Anri's 75 books challenge for 2011
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The goals for the year (most of which I will promptly forget in about a week):
1. Read more nonfiction.
2. Actually write things for the books I read...last year I started off with actual summaries and reflections, and sort of tapered off toward the end.
3. Finally finish that 999 Challenge list I have from way back when....
Books left from my (now two-year-old) 999 Challenge:
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Marley and Me by John Grogan
The Soloist by Steve Lopez
Son of a Witch by Gegory Maguire
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
I am Legend by Richard Matheson
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Atonement by Ian Mc Ewan
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Kaffir Boy in America by Mark Mathabane
The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkein
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Sequels & Prequels
Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
A Stranger to Command by Sherwood Smith
Lord Sunday by Garth Nix
Books everyone seems to have read as a child and I never did
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
The Diary of a Girl by Anne Frank
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Caroll
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Richard Peck
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
I, Coriander by Sally Gardner
Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
Happy New Year, Anri! Looking forward to another year sharing your reading.
Happy New Year to all of you as well!
And we are off to a lovely start with...
1. Drowned Ammet
2. The Spellcoats
3. The Crown of Dalemark
...all a part of the Dalemark Quartet, all by the lovely Ms. Diana Wynne Jones.
These were all rereads, and all very good. I'm glad to say that I didn't start to get confused until The Crown of Dalemark, and that was mainly due to the descriptions of the landscape.
I think what I always find a little bit weird about these books is that you get a certain idea about some of the characters from the first three books, and then in the last one it's a bit jarring at first so see them in a different way at the beginning of the fourth book. For example, you get used to the Mallard/Wend in The Spellcoats, so it's a little bit of a shock, having him in The Crown of Dalemark and very different. I mean, it makes sense, but it's hard to mesh the young and old Mallard/Wend.
That's a great series, Anri, and one I have down for a re-read at some point--I've only read The Crown of Dalemark once, and that many years ago.
Hi Anri, I love Diana Wynne Jones although I haven't read the Dalemark Quartet yet.
>7. Hopefully I can keep it up. School's restarted, so the time I have to devote to reading has suddenly shrunk dramatically...
4. The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
I believe I mentioned somewhere in previous years that I didn't like to talk too much about books we read in English because we discuss/write so much about them in there...well, I have had some bad luck this year in my English teacher/class and so I think it's worth it to review these books here now.
The longer I spent thinking about this play, the more I liked it. At first, I absolutely hated the way everyone in the play was so wrapped in their own little worlds and disconnected from one another, but I have to say that as time went on, and after reading the final two acts, I warmed up to the play. I read somewhere that Chekhov considered this play to be a comedy - which also made it more bearable. Thinking of this play as a serious tragedy makes it annoying and frustrating, while thinking of it as a comedy makes the melodramatics and ignorance of the characters funny and...well, it's a little bit like The Importance of Being Earnest in that I see a little bit of the ridiculousness in the characters there show up here. I do sympathize with these characters more, however - they're not supposed to be completely comical.
It's actually been quite frustrating not to be able to analyze or talk about this in class - there's been time when we talk about the book as a class, but our teacher isn't very good at facilitating a full-class discussions, and there are lots of awkward pauses and times when no one says anything. There's so much to say about this book, and it's frustrating to not have a chance to talk about the different interpretations within the book.
On a happier note, this weekend is the first meeting I'll be attending of our school's NHS sponsored book club (I have no idea how reading books relates to volunteer work, but I'm not complaining). Hopefully this'll be a chance to have a real discussion!
#11: I have not yet read The Cherry Orchard although I did read a collection of Chekhov's short stories that I loved. I will have to get around to reading the play!
I hope your book club meeting turns out to be a good one, Anri!
5. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
Well, we had our book club meeting - which quickly devolved into a gossip/story-telling session. For the short time we did talk about the book it was fairly engaging, even though it was generally just a, "My favorite part was this..." and then everyone laughing.
I think I had a slightly more in-depth dicussion with the friend who drove me home afterwards, actually. We talked about how it was funny, though not as funny as everyone at the meeting seemed to find it, and how we both thought the stories seemed a bit...disjointed. They didn't really seem to have any sort of overarching connection, which was a bit odd.
In general terms, I liked the book, and the stories. They were funny, and I do have to say that I agree with what someone pointed out at the meeting - David Sedaris writes about things that people normally shy away from mentioning. We watched a clip of David Sedaris reading one of the stories out loud, and it was the one about how he buys a "Stadium Pal" - essentially, a pee bag. I really do love how he not only talks about this product, but discusses his own experience with the product, and the...unfortunate consequences. (As a side note, he sounds very different from how I thought he would. His voice is very...distinctive.)
Highlights: The story about Japan (and smoking) was extremely interesting, because my mother is a second generation Japanese woman, and I also have a good friend who used to go there every summer. I also really liked the story about Princeton - What I Learned - especially the part where they learn how to be "modest".
In any case, I enjoyed the book, and would definitely recommend it. I'm hoping to find Me Talk Pretty One Day at the library soon.
>14. It definitely has that feeling to it, of the pieces being published in something else and just collected within this book, sort of randomly.
6. Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
Silly me, I didn't realize that the series wasn't over until I reached the end of this book...oh dear.
On the bright side, it's out in March! So at the very least I won't have to wait long.
Anyway, in this installment of the Thursday Next series, 15 years have passed since the events from Something Rotten. Thursday and Landen are still happily married and have three children: Friday, Tuesday, and Jenny (more on them later). SpecOps (shortened from Special Operations, which deals in everything from Literary Policing to time travel) has been disbanded officially, although unofficially they still operate. More importantly, however, is the fact that Thursday is still working in Jurisfiction, the policing agency within books.
This book, once again, has its fair share of problems that Thursday must solve: her genius uncle Mycroft's ghost keeps appearing, but he can't remember what he has to tell Thursday; Thursday has a new apprentice in Jurisfiction who leaves something to be desired; a potential unraveling of history, present, and future is looming; Goliath is sending probes into fiction again; and Sherlock Holmes has been murdered.
It's really almost overwhelming how many issues come up in these books. They have more than enough plot for two, possibly three books. I'm okay with it though because it's part of what makes these books so interesting - there are so many puzzle pieces, and more often than not they'll fit together to form the solution.
Anyway: thoughts on the book for those who've read it.
Once again, there's a cliffhanger or unfinished ending, which is both frustrating and exciting. I can see why this was a natural stopping place, but it still bothers me, mainly because I'm impatient to know what's happening.
I am assuming the Jenny thing will be resolved in the next book, something I look forward to watching unfold. I have to say, the scene in which her family reassures her and helps her through this particular issue is touching.
Finally: the Thursday switcheroo, complete with switch of perspective was extremely interesting. I did figure it out fairly early on I think - the second she mentioned she wanted a martini warning bells started clanging in my head. I have to appreciate the way in which this Thursday was very similar to the other Thursday, yet slightly different. Fforde really does a good job of developing his characters.
