else, though the unrelenting hero-worship did make me gag more than once.
  19. 21 by Ben Mezich: ♥♥♥ The topic is incredibly interesting the writing is middle of the road.
  20. Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King Jr.: ♥♥♥♥ This is why we learn how to write! He was a gifted gifted man.
  21. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: ♥♥♥♥ Great book, even though I’ve had my fill of distopias for a while.
  22. Trading Up by Candace Bushnell: ♥♥ At first I brushed this story off as vapid and insignificant and then I became interested in the idea of the class system in America and the story of someone clawing their way to the top. This novel made me want to read Vanity Fair so I can do a little comparing and contrasting.
  23. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: ♥♥♥♥♥ One of two books I’ve read twice (A Confederacy of Dunces being the other) and officially a favorite. Not only do I love his adventures, I love how Huck chooses to do what his right based on his conscience and not society’s views. I also love how Jim is the most moral character in the book.
  24. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby: I’m done with Nick Hornby, done, done, done. Every book of his that I read gets worse and worse. This one was the worst of the lot (at least I hope so). I don’t think it’s possible to write a whinier book. I think what really put me over the edge was the googleplex of pretentious lists.
  25. The Stories of Eva Luna by Isabel Allende: ♥♥♥♥♥ The whimsically written, slightly twisted parables enraptured me from beginning to end.
  26. Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald: ♥♥ I’m not a big fan of books about beautiful people unless they’re really twisted. This book doesn’t get good until the characters start to lose their minds. None the less it’s still pretty shallow and disappointing.
  27. Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres: ♥♥♥♥♥ Memoirs are officially my favorite genre of novels.
  28. LA Candy by Lauren Conrad: ♥♥ My curiosity got the better of me with this one. I couldn’t not read the book by my secret hero Lauren Conrad. Overall, the book was shallow and reads as if written by a 12 year old, but satisfying my curiosity made it worth while. I did however find it interesting to read the perspective of a reality tv star that hasn’t been cut and pasted by producers. And yes, I will most likely read Sweet Little Lies and I have no shame in it. The Hills misses you Lauren.
  29. On Beauty by Zadie Smith: ♥♥♥♥ I do enjoy a good discourse on beauty. The Shakespeareanesque feuding families weren’t a bad touch either. This book wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, but it wasn’t bad.
  30. Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Micheal Chabon: ♥♥♥ Not nearly as good as The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, but a damn good freshman effort.
  31. Midwives by Chris Bohjalian♥♥♥ I thought this book would be better than it actually was, but it wasn’t so bad.
  32. The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad: ♥♥♥♥ Great insight into family life in Kabul.
  33. Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell: This was the worst of the books I’ve read by her.
  34. Jemima J by Jane Green: ♥ Unhappy fat girl gets skinny and is still unhappy. Don’t worry she finds a way to be happy in the end. No need to read the book now, I just saved you $25 and hours of your life. As cliche as the novel was, I will admit that there were times when I was reading that I would stop mid emotional face stuffing, throw my hands in the air and exclaim “I get it Jemima, I really get it.” Ok, I embellish, but you get the idea.
  35. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen: ♥♥♥♥♥ A story about running away and joining the circus, it’s as if this novel were written just for me.
  36. The Crossing Cormac McCarthy: ♥♥ How can the author of The Road, which made me abandon human existence until I had completed it, write such a boring book. Yes, I understand that it is supposed to be melancholy and depressing, I relish melancholy and depressing. This book was just flat-out boring.
  37. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris: ♥♥♥♥ David Sedaris, you have yet to let me down. I salute thee.
  38. The Help by Kathryn Sockett: ♥♥♥♥♥ Just dandy. I loved this book! I also loved that I had the hardback copy. There’s something so special about snuggling up with a big fat hardback book…..or is that just me?
  39. Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas: ♥♥♥ The story was interesting, but I had a really hard time getting into the writing style.
  40. The King Never Smiles by Paul M Handley: ♥♥♥♥ This book taught me so much about Thailand and instilled in me a lot of respect for the king. Not to mention, I loved that my copy had a different book jacket on it so that I could secretly read it on the buses. Oh it feels so good to be bad. (This book is banned in Thailand)
  41. Burned by Ellen Hopkins: ♥♥♥ Read this baby in a day. I love Children’s/YA literature and this one doesn’t disappoint. I loved that it’s written in poetry and the story is great, though predictable and over dramatic at times.
