6 books I've loved in 2016 so far

A couple of years ago, I challenged myself to read the equivalent of my height in books. Just knowing that after I finished a book I would get to stack it up and eventually reach 5'5 encouraged me to pick bigger books, read more often, and share the journey with friends in the hopes of convincing them to try it too. It has since led to the inception of a book club I run with my friend Chloe, aptly named Book Club. Capital B, capital C, thank you very much.

The first time I tried reading my height in books, which you can learn about/see the full list of books here, it took me two years and 59 books (about 2.5 books per month).

These are some of the books I have enjoyed the most in the second edition of My Height in Books, which began in January 2016.

6 books I've loved in 2016 (January - july)

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

While reading Furiously Happy I laughed out loud, often. It’s the kind of book that approaches serious discussions about mental illness with wit and a fearlessness that’s highly addictive. This book makes you want to be friends with the author. The best I could do was read her other book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, although I didn't find it as funny as this one. 


Fear by L. Ron Hubbard

Written by the creator of Scientology (just take that in for a second), this book may be short but it is creepy and powerful in accomplishing what it sets out to do: make you question what is real and what isn't. While reading it, I often felt like I wasn't afraid, that is, until the lights went out and the most subtle nuances within the pages turned into terrible things hiding in the shadows of my bedroom. The first few pages set the tone for the entire book and initiated a nagging feeling that you were being watched but the culprit was always in your peripherals. When Stephen King acknowledges Hubbard's brilliance, you know you have stumbled on something great. This is the best horror book I have read since The Red Dragon.


Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk
 

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It is the perfect book to carry in your bag or read on a road trip. The series of short stories will make you laugh and squirm. Less than three pages into the opening story and Palahniuk already made me feel dirty in his unique style: vulgar, raw, and uncensored. He does this by peeling back the layers of politeness we hide behind in public and showing the aspects of being human that aren't so pleasant but are certainly relatable. The stories of drugs, sex, and everyday interactions are narrated by humans or animals in the most most magnetic, propulsive, and sometimes repulsive voices, so that you can’t help but keep reading even if you feel violated. 


How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran 

I think of summer reading, I guess, as somehow more playful. Which is why I’m glad I picked up this book in June. Although almost totally epigrammatic, I gained some significant insight into the misconceptions of feminism through its moments of depth. Many of Moran's references come from the wisdom that only experience can bring, and so I trusted what she said as she jumped around from her childhood to adulthood, sharing tidbits of funny moments, downfalls, and realizations that helped her become the outspoken writer she is now. It fits somewhere on the scale of autobiography between Kelly Oxford's Everything is Perfect When You're a Liar and Jenny Lawson's aforementioned Furiously Happy, but presents the topic of feminism in a way that is, to put it simply: real. It's like a group of women yapping happily at brunch while slightly tipsy on bottomless mimosas. It's easy. It's fun. But it will make you think. 


A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

My favourite book of the summer, potentially of all time. It is now top of my list of recommendations to friends, although In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes aren't far behind. This book is no small undertaking and requires patience. I spent many chapters falling down the rabbit hole of Google, looking up definitions and historical figures. Each chapter is like a burst of information, a stream of mind-blowing facts, and a glimpse into the past: how we got here, how the planet formed, the major discoveries that have led to our understanding of time and space, a look at our ancestry, and all the questions still left unanswered. Given that the book covers so much scientific material, I never felt that it was out of my grasp or too "textbook-ish." This is everything I could possibly want, but wouldn’t necessarily expect to find, in a history book.


The Most Dangerous Animal of All by Gary L. Stewart with the help of journalist Susan Mustafa


So many great books about serial killers and true crime will never be able to answer as many questions and offer as much insight as this book. Together the authors weave a story out of a complicated and unsolved murder case, using notes and data collected over a twelve year period, that may finally bring the case of the Zodiac to a close. Stewart, upon meeting his birth mother thirty-nine years after his adoption, discovers that his father is, without a doubt in his mind, the Zodiac Killer. Using a collection of evidence backed by professionals, including fingerprint and handwriting analysis, a timeline of murders correlated with the location of his father, and his father’s name decoded in one of the Zodiac’s infamous ciphers, the story reaches a conclusion not many unsolved murder cases can: a plausible identity. However, it’s only downfall, although slight, is this (as described to a friend via text):


Books I’m currently reading:

  • The Pornographer’s Poem – Michael Turner
     
  • Helter Skelter (The True Story of The Manson Murders) – Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry
     
  • Beautiful You – Chuck Palahniuk
     
  • After The Shots – C. Fardoe
     
  • Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes
     
  • Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay
     
  •  A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas - Chuck Klosterman