The Next 37: An Annotated Bibliography

So I’ve been putting this off because I’m reading David Copperfield and it’s taking me SO LONG, but I wanted to be able to put it on this list. But I can’t. So here it is, as it stands today.

  1. A Pocket Full of Rye (Agatha Christie) – This one is quite clever.
  2. Into the Wild (Warriors Book 1) (Erin Hunter) – I read this because it has been such a successful series in children’s literature of late. I did not expect fighting clans of wild warrior cats would be interesting, but in the hands of Erin Hunter, they are.
  3. Flood Summer (Trenton Lee Stewart) – Boy, if anyone ever started out in the wrong genre, it’s Trenton Lee Stewart. His children’s books (you may have heard of them – The Mysterious Benedict Society series) are brilliant, delightful, and timeless. Flood Summer, on the other hand, nearly killed me. It’s not that it’s a bad story, or that it’s badly written, or that the characters are flat – I think if it had been by someone I’d never heard of, I would have been more pleased. But knowing what Stewart can do gave me high hopes. Alas.
  4. Snow White Must Die (Nele Neuhaus) – Classic small town mystery story. Or is it?
  5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky) – I think I was distracted by all the drugs.
  6. The Casual Vacancy (J.K. Rowling) – Fine, if a bit rambly. Lacked the universality of Harry Potter, and every single one of the characters was pitiable for a good chunk of the story.
  7. The Serial Killers Club (Jeff Povey) – It was fine. I’m surprised it hasn’t been done before (at least to my knowledge), although Dexter kind of fills this niche a little.
  8. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (John le Carre) – Very good. Why haven’t I been read le Carre before?
  9. Mr. Parker Pyne, Detective (Agatha Christie) – I’m a huge Christie fan, but if Parker Pyne is a detective, I’m the keynote speaker at the American Glassblowers Association summit in Nome, Alaska next summer.
  10. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (JK Rowling) – It’s at this point in the story that I realize I cannot possibly pick a favorite book, let alone character.
  11. The Hangman’s Daughter (Oliver Potzsch) – Fine. I liked the “young love” romance angle. The size of the story’s tangled web was a little silly.
  12. Good Dog! (Steve Dale) – This little ebook was full of great advice, and as a first-time sighthound owner, I appreciated the nuances of Dale’s approach. “Breeding will out,” as they say – and I think particularly that’s the case with animal breeds.
  13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (JK Rowling) – Love.
  14. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling) – Also love. This was my first time to read the whole series through since the first time, right around when this 7th book came out. It doesn’t get old.
  15. Firebird (Firebird Trilogy #1) (Kathy Tyers) – Read this for the first time in high school. Not be the best sci-fi out there, but I think it’s pretty good.
  16. Leaving Everything Most Loved (Maisie Dobbs #10) (Jacqueline Winspear) – To my thinking, this is the weakest so far of the Maisie Dobbs series. I feel about Maisie like I do about Stephanie Plum in Janet Evanovich’s bestselling series – MAKE A DECISION YOU ARE KILLING ME HERE. Being in limbo for multiple books on the same decision makes a character begin to feel dull.
  17. Fusion Fire (Firebird Trilogy #1) (Kathy Tyers) – The sequel to Firebird; not as strong as it’s predecessor.
  18.  Galahad: Enough of His Life to Explain His Reputation (John Erskine) – Hilarious, if you’re an Arthurian legend junkie.
  19. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (Erik Larson) – Absolutely fascinating. Talk about a chunk of history I had only the vaguest clue about. I’m sure not everyone would go in for a story about the rise of Chicago, architecture, personal politics, and a serial killer, but, man, I thought it was great. And apparently so have millions of other readers.
  20. The Accusers (Marcus Didius Falco #15) (Lindsey Davis) – Books like this are the payoff for sticking with a series for a long time. Fantastic.
  21. The Gates of Zion (Zion Chronicles #1) (Bodie Thoene) – I read this series, and most of the connected series, in middle and early high school (starting in 5th grade). I was completely obsessed. If you and I went to elementary or middle school together, you might even remember what the covers look like, simply because of me! (Note: No, you are not remembering wrong. The cover didn’t look back then like it does in the edition they are selling now.) Rereading this book made me embarrassed for my 5th grade self. There is so much kissing! And the theology is kind of wack! And the people are bizarre caricatures of actual human beings! And there is so much kissing! And the plot is silly! And there is so much kissing! And the writing is not very good! And there is so much kissing! I decided that I owed it to my 5th grade self to finish the book I had so loved, but then abandoned the series, hopefully forever. (Another note: I am by no means opposed to kissing. But HOLY COW.)
  22. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Agatha Christie) – After reading The Gates of Zion, I needed my faith in fiction restored. This book helped.
  23. Scandal Takes a Holiday (Marcus Didius Falco #16) (Lindsey Davis) – So did this.
  24. Tuck Everlasting (Natalie Babbitt) – I finally get what the fuss is about with this book. Not my favorite, but not all good books are.
  25. The Singer (Singer Trilogy Book 1) (Calvin Miller) – HOLY COW. I read this in third grade, and apparently (understandably) DID NOT UNDERSTAND ALL THE TRINITARIAN AND CHRISTOLOGICAL HERESIES being voiced here. In the words of El Guapo, “a plethora.” I think that probably, Miller is extremely orthodox, but since he was trying to write an epic poem (which had some more minor theological problems, btw), he got all kinds of “creative” with describing the Trinity and wound up voicing tons of different heresies, one right after another in many cases. Poor guy was trying to 1) explain the ineffable and 2) was using language long-since trashed by the church councils in the, you know, 4th century AD. Good times.
