NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
If I finish The Book Of Samson before midnight, I'll add it. I have to think about my favorites, and I'll post that later. Until then, here it is. The List of What I Read In 2008:
Goal: 100 -- Reached Nov. 8, 2008
Final Total: 125
1. War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy
2. World Without End by Ken Follett
3. The Complete Fables by Aesop
4. Timbuktu by Paul Auster
5. Morality For Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith
6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
7. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
8. American Youth by Phil LaMarche
9. Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind
10. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
11. The Courts of Love by Jean Plaidy
12. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass
13. The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin
14. Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind
15. Swann's Way by Marcel Proust
16. The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy
17. In The Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
18. Blood of the Fold by Terry Goodkind
19. The Queen's Secret by Jean Plaidy
20. The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame
21. Christ The Lord: The Road To Cana by Anne Rice
22. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
23. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
24. Temple of the Winds by Terry Goodkind
25. Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe
26. No Longer At Ease by Chinua Achebe
27. Soul of the Fire by Terry Goodkind
28. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
29. Nada by Carmen Laforet
30. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
31. The Devil's Bones by Jefferson Bass
32. Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind
33. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
34. The Crusader by Michael Alexander Eisner
35. King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard
36. Travels In The Scriptorium by Paul Auster
37. The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted by Elizabeth Berg
38. Allah Is Not Obliged by Ahmadou Kourouma
39. After Dark by Haruki Murakami
40. Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir
41. The Last Wife of Henry VIII by Carolly Erickson
42. The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander
43. The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
44. John Adams by David McCullough
45. Compulsion by Jonathan Kellerman
46. The Attack by Yasmina Khadra
47. Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland
48. The Sirens of Baghdad by Yasmina Khadra
49. The Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark
50. The Pillars of Creation by Terry Goodkind
51. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
52. Stealing Athena by Karen Essex
53. Time's Arrow by Martin Amis
54. A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes
55. The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips
56. The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir
57. His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis
58. Duchess by Susan Holloway Scott
59. Homo Politicus by Dana Milbank
60. The Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman
61. Phantom Prey by John Sandford
62. Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors
63. When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops? by George Carlin
64. The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver
65. My Lady of Cleves by Margaret Campbell Barnes
66. Odd Hours by Dean Koontz
67. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
68. The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner
69. Naked Empire by Terry Goodkind
70. Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk
71. Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl by Kate McCafferty
72. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
73. The Gospel of Judas by Simon Mawer
74. Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais
75. The Queen's Lady by Barbara Kyle
76. Chainfire by Terry Goodkind
77. Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
78. Killer View by Ridley Pearson
79. The Concubine by Norah Lofts
80. Phantom by Terry Goodkind
81. When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris
82. The Conqueror by Georgette Heyer
83. The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
84. The Tsarina's Daughter by Carolly Erickson
85. Confessor by Terry Goodkind
86. The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria
87. The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
88. Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones
89. Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett
90. The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman
91. Devil's Brood by Sharon Kay Penman
92. Naked by David Sedaris
93. Man In The Dark by Paul Auster
94. Lady Macbeth by Susan Fraser King
95. Wild Boy by Andy Taylor
96. Roots by Alex Haley
97. Heat Lightning by John Sandford
98. Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs
99. Bones by Jonathan Kellerman
100. Cards On The Table by Agatha Christie
101. Me of Little Faith by Lewis Black
102. Extreme Measures by Vince Flynn
103. Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
104. A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
105. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
106. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
107. The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver
108. Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer
109. The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth
110. The Labors of Hercules by Agatha Christie
111. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
112. Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie
113. Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer
114. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
115. Death On The Nile by Agatha Christie
116. The Body In The Library by Agatha Christie
117. N or M? by Agatha Christie
118. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie
119. The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
120. Light In August by William Faulkner
121. Evil Under The Sun by Agatha Christie
122. Crooked House by Agatha Christie
123. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
124. Holidays On Ice by David Sedaris
125. The Intellectual Devotional: American History by David S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim
1. (Jan.) "The Purloined Letter" by Edgar Allan Poe
2. (Feb.) "Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison
3. (Mar.) "Miss Brill" by Katherine Mansfield
4. (Apr.) "The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted" by Elizabeth Berg
5. (Oct.) "God Sees The Truth But Waits" by Leo Tolstoy
6. (Oct.) "Barn Burning" by William Faulkner
7. (Nov.) "Up In Michigan" by Ernest Hemingway
8. (Nov.) "The Destructors" by Graham Greene
9. (Nov.) "A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty
10. (Dec.) "Blue Winds Dancing" by Tom Whitecloud
11. (Dec.) "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" by Mark Twain
It's been a great year, and I'm so excited to start the Challenges for 2009!
