Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Year of Books

I have been loving books long before I could read the words. I loved the pictures and my parents read to me often, sounding out words as I went along. By the time I was in first grade, I was in the "Palamino" reading group -- which my parents later told me was for the best readers!

It's something I love to this day. I can get lost in the bookstore and books are my favorite gifts to receive.

I started keeping lists of what I read back in high school. Back then it was on index cards and now and then I come across one of them. Now they're in a small notebook with the year, the year's book goal and a long list!

Last year brought lots of good reading hours -- what a year of books! As I went through my list, I realized what I really love reading most (mysteries) and yet found some of the best of the year to be in other categories.

In 2016 I read 60 books. This year, the goal was 52 and I read  59 books. But, I did surpass the number of pages, definitely reading heftier books, by and large. (And lots of them had pretty tiny print, which should have been even more pages.

I want from 18,325 pages in 2016 to 19,570 in 2017 -- so at least I didn't feel like a slacker.

Here's a category-by-category look.


A good category and three of my favorites were locked in here -- "Stephen Sondheim: A Life" (by Merle Secrest); Susan Branch's "A Fine Romance" and Trevor Noah's "Born a Crime" made my best list. Those titles are pretty self-explanatory!

Others included:

  • "At Home with the Queen" (Brian Hoey -- backstairs at the Palace and pretty fascinating)
  • "HM Qqueen Elizabeth II" by Anne Butler (mostly photos)
  • "Prince Harry" by Penny Junor (I never like her books but I did enjoy learning more about Harry)
  • "Making Masterpiece" by Rebecca Eaton (this is as close to best-of as it could be. She's the producer of "Masterpiece" on PBS and there are tidbits about many of my favorite Masterpiece and Mystery series. It's fun and dishy. And also $1 at Dollar Tree.
  • "No Ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns Goodwin -- about the Roosevelts during WWII. Fascinating. And very well done and research. And very long.
  • "As Always, Julia" by Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, edited by Jean Reardon. This was a collection of letters between Julia and her pen pal, Avis written before and during "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Very revealing about cooking, the process of writing the book, politics of the 1950s and Julia's life in France. ALMOST Best of list.
  • "Life Goes On" by Becca Rowan. This compilation of Becca's blog pieces over a two year period tracks her journey through her mother's illness and the grief that followed, along with her passion for writing, music and discovery. Just lovely.
  • "Faces of America" by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a compilation of interviews from his TV series with more details on genealogy searching. Included are Mike Nichols, Meryl Streep, Malcolm Gladwell, Queen Noor, Dr. Oz, Eva Longoria, Kristi Yamaguchi, Yo-Yo Ma and Stephen Colbert (among others). It was through Gates' interview with Colbert that I learned a) that we are distantly related and b) more about our mutual seventh great grandfather!



My best of the year was on this list and it came courtesy of Lynne at Irish Garden House -- Antoine Laurain's "The Red Notebook" (wonderfully sweet romance set in Paris). Also on the Best of from this group was "Broken for You" by Stephanie Kallos (one of the best books I've read related to grief and loss) and "The Little French Bistro" by Nina George (finding freedom and one's self when running from an emotionally abusive relationship and landing in the French countryside.)

Others in the Fiction category include:

  • "The Windsor Factor" by D.J. Taylor. So-so historical fiction about Fascist influence in Britain during the WWII years.
  • "Radio Girls" by Sarah Jane Stafford. More spying in WWII Britain but this time the BBC plays a bigger role. Good feisty female characters and an enjoyable read.
  • "Cooking for Picasso" by Camille Aubray. A young woman whose family owns a cafe finds herself delivering food to Picasso, who is living incognito in Provence.
  • "Under the Influence" by Joyce Maynard. A woman's life falls apart, held together by her child and the family of questionable morals that takes her under their wing.
  • "Christmas in Paris" by Susan Vreeland. Sweet romance set in Paris that would make a decent Hallmark Christmas movie.
  • "Lisette's List" by Susan Vreeland. Very enjoyable read about WWII Provence and a woman who learns of the work of Chagall, Matisse, Pisarro and others. Very enjoyable.
  • "The Magician's Assistant" by Ann Patchett. Another book where coping with grief takes center stage, bringing the main character into contact with the family of the deceased. Very nice. Patchett usually is.

