A Few Favorite Reads of 2016

So, 2016 has finally come to a close. It’s been a shit year y’all, and frankly, I’m still pretty upset about Carrie Fisher, so it didn’t go out so well either. Anyhow, I thought I’d compile a little list of some of my favorite books I’ve read this year (not necessarily books that came out in 2016, just ones I managed to read this year).

 

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

A Swede named Sara visits a small town in Iowa to meet her pen pal, Amy. However, when Sara gets to Iowa, she arrives just in time for Amy’s funeral. (Sounds more messed up than it turns out to be.) Determined to make the most of her holiday, Sara stays in Amy’s house and slowly becomes a part of the small community of Broken Wheel by opening a bookstore. This is a book for book lovers. It was a bit more Hallmark-movie than I typically enjoy, but it was based almost entirely around the lead character being a bibliophile who isn’t sure what her next move in life should be, sooooo that was enough to keep my interest. There is also a bit of a cheesy/predictable romance, but hey whatever, books!  So, if you consider yourself a book lover, one who likes small town stories, or someone who enjoys cozy fiction reminiscent of a Hallmark movie, this just might be a book for you.

 

 

The Agency Series by Y.S. Lee

The Agency is a YA mystery series about an orphaned Asian-English teenage girl set in Victorian era London. Prior to being discovered by agents of The Agency, Mary Quinn had turned to a life of crime to get by living on the streets. Facing her execution (seriously), she is freed from prison and offered training and a job as an investigator. I loved that this series attempts to take on both gender and racial stereotypes in a Victorian era.It obviously deals with gender norms of the era, and Mary plays the part of a more modern (perhaps too modern for the era) feminist.. or at least very independent women. There is also another fairly predictable romance story line, but when isn’t there in a YA series? Besides, I actually kinda liked this one, there is quite a bit or snark and intellectual burns.

 

 

Bloodline by Claudia Gray

I wrote a more in-depth review for this one a while back, but I felt it deserved to land on my list of favorites for this year. I still haven’t read many Star Wars extended universe books, but I just liked this one so much! It revolves entirely around Senator Leia Organa and her work in the post-Empire Galactic Senate (which, spoiler alert: is basically on the brink of falling apart). This gives us Star Wars nerds a look into what happens in the years between Episode VI and VII. There is scandal, betrayal, secret militias, and even a little bit of Han Solo! Mostly, I just love Leia Organa and think she is a total badass, which certainly contributed to my liking this book so much.

 

 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is a nerd’s paradise. There is so much content to this book, it’s hard to know where to even start. I’m a late comer to this fandom, and once again it’s Hubby’s fault I got into it. But I’m so glad he kept pestering me to read Ready Player One.
RPO takes place in a future America, 2044, where economic crises abound. (Wade’s living situation reminds me of a depression-era shanty town type situation.) This book takes place partly in the real world, but mostly in the virtual reality world called OASIS.
The main plot is quite similar to Willy Wonka, the billionaire creator of the OASIS has left a treasure hunt within the VR world and the prize is his fortune and the largest share in his VR company. (So, yeah very much like Charlie Bucket finding a Golden Ticket and getting to take over the factory).
There are soooo many pop culture references, particularly 80’s pop culture. If 80’s pop culture, RPGs, video game history, and obscure trivia are your thing, this is definitely a book worth trying. I’d say I was a bit lacking when it came to some of the references (especially classic video games and RPG), but I still greatly enjoyed the overall story. And the characters. I hate when characters don’t develop, but I didn’t feel like that was an issue here, we see Wade at his best and his worst on this journey, and while I really wanted to smack him while he was at his worst, in the end I appreciated his fall into ego mania.

 

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I finally started reading Agatha Christie this year. (Late to the game much?)
And Then There Were None was the first Christie novel I read, and I absolutely LOVED it. It’s creepy, eerie, and keeps you guessing whodunit til the end, AKA my favorite kind of mystery. Honestly, of the other Agatha Christie books I read this year, this was the one I found most thrilling. Ten individuals are invited to a mysterious gathering on an island with a mysterious host, U. N. Owen.. now, why you would show up to a party when you’re not entirely sure you know the host is beyond me, but whatever. Anyhow, they all show up on this island for a weekend of partying, only to find their “host” is not present, and then they all start getting picked off one by one. It’s creepy, with plenty of plot twists; it’s fabulous.

