Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The Best of My Year- Books

I have a job that keeps me sitting at a computer for most of the day, with little social interaction. I mostly enter number in a computer and audit files. I have done this work for years, so my brain doesn't find it challenging and I get bored. I have to distract my brain, and keep things challenging, so while at work I listen to books. I don't freely admit to many people that I listen to books, because some would say that listening to books is lazy, but to those people I ask "When was the last time you read/listen to 3 books in one week?". And every now and then when time allows it, I read real books, I'm currently finishing The Things They Carried. And I need to point out that if I don't listen to books, my day ends up being spend reading random race recaps on blogs... can't help it, I enjoy random race recaps from strangers.

Back in 2014 I had started listening to a lot of books, after finishing the Harry Potter series, I was quickly running out of books that I found interesting. Then one day my sister sent a link for Amazon's 100 Books to read in a Lifetime I reviewed it and found a lot of classics, which I had never read because when we moved here, I was to be in 10th grade and because I didn't know English, I was put in the lowest level English class. So I decided to take on the challenge. The list had books I had read at some point before, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Are You There God?, The Little Prince and some I had never had any interest on reading Middlesex, On The Road, In Cold Blood. But it would give me a challenge to explore other genres and new books. Last year, I did a count at the end of 2014 and had read/listen to 24 books, and my goal was to make it to 50 this year.

This year I had the attention span to listen to 75 new books, and 25 re-reads... I can't keep myself away from reading Harry Potter at least 2 times per year, I know total #potterhead and #noshame. Out of those 34 were on the Amazon's list, the other 41 were from many suggestions including, and not limited to NPR Book Club, NPR best seller list, WITF book of the Month, random Buzzfeed book lists, Roger suggestions and just random picks or friend suggestions.

Here are some of the best books I remember from this year, in no particular order. This are not reviews of the books, because I am not good at giving book reviews, only my thoughts and if they changed something in my thinking.



The Omnivore's  Dilemma by Michael Pollan- Amazon 100 Books
I picked up this book because it was available at the library and on CD format. I had never heard of it before, but at the time I was researching clean eating, and trying to understand more about clean eating and what it would take, to no clear answer... I felt like an idiot. This book opened my eyes about food and the food industry, gave me a new understanding on what was in my food, and the stuff I was feeding my son. After listening to this book, I couldn't see a burger for 2 weeks. While the book itself is only graphic in a few sections, it does an excellent job at explaining how food gets to our grocery stores, how corn has found its way into MOST of our food and beverages, the real meaning of Organic food, the history of GMOs and the real meaning of Clean eating.

This book helped understand so much about food. I have removed a lot of foods from my shopping list, and from my son's meals. Before I would allow my son to eat McDonald's chicken nuggets once a month as a treat... now he is only allowed to have them twice a year.



Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall - pick because I liked the author
I ordered this book from the library because I loved Born To Run. This book was in a similar format, where multiple stories are told at the same time, while the heart of the story ends with the book. The book also reviews information on Carb loading before races, and sports drinks that I found very informative. Christopher McDougall has a way of interlacing information, humor and compelling stories into a beautiful and fluid book. Also, I had the amazing luck to meet him, and he was such a nice guy!



Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese- Amazon 100 books
This book surprised me, no.. that's and understatement, it blew me away. The story of conjoined twin brothers, born from a Nun, fathered by a surgeon and raised by two physicians. The story is told for its majority from the perspective of one of the brothers, and sees them from their birth to adult life. I got lost on the story, to be completely crushed by the end of the book. Made me laugh, roll my eyes and cry. That is always a sing of a good book!



Deep Down Dark, by H├ęctor Tobar- NPR Morning Edition Book Club
This book was the official story of the Chilean miners who survived the San Jose mine collapse in 2010. While I knew how the story would end, but I was completely glued to my seat by the stories of the miners and the way the story was written made me feel like I was there with the miners, and I felt all my hopes in the rescue missions. I yelled a very loud "Yes!!" when they figured out a rescue plan and clapped! I'm very emotional with books and get very emotionally involved.



Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.- NPR Morning Edition Book Club
I'm going to be completely honest and say that the first part of this book was a little boring, but the second part kept me in my parked car listening and desperately wanting more story.  Reminded me of Gone Girl, which I loved!

Notable Mentions
Wonder by Raquel Palacio
We were Liars by E. Lockhart
Push by Saphire
Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

Notable mentions for re-reads
Harry Potter is always a favorite.
Hunger Games series is an amazing series.

Book I couldn't find believable.... this coming from the woman who read Harry Potter twice this year and the Hunger Games Again.

Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee- The story was melodramatic and not interesting. A wealthy man, who was an asshole as a human, dies in a car accident and because he isn't "done" with his mission in life, he gets sent back to earth as a dog. His wife ends up rescuing the dog and taking him to live with her. She is an "up and coming New York City editor" (Rolling my eyes all the way to the back of my head) and as the dog tries to find his purpose or mission, so that he can either go to heaven or get another body.... his goal is to get his body back and re-start his life right where he left off... being a jerk.... She gets all her life "resolved" by the end of the book, she overcomes an dragon like Editor at her job, and she even runs a marathon!

This book was forced on me by a friend, whom I share audiobooks with. This is a book I would hav picked up when I was 22 and believed in the chick lit as something possible. What made me lose any and all  confidence on the book, other than the completely over the top exaggeration of everything, is that Emily, the main character goes on to train for and race the New York City Marathon in a very short amount of time, considering she is not a runner, and didn't really herself qualified for the marathon, this part of the book felt like it wasn't researched properly and made me feel that the author felt running a marathon was an easy thing to do. I get that it gave the book an extra edge, but I would have found it more believable if she ran a half marathon and trained really hard. But this is coming from me, the woman who didn't allow herself to have donuts for 6 weeks prior to a 10K.

As of right now, I don't know if anybody else is reading this, but if anybody is..... what great books did you read this year? Any suggestions?





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