Books I Read in 2015

As compared to the past few years, DAMN, I read a lot of books this year!  I’m proud of myself!  I love reading but the past few years it has not been as much of a priority and I’ve struggled to get through the bare minimum of “just book club books.”  Adding to this, I don’t like to read depressing books (generally speaking, any book where kids die or involving WWII in any capacity is out, which is an unfortunately large chunk of the books that people will recommend).

Please forgive me for not taking the time to link to the books on Amazon or whatever.  I trust that you are able to search for them yourselves should you be interested.  Book club books are denoted by an ASTERISK, and books that I particularly think you should read are denoted by a PLUS.  These are listed more or less in the order I read them.

+ / * The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  Yes, everybody read this book this year, and for good reason, yo.  It was really damn enjoyable.  I love a thriller, and an untrustworthy narrator.  Also we all learned that you can by gin & tonics in a can in the UK.

*The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters.  An interesting read. I particularly enjoyed the post-WWI “hey, all the eligible men are actually sort of dead, what do we do” element of this, which I think is glossed over in Downton Abbey.

+Cocaine Blues; Flying Too High; Murder on the Ballarat Train; and Death at Victoria Dock, all by Kerry Greenwood.  I became obsessed with Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, an Australian romantic crime drama set in the 1920s in Melbourne (where we have an office), to the extent that I not only watched every single episode of all three seasons, but also read some of the source material.  I recommend either the books or the show (available on Netflix!) or both.  Phryne Fisher is a fantastic character.

*The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker.  A book club book that I did not finish.

The Darlings by Cristina Alger. This was a book club book from a few years ago that I did not read at the time, but I should have, because I liked it. Interesting fictionalization of the financial crisis.

*My Notorious Life by Kate Manning.  An interesting saga set in the mid-1800s in New York City.  A book that I wouldn’t have chosen on my own but ended up really enjoying.

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover and The Season by Sarah MacLean.  Historical romance novels with exceptionally strong and non-stereotypical female characters.

+The Royal We by the Go Fug Yourself girls.  I cannot recommend this book enough. This was a dream to read and I wish I had written it.

*When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  An exceptional YA book with a Wrinkle in Time references.  Really enjoyable.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  For those of you who work with me, we can NEVER TELL GAYLE THAT I READ THIS BOOK.

*The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton.  Also a book that I wouldn’t have chosen on my own (particularly this one as it involved a dead kid) but I really enjoyed it anyway.

Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham.  I enjoy Lena Dunham.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler.  I enjoy Amy Poehler even more.

+Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling.  I enjoy Mindy Kaling possibly the most.  She is the closest contemporary to me age-wise and some of her experiences feel very familiar to me.

*The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  The fantastical descriptions in this book were really great.  I also like a book where you maybe don’t know exactly what’s going on but that’s OK.

+Unbecoming by Rebecca Sherm. I listened to this book.  It was a Nancy Pearl on NPR recommendation and I particularly enjoy her recommendations because (A) I can very easily tell from her descriptions if I’m going to like something and (B) once I’ve decided I might enjoy something she recommends, I almost always do. It centers on a woman named Grace who now lives in Paris and goes by Julie.  There’s a lot of back and forth between present day and events leading up to Grace living in Paris and going by Julie.  The character development is wonderful – a real character study.

Sugar Daddy; Blue-Eyed Devil; Smooth Talking Stranger; and Brown Eyed Girl; all by Lisa Kleypas.  Regina recommended this series to me and I whipped through it.  It’s a fairly traditional modern romance series, all set in Texas, and the characters are interesting and well-drawn.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.  Another one that everyone is reading this year and rightly so.  It’s not “this year’s Gone Girl” – the characters are so different – but it does have an interesting take on the his-perspective/her-perspective element.

*Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.  The dead kid in this book didn’t bother me as much because you knew about it going in and it wasn’t too graphic.  It was a great book club discussion book.

