Reading List

1. Wicked by Gregory Maguire – Fun book. I’m a big fan of books that write the backstory to another book. (Like March by Geraldine Brooks.) 9/16/2011

2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – I listened to the audiobook, read by Gaiman himself. I can’t wait to find other Gaiman audiobooks as his reading is fantastic. 9/22/2011

3. Travels with Alice by Calvin Trillin – Fun collection of essays by Trillin. They focus on travel, but is common with Trillin, also on food. 9/25/11

4. Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond – A fun (& super romantic) read about The Pioneer Woman’s country cowboy romance turned life. Yeah, I’d read a lot of it on the web, but not all the parts about vomit.

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett – A story of the South during the civil rights movement. Lots of biases against the book (and movie) but it was interesting. Especially interesting was the fact that the book was told in three different voices.

6. Blood, Bones & Butter: the inadvertant education of a reluctant chef by Gabrielle Hamilton – An interesting story of a chef. Even Bourdain thinks that Hamilton is a tough skinned chef. What was SUPER bizarre was the story of her green card marriage.

7. Codex by Lev Grossman – I didn’t enjoy this as much as The Magicians, but it was very engrossing. I like Lev Grossman’s writing. Dec 2012

8. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion – An interesting account of her husband’s death, her daughter’s illness, and her marriage. She writes in a very nonlinear (chronological) manner and, now reading her subsequent book, I think it’s just her style. I’m still not that sure that I like it. Jan 2012

9. A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene – An absolutely fabulous book about planning a nontraditional wedding. Meg started the site, whose members are tapped for stories and ideas. I like this book better than Offbeat Bride, but I like the site of Offbeat Bride better.

10. Offbeat Bride: Taffeta-Free Alternatives for Independent Brides by Ariel Meadow Stallings – This is a book that came out before the website. The site was promotional. The book is primarily the story of Ariel’s wedding/rave/camping weekend with tips here and there for what you can do. The website is an incredible resource. Check it out.

11. The Migraine Brain: Your Breakthrough Guide to Fewer Headaches, Better Health by Carolyn Bernstein and Elaine McArdle – This is the best book I’ve ever read about migraines. Hands down. I borrowed it from a friend and will be buying my own ASAP. I also now want to move near Boston, so Carolyn Bernstein can by my neurologist. If you have migraines you should buy this book immediately and read it. It will change your life.

12. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult – I borrowed this from my mom. I was expecting a tear jerker, but this was almost worse (in a good way). Also had an innovative use of fonts. So innovative that I couldn’t quite figure it out. But it was interesting. Now I’m psyched to see the movie. With a box of kleenex next to me.

13. Blue Nights by Joan Didion – The sequel, of sorts, to The Year of Magical Thinking. That book was about the death of Didion’s husband, this one is about the death of her daughter. It has a dramatically different vibe to it. While the prior book is about losing a partner and being alone, this one is about Quintana growing up and how weird it is to lose your child. Still has the odd writing style, which doesn’t jive with me, but it’s still worth reading.

14. Chocolate and Vicodin: my quest for relief from the headache that wouldn’t go away by Jennette Fulda – A hilarious and also slightly depressing story of a never ending headache. I can’t decide if I fit in that category or not. So I vote not. Makes me feel upbeat about my own life, oddly enough.

15. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey – A lovely tale about life in the wilderness of Alaska in the 1920s. Based around the folk tale of the snow child. Here‘s a sample version of the folk tale. I knew the author somewhat when I was in Alaska and the book made me feel incredibly home sick and also at home. Read it.

16. Unclutter your life in one week by Erin R. Doland – A good guide to helping unclutter everything. My life was a mess. Ok, so many things still are messy, but I think it’s a lot better than it was. Especially my desk and closet.

17. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – So I’ll admit I’ve read the Twilight books. I went into this thinking that this series would be like that one (given the appeal to tweens). Instead I found a book I really liked. A book (series) that felt much more like Lois Lowry’s The Giver than anything I’ve read lately. If you’ve read both books (HG and Giver) I’d be interested to see what you think. Also this reminds me I need to go reread The Giver and read the sequel to it as well.
18. Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu – A fun, local book that was chosen as All Thing’s Considered’s Backseat Bookclub book for December. It is by a Minneapolis author and takes place here as well. It’s a retelling of the story of the Snow Queen. As retellings of folk stories go, I enjoyed The Snow Child much more, but it was also for an older audience.
19. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – The sequel to The Hunger Games. Just as engaging as the first book. Or maybe more so. This series has the fairest love triangle I think I’ve ever seen. OH SO ENGAGING. I really want to read the third one now. But I don’t have it in my hands yet. AHHHAHHHHHHHH!!!
20. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – The final in the Hunger Games trilogy, this is an excellent conclusion to the series.
21. Fork it Over: the intrepid adventures of a professional eater by Alan Richman – An ok (read, not great) collection of food writing. Too much on wine for my likings…
22. The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure – A love for Little House on the Prairie (and other Laura Ingalls Wilder books) leads to fun nostalgia-fueled road trips to locations in the different books. McClure also teaches herself how to churn butter. This was a fun book that made me want to reread the Little House books that I haven’t in a while (not Little Town on… cause those tend to be my favs).
23. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson – This is one of the only books that I have read mostly while laughing. It would be a great read-aloud roadtrip book. Although you’d have to be ok with lots of cussing. Jenny’s blog is also hilarious. It’s a great mix of frustrations of life, problems with mental illness, and realities of relationships. (Ok. Realities if you are Jenny, I don’t yell that much.) Along with a really phenomenal sense of humor. Go read the blog. (This post about a metal chicken. Or check out this picture.)
24. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien – I KNOW. I should have read this years ago. Or even seen the movie. But I am ashamed to say I have not. I’ve watched the other two movies. My dad read The Hobbit aloud to us. But I have never read or seen Fellowship of the Ring. Why? The beginning. I’m used to reading books cover to cover. Prologue, Introduction, Acknowledgments. But this book I Struggled. So much that the first time I gave up (maybe 10 years ago). But this time a friend gave me permission to skip the Intro to Hobbit (Dry History) 101 section and skip straight to Bilbo’s birthday. And that, as they say, made all the difference. Now working on The Two Towers…
25. The Lost Girls: Three Friends, Four Continents, One Unconventional Detour Around the World by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, and Amanda Pressner – This is a long book. I say that because it’s probably twice as long as it needs to be. Also, I’m pretty sure I would have even more migraines than I currently do if I traveled with these women. Some of it was interesting, but overall, a little too pretentious and ditzy for me.
26. Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure by Patricia Ellis Herr – I discovered this book in a round about way. Hugh Herr, Patricia’s husband, gave the closing plenary at CHI this year, and in glancing over his Wikipedia page, I saw a reference to this book. It looked interesting at the premise: a mother and daughter climbing all the 4000’+ mountains in New Hampshire. Then I realized the daughter was 5 years old. And the climbing of all 48 peaks happened within a year and a half. I was a non-hiker child. I would do just about anything to avoid going on a hike. (The only thing I was more skilled at was avoiding outhouses.) So this child and her love of hiking blew me away. Kindof a relaxed parenting book crossed with a hiking adventure blog.
27. Europe on Five Wrong Turns a Day by Doug Mack – First, I discovered this book via the trailer. Which you should watch HERE. The premise is that Doug goes on a 1960s era Grand Tour of Europe. His guides? The letters and postcards exchanged by his parents during their engagement (he’s in MN, she’s in Europe) and a copy of the 1963 edition of Frommer’s Europe on Five Dollars a Day. Unfortunately the book isn’t as funny as the trailer promises. Because, in fact, Frommer’s advice is so out of date that often restaurants and hotels don’t exist anymore. But what the book does deliver is an interesting travel story and one that is very self-reflective as well as conflicted. Beaten path or off the path? Traveler or tourist? If you’re like me, you’ll find a lot in common with Doug.
28. A Moveable Feast: life-changing food adventures around the world by lots of people – A collection of short stories about food and travel. Some stories are more food, others are more travel, but they’re mostly interesting and appealing. I believe that this is in a series of similar books with different travel-related themes. Makes me want to go on more culinary adventures.
29. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – I saw the movie first. Let’s just get that out of the way. But. The book is SO DIFFERENT from the movie. The book is told through different perspectives in every chapter. There are also a number of images (photos and drawings) throughout the book that help to tell the story. You should also know that the plot is altered somewhat for the movie. But the book is a relatively quick read (although Oscar’s chapters are sometimes a little hard to get into). Read it.

30. Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough – An absolutely fantastic ice cream cookbook. I made the milk chocolate, balsamic strawberry, and cheesecake with raspberry swirl. Next up is the pumpkin pie. I desperately want to buy this book.

31. The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine by Thomas Goetz – An interesting book about how people can take control of their health at different phases. I read most of it a few months ago, so I don’t have enlightening things to say.

32. Shopaholic & Sister by Sophie Kinsella – This was a book that I got out in order to get another book read fast for this challenge. It was just as superficial as the other books. I can’t believe that her husband doesn’t dump her.

33. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick – While I bought this book in December, I just now got around to reading it. Meaning that I ended up seeing the movie first. I was surprised and pleased by the fact that the two weren’t identical, but were fairly similar. Also, for a giant book, this was a super fast read.

34. The Metabolism Miracle by Diane Kress – An interesting take on what many people should do in order to lose weight and stay healthy. I’m not sure I buy all of it (or think it’s particularly healthy) but apparently a number of the medical facts are spot on.

35. The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball – My aunt gave this to my brother a few Christmases ago and I just read it while visiting him. The story of a New York City writer who falls in love with a farmer and ends up moving to the country and starting a farm. Makes me want to not start a farm.

36. The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson – An interesting book on why we should eat more meat, veggies, and fruit and less grains, legumes, and sugar. Also has guidance for the way we should exercise. While I haven’t gone fully primal, maximizing the protein and veg and minimizing sugar and grains is making me feel better overall.

37. Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso – A paleo cookbook with some lifestyle guidance. So far I’ve been too lazy to do any of the workout stuff.

38. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan – I started reading this about 4.5 years ago and was finally in the right place to finish it and appreciate it. (I was fewer than 4 chapters in when I stopped 4.5 years ago.) I really don’t know what to say about it other than that if you haven’t read it, you should. It was especially interesting reading the middle section (on non-mainstream farming practices) on the day we went to a hog butchering class. There’s something to be said for knowing exactly where your food has been.

39. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards – I believe I took this book from my mom’s bookshelf. It was a book club book of theirs and looked interesting. A book that takes place in Kentucky in the 60s and after. A story of deception, desolation, and disabilities. A quick read.

40. How I Planned Your Wedding by Susan Wiggs and Elizabeth Wiggs Maas – A fluffy book about wedding planning. Yet another book that reinforces the idea that I was really supposed to have planned my wedding at age 5. Odd vibe to the book given it’s written by a mother/daughter team. And the mother is a writer. But there’s a lot of conflict that comes out.

41. The Big White Book of Weddings by David Tutera – How to plan your SUPER traditional big white fluffy wedding. So not that useful to me. There are some etiquette tips that are good (although lots are meh) and the budget breakdown (by percentage) may be useful. It was funny to read this after seeing the show My Fair Wedding and seeing when he agrees with himself and when he doesn’t.

42. Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella – A complete and total fluff book that was insanely fast to read and had very little content. They made a movie of Shopaholic and it wouldn’t surprise me if they made one of this too. True chick lit.

43. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua – This book was quite controversial when it came out, so I was very surprised by how multi-faceted it was. Also the ending definitely has a fun twist. While I don’t think that Amy Chua’s way of parenting is anything like what I would do, I think that learning about why she made the choices she made was fascinating.

44. MiniShopaholic by Sophie Kinsella – Fluff book. Now I’m finished the series.

45. Rustic Wedding Chic by Maggie Lord – I thought this was going to be a book of arts and crafts type wedding projects. Instead it was just a bunch of pictures from “Rustic Chic” weddings. With captions. Pretty, but not what I expected or wanted.

46. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella – MORE FLUFF. I found that reading fluff books (interspersed with serious books) both helps me relax and helps me feel accomplished. In part the feeling of accomplishment comes from the fact that I can see myself making progress with the book.

47. Anti-Bride Guide by Carolyn Gerin and Stephanie Rosenbaum – I expected this book to be like Offbeat Bride or A Practical Wedding. Instead this is much more Offbeat Lite. Definitely aimed to the traditional bride, but with a little bit of rebel. Just not much. A Practical Wedding is still my favorite.

48. It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig – So if you’ve been attentively watching this list you’ll have noticed that I’m reading a lot of books about Paleo or Primal eating. This book is by the creators of the Whole30. The premise is that for 30 days you stop eating all grains, alcohol, legumes, sugar/sweeteners, and soy. The goal is four-fold. 1. To stop unhealthy food habits, 2. To get hormones (insulin, leptin, glucagon, and cortisol) back in working order, 3. To make your gut (and hence your immune system) healthier, and 4. To reduce whole-body inflammation. So I’m doing this for the month of October. So far it’s going well (11 days in), and while it’s hard for me to find things I can eat sometimes, (CURSE YOU SOYBEAN OIL), I’m feeling good. And feeling like I’m eating much more healthily. This book is written in a style that is very easy to read and fairly light while still being somewhat scientific.

49. The Paleo Answer by Loren Cordain – Another Paleo book. Super sciencey. Drastically more boring than It starts with Food. It does have some nice anecdotes, but probably wasn’t worth the read.

50. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from my Frontier by Ree Drummond – By far one of the worst books to read when you can’t have sugar! But absolutely scrumptious looking food, as usual.

51.Beaten, Seared, and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America by Jonathan Dixon – Interesting book that made me never want to work in a kitchen or go to the CIA. That seems to take a special kindof person. Very different perspective than Ruhlman because Ruhlman was in it to write about it and Dixon thought he wanted to make a career change.

52. i do but i don’t: walking down the aisle without losing your mind by kamy wicoff – I was initally skeptical of this book because I thought it would be completely lame like a similarly titled book I had checked out. I turned out to be incredibly wrong. This book is by a child of the 70s. A woman who grew up being told she could do everything by her feminist mother. This book is, both personally and societally, about the cultural disconnect between feminism and wedding planning. I seriously loved this book. While part of me just wanted the personal tale, Wicoff has packed the book full of fun trivia that may surprise you. (In the late 90s, for example, only 3% of American women kept their last name after they got married.) This book, packaged with A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene are my top two wedding books I’ve read.

53.Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette: The Definitive Guide to Your Wedding Experience by Peggy Post – I learned interesting, but ultimately useless, info. Like the proper order for a procession in a Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, or Orthodox ceremony. And recession. And why you must spend LOTS OF MONEY on your wedding.

54. All Cakes Considered: A Year’s worth of weekly recipes tested, tasted, and approved by the staff of NPR’s All Things Considered by Melissa Gray – I like cake. Oh, and you should know that when I read this I wasn’t eating grains or dairy. But this book was fantastic. Hilarious and gorgeous with cakes I wanted to scoop off the pages and eat. I’ll have to settle for making some of them at home. Lots of simple cakes along with things like fried pies and the phenomenal “Stephen Pyles’ Heaven and Hell Cake” with Devil’s Food Cake, Angel Food Cake, peanut butter mousse, and chocolate ganache. Gray is a producer for All Things Considered and the book is a good gift for a NPR nerd. Gray makes sure to list her cakes by order of difficulty, designing the book so that you can work through it to teach yourself skills. You don’t have to fold anything until you are taught it and she warns people not to jump to the back of the book (the aforementioned Heaven and Hell Cake) before learning the basics.

55. Building a Home with My Husband: A Journey Through the Renovation of Love by Rachel Simon – A fun and sweet story of the first year or so of a married couple’s life when they choose to renovate their house. Made me want to never renovate a house. Ever. Especially when I have a job.

