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tututhefirst joins 999 challenge

999 Challenge

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Edited: May 1, 2009, 2:54pm Top

Edited May 1st 09 to add : I've added a second challenge here.

original post: well, after a couple weeks of sorting thru my shelves, my lists, the attic, the local library, etc, I think I've managed to get a handle on my tbrs and have decided to take the challenge. I cannot imagine how I will get them all read, but just saw the bit about overlaps. That may help. I have several on my list that could be overlaps. Now, must finish up current reads, and keep my hands off the TBRs.

Edited: Apr 4, 2009, 3:45pm Top

So here are the categories. Like everyone I reserve the right to edit/change/delete or add to them. I actually have 10 and am still trying to whittle down, figure out if some in the too many categories will fit into categories where I need more, but I may end up picking 81 books from 11 categories. Finish ups are books that I will need to start over since it's been a while from the time I started them. Want to see if they are still uninteresting as I obviously thought them then.

Bold numbers are the completions to date.

1. Fiction - including mysteries and thrillers 9/9 Category Finished !!!
2. Books about books, libraries or language 3/9
3. Things Portuguese 4/9 (formerly Historical Fiction) 1/XX
4. Re-reads/finish ups/cleanoff the MP3 4/9
5. Politics/History/Biographies 4/9
6. Award winning books/authors 2/9
7. Poetry/letters/short stories 3/9
8. Books recommended by others 4/9
9. No place else to put them 5/xx
10. Bonus Category: Theology-Spirituality 7/9

edited to include updated totals, edit categories,

Edited: Apr 4, 2009, 8:10pm Top

1. Fiction - including mysteries
My first completed category

1. Pawing through the Past Rita Mae Brown - done 1/7/09
2. The Spellman Files Lisa Lutz done 1/24/09
3. 16 Lighhouse Road Debbie Macomber 2/18/09
4. Sarah Marek Halter 3/5/09
5. Heart and Soul Maeve Binchy 3/24/09
6. Shape of water Andrea Camillieri 2/09
7. the Red Tent Anita Diamont 3/28/09
8. Suffer the Little Children Leon, Donna 3/08/09
9. Blood from a Stone Donna Leon 3/15/09

Still want to read if I have time:
10. Slipknot, Linda Greenlaw
11. A Painted House,John Grisham

Oct 20, 2008, 10:20pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Dec 18, 2011, 10:58pm Top

2. Books about books, libraries, or language
1.*Free for all: oddballs, geeks and gangstas in the public library Borchert, Dan Dec 28, 2008
2. Ex Libris Confessions of a Common Reader Fadiman Anne done 1/21/09
3. Sixpence House Paul Collins 2/21/09
4. Books That Changed America 25 Major Milestones in the History of American Ideas Ribert Downs
5. Why You Say It: The Fascinating Stories Behind Over 600 Everyday Words and Phrases Webb Garrison
6. The Library at Night Alberto Manguel
7. A History of Reading Alberto Manguel
8. Healing and the Mind Bill Moyers
9. Soldier's Heart Elizabeth Samet

Oct 21, 2008, 11:08am Top

Hi, tututhefirst

looking forward to seeing all your choices when you've nailed them down. Free For All in your books about books category has caught my eye - I will be watching for your comments.

To answer the question you asked over on kiwiflowa's thread about getting the touchstones to work for title and authors: when you open the new message box, there are instructions to the right side of the screen for using single or double square brackets. I think you can go back and edit your existing lists above and add them, if you want to.

Oct 21, 2008, 11:43am Top

if you do choose to use the touchstone brackets just take a moment to check them over. They often bring up the wrong book and/or author. I've never loaded this many touchstones before and I'm finding it an exercise in patience.

Oct 21, 2008, 4:26pm Top

Yes, and if you add a new book but don't check all the others, they will reset to the default book automatically. I didn't figure that out until this summer, when I kept having trouble with my touchstones for the 888 challenge.

Oct 22, 2008, 9:34am Top

good job, my sister!

I didn't see the bit about the overlaps, we will need to discuss - no cheating now!
I just finished Shades of Earl Grey - did you the the ones that came before it?

Oct 22, 2008, 9:57am Top

I had the changing touchstones problem in my 888 Challenge.

You can get round it by using HTML. The general format is: -

{a href=/everythingafterhttp://}your text{/a}

So my touchstone for The Road Home by Rose Tremain which didn't work is replaced by: -

{a href=/www.librarything.com/work/3248827}The Road Home{/a}

Just change the bracket type from {} to

Edited: Jan 10, 2009, 4:45pm Top

Thanks to FleurFisher, cmbohn, VictoriaPL, and sjmccreary for your answers to my previous questions. I'm going to be adding my lists here soon, and then will probably switch to Victoria's great new common blog where we can all post comments and reviews in one place.

Now..next question. can anybody tell me what LT means by 'weighted' and 'raw' ? I've looked thru the FAQs and Wikithing but don't see that definition.

Edited: Apr 4, 2009, 8:45pm Top

#3 - Historical Fiction
Edited 1/20/09 to be Things Portuguese

I'm leaving my original list posted, but those will be shifted to other categories if read. Here are the new ones

1. Letters of a Portuguese Nun Myriam Cry done 1/18/09
2.Sonnets from the Portuguese Elizabeth Barrett Browning done 1/18/09
3. The Coffee Trader David Liss done 1/17/09
4. Death in Brazil Peter Robb
5. Portuguese Irregular Verbs Alexander McCall Smithdone 2/4/09
6. Journey to Portugal: In Pursuit of Portugal's History and Culture
7. The Love Letters Madeleine L'Engle
8. Saudade Katherine Vaz
9. Small Death in Lisbon Robert Wilson
10. The United States and Brazil:Opening a New Dialogue
Robert Branco
11. Our Lady of the Artichokes Katherine Vaz
12. Night Train to Lisbon

Previous list--historical fiction

1. The Lady Elizabeth Alison Weir 3/31/09
2. The Winthrop Covenant Louis Auchincloss
3. The Harp and the Shadow: The Beatification of Christopher Columbus: A Novel Alejo Carpentier
4. World without End Ken Follett
5. Six Wives David Starkey

Edited: Apr 4, 2009, 8:25pm Top

#4 Re-Reads or Finish up (started a long time ago so I'll have to do at least a skim of the beginning) This will also include audio books I've previously downloaded to my MP3 that I want to clear off --kind of a TBLT (listened to).

1. Hard Row Margaret Maron done 1/19/09
2. Pillars of the Earth Ken Follett done 2/1/09
3. Comforts of a Muddy Saturday Alexander Mccall smith done 2/4/09
4. chocolate chip murder mystery Joanne Fluke 1/09
4. Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069 Neil Howe
5. Unsuitable Job for a Woman P.D. James
6. The Activist: John Marshall, Marbury v Madison and the myth of Judicial Review Goldstone, Lawrence.
7. A History of the American People Paul Johnson
8. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books Azar Nafisi
9. The Book of Abraham Marek Halter

Edited: Apr 4, 2009, 8:28pm Top

#5 Politics, History & Biographies

I really had a hard time narrowing this batch. My tbr shelf has over 60 books in this category and I found 4 more to put on the list yesterday, so this may change drastically. Also, I suspect that many of the "to be discovered" books will be in this category. I've not read much non-fiction in the past 5 years, and suddently this year have found that I can't get enough of it.

1. The Dark Side: the inside story of how the war on Terror turned into a War on American Ideals Jane Mayer DONE 1/12/2009
2.The Nine - Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, Jeffrey Toobin done 2/15/09
3.Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science and Art from the cults of Catholic Europe Thomas Cahill
4.Infidel Ali, Ayaan Hirsi
5.This Just In: What I Couldn't Tell You on TV Bob Schieffer
6.America's Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women, and Forgotten Founders Done 1/19/09
7. Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time Dava Sobel
8 Great Souls: Six who changed the Century David Aikman 2/16/09

Edited: Apr 4, 2009, 8:30pm Top

#6 - Award Winners these could be either the author (for this or another work) or the work itself; might be a Pulitzer, Booker, National or other award.

1. Ship Fever Andrea Barrett done 2/6/09
2. The Blackford Oakes Reader William F. Buckley done 1/29/09
3. The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream Paulo Coelho
4. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Alexander Solzhenitsyn
5. A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini
6. Song of Solomon Toni Morrison
7. Gilead Marilynne Robinson
8. Middlesex Jeffrey Eugenides NY Times Best of 2002 also award winner

Edited: Apr 4, 2009, 8:32pm Top

#7 Poetry, Letters and Short Stories

1. The Gift of story, A Wise Tale about What is Enough Clarissa Pinkola Estes done 1/14/09
2. Ella Minnow Pea Mark Dunndone 1/25/09
3. A Few Quick Ones P.G. Wodehouse done 1/27/09
4. Morning Poems Robert Bly
5. Short And Tall Tales:Moose County Legends Lillian Braun
6. Letters of a Nation Carroll, Andrew, ed.
7. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri Inferno
8. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
9. The Language of Life: A Festival of Poets Bill Moyers

Edited: Apr 4, 2009, 8:38pm Top

#8 Books from somebody else's lists. I figure if lots of other people like these, they're worth looking at. Also, many of these are authors I've enjoyed before

1. The Little World of Don CamilloGiovannino Guareschi 2/2/09
2. Olive Kitteridge Elizabeth Stout DONE 1/10/2009for the Maine Reads online book discussion
3. One Man's Meat E.B. White for Maine Reads online discussion2/26/09
4. Any Bitter Thing Monica Wood 3/15/09the March Maine Reads book
5. The Girl who loved Tom Gordon Stephen King

Edited: Apr 4, 2009, 8:38pm Top

#9 - No place else to put them-- and place holders for books I know I'll discover and want to read, in 2009

1. Shakespeare: World as Stage Bill Bryson DONE 1/14/2009
2. Plato and a Platypus walk into a bar Thomas Cathcart. done 1/23/09
3. Best Seller! Daniel, Jane not worth reading finished 1/4/09 -see #32 (touchstone not working either)
4. Geography of Bliss:One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World Eruc Weiner done 2/10/09
5.Stupid American History:Tales of Stupidity,Strangeness and Mythconceptions Leland Gregory 3/20/09

edited to fix touchstone

Edited: Apr 4, 2009, 8:40pm Top

But then I have two more categories that I just can't let go of. I know I won't get all the books read in each of these, but I may move them into #9, if I don't discover (HAH!) any new ones.

I just cannot imagine that I will go an entire year without reading at least 1 or 2 from

Theology and Spirituality

1. The Prince Mammoth Pumpkin James Adams done 1/14/09
2. There Is a Season Joan Chittister
3. Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith Kathleen Norris
4. Misquoting Jesus Bart Ehrman 2/19/09
5. Year of Living Biblically A.J. Jacob 2/26/09
6. Christ the Lord:The Road to Cana Anne Rice 3/1/09
7. Dating Jesus Susan Campbell 3/22/09
8. Being Catholic Now Kerry Kennedy 3/3/09
9. The Gospel According to Jesus Christ Jose Saramago
10. Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis3/28/09

Another extra category--one of my favorites

1. What Einstein Told His Cook Ribert Wolke
2. From Hardtack to French Fries Barbara Haber
3. Omnivore's Dilemma Michael Pollan
4. Garlic and sapphires Ruth Reichl

Oct 30, 2008, 8:05am Top

Wow. Of all your books I've only read the Picoult. I'll be keeping an eye on your reviews...

Nov 5, 2008, 2:24pm Top

I know I'm 'cheating' but I keep finding books-- either on my shelf or in the library or in all of your libraries--that reach out screaming 'pick me, pick me'. So I have decided to add extra books to any category that seems appropriate. See #16-just added the extra. Then when it's time to read, whichever suits my fancy that day will be the one picked. The first nine read in a category will close out that category for 2009.

