Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I read the following books:
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (from Juli's list) Read October
The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis (from booklogged's list) Read August
So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson (from vasilly's list) Read August
Heidi by Johanna Spyri (from Heidijane's list) Read October
The Naughtiest Girl in School by Enid Blyton (from my list) Read September
I really enjoyed reading the books I selected - and learnt something about me - and about the people who suggested the books.
Now I have completed the challenge - I wondered if my access to the blog could be removed? I am trying to reduce the size of my "Blogger Dashboard" I know my contributions will remain - and I am tracking the blog in my Google Blog reader.
See you all around the wonderful world of blog challenges
1. I don't like writing book reviews.
2. I don't like the pressure and constraints of challenges.
So in brief, I read the following:
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See - I enjoyed this book very much.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - I liked this book even more than I liked The Kite Runner.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver - I did not enjoy this book at all. I found the mother to be a totally unsympathetic character.
Lucy Crocker 2.0 by Caroline Preston - I didn't enjoy this one either. It seems lately I read more books that I don't like than I do.
Rating : 3.0/5
Reason for Reading : Something About Me Challenge
Bill Bryson is mostly known for his travel writing, but in this book he takes a turn at popular science. It covers everything from research into the Big Bang, how the measurements for the earth were derived, plate tectonics, the evolution of humans from apes, Darwin's theories of natural selection, the discovery of DNA to extinction. It crams in a lot of information about the main scientific discoveries into a managable book.
It's interesting that a lot of scientists who put forward theories that are now celebrated as genius and essential, were ridiculed and disbelieved at the time. A lot of the time they were ignored due to petty jealousies between the scientists themselves... It seemed a mostly unbiased look at the ideas and the people making the discoveries themselves which was interesting (usually you only hear about Watson and Crick in the discovery of the structure of DNA but this included Wilkins and Franklin).
I enjoyed half of this book. The chapters between 14-26 andthe final chapter were the most interesting to me. I am not so into physics or geology and it didn't really hold my interest. The notes at the end of the novel were interesting citing where the references came from in the main text. My problem with it though was that they were not referenced in the main text. A lot of books will put a superscript number where citations are so you can check the notes at the back.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
I've always wanted to read Bill Bryson, having heard that he was very funny. Having read this book, I think I can safely say that I think Bill Bryson is an amazing author because he got me to read about (and be interested in) something that is in fact my definition of HELL.
Yes, hell. I hate camping and I don't understand the appeal of hiking, particularly not for days on end in the mountains. I enjoyed his anecdotes about the people they met on the trail (both amazingly nice and amazingly annoying) and about the often ridiculous Katz who kept throwing equipment away because it was too heavy. Even many of the tales of the perils of the trail were amusing, particularly the many, many about bears (a running theme). I did start to glaze over during the longer passages about particular flora and fauna, but even so, I was impressed with his research about all areas of the trail. I'll definitely read more Bryson and will hopefully get to Notes From a Small Island soon.
What I learned about Wendy: Well, I already knew that this reading challenge queen was a cool lady from her blog but it turns out she's a hiker, too. And even if hiking is my idea of hell, I admire her for having the strength and fitness and love of nature to do it. And also, she has a great sense of humour!
(Get my full ramble with more about camping = hell here.)
Lisa from Breaking the Fourth Wall came up with this interesting challenge to read 5 books that other participants listed that told something about them. The challenge ran from Aug-Nov 2007. The books I read were
1. Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland (from 3M's list)
2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (this or one of the sequels is on several people's lists, including Tiny Librarian's, Raidergirl3's and Becky's.)
3. All-of-a-Kind Family by (from Alisonwonderland's list)
4. Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (another from Alisonwonderland's list)
5. Booked to Die by John Dunning (this is one from Bonnie's list.)
I enjoyed all these books immensely. My least favorite would be Luncheon of the Boating Party but I'm still glad I read it and I still enjoyed it.
Thanks Lisa, for hosting this challenge. It was very worthwhile and I hope you will be doing it again next year.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
I want to have Nick Hornby over for dinner! I loved this book!
I had the same kind of kindred spirit reaction that I did to 84 Charing Cross Road. I'd assumed I'd like it, as I've liked his books, and I was right. This is what I'd hoped So Many Books, So Little Time would be like. It seemed to be more about the books, somehow, even when he was talking about what had happened in his life, SMBSLT seemed like the other way around. He discussed the books he'd bought, the ones he'd read (often not the same ones at all) and how some books led to others - an author's work might lead to a biography of that author, or vice versa. But he did it a a funny (so funny!), approachable way. I was impressed that he'll read just about anything, from biographies of sports heroes to the letters of Anton Chekhov, with lots of novels in between.
My favourite sentence was: "...after a lifetime of reading, I can officially confirm that readers' writers beat writers' writers every time." Right on, brother!
What I learned about Athena: The she has great taste in authors and a great sense of humour! Thanks so much for recommending it - I can't wait to read the next one, Housekeeping vs the Dirt!
(As always, my full, ramling review is here.)
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery is the third of the Anne of Green Gable series. Anne has put off teaching to pursue university life. Anne, Prissy Grant, Gilbert Blythe, and Charlie Sloane head to Redmond College in Kingsport, Nova Scotia to study for their B.A.'s. Being Anne, she finds more than her fair share of adventures.
