Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

So, apparently Jenny Lawson writes a beloved blog. I did not know that when I put this on my Christmas wishlist. I thought the description was intriguing enough and at this point in my life various people I know have suddenly become depressed, are seeking help for depression, or are recovering from depression. I was hoping to get a humorous insight into the disordered or depressed mind… that isn’t exactly what I got. Read More »

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-year-old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny

by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresnioski

Get ready with the tissues because this book is full of big feelings. In this day and age negative race relations is big money as it sells newspapers, has splashy headlines, and evokes strong emotions. Unfortunately the media has seized on the negativity in a way the early yellow journalists manufactured threats, wars, and published rumor as fact. Read More »

The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder

by Daniel Stashower

The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder by Daniel Stashower

Congrats to Stashower for introducing me to a true crime that I knew next to nothing about. Sometime, somewhere, in some article or book or other I knew that Edgar Allan Poe had based one of his stories on the murder of Mary Rogers, but that is about it. I looked forward to learning a bit more about the whole affair. And MAN, affair it was. Really this book tells two stories. The first is of Edgar Allan Poe, a lonely, kind of ungratious, impetuous writer. The second is of Mary Rogers, a young girl with secrets who happens to get killed and to this day no one knows exactly who did it. I hate to admit it, but the Poe stuff was very secondary and when the story switched to follow him it always took me a couple paragraphs (or pages!) to actually care again. Not a good sign, but overall, I enjoyed the book.

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Bastards

by Mary Anna King

Bastards by Mary Anna King

I come from a stable home. Two parents who are still together and just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Four kids. A few regular ups and downs but certainly my childhood was filled with a sense of security and well-being if not full of ponies and sweet sixteen parties. My life could not be more different than King’s but I enjoyed reading an account of someone who was able to reconcile a tumultuous childhood and examine it in front of the world. Read More »

The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-map Dealer who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps

by Michael Blanding

The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps by Michael Blanding

I love maps. I do. In all my dreams of having the “perfect” room (you can go ahead and imagine a library because all my perfect rooms are library dreams) it has maps all over the place. We moved into our current home about 4 years ago (wow, time flies! I remember unpacking all those books when we got here just like it was yesterday) and I am finally getting around to decorating our bedroom. I found the most amazing map printed on glass over some translucent turquoise  painting. It is awesome. I keep waiting for it to go down in price to something remotely reasonable, and one day IT WILL BE MINE. What I’m saying is, I get a guy wanting to steal maps. I understand why people would collect them and preserve them. In short, I get this book. Read More »

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

by Helen Rappaport

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport

Does the world need another book about the Romanovs? That is the question. I’m not exactly sure that it does, but then again I’m not sure that it doesn’t. Helpful, no? There are a slew of nonfiction books about Czarist Russia, Rasputin, the October Revolution, etc and a book has to be unique to add something new to a discourse that has been hashed over to the point of animated musical fodder. Read More »

House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family

by Paul Fisher

House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James family by Paul Fisher

I’ve been wanting to read this book since it came out. I’ve kept my eye on it and put it on my amazon wish list in hopes my husband would get it for me for Christmas of my birthday. I am VERY easy to shop for. Books, chocolate, and running shoes, in that order. Easy.
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Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked

by Chris Matthews

Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked by Christ Mathews

No secret. I LOVED Reagan. Loved. Him. Sure I was about a month old when he was elected to office, but he was my first president. I always had an interest (some would say unnatural) in politics. I remember watching the Oliver North trials by choice! Not the average activity of choice for a little kid. Whenever I see that there is a new book out featuring the Reagan presidency, I gobble it up. I was a bit skeptical because Chris Matthews is not well known for fair minded political reporting, but it had REAGAN on the cover so I couldn’t resist.

