Sunday, April 01, 2012

20 in 2012, part 1

i'm on a mission to read 20 books in 2012 and since this means i'm averaging 2-3 books per month, i'm going to write about my book list quarterly instead of every 6 months this year. most everything i've read so far has been super interesting and every book has been different. topics have ranged from cell biology to french food to philanthropy to polish culture in the 1940's... and everything in between. i've learned so much! here are quick summaries of the books i read january-march...


1: the true story of hansel and gretel, by louise murphy: my mom recommended i read this one and oh my goodness, it was good! this is the story of two jewish children, hiding out from the nazis in a small town in poland toward the end of world war 2. to conceal their true identities, they go by the names of hansel and gretel. i've read so much about world war 2, but had never thought about the experience of living out the war in poland, with germans invading from the west and russians invading from the west. i had to pinch myself several times to remind myself that this story was not my reality. it's an intense but amazing story, so i recommend you read it.

2: why we can't wait, by martin luther king, jr: this is a very quick read and you should definitely check it out. the man could write! the book includes his writings (letters, essays, editorials) leading up to and during the birmingham campaign in 1963, and includes the well-known letter from birmingham jail.

3: giving, by bill clinton: this book was equal parts inspiring and frustrating. each chapter is full of short anecdotes about people doing good in the world. inspiring because so there are so many compassionate, innovative people doing awesome things. frustrating because, despite the efforts of these thousands (millions?) of people, there is still widespread poverty, violence, and inequality. agh.


4: the immortal life of henrietta lacks, by rebecca skloot: my friend jess invited me to join her book club! this isn't necessarily a book i would have picked up on my own, but i learned so much from it that i'm glad it ended up on my list. it's the true story of henrietta lacks, a poor, african-american woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the 1950's and had cells from her tumor removed and experimented on without her permission. essentially, the last half-century (plus some?) of medical research would not have been possible without her, but her name and story are virtually unknown (even within the medical field). it's a legacy her family has struggled with for decades and it made me think about medical ethics in ways that had never crossed my mind before. so so good.

5: a homemade life, by molly wizenburg: february's kitchen reader book. you can read my review here.


6: extremely loud & incredibly close, by jonathan safran foer: march's book club book. a more appropriate title would have been extremely obsessed & incredibly depressed. the characters were impossible for me to care about and i didn't enjoy a minute of reading this book. everyone else in my book club liked it though! blah. (has anyone read everything is illuminated, by the same author? i'm curious if its his writing style, the character development, or the plot that i hated so much.)

7: season to taste, by molly birnbaum: back-to-back kitchen reader books by authors named molly! my review is online here

i'm taking a little bit of a break from book clubbing during april and am currently working on:

(per the suggestion of just about everyone. oh snap!)

any suggestions for what i should read in may? i'm like a book-eating monster this year, guys, so throw them at me. 20 books, here i come!

ps: you can follow along with what i'm reading on pinterest here


  1. I felt the same way about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It was more awkward than anything else (and I don't know that it was supposed to be).

    1. FINALLY SOMEONE AGREES WITH ME! my whole book club loved it. i had to tone down my haterdom at the meeting. :)