Lisa’s bookshelf: read

The Great Gatsby
it was amazing
What with 2020 being a year of upheaval in so many ways, in particular with white, wealthy, patriarchal men trying to run roughshod over the rights of others in the US, I felt drawn to reread The Great Gatsby, a classic about the “Americ…
tagged:
classics
The Good Soldier
really liked it
When it was time to write my senior thesis in college, I picked Ford’s novel, because it was the only one I felt passionate about: I HATED IT!
Anyhow — Now in my 50s, I’ve reached the “age of reflection.” As such, I thought, why not go …
tagged:
classics
Brave New Medicine: A Doctor's Unconventional Path to Healing Her Autoimmune Illness
really liked it
Cynthia Li’s memoir brought back a lot of memories of my own experience with autoimmune disease and reminded me of when I wrote my memoir about being on dialysis. Dialysis: a Memoir.

She writes in a very relatable and engaging style, an…

tagged:
health
The Dutch House
it was ok
I’ve read Patchett’s Bel Canto and State of Wonder in addition to now having finished the Dutch House. To be honest, I would not have picked out this book to read based on its description, but my book club wanted to read it, so I did. Pa…
tagged:
bookclub
Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape
really liked it
Orenstein’s book is the first (that I know of) to openly tackle this topic and actually interview a bunch of teenagers. Let’s just say she “outs” a lot of topics about girls and sex that get willfully or ignorantly shunted aside by socie…
tagged:
local-author
Yoga for Better Sleep: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science--Postures, Breathing Exercises, and Mindfulness Practices for All Ages
really liked it
I found this a surprisingly helpful book in that it consolidates a lot of current sleep research and how the brain works re: sleep processes and goes on to include many useful pointers about good “sleep hygiene” and yoga practices to hel…
tagged:
health
The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains
really liked it
Lustig writes about a fair amount of technical (neurochemistry/biochemistry) topics in a very accessible fashion. I found the early chapters where he spells out the dopamine and serotonin pathways and how they relate to American diet and…
tagged:
non-fiction
In the Woods
really liked it
Very well written – I found the language a joy to read, especially for the category of fiction this book falls into. Unlike other reviewers, I found the unreliable narrator quite fun and interesting to read, though he is one unlikable gu…
tagged:
fun-books
Possession
really liked it
If you don’t like highfalutin Victorian poetry or a bunch of scholars in pursuit of a possible connection between two Victorian poets, then STEER CLEAR!

Also, be aware that this book was published in 1990. It shows its age relevant to …

Orphan Train
it was ok
Too much like much of the other “women’s fiction” I’ve read lately — bordering on sentimental. It also bothers me as an aspiring author myself that it felt like Kline planned the whole thing out as a book pitch, with appropriately catch…
Sirens Of Titan
really liked it
My stepdad always talks about Salo and the Tralfalmadorians, so I revisited this book, which I haven’t read since high school (in the 80s). Amazing how after all these years, Vonnegut’s tale still holds truths — about religion, the reas…
tagged:
classics
The Nightingale
really liked it
I read this during the November 2016 election. Because of that, the book took on a peculiarly strong and disturbing resonance with regard to the rise of fascism and how people can excuse and explain away behavior leading to terrible cons…
Finding Clarity
it was amazing
This romantic thriller takes the reader on a fun, fast romp through the wilds of Humboldt County, California. An undercover cop on assignment to bust a drug kingpin and a fiery woman hell bent on rescuing her sister from a marijuana cult…
tagged:
fun-books
Tinkers
liked it
I liked the setting in New England and the slightly surreal tale Tinkers tells – moving in and out of different people’s consciousnesses. The book definitely took me to a different place and time with a language that was beautiful and el…
tagged:
bookclub
The Guest Room
liked it
“Richard Chapman presumed there would be a stripper at his brother Philip’s bachelor party. Perhaps if he actually thought about it, he might even have expected two. Sure, in sitcoms the stripper always arrived alone, but he knew that in…
Outlander
it was ok
tagged:
fun-books
God Help the Child
liked it
tagged:
bookclub
The Bone Clocks
liked it
David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks is a buffet of his wonderful writing style and long-twisted plot structuring.