I really liked the section where she is out in the Sea of Chaos, where words can't exist, and how that was handled as well! Good review!
16. I really liked that bit as well, though it did make me think that the rest of the illustrations were a bit odd, simply because there wasn't a need for them there...oh well!
7. Polite Lies by Kyoko Mori
I was in need of a book that I could read while also semi-concentrating on something else the other day, and so I picked this book up from our "communal" shelves. My mom seems to have bought it some time ago, and I know I've tried reading it before - I think I got around halfway through last time before deciding the book was too easy and simply putting it down because I didn't feel motivated to finish it. I remember enjoying it all the same though.
In any case, this book is a reflection by a woman who grew up in Japan, then moved to the U.S. when she was around 20 years old. She goes over some of the differences between the two cultures, how that affected her and how it affects other women she knows. I really enjoyed reading about the differences, though I am bit hesitant to repeat some of her views due to the fact that she seems like she's maybe a little biased in some respects (her mother committed suicide when she was 12, leading to the rest of her childhood being fairly horrible) and because the book is a little dated - about 10 years or so. It does make me wonder how Japan would be described by someone whose experiences there were happier.
In any case, while some things she talks about may be a matter of opinion, others strike me as fairly correct. The expectation that people will be able to read between the lines was mentioned in When You Are Engulfed in Flames actually, and I know from my own experience in attempting to learn the language that the difference between the words men and women use is very present.
The description of Japanese women was the most striking and the most disturbing thing for me. The idea of settling down being obligatory, and a career with a marriage is not an option; that marriage is not about love, but "suitability", which in turn is based on family history; the idea of so few options for hobbies and learning after high school - all of these exemplify the ways in which I do not want to live my life.
Stylistically, the book has some issues for me; it seemed a little disjointed in some parts, and didn't always flow very well. This usually happened within the chapters when she wanted to connect a couple of different thoughts with some real-life examples, and it ended up being a little bit awkward. Not bad, just inexperienced.
All in all, I would definitely recommend it.
#17: I will have to look for Polite Lies. Thanks for the recommendation, Anri!
8. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
My mom was going to bring this book in for a book swap and when I realized she was planning on getting rid of it soon, well, I decided to read it. I'd been planning on reading it eventually anyway; the book swap just made me do it sooner.
I really enjoyed the book; Janzen is funny, and the book was an easy read. It's a short memoir from the time right after her husband left her, when she moved back with her Mennonite family in California for about half a year. She reflects on her marriage and childhood, and the book was both insightful and thought-provoking, as well as having a sort of tongue-in-cheek humor that I really enjoyed.
I do have to admit that sometimes I had trouble focusing on some of the sections where she discussed things that had more of a philosophical bent to them, but I think that was mainly just me.
9. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Thirteen Reasons Why is about a boy who receives a set of tapes that reveal the thirteen reasons a classmate killed herself. It's a fascinating book, and one that I finished in a couple of hours because I simply couldn't put it down.
I have to say, I can't decide if it was a cop-out or not to have Clay be essentially blameless on the tapes. I know that he blames himself throughout, and he's probably more harsh than anyone else would be, but it still felt a little lame when they got to his part and she just reveals that he really shouldn't be on the tapes.
I also have to admit that towards the end, Clay's commentaries on the things that Hannah's saying every other sentence was really, really distracting. I really wish he'd just be quiet through it, and reflect afterwards; I realized midway through that I was skipping all the times that Clay talked and simply reading Hannah's parts of the story.
There were some issues with the reasoning behind Hannah's suicide/tapes. For example, the way that she methodically planned out the tapes, logically explaining everything, requires some serious suspension of belief. She planned all of this out, looked at her own and others' actions, even reflects on people (or, really, a person: Clay) she could have reached out to, and yet she still kills herself? It seemed a little...odd. Then again, I suppose it's implied that there were other parts to the story that we don't hear, and that it's never 100% clear why people commit suicide, but the more I think about the premise behind to story, the more flawed it seems.
It was still an absolutely fascinating book; however, in lieu of The Chocolate War, it was just missing that extra oomph to make it fantastic.
Edited to split the two reviews up.
10. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
I have to say, it was really interesting to finish this book after Thirteen Reasons Why. Both involve bullying/social things (Thirteen Reasons Why isn't really about bullying per se, but it does involve things that are similar in some ways) and it was interesting to see how both ended: The Chocolate War's ending definitely wins in the Depressing category, and I really want to read Beyond the Chocolate War just because it would hopefully provide some sort of revenge or justice within it.
The Chocolate War terrified me in a similar way that Lord of the Flies scared me. It's just about the ways in which kids can transform into manipulative, bloodthirsty animals (why is it both of these center around boys, by the way?). Again: some disturbing stuff in there. And it doesn't really end in rescue, the way that Lord of the Flies did, though then again, no one actually died in this one either.
(Also: TWO whole books from the 999 Challenge! I feel quite proud.)
#21: I have that one at home to read. I really need to get to it!
#22: I have not heard of The Chocolate War. I will have to check that one out. Thanks for the recommendation, Anri!
Congratulations on taking care of two books from your 999 Challenge!
I remember studying The Chocolate War in high school and you've hit the nail on the head with that review. Good but slightly disturbing.
Oooh I loved The Chocolate War, very fine writing. Find it, read it, Stasia.
I agree with you on the 13 reasons why, I also found it compelling to read but it just doesn't hold up when you start thinking about all the characters and how they acted.
The Chocolate War sounds quite interesting. I'm adding it to my TBR list.
#25: It looks as though my local library has it, Kerry, so I will be able to get my hands on the book in the near future.
You are reading some amazing books!
I'm compiling a list of birthdays of group members. If you haven't posted yours on this thread yet, would you mind doing so.
11. The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia Lorca was a play read for English class, about a woman (Bernarda) and her five (adult) daughters. They are in mourning after the death of Bernarda's husband, and the girls are essentially on house arrest - they are forbidden by Bernarda from going outside into town.
In some ways, it was a study of opposites from The Cherry Orchard. Where The Cherry Orchard had characters too wrapped up in their own thoughts to interact very well, Bernarda has characters who are constantly in each other's business. The Cherry Orchard concerned characters concerned with money; Bernarda is essentially about women obsessed with sex and freedom. Bernarda is also much more serious than The Cherry Orchard.
The play was pretty amazing in terms of symbols and images; you could write a paper just on the use of colors within the play. The names of the characters are also really interesting - Martirio (like martyr), and Adela (similar to 'adelante', meaning forward), and all the other daughters and servants.
I don't know who chooses the literature for IB English, but I do have to say this: we have had a lot of plays which involve the theme of women's rights. In fact, every single one of them has involved women's rights.
12. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Michelle, you were right: this one is a bit more cohesive. Once again, David Sedaris is hilarious, especially since I can actually "picture"/hear him reading some of these stories out loud. I do have to wonder though, how his family feels about being featured in these books - sometimes the stories he tells about them aren't the most flattering...
Meanwhile, I finally got around to seeing The Social Network and The King's Speech. I understand why The Social Network did so well at the Golden Globes now, and I have to say I'm rooting for Collin Firth at the Oscars. My mom pointed out that both Elizabeth and Mr. Collins were also in the movie (or, at least, their actors were), and my inner Austen was pleased (as was my inner Rowling).
Colin Firth is such a wonderful actor. I haven't seen the movie yet, but hope to do so this weekend.
Thanks for your comments regarding Me Talk Pretty One Day. I have this book on one of my shelves and hope to read it soon.
OOh, I caught Mr. Collins but missed Elizabeth. Where was she? WON-derful movie!
>31 Glad you enjoyed it more. I really have to go see The King's Speech. Everyone keeps saying how great it is, and I've been a fan of Colin Firth since Pride and Prejudice.
Roni - she was Lionel Logue's wife! Someone else pointed out the humor behind her surprise at finding Colin Firth/Mr. Darcy in her home to me recently as well.
(Did anyone else find the whole Peter Pettigrew as Winston Churchill thing extremely distracting throughout the movie? I just couldn't him seriously the entire time)
13. Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones
Hooray for a new Diana Wynne Jones book! This one is about a man named Andrew who inherits his grandfather's house and his field-of-care, but can't seem to remember any of the lessons his grandfather taught him when he was younger. Meanwhile, a boy named Aidan shows up, running from mysterious Stalkers, and magic is leaking out of the field-of-care.
I have to say, I don't understand how this book doesn't have any plans for a sequel. The ending is quite abrupt, and there's a detail in that last chapter that seems to suggest more to come...yet apparently this is a stand-alone novel.
In general, this book seemed to lack the usual Diana Wynne Jones complexity in some ways. She has this gift for inserting small details in the book that turn out to be hugely significant later on, but this book didn't really have that. Instead, there were lots of little details that I thought were going to play a more major part of the story, and just didn't lead to anything. For example, I thought Andrew's odd revelation about the real history of the world (which happened at around the same time as another event in the book) was going to prove significant, either as a planted idea by someone, or a spell to distract him - but it didn't! It turned out it was just a device to stop Andrew from doing any serious digging into what was happening in the field-of-care for a bit.
The romance angle on this one was also a bit odd - most of her books involve a romance that is extremely slow and non-obvious coming on. In this book, Andrew is very obvious to the reader about his attraction, and it's reciprocated as well. In fact, (Mild SPOILER) the two end up engaged, which was abrupt and felt really, really out of place.
In short: not my favorite of her books.
I must read some more of Diana Wynne Jones, we have them, just never gotten round to it. Perhaps I'll leave this one to the end though.
I cannot believe that I did not recognize Ehle in that role! I shall have to go see the movie again just to look at her.
I think it's important to know that during the time Enchanted Glass was produced, DWJ was, and is, fighting lung cancer. In fact, she chose to stop chemotherapy and went home mid-2010. Neil Gaiman and Robin McKinley thought she was looking much better when they visited her in the fall, but I've heard no further news on how she is doing. That may in part be why there would be no sequel, and also why some of the plot points may not be as intricately plotted as usual. I don't know if she has any more books in the works right now or not.
It says on her wikipedia page that she's halfway through a new book, called Earwig and the Witch and is planning at least one more.
Seems she may have come to a plateau in the disease's progression. We can only hope anyway.
>36. I think that, while Enchanted Glass wasn't my favorite, it also really wasn't as bad as I made it seem above - I was just a bit disappointed, because it seemed like there was so much promise in the story. Really, it wouldn't be that bad of an introduction to Diana Wynne Jones - it has the Jones humor and complexity, but isn't as confusing as some of her other books (and when I say her books are confusing, I mean it in the best way).
>37. Oh goodness, I had no idea! Well, that does explain the sequel bit. I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for updates on that situation from now on, and hoping everything's alright.
In other news...I used some Borders gift cards today, and got myself three books - TWO of which I haven't even read! It's a bit of a novelty for me, I must admit - I usually only buy books I've already read, as a sort of quality-control. So I got The Dark Lord of Derkholm (which I have read), Sunshine by Robin McKinley, and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I figured that I since I usually like McKinley, that book was a fairly safe investment, and I loved The Omnivore's Dilemma so I'm hoping his other book will prove to be just as good. Has anyone happened to have read it who can vouch?
(Also, I'm tempted to buy the new Freakonomics book as well - has anyone read that one?)
14. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
After a bit of a slow start, this book picked up fairly well - I have to say, I love some of the questions that are raised by this book. It's about a schizophrenic man called Chief Bromden, assumed to be mute and deaf by those around him, who lives in an insane asylum. He tells of what happens when a new man (McMurphy) shows up in the asylum and challenges the way the system within it works.
The book starts off a little slow, and a little crazy - Bromden seems much more out of it and the descriptions in the begininng involve a lot of things that seem very paranoid. (Some SPOILERS ahead, fairly minor) As the book progresses, he becomes more lucid and clear, but the beginning was a little hard to get into. I do have to say that it seemed odd to me that Bromden actually seemed to get better as the book progressed - which again, begs the question, what makes a person sane? Is Bromden's story even real?
As I said, I loved some of the questions about society that this book raised. What does it mean to be sane or insane? What exactly is the difference between the two? I would have loved to have had a discussion about these things at our Book Club meeting, but unfortunately, only a couple people finished the book. We did get in some interesting discussion about other topics though, most of them at least tangentially related to the book and the ideas behind it, so there was that. And it was a chance to gossip, of course.
I do have to admit that despite the limited analysis/discussion, Book Club is making me read books I would have never picked up on my own. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was always one of those books that I knew about, had heard about, and felt like I should read - but never did. So far I've enjoyed all of them, but our next one is supposed to be Heart of Darkness and I don't know how I feel about that...apparently it is extremely dense/prose-y/almost Moby Dick-like? I'm going off of hearsay there. Although it is short, thank goodness.
#41: I have never read that one, Anri, and it is high time that I did! Thanks for the reminder.
>42. Much as I loved DWJ (I actually had read that one before, and its sequel), I must say that Howl's Moving Castle is my favorite. I am a little bit biased though, because it was the first one of hers that I ever read and the one I know best. Some of the others are really due for a reread actually...
I like Sunshine a lot, although it's definitely different from her other work!
#39: "and when I say her books are confusing, I mean it in the best way"
Hah. I'm going to heartily agree with you on that one. DWJ's books frequently leave me very confused but also rarely unsatisfied.
