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.


  • An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones (A-)
  • The Witch Elm, by Tanya French (D+)


  • Nine Perfect Strangers, by Liane Moriarty (D+)
  • Braving the Wilderness, by Brené Brown (A)
  • The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, by Robert Dugoni (B)
  • Lily & the Octopus, by Steven Rowley (C-)
  • Come Onshore and We Will Kill & Eat You All, by Christina Thompson (B)


  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue, by Lee Mackenzi (B)
  • The Grown-Up, by Gillian Flynn (C – novella that felt lear early work)
  • Rising Strong, by Brené Brown (A – solid book for coaching clients – good framework for examining the unhelpful stories we tell ourselves)
  • The Wife, by Meg Wolitzer (B – boring but the end made it worth it)
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (B – light and fun)
  • Sourdough, by Robin Sloan


  • A Visit from the Good Squad, by Jennifer Egan (B+ – short stories with connected characters in the music industry over a few decades – yes, please!)
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith (C+ – the first in a series of detective novels by JK Rowling – reminded me of the teen Nancy Drew novels)


  • Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead (C)
  • Clock Dance, by Anne Tyler (C-)
  • Daisy Jones & The Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid (A)
  • The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, by Andrew Sean Greer (C)
  • American Housewife, by Helen Ellis (B)
  • The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides (B)


  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert (B- – coming of age in NYC in the glamorous 50s)
  • The Dispatcher, by John Scalzi (B+ – fun premise for a novella – people who are killed don’t actually die)
  • Small Fry, by Lisa Brennan-Jobs (C – memoir by Steve Jobs troubled/ignored daughter)
  • The Silkworm, by Robert Gilbraith (D – not compelling, too many characters in this publishing world whodunnit)


  • You Think It, I’ll Say it, by Curtis Sittenfeld (B – modern short stories)
  • Mrs. Everything, by Jennifer Weiner (A- two sisters choose different paths in this exploration of female identities)
  • All Fall Down, by Jennifer Weiner (C- – housewife gets addicted to opiates) 


  • American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfield (B) 
  • The Library Book, by Susan Orlean (B)
  • Dumplin, by Julie Murphy (B)
  • Allegedly. by Tiffany Jackson (C)
  • Sisterland, by Curtis Sittenfield (C)
  • The Night Tiger, by Yangsze Choo (B-) 
  • The Cactus, by Sarah Haywood (C)


  • The Overstory, by Richard Powers (B)
  • The Silent Sister, by Dianne Chamberlain (C)
  • The Most Dangerous Place on Earth, by Lindsey Lee Johnson (B+)
  • Water Street, by Patricia Reilly Giff (D)


  • Elevation, by Stephen King (C)
  • Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan (C)
  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, by Hank Green (B+ – fun sci-fi book about an alien statue)
  • The Last Equation of Isaac Severy, by Nova Jacobs (B – fun mystery set around a “too smart for their own good” family)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (A – reread it for the first time since the 90s – as relevant and gripping as I initially found it)
  • Social Creature, by Tara Burton (D – terrible decisions abound, including the concealment of one character’s death – no thanks!)
  • Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell (B – YA book of two misfits who find each other)


  • The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood (A – solid sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale)
  • The Flight Attendant, by Chris Bohjalian (D – thriller with an unreliable narrator)
  • Necessary Lies, by Diane Chamberlain (B- – eugenics in NC in the 1960s)
  • On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas (B – high school rapper confronts big issues)
  • The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett (A – so well written)
  • Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert (B – if you need to be inspired)

Currently Reading

  • We Set the Dark on Fire, by Tehlor Mejia
  • Ghost Boys, by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  • Scaling Leadership, by Bob Anderson
  • The Last Days of Night, by Graham Moore
  • The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal

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.


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