For me, the high point came in the battle between the Anchorites and the Horologists and how Mitchell uses language to descri…

Where'd You Go, Bernadette
liked it
Fun summer read — lots of witty references and funny scenarios — not my usual cup of tea, but several friends had recommended it. The story told through emails, letters, texts, and only occasional narrative from the 8th grader, Bee, wh…
Bel Canto
liked it
Several of my writer friends had recommended I read Bel Canto. I enjoyed Patchett’s beautiful and well-written story. This is definitely a character study as much as anything, since the plot can be summarily summarized. I couldn’t help r…
The Water Knife
liked it
tagged:
bookclub
The Secret Chord
it was ok
Geraldine Brooks writes erudite and wonderfully crafted literature — I really enjoyed her Caleb’s Crossing. She writes historical fiction that is a clear step above a lot of the stuff out there, both in terms of its research and the mas…
tagged:
bookclub
Big Little Lies
it was amazing
tagged:
bookclub
The Goldfinch
really liked it
I had a lot of fun reading this and definitely recommend… but it needed some serious editing/cutting. I could tell that Tartt had a little too much fun writing it and didn’t want to hack back any of its gangliness
🙂
tagged:
bookclub
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
it was amazing
This book was one our bookclub assigned us to read (I wouldn’t have chosen it, personally). How could a book about mass extinction not be depressing? The subject matter is definitely that, but I found Kolbert’s style of wry writing to be…
tagged:
bookclub
Life of Pi
liked it
My dad read this book and raved about it, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. Of course I just read a few reviews before sitting down now to write my own, and I have to confess that many others have expressed aspects of what I think about …
Angle of Repose
really liked it
Literally thousands of other people have reviewed Stegner’s novel, so I’m going to stay away from plot summary.
I decided to read this book because Stegner was an author local to where I’m currently living and also because a friend of m…
tagged:
local-author
The Swimming Pool
really liked it
I was cruising the fiction titles at the local library and came across this book. I started reading it without any real assumptions except that I liked the cover. As I started reading, I was impressed with the author’s writing style. I’v…
Fahrenheit 451
Given the current political climate and world in which I’m living, I find this book still holds relevancy re: the idea of critical thinking and of questioning the status quo. Below is a quote that summarizes the maxim against which Bradb…
Fahrenheit 451
really liked it
After reading Dave Eggers’ The Circle, I found myself drawn to reading this book, which so many people have cited to me over the years. Bradbury may not be a “great” writer in the “literary” tradition (whatever pretentious thing that mea…
tagged:
classics
The Circle
liked it
Dave Eggers’ thriller, a futuristic vision of social media and surveillance gone too far, with the Circle representing some kind of extreme amalgamation of Facebook and Google. As I read it, I couldn’t help thinking of the Matrix movie, …
tagged:
bookclub
Following Polly
really liked it
Lots of other folks on GR have written plot summaries of the book. It’s a light, fun, fast read. I enjoyed it. Nuf said!
tagged:
fun-books
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
it was ok
I read this memoir, excited to encounter another woman’s tale of walking the Sierras in her early 20s, as I did in the early 90s. But what a missed opportunity! Strayed writes of the “wilds” of the Sierras, but I can only use quotation m…
tagged:
memoir
The Alchemist
liked it
I enjoyed this quick read. Definitely a fable with a strong message about choosing your own destiny: “As he mused about these things (loss of his sheep/sword/$), he realized that he had to chose between thinking of himself as the poor vi…
tagged:
bookclub
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
really liked it
An American Classic, no question about it. We recently watched Ken Burns’ documentary of Mark Twain. The background gave me some more insight into Twain’s writing Huck Finn. Definitely feels like a man reminiscing about an earlier time, …
tagged:
kids-lit
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
it was amazing
Carson McCullers was only 23 when this book was published, her first novel. As I read it, I kept reminding myself that her novel predates WWII, the Holocaust, and the Civil Rights Movement. Her grasp of race relations and of poverty of t…
tagged:
classics
Dialysis: a Memoir
it was amazing
Imagine being 32, healthy, athletic, and then abruptly being diagnosed with kidney failure. How would the diagnosis affect you? How would you integrate your experience of being on dialysis with the rest of your life (your family, your jo…
A Circle of Wives
it was ok
My writers group recommended this book as a study in multiple POVs and also because it’s set in Silicon Valley. It was a quick read, and I did enjoy the switching POVs and interesting spin on the story of a murdered polygamist man. Maybe…
tagged:
local-author
A Tale for the Time Being
it was amazing
This book was recommended for my bookclub, since it’s making the publicity rounds in the media. Despite its easily accessible language, Ozeki’s book tackles a range of esoteric and deeply philosophical themes related to time and temporal…
tagged:
bookclub
The Whispering Knights
liked it
We read this aloud to our 9 year old, who enjoyed it – a taste of British countryside and some English mythology thrown in. With so much new juvenile fiction available these days, the Whispering Knights moved kind of slowly for her. She’…
tagged:
kids-lit
Beloved
it was amazing
tagged:
classics
Heidi
really liked it
A classic of its time, my husband didn’t like all the God stuff, what with his being an atheist. I tried to explain that through the lens of the author writing during the religious revivalism of the mid 1800s, she linked her love and app…
tagged:
kids-lit
Death By Ice Cream
it was amazing
Death By Ice Cream is a cozy mystery set on Pimsawallops Island, one of the many picturesque islands that make up the Puget Sound in Washington State. I’ve always imagined life on the islands as peaceful and bucolic, being a mainlander f…
tagged:
fun-books and kids-lit
The Jungle Book
really liked it
My dad read this to me aloud when I was a kid. It’s so very interesting to read it aloud now to my daughter. She enjoyed the story, whereas I was interested in imagining the India of Kipling’s imagination and lived experience over a hund…
tagged:
kids-lit
Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much
really liked it
I have to confess I read some other reviews before reading Scarcity – and writing this brief review. It’s true that much of what the authors say on the face of it sounds self-evident, but if you follow through their analysis and the impl…
tagged:
non-fiction
Joseph Anton: A Memoir
really liked it
Loved so much of this, but boy could Salman do a little editing. I know long books are the trend these days, but wow, at 634pp–and a memoir only spanning 12 yrs of his life–wow. He covers a lot of ground, autobiographical, political, c…
tagged:
bookclub
Return to Skunk Corners
it was amazing
This is the next year the Ninja Librarian spends in Skunk Corners and again is narrated by the hilarious and interesting first person narrator “Big Al”. I’ve been reading the complete series aloud to my 9 yr old daughter who’s really enj…
tagged:
kids-lit
The Offering
it was amazing
A fun, quick read – a light take on the occult, the Illuminati and the romantic suspense genre. (I wrote the book, so take my word for it!)
tagged:
bookclub and fun-books
The Man in My Basement
really liked it
Strange and fascinating book – well written and genre-defying.