15. I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
The latest in the Tiffany Aching series, I Shall Wear Midnight has reminded me yet again why I like Terry Pratchett novels. They have this lovely way of being both humorous and managing to address serious issues about society. This book was about a power that was awoken when Tiffany kissed the Winter and essentially is the force behind witch hunts.
16. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
This book was a about a woman named Josey who has lived a large majority of her life doing exactly what her mother wants her to do, who wakes up one morning to find a waitress named Della Lee sleeping in her closet. Della Lee's prompts her to change her life, slowly but surely, by introducing her to a woman named Chloe.
The book is mainly centered around love, with a bit of friendship thrown in - it reminded me strongly of an Alice Hoffman novel, except for Alice Hoffman's novel are usually a bit more bittersweet, and they also usually involve more emphasis on relationships that aren't romantic, especially within families. I liked the book, but it felt a little bit like brain candy to me - very appropriate considering the title.
17. The Poison Eaters by Holly Black
A collection of short stories by Holly Black, some of which I had read before, and some of which were new. I have to say, I really loved them, and some of them would make really interesting books - specifically, the first story. I would definitely recommend this one.
(In other news, I am reading Killing Britney and my prediction at this moment for the murderer is the best friend, Melissa. Even though it doesn't seem like she could do it, because she was on the phone for the first death, it's going to turn out she was in the car or something. Just putting it out there. I'm only three chapters in though, so we'll see how my theories change.)
#48: I enjoy Allen's books, but you are right Anri, they are rather like brain candy.
Re: Killing Britney: (some spoilers)
It's the detective. The thing with Britney possibly being schizophrenic was a false clue. That detective is just too creepy. Meanwhile, Bobby is too creepy to be the murderer.
Although maybe it's her dad? Doubtful, but it says something about the level of writing that I'm able to suspend belief and consider him as a possibility.
18. Killing Britney by Sean Olin
I read this because of Ellie (http://www.librarything.com/topic/108542#2522078, too lazy to bother making that a better link), who said it kept her guessing and that it was successful in its suspense.
I have to say, it definitely did keep me guessing! It's about a girl named Britney whose mother died in a rafting accident years ago, and who decides to turn her life around as a result - she becomes popular, dating one of the star hockey players from her school. When he's killed by what at first appears to be a hit-and-run accident, paranoia begins to gnaw at her: could someone be trying to kill her?
I agree pretty much completely with everything Ellie said in her review; it was a well-written thriller, with suspense throughout the entire book. It is definitely not something to read if you're squeamish or younger; the deaths within are gruesome and detailed. I do have one small complaint: I almost wish the book had been slower-paced. I just felt like I didn't really know the characters, which bothered me. I know, I know, the whole point is that you can't trust any of them, but that's probably why mystery isn't my favorite genre anyway.
#52: I already have the book in the BlackHole due to Ellie's review. I am glad to see you liked the book for the most part, Anri.
19. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
Ho boy, The Glass Menagerie. I've read the first four acts of this play more times than I can count, but never managed to finish it until this year when it was one of English books. I can't say I really like The Glass Menagerie - it's painfully depressing to me. I value it as a work of classic literature, and the way in which Tennessee Williams frames his plays is really interesting, but I just find the whole story so sad.
20. White Cat by Holly Black
White Cat is set in an alternate world, where about 1% or less of the population are what are called "workers". They can change your emotions, take away or give you luck, even change your memories - just with the touch of their hand against your skin. Many are also criminals, since curse working is illegal.
Enter Cassel Sharpe, the only non-worker in his family. He's just a normal guy, if you ignore the fact that he killed his best friend three years ago - something Cassel has tried pretty hard to do.
Then a white cat starts appearing in his dreams, and he begins sleepwalking again. His family is also acting strangely - his two brothers are hiding something from him, and Cassel can't help feeling that he's being used in some way.
I love the world Holly Black builds here, and I'm glad there's a chance to explore it more in the sequel; all in all, I really enjoyed the book, and would definitely recommend it.
>54 Glass Menagerie is definitely a sad play. While there are moments of joy and laughter in it, especially in the Gentleman Caller scene (if played well), it is essentially a story of fear and hard times and desperation. I don't think I've seen a fulfilling production of it in many years. I did direct the Gentleman Caller scene way back when I was studying theater - that was an enormous treat, especially as I had two wonderful actors in the parts.
Ack, you reminded me that White Cat just came out in paperback and I meant to purchase it last week... oops! It's off to the bookstore with me soon, in that case!
>56 Definitely worth reading, and the next book will (hopefully) be out soon!
>57 Speaking of buying books, I recently got
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is a David Sedaris book that I haven't read, but I can't imagine really disliking it, so hopefully that'll be fine. I also finally caved and bought The Sweet Far Thing, as well as Stardust. Meanwhile, Into the Mist was ordered online because my local B&N did not have it, and now you can use gift cards for online shopping!
I can't remember the fifth book, unfortunately, but I'm secretly hoping it's A Year Down Yonder because I lost my copy a couple years ago and I desperately miss it.
21. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Another Pollan book, which yet again prompted me to think about what exactly it is I've been putting in my mouth everyday.
This one was about nutritionism- you know, the entire idea that what matters are the nutrients we are and aren't eating, as opposed to foods and meals and traditions. As he says in the introduction, nearly the whole book can be summarized by, "Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much."
I think that maybe I should just make it a policy to read a book like this every half-year or so, so that when I start to slip into my old ways of not really paying attention to what I'm eating, I get a little reality check.
Edited for spelling.
Whoops, double post!
22. A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck
This was what made me pine for A Year Down Yonder (which, by the way, was not what I ordered; it was The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Really, I can't complain too much.). I was prompted to read it by my US History class - we're just hitting the Great Depression, which invariably reminds me of the Dowdels.
I really do love this book. It's funny, with great characters, AND it taught me when what the Temperance movement and Prohibition were! Educational and fun!
I just got A Long Way from Chicago out from the library yesterday. I was a fan of Richard Peck back when I was a kid, so I'm looking forward to this.
>62. Tell me how it goes!
Does anyone have any suggestions for books about Irish (semi-recent) history? I recently was doing a little bit of research and now I kind of want to learn more.
23. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
I have to say, I think I liked this book more than her other one. It was still brain candy, true, but closer to a cake than a Twix, if you know what I mean.
Garden Spells follows the story of two sisters, whose family has a history of special gifts. While Claire Waverly has lived in Bascom since her mother abandoned her and her sister when they were young, her sister, Sydney, has traveled all over the country trying to leave behind her heritage. Sydney ends up fleeing back to Bascom with her daughter, Bay, and that's where the book starts off.
It reminded me very strongly of Practical Magic (Alice Hoffman); sisters, one stays while the other leaves, "magical realism", abusive boyfriend. Again, the difference between Hoffman and Addison is mainly the tone; Hoffman seemed much more detached, if I recall correctly, and also bittersweet.
24. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Oh lordy, this book. It was the book club book for February, and I have to say, I did not enjoy it. Thank god it was short, or I never would have finished it.
Heart of Darkness chronicles the journey on an Afrian river of sailor named Marlowe, into the heart of Africa. Quite honestly, I didn't have any idea of what exactly was going on in the beginning; there was this annoying tendency of Marlowe to refer to someone he was talking to completely using description, then move ontoa different tangent, then come back to the conversation - except because he didn't use names or anything that was easy to identify (like a job), I was usually confused as to who exactly he was talking to.
In addition to this confusion, the novel was also dense and hard to get through because of the long description; very little action seemed to take place, everything instead moving at a plodding, slow pace.
I think I would have appreciated this book so much more if I had read it in an English class, with analysis and explanation to go along. I honestly just don't think I understood it well enough to make a good judgment on its merits.
All in all, I suppose I am thankful I read it, but I won't be doing it again any time soon.
25. Sabriel by Garth Nix
Re-read! I love this book, and in my attempt to get my sister to read it I'm afraid I succumbed instead. I've always especially loved the idea/scene of the Abhorsen's house, and the Paperwing.
For those who haven't read it, Sabriel is set in two neighboring fictional countries, Ancelstierre and the Old Kingdom. Ancelstierre resembles what we might think of as England in the early 1900's, while the Old Kingdom is more like the traditional "magical" land. In this case, the magic is centered around necromancy; dead things roam the land. The Abhorsen's job is to lay the dead to rest.
Sabriel is the daughter of the current Abhorsen. She has been raised for the most part in Ancelstierre, not too far from the border of the two lands. When her father sends her his sword and bells, she must journey into the Old Kingdom to save him and prevent a new evil that threatens to rise.
Sooo, back to the US! I was in France for about 12 days over spring break, which is why I haven't been posting anything, and also why I only read two books over spring break. And they are...
26. The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
27. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
(I will post reviews as soon as I've finished some of the homework that's piled up while I was away.)
I'm so jealous! I hope you had a wonderful time, ate lots of great food, and met lots of interesting people. Did you get the sad news that DWJ died last weekend?
It was amazing!
I just stumbled across that news on another website today, and I can't believe it. I was probably in the middle of reading Dark Lord when that happened.
Yes, it was really sad news even if not unexpected. However, you've just read a couple of my favorite comfort reads, so I'll be looking forward to hearing your reviews.
FINALLY. Homework was slowly eating my life, but now it's under control (...for the most part)
So: The Dark Lord of Derkholm
I've already read this one, and I love it. It's about an alternate universe that's forced to host Pilgrim Parties (in which people from a world more similar to ours get to visit this magical land) every year. The Pilgrims on these parties expect the "traditional" fantasy experience: an evil Dark Lord, a glamorous Enchantress, and wise wizards to guide them. The people of this universe hate the Pilgirm Parties, which every year cause the farmlands laid to waste and hundreds killed. Unfortunately, Mr. Chesney (the organizer of these parties) is backed by a powerful demon, and so the entire world must put on a giant act every year for these tourists. Organizing this vast charade is the Dark Lord, a position given to some unlucky wizard every year.
This year, the position goes to the mild-mannered Wizard Derk, and everything that could possibly go wrong for him, does.
My favorite parts are all the ones that involve the complicated plans to get everything to work; in some ways I think it would be almost fun to organize. Beyond that, I love the characters within the book, and the animals that Derk breeds. And Scales. I think Scales is one of my favorite characters.
Next up: Sunshine
I (yet again) went into this book expecting a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Don't ask me why, but for some reason I think I was led to believe that it had something like that going on. While most decidedly not Beauty and the Beast, Sunshine definitely was fairy tale-esque.
Quick summary: Sunshine/Rae is a fairly normal girl, living in a world that has semi-recently gone through what are called the "Voodoo Wars". She works in her stepfather's coffeehouse, baking cinnamon rolls and other confectionary goods, when one day she decides to go by a lake from her childhood. There, she's kidnapped by vampires and brought to a house, chained to a wall next to another vampire - who, interestingly enough, is also chained to the wall.
I really enjoy McKinley's style of (first-person) writing, but sometimes I find it extremely confusing. There were a number of places where I had to stop and go back and reread because I had no idea what was going on. It was definitely easier to figure out than Dragonhaven, but that's what I mean by her first-person style; she writes in the way that a real person would write, which I liked for this book; I think that sort of style really worked with the story.
I did find the ending a bit...unresolved, I guess. I mean, yes the Big Bad Evil guy was vanquished, but there were just so many other things that I wondered about, like the Goddess of Pain, and what exactly was going to happen in 100 years when vampires (sort of) ruled? So I'm glad that thoughts of a sequel-ish type book is in the works, because I do still have quite a few questions unanswered.
I am very behind on threads, Anri, so I will just wave 'Hi' and hope to keep up with you the rest of the year :)
I love The Dark Lord of Derkholm--I think it is one of the best of the late DWJ's books. And I also really like Sunshine and like you, would like more. But waiting for sequels from McKinley is chancy at best, and she has been known to say she is not going to write one for this book. Of course, she could change her mind, but as one of those who have been waiting for umpteen years for another Damar book, well, don't hold your breath! Right now, she is working on the second half of Pegasus which won't be out until mid-2012.
Edited to correct Pegasus touchstone.
>72. That's fine! I fell hopelessly behind while in France, and haven't even attempted to catch up yet.
>73. She's apparently said that she's thinking about doing a book set in the same universe, though not a sequel - but as you said, chancy at best.
28. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Another one that will have to wait for its review, but I really enjoyed it!
#74: I have tried twice to read the Marquez book. I have decided it is just not for me. I am glad to see you liked it!
One Hundred Years of Solitude: the review
The novel follows the history of the town of Macondo and its most important family, the Buendias, through the generations and over one hundred years. The history of Macondo parallels that of many Latin American countries, and the novel progresses through the various stages these countries experienced.
Our most recent English book; I have to say, I really enjoyed it, but I have a feeling I wouldn't have read/finished it on my own. It had its moments/passages that were just absolutely amazing, and the many stories of the Buendia family were fascinating, but certain parts were hard to get through. The part with the civil war was especially confusing, simply because there were so many times when Colonel Aureliano Buendia would return to Macondo. In general, the repetitive nature of time/fate, while a really well-done theme throughout the novel, made so much of it confusing - there were at least 22 characters named Aureliano.
It really did end up reminding me of The Wizard of the Crow for its magical realism, though beyond that the stlyes of the two novels were very different. Marquez is much more lush in his descriptions, which really were my favorite part of the novel.
I certainly agree with your comments on the Marquez. Lush and confusing, and sometimes hard to plow through. I kept feeling the jungle mold growing up my legs!
>77. Those passages about the house slowly falling into disrepair and decay - they really did make you feel like you were there.
