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MusicMom41's 2009 Reads 2nd Quarter

75 Books Challenge for 2009

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Edited: Aug 31, 2009, 9:22pm Top

I'm starting a new thread because the last one was getting unwieldy. I hope this works!

Roni has a link to my 1st Quarter thread in message 2. Thanks, ronincats!
2009 1st Quarter

1st Quarter:


1. Willis, Connie: Doomsday Book (1/06/09) 5 Stars
2. Rich, Adrienne: An Atlas of the Difficult World (1/09/09) 4 Stars
3. Campbell, Jack: The Lost Fleet: Dauntless (1/11/09) 3 ½ Stars
4. Bradbury, Ray: The Martian Chronicles (the revised and updated version of 1997) (1/13/09) 3 Stars
5. Cook, Glen: Sweet Silver Blues (1/17/09) 3 ½ Stars
6. Dunn, Mark: Ella Minnow Pea: a progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable (1/18/09) 4 Stars
7. Samet, Elizabeth D.: Soldier’s Heart: Reading Literature through Peace and War at West Point (1/21/09) 5 Stars
8. McGregor, Robert Kuhn: Conundrums for the Long Weekend (1/25/09) 5 Stars
9. Stephenson, Neal: The Diamond Age (1/30/09) 3 ½ Stars

Best in January:

Doomsday Book (fiction)
Conundrums for the Long Weekend (nonfiction)


10. Hilton, James: Was It Murder? (2/1/09) 3 ½ Stars
11. Connolly, John: The Book of Lost Things (2/6/09) 3 Stars
12. Horwitz, Tony: Confederates in the Attic (2/8/09) 4 ½ Stars
13. Taylor, Susie King: A Black Woman’s Civil War Memories (2/10/09) 4 Stars
14. Faiz Ahmed Faiz: The Rebel’s Silhouette (trans. By Agha Shahid Ali) (2/15/09) 4 ½ Stars
15. Jerome K. Jerome: Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog!) (2/25/09) 5 Stars
16. Willa Cather: The Old Beauty and Others (2/26/09) 4 Stars
17. Dahl, Roald: The Witches (2/28/09) 3 Stars
18. Milosz, Czeslaw: Facing the River (2/28/09) 5 Stars

Three Men in a Boat (fiction)
Confederates in the Attic (nonfiction)


19. Gaiman, Neil: The Graveyard Book (3/02/09) 4 stars
20. Raskin, Ellen: The Westing Game (3/4/09) 3 ½ Stars
21. Konigsburg, E.L.: The View from Saturday (3/7/09) 4 ½ Stars
22. McEvedy, Colin: The Penguin Atlas of African History (3/14/09) 4 ½ Stars
23. Hornby, Nick: The Polysyllabic Spree (3/15/09) 4 stars
24. Kay, Guy Gavriel: Tigana (3/16/09) 5 Stars
25. Tey, Josephine: A Shilling for Candles (3/19/09) 3 ½ Stars
26. Penny, Louise: Still Life (3/22/09) 4 ½ Stars
27. Heyer, Georgette: Friday's Child
28. Douglas, Frederick: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas (3/24/09) 5 Stars
29. Walsh, Jill Paton: The Wyndham Case (3/27/09) 3 Stars
30. Millay, Edna St. Vincent: Fatal Interview (3/29/09) 4 Stars
31. McKinley, Robin: The Blue Sword (3/29/09) 4 Stars
32. Nabb, Magdalen: Death of an Englishman (3/30/09) 4 Stars
33. Kadohata, Cynthia: kira-kira (3/31/09) 4 Stars

Best in March:

Tigana (fiction)
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (nonfiction)

1st Quarter Report:

Genre Read Heard Total

Nonfiction: Biography, et al. 2
Nonfiction: History 2
Nonfiction: Other 7
Fiction: General 5
Fiction: Classics 2
Fiction: Fantasy 10
Fiction: Mysteries 4 + 1 = 5

Total: 32 + 1 = 33 (Nonfiction: 11; Fiction: 22)
Pages: 8,121 total pages read (Personal Library: 5,969 pages)

It was a great 1st quarter this year, especially considering how much RL interfered reading. This is the highest number of books I’ve ever read in one quarter and I read no book I rated less than 3 stars; most were higher. Picking favorites was a challenge and I have only one book that was started that I haven’t finished yet. (It’s on “hold” right now.)

Books Acquired: 44 purchased (new & used) and one was a gift to me. 10 were gifts I gave to family members; 6 of them I read this quarter.

Second Quarter:


Books Read:

34. Achebe, Chinua: Home and Exile (4/12/09) 4 stars
35. Baker, Jean H.: James Buchanan (4/21/09) 1 ½ stars
36. Humphreys, Helen: the Frozen Thames (4/29/09) 4 Stars
37. Marsh, Ngaio: Death in Ecstasy (4/17/09) 3 ½ stars
38. Marsh, Ngaio: Alleyn and Others—The Collected Short Fiction (4/29/09) 3 stars
39. McKinley, Robin: The Hero and the Crown (4/08/09) 4 ½ stars
40. Rawling, J.K.: Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp (4/28/09)
41. Stout, Rex: And Be a Villain (4/28/09) 3 ½ stars
42. Teasdale, Sara: Dark of the Moon (4/07/09) 3 ½ stars
43. Weldon, Fay: Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen (4/11/09) 4 ½ stars
44. Woolf, Virginia: Flush: A Biography, (4/11/09) 4 stars

Best in April:

Fiction: The Hero and the Crown
Nonfiction: Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen


Books Read:

45. Adams, Scott: Random Acts of Management
46. Oliver, Mary: Evidence
47. Greenberg, Martin H. ed.: Murder British Style
48. Forche, Carolyn: The Country Between Us
49. Lewis, C.S.: Till We Have Faces
50. Alegria, Claribel: Fugues
51. Oliver, Mary: Owls and Other Fantasies

Best in May:

Fiction: Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
Nonfiction: Evidence by Mary Oliver


Books Read:

52. Salinger, J.D.: Franny and Zooey
53. McCrumb, Sharon: Bimbos of the Death Sun
54. Wallace, Edgar: The Murder Book of J.G. Reeder
55. Harr, Jonathon: The Lost Painting (Audio)
56. Franklin, Ariana: Mistress of the Art of Death
57. McPherson, James: The Battle Cry of Freedom
58. Lowry, Lois: The Giver
59. Le Guin, Ursula: The Left Hand of Darkness
60. McCrumb, Sharon: Zombies of the Gene Pool
61. Bly, Robert: Morning Poems

Books Read PL: 4 (Pages: 1,763)
Books Read other: 5 (Pages: 824)
Total: 1 audio (8 ½ hours) + 9 books (2,587 pages) = 10 books finished

Books acquired: purchased 8 + angel mooch 1 = 9 acquired

Best in June:

Fiction: Franny and Zooey
Nonfiction: Battle Cry of Freedom

2nd Quarter Report:

Genre Read Heard Total YTD

Nonfiction: History 1 1 3
Nonfiction: Biography 2 2 4
Nonfiction: Other 8 1 9 16
Fiction: General 4 4 9
Fiction: Classics 1 1 3
Fiction: Fantasy 4 4 14
Fiction: Mysteries 7 7 12
Total YTD 62

Total: 30
Nonfiction: 16; Fiction: 14 Total 30

Third Quarter:


62. McKillip, Patricia A.: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
63. Rowling, J.K.: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
64. Dahl, Roald: Esio Trot
65. Dahl, Roald: The BFG
66. Stewart, George R.: Earth Abides
67. Steinbeck, John: Travels with Charley
68. McPhersson, James: Tried by War (Audio)
69. Kraft, Heidi Squier: Rule Number Two

Book Talley for July:Books Acquired 22 (2 read)
Books Read PL 5 (Pages: 750 )
Books Read non PL 2 (Pages: 588 )
Audio Books heard 1 (9 hours)
Audios Acquired 0
Total 7 books, 1,338 pages
1 audio, 9 hours
5 fiction; 3 nonfiction

Best in July:

Fiction: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Nonfiction: Travels with Charley


Books read in August:

70. Tarbell, Ida M.: He Knew Lincoln
71. Willis, Connie: To Say Nothing of the Dog
72. Collins, Billy: Sailing Around the Room
73. Morley, Christopher: Parnassus on Wheels
74. Scott, Michele: Murder Uncorked
75. Stout, Rex: The Second Confession
76. Adler, Bill: The Cosby Wit
77. Bradley, Alan: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
78. Morley, Christopher: The Haunted Bookshop
79. Granger, John: Harry Potter’s Bookshelf
80. Herbert, Frank: Dune
81. Hart, Carolyn: Death on Demand
82. Heinlein, Robert: Have Space Suit—Will Travel
83. Twain, Mark: Mysterious Stranger & Other Stories
84. Beck, Glenn: An Inconvenient Book Audio
85. Leon, Donna: Death at La Fenice

Book Talley for August:

Books Acquired 19 (2 read)
Books Read PL 9 (Pages: 2,958)
Books Read non PL 3 (Pages: 784)
Audio Books heard 1 (6 hours)
Audios Acquired 2

Total 15 books: 3,742 pages + 1 Audio = 16 (12 fiction; 4 nonfiction)

Best in August:

Fiction: Willis, Connie: To Say Nothing of the Dog
Nonfiction: Granger, John: Harry Potter’s Bookshelf

Apr 2, 2009, 10:29pm Top

To get back to Carolyn's first thread, go here:
MusicMom's Thread 1

Apr 2, 2009, 10:49pm Top

Thank you very much, Roni!

Apr 2, 2009, 11:03pm Top

I've got you starred again!

Apr 2, 2009, 11:17pm Top

Yay! You're one of the popular kids that gets a new thread. Books acquired this year- I don't even want to go there. I might scare myself. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Apr 2, 2009, 11:35pm Top

#5 VG

If I don't keep track I go wild!

In January I bought enough to open a store, but in February I was really good and only bought 4. I went overboard in March, so April I will try really hard to hold the reins in--or course I've already bought 2. :-( And one I ordered hasn't come in yet! You see what I mean? I use "guilt" to keep book buying within the bounds of reason. :-D

Apr 2, 2009, 11:48pm Top

I'm afraid to keep track, too, VG. I've brought home 6 just this week (see my thread), and haven't even been to the book store!

Apr 3, 2009, 12:25am Top

ronincats- I've got two FOL sales marked on the calender for April and one community fund raising book sale. Other than that, just the regular schedule of popping into new and used bookstores for the month. Hmmm....... need to practice self control before going to said sales.

Apr 3, 2009, 12:34am Top

Just checking in! Got you starred again.

Apr 3, 2009, 5:59am Top

Carolyn, re your review of Death of an Englishman: I can guarantee you that if you thought highly of this book, you are hooked on the series. They just get better. By the 4th book, Nabb had really decided what she wanted to do with Marshal Guarnaccia, and the books take a quantum leap in quality and interest. In my opinion, much as I like Donna Leon, Nabb was the superior writer. Guarnaccia is an inspired protagonist.

Apr 3, 2009, 10:47am Top

just posting so I don't lose you Carolyn! Looking forward to new reviews :)

Apr 3, 2009, 12:37pm Top

Joyce and Carolyn....you are both unhealthy for me. One of the reasons I joined the 999 challenge was to expand my reading outside of mystery/detective series. While that has happened, you two keep pulling my back by helping me discover more and more and better and better series.

Ah well, as the t-shirt says: "God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. I'm so far behind, I'll never die." should we subsitute 'read a certain number of books?'

Apr 3, 2009, 1:58pm Top

Just coming by to say hi Miss Carolyn! So, HI, Miss Carolyn! You have been starred once again. :)


Apr 3, 2009, 2:12pm Top

#12: What a glorious thought, TT1! :-)

Apr 3, 2009, 3:32pm Top

Isn't that the truth! I was just thinking last night, as I was reading wonderful reviews on LT, how I hoped there would be a library in heaven.

Apr 3, 2009, 3:32pm Top

#12 tutu

It's why I keep buying books! :-D

#13 Catey

Hi, there! Glad y'all stopped by.

Apr 3, 2009, 3:34pm Top

#15 T&M

Dibs on the librarian job! ;-)

Apr 3, 2009, 5:15pm Top

You had a thumping good March, didn't you. *whew*

Apr 3, 2009, 6:02pm Top

I'm wondering, if there is a library in heaven, do you think that you would be able to check out a book that you wouldn't like? I mean, in heaven you you should be gloriously happy, right?, so how could you get a book that you wouldn't enjoy at the Heaven Library? Would the ones that you wouldn't like, disappear from the shelf as you walk by? Or would you just not be able to remove them from the shelf? Or would the ones that you would like start to glow as you go by? I'm just not sure how a Heaven library would work.

Apr 3, 2009, 6:15pm Top

Ah, that's a pretty picture you've put in my head cyderry! :)
The ones you would like would glow as you go by. I think that's the best way. Little sparks will fly out of them as you pass. And the ones you would absolutely LOVE, that will become your favorites, now they would start nudging you on the head if you ignore them for too long. They'll just follow you around looking all shiny and pretty. Ah...

Apr 3, 2009, 6:55pm Top

#20: sounds like Hogwarts. ;)

Apr 3, 2009, 7:01pm Top

haha yes but at Hogwarts there were random books poking at you. In Heaven it'll be just those that KNOW you're gonna love them :D

Apr 3, 2009, 8:18pm Top

I found your new thread and starred it.
It is my first week back to work since surgery and I'm VERY weary, so I haven't kept up with the posts. Yours is a thread I visit every day and having skipped a few days meant I found lots and lots of new messages.

I enjoy these conversations and the quick, lively banter.

Chiming in on some of the ideas posted,

I think there will be plenty of books in heaven and plenty of time to read them....In fact, hell would be an existence without books. That is enough motivation for me to try to live an exemplary life (I'm smiling)

#20...I like your sparkly images.

And, Carolyn...I'm so glad you enjoyed kira-kira. I've said it many times before; this is a wonderful book!!!!

Edited: Apr 4, 2009, 2:49pm Top

Roni, I accept the challenge;

"Okay, Aquascum picked this up somewhere on LT, and I cannot resist. But because I refuse to go through and HTML all the ones I've read to make them bold, I'll star them instead!

The BBC apparently believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here:

How do your reading habits stack up? bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish.

The starred ones are Roni's and the blue ones are mine--unless otherwise noted in italics.

*1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
*2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
*3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
*4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
*5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
*6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
*8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
*9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (MM has read some of the first two and skimmed all of the last one.)
*10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
*11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
*13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
*14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - read some, but not others..(MM has read all but 2 of the obscure history ones.)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
*16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
*22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
*25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh (MM is currently reading for April)
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
*28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
*29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
*30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
*31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (MM is currently reading--slowly!)
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
*33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
*34 Emma - Jane Austen
*35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
*36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
*40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
*41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
*42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
*46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy.
*48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
*49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
*52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
*54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth.
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon (MM has on her 999 list)
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
*58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
*59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
*62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
*65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
*70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
*71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
*73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt.
*81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
*87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
*89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
*90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton-partial
*91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
*92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
*94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
*97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas (MM has started--not yet finished!)
*98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
*99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

"46 read completely, and Shakespeare and Blyton collections, not read every one, but many of them.

Pass it on if it appeals to you!"
(Roni said--I agree)

MM's comments: There are a few on the list I will definitely pass up (Da Vinci Code I only read because i was asked to so it could be discussed with a friend) and there are some I haven't read YET, I own them and plan to get to them--I may use this list as a nudge. I love checking on "things done" on a list! I will wager that most people in the 75 Challenge and are over 45 will have read a significant number on the list and everyone in 75 will have read at least 5!

Thanks, roni, this was fun!

ETA: 57 read completely, 1 read partially, 2 in progress this month, 1 on temporary hold, and 1 scheduled for 999 this year. I own 10 more that I hope to read "before I die." That might make a good category for next year!

many of the touchstones said they were working but didn't. I will go back and BOLD those. I hope I caught them all!

Apr 4, 2009, 2:18pm Top

But the blue didn't show up! (I know. I went through and bolded and italicized in Word, and then of course it didn't do it when I pasted it in here!) So either do the html thing, which is a drag, or select a symbol of your choice to mark them with, please. I want to know which you have read.

Apr 4, 2009, 2:19pm Top

Forget it. AFTER I posted my message and the page reloaded, the blue appeared. Ignore the above!

Apr 4, 2009, 5:37pm Top

i've read about thirty of the above, though many are on my other 100 best lists. How did the list get compiled? Anyone know?

