The ‘While I Was Away’ Book Haul

Though I managed to restrain myself these past six months, thanks to my ‘Read Five Before I Buy’ program, I did go out and get some books. What’s best though is I didn’t pay full price for a single one. They were either gifts, found at thrift shops, or purchased at the annual Jeffco Library Used Book Sale. I’m gonna go ahead and pat myself on the back for that.


As you can see by the picture above, I got another Penguin Drop Caps book. I’m officially obsessed. This time it’s “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Luis Zafron. It’s translated and I hear it’s just wonderful, especially if you love books. It’s also on my 100 Books list and I hope to get to it soon.

(The rest are from top to bottom)

“Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt– I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet! I’m probably the last English speaking person to do so.

“Snowdrops” by A.D. Miller– It’s a book about Russia (!) that I’ve had my eye on for a while.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot – My dad read this and passed it on to me, telling me I could keep it if I wanted.

“The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher” by Hilary Mantel– My lovely friend Kristina got her hands on this ARC at Amazon HQ in Seattle. In all her kindness, she gave it to me. She’s a peach.

“Little Bee” by Chris Cleave – It was $1 at Goodwill.

“The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell  – I’ve heard nothing but good things about this! I also got it at Goodwill for that magical price of $1.

“A Tale For The Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki– A book given to me by my friend Lyndsay when she was cleaning out her own collection.

The books in this picture are from the library sale, except that top one, ‘Russia,’ that I got with Amazon credit. Again, from top to bottom…

“Russia: A 1000-Year Chronicle of the Wild East” by Martin Sixsmith– My fascination with Russian history continues…

“The Death of Vishnu” by Manil Suri– I know nothing about this, but I love literature written about India or Indian people.

“Out Stealing Horses” by Per Petterson– My writers group raves about this book. Time to see what’s up.

“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe – I read this in high school and wanted my own copy

“Atonement” by Iwan McCain– I listened to this last year on audiobook and loved it. I just had to add it to my library.

“Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston– Another book I read in high school that I need to own because in hindsight it was a really wonderful book.

“The Crimson Petal and the White” by Michel Faber– People at BookRiot love this. I trust their judgement so I picked it up, despite it’s heft.

“Zone One” by Colson Whitehead- Honestly, I picked it up just based on the premise. It sounds like it will be a good break from reading more “serious” stuff.

“Tracks” by Louise Erdrich– I loved ‘The Round House’ and I want to read more by her.

“The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver– I’ve tried to start this many times, but always put it down after twenty-pages. It’s a beloved modern classic and I’m determined to finish it!

Well, looks like I have some reading to do! Let me know in the comments if you are reading something you love or tweet me: @EmHof. Until next time, I’m out.


Unpopular Opinion Time #2: Books I Liked that Everyone Else Hated

You know that feeling when you read a book and your friends also read it an everyone loves it? It’s a pretty special thing. On the other hand, reading a book that you love and finding out no one else liked it? It can be a little crushing, especially to the wishy-washy people out there. But no more! I am proud that I read these books and I have no qualms saying I liked them. It’s further proof that you really can’t say if you’ll like a book or not until you read it. I know, the most obvious thing in the world, but it bears repeating.
“The Casual Vacancy” by JK Rowling
Not many people liked this beast of a novel. I had multiple friends who couldn’t finish it and was famously Mashiko Kakutani’d (that’s the industry term for the famous NYT book critic giving it a scathing review). I, on the other hand, really really liked it.
The book is far from perfect and I actually don’t think I would have enjoyed it if I hadn’t listened to parts of it on audiobook. That made the experience worthwhile and the book was dark and Dickensian, which I appreciated. And that ending! I won’t spoil it but it was gut-wrenching. Rowling still proves she’s not afraid to take her characters to hell and back (and leave a few of them there, too).
“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart
There was lots of early buzz surrounding this book and then when it finally dropped many said they were disappointed that it didn’t live up to the hype. Because of this, I waited a while to read it and my friend Lyndsay had a copy she was willing to let me borrow. She loathed it, and I trust her opinion. Still, I went in with no expectations.
I ultimately really liked it. I liked the plot twist at the end, I loved the ghostly writing, and I thought the perfect amount of hints were given. I liked the main character and her love interest a lot and I thought her motivations were dark, yet understandable. It’s a layered book, especially when you consider the ending and E. Lockhart pulls it off. I’m definitely in the minority for liking it.

How about the rest of you? Which books did you like that everyone else seemed to hate? Tell me in the comments below or tweet me: @EmHof. Until next time, I’m out.

Books I Liked While I Was On My “Break”

Just because I was on a blogging hiatus doesn’t mean I wasn’t reading. That would be truly concerning. Though I didn’t read at my normal volume, I did read some great books. So far nothing has blown me away so far this year, but there’s still time and the books listed below were well worth the read.

“The Round House” by Louise Erdrich

I really enjoyed this tale of a boy who seeks to find his mother’s attacker on an Indian reservation. The politics that involve the Round House was fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed Erdrich’s prose. I will definitely be reading more by her.

“The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton

A ghostly and gripping historical fiction thriller about a girl who marries a wealthy Dutch businessmen only to find that he and his household are holding a whole mess of secrets.

“Brain on Fire” by Susannah Cahalan

This memoir about a woman whose whole life is turned upside down by a mysterious illness is not for the faint of heart or any of the hypochondriacs in your life. Cahalan takes you on her crazy journey without getting too much into the science of her illness.

“Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng

For a debut novel, this was excellent. The golden child of a biracial couple dies, and Ng tells their story starting with the parents origins and moves to their horrible present day. I loved the style and that it still felt like a mystery even though we don’t get into the detective side of things. Ng’s prose was made me feel like I was floating while I devoured this book. It’s my favorite of the year thus far.

“Escape From Camp 14” by Blaine Harden

My boyfriend lent me this fast paced and fascinating account of the only known escapee of a North Korean work camp. It brings up interesting issues of morality and assimilation to western culture.

“White Teeth” by Zadie Smith

By far my favorite post-modern novel, Smith pulls back the curtain on human nature and in her interwoven tale of two lower middle-class London families.

What did the rest of you read these past sixth months? Anything I should add to my TBR pronto? Let me know in the comments or tweet me: @EmHof.