I've also promised myself that I will not read two consecutive books in the same category..that way, I'll use this challenge to expand my breadth as well as depth. I have tended to get 'stuck' in certain categories--for the past few years mysteries led the pack, right now it's US History and Politics--so by making myself read 'outside the box' I hope to end 2009 feeling quite well-rounded and with a list of at least 400 more tbr's. (That's why I also joined Zoe's Dewey Decimal Challenge.)

Now if we could just started....

Nov 6, 2008, 4:41am Top

Isn't it frustrating having to wait till January 1? I'm thinking of starting over the christmas break. It's only a few days, surely that's not cheating! By the way, I think it's very sensible to have more than 9 books in any one category. There's nothing like choices and I do hate to see books left out.

Nov 6, 2008, 7:15am Top

#22 Yeah, I am ready to start, too. I am going to finish my 888 Challenge and then start this one. 81 is a lot of books for me to read, so I think it would be good if I start a little early.

Nov 7, 2008, 9:04am Top

Oh, I know, I'm really tempted to start early! I'm nowhere near done my 888, though, so I can't really justify moving on to the 999 yet.

Tututhefirst, I'm glad you did join the Dewey Decimal Challenge :). But I have to clarify that it's not really "mine"--I just created the group, I didn't even come up with the idea!

Nov 25, 2008, 6:28pm Top

Still adjusting....added Gilead to my award winners list (#15) -- too many awards to ignore, and for some reason is reaching out screaming 'read me, read me!"

Edited: Jan 5, 2009, 12:47pm Top

Have begun to receive early Christmas presents (or 'presented myself') to fill in the TBD category #8. all of these still may shift, but the first 9 finished in each category will be what I use. Extras will get posted and also listed over on the 75 in 2009 challenge. Anything non-fiction is also going to be listed in the the Dewey Decimal Challenge, and if it happens to be a biography of a US President, that will also be on the list for that group.

Dec 9, 2008, 1:24am Top

Well, don't worry all you OCDers, I'm not going to cheat....have been so busy finishing up the 75 in 2008 challenge, and helping my sister cyderry (http://www.librarything.com/profile/cyderry) set up the read the US President's challenge (see link: http://www.librarything.com/topic/51434) that I won't get to start until Jan 1. can't wait tho....I have to handcuff myself to stay off that shelf.

Dec 17, 2008, 9:21am Top

Xicanti is going to join us in the Dante read during lent.

Edited: Jan 14, 2009, 9:15pm Top

Just added the Coffee Trader by David Liss to my To Be Discovered category #9. This is the January read for the Highly Rated Book Group. It can also be an overlap for Food Category. I'm a great coffee drinker, and can hardly wait.

Edited: Dec 29, 2008, 10:07pm Top

She says with a heavy sigh... I hope this is the last tweak to categories. I've actually made a physical TBR shelf (or 3!) so I can drool over those to be read w/o having to go to a spreadsheet or find this thread. In doing so, I also added books I had requested from Santa to fill out the challenge, some books loaned by my daughter and a few other 'discoveries' so I've redone the lists. I will edit the categories 3,5,12,13,14,15,16,17,18...I'm leaving the extra categories alone and renaming category #9 No place else to put it. Then I can read from the 10 and 11 categories plus add a few new ones and come out with around 81 books by the end of the year.

I also took the Jodi Picoult out of category 1. I've never been able to get into her books, and had it there because I thought I should at least finish one, but there are just too many books screaming to me to be read, that I'm not wasting time on something that doesn't appeal.

I've actually started my re-read of Pillars of the Earth (this time on audio) to give me a jump start for reading World without End. There are 36 discs and I'm on 9, so I know it won't get finished before the ball drops in Times Square.

Enjoy ....Tina

Edited: Mar 28, 2009, 1:07pm Top

Category: Finish up/cleanup MP3- Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

--an audiobook mystery the first of the Joanne Fluke Cookie jar mysteries. A short, delicious little cozy...I'm not doing a full review. It's a standard 3 1/2 star sweet treat perfect to listen to on a cold winter's day while doing needlepoint and drinking chocolate.

Edited: Jan 14, 2009, 9:25pm Top

category #2- "Books about Books" --The Bestseller! (bad touchstone).

This appears to be a hastily pasted together work based on a personal blog - you won't get the link from me!- that I received as an ER book last month. I'm still pondering how to say quietly but firmly that this is not a book I'd recommend anyone waste anytime reading. It's not really a book, it's a journal, law lecture, whine and rant combined on paper. You can read almost all the same material on her blog, and IMHO is a self-published "she done me dirty" attempt to recoup money so the author, Jane Daniel, can pay some of the $33 million judgement against her.

I had no knowledge of anything about the book (or the book that generated all this legal action), so I think I approached it with an open mind; I forced myself past the 50 pages I usually allow for a book, but could not make myself waste anymore time - I read 75 pages, and skimmed/scanned/slogged thru the rest. Then I did some online research to try to find objective background on both sides of the issue. It's not pretty, and I don't think it deserves anybody's time. This book is presents only one side of a very complicated, three way (4-5-6?) lawsuit. If that sort of thing floats your boat, sail on. Not for me. If I need it, it will count as a book about books, but I hope I can find something better to fill that slot. Shame I wasted so much time and effort on this.

Edited: Jan 19, 2009, 9:57pm Top

Category #8 Books on a list: 1/9 Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

I read this originally last year and didn't care for it. I just couldn't stand the central character. This was the January read for our "Read around Maine" online book group which grew out of our Literary Map of Maine. so I thought I'd give it another chance to see if other peoplw had the same reaction I did.

I'm so glad I read it again. I think when I first read it I was so ill, that I had no tolerance for hard times or nasty people. This is an exquisitely written book of stories about life in small town coastal Maine. Each story could be a stand-alone, but Olive Kitteridge, a strong, opinionated, stoic, often unhappy woman appears in each story. No spoilers here, but her story and that of her husband and only son are so well-written that you don't have to like her to love the book. The writing is clean, crisp, and you can almost smell the pines, feel the mist, and hear the foghorns while you read. 4 1/2 stars.

This couldget shifted to category #7 short stories, or category #4 if I need to fill out categories.

Edited: Jan 13, 2009, 12:11am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Jan 19, 2009, 9:58pm Top

Category #5 History/Politics.1/9 The Dark Side: How the War on Terror turned into the War on American Ideals by Jane Mayer.

This is a scary book. I served on active duty in the Navy myself, and my husband served over 30 years defending our constitution. I shook when I read this, and had to take it in small pieces. Mayer writes convincingly of what I would consider illegal acts committed in the name of freedom. I don't believe in making book reviews into political speeches, but after reading this, I was driving and pulled up behind a car with a bumper sticker that said : "I love my country. I fear my government." I couldn't have said it better. This will be an important work in coming years for those attempting to understand what the administration did and the justification it used in reacting to the attacks on 9/11. History and maybe the justice system, will determine whether it could have or should have been done differently.

Edited: Jan 19, 2009, 9:55pm Top

Category #9 No place else to put it 1/9 Shakespeare: The World as stage by Bill Bryson.

A wonderful exposition of what we know, what some say we know, and what we don't, can't or will never know about the great poet. I thoroughly enjoyed this, although I'm not sure it's what I thought it was going to be. The jacket blurb says it's part of a series of "succinct biographies" of eminent lives. (I think I thought it would be more biography). The library where I borrowed it has it classified as Dewey 822.3 (English lit). I'd be more inclined to agree that it really is the story of the works, rather than the life of Shakespeare. Either way it's a great read, or in this case, since I listened to the author read his own book and the afterword interview with NPR, it's a great listen. I think it was actually better in audio since I got to hear the different pronunciations not just read the different spellings. 4 1/2 stars.

Edited: Jan 18, 2009, 5:54pm Top

Just finished two exquisite little books.
Bonus category: Theology & Spirituality 1/9 the Prince Mammoth Pumpkin by James P. Adams.

a parable that I wanted to review to see if my granddaughter (8yr old) would be able to read and enjoy ----she will!! But it is a lovely enough story that any age will profit from it. Short and not too sicky sweet, it gives us a picture of love, nurturing, despair, redemption, everything all in one character, and few pages. The illustrations are delicious.

Category #7-Poetry and short Stories: 1/9 , The Gift of story: A Wise Tale about What is Enough by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, a cantadora, keeper of the stories.

Her wonderful tale of a tale, which she says are like the Matriochka dolls that fit one inside the other, gives us not only a gift, but a reason to share that gift by sharing the story with others. A wonderful little book that would make an excellent gift.

I hadn't intended to read either, but they fell out from behind another book when I pulled it from the shelf --a sign that they were to be read today. I'm really glad I did.

Edited: Jan 18, 2009, 5:54pm Top

Category #1 Fiction 2/9 Pawing through the Past. Rita Mae Brown

Just finished another of my favorite quickie mysteries. The author continues to delight me by finding new and 'modern' topics to feature. I won't spoil it, but for those of you who are fans, I was quite surprised by the ending.

Edited: Jan 21, 2009, 8:03pm Top

Category #4 Things Portuguese 3/9 The coffee Trader by David Liss.

This is the book chosen by the Highly rated Book Group as its Early Winter read. I learned a lot about Amsterdam, Portuguese Jews, and early commodities trading. The characters in this book are well portrayed but not very likable. I did find all the description of "puts" and "calls" quite brain taxing, and not easy to follow. I guess that's why I let other people do the commodities trading! All in all, a book worth reading, but not one to push immediately to the top of the pile. 3 1/2 stars. My review is here.

edited 1/20/09 to change category.

Jan 17, 2009, 5:38pm Top

Hi tututhefirst: I also have books/libraries as a category. This might be tough because, last summer, I went through a binge reading books about books/libraries/bookstores etc. Many of mine don't overlap with yours so I'm getting some ideas from you, too.

Here are some books about books/libraries/bookstores that I enjoyed last year:

--The Solitary Vice: Against Reading by Mikita Brottman
--The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir by Lewis Buzbee
--Proust and the Squid: The Power and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf
--Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry

Another book I enjoyed, much earlier, though, was Anna Quindlen's How Reading Changed My Life.

Edited: Jan 17, 2009, 8:44pm Top

Linda...thanks for the suggestions. I actually have about 10 more books buried in my original spreadsheet for this category. I got started by receiving a copy of The Library at Night as a gift. then I read a couple books by Lawrence Goldstone, and from there the list exploded. I read Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public library just at the end of 2008, and that was a hoot! So between books about books, books about language, and books about libraries, I could almost have done the entire 999. I 'd be happy to recommend more.

Edited: Jan 20, 2009, 10:40am Top

Category # 4 Things Portuguese 1/9 Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun by Myriam Cyr.

The publisher considers this A Historical Mystery and it was cataloged in Dewey as 869 Portuguese literature. I tend to agree that it belongs in the P. Lit category...the letters (there are only five of them) put me so much in mind of E. Barrett Browning's sonnets, that I had to go pull my copy off the shelf and re-read it. (see msg #43)

This beautifully written and exhaustively researched book explores whether these letters, which first appeared in France in the late 1600's were fictional (as then supposed) or actually written by a young nun, Marianna Alcoforado to the French officer who had been her secret lover, but who then (she claims) deserted her to return to the battles raging in France.

Some of the intricate treaty making and political machinations of France, Spain, and Portugal that were included to explain how this French officer came to be fighting for Portugal against the Spanish were at times almost too taxing for my poor brain. I can understand that the author felt she had to include this level of detail to uphold her thesis that these were in fact real letters written by a real person to a real person.

The letters themselves, probably written in French by a Portuguese speaking person, are elaborate, earthy, anguished, and quite emotional. At times I almost laughed and wanted to say "Okay....we got the point!" But having been raised in an Italian family, and being married to a Portuguese speaker, I can assure you that we never use 3 words when we can stretch that sentence to 10. could you guess by the length of my posts?. I'd give this four stars, but with a warning that it may not be some people's cup of tea.

edited 1/20/09 to change the category.