Apr 4, 2009, 5:41pm Top


According to what Roni said it's traveling around LT but seems to have been compiled by BBC. I've seen list in the past they've compiled--in fact somewhere in my computer files I have a couple--but I hadn't seen this one. Roni got it from Aquascum--maybe he knows. :-)

Apr 5, 2009, 4:02pm Top

I'm going to give this a try:

!1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
!2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
!3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
>6 MusicMom41: The Bible
!7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
!10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
!11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
!12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
>14 Joycepa: Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
!16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
!18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh (MM is currently reading for April)
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
!29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
!30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (MM is currently reading--slowly!)
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
!33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
!36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
!37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
!40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
!41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
!42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
!47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy.
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
!49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth.
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon (MM has on her 999 list)
!57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
!59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
!65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
!71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
!73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt.
!81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
!83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
!87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
!89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton-partial
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
!92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
!94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
>95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole will never finish this one
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas (MM has started--not yet finished!)
!98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

31 completed 3 started, although I've read many parts of the Bible over and over, there are other parts I just can't get through (Old Testament geneologies!) Fun list! Thanks for posting.

Apr 5, 2009, 5:01pm Top

I've read 50 (no patience to list them!) and two others are on my shelves waiting to be read. But like others, I certainly haven't read all of the Bible (Revelations is too much for me, I'm afraid) nor have I read more than about half of Shakespeare (although I've read Hamlet, which is listed separately).

The number surprised me--when I first looked over the list, I was sure I had read more! :-)

I doubt I'll read all, since some have never appealed to me and probably never will.

Apr 5, 2009, 5:02pm Top

I've read 50 (no patience to list them!) and two others are on my shelves waiting to be read. But like others, I certainly haven't read all of the Bible (Revelations is too much for me, I'm afraid) nor have I read more than about half of Shakespeare (although I've read Hamlet, which is listed separately).

The number surprised me--when I first looked over the list, I was sure I had read more! :-) I think that's because the titles are so familiar, you almost subconsciously feel as if you've read them.

I doubt I'll read all, since some have never appealed to me and probably never will.

Apr 5, 2009, 5:44pm Top

So good to see a post from you!

I'm wondering how the list was compiled, ie who choose that those were THE books to read.

Maybe the 75 book challenge group could come up with our own list. It would be interesting to see how many of us read a list of specific books...Perhaps at the end of the year we could do a survey and each add a book to the list.

Edited: Apr 5, 2009, 5:58pm Top

Linda, I'm lucky to read any threads at all, never mind do much posting. I've cut way back on the time I spend on LT.

Apr 6, 2009, 4:49pm Top

The story I heard on that list is that it was originated by the BBC's Big Read "voted for by the public" thingie (why there are so many duplicates) but then "improved" by a lady that runs a Jane Austen fansite. Either way, it's a bit of a weird list...

I love the idea of a library in Heaven. If I felt even slightly confident about someday getting there I'd be a lot less anxious about the ever-growing TBR pile ;-)

Edited: Apr 8, 2009, 10:36am Top

The work's already been done, all you have to do is say yes!

Apr 8, 2009, 9:47am Top

An opening day win!!!!!!!! Good start. Let's hope Johnson and Zito can hold down their spots in the rotation and Lincecum can adjust more quickly than he did yesterday.

Apr 8, 2009, 10:04am Top

#36: I know you're speaking English. Taken individually, I know what the words mean. Haven't got a clue what you are talking about when they are all strung together.

Apr 8, 2009, 10:07am Top

San Francisco Giants

Apr 8, 2009, 10:13am Top

Oh, and the Orioles beat the Yankees 10-5 on opening day at Camden Yards!

Apr 8, 2009, 10:35am Top

*light bulb*

Apr 8, 2009, 1:39pm Top

#39: I will cheer for anyone to win over the Yankees! Cannot stand them.

Apr 8, 2009, 5:51pm Top

Stasia, Cheer tonight so that the Orioles can beat them again!

Apr 9, 2009, 1:19am Top

#36 BDB

Thanks for the information! I was under the weather yesterday and today i spent mostly in the doctor's office so this was news to me. I guess I'd better go see if I can rescue the newspaper--I haven't read one in about 3 days now!
It's a great way to start--I'll try to maintain a reasonable calm. ;-)

Apr 9, 2009, 1:20am Top


I totally agree--anybody but the Yankees!

Edited: Apr 9, 2009, 1:26am Top

Book 34:

34. Teasdale, Sara: Dark of the Moon
999 Poets and Poetry category (4/07/09)
PL 92 pages

Published in 1926, this is the second to last book of poems Sara Teasdale offered to her readers. The last book was Strange Victory, published in 1933, the year she committed suicide. When I first started reading these poems I couldn’t help comparing them to the Edna St. Vincent Millay sonnet cycle I read last month, Fatal Interview. As in the Millay volume, one of Teasdale’s themes is the remembering of a lost love affair. But, unlike Millay, Teasdale does very little to reveal any deep feelings of the narrator, there is rather a melancholy tone, a gentle regret, but no hint of passion or even very deep loss. There is also no hint at all of the lover and what he was like—Teasdale is focused on the narrator—I’m assuming it to be herself. There is also no poetic form to which she adheres as there was in Millay. There is rhyme and some type of form but each poem is free to be as long or as short as the poet wishes. There poems seem to create a curtain between the poet and the reader, almost a filter to hold in any deep feelings and reveal only what you are wiling to show the world, much as you do if talking to a stranger on a plane about some hurt you can’t quite keep inside because that would be safer than talking to someone who knew you. At first I found this off-putting but as I read further I found myself adapting to her style and connecting to her work on its own merits. Recommended; 3 ½ stars

Here are 3 examples to give a taste of her work:

Sand Drift

I thought I should not walk these dunes again,
Nor feel the sting of this wind-bitten sand,
Where the coarse grasses always blow one way,
Bent, as my thoughts are, by an unseen hand.

I have returned; where the last wave rushed up
The wet sand is a mirror for the sky
A bright blue instant, and along its sheen
The nimble sandpipers run twinkling by.

Nothing has changed; with the same hollow thunder
The waves die in their everlasting snow—
Only the place we sat is drifted over,
Lost in the blowing sand, long, long ago.

A Reply

Four people knew the very me,
Four is enough, so let it be;
For the rest I make no chart,
There are no highroads to my heart;
The gates are locked, they will not stir
For any ardent traveler.
I have not been misunderstood,
And on the whole, I life is good—
So waste no sympathy on me
Or any well-meant gallantry;
I have enough to do to muse
On memories I would no lose.

The Old Enemy

Rebellion against death, the old rebellion
Is over; I have nothing left to fight;
Battles have always had their meed of music
But peace is quiet as a windless night.

Therefore I make no songs—I have grown certain
Save when he comes too late, death is a friend,
A shepherd leading home his flock serenely
Under the planet at the evening’s end.

Book 35:

McKinley, Robin: The Hero and the Crown
999 Newbery Winner category (4/8/09)
Borrowed 227 pages

This novel is the prequel to The Blue Sword in which we meet Aerin, the “first” woman to wield the Blue Sword. This story gives a lot of background for the elements of The Blue Sword which bring flashes of recognition when you encounter them, but the story itself stands very well on its own. In my opinion (not shared by many I know who have read both) this is a superior story. It is better written, better plotted and has better characterizations. The details are finer and I was much more involved in Aerin’s fate than I was in Harry’s. Also there was a “proper” ending with detail and not just a “summary” of how people paired off. I think both stories should be read and in the order written, but if you must choose just one I would suggest this one, especially for adults. Highly recommended; 4 ½ stars

Edited: Apr 9, 2009, 2:41am Top

Baltimore beat the Yankees again Wednesday night! YES!!

ETA: I like The Hero and the Crown better, too.

Apr 9, 2009, 1:26pm Top

Hi Carolyn,
Just trying to catch up on all the threads after a very eventful week.

I really enjoyed The Hero and the Crown and also The Blue Sword. I recently finished Sunshine by the same author and it is very different from her other work, but interesting if you're into vampire books (although it's not at all like most vampire books I've read).

Apr 12, 2009, 12:51am Top

Thanks for stopping by, lorie. I might try Sunshine at a later date--I know I will read more McKinley! I'mm not really much into vampires, infact I deliberately avoided them all my life until a couple of years ago when i read Dracula and loved it! Since the I've read a couple of others--they were okay but not ass good a Bram Stoker!

Edited: Apr 12, 2009, 1:17am Top

Book 36:

Weldon, Fay: Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen
999 Books about Books category (4/11/09)
Library 127 pages

“You do not read novels for information, but for enlightenment.” (p. 29)

In this delightful book Fay Weldon writes a series of letters to an imaginary niece, Alice, who is struggling with boredom working on her course in English Literature where she is required to read Jane Austen. These letters cover a wide range of subject about the reading and the writing of literature and also about living as a reader and a writer. Along the way she gives some information about Jane Austen’s life and a very good analysis of her books and why they continue to delight so many readers so long after they were written. I was especially delighted by her discussion of Northanger Abbey—we are of one mind about that novel.

Her range of subject matter is much wider than I can include in this brief review, but I must mention the City of Invention. It is a metaphor for what great writers “build” when they write novels and she uses it for many explanations about good literature. It will color the way I consider every book I read from now on. My only regret is that I don’t own a copy of this book. I know I will want to reread it and I really wanted to underline and make marginal notes when I was reading it this time! Highly recommended. 4 ½ stars

Here are two of my favorite passages to give you a sample of her wonderful writing:

“How can I explain this phenomenon to you How can I convince you of the pleasures of a good book, when you have McDonald’s around one corner and An American Werewolf in London around the next? I suffer myself from the common nervous dread of literature. When I go on holiday, I read first the thrillers, then the sci-fi, then the instructional books, then War and Peace, or whatever book it is I know I ought to read, ought to have read, half want to read and only when reading want to fully. Of course one dreads it: of course it is overwhelming: one both anticipates and fears the kind of swooning, almost erotic pleasure that a good passage in a good book gives…” (p. 9) (My book is Anna Karenina which I have planned to read every year for several years, finally decided 2009 will be the year and April will be the month I start. April is nearly half over and it is still on my bed stand unopened!)

“It is alarming to be back in this real city, having stayed for so long in what seems, in retrospect, a picture postcard. Australians live on the surface of their vas land, and round its rim: the centre, unimaginably beautiful, is left empty. I am reminded of a human brain, excited activity around its periphery, the slow, blank, powerful unconscious within. Inner space. It is the country of the future, I swear. Little by little that centre will be drawn into consciousness: memories will surface, and something new and immensely wise will be born. In the meantime the land is like some powerful zonked-out god, lying splayed on its back, zapped by the past, stirring the Pacific with an idle toe, suffering from a temporary amnesia.” (She expressed almost perfectly what I felt when I spent two weeks in Australia—one week in the outback—5 years ago. It is such an incredible place with a distinct personality!)

Apr 12, 2009, 12:59am Top

Book: 37:

Woolf, Virginia: Flush: A Biography
999 Biography category (4/11/09)
PL 177

This is the story of the romance of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning as seen through the eyes of Elizabeth’s dog, Flush. My public library categorizes this as “Biography” as does the designation on the back of my copy. Virginia Woolf’s notes at the end of the book tells where she found the information she includes which qualifies it as biography. Most importantly, my 999 Biography category needs more help than my 999 Poets & Poetry category! That said, this is a delightful read for a leisurely afternoon. Woolf really understands dogs and Flush is very believable and a well rounded “character.” Highly recommended for those who love dogs and/or Virginia Woolf. 4 stars

Apr 12, 2009, 1:00am Top

#36: Great review! I'll TBR this. I love reading books about the love of reading books (Like The Uncommon Reader).

Apr 12, 2009, 1:15am Top

OK, your thread is just becoming too dangerous for me, Carolyn! I am adding books 36 & 37 to the Continent. Thanks for the reviews.

Apr 12, 2009, 11:27am Top

Wow! those sound really wonderful !

Apr 12, 2009, 12:49pm Top

Ditto what mckait said!

Apr 12, 2009, 1:27pm Top

After a discussion about the merits of Jane Austen on another thread recently, I dug up my copy of Letters to Alice which I read a number of years ago to browse through. I agree, it has so much insight into how we are enriched by reading, as well as being a delightful read in and itself.

Apr 23, 2009, 2:55pm Top

Hey MusicMom--finally got to your new thread as well! That BBC list is interesting in that at least three of the entries duplicate others on the list or involve multiple books in series: Harry Potter series (7 volumes here!); #33 is the Narnia series while #36 is one book in the series (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe); Winnie the Pooh is not the same of a single one of Milne's works, but is involved in the poetry books plus the Christopher Robin books; and really--the entire works of Shakespeare is 36, 37, or 39 plays plus sonnets (depending on who you use as an expert).

That said, I found that I've read over 60 (including the multiples listed above), which I'm pretty impressed with. Most of the ones I have not read are on either my 999 Challenge list for this year or on 1001 Must Read which I'm cruising through, a book at a time.

And Letters to Alice sounds like another to add! Thanks for the recommendation.

Apr 23, 2009, 9:37pm Top

Thanks for stopping by, Prop2gether! As you can see, I've been absent for a few days (weeks?!). I had a day off today--finally--and am trying to catch up.

I agree about the BBC list. I wish I knew what criteria they used to compile it. It's hard to imagine Leo Tolstoy and Dan Brown on the same list! :-)

I think you might like Letters to Alice. It's a book for book lovers, even if you don't always agree with her.

Apr 23, 2009, 9:43pm Top

Book 38:

Achebe, Chinua: Home and Exile
999 Africa category (4/12/09)
PL 115 page

I bought this slim book because Chinua Achebe is a favorite author and I wanted to learn more about him. I had planned to put it into my Memoir category. However, although he gives a brief glimpse into his early life as a child in Africa, the main thrust of this book is how literature has impacted western readers’ view of Africa and its people. He makes a strong case for seeing both the nonfiction and the literature written about Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries and even into the 20th century was written by Western authors and was greatly influenced by the desire to justify first the Slave Trade and later the colonization of Africa by Europeans. It has only been since the advent of authors who are African that the “real stories” of Africa can be told.

The style of this book is like a friendly chat with examples offered which made it an enjoyable and quick read. However, it has made an impact on me and I will be rethinking my Africa category and extending it into next year as I now am anxious to discover other African authors, both fiction and nonfiction, to get a better understanding of this fascinating area of our world. Highly recommended. 4 stars

Edited: Apr 23, 2009, 9:54pm Top

Book 39:

Marsh, Ngaio: Death in Ecstasy
999 Mystery category (4/17/09)
PL 243

I was in need of a break in "serious" reading--and that means getting a mystery! I am in the process of reading of the Roderick Alleyn mysteries in order and I had to wait to get this book because I couldn't find a copy and my library didn't have it either. Angela came to the rescue and I really had a good time with this one.

On a whim, Roderick Alleyn’s friend, the journalist Nigel Bathgate, braves a howling storm to gate-crash a cultish ceremony at the House of the Sacred Flame, whose sign he has been watching from the window of his flat. There he witnesses a bizarre ceremony which ends in an unexpected death. Rather than calling the Yard, he immediately calls his friend Alleyn and the game is afoot! (Of course, Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn calls the Yard for his crew before he leaves the comfort of his fireside and book to go out into that storm!)

In this fourth book of the series, Marsh is starting to hit her stride as a major player in the Golden Age of detective writers. Her detective is becoming more of a personality by his actions and what he says, rather than by author description, and Bathgate makes a better foil for him than Hastings does for Poirot. At one point, Alleyn refers to Bathgate as his “Watson.” The characters created for this novel are somewhat bizarre but easily distinguishable. Marsh, also seems to be more comfortable with her work now. The following conversation between Alleyn and Bathgate occurs at almost exactly the halfway point in the book:

“Look here,” said Nigel suddenly, “let’s pretend it’s a detective novel. Where would we by by this time? About halfway through, I should think. Well, who’s your pick.”

“I’m invariably gulled by detective novels. No herring so red but I raise my voice and give chase.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Nigel.

“Fact. You see in real detection herrings are so often out of season.”

“Well, never mind, who’s your pick?”

“It depends on the author. If it’s Agatha Christie, Miss Wade’s occulted guilt drips from every page. Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter would plump for Pringle, I fancy. Inspector French would go for Ogden. Of course, Ogden, on the face of it, is the first suspect.”

