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streamsong's 75 for 2998

75 Books Challenge for 2008

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Edited: Dec 30, 2008, 1:52pm Top

Hi--I'm new to the group. I thought I'd go ahead and make this a 2008 challenge since I've been keeping track of what I've read this year.

I'm pretty eclectic in what I read--from light current novels, to classics, to nonfiction, to spirituality. My son introduced me to Terry Pratchett this year and I've got almost all of his books sitting waiting to be read. However, I'm trying to stay (somewhat) well-rounded in what I read. I'm also (trying) to read primarily works I haven't read on my shelves. (Yeah, see how well that works thanks to all the wonderful suggestions from LT and Bookmooch......as well as some of the ARC programs.)

I love non-fiction, but for some reason often put them aside before finishing them. So I'm hoping this challenge will also encourage me to finish them!

I'm keeping track of my audiobook listening separately, although I may call them part of my 75 for the year.

1. Phedra by Jean Racine
2. House At Riverton by Kate Morton
3. The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
4. Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
5. UltraPrevention by Mark Hyman & Terry Liponis
6. A Change of Heart by Claire Sylvia
7. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
8. A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz
9. The Translator by Daoud Hari
10. The Leopard by Giuseppe de Lampedusa
11. The Sister by Poppy Adams
12. Vet in the Vestry by Alexander Cameron
13. The Wicked Day by Mary Stewart
14. Matthew People's Bible Commentary
15. Trail of the Spanish Bit by Don Coldsmith
16. The File On H. by Ismail Kadare
17. Arthurian Omen by G G Vandagriff
18. Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks
19. Making Money by Terry Pratchett
20. Angel Whiskers by Laurel Hunt
21. Cat on a Blue Monday by Carole Nelson Douglas
22. Catnap by Carole Nelson Douglas
23. Authenticity by Venerable Yifa
24. Muhammed A Biography of the Prophet by Karen Armstrong
25. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
26. A Woman Doctor's Civil War: Esther Hill Hawks' Diary edited by Gerald Schwartz
27. Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan
28. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
29. Life After Death: The Burden of Proof by Deepak Chopra
30. Persuasion by Jane Austen
31. Roughing It in the Bush by Susanna Moodie
32. The Journals of Susanna Moodie by Margaret Atwood
33. Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami
34. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
35. Conversations With the Spirit World: Souls Who Have Ended Their Lives Speak From Above by Lysa Moskowitz Mateau
36. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
37. Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley
38. Obsession by Jonathan Kellerman
39. The Woman With the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail by Margaret Starbird
40. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
41. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
42. Aberrations by Penelope Przekop
43. Critter Way by Don Buelke
44. Kow Kuntry Kid by "Old Neversweat" Army Armstrong
45. Bark If You Love Me by Louise Bernikow
46. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
47. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Sir Orfeo translated by JRR Tolkien
48. Mythology of Horses by Gerald and Loretta Hausman
49. The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron
50. Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
51. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
52. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
53. Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling
54. The Green Knight by Iris Murdoch
55. Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland
56. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
57. We Are Not In This Together by William Kittredge
58. Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rielke
59. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
60. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
61. Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson
62.Imperial Woman by Pearl S Buck
63. Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
64.90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper
65. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

1. Who's Killing America's Great Writers by Robert Kaplow
2. Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
3. Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
4. Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
5. The Devil Came on Horseback by Brian Streibl
6. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
7. A Free Life by Ha Jin
8. Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson
9. Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith
10. Collapse by Jared Diamond
11. Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez
12. What Jesus Meant by Garry Wills
13. Identical Strangers by Elyse Schein
14. Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion by Bill Messenger
15. 1434 by Gavin Menzies
16. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
17. God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

Eek--well that should have read 2008 instead of 2998--at least I'll stand out in the crowd.......

May 25, 2008, 1:16pm Top

Welcome streamsong! Looks like you've made a great start here. I'm eagerly awaiting a package of Pratchett books that I ordered last week. I haven't read any of his works but I've been hearing rave reviews for years now.

May 25, 2008, 5:30pm Top

Yeah, I'm sympathetic about the typo - my thread is books "Red" in 2008...8^}

Anyway, welcome!

May 25, 2008, 5:37pm Top

This message has been flagged by multiple users and is no longer displayed (show)
I am new here too, and just wanted to say a word about my wife's book "War against Islam" she wrote using the pen name of George P. Robertson.

I don't want to say anything inappropriate but if you think its of interest I can post more information. Otherwise feel free to look at more details in my library.


May 27, 2008, 10:46am Top

I don't think I'll go backwards, posting mini-reviews for all the books I've read so far this year, but I will do it for the last one I read--and maybe I'll get some of the others done,too.

24. Muhammad A Biography of the Prophet by Karen Armstrong

I chose this book as reviews called it 'easily accessible' and also a 'love letter to the Prophet.' I found it to be both. I have a much deeper appreciation for the beauty of Islam, and its relationship to Christianity and Judaism as well as having learned a bit of its early history. I've read a couple other of Karen Armstrong's books, have several more in the tbr mountain. I look forward to reading more of her work.

May 27, 2008, 8:38pm Top

Welcome from another 75'er!! Since you are not going to do any mini-reviews of books, I must ask you about The Leopard as it is probably going to me in my next TBR stack. Did you enjoy it? How did you come to read it? Would you recommend it?

Edited: May 28, 2008, 9:42am Top

Hi blackdogbooks (I've got a black dog of my own--Styx sends a thump of his tail).

I read The Leopard as part of a literature seminar. I did enjoy it. It was a wonderfully rich picture of a changing aristocracy--and I learned a bit of Italian and Sicilian history at the same time. After you've read it, you might also enjoy watching the 1963 movie with Burt Lancaster.

May 28, 2008, 2:41pm Top

Hallo streamsong!

What did you think of The Wicked Day? I've read (and loved) the rest of Mary Stewart's Merlin books (particularly The Crystal Cave), but I've somehow never got around to the last, I don't know why.

Edited: May 28, 2008, 3:06pm Top

Thanks for the thoughts on The Leopard. I should be reading it in the next couple of months. I will indeed look for the movie when I finnish.

Love the picture on your profile page. Went looking for a picture of you black dog.

Also, just noticed you listened to Devil in the White City. I have a copy of that but haven't tried it yet. thoughts?

May 29, 2008, 11:06am Top

hi flissp! I enjoyed The Wicked Day more than I thought I would. It's Mordred's story--and I had very negative ideas about Mordred. But Mary Stewart makes him likeable and the story plausible. The events and the timeline tie in a bit with her book The Prince and the Pilgrim which I read last year.

blackdogbooks--thanks--the photo is of my place. No picture of Styx--they always seem to come out to be a black blob with no eyes or face.

The Devil in the White City is sort of a strange juxtaposition of the stories of the great engineers/architects of the Chicago's World's Fair with a true crime story of a madman who took advantage of the fair's presence (and a lesser story of another madman thrown in for good measure). I learned a lot about the Chicago's World Fair of which I knew nothing. The two threads seemed a bit disjointed, but perhaps that was because I listened to it on audiobook. I enjoyed it for the history--would give it 3.5 stars.

May 31, 2008, 10:27am Top

25. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

One of the most compelling, haunting books I have ever read. Is Kevin the proverbial 'bad seed' or did his self-involved mother and unseeing father make him that way? This book is far beyond a 'novelized current event' of popular fiction. It justifiably won the Orange award. A pleasant read? No, definitely not. But one I couldn't put down; I stayed up to the wee hours to finish reading it and having finished, can't stop thinking about it.

Edited: Jun 4, 2008, 11:42am Top

26. A Woman Doctor's Civil War: Esther Hill Hawks' Diary edited by Gerald Schwartz

This has been in my tbr stack for a couple years, after I received it through bookmooch. I mooched it on the title alone and that was a bit of a mistake.

The title is truthful. Dr Hawks was a fully qualified doctor who practiced before and after the Civil War. But, during the war itself, neither the War Department nor Dorothea Dix's nursing corps accepted her application. So the predominant focus of this book is her time as a teacher of newly freed former slaves and black soldiers.

She and her husband were ardent abolitionists prior to the war. Her husband, also a doctor, became the first surgeon attached to a black regiment. Dr Esther Hawks taught basic literacy to the troops, their families and other blacks in the area--sometimes referred to as contrabands because they were not technically free citizens at that time.

Parts of it are very interesting. And yet, some of the most interesting details are told not in her diary, but in the footnotes. For example, she organized the first fully integrated school in the South. But it's only in the footnotes that the full story is told--that after a very short time the school was boycotted almost completely by whites objecting to be in the same classroom as former slaves and that after its very early days, the school had only one white student.