  42. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: ♥♥♥♥ This is one of those books that I appreciated a lot more after I read it and reflected on it. Overall, I love the story of Anna’s passion and the rise and fall that it causes and I love the adorable socially awkward Levin.
  43. Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner: ♥♥♥ I couldn’t have read this book at a better time. Not only have I been interested in Japanese culture as of late, but the story of a foreigner trying to blend into an Asian culture and rectifying that blending with her own personal beliefs is something I can relate to these days. The story did get a little too “I love you,” “No, I love you” for my taste, but overall I really enjoyed it.
  44. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway: ♥♥♥♥ It took me a while to get into Hemmingway’s understated writing style, but once I did I was hooked. Great story!
  45. Plot Against America by Philip Roth: ♥♥♥ Nerd confession: I love books that have at least one word per page that I have to look up in the dictionary. This is one of those. I loved the writing. The story is an interesting account of what may have happened if certain historical events had happened differently.
  46. The Moon and Sixpense by W Somerset Maugham ♥♥♥ Interesting enough though somewhat forgettable. I am slightly fascinated by tortured artists and self-absorbed hedonists. This might explain why I didn’t think this book was so bad. Though the choice of narrator was strange, very strange.
  47. A Mercy by Toni Morrison ♥♥♥♥♥ Toni Morrison is my all time favorite writer and this book did not disappoint.
  48. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson ♥♥♥♥ A heroine who doesn’t where lycra jumpsuits, have enormous bazoomas or refer to her sexuality has her weapon of choice? In the world of female heros, I feel like the character is either hyper sexualized or desexualized and Lisbeth Salander is neither she is just bad…ass. I do however have a theory that Blomkvist is who Stieg Larsson wishes he was, I mean the guy always wins and women throw themselves at him. Can’t say I blame the guy, just calling him out.
  49. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho ♥♥♥♥♥ A story I could read over and over and will read to my imaginary children every night before bed.
  50. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts: ♥♥♥♥ The 900 pages are slightly excessive, but a great story none the less.
  51. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink: ♥♥♥♥♥ Disturbing, sad and intriguing.
  52. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez: ♥♥♥♥ This book had me hooked to the bitter end. Beautiful writing style and story.
  53. In Defense of Food by Micheal Pollan ♥♥♥♥ Team Food.
  54. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: ♥♥♥♥ This has always been one of my favorite stories and makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I’m glad I finally read the book.
  55. Crank ♥♥♥ Good
  56. The Art of Driving in the Rain ♥♥ Interesting story line and metaphors, but something about it just didn’t keep me all that intrigued.
  57. Big Sur: ** Not even halfway through this short book I was so sick of the narrator’s pretentious whininess that I wanted to throw things.
  58. The Secret of Lost Things Banal.
  59. Speak, Memory by Vladamir Nabokov ♥♥♥ Nabokov is one of my favorite authors, but I had so much trouble focusing on this book. Interesting story though.
  60. Call of the Wild by Jack London ♥♥ I’m giving up on dog books.
  61. Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman: ♥♥♥ This book was more interesting than I thought it would be, though I didn’t love her writing style.
  62. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sadaris: ♥♥♥♥ I love David Sadaris! His books are the best “pick me up any time and know you’ll love me” reads. I attempt to quote his stuff all the time.
  63. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolfe: Treacherously boring read, though she makes interesting points.
  64. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou: ♥♥♥♥♥ Beautiful writing, touching story. My birds sing for Maya.
  65. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner: ♥♥♥♥ After reading the first chapter, I thought for sure I’d gone stupid. Then I found out it isn’t supposed to make sense and decided to keep reading. I ended up loving this book.
  66. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb ♥♥♥♥♥ I’m not sure if I left the house at all between the time I started and ended this book. Riveting, just riveting.
  67. Push by Sapphire: ♥♥♥♥ Really fast read. Disturbing, but interesting and thought provoking. There were times that I wondered if this book were disturbing for the sake of being disturbing, but I decided it wasn’t in the end. Plus I’m a sucker for a story with a good teacher in it.
  68. Stones into Schools: ♥♥♥♥ I read Three Cups of Tea before Peace Corps and this book during Peace Corps. It was interesting comparing reactions to the first book and the second. I was definitly better able to identify with his frustrations more, where before I thought that they were small potatoes compared to the experience. Good book. I like the writing style of the other writer better though.
  69. Ghandi: A Memoir: ♥♥♥ Good enough. The last chapter about Ghandi’s sexual habits that came out of no where and did not follow the flow of the rest of the book left me with a “What the what?” taste in my mouth.
