What I Read: October to December and Wrap-Up

As the year comes to a close, I’m proud to say that I made the reading goal that I set at the beginning of 2014! I haven’t posted one of these updates in awhile, so this is what I read during the last three months:

The Vacationers

vacationers

Emma Straub’s book was on all of the summer “must-read” list, but as usual, I was fashionably late to the party and didn’t pick it up until October. The story follows the Post family, as they vacation on Mallorca. Being in close quarters for two weeks brings out the worst in them and exposes a few family secrets along the way. In many ways, the characters and plot devices mimic other dysfunctional family stories, but Straub’s writing is smart and humorous and she managed to make me care about characters that seemed unlikeable at first glance. This would definitely be a good one to put on your list for next summer’s beach bag—or to pick up in the winter when you are craving warmth, sand and sun.

This One Is Mine

 

one is mine

Maria Semple’s protagonist, Violet Parry, is a former television producer, turned stay-at-home mom and wife to a legendary music producer, David. She’s bored and unhappy with her life, so she decides to have an affair with Teddy, a struggling musician. Sure, David is a self-absorbed jerk, but Teddy is no better (we learn along the way that he is an alcoholic with violent tendencies, and also has Hepatitis C). There are a few other characters woven into the story, including David’s sister Sally who is on a continuous quest to bag a rich husband. But, none of them really have any redeeming qualities. The plot was unrealistic and I was thoroughly annoyed by all of the characters. Semple’s Where’d You Go Bernadette? is a much better read. Although the plot of that book is equally far-fetched, her characters are far more sympathetic and humorously drawn.

Jim Henson: The Biography

 

jim-henson-cover

As a lifelong Henson fan, I loved this! Brian Jay Jones traces Henson’s life and career, including his childhood in Mississippi, where he first dreamed of working in television, his efforts to break into the medium as a puppeteer on various local and national shows, his lesser known work making experimental films, and his big break on Sesame Street. Jones did an amazing job of putting together the story of Henson’s all too short life and career, through personal interviews with his family and colleagues, Henson’s personal diaries and company archives, to paint a comprehensive portrait of Henson’s passion for his work, complicated private life and lasting influence.

These three books bring the total to 12 and as the year winds down, here are a few of the highlights (and lowlights) of the past year in books:

Couldn’t Put Down: The Goldfinch 

Pleasant Surprises (aka “I Picked These at Random, Mostly Based on Their Cheap Price, and Ended Up Really Liking Them”): The Perfume Collector and The Rosie Project

Book That I Was Sad to Finish: Jim Henson: The Biography

Biggest Disappointment: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy

Book That I Forced Myself to Finish, Even Though I Hated It: This One is Mine

Most Helpful (aka “I Wish I Had Read this Sooner):Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

I’m glad that I set this goal, as it made me set aside time to read at least a little bit each day…even if I could only get through a page or two each night before falling asleep (only to be woken up by the Nook falling on my nose. Ouch). Escaping into a good book is a pretty easy way to unwind, when you don’t really have a lot of time or energy at the end of the day!

What did you read in 2014 and who has recommendations for 2015?

Comments make me happy. Leave one!