I suspect that she’s hinting that Roderick Alleyn is in the mold of the brilliant Scotland Yard detective invented by Freeman Wills Crofts a decade or so before Alleyn’s first appearance. If you enjoy Golden Age mysteries, I recommend this one. 3 ½ stars

Edited for spelling

Apr 23, 2009, 9:59pm Top

Book 40:

Baker, Jean H.: James Buchanan
999 Biography category (4/21/09)
PL 172 pages

I picked up this book at the bookstore last week because I had just finished the section in McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom that dealt with the time during Buchanan’s presidency and I wanted to know more about the man. Although I did learn more about his life and his career before he became president I found this biography not to be as helpful as I had hoped it would.

No one is going to dispute that Buchanan was one of the worst—maybe even the worst—president we have had. However, Baker wrote her work as if she were afraid he might rise again and run for public office and she wanted to be very sure that no one would vote for him. Often her language bordered on vitriolic. Sometimes even in areas where he is acknowledged to have been somewhat successful she managed to convey the feeling that it was not because of his ability but either because he was well advised or someone else was incompetent and made him look good. Her descriptions of him would also change according to the point she was trying to make. Before he became president she described him as being indecisive, unable to make up his mind, and relying on others to guide him, especially if he did something right. Later she describes him as “…a strong president intent on having his own way, surrounded by advisers who agreed with him.” It seems if things went well it is because he followed good advice and when things went badly it’s because he wouldn’t take advice. Perhaps that is true. But he had a reputation as a competent office holder for many years before his debacle as president. He must have had some redeeming traits. If McCullough, in his biography of John Adams, errs on the side of being too fond of him, at least he has no hesitation in pointing out his flaws and his mistakes. Baker errs on the side of so detesting Buchanan that she can find nothing about him that she can praise.

I would recommend if you want a more balanced view of Buchanan read what McPherson says in Battle Cry of Freedom.

Apr 23, 2009, 10:08pm Top

</i>"However, Baker wrote her work as if she were afraid he might rise again and run for public office and she wanted to be very sure that no one would vote for him. Often her language bordered on vitriolic."

This comment made me laugh right out loud...
Thanks for such a great review! I know nothing of Buchanan, other than I think he was the only President from Pennsylvania.

You are reading some very interesting books!

Apr 24, 2009, 12:55am Top

Nice reviews, Carolyn!

Apr 24, 2009, 6:20am Top

Great review of James Buchanan, Carolyn. I had the same reaction to a book written about Longstreet, which I thought was intellectually dishonest because the author picked and chose among her original sources to "prove" a point. Just so happens in another book of hers, she used those exact same sources to discredit the author!

I don't mind a leaning one way or another--that's inevitable, but for heaven's sake, they need to try for some sort of balance.

Apr 24, 2009, 8:12am Top

Three very articulate and thoughtful reviews, Carolyn. I've never read anything by Achebe, but I've been meaning to. Maybe I should check this one out.

I'm making an effort to read biographies of American presidents, but I think I'll pass on the one by Jean Baker!

Apr 24, 2009, 1:40pm Top

#58: Nice review of Achebe's book, MusicMom. A similar book by another talented African writer is Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance by Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʾo, which was just released within the past few weeks. I think that rebeccanyc is reading it now, and I'll probably read it within the next week or two. Two of his novels are especially good, Wizard of the Crow and A Grain of Wheat, which both get five stars from me.

Apr 24, 2009, 1:58pm Top

Thanks, kidzdoc

I just bought Wizard of the Crow last week and plan to read it this summer. I will be looking for the others next time I get to a book store. Something Torn and New sounds like it is exactly what I am looking for--a discussion of the impact of colonialism in Africa from the point of view of an African. (I read the description on Amazon--it's quite new. I'll probably break down and buy it from them before I get to the bookstore!)

Apr 24, 2009, 11:08pm Top

Glad you are enjoying the Marsh mysteries. I still haven't read my first one...but I know when I do that I will enjoy them. I can tell by your review. Thanks,

Apr 25, 2009, 1:21am Top


I really do enjoy these. I ordered the Marsh short fiction from my library and I just got notice it has come in so I will be getting that tomorrow. I have a feeling I'm going to want to find a copy to own. The review I read of it sounds like it will be really delightful--good "bedtime" reading!

I'm saving Vintage Murder for summer.

Apr 25, 2009, 10:41pm Top

Interesting review of the Buchanan book. Roused me enough to Wiki who he was and what he did that was so bad :)

Apr 25, 2009, 11:13pm Top

#69 Cauterize

I know what you mean. That's why I wanted to read the biography after reading about him in Battle Cry of Freedom. I had no idea how much Buchanaan's policies influenced the start of the Civil War. The first 7 states to succeed acted as soon as Lincoln was elected but 3 months before he took office. During that 100 days it was lucky that the Confederacy didn't act in a timely manner or there might not have been a Union when Lincoln was inaugurated!

Apr 26, 2009, 12:28am Top

#70: Yes, he seems at the best - an inept putz. At the worst... ouch. Luckily enough someone as competent as Lincoln was elected. Well, at least I know what a "doughface" is, now!

May 1, 2009, 9:42pm Top

Book 41.

Stout, Rex: And Be a Villain
999 Want To category (4/28/09)
PL 156 pages

Cyril Orchard is poisoned during a radio talk show and New York Police have gotten nowhere in over a week. When Archie convinces his boss that he needs to earn some money after their April tax bill is paid Nero Wolfe comes up with a scheme to get himself hired to solve this tricky murder.

I’ve been reading so many things for my 999 Challenge on Library Thing that I haven’t read any Nero Wolfe this year, so when Stasia talked about reading her first one I decided it was time for me to get back to this project. This was the perfect time because I have been so busy with work I really needed a book that would be relaxing and this one was perfect. This is classic Nero Wolfe with all the elements in place. Very entertaining. 3 ½ stars

May 1, 2009, 9:46pm Top

Book 42.

Rowling, J.K.: Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp
999 Fantasy category (4/28/09)
PL 56 pages

Rowling does a clever job of giving a thorough account of the history of the development of the popular Wizards’ game of Quidditch. Also included are a summary of the modern rules, some of the strategic ploys, and descriptions of the professional Quidditch teams of Britain and Ireland. Being an avid San Francisco Giants fan my favorite team is the Chudley Cannons, whose “glory days may be considered by many to be over but their devoted fans live in hope of a renaissance.” Their colors are orange and black and they have changed their motto from “We Shall Conquer” to “Let’s all just keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.” This is a real treat for Harry Potter fans. I was able to buy it from the library for 10 cents!

May 1, 2009, 9:48pm Top

Book 43:

Marsh, Ngaio: Alleyn and Others—The Collected Short Fiction
999 Want To category (4/29/09)
Library 251 pages

The short fiction includes 4 Alleyn short stories, 5 other stories and a telescript written for a BBC production in 1975 which are all fun to read for Marsh fans. But most delightful were two essays in which Marsh discusses how she developed her two main characters, Roderick Alleyn and Agatha Troy, and a wonderful introduction by the editor of the book, Douglas G. Green. I may be prejudiced about the introduction because he so beautifully illustrates what I have always believed about Ngaio Marsh: her mysteries are much more akin to the mysteries of Dorothy Sayers than to Agatha Christie. Recommended for Ngaio Marsh fans. 3 stars

May 1, 2009, 9:51pm Top

Book 44:

Humphreys, Helen: the Frozen Thames
999 Want To category (4/29/09)
Library 186 pages

This book was recommended by Whisper1 and I was really interested because until I read Orlando by Virginia Woolf last year I didn’t realize that the Thames River in London had ever frozen. In fact the Thames has frozen 40 times and this small volume contains 40 vignettes about each time it froze. The stories range from humorous to poignant and some are even sad or tragic. Many of them are based on actual occurrences and others are imagined. The writing is beautiful and lyrical. This book was perfect for me during this very busy, stressful time because it was easy to read in “snatches” for relaxation. I used this book instead of a poetry book the last week or so. Highly Recommended. 4 stars

May 1, 2009, 9:56pm Top

Hi Carolyn,

I'm trying to catch up on threads and am stopping by to say hi. I haven't been able to keep up in the last month like I'd like to, but managed to find the time tonight.

It looks like you're readiing some good books lately. I always enjoy your thoughtful reviews. The Frozen Thames looks particularly interesting and I am adding it to the TBR pile.

Edited: May 2, 2009, 3:33pm Top

Summary for April:

This was a very busy, stressful month for my jobs so a lot of my reading, especially that last two weeks, was light and short.

Books Read PL: 7 (Pages: 1,011 )
Books Read other: 3 (Pages: 664 )

Total 10 books: 6 fiction; 4 nonfiction; 1,675 pages

Books acquired: purchased--9 for me, 2 for Jim, 1 for Marty; 4 childrens’ books from library @ 10 cents each for grandchildren; 1 ER book from LT. Total 17; 2 of them read this month.

Books Read:

Achebe, Chinua: Home and Exile 4 stars
Baker, Jean H.: James Buchanan 1 ½ stars
Humphreys, Helen: the Frozen Thames 4 Stars
Marsh, Ngaio: Death in Ecstasy 3 ½ stars
Marsh, Ngaio: Alleyn and Others—The Collected Short Fiction 3 stars
McKinley, Robin: The Hero and the Crown 4 ½ stars
Rawling, J.K.: Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp
Stout, Rex: And Be a Villain 3 ½ stars
Teasdale, Sara: Dark of the Moon 3 ½ stars
Weldon, Fay: Letters to Alice on first reading Jane Austen 4 ½ stars
Woolf, Virginia: Flush: A Biography 4 stars

Best in Apr.:

Fiction: The Hero and the Crown
Nonfiction: Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen

edited to fix touchstone--I hope!

May 2, 2009, 2:44am Top

#77: Nice summary! I hope work de-stresses for you.

Edited: May 3, 2009, 9:36am Top

Hi Carolyn! Just dropping by to say hello :)

Since you just read Quidditch Through the Ages, are you going to read Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them as well? It has notes in the margin written by Harry, Ron, and Hermione - too fun!!

Have a great day!

May 3, 2009, 11:26pm Top

I'm glad you were able to locate a copy of Ngaio Marsh's short fiction...
Do you think I should wait to read it until after I have read some of Marsh's novels? It might have more meaning that way...since she talks about developing her characters. I was going to start with that one but I am reconsidering.

May 4, 2009, 9:52pm Top


I would recommend that you read at least up to Artists in Crime before you read the Alleyn stories and the essays about Alleyn and Agatha Troy in Alleyn and Others because you will enjoy them more if you already are familiar with the characters.

May 4, 2009, 10:06pm Top

Got it, thanks!

May 8, 2009, 7:42am Top

grrr... somehow I missed the second thread... been too absorbed in my own life to notice. But I'm catching up now and am with you again!

May 8, 2009, 4:16pm Top

Glad you found it Susan! As you can see, I've not been very active for the last coupe of weeks. I'm hanging on for Memorial Day weekend when I will finally have some time off!

I'm also way behind on everyone's thread. Hope to catch up in a few days.

May 8, 2009, 4:33pm Top

I didn't know that Letters From Alice on Reading Austen was not fiction!

Edited: May 8, 2009, 4:54pm Top

I am way behind on reading too.. :P

May 8, 2009, 5:20pm Top

#85 bonnie

Although the letters are addressed to a fictional niece, they are really a device for writing "essays" about books and writing literature so it has a Dewey decimal number and is shelved in the nonfiction section of the library.

May 8, 2009, 5:30pm Top

# 79 Cait86

I didn't know about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them but I will certainly hunt for it. I like the way Rowling adds to her world. It was a really fun series that children and adults could share.

May 8, 2009, 8:00pm Top

>88 MusicMom41: I was just reading in last week's Bookseller that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and the other 'companion' book (about quidditch, can't remember exact title) are going to be reprinted in a new edition by Bloomsbury this year, at least in the UK (so the Book Depository should have them in ;-))

May 9, 2009, 5:39am Top

Just catching up on threads myself, Carolyn! I hope you are able to catch up, too.

May 10, 2009, 9:23pm Top

I'm simply stopping by to say hello.

Stasia -- what a great graphic!

May 24, 2009, 12:23am Top

Thank Lind and Stasia. What a beautiful message--it brightens my spiritss!

May has been a "tough" month for me and so far I haven't had much time to read. Here is what has been accomplished so far (one more week to go!)

Book 45:

Adams, Scott: Random Acts of Management
999 Want To category (5/08/09)
PL 124 pages

This was given to us by a friend because she said some of the stories we told about the new Center Director where my husband works reminded them of Dilbert’s boss. These strips ranged from mildly funny to ROFL. Judging by what we hear from our friends and what we read in the newspaper it seems that “random acts of management” is the new leadership strategy of many bosses these days! It helps to be able to laugh about it. Recommended for anyone who works for a pointy haired boss or knows someone who does. I suspect that includes just about everyone. Luckily I’m self-employed. 4 stars

May 24, 2009, 12:30am Top

Book 46:

Oliver, Mary: Evidence
999 Poets & Poetry category (5/09/09)
PL 74 pages (ER book for March)

Poetry has been a passion of mine all my life and I almost always have a volume of poetry as one of the books I am reading at any given time. Mary Oliver has become a very special poet in my life because with her work I feel I have developed an almost personal connection. I discovered Mary Oliver a few years ago when I picked up her book about poetry called Rules for the Dance. I was so impressed by that book that I started collecting her books of poems and she has become on of my favorite poets. I have found her later books, What Do We Know, Why I Wake Early, and Red Bird, to be especially meaningful to me. From her I have learned how to stop and appreciate the natural world around me and to take time to reflect on it as a way of calming myself and relaxing. I have learned to notice the small details as well and the grandeur in our beautiful planet. She has also shared wisdom that she has learned in her life’s journey that I have found inspiring and comforting.

Her newest volume, Evidence, continues in this tradition and takes us even further into her understanding of life and spirituality. Nothing is too insignificant for her to ignore nor too big for her to tackle. She epitomizes the idea that “the unexamined life is not worth living” and in examining her life she helps us to examine ours. In each of these later volumes of poetry I feel as if she has become more open and revealing of her inner feelings than she was in her earlier works. She shares not only her observations but her own reactions and feeling about these events. Although I will never know her personally, I somehow consider that she is a treasured and wise friend who helps and comforts me in my life’s journey. Just as I spend many hours with friends, I reread Mary Oliver’s books on a regular basis. She always has something “new’ to point out to me. The following poem gives a hint of the pleasures of this book.

Then the Bluebird Sang

slipped a little tremble
out of the triangle
of his mouth

and it hung in the air
until it reached my ear
like a froth or a frill
that Schumann

might have written in a dream.
Dear morning
you come
with so many angels of mercy

so wondrously disguised
in feathers, in leaves,
in the tongues of stones,
in the restless waters,

in the creep and the click
and the rustle
that greet me wherever I go
with their joyful cry; I’m still here, alive!

Edited: May 24, 2009, 1:25pm Top

Book 47:

Greenberg, Martin H. ed.: Murder British Style
999 Mysteries category (5/22/09)
PL 529 pages

This collection of seventeen short stories, one novella and a full length novel by many of the classic mystery writers of late 18th and 19th century Great Britain is a real treat for fans of this genre. There are two stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, one featuring Sherlock Holmes and another that is about a vanishing train. Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, G.K. Chesterton and Roald Dahl are also represented. I didn’t realize that Dahl had written any mysteries. One of my favorites was the novella, In the Fog by Richard Harding Davis, which has a very neat twist at the end. This was the only author in the book with whom I was not familiar. The novel, The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr, was a classic locked room tale that was very satisfying and contains a chapter that discusses the different types of locked room stories that have been written. Carr was an expert on this subject and I found that chapter really delightful. Highly recommended. 4 stars

edited to add touchstone for the novel--aka The Hollow Man.

May 24, 2009, 2:14am Top

Even though you have had a busy month, you managed to read some great books!
I love the poem!

May 24, 2009, 10:07am Top

Hope there's more time for you in June to read!

May 24, 2009, 1:34pm Top

Thanks for stopping by, Linda and Susan.

This week I plan to finish a couple of books I have going--including the May read of Till We Have Faces which I am really enjoying. In June I think I may read some "lighter" books--probably mysteries--while I concentrate on finishing Battle Cry of Freedom which I have been reading since April 2nd! It is a fantastic book which I am loving--but very dense and slow reading for me. It's incredible how much about the American Civil War I didn't learn in all those history classes I took!

