Book List

As a voracious reader, I’ve tried to find ways to effectively track what I read each year. I’ve used index cards, MSWord documents, hand-written notes. I have a tendency to discover books before they’re popular, fall in love with them, and then become disenchanted and embarrassed when Oprah makes them her book club pick. Let’s just agree: I found them first. And I can’t help it if my tastes run popular rather than deep…

I’m also including a rating scale (A-E with A being the best) so you’ll know what I think of them.


  • The Daily Show: An Oral History, by Christ Smith (C – interesting collection of quotes, but lacking overall context/arc)
  • The Long & Faraway Gone, by Lou Berney (B+ – I’m not usually into detective thrillers, but this one was fun – easily a screenplay)
  • The Portable Veblen, by Elizabeth McKenzie (B – what it lacks in plot, it makes up for with quirky characters that Wes Anderson would enjoy)
  • You Can’t Touch My Hair, by Phoebe Robinson (A – surprisingly hilarious for a book that spotlights race issues)
  • Who Do We Choose to Be, by Margaret Wheatley (B+ – leadership book that tackles how to lead in a civilization in decline)
  • All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders (B – the battle of nature vs technology in the end of times with a lot of magic sprinkled in)


  • IQ by Joe Ide (A- – fun Sherlock-esque detective novel set in LA) 
  • The Book of Lost Things, by John Connelley (D – married my dislike for fantasy with my dislike of allegory – I spent the whole book waiting for its point) 
  • Righteous, by Joe Ide (B- – second book in the series, fun but flawed)
  • Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay (C – I liked her essays on race and women, but I struggled with her play-by-play reviews)
  • When I’m Gone, by Emily Bleeker (D – dead wife confesses secrets through post-mort letters that culminate in a kidney transplant – NOPE)


  • You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero (C – read this because a lot of clients referenced it – very woo-woo self-helpy but I can see where there’s a specific audience for it)
  • Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng (A – loved this story and how she wove together three different but related plotlines)
  • The Power, by Naomi Alderman (B – Margaret Atwood and Stephen King’s lovechild elopes with the Girl with All the Gifts)


  • The Crossroads of Should & Must, by Elle Luna (A – short and sweet book for clients who are doing what they think they should instead of what they know they must)
  • Rework, by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried (A – short and sweet – challenges conventional assumptions about business)
  • The Opposite of Everyone, by Joshilyn Jackson (D – I would like my brain cells back – divorce attorney reconnects with lost family she doesn’t know she has)
  • Mischling, by Affinity Konar (C+ – story of twins at Auschwitz – very dark and unevenly written)
  • Coming Clean, by Kimberly Rae Miller (B+ – memoir of a daughter of hoarders)
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Schriver (C – a fictional school shooting told by the mom of the shooter – interesting concept but the pacing was irritating)


  • The Lightkeepers, by Abby Geni (D+)
  • Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate (D)


  • The Outsider, by Stephen King (B+)
  • Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout (A)
  • Calypso, by David Sedaris (A – as always)
  • Imagine Me Gone, by Adam Haslett (C+)
  • Love and Other Consolation Prizes, by Jamie Ford (B-)
  • Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green (A)


  • Vacationland, by John Hodgman (A)
  • The Testament, by John Grishman (C+)
  • Children of Blood & Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi (B)
  • Neverworld Wake, by Marisha Pessl (C-)
  • Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch (C+ – the voice/tone is bro-like, but the Shroedinger’s Box concept is well executed) 
  • The Banker’s Wife, by Cristina Alger (C – fast-paced read whodunnit that shoots itself in the foot with an over-the-top happy ending)
  • Black Book, by James Patterson (D – reminded me why I don’t read him)


  • Educated, by Tara Westover (A – pretty incredible story of a survivalist who gets a PhD)
  • The House of Impossible Beauties, by Joseph Cassara (B- – 1980s NYC told through the lens of the Latino/trans experience)
  • Night Road, by Kristin Hannah (D – melodramatic and ridiculous)


  • Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King (B – somehow I’d never read this vampire thriller)
  • The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton & James Patterson (C- – guessed the twist from the beginning – maybe if I knew nothing about cyber-security this would’ve been gripping?)
  • Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan (B- – mostly true story of an Italian teen who has a pretty incredible role in the  WWII resistance)
  • The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah (B+ – Vietnam POW takes his family to Alaska and things get very dark)
  • Less, by Andrew Sean Grier (C – it had more potential than it lived up to)
  • How to Stop Time, by Matt Haig (C – interesting time-travel premise but a bit all over the place)
  • The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living & Dying, by Nina Riggs (A – beautifully written account as a mother faces her final days with cancer)


  • Spoonbenders, by Daryl Gregory (A – psychic family – reads like Arrested Development written by Carl Hiaasen)
  • It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work, by Jason Fried & David Hansson (A – for owners/founders who want to challenge assumptions and create a calm culture)
  • Only Child, by Rhiannon Navin (B – story of a family meltdown after a school shooting told from the perspective of the 6yo surviving son)
  • So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo (A)
  • The Animators, by Kayla Rae Whitaker (C-)
  • One More Thing, by BJ Novak (B- – quirky short stories, mainly funny)


  • The Paris Architect, by Charles Belfoure (C – solid plot but women were objectified)
  • The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin (B – fun premise, solid writing, bit magical)
  • The Way I Used to Be, by Amber Smith (C- – first-person survivor fiction about rape)
  • Becoming, by Michelle Obama (A++ – loved this top to bottom)


  • Hillbilly Elegy, by JD Vance
  • The Summer Wives, by Beatriz Williams

Currently Reading

  • The Friend, Sigrid Nunez
  • The Sympathizer, by Viet Than Nguyen
  • Playing Big, by Tara Mohr
  • The Chalk Artist, by Allegra Goodman
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily Danforth
  • Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans 
  • The Art of Tough, by Barbara Boxer


  • You’re On an Airplane: A Memoir, by Parker Posey (irritating style)
  • Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee (got bored about 75% of the way through it)
  • My Brilliant Friend, by Ellen Ferrante

Among My All-Time Favorite Escapes

Archives from Past Years:


What’s on your reading list? What do you recommend? Please leave a comment to help shape my reading list for the year!