Happy New Year, Everyone, and Happy Reading In the Coming Months!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Like its predecessor, The Intellectual Devotional: American History is modeled after daily spiritual devotionals. With daily one-page readings from seven different fields of knowledge such as American Literature, Politics, War and Business, a few minutes each evening was all it took to broaden my personal education in the history of the United States.
This is the second volume in the series, and Peter and I have spent every evening for the last two years enjoying these daily doses of intellectual trivia. The volume for the coming year is The Intellectual Devotional: Modern Culture, and it is on my nightstand as I write. I hope this series continues for a long time to come!
Monday, December 29, 2008
From Publishers Weekly:
Platas's second wish fulfillment fantasy chica-lit novel (after Cinderella Lopez) follows the craziness that ensues as Cuban-American Rosie Caballeros humdrum world undergoes an extreme makeover after she wins $600 million in the lottery. Rosie shares her megabucks with her grandmother and her lovable cousin Cheeto, and begins plotting how to best spend her riches, gradually transforming her dumpy self into a smart, curvy J-Lo celebrity sort, pursued by the tabloids—much like heartthrob actor Brad Merritt, who, in a magical twist of fate, becomes her boyfriend. But Rosie's newfound status also attracts envious schemers, ex-boyfriends and the glaring media spotlight. Platas depicts Rosie and crew's gilded ascension with a giddiness that's pure escapist fun.St. Martin's sent me this cute book for review, but in all honesty, I am not a chick-lit girl and have way too many other books I want to get to. If you're interested in reading and reviewing this book, leave a comment and I'll hold the drawing on Saturday, Jan. 3.
Good luck, everyone!
I'd like to read more short works in 2009 including stories and essays, so I'm adding this challenge to my ever-expanding list. I'm committing to 10 essays for the year. That shouldn't be too difficult, right?
Completed: 10/10 as of November 30, 2009
1. "Werner" by Jo Ann Beard
2. "The Freedom To Offend" by Ian Buruma
3. "Why I Am Not A Christian" by Bertrand Russell
4. Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace by Gore Vidal (Complete Book)
5. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (Complete Book)
6. Dress You Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris (Complete Book)
7. Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman (Complete Book)
8. The Grotesque edited by Harold Bloom (Complete Book)
9. Burn This Book edited by Toni Morrison (Complete Book)
10. "Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell
Thanks to Carrie at Books and Movies for hosting this challenge! And if any of you would like to join in, click here.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Another one I can't pass up. In an effort to assist our favorite bookstores in this time of economic nastiness, Amy from My Friend Amy is hosting the Buy A Book And Read It Challenge. I've taken option #2: Buy one book each month and, well, read it. I can do that! I'm leaving my list open to whatever options sound good each month, but I will list them all here as I finish and review them.
Completed: 12/12 as of December 12, 2009
Jan. -- Dawn by Elie Wiesel
Feb. -- The Woman In The Dunes by Kobo Abe
Mar. -- Survival In Auschwitz by Primo Levi
Apr. -- Waiting for the Barbarians by J.M. Coetzee
May -- The Penguin State of the World Atlas by Dan Smith
June -- Renegade by Richard Wolffe
July -- The Devil's Queen by Jeanne Kalogridis
Aug. -- The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster
Sept. -- High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Oct. -- Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
Nov. -- Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle
Dec. -- The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer
If you'd like to join in, click here to check out the information post on Amy's blog.
A short collection of the author's best holiday essays.
For me, Holidays on Ice served as the perfect post-Christmas casual afternoon read. A couple of them contain some pretty grim humor that might bother some readers (specifically I'm thinking of "Season's Greetings To Our Friends and Family!!!"), but overall I greatly enjoyed this collection. The first essay, "SantaLand Diaries", is worth the price all by itself!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Town crank Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come, and is taught the true spirit of Christmas.
