I Got a Hangover…

… not really. But you know that feeling when you finish a good book or a series or even, say, a certain teen vampire drama show, and you don’t quite know what to do with yourself now? How do you go back into the real world, knowing that you won’t see those characters and be caught up in that storyline again? I mean, you can re-read the book or re-watch the show/movie, but it won’t be like that first time… Anyway, I liken that feeling to a hangover, because it’s so hard to enter back into the real world and everything around me feels surreal or incomplete. I just finished The Vampire Diaries (go on, judge me, whatever…) and after being emotionally invested in the characters for 8 seasons, I just don’t know what to feel about it all being over…

 

So instead I will follow my girl Emily’s lead and share the books I read in 2016, and further delay my TVD-induced torpor. I had a goal to read 2 books a month, and with the discovery of the Overdrive app and borrowing audio books from the public library, I flew right on past that goal. I’ll link to my favorites, just in case you need a new book to read!

 

The Apothecary’s Daughter- historical fiction about a woman who wanted to be an apothecary in the 1800’s, when it was specifically a man’s career. It was an Amazon Prime free Kindle First download, and I have a soft spot for historical fiction featuring women in science who fight gender bias and sexism.

Lady of Milkweed Manor- another historical fiction, this one about a woman who was pregnant outside of marriage and hid the baby’s father’s identity and her journey from high social standing to outcast to respected professional. Kind of a Scarlet Letter meets Cinderella…

The Short Drop- a mystery thriller, not my usual pick but another Kindle First option.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – witty fiction is my jam when I need a book that I can pick up and put down a lot, and this one was perfect. A kooky mother goes missing and her daughter picks up the case to find her.

The Last Girl- post-apocolyptic fiction about an epidemic that reduces the birthrate of females to less than 1%, and one of the last girls’ crusade for freedom. It’s the first of a trilogy and another Kindle First pick, but the other two books aren’t out yet.

The Light of The Fireflies- novel about a family living underground from the perspective of the 10 year old boy. The first half of this one was good, but the second half was a disappointing. Another Kindle First pick.

Toddlers are A**holes– this is nothing but truth. Every mothers’ favorite mommy satirist, Bunmi Latidan of “Honest Toddler”, writes about toddlerhood from the trenches, making mothers feel more normal for things they now say out loud, how they feel about restaurant trips with the family, and how meals really go down.

The Happy Mother’s Home- another Kindle First fiction read, about a home for surrogate mothers in India and the mothers who employ them to carry their babies. Although it’s fictional, it was a really good read that shared both perspectives, and the motives behind their choices.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4- Y’all. I wanted to like these. Leminy Snicket is like royalty among kids, and I wanted to be ready for the Netflix series. But… I just can’t let myself hear any more stories about children who are not being properly cared for and the inept adults who are supposed to be championing them. Maybe it’s just the wrong season of life for me to read these, but I just can’t bring myself to get the rest from the library. We listened to these on CDs on some road trips last year, and it was a good idea– audiobooks together, but my selection missed the mark.

Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls- Mindy Kaling taught me that I love humorist essays, and Jen Hatmaker recommended David Sedaris for this genre. I was not disappointed. He has a few more that I want to read.

My Most Excellent Year- I had to google this one because I couldn’t remember it… so that tells you something about how memorable it wasn’t… It’s a YA fiction, I honestly got it because the subtitle was “A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park”, and that combination of nouns intrigues me. Meh.

The Summer I Turned Pretty/It’s Not Summer Without You/We’ll Always Have Summer- a triology of novels about a girl and two brothers that she grew up visiting every summer, and the magic and love and rituals of summer houses. It was a good pool read, although I’m pretty sure it’s YA… I bought it at Target because it was essentially 3 books for less than $10, and was realllly thick (think HP book 5), so that’s my rationale.

 

The Girl On The Train– everyone knows about this one, right? I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the book was GRIPPING. I listened to the audio version and kept sneaking my headphones in and hiding them in my hair to keep listening. So good.

The Power of Habit– READ THIS BOOK. If you read no other books on this long list, read this one. I listened to the audio version and kept rewinding to hear parts again. “Why we do what we do in life and business”, the study of the science and psychology behind our habits. Y’all. READ IT. It will change your life. I’ve talked about it before. Do it.

Midair- this should have been categorized as YA, in my opinion, but it was a Kindle First pick about girls traveling to Paris one summer and the extreme misfortune they experience while there.

The Friends We Keep- novel about three best friends who test the limits of how much they can give before they have nothing left. Meh. It’s called a “book club favorite”, which I now know is code for me to avoid it.