The title really should be Anne of the Many Proposals. She's proposed to six times by my count! Some of them quite funny. Poor Anne has all her illusions shattered in the romance department. But in the end she finds out what love really means.
Anne of the Island is a series of vignettes that range from the touching (the death of a friend) to the humourous (the Baking Powder short story or Davy's letters). It spans the whole three years she spends at university with visits to Avonlea. I enjoyed most of these scenes although the whole "how to kill a cat" incident didn't do well with age (don't worry. The cat is fine). It's definitely a story of it's era. It was a pleasant visit to a more innocent time.
I think Becky is a romantic at heart to have picked this book. Maybe she has some traditional and sweet ideas about life and love as well. It was a great pick.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
The Namesake by Jumpa Lahiri
The Thorn Birds by colleen McCullough
So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Gosh, I read this back in the summer and never got around to posting about it. It's been such a huge book, you probably don't need a summary. (If you do, see my full review here.)
My thoughts: I thought it was very well-researched. I learned a lot about 19th century China, particularly about foot-binding. I had no idea they actually broke and permanently deformed the foot - I thought they just bound it so it stayed child-small. Eeeyugh!!! I had had no idea Chinese women had had a secret language, although I do think it's rather funny they thought it was a "secret" from the men when they sang and chanted in it at every special event and even wove it into clothing and shoes. As Lily finally realized, the men knew about it, they just didn't think women had anything important to say. I was also really intrigued by the formation of the laotong friendships that were almost like marriages and in many cases there was much more affection and devotion involved.
From review in School Library Journal - "Their friendship, and this tale, illustrates the most profound of human emotions: love and hate, self-absorption and devotion, pride and humility, to name just a few. Even though the women's culture and upbringing may be vastly different from readers' own, the life lessons are much the same, and they will be remembered long after the details of this fascinating story are forgotten." I really agreed with this. Despite the far-off setting, I found the book enjoyable and it really does cover all of those emotions, particularly love (and the longing to be loved) and self-absorption. That the breaking of Lily and Snow Flower's decades-long bond is caused by a single misunderstanding, is quite tragic, but I'm sure it still happens today.
I really learned a lot about 19th-century China - footbinding was even more brutal than I'd thought, the nu shu writing was really interesting and I was intrigued by the latong friendships between girls which are set up like an arranged marriage and often involve more affection and devotion than one.
What I learned about Juli: Well, in her blurb about this book she says that she and her husband travelled to China in 2004 and tried to stay off the beaten track, so I learned she's an adventurous traveller! She says that "Snow Flower gave me another glimpse into their culture." and I found that this book really did that well for me, too.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Without - Donald Hall
To kill a mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Tale of Desperaux - Kate Dicamillo
Stick Kid - Peter Holowitz
The Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby
Operating Instructions - Anne Lamott
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
I am the messenger - Markus Zusak
Dakota - Kathless Norris
I have to thank everyone for their recommendations. Most of the books I've read for this challenge, I probably wouldn't have read without the recommendations. I loved almost every book. The ones I haven't read yet that are on my list, I will probably read by the end of the year, so I'll still be here posting my reads.
Like SheReads, who chose this book, I "find the idea of reading characters in and out of books fascinating." Who hasn't wanted to see their favourites in the flesh? I liked Meggie and the other characters, I wanted to know what would happen, I enjoyed the quotes at the start of each chapter and liked that Meggie enjoyed classic books. The only thing was that at 560 pages, it seemed realllly long to me for a kids' book. I found myself wishing it would end and feeling that it could've been condensed. There seemed to be a lot of to-ing and fro-ing that I could've done without. But it was a big hit with young readers, so I have to say that the kids are better readers than I am to not feel tired partway through. Still, it's a very imaginative and intelligent book - perhaps my brain just wasn't up for it this month.
(My full review, with summary, is here. )
Friday, October 19, 2007
Title: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Author: Roald Dahl
First published: 1964
Genre: Children’s Fiction (9-12)
Another book I re-read for my nephew. This book is a pure classic of imagination, magic and fantasy, telling the story from Charlie Bucket's point of view. Charlie, who lives with his four very old grandparents and his mother in a one-room house, can only dream about his future, since his family has barely enough money to survive. He is so poor he gets only one chocolate bar a year, a combined present from his parents and grandparents. To make matters worse, he lives in the same town as Willy Wonka's mysterious chocolate factory.
One day, Willy Wonka announces that he will open his factory to five lucky kids.
Read the rest here...
I chose from Holly's list. Here is what she says about the book:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
I'm sure I'm not alone on this one - who could resist a lifetime supply of chocolate? Or the strange, magical, consequential world where good and evil were divided so wickedly and well? My brother used to read Roald Dahl to me when I was little - in fact, I can still recite, to perfection, the plight of Goldie Pinklesweet (an Oompa Loompa song from The Great Glass Elevator). If being a writer could produce such brilliance, then that's what I wanted to do.
Inspired by Robin Brande's Quitter's Editon of the Friday list, I am officially bowing out of the challenge. Since August, I've read literally dozens of books, but only two of them have been from my challenge list. That's probably a bit of an indicator right there. It all comes down to the fact that I'm tired of eyeing my TBR pile with a mixture of guilt and resentment.
