5 Books I’ve Read plus 5 Books I’m Gonna Read. Part III




It seems to me that every time a new season comes around I feel like book reading season has finally arrived.

At the beginning of summer I think AH, I can finally sit in the sun with a book and read.

At the beginning of fall I think AH, I can finally lay on the couch with a book and read.

At the beginning of winter I think AH, I can finally sit by the fire with a book and read.

At the beginning of spring I think AH, I can finally sit either in the sun/on the couch/or by the fire depending on the weird spring weather with a book and read. While inhaling that distinct springtime worm smell.

The truth is all seasons are great book seasons for all the reasons I’ve mentioned above. The trick is making yourself read. I’ll tell you the worst thing to happen to my reading schedule was my stupid iPad. I used to read every single night before bed. And I mean since I was a child. Every. Single. Night.

Then I discovered the allure of the YouTube videos as seen on my iPad. If for some reason I’m not completely into my book, or I think I’m getting in bed early enough to both watch videos and read … I inevitably haul out the iPad and fall asleep while watching random videos on how to remove your own inner thigh muscle or blow build your own glass bottom boat. You know. Important things we should all know about.

Which means I don’t read.

So I’ve banished my iPad from the bedroom because I’m simply not strong enough to resist the temptations of a good 3 minute long YouTube video on how to perfectly ice sugar cookies so they look like something Marie Antoinette would approve of.

I’m. Just. Not. Strong. Enough.

I’m back to reading every night in bed.

I’ve mentioned before (because seriously I’ve been doing this for 4 years now so I’m bound to start repeating myself) that very few things make me happier than a cupboard full of potato chips, finding cool stuff in other people’s garbage, and having a whack of  books beside my bed.

Sometimes I just look at them and get excited over the possibility of reading them all, which in turns leads me into a very small panic attack because then I wouldn’t have a nice big stack of books waiting to be read anymore, which in turn leads me to Amazon to feed the addiction.

My name’s Karen. And my life inspired the new TLC show Book Hoarders.

No it hasn’t.

As I do a few times a year I’m going to share 5 of the books I’ve read, plus 5 of the books I’m going to read over the next season or two. Depending on how well my YouTube video addiction cold turkey stint goes.  I once quit using fabric softener cold turkey and that resulted in a very close call with a cat, static electricity and a tetanus shot.  So.




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This was the second time I read Silence of the Lambs

I have no idea when the first one was but about 1/3rd of the way into the book things started to seem awfully familiar to me.  I’m assuming I liked it the first time around because I absolutely liked it this time.


I don’t normally read Stephen King, but Betty convinced me to read this one.  Betty doesn’t like complicated books so her choices are always good reads, but easy ones.  They’re the kind of book I like to read in between heavier, heartier books.  Betty’s recommendations are the lemon meringue pie to my double, chocolate layer, carmel drizzled, black forest cake. Joylandis a murder mystery that takes place in the 70’s at a beachfront amusement park.  Loved it. Fun, engrossing, easy read.


O.K.  Swamplandia!I did not like it.  I did not like it one bit in fact.  Which, based on the books description is surprising. It sounds like something I’d love.

“Grandpa Sawtooth, né Schedrach, bought some wildlife-infested land in Florida, sight unseen, and took his wife there to live in 1932. “A tiny crab scuttled over Risa’s high-buttoned shoe,” Ms. Russell writes of Grandma Risa’s first look at the place. “ ‘And when she didn’t scream,’ Sawtooth liked to say, ‘that’s when I knew we were staying.’ ”

I know a lot of people LOVED and recommended this book but I picked it up and put it down 3 times.  I still like the cover though so that counts for something I guess.  Swamplandia is a kindda weird and bizarre.  Or so I’m told.  I’m kind of the queen of weird and bizarre books so if that’s what you’re looking for you’d be smarter to give Geek Lovea shot.


Cutting for Stonetook me a while to get into but once I was there I was really there.  Great book following the lives of 2 remarkable twins in Ethiopia from birth to adulthood.  This is the book I keep thinking about.

