It turns out that once I make an effort to spend more time reading, it’s down the rabbit hole from there. I also signed up for Goodreads, and set a goal of reading 100 books this year, so that’s my new reading goal. It averages to about 2 books a week, and I’m ahead of schedule right now.
When I signed up for Goodreads, I added all the books I can think of that I’ve already read, and made a short list of ‘to-read’ books. Listing out all those books made me remember a lot of books that I wanted to reread. As a result, a lot of the books I’ve read this year have been rereads (Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH, the Boston Jane series, Catch-22, etc.), but I have read several new books that I really enjoyed.
My favorites so far this year:
1. Best Children’s Book: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Short plot summary:
Sophie Hatter is a timid girl, the oldest of three sisters. She’s working in the hat shop one day when the Wicked Witch of the Waste comes and turns her into an old woman. Being old makes Sophie forget to be timid. She fully embraces it, turning bold, cranky, and bossy (in a good way).
She sets off to seek her fortune, and meets up with the infamous Wizard Howl & his companions. He’s spoiled, cowardly, and incredibly vain, and he lives in a moving castle that turns out to be much more than meets the eye. Adventures naturally ensue, magic abounds, and somehow it all turns out right in the end.
How have I never heard of this book before? Thankfully my friend Amanda recommended it to me, because it’s adorable. I checked it out through the library audiobook app, and I’ve actually listened to it twice now. I bought a hard copy and had Steve read it, and he also enjoyed it, and now it’s loaned to a friend.
To quote Meg Ryan’s character from You’ve Got Mail: Read it. I know you’ll love it!
2. Best Science Fiction: The Martian by Andy Weir
Short plot summary:
A storm on Mars forces a team of astronauts into emergency evacuation. While heading to their spacecraft, Mark Watney is struck by debris and lost in the dust. His team presumes he’s dead and they leave without him.
He wakes up a short while later to find himself injured and alone, with no way to communicate with his team or Earth. On top of that, he’ll run out of food and supplies long before another crew could be sent to save him. Facing impossible odds on a very unfriendly planet, Mark Watney surmounts obstacle after obstacle in the fight to survive.
Steve recommended this book to me, and I’m very glad I read it. It has a lot of scientific & technical language, but still easy to understand and full of innovative problem-solving.
If you’ve seen Apollo 13, you might remember the scene where they dump out a bunch of odds and ends on a table and ask the Earth-bound NASA guys to use only those items to make a round peg fit into a square hole. This entire book is like that, in a good way.
The film based on the book is coming out in October, so go read it before then.
3. Best Non-Ficiton: Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss
This book was eye-opening and fascinating. Michael Moss, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, delves deep into the processed food industry – where it all began, what makes it tick, and how it affects our health.
Told in a narrative form following the careers of certain companies, products, and people (marketers, scientists, businessmen), it’s easy to follow along as he takes the reader back to the origins of the processed food industry and unfolds it up to the present day. This book is full of fascinating trivia and startling facts about how the American public interacts with companies like Kraft, Coca-Cola, Nestle, and General Foods. Moss also covers the role of the US government in regulating the processed food industry. After reading this book, you won’t ever look at grocery store aisles and nutrition labels the same way.
What about you guys, have you read any good books this year? Let me know in the comments, I’m always looking for suggestions!