Books Read in 2006

Continuing an annual tradition, this is my fourth year listing all of the books I’ve read during the previous twelve months (the old lists: 2003, 2004, 2005). The totals for the first three years remained pretty constant (41, 42, and 45 books, respectively), and my goal this year was to read at least that many, if not more. I knew there was a very good chance I’d be able to do that, since I was in college from ’03-’05 and I didn’t have time to read as many books on my own time as I would have liked. I’m happy to say that I (drastically) surpassed my goal this year.

This is an extensive list: I read 110 books, which is more than double what I read in 2005. Even though I knew there were a lot, I didn’t know exactly how many I’d read until yesterday because I don’t count the total until the end of the year.

There were several factors this year that enabled me to finish so many books. The biggest one was the long commute I had for the first six months of 2006, when I was living in California and taking a commuter bus to work. I had 2-3 hours a day of uninterrupted reading time. Then, beginning this summer when I drove back to Virginia, I started listening to audiobooks. Now I always keep one in my car and listen to it almost every time I drive somewhere, as long as I’m in the car by myself (which is most of the time). My drive to work takes 25-35 minutes each way, so I finish a new audiobook roughly once a week.

A few additional notes:

  • I end up organizing these lists a little bit differently every year. This year I tried to group similar books together within the categories I assigned, and whenever I read multiple books by the same author I kept those together as well. The audiobooks are also clearly denoted.
  • If anyone ends up reading something because of a recommendation found here, or if you’ve read something on this list already, I’d love to hear about it.
  • The books I liked best, and highly recommend, have a double-asterisk after the authors name (**).


1) The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan **

2) The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World, by John Robbins **

3) Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched: Life and Lessons at the World’s Premier School for Exotic Animal Trainers, by Amy Sutherland **

4) Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America, by Amy Sutherland **

5) Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach **

6) Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, by Mary Roach

7) Color Stories: Behind the Scenes of America’s Billion-Dollar Beauty Industry, by Mary Lisa Gavenas **

8 ) Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, by Judith Levine **

9) Whoredom In Kimmage: The Private Lives of Irish Women, by Rosemary Mahoney

10) Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany, by Bill Buford

11) Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (AUDIOBOOK), by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

12) Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash, by Elizabeth Royte

13) My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student, by Rebekah Nathan


14) Naked, by David Sedaris **

15) Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris **

16) First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, by Loung Ung **
I wrote about reading this book at the bottom of this post.

17) Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind, by Loung Ung **

18) Ten Thousand Sorrows: The Extraordinary Journey of a Korean War Orphan, by Elizabeth Kim **

19) When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge, by Chanrithy Him

20) Bare: On Women, Dancing, Sex, and Power, by Elisabeth Eaves **

21) Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, by Azar Nafisi

22) The Liars’ Club, by Mary Karr **

23) Cherry: A Memoir, by Mary Karr **

24) A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana, by Haven Kimmel

25) Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America, by Elizabeth Wurtzel **

26) More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction, by Elizabeth Wurtzel **

27) Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy, by Dorothy Allred Solomon **

28) Crossing Over: One Woman’s Escape from Amish Life, by Ruth Irene Garrett

29) Night (AUDIOBOOK), by Elie Wiesel **

30) Lucky, by Alice Sebold **

31) Mostly True: A Memoir of Family, Food, and Baseball, by Molly O’Neill

32) Black, White, and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self, by Rebecca Walker **

33) Don’t Play in the Sun: One Woman’s Journey Through the Color Complex (AUDIOBOOK), by Marita Golden

34) Finding Fish (AUDIOBOOK), by Antwone Fisher **
The movie Antwone Fisher came out first, and then he wrote this book.

35) The Broke Diaries: The Completely True and Hilarious Misadventures of a Good Girl Gone Broke, by Angela Nissel

36) Possible Side Effects, by Augusten Burroughs

37) But Enough About Me: A Jersey Girl’s Unlikely Adventures Among the Absurdly Famous, by Jancee Dunn **

38) Free Gift with Purchase: My Improbable Career in Magazines and Makeup, by Jean Godfrey-June **

39) Tabloid Love: Looking for Mr. Right in All the Wrong Places, by Bridget Harrison **

40) Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown: Notes from a Single Girl’s Closet, by Adena Halpern

41) Alligators, Old Mink and New Money: One Woman’s Adventures in Vintage Clothing, by Alison and Melissa Houtte

42) My Life in France (AUDIOBOOK), by Julia Child, Alex Prud’Homme

43) White House Nannies: True Tales from the Other Department of Homeland Security, by Barbara Kline

44) Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

45) Snake Hips: Belly Dancing and How I Found True Love, by Anne Thomas Soffee

46) Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Journey into Manhood and Back, by Norah Vincent

47) You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again: The True Adventures of a Hollywood Nanny, by Suzanne Hansen

48) Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life, by Erica Jong

49) My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru, by Tim Guest

50) On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King

51) On Becoming Fearless…. in Love, Work, and Life, by Arianna Huffington

52) Open House: Of Family, Friends, Food, Piano Lessons, and the Search for a Room of My Own (AUDIOBOOK), by Patricia Williams

53) Join Me, by Danny Wallace

54) Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It, by Geoff Dyer

55) Are You Really Going to Eat That?: Reflections of a Culinary Thrill Seeker, by Robb Walsh


56) The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific, by J. Maarten Troost **

57) Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu, by J. Maarten Troost **

58) My ‘Dam Life: Three Years in Holland, by Sean Condon **

59) Along the Inca Road: A Woman’s Journey into an Ancient Empire, by Karin Muller **

60) River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, by Peter Hessler **

61) The Early Arrival of Dreams: A Year in China, by Rosemary Mahoney **

62) Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert **

63) The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca, by Tahir Shah **

64) Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman, by Alice Steinbach **

65) Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman, by Alice Steinbach **

66) Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World, by Rita Golden Gelman **

67) Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana, by Stephanie Elizondo Griest **

68) Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure, by Sarah Macdonald **

69) Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei, by David Mura **

70) Untangling My Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto, by Victoria Abbott Riccardi **

71) Too Late for the Festival: An American Salary-Woman in Japan, by Rhiannon Paine **

72) Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana, by Isadora Tattlin **

73) Kite Strings of the Southern Cross: A Woman’s Travel Odyssey, by Laurie Gough **

74) The Devil’s Picnic: Around the World in Pursuit of Forbidden Fruit, by Taras Grescoe **

75) A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines, by Anthony Bourdain **

76) Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik **

77) Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris, by Sarah Turnbull **

78) On Rue Tatin: Living and Cooking in a French Town, by Susan Herrmann Loomis **

79) French Fried: The Culinary Capers of an American in Paris, by Harriet Welty Rochefort

80) Expat: Women’s True Tales of Life Abroad, by Christina Henry De Tessan (Eds.) **

81) An Inn Near Kyoto: Writing by American Women Abroad, by Kathleen Coskran & C. W. Truesdale (Eds.) **
I read about 95% of the stories in this anthology. It was a huge book—over 500 pages.

82) A House Somewhere: Tales of Life Abroad, by Don George and Anthony Sattin (Eds.)

83) By the Seat of My Pants: Humorous Tales of Travel And Misadventure, by Don George (Ed.)

84) Not So Funny When It Happened: The Best of Travel Humor and Misadventure, by Tim Cahill (Ed.)

85) I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away, by Bill Bryson **

86) A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson **

87) In a Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson

88) Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, by Bill Bryson

89) The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America, by Bill Bryson

90) A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle **

91) Toujours Provence, by Peter Mayle **

92) Encore Provence: New Adventures in the South of France, by Peter Mayle **

93) Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy, by Frances Mayes

94) Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy, by Frances Mayes

95) The Olive Farm: A Memoir of Life, Love and Olive Oil in the South of France, by Carol Drinkwater

96) Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain, by Chris Stewart

97) La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind, by Beppe Severgnini

98) Mango Elephants in the Sun: How Life in an African Village Let Me Be in My Skin, by Susana Herrera


99) Appetites: Why Women Want, by Caroline Knapp **

100) The Hungry Years: Confessions of a Food Addict, by William Leith **

101) Tales From The Scale: Women Weigh in on Thunder Thighs, Cheese Fries, and Feeling Good…at Any Size, by Erin J. Shea (Editor) **

102) I’m Not the New Me, by Wendy McClure

103) Passing for Thin: Losing Half My Weight and Finding My Self, by Frances Kuffel


104) Water for Elephants (AUDIOBOOK), by Sara Gruen **

105) Never Let Me Go (AUDIOBOOK), by Kazuo Ishiguro **

106) A Long Way Down (AUDIOBOOK), by Nick Hornby **

107) Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (AUDIOBOOK), by Lisa See **

108) A Million Little Pieces (AUDIOBOOK), by James Frey

109) A Year in the Merde (AUDIOBOOK), by Stephen Clarke

110) A Woman’s Worth (AUDIOBOOK), by Tracy Price-Thompson

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  • Reply Another Chris December 31, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    Hee-hee….I LOVE that you put the Frey book under fiction!! ๐Ÿ™‚ What a wonderful–and humbling!!–list!! I got maybe 40 books in this year…my favorite entries on your list–and ones I’ve read as well–are the Sedaris and Hornby works–weren’t these all amazing?? I will check out some of the books on your list, next year. Have a great New Year’s, Zan, CR

  • Reply Denise December 31, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    I love this list. It’s not often that I find so many books on a list that I haven’t read and/or sound like I really want to read them.

    And linking them and starring them – man what a job this was to pull together. Terrific list.