 

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Celebrity Memoirs: Because Actors Are People Too

It seems like there have been a ton of celeb. memoirs coming out in the past few months, Bryan Cranston, Trevor Noah, Carrie Fisher, Lauren Graham, Anna Kendrick, Mara Wilson… and those are just the ones I’ve read (well, technically still working on Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime).

I can’t exactly complain because I generally enjoy celebrity memoirs, but goodness, I can’t read so many back to back!
Some of the recent releases have been a little hit or miss for me, but I still felt the need to read them. But it also made me want to compile a list of some of my favorite celebrity memoirs that I’ve read in the last few years, soooo here ya go:

 

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Warwick Davis Size Matters Not

I picked this book up during one of my fairly frequent phases of Star Wars obsession (I’m married to a total Star Wars nerd who can tell you just about anything about the extended SW universe). We had just watched some of the live stream of Star Wars Celebration, where Warwick Davis hosted many of the panels we got to watch, and I was infatuated. This guy is so funny. We soon after decided we were going to buy tickets to next year’s SW Celebration in Orlando, partially in hopes that Warwick may be hosting again.
Anyhow, his book; Warwick is charming, hilarious, and clever. His retelling of his journey into becoming an actor is delightful. His story is frequently funny, relatable, and at times utterly heartbreaking (you can find out why on your own).

 

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Craig Ferguson American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot

One of my first read and favorite celeb memoirs. Excuse me for using the word hilarious far too often (I’ll pull out a thesaurus one day, I promise) but seriously, Craig Ferguson is one of the funniest, and at times raunchiest, comedians. I was totally obsessed with The Late Late Show when he was hosting (and can I just say how sad I am that he wasn’t still hosting during the Trump campaign and impending presidency, the impressions would have been amazing, I’m sure). While Craig is obviously a very funny Scot, he gets very real about growing up in Scotland, his own insecurities, his addictions and subsequent stint in rehab, and his moving to and becoming an American citizen. He is pretty transparent and lays it bare (I’m sure there is a joke to be made there) and it’s refreshing to see a funny guy call it like it is and be pretty humble about his life experiences.

 

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Betty White If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t)

I had to put at least one of Betty White’s book on this list, if only for the pure and simple fact that Betty White is so sweet and funny. Who doesn’t like Betty White? Honestly, send them my way so I can punch them in the throat. She’s super nice, absolutely loves animals, and everyone has something nice to say about her. I absolutely adore her.
This book is pretty much what you would expect, a collection of Betty White’s stories of life in show business. But told in her own awesome Betty White way.

 

 

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Dick van Dyke My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business

I am quite fond of Dick van Dyke, mostly because I’m fond of some of his more famous characters. I’m also, in generally, kind of fond of older TV shows (it’s my mom’s fault!).
I first saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in elementary school, and while yes, a totally cheesy movie, I loved it. Anyhow, my fondness for Mr. van Dyke began there I think, and then on to the charming Burt from Mary Poppins.
Dick van Dyke’s book was an interesting look into the journey of a charming gentleman from a humble upbringing. It was also intriguing to me because it consists of stories about being in show business through various decades, as well as working with a plethora or Hollywood’s biggest names.
This also introduced me to The Dick van Dyke Show, which I now adore, even though every time I watch I get insanely jealous of all of Rose Marie’s glorious 1950’s style A-line dresses. Also, it’s just a silly, wholesome show.

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Tina Fey – Bossypants

In case it hasn’t been made perfectly clear, I like funny women. Tina Fey’s book was sort of an introduction to my liking female comics. I’m not entirely sure what got me to even read this book as just a few years ago I really had no interest in famous people, SNL, or comedians let alone female ones busting through industry stereotypes. This ended up being one of my favorite books and it introduced me to a whole slew of hilarious female writers and actresses, and maybe kinda contributed to being more of a feminist (oh no, the other F word).

 

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Carrie Fisher – Wishful Drinking

I read this not long after getting into Star Wars (Yeah, I was late to the game, and yes it was because of a boy (who is now my husband). I had seen SW growing up, but wouldn’t have considered myself a fan until a few years ago) (I like writing in parentheses).

I found this read interesting in part because I like Princess Leia (badass) and in part because I’ve always been a bit fascinated by drug and alcohol addiction (and mental health in general, really). But not in a “I totally wanna try this lifestyle” type of way; I’m a lightweight and my drug of choice is caffeine.

