Books Read 2018

I used to be a huge reader. I read all the things, without prompting.

Like most kids, I think it started falling by the wayside in high school and then definitely college (when all your homework is reading, and reading boring crap, your interest tends to wane).

Ironically, finding fan fiction (and, more specifically, Pride and Prejudice fan fiction) helped me find enjoyment in reading again. I also tend to have a bad habit of rereading the same things over and over again … but I guess when you know you like something …?

In any case, I made a pseudo-bullet journal for last year and one of the things I put in it is New Books Read. I made a goal of a book a month. I did hit that, and, in fact, read 24 new books. Quite a few are novellas, but I’m counting them anyway. Here is that list.

Glory Lost and Found: How Delta Climbed from Despair to Dominance in the Post-9-11 Era by Seth Kaplan and Jay Shabat
B had finished this, I started leafing through it … next thing I knew, I was 150 pages deep. Obviously I had to finish it. Helped give me a new good perspective on my husband’s industry.

MOLLY’S GAME: The True Story of the 26-Year-Old Woman Behind the Most Exclusive, High-Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World by Molly Bloom
I think I decided to read this once I saw the trailers for the film … and when I learned she was the sister of Jeremy Bloom, the skier/CU football player that pretty much every Coloradoan knows … well, I read it. Entertaining read. Still haven’t seen the movie and I’m okay with that.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Think a modern Pride and Prejudice adaptation. Definitely a different spin on the classic story.

Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music by Ann Powers
I discovered this book (one of the few non-fiction pieces I read) thanks to a friend from back in the journalism days, Soraya McDonald. She referenced it in one of her articles and it sounded intriguing enough to find. Very cool take on music’s history.

The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet by Kate Rorick
The continuation of the story from the web serial “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” I was a little obsessed when that came out, trying to plan my lunch breaks at work for when the new webisodes came out, so obviously I had to read this. That series did amazing work with the Lydia Bennet character, and this fleshed it out even more.

Colonel Darcy by Timothy Underwood
Essentially found this on FF.net … learned it had been published … bought it. You’ll notice that quite a few pieces on this list are P&P fan fic. I regret nothing. This one wasn’t one of my favorites.

The Wonder Engine by T. Kingfisher
T. Kingfisher, a.k.a. Ursula Vernon, is someone I’ve been following for years. I own pretty much all of her adult work, so once this came out, I was of course going to read it. Especially because I remember some of the early works with the characters back ages ago in the LiveJournal days. This was the anticipated follow-up to The Clockwork Boys which came out the previous year. I specifically held on to this for our Italy trip which was painful, but it was well worth the wait.

Fitzwilliam Darcy: Rock Star by Heather Lynn Rigaud
More P&P fan fiction published, in the guise of both sets of characters being rock musicians on tour together. While it did have one of my favorite non-canon pairings (Charlotte Lucas/Colonel Fitzwilliam) and I’ve reread it quite a bit … I have a couple issues with it. Mostly in that Darcy’s band is based off Puddle of Mudd so Rigaud basically put herself in the place of Elizabeth Bennet (understandable) pretty much so she could, in fiction, fuck the Puddle of Mudd frontman – I mean, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Tiny bit creepy? I think the kids call it wank fic. Plus a rock band like that would probably not tour with a band that’s a mix of Sheryl Crow and Michelle Branch. Musically, that really wouldn’t work.

Dressed by Darcy by Beverly Farr
I’ve enjoyed a lot of other things Beverly Farr (a.k.a. Jane Grix a.k.a. Cass Grix) has written those other pseudonyms, so when I found this on FF.net and realized it had been published, I went and bought it. Think P&P in the “America’s Next Top Model” universe. Some things moved a bit too quickly; I don’t think the modern take works as well as her pseudonym’s work in the Regency era, but it was still a fun read.

Paperback Romance by Lizzie Indigo
Definitely needs editing, but Indigo knows this (doing things backward by using sales of the book to edit it). Fun read mixing P&P within the universe of paperback romances (think Harlequin and the like) … but the lack of editing does make it a bit rough to read at times.

Netherfield: Rogue Dragon by Maria Grace
Maria Grace is probably my favorite P&P FF author out there, and I had been eagerly awaiting this final installment of the Jane Austen’s Dragons trilogy. It dragged a bit at times, but it was still well worth the wait.

Bluegrass Undercover by Kathleen Brooks
So I discovered Brooks when I first got my Nook and was downloading random free books. While Bluegrass State of Mind maybe wasn’t the most well-written novel I’d ever read, it sucked me into the story enough to go find the rest of the trilogy and buy them. Bluegrass Undercover is the first book in the Bluegrass Brothers series, which continues the universe. Maybe not quite as good as the original trilogy, but still enjoyable.