That sounds pretty harsh, doesn't it? Of course it's not all *that* bad. I know nobody here is going to string me up by my toenails if I don't get through my list. But I've discovered that reading is perhaps the one corner of my life where I really like to be impulsive and fly by the seat of my pants, and that's how I want to do it.
Even so, I'm glad I tried the challenge, particularly because Becky's choice of These Happy Golden Years inadvertantly nudged me into embarking on my Little House audio marathon, which I've LOVED. And I can finally say that I've read The Borrowers, which is a good thing for a girl who sells children's books.
I do still intend to read the 2.8 books I haven't gotten to yet -- namely, A Short History of Nearly Everything, 84 Charing Cross Road, and The Neverending Story. Someday, that is.
I kinda feel like a poo, though, because just yesterday Heather T posted a nice review of one of the books from my list. Drat. Ah, well. I'm glad she read The Giver, she's glad she read The Giver -- everybody's happy, right? Right.
Carry on, challengers!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
The entire story left me feeling very disturbed. I tried to contemplate living in a world like thiers. Scarily enough, I understand their motivations. They have done away with racism and sexism entirely. The elderly are cared for and honored. There is no rape or murder. But even knowing the world that I do, the world that HAS all of these terrible things, I found the absences heart-breaking. There is Fiona's beautiful red hair, rendered gray for the sake of "sameness." There are gray apples and gray flesh. There are "releases" that simply devastate my soul.
I hope I never live to see a world like the one in this book. At the same time, I wish I could have imagined and written sucha gripping piece of young adult literature.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Title: The Thorn Birds
Author: Colleen McCullough
ISBN: 0060129565 / 9780060129569
Publication: Harpercollins (1977)
Hardcover, 533 pages
The book opens with the famous legend of the thorn bird. A bird that searches all his life for a thorn bush. Finally, when he finds it, he impales himself on the thorn. While doing so, the thorn bird sings the most beautiful of songs.
‘The Thorn birds’ is the story of the Cleary family, and their journey from their humble roots in New Zealand where they worked as sheep shearers, to the huge Australian sheep farm Drogheda, owned by Paddy Cleary’s autocratic sister. The family being Irish, the land is in their blood and from the time they arrive on
The three extraordinary generations of Cleary's live through joy and sadness, defeat and triumph, determined by their dreams, sustained by great strength of character, torn apart by dark passions, violence and forbidden love between an extraordinary woman and an ambitious priest.
To read more, click here...
I chose it from Andrea's list. She says----(my first real book, inspiring me to seek far away lands)
I read this book because 3M selected it for the Something About Me Challenge. Having enjoyed most of Vreeland's novels and I absolutely loved Girl in Hyacinth Blue, I was looking forward to reading Luncheon.
Obviously the book is about the painter Renoir; with the focus on the time period dealing with his painting of the famous Luncheon of the Boating Party. Each person in the painting has a personal connection to Renoir and, by the end of the book, the reader feels acquainted with them and, in some cases, deeply involved with them.
3M from 1 Chapter More shared this wonderful personal experience on her blog.
Did you know there is a phenomena in which people cry uncontrollably in front of paintings or other art? I didn't know it either until it happened to me. I took my 7th grade class (back when I was a teacher) to an art museum in Nashville where they were having a special exhibit on impressionism. I was looking at this painting, and lo and behold, I started sobbing without any warning. It was so beautiful. It was like I was seeing it in 3-D. I couldn't believe the beauty of it. What was the painting, you ask? It was Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir. If you just see this in an art book, you may ask what the big deal is as there doesn't seem to be anything special about it. See it in person and you'll see a huge difference, believe me.What a thrill to actually enjoy this masterpiece in person. Thanks for sharing that moment with us, 3M.
I don't know what exactly was happening in my life or with my mood, but I didn't get drawn into the story right away and I didn't feel compelled to keep reading. I am enjoying it more in retrospect than I did while reading. I really think the problem was mine, not the author's.
My favorite character was Alphonsine. I really liked her and found myself trying to counsel her not to fall in love with Renoir. She was so aware and thoughtful of all around her. I didn't care that much for some of the other character's pains, but I did for hers.
I am glad I read this book. I knew nothing of Renoir's life and could not even name one of his works before reading Luncheon. I got a good feeling for Paris and the countryside in 1880. And I found this site that shows all the paintings, Renoirs and others, that are mentioned in the book along with the passage. It's been fun looking at those.
At the ceremony something special happens to him that will change his life forever. A whole new world of pain, anger, love and colour are opened up to him along with different climates and the concept of hills. The community made a decision some time ago to opt for sameness and only now does Jonas realise that that took away all of their choices and freedoms in life.
A really interesting look at a utopian/dystopian society. Quite creepy in places, you know when they take about the old being "Released" that it isn't as pleasant as it sounds. Learning about the society and the different stages growing up was fascinating. For example until a certain age children have jackets that fasten at the back to learn to rely on others. Later on they get their first front fastening coat and then later one with pockets as they can now be trusted to be responsible for their own small personal items. The family unit idea and surpressing "Stirrings" was another interesting idea. I will definately be reading the next two in the series to see what happens to Jonas next...
Monday, October 15, 2007
I was staring at my pile of books for the "Something About Me" Reading Challenge and wondering what I should read next. I decided to go with The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, since I had been enjoying the new TV series "Journeyman" and had really liked "Quantum Leap" as well. It was a great choice! The book was absolutely WONDERFUL!!
