Year 10, Book 70

70. The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

I adore Allende’s early works and count some of them among my favorite books. Sadly I haven’t enjoyed many of her recent works nearly as much, so I was delighted that I actually really liked this book. As a young girl Alma is sent by her parents away from Poland as the Nazis take over to live with her aunt and uncle in San Francisco. There she meets Ichimei, the Japanese son of their gardener. They embark on a secret love affair that lasts for decades. Now at the end of her life Alma befriends Irina, a young woman working at the nursing home where she lives, and they develop a friendship that allows them both to confront their troubled pasts. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 10, Book 69

69. The Martian by Andy Weir

I had heard a lot of good things about this book and with the movie coming out I finally decided to read it. I did in fact see the movie and thought they did a pretty good of adapting the book for a change. The story revolves around astronaut Mark Watney who gets stranded on Mars after a freak accident leaves the rest of his crew to abandon him after thinking he’s dead. Once NASA realizes that he’s still alive it’s the story of how it tries to stay alive until they can rescue him as well as their attempts to figure out how to do so before he runs out of food. The book has a lot of science in it, but it’s written in such a way that it doesn’t bog the story down. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 10, Book 68

68. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlln Olympics by Daniel James Brown

One of my book clubs always reads the selection for the One Maryland, One Book project. This book was this year’s selection. That book club is going through a bit of a difficult time, so I’m actually the only one who wound up reading it. I’m very glad I did though because it’s an excellent book. It’s a great mix of the history of rowing, information on the techniques involved, and what was going on in Germany and Europe that made the 1936 Olympics such a big deal historically. This is all balanced out with the more personal stories of the boys on the University of Washington team and their coach. Although you do get some background on a number of the boys on the team the story particularly focuses on Joe Rantz who had an incredibly hard life. I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Laura Hillenbrand’s books Seabiscuit or Unbroken. I give it a 9 out of 10.

Year 10, Books 66 and 67

66. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: New Rules (Season 10, 1-5)

67. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I Wish (Season 10, 6-10)

I got a little bored with some of the stuff that was going on at the end of season 9, and I didn’t really know if I was going to keep reading the Buffy comics. My husband gave me some money he had from our local bookstore to buy some so I bought the first two volumes of season 10 and am happy to say that so far I’m enjoying it much more than I was at certain points last season. We’ll see how thing progress from here.

Year 10, Book 65

65. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Audie Cornish recommended this book on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast and the way she described it really made me want to read it. Since then it’s been nominated for a number of awards. In any case I’m very glad I read it. Although the book is described as the story of four college classmates who move to New York together and whose lives we follow over decades, it’s really more so the story of Willem and Jude. You get significant parts of their stories and the book mainly told from their perspectives. You get a much less significant look into JB’s life, and even less so of Malcolm to the point where I almost wondered why he even existed as a character. Portions of the story are also told from the perspective of Jude’s adopted father.

For the most part the entire story is centered around Jude and learning his story. The rest of the characters all somewhat circle around him. At times it was difficult to believe that so many people would devote so much of their lives to someone who did nothing but try and push them away. Every time I felt like the story was losing me a little bit though it would pull me back in. Overall it’s a beautiful book and I wasn’t ready for it to end even after the 800+ pages. I give it a 9 out of 10.

Year 10, Book 64

64. Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont

The description of this book sounded really interesting to me and even the first part of it where Deb’s kids find the box of letters left for her by her husband Jack’s mistress had a promising start. However the book fell apart pretty quickly for me. I didn’t care for any of the characters and the plot just really never went anywhere that I cared about. I give it a 3 out of 10.

Year 10, Book 63

63. Strange Girl by Christopher Pike

I don’t even remember enough about this book to properly review it. I know I didn’t think it was that great hence probably not really remembering anything about it. I give it a 3 out of 10.

Year 10, Book 62

62. Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age by Cory Doctorow

My husband got a signed copy of this book for me after seeing Cory Doctorow at DefCon. It’s a quick read in which Doctorow examines how the rise of the internet has affected creators. As a result he claims that current copyright laws do not adequately address the way information and works are shared. I thought it was an enjoyable read, although having him heard him speak before and read his commentary on this topic before this book didn’t really provide me with any new information. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 10, Book 61

61. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

As is generally the case with Margaret Atwood’s books, The Heart Goes last is set in some dystopian future. Stan and Charmaine who are currently living in their car see an ad for a social experiment called Consilience that will provide them with a place to live for free. They are to share a home where every other month they live in the house and work in a prison and the other months they become the prisoners. They both become obsessed in some way with the couple who live in their house on their off months.

I’m generally on and off with Margaret Atwood’s books. Some of them I have loved and others I haven’t much cared for. This one falls in the latter camp. I thought the set up of the story had a lot of holes in it, and it just never really gripped me. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 10, Book 60

60. The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey Into Manhood by Kevin Powell

This book is a memoir written by Kevin Powell who you may remember from the first season of the Real World. Although he does touch on that period in his life it’s a very small portion of the book, which covers his entire life starting in childhood. He grew up the son of a single mother who was often abusive in her discipline. He also grew up in poverty something that lasted into his adulthood. Despite the challenges of his childhood he was the first person in his family to attend college, but he struggled with extreme anger that colored his life and was something he had to learn to deal with in order to move forward. If you like these sorts of memoirs this is a decent one. I give it 7 out of 10.