56. Coop: A Family, A Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg by Michael Perry – A light story about a move from town to farm and the trials and joys of hobby farming. The book was a fast and easy read and the stories were amusing and fun.

57. Home: A Memoir of my Early Years by Julie Andrews – An easy-to-read autobiography going from family history through her time in Camelot and My Fair Lady. (Ending just prior to Mary Poppins.) Interesting because I’ve always liked Julie Andrews, but I can’t imagine it would be good to people who didn’t care.

58. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran – This book was amazing. I heard Caitlin Moran on Fresh Air and I knew that I’d like the book. That said, it took a while to get into it. Part memoir, part feminist rant, part comedy. This is the first book since Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson that has made me actually laugh out loud regularly and beg Ben to let me read sections out loud. Caitlin Moran has a lot of common (yet comedic) sense and it’s good to know that that still exists.

59. Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan – This was a book I spied at Thanksgiving in a Berea bookstore. I guess that I really do like stories of travel with heart and that’s what this is. A guy (Conor) is on a round-the-world year-long trip between leaving a job in Prague and moving back to the US. Stop one is in conflict-torn Nepal in 2004 as a volunteer at an orphanage. But unlike most volunteers, Conor comes back. And in a big way.

60. “Who Could That Be at This Hour?” by Lemony Snicket – I never really got into the original Lemony Snicket books, but after hearing the author on Fresh Air, I decided to try this one. It was delightful, quick, and packed to the margin with details. I’ll be reading the next ones when they come out.

61. Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too by Shauna James Ahern – Despite me not writing about it yet, I’ve quit gluten. I decided it was triggering my migraines and it had to go away. This is a fascinating book that boils down to the notion that you should see dietary restrictions as opening possibilities, not restricting options.

62. What Came First by Carol Snow – I also got a Kindle and this book was available for free via the library. I think I was expecting something non-fiction. Instead I got a chick lit book about sperm donors and the tangled interconnected world we live in. It’s what you would expect if you heard that description.

63. Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far by Bristol Palin – Part of me is ashamed to have this on my list, another part of me thinks it’s hysterical (plus it counts towards my 90). Definitely what you’d expect. Full of the family line. Also, having grown up in Wasilla, it makes me laugh that she was able to get a book out of her experiences when many girls in the same position get nothing. So, yeah. Really glad I didn’t spend money on this.

64. Sisters of the Sari by Brenda L. Baker – Another of the “oh this is a library kindle book that’s actually available” picks. Unlike the other though, this was actually an interesting book told from a number of perspectives. At the heart of it, this book is about motherhood and nurturing. Though not in the traditional sense at all.

65. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs – This book was a fascinating look through the inane rules of the Bible as well as the rules that are beneficial in everyday life. I would highly recommend this book to religious folk and non. The author is a secular Jew and comes into the project from a skeptical perspective. Useful to read with a Bible nearby so you can look up the referenced but non-quoted bizarre verses.

66. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs – My mom had recommended this and it was a fast read. Definitely on the Chick Lit spectrum, but on the opposite end from, say, Shopaholic or anything by Kristin Hannah. I immediately put Jacobs’s other books on hold. (Also, it involves knitting.)

67. Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth bu Adharanand Finn – I got this out for some reason. I think because I did a search for barefoot running and this came up after Born To Run (in my to read pile). An interesting non-fiction account of a British amateur runner who wants to learn why Kenyans are the best distance runners in the world. So he moves with his family to Kenya for six months to train for a marathon. A marathon where there are helicopters patrolling for lions above. (And you thought normal marathons were bad.)

68. Half Assed: A weight loss memoir by Jennette Fulda – An interesting story about a woman losing over half her body weight. Not as interesting/personally relevant as her headache memoir.

69. Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs – Another quick read from Jacobs, but this time instead of a yarn store owner, it’s about a Food Network-esque show run by a middle aged woman who’s at war with her hot young costar.