The novel is about Henry and Clare. Henry, from time to time, and completely outside of his control, "jumps" to another time period in his life or Clare's. Clare meets him when she is six and he is thirty-six, but he doesn't meet her until she is twenty, which is when he is twenty-eight. So when they meet in Henry's "real" time, she knows him very well, yet he doesn't know her at all. I can't talk about this novel in my usual way of what I liked and what I didn't like, because this isn't so much a story with a beginning, middle and end (except from Clare's point of view), as it is a story in which everything takes place simultaneously. So to talk about any particular happening in the story is to possibly give something away, even though for much of the book, the reader knows what is coming, because it already happened from someone's point of view. The only question is from whose point of view and at which point in time the reader will discover the how and why of whatever it was (s)he knows happens. A bit confusing, no? Besides, there was only one thing I didn't like, and it was something that Clare did that, to me, seemed completely out of character for her. I'll have to leave you to figure out what that is when you read this book. Because you should read this book. It immediately became one of my favorites.
I have always had a fascination with quantum physics/mechanics. That is not to say I understand them much, but I find them absolutely intriguing. I think that is why I can't stop thinking about the novel. I keep trying to compare things that happen to Henry in the novel with what little bit I sort of, kind of, but not really understand about quantum physics. Schrödinger's cat kept coming to mind. In what state was Henry at various times in the book? Was he ten, or was he thirty-two? Was he injured or was he perfectly fine? Was he in this state or in that state at any point in time? Well, he was all of the above, all at the same time. Which, of course, makes sense and nonsense simultaneously.
One thing I wonder, and I don't think it gives anything away, is why we never see MORE than two Henrys at a given time. It seems that occasionally, there might be a time when multiple Henrys ended up at the same place at the same time, since he traveled to places and times that held some import in his life.
Although I am not doing my what I liked and didn't like thing, I have to say that I absolutely LOVED the character Kimy. Her complete ho-hum acceptance of a naked Henry suddenly appearing under her dining room table or on her kitchen floor, and the fact that she kept changes of clothes in various sizes for him, and was just exactly the type of neighbor you wish you'd known as a child, or you wish your children had in their lives, and that it's all wrapped up in this tiny elderly Asian woman, was totally endearing and funny. She is a fabulous character.
So to summarize, really only one thing needs to be said: If you haven't read this novel, you should immediately rectify that situation.
I originally chose this book from Dewey's list. It then appeared on Heatherbird's list as well. Dewey grew up in Chicago and enjoyed reading a story set in an area with which she was very familiar. I understand that completely, as that is one reason why I love Pat Conroy's novels, besides his amazing writing of course. Dewey also has a relationship with her husband that is similar to that of Clare and Henry. Heatherbird chose this book because she likes science fiction that seems realistic.
There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: was it good or was it evil? Have I done well - or ill? -From East of Eden, page 413-
I have yet to be disappointed by anything John Steinbeck writes ... and East of Eden is no exception.
Set in the heart of the Salinas Valley, the novel spans three generations of two families whose lives overlap - the Trasks and the Hamiltons. Samuel Hamilton, an Irish immigrant and dreamer who believes in the goodness of mankind, raises his family without financial wealth but rich with love and family unity.
Adam Trask descends from wealth, and the conflict of sibling rivalry and moral weakness.
Narrated in the philosophical voice of Samuel's grandson (who flavors this all-American classic with his thoughts and observations of the politics and economics of life in America at the turn of the century), Steinbeck uses the timeless story of Cain and Abel to draw his characters - and with this adds a greater depth to a novel rich with symbolism.
As in all of Steinbeck's novels, the characters drive the story. Lee, a Chinese servant, surprises and delights the reader with his wisdom and gentle nature. Cathy (later Kate) surpasses the stereotypical evil character, allowing reader empathy to exist side by side with revulsion and demonstrating no one is all good or all bad. The overriding message of East of Eden seems to be that man (or woman) are free to choose their path regardless of inheritance or circumstances - in fact, perhaps in spite of them.
Steinbeck's fine sense of place resonates throughout the novel. It is easy to see why East of Eden is considered his greatest work.
A classic which is a must read, this novel is highly recommended; rated 5/5.
The story of Annemarie Johansen and Ellen Rosen. Set in 1943 in Copenhagan, Denmark during the Second World War. King Christian X of Denmark has decided to surrender to Germany. They are a small country with not much of an army and giving in will allow many Danish to live who would have died had they put up a fight. The downside is that there are now German soldiers on every corner and the Danish are doing without a lot of basic items like cream and coffee.
One day a local Jewish family who own a ribbon and button shop are no longer there. Annemarie's best friend Ellen is Jewish, but as they don't own a shop they feel safe. On going to the synagogue the following Saturday their Rabi informs them that the Germans have taken all their records with all the names of the Jews and where they live. The Rosens have to find safety and Annemarie and her family do a very brave thing stepping in to help.
It was a very well written tale that didn't take long to read. There were definate hold my breath moments, waiting to see if they would be caught and "relocated". The afterward at the end was really interesting as well, setting straight which parts of the tale were true and which were fictional. Another great tale by Lowry.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Rhinoa chose this book as her pick: "Another of my favourite authors. This one looks at music (another hobby of mine being a part-time DJ) and the main characters love making lists much like me. The humour is great and it translated really well from London in the book to the USA in the film."
