Book List 2016

My favorite (only?!) resolution for the past six new years has been to read a least 1 book each month.  I’ve always loved to read, but keeping track has been a great addition because it lets me look back and fondly remember my favorites.  Here were 2015 and 2014‘s lists.

Books I Read in 2016 –

The list is in chronological order.  F = fiction, NF = nonfiction, and M = memoir.  I bolded the year’s top five favorites.
  1. Depraved Heart – Patricia Cornwell (f)
  2. I See Rude People; One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society – Amy Alkon (m/nf)
  3.  Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling (m)
  4. A Girl Walks Into a Bar… Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle – Rachel Dratch (m)
  5. The Skeleton Cupboard, The Makings of a Clinical Psychologist – Tanya Byron (m)
  6.  The Death Class, A True Story About Life – Erika Hayasaki (nf/m)
  7. Bonk, The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex – Mary Roach (nf)
  8. Find Her – Lisa Gardner (f)
  9. Nancy Drew and the Triple Hoax – Carolyn Keene (f)
  10. Egg and Spoon – Gregory Maguire (f)
  11. The Checklist Manifesto, How to Get Things Right – Atul Gawande (nf)
  12. My Fat Dad, a Memoir of Food, Love, and Family, with Recipes – Dawn Lerman (m)
  13. Life from Scratch, a Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness – Sasha Martin (m)
  14. Less Medicine, More Health; 7 Assumptions that Drive too Much Medical Care – Dr. H Gilbert Welch (nf)
  15. White Walls; a Memoir about Motherhood, Daughterhood, and the Mess In between – Judy Batalion (m)
  16. Bastards – Mary Anna King (m)
  17. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good, A memoir of food and love from an American Midwest family – Kathleen Flinn (m)
  18. Autumn Balloons – Kenny Porpora (m)
  19. Stir; My broken brain and the meals that brought me home – Jessica Fechtor (m)
  20. Final Jeopardy – Linda Fairstein (f)
  21. Cooking as Fast as I Can; A Chef’s Story of Family, Food, and Forgiveness – Cat Cora (m)
  22. Night – Elie Wiesel (m) {reread}
  23. The Point of Vanishing, a memoir of two years in solitude – Howard Axelrod (m)
  24. One More Thing, Stories and Other Stories – B.J. Novak (f)
  25. Likely to Die – Linda Fairstein (f)
  26. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, a mostly true memoir – Jenny Lawson (m)
  27. Cold Hit – Lisa Fairstein (f)
  28. After Alice – Gregory Maguire (f)
  29. Lust and Wonder – Augusten Burroughs (m)
  30. January First, a child’s descent into madness and her father’s struggle to save her – Michael Schofield (m)

What was your favorite book you read this year?  Do you make any NYE resolutions?

Top Ten Last Week

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{1} Kobrick Coffee

I stepped up my espresso game with their housemade chocolate milk.  Adam and I were both swooning after every sip.

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{2} Pumpkin yogurt bowls

2% Fage with pumpkin puree and pumpkin butter, cinnamon, slivered almonds, and pumpkin spice granola.  With an Asian pear.

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Plain Siggi’s with pumpkin x2, pumpkin spice cheerios and frosted mini wheats, and a few candy corns.  With a gingergold apple.

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Pumpkin Chobani with cereals and another apple.

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{3} Bobwhite Counter

Fried chicken sandwich with pickles and pimento cheese.

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{4} Pumpkin Smoothie

We make at least one every October.  Pumpkin puree, plain Greek yogurt, cinnamon, maple syrup, and vanilla almond milk.

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{5} Xzibit “Pimp My Ride” style Reese’s

Reese’s stuffed with Reese’s Pieces.  My peanut butter cup obsession usually does not extend beyond Justin’s minis but I am bewitched by these; the bit of crunch takes the cups to a whole new level.

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{6} Molly’s Cupcakes

They have a whole slew of gooey stuffed cupcakes.

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Cake better was perfection!

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{7}  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

Unsurprisingly, Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess)’s 1st memoir did not disappoint.  I added her 2nd book to my Christmas list less than halfway through.

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{8} Nachos

I turned my copycat Chipotle bowl leftovers into nachos.  Nachos > salad bowls.  Tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, black beans, corn, sautéed onions and peppers, and shredded chipotle honey lime chicken.

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{9} C’est Cheese

Adam and I had a weekday off together and we spent several hours of it on the phone dealing with our retirement accounts.  We desperately needed booze and cheese afterwards so we headed to Port Jefferson for lunch.  Baked brie with raspberry jam.

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Beer flight – Post Road Pumpkin / Telekinesis sour / Framboise / Imperial Biscotti Break stout.

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Plus a Spanish salad with mandarin oranges, Manchego, olives, and a honey tarragon vinaigrette.