Throughout the diary,she bore a lot of discrimination that she glosses over quickly. Her sewing circle was boycotted by those refusing to be in the same room with 'nigger teachers'. In the first year of Reconstruction, which is the last year of her diary, this anti-black sentiment was even more pronounced.

I honor her for acting on her convictions. I understand her motive in not dwelling on problems in her diary. And yet, the very fact that she skates rather quickly over the problems and often gives more room to recording pleasant times that broke up the monotany of her days--riding expeditions and small parties-- lessen the impact of what she did and the trials she went through.

Perhaps this is a problem with the editing, and the book and the story of the impact of her life would have been better served to have less of the actual diary entries and more narrative.

Jun 7, 2008, 11:10am Top

27. Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan

Read as part of the Barnes and Noble First Look book group.

O'Nan has a somewhat spare, unemotional writing style while writing about a very emotional event--an 18 year old girl who vanishes without a trace and how her friends and family face, cope with and heal from the situation.

But even with his style, I found this to be an emotionally harrowing read. I'll be writing a full review of it later this month.

Jun 8, 2008, 10:35am Top

I've heard about the Barnes and Noble First Look book group a copule of times now but I don't know much about it. Would you mind saying a bit more about it?

Jun 11, 2008, 12:50am Top

blackdogbooks--Every two or three months BarnesandNoble.com gives out a couple hundred ARC's of a book (first come first served) and then has discussions over the course of a month. Here's the link for all their book club discussions. http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/?z=y This is the third one I've been in on.

28. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

A YA novel of the Holocaust from a unique point of view; the protagonist is a very poor foster child living in Munich. She has a love for words and books; the narrator is Death (not quite as amusing as Terry Pratchett's Death in the Discworld novels). I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.

It's an emotional read; the last few novels I've read have been highly emotionally charged--time for a shift in reading to give my tear ducts a rest.

Jun 11, 2008, 10:35am Top

29. Life After Death: The Burden of Proof by Deepak Chopra

This is a book I read for my spiritual exploration. It took me forever to get through--almost three months. It wasn't that I disagreed with what was presented so much as not much of it was new--and, contrary to the title, no 'proof' about his version of the afterlife.

I 've read that many people on LT have a '50 page rule' and set a book aside if they aren't engaged with a book in that time frame. This one had an example of something interesting I read in the last few pages that made 'soldiering through' worthwhile. I've always considered Chopra to be 'New Age' spirituality. In the last few pages of the book, he mentions that theosophists and New Agers have borrowed a lot of what he, as a Vedantic rishi, believes. In other words, he does not identify himself as New Age, but ascribing to the older Hindu beliefs that have generated some of the New Age stuff. Having read his memoir last year, Return of the Rishi: A Doctor's Story of Spiritual Transformation and Ayurvedic Healing, I should have realized this, but did not. There are also some very interesting-sounding books mentioned in the notes section that I may pursue.

I have several more of his books in my tbr pile that I have picked up at sales, etc. Based on this book, I'm not sure they will have enough new information for me to invest my time in reading them.

Jun 12, 2008, 10:03pm Top

#15, Thanks for the info on the Barnes and Noble book discussion groups. I am going to look at the link and see if I can get in on that action!!

#16, I am one of the 50 page rule folks. And I have often had that feeling that I might miss out on something by putting the book down. So, I have exceptions and stop gaps to avoid missing out. Unless I just hat the style, I'll give a book more than one try at the 50 pages. Sometimes you're just not up for a book. Also, I'll read a different book by the same author before I banish all works by that author from my library. Faulkner earned that distinction recently. He is just not for me.

Your point, however, is well taken.

Jun 19, 2008, 10:33pm Top

#11 I have debated about reading We Need to Talk About Kevin for years. Nervous because I have a son named Kevin who has had his share of troubles in the past. Maybe I'll give it a shot.

#15 LOVED The Book Thief.

And thanks too (but not really) for the Barnes & Noble link. Just what I need--another book discussion! And of course I'll be right on it anyway.

Jun 22, 2008, 11:39am Top

Hope I'll see you at the B & N site blackdog. I've also just started taking part in the Literature by Women group.

tloeffler--it's a haunting book. I've wondered how much is because my own son has also had his bumpy journeys. I disliked the grisly twist at the end. I've been interested by the comparisons in reviews to The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing about the same subject. Someday I may read that one--especially as I have only read one short story by Lessing.

#7 audiobook. A Free Life by Ha Jin (counting books and audiobooks together #36)

A wonderful novel about a Chinese family's day to day experiences after emmigrating to America. I won't post a review since this was a library book, but I've given a larger description on the Reading Globally--immigration thread. 4 stars.

Edited: Jun 27, 2008, 1:49pm Top

#30 Persuasion by Jane Austen

I've only read one other Jane Austen book. I enjoyed Persuasion, which I read with an online book group (Literature by Women at Barnesandnoble.com). A pleasant romantic read where you knew what the ending would be if not how. I was interested to find that many of the protagonists's feelings and situations echo my experiences of the last few years. (The more things change the more they stay the same).

Edited: Jun 27, 2008, 1:47pm Top

#31 Roughing It in the Bush by Susanna Moodie

Absolutely wonderful story of pioneering in Canada. In 1832 Susanna Moodie and her husband emmigrated from England to Canada. Belonging to the gentry, they had a unique pioneer experience--not only land speculation, bears, wolves, starvation, bitter cold, , fires, and whirlwinds, but unremitting physical labor which they were unused to. Susanna Moodie published this account to paint the true picture of pioneer life and to discourage others from following in their footsteps. It's an amazing story and an amazing psychological portrait of struggle. This is a landmark of Canadian literature; sometimes called the first Canadian novel. 5 stars.

Jun 28, 2008, 12:41am Top

Roughing It in the Bush sounds like a wonderful read. I am definitely going to have to look into that one. I read a book in the same vein, Two in the Far North, recently. It was very good, although set in Alaska as opposed to Canada. You might want to check it out if you enjoy books of that type.

Jun 28, 2008, 1:09am Top

I'll definitely check it out, alcottacre. I really enjoy pioneering memoirs and fiction. I don't know if it's because my grandparents were homesteaders or if it's my own call from the wild.

Which brings me to my next book:

# 32. The Journals of Susanna Moodie by Margaret Atwood

This is Atwood's poetic and artistic rendering of Susanna Moodie's journals. Wow. What can I say? I enjoyed Roughing It in the Bush so much--and yet Atwood cuts to its very heart, refines it and gets to its very essence. I've read reviews that say that these two books are almost cliches in Canada. But I had read neither one, and I am blown away. Is there a rating higher than 5 stars?

As Atwood says in the afterword--she is talking of Canada, but I think it applies to life itself: "We are all immigrants to this place even if we were born here."

Edited: Jun 28, 2008, 1:20am Top

Two in the Far North is not really about homesteading. It begins with Murie's childhood when she and her family move to Alaska. I thought the childhood descriptions wonderful, evoking a clear image for me of what turn of the century Alaska was like. The book continues through Murie's marriage and her involvement with her husband in the conservation movement, although from a hand's on viewpoint rather than a theoretical one. Murie's descriptions throughout the book really drew me in and made me feel like I was there along with her.

For a book specifically on homesteading, you might check into Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart. I can also recommend this one, written by a single mother who moved to the West to raise her daughter.

Jun 28, 2008, 6:53am Top

Just a point - Roughing it in the Bush is not a novel - considered an important historical first-person account in Canadian writing, but not fiction.

Jun 28, 2008, 10:26am Top

alcottacre--thanks for the clarification. It doesn't have to be about homesteading to be of interest to me. Your description of it makes me want to read it even more.

Your other recommendation is right on, too. I've read Letters of a Woman Homesteader and I have a copy of it in a box of books that I acquired at a recent library sale (but don't have cataloged or space for yet on the shelves). I enjoy the 'taking to the land' type books from any era.

hi dhiba--You're absolutely right about it being a memoir and the events recounted are true. But several of the sources I read including the afterword by Susan Glickman in the edition I read, point out why some critics give it this name.

This is a small bit from Glickman:
First of all we must remember we are reading neither a novel, from which we may expect some overall coherence of design and point of view, nor a genuine journal noting the random flux of daily life but something in between. The two roles of Susanna Moodie, who is both the protagonist of the story and its narrator, remind us that we are reading a literary reworking of events that happened some time ago. So it is only natural that she should try to discern some meaningful pattern in those events, and to arrive at some all-encompassing explanation of why life unfolded as it did".

