Year 17, Book 75

75. The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

This is a uniquely written and based on other reviews very polarizing book. The main story is actually fictional within the book itself. It’s the novel that the author character Hannah is writing. You never hear anything from Hannah herself, but at the end of each chapter there is are letters written to her from another writer she enlisted to help read her book and give her advice on making sure she’s using American English as oppose to Australian as well as tips on various settings in Boston where the story takes place. The book she is writing is a murder mystery with four characters meeting in the Boston Public Library right before a murder took place. I thought it was an interesting premise for a book, and I enjoyed reading it. I did find the last line of the book to be rather annoying though and not nearly as clever as the author thought it was. There isn’t enough context to fully understand it. I think I might have figured out what’s it’s supposed to mean, but the fact that I’m not 100% sure and based on other reviews most people don’t understand it at all means that the author failed at her task in including it. I give the book a 7 out of 10.

Year 17, Book 74

74. Fly Girl: A Memoir by Ann Hood

Fly Girl is a memoir by Ann Hood about her time as a flight attendant for TWA in the 70s and 80s. She details the grueling process of trying to get hired and then going through training. Many of the requirements for the job at the time were extremely sexist including limits on weight and the inability to work if you were married or had kids. She has a lot of interesting stories to tell from her time working as a flight attendant right before airlines were deregulated and the flight industry changed completely. The main thing I took away from this book was how crazy of an experience flying was back then that it is today. First class passengers on TWA were literally served chateaubriand during the flight. Now you’re lucky if you get a bag of pretzels. An entertaining memoir. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 17, Book 73

73. The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Although the protagonist, Esme, is fictional she is set amongst real people who worked to create the Oxford English Dictionary. With her mother having died in childbirth, Esme grows up spending her days in the Scriptorium with her father working on the dictionary. She becomes obsessed with words herself and as she grows begins to collect words that are discarded from the dictionary and eventually as an adult collects more words on her own that aren’t considered fit to print and creates the Dictionary of Lost Words. I wasn’t very familiar with the process of how the OED was created, so it was a good look into that world while examining how decisions are made about what is important based on who has the power to make the decisions. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Year 17, Book 72

72. Little Book Shop of Murder by Maggie Blackburn

This was not a good book. The main character Summer is highly unlikeable in a way that I don’t think the author intended. She is a super snobby Shakespeare professor who seems to think that Shakespeare and perhaps some other classic literature is the only thing worth reading. She looks down on everyone who patronizes her mother’s book shop to find beach reads, you know cause they’re at the beach. After her mother’s death she immediately decides her mother must have been murdered with absolutely no reason to think that other than the fact that her mother seemed healthy before it happened. She doesn’t even wait for the autopsy and cause of death to decide that it must have been murder. It was really ridiculous, and the reveal of the killer seemed like the author didn’t know how to end the book or decide who was the murderer so she just picked a random character and gave them a random reason. I don’t read many cozy mysteries, but I have to imagine there are better ones than this. I give it a 4 out of 10.

Year 17, Book 71

71. I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai

As a teenager Bodie attended a boarding school on a scholarship. Now as an adult who is a film professor and famous podcast host she has returned to the school to teach a two week winter course. Returning brings up memories of her classmate and one time roommate who was murdered during their senior year. Bodie has started to suspect that the man who was imprisoned for her murder may not have actually been the one to do it. Now she has swayed students in her class to look into it further as part of their class project. Overall I don’t think I loved the plot of the book, but I did think it had some interesting things to say about things like true crime podcasts, the criminal justice system, and cancel culture. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 17, Book 70

70. Margaret and Mystery of the Missing Body by Megan Milks

This book was trying to do too many things. It was like four genres shoved into one book in a way that I did not think particularly worked. I started off as sort of a take off on kid’s serial books like Nancy Drew and the Babysitters Club. I was into that part of the book, but then it switched to a take off on Girl, Interrupted followed by something I don’t even know how to categorize where characters literally get stuck inside a digestive system, and then ending with an essay. In addition parts of the story were just dropped when genres were switched. I kept expecting the story to circle back to the characters and parts at the beginning, but it never did. Perhaps there might have been a way to get this to work, but as it was it did not work for me at all. If nothing else it did give us a good book club discussion. I give it a 4 out of 10.