Looking for a Book to Read?

Hot summer days, beach chairs, leisure time…all are improved with a good book.

This year, I’ve committed to #52booksin52weeks. Not because I find it hard to make time to read. No, I’ve always got a book in hand or stacked, waiting, by the bedside. There’s a more basic reason for noting which books I’ve finished over 52 weeks. Keeping a list.

The first 25 were in the bag and reviewed by May. So let’s not wait. Here are my next ten. And whether you’re looking for trip entertainment or a “it’s too hot to do anything else” read, perhaps something I’ve read will strike your fancy. Or maybe I’ll save you from wasting time on a book you’d hate.

Happy reading!

Books 26 through 36

No. 26: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Book Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders with bookmarksSome books are like candy bars (easily accessible, good tasting, and soon forgotten). Others are medicinal–like it or not, you’ll finish because, dang it, it’s good for you.

This book…it’s a beautiful white port. Different and unexpected. Challenging expectations. Complex. Every drop a pleasure. And as the wine settles in the mouth, its flavor refines. You go back for more, savoring every moment.

No. 27: Broad Band by Claire L. Evan

Cat next to copy of Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans

I had so much fun reading Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet and discussing this history with my husband. Evans is a good storyteller, and  learning about the women who pushed boundaries and explored tech’s frontier was thoroughly enjoyable. We reminisced about Zork, our first PC, early chat rooms, our daughters’ “printer dance,” punch cards, and so much more.

Had life been slightly different, maybe I’d have become a programmer. At least Evans’ entertaining book about computing has me believing it possible.

No. 28 and No. 29: The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin and Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg

Two books about Anne Morrow Lindberg, The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin and Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg
Going on a beach vacation? These are great companion books. One fiction, the other memoir, both are about an amazing woman: Anne Morrow Lindberg. I picked up Aviator’s Wife from my stack of unread books and almost put it down again. Stick with it, though; the stilted dialogue is soon eclipsed by Lindberg’s adventurous life. When events took control, the novel soared.  Once I’d finished Aviator’s Wife, rereading Gift from the Sea became a must. Lindberg’s slim volume of essays was written during retreats to Florida’s Captiva Island. Every woman, especially mothers, should visit Gift from the Sea at various stages in her life.

No. 30: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

cover of book I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

Published posthumously, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is amateur sleuth Michelle McNamara’s hunt for the serial rapist and murderer she dubbed the Golden State Killer. Part memoir, part procedural dissection, all true crime, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark ranks up there with In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter for McNamara’s literary chops and ability to turn cold case files into gripping narrative. This book is an exercise in love for fans of the genre.

Thanks in large part to McNamara’s diligent work and unrelenting interest, a suspect is in custody. As the case progresses, more information will be revealed. I’ll go back to reread I’ll Be Gone in the Dark for all McNamara’s prescient moments. She was so very, very close to cracking the mystery.

No. 31: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Cover of book Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
How could any parent finish reading Little Fires Everywhere and not immediately want to discuss this novel? Ng weaves creates snapshots of family themes–mother/daughter relationships, adoption, single parenting,  working parents, socioeconomic status, racism–through the lens of art, friendship, and everyday suburban life. Her characters are realistically rendered and rich in detail. Every issue is nuanced; there’s no black and white. Expect to have your heart broken.

No. 32: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Copy of Neil Gaiman book Neverwhere with London train ticket bookmark
Gaiman’s fantastical London Below was extra fun because I’d just returned from riding the tube around the real city. Neverwhere is categorized as “urban fantasy,” and it’s a quick, gripping, extremely visual escape of a read. I finished the book in about 24 hours, largely because I couldn’t put it down. Getting into the story requires some patience because, like poor confused Richard Mayhew (the main character), readers must accept that the rules of this strange world will all be revealed in their own sweet time.

No. 33: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Cover of Austin Public Library book Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
I came across award-winning science fiction author Octavia Butler in a “Black Panther” movie review. Immediately intrigued, I added her novels to my endless “must read” list. When I checked out Kindred from Austin’s public library, I found a surprisingly complex book that should be required reading in American schools. Though published in 1979, it’s perhaps even more topical and discussion-worthy in 2018.
Like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Kindred uses a fantasy construct to provide framework for a modern perspective into historical fiction. Dana, the main character, is a Black woman whose life is inexplicably bound with her slave-owning male ancestor. She’s repeatedly transported back in time, thrust into the antebellum South, to save his life…or she’ll never be born. It’s a captivating, gut-wrenching, nuanced, important book.

No. 34: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Paperback copy of Neil Gaiman book Stardust illustrated with movie images
Looking for light family fun and bonding time? Read this fairy tale, make some popcorn, and Netflix the movie together. There’s a sprinkle of premarital sex, load of humor-laced fratricide, and a scary witch who has a pretty gruesome fixation, but Stardust is perfect summer escapism for tweens and older.

No. 35 and 36: Still Life and The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

two copies of Louise Penny mystery novels, Still Life and The Long Way Home

Think “Gilmore Girls” and Stars Hollow without rapid-fire repartee. Still Life, the first in Penny’s series of Inspector Gamache mysteries, is as much about a town full of quirky people as the mystery. Maybe being Canadian helps (Penny is a hugely popular and proudly Canadian author) but I found Still Life (dare I say it?) bland. But 6.3 million books sales can’t be completely wrong, right? So I tried The Long Way Home. Bad news–when the murder weapon was revealed, I rolled my eyes and laughed out loud. The Long Way Home suffers from a contrived plot, little action, and characters whose dialogue endlessly rehashes less-than-interesting details. Throw in a bad guy with a silly name and non-existent cult and you get a terrible book. I won’t revisit Three Pines.


Need More Books? Here are another 47!

Collage of first 25 books read by Leah Fisher Nyfeler for #52booksin52weeks challenge 2018

“Half a Year of Books by May” (No. 1 through 25)

“Riding Out the Storm with Books”

“True Confessions, or What I Bought and Who I Stalked at Texas Book Festival”

“Beach Reads for Family Trips” 


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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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