Frequently I am asked by readers and friends what I am reading. I love this question, because I am always reading. The only time I am not reading is when I am in a car or other vehicle on the road. I have always gotten motion sickness from trying to read in a car – so instead during those times I work on my cross stitch.
Back before I retired reading was more of a luxury. I never seemed to have the time. When I retired I made reading a priority. And now with our travels, there is even more time to read. In the past 13 weeks I have read 21 books – some longer than others – some better than others. But 21 books in 13 weeks is definitely a record for me. Averaging about 1.5 a week.
I’ve been thinking about a way I can share my love of reading with the readers of this blog and I’ve decided to do a weekly update or “book of the week”. That way My Fab Fifties Friends can join in my personal book club – if you want. So today I am posting a blog about the 21 books I have read so far, giving them a rating and a brief description of each.
Then starting next week, each Wednesday I will tell you what I am reading. So if the book club is of interest to you, you can make a point to check the blog on “Reading Wednesday”.
Only two of the books below were in paperback form. All the rest I read on my phone in the Kindle App. But only one of these books I purchased. All the rest I downloaded from either the Pierce County Public Library or the Kitsap Public Library. I have accounts with both library systems and at any given time I am on a waitlist for at least half-dozen books. So the order in which I read is more the result of the library books availability than anything. When none of my waitlist books are available, I go in search of titles I may never have heard of. This is how I found some of my favorite reads including “These is My Words”, “97 Orchard Street” and “The Secret History”.
So – welcome to My Fab Fifties Book Club and Reading Wednesday. Here we go;
1. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I loved this book that followed a multi-generation family from the East Coast find their way out west and build an often difficult life there. Wallace Stegner has many books and this was the very first of his I have read. I plan to read more.
2. Bangkok Secret by Anthony Gray⭐️⭐️
I read this book primarily because I was in Thailand, and it did give me some interesting insight and history about the country, but the writing and plot was a bit predictable.
3. Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I enjoyed reading Wohlleben’s thoughts on trees and their lives and personality, although the book was a bit more technical and scientific than I would normal go for, but still I recommend it for it’s unique and interesting observations about trees on our planet.
4. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I really enjoyed this book, which was one of my book club back home’s books of the month. Jodi Picoult has so many novels I can’t imagine why I have never read her. She does a really good job in her writing creating a mystery to be solved and keeping you turning the page. “Leaving Time” follows a young girl looking for answers about her mother’s disappearance and the life she can barely remember as a toddler in an elephant camp. I enjoyed the interesting details about elephants in this book as well as the wonderful twist at the end.
5. Today Will be Different by Maria Semple ⭐️⭐️
This book was one my book club back home was reading. If it wasn’t for that fact, I may not have finished it. This is the second book by Maria Semple I have read (Where’d You Go Bernadette?) and I was not enamored either time. I found the main character in “Today Will be Different” to be difficult to like. I personally don’t care for the female characters Maria Semple creates who seem always to be needy and addled. However, if you liked “Where’d You Go Bernadette” you will probably enjoy “Today Will Be Different”.
6. The Mothers by Brit Bennett⭐️⭐️
I chose this book because it had excellent reviews, but it fell a bit flat for me. The story is about women in a tight-knit Baptist community who follow the births and deaths and in particular the stories of the women in this small town and their trials and tribulations over a period of years.
7. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Another book from Book Club back home, “The Little Paris Bookshop” is full of interesting twists, crazy characters and sometimes a bit too many coincidences, but I loved the story and it was an easy and quick read.
8. I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb (no stars)
I did not like this book. The story was convoluted and not in the least believable. Don’t waste your time.
9. These Is My Words by Nancy Turner ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I loved this story about a family of pioneers in the Southwest scraping a living, barely, in the 1800’s. Told from the point of view of a young girl whose English is rough and uneducated, her language and vocabulary changes with her as she matures and endures over the years. A lovely story.
10. 97 Orchard Street by Jane Ziegelman⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I stumbled on this book and found it just fascinating – my love of food and history made this non-fiction book about immigrants and how their food changed the American diet was wonderfully written, educational and mouth-watering. An edible feast. If you are a foodie, you will love this book.
