Tag Archives: reading list

2016 reads (mostly fiction)

I continue to be terrible at keeping up with posting about the books I read, but here goes, anyway.

(And I know I owe the world an update about the books I’m writing, but this is part of my productive procrastination method in which I write about one thing to avoid writing about something else. The end result is that I’ve written about one of the things I wasn’t writing about before, so it’s a net gain.)

This is what I’ve read so far this year, in January and February 2016.


Other than The Martian, which I read after watching the movie because I enjoyed the main character so much, the rest of my fiction reading comes directly from the Bookish Trivia reading list.

The trivia competition was moved from its original date (I think it was in February sometime) to the end of April. So now I’ve read all the books and probably won’t remember anything about them by the time the grand night occurs. Oh well. They were good books.

Americanah, in particular, blew my mind. It not only shifted some of my perspectives on race, but it echoed my own experiences moving to America. Where’d You Go, Bernadette was a quirky read, well-written and interesting.

  • The World to Come: A Novel by Dara Horn
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel by Maria Semple
  • The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

YA Fiction

For the most part, my reading has been centered on YA fiction lately (and I now realize YA isn’t truly a genre of its own, thanks to Chuck Wendig’s lovely rantings on the subject of YA as a genre, but I’m not up for further categorizing my reading into fantasy, sci-fi, realistic, romance, etc.)

First, I finished the (somewhat dreadful) Life As We Knew It series. I’d already read the first two books, why not read the last two? They were quick reads and This World We Live In wasn’t bad, although the characters began to grate on me. But then, I’ve never lived through starving times without electricity (oh wait, yes I have, actually, it’s just the rest of my community wasn’t doing it at the same time). The last book, though, made me want to yell at it. I read it anyway.

Then it was on to another Bookish Trivia book, John Green’s Looking for Alaska, which was a good read.

My lovely husband gave me Carry On as a birthday gift, which I’d put off buying based on reviews (and purchased Landline, instead). But it turns out that I seem to love everything Rainbow Rowell writes. I found Carry On awesome, hilarious and just about perfect, hitting all the right notes. I also realized that the lack of fanfic in my list means I’ve missed out on so much good stuff.

The last of the Maze Runner books wrapped up my young adult meanderings through dystopian futures, gritty boarding school realism, fantasy and sci-fi over the last two months. I’m clearly a sucker for a series, even if I don’t want to read it anymore. I generally liked this series but was glad the story was done when it was. I was happy enough with its conclusion and could let them go on living their fictional lives.

  • This World We Live In (Life As We Knew It Series Book 3) by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • The Shade of the Moon (Life As We Knew It Series Book 4) by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Death Cure (The Maze Runner, Book 3) by James Dashner


I’m not reading much memoir these days, because I’m not writing it, but this book is the story of the mother of one of my husband’s long-time work friends. It was an interesting look at her life and I wish her peace as she continues her journey into Spirit.

  • Tell Me You Love Me: A Sharecropper’s Daughter Tells Her Story by Loretta Miller Mehl


Look a new category: inspirational. It’s just non-fiction, really. Here are the non-fiction titles I have started this year, but not yet finished (and may never…?) but that were inspirational, all the same.

As you can see, I failed in my quest to finished Brené Brown’s I Thought It Was Just Me. As excellent as it was, I was distracted by fiction once again and my library borrow expired. And you can’t renew e-books, which sucks.

I will eventually learn my lesson and just buy the non-fiction titles I want to read, like I did with Structuring Your Novel, which I’m wading through and will finish. I will. It’s very useful for the project I’m working on at the moment (I really will write about it soon).

FYI, I read the astral travel book because one of the kids wants to learn how to do it, so I read along with him throughout most of it (all the instructions, so I could help him). He hasn’t achieved success on his quest yet and hopefully won’t get into too much mischief once he does. It’d make vacations cheaper, though (just send your astral self).

  • Astral Travel for Beginners by Richard Webster
  • I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” by Brené Brown
  • Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story by K.M. Weiland


All those books I read and didn’t tell you about

It seems I’m unable to actually blog about the books I read in a timely manner, as evidenced by the several draft blog posts I found going back to 2014. So let’s forget about personalized write-ups for each of them, accompanied by nice little book cover images and links to Amazon so you can buy them.

If you want to click over to Amazon, do your shopping and give me a referral fee, click here. If not, go to your local bookstore, get books from your library, whatever. Just get your hands on some good books and read. 🙂

YA Fiction

Here are the YA novels I’ve pretty much enjoyed between June and December in 2015 (not that you care what year I read it in).

An Infidel in Paradise by S.J. Laidlaw

A writing friend suggested I read this book after she beta-read my manuscript. It’s set in a tropical place (like my book) and deals with issues of race, class and social status.

The Heart is Not a Size by Beth Kephart

Another writing friend recommending a memoir writing book by Beth Kephart and, as that wasn’t available as a digital book from my library, I read this one instead (the logic seemed sound at the time).