Now the cookbook.  I understand that most people don’t think of cookbooks as really great reading material, but if you like baking bread, The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is GREAT.   It’s the cookbook that my no knead bread recipe comes from, although I didn’t know that when I started making it.  The story behind how this cookbook came to be and is really great and the amount of recipes that you can make from their one Master Bread recipe is astonishing.  Plus it’s easy and the recipes work.  That there is my official endorsement. 



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The Hundred-Foot Journeyis something I’ve had by my bedside for a while now but haven’t read. The book revolves around a family run restaurant that goes through several generations and trials. It’s based in India, England and France. I just keep waiting for the right time to read this book and I think the right time is now. This is another Betty recommendation. Sort of. Actually she liked the book but became incensed when she found out the author wasn’t an actual chef. For some reason this bothers her to no end. I have no idea why. It isn’t an autobiography, it’s a novel. I’m not looking forward to the day I have to tell her that Frankenstein was written by a woman. Who wasn’t a monster.

I have a thing about WWII and books that revolve around it.  Most of what I’ve read is fiction that’s based on fact, but this latest book of mine, Inside the Fourth Reich(which was given to me by a neighbour who read it) is a factual based that written like fiction. It’s a first person account of Erich Erdstein’s life as a Jew posing as a Nazi, infiltrating German diplomatic and military circles among a litany of other undercover operations, one which landed him in jail with Aristotle Onassis.  I started this book, got distracted and put it down.  I will be picking it back up again.

I’ve loved everything that Khaled Hosseini has written  (The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns) so I can’t imagine his latest, And the Mountains EchoedIt is a story about family.  And it was written by Khaled Hosseini.  That’s all I need to know.


The Invention of Wingsis the book I’m most looking forward to. The book was inspired by the true life story of socialite sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimke and their fight for equality and freedom for women and slaves in the early 1800’s.


The only problem I’m having is I wish I’d bought the audio version instead of the hard copy. Listen to it. Just listen to it. I could listen to the reader all day long.



And finally the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize,  The GoldfinchI’ve been holding onto this latest book from  Donna Tartt for quite some time and started reading it a few nights ago.  Last night I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning reading it.

Here’s the synopsis from Amazon.

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

Anything that has me awake at 2:30 in the morning and doesn’t involve the stomach flu is something to be taken seriously.  I’ve been warned the book drags on in some place and could have been say, 500 pages shorter, but I’m prepared.

I have my iPad fully charged.


  1. Pat says:

    Just stumbled upon your website…and your .. love of books!! Cuttting for Stone is one of the best books I have ever read. It started slow but once I was hooked…I was really hooked!!

  2. calliek says:

    Here’s the link for 50 book pledge


  3. calliek says:

    I have a serious reading addiction too which is why I bought a Kobo tablet. I still read in bed most nights, mainly ebooks from the library but there are still piles of books by the bed ( and on the hall table, and stacked near the bookshelves in the living room and….).

    One thing I have found helpful is the 50 Book Pledge. You sign up, pledge to read certain number of books in a year and add book titles to your virtual bookshelf when you completed them. I pledged to read 100 and I’ve read 67 books since Jan so currently on pace for 97. I was on pace for 104 but didn’t have a lot of time for reading in Sept; I suspect I’ll hit my target and then some now that it’s getting colder. What I like best about it is I now have a record of what I’ve read, because like you I sometimes forget if I’ve already read something!

    • Karen says:

      Holy CRAP! That’s a lot of books, lol. I wish I could get through them faster, but if I get through one a month I’m doing REALLY well. I should really go to bed earlier so I have longer to read before I konk out. ~ karen!

  4. Mindy says:

    I LOVE book recommendations. My sister told me this weekend that Goldfinch is the best book she’s ever read. I’m with you on Khaled. Amazing writer. Amazing. I haven’t read the third one yet either. It’s on my list. I love the idea of banning the electronics from the bedroom. I never read anymore at night either. Unless you count blogs. I always get sucked into at least an hour of mindless scrolling on Pinterest, too. Stupid. My Kindle Fire was down for the count for a week and I read two books in bed because of it. I’m reading tonight. The Bluest Eye is next to my bed. It’s a date. Thank you for inadvertently telling me I suck. And that I’m rotting my brain. Sometimes, I hate technology for ruining all the good things.

