1. The Constant Wife by W. Somerset Maugham
Audio, LA Theatre Works live performance
Read January 2, 2014
I wanted to throw some plays into my reading mix, mostly because I couldn’t remember the last time I had read a play. Live performance audio book versions of plays are a great way to be entertained and experience the work as close to the way it was intended as you can without leaving the house. “The Constant Wife” is the first work of Maugham’s I’ve engaged with (that’s a kind of annoying way to say “read”) and I’m glad I did; I found his charm and early-20th century gay wit easy to appreciate.
2. Longbourn by Jo Baker
Random House Audio, Narrated by Emma Fielding
Read January 4, 2014
Finally, a Jane Austen-inspired work that stands well on its own. I randomly got into those Jane Austen-inspired-sequels a while ago so I’ve read my fair share and most are total snooze fests. The new story line about the servants of Longbourn runs a bit long and predictable, but I’ve found myself still thinking about the author’s super anti-Mr. Bennett bent. Who hates Mr. Bennett?? Baker makes a solid case for it in Longbourn.
3. The Boys From Brazil by Ira Levin
Blackstone Audio, Narrated by Simon Vance
Read January 6, 2014
I needed an audio book ASAP and went with The Boys From Brazil because I can always count on Simon Vance for a solid narration. Levin’s novel is an entertaining and creepy “what if” take on post-World War II paranoia about the return of Nazis that inspired a 1978 film starring Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier. That reminds me, I should really rent the movie.
4. Daughters of Eve by Lois Duncan
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, ebook
Read January 18, 2014
I’ve been pretty nostalgic for all things 90s lately and couldn’t resist an trying out “Daughters of Eve” in ebook format. I was expecting some shenanigans and 1970s women-power, and instead I got a really anti-feminist, homophia-tinged treatise on women who hate men. Ironically enough there is a conversation between openly gay author Malindo Lo and Lois Duncan featured in the ebook; Lo is even like, “hey uhhh what’s going on here” and Duncan’s just kind of like, “FEMINISM IS DANGEROUS WOMEN WANT BABIES.” I can’t even imagine what Malinda Lo must have been thinking during that one. Next time I want to engage with some 90s Duncan nostalgia I’ll just watch the movie version of “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”
5. My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr
Houghton Mifflin, hardcover
Read February 9, 2014
I came across this title while browsing a list of LGBTQ YA award winners and nominees (My Heartbeat was a Printz Honor Book in 2003). Oh boy. I haven’t been able to commit to a novel written by an author I’m not already comfortable with since. If Daughters of Eve was unsettling, My Heartbeat was downright depressing. The best I can say about it is that, as someone who was a junior in high school in 2003, it really reflects the time’s unease regarding LGBTQ teens.
6. “The Wanderer in Unknown Realms: A Novella” by John Connolly
Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Kindle Single
Read March 19, 2014
A novella for book lovers from the author of one of my very favorite books, The Book of Lost Things. A rare instance where the beauty of the cover is matched by the beauty of the story inside.
7. Missing You by Harlan Coben
Brilliance Audio, Narrated by January LaVoy
Read March 23, 2014
I love Harlan Coben so much and I was just so terribly disappointed with the homophobic and transphobic twist in Missing You. If only he had gone a different way with that, I’d be able to really appreciate this otherwise masterful mystery novel.
8. “Disgraced” by Ayad Akhtar
Back Bay Books, paperback
Read April 5, 2014
Ayad Akhtar won a well-deserved Pulitzer for Drama for “Disgraced,” a fresh look at interfaith and post-9/11 tensions, in 2013.
9. Doctor Who: Dead Air by James Gross
Audio Go, Narrated by David Tennant
Read April 5, 2014
It was the Audible.com Deal of the Day, how could I resist? Thanks, David Tennant, for being awesome per usual. A solid “Doctor Who” story narrated by the Doctor with an audiobook narrated by the Doctor himself. The kind of meta-ness I’m sure Tennant appreciated.
10. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
Random House, paperback
Read April 7, 2014
I’m obsessed with Greene’s writing style and couldn’t resist reading “the ultimate novel about Vietnam” after I’ve read so much non-fiction recently about the late 1960s and early 1970s.