I had never read A Christmas Carol previously, nor had I ever seen the movie, so I got to go into it with a fairly clean mental slate. The story was pretty much what I expected, but for some odd reason I was surprised at how delighted I was by the writing itself. Maybe I thought it was going to be more cumbersome, but that was not at all the case. It's easy to see why many readers revisit this classic every holiday season.
Friday, December 26, 2008
EVIL UNDER THE SUN
by Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot's holiday is once again interrupted by murder. Can a gentleman not rest quietly? But it's a good thing he is on the spot, as there are many at the seaside resort who are not too deeply saddened by the loss of the stunningly beautiful, man-eating Arlena Marshall and had plenty of reason to have done the deed him- or herself.
Evil Under the Sun was full of wonderfully quirky characters and was a lot of fun to read. It was most entertaining to hear the aging Poirot's and elderly Mrs. Gardner's thoughts on the habits of youth as they watched them frolic on the beach. And the mystery is pretty darn good, too! :-)
by Agatha Christie
Second-generation Scotland Yarder Charles Hayward steps in to assist when the grandfather of the woman he loves is murdered, and he finds that his close-knit future in-laws have plenty to hide.
Crooked House is a darker story than is generally found in Christie's novels. The ending is quite shocking after a diet of Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple tidiness! I very much enjoyed the unique atmosphere of this one.
And that completes 10 Agatha Christie novels to finish up 2008!
What I've learned:
I was proud of myself when I knew what was meant when the term "Myrmidons" was used in "Crooked House".
Agatha Christie had an affection for the word "adenoidal". She used it or some form of it at least once in nearly every book I read for the Anything Agatha Challenge.
Next year I need to space my Agatha Christie books out more. While I love them, they need to be digested in small doses as a break from heavier reading.
And that finishes not only the Anything Agatha Challenge, but all of my Challenges for 2008! And by "all" I mean all except for the three that I decided to abandon in November. ;-) Now to get my eyeballs in shape for all those 2009 Challenges I signed up for! I am aiming to actually finish each and every one this time, and the first load of library books is on the desk as we speak, ready for duty on Jan. 1. I'm so excited!!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Like so many others, I don't read enough non-fiction. This Challenge is a perfect way to remedy that! The goal is to read 1 book from each Dewey Century per month from 000 to 999. (Since there are 10 catagories and 12 months, I'm not sure if the total we're aiming for is 10 or 12, but I've got a question in regarding that. I'll assume 10 for now.) All I needed was a really good excuse to get out of the fiction sections of my library and check out all the other things I'm missing! I will be posting my choices as I go along, because that exploration is going to be a big part of the fun all year long.
Completed: 10/10 as of December 9, 2009
000 - Generalities
How To Think About The Great Ideas: From The Great Books Of Western Civilization
by Mortimer J. Adler
100 - Philosophy and Psychology
Man's Search For Meaning
200 - Religion
by Bart D. Ehrman
300 - Social Sciences
Amusing Ourselves to Death
by Neil Postman
400 - Language
The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
by Simon Winchester
500 - Natural Sciences + Math
500 B562 2008
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009
edited by Elizabeth Kolbert
600 - Technology
by Steve Dublanica
700 - The Arts
Can I Keep My Jersey?
by Paul Shirley
800 - Literature and Rhetoric
Writing To Learn
by William Zinsser
900 - Geography and History
Survival In Auschwitz
by Primo Levi
If you'd like to join in or even just check out the rules, click here.
To see a complete Dewey Decimal System Classification Summary, click here.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Light in August cannot be summarized in a sentence or two. Taking place in Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County, there are three inter-connected stories that delve into topics such as morals, alienation and Christianity as well as the racial tensions that I've come to expect in Southern literature of this time period.
I wanted to read this book in particular, because I heard somewhere that it was the most accessible of all of his novels. I don't remember where. But if you're looking for a Faulkner novel that you don't have to be afraid of, this would fit the bill. It's not an easy read, but it's not nearly as confusing as, for example, The Sound and the Fury.
As I was reading, I did feel there was a lot of religious imagery surrounding one main character in particular, Joe Christmas. In one scene, there were very strong crucifixion overtones. I was happy to discover via my personal literature tutor, Wikipedia, that I was not imagining things. The expansion on this thought, with Lena seen as a Mary-figure and Byron as a Joseph-figure, was an eye-opener. I would have never thought of that on my own. This was a beautiful, disturbing book that has added much fuel to my new fixation with Faulkner.
