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Thursday, April 28, 2016

100 books in 2016 The Best So Far

A few years ago I joined Good Reads and this year I decided to do a reading challenge, a 100 books in 2016.  

I'm at about 35 books now and we are 1/3 of the way through the year (which is terrifying where does the time go) so I think I'll probably make a 100.

I always love Rae at Say It Ain't So book reviews so here in no particular order, are my  favorite books so far this year.

1) The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, writing as Claire Morgan-

I read Highsmith's first Ripley novel years ago and I really enjoyed it so when I heard about this book and the movie based on it I really wanted to read it.  This  book, like all of Highsmith's writing, is excellent.  Its full of mid century detail and you feel totally transported to the 1950s.  Highsmith is known for her crime fiction and this  is a love story, so its very different from the majority of work.  However, Highsmith was an astute observer of the minutiae of human behavior and that is on ample display here.   Most of the story takes place in the head of Therese, the younger of the two lovers, and much of Carol, the older women's behavior, is a bit mysterious, because Carol remains a mystery to Therese.  I think thats why the book is so much better then the movie.  
It it isn't really an action filled  cinematic story.   So while I didn't really like the movie I did love the book.  It also has a fairly happy ending, unusual for a Highsmith story and somewhat bittersweet since Highsmith herself was unlucky in love.   

2) The Blunderer-Patricia Highsmith.

After reading The Price of Salt I really wanted to read more Highsmith books and The Blunderer was the first I tried.  I really loved it.  It has the same pitch perfect mid century atmosphere, particularly the cocktail party scenes, but it's a crime story which is more to my taste then a love story.   The basic plot follows two very different men who have murdered their wives. One is cool, calm and collected, and the other is a blunderer.  It's a classic Hitchcockian story and I kept wondering why it hasn't ever been made into a film, and then I found out it is being made into one. Too bad Hitchcock isn't around.

3) The Selected Stories of Patricia Highsmith-Patricia Highsmith

I love short stories and these are tops.  Some are very dark and disturbing and some are light funny.  My favorites where the ones about animals, particularly a dog who gets revenge on an unworthy owner.  You can tell Highsmith was an animal lover.

4) 20th Century Ghosts-Joe Hill

Two things I love short stories and horror stories.  All of these are great and spooky.  Hill reminds me of his dad Stephen King during his 1980s salad days when he was writing top quality horror.   I also love that this book features a vintage movie house.  It reminded me of the landmark Loewes in Jersey City which I love.

This is such an interesting non fiction story.  It's about Paul Du Chaillu an early naturalist and hunter, early naturalists where all hunters, who was one of the first people to study, sadly largely through hunting the gorilla.  The book goes into fascinating detail about the whole evolution debate that was raging at the time and the role the Gorilla played in it, with many people seeing the Gorilla as the missing link.  Racism played a major role in early thoughts on evolution and the book explores that too.  Chaillu was part African and had to keep it completely secret.  I was also fascinated by the small section of the book that focused on  P.T. Barnum and his efforts to turn the evolution debate into a side show. 

6) I Am Spock-Leonard Nimoy

I waited for this book to come into the library for a full year, and it was totally worth it.  Of course I adore Spock and Nimoy and all things Star Trek, but this is also a really well written book.   I found Nimoy's life story very interesting, but I really loved reading about how he developed the character of Spock and I was impressed with how devoted to his fictional alter ego.  He often put his job on the line to defend the character's dignity, but he never comes off as obnoxious or egotistical.  He also seems to really appreciate and care for his fans. I also thought Nimoy was a wonderful person and this book confirmed it for me.

7) The Monstrumologist Book 1 by Rick Yancey

I think this is my favorite of the book so far this year.  A horror story about a young boy whose an apprentice to a monster hunter, it is very Harry Potter meets HP Lovecraft I absolutely loved it.  This is a young adult book but its plenty scary and page turney and it really reminds me of Lovecraft,  my favorite horror writer.   I can't recommend it highly enough.  