Don't we all have our dizzy moments? =) The Undomestic Goddess is a fun read. My review, which is also on my blog, is posted below.
The Undomestic Goddess
By Sophie Kinsella
Completed October 12, 2007
Sophie Kinsella does have a magic formula for her chick lit books: girl blunders, tries to hide from her mistake(s), meets boy, lies about said mistake(s) and then comes clean and hopes for "happily ever after."
The Undomestic Goddess is really no different than Kinsella's other books, but I did find her lead character to be more in control of her life. Samantha Sweeting is a high-powered attorney in London, working her way up the ranks at a large law firm. She discovers that she makes a huge mistake at work and flees in embarrassment. She ends up in the countryside, where she takes a job as a housekeeper. However, Samantha knows nothing about cooking, laundry or cleaning. Add a handsome lawyer-hating gardener to the story, and you got a cute, escapist story that is easy and fun to read.
I did enjoy reading Kinsella's accounts of the English countryside with beautifully depicted gardens, local alehouses and cobblestone streets. I have never been to England, but she really transported me there in this book.
Need a breather between edgy novels or just a break from life? Grab a Sophie Kinsella book. It's like a ride at Disney World - short, amusing, light-hearted - and always a ton of fun.
Friday, October 12, 2007
I just finished reading my 4th selection for this book challenge, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I liked this book.
The four March sisters named Meg, Jo, Amy & Beth live in a cozy home with their mother 'Marmee' while their father is away in the Civil War. The family was wealthy at one time, but it is hinted that he helped a friend who did not repay the debt, and that is how the family ended up living in poverty.....
see my fullreview here
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Here are a few of my bits and bobs about it, you can see more on my blog, if you're interested:
- Overall, I liked the book well enough - I got through it quickly and was kept pretty interested. It was interesting to see how the books were affecting her, what thoughts they brought to her mind or how they related to what was happening in her life. But it didn't really seem like a chronicle of a "year of passionate reading." Several of our SAM'ers mentioned the passion in the "passionate reading" didn't come through and I agree. Becky summed it up really well: "...if it had been called "Thoughts on the Books I've Read This Year" instead I would have thought it delivered just fine."
- I also agree with Alisonwonderland who says she didn't feel very engaged with Nelson - "a couple of times i found myself thinking that many of the book bloggers i know could have written this book at least as well, if not better." (Note - I do not include myself in that category!)
- Quite a few times Nelson reminded me of that Booking Through Thursday question about being a "Goldilocks reader" - she couldn't get into the book if things weren't just right. For someone who is a "passionate" reader, she seemed awfully picky.
- Nelson claims (quite a few times) that she's not much of a re-reader: "And life is short, why waste time on something you already know, when you can discover something exciting and new?" This is how I feel; I have a few very beloved books and some that I've read a couple of times, but most of my books go right back to the library and that's the end of them, though I thank them for their company. But for someone who claims not to be much of a re-reader, she does it a lot in just one year of reading.
- She has her planned reading list for the year in one of the appendices and no wonder she barely read any of them (2, I think)! They were almost all things she clearly didn't enjoy reading - poetry, short stories, and nonfiction (all of which she admits to not particularly enjoying) and a bunch of classics she hadn't gotten to yet. I think we all have lists of "worthy" titles we'd like to get to, but to think you're going to do them all in a year seems like a lot of pressure.
- I was totally with her on this statement: "I have to read and read and read, all the while knowing that the more aggressively I pursue my passion, the sooner it will end and then I will be bereft." I've put off finishing books I'm loving so that I can keep that bereft feeling at bay a while longer.
- I do agree with her Rule #2 - timing. There are certainly books that you can't get into because you're too young, there's too much going on in your life and you're distracted, they're too close to something you can't face right now, or they're heavy and you need fluffy or they're fluffy and you want solid.
- I'm definitely a "double-booker," too. I pretty much always have one book in my bag for the commute and errands and one by my bed, and fairly often another one somewhere in the house.
- I agreed with her about not really liking "publishing phenomena" - the books that are currently the talk of the town. It's nicer to either discover them first before you hear too much about them or to read them many years after the hype has died down.
Monday, October 8, 2007
I read this book for the Something About Me Challenge. It's one of Alisonwonderland's selections. This review could take pages of 'internet paper' if I wrote all the meaningful quotes I've marked in the book. I'm really glad I chose to read this book. Thanks, Alison for the great suggestion.
Lindbergh takes a needed break from her hectic life to the solitude of a small beach cabin. There she gathers shells and ponders how their design signifies stages in a woman's life. Gift From the Sea is reflective, contemplative journal writing that Lindbergh edited to share with the world.
There are passages galore that spoke to me with their beautiful simplicity and sage wisdom. Words that reaffirmed my beliefs and self-concepts. Others that caused my thinking to grow beyond its bonds. I enjoy that feeling of stretching and growth.
I read a library copy and now will have to buy my own so I can transfer my bookdarts and leave them in place. Books like this are great to have on my bedside table and open up and randomly read passages I've marked.
