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Xuesheng is Cheating on the 11 in 11

The 11 in 11 Category Challenge

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Edited: Oct 19, 2011, 7:49am Top


Currently reading:

Outlaws of the Marsh


I have to read one book in at least each category. If I do that, I've met my goal, and that is why I say I'm cheating. I would love to get 3 in each.

Wish I could re-title my thread to "Xuesheng Sings through the 11 in 11." All my categories are song titles.

My categories:

I. Great Big Wall in China
II. Rocky Mountain High
III. Ramblin' Man
IV. Kodachrome A-B-C
V. Blackbird
VI. O-o-h Child
VII. Werewolves Of London
VIII. Can't Get Enough
IX. Why Can't We Be Friends
X. Kiss on My List
XI. We Are Family

Edited: Sep 8, 2011, 12:30am Top

I. Great Big Wall in China - Any book that is about or occurs in China.

1. China Cuckoo by Mark Kitto - 3/26/2011
2. Pearl of China by Anchee Min - 7/20/2011

Edited: Sep 13, 2011, 11:21pm Top

II. Rocky Mountain High - Mount TBR books.

1. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson - 4/2/2011
2. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe - 5/28/2011 ** 1001 Book**
3. I Feel Bad about My Neck by Nora Ephron - 8/5/2011

Edited: Oct 10, 2011, 10:56pm Top

III. Ramblin' Man - Books about travel.

1. Depression Bums by Ken C. Wise - 4/9/2011
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - 5/15/2011 **1001 Book**
3. West with the Night by Beryl Markham - 10/8/2011

Edited: Sep 13, 2011, 11:24pm Top

IV. Kodachrome - Books on photography--I'm trying to learn and become a better photographer. To stretch a bit, this could include any hobby.

IV. A-B-C - Books in a series.

1. The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis - 1/29/2011
2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis - 5/23/2011 **Kid's 1001 book**
3. Rabbit, Run by John Updike - 9/2/2011 **1001 Book**

Edited: Sep 13, 2011, 11:25pm Top

V. Blackbird - Someone in the 1010 had a category that used the concept of shiny for books that catch your attention. Since black birds often like shiny objects, I'm going with this title for my category.

1. Little Princes by Conor Grennan - 1/27/2011
2. The Money Class by Suze Orman - 6/8/2011
3. The Garden of Empress Cassia by Gabrielle Wang - 7/21/2011

Edited: Nov 6, 2011, 10:23am Top

VI. O-o-h Child - Books that are in the 2009 version of 1001 Children's Books You Must Read before You Grow Up or any other that I read with my children. This category will have at least 11.

1. Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw -1/17/11
2. Trains (Picture Science) by Joy Richardson - 1/18/11
3. The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson - 1/22/11 **1001 Kid's Book**
4. Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth - 2/25/11 **1001 Kid's Book**
5. The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin - 5/3/2011
6. A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza - 5/6/2011
7. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery - 5/13/2011 **1001 Kid's Book**
8. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer - 7/21/2011 **1001 Kid's Book**
9. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown - 9/17/2011 **1001 Kid's Book**
10. Miffy by Dick Bruna - 9/22/2011 **1001 Kid's Book**
11. Monster High by Lisi Harrison - 11/5/2011

Edited: Sep 13, 2011, 11:29pm Top

VII. Werewolves Of London - Nope, this isn't a werewolf and vampire category. This is a category to cover classics from Great Britain...Austen, Dickens, Bronte, etc.

1. Bleak House by Charles Dickens - 2/27/2011 **1001 Book**
2. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - 6/28/2011 **1001 Book**
3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë - 8/20/2011 **1001 Book**

Edited: Jul 7, 2011, 8:22am Top

VIII. Can't Get Enough - Rereads. There are some old favorites on my shelf that are singing like sirens. I must get back to them.

1. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair - 4/22/2011 **1001 Book**
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling - 6/18/2011

Edited: Sep 14, 2011, 2:25pm Top

IX. Why Can't We Be Friends - Books on race and racism.

1. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison - 7/26/2011
2. Naughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman - 9/14/2011 **1001 Kid's Book**

Edited: Jul 7, 2011, 8:22am Top

X. Kiss on My List - Books from 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

1. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - 4/27/2011 **1001 Book**
2. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri - 7/3/2011 **1001 Book**

Edited: Sep 13, 2011, 11:15pm Top

XI. We Are Family - Books about parents, kids and families.

1. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua - 3/7/2011
2. The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin - 5/8/2011
3. The Good School by Peg Tyre - 9/10/2011

Edited: Jun 5, 2011, 9:27am Top

Book 1: Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw
Finished: January 17, 2011
Category: O-o-h Child

I read this to my son tonight. This was originally my daughter's book so I've read it many times before. It's one of my favorites. It's has great rhymes and illustrations. Who can resist, "Sheep in a jeep on a hill that's steep, "Jeep in a heap," and "Sheep weep?" My favorite illustration shows two pigs pushing the jeep out of the mud. One of the pigs has an anchor tattoo on his front leg--just an all around cute book.