  70. The Girl Who Played With Fire: ♥♥♥♥ Lisbeth Salander, you had me at hello.
  71. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: ♥♥♥ Was good for a while and then just made me feel dead inside. I think Tolstoy and I will be going our separate ways for a while.
  72. Tuesdays with Morrie: ♥♥ Too sappy, but a good blow through read to aid my recovery from War and Peace
  73. A Man Without a Country: ♥♥♥♥♥ I was in a reading rut after War and Peace and this book reminded me why I love reading. So so good! I’m anxious to get my copy back so I can read it again.
  74. First They Killed My Father: ♥♥♥♥ An enlightening account of life under the Khmer Rouge.
  75. The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx: ♥♥♥ Interesting story, although the degree of self loathing did make my eyes bleed from time to time.
  76. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera: ♥♥♥♥♥ I took about a 700 notes on this book, to be exact. One of my all time favorites. I loved how the author intertwined philosophy with prose.
  77. An American Childhood by Annie Dillard: ♥♥♥♥♥ I was so sad when this book was finished. Usually I can’t wait to start the next book, but I wanted more from this one. I loved her words and attention to interesting details.
  78. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson: ♥♥♥♥ He just never lets me down.
  79. The Corrections by Jonanthan Franzen: ♥♥♥♥ This book was a weird combination of interesting story line but boring at times to read.
  80. The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: ♥♥♥♥ Loved the writing style and the narrators.
  81. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder: ♥♥♥ Good book about doing good things, although there were times I wanted to punch the guy for being so persevering. I guess not everyone needs to lock themselves in their house every now and them, though I remain skeptical.
  82. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: ♥♥♥♥ So good. I already like Dostoyevsky so much more than Tolstoy. I like how gritty his characters are.
  83. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery: ♥♥♥ Elegant.
  84. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell: ♥♥♥♥ If you can handle whininess and self obsession in large quantities, this book is for you. Clearly, I love a good crazy. Especially when there’s food involved.
  85. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie: ♥♥ I feel like I read this book without really reading it. I couldn’t even tell you what happens in the end. Not sure if I was just in a book funk or didn’t connect with the author’s writing style. I’ll give him another chance at some point, but not anytime soon.
  86. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell: ♥♥♥♥ This book is so interesting. It will not be the only Malcolm Gladwell book I read.
  87. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis: ♥♥♥♥ I am somewhat afraid to date a man in New York now. That being said, I really…really liked this book. I was fascinated by the main character’s attention to detail though I started skimming the torture scenes. Shiver.
  88. Beijing Doll by Chun Sue: ♥♥ The premise of a girl in China rebelling against mainstream society was interesting, but the flow of the writing was a bit too choppy at times.
  89. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max: ♥♥♥ This guy is a huge jerk, but ooooiieeee he is a funny jerk.
  90. Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner: ♥♥♥ Cute, blow through beach read.
  91. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young: ♥♥♥♥ Part of me really roots for this guy and part of me wonders how he can be so daft. Love it.
  92. Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell: ♥♥♥ I was so curious! What was Carrie like before Sex and the City? Plus, Toby Young was friends with Candace Bushnell and talks about her in his book, so I wanted to read another one of her books. It was a predicable read, but cute enough to keep me interested.
  93. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: ♥♥♥♥♥ This is one of my favorite books I’ve read lately! This guy is a master at word choice and I loved the mixture of darkness, comedy and suspense.
  94. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving: ♥♥♥♥♥ My new favorite piece of literature and Owen Meany is my favorite literary character. The image of him and the grandmother smoking on the train and commenting on people who walks by makes me laugh every time I think of it. Such a beautiful story.
  95. A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce: ♥♥ Sure this book had some interesting and unique thoughts, but let’s get real, it was an exploration in boredom.
  96. And The Hippos Were Boiled Alive by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs: ♥♥♥♥ A great meaningful, but light read.
  97. The Hours by Michael Cunningham: ♥♥♥ I’d seen the movie before, which kind of ruined it, but it was decent none the less.
  98. French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano ♥♥♥ I really like reading this book from both a cultural awareness stand point and a healthy living stand point.
  99. Winning by Losing by Jillian Michaels ♥♥ Homegirl be way too intense for me. There were some good tips though.
  100. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami: ♥♥♥ This will not be the last book I read by this author. I really enjoyed this one.
  101. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks: ♥♥ My sister sent this one to me and I picked it up when I was feeling kind of frazzled. It was a good book for the state I was in at the time.