American Sniper- had to read this one eventually. A good friend of mine who passed away three years ago knew and served with Chris Kyle overseas. This was my way of hearing all of Rock Ape’s stories from someone else. I cannot tell y’all how much more it made me respect our service men and women, for whom I already had a great deal of respect. Now I need to bring myself to watch the movie…

The Hobbit- I love the movies. I love the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. I have never read them. This was my attempt to remedy that, so I picked an audio version at the library and to my delight (and Husbeast’s dismay) it was a dramatization, so there were voices and music and, well, some skipping of bits. I loved it, and really will read the real book one day, I promise.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them– this one surprised me, because it was more like a textbook of A-Z beasts in the Wizarding world. The nerd in me loved it, and I liked seeing some of the beasts come to life in the recent movie. Let’s be honest, though, Jo could go back to writing on napkins and I would buy it to read.

The History of Quidditch– again, more like a textbook, and cool because they make it look like students wrote in the margins and doodled in the blank spaces. It also gave insight into how other countries might have handled their witch and wizard education, since obviously Hogwarts isn’t the only school for witchcraft and wizardry.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web- I could not put the “Girl with The Dragon Tattoo” series down, and jumped at the chance to get this audiobook. It’s not the same author, but he does a pretty good job of continuing the writing style and character arcs from the previous three novels, with Lisbeth Salandar yet again hacking her way to solving a mystery.

Animals in Translation– the science and study of animal behavior, as told by Temple Grandin, a renowned animal behaviorist who happens to be on the autism spectrum, which helps her understand animals in ways others can’t.

All The Birds In The Sky- a novel telling a story of how witchcraft and technology can either destroy the earth by being at opposition or save it by working together. (I liked the cover and it was on the “New For You!” table by checkout at the library. When you take a toddler to the library, unless you have a list of books you want to get for yourself, you grab a lot of books from this table. See also: My Most Excellent Year.)

 

The Best Yes– absolute must-read for anyone who identifies as a people-pleaser, over-performer,  or someone with a fear of failure and rejection. Lysa Terkeurst spoke to my soul.

Pretty Girls- thriller about a serial killer who targets pretty girls. Very violent and graphic; not one I recommend. It’s one of those “I started it so now I have to finish it to see how it ends even though I don’t really like the content” kind of books…

The Things We Wish Were True- family/neighborhood drama revolving around a summer pool season, told from multiple perspectives.

British Manor Murder- this is from a series about a woman who happens to find and solve mysteries. It was another “book club favorite” that I did not favorite.

Sisterhood Everlasting- I was at the prime age for the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants when those books came out almost 15 years ago. In undergrad I was part of a Sisterhood of the Traveling Bandana, so clearly these novels spoke to my friends and I about life and friendship. Anyway, this is the final book of the series, which I happened upon at a thrift store, and it picks up the story 10 years later, when the girls all turn 30. It was pretty appropriate for my last year in my 20’s, and I devoured it in 2 days.

Seriously, I’m Kidding- read by Ellen herself, this audiobook had me in stitches.

Unbroken– the story of Louis Zamperini, Olympic medalist and WWII POW survivor. So good. So, so good. I listened to all 52 hours of it and only wished I had brought Husbeast along for the ride. I never thought I would like biographies, but this may have changed my mind.

 

Furiously Happy– alllll the praise for this humorist who tackles mental health issues in her writing, giving us an inside glimpse at her thought processes and how mental illness makes her feel. I laughed a lot, but I also gained a deeper understanding of what depression and anxiety can look and feel like. Narrated by the author, so it’s even better on audiobook. Topics range from motherhood to taxidermied raccoon adventures to cats to trips to Australia.

 

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child– I’m going to admit that we bought this book the day it came out in July. But I couldn’t bring myself to read it until December. Because I didn’t want Harry’s story to be over. And if we can believe Jo, this is it. No more books. I hope she changes her mind. This is a play, so it reads a lot differently, but it also kind of skips straight to all the good parts and assumes you are already immersed in the setting and history and backstory, which I liked.

 

 

So, 38 in all. Just over 3 a month, and I started number 39 on December 30th (I put it on the 2017 list, since I finished it January 5th and felt like I was cheating if I put it on the 2016 list…). I learned that I like humorist essays, nonfiction based in science and psychology, and audiobooks of all kinds. I have a big stack already for 2017- can you think of any I should add to it? Now that The Vampire Diaries is over, maybe I can read 3 books a month this year, too! 😉 For more of my past favorite reads, check out this post.

 

I got a hangover/ whoa-oh-oh/and I’ve been [reading] too much for sure. -Taio Cruz

Grace and Peace,

Stevie

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