Death of a Lobster Lover by Lee Hollis
Was sucked in by the cover at Barnes and Noble. I guess, like most mystery novelists, Hollis has a series and this was just one in the many adventures of Hayley Powell. Wasn’t bad, but didn’t love it enough to want to find more by the author.

Rising Storm by Kathleen Brooks
Next book in the Bluegrass Brothers series.

The 26th of November by Elizabeth Adams
Think P&P meets “Groundhog Day.” Highly enjoyable read. I like Adams a lot as an author, too.

At Darcy House by Jane Grix
One of my more favorite pieces by Grix, actually. (And to clear up from earlier: I think Beverly Farr is the author’s actual name; most stuff she writes under that name are regular romances not in the P&P universe. Jane Grix is her P&P pseudonym, writing typically novella length Regency-set stories. Cass Grix, whose name you’ll see later on this list, is Regency-set paranormal P&P stories.)

Acquiring Trouble by Kathleen Brooks
Keeping on in the Bluegrass Brothers series. I have two more to read … and that will probably come this year.

The Billionaire Wins the Game by Melody Anne
Apparently this was some random free Nook book I had downloaded ages ago but never read. Finally did. Probably will not read again and will definitely not read more within the same universe.

How Bad Do You Want It? Mastering the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle by Matt Fitzgerald
Trying to get some insight to help me for next year’s tri season. B couldn’t finish this one due to it being pretty dry (which it is). It wasn’t bad … but I’m honestly having trouble remembering much of it right now … which is bad, because I only read it two months ago.

Pride, Prejudice, and Curling Rocks by Andrea Brokaw
I went on a downloading spree pre-Ireland, and this is one of the books I found. Definitely more YA, and I’m pretty sure it was self-published, but it was a nice quick read.

Shadow of Anubis by Adele Dixon
I had remembered reading part of this on FF.net but never finishing it so I was excited to see this pop up in my searching. Think P&P where the characters go on an excavation trip to Egypt.

By Hathor’s Hand by Adele Dixon
Follow up to the previous book.

Dreaming of Darcy by Cass Grix
Fun, quick read.

Swordheart by T. Kingfisher
Set within the Clockwork Boys universe, but after the events of those novels. Looks like it’s the first book of a trilogy, so I’m super excited for that. This ended up being the only book I read in December, and I binge read it in a parking lot waiting for both my nails to dry and my husband to land in Las Vegas on the 31st.

Book Review: The Botany of Desire

I first read Michael Pollan this past year when I picked up The Omnivore’s Dilemna. It was a book both Brandon and I had been thinking of reading and then watching “Food, Inc.” just solidified our desire to read it.

The Omnivore’s Dilemna was awesome … and I may read it again just so I can review it here. However, this isn’t going to be about that. It’s going to be about another tome of Pollan’s, The Botany of Desire.

Brandon checked out The Botany of Desire from the library and I stole it from him because it sounded interesting. Take the synopsis from the back of the book:

Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers’ genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires – sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control – with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind’s most basic yearnings. And just as we’ve benefited from these plants, the plants have also benefited at least as much from their association with us. So who is really domesticating whom?

As with The Omnivore’s Dilemna, I really enjoyed The Botany of Desire. I adore Pollan’s writing style, particularly his knack of turning a phrase.

My two favorites:
“Sweaty, vegetal, and sulfurous, the place might have been a locker room in the Amazon.”
“… equally disreputable tomato.”

The last one mostly because I love tomatoes and thinking of them as disreputable amuses me highly.

If you want to know about corn sex, go read The Omnivore’s Dilemna. However, if you want to learn any of the following, go pick up The Botany of Desire. Now. For it contains:

– the history of the apple
– the TRUE story of Johnny Appleseed (far cry from the Disney cartoon of yore)
– why tulips became so damned popular
– the answer if you ever actually truly wanted to know what a meme was or how it came about
– the effects psychoactive plants may have had on culture/history of religions/etc.
– how forgetfulness may actually be a *good* thing
– more on how now, after I’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemna and seen “Food, Inc.”, any time I see or hear “Monsanto Corp.”, I want to stab something (like hearing how if he wanted to replant his super-special potato sample, he’d be breaking federal law
– why mashed potatoes are all a body needs to survive
– how potatoes were once vastly inferior to wheat
– and so much more

I’m typically a fiction girl (I blame reading too damn much boring non-fiction in college), but I’m really starting to like non-fiction books as they relate to food … particularly if there’s a bit of history involved (marginal history nerd). The Botany of Desire is one such book.