91. When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perry
A Southern girl in the big city, Katie thinks she is living the New York dream life with her job as a high powered lawyer and a dashing fiance, until he dumps her for one of her friends. On a whim she decides to take a woman she meets at work up on her offer for a drink. I’m not generally a romance person partly because I find the issues keeping people apart to be fairly contrived, but in this case it made sense so it wasn’t a bad read. It fit the bill of something generally light to read, which is what I was looking for. I give it a 5 out of 10.
90. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
I remember seeing this movie back in the 90s, but I had never read the book until my book club decided to read it. I don’t remember much about the movie, but now having read the book I honestly can’t imagine how anyone read it and thought you know this would make a good movie. Nothing really happens in the book for the most part. It’s told from the perspective of a butler in the 1950s in England when the old school butler was really dying out and the type of people who even had butlers were completely different than than the landed gentry of yesteryear. He reminisces about his time as a butler while on a journey driving around the country. I give it a 5 out of 10.
89. The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
Greer is a young college freshman when she meets feminist icon Faith Frank. Her hopes of one day going to work for Frank’s feminist magazine after graduation are dashed when the magazine closes on the day she interviews. Luckily she made an impression on Frank and eventually gets offered a position working in a new foundation set up by Frank and a rich funder. In addition to being told in part by the perspectives of Greer and Faith Frank, the book is also partly told by Greer’s boyfriend Cory, whose life is derailed by a family tragedy, and Greer’s best friend Zee. I enjoyed this at the beginning, but by the end I felt like it went on a little too long and I was ready for it to be over. I give it a 6 out of 10.
88. Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith
I enjoyed the first section of this book in which the essays are about current events and things that are happening the world. I didn’t so much care for the rest of the book in which Smith writes critical essays about books, music, movies, and more. I suspect part of my issue with that is those is that I had not read or watched the majority of the things she was writing about, so I didn’t have much connection with what she was saying. I give it a 4 out of 10.
87. Annhilation by Jeff Vandermeer
This is the first book in a trilogy about a team of people who are sent to explore a mysterious area that has developed on the planet referred to as Area X. The characters are only ever referred to as their occupation such as anthropologist, psychologist, surveyor, and the biologist who is telling the story.
I really did not care for this book at all. It’s fairly short and the only reason I finished reading it was because it was for one of my book clubs. I found it to be extremely boring. I definitely will not be reading the other two books in the trilogy. I give it a 3 out of 10.
86. Lincoln at the Bardo by George Saunders
In his Man Booker Prize winning first novel George Saunders creates a unique story surrounding the death of President Lincoln’s son Willie. He grafts together excerpts from historical sources to form the narrative of what is happening historically in the book. The fictional parts of the story surround Willie being stuck in a sort of limbo and being unwilling to let go of this world and his father while a band of unlikely ghosts who themselves are stuck in this world being unwilling for various reasons to move onto the next fight to help his spirit move on before it’s too late. Those parts too are written in short excerpts from each character almost in a play-like manner to mirror the historical excerpts. I’m not sure I really liked this book that much, but I’m not sorry that I read it. It’s one of the most inventive pieces of writing I have ever read. I give it a 6 out of 10.
85. White Houses by Amy Bloom
This is a book of historical fiction about the relationship between reporter Lorena “Hick” Hicock and Eleanor Roosevelt. It is told from Hick’s point of view and covers her life story beginning in her childhood through her adulthood, which based on this book was significantly touched by Eleanor Roosevelt. I always find it a weird kind of tension to read historical novels like this where the characters are based on real people. I always wonder how much of what I’m reading is true and how much the author has taken liberties with. At any rate, I found this an enjoyable book to read and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction. I give it a 7 out of 10.
84. The God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch
A play written by a Polish-Jewish playwright. After a performance in the United States in 1923 the entire cast was arrested for indecency. I wanted to read it because the recent Broadway play Indecent is based on that story. I failed to read it prior to seeing the show, which I wish I had. I was still able to follow the story, but still wish I had knowledge of the original play going in. The broadcast a recording of Indecent on PBS earlier this fall, which I have saved on my DVR to rewatch now that I’ve read the play. It is much more scandalous than I would have expected from the time.
83. Behind the Song by K. M. Walton
A series of short stories and essays written by young adult authors and inspired by songs they love or at least have very specific attachments to. Mostly I really enjoyed the sort of memoirish essays in which the authors talked about what certain songs meant to them at certain points in their lives. The short stories were a lot more hit and miss for me. I give it a 6 out of 10.
82. True Gentlemen: The Broken Pledge of America’s Fraternities by John Hechinger
Hechinger looks at fraternity culture and the problems that are increasingly coming to light by doing a deep dive with Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapters at various universities across the country. It’s maddening and again makes me say that people are garbage. The members and alumni still always seem to claim that they are better people because of their fraternity experiences, but reading this one seems hard pressed to see how. I give it an 8 out of 10.