Edited: Mar 28, 2009, 1:10pm Top

Category #3 Things Portugueue Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

I didn't originally have this on my list, but see msg #42 above--these are some of my favorites that I haven't read in several years. After completing Marianna Alcoforado's plaintive wailings above, I had to pull these out for another look at how one can write of love, passion, sorrow, loss, love, more love and hope in gorgeous and inspiring words. I savored every one of these again...good thing it was a snowy afternoon with nothing to do. Of course, it's unfair to compare the flowery and flamboyant prose in the Portuguese nun letters to the exquisite, and refined poetry of Barrett Browning, but reading the two back to back certainly gives one a broad painting of the spectrum of women's emotions towards their lovers. If i had a copy of Heloise and Abelard's letters handy, I'd have pulled that out to complete the landscape.

Jan 18, 2009, 9:30pm Top

42> Dang. You should be working for the publisher. I think you just sold me a book. :-)

Jan 19, 2009, 10:06pm Top

Category #5 History/Politics 2/9: America's Hidden History:Untold Tales of First Pilgrims, Fighting Women, and Forgotten Founders Kenneth C. Davis.

I'm convinced that is history teachers would assign Ken Davis' books to read instead of our current text books, we'd have a generation of students who might once again be interested in how their country started. I especially like the way he takes each section or subject, presents a time line and then fleshes out the timeline. Then he presents an 'afterward' so we aren't just left hanging, we find out what consequences George washington suffered (or didn't suffer- no spoilers here!) when he 'spun' his report aoub a squirmish with the french in his early days of soldiering.

This book is a little drier, and not quite as exciting as some of his others, but still quite worth suggesting to someone who thinks he/she doesn't like history. 3 1/2 stars.

Jan 19, 2009, 10:10pm Top

You certainly read a lot of interesting books, tutu! I enjoy reading your reviews.

Jan 19, 2009, 10:37pm Top

This is one I had downloaded last year onto my MP3, but hadn't gotten around to listening to. I had a piece of cross-stitch I wanted to finish so, since the driveway was WAY....too.....icy to go anyplace today, I settled in with earphones and stitching. Nothing like a little muti-tasking. I so enjoy audio books.

Edited: Jan 20, 2009, 9:34am Top

Just changed my 4th category to include leftovers that were on my MP3. I realized last night that I could have an entire category TBLT Books on my MP3 (tbl= to be listened to). So since these are, in essence, books that I need to finish up, I'm listing them in that category.

Edited: Jan 20, 2009, 9:51am Top

Category #4 Finish ups from MP3 1/9 Hard Row by Margaret Maron.

I enjoy the Deborah Knott mysteries. The plot develops well: body parts keep appearing and law enforcement is faced with a variety of well-developed, believable characters. They even say cuss words once in a while!. I wouldn't call this a cozy, but it's also not a blood and guts psycho thriller so in vogue these days (those I don't do.) There is violence, sex, tension and many candidates for the 'perp' so you are kept guessing til the end. This one really did surprise me, something I like when I read a mystery. 4 stars.

Edited: Jan 20, 2009, 11:17am Top

I had to re-do categories ! You all are such enablers of a very bad habit!! I've ONLY added 95 books to my TBR list since Jan 1st. At this rate, I will definitely have to add an extra hard drive or build a wing or something. Anyway, books were falling into different 'piles' so I decided to rearrange things. One of the things I noticed were that several of the books fell into my new Category "Things Portuguese". I think the Highly Rated Book Group started it with the group read of Coffee Trader, but then noticed that I had several that had a setting in Portugal or Brazil. Thanks to recommendations from my fellow LTers, I was able to round out this new category no sweat!

Jan 21, 2009, 2:58pm Top

>49 tututhefirst:

I discovered Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott series late in 2007, and finished reading the series last year. Sort of a cross between a cozy and Janet Evanovich or Sue Grafton, don't you think? Some are better than others, but I enjoyed them all -- quick, light, and entertaining, with interesting characters and plots.

Edited: Jan 21, 2009, 7:49pm Top

I think you hit it on the head Ivyd...I'd kinda gotten tired of Evanovich...altho come to think of it, a dose of Grandma M would be much appreciated these days. I love Sue Grafton tho, and have read all of hers (only the most recent listed in the library) but must look for more of the Maron books. Thanks for the boost.

Edited: Jan 21, 2009, 11:08pm Top

Category #2: Books about Books....3/9 Ex Libris Confessions of a Common Reader by Ann Fadiman.

The author comes from a very literary background and is married to a writer. This wonderful little volume is replete with stories of her reading life. I could relate to almost all of them (although I don't read Greek!).

Reading this book is reassuring, comforting, and at the same time almost depressing. It's wonderful to find reinforcement for one's reading and book collecting habits, but one must lament the eventual passing of such bibliophiles. Maybe we LTers can keep this fanatic level of bibliophilia alive!

A compendium of essays, a long lost form of literature that deserves a comeback, her stories are fun, erudite and eminently readable. Each essay stands along, so this volume is one to be kept close by, to read again and again, in small, delicious morsels. Two of my favorites are Marrying Libraries --I think many of us can relate to this one-- and Inset a Carrot.

There's also an excellent bibliography which gave me several other leads for my rapidly growing TBR list.

5 stars

edited to fix the html coding SIGH!

Jan 22, 2009, 1:48am Top

#53 tutu

Nice review. This is one of my all time favorite books! We were on vacation when I read this and I ended up reading most of the essays aloud to Hubby after I had read them myself! He had the good grace to listen and act appreciative--although he is a scientist and this is not his "kind of book." :-)

Jan 22, 2009, 1:01pm Top

Tina, this review brought back memories. I loved the Fadiman book, too.

Have you ever read Anna Quindlen's short book, How Reading Changed My Life. Really enjoyed that one way back when. Or how about the Robertson Davies book The Merry Heart: Reflections on Reading, Writing, and the World of Books.

Michael Dirda's Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life is another I plan to add to my list. I think that's more a reader's memoir.

Jan 22, 2009, 2:26pm Top

Linda...thanks for the tips. I have both the Quindlen and Dirda books on my extended TBR list, but am not familiar with the Davied book. I'll keep my eyes open for it.

Jan 22, 2009, 8:04pm Top

#55 lindapanzo

I'm going to have to get Anna Quindlen's book--a couple of years ago I heard a lecture by her in which she discussed how reading has influenced her. If she mentioned the book, I missed it. She mentioned a couple of her other books, though. She's a great speaker, witty, personable, articulate and almost like she's visiting with a small group of friends--and this was in a large auditorium!

I enjoyed Dirda's Book by Book--but I like everything he writes and own a good chunk of it (but not that one--I got it from the library).

I own The Merry Heart--guess I'd better dig it out; it will fit in my 999 Books about Books category. Thanks for the nudge!

Jan 23, 2009, 12:04am Top

MusicMom41, the Quindlen book is only about 95 pages but definitely among my favorite book books.

I'd forgotten earlier but another favorite book book is Steve Leveen's book, The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life. He's connected to Levengers (CEO, I think) but I think it's also available on Amazon and elsewhere. It's more of a self-help guide for nonreaders but interesting just the same.

Falling and staying in "booklove" as he calls it is probably not a problem for most of us here. Most of us don't need a self-help book on becoming a reader but, even so, this book reminded me why I love to read.

Jan 23, 2009, 12:45am Top

#58 linda

lol! About 4 years ago I picked up Steve Leveen's book, The Little Guide to Your Well Read Life when I had some time on my hands accompanying my husband to one of his conferences. (This one was in Monterrey, CA which made it worth the trip!) That is the book that started all this craziness for me! I had sort of gotten out of the habit of reading after we moved and I "lost" my really great book group (we keep in toucch and i still read their selections, but I had no one to talk to about what I read). Leveen's book led me to start not only reading again but also journaling my reading (since I had no one to talk books with, I talked to myself and even answered myself. :-) )--which of course led to even more reading. Three years later (December 2007) my son introduced me to LT and I've never looked back--between journaling and the talking on this site I will never run out of ideas of what to read!

Jan 23, 2009, 12:51am Top

I have The Well-Read Life, but find it too over the top. I'm not someone to keep journals, and do all the categorizing he suggests. I use the automated Bookagraphy (also known as Readerware) software that Levenger's sold several years ago to go along with the Well read life program. But that software is to track the actual physical books I have in my possession, i.e., I own. It's my personal library catalog. I may be a librarian, but I don't need that much structure in my life. I want to enjoy the books, pick them up, fondle them, put them down, move them from pile to pile, and sometimes room to room. I even READ them. I don't like to write in them, I'm not too fond of writing big long reviews. I enjoy talking to other people about them, but I don't want ever to get to the point where all I do is read. I have music, and cats, and sewing, and walking, and gardening, and talking that I like to do too.

Jan 23, 2009, 9:53am Top

I thought the Leveen book had some good ideas but I never followed some of that other stuff he says. I like the serendipity of finding new books either at Borders or the library or by hearing/reading about them somewhere. Even just suddenly waking up and deciding I would like to read about Herbert Hoover or Walden Pond that day.

I thought his marginalia discussion was interesting but I never, ever write in my books. In fact, I could probably return them for a refund as brand new.

A local independent mystery bookstore gave me a little shopping bag that says--EAT SLEEP READ. I would add "watch baseball" to that list but I am a more sociable reader. What good is reading a book if you can't talk about it?

Jan 23, 2009, 10:44am Top

re Leveen

I should have been more specific in my comments. I read the book cover to cover the day I bought it and then went out the next day, browsed a book store and bought a couple of books that I wanted to read. He kick started me back into reading (until the move I had always been an avid reader) and I started a journal to "talk about books" but that's all I remember about the book--he was inspiration reminding how much I loved to read, not ideas that I needed to get started. As I recall it was aimed at people who didn't read very much--so most LTers probably wouldn't get much out of it. However, give it to someone you love who doesn't read and maybe it will start them down the "slippery slope to bibliomania!" ;-)

I do like journaling, though. It helps me remember books longer and I can go back later and see how I felt about a book when I first read it. I keep in on the computer and index it by year. Now what I post on LT is what I write in the journal.

Jan 23, 2009, 10:55am Top

I understand what you mean about Leveen. I took it with me on a trip to San Diego. I have long been an avid reader (also keeping track of every book I read since I was 15). I foisted the Leveen book on a few old friends and we still refer to this one every now and then.

I've tried starting journals about books I've read and just never stick with it. I have stuck with keeping track of my reading for all these years though.

For me, where/when I read is sometimes the thing that comes back to me. As I've inputted my whole list of books read, in many cases, especially from the last 10 or 15 years, I will recall something pertinent. Like "oh, I remember that was the book I was reading when my nephew was born" or "that was the book I read to take my mind off of 9/11 right after it happened."

Jan 23, 2009, 11:05am Top


I agree about a book reminding you of an event that happened when you were reading it. If you read my reviews of rereads I will often mention an anecdote about when I first read it.

Today, on a thread where we were talking about Watership Down I mentioned my biggest memory now is that the night I started the book I couldn't put it down and at 1:00 AM my husband came out, snatched the book out of my hand and made me go to bed. I was furious--even though he was right. I would have been a basket case the next day if i had stayed up all night to finish it. And he gave it back in the morning so I finished it that day.

Jan 24, 2009, 8:09pm Top

Category #1: Fiction, including mysteries 2/9. The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz.