This quote helped me to identify for myself one reason I like to travel and be away from home on my vacations. "The past and the future are cut off; only the present remains. One lives like a child or a saint in the immediacy of here and now. People become like islands in such an atmosphere, self-contained, whole and serene."One of my favorite discussions in the book was that of romantic love. Such moments are fleeting, but valid and can be revisited. Feelings of love ebb and flow just as life, energy and seasons do. Too many panic when the honeymoon ends and real life creeps in and the romance thins. Romance and love need to be kindled and cherished.
Here's a feeling we can all identify: "What we fear is not so much that our energy may be leaking away through small outlets as that it may be going 'down the drain.'"
"Purposeful giving is not as apt to deplete ones resources; it belongs to that natural order of giving that seems to renew itself even in the act of depletion. The more one gives, the more one has to give."
I highly recommend this book that still speaks wisdom over 50 years after being written. It's a sweet, gem of a book.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
The chapter on Eugenics was perhaps my favourite talking about chromosome 21 and Down symdrome (found when a person has 3 copies of the chromosome compared to the usual 2). It also discussed the idea of sterilising mentally retarded people and criminals which went on in America and Germany, but interestingly not the UK although Winton Churchill was a big fan. Interestingly the chromosomes on the front cover are a photograph of the authors which I dind't realise until I read the note after finishing the book.
You definately need a basic understanding of genetics to appreciate this book. The author does try to explain things without too much terminology, but it's pretty impossible in some places. I really enjoyed it and was surprised to find it is the first science book I have read voluntarily since graduating in 2004. It was a lot to take in and I will definately be reading it again in the future. I am really pleased I finally got around to reading it and although some of it is already out of date (it was published in 2000 and genetics has made so many advances in the last few years) I definately recommend it.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
kristin said she choose this book partly because of the settings and occupations of the main characters - all having to do with books! how can a book lover resist a book like that?!
Well, I loved So Many Books. The author writes with a voice that appeals to me. I can relate to her addiction to books and reading, even when our taste seems vastly different. For instance, she enjoyed Her by Laura Zigman and I remember the book being shallow and boring. However, there are other things we have in common, such as our love for Dorothy Parker.
I emailed Sara and told her how much I love her book, and she replied quickly. I know, and you know, that writers are just people, but it is still immensely gratifying to have an author I admire acknowledge me. I can remember my excitement over a handwritten letter from Nicole Johnson (Fresh-Brewed Life) and a few friendly emails exchanged with Jodi Picoult. These encounters make me more loyal to these writers. They make me happy.
I loved reading about some of the concepts that came up in So Many Books. One was double-booking. Since, I was triple-booking when I read this. In the carpool line at Haydn's school, I read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and I have a copy of Jacob, Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson on the end table in the living room. I read bits and pieces of it. No danger of mixing these books up. One involves Christians hiding Jews during WWII and one is the young adult story of twins who are unequally loved. Neither can be easily confused with a book of essays on reading. I also loved the idea of journaling a year's worth of reading. Granted, I already keep track of every book I read in list form and in my Library Thing database. However, that is very sytematic. I would love to share how I choose what to read, sometimes, and how I react to a book rather than just a short review of the story and writing.
I am very VERY glad that I finally delved into this book. It was pure delight.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Summary (from Booklist): Kayla, Antoinette, and Val are a trio whose unlikely friendship was formed 20 years ago when they each rented a room in the same house. Val and Kayla were fast friends, but, despite Kayla's persistence, Antoinette kept her distance--until one night when her desire for a midnight swim inaugurated an annual ritual and cemented their bond. On a remote point on the island of Nantucket, the three women spend one night each Labor Day weekend drinking champagne, eating lobster, skinny-dipping, and baring their souls. One of the secrets revealed during their twentieth get-together launches a chain of events that changes them all forever. Antoinette swims out to sea and never returns, and as they search for her, wondering if she is alive, a complex web of deceptions (both intentional and unintended) begins to unravel.
My thoughts: I chose this book because I'm quite fascinated by those New England islands. I went through quite an obsession with the Hamptons, but didn't know much about Nantucket (besides it being the home of the man in that limerick). The first page describes Kayla doing her Christmas shopping on Main Street I was instantly drawn in and wanted to visit Nantucket in the winter - charming little shops all handing out snacks, filled to the brim with Christmas cheer. So I definitely enjoyed the setting and reading the setting and generally about island life.
The actual story is definitely soap opera-ish, but would make a good beach read (especially given the beachy setting). It dealt with women's friendships in a non-typical way - not a whole lot of loving support going on at all. Harsh, cynical Val tells Kayla that's because they couldn't handle being caring all year round - that's why they only share things with each other once a year. Val and Antoinette were supremely unlikeable and Kayla seemed quite naive at times, though to be fair one doesn't usually expect one's best friends to turn out to be complete bitches. But even Kayla is far from blameless and she comes very close to ruining her marriage. The twists and turns kept me reading and most of the time I liked Kayla, but I have a really hard time fully enjoying books if I don't like the characters, and the lack of any human feeling (though Antoinette redeems herself very, very slightly eventually) in the other two was pretty off-putting.
What I learned about Library Lady: Unfortunately, her blog seems to have gone wonky and I can't find her explanation anywhere here. But I have a feeling that I remember that she's a frequent visitor to Nantucket or at least she was in the past? And she obviously likes twisty, turny books where you don't know who you can trust. :)
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
I've started to realize that I'm taking up a lot of room here with my verbose reviews! So you can read my full review of this one on my blog here .
