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All the books I read last year

Before you say anything: no, my Spotify wrapped was not that cool.

I spent much of 2023 in survival mode. Try as I might to get through therapy and take care of myself, I can't seem to find the right set of circumstances to get me into "living" life.

Thank goodness for my dog! She keeps me sane, warm, and active. While the neighborhood roads behind my condo only make up .80 square miles, the distance of all those roads combined in any sort of path can reach as much as 6.7 miles (longest I've walked yet, at least). I spent a lot of time in the beginning of the year trying to go out without any earbuds... no calls, no music, no junky podcast, no books. Just me and the Lord, the latter probably giggling while the former tried to sort out mindfulness.

Needless to say, I wound up getting really into books. I paid for an audible subscription but chewed through content like it was going out of stock.... I ultimately dove into the world of free-with-your-subscription content. Not all great... but entertaining. I think there were less than 3 books I totally abandoned (I didn't like the premise of 50 Shades of Grey on its own, can we not write that into reimagined mythology?).

Going to list out all of the books I read, though, for my own sanity here...

The Ones I Wish I Could Read For the First Time All Over Again:

Circe by Madeline Miller

Euphoria by Lily King

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

The Ones I enjoyed (or at least didn't mind):

The Cult of We (nonfiction) by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell

The Miranda Obsession by Jen Silverman

The Devil in the White City (nonfiction) by Erik Larson

Liliana's Invincible Summer (nonfiction) by Cristina Rivera Garza

Unscripted (nonfiction) by James B Stewart and Rachel Abrams

Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King

The Daughter in Law by Nina Manning

The Third Mrs. Durst (wouldn't recommend)

Any Day Now by Robyn Carr

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

The Narrator by KL Slater

What We Find by Robyn Carr

The Comeback, The Stand-in, and The Take Down (all by Lily Chu)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins

Fall from Grace by Danielle Steel (I didn't know about DS when I downloaded this one)

When you Find Me by PJ Vernon

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

No Filter (nonfiction) by Sarah Frier

Love and Ruin By Paula McLain

One of Us Is Dead by Jeneva Rose

Excessive by Dan Robert

I'm Glad My Mom Died (nonfiction) by Jennette McCurdy

Partway Through:

The Making of Biblical Womanhood by Beth Allison Barr

This is Service Design, Doing

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

DNR: Do Not Read please consider this a warning to any who stumble onto this:

Missoula (TW for my SA victim girlies, but its Kraukauer so I'm sure it is beautifully written)

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things (we don't romanticize pedophilia around here)

A Touch of Darkness (even typing that title out I see that it was always going to be trash but like not even well-written trash ok)

Casually reviewing the favorites here, like I'm some sort of meaningful internet presence:

Circe by Madeline Miller

All the rave for a reason. As a lover and near life-long learner of the Classics, anything related to or rooted in Greco-Roman mythology has my intrigued. I had read the Odyssey and the Iliad in college (but let's not forget my younger brother's Jesuit school made him memorize the beginning of the Iliad in 8th grade), and of course knew the general story. I read Cicero and Catullus in Latin, sure, but also was moved by many of Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Circe tells the life-story (well, a large snippet of an immortals' life story) of.. Circe. I did not realize that Circe was the brother to Perses, whose power is stolen in Medea by Medus. The story of a demi-god of witchcraft and how she became the keeper of Odysseus' Aeaea weaves centuries of mythology together seamlessly. I felt like I, too, was going through millennia a minute while not losing any time at all reading this story.

Euphoria by Lily King

This is a short one, but my interest in anthropology and 1930s anthropological studies made this one fascinating for me. We follow a handful of explorers in New Guinea, mostly Banson learning about the tribe of the Kiona river. When he meets a young married couple of anthropologists with two radically different approaches to the science, we come away with a new understanding of sociological impact and how limiting our own perspectives and worldviews are.

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

This one gets all of my praise in the form of tears. Inspired by Little Women, Napolitano weaves the stories of four Gen X sisters in Chicago around their love for one another, their late father, and the romance of two sisters on one struggling young man. When reality hits too hard for over-achieving and ambitious eldest daughter Julia, she jumps to New York to find great career success with her infant daughter. In the wake of his wife's departure, William goes through recovery post suicide attempt alongside the family that took him in as their brother--and winds up finding significant love with another sister. The family divide propels the story through 3 decades of life, hardships, and the invisible but undeniable bond that sisterhood brings and unrecognized guidance of their oft-dismissed late father. I truly could not get through this one without being a BLUBBERING mess. I was on the side of the road, sweating in 100+ degree heat, feeling hot tears mix with cooler but saltier sweat in my eyes and just trucking along while my dog happily soaked up the warm weather...

Anyways, in 2024 I hope to read more books (and maybe some I already have on my bookshelves!)! Feel free to send recommendations if any of my list seems to overlap with your tastes... I can't stand goodreads or figure out how it is supposed to help me.


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