5 Books I read, Plus 5 Books I’m gonna read.

I read every night before I go to bed.  If I don’t, I feel weird.   Bed and reading go together.  Like peanut butter and jam.  Salt and pepper.  Wigs and kittens.

I used to read every book I picked up from beginning to end regardless of whether I thought it was great or not.  I don’t do that anymore.  If I get 1/4 of  the way through a book and the only reason I want to open it is on the off chance the pages burst into flame like in a magic trick , I know it’s time to take that magic course I always wanted to.  Plus it’s time to get rid of the book.

There are too many good books out there to read, to suffer through something boring, stupid, pretentious, bland or difficult.  The odd time you get these things ALL ROLLED INTO ONE BOOK!  For me that book is often written by  Jonathan Franzen.

The  stack of 5 books below are ones that I’ve read.  It’s  a list that includes both the books I loved and one I gave up on by page 58.

Books I- Read


The Rosie Project is a really fun little book about a professor who may or may not have Aspergers Syndrome.  It’s funny, thoughtful and an easy enjoyable read.

The Book Thief is one of the many books I’ve read that focus on the time during the holocaust.   You need to read this book.  Now.

Secret Daughter is also an easy read and engaging.  The story revolves around a baby who is given up for adoption in India and the lives of her birth parents and adoptive parents.

The Casual Vacancy, by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was about something.  I have no idea what.   I couldn’t force myself past page 58.   J.K. Rowling is an incredibly talented writer whose  book I was hoping  would burst into flames.

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy sat on my desk for a year before I read it.  I was a huge Maeve Binchy fan years ago because she is a true storyteller.  But her more recent books seemed to be missing something.  When she died I vowed to read her last story.  And I did. It was a cute, story about a multitude of flawed but likeable characters.  In true Maeve Binchy style.

Gonna Read



These, on the other hand, are the books I’m going to read.  And I’m looking forward to each and every one of them.  Except one.

Don’t Get too Comfortable by David Rakoff is a book I tried to read a year and a half ago but just couldn’t get into.   I didn’t wish flames upon it, I just wasn’t in the right state of mind to read it I think.  Apparently if you like David Sedaris you’ll like David Rakoff.  I happen to love David Sedaris.

N-W by Zadie Smith will be the second novel I’ve read by this British author.  The first was On Beauty which I really liked, but sadly can’t remember a single thing about.  I’m gonna be honest with you.  Of the list of 5 books this one kind of worries me.  Poof!

The Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby is another bit of a risk.  When a novel only has 6 reviews on Amazon despite being published 3 years ago … you’ve gotta worry a bit. But an Art of Doing Stuff reader recommended it so I’m givin’ it a shot!

We are Water by  Wally Lamb will be the 3rd novel I’ve read by this American author.  The other two,   I Know this Much is True  and   She’s Come Undone were both pretty darn good. Besides  as a general rule any book with the word “water” in the title can’t burst into flames.  It’s just common sense.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini is the book I’m most looking forward to.  Hosseini has authored  two of the most remarkable novels I’ve read over the past several years;  The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns .  Like his previous two works, this  story takes place in Afghanistan.

Books like any other form of artistic endeavour is very subjective.  You may love it, I may hate it.  But the odd time there are books that are almost universally loved.  If I had to recommend 3 books from these lists they would be A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Book Thief and The Rosie Project.

I really can’t imagine anyone not liking them.

Feel free to leave your comments now telling me all about how you got 1/4 of the way through one of them before it burst into flames.

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  1. Jebber Jay says:

    I’m reading “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh. It’s a super easy read (i.e. mix of illustrations and text) that will keep you entertained from cover to cover. She shares her crazy life with us through annedotes, written with a perfectly captivating mix of self-ridicule and honesty about how her mind churns its way through life. I think of it as a self-help comedy book. :o)

  2. Regina says:

    My taste in books is very simple: mystery and laugh. I finish Janet Evanovich’s Take Down Twenty and I must say it was one of her better ones yet! Lula is obsessed with a giraffe she names Kevin. I laughed out loud many many times! I just started a series The Body Movers by Stephanie Bond. Not Janet, but I got sucked in and am on book three now. I will try to expand my horizons and try some of the suggestions here. Happy Reading!

  3. Marilyn says:

    I just finished Sue Monk Kidd’s new book, The Invention of Wings. It is wonderful!

  4. Gail says:

    Book Thief is the best- AND- the movie portrays the novel beautifully. We read it for our Lakewood Library Knit and Lit Club! Wonderful!!!!! 5 *******’s.

  5. andrea meyers says:

    A Thousand Splendid Suns was one of my all time faves. You’re going to love the new one too. I just met the author at a signing, good times!

  6. Karen says:

    Franzen’s books are really horrible no matter who trumpets their glories. The one book that took me years to read was The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, by Benjamin Franklin. I wanted to read that thing so BAD. I would get it every few years and start reading and soon become almost catatonic. I did that for about 15 years and then found it on cassette tape in our library. Bingo! It really was good, and I started listening to more books. I loved Gerald Durrell reading with his great accent and his hilarious style. I would always try and get a book the author read him/herself. Thanks for all the suggestions. I have a new list, now.