May 24, 2009, 2:03pm Top

I'm looking at your message, Carolyn, and thinking, why didn't she thank me? And then I look, and the message I wrote has disappeared!!! Did I not hit the right button? Haven't had that happen before.

Anyhow, I did stop in between Linda and Susan, to say that even though you had a hard month and only a few books, they appear to have been excellent companions! And to tell you I was putting your poet on my to-be-found list--she sounds excellent and I've never heard of her. So thank you!

May 24, 2009, 2:20pm Top

You know I would never ignore you, Roni! As soon as I get my life back in order I'll be needing more advice on fantasy and scifi!

I hope you like Mary Oliver. I suggest you start with Why I Wake Early. That is the one I lend to all my friends and so far they have all loved it.

May 24, 2009, 3:40pm Top

The library has 16 of her books, but not that one! Is there another you'd recommend to introduce me to her? Books from 1965 to 2008--she's been at this a long time!

May 24, 2009, 5:06pm Top

That is a beautiful poem! Normally I have an aversion to poetry, especially when read aloud in that slow droning voice that most poets use, but I am trying to overcome this. Thanks for sharing. :-)

Edited: May 24, 2009, 10:35pm Top

Two of my other favorite books (besides Evidence) are What Do We Know and Red Bird. I also really love The Leaf and the Cloud which is a book length poem--but you can read it in sections if you wish.

When I first "meet" a new poet I prefer to read a single volume that was meant to be a book because it gives me a better idea of how the poet relates things. This is why I'm recommending these single volumes that have been particularly meaningful to me. Mary Oliver has two volumes of "Collected Poems" which contain a lot of her work--volume one is earlier work and volume two is later but not as recent as most of the ones I'm recommending. I haven't read anything by her that I haven't enjoyed, so I don't think you can go wrong with any book you try.

edited to correct touchstone.

May 25, 2009, 12:08am Top

The library has both What Do We Know and Red Bird, so I will request them. Thanks so much, Carolyn.

May 25, 2009, 4:57am Top

#94: I am adding that one to the Continent. The Brits can murder with the best of them!

May 25, 2009, 11:06pm Top

I'm adding the British Murder book to my wish list and Mary Oliver to my poets to look for list. Thanks!

May 28, 2009, 12:23pm Top

Just stopping by to say hi. *waves*

Jun 5, 2009, 12:20am Top

Thanks, everyone, for sticking with me. It will take me several days to catch up but at least now I hope to be able to find more time for both reading and keeping up with everyone else's reading. My first priority is to get my thread up to date--I have 6 books to review and post. Here's the first one--

Book 48:

Forche, Carolyn: The Country Between Us
999 Poets and Poetry category (5/25/09)
PL 59 pages

Carolyn Forche was a journalist for Amnesty International and a human rights advocate who spent much time in El Salvador in the ‘70s chronicling the war and the struggles of the people there. Her poems often combine seamlessly the personal with the political and need several readings to be able to truly appreciate all she puts into them. This volume won the Lamont Poetry Prize in 1981. Forche is also the editor of Against Forgetting: Twentieth-century Poetry of Witness, an anthology of poetry of poems from every war in that century.

Elena, whose husband was a journalist who was critical of the government in Buenos Aires, was a friend of Forche. One evening as the couple came home from a dinner celebrating their wedding anniversary there were government troops waiting for them to gun them down. She was wounded in the mouth and her husband was killed. Elena was scheduled to be executed but there were so many street demonstrations supporting her that she was allowed to go into exile.


We spend our morning
in the flower stalls counting
the dark tongues of bells
that hang from ropes waiting
for the silence of the hour.
We find a table, ask for paella,
cold soup and wine, where a calm
light trembles years behind us.

In Buenos Aries only three
years ago, it was the last time his hand
slipped into her dress, with pearls
cooling her throat and bells like
these, chipping at the night—

As she talks, the hollow
clopping of a horse, the sound
of bones touched together.
The paella comes, a bed of rice
and camarones, fingers and shells,
the lips of those whose lips
have been removed, mussels
the soft blue of a leg socket.

This is not paella, this is what
has become of those who remained
In Buenos Aires. This is the ring
of a rifle report on the stones,
her hand over her mouth,
her husband falling against her.

These are the flowers we bought
this morning, the dahlias tossed
on his grave and bells
waiting with their tongues cut out
for this particular silence.

The following poem records a dinner with a high ranking military official in El Salvador in 1978.


What you have heard is true. I was in his house. His wife carried
a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went
out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the
cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over
the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English.
Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to
scoop the kneecaps from a man’s legs or cut his hands to lace. On
the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had
dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for
calling the maid. The maid brought green mangos, salt, a type of
bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief
commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was
some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot
said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed
himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say
nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries
home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like
dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one
of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water
glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As
For the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck them-
selves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last
of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some
of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the
ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.

Jun 5, 2009, 1:23am Top

>#107 Wow! Both those poems are so compelling. I've added both books to my wish lists.
I've discovered some great poetry on your thread. Thanks.

Jun 5, 2009, 6:18am Top

Wow, indeed...I will definitely get both books ASAP. Thank you!

Jun 5, 2009, 8:35am Top

Powerful poetry!

Jun 5, 2009, 8:47am Top

I'm glad to know about the book of poetry on El Salvador. The poem about Argentina is very powerful, indeed.

Jun 5, 2009, 8:59am Top

Hello there Joyce!

Jun 5, 2009, 9:27am Top

Hi, Linda! :-)

Jun 5, 2009, 5:25pm Top

Book 49:

Lewis, C.S.: Till We Have Faces
999 Classics category (5/27/09)
PL 313 pages

It is difficult to write a review of this book because I think it is imperative that nothing about the plot or the characters ought to be revealed to those who have not yet read it. As I explain below each reader seems to bring something of himself to the story which will be influenced as the story unfolds and winds around. Any knowledge of what will be occurring might disturb this involvement and identification with the story.

When I started the book I knew it was a retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth and that C.S. Lewis was a Christian writer and thought that this novel was one of his finest works. It did not take long for me to be so involved in the story that I felt like I experienced it rather than read it. (My biggest frustration was that I had to read it at my busiest time of the year and I resented anything that forced me to have to put the book down and get to work.) The story is complex and compelling, the characters are interesting and well drawn, and the country Lewis created for the story to take place in was fascinating and utterly believable. Needless to say I loved this novel! However, what has struck me most after finishing it is that as I read comments of other readers each person seems to have a unique opinion about what the story really says—or means—and which characters were wise or sensible and which ones needed more sense. This would make a great book for a book group discussion if you could find a group that would love to discuss and be able to “agree to disagree.” Highly recommended. 5 stars

Jun 5, 2009, 6:34pm Top

Hi Carolyn,

I'm very intrigued by your review of Till We Have Faces and I'm adding it to the TBR pile. I've never read anything by CS Lewis other than The Chronicles of Narnia.

I hope your busy time is over now, and you can get back to reading and posting! I've missed your thoughtful comments.

Jun 5, 2009, 6:49pm Top


I hope you enjoy it. I think it is a book that probably would "speak" to a person differently at different stages of life. I thought it was incredible and I plan to read it again in a year or two.

Thanks for asking. My schedule is not as full during the summer, but hubby is retiring next month and I'm wondering about how much time I will have then. However, life is an adventure and I'll be experiencing a new one soon. I've been stocking up on books I know he will enjoy when he has the time to read! ;-)

Jun 5, 2009, 7:05pm Top

Book 50:

Alegria, Claribel: Fugues
999 Poets and Poetry category (5/27/09)
PL 143 pages (Spanish/English side by side)

Alegria was a close friend of Carolyn Forche and was the reason Carolyn was in El Salvador. This volume has her Spanish version of each poem across the page form the translations by D.J. Flakoll. There is a wide variety of styles in this book from poems of only four lines to poems that are four pages. Some are personal; many contain allusions to the war in El Salvador; she uses nature and also mythology as subjects as well. This is a very enjoyable collection.


In the sixty-eight years
I have lived
there are a few electrical instants:
the happiness of my feet
skipping puddles
six hours in Macchu Pichu
the ten minutes necessary
to lose my virginity
the buzzing of the telephone
while awaiting the death of my mother
the hoarse voice
announcing the death
of Monsignor Romero
fifteen minutes in Delft
the first wail of my daughter
I don’t now how many years
dreaming of my people’s liberation
certain immortal deaths
the eyes of the\at starving child
your eyes bathing me with love
one forget-me-not afternoon
and in this sultry hour
the urge to mould myself
into a verse
a shout
a fleck of foam.


poet by trade,
condemned so many times
to be a crow,
would never change places
with the Venus de Milo:
while she reigns in the Louvre
and dies of boredom
and collects dust
I discover the sun
each morning
and amid valleys
and debris of war
I catch sight of the promised land.

Edited: Aug 3, 2009, 11:10pm Top

Summary for May

Books Read PL: 7 (1,316 pages)
Books Read other: 0
Total: 7 books; 1,316 pages; 3 fiction, 4 nonfiction

Books acquired: purchased—9 for me, 4 for Jim, 1 for Marty

Books Read:

Adams, Scott: Random Acts of Management
Oliver, Mary: Evidence
Greenberg, Martin H. ed.: Murder British Style
Forche, Carolyn: The Country Between Us
Lewis, C.S.: Till We Have Faces
Alegria, Claribel: Fugues
Oliver, Mary: Owls and Other Fantasies

Best in May:

Fiction: Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
Nonfiction: Evidence by Mary Oliver

Edited: Jun 5, 2009, 10:18pm Top

oops! I forgot to post my last book for May!

Book 51:

Oliver, Mary: Owls and Other Fantasies
999 Poets and Poetry category (5/31/09)
PL 74 pages

Most of you who follow my thread regularly have probably figured out that poetry is my “comfort” reading. May was a stressful month and I read four books of poetry. This last one was one of three books by Mary Oliver that I ordered from Amazon and that arrived May 29th. Mary Oliver is my most “comfortable” poet – as I have mentioned before, I think of her as a “friend”. (On June 1st I had to go into Fresno for an appointment so I had lunch at Barnes and Noble and bought a new book of poems by Adrienne Rich—so you will get a little variety next month!) This volume by Oliver has a couple of essays as well as poems; all of them are mostly about different kinds of birds. The second essay, simply called “Bird”, is especially wonderful, but too long to include here. So I’ll share two of my favorite poems:

Yes! No!

How necessary it is to have opinions! I think the spotted trout
lilies are satisfied, standing a few inches above the earth. I
think serenity is not something you just find in the world,
like a plum tree, holding its white petals.

The violets, along the river, are opening their blue faces, like
small dark lanterns.

The green mosses, being so many, are as good as brawny.

How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly,
looking at everything and calling out

Yes! No! The

swan, for all his pomp, his robes of glass and petals, wants
only to be allowed to live on the nameless pond. The catbrier
is without fault. The water thrushes, down among the sloppy
rocks, are going crazy with happiness. Imagination is better
than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless
and proper work.

While I Am Writing a Poem to Celebrate
Summer, the Meadowlark Begins to Sing

Sixty-seven years, oh Lord, to look at the clouds,
the trees in deep, moist summer,

daisies and morning glories
opening every morning

their small, ecstatic faces—
Or maybe I should just say

how I wish I had a voice
like the meadowlark’s,

sweet, clear, and reliably
slurring all day long

from the fencepost, or the long grass
where it lives

in a tiny but adequate grass hut
beside the mullein and the everlasting,

the faint-pink roses
that have never been improved, but come to bud

then open like little soft sighs
under the meadowlark’s whistle, its breath praise,

it’s thrill song, its anthem, its thanks, its
alleluia. Alleluia, oh Lord.

Jun 6, 2009, 8:31am Top

Great recent reads, Carolyn!

Good to see you back. I hope you have a wonderful summer of doing nothing but reading :)

Jun 6, 2009, 12:06pm Top

Thanks Stasia--I'll be reading between Dr. appointments (and during?) in June. However, things are looking up--I have two June books read and reviewed to post today. And I'm about 2/3 through Battle Cry of Freedom. That has really slowed me down--but it is worth it.

Next up--I have about a million post to catch up on -- I hope to get started on that today. I'll probably skim the conversations and just check out the books. Otherwise it will take me all year just to catch up!

Jun 6, 2009, 1:08pm Top

Glad to see you active among us again. I have two more weeks of the school year and a million reports to write (okay, only 12, but at 3 to 4 hours each, at this point it seems like a million. I'd rather be reading), but at least I don't teach at the university in the spring so I don't have than on top of the day job. I enjoy the poetry excerpts.

Edited: Jun 6, 2009, 9:34pm Top

Thanks for stopping by, roni. I hope the next two weeks go quickly for you!

Time to start June.

Book 52:

Salinger, J.D.: Franny and Zooey
999 Classics & Fiction category (6/01/05)
Library 201 pages

I read Catcher in the Rye years ago when I was a teenager and was totally underwhelmed. I thought the story was boring and Holden Caulfield didn’t interest me at all. (I think I had just read Jane Eyre and Rochester was my idea of a “hero” for a story.) I realize now I was probably too young—and too naive—to have a clue what Salinger was trying to do. However, the novel left such a bad taste in my mouth that I vowed never to read another Salinger book ever. Luckily for me, this year Eliza (girlunderglass) persuaded me to change my mind.

Franny and Zooey is a wonderful and unique (at least for me) book. The first and shorter part of the novel, “Franny” introduces us to Franny Glass, a college coed who arrives on a train to spend a special football weekend with her Ivy League boyfriend at his school. I went to a small liberal arts college and I remember spending a couple of weekends like that—except I didn’t have to take a train because my school was coed. The second part of the story is called “Zooey” and introduces us to the Glass family and especially Franny’s brother, Zooey who is about 5 years older than she but closest to her because they are the two youngest siblings. This is a character driven novel with essentially no plot. We learn about the characters by their interactions, conversations, and observations made by the “narrator” who is actually a much older brother that we meet at the very beginning of the book. I found the characters wonderful and the conversations fascinating and revealing and the descriptions vivid. Bottom line: I laughed, I cried, and I often stopped to “ponder” about these people. I can hardly wait to find the other stories he’s written about this family. Highly recommended. 4 ½ stars

edited to fix touchstone

Edited: Jun 6, 2009, 9:57pm Top

Book 53:

McCrumb, Sharon: Bimbos of the Death Sun
999 Mysteries category (6-02/09)
Marty’s 228 pages

I learned a valuable lesson. Never judge a book by its cover—or its title. Hubby came back from our son’s Monday night house bringing this book he said Marty had sent to me. Tuesday I had my first completely free day in ages and I planned to read. But I had just finished Franny and Zooey so I couldn’t get into another novel and all I really wanted was something light and mindless—and preferably funny. This one looked perfect in spite of the title and horrible cover (click on the title to see the cover) so I decided to try it. My son knows my reading taste pretty well so if he recommended it I would probably like it (he knows me better than the LT “will you like it?” bar!). Besides, it won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best original paperback mystery in 1988—how bad could it be?

As it turns out it was perfect for my mood. The mystery part was very minor and not very puzzling but the “fantasy con” where it takes place was a hoot. The story is dated because it takes place in the 80’s so the technology is prehistoric as are some of the language and ideas. It helped me that in the 80’s my other son was hugely into Dungeons and Dragons (D&D in the book) and into all kinds of fantasy although he was not old enough for me to let him go to the cons—but he read about them and talked about them, incessantly. The author does a superb job recreating this venue and peopling it with really great characters—the good, the bad, and the ugly. I became very fond of some of them as I laughed myself silly. This wouldn’t be for everyone, but I found it an enjoyable afternoon’s read—for readers who aren’t so slow it could be read in a couple of hours.

The kicker is, it was given to Marty by his brother a few years ago but he has never read it. He sent it to our house because he had some friends coming over and he didn’t want them to accidentally discover it on his shelves! :-D

Jun 6, 2009, 9:50pm Top

You are reading such incredible books.
I read Till We Have Faces a long time ago. After reading your comments, I'm tempted to re-read it.

Jun 7, 2009, 3:27am Top

#124: I have got to try that one!

Jun 7, 2009, 5:31am Top

>124 MusicMom41:: Carolyn, I had the exact same reaction to that book: don't judge a book by its title. Btw, there's a sequel, if you're interested, Zombies of the Gene Pool. Same type of thing—light mystery, fun setting.

Jun 8, 2009, 12:08pm Top

I love how you got the book! :) I need more friends/fam like that. Glad to see some good reads have cropped up for you.


Jun 8, 2009, 1:26pm Top

#126 Stasia

Yes you do! I think you will love it.