  26. A Lasting Impression (Tamera Alexander) – This was just fun historical fiction, with some mystery, some romance, and some art. I may be a terrible painter/sketcher/sculptor, but I sure do love art, and reading about art and artists. Oh, and it’s set in Nashville, in a real house, and stays true to the real character of its mistress at the time.
  27. Touch & Go (Lisa Gardner) – Typical of the DD Warren books, this one barely featured the series’s eponymous character and was quite engaging. I like this series so much better than the FBI Profiler series she did before.
  28. Bossypants (Tina Fey) – Good. Worth the read.
  29. Behind the Scenes at the Museum (Kate Atkinson) – I think somewhere along the way I got in my head that Kate Atkinson and Kate Morton are sort of similar. This is NOT the case. At all. I think I will stop reading Kate Atkinson. I just am not that into her style. If you liked The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise, it might be your sort of thing.
  30. Far in the Wilds (Deanna Raybourn) – This novella served as backstory for her then-soon-to-be-released new novel, A Spear of Summer Grass. It did a decent job of that, and I appreciated that backstory when I read the actual book (see below).
  31. A Spear of Summer Grass (Deanna Raybourn) – Let me go out of my way to say how much I like Deanna Raybourn as a person and an author; in fact, it’s safe to say she is my favorite living novelist. BUT. This book. I did not like it. It was interesting – Raybourn always does copious amounts of research, and doesn’t let her characters do anything unless she has proof it was done by someone, at least, in that time period. I learned some very interesting things about English imperialism and the colonization of Africa. BUT. When a book revels in debauchery, I have a hard time liking it. And I felt like this book reveled. And the redeeming qualities in the main characters, while valuable and important traits, were just insufficient to make up for the hot mess that was sprawling throughout the book. (And by “hot,” I mean both sexy – as in sex-related – and very warm. After all, it is Africa.) Bring back Lady Julia. (Raybourn is, never fear.)
  32. Murder Is Binding (Lorna Barrett) – This book is Exhibit B of the “cozy mystery” genre. (Exhibit A would have to be either a Father Brown story or a Miss Marple, no question.) In my opinion, it was a little too cozy and cute.
  33. The Mind of the Maker (Dorothy Sayers) – If I didn’t already adore Dorothy Sayers for Lord Peter Wimsey, or for Are Women Human?, or for “The Lost Tools of Learning,” this book would have demanded my adoration of her. This was so good. In contrast to The Singer (#22 on this list), Sayers writes a long, complicated, extended metaphor of the Trinity, and specifically for the type of reader most likely to understand it best – artists. And I think that it’s the best metaphor for explaining the Trinity I’ve ever heard of, except maybe a triangle (which is nice and simple because everybody can grasp the concept of a triangle). I know that the intention of this book is not to teach people to write – or create any type of art – but it sort of does help with that, particularly if you are interested in “theology of ____” type things (in this case, creative work). Also, Madeleine L’Engle’s introduction is delightful.
  34. Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3) (Patrick Ness) – Ness shines here, closing out his trilogy with a really well-thought-out plot, and world, really. I was pleased, especially as book 2 (The Ask and the Answer) had not lived up to the promise of book 1 (The Knife of Never Letting Go). This is in the same genre as The Hunger Games, but I think is thought-provoking in a more personal way. The Hunger Games makes you think about society and government; this trilogy makes you think about yourself as a person, and how we as individuals try to hide from each other. Some of that is, I think, ok – privacy is not a bad thing per se – but there is much in our application of it that looks more like Adam and Eve hiding in the Garden when God comes for their daily walk, dressing up in fig leaves and feeling so alienated and alone.
  35. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Stephen King) – I loved it. Loved it loved it. Marked it up like crazy. And have begun writing daily (except for Sundays).
  36. Carrie (Stephen King) – He talked about it so much in On Writing that I had to read it to figure out what he was talking about. Side note: It turns out that I don’t like horror. Shocking, I know. (But I was shocked that books like Relic and Reliquary by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are classed as “horror,” and I enjoy those and would never classify them as such. If monsters make the genre, I guess they are, and I guess I like some horror, but I think that’s silly.)
  37. Interrupted (Jen Hatmaker) – What if American evangelical Christians are missing out on a huge part of the kingdom Jesus came to establish, namely, caring for the poor? Hatmaker describes how she and her family were changed by exploring the answer to this question. I think it shook me out of some lazy-weird thinking.
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One Comment to “The Next 37: An Annotated Bibliography”

  1. I loved the bodie and broch Thorne series also at one time, but do not intend to re read… Don’t remember all the kissing… Do remember the romance….. I had 4 children when I read them… Different perspectives I guess! I do Not like spell check!

    Sent from my iPad

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