  7. Jackie MacRae says:

    I just barely reached my goal of 52 books last year, and have a huge (200+) list saved on the library site waiting for me, but if you’re looking for inspiration, you should all check out this website-

  8. Trish Gannon says:

    Bedtime reading, eating breakfast reading, taking a bath reading, walking out to feed the chickens reading… all are great!

    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (last time you talked books you hadn’t read it yet)
    An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears
    The Eight by Katherine Neville
    The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber
    The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

  9. Dawn says:

    I skipped reading The Casual Vacancy on the principle that the subject sounded depressing and a bit naff. JK’s latest book on the other hand (Cuckoo’s Calling ‘by Robert Galbraith’), was great. So I recommend reading that one instead!

    Oh, and if you haven’t read it yet, everybody should read ‘The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared’ by Jonas Jonasson. It’s utterly random, and very good.

  10. Pam'a says:

    Thanks for these book chats, Karen.

    I took you up on Lonesome Dove– It took a little while to get the movie out of my head, but LOVED IT (Fun fact– I grew up fairly near Ogallala, NE). Now the husband has it queued up.

    I also read The Book of Negroes, and was amazed that I’d never even *heard* of it… Fascinating (especially since it was written in a woman’s voice by a man), and another winner.

    How does anybody go to sleep without reading? ;)

  11. Kim from 3 peanuts says:

    Karen, I read every night too. I am an avid reader and sometimes read 2-3 books a week. I am in 2 book clubs and I must tell you that one of my favorite books last year was a “young adult” book called The Fault in our Stars but John Greene. I never re-read a book but the writing was so witty and tight that I want to re-read this one. I also loved The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Me before you, and the Girl you Left Behind. Well, I could go on and on but I’ll stop there.

    Thanks for the suggestions….as you can imagine, I run out of things to read. That is why your lil holiday blog break ticked me off. I need to read. Ha!

  12. Janet says:

    I, too, love to read at night. My husband says I read way too much and don’t exercise enough, however, one of my favorite reads is…….The Art of Doing Stuff! Thanks Karen for all you do for so many, funny quips, entertainment, drama, wildlife, history, cooking, learning…you write about them all, what a great author.

  13. leslie says:

    BEST book I ever read (EVER, NO EXCEPTION!!) is written by Sandra Cisneros and called “Caramelo”. If I could write like her, I don’t think I would ever need to do anything else.

    Please read it!!!

  14. Rachel says:

    I read Casual Vacancy a few weeks ago. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was very different than what the book actually is. That said, it’s still a good book. When I was describing it to my husband he said it sounded like a Coen brother’s movie, which I’d agree with. If you can push through to about 100 pages in it gets better.

  15. Deb says:

    I’m halfway through “The Rosie Project” (bought it yesterday afternoon) and have laughed so hard! With the exception of a few specifics, it’s identical to my courtship and life with my Aspie! Sometimes I want to throw in the towel, as it’s exhausting to deal with him on a daily basis, but what can I say…I love him. He is who he is and can be no other way. Thanks for recommending this book, Karen! When I’m frustrated to the max with him, I’ll remember some of the scenes in this jewel of a book, and perhaps be a bit more tolerant of his very special traits. ;-)

  16. Gina S. says:

    Speaking of books, just nabbed 8 audiobooks for 6 bucks on http://www.humblebundle.com compatible with Mp3 players and audio capable kindles…..now if I can just figure out how to download etc…..I’m not very technical….but there are some good books in this “bundle” (Dave Eggers, Salman Rushdie, Piers Anthony…)

  17. Sheila says:

    Couldn’t get past the obligatory page 58 on EITHER The Book Thief OR The Casual Vacancy. Guess with JK Rowling, I was too used to her Harry Potter books. She just seemed that she wanted to get too much crotch talk in her newest book just to prove that she could write something else. The other one (Book Thief) just didn’t do anything for me. Oh well………..

  18. Cred says:

    I love these posts- I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like but have been making it a priority lately. I was in need of some good suggestions= thank you.
    Let us know how you liked the Woefield Poultry Collective- I wanted to love this book but it was one that I had to put down only a few chapters in. Recently, like you, I stopped reading books right to the bitter end if I’m not enjoying them. So, I didn’t stop on a whim- I can’t recall why I didn’t like but just didn’t.

  19. Kelly says:

    I have SO much to learn from you, Karen. I love to read and, coincidentally, just published the list of my next 10 books on my blog. Clearly, I should have edited the reviews down a considerable amount. As to previous all time favourites, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is up there for sure, along with My Side of The Mountain (a kids’ book but excellent), The Hunger Games and Suzanne Collins other series, which are technically kids’ books in the same way Harry Potter was, The Last Confederate Widow Tells All, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. These all stick in my mind, while others just fade away.

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