29. Ratus à l'hôpital by Jean Guion and Jeanine Guion
Maybe one of the odder children's chapter books I've ever encountered. I read this for my French independent reading, and this series centers around a green rat named Ratus. This particular book is about his visit to the hospital. It really wasn't too weird, merely a little silly, until about three-fourths of the way in, when suddenly Ratus is randomly kidnapped by two fake doctors. His friends figure out he must've been taken to the psych ward nearby (because if you're going to kidnap someone, that's obviously the best idea: stay on hospital grounds, and assume there won't be enough staff at the psych ward to stop you). They save him, in a highly anti-climatic way (one friend pretty much just lures away each doctor, then hits them on the head), and it's then that we find out that the doctors were planning on killing the rat for two different reasons: one, he's green, which is against nature (...have I mentioned Ratus is a walking, talking, human-sized rat? And that his friends are a blue cat and an orange bulldog?) and two, they were going to sacrifice him under the moon, at midnight.
I know it's a children's chapter book, but still...I felt ridiculous summarizing it in my notebook.
30. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
Are all of Tennessee Williams' plays sad? I feel like maybe they are. This one is about a Southern family, with pretty much everyone in the family having issues, all brought together for "Big Daddy's" birthday.
I actually think I enjoyed this play more than The Glass Menagerie. The characters were more interesting, and I liked that it all took place at once - this would be a play I think it'd be really fun to see live.
31. Lirael by Garth Nix
The second book in the Abhorsen trilogy, this book centers around Lirael, a Daughter of the Clayr (who can see into the future), who has yet to be blessed with the gift of Sight herself. Along with her companion, the Direputable Dog, as well as Prince Sameth (the son of Sabriel and Touchstone), she must travel to the Southwestern part of the Old Kingdom to battle an unknown and ancient evil.
I love this series, and this book is no exception. Though listening to Sam worry about his failure at being an Abhorsen/his inability to tell his mom about it does get a little annoying after a bit.
Tennessee Williams would have disagreed that all his plays are sad. He used to sit in the front row at performances and laugh at the lines he thought especially amusing.
I actually don't think of Cat as a particularly unhappy play. Those no-neck monsters provide a nastily funny view of people Williams doesn't like, I think. And the determination at the end of the play is very powerful - I believe there will be life at the end for Maggie. For Brick, well, that's another story, isn't it?
'Streetcar...' is more unhappy, in a wonderful way, but Williams used to staunchly declare that the character Blanche would rest up and go on with her life afterwards. And 'Orpheus Descending' is very dark.
Williams creates a lot of strong women, at a time when women who were the least bit unconventional or ambitious had a hard time of it. Think of Amanda in 'Glass Menagerie' - fighting for her life and the life of her daughter, even if we find her unpleasant or manipulative or comical.
Oops - I'm on the soapbox.
>80. Those are all good points; I can see some of the humor in his plays, especially during some of the stage directions/character directions. I think though that the humor is perhaps dark in a way that I can't quite find funny. In general, stories that center around an inability to communicate effectively, portrayed in a way that isn't intended to be overexagerrated, and doesn't "work out" in the end bother me, which really is a personal issue. For example: Big Mama and Big Papa's relationship is, to me, truly sad. Because if we believe what Big Mama says - that she loves Big Papa - and then look at the way he treats her, it really is cruel. It's a personal preference in the end, for me.
Oh there's definitely cruelty in the plays as well. Your example is one of them. I think TW is always pushing at that inability to be honest, to communicate fully. Think of Big Daddy and 'mendacity', of Stella and Stanley at the end of Streetcar.
One of Jim's favorite TW plays is 'Camino Real', which I haven't read in years and never saw played. I may take a look at it, as it's very different from his others.
I've been pretty scarce here lately, but I've still been reading...
32. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
This was one of our lovely English books, and I have to say the biggest thing that stood out to me was the way that the characters within the book would speak. The intense avoidance of direct confrontation in most places was really interesting (and sometimes annoying) to read; specific examples include Shintaro's insistence that he voiced concerns over the propaganda they were making, and the conversations between Setsuko and Ono.
In general, I think my main source of pleasure from this book came from the discussions it prompted in our English class; for once we actually talked about something, in-depth.
33. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
As always, David Sedaris is hilarious. I especially enjoyed Eight to Twelve Black Men in this book.
34. Summerland by Michael Chabon
This has been a favorite of mine since I read it for the first time at camp, and I still reread it nearly every year. This book pretty much is summer, for me, and It's also one of the only reasons I have any sort of interest in baseball.
In semi-related news, I am now the head of Book Club for our school's NHS, so if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!
#83: I am now the head of Book Club for our school's NHS
Congratulations, Anri! What is NHS though?
Are you out of school yet, Anri? What fun to be head of Book Club, but like Stasia, I need to know the focus and age to be able to think of suggestions.
>84. & >85. NHS stands for National Honors Society. It's a little bit of a joke at our school; you're supposed to get a certain number of hours per semester of volunteering through the various events hosted by the different committees within NHS, but we have committees like Social Events, which host small-ish concerts, and you can get hours for simply going to those, without helping out in the least.
Anyway though, one of the committees is Book Club (again, I'm not quite sure how being a part of a book club relates to volunteering, but oh well).
So in short, target audience is fairly intelligent teens; most of them haven't read a ton of literary "staples", so older books work just as well as newer ones; also, it's better if they're not too dense or exceedingly long.
This year some of the books above were for Book Club: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Heart of Darkness (that one didn't go over all that well).
(I am, unfortunately, still in school Roni. It got up to 100 on Tuesday, and none of our classrooms are air conditioned, and it was just completely miserable. Thankfully there's only three more days left, and it's cooled off quite a bit)
35. Othello by William Shakespeare
Just finished reading this one for English. It's really lucky that I read two Shakespeare plays last year with a very in-depth English teacher, because we're rushing to get everything done before the end of the year, and consequently haven't talked about certain passages' meanings in class very much.
The only thing I could think while I was reading the end half of the play was how easily everything could have ended up happily instead of tragically. That's the main issue I have with tragedies like this: I just spend the entire time thinking about how a couple of words said by Emilia or Othello about the handkerchief could've saved Desdemona and stopped Iago from ruining everyone's lives. I know I should be looking at it from some other perspective, appreciating the way Shakespeare uses words, etc., but I can't help it.
36. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
I started this book because for some reason it seemed to be popping up in my life a lot (a couple people recommended it, I kept seeing it at other people's houses). It tells the story of the Berglund family, who live, at least in the beginning, in my own city - St. Paul, MN. It follows the family over a number of years, as they work through various family and personal issues.