#127 Tad

Welcome back! Thanks for suggestion. I will try to find that--summer is a perfect time for fast and fun reads. No need to "strain the brain!" :-)


Thanks, Susan. June promises to be a better reading month with more reading time --and posting time --for me. I'm finally making real progress on Battle Cry of Freedom, which I am enjoying immensely (and have been for a couple of months! lol), and I'm getting into Mistress of the Art of Death which so far is terrific--in both the literal and colloquial sense of the word!

Jun 8, 2009, 1:26pm Top

123: well you know how happy I am you liked F&Z - the comment I left on your profile should have tipped you off a little ;) - but I will say it again: I am so so so so glad you liked it! :D

Jun 8, 2009, 1:40pm Top

Thanks for convincing me to read it! I'm on a hunt for the other books that have Glass family stories. I will probably just wait until I can find them to buy. I know I will want to own them.

Jun 9, 2009, 9:01am Top

Interesting story.....someone wrote and marketed a sequel to The Catcher in the Rye Mr. Salinger, still kicking at 90, filed suit to block the publication of the book. A quick news search should pull up the story.

I may have to try F&Z now, too.

Jun 9, 2009, 9:02am Top

>132 blackdogbooks:: oh yeah God I hate it when people just do ANYTHING in order to make money out of someone else's ideas. Can't you just come up with something new?

Jun 9, 2009, 3:47pm Top

132 & 133....

The only consolation is that all of those sequels I can think of are usually horrid and hopefully only serve to redirect attention to the original masterpiece.

Jun 9, 2009, 8:38pm Top

Till We Have Faces sounds fantastic. I've never read any of C.S. Lewis's "grown-up" novels, but I am firmly in the camp of Friends of Narnia, and predisposed in his favour. Also really enjoyed Mere Christianity.

Jun 10, 2009, 5:54pm Top


I'm so glad you said that about Mere Christianity. I recently read a review of the book on LT that called it "a bore!" It's a book I love and have given to many friends--both Christians and "Seekers"--because I think it does such a great job of explaining "mere" Christianity unencumbered with various doctrinal interpretations. I can see where people could disagree with him or be upset by what he says--but it certainly isn't boring!

I do highly recommend Till We Have Faces--especially if you like retelling of myths.

Jun 10, 2009, 5:56pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jun 11, 2009, 10:35pm Top

I'm still going a little slowly with my reading this month, but I'm making good progress on my "big read"--Battle Cry of Freedom.

Book 54:

Wallace, Edgar: The Murder Book of J.G. Reeder
999 Mysteries category (6/08/09)
PL 109 pages

I got this book a few years ago at our used book sale and never got around to reading it. I picked it this week because it seemed to be a book of eight short stories that would make good bed time reading. That worked for the first 3 stories but then I got so involved that I finished it in one sitting on the fourth afternoon. The last stories seemed to be somewhat related to each other. I enjoyed it so much I wanted to find out if there were any other books featuring this detective and was surprised to find that this book was first published as a novel called The Mind of J.G. Reeder. I also discovered that Edgar Wallace cranked out well over a hundred mysteries, including other ones about J.G. Reeder but they are very hard to find now.

Here is a description of the detective from one of the sites I visited:

Mr. J G Reeder of the Department of Public Prosecutions, Edgar Wallace's sleuth-whose territory is the London of the 1920s-is an unlikely figure, more bank clerk than detective in appearance, ever wearing his square topped bowler, frock coat, cravat and muffler, Mr. Reeder is usually inseparable from his umbrella. With his thin mournful face many might mistake him for an undertaker, but appearances can be deceiving. It is the mind of Mr. J G Reeder that his greatest asset and that which the criminal fraternity have most to fear. Although-on occasions-he is not averse to substituting his umbrella for a long barreled automatic pistol when the situation demands it!

I enjoy mysteries from the 20s and 30s so this was a treat for me. I’m trying to be impartial in my rating, but if you are a fan of this genre and period I suggest you try to find this book. 3 stars and recommended for fans.

(The deleted message above was because I accidentally double posted)

Jun 12, 2009, 4:08am Top

#138: I am adding that one to the Planet, Carolyn. Thanks for the recommendation.

Jun 12, 2009, 1:27pm Top

Hi Carolyn

I'm simply stopping by to say I hope you are well.

Your most recent read sounds look a good book.

Jun 22, 2009, 12:42pm Top

Hey, Carolyn, Red Bird just came in at the library. I'm going to take it with me on the trip and savor a couple of poems a day. Thanks again for bringing Oliver's poems to my attention!!

Jun 22, 2009, 12:59pm Top

Thanks Stasia, Linda, and Roni for stopping by. I had a really good day yesterday. We drove home--about a 3 hour drive--and I didn't fall asleep once. I finished Battle Cry of Freedom and last night I had enough energy to write the review of that book plus a couple of others I finished a week ago but hadn't had the energy to write the reviews. I'm a little tired this morning but I plan to post what I've done later today. First I have to go to the PO and pick up my mail this AM and stop by the library (right next door to the PO--very convenient!) and pick up some books I ordered that have come in.

Roni, I hope you like Red Bird. I'll be anxious to see what you have to say. Have fun on your trip--we''ll want to hear about that, too! I think a poetry book on a trip is ideal. You have something to read to wind down at bed time but nothing that is clamoring for your attention when you should be doing other things during the day.

My husband approves of that, too! He hates it if I carry a novel around with me when we are on a trip! I probably should get a t-shirt that says "I'd rather be reading!" He wouldn't think it was funny, though. :-D

Jun 22, 2009, 1:06pm Top

>142 MusicMom41:: He hates it if I carry a novel around with me when we are on a trip

My wife is fine with it as she usually has one, also. The kids are the ones who sigh.

Jun 22, 2009, 4:13pm Top

I probably should get a t-shirt that says "I'd rather be reading!" He wouldn't think it was funny, though

Lol! Well, I do! But then I am divorced. My husband used to hate it when I read while he was driving and if he exclaimed over something special he was going by, it would take me a few seconds to look up with a "Huh?" that usually came too late to see what he was pointing at.

TadAD, well you gotta get them reading too. Or, often, I would be giggling so much over a book, I would be implored to read it out loud. Great fun/memories doing that on long drives. I mean, how long can you look at trees or mountains, or even shimmering lakes? ;-)

Jun 22, 2009, 9:23pm Top

Great story regarding your x...
Mine told me to get a life and stop living through books. Actually, I followed his advice, left him and got a life, with and without books!

Jun 22, 2009, 10:42pm Top

Finally got the reviews done so I can post.

Book 55:

Franklin, Ariana: Mistress of the Art of Death
999 Classics & Fiction category (6/16/09)
PL 400 pages

This novel was very enjoyable on so many levels. The historical aspects were fascinating, especially with the additional information provided by the research of v_b for the Highly Rated Book Group Read. We get a good glimpse into the history and politics of England during the reign of Henry II as well as some of the wider ranging politics and information about the Crusades. The story is riveting and the characters well drawn and interesting and the main character, Adelia was especially appealing. There are also interesting observations about the customs of England at that time both religious and secular. I did have a couple of “quibbles” with the execution of the novel which probably won’t bother most readers but I found disconcerting. However, I enjoyed this first book enough that I will be on the lookout for the sequel. Recommended. 3 ½ stars

Warning: Spoilers (these are my quibbles)

Since this story deals a lot with sexual practices and gender roles I had no problem with the romance that was added to the story, only with the way it was written. I had the feeling that suddenly Ms Franklin developed “genre identity” problems. The way the romance was presented and developed was more “Harlequin Romance” than historical romance. My other quibble was with the ending—perhaps a little too tidy and King Henry II sort of “stepped out of character” as did Adelia, IMO. One other small quibble: sometimes Adelia seemed to have miraculous recuperative powers--able to run about the country very shortly after suffering quite serious injuries.

Jun 22, 2009, 10:44pm Top

Book 56:

Harr, Jonathan: The Lost Painting
999 Want To! (6/16/09)
Library Audio

I became interested in this book when it was discussed on one of the threads on LT. I requested it from my library system and when it came I received the audio version rather than the print version. I don’t know if I accidentally requested the wrong version or if they made the mistake but it was serendipitous because hubby and I were taking a mini vacation and we both listened to it on the trip. It was unabridged and well read by Campbell Scott and thoroughly enjoyable—even riveting.

This is the fascinating story of the finding of the lost painting “The Taking of Christ” by the revolutionary painter Caravagio, a master of the Italian Baroque. Although the story is true it reads like an exciting novel and has a large cast of characters. Along the way we meet two graduate students who are trying to track down what happened to the painting, an important Caravagio expert from London who is responsible for authenticating--or not--many of Caravagio’s existing paintings including two copies of “The Taking of Christ”, an expert restorer of paintings and many others involved in the art world. We learn much about tracking the provenance of a painting, authenticating paintings, restoring paintings, art seminars and exhibitions, and about Caravagio, his life and his works. Highly recommended—especially if you are interested in art and art museums. 4 stars.

Edited: Jun 22, 2009, 10:51pm Top

Book 57:

McPherson, James M.: Battle Cry of Freedom
999 Civil War category (4/2/09 – 6/21/09)
PL 909 pages

Check out TadAD's "hot review" for a really fine assessment of this book! (Sorry--don't know how to make links!)

This book was so comprehensive it's hard to know where to begin. This book covers quite comprehensively the American Civil War from the events of the “pending crisis” –especially during the presidency of James Buchanan—through the war itself to the ending of the war and a discussion of how the war changed the way our government functioned, changed the economy of our country and the economic balance of the North and South. The ramifications of this conflict are still felt in our society today.

I enjoyed the comprehensiveness of it, especially showing how the military aspects, including the battles, related to the political aspects of the war and how the "fortunes" of the war affected each side in turn. I think McPherson's narrative style made this book very accessible to those seriously interested in the Civil War without feeling like it was at all "dumbed down" to appeal to the casual reader. I read this book to get an overview of the Civil War to prepare me for my 999 category. I have a feeling as I read in depth about more limited aspects of the war I will be looking back to see what McPherson had to say about the event! This book will definitely help me in my further reading about the Civil War.

Here’s one of my favorite passages—it made me cry:

At the end of the war General John B. Gordon, at this time commander of Stonewall Jackson's old corps, surrenders to General Joshua L. Chamberlain:

"As Gordon approached …with 'his chin drooped to his breast, downhearted and dejected in appearance,' Chamberlain gave a brief order, and a bugle call rang out. Instantly the Union soldiers shifted from order arms to carry arms, the salute of honor. Hearing the sound General Gordon looked up in surprise, and with sudden realization turned smartly to Chamberlain, dipped his sword in salute, and ordered his own men to carry arms. These enemies in many a bloody battle ended the war not with shame on one side and exultation on the other but with a soldier's 'mutual salutation and farewell.'"

After 800 pages of war, hatred, political shenanigans, inept commanders, bloodshed, and seeing often worse side of humanity with only a few redeeming episodes, what an inspiring and gracious way to handle victory and defeat when a "family" has been fighting. Highly recommended. 5 stars

Jun 23, 2009, 1:26pm Top

Great reviews, Carolyn! I have already read the other 2, but I have not yet read The Lost Painting, so on to Planet TBR it goes!

Jun 23, 2009, 11:09pm Top

Thanks for the wonderfully written review! You are reading such interesting books!

Edited: Jun 24, 2009, 7:18am Top

I read The Lost Painting a couple of years ago - fascinating. Won't say too much about the outcome;I might see the painting in August, iit is still in the country they found it in!
I also recommend Harr's A Civil Action.

Jun 24, 2009, 10:41pm Top

#148 - Great review and congrats on finishing it.

Jun 24, 2009, 11:08pm Top

> 147 Great review and I'm adding The Lost Painting to the wishNotebook. I ditto dihiba's rec for A Civil Action.

Jul 4, 2009, 12:29am Top

Book 58:

Lowry, Lois: The Giver
999 Newbery category (6/23/2009)
Borrowed 179 pages

I needed a break from the book I’m reading and this YA novel that one of my students lent me because she wanted to read it and it just filled the bill. It was an easy afternoon read but with an intriguing idea for a future “world” and a story that is well executed and holds your interest. If this had been available when I was teaching in the schools this is a book I would have read and discussed with my students. Highly recommended. 4 ½ stars

Jul 4, 2009, 12:30am Top

Book 59:

Le Guin, Ursula: The Left Hand of Darkness
999 Sci-Fi category (6/28/09)
PL 345 pages

I bought the special 25th anniversary edition when it first came out in 1994 fully intending to read it then. But that was the year of the big “upheaval” when after living 25 years in Savannah hubby was transferred to California. Somehow I never got around to reading it until I saw so many people on LT talking about it the last few months so I searched among the mess that my library has become recently and finally tackled it.

I had a difficult time getting into the story so I had a slow beginning. I’m not sure why, but I just couldn’t seem to get into a flow with the story. Like Genly Ai I found the inhabitants of Winter to be difficult to understand and the strange words from that world really slowed me down. I did enjoy the interspersed chapters that gave myths and history of this strange world and Genly Ai’s visit to the foretellers I found interesting. About 2/3 of the way through, after reading it for nearly a week, I finally put the book aside in order to finish reading Battle Cry of Freedom and a couple of lighter reads for relaxation.

Last Sunday I finally decided I wanted to finish it so I could move on. The last third went very quickly for me and I finished it in an afternoon (those of you who know me realize that is fast reading for me!). Suddenly I seemed to connect with the two main characters and I really enjoyed the rest of the book. I’m not sure if this part of the book was just more interesting or if my attitude had changed allowing me to appreciate the story. Perhaps, because I gave the story “a rest,” subconsciously I processed what I had read previously and the world didn’t seem as strange to me any more. In the end, it was a satisfying read. Recommended—3 ½ stars

Jul 4, 2009, 12:33am Top

Book 60:

McCrumb, Sharon: Zombies of the Gene Pool
999 Mysteries category (6/29/09)
Library 216 pages

TadAD recommended this to me because I enjoyed Bimbos of the Death Sun earlier this month and this is the sequel. Once again we get some glimpses of science fiction fandom but this time the focus is more on the authors than the fans. Years ago a group of young sci-fi fans with aspirations to become famous authors lived together on a small farm in Tennessee. They decided to bury a time capsule commemorating their time together and including a short story from each author. Unfortunately a few years after they had gone their separate ways the TVA built a dam (I remember the controversy about that project!) and the entire area became covered by the huge lake that resulted. The story takes place many years later when the lake was drained to do repairs on the dam and the opportunity to dig up the capsule arises. Since some of the authors became famous the event becomes a national media story. I actually enjoyed this one more that the first. The characters were very interesting and the “quasi-profound discussions” of early science fiction I were entertaining. The descriptions of the area that had been flooded by the lake were interesting and felt like they had been thoroughly researched. That was one of my favorite aspects. Another enjoyable feature was all the literary phrases from famous works that are used in conversation—and McCrumb didn’t require me to try to dredge up from my murky memory where the quotes came from—that was also included in the conversations. All in all, this was a very entertaining way to spend a free afternoon. Oh, yes, there is also a mystery and this one was not as obvious as the one in Bimbos. Recommended. 3½ stars

Edited: Jul 4, 2009, 12:48am Top

Book 61:

Bly, Robert: Morning Poems
999 Poets and Poetry category (6/30/09)
Library 109 pages

Bly set a goal for himself to compose a poem every morning before he started his day and this generous selection of poems on a wide variety of topics using several different styles is the result. There are poems on life and death, childhood and aging, love and friendship, nature and everyday activities. Some are poignant or joyful, contemplative or humorous, straight forward or enigmatic. Most of the poems are relatively short and deserve to or three readings to really appreciate. I borrowed this from the library because of an LT recommendation and I plan to buy my own copy because I know I will want to read this again. Highly recommended. 4 stars

I found it impossible to choose 2 or 3 of my favorites so I chose 3 poems I hope others will enjoy as much as I did. The first two are toward the beginning of the book; the last one is near the end.

Two Ways to Write a Poem

“I am who I am.” I wonder what one has to pay
To say that. I couldn’t do it. For years
I thought, “You are who you are.” But maybe
You weren’t. Maybe you were someone else.

Sam’s friend, who loved poetry, played football
In school even though he didn’t want to.
He got hit. Later he said to me, “I write poems.
I am who I am…but my neck hurts.”

How many times I have begun a poem
Before I knew what the main sounds
Would be. We find out. Toward the end
The poem is just beginning to be who it is.