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{10}  David Pumpkins

Bless you, SNL, this is my new favorite thing.

{Bonus}  Be sure to check out SaveTheDay.Vote, Joss Whedon’s super PAC that produces short PSAs about the importance of voting (for Hillary).  The subject matter is sobering but somehow the videos are all still laugh out loud hilarious.  Whedon is already my role model, and I am so impressed with all of the celebrities to chose to participate.

P.S. Happy Halloween!

It’s Pumpkin Month!

Pumpkin Month is here!  On the Emily calendar September is for apples, October and November are for pumpkin, November and December are for eggnog and gingerbread, and December is for peppermint.  This month’s on-theme stash is especially bountiful.

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Here are some highlights from the weekend…

My favorite coffee combo – espresso and chocolate milk.  I hate “mochas” because the syrup is gross but this iteration of chocolate and coffee is the best.

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Brunch at Benchmark.

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I had a roasted vanilla lemonade with vodka.

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This unassuming omelette was actually stuffed with duck confit and goat cheese.

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My best lunch came from the Starbuck’s refrigerator case.

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We cooked two tasty dinners.  Broccoli salad based on this recipe from Cooking Light.  We roasted the broccoli and sauteed the onion and served the salad warm, which I highly recommend.  I also swapped maple for honey and rice vinegar for cider vinegar.

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Served with white bean and basil dip with orange bell peppers and potato chips.

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Plus a disappointing cider.

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And I loosely followed Rachel Ray’s recipe for pumpkin and sausage pasta.

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Served on butternut squash pasta shaped like tiny pumpkins!!

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With roasted honey sriracha smoked paprika cauliflower.

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And our last and favorite cider, just in time for pumpkin beers.

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Non-food wins included…

I started reading One More Thing, Stories and Other Stories and now I’m completely obsessed with B.J. Novak.  The collection of stories fits together in ways that are surprising, moving, and sidesplittingly wry.

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Watching the dog put himself to bed, complete with covers and his head on a pillow.

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He’s the best.

Working Weekend Wrap-Up

No traditional weekend for me, my only day off was Thursday.  I’m actually working straight through this Thursday – 7 days in a row – which means next weekend will be a three-day extravaganza!  It’s hard to complain about 7 days anyway, my last year at Buff State when I was doing school/internship/part-time job there were a few stretches where I went 30 days plus without a true day off.

The past 4 days in numbers –

  • glasses of iced coffee – 7
  • packed lunches – 0
  • product reviews* – 2
  • desserts – 10 billion
  • books read start to finish** – 1

notes: *the products were both sent to me free of charge and neither company gave me additional compensation for this post; **the book was a murder mystery that I actually hated but needed to know the ending to

Here are the highlights…

Key lime cookie from Schmackary’s.

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With white chocolate, pistachios, and cream cheese icing.  The middle is the best part.

Three new dark chocolate flavors of Nonni’s Almond THINaddictives* – Dark Chocolate Banana Almond, Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond, and Double Dark Chocolate Almond.  FYI – hit up their Facebook page for a new flavors giveaway.

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They are 70-80 calories per pack (2 thins) and crisp but not too crumbly.  I though the double chocolate flavor was a bit plain but the cherry and banana had great notes of tart and sweet.  This week I paired them with my coffee but I’m also looking forward to crumbling them into yogurts.

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That combo is killer, Grady’s is thick and sweet and it makes my heart sing.

Traditional breakfast.

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Potatoes, scrambled eggs, and (turkey) bacon.  Covered in ketchup because I grew up in St. Thomas and we put ketchup on everything.  <– real talk, I didn’t know that ketchup wasn’t an automatic pairing for chicken wings until I went to college; now I mostly use other condiments but scrambled eggs always get ketchup

The cafeteria is pretty grim over the weekend but Friday I did eat this seafood feast.

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Fried shrimp, potato wedges, and vinegar-based cole slaw.  We had leftover ice cream from our birthday party and I taught my coworkers about Australian iced coffees.

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They loved it!

Since I didn’t have my yogurt lunches I got my probiotics in the form of Health-Ade Kombucha*.

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Their small-batch (2.5 gallons) fizz is organic, vegan, kosher, and gluten-free.  They do their fermenting in glass containers only and the bottles are fantastic and just begging to house a handful of wildflowers.  Health-Ade generously sent me a case of Ginger Lemon.

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I have to confess here that I actually kind of hate ginger.  Nonetheless, I found the kombucha to be very enjoyable.  The flavor behind the spice was very “clean” and just sweet enough.  I still wouldn’t buy this flavor once I finish my samples but I will damn sure scoop up Pink Lady Apple or California Grape the minute I spot them.  P.S. I brought a bottle to a ginger loving friend and she said it was hands down the best kombucha she’s ever tasted.