The book is mostly told in sections that focus on either a single member of the family, or a family friend, Richard Katz. I think I liked Patty's section the best (she's the mother in the family), and Joey's the worst (he's the son). Patty's story is told completely through an autobiography titled "Mistakes Were Made" and makes up the most of the middle of the book (her sections are the only one in first person; the rest use a narrator). She has a really great voice throughout, but one of the main reasons I liked it so much was that you don't have to hear her without her thoughts, if that makes any sense; anytime she appears in the others' stories, she sounds horribly sarcastic and needy, and while she sounds that way in her own story as well, it's not as frequent, or as annoying, because you can also read her reasoning.
Joey's story, meanwhile, is accompanied by an ever-present sense of doom. He feels trapped for about half of it, and that feeling pervades everything written about him - I found myself checking ahead constantly to see when his section would end.
The entire book, as a whole, was enjoyable though. It was really interesting to see the characters of everyone involved develop within the book; the only notable exception was Jessica, the daughter. I kind of felt like she got cheated, because there's no sections that focus on her.
Glad to see you enjoyed Freedom, Anri. I am going to continue to pass on it though - not really my cuppa.
37. The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter
A bit of a lighter read; I picked it up when I was babysitting and the boys were playing video games, and finished before I'd left.
The book is about Otto, Lucia, and Max, otherwise known as the Hardscrabble children. After the mysterious disappearance of their mother years ago, all three are avoided as much as possible by the other townspeople.
The "adventure" begins when the three are sent to stay with their father's cousin, who, it turns out, is on vacation. They make their way to their great-aunt Haddie, who is renting a life-size playhouse castle behind a real castle that was once owned by the creepy Kneebone family. When the three learn about the so-called Kneebone boy, said to be locked in a tower in the castle, they decide to investigate and hopefully free him, and which also leads to the three learning what really happened to their mother.
I was fairly excited by the cover, as well as the title, because it looked fairly creepy. The beginning didn't disappoint, but as the book progressed, I began to realize that it wasn't really that type of book, and by the ending any hopes I had were firmly dispelled. While I don't think the plot as a whole was completely horrible, it was weird how the book tried to be creepy and mysterious, but also realistic. I would've loved to see more done with the legend of the Kneebone Boy, instead of hints and no concrete encounters. All in all, it's a book that was fine to pass the time away, but I wouldn't recommend buying, or really going to any effort to procur.
38. Stolen by Vivian Vande Velde
A 12-year-old girl mysteriously turns up near a village, unable to remember anything about herself, right after the villagers burned down the resident witch's cottage. Mady and Frayne are certain she is their long-lost daughter, stolen from them by the witch six years ago, but not everyone is so sure, least of all the girl herself.
Vivian Vande Velde always manages to surprise me in her stories; despite the length of this one, she still managed to work in a couple of unexpected twists. I also love how truly creepy they always are - her writing style is perfect for the subject matter (witches, magic, murder). My only complaint, for this one especially, is that they always seem so short, but I guess some of them are written for a slightly younger demographic, so that does explain some of it. I figure as long as I can find other books of hers that I haven't read I'll be fine.
39. The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt
I read this one because my mom got some weird idea where she wanted her, my sister, and me to form a temporary book club over the summer; so far this is the only book we've read, and it was my sister's choice.
It's about two friends who begin to investigate a possible art forgery. It was fine, but nothing to write home about. Definitely intended for a younger target audience, which made it difficult for me to get into the actual plot in places. The most fun bit about it for me was the fact that it's set in the Twin Cities.
40. A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
This book I enjoyed; it's a retelling of Rumplestiltstins, which of course means it's going to be a little darker. I really liked it, but oddly, I don't think I'd reread it; it just doesn't have that...feel to it.
Reviews to come for...
41. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
42. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
43. Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
44. Spud by John van de Ruit
45. A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories by Robin McKinley
46. Sammy Keyes and the Wedding Crasher by Wendelin Van Draanen
H'okay, here we go!
41. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
Not a novel quite, but also not a true collection of short stories, this book is probably closer to a collection of...potraits. It centers on a number of characters who fought together in the Vietnam War, and spans a time period of before, during, and after the war.
I really enjoyed the book; some of the stories were heartbreaking or disgusting, but it really felt like you were there, and Tim O'Brien did serve in the war, so I assume it's fairly genuine. I really loved the one part of the book where he talks about story truth and real truth.
42. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
A retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, the book was okay, but not one I'd read again. The writing just wasn't extremely strong, and I thought the style was off - but that's probably just my preference for East as a retelling speaking. I do appreciate the fact that some of the helpers were killed off in this book though.
43. Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
This was a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses, and one that I actually really enjoyed. I liked that the personality of each princess really came through, and that they were all distinctive. I wish they hadn't brought what's-his-face the son back at the end though - it felt a little like a cop-out. I also wish it had been longer, but this seems to be becoming a common complaint of mine whenever I read teen fiction, so it might not be that valid.
The Things They Carried was one of my memorable reads for last year. I am glad to see that you enjoyed it.
44. Spud by John van de Ruit
I've seen this book in the library for over a year now, and now I've finally read it! I really enjoyed it; it's about a boy who goes to boarding school in South Africa right as apartheid is coming to an end, but really, the end of apartheid played a much smaller role in the book than I thought it would. Instead, it's mainly about the hijinks that go on around the school. It was extremely funny; I laughed quite often. A very enjoyable read.
45. A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories by Robin McKinley
A collection of short stories; my favorite was probably the third, Touk's House, because, well, we all know the soft spot I have for retellings. And while this wasn't a retelling exactly, it involved elements of Rapunzel and it seemed like it could have been. That being said, they were all good, though I didn't enjoy the second as much; I think this probably has something to do with the length? It seemed more like a summary of something that happened that might appear within a larger tale.
46. Sammy Keyes and the Wedding Crasher by Wendelin Van Draanen
Sammy's teacher begins to get death threats, and of course, Sammy is at the top of the list of suspects. Obviously, she's gotta clear her name!
This book seemed to center a lot more around the personal lives of the characters, and much less around the mystery; it also lacked a scene where I truly felt like Sammy could be in danger. I was a little disappointed, to be honest, but the book wasn't really all that bad, and it was a nice, easy read.
47. Pegasus by Robin McKinley
I was warned that the next novel wouldn't be out for some time, but I decided to read it anyway, mainly because I was in need of some fantasy that was a bit more...challenging? Complicated? Anyway, McKinley delivered.
I read another review that said that this novel suffered a little because it needed an entire world to be built, and all sorts of little things explained about the culture and the pegasi, and so the pacing was a bit slow; I would agree. It took a little while before things started to gain momentum, and then slowed again for more detail (at the Caves) before finishing with the cliffhanger. It really felt more like half a book, rather than a full book - or actually, like a television episode, where next week the cliffhanger will be resolved.