That’s all right, but there’s another way as well.
One picks the rhyme words, and so the main
Sounds, before one begins. I wonder what
Yeats had to pay in order to do that.

Reading in a Boat

I was glad to be in that boat, floating
Under oak leaves that had been
Carved by crafty light.

How many times during the night
I laughed, because She
Came near, and stayed, or returned.

The boat stopped, and I woke.
But the pages kept turning. I jumped
Back in the book, and caught up.

I was not in pain, not hungry,
Friend, I was alive, sleeping,
And all that time reading a book.

People Like Us

There are more like us. All over the world
There are confused people, who can’t remember
The name of their dog when they wake up, and people
Who love God but can’t remember where

He was when they went to sleep. It’s
All right. The world cleanses this way.
A wrong number occurs to you in the middle
Of the night, you dial it, it rings just in time

To save the house. And the second-story man
Gets the wrong address, where the insomniac lives,
And he’s lonely, and they talk, and the thief
Goes back to college. Even in graduate school

You can wander into the wrong classroom,
And hear great poems lovingly spoken
By the wrong professor. And you find your soul,
And greatness has a defender, and even in death you’re safe.

For James Wright

Jul 4, 2009, 12:48am Top

That finishes my posting for June. I'm a little behind but hope to catch up soon. Tomorrow I will work on my June summary and my quarter summary so I can start posting for July. :-)

Jul 5, 2009, 9:13am Top

#155: The Left Hand of Darkness is one of my all-time favorite books. My current copy is autographed by LeGuin herself on December 2, 1982, at a seminar we both attended in Portland, OR. At the time, her exploration of gender roles was really avant-garde; now it's old hat or even passé. But the ending of the book is one of the finest of its type I know of.

I found some of her insights profound. Since I first read it, I have taken her definitions and distinctions of happiness and joy as my own, and have found over the decades that they are quite true for me.

She's a remarkable writer. I have almost all of her books.

Jul 5, 2009, 9:17am Top


I enjoyed your comments, and the poem you posted regarding Robert Bly. Years ago I worked at a retreat center where I had the pleasure of meeting him.

Jul 5, 2009, 2:21pm Top

I loved your review of The Left Hand of Darkness .. it's on my wishlist now.

Jul 5, 2009, 3:27pm Top

#159 Joyce

I have always been interested in Le Guin because she is the sister of one of my favorite college professors and the daughter of Kroebers--her mother wrote Ishi in Two Worlds about the last surviving member of a California Indian tribe (I was thinking about that book this week because I'm reading Earth Abides which is about one of the last survivors of the human race after a world wide plague--sorry, tangential thinking!)

I haven't read a lot of her books but one of my favorites is the wave in the mind, a collection of very thought provoking essays. I also have on hand (lent to me by my older son who highly recommends it) The Dispossessed which I hope to read this year.

#161 cameling

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy it--be sure to take note of the meaning of the term shifgrethor when it is mentioned. I missed it the first time and had to spend quite a while going back to find it because it is crucial to understanding the people of Karhide.

Jul 5, 2009, 3:32pm Top

# 160 Whisper

What a wonderful opportunity that was! Have you read much of his poetry? I have run across him in anthologies but I had never read a complete volume of his work. I loved Morning Poems and suggest that it would a good starting place for anyone who wants to read Bly.

Edited: Jul 6, 2009, 10:54pm Top

Speaking of poetry I am currently reading a book by Billy Collins, whom I discovered a few years ago and who has become one of my favorite poets, right up there with Mary Oliver (but only in my estimation of the greatness of their poetry--they don't resemble each other in either style or content). This is a very generous selection and since I am only about 1/6 through the book and I already have 6 poems marked that I'm dying to share I'm going to try something different. Periodically, as the mood strikes me, I will post one of his poems on it's own. Then when I finally review the book you who are interested will have had a generous dose of the poems to see if you agree with me and I will only have to come up with one poem for the review. If poetry isn't "your thing" just skip these posts.

The poems I select will reveal more about my interests than Billy Collins's interests. He has a wide range of topics and that's one of the things I enjoy about his work, but I'm picking the ones that really "speak" to me on some level.

A Poem by Billy Collins:


From the heart of this dark, evacuated campus
I can hear the llibrary humming in the night,
a choir of authors murmuring inside their books
along the unlit, alphabetical shelves,
Giovanni Pontano next to Pope, Dumas next to his son,
each one stitched into his own private coat,
together forming a low gigantic chord of language.

I picture a figure in the act of reading,
shoes on a desk, head tilted into the wind of a book,
a man in two worlds, holding the rope of his tie
as the suicide of lovers saturates a page,
or lighting a cigarette in the middle of a theorem.
He moves from paragraph to paragraph
as if touring a house of endless, paneled rooms.

I hear the voice of my mother reading to me
from a chair facing the bed, books about horses and dogs,
and inside her voice lie other distant sounds,
the horrors of a stable ablaze in the night,
a bark that is moving toward the brink of speech.

I watch myself building bookshelves in college,
walls within walls, as rain soaks New England,
or standing in a bookstore in a trench coat.

I see all of us reading ourselves away from ourselves,
straining in circles of light to find more light
until the line of words becomes a trail of crumbs
that we follow across a page of fresh snow;
when evening is shadowing the forest
and small birds flutter down to consume the crumbs,
we have to listen hard to hear the voices
of the boy and his sister receding into the woods.

Edited: Jul 5, 2009, 4:30pm Top

#162, Carolyn (I hope): I loved The Dispossessed as well, although it did not quite grab me the way The Left Hand of Darkness did. It's another in her exploration of social and gender issues, written about the same time as The Left Hand of Darkness. I knew about her mother and have always meant to read the book about Ishi but just have never gotten around to it.

Oh and did you see the article in today's New York Times about Mary Oliver? It focused on the locales in and around Provincetown for her nature poetry. I thought it was excellent.

Jul 5, 2009, 4:19pm Top

musicmom, I don't know whether I'll ever be someone who "loves poetry" but you're showing me that I can be someone who loves "some poetry." :-)

Jul 5, 2009, 4:22pm Top

If you liked Ursula Le Guin's short stories/essays, try a lesser known book of hers called Changing Planes: Armchair Travel for the Mind which is a fantastic collection of stories about different planets, all of which are incredibly thought provoking and revealing. I fell in love with her all over again.

And I love the poem. And I love Mary Oliver's poetry :)

Jul 5, 2009, 11:36pm Top

Hi Carolyn
I read Earth Abides last month and it's one of my favortie reads for the year. I'll be very interested in knowing what you think of it.

Jul 5, 2009, 11:47pm Top


When I met Robert Bly he either had finished, or was working on his book Iron John. As I recall, the program he lead focused on men and, to use a trite phrase, their emotional well being and getting in touch with their feelings.

Jul 6, 2009, 2:03am Top

#166 bonniebooks

I hope I can keep finding poems that you will enjoy.

#167 lunacat

Thanks for the suggestion. I did not know about that book but I will be looking for it. It sounds like one I will enjoy.

#168 loriephillips

So far I''m loving it--but I have to finish it quickly because we are going out of town in a couple of days so I have to give it back to the library. One of the disadvantages of library books! They want them back. :-)

#169 Linda

Iron John was my first experience with Bly--which might explain why I didn't seek out his poetry. I can't remember now why it didn't appeal to me--maybe I was too young? :-) I do recommend Morning Poems--an eclectic but very thought provoking collection.

Jul 6, 2009, 10:33pm Top

#164 I really like that Billy Collins poem. I have to admit that I've avoided reading Collins because he was Poet Laureate during the Bush administration. I don't even know if the President actually has anything to do with who gets to be PL. Maybe I'll give him a try.

Jul 6, 2009, 10:35pm Top

Carolyn, thanks for your recommendation!

Jul 6, 2009, 10:52pm Top

#171 VB

I don't know how the PL is chosen but I can't recall anything overtly political in any of Billy Collins poetry that I have read so far. One of the things I like about his work is evident in that poem--often his poems show evidence of tangential thinking which is the way I think; one idea just seems to lead to another with no connecting links but the person doing the thinking sees the connection clearly. (It drives my husband crazy--even after all these years. He's a scientist and "leaps" of thought are not his thing!) :-)

#172 Linda

Welcome back! It sounds like you had a productive conference--hope it was fun, too. Now back to business. What have you read, lately? :-D

Jul 6, 2009, 11:11pm Top

not much! I've been consumed with the conference and work....
I'm reading Over Sea, Under Stone and hope to take it with me on my next journey this week.

Jul 7, 2009, 6:18am Top

#171: My guess is that if there was any Bush influence in the choice of the Poet Laureate, it would have been Laura Bush, who is the one who can read. The President is just the rubber stamp for honorary positions like that--usually there's a panel or something that makes a recommendation.

Edited: Jul 11, 2009, 9:55pm Top

Time for a couple more poems by Billy Collins--a poet even for those who think they don't like poetry!

** This one is for all those who had the love of poetry stifled by a teacher who didn't understand what this poem is trying to express. :-) **

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to water-ski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with a rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin by beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

** I think the next poem was posted somewhere on LT recently because I recognized it as I read it and I can't think of where else I would have seen it. But I really liked it and maybe not all of you saw it the first time it was posted. Those of you who do remember--it's not meant for you! :-) **


"The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart."

Jul 11, 2009, 11:02pm Top

We are staying up at our house in Vallejo and yesterday we had to go to Berkeley to get a special type of pillow recommended for my night time breathing problem. We also discovered a new--to us--independent book store with mostly used and some new books. I had to leave an awful lot behind--some I may regret later--but I'm pleased with what we got.

Two books for my 999 challenge--they both will fit in either Africa (using my new criteria of reading more books by African authors!) or biography/memoir: An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography by Paul Rusesabagina about Rwanda and The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur by Daoud Hari. Darfur is one of my primary emphases in this category.

For my fantasy category: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip--I read lots of good comments about this book on LT.

For my classics/fiction category: The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley. I've had an old, ratty PB copy of Parnassus on Wheels for a long time and have been waiting to find Haunted before I read it. This one is a lovely HC, old but in great condition (not a collectible, though). I'll read both of them this year and hope to find the matching Parnassus someday--they were published as a special commemorative set in the '50s. Also, Eva Luna by Isabel Allende because I think it if finally time I should try one of her books----everybody here seems to have great respect for her work and I have never read her.

For my poetry category (which really doesn't need any more!): Twelve Moons by Mary Oliver, one of her early books in really good condition.

For mystery category (which also needs no more entries): Death of a Dutchman by Magdalen Nabb, a new series for me that Joyce from Panama introduced me to. They also had the first one, but it was much more expensive and I have already read it. I'm going to regret leaving that one behind no doubt, also. But I was raised to be thrifty and sometimes I just have to let that be the rule.

One book to add to my collection about the founding of our nation which I started as a "category" last year and plan to continue next year: American Gospel by Jon Meacham. This was my one impulse. I haven't heard anything about it so I hope it is well done.

Jim, using good discretion, bought only 2 books: Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson and The Cheeses of California: A Culinary Travel Guide by Jeannette Hurt.

3 HC and 7 PB = 10 books for $60--I love used book stores! Some of them look like they've never been read.

Jul 12, 2009, 12:25am Top

An Ordinary Man made my list of memorable reads for last year, Carolyn. I cannot to see what you think of it.

Tell Jim he has very good taste in picking up the Larson book. I do not think Larson can write a bad one, lol.

Jul 12, 2009, 12:43am Top

We've never read anything by Larsen but I think we will both read it. Next year I'm thinking about doing a category about "disasters" including major physical disasters and personal disasters like Into Thin Air. I also want to read The Johnstown Flood by McCullough.

I don't think I will do a 101010 read--I'd like more freedom to decide what I want to read as I go along. I'm finding 999 a little restrictive--I've read a lot more than 9 in some categories and I'm way behind in others. I think I'll do as you did and just do categories on the 75 thread without having a minimum or maximum number to read. I to much better if I can pick my books on a whim rather than trying to fit them into a pre-set pattern.

Ordinary Man will be read soon--both Africa and Memoir categories are way behind. However fantasy & Sci-fi have had to be split into two categories. :-)

Speaking of fantasy, have you read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld? That looks like it would be a fast and fun read.

Jul 12, 2009, 12:57am Top

No, I have not read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. I bought that one, though, in anticipation of reading it some time this year. We can do that one next if you like.

I have no idea what the 101010 read is, but is sounds extremely . . . binary.

Edited: Jul 12, 2009, 1:35pm Top

Hey, binary is the language of the late 20th and early 21st century LOL

101010 is the 2010's equivalent of 999 for 2009. This year (2009) I am reading 9 books in each of 9 categories for the 999 challenge. In some ways I'm enjoying it because it is encouraging me to explore either subjects or genres more deeply but sometimes I feel stressed by it because right now some categories are well over 9 books and others I have only 2 or 3 books read and often I want to read something that doesn't fit in any of my categories.

I may become more relaxed about it when I get my machine and can once again read at the speed of a turtle in a hurry rather than a snail that can't stay awake. :-)

I'd love to do The Forgotten Beasts of Eld-- I think it would be easy and fun while I'm "biding my time." I'm almost finished with Earth Abides so I could start any time after tomorrow. Let me know when is a good time for you. No hurry--I'm reading 3 other books right now in addition to EA. I won't get bored while waiting.

Jul 12, 2009, 2:57am Top

I think I know where my copy of it is, Carolyn, but let me double check once I am actually home. I will let you know if and when I find it :)

Jul 12, 2009, 7:13am Top

Great selections of poems by Billy Collins! I may yet get over my poetry phobia. Did I tell you I ordered a book by Mary Oliver? It's on its way.

Jul 12, 2009, 12:12pm Top

#177 - That sounds like a great bookstore! During the school year my teachers' college was just across the road from a used bookstore - which was both wonderful and detrimental, since I spent a lot of time there - and since I have been home for the summer I am in major withdrawal!

I started a 999 challenge and quickly dropped out. Like you, I found it too restricting. Probably if I hadn't joined this group, it would have been fine, but you are all such diverse readers that I kept adding more and more books to my TBR that just wouldn't fit in my categories!

Happy Sunday to you! :)

Jul 12, 2009, 1:35pm Top

#183 Joyce

Which Mary Oliver did you order? So far I've been reading her later books--the last 15 years or so. But I'm getting to some of her earlier poetry now--I'm only missing 2 books of what has been published in this century. So far I have loved everything by her that I've encountered--both prose and poetry.

Jul 12, 2009, 1:42pm Top


I just discovered I do have another Erik Larson book--The Devil in the White City. I really want to read it but but put it on the back burner because I can't figure out where to put it in 999. Maybe I'll just read it anyway. I didn't make the connection because Devil I remember by title, not author.

Jul 12, 2009, 1:48pm Top

#184 Cait86

You're right--one of the problems is I get so many great suggestions from the 75 group I get frustrated because they don't fit my categories. I'm also finding that I'm avoiding some of the "chunkers" I really wanted to read this year because they take so much time and I fear getting behind. I have to remind myself that reading is my hobby, not my job!

So next year I'm sticking with the freedom of the 75 challenge. No pressure!

Jul 12, 2009, 1:56pm Top

I may have to get me a book of Billy Collins poems. In the meantime, I've started a MusicMom collection! :-)

Jul 12, 2009, 3:48pm Top

#185: At Blackwater Pond;Mary Oliver Reads Mary Oliver. Either I read it here on your thread or in the NY Times article about her in Provincetown, but she believes that poetry--at least her poetry, anyway--is meant to be heard. So--I decided that i would start out with an audiobook. It'll be my first.

Jul 12, 2009, 8:31pm Top

Oh! I didn't know she had a audio edition. I will definitely have to find that one! As soon as I get my machine I plan to get back into my daily walking routine and that would be perfect to listen to while I walk. Thanks for mentioning it.

Jul 12, 2009, 10:04pm Top

#186: OK, see now that would drive me nuts - I cannot read a book because it is not in a category! Un uh, no way Jose. I could not do that at all.

So - go read the Larsen books! They are very good.

Jul 13, 2009, 8:27am Top

>179 MusicMom41:: Speaking of fantasy, have you read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld? That looks like it would be a fast and fun read.

If you react to it at all like I did, it won't just be a fun read, it will be a beautiful read.

Jul 13, 2009, 8:35am Top

#177 Nice haul, Carolyn! I'm eager to learn what you think of the Christopher Morley books. I've got The Forgotten Beasts of Eld on the wish list. Patricia McKillip's books seem to be highly rated here on LT.

