My commute involves 25 minutes each way on the light rail. I oscillate between podcasts, work emails, Duo Lingo language learning, longreads and books. I read books I seek out, books leant to me, and many I pluck out of a Little Free Library. I love how each title brings back memories of the week(s) I read it – plane rides, humidity, strep throat or other ups and downs of life. I tried to rank them by order I enjoyed them, but it was a bit of apples to oranges. Here’s the books I remember (and photo links to my top five recs if you want to buy them on amazon thru affiliate links).
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell People have been recommending David Mitchell to me for years. I get it now. I love period pieces. I love the circular tracks of each life. I love the chapters ending mid-sentence. Magical realism at it’s best.
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons I’ve always loved this movie, and the book was an equally fun romp. Total fluff, but written in the period to make fun of other fluff, so it’s even sillier. Definitely laugh out loud literally with this one.
The Wind Up Bird Chronicles – Haruki Murakami Like Mitchell, Murakami has been on my to-read list as well. More magical realism, amazing character journeys, full fascinating world that made me research the histories of Japan before and after WWII more than I knew before. It was long and got a bit turned about for me, but still a top five.
The Dud Avocado – Elaine Dundy A memoirish tale of a young American in Paris in the 50s, told more realistically than I expected. Charming, silly, a bit dark and I read it while in Paris which made me fall for it even more.
My Life in France – Julia Child How could this not be great? Appreciate her honesty talking about her discomfort being a housewife and all the work and drama that went in to cookbookery.
You Can’t Win – Jack Black Not that Jack Back. A depression era hobo tells the tales of riding the rails and his time in the pokey. Fascinating.
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs – Chuck Klosterman This was a read-out-loud-to-your-friends kind of book. He nerds out pretty hard on some pop culture I don’t know about. I skimmed some of the shorts but enjoyed it as a whole.
Brain on Fire – Susannah Cahalan This was a devour-in-an-afternoon kind of read. First person account of losing your mind drew me in deeply, but left me feeling like I didn’t gain much.
The Nick Adams Stories – Ernest Hemmingway Hemmingway – what more can I say? Not his best collection, and not meant to be published in a collection so it doesn’t always flow well, but Hemmingway’s worst writing would be better than the best of so many other authors.
The Fault in Our Stars – John Green Also a super quick read. Teen cancer romance – totally cried and really believed the characters. Also they obsess over a book that stops mid-sentence, circling me back to Cloud Atlas.
Changing My Mind – Zadie Smith I remember liking this when I read it last January, but I can’t remember a single point from it. I know it was a series of essays but obviously it didn’t resonate with me if it’s all gone.
The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion Not super relatable for a young unmarried gal, but I think it helped me empathize with my grandma more. Didion is great at painting the full picture of her pain and experience.
Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen and the Inimitable Jeeves – P.G. Wodehouse I mainly love Jeeves & Wooster as I can picture Stephen Frye and Hugh Laurie as the duo and that makes everything funnier. Wodehouse is a linguistic genius and I want to add some of his similes in to my daily speech.
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackery I had this on my kindle and kept switching to other books. I’d rather just watch the movie, embarrassingly. I did finish it finally though.
The Turn of the Screw and Daisy Miller – James Henry I did find Turn of the Screw to be suspenseful! Daisy Miller I’d read years ago and forgotten, and then after rereading it immediately forgot most of it again.
Dead Man’s Folly – Agatha Christie The first Christie I’d ever read! A very late Poirot, so probably not the best place to start. A who-done-it can be fun and I couldn’t figure this one out until the reveal which didn’t wow me.
Snobs – Julian Fellowes Shallow look in to shallow lives. I don’t know much about old rich in Britain, and I think I’d prefer more Wooster to this.
The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner I actually missed my train stop because I was so engrossed in this book. Had to walk extra far home. But I still couldn’t figure it out and found it terribly frustrating.
Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates – Tom Robbins Second Robbins attempt and I just don’t sink with him. So many silly fanciful storylines and quips that I should like, but I just end up disgusted by the characters (and not in a Confederacy of Dunces sort of way). Ick.