  102. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell: ♥♥♥ I’m pretty muched hooked on Gladwell now.
  103. Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet: ♥♥♥ An insightful book about someone with Asbergers Sydrom.
  104. Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan: ♥♥♥ Poignant and thought provoking. A beautiful read.
  105. The Liars Club by Mary Carr: ♥♥♥ This book held my interest from cover to cover.
  106. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: ♥♥♥ What can I say? I like me some Dostoyevsky. This one wasn’t as good as crime and punishment, but I still liked it, even though some of the scenes seemed like they came from a Gossip Girl episode. (Not that I don’t love me some GG)
  107. Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert: ♥ Painful, so so painful. I picked this up because I thought it would mostly be about traveling in South East Asia, but no, it is all about marriage. Barf.
  108. Eleven Minutes by Paolo Coelho: ♥♥♥ Interesting, but kind of obvious at times. He is a beautiful writer though.
  109. A Widow for a Year by John Irving: ♥♥♥ I liked A Prayer for Owen Meany much more, but this one was still good.
  110. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain: ♥♥♥♥ Such a fun read! I am also now terrified of ever working in a restaurant.
  111. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: ♥♥ I was just not in the right place to read this book at the time. I could not get into it at all, even though it seems like the kind of book I would normally enjoy.
  112. The Translator by Daoud Hari: ♥♥♥ I really appreciated being able to read a first person account of the violence in Darfur. I managed to pick up this book at a good time, since Darfur has been in the news with the elections.
  113. Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap ♥♥♥♥ I love reading books about Thailand by Thai authors. I gained insight about Thailand through Thai eyes in ways that are often lost in language an communication barriers. Great stories in this book.
  114. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas ♥♥ The first part of this book was full of excitement and adventure. I thought I’d finish this book in two days, but once he escapes from prison it is boring with a capital B.
  115. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey ♥♥♥♥ I love a little controversy around a book. Let me know the next Oprah publicly chastises and author so I can pick up that book too. I love the story and straight forward style of writing in this book.
  116. My Life in France by Julia Child ♥♥♥♥♥ I was crushing on Julia Child a little after Julie and Julia and now I am all out in love with her. She has a great story and a contagious zest for life.
  117. Last Night at the Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger ♥♥♥ I finally like chick lit. It’s taken a long time to get here, but I’ve finally done it. This was a fun read, especially while I was still recovering from The Count of Monte Cristo.
  118. A Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion ♥♥♥♥ This was a portrait of greif unlike anything I’d read before. I loved how straight forward and honest Didion is with her emotions and thought in the grieving process.
  119. The World According to Garp by John Irving ♥♥♥ This is the third John Irving book I read in service and I started to notice a lot of similarities. I was somewhat indifferent to this book. I didn’t love it, didn’t hate it.
  120. Fit From Within by Vitoria Moran ♥♥♥♥ This and French Woman Don’t Get Fat are the best healthy living books I have read. This book contains 101 tips from a fit lifestyle that go beyond “stay away from carbs” and “how to calculate your metabolic heart rate.”
  121. Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allende ♥♥♥ I definitely enjoyed Stories of Eva Luna more. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, but this was written well enough that it kept me interested.

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Books of 2008

  1. Three Cups of Tea
  2. Hatchet
  3. Diary of a Fairy Godmother
  4. Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire
  5. Pippi Longstockings
  6. Reading Lolita in Tehran
  7. Gossip Girl
  8. Maniac McGee
  9. A Long Way Down
  10. Bridget Jones 2
  11. The Secret Life of Bees
  12. The Nanny Diaries
  13. The Mermaid Chair
  14. The Fabulous Adventures of the Hunt Sisters
  15. Into Thin Air
  16. Eat Pray Love
  17. A Thousand Splendid Suns
  18. Into the Wild
  19. A Long Way Gone
  20. The Road
  21. The Lollipop Shoes
  22. Rant
  23. About a Boy
  24. The Swiftly Tilting Planet
  25. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
  26. Thanks For the Memories

8 thoughts on “Books

    • I’m glad you liked it. 🙂 In hindsight I wish I had stopped reading it when I wasn’t into it and saved it for a time when I could focus on it and enjoy it more.

  1. Wow, so many books! You have similar tastes to me in your likes and dislikes, so I’m going to bookmark this page and refer back to it when I’m looking for a good suggestion. I have a few books reviewed on my blog, I think you may like The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert (nothing at all like Committed or Eat, Pray, Love).

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