Can my winter’s reading become your summer’s?

Word count: 733 words

Reading time: About 3 minutes

Looking for some book suggestions? I’m on track for reaching my year-end goal of reading 52 books and here is my semi-annual accounting. 

My habit is to post for you the names of ALL the books I’ve read, twice a year – once at the end of June to give you some summertime recommendations (I’ve read 23 titles so far this year) and the second batch in early December, (which will be 28 books or more), for gift ideas.

So far, this has been a spectacular year for non-fiction. Please note that I don’t generally read murder mysteries, sci fi or fantasy. I pass no judgment on those who do; my tastes just don’t run in those directions. I tend to favour literary fiction, strong character-driven stories and biographies.

I name the books I like in the “recommended” category. Books I didn’t enjoy (remember: reading is personal!) I’ve placed in the “other” list.

NON-FICTION in order of preference (within this category)

1. Dughigg, Charles. The Power of Habit. This very powerful book provides terrific instruction on how to break bad habits and create new ones. See my earlier review.

2. Smith, Patti. Just Kids. Who knew that the “godmother of punk” could write such a lovely and heartfelt memoir about love and friendship and creating art?

3. Groopman, Jerome. The Anatomy of Hope. This is an interesting and thoughtful book about cancer, although it could and should be taken as a metaphor for dealing with any serious illness.

4. Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. I thought this biography wasn’t terribly well written — it appears to have been a rush job. But the story of Steve Jobs is endlessly fascinating to me and this book gives plenty of riveting detail. See my earlier review.

5. Warrick, Joby. The Triple Agent. No brilliant writing but this real-life thriller – about the CIA and al-qaeda – would be unputdownable on a beach or plane.

6. Wong, Jan. Out of the Blue. You may have to be a former journalist OR someone who suffers from workplace-related depression to find this book captivating. But as the former, I couldn’t put it down! Really interesting.

7. Guillebeau, Chris. The $100 Startup. This book has had tremendous publicity (I think Guillebeau must have handed out lots of free copies.) I bought my book and thought it was an excellent guide to becoming an Internet entrepreneur.

8. Nemat, Marina. Prisoner of Tehran. This story, about a young girl’s coming of age at the time of the Iranian Revolution is horrifying but affecting and very well told.

9. Lee, JJ. The Measure of a Man. I never thought I’d be interested in reading about men’s fashion, but this is quite a lovely memoir about growing up, dealing with a difficult father and learning how to tailor a suit.

10. de Waal, Edmund. The Hare with Amber Eyes. A memoir of the Ephrussi family, this book is also a history lesson about what it’s like to be rich and then lose it all.  It also contains the most riveting account of Kristallnacht that I’ve ever read.

11. Goodman, Michelle. My So-Called Freelance Life. A great book for anyone who’s contemplating the idea of freelancing. Packed with useful information.

12. Fox Cabene, Olivia. The Charisma Myth. In my view, this book is poorly written. But the information – about charisma being a skill you can learn – is so superb I recommend it. See my earlier review.

Other non-fiction

13. Gideon, Melanie. The Slippery Year.

RECOMMENDED FICTION (in order of preference)

1. McLain, Paula. The Paris Wife. This is an exquisitely written biography (masquerading as fiction) of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson.

2. Barnes, Julian. The Sense of an Ending. A sort of psychological detective story in which an older man reflects back on his life. Very elegant and engaging.

3. Beard, Jo Ann. In Zanesville. The coming-of-age story of a 14-year-old small-town girl. Absolutely charming!

4. Onstad, Katrina. How Happy to Be. Pretty good newspaper tale that’s very funny in spots with a few bits of exquisite writing.

5. Hadley, Tessa. The London Train. I disliked the ending to this book (too obvious!) but otherwise enjoyed the characters and the story of a melancholy poet and a parallel tale about a young woman he meets.

Other fiction (alphabetical by author)

6. Alcott, Kate. The Dressmaker: A Novel.

7. Diffenbaugh, Vanessa. The Language of Flowers.

8. Harkness, Deborah. A Discovery of Witches.

9. Henderson, Eleanor. Ten Thousand Saints.

10. James, P.D. Death Comes to Pemberley.

11. Johnson, Wayne. A World Elsewhere.

Please tell me some of YOUR favourite books of the year by commenting here! (If you don’t see a comments box below, then click on the headline to this article and then scroll down.)