  5. Patti says:

    I’m currently reading “Wild” by Cherly Strayed which is the true story of a girl from Minnesota who hikes the Pacific Coast Trail by herself after her mother’s death. I cannot put it down, it’s so good!

  6. Lesley Ann Sturge says:

    Oh my beloved ipad has too kept me away from my books. I think I’ll banish mine from the bedroom also. Let’s see if I can finish the book I started months ago in the tub. Love your blog. Cheers

  7. Pam'a says:

    The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin was a wonderful read; thoughtful, sweet, amusing. Along the same lines, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is excellent. It’s set in the Channel Islands off England, which were barricaded during WWII (even my history geek husband didn’t know that). I enjoyed it so much I’d LOVE to visit there.

    p.s. I don’t have an iPad OR an iPhone. Now I’m okay with that. :)

  8. Etta Lanuti says:

    WWII books that are historically accurate are my favorite, also. Both fiction and non-fiction. Pick up a copy of ” Sarah’s Key” ; “Citizens of London” and ” Opertion Mincemeat” . I don’t think that you will be disappointed. Love your blog!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Etta! I read Sarah’s Key quite a few years ago Etta. I loved it! In fact, I think it might be on one of my Books I’ve read lists, lol. I quite remember. I’ll take a look at the other two. ~ karen!

    • Pam'a says:

      You might want to read “Is Paris Burning?” then. Nonfiction, it’s about the occupation and liberation of… well, Paris!

  9. Beth Nosworthy says:

    “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown. Wonderful book that reads like “Sea Biscuit”. It’s the true story of Washington State rowing team that went to the Olympics in Berlin in 1936 and won the gold. The back story of the individual boys was heartwarming and beautifully told. Movie plans are in the works. Best book I’ve read in a while, and I read a lot!

    Love your blog – way down here in San Diego.

  10. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I am in the process of searching the thrift shops here looking for bargains to read..I have decided to read Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series this winter and I have found one so far but it was a great bargain at 75 cents for a hardcover copy on half price day..Thank you for all of the suggestions ladies and Karen..umm..that didn’t come out quite right..lol..Karen and all you other ladies!!

  11. janpartist says:

    I loved “The Invention of Wings” and have put off buying “The Goldfinch” but if you are reading it then I guess I must. I read “Lonesome Dove” after your recommendation and fell in love with it. It’s somewhat smug to recommend a million page book. (I have a tendency to exaggerate)

  12. Lauren from Winnipeg says:

    I happen to be in the middle of re-reading Cutting for Stone. Great book. Love Indian authors. I became a Kindle fan about 3 years ago and have never looked back. It was at a time when we were doing some serious renovations and I was in hyper de-clutter mode. Anything not nailed down was at risk lol. I was able to purge my physical books so that I have only kept the ones I love and know I will re-read. Love knowing I can take my whole e-book library with me wherever I go and download new books in the middle of the night if I choose. Also love being able to download samples from Amazon. The samples are always a generous size and really give you an idea of whether this is something you would enjoy. A few duds sneak through, but what can ya do?

  13. Cutting for Stone stayed with me too, definitely on my favourites list. Oh and The Mountains Echoed was sooo good, you won’t be disappointed. I always have cookbooks in my bedside reading stack too, makes me feel like a good cook. The ones with pretty pictures are the best. What keeps me reading…I have a life rule to read the book before watching the movie. Therefore the 100 Foot Journey is also in my stack! Good idea banishing the ipad. I need to banish my phone… Instagram is my vice.

  14. Kristin Ferguson says:

    Sometimes I read a book and wish I still had it to read because it was so good. I begin to envy other people who haven’t yet read it. Whenever I meet people who haven’t read the Harry Potter series, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, Pride and Prejudice, , I recommend said books and sit there soaked in jealousy of the treat they have in store and apprehension that they won’t take my advice (and therefore won’t cash in on that treat!)