This finishes my 2008 TBR Challenge!
Monday, December 22, 2008
There are a few of us who have completely lost our minds and are going to attempt to read Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene in 2009. I've downloaded a reader's guide from Bookrags. I'm going to need it!
If you'd like to join us, you can become a Subject at The Faerie Queene's Court. This would be a great book for those who are taking up the My Year of Reading Dangerously Challange!!
COMPLETED: May 18, 2009!!! Yahoo!!!
My Thoughts on The Faerie Queene
Sunday, December 21, 2008
The story of Jim Smiley, a chronic gambler, and his amazing frog, as told by the chatty old Simon Wheeler.
Really, does it matter what the subject matter is when you're reading Mark Twain? His characterizations pull you in so completely that he can talk about anything and you're mesmerized. It's somewhat disturbing that his writing is so charming that a lengthy paragraph about a nasty dog fight almost seemed quaint. That one objectionable (to me) paragraph aside, this is an adorably crafted, silly story.
To read this story online, click here.
This completes the 2008 Short Story Challenge. Yippee!!
A rash of nasty anonymous letters sends the quiet village of Lymstock into an uproar, especially when a prominent citizen appears to commit suicide after receiving one. But once murder makes an appearance, it's Miss Marple to the rescue!
I think The Moving Finger is my favorite Miss Marple book so far. The odd thing is, she is barely in it! The story is told from first person point of view by a man convalescing in the village after an airplane accident, and he has very little contact with Jane Marple. We just get to hear how she solved the mystery after the fact, almost as if she was put in as an afterthought to correct the police. Detection while knitting. It's a great job if you can get it! :-) Despite the stretch to call this a "Miss Marple Mystery", it was a very, very enjoyable read.
Shortly after Hercule Poirot leaves his dentist's office, the dentist is found shot in an apparent suicide after a dental mistake kills a patient. But Poirot is unconvinced and leaves no stone unturned in an effort to prove murder.
One, Two, Buckle My Shoe contains the most complicated plotting I think I have seen in a Christie novel so far. I had a hard time believing Poirot's celebrated description of his methods and conclusions this time around. It was a little too convoluted for me. It's pretty ingenious, but I had a little trouble following it.
As much as I love Agatha Christie, I have to say that taking in ten of them nearly back to back may not be a highly recommended method of reading her books. I think I have three left to finish out the Anything Agatha Challenge, then I'll give her a respite. :-)
Since I'm already signed up for the Read Your Own Books Challenge, I was going to pass this one up this year. However, I have no will power. I do have a very rational reason outside of that. If I've already committed to reading 50 of my own books in 2009, why not list a few that I want to read for certain, right? :-)
Here is the list for 2009:
Completed: 12/12 as of December 18, 2009
(Linked or bolded books are the ones read for the challenge.)
Red Harvest – Dashiell Hammett
White Noise – Don DeLillo
The Trial – Franz Kafka
Junky – William S. Burroughs
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
Was – Geoff Ryman
Bedlam – Greg Hollingshead
Schindler’s List – Thomas Keneally
After Dachau – Daniel Quinn
Augustus – John Williams
Claudius The God – Robert Graves
Finn – Jon Cinch
War Trash – Ha Jin
Beowulf – Anonymous
Grendel – John Gardner
The Jungle – Upton Sinclair
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea – Jules Verne
Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse
The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova
The Borgia Bride – Jeanne Kalogridis
In The Country of Men – Hisham Matar
Outer Dark – Cormac McCarthy
Petals of Blood – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
The Praise Singer – Mary Renault
Official rules and sign up can be found here.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Here it is:
Bright colors, fun boots, and I'm very tired today. :-) The bar was a little slow with Christmas coming up, etc., etc., but we had a good time. Now I get to spend the rest of the weekend reading and mulling over my reading goals for next year.
One of the issues I keep mulling over is short stories and essays. I'd like to read a lot more of them next year from various authors, but I'm somewhat addicted to numbers. I like counting how many books I read, and I'm aiming for well over 100 for next year. So, my dilemma is this: How do I encourage myself to read more short stories/essays from lots of different books without feeling like I'm taking away from time to finish full books? Here is one of the methods I'm considering: Unless I intend to read the entire book of short works, I'll keep track of how many pages make up each short story or essay. Once I reach a total of 325-350, I'll count that group as equal to one book. I won't count any of those "books" for my initial 100 for the 100+ Book Challenge, but they will count for my personal final total of the year. I think that sounds fair. What do you all think?