Edited: Jun 5, 2011, 9:28am Top

Book 2: Trains (Picture Science) by Joy Richardson
Finished: January 18, 2011
Category: O-o-h Child

This isn't a book that I would pick, but my 4 year old son adores trains. He brought home this book from the school library--it's on a rotation for him and comes home every few weeks. The book is laid out with a picture on one page and the explanation of the type of train or train element that the picture represents. There are topics on tracks, steam engines, carrying heavy loads, subways, high-speed trains as well as seven other topics. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but those young engineers out there will give it two thumbs up.

Jan 18, 2011, 11:10pm Top

Oh, I know Sheep in a Jeep very well! One of my favorites too.

Jan 22, 2011, 9:24pm Top

Thanks for the post AnneDC. It's a fun read.

Edited: Jun 5, 2011, 9:28am Top

Book 3. The Adventures of Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Finished: January 22, 2011
Category: O-o-h Child

This edition has four stories about Harold and his purple crayon. The first is the classic, "Harold and the Purple Crayon," and tells the story of Harold taking his purple crayon for a walk. Harold creates his adventures as he goes with his trusty crayon providing just what he needs. Very cute story with some fun puns, e.g., Harold drew up the covers.

The other three stories--"Harold's Fairy Tale," "Harold's Trip to the Sky," and "Harold's Circus"--all use the same premise of Harold drawing his adventures. My kids have enjoyed most of these stories, but "Harold's Trip to the Sky" is their least favorite. I think it is a combination of the pictures on a dark colored background with a somewhat scary alien included. I highly recommend the other stories for little ones.

Edited: Mar 2, 2011, 11:14pm Top

I am so excited. I just finished Bleak House and I did so in less than a month.

That puts me four books in the hole on writing reviews so I will post some over the next few days, but I dislike writing reviews; I never feel they're adequate. I'm hoping that by forcing myself to write them, I'll be less critical and just write them.

Edited for grammatical errors. (See what I mean!)

Edited: Mar 1, 2011, 6:24pm Top

>18 xuesheng: My advice about the reviews is: don't stress over them! I think I belonged to LT for over a year before I really got into the habit of commenting on the books I read. I don't like writing reviews, either, and still usually don't -- but I almost always write a line or 2 on what I thought of the book, and sometimes I find that I have quite a lot to say. But if I don't feel like saying very much, or don't have the time, I don't worry about posting a real review of the book.

And a lot of the fun of LT is exchanging opinions with other people. Just a few sentences about a book is often enough to elicit comments and lead to further dscussion.

And as for the reviews you've written so far, I think they're great!

Mar 2, 2011, 11:15pm Top

>19 ivyd: Thanks ivyd. You're very kind. I totally stress over them and then want to do them even less.

Edited: Jun 5, 2011, 9:29am Top

Book 4: Little Princes by Conor Grennan
Finished: January 27, 2011
Category: Blackbird

Review posted to Library Thing Reviews:

Let’s say you decide to leave your job that you’ve had for eight years so you can take a year to travel by yourself around the world. You’re going to spend your entire net worth, but, hey, it’s a cool thing to do. Your family and friends, while acknowledging that it's cool, suggest you would be better off working, saving for retirement and maybe marrying and having kids. How could you restraint their criticism of your perceived self-indulgence? If you're Conor Grennan, you do it by beginning the trip volunteering at an orphanage in Nepal even though your knowledge of children is essentially zilch.

Conor learns fast how to care for the kids at Little Princes orphanage, and when his three months are up, he promises the kids he will return even though the volunteer coordinators tell all volunteers to be very careful not to tell the children that. Conor, instead, knows that for him it is true and when his travels are over, one year later, he is back at Little Princes.

During his volunteer time there, he found out from Sandra, the founder of Little Princes, that most of the children aren’t orphans, but kids who were trafficked. During the Maoist fighting in the Humla region—one of the poorest regions in Nepal—a trafficker named Golkka promised that, for a substantial payment from the parents, he would take their kids to Kathmandu away from the fighting and the possibility of conscription by the Maoists. He told their parents he would house them and send them to school. Instead, Golkka required the children to beg on the streets and live under severe conditions. Sandra learned of the kids’ plight while volunteering in Nepal and, with the support of the Nepalese government, was able to take the kids from him and found Little Princes.