    So, if you haven’t read , I hope you will. Also, (an oh so charming delve into what is worth making from scratch and what is not, and a very funny and informative read)

    • Kristin Ferguson says:

      That didn’t come out well. I was trying to create hyperlinks to two books. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson, and Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese. The first is a wonderful British novel and the second is a charming book in which a woman tries to analyze what is really worth making from scratch (and she acquires possibly-illegal hens and goats in the process!)

  15. gloria says:

    I’m glad to have some company in thinking Swamplandia was disappointing. I still don’t know what all the hooha was about with that one. Where as, The Invention of Wings drew me in and wouldn’t let go. I was so glad that I chose the audio version. It was like a great meal. Now I’d like to make a suggestion. Not about a book. But for all the books you will read in the future. Please buy them from an independent bookseller. Yes, their inventory may not be up to Amazon, but from personal experience with the shop of my choice (I won’t give the name here and be accused of using this post as free advertising for my friend’s store–but if you want the name of the shop I can email it to you:), they can usually find you anything you want. I don’t mind a little wait, since I too, always have a whack (love the term) of books on my bedside table.

  16. Susan Whelan says:

    I read anywhere from 100 to 250 books a year, depending on how much time I waste on the internet. Some of them are really good; a lot are good and some are just so-so but recently a friend brought a series of books by Jo Nesbo for me to read and they are really, really good. Stay up way too late good. The first of the (published in North America first) series is called The Redbreast and since there were two books ahead of it that weren’t translated, it was a little confusing at first but then you get addicted. I passed them on to a coworker and now she can’t put them down. Best books I’ve read in quite a while.

  17. Barbie says:

    Have you seen the movie “The Hundred Foot Journey”? One of my all time favorites so far. Truly loved it! Also watched “Chef”…..very good in a completely different way. Chef was gritty and raw! So real and down to earth and relatable. “The Hundred Food Journey” was endearing and lovely….a “feel good” kind of movie. Both were for the pure foodie! Chef left you hungry….Journey left you with a NEED for living in France! LOL Nonetheless they both left me satisfied completely.

  18. Liz says:

    uhhhhggh.. great reminder to switch off; thank you, Karen. The iPad is a seriously powerful distraction for me. I like the idea of banning it from the bedroom a lot…like it has to go sleep in the cupboard for the night like Chip.

    • Karen says:

      Who’s Chip? Is Chip your husband? I’m pretty sure Chip is probably your husband. ~ karen

      • Barbie says:

        …..I want to know who Chip is too! LOL

        • Liz says:

          no hubs named Chip, but he sounds nice, and probably American.
          Sorry! I thought that the lisping teacup reference from Beauty and the Beast would be more recognizable…and I was being a smart ass referencing you love of chips.
          If I had to marry a chip, it would be an Old Dutch ripple chip with Jalapeno dip on it, or a Kettle Brand crinkle cut sea salt chip with tuna salad on it.

  19. Ev Wilcox says:

    Ah reading. Sort of my nemesis. Have read long past when I should sleep, maybe a thousand times. Taught myself to read when I was very young, and never stopped! My three adult children like to read as well. You are a wonderfully rounded person Karen. So physical and philosophical too!

  20. Elizabeth says:

    Oh my gosh, I HATED Swamplandia and was so disappointed! It sounded like such an interesting and entertaining book but ugh, it was awful!

  21. Nur Costa says:

    This sounds lovely Karen!
    I love to read, too. And Donna Tartt is amazing at writing. I bet you read The Secret already, by her? If not… make sure to read it! It’s one of Stephen King’s favorite books. Of course you don’t have to like it if King does… but it always makes a difference if a writer likes a book. That means that there’s a higher probability to be good. Isn’t it?

