the fox in 09
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Last year was my first 50 book challenge and I ended with 68 books. This year, I'm setting the bar pretty low for myself, expecting the busy-ness to be abounding...hoping to hit 50, but if I don't, that's okay, too.
1. Octavian Nothing 2 - M. T. Anderson
(kind of) marketed to YA, historical fiction, 561 pgs
It took me a long while to get this one done, and I just didn't find it as gripping as the first. I almost enjoyed the author's note more than the entire novel.
2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon
fiction, EPIC, comic books, magic tricks, Antarctica, awesomeness, 639 pgs
3. The Branch Will Not Break - James Wright
poetry collection, mostly sad/morbid, quick to read, 59 pgs
I don't read a lot of poetry, but this is some of the best contemporary stuff I've read. A lot of nature in it, and though the subject matter was usually about death, it didn't leave me feeling depressed.
4. What the Body Told - Rafael Campo
poetry collection, written by gay Cuban doctor, 122 pgs
While extremely shocking at first, I found a lot of poems I liked by the end. Takes a bit of a strong stomach to read, but I'd recommend it otherwise. I had to read these last two books for my writing class. Now I have to write a poem in blank verse in the spirit of Campo. I'm having a really hard time with the iambic pentameter, so if anyone has some nice hints or tips on how to write it, I'd be very grateful! ;)
Good luck! My daughter had to write a sonnet or something like that in iambic pentameter, and it was challenging to keep the syllables just right. Maybe read it out loud? I think that reading out loud helps with all kinds of writing. (I bet someone else out there has a better suggestion.)
Thanks for the help, billiejean! It took a long time to get into it; I'm not sure if there's really an easy way to write in I.P. You just have to practice it!
5. The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien
historical meta-fiction, Vietnam War, 246 pgs
This one's pretty brilliantly crafted, but it's not your typical war novel. It reads more like a set of short stories. I'd recommend it to anyone who has to write short stories, likes to write short stories, or likes to read short stories. I think veterans would really like it, too, as they'd be able to relate to most everything he says.
Only being in one English class this year really cuts back on my reading. I've been working on Atonement for almost a month now! It feels so strange and child like to be reading so little over such a long period of time.
I love your tags for Kavalier and Clay :) I've been seeing good things about that book all over the place lately!
K&C is AMAZING. It's only the second Chabon I've read, but he's quickly become one of my favorite authors. If you haven't read it yet, please do! Although, I do have to say it was Really. Long.
6. Atonement - Ian McEwan
WWII, love story, recently adapted into film (that I haven't seen), 368 pgs
Loved it. Especially part 1. Part 2 in the war didn't do a whole lot for me, but I've been reading reviews on goodreads that say the exact opposite. When the writing's that beautiful, how can you complain?
7. The Addict: One Patient, One Doctor, One Year - Michael Stein
nonfiction, addiction to pain killers, ER, 275 pgs
I really enjoyed this. His style is very easy to read and the content interesting. Actual review to come soon!
8. Dwellings - Linda Hogan
Native American author, environmentalist/new agey ideology, 159 pgs
There are some cool ideas, but I had a hard time connecting with it because of how different our spiritual lives are. Her writing style didn't do a whole lot for me, either, but my English teacher loves this book, if it's any consolation.
9. The Red Siren - M. L. Tyndall
Christian/Inspirational Romance, pirates, ER, 318 pgs
If you're a fan of this genre, I highly recommend this book. Previous to this, I've read a couple Karen Kingsbury books but not much else by way of Christian lit. I usually find the writing drab and akin to the little novellas I wrote in middle school. This book was only a bit better, but still I enjoyed it. Maybe because I'm engaged now I have a greater appreciation for romance? Maybe because Pirates of the Carribbean is my favorite movie? I'm not sure. Because I don't think the touchstone is going to work, here is the link for my and others' reviews: http://www.librarything.com/work/6895509/book/41820090
Seriously, just nine books? Homework is truly getting the best of me this year.
10. The Burn Journals - Brent Runyon
YA, memoir, suicide/depression, rehab/therapy, 325 pgs
The author's voice was more annoying than that of any other YA book I've read, but I can appreciate how much it meant to him to be able to publish the hardest year of his life. You're able to root for Brent, you do care about him, but he's very frustrating. Would only recommend for those interested in the genre.
11. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks - E. Lockhart
YA, fiction, boarding schools, pranks, secret societies, feminism, 352 pgs
One of the best YA books I've read in a while. Very intelligently written, and it has a great message, you know, if you can't get past all the feminism. Not my cup of tea, but a most excellent book aside from that.
