Thursday, December 31, 2009

Favorite books in 2009

It’s the last day of the year, and you know what that means … nostalgia and looking back. What were your favorite books of the year? (Books that were new to you in 2009, if not necessarily published this year.)


1) Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, In Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortenson. Very inspirational - "if there is a will, there is a way" really described what Greg and his team had achieved. If you haven't yet read his first book, Three Cups of Tea, I will read that first as it gives you more background story on how he stumbled into this amazing journey.

2) Josie's Story - A Mother's Inspiring Crusade to Make Medical Care Safe by Sorrel King. Similar to Greg Mortenson, Sorrel also made a difference in patient safety. See a similar theme of books I like?

3) A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg. I have always loved food, but don't have the patience to cook. But her book inspired me to learn to book, which I'm planning to do in 2010.

4) Joker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood by Donovan Campbell. I don't know anybody in the military so this book really opened my eyes on what it's like to be a Marine and to be fighting in a war.

Honorable mentioned (not in any order):

* Something for the Pain (One Doctor's Account of Life and Death in the ER) by Paul Austin. I work in healthcare, so am interested in medical memoir. I haven't worked on any projects in the ER so it was interesting to read about how different it is to other areas.

* A Star Is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood's Biggest Movies by Janet Hirshenson & Jane Jenkins. Fun to read about castings even though I haven't seen a lot of the (older) movies mentioned in the book.

* Marley & Me: Love and Life with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan. Not really a dog person but almost made me consider getting a dog Definitely like the book better than the movie. Don't forget to have tissues nearby. John's second memoir, The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir, was also well written but I preferred Marley.

* Columbine by Dave Cullen. Answered some questions, but I think there are still questions that can't really be answered...

* Blue Collar Blue Scrubs: The Making of a Surgeon by Michael Collins. Another medical memoir - I liked his first book, Hot Lights, Cold Steel, a bit better (how his life was being an intern/resident at Mayo Clinic) but this book is also quite inspiring as he wrote about why he decided to go to medical school and how hard he worked to get into med school.

* Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag by Michael Tonello. I have no clue about designer bags so it was fun to read how he "beat" the system and made a life for himself.

* Dirty Dishes: A Restaurateur's Story of Passion, Pain, and Pasta by Pino Luongo and Andrew Friedman. Another inspiring memoir about someone who had nothing, but worked hard, and became successful in their chosen profession.

* Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right Colleges - and Find Themselves by David Marcus. I didn't go to high school or college here in the US, so had no idea about what high school students go through when they apply for college (totally different system.) I like the message that "famous schools" aren't for everybody.

* Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl. Another fun read about food and restaurants. It include some recipes as well and I was hungry when I read this book! Sounded like a fun job to be a restaurant critic, but there are some not-so-glamorous matters to go with it too (but I guess this is true for any job.)


1) Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Just love this book - it seems so real that it could have been a memoir. I love how the story unfolded. I can't wait to read her second book. Also learned a bit about self-publishing and how it became such a successful book on Lisa's website.

2) The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Not usually a genre I'd read but I'm glad I did! Love the different voices and the characters are just delightful. People you wish you get to meet.

3) The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine. Difficult topic to read about but the story stayed with you. Dr Levine is multi-talented - he and his colleagues in the NEAT (Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis) lab at Mayo Clinic have pioneered an "Office of the Future"!

Honorable mentioned (not in order):

* The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows. Again, not something I'd normally read but I like its letters format and the characters are adorable.

* Rooftops of Tehran: A Novel by Mahbod Seraji. The story and characters stayed with you too.

* If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Trying to read some Young Adult (YA) books this year and this one made me the most emotional. I also enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why as I couldn't put it down, but I got frustrated sometimes thinking that "this is not such a big deal!" (reasons for committing suicide) and had to remind myself that, while it doesn't seem like a big deal to me as an adult, it is probably a big deal to teenagers.

* My Sister's Helper by Jodi Picoult. My fist (and only) Picoult book and I liked it - her writing, the dilemma, and the ending. I know not everyone agreed... but sometimes controversial books are great reads. It definitely made me think... If I had a sister who had cancer... if my child had cancer... if I had cancer...

I guess for non-fiction books, I chose what inspired me and what made me learned something new.