I just want to thank Historia so much for picking this utterly charming little book! I thoroughly enjoyed the 20 years of correspondence between Helene Hanff and Marks & Co. I heartily recommend this one to everyone! It's a super-fast read and such fun for book-lovers (and also Anglophiles, which I am). Now I want to track down her Duchess of Bloomsbury Street and also watch the movie.
Loved this book. Loved it. It only took me two days to read, because I just couldn't put it down. Authors like Markus Zusak amaze me. What happens with so many authors that I like is that after a few books I never read them again because, well, read one and you've read them all. I mean, I swear, pick up a John Grisham or a James Patterson and you can just substitute names and places and "voila!" you've got a new book! (Sorry Grisham and Patterson fans).
Not so with Markus Zusak. If you read The Book Thief and loved it, prepare for the same engaging, can't-put-it-down style, but a completely different book. Totally different premise, totally different setting, timeline, etc. There's not a thing about this book that reminded me of his other, except how much I loved it.
Now you're reading about a 19 year old card-playing cabdriver who's a bit of a loser. All of a sudden, he starts getting messages delivered to him on playing cards and you're off on a great adventure. Read this, read The Book Thief, and then you'll probably do what I'm going to do, which is scour the library and book stores for his other ones.
Just what I need right now - a really good mystery! I really enjoyed this one. It was like getting two books in one: A good mystery and a story about bookscouting and running a bookstore.
"Denver cop and rare book collector Cliff Janeway is introduced in this engrossing whodunit from two-time Edgar nominee Dunning. A sensitive and introspective sort, Janeway chafes in the hard-edged role of law enforcer so often demanded of him. When a down-on-his-luck book scout named Bobby Westfall is murdered, Cliff at first suspects local thug and personal nemesis Jackie Newton. Newton's girlfriend, a victim of physical abuse, makes Cliff more determined than ever to nail Newton. Sensitivity notwithstanding, he goes after his quarry with both fists cocked and both barrels aimed, neglecting any semblance of correct police procedure. This ironic twist shapes the plot as Janeway delves further into his city's antiquarian book trade, whose practitioners display an expertise exceeded only by their greed. Crisp, direct prose and nearly pitch-perfect dialogue enhance this meticulously detailed page-turner." --from Publisher's Weekly
The main character is a likable, down-to-earth guy with a few flaws that keep him human. And he loves books. He loves to read and to collect and to sell books. Throughout the book he mentions titles of quite a few books that are valuable. I've never been a collector of 1st editions, but when I saw the wooden box containing all 7 Harry Potter's in hardback in a recent ad, I started scheming. I knew then that this book got through to me.
I learned about two books that I want to find and read: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt by C.W. Grafton, Sue's father and Red Dragon by Thomas Harris.
I think this book was first recommended to me by Jenclair. Thanks, Jenclair. I loved it and am looking forward to reading the next in the series.
Title: My Sister’s Keeper
Author: Jodi Picoult
ISBN: 13: 9781416549148
Publisher: Atria Books
Very surprising that I had not read any Jodi Picoult before this. I have heard of her but somehow missed reading her books. I picked two of her books yesterday and started reading ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ as soon as I got home. It kept me hooked until the end.
Anna was conceived meticulously with a genetic match for her sister Kate, who is diagnosed with APL, a fatal kind of leukaemia. By the time she is thirteen, she has undergone numerous surgeries, transfusion etc for her older sister. She had no say in those. Now, she questions her parents’ decision and wants to lead a normal life apart from her sister. She goes and hires a lawyer, Campbell Alexander to represent her.
From there starts the conflict. Her decision affects her family, her mother Sara, father Brian, Brother Jesse and of course her sister Kate. In a way, Anna is defined in terms of Kate. All are torn apart. Brian somewhat understands her predicament but Sara cannot see beyond Kate. Jesse has been ignored for as long as he remembers.
For a complete review click My Sister's Keeper..
Trish's thoughts: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult - Picoult always shows all sides to every story, and this one I could especially relate to as my younger sister had a kidney transplant 5 years ago (when she was 18). Although I wasn't in exactly the same circumstances, I could relate to Kate's siblings.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
This was an amazingly entertaining book - suspenseful, shocking, with wonderful language. I was hooked from the very beginning, with Setterfield's description of the way light came through a window onto the doorstep. I sometimes found Margaret just a bit tiresome - I wanted to get on with Vida's story instead of Margaret's agonizing over her past and relationship with her mother. Jane Eyre, one of my favourites, plays a big part in the novel, although I confess I didn't always make all of the connections. At one point Margaret had figured out all of the clues and I still hadn't, this one kept me guessing til the end!
Favourite quote: This book is chock-full of great writing, but I particularly enjoyed this one about the joys and perils of reading:
"I never read without making sure I am in a secure position. I have been like this ever since the age of seven when, sitting on a high wall and reading The Water Babies, I was so seduced by the the descriptions of underwater life that I unconsciously relaxed my muscles. Instead of being held buoyant by the water that so vividly surrounded me in my mind, I plummeted to the ground and knocked myself out. I can still feel the scar under my fringe now. Reading can be dangerous."
Kristin said she picked this one because she really, really enjoyed it and so did I! I'd vaguely heard about through the book grapevine (the bookvine?) but I probably wouldn't have picked it up without her recommendation. So thanks, Kristin!!