    Excelent post Karen! And I am increasingly using more vertical photos in my posts. Take care & much love :)

  22. Lisa says:

    I hope you read Bossy Pants by Tina Fey, but get it on tape, she reads it and when you are done you will feel like you are missing your new friend….sort of like when I’m done reading your posts

  23. Sandra says:

    Swamplandia = UGH.
    I devour books like some people devour donuts. Absolutely loved “Goldfinch”. There were a few parts that made me wince but overall a fantastic read. Read “And The Mountains Echoed” in a few days, could not put it down. Same with “Invention of Wings”. I am so excited for you to get started on these great reads! ENJOY!

  24. Edith says:

    Hi Karen,

    My iPad has changed my reading habits for the better. In my town we can download 4 library books at a time electronically (Blio or EPub) and so I have access to thousands of books a for free. It’s encouraged me to check out books that I would have never risked buying. And how wonderful it is to be able to read in a dark room without disturbing my hubby with a reading light.

  25. chris says:

    I want to read The Orenda but am frankly scared of the graphic violence (heard about it on cbc radio). I liked And The Mountains Echoed very much and loved The Goldfinch. I’m going to get The 100 Ft. Journey and Inside the 4th Reich. I have been on a WW2 thing lately, especially regarding the Nazis.

  26. Deb J. says:

    I’m with you about the iPad killing paper reading. I don’t watch YouTube videos but there are lots of other rabbit holes to fall down:) Maybe Ikea’s bookbook is the solution. This is brilliant!


  27. Erika C says:

    I stumbled across two books last month that just grabbed me and held on – to the point where, even though I had just read the library copies, I had to rush over to Amazon and buy them for my own. And then read them again. The first was A Turn of Light, by Julie Czerneda. The other was The Goblin Emperor, by Kathryn Addison. “Turn” is 800+ pages, but I blew through it in about three days, it was that good. And all I want to do at the end of “Goblin” is turn it over and read it again. I had to physically take it downstairs so it would be out of temptation.

  28. marilyn says:

    reading is like breathing..i must do it

  29. Lynne says:

    Joyland by Stephen King is sitting on the lower shelf of my night table even as we speak. So is The Long Way Home – the latest in Canadian author Louise Penny’s series about Inspector Gamache. I have a slew of books on my iPad to get through as well.

    I’ve actually read The Silence of the Lambs about 3 or 4 times. It really is the best one of Thomas Harris’ output.

  30. Carol says:

    The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simsion’s sequel to The Rosie Project, is available tomorrow! Not sure how it can be as funny as the original but I’ll give it a chance.

  31. Heather says:

    “At the beginning of spring I think AH, I can finally sit either in the sun/on the couch/or by the fire depending on the weird spring weather with a book and read. While inhaling that distinct springtime worm smell.”

    Who are you kidding? I bet in spring you are too busy planning your garden & everything else. Seriously I can’t imagine you ever being able to sit still long enough to read a book – except at night in bed.

    The iPad has certainly changed our lives. I like to download my books – just no room for a book collection – but often I won’t start reading something because I know it will be “just one more chapter” and then it’s 2 am and I haven’t even closed my eyes yet and that 6 am alarm is looming.

    One of my biggest distractions is Flipboard – where you get to pick your newsfeed. Mine have nothing to do with news – just food and travel and wine (can’t forget the wine). One article leads to the next, etc.

  32. Pam says:

    If you like historical fiction, try The Orphan Train. That is one I keep thinking about.

  33. Ann says:

    I only do audio books. My eyesite totally sucks by the time I can focus on reading anything in the evening. I loved listening to The Invention of Wings, in fact I bought it before it was actually released so I got to be one of the first.

    But normally I don’t go for what everybody else likes. I hated The Book Thief. I know, probably the only person anywhere who did. So who knows, I might actually like Swamplandia!!!

    I am collecting a few extra books to listen to on an upcoming trip with flights and layovers. Might have to see if The Orenda is available on Audilbe.

  34. Su says:

    Invention of Wings… great book… Swamplandia? eh not so much either…. saving The Goldfinch for vacation next month as my beach read…. please keep recommending good books! One of my absolute favorite activities is browsing a bookstore or library….