Other than that though, the book was a true McKinley. Again, I had a bit of confusion following what exactly Sylvii was thinking, but I usually managed to catch on - but that's what make these books so much fun on the reread, imo. The world-building was great, with lots of the little details about the pegasi and the customs. One thing I couldn't get my hand around: their hands. What do those look like? Because in my mind, they're fairly terrifying.
The next group are all re-reads, so I think I'll skip the summary.
48. Coraline by Neil Gaiman Creepy as ever!
49. Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee Unfortunately, Artichoke's Heart doesn't really hold up too well to rereading.
50. Paper Towns by John Green
51. Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
52. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green I really, really, really love the facts scattered throughout this book.
53. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin When my aunt first gave me this book, she told me you could figure out the mystery if you took notes; unfortunately, I'm not that patient. I've always intended to find the other books she wrote, to see if they have a similar idea behind them, but never gotten around to it.
:) Thanks alcottacre! I've been on a little bit of a reading binge now that I have four hours to kill between practices every day, so hopefully that number keeps going up!
I've been having trouble being consistent with updating this list because it takes me so long that I always end up not finishing, and then I have to add more books to the list, and I end up falling even more behind...so I'm going to do ten-word summary/reactions for the ones in this post.
54. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
It was, actually, kind of a funny story - about depression.
55. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
The character had no character, though I love Maureen Johnson.
56. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
More satisfying than the previous one, though still lacking something
57. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I was sucked completely into it, couldn't put it down.
58. A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
I love this book and need to go buy it.
59. The Calder Game by Blue Balliett
I remember the others being better; a little too childish.
I like your ten-word summaries, Anri, though I enjoyed 13 Little Blue Envelopes more than you did. I had the exact same reaction as you to A Year Down Yonder. I think I've loved every book by Richard Peck that I've read so far. Have you read On the Wings of Heroes? I'm listening to the audiobook now and am really enjoying it.
>101. I've never gotten a chance to read other Richard Peck books, besides the two with Grandma Dowdel; for some reason, it never occurs to me to look up what other books authors from my childhood might've wrote. I'll have to go check out some of his others...
60. Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King
Green Grass, Running Water is amazingly difficult to summarize; it essentially begins with the break-out of four old (and by old, I mean old) Indians, who have the interesting names of Hawkeye, Ishmael, the Lone Ranger, and Robinson Crusoe, from a mental institution. As they travel to a Blackfoot community near Alberta, Canada, they encounter the other main characters of the book, five modern Native Americans, all struggling with some dilemma or another. The book interweaves stories of creation involving these four old Indians with the modern day stories of these five characters, satirizing Western literature and culture along the way.
This was read for my college-in-schools English class; it was amazing, and funny, and I'm so glad we read it as an English book because that way I got all of the little allusions in it explained/pointed out, which made it even better.
61. One Day by David Nicholls
This is the book that movie with Anne Hathaway and JIm Sturgess, which I've heard wasn't all that great, yet I still want to see. Anyway, the book essentially follows the lives of two people, Dexter and Emma, for one day of the year, tracking how their lives progress through the view of that one day.
I didn't really enjoy this one as much as I'd hoped; the characters' lives just seemed...unfulfilled, which was weird in that the novel seemed like it wanted us to want them to be happy, and yet there was so much time spent with them unhappy, and even when they found something that was good, something else was wrong, or they effed it all up, so that every time something good was going on in one chapter, I knew it must be over by the next one. Which was unsatisfying in a way I can't really describe. It was like a continuous rollercoaster, that kept going well beyond the point where the drops were no longer scary.
(It really wasn't as bad as I'm making it sound, I just didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped)
62. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
As I Lay Dying follows the Bunsen family as they travel to bury their wife/mother in Jefferson. I originally didn't enjoy this book all that much, but after spending two weeks with it in my English class, which is fantastic this year, I definitely appreciate it a lot more. And after going through and highlighting all sorts of different symbols and things, my copy is super duper pretty inside.
63. Sweet and Sour Milk by Nuruddin Farah
The first in a trilogy, set in Somalia; Loyaan's brother Soyaan dies, under mysterious circumstances, leaving Loyaan trying to puzzle out what he was doing, and trying to continue his work. It was a difficult book to get into, and another one that I didn't enjoy all that much, until we started discussing in class, and I wrote four journals analyzing different aspects of the book. Again, I'm really glad we're doing this book for English, because I get so much more meaning, and enjoy it so much more. It's also really interesting, because one of the girls in my class is Somalian, and she obviously has some really cool perspectives with the book.
64. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
Yeah, I reread it; it was our book for September in Book Club, because I loved it so much I just felt like it was necessary to try to share it and make people read it.
65. Figgs and Phantoms by Ellen Raskin
Unfortunately, I'm definitely a little too old to get the same amount of enjoyment I would've gotten had I first read this book in third or fourth grade; it's definitely one I would recommend to younger readers. Still, I did like it; it was short and easy to read, and the ideas in it were cute. Not as much of a mystery as The Westing Game, but that's alright.
I too recall getting so much more out of a book when the discussion is led by an educator. One of the problems of independent reading groups is that there is often not enough organization to the discussion, and sometimes rigor is lacking. On the other hand, sometimes people's insights take my breath away.
I would love additional insights into As I Lay Dying, which I liked, but felt I would like more if I knew or noticed more.
>107. As I Lay Dying was such an amazing book to discuss; we spent an entire thirty minutes on one passage one of the days. It's definitely in my top two for that class so far.
66. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
This is my friend's favorite book, and while I enjoyed it for the way the story is told and the style of writing, I didn't like the actual plot as much as I'd hoped. Reading about all of the missed connections set my teeth on edge a little, and the whole novel reminded me of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but with a slightly less satisfying closure. All that being said, I did like it, and I have a feeling I'll like it even more on the re-read.
67. A Mercy by Toni Morrison
Set in the 1690's, the main characters of A Mercy are all members of a household in America: the husband, the wife, and their three servants/slaves. Florens, the main voice throughout the novel, is a slave whose mother offers her up to Jacob, a man who has no interest trading in "flesh", but who accepts her to settle a debt. He brings her home to Rebekka, his wife; Lina, an older Native American servant; and Sorrow, an odd girl with an equally odd past.
This is the first book I've read by Morrison, and it certainly won't be my last. I loved it; the descriptions, the characters and their stories, everything. What I thought was most interesting when I looked back at it was that the story doesn't have a concrete conclusion, which I usually dislike, but because of the way it ends, I was totally fine with it.
Temporary return of the ten-word summaries!
68. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steigg Larsson
I think the first was creepier, though not necessarily better.
69. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Definitely worth the library fine; I couldn't put it down
70. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Loved the way Bryson included facts about the Trail; funny
71. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
"Anything's possible in Human Nature...Love. Madness. Hope. Infinite joy," (112)
Oh! And I almost forgot!
72. Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien
Similar themes as The Things They Carried, yet still distinct.
Congratulations on reaching the 75 book mark in such a timely fashion!!!
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