My favorite reads

Every year on my birthday, I challenge myself to read as many books as I am old in the upcoming year.  For someone who loves to read, this shouldn’t be so hard.  But, as it turns out, it has been in the past because I typically only read before bed which means I typically only read 10 minutes a day and that gets me nowhere close to reading as many books as my advancing age.  So, this year, I added books on tape/ cd/ playback device to my repertoire and that has been an incredible addition.  Incredible enough that I did indeed finish 36 books in my 36th year and have already tackled 7.5 more books since my latest birthday five weeks ago.

With the end of the year creeping up, I thought I’d give you a round up of some of my favorite reads from the year with a little descriptor.

Here we go: 

 Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby 

Nick Hornby (author of About a Boy, How to Be Good, and High Fidelity) is one of my favorites and so I immediately scoop up whatever he releases, and this one did not disappoint.  With another storyline rooted in music and messy relationships, Hornby follows Annie who is dating Duncan who is obsessed with the work of a musician named Tucker.  When Annie goes off on her disdain for Tucker’s latest album, hilarity and life-altering decisions ensue. 

Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton with Erin Torneo

After being raped by knifepoint by a man who broke into her bedroom in the middle of the night, Jennifer Thompson was determined she could identify the man who brutalized her.  In a line-up, she chose Ronald Cotton and he ultimately went to prison for the crime.  After eleven years in prison and his own searching for the truth, Cotton was released from prison when a DNA test proved he was innocent.  Two years later, Cotton and Thompson-Cannino met and became friends.  This book is their unforgettable story. 

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Columbine happened while I was a high school teacher in the inner-city.  The day after the massacre, I asked my students if Columbine could have happened to us- at our school, on our watch.  “No way,” one of my kids answered.  “We live in apartments, share rooms with our brothers; we don’t have the money or the privacy to build bombs and stash guns.”  That reaction struck me as so honest, so on the pulse of something true.  Books on education always grab and hold my interest and this inside, indepth look at what happened before, during, and after the Columbine massacre is no different.  Riveting. 

Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman

I ache to live in Vermont or Maine.  If I could stomach the cold, I’d be there in a minute.  New England, her beauty, her lushness, and her very real people just speak to me.  Ayelet Waldman captures the Maine I have seen so well in this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and heartwarming story of two families who suffer an unimaginable loss- the death of their children on their wedding day just after they marry each other.  How they go on is something to witness as are Waldman’s gorgeous sentences.

Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman

Let me just go ahead and put another book by Waldman on this list.   A dear friend loaned me this one and what a treat.  It’s a collection of essays about good and bad motherhood- fascinating how we can simultaneously be both- that every mom should read. 

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

This one was also recommended by a friend, and I am so glad she introduced me to Tropper.  What a hoot.  Not long after Judd’s wife has left him for his radio shock-jock boss, his father dies.  The family gathers to sit shiva and the dysfunction of family ensues.  You’ll laugh out loud.   

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

I hate running.  Seriously, hate every second of it.  But I love how I feel after a run so I carry on (in good, warm weather.  I don’t like running enough to run when it is excessively early, cold, hot, or wet.).  What does running have to do with this book?  I listened to this one as I ran and it made me run more often and longer because it is just that good.  Told by Enzo, the family dog, this story recalls a family’s struggles as the race car-driver dad faces difficult challenges. 

Room by Emma Donoghue

I was reluctant to read this one because of the subject matter.  A woman is abducted and kept in a small room for years.  During her captivity, she births a son.  The story is told from the point of view of the five year old boy who lives in Room.  It’s brilliant, and not at all too hard to take in.  In fact, what it champions is resilience and perseverance.  It’s being recommended all of the over place and for good reason.  So worth the hype.

Now, it’s your turn?  What were you favorite reads from the year?

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One response to “My favorite reads”

  1. Heather Kelly

    Thanks for sharing these! You always have wonderful recommendations. I read a few Tropper books on our vacation this summer (I finished all the “real” books I brought and found him in the ipad book store) Fun reads for sure! Just this weekend I gave someone my copy of Columbine. It is such a fascinating look at a moment in history. My favorite (most recent) of the moment is Steve Martin’s An Object of Beauty, set in the New York art scene. Great book, very engaging. Keep the recommendations coming!!

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