She goes on to point out that certain aspects like Ms Moodies's recounting of *why* they chose to settle where they did, or Mr Moodie's mismanagement of money (bad luck! bad luck!) are not untrue, but are very selective in what they chose to portray

There was an interesting thread on LT a while back about how all memoir is fiction; that all memoir authors are selective in what they write.

But it sounds like you are much more familiar with this work than I am, so I am very interested if you'd like to say more.

Jun 30, 2008, 3:32pm Top

I don't know that much about it - other than it is not presented in Canadian culture or in our school system as a novel but rather as a memoir or piece of historical writing.

Jun 30, 2008, 4:00pm Top

These sound fascinating - I've added both the Moodie and the Atwood to my wishlist. Thanks!

Jul 1, 2008, 12:13am Top

dihiba --have you read the sequel Life in the Clearings? I'm trying to decide if I want to add it to MT TBR and would appreciate your thoughts.

rachbxl--hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

#33. Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami

Thirty people crowd together on a raft to illegally immigrate to Spain from Morocco.This is the story of four of them; what drove them to this dangerous choice and how they fared both in the crossing and afterward. 4.5 stars.

And that's it for the first half of the year although I have several more "almost done". My total at the end of June is 33 books and 7 audiobooks. If I count them together, I'm more than halfway there. If I don't count the audiobooks, I need to speed up my reading a bit more/finish more of the books that I have started and not quite given up on.

Jul 1, 2008, 8:01am Top

#29 - No, I haven't read the first one yet!

Jul 1, 2008, 2:14pm Top

I notice you seem to be reading the Pratchett books at random. Making Money is a sequel to Going Postal and loses some humor by being read on its own. Let me point you to the following guide to reading order.
I particularly like the Watch novels (Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo, The Fifth Elephant, Night Watch, and Thud). Many people like the Witches novels starting with Equal Rites or the Death novels (Reaper Man is my favorite starting point). A lot of the later books refer back to events in earlier books in these three threads, and so you get more of the humor. These are great fun, so enjoy.

Jul 2, 2008, 10:30am Top

Hi ronincats--love your name! Thanks for the link. I've been to the site before, but did not have it bookmarked.

I've read about a quarter of the novels. You're right, I am reading them pretty randomly. Order choice depends on what my library has or what my kids hand me and tell me I have to read. So far my favorite book is The Hogfather and my favorite characters are Death and Susan. I could sit down and read them all one after another, but they are my current 'treat books'. Your post has reminded me it's past time for another one.

Jul 5, 2008, 10:24am Top

#34 Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott

The first of several books about women and spirituality that I'm reading for the July/August girlybooks read.

Anne Lamott is a Liberal Democrat unwed mother and a Christian. She is a great refreshing voice and a far different one than the more usual (sterotypically so) conservative Christian woman. Yay for being able to celebrate our differences and all find a spiritual home!

I loved her spiritual message and her humor (It's enough to make Jesus drink gin from the cat dish!)

Another 5 star book (I'm on a roll, here).

Jul 5, 2008, 10:35am Top

Audiobook #8 Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson and read by author

A quick and entertaining look at what is really known about William Shakespeare. (not much, although it is known that he never spelled his name the way we do today) and the life of London at that time (the amount of silk a man could legally wear was determined by his yearly salary).

I'll look for more of Bryson's books for my commuting into work audios. And hopefully I will get back to reading the plays themselves along with the Learning Company audio about them.

Jul 7, 2008, 4:58pm Top

#35. Conversations With the Spirit World: Souls Who Have Ended Their Lives Speak From Above by Lysa Moskowitz Mateau

Woowoo. (As in too far out to believe). Author begins channelling suicide victims soon after an ex boyfriend commits suicide. Still, there are some interesting observations about suicide so I'll give it a 3/5.

Me: (Trying to explain book to Dear Daughter Home From College) "Well, she sits down at a computer, and her hands start feeling warm and tingly and she writes what comes to her. I guess it's a techie version of automatic writing".
DDHFC: "Lots of people do that".
Me: "What????"
DDHFC: "Yeah. Only they call it writing a novel."

This book has been partially finished for about a year.Yay! It's done. Since writing this book, the author has become a full fledged telephone medium with a website. (Yeah, yeah, I know I should give up on some of these 'partially reads'.)

Jul 7, 2008, 5:04pm Top

I loved Devil in the White City. I learned so much about the World's Fair in Chicago that I never knew before. The crime part of the book was riveting.

Jul 7, 2008, 8:11pm Top

#34 - Streamsong, thanks for mentioning Shakespeare by Bill Bryson. I decided to read it over the weekend and enjoyed it.

Jul 8, 2008, 7:48am Top

Hi Streamsong

Yep, I bought the Bill Bryson book for my Dad's birthday and have been meaning to borrow it ever since! I'd definitely recommend him for an entertaining read though, he's a witty, observant writer. I think my favourites of his are Notes From a Small Island (out of date, but not far off!) and Neither Here Nor There - although actually, they're all good. Always makes me want to go off travelling again. Another great travel/comment writer is Bruce Chatwin - in particular, I loved Songlines.

Re Terry Pratchett, I agree that you probably appreciate him more when you read them in sequence (and I've read them all...), but there are one or two stand alone books like Pyramids, which I actually think is my favourite Discworld book, if you don't have the time to read the entire series...

The Journals of Susanna Moodie sounds fascinating - thanks for the recommendation, i'll add it to my long, long list of things I want to read! Also, I started, but never finished Let's Talk About Kevin last year - more of a timing thing than that I wasn't enjoying it - will clearly have to give it another go!

Edited: Jul 8, 2008, 11:24am Top

readiac--I also enjoyed and learned a lot from Devil in the White City. I posted this in another thread so you may already have seen it, but if you haven't already done so, try going to eBay and searching for 1893 Chicago's World Fair (use the advanced search so you can search the item's description, too) to see all kinds of neat photos, and souvenirs. I loved having all the visuals! I've exercised great restraint and not bought anything----I just use it as a museum!

flissp & dihiba I will definitely look for more Bill Bryson. It was a great driving-to-work book. Light, entertaining and interesting.

flissp--The girlybooks group is having an Orange July read where the members are reading Orange award nominees and winners. There were so many people needing to talk about Kevin that it now has it own thread. It might be a good time to retry it. Although it was a very emotionally draining book to read, it was also one of the most thought provoking books I have read.

Jul 9, 2008, 12:34pm Top

thanks for the recommendation - will definitely give it another go - and check out the orange july read thingy!

Jul 9, 2008, 3:55pm Top

I recommend Small Island by Andrea Levy which was an Orange Prize winner - also liked her Lemon Tree even better.

Jul 13, 2008, 5:00pm Top

36. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

If I had read this on my own, it would have seemed like a quaint little sermonish book about a not very interesting governess. But I'm reading it with the Literature by Women group at www.barnesandnoble.com and so have gotten lots of insight about its commentary on the religious debates of the day and objectification of animals and those 'of lower station.' So I ended not only appreciatiating its message more, but also liking it more. I can't rate it since I don't have a copy in my library (this was a library book), but I would give it 4 stars.

I'm not getting far with my reading numbers this week since I wanted to relisten to parts of Bryson's Shakespeare and also I am reading Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley as part of the Orange July read. I'm loving it, but it's long, a bit involved and not a fast read.

Jul 18, 2008, 12:12am Top

37. Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley

550+ pages steeped in a wonderful story of Thoroughbred horse racing and all the people and situations that go with it.

It was really a treat to read a well written horse book. Usually with a book centering on horses, either the horse details are so bad that I feel like hurling the book across the room, or the writing is so bad I feel like hurling. Ms Smiley pulls off both the horses and the novel.

I had listened to an abridged audiobook of this several years ago and it just did not strike me. So this copy had languished in Mt TBR for quite a while; it took the "Orange July" challenge for me to pull it out. This is a strong recommendation against listening to abridged audiobooks.

Recommended to anyone with an interest in horses or horseracing. I'll be looking for more of Ms Smiley's books.

Jul 18, 2008, 7:26am Top

#43 streamsong: Perhaps I am showing my total ignorance here, but what the heck is "Orange July"?

Jul 18, 2008, 9:20am Top

The girlybooks group here on LT (which despite its tongue-in-cheek name reads wonderful literature) has a challenge going this month to read books that either were either nominated or won the Orange award. Here's the link:


Jul 18, 2008, 9:25am Top

Hi Streamsong...and a warm welcome!