This one underwhelmed me. It was another cleanup from my MP3. A new author for me, and I probably won't be looking for the rest of the series. Our heroine, Isabel Spellman, is a Stephanie Plum type private eye, with lunatic parents who own a PI agency, a really stuck up big bro who is an attorney (since this is a family site I won't use the word I'd like to use to describe him), a teetering on the edge of sobriety/unsanity uncle, and a baby sister whose character is so bratty, precocious, obnoxious, and stupid that she literally cannot be believed. This group of dingbats goes careening thru solving their 'cases' by spying on each other for practice, spying on Isabel's potential beaus, and racing toward a less than believable ending. The plot dragsssss on , the characters don't develop --they only get more out of sight---and you just keep praying for it to be over! If you like Janet Evanovitch's books, you'll probably like this one. I didn't hate it, but I'd only give it 2 stars.

Edited: Jan 24, 2009, 8:36pm Top

Category #9: No place Else to put them 2/9. Plato and a Platypus walk into a bar by Thomas Cathcart.

I picked this audio book up the other day waiting in line to check out another book at the library I had on reserve. Ever notice how you go to the library to pick up one reserve and leave with 5 books?

It was a quick (only 4 discs) listen, and lots of fun. I had a long drive to make to another funeral (don't worry -- no one in my family) and this helped pass the drive. It also filled in one of the philosophy categories (100's) on my Dewey Decimal Challenge. Having gone to a Catholic college, and taken many credits of philosophy, ethics, and logic, in addition to my pure mathematics degree, I was transported back to Sr. Mary Benedicta's classes. She would probably not have approved of teaching philosophy this way.....but then, we didn't always 'approve' of having to put our lunchtime bridge game on hold to get to class on time either.

3 1/2 stars.

Jan 25, 2009, 4:29pm Top

I read both Spellman Files and Plato and a Platypus last year, and I think I considered them exactly opposite to the way you just described them. I thought Spellman was a hoot, and Plato was the longest short book I'd read in a long time! Isn't it funny how differently 2 people can react to the same book? (I think I also did both these in audio, so that wouldn't account for our differing reactions) Looking forward to seeing what you read next - you always seem to have interesting books.

Jan 25, 2009, 8:59pm Top

Category #7: Poetry, Letters, & Short Stories. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

I love good writing, and this is one of the best written works I have read in years. The writing just left me almost breathless. The story is simple. The setting reminded me of Ocracoke Island off North Carolina where the inhabitants have almost their own language. Dunn's ability to tell the story using letters is a technique much in vogue these days, but these short exquisite posts are the best. I am in awe of his ability to concoct intelligent prose using only 10 letters! If I could award more than 5 stars I would.

Jan 25, 2009, 9:19pm Top

#68 tutu

Great review--I concur. I loved this book, also.

Jan 26, 2009, 2:33pm Top

I have The Spellman Files on my 999 list too. I wonder which one of you I will agree with!

Edited: Jan 29, 2009, 1:33pm Top

Category #7: Poetry, Letters & Short Stories. A Few Quick Ones by P.G. Wodehouse.

I had never read anything by Wodehouse, and after seeing seemingly everyone talking about him, I noticed this on the return cart at the library last week. Delightful group of stories from his cast of characters. I listened to the audio during my pool trips last week, and finished it up during the snow storm the other day. I will certainly be on the lookout for more ...humorous, light, enjoyable, and what a wordsmith!

I have to get out of reading short stories...I'm really delightfully stuck here. Haven't read this genre in years, and I find I am enjoying being able to 'finish' a whole story in one sitting. Several books I have fit this category, but I've put them into other categories where they also fit. I may shuffle at the end, but for now, this works. Thanks to all who ever recommended Wodehouse.

Edited: Jan 29, 2009, 2:24pm Top

I keep meaning to read some Wodehouse too, after hearing all the praise here on LT! I have no idea where to start, though, so I'm glad to hear that it doesn't seem to matter too much (unless, of course, you just got lucky and the one on the library cart happened to be a good starting place).

Jan 29, 2009, 4:05pm Top

Zoe...these were just short stories, and I gather they were from some of his more popular series, so this one is a good place to start, but I don't think I 'd have a problem starting with any of them from what people have said.

Jan 29, 2009, 4:13pm Top

I love Wodehouse, but would recommend beginning with any of the Wooster and Jeeves books. They are uniformly hilarious and his very best stuff. His books are not very long, so you don't really need to ease in via short stories.

There is nothing like a Wooster and Jeeves book to make one happy. I challenge you to read one without laughing.

Jan 29, 2009, 4:24pm Top

Wooster and Jeeves are the ones I've heard most about, so that does sound like a good place to start. Did the short stories that you read include any about Wooster and Jeeves, tutu?

I just looked at the used bookstore today and saw that they have a bunch of Wodehouse, but not everything. It just seems so strange to start a series in the middle. Is there no overarching storyline that would be destroyed by picking up a random book from the middle of the series?

Edited: Jan 29, 2009, 4:50pm Top

The book blurb for this is In A Few Quick Ones P.G. Wodehouse brings together some of his oldest friends for a party. Jeeves and Wooster are there, so is Mr. Mulliner....and also the Drones, Oofy Prosser and Bingo Little...

There are 11 stories and they are a hoot! I agree with 74-Ridgeway Girl....No way can you get thru these w/o howling out loud laughing. What's so wonderful though is the thoroughly brilliant British command of the language and the ability to use dollar words vice the 2 cent text message language with which we are bombarded every day.

edited to correct text msg language.LOL

Jan 29, 2009, 8:02pm Top

I can't imagine it: your 100,000-page goal this year! :) Hoo boy, I kept track of pages for the first time last year and hit ~22,000 in my 888 challenge. How tough will 100K be for you, do you think?

Jan 29, 2009, 8:05pm Top

I could really use a laugh-out-loud book! I find them very difficult to come by.

Now, I just need to exercise some restraint and read two more books from my TBR pile before succumbing to the urge to rush out and buy some Wodehouse....

Jan 29, 2009, 8:16pm Top

I wouldn't say it's a goal, but it's a nice round number to keep at the end of the stick. Of course, it's a TYPO!! I think I was saying 10,000. I';m not sure what to do as a goal, Last year I read at least 80 books, if you figure 300 pages average for a book, that's about 24000, so I changed the ticker to have a 25,000 end point. Thanks for pointing it out.

Jan 29, 2009, 8:31pm Top

For a Wodehouse recommendation, I suggest Code of the Woosters. The silver cow creamer is legendary.

Jan 29, 2009, 8:40pm Top

I actually checked the number of pages for the books I have listed on my challenges and rounded up since I figured I'd read a few extras.

Jan 29, 2009, 10:39pm Top

100,000 pages in a year would be huge. I think my best ever was 37,000 pages (and I was on disability--with a lot of reading time on my hands--for four months that year). Usually, it's closer to 25,000 pages for me (100 books times 250 pages, I figure).

I love the idea of a pages ticker!!

Edited: Jan 29, 2009, 11:13pm Top

Category#6: Award Winners 1/9 The Blackford Oakes Reader:Ten Characters from Ten Best Sellers by William F. Buckley, Jr.

I shouldn't have read this book. I have a bundle of WFB's books we inherited from Auntie, and I'd never read any of his fiction. This one had a hand-written note inside from Auntie saying how much she enjoyed it, and reminding herself to go out and get some of the others, so I figured it was meant to be read.

WOW! Can he write. These are ten short stories based on the characters in his Blackford Oakes novels. We are assured they are all stand-alone stories and will not spoil reading the novels. Without exception, they are fantastic reading. I now have ten new TBRs, and really want to read more about at least 6 of these characters. The stories are set in various venues of WWII, Spanish civil war, the Castro Cuban revoluntion, the Russian revolution, and the mid 20th century Cold War. Lots of spies, KGB, CIA,and double-dealing, while exploring the psychological motivation and stresses of people living in repressed states.

In addition to great characters, and well plotted stories, Buckley's mastery of the written word is incredible. His sentence structure and vocabulary are a tribute to the fast-disappearing liberal arts education many of us received and are trying to keep alive.

If you are looking for a good read, and/or have never read any of Buckley's fiction, this is a highly recommended place to start. A definite 5 stars.

Jan 30, 2009, 8:46am Top

>79 tututhefirst: tutu -- well I was gobsmacked by your goal AND your progress already!

*adds Wodehouse AND Buckley to look-'em-up list*

>78 _Zoe_: Zoe, I left a few recommendations for funny on your thread.

Edited: Feb 2, 2009, 3:50pm Top

Category 4: Re-reads...Pillars of the Earth Ken Follett

Whew! It appears that my re-reads category is full of 'chunkers'--this one almost 1000 pages. I've been reading this since December. I read it originally back in the early 1990's when it first came out. I have the sequel World without End to read, but felt I really needed to refresh my memory about Pillars. I'm glad I did. It's way past my bedtime, but I was determined to finish it. It was a terrific read years ago, and an even better one now. I'll do a full review tomorrow. But....highly recommended. I can't decide if I'm going to give it 4 1/2 or 5 stars...it could have done wiith about 100 pages of editing. Many time he repeats details (pages of them) that the reader doesn't need to have repeated. It's as if he wrote this in separate volumes and then published it all together. Who knows, maybe he did. tomorrow she says with a big yawn

ETA: My review:
Ken Follett has written an epic story set in medieval England from 1123-1174. It is rich in the details of minor knights and earls, the struggle of various bishops, deacons, and monks within the catholic church for supremacy over assets, the civil war between Stephen and Maude, the burgeoning art and science of building design and construction, and the evolution of the town as a social unit. The central characters are Phillip, the Prior of Kingsbridge, who wants to honor his God by building a cathedral but who also wants to care for the people of the area, Tom the master builder who wants to support his family and build the cathedral, Albert and Jack , Tom’s son and step-son, William Hamleigh, the sometimes Earl of Shiring (one of the villains of the piece who waffles back and forth between supporting Stephen and Maude), Bishop Waleran (another villain who wants the cathedral built in Shiring so he can control William, get one up on Prior Phillip and eventually become Archbishop of Canterbury--if he can ever figure out which claimant to the throne to back ), Aliena (displaced daughter of the previous Earl of Shiring and eventual wife of Jack), her brother Richard, Ellen-Tom’s ‘woman’ and Jack's mother, and a cast of thousands suitable for a Charlton Heston movie.

We are treated to a panoply of scenes of medieval treachery, warfare, and everyday life. We become intimately acquainted with the main characters as they try their darndest to get from morning to night without dying of hunger, fire, or war. We see the influence the church has from the death of King Henry to the time of Thomas à Becket. We see how those glorious cathedral churches were painstakingly built by hand without modern machines, and how the design evolved from the Norman to the Gothic. We root for the good guys, suffer heart-stopping, breath-taking (literally) horror watching the bad guys, and when we finish--after 970 pages of small print--we are looking for more.

The book opens with a scene that sets a mystery to be solved..the answers don’t come until the end, and the suspense is well played out. Throughout the story, Follett’s character development is deep, believable, and touching. We get to know each of the characters and his or her motivations intimately.

I read and listened to this on audio (John Lee’s voice is magnificent!)—it is a book that was as delightful and informative the second time as the first. I am definitely looking forward to tackling its long awaited sequel World Without End.

Although, as I mentioned above, it could have done with some editing of repetitous material, I'm still giving it 5 stars. It's a stunner!