Carrie Fisher is pretty much always an open book and very straight forward, and that is certainly the case with this book, as with her other books that I have read, which thus far has only been her autobiographic ones, one day I will get around to reading her novels. Because she is so unfiltered, this makes for an interesting/entertaining read. She talks about growing up with very famous parents, their scandals, her own scandals, depression, drinking, and electroshock therapy… It gets a little crazy. But I like crazy. I’d recommend this to any Carrie Fisher fan, but also anyone who just likes a crazy memoir.

 

 

Celebrity Memoirs that need to happen:

Harrison Ford (although we all know that will never happen)
Mark Hamill
Dana Carvey
Steve Carrell
Stephen Colbert (an account of the real Stephen )
Aubrey Plaza
Kristen Wiig
Melissa McCarthy (Yeah, I really have a thing for female comics, most be the same reason I like crazy female humor writers.)

 

Books That Might Make You Pee a Little…

So, sometimes I like to read funny books, because who doesn’t like to laugh every now and again? Even psychopaths laugh..

Anyhow, I thought I’d make a little post about some of my favorites that are always good for a laugh/amused feels.

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Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen/Sarah Scribble’s

I wrote a little post about this collection not too long ago, so I won’t yammer on, but it’s hilarious and oh so real. Any introvert who has problems #adulting can relate. Also, following Sarah on social media has me convinced she’s an awesome human being whom I would love to shake hands with, make awkward small talk, and then run away from. Social anxiety, am I right?

P.S. this book just won GoodReads Choice Award for best graphic novel/comic of 2016!

 

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess

If I remember correctly, Jenny Lawson was pretty much my introduction to the “humor” genre, and the 817 section in my library. Okay, even if I’m mistaken and she wasn’t my first, I’m going to pretend that she was because this book is amazing. It was originally recommended to me by my very dear friend Keturah and I thought she was crazy when she described this book (which she is, and I am too.. so I mean really, this makes perfect sense!) 😉
Jenny Lawson is awesome, and a little bit insane? In the best ways possible. Her stories are legitimately hilarious, sometimes cringe-worthy, and occasionally you may fear wetting your pants. Frankly, it isn’t all that often that I laugh out loud at books, but I can’t help myself when it comes to Jenny Lawson.

 

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Furiously Happy also by Jenny Lawson

In case you didn’t catch it in that last blurb, I’m a big fan of Jenny Lawson. Similar to her first book, this one is full of funny/crazy/straight-up-weird stories. But it also full of a lot of truths about dealing with mental illness, and that is, in part, what drew me to this book. Jenny is super upfront and personal about her own struggles and the importance of owning our mental illness and taking care of ourselves. The mental health bits of this book hit home for me; it can be difficult/impossible to explain where you’re coming from to people who can’t grasp the madness going on inside of your head, and that inability to explain yourself, and not being understood by others can make us feel crazy.. BUT we can choose to embrace our crazy, own who you are, and spit in the face of mental illness.

“You might think that this would push me over the edge into an irreversible downward spiral of Xanax and Regina Spektor song, but no. It’s not. I’m fucking done with sadness, and I don’t know what’s up the ass of the universe lately but I’ve HAD IT. I AM GOING TO BE FURIOUSLY HAPPY, OUT OF SHEER SPITE.

 

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Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

I love books where I can completely relate to the author’s total insanity and realize I’m not the only one that has thought some of these insane impulsive things I tend to think on a fairly frequent basis (aka all the damn time). I usually silence many of my crazy impulsive thoughts, but I love that Allie Brosh just owns it. I’m a little sad it took me so long to finally getting around to reading this book. Without really looking into it I merely assumed this would be a dumb kind of funny thing, but I was totally wrong. While Hyperbole was absolutely hilarious at times, Allie Brosh gets a bit deep and lays it all out in a chapter about depression. 

 

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The Potty Mouth at the Table by Laurie Notaro

I’ve enjoyed each of Laurie Notaro’s books that I have read, this just happens to be the first one I picked up (on a whim, because I could relate to being the potty mouth at any given table..) Very much like Jenny Lawson, Laurie’s books are usually a collection of essays and an array of different things, but they’re nearly always hilarious. From topics like Antiques Roadshow to a relatable obsession with buying fabric that piles up in a corner, to hating foodies and getting on fights on Yelp. I just enjoy the writing style and a sassy/sarcastic take on life.

I’m realizing my top humor books are all by kinda crazy women… To be fair that’s pretty much all I read in the humor realm. What can I say? Apparently I relate to funny, slightly bat shit crazy women. I want to be them. Sorry husband, you’re stuck with me now!