Yosemite Rising: a zombie novel by Julie Dawn

This is the debut novel by a local writer friend and fellow mom (we knew each other by sight from school car pool and finally actually met at a Willamette Writer’s meeting). Here’s my disclaimer: I’m not into zombie books.

Every Day by David Levithan

This was a pick for the Bookish Trivia competition and I’m thrilled it was. I loved it so much, I ordered and immediately read Six Days Earlier (see below) and pre-ordered Another Day (which I just realized has been released and I haven’t read it yet!)

Six Earlier Days by David Levithan

I needed more after reading Every Day and this little book gave me just a little more — although not enough.

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne

How We Fall by Kate Brauning

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

So Much It Hurts by Monique Polak

Sometimes I just need a book to read. I found this by searching my library’s digital collection for YA fiction available right now. I read it. It had words. I wanted to bash the protagonist’s head in at times, but her boyfriend was already doing that. There was good stuff, but then there were characters whose motivations left me scratching my head. Spoiler: Why would a teacher not protect her students if she’d been sleeping with the dude herself and been banged about by him? And how was her mom so clueless and wrapped up in her life that she’d let her be away from home for days at a time without setting eyes on her?

Sometimes I read a book and know I didn’t like it for reasons I can’t quite pin down. This one was like that. So I read other people’s reviews (to see if I was on target or not) and they totally nailed it. So thanks, other people, for putting into words what I couldn’t quite formulate.

Cut the Lights by Karen Krossing

Another YA book set in the world of high school theatre. This was OK. There was too much pushing up and adjusting fake glasses with no lenses. And I don’t understand why most of the characters had to have non-standard names that I had to think about how to pronounce. But the story moved along, there was tension and conflict, ups and downs and resolution at the end, so it left me satisfied.

The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

The Giver series by Lois Lowry including The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son
Once I got started, I decided to read them all, mostly because I wanted to find out of Jonas really made it out alive or not. (No spoilers.)

Life As We Knew It and The Dead and The Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
My bonus daughter, Emma, had to read Life As We Knew It for school, and I’ve been doing my best to read along with her, so we can talk about it. But she didn’t like the first book at all, and I waited ages for the library to have it available as an ebook, so we didn’t really overlap reading times.

There was something about this book and series that struck me. Maybe I related to not having enough food, being stuck in a frozen, isolated land and slowly starving. I think that’s it, honestly. There’s something weirdly fascinating about it.

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
This was another class-assigned book that Emma and I both enjoyed, read at the same time, and got to talk about. Win!


My 2015 non-fiction list (that I haven’t already written about, that I’ve finished and that I’m willing to admit to reading) is pretty light.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell


As I’ve moved into writing more fiction the last few months, I’ve moved away from reading memoir. But I managed a couple since I last wrote about it in June.

Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers

Books I read in 2014 but didn’t get around to writing about


In general, I’m much better about starting non-fiction books than I am finishing them. There are a number of books that fit in that category. While I basically speed read through fiction, getting lost in other worlds, fiction often takes me a while to absorb, digest and apply to my life.

And if there’s some kind of quiz or self-reflection exercise I’m supposed to do — forget it. I can put that book down and not pick it back up again for months (because I will almost never actually do the exercises in the way they were intended. What does that say about me? Oh well).

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz

2014 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition by Robert Lee Brewer
OK, no one reads this thing from cover to cover, but I have waded through different parts of it several times.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
My counselor kept telling me to read this book. I read Wild instead, while sick in bed on my birthday two years ago. Then I read the book she intended me too, which pretty much blew my mind, along with several hundred thousand other people’s (not all on the same day, fortunately, as that would have been messy).

GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon
Confession: I’m still reading this one.

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) by Brene Brown
I borrowed this book from the library and didn’t finish it before it magically disappeared from my kindle (yay, no late fees!). I got it out again this year and am still slowly reading my way through it.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Pet Goats & Pap Smears by Pamela Wible MD
My (now former) primary care physician wrote this book. (She’s not my former PCP for anything weird, other than she’s no longer in-network for my insurance.)

Uncovering the secrets of magazine writing: a step-by-step guide to writing creative nonfiction by Nancy Hamilton

The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell

Starting your career as a freelance writer by Moira Anderson Allen

Magazine writing by Chris Benson


I was all into memoir writing in 2014, so I did a lot of memoir reading. I’d like to say something about each of these memoirs, as they each touched and/or inspired me in some way. But I’m learning my lesson about my inability to actually do that within a period of 2 years after reading the books, so I’ll just leave the list here in case you’re looking for some good memoir.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra

My Mistake by Daniel Menaker

MAD MAN KNITTING or The Waiter and The Fly by Gregory Patrick

Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair by Anne Lamott

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of Seventh Grade by Kevin Brockmeier

Live Through This: A Mother’s Memoir of Runaway Daughters by Debra Gwartney

Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America by Steve Almond

Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood by Melissa Hart

Ghostbread by Sonja Livingston