Edited: Feb 2, 2009, 8:13pm Top

Time to recap January's reads: 19 Books, 4370 pages.
Best fiction read - a tie between Ella Minnow Pea and Olive Kitteridge
Best non-fiction : The Dark side: the inside story of how the war on terror turned into a war on American Ideals

Here's the January list of reading accomplished:

1.Chocolate Chip Murder Mystery Joann Fluke msg #17
2.Pawing through the Past Rita Mae Brown msg #20
3.Olive Kitteridge Elizabeth Strout msg #33
4.The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror turned into a War on American Ideals Jane Mayer msg#25
5.Shakespeare: World as Stage Bill Bryson msg #26
6.Bestseller! Jane Daniel msg #27 (no touchstone)
7.Prince Mammoth Pumpkin James Adams msg #31
8.The Gift of Story Clarissa Estes Pinkus msg #31
9.Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun Myriam Cyr msg #32
10.Sonnets from the Portuguese Elizabeth Barrett Browning msg #33
11.The Coffee Trader David Liss msg #34
12.America's Hidden History Kenneth C. Davis msg#42
13. Hard Row Margaret Maron msg #44
14. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader Ann Fadiman msg #50
15. The Spellman Files Lisa Lutz msg #52
16. Plato and a Platypus walk into a Bar Thomas Cathcart msg #53
17. Ella Minnow Pea Mark Dunn msg #54
18. A Few Quick ones P.G. Wodehouse msg #61
19. The Blackford Oakes Reader William F. Buckley, Jr. msg #66

I spent yesterday finishing Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. then mapped out my reading for Feb--I usually have 2 audio (one in the car, other in the house) and 2 hard copy going at once. I'm an adult ADD. So I'm planning to try to finish these before Feb 25th when I will start a pile of 'lenten' reading (I may even change categories and put them all together) to do along with our Dante' Inferno read:

One Man's Meat by E.B. White for the Read Around Maine group our local paper is having online.
Sixpence House - Paul Collins
Sea Fever - Andrea Barrett
The Shape of Water Andrea Camilleri

and audio books:

Portuguese Irregular Verbs Alexander McCall Smith
Comfort of a Muddy Saturday Alexander McCall Smith
Wicked Gregory Maguire
The Nine:Inside the secret world of the Supreme Court Jeffrey Toobin

Message edited by its author, Today, 1:17pm.

Feb 2, 2009, 9:59pm Top

Wow, 19 books in one month. At this pace, you'll have finished the challenge before Memorial Day!

Feb 2, 2009, 10:21pm Top

Oh...i think things will slow down a bit...after I get these done for Feb, I have a list of 'slo readers' lined up for Lent....and then some Big Fat, slo volumes so while I may get done by end of Sept, I doubt it. I read a lot in the winter when weather keeps me inside, but when summer comes, our house turns into a friends and family bed/brealfast, and I get maybe only one book a week instead of my 2-3 normally done. That's why I tried to sprinkle the list with small shorties to space the biggies.

Feb 5, 2009, 1:45pm Top

#21 Category #3: Things Portuguese Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith

I have this love/hate relationship with AMcSmith...I really really love his First Ladies Detective Agency series, and as you see in the next message, I'm getting rather fond of Isabel Dalhousie, and I can take or leave the 44 Scotland Street series. BUT.....I have never been able to get into the adventures of Prof. Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, the inept, hapless, and I think he's supposed to be lovable? hero of this quaint little tome.

I had read this before but couldn't finish it (and it's only 128 pages!!) However, someone pointed out when I changed my category to "Things Portuguese" and needed one more for the list, that this would fit happily, so I decided to try listening to it instead, since often I find I like a book if someone else reads it to me. Sadly, in this case, I was still disappointed. It didn't really even have that much to do with things Portuguese except that the poor Professor had once published a highly regarded dissertation on Portuguese Irregular Verbs, which brought him fame, but alas no fortune, in the esoteric and highly exclusive world of philately.

According to reviews some of you have posted, the following book in the series does pull threads together, but I'm not ready to jump into that lake yet. Frankly, I cannot for the life of me see how what's here in this book could ever be expanded into a series!

Edited: Feb 5, 2009, 1:59pm Top

#22 Category 4: Re-reads and Cleanups of MP3 Comforts of a Muddy Saturday, An Isabel Dalhousie Novel by Alexander McCall Smith.

Over the past years, I've read several of the Sunday Philosopher's Club series, and have come to enjoy them quite a bit. Isabel Dalhousie, the main character, is the editor of a Philosophical journal of Ethics, works from home, and has a bassoon playing lover Jamie many years younger than she, with whom she has a son. Her internal debates on what is ethical in given situations, and her self-doubts about the permanence of her relationship with Jamie permeate everything she does.

Other wonderful characters are her niece who runs a deli, her housekeeper, and the clerk in the deli. Throughout everything there's a small little mystery-like sub-plot --Isabel trying to discover 'what happened' (as in who dunit?) because events have offended her sense of the ethical.

I wouldn't recommend these books to everyone. The Scottish setting is delightful, the characters quirky, but sometimes you just wonder where on earth is he going with this? Just depends on my mood whether I want to amble with him or not. This time, did enjoy it. Snowy dark days up here with no baseball to listen to, set a perfect ambiance for listening to scottish lilts.

edited to correct html grrrr.....

Feb 6, 2009, 6:13am Top

Nice to see someone else with a Portuguese category! I have read The Coffee Trader and Portuguese Irregular Verbs, which I enjoyed as a German uni student a few years back. Small Death in Lisbon disturbed me, found it tough going. I have been thinking about books by Jose Saramago and maybe even some Camoes, the problem is the availability and price of books here in Portugal so am reliant on Bookcrossing and Bookmooch.

Edited: Feb 6, 2009, 8:46am Top

Category #6 Award Winners: Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett. winner of the National Book Award.

This was a difficult book for me to read, but I'm glad I stuck with it. I found some of the scientific topics hard to follow, not because they were too difficult to understand, but because they did not interest me. I've never been one to care about how plants propagate, or differences in species of animals, birds or plants. The book is touted as a novella, written in 7 stories. The tie-in is scientific research, but other than that, the stories are not related, and after the first 3, I stopped looking for relations and settled down to read good short stories.

My favorites were the final two: The Marburg Sisters and Ship Fever, with the latter being by far the best. The story of the typhus epidemic at Grosse Isle in 1847 among the Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine is compelling, compassionate, and leaves an indelible impression. The writing is astonishing! I can see why it was an award winner. 4 1/2 stars.

Feb 7, 2009, 12:10am Top

I think I have to add this to my TBR. It sound like the stories were really good and I also like to read about science so I think this one might be up my alley! Thanks for the nice review.

Feb 7, 2009, 9:40am Top

I enjoy Barrett's books, try Voyage of the Narwhal.

Feb 7, 2009, 12:45pm Top

Thanks for the tip...it doesn't look like something I'd pay for, but I will browse it next time I'm in the library. Scientific explorations just don't normally do it for me, but the whole beauty of LT is finding people who have other similar tastes, and exploring their recommendations. I've read several books I'd never have even picked up, far less gone looking for, had it not been for all my new friends on LT.

Feb 7, 2009, 9:33pm Top

I also hated Portuguese Irregular Verbs. I could tell it was supposed to be funny, it just never was. But I love the Botswana series!

Edited: Feb 10, 2009, 2:11pm Top

Category #9 Noplace else to put them :The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner.

I started reading this book last summer. The jacket blurb looked interesting, and the writer's affiliation with NPR caught my eye. However, I found reading the book to be a chore, and gave up about 50 pages into it. I skimmed through but just couldn't seem to find the point. Then later, I saw a review by another LTer who indicated he had 'read' it as an audio book, and that same day, it popped up on the recently added page of Overdrive at my library, so I downloaded it. I'm really glad I gave it a second go. This is one I probably now will want to re-read and get a used copy to keep here on the shelf. There have been numerous reviews posted, so I'm not going to repeat what's already been said.

I'd love to have his expense account to do this sort of traveling. He researches 'happiness' and then visits those countries on the top or bottom of the lists to find out why people there are happy or unhappy. He visits and interviews people in Rotterdam, Switzerland, Iceland, Bhutan, Moldavia, Qatar, London, India, and Thailand before returning to the US. I especially liked his conclusions, and found myself actually stopping to make notes (something I RARELY do when I'm reading or listening). The epilogue is especially well written...I found myself listening to it several times .He ends by saying that (not exact quotes) "happiness is not a noun or a verb -it's a conjunction: connective tissue." "Happiness requires livable conditions, but not paradise." and "Happiness is 100% relational."

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable, well-researched, entertaining read. Highly recommended. 4 stars.

Feb 10, 2009, 9:19pm Top

I started listening to Geography of Bliss last summer and never got beyond the first CD. Maybe I'll give it antoher go ... your review suggest my return ot the library might have been premature.

Feb 10, 2009, 9:50pm Top

Tracy...do give it another try...it is a bit slow getting off the ground but turns out to be well worth it. I realized that Eric Weiner's narration reminds me a lot of Bill Bryson reading his works. Hope it goes better the second time around.

Edited: Feb 15, 2009, 9:20pm Top

Category 1 Fiction: Corduroy Mansions Alexander McCall smith.

I listened to this as a nightly podcast (one chapter every evening) for the past 3 months.. It was delightful. There is a vast cast of characters--sometimes hard to keep track of, but the Telegraph webpage that hosted this electronic delivery, did a wonderful job of providing additional information to make the experience unique. The link is here.

I can hardly wait to see if he develops a series similar to the 44 Scotland Street. There are too many interesting relationships and stories 'just beginning.' Lots of fun. There's a dog, (named Freddie De la hey), a boomerang adult child, a Marvin Milquetoast gentleman who drives a Morris Mechanic, several assertive but insecure females, a pompous egocentric MP, etc. The hardcover is due out in July 2009 according to Amazon.

I give it 4 stars.

Feb 15, 2009, 5:24pm Top

Thanks, Tina. I will have to look for this one. I've never heard of it before.

I like his Sunday Philosophy series and always read the new one, when it comes out butt am behind on the 44 Scotland Street series, though I've enjoyed what I have read there.

Also read those other three short ones--the one about sausage dogs etc. Ok but not as good.

Feb 15, 2009, 5:32pm Top

I agree Linda, the sausage dogs series (of which Portuguese Irregular verbs is one) is not one I'd read again. His others tho are terrific. I saw where there is a new Ladies Detective agency --something like Tea Time for the Traditionally Built-- is due out shortly. Being a 'traditionally built' lady myself, I can't wait. LOL

Feb 15, 2009, 5:35pm Top

It's kind of odd, really, but I've never read anything in the Ladies Detective Agency series. I have to remedy that soon.

I took Sausage Dogs, Portuguese Irregular Verbs, and the other one on a trip and read while waiting for the plane to leave. It was fine for a quick read but nothing to watch for.

When I searched our library's online catalog for AMS 2009 releases, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built is the only one to pop up.

Feb 15, 2009, 10:16pm Top

Category #3 Politics, History, ...The Nine: Inside the Secret world of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin.

Written in 2006, this book gives a thorough view of the Rehnquist court, the appointments, rulings, and personalities. Based on reviews I have seen, your appreciation and rating for the book may depend on your politics and how you interpret the facts presented. I did not find the book as slanted as many others seemed to.

I learned a good deal about the members of the court, their backgrounds and motivations, and found it to be a worthwhile read. I will not comment further because I don't believe in using book reviews for political soapboxes.

4 stars.

Feb 16, 2009, 10:29am Top

Ha! I was just handed this book yesterday. How readable was it? It's one of those books I really think I "should" read, given how little I know about how the SCOTUS works and its enormous importance!

Feb 16, 2009, 11:28am Top

It's very readable, and listenable. It can be done in small pieces w/o breaking the flow...I'd say give it a try. It's an eye-opener.

Feb 16, 2009, 11:46am Top

It sounds very interesting - I normally avoid political books at all costs, but I may reconsider with this one.

Edited: Feb 16, 2009, 12:29pm Top

I don't think this was intended to be a political book, nor did I read it that way.. Many of the people who reviewed it however did. I think it's impossible to avoid discussions of politics and politicians when one has to explain Court appointments, how the presidents went about identifying potential appointees, who had a say in the process, what criteria were used to decide,etc. There is also the involvment of the senate in approving the appointment, so again, politics enters the mix. There's no way to avoid a political discussion. I just was annoyed with several reviewers who found a political agenda that i didn't see.

and for the record, I may be old, but I'm well educated, and think I'm able to discern slanted material when I see it --and I didn't see the material as being slanted. The politicians and judges had specificially slanted views....that's what the book pointed out so well, but I did not see the author as slanting the facts toward a specific view.