I thought about doing the 999 challenge at the beginning of the year, but I'm an impulsive reader. I think I would get frustrated with planning out my reading like that. On the plus side, it does encourage well rounded reading and you're probably enjoying books you never would have read on your own.

Jul 17, 2009, 4:03pm Top

I meant to ask when you expect your CPAP?
I'm just curious to see how long it takes you to get use to it.
My sister said it took her 3 weeks, by neice a month. I hope all goes well when you get yours.

Jul 17, 2009, 5:28pm Top

#193 lorie

You're right about reading books I might never have heard of without the 999 challenge and in spite of the frustration I really don't regret having tackled it. However, now that I have an idea about reading in categories I would like a little (a lot?) more freedom because I'm an impulsive reader, also. Next year I plan to have a few categories that I will read in depth but with no limit--high or low--as to how many books in the category or how long I will read in it. That will help me do some focused reading and still be able to indulge my impulses. :-)

#194 cheli

I hope to get my CPAP before the end of the month. I didn't have too much trouble using it the night they did the titration test so I think I will be able to adjust pretty well fairly quickly. I'm determined to make it work because I can't believe what a difference just one night made--I'm anxious to become my old ADHD self again! :-D

Edited: Jul 18, 2009, 12:35pm Top

Finally got my reviews for the last 2 books written!

Book 64:

Stewart, George R.: Earth Abides
999 Classics/Fiction category (7/13/09)
Library 345 Pages

It took a long time to come from a "distant" library but I finally read Earth Abides this week. It was appropriate to read now because we are up at our house in Vallejo, which is near San Francisco. It was a little eerie reading this story so close to the area where the story takes place. I can easily visualize the area because I've been there so many times. I was born “in the shadow” of the Golden Gate Bridge. The book tells about a young man who, after spending several weeks alone in a cabin in the mountains, returns to his home in the East Bay area to discover that most of the human population of the earth has been wiped out by a plague. This is the first post-apocalyptic novel I have ever read and I found it interesting how the author envisioned the future after this catastrophe. It was written 1949 and so to younger readers it would seem dated in some ways but the human reactions and how they dealt with the event could generate a lot of discussion in a book group. I found it fascinating. I'm putting it in my classic category instead of science fiction even though the library doesn't agree with me. I didn't see anything fictional about the science in the book (although my scientist husband would call some of it "fuzzy science!") and it doesn't seem to be fantasy. It's about something that didn't happen, which makes it fiction, but it isn't about something couldn't possibly happen so I don't consider it fantastical. (Now all you Sci-Fi/Fantasy gurus can tell me why I'm wrong! But my Classics category need more help than my Sci-Fi and Fantasy categories--so you won't change my mind.) :-)

I had another eerie experience reading this book. The nonfiction book I was reading at the same time was Travels with Charley about the 1960 trip Steinbeck took to “explore America.” In Earth Abides the protagonist, Ish, takes a cross country trip to see what has happened in the rest of America after the catastrophe. My mind kept comparing Ish’s journey with Steinbeck’s trip as I read Travels. I seem to frequently have these kinds of coincidences when I read—unusual connections between disparate stories.

Bottom line: An interesting,, thought provoking look at how people might react to a global catastrophe. It would make a good Book Group discussion, imo. Highly Recommended—4 stars

Since finishing the book I discovered that there have been at least two earlier novels that deal with what happens when most of the world's population is wiped out by a plague: The Last Man by Mary Shelley(written in 1826) which takes place in the year 2100, and The Scarlet Plague by Jack London (a novella written in 1912) in which a grandfather tries to describe to his grandchildren what the world was like before a plague wiped out most of the human race "60 years ago". The London story takes place in the same area where Earth Abides does. I wonder if Stewart was influenced by London's piece. From the description of London's story it sounds as if the people have ended up similarly to the way they do in Stewart's novel. I may try to find these 2 books--it would be interesting to compare these 3 stories that start with the same premise. However, I already have A Canticle for Leibowitz and On the Beach in my library so those will probably be the next post-apocalyptic novels I read.

Jul 17, 2009, 5:57pm Top

Book 65:

Steinbeck, John: Travels with Charley
999 Biography/Memoir category (7/16/09)
PL 214 pages

This is my fourth Steinbeck read and he has become one of my favorite authors. I think he could have made the Yellow Pages into a riveting book if he'd had a mind to. No matter what the subject I find that his prose just seems to move me along like a lovely boat ride on calm water—it just flows.

This book was about a circular trip around the USA, conceived because he wanted to get the feel of what made America a cohesive country and learn about her character. When he finished he decided he really didn’t learn what he thought he would and he was left with more questions than answers. However, I learned a lot reading this book, not the least of which was much about Steinbeck himself as he shares his impressions of the people, places, and events he witnesses. His musings on his experiences were enlightening and reminded me of the saying “the unexamined life is not worth living.” (Wasn’t that Thoreau?) Steinbeck shows us the Good, Bad, Ugly and Beautiful of our country in 1960. This was the America of my youth which made it somewhat of a nostalgic read for me because I have been to many of the places he visited and found his observations striking chords of remembrance for me. One thing that made me smile, as long ago as 1960 Steinbeck was complaining that newspapers were more about giving us opinion than news! It’s only gotten worse!

One of the most riveting and disturbing part of the trip was near the end when he went through the Deep South. This was at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement and he gives a very good and balanced picture as an outsider observing what was happening and speaking to some of the people. I moved from California to Savannah, GA about a decade after Travels was written and observed over the next about 25 years the gradual changes that took place in the Civil Rights problems--not enough and not fast enough. However there have been gains made that give me hope for the future--but like Steinbeck it probably won't happen in my lifetime.

The Centennial Edition (2002) contains a final chapter that was left out of the original publication that is really fun.

Bottom line: Steinbeck’s account of his passage through America is interesting, thought provoking, and in the end, delightful. Highly Recommended—5 stars

Jul 17, 2009, 7:10pm Top

great review of Travels....
adding it to my list

Jul 17, 2009, 7:25pm Top

Carolyn, it doesn't look like you've posted the review to the book site yet! I went to give you a thumbs up and you weren't there. Please do so.

Jul 17, 2009, 7:47pm Top

I just ordered Travels with Charley via Bookmooch. Thanks for the review!

Jul 17, 2009, 8:26pm Top

Great Reviews!

Edited: Jul 18, 2009, 2:09am Top

Two very nice reviews, Carolyn. I've read a few apocalyptic books (including A Canticle for Leibowitz, which is very good), and I really enjoyed the philosophical aspect in Earth Abides. I'm glad you liked it too.

edited to fix touchstones

Jul 18, 2009, 2:51am Top

Thanks Emily, Roni, Angela, Linda, and Lorie for the nice comments.

One of the great things about LT is the opportunity to share your thoughts about the books we read with others who appreciate how special it is to read wonderful stories. I have found that knowing I will want to share my thought about a book has helped me to concentrate better and retain more of what I read and then writing the comments makes the book even more indelible in my mind.

Thanks for the reminder, Roni! Hubby was anxious to "get on the road" for our errands this afternoon when I was posting and I didn't remember I hadn't added it yet.

Jul 19, 2009, 9:31am Top

Thumbs all around!!!!

Steinbeck rocks, obviously. Though he is a favorite, I haven't gotten a copy of Travels with Charley. Have to remedy that sometime. Added Earth Abides to my look out list!

Jul 19, 2009, 10:25am Top

Hi, just de-lurking to say thanks for the review of Travels with Charley. I have been looking for travellers tales of the USA and since I enjoy Steinback this fits the bill perfectly.

Jul 19, 2009, 5:32pm Top

You make me want to read Travels with Charley again!

Jul 20, 2009, 9:04pm Top


You should! There's so much there is's worth a reread.

Jul 20, 2009, 9:10pm Top

I’m writing the reviews of the 2 books I’ve finished so far this week but decided to take a break and post a Billy Collins poem because it's been a while since I did and I found a great one.

Before I married I never paid much attention to the weather. If it was cold or raining when I went out I just went back for a sweater or an umbrella. My husband pays close attention to the weather, reading the forecasts in the paper and watching the reports on TV and checking out the areas of the country where we formerly lived and where our children live--daily! I think that is why I got such a kick out of this poem:

A History of Weather

It is the kind of spring morning—candid sunlight
elucidating the air, a flower-ruffling breeze—
that makes me want to begin a history of weather,
a ten-volume elegy for the atmospheres of the past,
the envelopes that have moved around the moving globe.

It will open by examining the cirrus clouds
that are now sweeping over this house into the next state,
and every chapter will step backwards in time
to illustrate the rain that fell on battlefields
and the winds that attended beheadings, coronations.

The snow flurries of Victorian London will be surveyed
along with the gales that blew off Renaissance caps.
The tornadoes of the Middle Ages will be explicated
and the long, overcast days of the Dark Ages.
There will be a section on the frozen nights of antiquity
and on the heat that shimmered in the deserts of the Bible.

The study will be hailed as ambitious and definitive,
for it will cover even the climate before the Flood
when showers moistened Eden and will conclude
with the mysteries of the weather before history
when unseen clouds drifted over an unpeopled world,
when not a soul lay in any of earth’s meadows gazing up
at the passing of enormous faces and animal shapes,
his jacket bunched into a pillow, an open book on his chest.

Jul 20, 2009, 9:53pm Top

I'm simpy stopping by to say hi and that I hope you feel better!

Jul 20, 2009, 10:09pm Top

Carolyn, you've convinced me. I actually bought Picnic, Lightning by Billy Collins today.
#177 Is your copy of The Haunted Bookshop the Lippincott 1955 printing? That's the set that I have. Someone had sold them to The Strand. I got the set for $6. Not collectible, but worth keeping for the illustrations.

Jul 20, 2009, 10:39pm Top

Hi Linda--Thanks. I was able to move my appointment up a week so I'm hoping the end is in sight and I will get my CPAP before the end of the month.

#210 Violet

I hope you enjoy Picnic, Lightning--I haven't read that one yet. I will have to hunt for it.

I'm pretty sure my Haunted Bookshop is the 1955 edition--at least it has the illustrations of that edition. Now I just have to find Parnasus in that edition!

Jul 20, 2009, 11:04pm Top

Book 66:

Rowling, J.K.: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
999 Fantasy category (07/18/09)
PL 64 pages

This companion volume to Quidditch Through the Ages is another clever and delightful look at the world of Harry Potter. I especially enjoyed the “introductory material” which gave a history of magizoology and how the classifications of “beings” and “beasts” evolved. A young person who read this in elementary school might find biology in high school more comprehensible and interesting with this background. Recommended for die-hard Harry Potter Fans

Book: 67:

McPherson, James M.: Tried by War
999 Civil War category (7/19/09)
PL Audio 8 CDs 9 hours; narrator: George Guidall

Hubby bought this to listen to on a car trip so we used it for our vacation this month. Since I just finished Battle Cry of Freedom last month much of this was familiar to me which made it easy to follow even though it was an audio book—very well read by George Guidall. It was interesting to have the Union side of the war discussed exclusively as it became easy to see what was going on politically in relation to what was happening in the battle field and on the home front without the distraction of trying to keep track of the Confederacy at the same time. If I had read Tried by War before reading Battle Cry of Freedom I think I would have found the latter book an easier read.

The emphasis of the book is on Lincoln and how his interpretation of the President as Commander-in-Chief affected the role of the Executive branch of the government in the future. McPherson shows how Lincoln learned “on the job” how to conduct the war and the reader is left feeling that without Lincoln it is very likely that the Union would not have been preserved. The epilogue is a masterpiece of summarizing how the Civil War and Lincoln’s handling of it shaped the future of our nation as well as thee nature of the Presidency. Highly recommended—4 stars

Edited: Jul 20, 2009, 11:45pm Top

I just discovered I never posted the firt two books I read in July. I was too busy trying to catch up on posting my June books!

Book 62:

Dahl, Roald: Esio Trot
999 Want To! category (7/1/09)
Audio and PL 65 pages

An LT friend sent me four of the shorter Dahl children’s stories on disc so I grabbed one of them to listen to as I drove my long drive into the doctor’s office. It was early in the morning and this charming story, beautifully read by the British actor Geoffrey Palmer, kept me alert and awake for the trip. Mr. Hoppy is in love with Mrs. Silver but hasn’t the courage to tell her. She is concerned about her pet tortoise, Alfie, because he isn’t growing. The story of how Mr. Hoppy solves Mrs. Silver’s problem and so gains the courage to tell her how he feels had me in stitches. Dahl’s quirky story is, as always, delightful with wonderful details and great word play. I enjoyed it so much, when I got home I looked for the used copy I had recently bought from the library and reread it with the wonderful illustrations by Quentin Blake. Recommended for the young and the young at heart-- 3 ½ stars

Book 63:

Dahl, Roald: The BFG
999 Want To! category (7/02/09)
PL 208 pages

I enjoyed Esio Trot so much I picked up the last Dahl book I’ve been able to find used to purchase and read it, too. (I do have three more stories on the discs the LT friend sent but don’t own those books.) I’ve enjoyed them all, but this one was my favorite and I could imagine myself being entirely enthralled by it if had read it as a child. Not only is the story about Sophie and the Big Friendly Giant delightful but the word play is fabulous and fun—something I have always loved. Some of the ways that Dahl describes people and events often reminds me of Mark Twain’s satiric humor, which may explain why adults can also enjoy his children’s stories. Highly recommended for adults and intelligent children who enjoy quirky, humorous stories with lots of word play--4 stars

Jul 21, 2009, 12:56am Top

Ah, now I've found your thread :-)

re: book 67: Tried by War sounds fascinating. The Civil War is another interest of ours. Since Battle Cry of Freedom is on my wishlist, I've duly noted what you said about how it might have been an easier read if you'd read Tried By War beforehand. That's helpful to know!

I'll just pile one more on my wishlist . . .

Jul 21, 2009, 1:31am Top


Thanks for stopping by!

I'm doing an "in depth" Civil War read this year that will probably carry over into next year. I've discovered that my history classes in high school and college barely scratched the surface of this conflict and much of what I thought I knew was erroneous! I have several more books on tap to read this year and am still hunting more for later. It's a fascinating subject. For a real expert on this area look for joycepa--I think she moved to "Club Read" this year but you can find her comments on many threads herel.

If you haven't gone there yet, go to alcottacre's thread. There is usually a lot of action there and it's kind of a gathering place.

There are a lot of great people in the 75 challenge--you can't keep up with all of them. But you will find many that will share your interests and like to "talk books"--be sure to "star" the ones that you want to keep up with. That makes it easy to find them.

Edited: Jul 21, 2009, 2:14am Top

Just a suggestion: One Civil War book I really liked was Gettysburg by Stephen Sears. I learned a lot from that one -- and I used to live just outside Gettysburg, so it's not like I didn't know anything about the battle before I read it.

I took a peek at your library, and I see that you already my favorite Civil War book -- Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels.

I just discovered the ability to "star" threads, thanks to comments in this group. I've already starred yours! I'll be sure to stop by alcottacre's thread as you suggest.

Jul 21, 2009, 12:15pm Top

I read Killer Angels many years ago when we were on a trip visiting friends. We were supposed to go to Gettysburg but one of the children was sick that day so I never got there. It was the first Civil War book I ever read and i was so absorbed I was hardly even social for the two days it took me to reed (for me--that's fast!). It has taken me a long time to get back to reading about the Civil War but I'm making up for lost time! I will definitely check out Gettysburg--I will want to read another one about that battle. Just added it to "wishlist." I love "collections!" It makes it so easy.

Jul 21, 2009, 12:21pm Top


Earlier this year I was on a Roald Dahl journey. I so agree with your comments regarding the BFG. Of all that I read, this one stands as my favorite. I loved the play on words, especially the phrase "right or left" meaning right or wrong!

Jul 21, 2009, 12:25pm Top

I know about your Roald Dahl journey--that's what started me on mine! :-D

Jul 21, 2009, 12:38pm Top

Ah, this makes me happy! I'm sorry if you mentioned this before and I forgot.

Jul 26, 2009, 3:35pm Top

Thanks for the advice about reading Tried by War before Battle Cry of Freedom. Next year for the Presidents Challenge I will be reading Lincoln and have a whole list of books (10 for Lincoln alone and 22 others for the Civil War period) so I am trying to figure out in which order to read them.

Jul 28, 2009, 3:49pm Top

Time moves very slowly while I wait to hear from the people who will supply the CPAP for me--the referral was sent a week ago, but I continue to languish in fatigue until my request rises to the top.

Time for a poem!