(Cross-posted with a bit of a summary on my blog.)
This was a great read, full of atmosphere, and perfect for this spooky fall season. I also read this as a selection for the Readers Imbibing Peril (RIP) challenge. My favorite aspect of the book, besides the mystery that is oh so wonderfully, and slowly revealed, is the homage to Jane Eyre, another selction I read for this challenge. If I hadn't read them so closely together, I'm not sure I would have seen the similarities, but I loved that they were somewhat parallel.
Kristin suggested this book and I'm glad she did; I've been wanting to read it for a while.
Kristin said: This book is set in all my favorite places: libraries, used bookstores and archives. I share interests with both of the main characters, one loves to research and the other is a writer. The main reason I pick this book is that I really, really enjoyed it....I think it's one of the best new books I've read in years!
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
How cute is this book? A classic fairy tale, narrated wonderfully, being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread.
This was the Newbery Award winner from 2004, and I would think it is destined to be a classic book.
I loved the narration, as the Reader is spoken to during the story in the tradition of The Princess Bride, warning that bad things are coming, and advising looking up a word like 'perfidy'* as it comes along.
I chose this book for the Something About Me Challenge as recommended by booklogged, and she has chosen wonderfully.
She said in chosing it: Sometimes I feel the size of a mouse trying to conquer problems that are so much bigger than me. My tools seem silly and inefficient, sort of like Despereaux's needle and thread. And sometimes my goals are not realistic in the same way that Despereaux had his heart set on marrying the princess.
I think this sums up the book better than I could. Also, I bought a copy of the book today so we will have one here in the house. I can't just return it to the library and not have a copy if I need some uplifting and hopeful reading. And my children must read this.
*perfidy: a breach of faith
Monday, October 1, 2007
I read Good Grief by Lolly Winston for the "Something About Me" Reading Challenge. Before I start this review, I have to take a little break to sing
Lolly Lolly Lolly, get your adverbs here!Okay, that's enough. She probably never got THAT growing up.
Lolly Lolly Lolly, got some adverbs here!
Come on down to Lolly's, get the adverbs here!**
As I was saying, I read Good Grief by Lolly Winston, which is about a 36 year old woman, Sophie Stanton, who loses her husband to cancer, and her grieving process over the following year or so. It covers her relationship with her mother-in-law, her relationship with her best friend, depression, grief groups, jobs, dating again, psychiatrists and the wonderful medications they prescribe. Written from Sophie's point of view, the novel seems to me to be a realistic portrayal of the feelings someone in Sophie's situation would have and the actions one would take.
What I liked:
I liked Sophie's sense of humor. She couldn't help the things she was doing, but at the same time could see how her behavior might appear to someone else as the behavior of someone at the very least mentally unstable. That was just funny. And I found it SO easy to relate to being able to see a situation from an objective point of view, but still behaving in the situation as someone with a very subjective viewpoint.
My favorite realization Sophie comes to:Maybe she [Marion, Sophie's mother-in-law] needs me to be her basket case. Just as sometimes you need a person to be strong for you, maybe sometimes you need a person to be weak for you. Maybe I am to Marion what Cops is to me. Kooky screwups who help you tell yourself: Hell, I could be worse.
I liked the relationship between Sophie and her 'Little Sister,' Crystal. Actually, now that I think about it, it was a lot like what Sophie says in the above quote about needing someone to be weak for you. It was when Sophie had to be strong for others, Crystal, her best friend and later her mother-in-law, that she really began to heal.
I'm not going to do a 'what I didn't like' section, because there's nothing that I remember that struck me in an overly negative manner. Overall, it was a fairly quick and enjoyable read with realistic characters.
This novel was from Chasida's list, where she said she chose it because she lives in Silicon Valley and because of her husband's job. So my guess is that her husband has a high-tech job that keeps him busier than they would like. I can relate. I don't live in Silicon Valley, but my husband is Chief Technology Officer for a local bank, which requires long and sometimes lousy hours.
** As a footnote, I miss "Schoolhouse Rock," and really think it should be brought back to Saturday mornings. Along with Mr. Yuckmouth and the little western dude that made the healthy snacks, the wagonwheels and the pineapple and cottage cheese "sundaes" that I think he called "saturdaes."
I read this one for the Something About Me challenge I'm hosting. I really wanted to like it. I tried to like it. I did finish it, although it took me absolutely forever. It's about a female literary detective of sorts that pursues literary mysteries. A person who loves books should love this book!
I didn't love it, though. It has a pretty distinct science-fiction type flavor, with a bizarre world that is unrecognizable. Part of my dislike was that I felt like this imaginary world wasn't described well enough. The book is supposed to be set in 1985, but it's not like the 1985 I lived through. So what happened? How did the world get in such a state? I guess it's really not necessary to describe - you just have to let go and accept that this is a totally different world and just get into it. But I just couldn't. I liked the characters well enough, and I wanted to read to the end and make sure the bad guy got taken care of. But I just couldn't suspend my "reality" enough to fall into this crazy book world.
It probably has something to do with all the stuff that's going on in my life right now. I have little patience for reading anyway, and then this book was a little too much imaginary work. So if you have this on your list, don't give up. You might have a totally different experience. I might even try the second in the series at some point when my life isn't so crazy, who knows?
I only have one more to go from my original list of 6!