For fiction - as I read the list of books I read, there are some I don't quite remember the plots or characters anymore... So I chose those that still lingered in my mind when I saw the title (and perhaps learned something new too.) I typically read contemporary murder/mystery/thriller, but this year I tried to expand to other areas such as YA and stories involving other cultures or set in the past. Yes I did read Twilight but it didn't make it to my favorites - a bit too predictable for me and I am not in love with either Edward or Jacob. I do see why it is popular among teenagers though it baffled me a bit about its popularity with adults... I guess I didn't think Edward was my dream mate :) I didn't read the rest of the series but just googled spoilers to find out what happened. Still not a chick-lit reader though...

2009: 104 Books

Total: 104 Books (excluding books written in Chinese)
Non-Fiction: 76 (73%)
Fiction: 28 (27%)
Average Page: 285
Oldest: Published in 1988
Newest: Published in 2009

01. Something for the Pain (One Doctor's Account of Life and Death in the ER) by Paul Austin.
02. A Star Is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood's Biggest Movies by Janet Hirshenson & Jane Jenkins
03. My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor
04. The Traveler by Daren Simkin, Daniel Simkin
05. Two Cats and the Woman They Own: or Lessons I Learned from My Cats by Patti Davis
06. Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Noah Goldstein, Robert B. Cialdini, Steve J. Martin
07. Walk on Water: The Miracle of Saving Children's Lives by Michael Ruhlman
08. Sweet Mandarin by Helen Tse
09. Marley & Me: Love and Life with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan
10. The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck
11. Toast by Nigel Slater
12. Flipping Confidential: The Secrets of Renovating Property for Profit In Any Market by Kirsten Kemp
13. Photographers and Their Images by Fi McGhee
14. Gimme Shelter by Mary Elizabeth Williams
15. How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq by Matthew Alexander
16. A Dance With the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath by Barbara Bentley
17. Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan
18. Designed to Sell: Make any home the hottest property on the block by HGTV
19. Home Rules: Transform the Place You Live into a Place You'll Love by Nate Berkus
20. Stolen Dreams: Portraits of Working Children by David L. Parker
21. Karsh: A Sixty-Year Retrospective by Yousef Karsh
22. The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir by John Grogan
23. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum
24. Problem Solving 101: A Simple Book for Smart People by Ken Watanabe
25. Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose
26. Apartment Therapy presents real homes, real people, hundreds of real design solutions by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan
27. Cent-sible Homemaking by Jean Clark
28. A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg
29. $500 Room Makeovers by Lisa Quinn
30. Columbine by Dave Cullen
31. Forty-four years with the Mayo Clinic, 1908-1952 by Harry J Harwick
32. Do Your Own Home Staging by Tina Parker
33. House Beautiful - The Home Book: Creating a Beautiful Home of Your Own by Carol Spier
34. No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine by Brooks Brown
35. The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve Lopez
36. Sickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood by Julie Gregory
37. Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung
38. Oil Painting: The Workshop Experience by Ted Goerschner
39. The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl by Shauna Reid
40. I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany by Mark Greenside
41. Blue Collar Blue Scrubs: The Making of a Surgeon by Michael Collins
42. The Myth of Multitasking: How "Doing It All" Gets Nothing Done by Dave Crenshaw
43. Eco Craft: Recycle Recraft Restyle by Susan Wasinger
44. The Lost Art: The Magic New Way to Paint and Draw by Christian Furr
45. It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita by Heather Armstrong
46. A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive by David Pelzer
47. Six Months in Sudan: A Young Doctor in a War-torn Village by James Maskalyk
48. The Towering World of Jimmy Choo: A Glamorous Story of Power, Profits, and the Pursuit of the Perfect Shoe by Lauren Goldstein Crowe and Sagra Maceira de Rosen
49. Living Well: 21 Days to Transform Your Life, Supercharge Your Health, and Feel Spectacular by Montel Williams
50. Insider Beauty - Secrets of the Fit and Fabulous by Diane Irons
51. Get Off Your "But": How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself by Sean Stephenson 
52. Notes on Cooking: A Short Guide to an Essential Craft by Lauren Braun Costello
53. The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for Love of a Family by Dave Pelzer
54. The 5-Minute Face: The Quick & Easy Makeup Guide for Every Woman by Carmindy
55. The Sweet Life in Paris: A Recipe for Living in the World's Most Delicious City by David Lebovitz
56. Blood of Lambs: A Former Terrorist's Memoir of Death and Redemption by Kamal Saleem, Vincent Lynn
57. Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag by Michael Tonello
58. Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction--and Get It Published by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato
59. This Lovely Life by Vicki Forman
60. Joker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood by Donovan Campbell
61. Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater by Frank Bruni
62. Dirty Dishes: A Restaurateur's Story of Passion, Pain, and Pasta by Pino Luongo and Andrew Friedman
63. I Love Yous are for White People: A Memoir by Lac Su
64. Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right Colleges -- and Find Themselves by David Marcus
65. Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition, and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves by Crystal Renn with Marjorie Ingall
66. Josie's Story - A Mother's Inspiring Crusade to Make Medical Care Safe by Sorrel King
67. Confections of a Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado
68. Writing Great Books for Young Adults: Everything You Need to Know, from Crafting the Idea to Landing a Publishing Deal by Regina Brooks
69. Shattered Silence - The Untold Story of a Serial Killer's Daughter by Melissa G. Moore with M. Bridget Cook
70. Career Diary of a Pastry Chef: Gardner's Guide Series by Yuko Kitazawa
71. Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury & Aly Sujo
72. Getting a Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self by Monica Seles
73. You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs
74. Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, In Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortenson
75. Soft Spots: A Marine's Memoir of Combat and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by Clint van Winkle
76. Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

01. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
02. Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs
03. Miracle Myx by David Diotalevi
04. All the Pretty Girls by J.T. Ellison
05. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
06. Life on the Refrigerator Door: Notes Between a Mother and a Daughter - A Novel by Alice Kuipers
07. Scarpetta (Scarpetta Book 16) by Patrician Cornwell
08. Testimony by Anita Shreve
09. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
10. The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle
11. Life Sentences: A Novel by Laura Lippman
12. The Myth of You and Me: A Novel by Leah Stewart
13. Rooftops of Tehran: A Novel by Mahbod Seraji
14. Fear Itself by Barret Schumacher
15. Roadside Crosses (Kathryn Dance #2) by Jeffery Deaver
16. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
17. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
18. The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine
19. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
20. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
21. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
22. My Sister's Helper by Jodi Picoult
23. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Settlefield
24. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
25. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
26. Before I Die by Jennifer Downham
27. Missing by Karin Alvtegen
28. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Unfinished Books * :
01. The Killing Circle: A Novel by Andrew Pyper
02. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro   
03. The Houses of Time by Jamil Nasir
04. A Cat Named Darwin: Embracing the Bond Between Man and Pet by William Jordan
05. Welcome to the Aquarium: A Year in the Lives of Children by Julie Diamond   
06. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel     
07. The Sisters Antipodes by Jane Alison  
08. The Shack by William P. Young
09. Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie T. Chang   
10. The Day After He Left for Iraq: A Story of Love, Family, and Reunion by Melissa Seligman
11. My Happy Life by Lydia Millet
12. Style Rx: Dressing the Body You Have to Create the Body You Want by Bridgette Raes and Lori Berkowitz (photographer)
13. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
14. Invitation to a Murder by Gail Zimmerman
15. Confessions of a Subprime Lender: An Insider's Tale of Greed, Fraud, and Ignorance by Richard Bitner
16. A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown
17. Lucky by Alice Sebold
18. Hotel Babylon - Inside the Extravagance and Mayhem of a Luxury Five-Star Hotel by Anonymous and Imogen Edwards-Jones
19. A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures: A Memoir by Quinn Bradlee with Jeff Himmelman

Chinese Books:
3 (should have written down the names...)

* Note - the books I couldn't finish aren't necessary bad books. For example, The Shack, is very popular and I read that many people bought copies to give out to friends. For some reasons, I was either not in the right mood to read these books, or that the writing just didn't engage me. I can't explain what is good writing and what is bad writing, I just simply go with what speaks to me. I hardly read classics or literature - I basically am drawn to books due to their content. So these books attracted me for one reason or another in the first place, but somehow they just couldn't hold my attention. Not the authors' faults, just not the right timing I guess.

2008: 100 Books

Titles in Teal = Recommended

1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.
2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen 
3. Got the Look by James Grippando
4. Hide by Lisa Gardner
5. Simple Genius by David Baldacci
6. Afterimage by Jay Brandon
7. Carved in Bone: A Body Farm Mystery by Jefferson Bass
8. Flesh & Bones: A Body Farm Mystery by Jefferson Bass
9. The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey
10. Mistress of Justice by Jeffery Deaver
11. Iron Orchid by Stuart Woods
12. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
13. Mystic River by by Dennis Lehane
14. Judas Child by Carol O'Connell
15. Pyres by Derek Nikitas
16. Hostile Witness by William Lashner
17. Midnight Rambler by James Swain
18. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
19. 24 Hours by Greg Iles
20. Gone for Good by Harlan Coben
21. The Broken Window: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel by Jeffery Deaver
22. Obedience: A Novel by Will Lavender
23. Beverly Hills Dead by Stuart Woods
24. The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot
25. The Spellman Files by Liz Lutz
26. The Dirty Secrets Club (Jo Beckett) by Meg Gardiner
27. The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martnez
28. Hold Tight by Harlan Coben
29. Sequence by Lori Andrews
30. The Keepsake: a Novel by Tess Gerritsen
31. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
32. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
33. Delusion: A Novel of Suspense by Peter Abrahams
34. By Reason of Insanity by Randy Singer
35. House of Wolves by Matt Bronleewe
36. The Bodies Left Behind: A Novel by Jeffery Deaver
37. Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