70. Knit Two by Kate Jacobs – The sequel to Friday Night Knitting Club. By this point Dakota is in college and all the club members have moved on. That’s about it. More cooking, more knitting, more drama.

71. Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs – And another Friday Night Knitting Club sequel. Not much time has passed and there’s still more drama.

72. Ilsa by Madeleine L’Engle – I managed to find a L’Engle book I’d never read before. Not too surprised that this isn’t more well known than it is. Takes place in post-Civil War South Carolina and is about the lifelong yearning of Henry for Ilsa.

73. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall – I know I’m about 3 years behind on this one, but I finally read this book. A fascinating story of ultra marathons, long distance running, and a nearly forgotten Mexican tribe.

74. A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” by Rachel Held Evans – Before you get too skeptical, let me tell you that Evans is an evangelical, but she’s also a feminist. Her story felt much like that of A.J. Jacobs, but it felt more personal. More like something I could envision. I think that living according to every detail of the Old Testament is much harder for women in today’s society than men. (In part this is due to the laws around menstruation and submission…) But not only does Evans make it through the year, with a special emphasis each month, she does so in good humor. She also attempts to connect with religious and spiritual women of other backgrounds, which allows for some interesting interfaith dialogue. Highly recommended.

75. The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove by Cathy Erway – A book about adventures living in NYC and not eating out. The book is somewhat predictable but still an entertaining saga. It turns out it’s not that hard to eat in, especially if you make an effort.

76. Wild (From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail) by Cheryl Strayed – The story of Strayed’s quest to find herself and walk the Pacific Crest Trail. Definitely harrowing as Strayed hasn’t prepped for the trip in more ways than one. Her bags are too heavy, she hasn’t broken in her boots, she hasn’t investigated weather or trail patterns, and she doesn’t have enough money or supplies. Incredibly harrowing.

76. Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran by Roxana Saberi – Saberi was all over MN newspapers when she was arrested in Iran. A North Dakota native and journalist, this book is the story of her arrest and her time in Irani jail. Quick read and culturally interesting, but not very deep.

77. Honeymoon in Tehran: Two Years of Love and Danger in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni – Moavani is Irani-American and worked as a journalist (yes, there’s a trend here) in the Middle East. After falling in love with a man in Iran, they moved in together. It coincided with the rise of Ahmadinejad and the rise of a more conservative Iran, a time where being a liberal in Iran was dangerous. About halfway through there’s a fun twist that kept me going.

78. Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson – I was intrigued by Samuelsson’s story when I heard an interview with him on Fresh Air. An Ethiopian orphan adopted by a Swedish couple who’s worked all over Europe and is now making a name for himself in New York City, Samuelsson has a fascinating story and a magical sense of innovation.

79. The Foremost Good Fortune by Susan Conley – Conley moves to Beijing with her husband and two small boys for a two year stint. While there she gets breast cancer (not a spoiler as she mentions it in the first chapter) and she struggles with different things, small and big, during the stay. The struggles range from the seemingly small, finding a housekeeper, to big, learning the language, to the massive struggle of dealing with cancer.

80. Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop – This book flummoxed me. My interest ebbed in and out, and yet the topic is fascinating. Dunlop was one of the first wave of students from the UK to study in China in non-Beijing/Shanghai areas in the 90s. She fell in love with the food and her career has allowed her to dive into the regional cuisines of China. Every chapter has a recipe, although some, it should be noted, are for entertainment or education only. Some sections of the book I read incredibly quickly and others would take me a week or more to get through (in part, because I set the book down and didn’t pick it up again). But definitely a good read if you’re interested in food in China. (Dunlop has also been making the rounds in food journalism lately as she has a new book out on simple Chinese home cooking.)

81. The Keeler Migraine Method: A Groundbreaking Individualized Treatment Program by Robert Cowan – Somehow forgot to include this earlier. Due to the move, I needed to get a new neurologist and Dr. Cowan fit the bill. Between getting an appointment and going to the appointment, I picked up this book to try to get a sense of his way of thinking about migraines and treatments. Having read this, I was not at all surprised by the advise he gave me in my appointment. The basic takeaway for me was that migraineurs thrive on routine and that lack of routine can often be a trigger. So changing meal times, lack of exercise, erratic bedtimes can all be issues in and of themselves OR they can make the brain more vulnerable to other triggers. Either way, I’m trying to improve this in my life and it seems to be helping a lot. I highly recommend this for folks with migraines or people who interact with migraineurs.

82. Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo by Matthew Amster-Burton – Amster-Burton is the author of the fabulous Hungry Monkey book, a food and parenting memoir. This book he wrote about spending a month of summer 2012 in a ~250 sq. ft. Tokyo apartment with his family. He funded the copy editor, cover art, and tour on kickstarter though it is available publicly now. A fun read about Japanese food culture, from a casual, more fast food that haute cuisine sort of approach. (And if you don’t know about it already, you should check out his biweekly podcast: Spilled Mill. Hilarious!)

83. The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost: A Memoir of Three Continents, Two Friends, and One Unexpected Adventure by Rachel Friedman – this book, while engaging enough to finish, made me realize why so many of the travel books I read are about families, not kids in college. I’m no longer enjoying the soul searching college student searching for a career and partying a lot on the way sort of book. But this was a fast and fun read and gave me some insight into my reading habits.

84. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry – It was a long time since I read The Giver, but this was a good, fast book that took place in that same world. Reading this after I read The Hunger Games made me feel like this is similar to The Hunger Games in some ways, but meant for a much younger, more innocent reader. Lovely story and it didn’t require much knowledge of The Giver.

85. Messenger by Lois Lowry – Following on the footsteps of Gathering Blue, this is the second sequel to The Giver. Finally we see a reappearance of some of the tale in The Giver, but woven in seamlessly are characters and plot points from Gathering Blue. I was somewhat distraught when I realized that a) I had finished this book and b) the book I thought was the fourth and final book in the series, was a different book altogether…

86. Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman – This Eat, Pray, Love-esque setup made me a little critical of this, but the fact that Rita has continued life as a nomad for ~20 years makes the book a lot more legitimate. Her stories of embedding in local communities are intriguing and inspiring. It makes me a little bit sad knowing how few people really get the true experience of the area they are traveling to. Overall a lovely book and a fast read.

87. My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki – I read this super fast (in 2 days?) and I must say, somewhere in the middle the book took a really depressing and dark turn. Almost as if the first and second halves of the book were distinct entities. Book 1 is light and upbeat in comparison. Book 2 is dark. Really dark. I finished it because I wanted to know how it resolved, but I’m not really content with the ending. Just so very dark and disturbing…

88. Son by Lois Lowry – FINALLY! The final novel in The Giver series wraps things up beautifully. There’s really not much I can say other than that. A fantastic quartet of novels that brings readers to a somewhat disturbingly different “utopian” society and forces them to think a little about how their communities work. I’d give these novels to kids 3-4 years before I’d give them The Hunger Games.

89. Behind the Veils of Yemen: How an American Woman Risked Her Life, Family, and Faith to Bring Jesus to Muslim Women by Audra Grace Shelby – An interesting book about an American missionary family in Yemen. Definitely a different perspective on the Middle East than my two books on Iran. Another time I probably wouldn’t read this.

90. The End of Normal: A Wife’s Anguish, A Widow’s New Life by Stephanie Madoff Mack – A really horrible book for the last book on my list. It’s by the widow of Bernie Madoff’s son. Lots of rich people and discussion of how she suffered. I really couldn’t get into it. A fun fact is that her step-daughter went to the summer camp I worked for one year in college.

91. Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again after Being Blinded by a Bear by Dan Bigley and Debra McKinney – This was a much better book to end on. The story of an Alaskan bear mauling survivor. I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re squeamish. A horrific attack, but a good outcome in that Bigley is still alive and is living a rich and rewarding life.

92. Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos – The writer and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding writes of her struggles with infertility, her domestic adoption, and their life with their daughter. Heart warming and funny at the same time.



in progress

Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other, and the World by Claire and Mia Fontaine

The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity by Katherine Boo

The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien


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