A photo spread from "Paris in Bloom"


"The Girls of Atomic City" by Denise Kernan. Similar to "Hidden Figures" only these women are working in plants to build the atomic bomb. Fascinating but too many characters, albeit real ones.

Other Non Fiction

My favorite here was mostly photos, "Paris in Bloom," by Georgiana Lane -- fabulous, luscious photos of Paris, primarily floral.


  • "Christmas Joy" by Susan Branch (if this had more pages it would be a favorite because Susan Branch always is. Wonderful illustrations and ideas and recipes for Christmas activities.
  • "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voscamp. Highly inspirational book on living and our many gifts.



Here we go.  I read 34 books in this category and with the exception of Louise Penny's books and and "The Coroner's Lunch," all of them were either by British authors or set there (or both). I didn't pick a favorite because they were mostly all good and many by the same authors. The new Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear ("In This Grave Hour") is always a treat. And I love the Louise Penny "Gamache" books and the Deborah Crombie "Kincaid and James" series -- and read a lot of them (eleven Crombies and seven Pennys.) I'm caught up with both series and can't wait for a new one by either author.

NOTE: This probably goes without saying to mystery readers but I strongly suggest reading series like the Crombies, Winspears, MacNeals and Pennys in order as the personal character development plays a key factor in getting the most out of these, either historically or from a period view.)

Also fun were the Classic British Crime series by Poisoned Pen Press and I did two by J. Jefferson Fargeon and one by Freeman Willis Croft. I'll read more of these.

I also discovered Peter Lovesey's Edward VII mysteries, "Bertie and the Crime of Passion" and thanks to Mae, Jill Paton Walsh's Imogen Quy series. Others included the new Maggie Hope "The Queen's Accomplice" (Susan Elia MacNeal) and Colin Cotterill's "The Coroner's Lunch" along with two by Charles Todd set in WWI (both very good) and Rhys Bowen's "Her Royal Spyness." Also on the list, another Bryant and May book by Christopher Fowler. I'd recommend any of these authors.

Here's the list:

By Deborah Crombie: "Dreaming of the Bones," "Kissed theSad Goodbye," "A Finer End," "And Justice There Is None," "Now You May Week," "In a Dark House," "Water Like a Stone," "Where Memories Lie," "Necessary as Blood," "No Blood Upon Her," "The SOund of Broken Glass," "To Dwell in Darkness" "Garden of Lamentations."

By Louise Penny: "A Trick of the Light," "The Beautiful Mystery," "How the Light Gets In," "The Long Way Home," "The Nature of the Beast," "A Great Reckoning." And, "The Hangman" (not in the chronology.)

Others: "The Queens Accomplice" (Susan Elia MacNeal), "In this Grave Hour" (Jacqueline Winspear), "Thirteen Guests" (J. Jefferson Farjeon), "The Coroner's Lunch" (Colin Cotterill); "Her Royal Spyness" (Rhys Bowen), "Bryant and May and the Bleeding Heart" (Christopher Fowler), "The Shattered Tree" (Charles Todd), "The Wyndham Case" (Jill Paton Walsh), "An Unwilling Accomplice" (Charles Todd), "Bertie and the Crime of Passion" (Peter Lovesey), "The Hog's Back Mystery" (Freeman Willis Croft), "The Price of Justice" (Jill Paton Walsh), "Angels in the Gloom" (Anne Perry), "Mystery in White" (J. Jefferson Farjeon).

SO, for this new year?


The pile is tall (or maybe I should say, the piles ARE tall!). They are a mix of "girl" thrillers (books in the genre of "Girl on the Train" or "Gone Girl"), some bios, some British history, some Paris... Oh, I won't be bored!

And then there's a comprehensive historical bio of Henry VIII's six wives, Danubia (on the Hapsburgs, among others), more Roosevelts... and who knows what will come along in-between! All this is great for cold winter nights -- and we have them! I think I'll have to pull out "Paris in Bloom" again, just for the floral eye candy!