I'm writing regarding your message #33 and book #34. I have read most of Anne Lamont's books. I agree with you that she is quite refreshing. The only small quarrel I have is that she gets of a soup box about how evil George Bush is and i kinda wish she would leave her political views out of it. But, I do have many liberal friends who tell me liberal politics and liberal religion go hand in hand. It doesn't stop me from reading Lamont's books, it simply is a little annoyance that I overlook because she is such a darn good writer with many wonderful insights.

Jul 18, 2008, 10:32am Top

Hi Whisper;

Thanks for the welcome.

On another thread here on LT, a poster told me how unhappy she was with many of Anne Lamott's positions including that she had helped with a friend's suicide. I was not familiar with her outside this first book and I have been contemplating how much to judge an author-especially a Christian writing spiritual encouragement to others-- by thier actions outside the scope of the book. Many of her actions/opinions would be outside the doctrines of all but the most liberal churches.

I have no answers, just as I have no answers about the rights and wrongs of assisted suicide for the terminally ill. I'll probably read more of Anne Lamott's works. The fact that her politics and actions make me examine my own views on these subjects is not a bad thing. (I'll hold off on W since I think we'd disagree).

Jul 18, 2008, 10:40am Top

I read A Thousand Acres a few years back. I remember finishing the book and scratching my head a bit. I know it was an homage or adaptation of Shakespeare, I think King Lear? I thought it fairly well written with a fairly good story but I just couldn't connect with the characters much. So, I did not goo on to Moo. I thought I read something about Horse Heaven being written fromt he perspective of a horse, but maybe I am making things up again (bad habit and active imagination). Was the book heavy on the horse world so much that someone with no horse connection wouldn't enjoy it?

Jul 18, 2008, 12:19pm Top

Hi Streamsong.

Thanks for your response re. Anne Lamont. I so enjoy a good discussion re. books. I'm not a George Bush fan so truly her comments re. him were not upsetting.

It was a minor annoyance that she wove in such strong political comments.

I just finished Rick Bragg's book All Over But the Shoutin, and he also peppered political comments (not many) but enough to notice. It did not discourage me in reading more of his works.

I am now reading another of his books Ava's Man and it too is a wonderful book, filled with clear, strong writing and great images and analogies.

And, I agree with you that reading others political views helps to examine our own.

Have you read Anne Lamont's book Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith? This is a good read!

Good to chat with you. Again, welcome!

Jul 18, 2008, 6:23pm Top

I will jump on Anne Lamont's soapbox, too. I enjoy her books, even though I am a died-in-the-wool conservative. I disagree with her politics and agree, it is a minor annoyance, but overall I like her books. The first book I read this year, Grace (Eventually), was by her as a matter of fact. I think I have now read all of her books at some point or other.

Jul 19, 2008, 11:44am Top

Traveling Mercies was the first Anne Lamott book I've read. I really enjoyed it and I'll be looking for more (although I'm trying not to acquire much more until I get through some of the ones I really want to read from Mt TBR. So many books! So little time!) I'm interested in writing and books by writers and so am interested in Bird by Bird as well as her more spiritual books.

blackdog--It's hard for me to think how a person not into horses would do with Horse Heaven. It's definitely steeped in horses on every page. It's not exactly from a horse's view although there are short sections where the world is described through a horse's eyes--not anthropomorphized like Black Beauty but how a horse might actually view a situation or person. There is also an animal communicator who 'reads' horses and interprets them. And then there are parts where we see how a Jack Russell might see a certain situation. I guess I'd say read the excerpt and a few 'suprise me's from the Amazon 'search inside this book' feature and see what you think.

Jul 22, 2008, 12:13pm Top

I've never read Anne Lamott but you all have gotten me interested. Is she at all like Madeleine L'Engle? Her The Genesis Trilogy is one of my favorite books of meditations on religion (includes And It Was Good, A Stone for a Pillow, and Sold Into Egypt?

Jul 22, 2008, 7:53pm Top

ronincats, I have not read any L'Engle's meditations, so I cannot comment on the similarity between her and Lamott.

Jul 22, 2008, 7:54pm Top

Hi ronincats

I'm not sure if I could compare Madeleine L'Engle with Anne Lamont.

I'd contrast their books by saying L'Engle has more of a fantasy type of writing that draws you in and hoooks you to stay with the wonderful images.

Lamont writes in a much more practical style, basically of the challenges life presented her and how faith and its struggles have helped her walk the walk.

I like both styles.

Jul 26, 2008, 7:55pm Top

Thanks for the clarification, Whisper1. I enjoy L'Engle's writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, because she does have those wonderful images.

Edited: Aug 11, 2008, 11:10am Top

Thanks for answering ronincat's question, whisper. I haven't read L'Engle's spirituality books, so I couldn't comment.They sound interesting!

Audiobook #9. Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith

I enjoy the Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books for their warmth and gentle humor. They are an easy listening-on-the-way-to-work audio.

Book #38 Obsession by Jonathan Kellerman

A quick detour for some fun reading. I like Kellerman's fiction. They are quick and usually have an interesting psychological angle. The downside is that the perp is often a totally twisted sexual deviant leaving a trail of nude bodies in sexually twisted and/or tortured positions. This one, Kellerman's latest, was better than the last few I've read. Definitely a bit more plot and less shock value. Couldn't put it down once I started it.

Jul 28, 2008, 12:55am Top

Book # 39 The Woman With the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail by Margaret Starbird.

This is the second book I've read for the two month girlybooks women & spirituality, theology & religion read.

The Woman With the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail by Margaret

According to the blurb, Margaret Starbird was a Catholic scholar when she read Holy Blood, Holy Grail and was moved to repudiate the book. Instead, she found more evidence that Jesus Christ may have been married to Mary Magdalen.

This book exams that belief through the artists, mythologies, traditions and symbolism of various eras.

Starbird believes that Mary Magdalen typifies the ‘forgotten feminine’ in the Bible which focuses on not only a father figure God, but that aspect of Jesus that is victor, ruler, Lord of the Universe and seated at God’s right hand. Starbird says that this version of Jesus clearly echos a male divinity in the tradition of such gods as Egypt’s Ra, Greece’s Apollo, Rome’s Jupiter and Persia’s Zoroaster and Mithras. The Jesus of the Gospels, however, is a Lord of wisdom, gentleness and compassion.

This was an interesting introduction to this topic and to the topic of feminist theology as a whole for me. 4 stars

Jul 28, 2008, 11:22am Top

The Woman With the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail sounds interesting. I'll add this to my tbr pile. A number of my friends are female ministers and I'll ask them if they have read this book as well.

Aug 1, 2008, 9:05am Top

Hi Whisper;

I think there are probably books with better scholarship on the subject. This one, however, served as a good introduction for me.

You might be interested in these two threads on the girlybooks board. July and August are theme reads on women and spirituality, religion & theology--but they have been pretty quiet. There's a concurrent girlybooks Orange July reading going on and it seems to be getting all the action--although the current book I'm reading, The Poisonwood Bible fits into both catagories.

Here's the initial thread put up before the discussion (some very interesting titles recommended!)


and the July/August discussion thread:


Aug 1, 2008, 1:03pm Top

Thanks for the information!

Aug 2, 2008, 1:57am Top

I have to echo the recommendation for The Poisonwood Bible as it is a great comment on faith, religion, and the difference between the two.

Aug 2, 2008, 12:25pm Top

40. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

blackdogbooks summary above is perfect. I wasn't sure how'd I like this one, but I did it like it very much. Some of the comments I had heard from various people made it sound like this would be a put down of Christianity. I didn't find it to be that at all--although it definitely showed how Christianity could be twisted into a loveless shackle. I had read Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle that year. In it she had remarked that some group had decided she was the most dangerous woman (in America? in the World? in the universe?) based on this novel. I was also interested to see her musing on the 'locovore' economy in Africa in TPB and how it played out with her family in AVM.

I'm now wanting to go back and reread a book that I have called Captive of the Simbas by Margaret Hayes. It's a nonfiction memoir of events from a different viewpoint. (Christian missionary held captives by Simbas during the revolution).

Aug 2, 2008, 9:22pm Top

Thanks for recommending The Poisonwood Bible. I was given this book as a gift a few years ago from a friend. I'll dig it out of the tbr pile and put it at the top. I believe I did try to read it, but for some reason, couldn't get into it at that particular time in my life. I'll give it another try.

Aug 6, 2008, 11:04am Top

41. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

A very different dystopian future than The Handmaid's Tale.

