2015 Reading List

2014-11-19_0002I had time to read over the holiday…not a lot of time, but a nip here and there.  I’ve made my way through quite a few books since the last time I gave you an update, so I feel a few recommendations and reviews are in order (before I forget because, kids= short term memory loss!).  I’m not going to give you the plot overview for each, as I feel you can easily read a synopsis on Amazon, or whatnot…I’ll just stick to my opinions.  During the last few weeks of November, I read the above four.  All of them were chosen from your recommendations.  I’ll start with my favorites:

The Snow Child: This was one of my favorite reads of the year.  The book is so well written that it practically whisks you away to the Alaskan frontier when it was first being settled by homesteaders.  The couple at the focus of a book long for a child, and when the one that they build out of snow seemingly comes to life, it takes them on a magical and heartfelt journey.  I simply loved every single thing about this book and would highly, highly recommend it.

The Invention of Wings: This was another favorite for one simple reason: the characters.  Sue Monk Kidd brings her characters to life in such a way that you mourn them when the book is over.  This book left me speechless with its spanning, historical plot- a brilliant read.

We Are Water: Whoa…this is a heavy book.  Perhaps I am just in a place in my life right now where I want to read books that have a redeeming quality about them.  I don’t need a super happy ending where everyone hugs it out and flies away on a rainbow… just a conclusion that leaves you with a bit of hope.  This was much too dark and ultimately sad, for my taste, though Lamb tries to end the book on a hopeful note.  Too little too late for my taste!

Astrid & Veronika: So many of you loved this book that it made me really, really want to love it.  I tried, I really did!  The writing was just beautiful, but ultimately, the story did not hold my interest.  I kept waiting to get into it, and although I made it to the end, it never really caught a hold of me, and I never fell for the characters.

2015-01-04_0002Next up, during the month of December, I read these four.  I’ll come right out and say it…good reads, but not at the top of my list for the year.

Astonish Me: This was my favorite of the bunch.  I really enjoyed Shipstead’s first book, Seating Arrangements, so I was looking forward to her second book.  I find reviewers to be especially harsh when it comes to a popular author’s second book- and I’ll admit that the Amazon reviews initially turned me off from reading Astonish Me.  I’m glad I gave it a second chance.  The book follows the life of a ballerina, and I really felt that Shipstead nailed it; taking us inside the hidden world of professional ballet.  I enjoyed her characters as well, especially the relationship between the main character and her husband.  I found it fascinating to watch it unfold.

Small Blessings: A very sweet story- not overly intellectual or complicated.  I would save this for a beach read, and enjoy it with a cocktail.  Fun and well-written, the story moves along swiftly.

Me Before You: I liked this book, I really did.  But I felt the ending was a bit cheesy and the plot a bit predictable.  What I did love about it was the relationship between the main characters- it warmed your heart to watch it evolve.  Here’s the synopsis…but I’ll warn you, this pretty much gives you the whole plot line, so although I liked the book, I never like to be able to see the entire plot laid out before I even begin.  “Before Louisa met Will, her plans didn’t reach beyond their tiny English town. Will was used to closing multimillion-dollar deals, blew off steam scaling mountains, leaping from planes, and enjoying exquisite women–until an accident left him paralyzed and seriously depressed. When his mother hires Lou to keep his spirits up, he meets her awkward overtures with caustic contempt, but she’s tenacious and oddly endearing. Their fondness grows into something deeper, gaining urgency when she realizes his determination to end his life, and her efforts to convince him of its value throw her own bland ambitions into question.”

The Cold Song: This book is dark, and lives up to its title as very cold.  The story follows a Norwegian family, a quirky family where each member is filled with anger and secrets.  The story builds up to the summer where the family’s nanny disappears, and how the event unravels each member of the family.  It is a brisk read, with wonderful prose.  I liked it…but I’m not really sure it belongs on the list of 100 Notable Books of 2014 by the NYT, which is from where I took the recommendation.

2015-01-04_0001The six titles above are next on my list, culled from a variety of book lists and recommendations…but I really feel like starting my year with a gripping and suspenseful mystery (and yes, dark…I like my mysteries dark and gritty).  There’s something about curling up with a chilling mystery book on a dark, cold winters night.  I’d love any and all recommendations.  Who are your favorite mystery/ crime writers- gritty mysteries, great writing…give me some good stuff here!

I’d also love to hear what’s on your reading list for 2015.  I came across this reading list this morning, which looks very solid.  I’m going to spend some time diving into these recommendations next.

14 thoughts on “2015 Reading List

  1. Abby Murphy

    Great list! I didn’t really like The Snow Child all that much, but I know many people did, and you’re right, it does sweep you right off to the Alaska frontier. The cold and depression were palpable.

    As for gripping, gritty crime novels, anything by Jo Nesbo or Henning Mankell will do it for me. Each writer follows a policeman struggling with personal demons, and the crimes they investigate are truly chilling. Plus, most of them are set in Norway or Sweden (respectively), which only increases the cold factor. I’d recommend Nesbo’s The Snowman in particular, but they all have their merits!

