2014 bookshelf update: part 4

I normally go through phases with my reading, back and forth between my Kindle and physical books. Well, I’ve been in a physical book-phase for about seven months now, and my bookshelf is an overstuffed testament to the fact. Alas, it is a great and terrible thing to realize you have no more room on your bookshelves.

July proved to be a month of non-fiction (quite out of the norm for me), while August was a lovely hodgepodge of genres, from mystery to children’s classics. Only one of the six books I read was on my To Read list, which shows you just how easily distracted I am when it comes to reading. Oh well. I do have quite a few books from my list waiting in the wings for the next couple of months, though.

Moneyball, by Michael Lewis

The movie Moneyball lands on my list of all-time favorites, so when I saw the book on my brother’s bookshelf back at GA home I immediately asked if I could steal it away from him. I was actually fascinated by how much I enjoyed the book, even though its subject matter is actually much, much larger than the scope of the movie. The book focuses on the history of the statistical methods used by the Oakland A’s, with the personal narratives strewn throughout for color and greater understanding. The movie, of course, centers entirely on the narratives. I’m not really a baseball fan, per se, but I love a sports underdog story as much as the next person, and Lewis wrote about the statistical story in such a compelling voice that I found myself truly appreciating the subject matter (and it’s pretty dang hard to get me interested in math). Definitely not a book for everyone, but truly fascinating in its own way.

Bossypants, by Tina Fey

I adore Tina Fey. Absolutely adore her. And though I’ve been meaning to read her memoir for years, I only just picked up a copy this summer. It. Was. Magical. Her humor and personal style comes through as clearly on the page as it does when she’s on TV. I have never known myself to guffaw before, but this book awakened that ability in me. It’s just that funny, as well as being endearing and honest and sarcastic and everything the world loves about Tina Fey. Do yourself a favor and put it on your list (and add Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Amy Poehler’s soon-to-be-released Yes Please to complete the golden trifecta of modern female comedy).

The Winter People, by Jennifer McMahon

Thankfully I left some space between my reading of Bossypants and picking up The Winter People because that, my friends, is a massive genre switch. TWP is a mystery/suspense/ghost novel set in the small town of West Hall, Vermont, “a town of strange disappearances and old legends.” In 1908, little Gertie Shea was found dead, driving her mother, Sara Harrison Shea, to desperately search for a way to bring her back. Sara is found burned alive in the backyard not long after. In present-day, 19-year-old Ruthie lives in the old Shea house with her mother and sister…until her mother suddenly disappears. With all the legends and mysteries surrounding West Hall, Ruthie uses Sara Shea’s diary to try and track down her mother. I was mostly pleased with the book, and it was sufficiently creepy throughout the bulk of it. A lot of the suspense is gone by the end, unfortunately (though I actually appreciated that since it made it a lot easier to fall asleep that night), but I think it would make an excellent fireside read for the coming fall/winter.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle

I somehow escaped childhood without ever reading this pillar of children’s literature, so I decided to rectify that situation. It was definitely enjoyable, though I’m pretty sure I would have appreciated it more reading it as a child (I’ve developed a terrible habit of over-analyzing children’s literature in the last few years). Don’t think I’ll attempt the other four books in the quintet, but I’m glad I finally marked this one off my list.

Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn

This marked the end of my backwards march through Flynn’s published novels (if you’ll remember, I read Gone Girl in January and Dark Places in May). And just like the other two, Sharp Objects left me throughly creeped-out. The novel follows a reporter for a low-tier newspapers in Chicago as she makes the trek back to her small Missouri hometown to cover the unsolved murders of two little girls, presumed to be the work of a serial killer. I’m not going to go into any further plot points to keep as much of the mystery alive as possible for you should you choose to read it, but just know that you need to have some chocolate and a funny follow-up book on hand to help you recover from your time in this dark, unfriendly town.

Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date, by Katie Heaney [Recommended by Shea]

It’s no secret to readers of this blog that I’ve never had a romantic relationship in my 23 years of life, so a memoir with this title seemed pretty appealing. And after finishing the first chapter of this book, I was simultaneously excited and terrified to continue reading. I resonated with far too many of Heaney’s experiences, from cringe-worthy middle school crushes to “I have no idea what’s going on here” situations in college, and it was pretty nice to know that these moments are more universal that I often feel they are. Heaney also wrote in such an honest, hysterical voice, and Shea and I shared a lot of late night laughs over nearly every section of the book. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it long-term, but right now I’m still pretty happy I read it. I’ll let you know if those feelings change.

There’s actually a chance I’ll finish another book (Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season) before August ends, in which case I’ll come back to update this post. But for now, my July/August count sits at 6, and I’m pretty happy with that.

As always, book recommendations are more than welcome. I’ll even swap you one if you want.

Happy reading, y’all.

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