On the one hand, was Mosley providing some kind of allegorical tale, exploring issues of evil and writing/righting the wrongs committed by whites/slavers on blacks/slaves – …

The Tiger's Wife
really liked it
I had trouble at first getting into the Tiger’s Wife, until I began to get that Obreht is after a bigger quarry/prey than any one of the individual character’s personal stories or the fables. Finally, the Tiger’s Wife became for me a tal…
The Ninja Librarian
it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading the Ninja Librarian – a delightful romp through an imaginary town, set in the early 20th century foothills of the California Sierra foothills. Rather than a novel, this is more a collection of tales about a myste…
tagged:
kids-lit
Beautiful Sacrifice
liked it
Beautiful Sacrifice (2012) Elizabeth Lowell

Romantic suspense novel featuring Lina, a mestiza whose dad Philip is an archeologist obsessed with Maya and Yucatec culture and whose mom Celia is part of a lineage stretching back to the ori…

tagged:
fun-books
The Time Traveler's Wife
it was ok
Like other reviewers, the book started with a great premise, and I was up for the first 100 pages or so, but then I began skimming and skipping sections, and ultimately jumped to the end. I was hoping for some redemption, but (I won’t of…
Gilead
really liked it
tagged:
bookclub
The Glass Castle
liked it
tagged:
bookclub
T is for Trespass
really liked it
I’ve read a fair number of Sue Grafton mysteries. Many, I have to confess, kind of blur together in my head as far as their plots and subject matter. I rate this one higher than a lot of them, because it really stuck with me — the creep…
tagged:
fun-books




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