Harriet the Bookaholic: 2014 Edition

Over at my old blog I was pretty good about posting monthly updates on what I had been reading, what I thought about it, and how it ranked on a uncomplicated 5-star system. But, this last year I have been writing sporadically at best and that feature has kind of fallen off my plate. For 2015 I would really like to write monthly posts again. I love reading what you have been reading, but if it’s more than 10 books or so I tend to skip around on the post (sorry!).

I typically get on a specific (and nerdy) reading topic kick for a while and devour book after book on, say, Charles Darwin, or North Korea, or economics, or feminist theory, or, if I’m lucky, how those last two interact. I prefer non-fiction and generally steer clear of YA (I hope that even with this admission we can still be friends), I am in two book clubs and that has helped shake up some of my reading habits. All that being said, I do want to at least document what I read last year—most of this information is cross-posted with a quick paragraph over at Goodreads (Why are we not friends there yet? Find me!).

Fiction:

Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner (5 stars)

Ender’s Shadow, by Orson Scott Card (4 stars)

Peace Like A River, by Leif Enger (4 stars)

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio (4 stars)

Gossamer, by Lois Lowry (3 stars)

Lost and Found, by Chris Van Hakes (3 stars)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey (3 stars)

Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky (3 stars)

Persuasion, by Jane Austen (2 stars)

Gone Girl, by Jillian Flynn (2 stars)

Brief Space Between Color and Shade, by Cristovao Tezza (1 star)

Non-Fiction:

A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, by N. Kristof and S. WuDunn (5 stars)

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, by Daniel H. Pink (4 stars)

Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, by Steve Sheinkin (4 stars)

One Summer: America, 1926, by Bill Bryson (3 stars)

White Like Me: Reflections on Race From a Privileged Son, by Tim Wise (3 stars)

Nostalgia for the Absolute, George Steiner (2 stars)

How to Visit a Museum, by David Finn (2 stars)

Biography/Memoir:

Madam Secretary: A Memoir, by Madeleine Albright (5 stars)

Speak, Memory, by Vladimir Nobokov (4 stars)

The Road from Coorain, by Jill Ker Conway (3 stars)

Out of Egypt, by Andre Aciman (2 stars)

Charles Darwin:

Charles Darwin: Voyaging, by Janet E. Browne (5 stars)

Charles Darwin: The Power of Place, by Janet E. Browne (4 stars)

Korea:

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick (5 stars)

The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson (4 stars)

Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite, by Suki Kim (4 stars)

Feminism:

The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (5 stars)

A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen (4 stars)

The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam, by Willow G. Wilson (4 stars)

The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know, by Katty Kay (4 stars)

Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, by bell hooks (4 stars)

Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw (4 stars)

From Outrage to Courage: The Unjust and Unhealthy Situation of Women in Poorer Countries and What They Are Doing About It, by Ann Firth Murray (3 stars)

Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women, by Carolyn Custis James (3 stars)

I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai (3 stars)

Plays and Poems:

A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen (4 stars)

Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller (4 stars)

Emperor and Galilean, by Henrik Ibsen (4 stars)

Henry VI, Part 3, by William Shakespeare (4 stars)

Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw (4 stars)

Clybourne Park, by Bruce Norris (3 stars)

The Waste Land, by T.S. Eliot (3 stars)

Recommendations:
I know you probably have a list of book recommendations two miles long, but if I could give you a few more to add, these are the books that I loved the most this year that are also the most digestible to the regular every-day person. (For example, while I LOVED the massive 1200 page biography on Charles Darwin, unless you are both a book nerd and a science geek, I won’t recommend it to you because you’ll probably curse me about 150 pages in and give up.) But, Darwin aside, these three books are the ones that most altered the way I think and my outlook on the world.

A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, by N. Kristof and S. WuDunn (5 stars)
A Path Appears talks a lot about how we as Western society help and harm–even with the best of intentions we often cause more harm than good–developing nations and underserved populations within the United States, and also makes a lot of suggestions on how we can improve.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick (5 stars)
Nothing to Envy follows the remarkable and heart wrenching lives of several North Korean citizens who survive the brutality of the DPRK’s regime and the country-wide famines in the 1990s, defect to South Korea, and are able to tell their stories. It is unbelievable and jaw dropping, and in light of recent events (Sony), I think it is important for more people to understand better what exactly is going on in North Korea.

Madam Secretary: A Memoir, by Madeleine Albright (5 stars)
While Madeleine Albright was at the United Nations and the Secretary of State under Bill Clinton I was in my formative tween and teenage years; George Bush Jr. was elected my senior year of high school. I knew bits and pieces of many of the current events surrounding the war in the Balkans and Kosovo, the chaos surrounding the former Soviet Republics becoming self-governing, Israeli/Palestinian peace negotiations, and mass genocide in Rwanda. I knew all these things were happening, but I didn’t understand much of the background or political gravitas. Albright explains it all, her role, the role of the other major players, and how as the first female Secretary of State she navigated the sometimes tricky politics of being a woman in authority in Washington DC.

This next year I will be posting monthly lists of what I’m reading, which I feel are much easier and more enjoyable to digest. Until then, happy reading!

Harriet sig

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Harriet the Bookaholic: 2014 Edition

  1. Yay, end of the year book lists are starting to pop up! This is one of the reasons I love this time of year. Of your three recommendations I’ve read one (Nothing To Envy) and already have the other two on my list, so I’m excited to get to those.

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