When 2018 began, I had disconnected from Facebook and made it a point to have a book in my hand more often than my phone. It’s a goal I don’t regret crafting and sticking to. I can hardly believe it, but I just finished my 20th book of the year so far!
I know there are many readers out there, so I’d love to share what I’ve been reading & what I’ve loved. First off, let me recommend that if you are a reader, create an account on Goodreads. Here is a link to my profile, where we can connect – www.goodreads.com/JSandora. I always have my current read posted. This is also where I get recommendations from many trusted reader friends. I’m sure you agree that time is precious, and I want to be certain I’m picking a great book to fill it! Goodreads absolutely helps with that.
Now onto the FIRST 20 of the year:
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Fiction) – I have two ABSOLUTE favorites so far and they are both by the same author. Fredrik Backman is knocking my socks off. I absolutely love his writing. This particular book is about a grumpy old man called Ove (pronounced Ovay) that is completely irresistible. YOU WILL LOVE IT.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman (Fiction) – The second favorite by Backman is 100% different from Ove. Again, his writing kept me turning pages fast with this one. There was suspense, surprise and a lot to think about by the end of this one. Don’t pass on it by thinking that hockey may not be your thing. This book packs a big punch!
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (Non Fiction) – AHHHHHHH….. Hard to begin to describe the beauty of this one. Dr. Paul Kalanithi was a 36 year old successful neurosurgeon that faced his own mortality with a Stage IV lung cancer diagnosis. Paul explores beautifully – ‘What makes life worth living in the face of death?’
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Fiction) – Yes, it’s Oprah’s latest book club pick. And yes, that may be why I picked it up. But I loved it. I really did.
Small Great Things by Jodi Piccoult (Fiction) – My word, this book. I had never before explored the topic of white supremacy and if you haven’t either, be ready for your eyes to pop out of your head. Although fiction, this gave me a 100% different perspective on race, tolerance, privilege and compassion. I recommend it highly. We can not ever understand that which we do not attempt to see.
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (Historical Fiction – based on a true story – WW2) – For some reason, I am slightly tired of the World War II non fiction stories. But this one got me, the main reason being, it was based on a true story of the author’s family. It is a beautiful story, weaved together in a way that will keep you 100% all in until the last page.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Fiction) – Eleanor, she’s quite an interesting character! This was a quirky book, but I came away with so many surprises. In case you are wondering, Eleanor Oliphant is everything but fine.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Fiction) – This book isn’t something I’m normally drawn to, but I’m glad I spent time here. It was a scandalous story, but heartbreaking too. Evelyn spent her life – through seven husbands – hiding the biggest secret of all. You will empathize and likely cry.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (Non Fiction) – I call this a must read for absolutely everyone that will face their own mortality – yes, all of us. It’s just a must read. So often we are focused only on the good life, and doctors are trained to keep us enjoying it. Unfortunately, doctors are not trained as well on helping people experience a good death. This doctor had the courage to face the topic. I learned a ton and gained much insight.
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn (Historical Fiction – WW1/WW2) – I could give the second half of this book 5 stars, but the first half of it for me was like 2 stars. It’s a long book and it took me at least 200 pages to want to keep going. I’m glad I did and I recommend you do too. There are two story lines – the second much more interesting to me, but the story came together with excitement and suspense by the end. This was highly recommended. I see why, but I don’t recommend it as highly as others.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (Historical Fiction – WW2) – Another World War II novel that came highly recommended. Beautiful, heartbreaking stories. I liked it.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (Historical Fiction) – Good story, also heartbreaking. I enjoyed it!
Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson (Non Fiction) – Wow – this book opened my eyes to the criminal justice system, those left un-defended and wrongly accused. It made me re-evaluate my thoughts on capital punishment. Another novel that caused me to learn and grow. Also a page turner.
The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham (Thriller) – This thriller was better than ‘Girl on the Train’ for me. Agatha – ya, she’s crazy. You’ll like this page turner!
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Thriller) – Good thriller – not the best I’ve read, but had me turning the pages quickly!
What Alice Forgot by Laine Moriarty (Fiction) – Loved this book. Alice has an accident that causes her to wake and think it is 10 years prior. This one was sad & funny – loved so much about it. It made me think a ton about how 10 years can change a person!
The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White (Fiction) – Karen White is one of my favorite authors. I am guaranteed to be engrossed in her stories. I’ve read almost all of them! This one was no different. It wasn’t my absolute favorite, but very very good. Karen is an Atlanta based author that writes of the South so well.
Church of the Small Things by Melanie Shankle (Non Fiction, Christian Memoir) – Melanie – love her books. She is fun to read, makes me laugh and cry, often in the same chapter. This one was more of 3.5 stars and mainly because I felt there was a lot of filler in her chapters. Great topics, lots of filler.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (Young Adult, Historical Fiction – WW2) – This book was a hard one for me. Three stars may be generous here. I had a hard time getting into these characters – just could not connect. This was an interesting part of WW2 that I didn’t know about, though, so learning more about the single greatest tragedy in maritime history (surprisingly, NOT the Titanic).
Radium Girls by Kate Moore (Non Fiction) – Fascinating history about girls that worked in Radium Dial factories – their stories are absolutely heart wrenching (be prepared for that), but seeing justice finally be done made this a bit more rewarding. I give it 3 stars because it’s long and difficult to read because of the real-life goriness. So so sad what these women experienced.
Stay tuned – here’s what will be coming in my next 20!
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (Fiction)
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (Fiction)
Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan (Non Fiction, Self Help)
The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn (Fiction)
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Fiction)
Last suggestion for everyone – please support your local library! I decided to do that this year, and wow, what a money saver. These 20 books alone would have likely cost at least $150 on Amazon, but probably more. I have found gratitude in our public library system!