I've already finished two this year -- but they were short: Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road and Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. I'd read "Charing Cross" before -- decades ago and it was fun to revisit it. "Duchess" was new to me. These are fast reads and so delightful -- especially if you love books or England.

Sharing with:  Share Your Cup  /  Let's Keep in Touch 


jenna meon said...

The pictures of you as a little girl are so adorable Jeanie! I LOVE to read mysteries too, but not too scary. Im sure you enjoy the sense of accomplishment you get from looking back over your book lists. Happy reading 2018!

La Table De Nana said...

I knew it was you on my feed w/ that first pic RIGHT AWAY:)
I loved books as a child today..I still know a few children that like to read but very few..and it is a shame.The solitary hours spent w/ a book instead of a computer game were magical.Not stressful..not competitive..just quiet.
I am glad a part of me always knew quiet.
I am surprised you have time to read so much lol..I have visions of you balancing a book w/ a champagne flute or wine glass ..whilst painting and visiting Northern Exposure..:) getting ready to jumpin the sake and float w/ a flamingo.Kidding!
Do you buy all your boks Jeanie..I just showed J your books..I love them all.

I have read some ..and some not..I'll come back but actually Pin this post in books it will be a hnady reference..
Just read Last Christmas in Paris..liked it a lot..I read it all that says a lot..I often push myself to finish a book not all are created equal..this one didn't require much pushing..
Reading far so good!!:)
Have a nice day~

Linda deV said...

Going to be looking these up.....always love a good recommendation.

Enjoy a good book but you are WAY out of my league!

Stacey said...

Girl, you inspire me to read more! I just read an article yesterday about the fact that reading is so good for our brains. Reading an actual book instead of skimming an article engages different parts of your brain. And so...I'm going to read more books. Thanks for the great ideas.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

It makes me smile to see the photos of you as a child with a book. I was just like that and made everyone read to me until I could read myself. I love to read and always have a book going and a stack nearby! I read 86 books last year. Hoping to read as many this year.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, love the photos of the Young you! So cute. I love to read and usually stick to mysteries and fiction. I have to look up a few on your list. I usually download ebooks from my library. Stay warm and safe. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day!

Valerie-Jael said...

Reading has been my escape and pleasure since I learnt to read at the age of 3, and I still am an avid reader. Have fun with your books this year, may they take you to lots of wonderful places. Hugs, Valerie

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Bravo on another huge year of reading! I've also been a lover of reading since I was very young. Both sets of grandparents were avid readers. My parents were kind of too busy to read when we were growing up since there were 5 of us kids to corral, but they really emphasized the importance of reading and fostered a love of reading. I definitely read the most out of all of my siblings as I took to the hobby of reading like a house on fire!! I read 84 books this year and there were so many good ones! It was tough to make my top 10 list. I still plan to do a post about my 2017 reading with a breakout of the different categories/formats as I think it's interesting to see how my reading split out.

I read my first Penny novel this fall and really want to read more of the series! I was hoping that the eBooks would be available at the library but there is a wait for all of them. Womp womp. But I will get to at least a couple of them this year. I was kind of hoping that the eBooks would all be available immediately so I could work my way through them on maternity leave - I've heard that nursing mommas can get a lot of reading done during all the feeding sessions!

Anonymous said...

That's very impressive, I too like to read, but I certainly couldn't read that many books in a year.

My true passion, is writing!

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, I just know we would have been best friends growing up! I love to read and I have read many of those you read last year! As a child, I remember my first trip to the public library! I checked out the maximum books-and read them all and they were returned on time two weeks later! Thanks for sharing, sweet friend!

Barbara Windle said...

Jeanie, I pinned your post to my Library board on Pinterest for future reference. I feel like such a slacker, but I always seem to be crazy busy. I have only just started Paris 1919. I have so many I would like to read. I didn't read any of the books on your list for 2017. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

Sandra Cox said...

Weren't you a little cutie. And of course still are:)
Paris In Bloom looks luscious.
Read on.