If only those were the worst problems in the world we all had to worry about, right? :-)
Friday, December 19, 2008
Time for Diva's December rock and roll extravaganza. I love playing rockstar. Even if it is in my own mind. :-) Great boots though, aren't they? Tonight's fashion fun will be a royal purple dress with silver platform boots. Oh, and a purple boa! It is our Christmas show after all. ;-)
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Another author I have recently become fascinated with. Here is my "read them when I feel like it" list:
A Burnt-Out Case
The Captain and the Enemy
The End of the Affair
England Made Me
The Fallen Idol
A Gun For Sale
The Heart of the Matter
The Honorary Consul
The Human Factor
Journey Without Maps
The Lawless Roads
Loser Takes All
The Man Within
The Ministry of Fear
Our Man In Havana
The Power and the Glory
The Quiet American
The Third Man
Travels With My Aunt
Complete Short Stories (Penguin Classics):
(Original Collection: Twenty-One Stories)
The Blue Film
The Hint of an Explanation
When Greek Meets Greek
Men At Work
Alas, Poor Maling
The Case For The Defence
A Little Place Off the Edgeware Road
Across The Bridge
A Drive In The Country
The Basement Room
A Chance For Mr. Lever
A Day Saved
The Second Death
The End Of The Party
(Original Collection: A Sense Of Reality)
Under The Garden
A Visit To Morin
Dream of a Strange Land
A Discovery In The Woods
(Original Collection: May We Borrow Your Husband)
May We Borrow Your Husband?
Chagrin In Three Parts
The Over-Night Bag
Cheap In August
A Shocking Accident
The Invisible Japanese Gentlemen
Awful When You Think Of It
The Root of All Evil
Two Gentle People
(Original Collection: The Last Word and Other Stories)
The Last Word
The News In English
The Moment of Truth
The Man Who Stole the Eiffle Tower
The Lieutenant Died Last Night
A Branch of the Service
An Old Man's Memory
The Lottery Ticket
The New House
Work Not In Progress
Murder For The Wrong Reason
An Appointment With The General
(Newly Collected Stories)
Dear Dr. Falkenheim
The Other Side of the Border
OK. I've explored some ideas for this one, and I'm in. The link to the official rules and signup for this Challenge can be found here. And here are some of the books I'm thinking about:
The Splendor of Silence by Indu Sundaresan
Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally
Skeletons At The Feast by Chris Bohjalian
House of Meetings by Martin Amis
Plot Against America by Phillip Roth
The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
After Dachau by Daniel Quinn (Alternative History)
COMPLETED: 5/5 as of May 6, 2009
1. Skeletons At The Feast by Chris Bohjalian
2. Day by Elie Wiesel
3. Survival In Auschwitz by Primo Levi
4. Killing Rommel by Steven Pressfield
5. The Bridge Over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
When I was offered a copy of Paul of Dune to review, I nearly passed it up. But Peter, a devoted Dune fan, was more than happy to pick up my slack. :-) Here are his thoughts on the latest in the Dune series:
Paul of Dune fits chronologically between Dune and Dune Messiah, with some flashbacks to Paul’s childhood. For those hardcore fans that abhor the Herbert-Anderson team’s writing, this book will do little to change opinions. For the most part, I found this book entertaining and a must-read, if only to see what happens. I wanted to learn more about the evolution and fall of Paul, to spend more time in his head (in the style of God Emperor of Dune), but there was little of this in the book. The authors seemed to skirt around developing Paul as a character. Perhaps out of reverence? Anyway, on the upside, I loved the Count Fenring storyline and its surprising conclusion. If you’re curious, check it out from the library. You can always buy it later.
I certainly have no desire to wish my life away, but is anyone else having trouble focusing on finishing out this year's challenges without dabbling in next year's challenges? I can't wait to get them started! I find myself bringing home books from the library for 2009 challenges just so I can feel like I'm already participating even though I can't start them for another couple of weeks. Weird. But you all understand, don't you? ;-)