50 Books in 52 Weeks (#31-40)

I can’t believe I might actually follow through on this New Year’s Resolution! Keeping up during college was a lot easier than now with a full-time job, but I’ve found ways to finish about a book a week by always reading during breakfast. I only get through about 20 pages, but that’s about 100 pages in a week. Sometimes I’ll read during lunch or before bed, but I do most of my reading on the weekends. I’ve come to enjoy laying out by my neighborhood pool, book in hand, now that it’s not 110 degrees. (I still have to jump in every 20 minutes or so to cool off, but then it’s right back to my book.)

Here’s what I read during August and September:

31. Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan

I don’t think this book was in any way groundbreaking. There’s quite a few stories out there about a group of girls struggling to stay in touch after college graduation, but this one came at the right time for me as I was finishing up my summer and coming to terms with not going back to Marquette.

32. The Singles Game by Lauren Weiseberger

Love fiction books about tennis! It was a quick, indulgent read that I’d probably never pick up again, but glad I did the first time around.

33. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

I picked this up because I was so impressed with her other book earlier, but this one wasn’t as great. I thought it would be centered around all of the women in this family and the time they spend at their lake house in Maine. It sort of was, but felt drawn out and not as satisfying as Commencement.

34. Telling True Stories: A Non-Fiction Writer’s Guide by Mark Kramer

Wouldn’t recommend this to anyone except journalists, but if you do fall into that category, it’s worth the read. Lots of pointers about interviewing, organization and how to find those little details that transform a story.

35. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

This one’s gotten a LOT of buzz, and I think rightfully so. It’s a thriller, which I’m not always a huge fan of, but Hawley’s plot about a private plane that was flying from Martha’s Vineyard to NYC crashing kept me turning the pages.

36. Firehouse by David Halberstam 

This super-short non-fiction book describes the 13 firefighters at one of the NYC firehouses. Of the 13, 12 died on 9/11. I read this on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, so it meant a lot more to me than if I’d read it in, say, February. I loved how Halberstam wrote more about their lives and their careers than about that day. Learned a lot about how firehouses operate. For example, lieutenants, the highest ranking guys at the house, are the first ones into the fire and the last ones out. They don’t have some cush sense of hierarchy like a lot of other public agencies.

37. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 

If you like the TV show The Big Bang Theory, this book reminded me a lot of the nerdy characters. Simsion writes about this socially inept Australian professor and his friend who try to track down her biological father. Interesting plot, but Simsion’s writing isn’t believable. I couldn’t place myself into any of the character’s shoes and the ending was one of those where you’re asking the author, Really?

38. The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe

I’m not usually a huge fan of historical memoir, but this one was fantastic. Set at Vassar College in the 1890’s, The Gilded Years describes Anita Hemmings’s senior year of college. She was the first African-American woman to graduate from Vassar by hiding her race (she had light enough skin to pass as white). I remember learning about the Gilded Age for AP US History, learning about the greenback movement and thinking, “My God, am I gla I wasn’t born during this dud of an era.” Not the case anymore. Highly recommend this one!

39. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

OK, so I read this book before, probably back in 2012 or 2013, but I’m counting it because it was 522 pages. It was even better the second time around. I think I’m going to go so far and say that it’s my number one favorite book. It’s just. that. good. Having three-fourths of the pages set in Wisconsin doesn’t hurt, either!

40. The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

This one got good reviews, but I’m still sort of scratching my head because it was a letdown. The plot sounded enticing, two couples living in DC and working in the White House, but the writing just felt elementary. And I couldn’t care about any of the four main characters. It made me realize how important it is for authors to have sympathetic protagonists.

Read about #1-10, #11-20, #21-30.

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