  35. Venesa says:

    The Invention of Wings was soooooo good! I think you might also like Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. It’s absolutely hilarious.

  36. Judith says:

    SO with you on the iPad issue. Just last week I banned both iPad and iPhone from the bedroom for exactly that reason – haven’t had the attention span to read a book in I don’t know how long, but that’s going to change now! And I love Khaled Hosseini too, and also have ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ right there next to the bed, top of the stack. I think our brains are going to thank us for the back-to-books revolution.

  37. Sally A says:

    And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave (of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds). Super weird and a bit creepy, but I loved it! Part real and part surreal. Highly recommend. Make sure to read the Prologue first.


    • Karen says:

      I had NO idea that Nick Cave had written a book! ~ karen

      • Sally A says:

        Sorry so late in responding…you probably won’t get this. Yeah, I was going to say, who knew? I liked this book so much that I tried to read another one by him, called something about a Bunny, I don’t remember, but it wasn’t nearly as good. Only made it halfway through. They say that everyone has one good story in them and I guess And the Ass Saw the Angel was his.

  38. Beth says:

    Karen, Thank you for not liking Swamplandia. I read that horrible book and hated it so much, but I thought I must have missed something. I too like weird books, but this WAS NOT IT :)

  39. maggie van sickle says:

    And the Mountains Echoed is a great read but then all his books are a great read.

  40. Adrienne in Atlanta says:

    LOVE The Goldfinch. The Vegas section is the part that dragged slightly (in my opinion), but is ultimately important to the overall story of how things play out later. Stick with it, for the payoff in the very end is well worth it.

    I listened to the audiobook and found the narrator to be quite wonderful. The Secret History (also by Tartt) is quite gripping, too. I will read anything she writes thanks to The Goldfinch. She is masterful at the art of storytelling.

  41. Debbie says:

    I was going to see The Hundred Foot Journey, but after reading this, I think I may read it instead!

  42. Melissa L. says:

    Tonight I got into bed with the intention of reading but decided to check my email and there was a new post from The Art of Doing Stuff that I had to read first and now I’m getting really sleeeee… zzzzzzzz…..

  43. Pat Legacy says:

    I have read 4 of those on your to do pile and in my ranked order: Goldfinch, Invention, Hundred Foot, Mountains. All are good reads but would give the first two outstanding. Yes, Goldfinch is a bit long but worth it. The Orenda is violent yet it tells an important part of our Canadian history and the story itself surpasses the violence. I loved Cutting for Stone. Don’t you just love that we can read anything we choose, either good or bad.

  44. Michelle says:

    I would suggest you give “The Pearl that Broke its Shell” by Nadia Hashimi a try. It wasn’t my usual genre of book, but I couldn’t put it down…
    from Amazon: a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one’s own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See.

  45. TucsonPatty says:

    I’ve just now placed two more books on my library reserve list – thanks for the recommendations and reminders!
    I once began a YouTube session watching a choir sing the Hallaluah Chorus and came too an hour or so later during part three of four on “How to Apply Drag Queen Makeup”! It was interesting, but Wowza, how far afield can you go!?

  46. Bev says:

    You have a great assortment of books – both read and to read. All the books on your to read are on my list as well.

  47. Nancy says:

    I loved The Invention of Wings!! Start it next! You will not be sorry! I was sad to see the book end. Read as a great novel yet I learned so much about events that actually took place. Can’t wait to hear what you think!!

    • Maureen says:

      It’s GREAT! I was able to hear Sue Monk Kidd speak and she is the smartest person in the whole world. Except for you, Karen. But I’m pretty sure she doesn’t raise chickens.

  48. SeaDee says:

    I’m right there with ya about the iPad, except my device is the iPhone. I need to force myself back to reading a few pages a night. I did, however, read The Martian by Andrew Weir. Great book by a first-time author! It’s read-it-in-a-day good!!

  49. Lesley Williamson says:

    The Orenda. I’m 77 pages in and have cried actual tears twice. The author, Joseph Boyden, did a talk here last night and gorgeous, smart men make me swoon.

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