2015 in books

book street cat named bobI read 43 books this year, which is a bit more than last year (but still a ways off my all-time 2012 high of 54).

On the whole, most were decent, some were bad, and not very many stood out as exceptional. The best book I read was James Bowen’s “A Street Cat Named Bob“; Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven” was a close second.

So with no further ado, 2015’s list, with comments where warranted and links where recommended:

 

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly : Matt McCarthy
At the Water’s Edge : Sara Gruen (Not very good. I gave it a bad review and the author’s Twitter account retweeted it. Odd.)
I Am Number Four : Pittacus Lore
The Girl On the Train : Paula Hawkins (I think everyone read this last year. I thought it was just okay)
Stolen Innocence : Elissa Wall
The Look of Love : Sarah Jio
Station Eleven : Emily St. John Mandel (It reminded me of The Stand meets The Walking Dead, but with no zombies. I loved the circular lack of resolution.)
A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope On the Streets : James Bowen (This story hits every part of my little Grinchy heart that treasures the way animals and humans can share a bond like no other. The true tale of how James saved Bob, but Bob saved James even more.)
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances : Neil Gaiman (This was a big disappointment for me. If it wasn’t for the Shadow story, it would have been a total loss.)
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride : Cary Elwes and Joe Layden (All sorts of fun stories from the set, including ones about the unforgettable Andre the Giant and the passing of gas.)
Wreckage : Emily Bleeker
The Art Forger : Barbara A. Shapiro
The Beautiful Bureaucrat : Helen Phillips
Hidden : Catherine McKenzie
The Memory Box : Eva Lesko Natiello
Reconstructing Amelia : Kimberly McCreight (Tom, I think you recommended this one to me. It was pretty interesting, and I didn’t figure out what had really happened until the end.)
Red Queen : Victoria Aveyard
The Bridesmaids: True Tales of Love, Envy, Loyalty… and Terrible Dresses : Eimear Lynch
The Winter Witch : Paula Brackston
The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-Wise Cat : James Bowen (See above. I love reading about Bob. There’s a movie in the works!)
The Buried Giant : Kazuo Ishiguro
The Complete Walt Disney World Fun Finds & Hidden Mickeys : Julie & Mike Neal
Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip – Confessions of a Cynical Waiter : Steve Dublanica
Armada : Ernest Cline (Not bad. Just not as good as Ready Player One. But then again, what is?)
Six Months Later : Natalie D. Richards
It Ended Badly: 13 of the Worst Breakups in History : Jennifer Wright
The Good Girl : Mary Kubica
In the Unlikely Event : Judy Blume (This was a great bit of fiction. Pick it up to take with you on vacation, though maybe not via plane.)
We Were Liars : E. Lockhart
The Orchid House : Lucinda Riley
Spending the Holidays With People I Want to Punch In The Throat : Jen Mann (Disappointingly, she doesn’t *really* want to punch any of the people in this book in the throat, so it might as well have been titled “Spending the Holidays With My Family”.)
The Martian : Andy Weir (Read the book. Didn’t bother with the movie.)
The Lowland : Jhumpa Lahiri (Love this author and have read every single thing she’s written. This did not disappoint.)
Helen of Sparta : Amalia Carosella (Sort of the “Mists of Avalon” take on the Trojan War.)
Oh Myyy! – There Goes the Internet : George Takei
The Rest of Us Just Live Here : Patrick Ness (Fun for anyone who’s ever watched Buffy.)
A Discovery of Witches : Deborah Harkness (Okay, so these books are basically The Outlander meets Twilight. I’m not claiming they’re fine literature or anything. But page-tuners. The first one was 800 or 900 pages long and I read it in a week.)
Shadow of Night : Deborah Harkness
The Sandman Overture : Neil Gaiman
First Frost : Sarah Addison Allen
Eleanor : Jason Gurley (advanced reader copy — watch for this one when it comes out in 2016)
Shoeless Joe : W.P. Kinsella
The Good Neighbor : Carol Ann Morris

 

Year in Review – 2015 edition

My fabulous friend Erica​ brought a blast from the past up when she re-found my “year in review” from 2010. I thought I’d take a look again, 5 years later. So with no fanfare and to the delight/boredom of you all — My Year in Review, 2015 version. Some things changed a lot, and others not at all…

20151. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

Went to Disney World. And oh, it was wonderful.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I tried. I focused on being healthier, and stronger. I did my best, but towards the end here, my body’s let me down a little. I’ll do my best again in 2016, and every year after.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

There was that lady on the bus…

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Same bus ride, can you believe it?

5. What countries did you visit?

This one. No others. Not even my beloved Canada.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

I’m still waiting on a teleportation device.

7. What date(s) from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

The older I get, the worse I am with dates. So the answer, to the question as written, is none. But there was this one day in the summer, when Dave and I went to Jones Beach. The water was warm and surprisingly clear, and we played in the waves and had an amazing time. I think I’ll remember what a great day that was for a long time.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finally figuring out where I am. GPS doesn’t help you learn the lay of the land, really, not when you just let it take you from point A to point B. That first year on Long Island, I just did what my phone told me to do. This year, I actually have a sense of direction.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Staying healthy, though I swear through no fault of my own. If there’s a weird eye infection or intestinal inflammation, I apparently felt the need to have it.

10. Did you suffer any illness or injury?

See above. In September I had a joyous bout of abdominal adenitis. I don’t recommend it.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My favorite thing that I bought this year was a Kindle Fire for Dave. I was really excited about getting it for him. Also all of his Christmas presents, which I can’t describe here, obviously.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My niece Rebecca graduated from high school and started college in her chosen field, and I’m incredibly proud of her for her dedication and determination. I wish I’d been half as focused at her age.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Politicians. Reality show celebrities. People who care what reality celebrities think. Parents at Disney World who are too focused on cramming things in and don’t let their poor tired kids take naps. Myself, when I’m tired and in pain and irritable.

14. Where did most of your money go?

FredCo, LLC

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Disney World, tied with The Force Awakens

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

“Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? the same
ii. thinner or fatter? slightly thinner, but not as much as I should be
iii. richer or poorer? ask Dave. I have no idea.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Seen my friends.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

Home with Dave and kitties and making sauce.

22. Did you fall in love in 2015?

I always do, every year.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

Modern Family

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I pretty much hate all the same people, though a few of them I doubt I can really muster up the energy to care about either way.

25. What was the best book you read?

A Street Cat Named Bob” by James Bowen

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Well, having left my gig at Sony Music, I’m not in the music discovery business anymore. Seriously, anything I “discover” has probably been around for ages.

27. What did you want and get?

True love

28. What did you want and not get?

A cure for AIDS, but I keep up the hope we’re getting closer.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

The Shortlist
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 43 this year (right?). No recollection of what we did at all.

31. What political issue stirred you the most?

The continuing efforts of some politicians to reach into my uterus.

32. Who was the best new person you met?

My favorite person at Stony Brook Medicine is Bev, who is one of the most fascinating people to listen to, and talk to, that I’ve ever met. She has an amazing outlook, a realistic view of the people around us, a wicked sense of humor, and wisdom up the wazoo. When she retires that place is going to get a lot less interesting.

33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015:

There’s more than one answer to these questions, pointing me in a crooked line.