6. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (audiobook)
The Casual Vacancy is a gritty adult novel that nakedly depicts the impact of class warfare in a tiny parish in England. It's definitely a slow burn book that rewards those who continue reading. Not recommended to Harry Potter or fantasy fans, unless you're also a fan of heavy-handed adult lit (I am).
7. All Roads Lead to Austen: A Yearlong Journey with Jane by Amy Elizabeth Smith
Professor Amy Smith takes a year of sabbatical to travel throughout South America and read Jane Austen novels with local book groups along the way. Her purpose is to determine whether South Americans relate to Austen as much or more than Brits and Americans, due to their current cultural similarities and differences with Austen's time. In my mind, it's a strange proposition in the first place and doesn't seem to make much sociological sense, but Smith cites Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran as inspiration, and it's clear she wants an excuse to both read Jane Austen and travel in South America for a year, so she decides to make a book of it.
8. Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott
Under the Lilacs is the first book I officially finished on my e-reader. It's a book I've wanted for years, since I think I've read literally everything else by LMA, except for some blood-and-thunder juvenilia. Like LMA's well-known novels, it's sweet and didactic, and I loved the spunky child characters. This is also the only LMA novel where a dog plays an important role, and I enjoyed Sancho the poodle's storyline, even when I didn't enjoy what happened to him. Overall though, I wish I had read this when I was younger. Though I'm able to enjoy it now, my awareness of the 'preachiness' and how the story was constructed diminished the experience.
9. Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
When The Happiness Project was over, I wanted a sequel, and Happier at Home delivered. To me, perhaps because I read them so close together, it felt like a continuation of the earlier book. Some of the same topics, like Marriage and Parenthood, were covered, and some of the references she made in the earlier book resurfaced. They're different enough that it's worth reading both, but I would recommend reading The Happiness Project first. Again, it was interesting to see what goals Rubin made and how she completed (or didn't complete) them, and again, I reflected on how I would have gone about things differently!
I'm also looking forward to some of the books on the reading lists for both books; this one, naturally, included a large selection of books about the home.
10. The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg
11. The Circuit: Progeny of Vale by Rhett C. Bruno
Read my review here.