Reading List, October 2017: My Last (And Next) Five Books

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost to the end of October, which means we’re almost to the end of the year. The last few months have flown by, and I expect the next couple will go even faster. That means we’re in a race against time, to fit in as much of 2017 as possible before the calendar turns over.

But 2017 has been an awful year and we just want to get it over with ASAP, you say? Well, there’s some truth to that, but remember, we’ll never get 2017 back again, so we might as well cram in as much positive stuff as possible to counteract the dominant national negativity of the year.

In my case, the waning year means I’m sprinting to reach my reading goal, which is—as Shoulblog readers can no doubt wearily recite by now—to read 25 books written by women this year. I’m actually doing pretty well, using a strategy of finding as many short, easy-to-read books as I can (without dipping into the realm of romance novels, of course), balanced with enough quality reads to keep it interesting.

Here are the last five books I’ve read, ordered oldest to most recent:

Brother Of The More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido

This was a decent book, I guess. I didn’t dislike it, but it wasn’t something that will make me want to search out other books by the same author. It’s one that I’d bought on sale through some e-books website years ago, and it had been hanging around in my Kindle library long enough that I finally decided to read it, particularly since it met the “short,” “easy to read” and “written by a woman” criteria.

A college student signs on to work for a literature professor, and her life eventually gets intertwined with his family’s. Lots of literary references throughout—many more than I caught, probably.

Giant Of The Senate by Al Franken

I broke the streak here: this was my first book of 2017 not written by a woman. I got this one for my birthday and just had to jump right in. I’d read a couple of books by Franken back in the ‘80s or ‘90s when he was primarily known as a comedian. Now, of course, he’s a senator, although the comedy part definitely comes across in this book. His shtick, throughout the book, is that he has to suppress his comedic tendencies—the urge to tell a joke—as a senator, but that he’s allowing himself, no doubt against the wishes of his staff, to express them in the book.

If you like politics—particularly the crazy politics of 2016–2017—I highly recommend this book for you. Even if your political preferences lie to the right of Franken’s, I think you’ll enjoy it—well, unless they’re so far to the right that you’re a fan of Ted Cruz. Then you might not like it so much—I’m sure Ted himself wouldn’t. But otherwise, yeah, give it a try.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

As someone who gets paid to worry about the proper placement of commas, I really enjoyed this book. You may not, unless you’re something of a grammar nerd like I am. This is a smart, funny book about grammar, and specifically about punctuation.

What I found particularly endearing was the Britishness of it. Someone should really teach the English how to speak English, but until then I guess we can delight in the differences, like their use of the term “full stop” when they mean “period.” The difference between British English and American English is a theme that comes up often in the book, actually. Anyway, I gave this one, like Giant Of The Senate above, five stars on Goodreads.

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Yes, earlier in the year, I read a book called The Widow. I kind of liked it and kind of didn’t, as you’ll recall. And so this one is called The Good Widow, which, one would think, should be better than The Widow. (Just like the band Better Than Ezra must have been, well, better than Ezra, only I never knew a band called Ezra, so maybe I’ll never know.)

I guess I did like The Good Widow a little better, although I can still find fault with it. The story is about a woman who learns that her husband—whom she thought was in Kansas for work—died with his mistress in an automobile accident in Maui. The mistress’ fiancé contacts the widow and convinces her to go to Maui with him so, together, they can get some closure about their partners’ deaths. This involves doing all of the things the couple did in Hawaii before their accident.

So, yeah, it’s a little farfetched. It was generally a good read, but I found myself having to suspend disbelief quite a few times.

Happy All The Time by Laurie Colwin

A nice little book, inoffensive, I guess. It was enjoyable reading, but it wasn’t really something that grabbed hold of me.

It did, however, contain a line that I loved. Apropos of nothing, one of the characters was talking about waste haulers, or garbage men, if you will, with whom he was working on a work-efficiency project. One of them said: “You think of us as garbage collectors, but we think of you as garbage producers.” Makes you think, eh?


Ok, that’s the last five. Here’s what’s on my radar for the next five:

The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell

Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat To The Craziest Campaign in American History  by Katie Tur

In The Woods by Tana French

La Rose by Louise Erdrich

Land of Enchantment by Leigh Stein


Previous book lists on Shoulblog:

Reading List, August 2017: My Last (And Next) Five Books

Reading List: My Last (And Next) Five Books, March 2017

Reading List, July 2016: My Last (And Next) Five Books

Reading List: July 2015

Reading List, February 2013—My Last (And Next) Five Books

Reading List, December 2012: My Last (And Next) Five Books

Reading List, May 2012: My Last—And Next—Five Books

Reading List: January 2012

List: My Last—And Next—Five Books


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