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Women of Faith in the Latter Days: Volume One, 1775-1820

edited by Richard E. Turley Jr. and Brittany A. Chapman

Women of Faith Volume One Edited by Richared E. Turley and Brittany A. Chapman

I’d actually read several excerpts of this book and following volumes and had wanted to sit down and read the entire book. I also hope to get to the rest of the volumes when time permits. Read More »

Farewell: The Greatest Spy Story of the Twentieth Century

by Sergie Kostin and Eric Raynaud translated by Catherine Cauvin-Higgins

Farewell the Greatest Spy of the Twentieth Century by Sergie Kostin and Eric Raynaud

This book was so disappointing. So. Disappointing. I don’t know how you can make such an interesting story boring, but the writers managed to make this book an actual snoozefest if such a thing exists.
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The Liar’s Club

by Mary Karr

the-liars-club-mary-karr

How to review a book of this nature? It is basically like casting judgment on someone’s life and what they have gone through. I’m in a memoir phase lately, which in and of itself is a bit of a surprise. I’ve always maintained that if you write an entire book about yourself you should definitely have done something mildly noteworthy. Is having a crappy childhood, and equally crappy adolescence noteworthy?
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A Moment of War

by Laurie Lee

A Moment of War by Laurie Lee

This is the final of autobiographical work of Laurie Lee, a British dude who enjoyed romping around Europe. A Moment of War follows him as he decides to go battle against Franco’s forces in the Spanish Civil War. As you can imagine, it didn’t go well. Read More »

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Emporer of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

In 2005 (?) my mom had cancer. She told us that she had to go in for surgery. I visited her in the hospital. She came home. My youngest brother and I called her surgery “the incision” and would make fun of her Pre Incision and Post Incision dancing. I wasn’t living at home and the whole thing seemed to pass rather quickly and then it was over. My mom was okay… then I read The Emperor of All Maladies… so I called to hear what really happened, because if Mukherjee taught me one thing, it is that cancer is never that simple.

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The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science

by Douglas Starr

The Killer of Little Shepards by Douglass Starr

I’m sure I’ve talked before about how my husband thinks I am extremely macabre what with my reading of murder books all the time… I can’t help myself. I love history and there is also something about looking at the horror of a murderer and what makes them tick. It is like standing close to a monster, but not getting eaten. Read More »

Run or Die

Killian Jornet

Run or Die by Killian Jornet

Yes, I am reading one running book a month to keep the dream alive (and the enthusiasm) until I can begin my running program. Read More »

The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It

by Neal Bascomb

The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb

Spoiler alert* Roger Bannister got to the four minute mile first, and I’m assuming you know that if you’ve been alive the last 60 yrs or so. I assume Bascomb also knew that you’d know the outcome before he even started this book and that was his challenge. How to make common knowledge into a bit of a nail biter? How to mimic the feelings of watching an actual race? Bascomb manages to do just that, and to recreate an era of sports before ‘doping’ and big money endorsements. Read More »

Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West

by Hampton Sides

Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West by Hampton Sides

This book solidifies it for me. I need to read more Hampton Sides. Read More »

The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices

by Xinran

The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices by Xinran

Spoiler alert. This book is depressing. SUPER depressing. I purposely saved this gem for a time when I am not pregnant because I knew I would not be able to handle it in a highly charged emotional state. That being said, I still cried. Read More »

The Saga of Hugh Glass: Pirate, Pawnee, and Mountain Man

by John Meyers Meyers

The Saga of Hugh Glass: Pirate, Pawnee, and Mountain Man by John Meyers Meyers

How can a book be both fiction and non fiction you ask? Well, clearly, it doesn’t work, but I will get into that later. Let me just say… this was one of the worst books I have read in my life. Period. There were times when I debated finishing it at all. Ugh, it was awful. Do yourself a favor and never read it. Read More »

Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past, One Marathon at a Time

by Caleb Daniloff

Running Ransom Road by Caleb Daniloff

I used to be a runner. This is true. Since I had my son almost four years ago my running has been sporadic and at times a bit disappointing. During this, my third, pregnancy I vowed to read at least one running book a month in order keep my excitement level up to fulfill my goal of eventually running a marathon. I’d had this book on my radar for quite some time, and was very happy with the book overall. Read More »

