Book Notes: Reading with the Mikes

I’ve always been a big reader, though that definitely waned while I was in college. In grad school, I found I really enjoyed listening to books on CD while commuting. And, in fact, that is how I read the whole Song of Ice and Fire series (Book 6 any time soon, George?!?). However, since our move north I would say that my reading has increased exponentially. I’ve started a very casual book club with some lovely science ladies and that’s added to my reading motivation. But the real way I’ve boosted my reading is by using the Overdrive app on my phone. I either listen to or read library books while I’m commuting by bus or bike AND I listen to books while doing very boring things in lab, folding laundry, going for a run, etc. Having a book in my hand at all times, on my phone, has allowed me to read over a book a week last year and I plan to do the same this year. I didn’t even realize I had read that many until I joined Goodreads near the end of last year and started recording all the books that I’ve read. Actually documenting my reading has made it more fun and motivated me to keep reading!

So without more ado, here’s a round-up of my favorite books, the books I just didn’t get their hype, and the books that were just plain terrible. Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

160117 Book Notes

Thumbs Way Up:

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown – A biography of the first men’s rowing team to win the gold medal in Hitler’s Olympics. A fast read and very inspirational!

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith – This is the second Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) mystery that I’ve read. I plan to read more if that tells you anything!

The Martian by Andy Weir – I kept delaying reading this book because reading about Mars just didn’t seem that interesting to me. However, if you haven’t read this, do! It’s funny, it’s nerdy, it’s adventurous. It was one of my favorite books of last year and the movie was good, but not as good as the book. So do yourself a favor and read it.

Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar – This is the biography of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped  a mile underground a few years ago. Yes, they just made this a movie. I haven’t seen it, but the book is definitely worth a read. Even though I remember the event happening, it was only by reading the book was I really able to wrap my head around how miraculous the whole episode was.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – We read this for book club and I think I highly recommend it for the same reason as Deep Down Dark. This is the autobiography of Jeannette Walls up-bringing in a family with an alcoholic father and dreamer mother. It is a very sad story, but told in a way that is not as depressing as it could and it shows how resilient humans really are.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton – This month’s book club book and also very good! A 4 year old girl arrives alone in Australia on a boat from England in 1913. It’s a mystery told from the perspective of three generations of women, slowly revealing how this girl ended up abandoned in Australia.  It’s a “just one more chapter” kind of book.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – I just finished The Forgotten Garden and The Nightingale in the past week and told Chris their plot lines. He was like (1) these are fiction right? yes and (2) dang! you read some dark books! The Nightingale takes place in Nazi occupied France during WWII and depicts the stories of how three family members survive and resist the Nazis, and try not lose themselves.

Lesson: There’s something even more astounding to read a crazy story that’s true! I never would have thought 3 non-fiction books would make my favorites list. But here we  are! 

I don’t understand the hype:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – I just don’t get what the point of this book was. People love it, but I was just like, “That’s it?” at the end. FYI it’s a post-apocalyptic story.

Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry – Again a story where I just didn’t get what the plot was.

If I Stay (#1) by Gayle Forman – A story about a teen who is unconscious after a terrible car accident and the whole book is her debating whether she should die or stay alive. This book is targeted to teens and I just think it’s pretty terrible in the area of instilling good morals.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – This wasn’t a terrible book. I just think I expected too much from it. It was a good mystery/thriller, but not amazing. The main character is an alcoholic and it was just kind of painful to read her perspective when her behavior is just so self-destructive.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks – This was probably the one ‘pop’ book that was the worst. It was not well written, had a thin plot and was just kind of lame chick lit. But if you’re into that kind of thing….you’d probably like it.

Don’t even bother:

Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

10% Happier by Dan Harris

Till We Have Face by C.S. Lewis

Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

What’s been some of your favorite reads recently? Anything you didn’t like much?


4 thoughts on “Book Notes: Reading with the Mikes

  1. I saw The Boys in the Boat in the bookshop two weeks ago but I had second thoughts about it. Since you mentioned it’s a fast read and inspirational, I guess I’ll go back for it this weekend. 🙂 I can’t find a copy of The Nightingale but I’m looking forward to read it. I enjoyed The Glass Castle, it is indeed a sad story but but I really liked how it was written. I just finished Station Eleven a few days ago and I liked it.


  2. Pingback: An Open Book: Reading with the Mikes | Keeping Up With the Mikes

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