My name is Erika. said...

I love seeing what people read and you have a fantastic list. Mysteries are tops for me too, and Louise Penny is one of my favorites. But you read so many other interesting books. And you have as many books as me on the to read in 2018 list! Congrats on the 59. That is impressive! Hugs-Erika

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Happy New Year! I am back form a short blog break. You certainly are a reader, Jeanie, and I loved seeing photos of you as a child. I also love to read. When I was young the public library was my favorite place to visit and I remember being so thrilled to realize I could cross into the adult section by the time I was 10. I spent the summer of my 10th year reading Robinson Crusoe--still one of my favorite classics!

Now I'm in a book club with friends which is nice, as we each chose different genres of books, some of which I probably would never have read, as I like nonfiction and historical fictions books the best.

I enjoyed reading about your selection of books and made a few notes to look for some your recommended.

Hugs, Pat

Esme said...

The photos of you are so sweet. They are great. I am not sure if I have any photos of me reading-oh wait I have one of me in my bikini on a raft reading in the Caribbean. I have loved reading since I was a child. To this day I love going to the library.

I just finished reading A Stranger in the House.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Doris Kearns Goodwin has been the authority of all things past presidents for years. Her research is second to none. Of course, I'm a HUGE fan of mysteries. That's about all I read, with a bit of SciFi mixed in at times. I also enjoyed your take on the PBS Masterpiece Mysteries series. I never fail to watch them. And the idea of the British authors and learning more about the whole family of the Queen fascinates me. I'm really impressed with your choices of books and look forward to seeing how you liked these you have chosen for this year. And I am SO glad you read real books, too. No kindle in my home. I like the feel of real pages.

Bella said...

As always, I enjoyed the old photos. Some interesting choices on your book list. Doris Kearns Goodwin is such an interesting person. I could listen to her all day.

Lisbeth Ekelof said...

Seems like a great reading year! A lot of different types of books, which makes it a special pleasure. All the best for the 2018 reading year. Also all the best to your family and friends. Looking forward to see your creative life in 2018!

Tracy said...

Oh, this was such fun! read a LOT of great books last years, Jeanie! And LOVE that photo of you at the top... "reading" your book! I was the same as a young child, or so my Mom tells me--I loved books before I had language to read. :) I seem to recall we had similar levels of reading in grade school. There as Lions, oh, I recall them all, though! I used to keep lists of reading too--the read, and the to-read. I still keep lists... LOL! Although, I don't usually have any goal for number of books to read, etc. Looking back over my journal, I was happy to discover that I read 50 books. A book a week, almost. So many good books on your lists here. I'd like to read As, Always, Julia. Cooking for Picasso sounds good too! LOTS of interesting n you stacks for this year too. Oh, Charing Cross is an old fave of mine--th film based on the books was great too!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

So much to say here.....growing up with parents who did not read (my mother was illiterate) and my father had technical manuals that he perused to help him figure out his garage-engineering ambitions, I was not groomed to be an avid reader. However, I did grow up loving the sound of words, the look of letters on the pages of books from school, and thank goodness, later in life when I went back to college, I gobbled up the written word, to this day. The irony is now I'm battling the fear of losing my sight (which is probably just the normal aging process), and I want to read as much as I can, though blurry.

How I envy those of you who grew up knowing you loved books. I grew up loving the distant love affair others had, and now, I do share in this passion, but with so much catch up to do.

Joanne Huffman said...

An interesting list - some of my favorites (I did all the Gamache books this year and loved them) and some interesting suggestions. I finished Isaacson's Leonardo DaVinci just before the new year and really recommend it to you. Happy reading!

The French Hutch said...

I wish I had kept a list of all the books I've read! Not to late to start doing that so I'll add it to my list of resolutions for the new year. Adorable photos of you reading as a little girl. Like you I llove mysteries. I am now reading the same Julia Childs book. I love Julia and read all I can about her, she was fascinating. Hope you are staying warm, it is freezing in the Deep South as well.........

Jemma@athomewithjemma said...

What an inspiring post and one that also stimulated such good conversations and observations. Just like you I grew up with books, my Mother literally devoured them as she sat in her favorite chair nibbling on a Hershey Bar! I don't know how she had the time to do so, but she made time!
Thank you for sharing you fabulous collections and recommendations. Right now I am reading Cesar's Way a training book on dogs.
( I get my puppy on the 15th) and Idaho.
Happy Friday, Jeanie!

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

ah, I should have known you were a kindred bibliophile spirit! I confess to no longer collecting actual paper books - I buy books for my "Nook Color" and read from that. Although I do like the feel of books while reading, I find the Nook allows me to get MORE books (they're substantially less expensive, so I don't have to think about whether or not I'm REALLY going to read them lol; and, I currently have over 1,500 books in a leather-bound device which is about the size of a standard paper back).
So far this year, I've read "Two Days Gone" by Randall Silvis, which I highly recommend for a good thriller read. Interestingly and well-executed story line 'voiced' by both the murderer and the detective. I also read "The Courtesan and the Gigolo: The Murders in the Rue Montaigne and the Dark Side of Empire in Nineteenth-Century Paris" by Aaron Freundschuh. I can't recommend it as novel, history, sociological examination or court summary. It was dry as dust with a sand beverage. LOL
Good luck getting through that delicious looking stack of books. OH! - I also loved "Stephen Sondheim: A Life" - not surprising, as he's my musical theatre idol!
Thanks for a marvelous post!

Lynne said...

Oh My . . .
Love, loved the pictures of you . . ,
I saved this post on my IPad screen so I can refer back to it . . . again and again!

broken for you, is sitting bedside . . . (I promise to return!)

Just yesterday I passed The Red Notebook on to another . . .(thank you for the mention)
My favorite of 2017 . . .

There are times when I read mindless, like last night, naughty, silly, evanovich, hardcore twenty four.
Not sure why . . . I love granny!

Happy cold snowy weather reads!
Love you girl . . .

The Sketchy Reader said...

You had a great reading year! I met my goal of sixty books this year, but I've lowered it to 40 for 2018 because I want to focus a little more on my health and wellness and art.

I really want the Paris in Bloom book! I'm putting it on my TBR list, and I think it would make a great Valentine's Day present. ;P

Happy New Year!


PS I loved seeing those photos of you reading. SO cute!

Jean | said...

Aaaw, little Jeanie was adorable! We would have gotten along well - I was rarely without a book in my hand from birth on! I loved this post - reading about what you've been reading. I wish I had kept a list of books read, but perhaps this is the year I should start one.

Pam Jackson said...

Great on Jeanie! I was making it a point to read a little each night as I went to bed but somehow that got away from that the holidays are done and over with I need to make it a point to try to get back in that habit! Thanks for sharing all through the year!

Red Rose Alley said...

First of all, your childhood pictures are the most charming pictures and such treasures, Jeanie. Since I downsized and moved, all my photo albums are still in boxes, but I have a few childhood pics in files on my computer. It's wonderful that you love to read. And I've heard of "Paris in Bloom" before. It sounds like a delightful book. I just love that picture of you by the window. You had such a good mom to have taken all these photos during those special moments in your childhood. I will try to get back to reading this year, but the books I'm drawn to our usually children's books. : )


Marilyn Miller said...

What an amazing list. There were a couple there that I have read, but oh my! I guess I haven't touched on the depth of mysteries yet. Paris in Bloom has been on my wish list, but then I wondered if it was worth getting. Sounds like it is. Keep on reading! Your list is fun to read.

Karen said...

Hello Jeanie, I'm so happy I found your blog!

Polly said...

Wow Jeanie that is an impressive amount of books in a year, I only manage one or two a month! I recognise a few titles. Paris in bloom sounds lovely. I started keeping synopsis’ of the books I have read when I joined my book group 7 years ago. That first photograph is lovely, you have such an engaging smile :-)

Sally Wessely said...