Date night in Hell’s Kitchen.  My NCIS obsession finally paid off for Adam – I took us to Donna Bella Bake Shop because it’s co-owned by Pauley Perrette (aka lab tech Abby).  We had a dreamy lemon bar and this delectable brownie with a cookie crust and ganache on top.

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We walked past Room Service and decided to do Thai for dinner.

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That guava mojito was terrible and weak.  But the crispy duck salad wasn’t half bad.

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I ordered the Pad Noh Mai for dinner, shrimps, minced chicken, fresh basils, Thai chili, and bamboo shoots with herbs chili paste garlic sauce.

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The menu promised spice and it delivered.  I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant though, Hell’s Kitchen is a bastion of excellent, authentic Thai restaurants and you can do better.

I cooked!  A real dinner, a stew, made of vegetables no less.  I put the crock pot to work for me, filled to its brim.  Onion / garlic / carrot / kale / red bell pepper / white beans / red lentils / diced tomato / veggie broth.

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I didn’t bother to season or brown anything so the end result was a little bland, but topped with melted cheese it was hearty and satisfying.

Three down, four to go.

This Weekend’s Best…

…breakfast –

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A blueberry cheesecake smoothie!  Frozen berries with chocolate milk and low-fat cream cheese.  Adam and I both loved it.

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Plus the new cold brew from Dunkin.  Delicious with the Heath Bar syrup and some skim milk.

…brunch

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Colonie.  I got the duck hash again, because it makes the top five list for best dishes I’ve ever eaten.

…lunch –

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Plain Greek yogurt with blueberries and the last of the cookies crumbled on top.

…brinner –

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Eggs with swiss cheese, a simple salad, and a towering stack of buttered toast.

…dinner

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Sandwich night with roasted broccoli.

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Toasted french bread / mayo with Sriracha, fish sauce, and dark brown sugar / baked extra-firm tofu / quick pickled cucumber and shallot / crispy garlic.

…book –

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Autumn Balloons, a memoir by Kenny Porpora.  It had me laughing and crying, both at an embarrassing volume, on the train.  Easily one of the most captivating memoirs I’ve ever read.

Destination City

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this week I loved…

Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm.  It took me forever to find a balm with both tint and spf but this one fits the bill perfectly!

A blog book review.  Dawn Lerman’s My Fat Dad was sent to me free of charge to try/read for the blog.  Her chapter on moving to New York City walked the reader through the different cultural food neighborhoods in a way that made my mouth water.

Living in a destination city.  I had two different sets of friends visiting NYC for work trips this week.  It was fantastic to get to catch up with them!  However, I went out after work for dinner and/or drinks multiple times and I am flipping exhausted.

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P.S.  My favorite bar (Pork Slope in Park Slope) now has $1 jello shots, clearly I backed the right horse!

this week I ate…

Vietnamese-ish iced coffee.

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A killer smoothie – with banana, blueberry, and avocado.  So creamy.

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Poppy seed bagel with olive cream cheese.

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Oatmeal bowl.  With cookie butter and a pixie tangerine.

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Greek yogurt bowl with Cheerios and plums.  I also crumbled a brownie in there (see below) and it was pretty fantastic.

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Taboule salad from the cafeteria.

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Whole Foods hot bar.  Lots of veggies, rice with black beans and cheddar, and broccoli mac and cheese.

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I needed a 2nd coffee snack more than once.

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Turkey jerky.

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Best ever brownies.  Just this recipe without the fluff.

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Baby carrots with great feta dip.

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I had Thai food in Williamsburg with Adam and a girlfriend.  Drunken noodles with mock duck that were as spicy as they were delicious.

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We cooled our mouths down with soft-serve from Milk Bar.  Fruity pebble soft-serve(!!) with fudge sauce and sprinkles.

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Indian at the Grand Central food court.  And yes, I realize that is a lame spot to take an out-of-towner.

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Starbucks sandwich for a quick dinner on the train and then I went straight to bed!

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I did make dinner at home one night!  Whole-wheat vermicelli noodles with ginger and garlic chicken, shredded cabbage, bell pepper, and a tahini lime sauce.  With cashews on top plus tons of Sriracha after the picture.

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We snacked on a servings’ worth of cashews and sliced bell pepper while we cooked.

Good friends, good eats, it was a good week!

Goodbye, 2015

It’s been a good year but I’m ready for 2016!

I still tend to think in terms of school years rather than calendar years, so I don’t usually set new year’s resolutions (though in 2015 I did lose a few pounds and make a major career move, woo-hoo!).  However, for the past 5 years I have made it my mission to read at least 25 books a year.  I’m pretty proud of the 35 I read this year so I included the list at the bottom of this post.

I’m heading to a NYE party tonight and then I’m up early for work on the 1st, so without further adieu, here’s the final wrap-up of the year…

breakfast

A final eggnog iced coffee while I set up my planner for 2016!!