11. Lady Susan by Jane Austen⭐️⭐️⭐️
Well who doesn’t love Jane Austen? This is one of Jane’s shorter and less known stories and was another book for my Book Club back home. I read this book in one day and as in all Jane stories I loved the English story of class and culture and traditions in the 18th century. And in true Jane form – everyone who deserves to, lives happily ever after.
12. The Secret History by Donna Tartt⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This book popped up on my Kindle “you might like” list so I downloaded it and read it with gusto. A crazy story about five friends in college and the serious choices they make and how their lives are changed by it. Some parts unbelievable, and some more so, the story is a page turner though and I loved it.
13. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt⭐️⭐️⭐️
I thought I would love this book, since I had just read her earlier novel “The Secret History” but did not. It wasn’t terrible, certainly not, but it seemed to drag on for me and was too complicated and not always believable. The story of a young boy and his exploits from a terrorist attack in New York City to Russian Mafia in Las Vegas and a whole lot in between had me wishing she would wrap it up.
14. The Turner House by Angela Flournoy ⭐️⭐️⭐️
A story of a family’s history, addiction, devotion and more, The Turner House opens wide the skeletons in our closet and how family will always endure. The ending fell a bit flat.
15. Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
One of my top reads so far. Tulip Fever is set in Amsterdam in the 1600’s when the tulip industry was just getting off the ground and speculation was rampant. In the story a young girl is married to a much older man, but when they sit for a portrait she falls in love with the artist. Then ensues a complicated tale of lies and deception that changes the lives of multiple people, some for the better, others not. A really lovely story.
16. Michlings by Affinity Konar⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
My top read so far since leaving home. An amazing eye-opening story of the real life “medical” experiments on human beings that took place during the holocaust on children at Auschwitz. Much of this story is difficult to read, but a reminder to all of us what horrors people are capable of given the opportunity. A must read.
17. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I was expecting something more from this book. I’m not sure why but I thought this book was going to help me understand more some of the political views of a segment of the American population I am not really familiar with. I suppose in a way it did, but this real life story of a boy growing up in a self-proclaimed hillbilly family was more about his survival against all odds in what was most decidedly not the “all-American” family. I liked it but didn’t love it.
18. Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Many years ago I read Anne Tyler’s “Accidental Tourist” but had never read anything more from her. “Spool of Blue Thread” is one of last years best sellers, but I had not found the time for it yet. Since it’s more than a year old, I didn’t need to waitlist it, so it seemed like a good option. Boy was it! I really loved this story – another epic family tale with twists and turns bringing the characters to life in a way that made you love them all. A wonderful story about growing up, growing old and figuring out who you are.
19. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells⭐️⭐️
For some reason I had never read this science fiction story, about “Martians” invading our planet. It seemed like a good time to tackle it. I enjoyed the story, although it felt very dated (and it is, written in 1897) but still violent and funny all at once. No doubt George Lucas took some cues from the descriptions in this book before he created Star Wars. A classic everyone should read at some time.
20. The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
One of my all time favorite plays this comedy of errors is just as good of a read as a play. Oscar Wilde’s classic English tale will have you rolling in the aisle – a perfectly light and humorous read after “War of the Worlds”.
21 The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Last summer I read my first Neil Gaiman book “American Gods” and it quickly shot to the top of my all time favs. So I decided to try out some of his other works. Gaiman is known for his fantasy, mystical and magical stories and The Ocean at the End of the Lane is certainly one of those. A small boy of only seven experiences a frightening and yet magical event that includes his unusual neighbors, a monstrous nanny and mystical creatures and events that change his life forever.
So there you have it. My first 21 books on the Grand Adventure. I hope you find some of these suggestions useful. I’d love to hear your thoughts after reading any of these books. I’m just now starting the books “In the Garden of the Beasts” by Erik Larson. So plan on checking in next Wednesday and see what I think.
Enjoy a book today! Reading is Fabulous!