The New Year must have rolled in with a gust of insanity that whooshed directly into my brain, forcing me to resolve that I would read every book on the LA + NY Times Bestseller lists. Maybe it wasn’t an insane resolution but it certainly wasn’t well thought out. Let’s call it stupid.
Every book. Every hardcover and paperback fiction and non-fiction. Every e-book, fiction and non-fiction, Every business, advice & “misc” hardcover and paperback. And, every children’s chapter book. The daunting task isn’t that the list is long. The shocker is how drastically the list changes from week to week. As of Sunday March 11, I have 102 books on my list – and I didn’t start as of January 1!
I’m chipping away at the list, thanks to some coast to coast flights for work! Yes – I work. Yes – I have a family. I do not have hours and hours to sit around and read! Did I mention this is a daunting task? And some of the books on the list are close to 1,000 pages. Each.
There is no way I could afford to buy all of these books to stock my personal library or my Kindle library. My resource is the Yorba Linda Public Library. Using their online services, I request every book on my list, most of which have a number of requests ahead of me. When the book is available, I pay $.50 to pull and hold the book at the front desk. This is a genius service. Who has time to search the library shelves? Not me! I have books to read! I love this service and the spin-the-wheel randomness of what I’ll read next.
I am, with the exception of 2 so far, reading actual books. If the books were all on my Kindle, I would lose sight and interest in the project. The stack of 6 books I currently have in my house are a subtle reminder to get reading!
So far I’ve read 13 books:
Thinking Fast and Slow by nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman. A well written pyschology/sociology textbook that related to my world of recruiting and HR. My favorite part of the book addressed multi-tasking. Being multi-hypenated, I believed I could multi-task. Not so. Our brains are only capable of focusing on one “core” task at a time. Sure we can (or most of) walk, talk and chew gum at the same time, but to give total focus is limited to one task at a time. At recent university career fairs, I spoke with hundreds of students who claimed to have great multi-tasking abilities. Though I wanted to say, “Hey I read the book, no you don’t”, I smiled and let them keep believing.
Taking People with You by Yum Foods Chairman and CEO, David Novak. I do not like business books, though I’ve read so many. They are cheerleading books for management – rah rah siss boom bah – get your people working harder – rah rah rah! Novak took many of the top motivational business books and wove together a fabric of all the best principles and practices and then treated the fabric with his own personal magic and created a hugely successful and very impressive global organization. It didn’t hurt that he knows every bigwig CEO and meets annually with Warren Buffet. Smart and well-connected. Genius.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Loss, heartache, curiousity, adventure and family drama all laced with humor through the eyes of a 9 year old boy. I laughed and cried my way through the novel. With 3 boys of similar age, I could really relate to this story. I shared this story with my family at dinner one night. To keep from being too heavy, I quoted “Succotash my Balzac, dipshittake” and shattered the rule-mongor-never-lets-us-have-any-fun image I believe my kids have of me. Staying true to my image and hyphens, the story was served with succotash, shittakes and a lesson on Balzac.
Bossypants by Tina Fey. Thank you Tina Fey for providing humor to my reading list. Prior to reading Bossypants, I more-than-twice-out-loud confused 30 Rock with 3rd Rock from the Sun. My hsuband was so annoyed, he told me to stop saying 3rd Rock from the Sun, I sound like an idiot. Thanks dear. I don’t watch TV. I read. To be led back into social grace by Tina Fey is a privilege.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. This guy wrote The Virgin Suicides (a must read). It is unfathomable that The Marriage Plot was written by the same person. The Marriage Plot is overwritten cry-me-a-river self-inflicted drama that does not fly in my world. Bestseller does not equate to a good read.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. This 925 page beast took me on a surreal, fantastic journey with an Alice in Wonderland/George Orwell’s 1984 vibe. This is the first book I’ve read by Mr. Murakami and his followers say 1Q84 is not the book to start with in his collection of novels. I beg to differ and look forward to my next Murakami read.
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I’m not a baseball fan. My kids aren’t interested in playing baseball, choosing soccer and basketball instead. Tasked with a baseball book was not high on my must-do list. The characters in The Art of Fielding reminded me of many people I know (CSULB vollleyball 1991 shoutout). A great book about people and choices and how they shape and affect our lives.
The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. What? This book has 13 chapters that were initially short stories, all containing the same characters, and are put together as a novel. It doesn’t work. Shocking to learn this book has earned Critics Choice Awards and has been made into an HBO series. What a waste of my time.
Against all Enemies by Tom Clancy. Yikes. 756 pages of military-esque espionage? Shoot me now. I loved the movie Hunt for Red October, a Clancy classic, hoping for the best, I opened the book. Three days later, I finished and loved it. First – didn’t I just see all this stuff in the news last week? Current events! Second – When is this movie being released? Is it even in production? Great story, action packed, sexy characters, plenty of bad guys and leaves you wanting more. For not liking shoot-em-up spy novels, this book changed my mind.
44 Charles Street by Danielle Steele. Where is summer when you need it? This book is such a predictable easy read that it should come with a beach chair and a frozen drink. Make that a double.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This book is on the Bestseller’s list under the category Children’s Chapter Books. Narrated by Death, set in Nazi Germany, it is the story of a 9 year old girl (my second book involving a 9 year old….interesting). This is a story of growing up, of hope, sadness and sorrow, compassion and pain. When i finished this book, I sighed heavily. I sighed again. After the third heavy sigh, my husband said “What’s with all the sighing?” I couldn’t speak. I sighed again and said, “This book”. I was exhaling to escape the weightof this book has imprinted on my mind. The obvious comparisons and the comparisons that could be drawn between The Book Thief and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close are endless.
The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae by Stephanie Laurens. This book is the 3rd in a series of romance novels involving the Cynster sisters in 17th century London and the Scottish Highlands. Very predictable – bad guy who is really the good guy kidnaps the virginal maiden, she has already proclaimed him to be her hero, they join forces for the greater good, fall in love, conquer evil, she rescues him (girl power!) and they live happily ever after. Lots of steamy sex scenes too. Three of these books? A series? Who reads this stuff? Ugh.
Night Road by Kristin Hannah. I identified with this book more than all the others. The book is about teenagers and a mom. The choices each make and the consequences of those choices left me sobbing. A great book. The first I’ve recommended to my 17 year old daughter (she’d already seen the Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close movie).
Nine books I would recommend, 4 books I would advise against reading.
I just went to the library and picked up my current holds:
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Bonnie by Iris Johansen
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James
I have started reading The Start Up of You by Reid Hoffman on my Kindle bur have not made much progress.
Not sure where I will start with this group but one thing is for sure, they will all be read, cover to cover. Followed by many many others.