Feb 16, 2009, 12:34pm Top

This is good to know. Without someone trustworthy telling you, there is no way to know which books are slanted to one side and which aren't. I feel the same as you, I think. I can tell when material is slanted and I don't like it, even when it leans towards my own beliefs.

Feb 16, 2009, 4:21pm Top

Wow! You are blazing through your challenge!

Feb 16, 2009, 5:22pm Top

Jeffrey Toobin, the author of The Nine, is the legal analyst for CNN or one of those major news networks and he's good at explaining legal matters in layman's terms.

I've read a lot of technical analyses of the High Court's inner workings and thought this one would be good for a more general audience, compared to the others.

Feb 18, 2009, 8:11pm Top

Category #1 Fiction 16 Lighthouse Road Debbie Macomber, Cedar Cove series

Never read this author before, but after being laid up with a sprained knee and needing to test our new Maine State library audio book dowload due to "go live" sometime soon, I felt like I could only handle something very light, so I pulled this audio into my MP3 and went through it in one day.

As a Navy wife, (one of the main characters is a young woman married to a sailor) I had very mixed reactions to this story..need a little time to digest before I decide whether to post a full review. Right now I'd give it 3 teeny stars.

Feb 18, 2009, 8:41pm Top

Looking forward to your review. Hope your knee is feeling better soon.

Feb 18, 2009, 9:22pm Top

My sister, you made it 1/3 of the way, YEAH!!!!

Edited: Feb 18, 2009, 10:00pm Top

Here's the review for 16 Lighthouse Road..

One of the main characters in this story is a young Navy wife, who marries quickly after knowing her husband for a short time because she is pregnant, then sees him go off to sea in a submarine shortly after their wedding.

I DON”T CONSIDER THIS A SPOILER since it’s in the first chapter and is central to the plot: When her premature baby dies and her husband is unable to be notified far less come home to help with funeral arrangements (his submarine is under the polar ice cap) she blames him, and the navy, and immediately files for divorce when he returns.
Having delivered a baby when hubby was a world away--I was in Japan and he was on a ship in the Persian Gulf (the Ayatollah decided to take an embassy hostage, and in so doing took my husband and his shipmates hostage to standing by at sea), and having delivered both my children (one was premature) living thousands of miles away from relatives and support, I found myself wanting to shake this woman…I kept wanting to yell at her ---“The Navy has plenty of support for you---don’t turn it down!” But she was much younger than I was, much less educated, and definitely had a lack of self-confidence (something no one ever accused me of).

I found some of the dialogue off-putting—Navy people really don’t talk that way, but the story developed OK. There were two other major plot relationships developing simultaneously,{ a judge who has been divorced for 15 years and her new beau; and a librarian whose husband leaves her after 35 years of marriage with no explanation). There is also an elderly grandmotherly figure who is a hoot…reminded me of Estelle Gettes in Golden Girls. All in all it was an OK read..certainly was light enough that I didn’t have to expend much mental energy (probably expended more than the average reader since I got so personally wrapped up in the story.)

I will probably try another in the series when I’m looking for something light and fluffy.
and yes, thanks everyone for asking, the knee is doing much better, but I think I will milk the 'driving miss daisy' routine with hubby for a few more days.LOL

Edited: Feb 20, 2009, 1:24pm Top

Bonus Category - Theology: Misquoting Jesus:The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why Bart D. Ehrman

I've been listening to this book in small chunks since early January. It is very well done and quite scholarly. I have participated in several Bible studies over the years where we have discussed the difficulties of determining what the original texts said, and for that matter, what were the original texts, which were inspired, why they were changed etc. He explains how some were changed just due to the human error of the person copying the text, others were changed to reflect a personal theological view (e.g. views about whether or not women actually participated in an event), changes that were apologetic (i.e. espousing a particular theological view to refute a supposed heresy), changes that came about because the person copying was not altogether familiar with the language of the text (e.g., greek does not have punctuation or line breaks).

Naturally, many of these answers will depend on your own personal religious tradition. Dr. Ehrman does a masterful job tho of pointing out some of the difficulties involved in this type of biblical study, giving good examples, and then showing how different conclusions could be drawn from the same set of facts. It is fascinating reading. 4 stars.

PS. I finished this on audio and didn't enjoy the narrator-Richard Davidson- as much as some other narrators I've listened to.

Edited: Feb 20, 2009, 1:29pm Top

Just a note that I'm probably going to take this BONUS CATEGORY Religion and switch it with Category #8 - I can fit the few from there in somewhere else. As it is, my list is still going to be over 100 by the end of the year, but that's great. I'm reading so many new things, new categories all based on LT recommends. I love it.

Once I finish Shades of Water, Sixpence House and Great Souls: --my current audio, I will roll in the Dante's Inferno and the rest of the Religion category--I decided not to give up coffee and chocolate for Lent, just read my bonus category, and get blessed that way.

Feb 21, 2009, 7:16pm Top

Category #1 Fiction: Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri, the first in Inspector Montalbano series.

Many thanks to Joycepa, sjmccreay, Catym, and CMT for recommending this one. I was not familiar with this series, but you can be assured, the rest are on my TBR list. This was a delightful story, with an intelligent hero, and entirely believable events. A great short read with a good plot, and a little surprise twist at the end. 4 stars.

Feb 21, 2009, 9:24pm Top

With that many recommendations, I have to try it! I like mystery series--keeps me from having to think about what to read "next" if I like them. :-)

Feb 21, 2009, 11:31pm Top

So glad you liked it. I've read 3 of the series so far, and so far I've liked each one better than the last.

Edited: Feb 21, 2009, 11:50pm Top

Category #2 Books about Books: 3/9 Sixpence House Paul Collins.

This book is billed on the cover as "The Bookworm's answer to A Year in Provence." It's not nearly as good. It has moments of mirth, wedged between pages of boring 'where is this going?' blabber. The characters, including the author/narrator were not well developed, there was no plot, nor was there really an indication of what the book was supposed to be. If I had to describe it I'd say "notes from an adult adolescent looking for a way to enjoy life w/o working for a living" The first 8-10 of the 20 chapters were not too bad, at least I thought there was something that might be going to happen. But it just kept getting worse.

It wasn't even really very much about books. It was set in a famous real life town in Wales, Hay-on-Wye, where there are 1500 permanent residents and 42 bookstores. I thought "This is an LT kinda place!" But....trust me, after reading this book, I have no more picture of this town, its inhabitants, or its obsession with books than I know how to make homemade sausage. Oh well, on to more exciting reads.

I have two left before we start Dante and my list of Lenten reads. I'm about 1/3 through Great Souls by David Aikman, and just got The Little World of Don Camillo from the library today. This last was recommended by TadAd, Alasakabookworm, and Ronincats....it came in faster than I expected from the library, but looks like a quick little read.

Feb 22, 2009, 9:30am Top

Great progress tututhefirst! About the only thing I'm doing well on in this challenge is building my TBR pile! But that's OK. From your latest, I'm adding The Geography of Bliss and The Nine. Thanks for your reviews.

Feb 22, 2009, 12:47pm Top

Thanks for your review of Sixpence House. It's still on my list and I'd still like to read it but now, maybe there's less a sense of urgency about it. More of a "someday" and not necessarily a "right away" read.

Edited: Feb 22, 2009, 2:59pm Top

Category #8 Books recommended by Others: 2/9 The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovannino Guareschi.

This was recommended by several LTers (msg 121) and popped up much earlier on the library's ILL van delivery than I expected. It's a delightful sunday afteroon read (took me a little over 2 hours) and had me really chuckling. There's not a lot of meat--it's more a collection of easily digested short vignettes--but the characters are so fun. There Don Camillo, the local parish priest, who has wonderful conversations with Christ who is constantly having to urge DC into moderation and compassion.( I can almost see George Burns playing this role); and then there's Mayor Peppone--a worthy adversary to the priest in that he is a Communist and is trying to toe the party line. Of course he also can't quite get past the 1000's of years of catholic tradition (Don Camillo won't let him) and the two of them have marvelous squabbles: both verbal and physical.

I'm not sure I could handle a whole series of this duo back to back, but the stories are certainly good for those times when something quick, light and uplifting is called for.

Feb 22, 2009, 3:04pm Top

#124 My library doesn't have this book, but does have Don Camillo meets the flower children and Don Camillo and the devil. Do you think either of these would make sense without the first? I may have to do as you did - an ILL. This books sounds delightful.

Edited: Feb 24, 2009, 11:55pm Top

I suspect they need not be read in any order, since they are more like little Readers' Digest monthly adventures. I'm sure anyone would enjoy them, just not sure how many you can handle. I think they're like jelly beans...I love them, but after that 2nd handful, I'm looking for coffee to cleanse the sugary taste.

edited to put Elmo to sleep!

Feb 22, 2009, 3:19pm Top

I'll try one and see how I like it - I like jelly beans pretty well. :)

Edited: Feb 26, 2009, 9:27pm Top

I think it's about time to do a February wrap-up a few days early. I've decided to treat the remaining week of Feb, March and early April as one large time frame -LENT. I have a bunch of books in my Bonus Category Religion that have been screaming to be read, so I'm going to be doing them in conjunction with the Dante group read.

So for February, to recap I finished:

20. Pillars of the Earth Ken Follett although I've been reading this one since December
21. Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith
22. Comforts of a Muddy Saturday Alexander McCall Smith
23. Ship Fever Andrea Barret
24. Geography of Bliss Eric Weiner
25. Corduroy Mansions Alexander McCall Smith
26. The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin.
27. 16 Lighthouse Road Debbie Macomber.
28. Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind who changed the bible and why Bart Erhman.
29. The Shape of Water Andrea Camilleri
30. Sixpence House Paul Collins.
31. The Little World of Don Camillo Giovannino Guareschi.
32. One Man's Meat E.B. White

For the Lenten Read (if I get thru them, it will make the bonus category the first completed one!) in addition to Dante's Inferno I have stacked up

Being Catholic Now by Kerry Kennedy. I started this today and I already know I'm going to love it!
Rabbi Jesus by Bruce Chilton I started this last year, so I can skim and then finish
Christ the Lord by Anne Rice audio
Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis I've never read any of his, and we must own everything the man ever wrote!
Year of Living Biblically A.J. Jacobs audio
Amazing Grace Kathleen Norris another I started last year
The Gospel According to Jesus Christ Jose Saramago
The Shack William Young
and ending at Easter with Joan Chittister's glorious There is a Season

Join us for Dante - it's not too late

edited to fix touchstones. SIGH

Feb 24, 2009, 11:40pm Top

Jumpin' jehosaphat: there's a furry monster loose on your thread! I kept trying to read your posts, and kept getting distracted by Elmo! Why can't I look away? :^p

Feb 26, 2009, 8:56pm Top

I think Elmo's napping now!

Edited: Feb 26, 2009, 9:04pm Top

Category #5 Biography: Great Souls: six who changed the century by David Aikman.

I picked this book to test an audio download connection – I almost deleted it after the download test, but decided to listen to the first track and was hooked. David Aiken, a reporter for Time, draws on interviews and 23 years of world wide reporting to bring us a deeply personal, thoroughly inspiring group of biographies of the six people he considers to be among the most influential of the 20th century. His nominees are Billy Graham (salvation), Nelson Mandela (forgiveness), Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (truth), Mother Terasa (compassion), Pope John Paul ll (human dignity), and Elie Wiesel (remembrance). He shows both the warts and the halos, and explains why he finds these "souls" not only a personal inspiration, but important historical figures. It is a book that certainly will have me looking for more about every one of the six personages. I was absolutely thrilled with this book. If I could give it 6 stars, I would. I will be haunting the book vendors to get my own copy to read and re-read.