In this version of the future, people are objectified and valued on the basis of making money for someone else. The most highly valued are the science and math types who, by researching amazing new products, can earn big money for the corporations that rule the world. A second type, the word people, have a much lesser value as their use to corporations is only in designing advertising campaigns.

Those valued by the corporations live in heavily guarded walled compounds. Everyone else lives in pleeblands which have disintegrated into mass chaos.

One of the ultra science geniuses, Crake, decided humankind was beyond redemption. Since genetic engineering had been perfected and Crake was highly prized by the corporation, he had the wherewithal to genetically engineer a new type of human. These new humans were designed without many of the pesky human traits that Crake felt contributed to humanity's downfall. Said traits include, among others, romantic love, belief in God, agression and competiveness. He was also able to design a fast acting virus to rid the planet of the other sort of human.

The novel opens with these new humans, the Crakers, being watched over by Snowman, a human survivor word person who was Crake's best friend when they were adolescents.

We're given a lady or the tiger type ending and the question--are humans beyond redemption?

5 stars!

Aug 6, 2008, 9:00pm Top

Good review! I've added it to my TBR list...Thanks!

Aug 8, 2008, 10:50am Top

Hope you like it drneutron. I thought it was brilliant, but I see the LT reviews are all over the place with ratings from 0.5 to 5. The Atwoodians group here on LT is reading it this August as a group read, but so far there's not much action on the thread.

42. Aberrations by Penelope Przekop

Darn I wanted to like this novel. With a family member with narcolepsy, I was really excited to see a novel published with narcolepsy presented as 'other than comic relief' as the author says. All the LT reviews and comments are positive. Another LT member sent me her ARC by international post as she lives outside the US. I've met a person here on LT who also deals with narcolepsy. The author even contacted me about whether I had gotten a copy.

Narcolepsy is presented sympathetically and realistically. However, the novel itself came up short. I'll get a full review up this weekend.

Aug 10, 2008, 12:50pm Top

43. Critter Way by Don Buelke

An enjoyable read about being a vet here in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana.

Aug 12, 2008, 10:03am Top

44. Kow Kuntry Kid by Old Neversweat Army Armstrong

The author of this book was an old-time Appaloosa breeder--owner of Coffee Cup Appaloosas. When I was in high school and showing horses every minute that I could (early 1970's), the author of this book had just retired from his teaching job, and I would talk to him from time to time at horse events.

This book came out in 1978--I believe these were
originally newspaper columns in a regional horse magazine called The Shining Mountain Sentinel.

A fun look at a Montana ranch kid's life at the turn of the century. These are quite funny, not unlike Patrick McManus's boyhood tales. Unfortunately, however, Army chose to write them in almost unreadable dialect. "Fer a long time I bin lookin fer a way to make a livin without wurk. I hev tride menny things, but every doggon wun ended up with me havin to wurk or sumwun else gettin the creme, and me gettin the shaft".

Because of this, this one has been in the 'partially read' pile for several years now.

Aug 17, 2008, 10:01am Top

45. Bark If You Love Me by Louise Bernikow

A quick read about a person who never cared for dogs turning into a dog person after taking in a dog that needed a rescue home.

In some ways light and funny, but in others totally incomprehensible.

It seems odd to me she didn't make an effort to find the dog's true owner, especially, after she found out that the dog's bad leg was not the result of abuse but had been reconstructed with two metal pins--which her vet identified as a very expensive surgery. She understood that this meant that the dog had been very loved. At that point, I know I would have done a thorough search for the owner. However she justified not looking, she was wrong.

Also, the bit about the dog loving to have his surgery scar from his neutering rubbed. Ah, but it's not sexual she explains--just pleasureable for the dog although she has given up doing it in public due to the strange looks she gets from people who don't understand.

This woman lives on another planet. Perhaps it takes more than a year of being a first time owner to have something worthwhile to say.

To bookmooch it goes.

Aug 17, 2008, 6:26pm Top

46. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I had read this book 30 some years ago in a high school English class. However, that was many years before Forster's biography of DduM, revealing that she was bisexual. Rereading Rebecca in his light, certainly has put a new meaning into the relationship between Mrs Danvers and Rebecca. It seems like an entirely different novel than the one Mrs. Dale presented to us in that long ago class.

Aug 24, 2008, 11:53am Top

47. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo transl by JRR Tolkien

The title piece was a joy to read as was the third piece ,Sir Orfeo, a story about a queen kidnapped by the faerie. The middle selection, the Pearl, was a much harder slog for me to get through. It concerned the death of the writer's daughter, his grief, and a dream he had of her in the afterlife/heaven.

I found the material on medieval poetry and rhyme interesting, but definitely not a quick read.

Aug 25, 2008, 10:56pm Top

48. Mythology of Horses by Gerald and Loretta Hausman

I could tell you lots of things I didn't like about this book. In some places the facts are wrong. The book badly needed an editor--although supposedly divided into sections by country and horse breed, the divisions are fanciful. The shetland pony section wanders off into tales about unicorns. South American Paso Fino stories change mysteriously into a tale of a Hapsburg prince who kept his horse upstairs in his bedroom. The illustrations are done by someone who appears to have never drawn a horse before (how could a horse with joints like that actually stand up!)

But you know what? Overall the book is ... charming. Maybe mythology is supposed to wander off in flights of fancy with a subtle disregard for truth and a refusal to let mere facts get in the way. There are some wonderful stories from all over the world that I haven't heard before. After the first chapter, I thought this one would be on its way after I finished it, but it's a keeper. 4 stars.

Aug 29, 2008, 3:20pm Top

Audiobook #10 Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

This book in combination with Atwood's Oryx and Crake, which I read earlier this month, together paint a compelling and chilling future. Basically Diamond argues that our society sees the environmental, societal and population problems and is not moving forward to act on the solutions. He does this with portraits of other societies that had such problems (Easter Island) and collapsed, along with societes that had a more sustainable lifestyle. He also leaves us with the same questions that Atwood did--is it already too late? What will mankind's future be?

As a resident of the Bitterroot Valley in Montana, I've had this book on my tbr shelf for quite a while. I heard Jared Diamond speak and read from this book shortly after its release.

49. The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

Pema Chodron is one of my favorite spiritual writers. I have no problem incorporating bits of her Buddhist philosophy into my Christian practice. This book explains the premise of bodhichitta--that feeling of woundedness that can soften our hearts and lead us to feel a true connection with other humans instead of emotionally striking out or avoiding when we are in uncomfortable situations. Like all of Pema's books, as soon as I finished it, I had the urge to immediately begin reading it all over again. It's why all of her books are marked either tbr or tbrr (reread) in my library.

Aug 29, 2008, 3:34pm Top

Congrats on reading Collapse, which i recently gave up on. I did enjoy Guns, Germs, and Steel - for some reason, just found it easier to read.

Aug 29, 2008, 7:13pm Top

thanks for the reminder, I have The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön too, hope to read it soon.

Aug 30, 2008, 12:05pm Top

LOL dhiba. Yeah Colllapse is pretty dry. Many of the scientists I work with also gave up on it. But--listening to it on audio wasn't quite so painful; although I did find myself having to backtrack many times because I had gone off wandering on my own thoughts. I'm leaving my paper copy marked tbr in my library. Now that I know what his general premise is (which I don't think he addressed until the last section of the book), I do find it interesting and may someday fight my way through it.

FAMeulstee--nice to meet another Pema fan. May I ask if you are Buddhist?

Aug 30, 2008, 6:38pm Top

>76 streamsong: streamsong, no I am not a Buddhist, probably the best description is being agnostic with a touch of freethinking ;-)
I like many of the Buddhist ways and some years ago, when I had a hard time, an online-friend, who is a Buddhist, pointed me to Pema. I did not finish her book back then, but plan to read it some time soon.

Sep 2, 2008, 9:55pm Top

You've made me laugh, FAMeulstee! The online Buddhist friend who introduced me to Pema Chodron, said she always kept one of Pema's books in the bathroom to read or she'd never get it done. I think this is the first one that I read straight through; and even so it took me longer than I wanted as I read only a short chapter or two a day. I usually start Pema's books feeling like she is talking directly to me; then I get bogged down in the middle and eventually, eventually make it to the end. Not long books, but not fast reading.

50. Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

The first book I've read by Coelho; it's on the 1001 list. I wanted to read one or two by him before he's on the message board for a week over at Barnesandnoble.com

Veronika is young, beautiful, and depressed. She wakes up from a suicide attempt and is told that her heart has been so badly damaged that she will surely die within the next week. This is the story of Veronika's blossoming during that week and how her story makes her fellow patients in the Slovenian insane asylum face what makes life worth living. Very inspirational and a satisfying ending (far fetched, perhaps, but satisfying). 4 stars

Sep 4, 2008, 11:14pm Top

51.Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

My funny bone needed tickling after the last few books I've read (and with the others I'm currently working on). Yay for Pratchett!

I took ronincats advice from way up on post 31 to try to read the Pratchett's in a more logical sequence. This was the only one I had at a jumping in point. I think that sometimes the first in a sequence is not always the best, though.... This had some laugh out loud moments as Pratchett let us in in god-kings, pyramids, camels and mummies on Discworld.... If I can't go to Hogwarts, I want to go to assassins' school when I grow up.

3.5 stars. Back to the more serious stuff.

Sep 6, 2008, 1:19pm Top

Hey Stream, I am currently reading one of Terry Pratchett's books, Nation. Its my first read of him. So far I am kinda liking it but I am still a bit on the fence, but its early days yet.

I was also inspired based on your review of Collapse to maybe try to read it. I really wanted to get it at one point but kept forgetting to buy it every time that I put in a book order and then somewhere along the way I lost interest in it.

Edited: Sep 7, 2008, 12:14pm Top

I think Pyramids is probably my favourite Discworld novel...

...and I had no idea that Daphne du Maurier was bisexual I think I'm also going to have to reread Rebecca!

Sep 9, 2008, 10:26pm Top

If I can't go to Hogwarts, I want to go to assassins' school when I grow up. I want to go to the Gallagher School for Spies that Ally Carter writes about!

Sep 16, 2008, 10:41am Top

Trish--So how did you like Nation and Terry Pratchett?

flissp-- You might enjoy watching the BBC biopic on DdM's life called Daphne. I got it though good old Netflix. It's based on the biography by Margaret Forster. Since Mt TBR is so out of control, this seemed more do-able than reading the book--which I'm sure is better :-)

alcottacre--uhoh. I haven't read those. They sound fun!

11. Audiobook. Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

The author, a beautician with a strong desire to help, found herself in Kabul with an NGO. She was the only non-medical person on her NGO team and they were a bit ashamed of her. At one point they asked her to just stay quietly in her room and pray for them as they were doing their daily clinical work. But Deborah was irrepressible, and found that the Westerners in Kabul would literally line up for her to do morale-lifting hair care in a world where beauty parlors had been destroyed by the Taliban.

This led to her realization that a career as a beautician would be viable option for some Afghan women. The author eventually formed her own NGO to found a school for beauticians where the graduates could become more independant women, helping themselves and their families in a world that had few options for working women.

This book is both silly and heartbreaking. It's an interesting look at how one can use the skills they already posess to help others even in unlikely places.

Borrowed from the library, but I would rate it 3.5 stars.

Sep 16, 2008, 11:24pm Top

#83 streamsong: The Ally Carter books are fun. They are written for young adults, though, and I do not know if you read that type of material or not. The books center around the Gallagher School for Girls which trains spies, unbeknownst to the local population, which leads to problems in the first book of the series.

Sep 17, 2008, 10:18am Top

alcottacre--I read about anything! I have several YA books in good ol Mt TBR. My daughter's now in college, but during hs used to share some of her favorites with me. What is the first book in the series? (not, of course, that I intend to add any more tbr's.......eeek!)

Sep 17, 2008, 10:49am Top

Thanks to all of you, I am now reading YA books. Before joining LT, I would not have done so. I found Yaxley's Cat by Robert Westall at the library yesterday and I'm entralled by the enchantment of it.

Sep 17, 2008, 10:03pm Top

#85 streamsong: To date there are only 2 books in the Gallagher Girls School series by Ally Carter: I'd Tell You I Love You, but then I'd Have to Kill You and Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy. There is a third book in the series coming out next year.

Sep 18, 2008, 10:17am Top

Thanks Whisper & alcottacre. I've noted both of these in my BM 'save for later'.

52. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Sep 18, 2008, 3:11pm Top

Sadly, I must say that while initially I was enthralled by the writing in Yaxley's Cat, I finished this book and as I progressed the story line didn't hold my interest. The beginning of the book is great, but the middle and ending were not as good. However, I do highly recommend Robert Westall's book Blitz Cat.

Sep 19, 2008, 4:50pm Top

#89 Whisper: Sorry to hear about Yaxley's Cat not panning out for you. I have copies of both The Machine Gunners and The Scarecrows on hold at my local library - we will see how they go. The Scarecrows looks to be horror genre, and I am not really big on that, but I will give it a shot. Westall wrote a number of books, but my local library does not have all that many. Just someone else whose books I am going to have to start tracking down over the internet and in used book stores.

Edited: Sep 22, 2008, 10:18pm Top

53. Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling

Read for a discussion for a local book group. This author is a Native American and is a professor at the University about 40 miles away. The story is also set locally (within 100 miles) as it about life on the Flathead Reservation in the 1940's.

Interestingly enough there is a LT review that says the novel was originally over 800 pages (now about 300) and had an ending that was deemed too depressing for publication. And that is exactly how this book strikes me. The novel is based on the author's aunt, a 'wild child' who was murdered while she was in her 20's. The majority of the book is about the protagonist's ungoverned spirit in the middle of incredibly bleak circumstances. But towards the end, two murders almost miraculously don't happen and hope is restored.

It's beautifully written, but I don't believe the ending.

Sep 22, 2008, 10:47am Top

Hi streamsong

Your review seems mixed. Would you recommend the book?

Sep 22, 2008, 11:06pm Top

Hi Whispers;

Yes, I do have mixed feelings about the book. The author has captured life on the Res very well. I lived there for a few years in the mid 80's and even though as a white my view was limitted, I saw many of the same attitudes and poverty as her story set in the 40's.

The author has a very authentic voice and many passages are beautifully written. One incident, particularly, involving the protagonist's sister is especially haunting.

But as a whole, the book didn't quite hang together for me. It didn't differ that much from other bleak-ife-on-the-reservation novels such as those of James Welch (similar story, different incidents) and the ending didn't fit. I'm rereading the last few chapters again to try and figure out why it was so unsatisfactory to me. It will be interesting to see what the book club thinks about it. I don't think I'll keep it after the discussion is done; I would be interested to read her next novel if/when she writes it, though.

Sep 23, 2008, 9:05am Top

Once again, my horizon is expanded. I have not read any books on the "res" as you call it.

Are there other books you could recommend regarding this topic?

I'm interested in learning more.

Thanks streamsong!

Edited: Sep 23, 2008, 10:35am Top

Two more that also show the harsh side of Montana reservation life are James Welch's Winter in the Blood and a nonfiction by Ian Frazier, On The Rez --a white view looking in from the outside. Edited to say that this one is actually in South Dakota, not Montana.

Although I believe the truth in all three of these books, I didn't keep the other two, either, on the feeling that I wouldn't reread them. Too depressing? Too much white guilt?

Nevertheless it's a subject I'm interested in, both because it's significant to the area I live in and it's part of my kids' heritage (although a different tribe, different part of the country).

If you're interested in Perma Red, I'd send it to you after the book club is done. It may be put off until the end of October since both the library book sale (yay! Hooray! starts this evening) and the book club are scheduled into the same room this week. I'd be interested in hearing what you think of it!

Sep 23, 2008, 10:31am Top

Audiobook #12. What Jesus Meant by Garry Wills

This is (inadvertantly) the second time I have listened to this. I believe this book has a lot of merit as Wills looks at Jeus's teaching and theology/religion through a prism of love. I especially like Garry Wills' take on Jesus's positions of love toward those that the religious establishment rejected as unclean.

Sep 23, 2008, 10:28pm Top

Thanks for the books set on the rez. I lived in/near one for about three years and my job took me into the most economically and socially depressed areas. The experience was both rewarding and distrubing. I shall have to look into those books.

Edited: Sep 24, 2008, 12:47pm Top

#93 - I'd never heard of James Welch before, but I checked out his Fools Crow. It looked pretty good so onto the giant wishlist it goes. Thanks, streamsong.

Sep 24, 2008, 2:00pm Top

message #95. Thanks for the offer to send the book Perma Road when the book club is finished. I would love to receive the book with the caveat that you allow me to send one in return to you.

Sep 24, 2008, 2:01pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Sep 24, 2008, 2:01pm Top

sorry for the deletion...LT seems to be slow today and yesterday and thus I didn't think the original message went through.