14. The Poetry Home Repair Manual - Ted Kooser
nonfiction, how-to write poetry, 158 pgs
I'm kicking myself for taking such a long hiatus, but I'm ready to get back into my reading.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the craft of writing. Though he only talks about poetry, most everything he says could be applied to any genre or type of writing, and Kooser knows his stuff.
SPECIAL EDIT! I just started a book reviewing blog and this book is the first post! Check it out at stonecoldbooks.blogspot.com
15. Flight - Sherman Alexie
YA fiction, Indians, part historical-fiction, part fantasy, a whole lot of awesomeness, 181 pgs
Read it in one sitting, teared up a bit at the end. Fifteen year old "Zits" has bounced around through the foster care system, running away from home and winding up in jail more times than he can count. The majority of plot occurs not in his life but in several different bodies through Zits eyes as he travels through time, each time awaking as a new person. It's a story of supreme sadness, as I come to expect with Alexie, but it's also very hopeful. I think this is a very important book. It has a lot to say about revenge and the generally evil nature of humans. Not as funny as Part-Time Indian, but it has just as much charm. I read it so fast I know I'll have to read it again some day.
16. Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry
YA fiction, companion to The Giver, sort of a dystopian fantasy maybe - up to interpretation, 240 pgs
The Giver's been one of my favorite books since I first read it six years ago, so it's strange I hadn't read this sooner. Maybe I already knew I wouldn't like it...because I didn't.
17. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling
YA fiction, fantasy, must-read, recently adapted into movie, 652 pgs
Read in two days after watching the midnite premier. It's nice to have a few days to just relax and be a nerd.
18. Because a Fire Was in My Head - Lynn Stegner
adult fiction, psychological drama, 273 pgs
We meet Kate Riley as an aged woman about to undergo exploratory brain surgery for completely psychosomatic reasons. We are treated to a passage through most of her life as she recollects that night. Realism is pitch-perfect here, even as the protag moves from city to city and decade to decade. Three parts heart-break, one part shock, this book is a truly interesting read.
20. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
YA fiction, science fiction, post-apocalypse, dystopia, critically-acclaimed, 384 pgs
Very compelling read taking place hundreds of years from now where every year the government makes every province give up two children to fight each other to the death. The scary part: the fights are televised and celebrated. While it wasn't quite as deep as I was expecting, it's still thought provoking and very hard to put down. The love story helps. :)
21. Complete Poems (Revised Edition) - Ernest Hemingway
poetry, 171 pgs
It's funny how college can take all the joy out of things you once loved. I feel terrible for having not updated this site. I'm going to try to recall what I read this past semester, but I will inevitably miss something. Oh, and it will not be in order. :)
24. Ethical Judgment in Teaching - Karl Hostetler
25. Midsummer Night's Dream - Shakespeare
26. Othello - Shakespeare
27. Macbeth - Shakespeare
28. 1 Henry IV - Shakespeare
29. The Tempest - Shakespeare
30. The Winter's Tale - Shakespeare
31. Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
32. The Cave - Jose Saramago
33. Shakespeare's Vast Romance - Charles Frey
Actually, besides countless more volumes of literary criticism of Shakespeare that I skimmed through, I think that may be everything. I don't remember reading a single book just for fun. :( Don't think I'll be able to read 17 books in the next eight days, but I'll get a few more. Sad to think I'm not even at half my total from 2008.
34. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
Read this last year, but it begs to be re-read. Maybe not annually, as it's pretty heavy in tone/subject matter, but I wanted to read it again before I see the movie.
And now, I'm going to put in a shamless self-plug for my newly reinstated book reviewing blog! (Mostly because I don't think anyone on LT actually reads this thread, and also because The Road is my first review since June. ha.) So! See a full review at: stonecoldbooks.blogspot.com
I read your thread. :) Didn't get much reading for pleasure done in undergrad myself--I've read much more on my own time in grad school. (I'm not a lit major.)
Aw, shucks, Medellia, thanks for stopping by! :) I'm not feeling grad school for myself personally, so hopefully I'll be able to read more when I have a classroom of my own. (and summers off! ha) But good luck to you this year!
Alrighty then, on to 2009 in review...
Total Books: 36 (33 less than last year)
Avg. Books per month: 3 (down 2.66 books from 08)
Favorite Fiction Reads:
Kavalier and Clay
Because A Fire Was in My Head
The Cave (v. cool if read in conjunction with Plato's Allegory of the Cave, as the sophomore class I observed this semester did)
The Poetry Home Repair Manual - which should be on EVERY aspiring author's shelf, by the way
Favorite YA: (very unusually under-represented category for me this year)
Flight - Sherman Alexie
Here's to a wonderful (and hopefully >36) reading list in 2010! Happy New Year!
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