1. The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by Maarten Troost.
2. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
3. A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein by Lisa Rogak
4. More Than a Hobby: How a $600 Startup Became America's Home and Craft Superstore by David Green, Dean Merrill
5. How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else by Michael Gates Gill
6. The Year of Eating Dangerously: A Global Adventure in Search of Culinary Extremes by Tom Parker Bowles
7. The Emergency Teacher: The Inspirational Story of a New Teacher in an Inner City School by Christina Asquith
8. Mentor: The Kid & the CEO: A Simple Story of Overcoming Challenges and Achieving Significance by Tom Pace
9. Out of the Frying Pan: A Chef's Memoir of Hot Kitchens, Single Motherhood, and the Family Meal by Gillian Clark
10. No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach by Anthony Bourdain
11. Juggling Elephants: An Easier Way to Get Your Most Important Things Done--Now! by Jones Loflin & Todd Musig
12. Roman's Journey:a memoir of survival by Roman Halter
13. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza
14. Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh
15. Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson
16. What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business by Harry Beckwith
17. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath, Dan Heath
18. Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
19. Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results by Jack Mitchell
20. Buzzmarketing: Get People to Talk About Your Stuff by Mark Hughes
21. On my own two feet - a modern girl's guide to personal finance by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar
22. My Life as a Traitor by Zarah Ghahramani
23. Grow Your Money!: 101 Easy Tips to Plan, Save, and Invest by Jonathan Pond
24. 500 Ideas for Small Spaces: Easy Solutions for Living in 1000 Square Feet or Less by Kimberly Seldon
25. Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz by Lucette Matalon Lagnado
26. Blue Pills by Frederik Peeters
27. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
28. If You Save One Life: A survivor's memoir by by Eva Brown with Thomas Fields-Meyer
29. Three Little Words: A Memoir by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
30. Heaven's Harlots My Fifteen Years As a Sacred Prostitute in the Children of God Cult by Miriam Williams
31. A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs
32. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8 Lee
33. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach
34. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow
35. Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope by Don Van Ryn, Susie Van Ryn, Mark Tabb
36. Step Into the Spotlight!- 'Cause ALL Business is Show Business! by Tsufit
37. Teacher Miracles: Inspirational True Stories from the Classroom by Brian Thornton
38. Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman
39. The Present : The Secret to Enjoying Your Work And Life, Now! by Spencer Johnson
40. Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America by Steve Almond
41. The Butterfly Garden: Surviving Childhood on the Run with One of Americas Most Wanted by Chip St Clair
42. See Jane Write: A Girl's Guide to Writing Chick Lit by Sarah Mlynowski and Farrin Jacobs
43. All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House by David Giffels
44. Where is the Mango Princess? by Cathy Crimmins
45. Happy Birthday or Whatever: Track Suits, Kim Chee, and Other Family Disasters by Annie Choi
46. The Girl with the Crooked Nose: A Tale of Murder, Obsession, and Forensic Artistry by Ted Botha
47. Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions by John Kotter
48. Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School by Philip Delves Broughton
49. The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman
50. The Ice Cream Maker: An Inspiring Tale About Making Quality The Key Ingredient in Everything You Do by Subir Chowdhur
51. Change Is Good... You Go First by Mac Anderson
52. Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Years by Michael Collins
53. Saying the Right Thing: A Business Parable : The Four Secrets of Powerful Communication by Raymond Dizazzo
54. How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
55. Journey of a Thousand Miles: My Story by Lang Lang
56. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
57. Murder by Family: The Incredible True Story of a Son's Treachery and a Father's Forgiveness by Kent Whitaker
58. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn
59. Travel Writing by Peter Ferry
60. House: A Memoir by Michael Ruhlman
61. One Smart Cookie: How a Housewife's Chocolate Chip Recipe Turned into a Multimillion-Dollar Business : The Story of Mrs. Fields Cookies by Debbie Fields
62. Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande
63. Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir by Jennette Fulda