books and reading

2019 Wrap-Up

My goal is always to read more pages than the year before, rather than more books. I  almost made it this year, by Goodreads standards. In 2018, I read 110 books for 36914 pages, and in 2019 I read 132 books for 36038 pages. A good chunk of the books I read were ones I edited, which are kids’ books and pretty short. If I count all the books I edited that aren’t on Goodreads, I definitely surpassed the page number goal.

Here are some reviews for the highlights of my reading year.

Best book I read this year: The Book of M by Peng Shepherd. It’s dystopian, but in a way I had never read before. And it gutted me. I read it in January, and it’s stayed with me all year. I think about it a lot.

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. Wow. As a parent, this one is horrifying. About a little girl who is a sociopath and has a desire to harm her mother. But it’s so good.

I really enjoyed The Fourth Monkey series. It’s a “police catching a serial killer” series, and the dialogue is cheesy, but it kept me guessing.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. An excellent ghost story.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Same author as The Goldfinch. I just love everything she writes.

The Jack Caffery series by Mo Hayder is another great police detective series, but it’s very graphic. Birdman is the first.

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay. Another one that left me guessing. I’ve read a few of Tremblay’s books, and he’s really good.

The Girls by Emma Cline. This one was wacky. It’s a fictional story of the Charles Manson group and subsequent murders.

The Run of His Life: The People vs OJ Simpson. I couldn’t believe how much I learned from this book. I know a lot about the case already, but this had info I had never heard.

The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. I really don’t care for fantasy, but these are excellent young adult books.

The Dublin Murder Squad books by Tana French. I read two of them this year. Each one is better than the last. In the Woods is the first, the Likeness is the second, Faithful Place is the third.

Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. I read a lot of true crime, but this one stands out. The author is simultaneously doing research into a crime, yet learning things about herself. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. Again, another I was expecting not to think was so great, but I was blown away. Crichton really was ahead of his time in describing DNA, technology, etc.

Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen. Unlike Columbine by the same author (EXCELLENT BOOK) this one doesn’t focus on the shooter or the day, but rather the students who started a movement for gun control. Gives me hope for the future.

I read some great own voices books this year: A Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob, and Shanghai Girls by Lisa See were both great.

Best thriller I read was The Silent Patient. It wasn’t the greatest thriller ever, but it didn’t fall into the stupid thriller tropes like A Woman in the Window. Ugh that one was awful.

I started a lot of great series this year: the Harry Hole detective series, the Penny Green series about a Victorian reporter who also solves crimes, the Armand Gamache Canadian detective series, which is a good cozy mystery series.



books and reading

The Run of His Life: The People Vs. OJ Simpson

I was a recent high school graduate in June of 1994, trying to watch the NBA finals with my dad. He was a Knicks fan and was beside himself with anger that we were being forced to watch a white Bronco drive around Los Angeles. I wasn’t a Knicks fan and didn’t really care, so a car chase was fascinating. I knew who OJ Simpson was, mostly from commercials and the Naked Gun movies, but really had no idea how big of a football star he was. Or what he meant to the African-American community. I knew what he was accused of and had no idea whether or not he was guilty, but that would soon change.

I followed the trial half-heartedly. I was in college, very preoccupied with my freshman year, rarely watched the news, but I knew the trial was a gigantic mess. That was pretty clear just from the brief snippets of information I was receiving. The trial was taking much longer than expected, the prosecution wasn’t handling the witnesses well, and then there were the gloves. Anyone could see those gloves weren’t fitting, no matter how much Simpson “tried” to put them on. The case was close to being sunk. The final straw was the Fuhrman tapes. Clearly this man is a racist. The prosecution put him on the stand early in the trial. They didn’t have much of a choice considering he was one of the first detectives on the scene. However, when, at the end of the trial, tapes of him saying the most derogatory things were discovered, that was it. There was no way OJ was going to be convicted.

This book by Jeffrey Toobin does an excellent job presenting how ridiculous the prosecution was, how they completely bungled the trial, how brilliant Johnnie Cochran was as an attorney, how pathetic Robert Shapiro was, how desperate Judge Ito was for fame, and how OJ got away with murder. If you read the evidence against him- DNA blood evidence at the scene, in his car, on his socks at his house, his hair and fibers on the bodies, shoes prints at the scene matching ones he owned (very rare size 12…only 300 pairs sold in the US) cuts on his left hand, one glove at the scene one at his house….and don’t even mention that glove was planted, given the fact the police didn’t even know if OJ was in the country, let alone planting ALL the blood and fiber evidence- the evidence is BEYOND anything needed to convict a person. Toobin makes it very clear what side of the evidence he is on. He also makes it very clear to the reader. OJ is a murderer.