  • Reply Traveller December 31, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    What a coincidence – I received Snow Flower and the Secret Fan for Christmas, and absolutely loved it. I started it on Christmas day and read right through to 5am when I finished it. And Im like the look of A Year Without Shopping – I could probably take some hints from that!

  • Reply Zandria December 31, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    Another Chris: I was wondering who would be the first to notice that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Denise: thank you for pointing out that this list must have taken a long time to put together—it did! ๐Ÿ™‚ But hopefully it’ll be a reference for other people who might be looking for something interesting to read.

  • Reply Donna December 31, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    Not sure how you found my blog, but thx for the comment. Your list is great. Several books I’m adding to my list to buy/read.

  • Reply jenclair December 31, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    So many books! I’m really going to note the Travel Memoirs, especially the **’s! Thanks for taking the time to put together this great list. I recorded mine by month this year, and I’m looking at alternatives (althought by month is easy, I do want to make some differentiations). Still, when it boils down to it, I’m lazy…

  • Reply Washington Cube December 31, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    I started keeping an annual book list with reviews last year. The same for this year. It’s always interesting to see where people’s tastes lead them.

  • Reply iliana December 31, 2006 at 7:22 pm

    Thank you for stopping by! I loved reading your list. I’m going to have to take note of some of your non-fiction reads as I’m always saying I need to read more non-fiction.

  • Reply Literary Feline December 31, 2006 at 7:41 pm

    Hello! I really like the way your organized your list! Congratulations on doubling your reading this year. That’s quite an accomplishment! I think the only reason I wouldn’t mind having a commute is an extra excuse to read. Alas, I have hardly any commute time at all (which I suppose is better in the long run).

    I read Stiff last year and really enjoyed it. I haven’t gotten to Spook yet but have it sitting in the TBR room. In fact, you’ve read several I see that I have yet to (but want to).

    Thanks for a great post. (and thank you for visiting my blog! It’s always nice to meet other readers in the blogging world).

  • Reply Stefanie January 1, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Wow! Impressive list. I read Caroline Knapp’s book about a year or so ago and loved it. So sad that she died so young. I am glad to see Pollan’s book got star rating. I am planning on reading it this month. Happy New Year!

  • Reply Richard Bejtlich January 1, 2007 at 11:08 am

    Hi Zandria,

    I saw your comment on my blog. How did you find it?



  • Reply Chris January 2, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Nice. As usual, we have some books in common!

  • Reply sassymonkey January 2, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Wow! You read a lot of non-fiction! I’m jealous. I find that I read non-fiction soooo slowly.

    I’ve definitely added a few bokos to my TBR list from this.

  • Reply Anirudh January 3, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Ah! I like Sedaris too. Though I thought ‘Me Talk Pretty One Day’ was much better than ‘Dress Your Family..’. (Have you read that one?) And do you dislike actually reading fiction? All of them are audiobooks.

  • Reply Janet January 3, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Holy crap, that’s a lot of books. Good for you! I probably read half as many. Or less. I am inspired to go read right now.

  • Reply jen m. January 3, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    yowza that’s a lot of books. i probably read 10 books last year.

    i mostly just wanted to comment on how many of those books had colons in the titles. i guess colons are all the rage in publishing these days.

  • Reply jen m. January 5, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    inspired by you, i just order three “colon” books from —

    I Didn’t Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation

    Sunday Money: Speed! Lust! Madness! Death! a Hot Lap Around America with NASCAR

    The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal

    by the way, you might be interested to know that is having a sale—if you buy any two new “Harper Perennial P.S.” titles and get the third one free! that’s what i did, my nascar book was free.

  • Reply RA January 6, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    My goal for 2007 is to read 4 books per month and I have been heckling my friends and co-workers for recommendations. This list is great and I will definitely be hunting down some of those double-asterisked selections. As of right now, I have enough to get me through maybe the first half of the year, so thank you!

  • Reply Alyson January 15, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    That’s a lot of reading! Congratulations!

    I’ve read (and enjoyed) a few of these books—A Girl Named Zippy and and The Sex Lives of Cannibals. A number of the books on this list sound really interesting; I’ll have to add them to my own list.

    And I also have to second the David Sedaris love. I’ve actually never read any of his books, but I adore listening to him read them out loud. I got the audiobook to Me Talk Pretty One Day a few years back and loved it, and I’ve made it a point to pick up other Sedaris performances—the Carnegie Hall one is quite good, as are his appearances on This American Life—along the way.

  • Reply Audiobooks - Rolf February 11, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Whoww…. You certainly are an avid reader! Where do you get the time to read all these great books? I’m running an audio books store and people come to me because they have only read 10 or less books in the past year…. and you read 110!
    If ever you feel like listening rather than reading, you might be able to use your time in the car or when working out as well and will read and listen to over 150 books in 2007 ? ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Tori August 26, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    I finished Here Now and Again by Elizabeth Wurtzel and LOVED IT!!!
    I just finished Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Rosenthal and doubly loved it! Your list rocks!

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