Edited: Feb 26, 2009, 9:18pm Top

Category #10 Religion: Year of Living Biblically A.J.Jacobs

The subtitle of this book is One Man's Humble Quest to follow the Bible Literally. Humility is not this guy's forte. It is billed on the cover as humorous, and while parts of it can be seen as funny, it was a rather pathetic attempt by an agnostic Jew to 'find himself'-and let's face it--to make money by trading on the fact that he was already "published'. (He is the author of The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the world where he reads the entire encyclopedia.)

His smart alecky obsession with his beard permeates the entire book. He tries to follow all the 'rules' of the Bible by embarking on a self-education project, seeming only to call on experts when he wants wiggle room to get out of doing something unpleasant.

His long-suffering wife (a better woman than I) puts up with this delayed adolescence while she's going thru a IVF pregnancy carrying twins, and having to be careful to warn him about what times he's not allowed to touch her.

I put up with the book thinking that he must go thru some kind of religious conversion/epiphany/awakening at the end---I certainly wasn't looking for an altar call--but all I saw was a slight increase in his appreciation for his ancestors.

I suspect my annoyance with this attitude may have been influenced by the timing of reading this. I had just finished reading Great Souls--see previous msg-- and being immersed in the unslefish lives of Mother Teresa, Solzhenitzyn, and particularly Elie Wiesel. The juxtaposition was a bit too much.

All in all, it was an interesting idea for a life experience, but poorly executed and reported. I was not impressed.

Feb 26, 2009, 9:24pm Top

Category #8 Books someone recommended: One Man's Meat by E.B. White.

Before our online reading group (“Read Around Maine”) chose this for the February read, I had never read anything by E.B. White except Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. And I didn’t even read those as a child. I discovered them when my daughter was born. Since then we have re-read them to our grand-daughter. I confess it wasn’t until I began working at our little town library here in Maine that I discovered that E.B.White, although born ‘away,’ is considered a Maine author, since he lived here from 1939 until his death in 1985. One Man’s Meat is actually a compendium of the columns he wrote for Harper’s Weekly for several years.

I enjoyed this book. The essays are just long enough to treat a subject well, without dragging out the topic. I can hop around to read what interests me and not feel I’m doing the work an injustice . The topics range from local government, to weather, to man’s attempts to deal with mechanical inventions, animal husbandry, and whether or not children’s literature is worth paying attention to. It’s one book I’m going to want to go back to over and over again. White writes clearly, cleverly, and cleanly.

As an example, there's a story called Sabbath Morn. In it, he weaves different realities together: there's a radio worship program blaring away, his young son who is in his own world reading a book, the father who is editing a portfolio of important papers. Then he introduces a reverie about his grandfather, adds a dog behaving like a dog, “…one of the dogs sinned under the piano, and the Dogtex is all gone.” He sees this as a problem in household management that is ‘inflicting itself’ on the peace of the Sunday morning. An aside..I had to do a google search to find out that Dogtex is some kind of deodorant/stain remover. No one in my family (I polled several people of EBW’s generation) had heard of it.

The constant insertion of quotes from the radio showed that he was not able to ignore the radio; neither did he exhibit any inclination to turn it off. I found myself wondering if he was using the radio church session to quiet an uneasy conscience that was niggling him that he should have been in church instead of working on the Sabbath. His writing is so timeless he could have written this piece yesterday not 60 years ago, it just would have been a TV or a computer instead of a radio.

Edited: Mar 29, 2009, 5:23pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Feb 26, 2009, 11:26pm Top

#133 re One Man's Meat

This is one of the books that made it across country when we moved--along with its companion The Essays of E.B. White. I've had these books for years and enjoy periodically pulling one of them down and reading an essay or two! I love his writing and agree with you--it is timeless!


you are putting me to shame! I haven't started my Lenten reading yet--I was supposed to start yesterday--Ash Wednesday--after church. Hanging my head in remorse and shuffling off to get the reading for today done! Dante was a good choice. I love that book--if I had chosen that I wouldn't be putting it off!

Feb 27, 2009, 9:12am Top

E.B. White made me fall in love with the personal essay many years ago. They can be self-indulgent and annoying, but his were always gently humorous and well worth reading.

Feb 27, 2009, 3:55pm Top

Great Souls: six sounds like a really good book. I'll have to add it to my TBR list.

Edited: Mar 1, 2009, 7:41pm Top

Bonus Category- Religion: Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana by Ann Rice

I never read any of Ann Rice's vampire books, ( as the kids today say, I'm not into vampires ). However, I love her new Christ the Lord series. I read Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt when it first came out. This one presents a very human Jesus, discovering his powers, and gradually beginning his ministry. For me, it was powerful, inspiring, and has me eagerly awaiting the next volume. Make no mistake, it is not going to be a book that will be accepted by all Christians, but I found it quite believable, well-researched, and extraordinarily well-written. 5 stars.

Mar 2, 2009, 4:25pm Top

My daughter is the same age as your granddaughter (they even share an October birthday) so I thought I'd throw a few suggestions your way...

We have loved the Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events. They are the literary equivalent of an old silent movie with the leering villain and the heroine tied to the railroad tracks. The children are brave and ingenious and the vocabulary is beautifully explained along the way.

Kate DiCamillio wrote The Tale of Despereaux and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which were magical.

She might like The Borrowers series by Mary Norton and the "shoes" series by Noel Streatfield, the most famous of which is Ballet Shoes. I have yet to meet a girl who did not love this book, which features three intrepid orphans and is set in mid-century London.

And, finally, don't forget classics such as Black Beauty and Little Women. She might just be willing to give them a try on a boring, rainy Sunday and be transported.

Mar 2, 2009, 7:26pm Top

When do you think that Kyla will be ready for Harry Potter?

Mar 2, 2009, 7:29pm Top

Not for several years, and that is a question for her parents also....I have the whole set put aside for her.

Mar 4, 2009, 10:14pm Top

Bonus Category-5/9 Theology/Spirituality: Being Catholic Now Kerry Kennedy.

This was another of my Lenten reads. Ms Kennedy interviews over 40 people who are or were Catholic, asking them about their upbringing, their current beliefs, their relationship with the Catholic Church (both past and current) and what they would do if they could be Pope. The range of interviewees is wonderful -- from a 19 year old wannabe nun to an almost 80 year old retired cardinal, from actors to activists,from Irish, Italian, and Hispanics descendants to first 1st generation immigrants, from college graduates to school drop outs, from priests to agnostics. Their experiences of Catholicism are vast, diverse, and fascinating. For someone who is Catholic, the read will be both comforting and frightening at the same time. It is a well-written, well-planned, and beautifully presented groups of readings. Easy to handle in short batches as each interview goes only about 4-5 pages. 5 stars.

Mar 6, 2009, 10:18am Top

Category 1-Fiction 6/9:Sarah, The Novel by Marek Halter

I've had trouble with a few of Marek Halter's books. Just kept getting so far, and then couldn't finish. I loved his Book of Abraham and have it on my short list for re-reads. But I think after finishing Sarah last night, I finally have figured out what the problem is. This is not your parents' or your Sunday School teacher's bible story. It is pure fiction, a decent read, but one I'm glad I only borrowed on audio from the library. I'm not too fond of authors who take so much liberty with historical (or at least semi-historical) characters and embellish them to get a good read. Don't want to do spoilers, but suffice it to say I found some of Sarah's activities and attitudes downright implausible, and no matter how I suspend belief, these did not make even good fiction. I certainly didn't like this spoiled brat was portrayed as Abram's wife. And this is the problem I've had with some of his other books....he embellishes the characters in the process of fleshing them out to the point that I can't believe them...they are so foreign to my previous perception of them.

This is the first book in a trilogy, but I'm probably not going looking for #'s 2 and 3.

Mar 8, 2009, 9:15pm Top

Category 1-Fiction, including mysteries 7/9: Suffer the Little Children Donna Leon

This was not on any of my lists at the beginning of the challenge, but so many LTers had such good things to say about Donna Leon, that when it showed up on the audio shelf the other day, I nabbed it. It was a great listen, and I definitely will be looking for more of Commissario Brunetti... No Spoilers, but I was quite surprised by the ending. The plot was a tad hard to follow in a couple spots, but the characters were believable and I was drooling over the descriptions of the meals. Fun 'read' for a lazy weekend.

Mar 8, 2009, 9:25pm Top

#144 Joycepa has been especially enthusiastic about this series and on her recommendation, I also have a Donna Leon book checked out of the library. I haven't gotten to it yet, but may bump it up the pile after reading your comments here.

Mar 9, 2009, 10:26pm Top

I read Sarah a few years ago and also wasn't sufficiently impressed to continue on with the series. I didn't think it had anything to do with how much the characters had been adapted, but now I wonder. My initial thought was that it just hadn't left much of an impression; it was enjoyable enough at the time, but didn't have any lasting impact, and I have better things to read.

Mar 11, 2009, 9:33pm Top

Abandoned: I'm Fine with God...It's christians I can't standby Bruce Bickel.
and Abandoned #2: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood.

Well this has not been a great week. I hardly ever abandon books, but to give up on 2 back to back in one week is unheard of.

I bought the Bickel book thinking it was written by a friend of ours by the same name, who also happens to be a preacher. I should have done more checking first. I believe the premise of the book (that some people who call themselves Christian are giving the rest of us who share that belief a bad name) but this collection of sound bites is just plain dull, patronizing, platitudinous, repetitive and as if the writing weren't borying enough, the typography of the book was just plain awful. The paper was cheap, the san-serif font very hard to read, the ink was very pale. A total waste of money.

Now for Margaret Atwood. I had mixed feelings about starting the group read over on the Highly Rated Book Group, since I did not like the Handmaid's Tale the only other Atwood I have read. I looked at the reviews and although it wasn't jumping out at me, I figured that if so many of my LT buddies were so sold on Ms. A's writing abilities, and since it won a Booker, it would be worth giving it a chance. I gave it 100 pages, then tried listening to the audio thinking maybe that would give me another interpretation. Neither worked, and I have too many exciting books on the TBR shelves to spend time struggling. Maybe later, but not now.

Mar 12, 2009, 8:38am Top

I have a friend who just loves Atwood, collects her first editions and so forth. I tried The Blind Assassin because I heard it was sci-fi and I thought that was something I could latch on to. I didn't get past the first 50 pages. I did enjoy Good Bones and Simple Murders though. Like you, I've decided to pass on more Atwood for right now.

Mar 12, 2009, 4:46pm Top

Sorry about the dull spot! I gave up on one I was reading this week and finished another with lots of relief. Then I started a cookbook which I am really enjoying.

I hope your next read is a good one!

Edited: Mar 15, 2009, 5:04am Top

I'm with you on the Marek Halter books. I also loved his Book of Abraham book but found Sarah to be too fictional for my taste. I do have his latest - The Messiah on request at my library as it sounds interesting.
I've just discovered Andrea Camilleri through the TV series I just watched so have The Shape of Water to pick up from the library tomorrow. Can't wait to read this series.

Edited: Mar 16, 2009, 5:55pm Top

Category 1: Fiction & Mysteries 6/9:Blood from a Stone Donna Leon.

Another Commissario Brunetti mystery. What a joy these are! They are bringing to mind Inspector Lynley in Elizabeth George's books: a suave, well-educated, couthful, reserved, thoughtful and compassionate detective, with a wife who has brains and can be a true partner to him. There is the usual supporting cast, who become more loveable with each read. And there are the wonderful scenes, sounds and smells of Italy. Who can resist? I MUST get to Venice. In the meantime, I must keep reading Donna Leon. 4 1/2 stars.