The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry.  I read one of her books years ago, and I only recently found out that Anne Perry is the actual person who was featured in the movie Heavenly Creatures.  So now I’m going to read some more of her books.

Second Life by S.J. Watson. This was another Nancy Pearl recommendation, although I didn’t like it as much as the other one.  I couldn’t really get into the characters.

Truths, Half Truths and Little White Lies by Nick Frost.  I listened to this memoir and, I’m not going to lie, I kind of think Nick Frost might be my boyfriend now. I am now obsessively re-watching Spaced.

*The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming.  The ONLY non-fiction/non-memoir book on my list.  I took some Russian history & literature classes in college, and it was nice to rekindle that knowledge.  The family life details were really fascinating.

 

FOMO

I don’t really have fear of missing out so much as potentially unrealistic expectations of how much I can get done in a certain amount of time.  I also don’t exactly use the weekend to relax.  Here’s me discussing a theoretical but likely weekend with my coworker, Nate.

Nate: What are you doing this weekend?

Me: Well, I have three hockey games Sunday, and I’m supposed to get drinks with someone on Saturday, and the girls were invited to two different playdates that are 45 minutes apart but I figure I can just drop one off, take the other one to the other one, then go back and get the first girl, and then go back and get the second girl, and then we’ll go home and I need to cook five pounds of tomatoes and also I have a hair appointment and I want to finish reading this book about Princess Di.  You?

Nate: We may be going on a bike ride but we’re not sure.

I don’t like saying no to things though.  I always feel like, if it’s something I want to do, and people I want to see, why not at least try to get there?  It’s only been recently that I’ve had to say to myself, look, you’re not going to make it to this event.  It’s in the middle of naptime, it’s a two-hour roundtrip drive, and the girls haven’t eaten lunch in their own house since March.

This weekend, however, was a master class in trying to cram in as much stuff as I could.* Ben worked all weekend** so I was responsible for everything.  “Everything” included:

  • Elena’s regular ballet class
  • A cookie exchange in the South Hills (necessitating travel over bridges and through tunnels)
  • Babysitting our friend’s kid so his parents could go to a fancy party
  • Dek hockey game
  • Getting the girls to church
  • Elena’s special Nutcracker ballet class
  • Making sure my kids had enough food and sleep so they didn’t stage a walkout

And we did it!

The cookie exchange in the South Hills was with a bunch of other bloggers, and I use the term “other” loosely because they update their blogs more than, you know, once a month.  I generally feel like an impostor, but I did bake cookies, so I guess I’m legit?  Regardless, it’s always fun to see Henry in the wild, though.

Cookies

Cookies2

The cookies came in handy with the entertaining-children element of the evening, although these kids together could probably entertain themselves with a ball of yarn.  They had a lot of fun.

Popcorn

cookies were a success

I didn’t take any pictures of my actual hockey game, but I did take a picture of Jake reffing the game before ours because it was his birthday.

Jake (2)

We won the game!  I had a nice assist and felt pretty good about my defensive skills.  I hadn’t had a good game in a while so it was a nice boost for me.

The church/hockey/feeding the children/Zoe’s nap/ballet class element of Sunday was the trickiest, and I felt pretty proud that I sorted it all out.  I had to smell like hockey for a couple of hours to make it happen, but I suppose there are worse things to smell like***?

Here’s Elena posing with the Sugar Plum Fairy ballerinas (I believe they are student dancers and not the actual SPF in the ballet).  She enjoyed the class.

Nutcracker

After this we went home and had a pizza movie night.  Well-deserved!

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*and I still had to say no to a few things!  I really wanted to attend Lou’s Christmas party and the Moms Demand Action walk.  But as I mentioned, I have to draw the line somewhere.

**for anyone who received a package at 9:45pm last night, thank your mail carrier.  It’s not their fault that you didn’t really care if it came on Monday.

***there are not.  I’m just telling myself this.