    Reply
    1. cchitnis Post author

      Hi Abby- I always find it interesting how differently people respond to books. I’d love to know more about why The Snow Child didn’t grab you.

      I just requested two Jo Nesbo books from the library and their on their way as I speak. After reading reviews and the plotline, I’m excited to dive in. Thanks for your recommendations!

      *christine

      Reply
      1. Abby Murphy

        Christine, I think The Snow Child didn’t resonate with me because I felt the author couldn’t decide whether the girl was real or fantastical, and I wanted her to make a firm choice. However, plenty of others in my book club were comfortable with that vagueness, and even enjoyed the way the girl danced between reality and imagination.

        I hope you enjoy the Jo Nesbo books!

  2. Oda

    Thanks for you lists. I’ve read ‘The Burial Rites’ a couple months ago because I’ve seen it on your blog, and I’ve really enjoyed it (talk about cold!).

    As for crime novels, I very much liked the Department Q novels by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Just like Abby’s suggestions, they are part of the Scandinavian crime literature (although are set in Denmark, but that’s close, right?). They are all pretty dark (almost like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), but at the same time very funny. So it’s suspenseful but at the same time makes you laugh out loud while reading. Best to start with the first one (The keeper of lost causes) and then, if you like it, read through the series.
    I do not like the Wallander novels by Henning Mankell, even though I really really like the TV-show on Netflix and the Africa books written by him. I don’t know why, I find the Wallander novels written very poorly, always wonder how Henning Mankell got so famous with them.

    I can also highly recommend ‘Americanah’ and ‘Purple Hibiscus’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. These are not crime novels, but excellently written books about, well… about what? Family, coming of age, God, abuse (Purple Hibiscus – I know, awful topic, but written in a stunning way), Nigeria, America, being black, immigration etc., but in the end it’s all about love. Great books, great author, I can’t wait for the third one to become available at my library.

    Reply
    1. cchitnis Post author

      Thanks for your recommendations, Oda. I hadn’t heard of the Department Q novels, but they look amazing. I just added the first two in the series to my library queue. I’m pumped for some gritty mystery reading.

      I need to read ‘Americanah’- it has been recommended by so many people- thanks for the reminder! On the list it goes.

      Reply
    2. Helle

      Hi,

      you write: “they are part of the Scandinavian crime literature (although are set in Denmark, but that’s close, right?)” – I’m not entirely sure what you mean, but yes, Denmark is close in the sense that Denmark, Sweden and Norway are the three Scandinavian countries. If you add Finland and Iceland you get the five Nordic Countries. Interesting that you find the Mankell books poorly written, I actually liked the early ones. I still haven’t read any Adler-Olsen books (even though I’m Danish) but they are on my list.

      Reply
  3. kathleen

    Thank you for sharing these mini-reviews! I find myself craving good books at this time of year, and while I try to keep track of things I want to read in GoodReads, your reviews give me an added incentive. It’s like having my own reading adviser!

    Reply
  4. Maggie

    I love your “book” posts! In many ways, they’ve gotten me back into reading again! Thanks for sharing — I look forward to more of them.

    Reply
  5. Xan

    Thank heavens! You just sealed the deal for me… I’m been trudging my way through We Are Water and am barely halfway. Each night I note it at my bedside and almost audibly groan before I decide, “nope, not in the mood for that tonight”. It has merit but I would describe the place I’m in right now similar to where your at… don’t need a rainbow but a little speck of warm ‘n fuzzy to finish off the day. So, with an SMS notification just coming in earlier today to tell me my next hold has arrived at the library – I’ve pulled my bookmark out and We Are Water is in my book bag and doomed for the ‘returns’ slot as I collect Eleanor & Park tomorrow.

    Reply
    1. cchitnis Post author

      You will LOVE Eleanor & Park, especially if you had an awkward high school experience (which I certainly did!). Let me know what you think- I ripped through it in one night (staying up way too late, of course!). And I’m with you on “We Are Water”- it is not worth trudging through, trust me!

      Reply
  6. Kerry

    Right now I am reading The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon – I know last time you did a book post I suggested this Outlander series. Historical fiction, time travel, love story, men in kilts and so much more. There are eight books total (so far) – Fiery Cross is the 5th and with every book I read I keep thinking how am I going to read anything but this series? They are really huge books (~800 pages) but each is so beautifully well written they are a total pleasure to read. They all have been wonderful but the first book, Outlander is probably my favorite and would be a fantastic read even if you did not intend to read the others right away. Enjoy!

    Reply
  7. Susan Crane

    You will love all my puny sorrows. That was one of my favorites last year. Also I cannot recommend highly enough Station 11. Happy Reading!!

    Reply
  8. Claudia

    I read “The Invention of Wings” within a week in September and loved it. I’m a slow reader, so to have read a book in a week means I couldn’t put it down. Then I read “The Art of Racing in the Rain” and then “The Goldfinch,” which was very long and needed editing in my opinion, compelling for the most part, but a bit too dark. Overall I really liked it. I’ve been attempting to read a few books since then but am giving up on them. If a story isn’t gripping within the first chapter or two, I move on. On my list are: “And the Mountains Echoed” and “Lila” among others.

    Reply

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