first twenty books

I thought I’d stagger the updates on my reading list this year, to prevent us all from dying  from exhaustion after fifty books in one go. I also refrained from reviewing several books twice – click on the link to see my full review.

As always, the asterisk means it was a reread.

1. The Big Four – Agatha Christie*
It seemed only right to start off the year like I ended the previous one: with an Agatha Christie novel. This one gets into themes of world domination and conspiracy, which I don’t like as much as her renderings of “simple” crimes. But it was good enough to read twice or three times now, so I’m not complaining.

2. The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove – Christopher Moore*
I think this is one of Moore’s more absurd books, although who am I kidding? His Fluke deals with whales and an underwater civilization and Amelia Earhart. Weird is what Moore does best.

3. Sojourner in the Promised Land – Jan Shipps
This was one of my first dissertation reads, and it’s written by a non-Mormon. It was incredibly helpful to read about someone else grappling with LDS religion and culture from an outsider’s perspective.

4. Five Little Pigs – Agatha Christie*

5. Night Watch – Terry Pratchett*
I think Night Watch might be my favorite Terry Pratchett novel. It has Sam Vimes in it – twice! Sam Vimes is my favorite Discworld character.

6. Moving Pictures – Terry Pratchett*

7. The Help – Kathryn Stockett*
I read this again after scoring a five-euro edition at a local German bookstore. Funnily enough, there are two bookstores directly opposite each other here in Dortmund, and the one has books consistently cheaper than the other, for no reason I can see. But I’m not complaining.

8. Making Money – Terry Pratchett*
Well, maybe Night Watch, Going Postal and Making Money are my favorite Terry Pratchett novels. Adora Belle Dearheart and Moist van Lipwig are also pretty awesome.

9. One of Our Thursdays is Missing – Jasper Fforde
10. The Charming Quirks of Others – Alexander McCall Smith

11. Make the Bread, Buy the Butter – Jennifer Reese
I loved this book. It’s chock full of things I feel confident enough after reading to want to try (real fried chicken!) and I loved how she was honest that for some things, you should just go to the store. I like making things from scratch, but there are limits to what I’m willing to do.

12. The World According to Bertie – Alexander McCall Smith*
Number four in the 44 Scotland St series, and these are quickly becoming an obsession. I keep rereading the ones I have until McCall Smith writes another one. They are lovely, dealing with untypical but recognizable people, funny, but also ponderous. I can’t say enough good things about this series.

13. The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry – Jon Ronson

14. The Book of Mormon Girl – Joanna Brooks
Oh, I recognized so much of Brooks’ struggle in my own struggle to stay in church. There’s no religious divide on feeling like you don’t belong but wanting to with all your heart.

15. The Hollow – Agatha Christie*
16. Black Coffee – Agatha Christie*

17. The Spirit of Vatican II: a history of Catholic reform in America – Colleen McDannel
I read about this book on Religion Dispatches and then found it in my university library (yay for inter library loan costing only 1,50 per request!). I know a bit about Catholicism and I’ve always been fascinated by the change instituted by Vatican II. The author used the story of her mother and her various parishes as she moved through life to illustrate how diverse Catholic life was, but she never made it that personal that it lost broader implications. Superbly done.

18. Quiverfull: Inside the Christian patriarchy movement  – Kathryn Joyce
I liked the previous book better. This one gives you a good look at the patriarchy movement in the American religious landscape, but Joyce seems to cover the same ground again and again. I finished it, but I probably could have stopped reading halfway through and gotten the same insight.

19. The Speed of Light – Elizabeth Rosen
This one I picked up in California because Rosen is visiting our university in April and I wanted to read something of hers before she came. It’s a wonderfully written story, quiet and slow as many Jewish literature is, but with quirky twists and beautiful passages. It deals with a brother and a sister – the sister is an opera singer, the brother doesn’t say much. And then the sister leaves for auditions in Europe, and someone else temporarily moves in in her apartment. And of course, things change. (Sorry to be so vague, but this is a book that just needs to unfold by itself without any help from me.)

20. The Broken Teaglass – Emily Arsenault

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