Aside from the very experience of seeing new places, I think the best perk of traveling has to be getting the time to crack open a book and read. Whether it’s during times of waiting for a plane, sitting on the metro, or my favorite location- lounging on the beach, there’s nothing quite better. When I set out on this adventure to move to Central America last year, I made it a goal of mine to read at least two books per month. I am happy to say I surpassed that and reached 33 books this year. I think my goal next year will be to read more non-fiction. As you’ll see below, I chose mostly fiction for my travel reads and it left me definitely wanting to mix that up. One of the things I have found to make the reading so easy, especially during travel, was my discovery of e-books (yes, I realize that’s not a new trend). Bo also let me know I could add my Denver library card online so I could check out free e-books from the library without needing to buy kindle books. I totally recommend that method if you have a smart phone. I loved taking out my phone and just reading a few pages here and there while sitting on the subway on my way to teach. We also lucked out and our neighbor is a published author and fellow lover of books. She has been quite generous in sharing her books with us over the months, only to re-stock our pile each time we return with the ones we’ve borrowed.
Photos of the books I read are pictured and then I created two lists below – the books I read this year that I loved and would recommend, and the ones I would advise you save your precious time by not reading. You’ll notice many fall into a middle ground as well.
The books I really enjoyed and would recommend:
- The Girl on the Train – I read this book in one day because I love a suspenseful read and I couldn’t wait to find out how it ended. This is a book that flips between different points of view from different characters, including (drum roll please)….a girl on a train that witnesses something interesting. A movie based on the book is being released this fall.
- Sharp Objects – Another suspenseful read, creepy and twisted, about a journalist returning home to her small town to report on a series of deaths of young girls. The book has a whole range of characters and dives into varied family relationships, particularly those of parents and their children.
- The Goldfinch – While this novel is a bit drawn out, I really loved the main character, Theodore Decker, and found myself rooting for him throughout the entire read, no matter how many crazy decisions he made or how many times I screamed at him (in my head) to do the right thing when he wasn’t.
- Death at the Priory – This book shares the story of a mysterious, unsolved death during the late 1800s of Victorian England, with the author’s own real-life investigation and theories into what happened. Didn’t think I’d enjoy this one but I ending up loving it.
- Euphoria – Story of three anthropologists in New Guinea in the 1920s, the book is fictional but based on the life and studies of Margaret Mead. I liked the descriptions in this book and it was very easy to picture the scenes and the characters.
- Kite Runner – Another older book on my list, this one came out in 2003. It is about the friendship of two boys growing up (and apart) in Afghanistan, beginning in the 1970’s and also about the relationships they each have with their fathers. Heartbreaking and lovely.
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – This was Bo’s recommendation and I really enjoyed it. The book spans only a couple of days, and includes the journal entries of a 15 year old boy with Aspergers, coping with his family’s changes while he solves a mystery that intrigues him.
- Eleanor & Park – Written for a young adult audience, this sweet book tells the story of two high school students with opposite lifestyles that end up falling for each other despite the surrounding circumstances, their different family lives, and opposing friends. Both Eleanor and Park are lovable and you’ll find yourself wanting the best for them.
- The Dinner – Good, thought-provoking book about dark subject matter. Two families come together to discuss how to deal with a crime that both of their sons were involved in.
- A Wrinkle in Time – Another young adult read, this book came out in the early 60’s and is often a book on most 6th grade reading lists, but I just had never gotten to it. An overall fantasy/science fiction book, filled with Christian themes, imaginary characters, and alternate universes – just as fun for adults to read.
Life is too short for spending time reading bad books. While I finished each one below, I was anxiously trying to get them over with:
- Back Roads
- The lost diaries of adrian mole
- Cleaning up New York