The Only Girl in the Car

by Kathy Dobie

The Only Girl in the Car by Kathy Dobie

*Sigh. Where to begin? Sometimes I read a book and I just shake my head over it. This is one of those. Read More »

The Longest Race: A Lifelong Runner, an Iconic Ultramarathon, and the Case for Human Endurance

by Ed Ayres

The Longest Race by Ed Ayres

So, spoiler alert, I would like to one day run a marathon. Until I am back to my spritely running form, I have decided to read one book a month about running in order to keep my enthusiasm up and learn a thing or two. I don’t have a lot of runner friends that READ about running, so getting good recommendations has been mostly trial and error. As previously stated, I don’t like to read reviews prior to reading a book because I don’t want to taint my own feelings. I had already started this one when I added it to my goodreads.com profile. Unfortunately, I caught a glimpse of some negative reviews so this might feel like an apologist essay. If so, I apologize (do you see what I did there?). Read More »

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken by Laura Hilenbrand

Though I have vowed to cut back on my WWII reading, this book came highly recommended from nearly all my non fiction reader friends. I thought I’d read it before it became a movie and a weirdly watered down Hollywood version replaced the memory of the actual book. I am glad I did. Read More »

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

Elizabeth McCracken

An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCraken

I was pregnant when a friend suggested I read this one. When I bought it I was horrified to find out it was about a woman who has a stillbirth. I don’t consider myself over superstitious, but my pregnancy was already high risk and would need a c-section (something I’d never endured with my previous children) so I put the book aside to read later. Read More »

12 Years a Slave

by Solomon Northup

12 Years a Slave by Soloman Northrup

This book was written in 1853 about a free black man who was kidnapped and transported south to live as a slave for 12 long years. I’ve read other memoirs written in the same time frame, and I have to say that I don’t love the style of personal narratives written at the time. So that dislike of the way this memoir was written is reflected in how much I was able to enjoy the book as a whole, if one can enjoy reading about the utter misery of another human being. Read More »

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History

by Lewis Buzbee

The Yellow Lighted Book Shop by Lewis Buzbee

I like books about reading. And books about books. And books about loving books… Buzbee’s book about bookstores was right up my alley. I think all book lovers can relate to the themes he touches on, and as he takes his little walk down memory lane, a lot of what Buzbee remembers will be familiar. Read More »

Crow Killer: The Saga of Liver-Eating Johnson

by Raymond W. Thorp and Robert Bunker

Crow Killer by Raymond Thorpe and Robert Bunker

Though I don’t typically read mountain man books, this was a birthday gift that looked pretty interesting. Also, I know very little about any but the most famous mountain men and I am always interested in learning new things. Sadly, Crow Killer ended up being a little too folksy and not academic enough for me. Read More »

Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus

by Carolina Maria de Jesus

Child of the Dark by Carolina Maria de Jesus

I was reluctant to read this book because I was worried at the emotions it might bring out. I lived in Brazil for a year and a half, and spent a fair amount of time visiting favelas and speaking to the poor and weary who were unfortunate enough to call those wretched places home. Read More »

You Were Always Mom’s Favorite! Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives

by Deborah Tannen

You Were Always Mom's Favorite: Sisters in Conversations Throughout Their Lives by Deborah Tannen

I wanted to read this book from the moment I read a review on NPR.com. I don’t have sisters, but I have always been fascinated with the dynamic. Having come from a home with three brothers and moving into an all girls apartment in college, I could tell you stories of culture shock! Read More »

Wish You Happy Forever: What China’s Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains

by Jenny Bowen, founder of Half the Sky Foundation

Wish You Happy Forever by Jenny Bowen

I really shouldn’t read books like this when I am pregnant. Sure, orphans get to me any time, but when I am pregnant I have no control over the tears. Whenever I find anything particularly sad, or touching, my eyes turn into sprinklers. This book was both touching, and sad, in spades. Read More »