Edited: Mar 16, 2009, 5:49pm Top

Category 8: Books on a List: 4/9 Any Bitter Thing Monica Wood

This is the book chosen by our "Read Around Maine" group, and it is definitely going to be one of my top reads this year. Seldom do I stay up all night to finish a book, but I could not put this down. A poignant. gripping story, with well developed characters, and a plot line that has you sitting on the edge of the chair, convinced that something is not being said. The ending certainly doesn't disappoint.

Essentially this is the story of a woman, orphaned at age 2, raised by her uncle, who happened to be a priest, and their subsequent loss of each other, when she was nine, under questionable circumstances that resonate with today's clergy scandal . Her adult quest,21 years later, to fit together missing pieces of her life is extraordinarily well written..it could so easily have become a daytime soap, but isn't. Rather it is a quiet, believable, compelling story of friendship, betrayal, and atonement that really spoke to me, perhaps because I was raised in a Catholic environment that forms the basis for the story, but I don't think you have to be Catholic to read it, soak it in, and love it. The themes of friendship, relationship, failure, and redemption are not depressing, but validating of the human condition. The ending (without giving it away) is perfect--surprising, gut-wrenching, sad but believable, better than happily ever after. You can walk away feeling that everything fits into place. 5 stars.

Mar 16, 2009, 6:24pm Top

Thanks for the review, tutu. I think I have the first Donna Leon sitting around somewhere but I've never read anything in this series.

I should include one in my "professional sleuths" category.

Mar 16, 2009, 7:18pm Top

If you've had them for awhile, they'd fit your category for a long time on the TBR pile..

Mar 17, 2009, 9:50am Top

The Inspector Brunetti mysteries are wonderful! I was surprised to see you compare them to the Elizabeth George books as I stopped reading those when the soap opera of their lives took more space than the mysteries. Donna Leon has managed to keep up the quality of the writing (although Brunetti's wife is getting crankier and crankier as she ages).

Mar 17, 2009, 9:28pm Top

#155 RidgewayGirl

"although Brunetti's wife is getting crankier and crankier as she ages."

Hey--that's true to life! ;-D

Mar 18, 2009, 9:49am Top

Well, yes. Maybe I like Brunetti so much is that while he gets sadder over the years, he isn't bitter and jaded and life still astonishes him with its beauty.

Mar 22, 2009, 8:59pm Top

Bonus Category: Religion 6/9 Dating Jesus, a Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl by Susan Campbell.

Crisply written, this is an honest look at fundamentalism, its impact and relation to feminism and one woman's quest for equality within her experience of Christianity. I laughed, cried, and often found myself wanting to say "you go girl'. She tells the story of being raised in a fundamental congregation in Missouri, and growing up fearing EVERYTHING, but finding that fear as natural as breathing. After all, there was a Bible quote to back up every threat and the Bible was infallible.

Only as she began to experience and question the constant messages being delivered by the church and her family that "girls can't do this" or "woman aren't allowed to...." does she begin to question this Jesus and his message. Leaving that church, she attends several college/seminaries and encounters Jesus in many of the vissicitudes of adulthood. It is not until the final chapter, eloquently entitled "Jesus Haunts me, this I know" that she is able to find her way to a mature relation with the Jesus of her childhood. She considers herself a 'recovering fundamentalist' and seems happy to continue the quest to find the meaning of Christianity, the Bible and her youth, and figure out who Jesus really is.

I found this book thought provoking and educational. The description of her church experiences as a child were so different from mine but the issues she dealt with in teenage and adult years were similar. While my restrictions on "girls can't do this or ladies don't do that' came more from ethnic/cultural norms than from religion, the chaffing against those restrictions was often experienced in the same way.

Her humor and ability to write introspectively are compelling. Every woman will be able to find something in it to evoke an "Amen sister."

Mar 22, 2009, 9:15pm Top

Category 9: No place else to put them - Stupid American History by Leland Gregory

I got this an ER book, and finished it within an hour of opening the envelope. It's a perfect bathroom or "read it while you're waiting someplace" book. I would not call it history by any means, and I'm sorry to see Amazon classifying it as history...there's not one tiddle or jot of citation, verification, not even a sentence of author bio to lend any credibility to this person's authority to 'debunk' history.

Yes, it's fun, but Reader's Digest can be fun too! I certainly wouldn't tout this book as anything but a compilation of unverified factoids (I can get the same info on Wikipedia and at least they're trying to build in credibility). There are others, Bill Bryson e.g., who write humorously of historical facts, but who give us some back up to believe in. This one should be on the shelves with Erma Bombeck.

If this is how we think we can instill a love our history in our students, we're in more trouble than I thought we were. The trivia tag is the most appropriate. l'll give it 1/2 star for entertainment value.

touchstone isn't working --sigh--

Mar 25, 2009, 12:03am Top

Category 1: Fiction 7/9 heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy

I've always been a big fan of Maeve Binchy, but didn't have this one on my radar. I noticed it on the new audiobooks shelf while I was waiting to check out at the library last week. I'm always looking for 'cozies' to listen to in the car, and while I'm dropping off to sleep at night....while this didn't disappoint, I wouldn't give it as many stars as some of her previous books. Again, she presents us with a cast of characters, all tied together by place, and sorta by their purpose -- a heart clinic -- but each has his or her own story, and motivation. Ultimately of course, there is the on again off again romance (at least one good one, and a couple less well developed on the side) there are the duty nasties who may or may not melt into good guys at the end (I'll not do any spoiling). It's Irish, so there's the duty priest, the town widow, and in a newer twist, there are some polish immigrants. Again, while the setting may be different, the script is becoming fairly predictable. Still ...an enjoyable read. If i keep picking up fiction (I can't resist favorite authors and new recommends from LT friends) I'll be finished my first category very soon.

Mar 25, 2009, 2:44pm Top

Re #160:

I'm sorry to hear that Heart and Soul isn't as good as Maeve Binchy's earlier books. I've been a Binchy fan for a long time, but felt the same way about the last one I read -- Whitethorn Woods. Enjoyable, but just not as engrossing as some of the others. I'd hoped it was an aberration, and that the next one would be really good.

Mar 25, 2009, 2:59pm Top

Tutu and ivyd, thanks for your comments about Heart and Soul. I've read only two Binchy books--Evening Class and Circle of Friends--and really enjoyed them both.

My 72-year-old mother absolutely adores Maeve Binchy and loved Heart and Soul (she didn't like Whitethorn Woods, though). Anyway, she gave me her copy of Heart and Soul a few weeks ago and constantly asks me whether I've read it yet or not. I probably will, even though it's not my usual.

Mar 25, 2009, 5:38pm Top

RE Maeve Binchy....please don't get me wrong -- I enjoyed the book. I think it just came across as really a fluff piece because I've been reading some really heavier stuff ( I have three other books going right now: The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir, Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris, Mere christianity by C.S. Lewis, Dante's Inferno, and The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, so this piece just struck me as being almost a fairy tale.

Mar 25, 2009, 5:49pm Top

I think I understand what you mean, tutu. I sort of feel that way about some of my authors, such as J.D. Robb. They've long since lost that extra something for me but yet, I still read them.

Edited: Mar 28, 2009, 1:31pm Top

TA DAH My first completed category!!!

Category #1: Fiction 9/9:
The Red Tent by Anita Diamont

I didn't originally have this on the list, but I was so disappointed in sarah by Marek Halter that several of you suggested this one. Many many thanks. I'm not going to write a formal review on this one since 126 people already have, but I enjoyed it, found it affirming, and --- as long as you suspend any wish to have historical verity and remember it's fiction--it's an engrossing, engaging read. Good characters (I knew all about Jacob's sons, and wives, but don't think I was aware he had a daughter Dinah who is the central character and narrator), good story line, and enough historical scenes that match my previous perceptions (I wasn't there so how do I know?) to really enjoy this book.I gave it 4 stars.

Mar 28, 2009, 4:23pm Top

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed his book. I read it shortly after it came out and also enjoyed it - my reactions were similar to yours here. But, I've seen lots of other comments from people who didn't like it at all. I was beginning to worry that I simply have bad taste in literature! ;-)

Mar 28, 2009, 5:02pm Top

165> I'm fairly, although not completely, sure that Diamant is a religious scholar. I believe she's written nonfiction works on Judaica. So I'm guessing the "history" is likely to be pretty accurate.

Mar 28, 2009, 5:57pm Top

>165 tututhefirst:: Whoo hoo! Congratulations! Love your colorful smiley faces by the way.

Mar 29, 2009, 8:22pm Top

Bonus Category-Religion 7/9 Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

C.S. Lewis certainly writes with clarity, although there is little splash and dash. His tackling of all subjects, dogma and doctrine can at times be actually sleep inducing. I was not as impressed as I expected to be, but can't tell you why. I graduated from Catholic college with enough credits for a minor in theology, so none of this was new, and that may be why I found it so boring. I had never read any of his works before, so this was definitely an 'exapnd your horizons' volume, but it's probably not going to be on the 'read it again' list too soon.

Mar 29, 2009, 9:07pm Top

#169 That's interesting - I remember this book as being amazing. But, that was when I was in college - lots of things are pretty awe inspiring when you're 19! I still have the book I bought back then - I need to get it out and read it again. I wonder if my feelings about it will change.

Mar 31, 2009, 1:34am Top

I've been lurking, and greatly enjoying your bonus category. Your reviews have given me a lot of new books that I want to check out.

Mar 31, 2009, 10:51am Top

Nicole...please feel free to lurk all you want. It's nice to know I'm not posting in a vacuum ( she says laughing at the thought that anyone on LT could be in a vacuum). I also post on my blog which is sort of a combo review, journal, passing thoughts. Stop by to lurk some more.

Edited: May 1, 2009, 3:39pm Top

Category #3 0ld Historical Fiction -The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir. this is now category #4 in the 999x 2 thread here

This the first of the books that were on my old Historical Fiction list. I changed the category to "Things Portuguese" but there were still several in the old category I wanted to read. I had picked up the audio of this one several weeks ago and it was due back at the library, so I was listening for about an hour an evening...a very enjoyable event.

See my complete review of this different (and I will say surprising) treatment of some of the more disputed events in Elizabeth's life -- the author goes to great lengths at the end to explain why she chose to treat events such as Elizabeth's relation with Thomas Seymour in a different manor then one would if writing straight history. Fiction writers have more leeway to take liberties. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it for Elizabethan afficianados. 4 1/2 stars.

Apr 3, 2009, 6:07pm Top

End of March, End of 1st Quarter Recap...
I like everybody's way of stepping back, taking a breather and saying wow--look what we've accomplished already.

So far on this adventure, I've completed 46 books, 12827 pages. I've completed one category, and read at least 2 books in every other category (and I have 12 of them don't forget). Jan and Feb books read are recapped in msg #86 and 128.

Here's the March list: -most of it for Lent

Great Souls: six who changed the century
Year of Living Biblically
Christ the Lord: the Road to Cana
Being Catholic Now Kerry Kennedy
Sarah: A Novel Marek Halter
Dating Jesus Susan Campbell
Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis

and a sprinkling of Non-Lenten topics:
Suffer the Little children Donna Leon
Blood from a Stone Donna Leon
Any Bitter Thing Monica Wood one could argue that this fits into the religion category since one of the main characters is a priest
Stupid American History a stupid ER book
Heart and SoulMaeve Binchy
The Lady Elizabeth Alison Weir

It is getting hard to scroll back and forth looking for category lists, so I think like others, I will build and link a 2nd quarter link. In the meantime, see you for a cup of tea, a blueberry muffin, and general chat at Tutu's Two Cents.
Will put in the link to new site as soon as i get it up and running.
Good luck in the 2nd quarter.

Apr 4, 2009, 9:07pm Top

End of 1st quarter Please post all new thoughts here

Group: 999 Challenge

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