Now THIS is how we reach some book goals. March was a 10-book month.

We’ll get right to it.

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara  – 4* – (Mar. 2):
(Goodreads review)

aLittleLifeThis was a tough read. Well-written, great depth to the characters and relationships, but it tackled a lot of tough topics. Despite all that and over 700 pages, I never found myself connecting to the characters in a way that left me heartbroken when bad things happened to them. Many people have enjoyed this book, and I appreciated the glimpse into mental illness it offered. Be aware – it should probably come with multiple trigger warnings.

The Dog is Not a Toy: House Rule #4 – Darby Conley – 3* – (Mar. 5):
(Goodreads review)

DogNotAToyI have several Get Fuzzy books and thought I’d give them each a quick re-read before donating them. However, I found I enjoyed this one much less on a second read. I’ll probably take it and the other books to a second-hand bookstore and sell them back without revisiting the others.

Crime Fiction: A Very Short Introduction – Richard Bradford  – 3.5* – (Mar. 13):
(Goodreads review)

crimeFictionVSII discovered this series of “Very Short Introduction” books at a bookstore in Georgetown. At some point, I’ll probably do an entire post on them. The Crime Fiction edition was an interesting history of the genre and the authors who have made it popular over the years. It spoils some stories, which I didn’t like, so I did some skimming. The section on gender was fascinating, as was the recent rise of the Scandinavian detective novel.

Night Film – Marisha Pessl – 4.75* – (Mar. 13):
(Goodreads review)


I love a good mystery, especially one that finds a new way to present the story. Pessl does that here. She creates newspaper pages, website stories, and case files, including the images in the book for you to view along with the PI and his Scooby Gang.

Unfortunately, the Scooby Gang was a trope she didn’t avoid. Whatever, it’s an entertaining ride into some dark corners of the internet, the film industry, family/relationships, and even black magic. The end left me slightly dissatisfied. I expected a bait and switch of sorts, and while you could say we got it, it wasn’t the one I was expecting.

The Road Through the Wall – Shirley Jackson  – 3.75* – (Mar. 14):
(Goodreads review)

roadThroughWallEven in her debut novel, Jackson can’t take a lovely suburban neighborhood at face-value. It becomes a satirical look at class, race, and religion, primarily through the interactions of the children in the neighborhood. There’s also plenty of adult activity, ranging from the stay-at-home wives of the era with their dinner prep, lipstick and sewing circles to the men with their career ambitions, rounds of golf, and affairs.  Just when I thought the book may end without anything too grisly, Jackson tossed in a horrifying tragedy that brings everyone together while also driving them apart. Amazing for a debut novel but not a surprise knowing what she produced later in her career.

100 Best-Loved Poems – Philip Smith – 4* – (Mar. 5):
(Goodreads review)

100bestLovedPoemsI read this for two reasons: I had to read a book of poetry for my Reading Challenge, and this one was only $3. It’s rare for me to enjoy poetry and out of the 100, I marked approximately 4 as “hey, interesting!” I appreciated the way this book was arranged chronologically and the brief explanation of why each poet was deemed worthy of inclusion was nice. But I’m still not a huge fan of poetry, and this didn’t do anything to change my opinion. I likely should’ve made more of an effort to track down one of the modern poetry books on my list – those recommendations would, at least, be something different.

Legends and Folk Tales of Old Alexandria, Virginia – Ruth Lincoln Kaye – 4* – (Mar. 16):
(Goodreads review)

legendsFolkTalesAlexVAThis is more booklet than book, but I’m counting it as I read it cover-to-cover. (I’ve skimmed multiple local history books that I’m not counting.) I’m trying to learn more about the area we moved to six months ago, both from a historical angle and from a folklore/haunting angle in hopes of sparking some writing ideas. Some of it is cheesy; some had some interesting history tucked in. It’s nice to see this type of local stories preserved somehow before those who know them are gone.

Ghosts of Alexandria, VA – Michael Lee Pope – 3* – (Mar. 23):
(Goodreads review)

ghostsAlexVAIncluded a good amount of actual history with the ghost stories. I’d estimate it was 50/50 fact and hauntings. It includes many of the stories from the Legends and Folk Tales book, but in much greater detail with more historical context. It included useful photos and illustrations to place the locations and picture the buildings and it was helpful in learning more of the area.

The Last Unicorn – Peter Gillis  – 2* – (Mar. 31):
(Goodreads review)

lastUnicornThis was another book chosen because of a Reading Challenge category – graphic novel. My history with graphic novels is not pleasant. This book didn’t improve it. The illustrations were stunning. The story was OK. However, the text was difficult to read and once again I found myself not enjoying this method of conveying the story. I think it’s the text style that kills it for me. Make the text larger and make it more like a child’s storybook and I’d enjoy it much more. The tiny, compressed text to make this more like a comic book just made it a struggle I didn’t find worthwhile. At this point, with three graphic novels behind me that I haven’t enjoyed, it’s going to be difficult to get me to try another.

A Fighting Chance – Elizabeth Warren – 4.25* – (Mar. 31):
(Goodreads review)

fightingChanceWhen I’ve seen Elizabeth Warren on tv, I’ve usually been impressed with her. After reading this book, the admiration has grown. It was enlightening to see where she started and how her passion for her work brought her to Washington without her seeking it. I found it fascinating to read about her allies along the way, the people who were responsible for certain turning points (Dr. Phil?), the people who got in her way. She seems a common sense, no-BS lady. We could use more like her, especially when it comes to topics of finance reform.

I have three reading goals this year:

  1. Read 50 books: – I finished 10 in March, for a total so far of 18. According to Goodreads, I’m 5 books ahead of schedule.
  2. Complete the PopSugar 2016 Reading ChallengeThere are 40 categories, and I’ll count no book for more than 2. I also decided not to count re-reads (unless the category specifies it must be a re-read). Numbers below are new/add’l categories completed.
    1. January – 4 (blue cover, murder mystery, set in Europe, takes place in summer)
    2. February – 3 (culture unfamiliar with, translated to English, library)
    3. March – 10 (autobiography, political memoir, graphic novel, over 600 pages, satirical, guaranteed to bring joy, poetry, finish in a day, NYT bestseller, under 150 pages)
      1. (Total = 17)
  3. Read at least 3 classics from new-to-me authors: I did not.

Diversity? Sure! Just by hitting so many reading challenge categories, I think we can say I read broadly. Graphic novel, a political novel/autobiography, some Shirley Jackson, local history, poetry, non-fiction, comics, and a novel.

Star ratings: I base this on the flat stars Goodreads displays in list-view, not the quarter-star system I assign in my reviews.

  • 5 stars: 2 books (1 re-read)
  • 4 stars: 9 books
  • 3 stars: 5 books
  • 2 stars: 2 books
  • 1 star: 0 books
  • 0 stars: 2 books (both books I started and abandoned)

Pages read:

  • January – 1608
  • February – 1420
  • March – 2521

Some were super long (I finished one that was over 700 pages, another that says it was over 600), a few were quite short, and I figure they balance each other out.

April reading? I’m off to a slow start thanks to 9 days of migraines but maybe things will pick up.