Today Will Be Different (Maria Semple)- I loved the last book of hers that I read, “Where’d You Go Bernadette”so I had high expectations for this one. It managed to exceed those expectations. It was hilarious and had me cracking up but it also had emotional depth and substance to it. The premise of the story is that a rather quirky woman who’s led a rather quirky life makes a resolution to start living her life differently today. Today will be the day she starts being present in the moment, makes eye contact, doesn’t curse, initiates sex with her husband, etc,. The entire book takes place in one day and let’s just say it’s a day that doesn’t exactly go as planned, a day that throws everyone for a loop.

I had the pleasure of meeting Maria Semple when my local Barnes & Noble hosted a discussion and signing of the book. She’s as awesome in person as she is in writing. There was laughter at the event and there were also tears from her and from the audience. She said that people often expect her to be like Tina Fey and are surprised but how serious she is. That doesn’t surprise me because I’m the same way. I can be quite the comedian but I have a dark, sad and serious side.

I Am Malala (Malala Yousafzai)- If the fictional A Thousand Splendid Suns wasn’t enough to show me the horrors of the Taliban, there was this autobiographical account of a girl who lived under it. Shooting a child in the head because she advocated for girls to have access to education is just beyond the pale, not to mention all the other atrocities the Taliban is responsible for. I’m sad that Malala had to endure all that hardship but I’m glad that through it all she persevered and fought hard to achieve her dreams and help others.  She is a brilliant, amazing person and her story is an interesting and inspiring one but I have to say it didn’t have the kind of emotional impact on me that A Thousand Splendid Suns did. It was told in a rather detached manner but I have to remember that as remarkable a teenager as Malala is, she is still just a teenager.  I heard that she recently spoke out to say that she is devastated by the immigration ban that Trump has instituted. I am devastated for her.

Furiously Happy (Jenny Lawson)– This is a series of humorous essays written by a woman who suffers from depression and anxiety. The premise is that when life gets her down, instead of being sad, she’s going to be furiously happy in irrational, outrageous, bizarre and fun ways. The humor in this book might be too silly and ridiculous for some but I appreciated it and found it funny. My favorite essays were the ones about the arguments with her husband that ended with a score card. Humor aside, she has some wise and comforting insights in to depression and anxiety. The part of the book where her readers reach out to her, share their own experiences with depression and anxiety and realize they’re not alone is rather touching.

Well, that concludes the books I read in 2016. GoodReads just gave me a summary of my 2016 in books. It ended by saying that I read 31 out of 50 books and wishing me better luck in 2017. I’ve once again set a goal of 50 books and so far I’m on track. Maybe this year I’ll reach my goal, maybe I’ll fail at it it once again. Regardless of the outcome, I’ll experience the joy of reading and you can look forward to more book reviews.

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