Upon his return to Nepal, Conor and his colleague Farid cared for the Little Princes—Sandra had returned to France. While doing this work, they learned of other children who had become victims of Golkka’s trafficking. Both Conor and Farid created non-profits in their native countries and opened their own orphanage in Kathmandu to house other children rescued from him. When the fighting during the Nepalese civil war reached Kathmandu, both left the country but remained in contact with each other and with the caretakers and other friends in Nepal. It is during this time that Conor and Farid realized that the best thing to do for the kids is to try to locate their parents and that becomes their mission.

Conor’s story is amazing, exciting and inspirational. He writes about his failings in living with and learning about kids with a delightful sense of humor. I found his respect and tenderness for the kids touching. And, like any good story there is conflict; the traffickers and Maoists don’t take kindly to meddling foreigners. This is a wonderful story. I highly recommend that everyone READ THIS BOOK.

Edited: Jun 5, 2011, 9:45am Top

Book 5: The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
Finished: January 29, 2011
Category: A-B-C

This is the story of Polly and Digory who are tricked into traveling among worlds by Digory’s uncle. In their travels, they awaken the evil Queen Jadis, bring her back to London and then travel with even more people to the land that, through Aslan’s song, becomes Narnia. It was nice to read the story that gives insight into the White Witch, the lamppost and the wardrobe and how these things came to be. I enjoyed reading this book.

I intended for it to be in the Can't Get Enough category, but when I read the book, I didn't remember the story at all. I thought that I read all the books from the Chronicles when I was in college, but except for the parts that are scenes and characters included in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, this story wasn't familiar to me.

Edited: Jun 5, 2011, 9:30am Top

Book 6: Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Finished: February 27, 2011
Category: Werewolves of London

This is a complex story about characters caught in Jarndyce and Jarndyce, a chancery case regarding a will of someone who died long ago. Some of his characters include Esther whose past is a shadow and who is a gentle and loving woman; John Jarndyce is a benefactor of many who is also a gentle and caring soul; Lady Dedlock is trying to hide an old secret; and Richard Carstone becomes obsessed with the Jarndyce case. I’ve only listed a smattering of the characters included in this book. In fact, I recommend that anyone reading it, keep a list of both characters and locations in order to keep all of them straight.

The book starts slowly as Dickens introduces us to the Chancery Court and then the Dedlock’s, but within a few chapters I found that it picked up speed as I got to know the characters better. Dickens is a marvelous author and I marvel at his way of weaving together disparate characters that, at first look, seem to have no relationship to one another, but who often have long, unknown, to them, histories that are intertwined. I am also fond of his use of characters to comment on the social mores of his time. However, I really struggled with some passages and during these would tell myself to “just keep reading” until I was through them. I noticed that these sections often described a place, individual or thing and seemed to just go on too long for my attention. Nevertheless, I am a Dickens fan and recommend this book.

Edited: Jun 5, 2011, 9:27am Top

Book 7: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
Finished: March 7, 2011
Category: We Are Family

I'm really struggling with commenting on this book. It was so controversial in the news and in many of the forums and blogs that I read, and that is influencing my thinking. Plus my thoughts on it are all over the place.

It was a quick and easy read, and I enjoyed the book. It is a memoir presented as a how-to book. I thought it was funny, and I think that Ms. Chua often poked fun of herself.

But, some of the descriptions of her methods to get her daughters to do what she wants are extreme such as calling her oldest daughter "garbage" and making both daughters redo her birthday cards and their speeches for their paternal grandmother's funeral. That's where I think of the blogs I've read about the effects on the blog authors of this type of parenting or stories of friends of a friend--Chinese American daughters who are estranged from their immigrant mothers or who have attempted suicide. Is that because of this type of parenting or is it a clash of the two cultures?

The previous paragraph covers the heavy thoughts that I had while reading the book. Then there is the part that I just found annoying. While Ms. Chua acknowledges that Chinese parenting (strict, with a focus on educational excellence) can be done by various ethnic groups, usually those that are first generation immigrants, and that Chinese parents can practice Western parenting (much less strict with a focus on self esteem), she persists in referring to those terms, and it drove me nuts. Mostly because in the school that my 7 year old daughter attends, there are kids of first generation Chinese American parents who don't show respect to their teachers or parents, don't behave well in class and are disruptive. So I see evidence every Saturday that Chinese parenting doesn't always work the way that Ms. Chua describes.

Nevertheless, the reader of her book has to acknowledge that she appears to have done something right. Her daughters at age 18 and 15 are accomplished, intelligent and educated. Both are musically talented and have worked hard. Even when her younger daughter rebelled, she did so by giving up the violin and taking up tennis. She still maintained her excellent grades. It’s a good sign too that both her daughters seem comfortable telling their mom what they think.

In some ways I think the message I take from her book is to be involved in your kid's lives and expect them to perform to their ability.

I will say that this book and its powerful marketing machine generated a lot of discussion and thought on parenting. Isn't causing you to think one of the things a book should do?

Mar 16, 2011, 12:05am Top

OK, Little Princes is going on my TBR list.

Sheep in a Jeep is a favorite here. My son calls it "beep beep"

Mar 16, 2011, 1:05am Top

>25 elfchild: Glad to hear it, elfchild. Little Princes is an awesome story.

Edited: Apr 24, 2011, 7:31am Top

Book 8: China Cuckoo by Mark Kitto
Finished: March 26, 2011
Category: Great Big Wall in China

One chapter into this book I didn't expect to like it much. I thought the author was an arrogant British guy who had written a book about his wildly successful business and sexual exploits.

I was wrong. This book was enjoyable and mostly about the author's love affair with Moganshan, a mountain resort town not far from Hangzhou that was developed around the turn of the 20th century by foreigners as an escape from the miserable Shanghai summers. He tells his story of turning an old European style house on Moganshan into his family’s home thus becoming the first Westerner to live in Moganshan since 1949. In telling the story of Moganshan he also explains a little about how his competitors / enemies worked with the Chinese government to take his business from him, and then how his wife and he opened a successful coffee shop at Moganshan. This is a fun look at an expat’s adventures in a small Chinese tourist village.

Edited: Apr 14, 2011, 9:52pm Top

Book 9: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Finished: April 2, 2011
Category: Rocky Mountain High

The Devil in the White City takes you back to two events that were happening around 1893 in the city of Chicago. The grandest was the building of the World's Fair. The other was about the depraved actions of a serial killer. As Erik Larson, the author writes "The juxtaposition of pride and unfathomed evil struck me as offering powerful insights into the nature of men and their ambitions."

The book was extremely interesting. Chicago was out to prove itself to the World that it was not just a dirty, industrial town and Daniel Burnham, the prime architect, brought together some of the US's premier architects to design the fair and its grounds. What was even more impressive was how quickly they were able to complete the project, although it wasn't done by the opening of the fair.

The dark side of the book was about H. H. Holmes, a man purporting to be a doctor who owned a bizarre hotel within a few miles of the fairgrounds. He was a man who would charm young, naive women and lure them to their deaths in his hotel of horrors.

There are also a few chapters about a hero and that is the Philadelphia detective Frank Geyer who traces the trail of Holmes in an attempt to locate 3 children of Holmes' former associate. Unfortunately, Holmes killed the children along the way, but Geyer was persistent in following the trail and finding the bodies of the children. Interesting book.

Apr 10, 2011, 11:11pm Top

Book 10: Depression Bums by Ken C. Wise
Finished: April 9, 2011
Category: Ramblin' Man

This books tells the story of two young men, Ken Wise and Ercel Hart, who are unable to find work during the Depression and instead decide, since they've got nothing better to do, that they will take an amazing trip and work along the way. They leave their homes in Santa Monica by bicycle and bike all the way to Great Falls, Montana. There, they get passes on a cattle train to Chicago. Ercel gets a job at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and earns money to buy a canoe. With their canoe, they travel down Illinois rivers to the Mississippi and then all the way to New Orleans. In New Orleans they get jobs on separate ships, and Ken tells of his trip to Philadelphia, back to New Orleans and finally home to Santa Monica.

This is a quaint, folksy book about a trip by two young men during an interesting time in the US's history. It's not written by a professional writer. Instead it's like listening to an old man reminisce about the stories of his youth, and Mr. Wise certainly had an interesting story to tell.

Edited: Apr 17, 2011, 11:54pm Top

Book 11: Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth
Finished: February 25, 2011
Category: O-o-h Child

Addy, Michael and Karl meet their neighbor, Stillwater, a panda bear. Stillwater tells them Zen Buddhist stories, Zen shorts, about sharing, carrying grudges and the way you think of your life.

I particularly like the stories that Stillwater shares. They are simple, old stories that cause much thought. The illustrations in this book also make it memorable. Stillwater is lovely. Fun book!!

Edited: Apr 24, 2011, 2:16pm Top

Book 12: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Finished: April 22, 2011
Category: Can't Get Enough

The Jungle was a reread for me. The story was as bleak as I remember. Jurgis Rudkus sees his family abused, exploited and ripped apart by the Stockyards of Chicago in the early 1900s. The story details their lives and tragedies after they immigrate to the US from Lithuania.

Upton Sinclair’s description of the unsanitary conditions of the meat-packers assisted in passage of both the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Beef Inspection Act, although the conditions of the packing plants were only a brief mention in the novel. Sinclair’s primary purpose was to publicize the working conditions, “wage slavery,” and advocate for socialism. Sinclair’s quote, included in Robert B. Downs’ Afterword of the Signet Classic 1960 edition, is an apt description of what happened instead, “I aimed at the public’s heart and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”

This is a classic American novel that should be read. Be aware that there are racial epithets and prejudice included in the novel.

Apr 30, 2011, 3:30pm Top

The Jungle is one that's been on my list for some time now. I'll get to it one of these days...

May 15, 2011, 11:14pm Top

Book 13: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Finished: April 27, 2011
Category: Kiss on My List

This is a book with a disturbing premise, but one that is so matter of fact and nicely written. The story is of three young people with one, Kathy H., being the narrator. While in high school at Hailsham, a school they have attended at least from preschool, the kids learn that they aren't normal students and won't have normal lives. Instead, they are clones created specifically for organ donation, and their lives revolve around this fact. What is interesting about the novel is that it is not about trying to escape from their fate, but what they do with their fate and their lives before they are prematurely ended.

In my edition of the book, there is a quote I like from Ishiguro. He says, "There are things I am more interested in than the clone thing. How are they trying to find their place in the world and make sense of their lives? To what extent can they transcend their fate?...Most of the things that concern them concern us all, but with them it is concertinaed into this relatively short period of time." I think that says so much about this book and why the characters were mostly accepting of their lives. I definitely recommend this book.

I was perturbed after I read the book and checked again on its 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die status and discovered that it was not in the 2010 edition of the book. I was mostly perturbed at myself because I thought I had checked, but the book was good and it had been a 1001 book, so I'm counting it.

Edited: May 18, 2011, 10:50pm Top

Book 14: The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
Finished: May 3, 2011
Category: O-o-h Child

This is a cute book where a daughter laments that her mom grows “ugly” vegetables while their neighbors grow beautiful flowers. However, she is surprised in the end by the wonderful soup her mom makes from the vegetables and then shares with the neighbors. This is the book that Grace Lin describes writing in her book “The Year of the Dog.”

I volunteer in my daughter's class periodically and my job is to listen to the kids read. This book is part of their reading textbook so that day's reading group took turns reading each page. The Ugly Vegetables will always be associated with this fond memory.

Edited: May 18, 2011, 10:49pm Top

Book 15: The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
Finished: May 8, 2011
Category: We Are Family

Because I have enjoyed Grace Lin's picture books and had read good things about this book, I bought The Year of the Dog for my daughter at our recent book fair. My daughter read it soon after and loved it and so did I.

The story is that of Grace during the Year of the Dog--a year that her mother explains is good for finding yourself. With her best friends, Becky and especially Melody, she tries various projects and participates in different events to find out what she does well. Along the way, she tells stories about her parents' lives in Taiwan and about how the family combines Chinese and American traditions for their American family.

It's great to have a book where the main character isn't Caucasian. As Ms. Lin writes in her author's note, "Growing up Asian in a mainly Caucasian community was not a miserable and gloomy existence. But it was different. I wrote The Year of the Dog, because I felt that it was important to have a book that addressed those differences in a real and upbeat way. I wrote it because it was the book I wished I had had when I was growing up, a book that had someone like me in it." To that I say, "Thank you, Ms. Lin!"

Edited: Jun 3, 2011, 10:15pm Top

Book 16: A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza
Read: May 6, 2011
Category: O-o-h Child

Both my kids enjoy this book. Choco is a cute little, yellow bird who goes in search of his mommy just like the bird in Are You My Mother?. Only Choco doesn't succeed in finding a mommy who looks just like him. Instead, he finds Mrs. Bear that holds him, kisses him, and sings and dances with him--all the things that Choco thinks a mommy should do. I like this book very much, but I am a little discomforted by Choco finding Mrs. Bear and then going off to her house to live with her. Still, it's a book about talking animals, so I think my reaction might be a bit silly. Besides, my kids seem to get it.

Jun 1, 2011, 10:24pm Top

Book 17: Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Finished: May 13, 2011
Category: O-o-h Child

I've loved the CBC production of Anne of Green Gables since I first saw it on PBS in the 1980s. I finally read the book this year and discovered that, at least as I remember, the film stayed fairly true to the book. I love Anne’s spunk and imagination. I think Montgomery did a great job of describing the characters and almost turned Green Gables into a character of its own. I just wished I read it sooner.

I assumed that this book was mostly autobiographical about Montgomery's childhood as an orphan sent to live with two old people. However, I was sad to read in Margaret Atwood's review in 1001 Children's Books that Montgomery, unlike Anne, never won over the people with whom she lived.

Edited: Jun 3, 2011, 8:27am Top

Book 18: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Finished: May 15, 2011
Category: Ramblin' Man

I enjoyed this book and found it funny and entertaining. However, it left me wanting. I thought it would be funnier--I think my expectations were much too high. Still, it was a fast, enjoyable read. The book that I have has all five books, so I'll see if my experience changes as I read the other ones.

Jun 3, 2011, 8:17am Top

I watched the Anne of Green Gables TV adaptation in the 1980s, too, and discovered a love for the books after being enchanted by the TV adaptation. I'm still impressed with the casting. I loved how the actors portrayed the various characters, especially Anne, Diana , Marilla, and Rachel Lynde.

Jun 3, 2011, 8:27am Top

Me too, cbl. The shows were enchanting, and I agree that the actors were well cast. I also liked Richard Farnsworth as Matthew.

Jun 5, 2011, 10:30am Top

Book 19: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Finished: May 23, 2011
Category: A-B-C

During the air raids of WWII, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are sent to the country to live with an old professor. The professor’s house is large and interesting and the children are eager to explore. During their exploration, Lucy decides to stay behind to look into a wardrobe that is the only thing in one room. There she finds another world, Narnia, and visits with Mr. Tumnus, a faun. Narnia has been placed in perpetual winter by the evil White Witch. When Lucy returns to our world, her brothers and sister believe that she is making everything up. However, during a game of hide and seek, Edmund, too, discovers Narnia. He meets the White Witch who tempts him with Turkish Delight and a promise of becoming king in order to lure his brother and sisters to her castle. She wants to be rid of the children because of the prophecy saying that her rule will come to an end when “Adam’s flesh and Adam’s bone” return to Narnia. Lucy sees Edmund as they are returning to our world and runs to tell the others, but Edmund, being the spiteful boy that he is at this time, decides to lie. Poor Lucy is left with two siblings who think she is losing her mind. Later, when Mrs. Macready is leading a group of tourists through the house, all four siblings hide in the wardrobe. Finally, all pass into Narnia, and their adventures there begin.

This is a reread for me. I love fantasies and fairy tales, always have, so this is my kind of book. It isn’t a complex story, but I don’t think that detracts from it, especially for kids. As an adult, it is a very quick read.

Edited: Jun 8, 2011, 11:56pm Top

Book 20: The Money Class by Suze Orman
Finished: June 8, 2011
Category: Blackbird

Here's my really long review:

After seeing Suze Orman’s latest PBS program on the topic from this book, I decided to get this from the library. I particularly wanted to know more about Ms. Orman’s anti-allowance stance and the work-pay concept for kids that she recommended in the program. The concept of work-pay is that you have a list of household chores—some the child must do for free and the rest are on a gradual scale from the easiest/cheapest up to the most difficult/highest paid. The child must work their way up the pay scale. Her contention is that allowance encourages entitlement and work-pay reflects real-life work and pay raises. I like the concept; I just hoped that she would provide some examples. I was disappointed that she didn’t have any.

However, overall I found the book useful and learned some things. I thought that some of her information is common sense, although as the saying goes, “common sense is not so common,” some is often heard advice, and some was nice to gain in this time of uncertainty.

The book is organized into nine classes with most classes having a number of lessons within them. The classes include:

• The New American Dream – This class provides an overview of where the US is in terms of home ownership, earnings, financial security, retirement pensions and the lack thereof in order to provide the foundation for the rest of the classes.

• Stand in Your Truth – In this class, Ms. Orman leads us through understanding our own financial accounting, understanding your current reality and the need to live “below your means” but “within your needs.”

• Family – This class included the information on work-pay that I mentioned above as well as how to talk honestly to your family about your financial ability to help either with college or financial challenges.

• Home – Ms. Orman talks about the home value crises and what that means in terms of home ownership, renting and ways to deal with your home if you are underwater.

• Career – She provides frank advice in this class to those that are employed, unemployed and starting a business. For the employed she suggests you keep your job if you have one, live below your means, save-save-save and seek a raise/promotion by working hard. She coaches those that are unemployed to cut expenses, not to dip into retirement savings, keep their credit profile strong, and get back to work as quickly as possible even if the job isn’t ideal. (I cringe typing this unemployed part section as I know that many of these are easier said than done.) She also asks direct questions about whether you can afford to start a business and whether it might be time to close a business.

• Classes 6, 7 and 8 are on the new reality of retirement. Class 6 provides retirement planning advice for those in the 20s and 30s and covers the different type of retirement savings accounts and how to invest and how much. Class 7 is for those in their 40s and 50s (me) and what they need to do during this period to further prepare for retirement (working until full retirement age, paying off mortgages, increasing retirement savings and long term care costs.) Class 8 describes some strategies for those currently living in retirement including revisiting earlier discussions on home finances, dealing with high healthcare costs, retirement account withdrawal rates, how to maximize yields yet retain safety in today’s climate of low interest rates.

• In Class 9, she summarizes why she felt the need to write this book at this time.

I don’t think this is a book for the sophisticated investor, but I think that many would discover useful advice here. As I wrote earlier, I found some things that I hadn’t considered and as a result, will be updating some of our family’s financial strategies. I recommend The Money Class for those that may need a push to check or update their own financial strategies given our current financial environment.

Jun 9, 2011, 6:47am Top

I'm enjoying your reviews. Very impressed you finished Bleak House in a month. It took me much longer. I too was surprised to find Never Let Me Go dropped from the 2010 1001-books list. I really loved that book.

Jun 11, 2011, 3:45pm Top

#43 Thanks mathgirl. I've been very pleased with the amount I'm reading this year. I have already exceeded the number of books read for the past several years and we've still got 6.5 months of reading time left. I am awed by those that read 100+ books per year.

Edited: Jul 6, 2011, 11:43pm Top

Book 21: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Finished: May 28, 2011
Category: Rocky Mountain High

I really enjoyed this book. It was so refreshing to read a book that occurs in Africa from the indigenous people’s perspective rather than from the colonizers’. From Achebe’s descriptions I could understand some of the Ibo tribe’s beliefs and actions. I have not gotten that understanding from books written by settlers that look down upon the “heathens” and their ways.

Okonkwo was an interesting protagonist. He became a great warrior as a result of his perception of weakness in his father. Everything he does, whether becoming a masterful wrestler, a rich farmer, a leader of his tribe, even beating his wives and children and leading a tribal murder, is done to prove that he is not the man that his father was. While Okonkwo wasn’t a particularly sympathetic character, Achebe showed his masterful writing in that, at the end of the novel, sympathy is exactly what I felt for Okonkwo as he saw Ibo tribal rules and, with them, the world that he knew and accepted fall apart around him with the arrival of Christian missionaries and the British government.

Edited: Jul 7, 2011, 12:53am Top

Book 22: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
Finished: June 18, 2011
Category: Can't Get Enough

This was a reread for me. I originally purchased the book around 2:00 am on July 21, 2007 in a Borders bookstore that is now defunct. On Sunday, July 23, 2007, I finished the book for the first time--I rushed through it. I had to know who would survive, whether Snape was good or bad, and how Voldemort would be defeated--he had to be defeated, right?

This time it took me nine days, and I was sad to finish it. I reread it in preparation for the final movie's release. I wouldn't call myself a Potter fanatic, but I'm up there. I just love the battle of good versus evil. Hate versus love.

So, bring it on Warner Brothers! I'm ready to see how true David Yates stayed to the final part of the final Potter book.

Sep 7, 2011, 11:55pm Top

I've been traveling a great deal this summer both for work and enjoyment. Traveling hasn't impacted my reading, but it certainly has impacted posting comments and reviews. I hope to catch up some this month since I have no trips planned.

Book 23: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Finished: June 28, 2011
Category: Werewolves of London

How can I have lived this long and not read Sense and Sensibility before? I finally did and thoroughly enjoyed the story. I had seen Ang Lee's movie version soon after it was released. Maybe it wasn't a good choice to see the movie first since I did feel that the story dragged in some places and would think, "Come on, Jane. Get on with it." Still I liked the book very much.

Sep 8, 2011, 12:24am Top

Book 24: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Finished: July 3, 2011
Category: Kiss on My List

This is another book that I really enjoyed. It is a gentle story meaning that nothing in the story is over the top exciting; it is simply about a family's life. It is about an immigrant family making their way in a culture different from their native India. I thought the naming of Gogol showed how things that seem simple to me can conflict with a different culture. Gogol got his name because the hospital needed one for his birth certificate. His parents called the baby boy, Gogol, their pet name for him and one that was never intended to be used beyond the family.

The friction between the Sonia and Gogol and their parents was another interesting aspect of the novel. Both Sonia and Gogol are Americans while their parents still try to follow the Indian culture. The differences create some interesting situations. I highly recommend this novel.

Sep 13, 2011, 11:14pm Top

Since this book is due back at the library tomorrow, I'm skipping over the ones that I have not commented upon and instead providing comments on my most recently completed book. I will provide comments on the skipped ones later.

Book 32: The Good School by Peg Tyre
Finished: September 10, 2011
Category: We Are Family

This is an interesting book. In it, Ms. Tyre summarizes research for various educational topics such as class size, testing, math and reading teaching methods, recess, and teacher quality. I like the way that at the end of each chapter she summarized the key points of that chapter in simple "Take Aways." However, I was a little frustrated when she wrote within the chapter on reading instruction that phonics are the way to teach reading, but then in the Take Away, said "Find a school that uses scientifically based reading instruction. Find out what that is, and make sure your child's school is doing it." Huh, didn't you say it was phonics?

I also felt she was sending mixed messages on teachers and administrators. I felt like she was bashing them in some chapters and not in others. Perhaps she was criticizing the system, the unions or those teachers and administrators who think that parents don't have a clue and should butt out. Am I glad I read the book? Yes, I learned some things of which to be aware as my kids move through their elementary and middle school years. However, at $26 I'm also glad that I checked it out from the library and didn't purchase it.

Sep 14, 2011, 3:09pm Top

Book 33: Naughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Finished: September 14, 2011
Category: Why Can't We Be Friends

This is a powerful book! Sephy (Persephone) Hadley is a Cross, the black ruling class of the world, whose father is the home office minister in Great Britain. Callum McGregor is a naught, the white underclass and one time slaves of the Crosses. Callum and Sephy practically grow up together until Mrs. McGregor is fired after 14 years employment with the Hadleys. However, the best friends Callum and Sephy continue to meet and see each other.

The story is told in alternating chapters by the two teens documenting their life and love. We follow them to Sephy's school where Collum is one of a handful of naughts accepted in to integrate the school under pressure from the rest of the world. After some dreadful incidents in their families, their lives split in different directions until they are forced together again under the worst of circumstances.

The novel is disturbing. Neither teen has a happy family life and the pressures of the world around them prove too much. There are allusions to Northern Ireland's IRA (Liberation Militia, a naught paramilitary group,) South Africa's apartheid, and the US civil rights movement. However, it is a thought-provoking book with a well-told story, and I recommend it.

1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up lists this in the 12+ age range, their oldest one. Because of the violence and some mild sexual references, I think it would be best at 14+.

Oct 10, 2011, 11:32pm Top

Book 34: The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown & pictures by Clement Hurd
Finished: September 18, 2011
Category: O-o-h Child

This is another enjoyable children's book. My kids are a little too old for it now, and I wish we had had it when they were younger. I think it would have been an oft requested read.

The story is about a little bunny who wants to run away, but his mom tells him, "If you run away, I will run after you. For you are my little bunny." So, the little bunny decides that if his mom is running after him, he will change either into a fish or a rock or crocus, among other things. Mom reassures him that if he does, she will become a fisherman, a mountain climber or a gardener and will find her little bunny. In the end, the little bunny decides that since his mom will find him anyway, it is best to stay home and be her little bunny.

Edited: Oct 13, 2011, 12:19am Top

Book 35: Miffy by Dick Bruna
Finished: September 22, 2011
Category: O-o-h Child

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny live in a farmhouse "all alone." Mr. Bunny takes care of the garden; Mrs. Bunny loves to cook delicious things to eat. Then Mr. and Mrs. Bunny think they need a baby bunny to complete their family. They are visited by an angel who tells them they will soon have the baby. Cute little Miffy arrives and the farm animals come to greet her.

This is a great book for a toddler. It is done in rhyming verse, and the pictures are simple with bright colors. I think this is a book that 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up got in the right age group (0-3).

Edited: Oct 16, 2011, 12:42am Top

Book 36: West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Finished: October 8, 2011
Category: Ramblin' Man

What a joy of a book! In West with the Night, Beryl Markham tells the stories of her youth, culminating with her flight, referred to in the title, from England to North America.

Her stories are amazing. Markham grew up in Kenya in the early 1900s--she and her father relocated there when she was four. Her father was a farmer and mostly a thoroughbred horse breeder and trainer. She learned to hunt from the tribal leaders living near the family's farm when she was just a girl. At 17 after her father went bankrupt and decided to move to Peru, she chose to stay in Africa and make her own way, which she did by becoming a horse trainer like her father. Finally, she was drawn to become a pilot and taught to fly by a man who would become a famous British pilot, Tom Black.

I enjoyed Markham's writing and vivid descriptions of Africa and flying and of the people and animals that she was close to. There is a excerpt from a letter on the back cover of my book from Ernest Hemingway to his editor. He writes, "Did you read Beryl Markham's book, "West with the Night?" I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected that she could and would put pen to paper except to write in her flyer's log book. As it is, she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer...I wish you would get it and read it because it is really a bloody wonderful book." High praise indeed!

Edited: Nov 6, 2011, 10:35am Top

Book 37 Monster High by Lisi Harrison
Finished November 5, 2011
Category: O-o-h Child

More later

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