Posts Tagged: lists

The Secret Life of Book Lists

My list of books read in 2015, with a line or three about each. And even more briefly, here are my ten best for the year, which I added to my LibraryThing archive:

    • Bright Morning, by Margery Williams Bianco. Her 1939 YA Other People’s Houses was also good.
    • Kiss the Girl, by Melissa Brayden. Also enjoyed Waiting in the Wings and Just Three Words, and successfully poked the library to acquire the next one.
    • Landing, by Emma Donoghue. Audiobook.
    • Earth Girl, Earth Star, and Earth Flight, by Janet Edwards.
    • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler. Audiobook.
    • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han. (Sadly, the sequel had only a fraction of its charm.)
    • Lulu and the Hedgehog in the Rain, by Hilary McKay. I’ve read them all (I think), but this one was special because of the community organizing!
    • Stuff Matters, by Mark Miodownik. Nonfiction (materials science).
    • The Turtle of Oman, by Naomi Shihab Nye.
    • The Martian, by Andy Weir.

I read an interview with Meryl Streep once– I think maybe it was a Bob Greene column?– in which she said all her movies were secretly home movies. She’d watch a scene from Kramer v. Kramer and remember what her kid was up to that week, or who she’d been hanging out with, and all the things that were going on when the scene was filmed.

My book lists are like that for me. I’ll look at So You Want to Be a Wizard and remember how excited KP was to hear I was reading it, and how she visited Portland later in the year and presented me with the sequels after one of her many trips to Powell’s Books. And how Sanguinity and I went up to Olympia to dogsit for Sara and crew, and they had a copy on their shelves, so I was reading it in the backyard while Sang designated the dogs Horrible Thing One…

Sanguinity pointing at Molly

and Horrible Thing Two…

Sanguinity pointing at Beezy

and gave them stern looks…

Sanguinity considering Molly

…that didn’t fool them one bit.

Sanguinity kissing a happy Molly's head


Or how I read Gone Crazy in Alabama in Wyoming, decompressing on a sunny morning at my friend Jenny’s house after she left for work.

Some books have webs of people associated with them– I decided to read The Martian because every single member of the Maki family liked it, and then my co-worker lent me a copy from the first meeting of her new book club, and then I gave a copy to my father-in-law that he binge-read even though he hardly ever reads fiction.

Then there are all the online discussions like the one about The Hired Girland audiobooks whose performances and the setting I heard them in are inextricable from the text. (Tiny Pretty Things while striding home in the dark amidst headlights and big trees and rain!)

It’s impossible to know all that’s coded into anyone’s book list but my own, but I still like reading other people’s. Here’s hoping for rich secret home movies for us all in 2016.


tricksy books

I just did the bulk of the work of alphabetizing and categorizing my “Books Read 2015” list. A few times I had to override my brain’s first inclination:

I listened to the audiobook version of World War Z, performed multivoice as a series of interviews. It was very hard not to categorize it as nonfiction.

Ditto for The Martian, even though I read it in print. (Haven’t seen the movie.) I’d say it was because of all the technical details, but Steven Gould’s Exo had that too, and didn’t trip the nonfiction switch.

I read Falling From Horses in print, but the first-person narration was so sure and real that my brain is convinced I heard it as an audiobook.

I expect to add at least one more book and clean it all up a bit…will post a link and my favorites in a few days!

books read and holidays celebrated

I had a lovely holiday season with family and friends and road trips. I didn’t take many photos, but here’s one of sanguinity with her BFF Miss Piggy, on the night that thrihyrne and evannichols led us through the annual Extreme Holiday Lights display around the corner from their place:

I’ve finished pulling together the list of books I read in 2012. You can see the complete list here as a Google doc if you want.

I’ll be adding these nine to my LibraryThing collection, bringing my collection there to 90 books in all:

  • Me…Jane, by Patrick O’Donnell (picture book)
  • How to Die of Embarrassment Every Day, by Ann Hodgman (middle-grade memoir)
  • Black Hearts, by Holly Black (YA)
  • Please Ignore Vera Dietz, by A.S. King (YA)
  • Every Day, by David Levithan (YA)
  • Dairy Queen, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (YA)
  • Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein (YA)
  • Middlemarch, by George Eliot (adult fiction)
  • Adrift, by Steven Callahan (adult nonfiction)

You know, I was going to write a blurb about each one of these, but so many end-of-year book lists have gone by on my screen in the last few days that I don’t think I really need to add another. Maybe instead I’ll call out the audiobooks that got me through a lot of dishwashing: Ruby Dee reading Their Eyes Were Watching God, Natalie Moore with the perfect Wisconsin-teenager accent in Dairy Queen, and Steve Martin talking about his stand-up days in Born Standing Up.


Happy New Year to all, and best wishes for a happy and fruitful 2013!

lists beget lists

Bookherd posted her 2010 book list! I also got lists from my dad, my sister, and Sanguinity, and I want to read books from all of them in 2011. Not just because I can snag good book recommendations from all of them, but because I like the idea of creating little pieces of common ground. If everyone reads completely different sets of books, that’s as unsatisfying as if everyone reads exactly the same books, you know?

So to add to my to-read list:
From my dad, T.C. Boyle’s When the Killing’s Done
From my sister, Lavany Sankaran’s The Red Carpet: Bangalore Stories and Colleen McCullough’s The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett
From Bookherd, Carl Wilson’s Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste and Hope Larson’s Chiggers
From Sanguinity, Raj Patel’s The Value of Nothing, Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death, N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and Nicola Griffith’s Slow River. Also Peter Watts’ Blindsight, from a previous year.

Plus eventually I will move on to O and letters beyond in my alphabet reading. I usually read 75 to 100 books each year… my dance card is filling up fast!

Maybe I should find a better way to organize the queue than my current haphazard combination of desktop stickies, unsent email to myself, holds list at the public library, and wishlists at Amazon and But maybe not. Maybe some haphazard should be preserved.