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Otherwise this was the coffee combo for the week –

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With wonderful fruit options, a cocktail grapefruit.

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And a piñata apple.

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Plus tea at work.

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Caramel was yummy, and it smelled delicious.

lunch

I had Monday off – the end of a fabulous four-day weekend – so I got to have a yogurt bowl at home.

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Plain Fage with maple syrup, blackberries, chia seeds, and praline pecan granola.

Oatmeal from home, at work.

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With vanilla almond butter.

Cafeteria salad bar.

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I made myself a Greek salad with romaine with balsamic, marinated cucumber salad, tzatziki , tabbouleh , and falafel.

dinner

Monday was our 8-year wedding anniversary (we got married on our 5th dating anniversary so it was also our 13th year as a couple)!!  I consider myself the luckiest person alive that I get to spend my life with Adam.  We celebrated with food, of course.  We headed into the city early and got our favorite coffee {Brooklyn Roasting Company},

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and our favorite ice cream {Morganstern’s}.

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We split a scoop of American egg with sweetened condensed milk and chocolate sprinkles.

Then we enjoyed our favorite dinner of the year (maybe my favorite dinner of our marriage!) at Bowery Meat Company.  It was a truly epic meal of several courses whose highlights included roasted cauliflower, foie gras, Spanish wine, and an entire casserole of duck lasagna.  We held hands, and giggled, and were generally disgusting, and I didn’t take a single picture*.  *Other than instagramming the duck lasagna, because how could I not?

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The nights at home, appetizers included delicious leftover buffalo chicken pizza and carrots with hummus.

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I’ve determined that pretty much no matter what I eat for lunch I am frantic with hunger by the time I get home from work so I usually eat something before I try to make dinner.

Tuesday’s dinner didn’t require much time or effort though, because we brought home leftover duck lasagna.  swoon.

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I consider myself a fairly good cook and it is safe to say that I’ve never made a dish that tasted as good as these microwaved leftovers!

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With salads on the side.

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Spinach / lavender salt, lavender honey, evoo / sweet and spicy pecans / golden raisins.

And Wednesday I designed a quick dinner around this (former freebie) Bertolli Asiago Cheese and Artichoke sauce.

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We tossed the sauce with sautéed mushrooms, artichokes, shredded chicken, and orecchiette pasta.  It obviously couldn’t compete with the duck but was still good.

2015’s reading list

They’re listed in chronological order.  F = fiction, NH = nonfiction, and M = memoir.  I bolded the year’s top ten favorites.

  1. Bones Never Lie – Kathy Reichs (f)
  2. I Forget to Remember, A Memoir of Amnesia – Su Meck (m)
  3. The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted, And Other Small Acts of Liberation – Elizabeth Berg (f)
  4. The Next Queen of Heaven – Gregory Maguire (f)
  5. Fairyland, a Memoir of my Father – Alysia Abbott (m)
  6. Yes, Please – Amy Poehler  (m)
  7. Stiff, The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach (nf)
  8. Born Round, A Story of Family, Food and a Ferocious Appetite – Fran Bruni (m)
  9. Flesh and Blood – Patricia Cornwell (f)
  10. With or Without You – Domenica Ruta (m)
  11. The Story Sisters – Alice Hoffman (f)
  12. Tender at the Bone – Ruth Reichl (m)
  13. Comfort Me with Apples – Ruth Reichl (m)
  14. Garlic and Saphires – Ruth Reichl (m)
  15. Crash and Burn – Lisa Gardner (f)
  16. Delancey – Molly Wizenberg (m)
  17. Someone is Watching – Joy Fielding (f)
  18. If Only You People Could Follow Directions – Jessica Henry Nelson (m)
  19. Working Stiff – Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner – Judy Melinek M.D. (m)
  20. The Removers – Andrew Meredith (m)
  21. Let the Tornado Come – Rita Zoey Chin (m)
  22. Bossypants – Tina Fey (m)
  23. Unorthodox, The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots – Deborah Feldman (m)
  24. The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery (f)
  25. Delicious – Ruth Feichl (f)
  26. Head Cases, Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath – Michael Paul Mason (nf/m)
  27. Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation After My Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood – Leah Vincent (m)
  28. Speaking in Bones – Kathy Reichs (f)
  29. My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places – Mary Roach (m)
  30. Cooked, A Natural History of Transformation – Michael Pollan (nf)
  31. Burn Down the Ground – Kambri Crews (m)
  32. Thinking in Pictures, My Life with Autism – Temple Grandin (m/nf)
  33. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (f) {reread}
  34. Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee (f)
  35. Gulp, Adventures on the Alimentary Canal – Mary Roach (nf)

Do you set new year’s resolutions?