8) Spock, Messiah! Theodore R. Cogswell

I have to be honest this is not a great book, but I really enjoyed reading it.  The reason is because I've read plenty of Star Trek books and this more then any of the others reminds me of the original series hokey first season, and the so bad its good Spock's Brain episode.    It is ridiculously sexist in a classic Star Trek way.  The basic plot involves a female scientist who is on the Enterprise studying an early culture through some sort of mind swap technique.  She's madly in love with Spock and fixes things so Spock and her take on the bodies of super emotional villagers.  Spock goes nuts and thinks he's God and action ensues.   Kitschy and fun.

9) Federation by Judith Reeves Stevens

This is a really good, well written Star Trek novel.   It goes into the early years of the Federation and plenty of stuff alluded too, but never mentioned, in the series and films, so its almost a stand alone novel.  I love how it gets into the philosophy behind the series.   If you love Star Trek you'll love this.  After Spock's World and The Autobiography of James T. Kirk, its the best Trek novel I've read.

10) The Curse of the Wendigo (The Monstrumologist Book 2) Rick Yancey

As good as the first one!  There is so much in this book the wild west, victorian cities, monsters, true love, etc.  Its amazing how Yancey packs so much into one story.    I love the mystery part of this one it reminded me a little of Sherlock Holmes.  

11) Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man  William Shatner

I have heard plenty of criticism of this book, mostly focused on Shatner and his ego, but I really enjoyed it.  I love William Shatner and I think he's very funny and its on display here.   I had already heard plenty of the stories in the book since I had read I Am Spock and also Shatner's autobiography Up 'Till Now, but I still really enjoyed it.  Reading its obvious that Shatner healed Nimoy in high esteem and that were real friends.  If your a Star Trek fan you should really read this.

12) Mr. Mercedes: Bill Hodges Book 1-Stephen King

This is far from my favorite King book, that would be The Eyes of The Dragon.  It is also not a horror novel, its a crime thriller, but  I still really enjoyed it.  It's set during the recent economic turmoil and is very focused on the current concerns about mass shootings and such.  Parts of it seemed to pat and tv-ish and I never warmed to the main character, the villain is more full developed.  Still no one does a page turner better then Stephen King and I read this in three days.  I'm also very excited because King is coming to the Landmark Loewes theatre in Jersey City and June and I'm going to be seeing him there.  He'll be reading from the final book in the Bill Hodges trilogy and I'll get a signed copy. 


  1. MOm loves Stephen King - she hasn't read that one
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  2. 100 books in one year! I'd never do that, I'm such a slow reader. Between Man and Beast looks very interesting. xx

  3. Oh yes, time flies, but it's amazing you are at 35 books already! The Blunderer sounds interesting and Stephen King's book, too.

  4. I love goodreads and I love Joe Hill! :) You read way more than me! I probably average about a book a month maybe two a month if I'm really on a roll! Good on you to take the challenge though! I hope you make it! :)

  5. Thanks for the list. We seem to like so many of the same things, I'm off to the virtual library to reserve some of these for spring time reading. I thought I had read all of King, but not that one.

    1. We do have very similar tastes. That must be why I love your blog so much

  6. A group of us on an online Crochet Group do a 50 book challenge and I love reading the titles everyone else is reading. I discover so many new authors/titles to try.

  7. Mum says the ONLY good thingy about her morning commute is that she gets to read books…..I finks she'll be reading sum of your suggestions…starting with the Trekkie ones!!!!
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

  8. Fantastic. Nothing like holding a good book in your hand
    Lily & Edward

  9. Very cool that you are going to get your book signed by Stephen King!

  10. Were glad you find good books to read,,,
    We dont read much in our house,

  11. Very commendable undertaking and accomplishment so far this year, sweet Kate. I'm an epic bookworm myself and though I rarely tally the books I read in a given year, the number is definitely up there - especially since I often have multiple books on the go at once. I may find little time for most of my hobbies in the course of a super busy work week, but reading is something that's as important as drawing air to me and I'll never get too busy for it.

    Have a splendid weekend!
    ♥ Jessica

  12. Wow - 100! I admire you! Although I'd probably read more if I didn't knit.

  13. Those are great reviews and recommendations. I was hoping to send you a free copy of a vintage fiction book you might like. Couldn't find a contact button or form for you?


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