18 Responses to “Book List”

  1. Karen Rita Murtagh February 26, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    Bel Canto by Ann Patchett Check it out. She writes her characters beautifully and this book had one heck of an opening scene. I myself just finished The Vampire Diaries and am reading Hoot by Carl Hiassen–nothing like choosing literature from the Young Adult section. Atlas Shrugged is going with me on my trip to Colorado next week though. It’s time. It’s past time.

    • pithypants February 26, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

      Bel Canto has been on my must-read list for years, and yet I haven’t gotten to it yet – for shame! I’ll move it closer to the top. (Or maybe download it on Audible?)

      I LOVE Carl Hiassen’s stuff for adults, and I can imagine him being clever for young adults.

      You’ll enjoy Atlas Shrugged… though if you haven’t read The Fountainhead you might want to start with that – it’s more macro and Atlas is more micro, if that makes any sense.

      Also – I’m really enjoying “Her Fearful Symmetry” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” if you’re looking for some fun reads. 🙂

    • pithypants March 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

      Just finished Bel Canto. Really enjoyed it. Interesting premise and characters. Completely understand how the lines blur and while I didn’t expect a happy ending… Wow.

  2. Karen Rita Murtagh February 27, 2010 at 1:02 am #

    I wouldn’t download it–but then again, I usually save my audio books for stuff that’s not very well-written since I only half-listen while cleaning the house.

    Is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” part of a series? I keep almost grabbing it but then feel like it’s being marketed to me which I find annoying.

    I have a City job exam tomorrow that requires much waiting and self-entertainment and “Atlas Shrugged” was on my docket. Now I’m going to have to scour my shelves for “The Fountainhead” or read one of my customer support books. Shoot, I don’t like that last idea. I might have to peek into the items brought by my friends last week for donation to Open Books. If they are eventually donated I’m not really stealing from the non-profit, right?

  3. Lee April 19, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    Not to be too much of a lit nerd, but Le Père Goriot by Balzac is fantastic (and you get to say Balzac a lot).

  4. pithypants April 19, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    Excellent recommendation, Lee. I can’t wait to carry a little Balzac around with me!

  5. ryanod June 9, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    I just ran across The Hunger Games the other day and was thinking, “Hmmm…might this be an interesting read…?”

    Now I know!

    • pithypants June 9, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

      Definitely fun teen sci-fi (I’m reading the second in the series now). There is a bit of a romantic story-line imbedded in it that might make guys roll their eyes, but I still wouldn’t go so far as to classify it as a chick-book. I’d be curious to know your take. Reminds me of something we would’ve read and loved in fourth grade.

      • ryanod July 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

        I’ll have to take a look when I get a chance. I’m knee deep in Pride & Prejudice and The War of the Worlds right now. I kind of blew off the classics when I was a kid. Now it’s time to play catch up!

  6. departingdysfunctionjunction July 7, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    What an excellent idea! I hope you don’t mind if I do the same. Like people from my past I hear a book title and think it sounds vaguely familiar, but can’t quite place it…this list idea may be a good source of reference for myself.

    I still have Middlesex waiting for me, not sure why it’s one of those I bought & just left on the shelf.

    I started & never finished (2 times!!) Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. It was a good enough read and I’m not exactly sure why I never finished it…I think I’ve since donated it to GoodWill!

    One book to movie I really loved was Born On the 4th of July. Gritty, well told account of a man’s return from the Vietnam war.

    Congrats on becoming Freshly Pressed…that’s how I found you 🙂

    • pithypants July 11, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

      Thanks for the shout out, and all means, steal-away. Interestingly, “Loving Frank” does a crazy-ass left turn in the last 5% of the book. I was luke warm on it over all, but it left me smacking my head, going “WTF?!” If you don’t already know the outcome, I’d recommend finishing it, just for the pay-off.

  7. thesinglecell September 30, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    I, too, have not finished “Atlas Shrugged” or “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” And I haven’t finished “The Pillars of the Earth,” either, because OMG. We indeed have similar tastes. I shall reference this list often!

  8. thesinglecell September 30, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    Wait You finished the ones I haven’t. Fail.

  9. Jenny October 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    I hated The Road so much. I could never understand its critical acclaim. I thought it was horrible.

    • pithypants November 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

      It actually made me wish the father was a cannibal and would eat his son. It was THAT frustrating.

  10. Kimberly Choquette Pugliano August 30, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Have you actually read Outlander yet? That whole series goes down as my favorite series of books ever. If you haven’t read it yet, just push through the first 60 pages or so until she goes. That is all. And let me know if you love it. And him. You can find me EVERYWHERE.

    • pithypants August 31, 2012 at 6:25 am #

      I started it earlier this summer and got distracted by a string of other books. I need to dig back into it. I keep finding it frustrating that she can’t get back to the circle of rocks to get home… thanks for the push to keep going.


  1. Up in the Old Hotel | The Popdialectic - August 8, 2010

    […] It’s no secret that a lot of my favorite books these days are lent from the shelves of a certain well-read lady in Dupont Circle. I’ve always been someone who doggedly clung to the classics, choosing to […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: