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karenmarie's 999 challenge

999 Challenge

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Edited: Dec 26, 2009, 5:58am Top

Tentative categories, for books finished on or after 1/1/09 (OCD person that I am!) This will change many many times, I'm sure. Each book will have start date, finish date, and rating.

Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs - a favorite category
1. John Adams by David McCullough 05/31/09
2. The Private World of Georgette Heyer by Jane Aiken Hodge
3. Come, Tell Me How You Live by Agatha Christie
4. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
5. Naked in Baghdad by Anne Garrels
6. Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All by Christina Thompson 08/27/09 08/29/09 ****
7. Mistress of the Elgin Marbles by Susan Nagel
8. A Pirate of Exquisite Mind by Diana Preston 05/23/09 05/27/09 ***1/2
9. Falling Leaves: The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah 01/06/09 01/08/09 ***1/2

1. China Road by Rob Gifford 01/08/09 01/22/09 ***1/2
2. Omnipotence and Other theological Mistakes by Charles Hartshorne
3. The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto 09/22/09 10/09/09 **** (audiobook)
4. The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr **ER Book** 01/24/09 01/28/09 ****
5. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War by Nathaniel Philbrick audiobook 05/31/09 06/17/09 ****
6. Dungeon, Fire, and Sword by John J. Robinson
7. The Battle of Waterloo by J. Christopher Herold 10/15/09 10/17/09 ***
8. The Elizabethans and America by A. L. Rowse
9. Stupid American History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconceptions by Leland Gregory 03/18/09 03/20/09 **** ER book!

1. Armies of Pestilence by R.S. Bray
2. Guns, Germs, & Steel by Jared Diamond 04/09/09
3. Flu by Gina Kolata
4. Plagues and Peoples by William H. McNeill
5. Viruses, Plagues, and History by Michael B.A. Oldstone 10/28/09 11/13/09 ***
6. The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston
7. Justinian's Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe by William Rosen 01/28/09 02/07/09 **1/2
8. The Cholera Years by Charles Rosenberg
9. And The Band Played On by Randy Shilts

Ghost Stories
1. Murther & Walking Spirits by Robertson Davies 10/16/09 10/20/09 ***1/2
2. Duma Key by Stephen King 10/11/09 11/03/09 **** audiobook not exactly a ghost story, but close enough
3. Land of Echoes by Daniel Hecht 11/07/09 11/12/09 ***1/2
4. Bag of Bones by Stephen King 11/12/09 11/21/09 ****
5. 100 Ghastly Little Ghost Stories by Stefan Dziemianowicz
6. 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill 11/29/09 11/30/09 ***
7. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
8. Green Tea and Other Ghost Stories by J. Sheridan LeFanu 01/14/09 03/30/09 **1/2
9. Scottish Ghosts by Lily Seafield

Mysteries By Authors I've Never Read Before
1. Say it with Poison by Ann Granger 05/20/09 05/22/09 **1/2
2. Uncivil Seasons by Michael Malone 06/10/09 06/12/09 ****
3. The 39 Steps by John Buchan 04/08/09 04/09/09 ***
4. The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn by Colin Dexter 01/04/09 01/06/09 ***
5. Storm Front by Jim Butcher 3/14/09 3/16/09 ****
6. Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly 04/01/09 04/05/09 ***1/2
7. The Egyptian Coffin by Jane Jakeman 01/29/09 02/20/09 ***1/2
8. Gallows View by Peter Robinson 03/25/09 03/27/09 ***1/2
9. In The Woods by Tana French 03/08/09 03/13/09 **** almost ****1/2

Historical Fiction
1. Blindspot by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore 02/27/09 03/04/09****1/2
2. The Devil's Oasis by Bartle Bull 12/11/09 12/20/09 ***1/2
3. Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth 02/11/09 02/16/09 ***
4. Napoleon's Pyramidsby William Dietrich 12/28/08 01/04/09 ***1/2
5. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe 04/05/09 04/08/09 ***1/2
6. A Cafe on the Nile by Bartle Bull 08/16/09 08/27/09 ****
7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows 09/12/09 09/15/09 ****
8. World Without End by Ken Follett 10/21/09 10/28/09 ****
9. Knowledge of Angels by Jill Payton Walsh 07/12/09 07/16/09 ***1/2

Just Because
1. What Time Devours by A. J. Hartley 01/21/09 01/24/09 ****
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson 07/01/09 07/05/09 ****
3. The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay 10/01/09 10/03/09 ***1/1
4. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut 09/06/09 09/08/09
5. Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier 05/22/09 052409 ***1/2
6. Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman 09/23/09 09/24/09 ***1/2
7. The Rapture by Liz Jensen 07/10/09 07/13/09 ****1/2
8. The Forge of God by Greg Bear 07/20/09 07/25/09 ***1/2
9. The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds 08/30/09 09/01/09 ****

Redbud Book Club and Just For Fun
1. (Jan) Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart by Gordon Livingston 01/01/09 01/11/09 **1/2
2. (Feb) The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett 01/12/09 01/14/09 ****
3. (May) The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett 03/28/09 04/30/09 ****1/2
4. (Jun) People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks 05/11/09 05/13/09 ***
5. The Murder Stone by Charles Todd 09/16/09 09/19/09 ***
6. (Oct) The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell 09/22/09 09/23/09 ***1/2
7. The Bone Vault by Linda Fairstein 11/03/09 11/05/09 **1/2
8. The Green Lantern by Gerri Brightwell 12/22/09 12/25/09 ***
9. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson 07/25/09 07/26/09 ****

Jane Austen and Her Characters
1. Sense and Sensibility
2. Pride and Prejudice 07/07/09
3. Northanger Abbey
4. Mansfield Park
5. Emma
6. Persuasion
7. Austenland by Shannon Hale 02/23/09 02/24/09 **1/2
8. Darcy's Story by Janet Aylmer 02/25/09 02/27/09 ***1/2
9. The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy by Maya Slater 06/28/09 07/07/09 ***

Oct 3, 2008, 7:52am Top

Just for curiosity's sake I have been tagging my books into one of 4 categories - to be read, not to be read, read, and started. I found quite a few that will work for the 999 challenge!

Oct 22, 2008, 4:53pm Top

Hi Karenmarie, it's fun to see familiar faces here! I'll get to work posting my lists soon, but I need a few days to ponder...

Gallow's View is not one of Peter Robinson's best. May I suggest In a Dry Season as a better exemplar? They don't really need to be read in order, and Robinson gets better as he goes.

Have you read The Ghost Map? It fits right in with your last category.

And when I get things listed, would you please visit and comment ruthlessly?

Oct 31, 2008, 2:14pm Top

Okay, another round of changes. It's fun getting there.

Nov 2, 2008, 6:02pm Top

I enjoyed reading your list--lots of "new" books for me--I hope you will comment on them as you read them so I can choose which ones I might like.

I think you will like The Thin Man. I read it many years ago. Last year I pick up The Dain Curse which I plan to use in my mystery category. I'm also going to read some Chandler--I've never read him. I really like S.S. Van Dine--but for some he is an "acquired taste." I also like The 39 Steps--completely different from the movie! But when I lent it to my son he thought it was boring--AH--but he is young! I also liked Allingham's Campion series--hope you enjoy The Crime at Black Dudley.

Guns, Germs, and Steel was one of my favorite books last year. I recently bought Collapse and The Third Chimpansee but I can't fit them into a category for 999. I still hope to read them next year.

I'd like to know how you like Cranford. many years ago I read a couple of books by Gaskell that I really liked. It this one is good I'd like to try and find it to read next year.

I think 999 was a super idea--it's going to be fun! And think of all the books we will learn about.

Nov 3, 2008, 8:00pm Top

I'd just like to intrude here to add that I recently read Cranford and it was a wonderful. A slice of life in a small English village, populated mostly by older women, I had that warm, fuzzy feeling after reading it. As a bonus, it's quite short.

You also have another of my favourite reads in that category - The Penelopiad. I've read it twice now and I think Atwood's take on Penelope, the long suffering wife of Odysseus, is brilliant. I hope you enjoy it too and I look forward to hearing what you think.

Nov 4, 2008, 6:20am Top

MusicMom41 - I've got lots of good books to read that didn't fit a category!

I'm really looking forward to 999. 888 has been a challenge because I read a lot of books this year not in my 888 - I still have 19 to go but have already read 80 books this year.

socialpages - I BookMooched The Penelopiad which makes it twice as exciting as normal. My daughter read The Iliad last year in 9th grade Honors English and had to write a poem from Penelope's point of view, so I got interested.

And, to both of you - I would never have considered Cranford except from noise on LT. Interestingly, I have a copy that belonged to my husband's grandmother. It's pretty old - there's no date - but it's published by the Dodge Publishing Company and is hardbound with a beautifully decorated front cover. I LOVE reading old books so will look forward to this one.

The biggest problem will be choosing the first book for the year, I think.

Nov 6, 2008, 4:48am Top

Your copy of Cranford sounds very special. I do hope you enjoy reading it.

Dec 10, 2008, 8:12am Top

I just added A Pirate of Exquisite Mind by Diana Preston based on lots of discussion on LT.

Dec 11, 2008, 4:06pm Top

If you like history and exploration you should really enjoy it. Be warned--you have to tolerate pirates, also! ;-)

Dec 11, 2008, 9:01pm Top

I adore history and exploration AND I tolerate pirates too! I read a book in 2005 called Kingston by Starlight by Christopher John Farley, fictionalized account of the female pirate Anne Bonny that I really enjoyed.

I'm trying to NOT spend money on myself on books right now, but I just got a $50 gift card to Borders tonight as a gift from Band Boosters..... hmmm.... I just may have to log on tomorrow and spend it!

Dec 23, 2008, 8:55am Top


I see that you like history. Have you heard about our Presidents Challenge?
We have a small group of readers that are going to read the Presidential biographies. It's a four year challenge... need to finish by the next election in 2012.

Care to join us?

Dec 26, 2008, 1:05pm Top

Well, I've already traded out one category for another - ARCs and ERs is out, and The Easton Press is in. I got the Jane Austen Novels in The Easton Press Editions for Christmas (yay!). Since I've got several other Easton Press books (thanks to my wonderful husband), I made it that rather than a Jane Austen Category.

Jan 2, 2009, 9:48am Top

It's pretty pathetic when you forget you put a book on the challenge and then eliminate another book from another category to fit it in! Brain rot.

Jan 4, 2009, 10:25am Top

First book finished! Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich. A very good read, with lots of interesting historical facts woven in.

Jan 8, 2009, 2:57pm Top

#2 The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn by Colin Dexter. I loved this book and am excited to have a new author and 12 other Inspector Morse books to read.

Jan 10, 2009, 9:23am Top

#3 Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah. I loved this book. I devoured it in 2 days. It was well written and held my interested from the first sentence.

Jan 11, 2009, 12:17pm Top

I love your epidemiology category, might have to wishlist some of those myself, I look forward to your comments. And the Band Played On is excellent. In memoir, I'm so glad to have finally persevered through A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius last year ... the front matter is original and hilarious, and contains good advice about which parts of the book to skip, altho I didn't follow it :)

Jan 13, 2009, 9:58am Top

detailmuse - I read And the Band Played On when it came out and remember how much it shocked and scared me. I'm sorry we've lost Randy Shilts to AIDS - I'm sure he had lots of good books in him. I want to re-read it using the last 20 years perspective as a filter on what he wrote.

Jan 14, 2009, 12:19pm Top

>19 karenmarie: reading that book cost me a job in 1989 ... in a health care nonprofit, mind you! The good ol' boy interviewing me asked what books I was reading and I mentioned it -- what an important, relevant book to mention, thought little naive me. He looked uncomfortable and promptly wrapped up the interview.

Jan 14, 2009, 12:36pm Top

I rather enjoyed A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers - it was very much MTV generation thinking that he'd do good and realizing it was actually work and effort. Plus there was a lot of interesting early SF-tech publishing stuffs thrown in for good measure.

Eggers can get a little wordy, but I found it a pretty fast read. :)

Jan 22, 2009, 12:40pm Top

China Road was a very good book. I didn't know much about China so this book of Rob Gifford's travels along route 312, interspersed with history and opinion, was welcome. I especially liked his "ramblings" at the end about what China's future would be. I may or may not write a review... I need to think about it a bit.

Jan 28, 2009, 3:48pm Top

I loved The Perfect Scent! Here's my review: The Perfect Scent

Feb 7, 2009, 3:53pm Top

I was very disappointed with Justinian's Flea. I had heard that it took a while to "take off", but it didn't even discuss rats, Y. pestis or plague until page 167.

Plague was only discussed as in the much larger context of protoEuropean history all the way through. There were a few quotes about how horrific it was, but I didn't get a sense of how people lived, or how the plague was perceived. For some reason Mr. Rosen decided to call plague "the demon", which struck me as strange. He may have explained his use of such a religious term for such a biological event, but if he did I missed it.

A much better book, and one that spoke just to the plague's effects on society and history, is The Black Death by Robert S. Gottfried. It was about the 14th-16th century plague, not the 7th century plague, but it was so much better written and so much more informative.

Edited: Feb 27, 2009, 6:44pm Top

Category change!

I found a book yesterday at the Habitat for Humanity Home Store called Austenland by Shannon Hale. It's only okay - a light read about someone obsessed with the BBC's P&P - but I needed a category for it so changed my The Easton Press to Jane Austen and her Characters.

edited because I changed the category name. twice.

Feb 24, 2009, 2:04pm Top

"Epidemiology" is definitely one of the most interesting categories I've seen here. :) It's reminded me to put "Guns, Germs & Steel" on my list, of a book I wanted to read on the 1918 flu epidemic (can't remember if "The Flu" was the one I saw) and that I wanted to read something about the plague. I'll have to look for "The Black Death".

I love that you have a 'ghost stories' category too. Great list. =)

Feb 24, 2009, 2:13pm Top

Hi madhatter22 - you might be thinking of The Great Influenza (The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History) by John M. Barry. I read it several years ago and thought it quite good. It went into the paths the epidemic took and the strangeness of its affecting so many healthy young people in their late teens and 20s - people you might normally think more able to withstand it. I remember enjoying it.

Glad you like my list and my epidemiology category.

Feb 27, 2009, 6:46pm Top

Another Austen-related book, Darcy's Story. I really liked this one. It brought in quite a bit of dialog from P&P and explored how Darcy might have viewed things and acted. A few modern phrases slipped in, but it was most enjoyable.

Mar 1, 2009, 11:10am Top

I've noticed that there are a lot of P&P sequels and have decided that I'm going to have a category for P&P sequels in 2010. There are so many!

Mar 1, 2009, 5:18pm Top

Hi Cheli!

I've got 10 - check out my "Pride" tag.

Mar 1, 2009, 8:35pm Top

I've found 22 so far - see my PP tag. Some are on your Pride tag already.

Mar 2, 2009, 5:55am Top

Wow! What a collection. No problems filling your category next year.

Edited: Mar 4, 2009, 9:33pm Top

I loved Blindspot! Beautifully written, lyrical, informative, witty, sly, clever, sexy. I hope they write a sequel. I will be writing a review of it since it's an ARC, but will probably wait until tomorrow or the day after.

Mar 13, 2009, 12:28pm Top

And, I loved In the Woods by Tana French. A very satisfying read.

Karen's review of In the Woods

Mar 30, 2009, 1:23pm Top

I just finished Green Tea and Other Ghost Stories by J. Sheridan LeFanu and was mostly disappointed. They were very atmospheric and I loved the language and pacing, but I guess they weren't ... explit... enough for me. No true ghosts, nothing proven, just hints, and vagueness.

Apr 1, 2009, 11:51am Top

Snap! I learned I'm getting The Tory Widow by Christine Blevins from LT ER, too.

Edited: May 15, 2009, 7:25am Top

I finished People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks two nights ago.

Here's my review: People of the Book review

For those of you who love archaeology, historical fiction, the panorama of history, I would like to recommend The Source by James A. Michener.

Reading People of the Book reminded me of it because they both use the same plot device - see my review for an explanation.

Edited: Jun 12, 2009, 5:21am Top

Oh my stars and garters! I just read the most wonderful mystery, Uncivil Seasons by Michael Malone. How have I missed him over the years?

Uncivil Seasons review

Excellent book. Four stars. I'm very stingy with stars, so this book really rated with me.

Ooh! I just opened Time's Witness, the second book in the series. Uncivil Seasons was written from one of the main character's point of view, this one is written from his former partner and now boss's point of view. How intriguing.

Jun 12, 2009, 10:40am Top

I'm off to check out Uncivil Seasons after that glowing endorsement!

Jun 13, 2009, 6:52am Top

There's a copy on bookmooch from Michelle in Louisiana.......

Edited: Nov 5, 2009, 3:30pm Top

Just finished a potentially good book that failed miserably, The Bone Vault, by Linda Fairstein. What a disappointment. I might write a review on this one.

Nov 6, 2009, 10:21am Top

38> How have I missed him over the years?

Even if the question was largely rhetorical: I think he was actually out of print for some time. They just started republishing his work a few years back.

Nov 23, 2009, 8:31am Top

It's still hard to find books by him, although I got a gift certificate and have a used copy of The White Rhino Hotel wending its way to me.

Nov 30, 2009, 1:22pm Top

I just finished a very strange book by Stephen King's son Joe Hill, called 20th Century Ghosts. Only there was only one ghost story, per se, and although the stories were all quite strange and disturbing, I was in the mood for ghost stories and so am somewhat disappointed.

I wanted ghost stories. Hmmph.

My favorite was Pop Art, about an inflatable boy named Art, told from the point of view of his flesh-and-blood best friend.

The White Rhino Hotel arrived a day or so ago, and I think it will be next on the hit parade.

Jan 29, 2010, 9:00am Top

Well, a second year of missing my challenge.

No more. I'll just stick with 75 Book Challenge and the Books Off the Shelf challenge.

Jan 29, 2010, 9:29am Top

Pop Art was also my favorite of 20th Century Ghosts. I liked Heart-Shaped Box much better.

Jan 29, 2010, 12:55pm Top

Me, too, VictoriaPL. Heart-Shaped Box was absolutely wonderful.

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