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the fox in 09

50 Book Challenge

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Jan 7, 2009, 10:12am Top

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.

Jan 15, 2009, 12:52am Top

2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon
fiction, EPIC, comic books, magic tricks, Antarctica, awesomeness, 639 pgs

Jan 15, 2009, 12:11pm Top

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.

Jan 23, 2009, 10:12pm Top

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! ;)

Jan 24, 2009, 1:31am Top

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.)

Edited: Feb 16, 2009, 8:43pm Top

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.

Feb 16, 2009, 9:51pm Top

I love your tags for Kavalier and Clay :) I've been seeing good things about that book all over the place lately!

Feb 17, 2009, 6:30pm Top

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.

Feb 20, 2009, 6:55pm Top

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?

Mar 5, 2009, 4:33pm Top

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!

Mar 12, 2009, 5:03pm Top

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.

Mar 18, 2009, 12:27pm Top

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.

Apr 4, 2009, 12:32pm Top

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.

Apr 9, 2009, 11:18pm Top

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.

Apr 23, 2009, 11:42am Top

12. Punkzilla - Adam Rapp
YA, runaways, homosexuality, drug abuse, mental problems, losing virginity, etc. ER, 256 pgs

Not a winner. A little too busy. My review isn't amazing but you can check it out if you care to know more.

Jun 2, 2009, 2:57am Top

13. Quick and Easy Puppy Care and Training - T.F.H. Publications
nonfiction, umm pretty self-explanatory, 63 pgs

Oh boy. I'm not on a good pace at all. I'm working on a book by Ted Kooser, but who knows when I'll finish. The only reason I read this tonight is because I couldn't sleep. Hehe.

Edited: Jun 18, 2009, 11:54am Top

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

Edited: Jul 1, 2009, 9:36pm Top

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.

Jul 30, 2009, 4:15pm Top

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.

Aug 16, 2009, 8:24pm Top

19. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
fiction, Lost Generation, bullfighting, drinking, 251 pgs

I'd forgotten how terribly sad this book is. I love it, though, and I still can't figure out why. I think mostly I'm in love with the characters.

Aug 22, 2009, 10:12pm Top

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

Dec 23, 2009, 1:54pm Top

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.

Edited: Dec 26, 2009, 1:22am Top

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

Dec 26, 2009, 12:52pm Top

35. Just In Case - Meg Rosoff

Dec 30, 2009, 7:28pm Top

36. Losers - Matthue Roth

Going to start another YA soon, but probably won't finish before the year's end. So see you tomorrow for the annual recap!

Dec 30, 2009, 9:26pm Top

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.)

Jan 1, 2010, 6:16pm Top

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)

Favorite Non-Fiction:
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!

Group: 50 Book Challenge

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