Sep 26, 2008, 12:18pm Top

54. The Green Knight by Iris Murdoch

This story is multi-layered, rather subtle, and in the end, still rather confusing. I loved all the allusions to mythology. Overall did I enjoy the book? Not really. Will parts of it stay with me? Yes, definitely—so if that’s the definition of a ‘good’ book and writer, it passes. This is the first of Iris Murdoch’s books I have read. Since there are 5 or 6 on the 1001 list (unfortunately this isn’t one of them) I will probably be reading more.

I read this as part of the Barnesandnoble.com lit by women reading group. I was really glad to read it with a group and be able to discuss it as we read. I will probably reread/skim it one more time. Somehow I have an unfinished feeling that the book isn’t quite done with me yet.

Sep 27, 2008, 10:03am Top

55. Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

Early Reviewer. Review here: http://www.librarything.com/work/5516574/reviews/35686225

The publisher's blurb on the Early Reviewer list reflected the part of the story that I liked. Unfortunately, the publisher didn't mention sex/rape after sex/rape scene which actually got monotonous. Not for the protagonist, though. Even though it was rape, she enjoyed it. Sigh.

Not recommended.

Sep 27, 2008, 1:26pm Top

msg #102, I read and quite enjoyed Under the Net last year or the year before as it was on one of my 100 best. The story was a little odd but there were many very funny passages and others so philosophical that I had to read them twice. The book was really a very wide experience in reading. It made me want to read more of her work, but I haven't tackled any yet. Perhaps I'll try this one.

Sep 29, 2008, 1:00pm Top

56. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

Set in 1666 in a small village in England, the story is modeled loosely after true events in the English village Eyam. When bubonic plague breaks out in the village, the inhabitants, led by the local minister, take a voluntary oath to isolate themselves in the village until the plague has run its course in order not to spread it to other villages. Unfortunately, the plague takes much longer than anticipated to die away--almost a full year and two thirds of the villagers die.

It's an interesting look at how people rise to a challenge, fail to rise to it or are broken by it. It's also a look at how such times challenge and break a person's religious faith.

The protagonist, Anna, begins the story as a young (barely out of her teens) widow with two young children. Anna's boarder/suitor was the initial focus of the plague. Over the course of the novel, she lost everyone she loved. But during this year, she learned to read, learned herb craft and midwifery and the pleasure in helping others. And yet she stayed a real person, not a 'goodie two shoes ministering angel' but someone who could see with compassion the weakness in others.

4 stars.

Sep 29, 2008, 1:13pm Top

Streamsonganother one added to the list! Your description of Year of Wonders is intriguing.

Thanks (I think). I'm smiling..

Edited: Sep 29, 2008, 2:27pm Top

#105 streamsong: Glad to hear you enjoyed Year of Wonders - I also liked it very much. I had heard comments that Anna was too 'contemporary' possibly for the time period, but I did not feel that way at all in reading the book. What do you think?

Sep 30, 2008, 9:01am Top

I couldn't quite swallow the ending. I could see Anna being forced to take the first ship out, but then everything seems a bit farfetched.

alcottacre--I'm not sure how to judge if a character is 'too contemporary' although I had read similar comments in some of the LT reviews for this book. Do you have any specific examples? She was an unusual character, but would also be unusual today.

In the readers' guide in the back of the edition I read, Geraldine Brooks said that she read a lot of sermons written in that time period exhorting women about what they shouldn't do...which led her to believe that some women must have been doing these very things or it wouldn't have been an issue. Loved that line of thought!

Sep 30, 2008, 6:03pm Top

#108: Sorry, I do not have any specific examples - it was not the way I felt anyway, but I know others on LT have commented on it.

And I agree - I do love the way Geraldine Brooks thought!

Edited: Sep 30, 2008, 6:13pm Top

Whoa, Years of Wonder sounds really good. I love LT, I get so many amazing ideas on what to read. Its so amazing to be in a community of people who love reading as you find so many books that you may not have picked up on your own.

Oct 1, 2008, 12:05am Top

57. We Are Not in This Together by William Kittredge

This is a slim volume of short stories about Montana and the West by a Montana author. I had started these a while back, decided they weren't my cup of tea and had listed the book on BM. Well, it got mooched so I had to hurry up and finish the book. For the most part, the stories, although written well enough, just don't resonate with me but here is an absolutely wonderful quote from a short story called "Flight"

“Give some people the world,” the old man said, “and they wouldn’t use it as nothing more than a place to read books.”


Oct 4, 2008, 9:15am Top

Audiobook 13. Identical Strangers by Elyse Schein

This is the true story of identical twins who were separated at birth and adopted out to different families. The two women are in their thirties when they discover each other. This is the story of how that happened, their journey of finding a place in their lives for each other and the reasons why this separation took place.

The story is told in alternate sections by the two women; their two different viewpoints are interesting. As a whole, though, it strikes me as not enough material for a book so it's fluffed out with lots of information about twins in general and other pairs of reunited twins. 3 stars

Oct 11, 2008, 12:17pm Top

Audiobook 14. Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion by Bill Messenger (Teaching Company)

Good introduction to the history of Jazz from plantation days to modern (1995). Lots of good audio. I've only listened to a few offerings from the Teaching Company and so far have enjoyed them all.

Oct 24, 2008, 1:43pm Top

58. Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke

Read for my face to face bookgroup--the first of Rilke's poetry that I've read. Some very beautiful passages; some that I want to spend more time with. A one hour book discussion was far too short to do these justice!

Oct 26, 2008, 2:39pm Top

59. Brick Lane byMonica Ali

Wonderful first time novel about a Bengali (Bangladeshi) immigrant woman who moves to London after her arranged marriage. A lot of insight about the immigrant experience as well as a beautiful story about coming into one's confidence and becoming who we are.

Audiobook 15. 1434 by Gavin Menzies
Interesting speculation the the Renaissance was fueled by the arrival of a Chinese fleet bearing books. Really an eye opener for me as to how advanced the Chinese civilization was as far as navigation, mathematics, movable type, mechanization and how far Chinese ships sailed. At times, I found it a bit technical for audio--details on mapping positions by calculating astral positions etc. Still a great listen.

Combining audio and print books together, my next book will be number 75. Have 3 'almost done'. I'm still hoping to make 75 print books this year.

Oct 26, 2008, 2:51pm Top

Hi, Streamsong! I'm impressed with how much you've read. I'm not exactly new here, but I rarely get the chance to post on the forums...anyway, coincidentally, a blog I often read pointed me to this link today, which is a speech given by Karen Armstrong accepting a TED Award and talking about her feelings on religion: http://www.tedprize.org/video-talk-karen-armstrong/
It's long, but I found it riveting.

Oct 26, 2008, 3:41pm Top

Thanks for posting this, actonbell. I have most of Armstrong's books and really respect her. This was a great example of why!

Oct 26, 2008, 11:45pm Top

Hey actonbell and ronin! Thanks for posting! I'll have to see if I can listen to the Karen Armstrong video at work--my poor old dial up here at home just isn't quite up to videos.

Are either of you in on the Pro and Con (Religion) boards discussion of Armstrong's The Great Transformation? Here's a non-fancy link to the discussion: http://www.librarything.com/topic/47787#852659

I've got the book sitting here, but haven't start reading it yet....I so want to, but have **GOT** to get a couple of these others done first.

Oct 27, 2008, 2:23am Top

Thanks actonbell and streamsong for the Armstrong links. She's an incredible scholar, and her work is so vital to forge greater understanding and compassion in the world today!

Oct 27, 2008, 4:45am Top

#115 streamsong: Sounds like I need to find a copy of Brick Lane. It sounds very good. Thanks for the recommendation!

You mention one of the reasons I do not like to listen to nonfiction in audiobook form. I like to consult the bibliographies on nonfiction as well as make notes and find that impossible to do with audiobooks. I am going to have to find a copy of 1434 in book form because it sounds very interesting.

Oct 31, 2008, 11:06am Top

60. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Read as part of an online group read.

And that, counting audiobooks and print books together, is 75 books. We'll see how far I get in the final two months.

Oct 31, 2008, 1:14pm Top

Congrats on meeting your goal! Now you can relax and just enjoy the books.

Oct 31, 2008, 6:10pm Top

Congratulations! I'm just getting around to reading some of the threads I've missed along the way, and your list has some real gems in it. Plus it's really nice to find someone else who like Veronika Decides to Die by Coelho plus Devil in the White City by Larson. The other 1001 book by Coelho is The Devil and Miss Prym and is just as unreal, but just as much fun. If you haven't read Larson's Isaac's Storm, I highly recommend it--it's why we have a national weather reporting system in place (even if it doesn't work all the time).

