Thursday, July 3, 2014

Books Goal: Halfway Finished!

I'm at the halfway point of my reading goal for the year!  I wanted to read 40 books by the end of 2014, and I'm at the 20-books point.

One of the best outcomes of this goal so far has been a re-introduction to my local library.  When I get sucked in to a book, I generally blast through 200-300 pg books in a couple of days, so getting it from the library vs. buying it is a must both for my pocketbook and my already stuffed bookshelves.
If you're not interested in getting some book recommendations, feel free to skip the rest of this post, otherwise here are a few of my favorite books so far this year (in no particular order):


"The Godfather" by Mario Puzo
I haven't seen the movie, but this dark and intense narrative was a lot of fun to read.  It was my first book of 2014, finished on the plane ride back from visiting my parents in Florida.  I haven't seen any of the movies yet, which is another reason why I think I enjoyed it so much.  Who doesn't like Italian Gangsters? :)  It was long enough to last an entire trip, but enough happened in the book that I stayed interested.  The only downside of this book is trying to track down the movie now... you'd think someone would own even the VHS of it...

"Annihilation" by Jeff Vandermeer
This book is the first in a trilogy, and it's one of the more intriguing books I've read this year.  I've been on a big post-apocalyptic kick for awhile now, and at least half of the ones I've read of the genre are pretty formulaic (or even just bad).  This one is completely different- it takes place in the future United States, but  it's pretty vague on a lot of the details about the outside world.  It instead focuses on "Area X" and a team of women that are venturing in to record data about the previous failed expeditions and the reason that Area X is quarantined.  It does a great job telling the story while keeping the reader in the dark about a lot of pertinent information.  The moment I finished it, I jumped online to put my name on the list for the second book, which apparently tells the story from a completely different perspective, and I'm pretty excited for it to come in.
If you like post-apocalyptic fiction, definitely give this one a shot.  It's completely different than anything I've read so far- in a good way. :)

"Child 44" by Tom Rob Smith
When the Olympic games took place in Russia, I sought out a fiction book written about the country.  This is one of two I got through, and definitely worth the read.  Despite the fact that it was 480 pages, I slammed through it in less than a week.  It's fast-paced, letting the reader see Russia behind the iron curtain while weaving in a horrific murder investigation in the process.  The descriptions of Stalin's Russia are unnerving, chilling, and really make you wonder how much if it is true to fact.  Of the murder-mystery books I've read so far, this is by far one of my favorite.


"The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance" by Laurie Garrett
After watching the movie Contagion, I did a little research on disease outbreaks and the unnerving truths of our vulnerability to plagues.  This book was at the top of every "to read" list about the topic, so I grabbed this 750-page behemoth from the library.  And it. was. AMAZING.  I was completely sucked in to the history of plagues and outbreaks, from Yellow Fever to Lassa to the upcoming possibility of super germs that defeat our modern antibiotics.  While it's not exactly a great topic to discuss with others all the time (Scott got very sick of hearing about the "disease of the day" that I would be excited to share with him), it's fascinating nonetheless.  If you're even mildly curious about the subject, READ IT.

"From the Dragon's Mouth: Ten True Stories that Unveil the Real China" by Ana Fuentes
This was another book that was triggered by the Olympic games back in February.  I realized that I didn't know a whole lot about China, and when this book showed up on the "New Arrival" shelf at the library, I thought it would be an intriguing introduction to a country that I really don't know much about.  The short-story format is the perfect way to show ten completely different facets of China- it had everything from a teenage social blogger to a migrant work living in a basement in Beijing.  Comparing one story to the next is part of the genius of this book, and Fuentes tells it in such an informative yet captivating manner that you're never bored.

"Hyperbole and a Half" by Allie Brosch
I've read Allie Brosch's online comics before, and her simple drawings coupled with hilarious life situations have had me in tears before from laughing so hard (this story in particular had me barely breathing I was laughing so hard).  When she finally came out with a book, I was please to see that it contained some of my favorite comics as well as a whole bunch of brand new stories.  She does great telling funny stories alongside of tackling hard issues, like her own fight with depression.  All the stories are illustrated, and I had a great night reading through them.

Halfway through.
If you have any suggestions for me, let me know in the comments below!  Otherwise I'm plowing onward... :)

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