Jeanie, I loved this post. I am going to print it out so it can become my “books to read” list. I see so many titles on here that interest me. You have way out read me. Not that there is a contest. I realize I don’t read as much as I once did because I’ve gotten hooked into watching political pundits in the evening. I have never been a t.v. watcher, and I realize I really don’t want to keep up with each little political twist and turn I like I have over the past year. I want to get back to reading.

Some I have read, but not many. I always love seeing what others select because I can get stuck in one genre or another. I did read “No Ordinary Time” several years or so ago and really enjoyed it. I’ve read several Roosevelt biographies over the years, but this one was so interesting to me because it gave a picture of the time into which I was born as well as the key players of the time.

Thanks again for sharing your list.

Joyce F said...

I've been an avid reader all my life. Really enjoyed this post, seeing some of my favorites and getting ideas for future reads. I borrow most of the books I read from my local library. They belong to a library consortium so have access to many books not housed in our local library building. Are you familiar with the website It's a great place to find mystery writers, order of books and all kinds of other things. I too keep track of the books I read during the year. I haven't totaled for the year 2017 yet but usually I average a couple books a week, a mixture of genres.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

My favorite post of the year! I remember when a blog friend told me that I just HAD to visit you...we loved so many of the same books and had so much in common. I've really enjoyed getting to know you this year and see lots of authors that we both love. (I even see One Thousand Gifts made your list of favorite books, which makes me happy!) I loved to read at an early age but was not encouraged by my family. Luckily I had a neighbor friend that loved to walk to the library and I was able to tag along with her. I checked out stacks of books and sat on my bed and read while my family watched tv in the den. I've sure learned a lot from reading over the years. I see some books on your list to add to my 'to read' list! Lots and lots of hugs, Diane

Marie Rayner said...

Wow what an incredible list of books! Some of them are ones I had read myself and you have inspired me to want to read a few others! I was a voracious reader as a child. When I didn’t have anything “fun” to read I read the encyclopaedia! That Paris in bloom is looking very interesting to me. I think I will put it on my wish list! Xo

Carola Bartz said...

Reading about what books people have read and loved is one my favorite reads ever (see, I had the word "read" or "reading" three times in this sentence!).
I bought "Paris in Bloom" after you had written about it on your blog, and I love it. However, I haven't read many books of your list and I will look into them. I did read "The Girls of Atomic City" after I had been to the Nuclear/Atomic Museum in Albuquerque (forgot the official name, but an excellent place to visit) and thought it was very interesting. Another excellent read about life in Los Alamos including how it was for the wives of the scientists who had to live in such seclusion is "109 East Palace" by Jennet Conant. It has a focus on Robert Oppenheimer, but I found it really showed how life in Los Alamos was.

Barb said...

Love those pics of the curly headed reader. I always enjoy seeing what others are reading. I read one book after another. I’ve stopped counting. The Kindle is my friend since I can’t read paper books anymore because of my formaldehyde allergy. Keep reading Jeanie!

Jann Olson said...

How precious are those photos of you when you were young? I have always loved books as well, and mysteries are my favorite. I don't read nearly as much as I use to. Quite a goal you accomplished! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

Tamara said...

Jeanine, what an achievement! Im envious of all that reading, but know I wont ecer be that prolific. By thinking about not continuing my formal studies this year I hope to actually read more. I would love to read more about the Royals, and I'm half way thro Julia Bairds Victoria.. maybe I'll finish it.

At Rivercrest Cottage said...

You've really got a rugged list of last years! Not sure I could get through some of those, but we do share a love of Susan Branch's writing.

Danielle L Zecher said...

I'm impressed at how much you read. I didn't make my reading goal for last year. I'm not sure what happened, but I enjoyed most of what I read, so I'm calling it good.

If you haven't picked out your book about Henry VIII's yet, I highly recommend The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. It was excellent.

I did read In This Grave Hour last year. I loved it, but didn't realize it was part of a series until I had already started reading it. Now I have plans to read the series.

Happy reading for this year!

Victoria Zigler said...

Sounds like you had a great reading year. I hope 2018 is as good, if not better!

Snap said...

Loved your bibliophile post! I love books ... my kingdom for a book!!!!!!!!!

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