You've some very interesting temptations as well. Thanks very much.

Oct 31, 2008, 6:44pm Top

Congratulations on meeting your goal.

Oct 31, 2008, 6:57pm Top

Congratulations on reaching 75 streamsong!

Nov 1, 2008, 6:39am Top

Add my congratulations to the rest, streamsong!

Nov 1, 2008, 10:17am Top

Yay! Congrats!

Nov 1, 2008, 10:18am Top

Thanks everybody! I appreciate your congratulations. It will remain to be seen whether I can reach 75 print books without counting the audiobooks.

61. The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson

Read as part of the barnesandnoble.com first look program. (I believe there might still be copies available). This is a memoir by Amy Dickinson who took over Ann Landers' advice column.

The most outstanding part of this book is that Dickinson definitely has a neat turn of phrase. This book has many memorable one liners as Dickinson writes about her divorce, being a single mother, her family roots, the pain and joy of seeing her daughter leave home, and finally finding mature love when she was not looking for it.

I really enjoyed this book. A lot of it really resonates with me as I have been physically and emotionally in many of the same circumstances. The title refers to the women in her family being stronger than the men; and I saw that in my own failed marriage, too. This book actually reduced me to tears as it danced on some of my raw places.

Nov 3, 2008, 7:55am Top

#128 streamsong: I will have to look to see if I can find a copy of The Mighty Queens of Freeville. I enjoy reading memoirs. Thanks for the recommendation.

Nov 30, 2008, 11:16am Top

Been a while since I've updated--and unfortunately my reading/listening has also slowed down. If only life wouldn't get in the way of the important stuff! :-)

Audiobook #16 A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Wow--this one is not to be missed. A sometimes overwhelming story of two women and their lives in the tumult of Afghanistan's recent history. For the first time I realize the brutalizing consequences not only to women but to men who can legally inflict their domination. Others have reviewed this book as being depressing and without hope. I did find hope in this book, both in the characters whose lives won through in the end, and in those whose lives did not, but met their fate with grace and courage. A library book, so unfortunately I can not rate it, but would be 5 stars.

Nov 30, 2008, 11:30am Top

Book 62 Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Read for the real life book group. After a devastating divorce, writer Elizabeth Gilbert takes off on a (publisher sponsored) year long quest through three countries to find some healing. She experiences physical pleasure in Italy--focused around the marvelous Italian food and her love of the Italian language. Then she's off to India to examine her spirituality at an ashram. Finally she heads to Indonesia (Bali) where she hopes to balance the physical and spiritual and ends up falling in love.

Gilbert has a great turn of phrase and the book is amusing. She's honest and touches on feelings that I recognize from my own divorce. There are no great insights to be found in her writing, however, and it remains on a pretty superficial level.

An interesting discovery by my book club: while earlier editions of the book had a final page announcing her marriage to a man she met in Bali and promising a sequel to the book to be printed in 2009, later printings of the book omit this information. Perhaps her life didn't achieve the neat ending she was hoping for.

Nov 30, 2008, 4:20pm Top

A friend whose reading interests parallel mine, loved the book Eat, Pray, Love. She was disappointed that I did not have the same reaction.
I really tried to understand this book but in the end I couldn't tell if my dislike was

a) jealousy that the author had the freedom to simply pick up and travel and write or

b) that she was self-aborbed and selfish.

Dec 7, 2008, 6:10pm Top

Book 63. Imperial Woman by Pearl S Buck

I started this one in October for the girlybooks historical fiction read. This is Pearl Buck's only novel based on a historical figure--Tsu Hsi, the last empress of China.

I've always enjoyed Pearl Buck for her depiction of relationships and for the understanding of the human condition I've gained by reading her novels.

However, this took FOREVER for me to get into, although I'm not sure why. Tzu Hsi was an interesting woman in an interesting time period. Perhaps the distance Tzu Hsi created around herself carried over into this novel about her.

There are other novels and versions of her life. Many western accounts show her as cold and highly manipulative. 'Revisionist' novels give her a more human face. This one I think was a middle ground. I learned a lot about the time period. At a later date, I may pursue other novels by other authors. 3 1/2 stars

Dec 8, 2008, 9:32am Top

Book 64. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Read with an online book group. Although Kate comes to the same conclusion the Apostle Paul does--that a woman should love, honor and obey--the NT outlines a husband's duties and responsibilities while this does not. I'm sure it was a hit with Shakespeare's male audience, but I can see why many modern Shakespeare readers dislike the message in this play.

Dec 8, 2008, 10:28am Top

>134 streamsong: Streamsong. While the play is politically incorrect, I chose to ignore the "message" and just enjoy it as a bit of Masculine fantasy. Paul has been accused of being misogynistic but I do not read him that way. Those who do, fail to see or chose to ignore : "Husbands, love your wives" and "be submissive to one another." It is incredible that this is not seen for what it is i.e. husbands be submissive to your wives! as well as vice versa. I suppose it's a case of ignore the bits you don't like!

- TT

Dec 8, 2008, 3:02pm Top

And it is possible to present Kate's closing speech so it sounds like a feminist tract! I've seen it done, although I'm not sure I could explain how the actor and director managed to do it. Still a great play and I love the musical!

Dec 9, 2008, 10:16am Top

TT--yup, exactly. Shakespeare (like so many before and since) seems to have ignored the second half of the equation.

My brother knew I was trying to read more classics and he forwarded me his copy of the Teaching Company course 'William Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories and Tragedies' with Peter Saccio. I'm using that and reading along with the Shakespeare book club at barnesandnoble.com . I'm also reading Harold Bloom's Shakespeare: the invention of the Human and watching a performance or two from Netflix with each play. What a geek! I would definitely get more books read if I didn't feel the need to immerse myself quite so much.

Prop2gether--I watched Kiss Me Kate for the first time as I was reading the book. It was fun! I juat googled to find the right title for 'Brush Up Your Shakespeare' and found you can get that as a ringtone. Too funny! Yup, it's very interesting the different ways Kate's final speech can be portrayed.

Dec 14, 2008, 12:20pm Top

64. 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper

Read both as part of my readings in Christian and other spiritual experiences and my interest in near death experiences.

Don Piper was in a horrendous car crash. He was injured so badly that the femur ejected from his leg was never found and his left arm was also crushed and missing bones. He was bleeding from eyes, ears and mouth; it was over a year before a broken pelvis was even noticed due to the horrible extent of what his other injuries. EMT's declared him dead. His body was covered by a tarp for an hour and half while the other survivors were cared for. But a passing minister friend had an overwhelming urge to climb into the wrecked car and pray and sing for him. As he was singing "What a Friend We Have in Jesus", the 'body' began to sing along.

In that time, Don had a vision of heaven. This is his description of heaven followed by the story of his almost two year recovery, his depression, and how he came to share his story of what happened to him.

It agrees with what others have said about near death--beloved dead friends and relatives to meet you and a vision of the afterlife you believe in--ie Christians often see Jesus, while other spiritual traditions see the version of the afterlife they believe in.

The story is intriguing. As Don says, if you know where someone is, can they truly be lost? I can see where this book would bring a great deal of comfort to someone facing their own death or the death of a loved one.

Dec 14, 2008, 12:36pm Top

Audiobook #17 God is Not Great:
How Religion Poisens Everything by Christopher Hitchens

An interesting book by one of the well known atheists of our time. He has points I agree with as well as points I disagree with.

I am learning a great deal by looking at my own Christian beliefs from a vairety of viewpoints--including atheist ones.

Nevertheless, this is one audiobook I would never recommend due to the author's reading. I usually think being read by the author is an added plusfor an audiobook. Christopher Hitchens, however, varies the volume of his voice within a single sentence so much it is hard to find a comfortable volume to listen to the work. Within any given sentence, some words are spoken so softly and quickly as to be unintelligible; others he wants to emphasize are spoken so loudly they are physically painful to the ears. This is the first audiobook I have listened to where the reader had this characteristic. I found it very annoying to try to listen to in traffic and will avoid further audios with Hitchens reading them.

Dec 14, 2008, 10:27pm Top

90 minutes in Heaven sounds fascinating. I'll read this one in 2009. Thanks for your well-written review.

Dec 14, 2008, 11:52pm Top

#138 streamsong: I agree with Linda on this one. I will definitely look out for 90 Minutes in Heaven. Thanks for the recommendation!

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2008

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