I love both old poetry and contemporary poetry--Billy Collins manages to address both types in this poem.

The Death of Allegory

I am wondering what became of all those tall abstractions
that used to pose, robed and statuesque, in paintings
and parade about on the pages of the Renaissance
displaying their capital letters like license plates.

Truth cantering on a powerful horse,
Chastity, eyes downcast, fluttering with veils.
Each one was marble come to life, a thought in a coat,
Courtesy bowing with one hand always extended,

Villainy sharpening an instrument behind a wall,
Reason with her crown and Constancy alert behind a helm.
They are all retired now, consigned to a Florida for tropes.
Justice is there standing by an open refrigerator.

Valor lies in bed listening to the rain.
Even Death has nothing to do but mend his cloak and hood,
and all their props are locked away in a warehouse,
hourglasses, globes, blindfolds and shackles.

Even if you called them back, there are no places left
for them to go, no Garden of Mirth or Bower of Bliss.
The Valley of Forgiveness is lined with condominiums
and chain saws are howling in the Forest of Despair.

Here on the table near the window is a vase of peonies
and next to it black binoculars and a money clip,
exactly the kind of thing we now prefer,
objects that sit quietly on a line in lower case,

themselves, nothing more, a wheelbarrow,
an empty mailbox, a razor blade resting in a glass ashtray.
As for the others, the great ideas on horseback
and the long-haired virtues in embroidered gowns,

it looks as though they have traveled down
that road you see on the final page of storybooks,
the one that winds up a green hillside and disappears
into an unseen valley where everyone must be fast asleep.

Edited: Jul 28, 2009, 4:14pm Top

Book 68:

Kraft, Heidi Squier: Rule Number Two
999 Biography/Memoir category (7/21/09)
Library 243 pages

Heidi Kraft was a US Navy psychologist happily married to a Marine and raising her 15 month old twins when on short notice she was shipped out to Iraq to be part of a medical support team for combat troops (think M*A*S*H*, only in Iraq). While there she kept a journal to help her keep her sanity and when she came home she used that journal to write this book. The book is written in episodic fashion, giving us an understanding of what life is like for both the Marines and their Navy medical support teams. This style lets us see both the horrific aspects and some of the redeeming episodes that happen in war without overwhelming the reader. Occasionally there is even a little humor. This book is not long and was a fairly quick read for me. As Elie Wiesel does in Night, Kraft gives us enough to understand the horror she lived through without making us numb.

Bottom line: This book is a paean to the human spirit, to the military who serve our country in the combat zones and the people who are there to support them both physically and mentally when they need it. Highly recommended—4 ½ stars

Edited: Jul 28, 2009, 4:19pm Top

Book 69:

McKillip, Patricia A.: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
999 Fantasy category (7/23/09)
PL 199 pages

This was my first McKillip fantasy and I enjoyed it very much. It brought to mind Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown which I read earlier this year. The writing in this was beautiful and she described her people and places vividly so it was easy to envision what was happening, which for me made it not only pleasurable but also a fairly quick read. I was a little disappointed in the beginning because I had wanted more told about the development of the relationship between Sybel and Tam. (n.b.—this is one of my problems with YA literature; they are often skimpy on the development of characters and relationships in order to get to the “action.”) However, the book made up for that as it followed Sybel’s development after she encounters Coren the second time and in all that follows. The ending is stunning and satisfying, although I had expected one aspect of it. Highly recommended—4 stars

(Near the end there was a brief reference to the “Riddle-Master”—since the next book she wrote was The Riddle-Master of Hed I wonder if it was a reference to that. I plan to read that soon.)

Jul 28, 2009, 4:18pm Top

Carolyn, I read in an article about another subject (can't remember about what) that Billy Collins was our country's Poet Laureate for a couple of years and I thought "I know who that is and, thanks to musicmom, I've even read some of his poems!" Yeah! :-)

Jul 28, 2009, 6:50pm Top

Collins was Poet Laureate and is responsible for the Poetry 180 project (and book) which is designed for a student to hear a new poem each and every school day (180 days in a year). Nice work, too.

Jul 28, 2009, 7:18pm Top

#225 & 226

Thanks, Bonnie. I just love how LT expands one's horizons--I've learned about so many new authors and read in genres I never considered before because the readers here make it so interesting. I'm passionate about poetry so I'm really thrilled when someone "meets" a new poet on my thread. I feel like I'm contributing to the expanding horizons of the LT community.

P2G--I actually became interested in seeking out Billy Collins' work when he was poet laureate. I though his idea of getting more poetry out to younger readers, especially poetry they might enjoy, was a great way to use that honorary position. I get especially tickled by his "poems about poetry"--he understands how so many people are turned away from poetry in school because of the way it is often taught. I love his emphasis on experiencing poems rather than analyzing them.

Jul 29, 2009, 8:39pm Top

Billy Collins again--another "Poem about a poem"--


All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now,
and after this just a dozen
to launch a little ship on love's storm-tossed seas,
then only ten more left like rows of beans.
How easily it goes unless you get Elizabethan
and insist the iambic bongos must be played
and rhymes positioned at the ends of lines,
one for every station of the cross.
But hang on here while we make the turn
into the final six where all will be resolved,
where longing and heartache will find an end,
where Laura will tell Petrarch to put down his pen,
take off those crazy medieval tights,
blow out the lights, and come at last to bed.

Jul 30, 2009, 1:48pm Top

he understands how so many people are turned away from poetry in school because of the way it is often taught. I love his emphasis on experiencing poems rather than analyzing them.


I'll have to share his 180 Project with a teacher friend of mine. There are so many good reasons to share poetry in a classroom of very diverse learners and readers.

Jul 31, 2009, 1:43pm Top

Just got caught up and was positive I'd find a link to another thread with more to read LOL. Carolyn, I just love your summaries and am impressed that you have a fav non-fiction each month too. If I did that it would be the only one I read that month rather than 'the best of' -- bad me!


Jul 31, 2009, 2:59pm Top

I never read this much nonfiction until I joined LT. Actually I didn't read this much of anything except mysteries until I joined LT! One perk about getting interested in nonfiction is that is primarily what my husband reads and since he just retired this month we are planning to do some reading together and discussing books--especially history. I'm looking forward to that.

Aug 1, 2009, 7:37am Top

That sounds lovely! My hubby reads scifi -- YES!!

Aug 1, 2009, 2:11pm Top

> 61 Thank you for sharing Robert Bly's poetry. Not only will Morning Poems be going on my TBR pile, it's also going on the To Be Bought list! Love reading your threads.

Aug 1, 2009, 2:15pm Top

In regards to "Books", the poem by Billy Collins, one word, WOW! Thank you again for sharing.

Aug 1, 2009, 11:59pm Top

> 68 Sounds like a compelling read. I think I would like to read this but I don't have the guts to even watch war movies. My daughter has been told to expect to be sent over to Afghanistan in May and so I feel I should prepare myself and read some of these stories, but another part of me doesn't want to think about it. I guess when I'm feeling brave enough I'll look for this in the library.

Aug 2, 2009, 1:40pm Top

BIG hugs to you and your daughter!

Aug 2, 2009, 8:23pm Top

Thank you, I appreciate that. My family attended my daughter's graduation this month at the Basic School in Quantico and were so impressed by the young men and women committing themselves to the service of their country and their fellow countrymen. I am so in awe especially of the young women and what they have gone through. God bless them all!

Aug 3, 2009, 1:59am Top

I've just added Rule Number Two to my ever-growing TBR list.

thomasandmary: My thoughts are with you and your daughter.

Aug 3, 2009, 10:37am Top

Thanks again for the mention of the "180 Project." My teacher friend was very excited to hear about it, 'cas, unlike me, she already knew and loved Billy Collins--or his poems, I should say. :-)

Edited: Aug 3, 2009, 10:59pm Top


I'm so glad you enjoyed my poems. where I live now I don't know anyone who really loves poetry so I'm so glad to find readers on LT who do.

Re Rule Number Two--only you can decide how much you want to be aware of what your child may be facing when she goes to Afghanistan. If I had a child going into a war zone I think I would have found this book both disturbing, because it pulls no punches as to what the people there (in Iraq) are facing, but also encouraging to see how they face the challenges and helpful to those of us at home to better understand what they go through and how we can help them. I would have wanted to read it.

I will be keeping your daughter in my prayers -- please let me know when she is deployed.


Our young men and women who serve our country do make us proud! I'll be keeping your daughter in my prayers, also--and let me know if she gets deployed overseas!

Aug 3, 2009, 11:04pm Top

I haven't had a chance to do my July summary yet because I spent the weekend finishing some of the books I started in July. I decided to post the book I just finished and will do the summary tomorrow.

Book 70:

Tarbell, Ida M: He Knew Lincoln
999 Want To! category (8/02/09)
PL 40 pages

For years my husband has talked about this book which he remembered a Jr. High history teacher teaching reading to his class many years ago. Going through some things from his parents’ house I found the book, which was published in 1907. It was given to his grandfather by his grandmother on Valentines Day in 1916. His grandmother was a teacher at the school hubby attended and had lent the book to her teacher friend to share with her classes.

It is a charming story told from the point of view of a young man who knew Lincoln in his hometown because Lincoln would come to the store where the boy worked to buy quinine water. There was a chair there where Lincoln would sit and they would exchange stories and other townspeople would come in and join them. This short story shows how Lincoln could win the hearts of the people and how they believed in him. It is beautifully illustrated, but no indication of who did the drawings.

Aug 3, 2009, 11:05pm Top

Book 71:

Willis, Connie: To Say Nothing of the Dog
999 Fantasy category (8/02/09)
PL 493 pages

One of the benefits I’m reaping from doing an in-depth read in the SciFi/Fantasy genre for 2009 is the discovery of Connie Willis. The first book I read this year was Doomsday Book and it became one of my top ten favorite books of all time. To Say Nothing of the Dog is entirely different in mood and character but just as enjoyable. The one thing they have in common is the use of “the net” at Oxford University but the former story has a serious tone to it while the latter is just a wonderful and sometimes hysterical roller coaster ride. The plot is impossible to describe without giving too much away but it is a comedy of manners that involves chaos theory, literary and historical allusions, mystery references, and a plot that keeps you guessing. And for cat lovers, there is a fabulous cat, too. One of the few books that have made me laugh out loud! Highly recommended—5 stars.

Aug 3, 2009, 11:06pm Top

Book 72:

Collins, Billy: Sailing Around the Room
999 Poetry category (8/03/09)
PL 172 pages
This anthology contains a generous selection of poems from four of his books published between 1988 and 1998 plus a group of new poems. Collins uses a wide range of subjects; he seems to be able to write a poem about anything that pops into his mind and many poems reveal his process of thought as he is composing them. Some poems start out about one subject but seem to change direction mid-verse. Once in a while a poem will seem to have a surreal quality. I find his work intriguing and feel he creates a connection between himself and his reader that makes his work seem personal.

I have been posting some of my favorite poems from this book occasionally this month trying to show how he uses a variety of subjects. Two of my favorite subjects that Collins writes about are art and music. My last two Billy Collins poems (until I get another volume of his poetry!) are examples of his work in these areas.

Candle Hat

In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates;
Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in the brushstrokes,
Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,
Rembrandt looks relieved, as if he were taking a breather
from painting The Blinding of Samson.

But in this one Goya stands well back from the mirror
and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio
addressing a canvas tilted back on a tall easel.

He appears to be smiling out at us as if he knew
we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head
which is fitted around the brim with candle holders,
a device that allowed him to work into the night.

You can only wonder what it would be like
to be wearing such a chandelier on your head
as if you were a walking dining room or concert hall.

But once you see this hat there is no need to read
any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.

To understand Goya you only have to imagine him
lighting the candles one by one, then placing
the hat on his head, ready for a night of work.

Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention,
then laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow.
Imagine him flickering through the rooms of his house
with all the shadows flying across the walls.

Imagine a lost traveler knocking on his door
one dark night in the hill country of Spain.
“Come in,” he would say, I was just painting myself,”
as he stood in the doorway holding up the wand of a brush,
illuminated in the blaze of his famous candle hat.

I Chop Some Parsley While Listening to Art Blakey’s Version of “Three Blind Mice”

And I start wondering how they came to be blind.
If it was congenital, they could be brothers and sisters,
and I think of the poor mother
brooding over her sightless young triplets.

Or was it a common accident, all three caught
in a searing explosion, a firework perhaps?
If not,
if each came to his or her blindness separately,

how did they ever manage to find one another?
Would it not be difficult for a blind mouse
to locate even one fellow mouse with vision
let alone two other blind ones?

And how, in their tiny darkness,
could they possibly have run after a farmer’s wife
or anyone else’s wife for that matter?
Not to mention why.

Just so she could cut off their tails
with a carving knife, in the cynic’s answer,
but the thought of them without eyes
and now without tails to trail through the moist grass

or slip around the corner of a baseboard
has the cynic who always lounges within me
up off his couch and at the window
trying to hide the rsing softness that he feels.

By now I am on to dicing an onion
which might account for the wet stinging
in my own eyes, though Freddie Hubbard’s
mournful trumpet on “Blue Moon,”

which happens to be the next cut,
cannot be said to be making matters any better.

Aug 3, 2009, 11:17pm Top

#242: I still need to read that one. I just have to find my copy!

Aug 3, 2009, 11:33pm Top

I'm so glad you loved To Say Nothing of the Dog. It's one of my "comfort foods."

Thanks for sharing some more Billy Collins. You're actually converting me, poem by poem. This time I only thought about skipping them before reading and enjoying them both. I'm getting to like that Billy Collins! :-)

Aug 4, 2009, 1:51am Top


Oh, I guess I'll have to see if I can find a new volume of his poems so I can continue to convert you! :-)

Aug 4, 2009, 10:14pm Top

Book 73:

Morley, Christopher: Parnassus on Wheels
999 Classics/Fiction category (8/04/09)
Library 190 pages

This is a delightful story of an unmarried woman approaching the age of 40 who has spent most of her adult life keeping house for her brother who instead of staying home to tend the farm goes off on adventures which he turns into best selling books. One day, to prevent her brother from doing so, she buys a large horse and wagon full of books complete with a dog and starts off on an adventure of her own. This takes place in the early 20th century when such actions were unheard of for women and the ensuing contretemps are at times funny and quite delightful. I had very little idea of what this book was about and found myself charmed by the story and looking forward to the sequel, The Haunted Bookshop. 3 ½ stars—recommended.

Edited: Aug 4, 2009, 10:31pm Top

I'm so glad you enjoyed To Say Nothing of the Dog, since I've been pushing it at you for the last year!! I can't remember--have you already read Three Men in a Boat, To Say Nothing of the Dog? I think maybe you have. I didn't read the older book until after I'd read the first a couple of times, but it sure deepened my enjoyment!!

Now, my dear, if I could just get you started on Lois McMaster Bujold!! I'll bow to Tad here and say start with Barrayar for the space opera, with The Curse of Chalion for fantasy.

ETA yes, you did read TMiaB in February! Didn't you enjoy glimpsing them on the Thames?

Edited: Aug 4, 2009, 11:22pm Top

# 71 I am not familiar with Connie Willis. This sounds like a great read. Joining this group has been such an eye opening experience for me! So glad I can glean something from so many expert readers :-)

Aug 4, 2009, 11:28pm Top

Olive Twist here, standing with my hands out, pleading, may I have some more Billy Collins poems, please ma'am?

Aug 5, 2009, 5:47pm Top

I've been having trouble with my net connection so I hope I can get my posts done before I get dropped off again!

#248 roni

I couldn't believe how much I loved To Say Nothing! I can hardly wait to find more of Willis' novels.

I'm working up to Bujold! I want to buy it because I don't want to be pressured by a due date. I'll have to start with the space opera--my sci-fi category needs more help than my fantasy category right now. (Notice I had to divide them into 2 categories because I'm reading so many this year!)

Aug 5, 2009, 5:52pm Top

#251 thomasandmary

Especially for you! This is the first poem of his I ever read--from the book Nine Horses, published soon after he became poet laureate.

I love this poem because it makes me think of my mother--she was always cautioning me about the catastrophes that might happen if I weren't careful!

The Country

I wondered about you
when you told me never to leave
a box of wooden, strike-anywhere matches
lying around the house because the mice

might get into them and start a fire.
But your face was absolutely straight
when you twisted the lid down on the round tin
where the matches, you said, are always stowed.

Who could sleep at night?
Who could whisk away the thought
of the one unlikely mouse
padding along a cold water pipe

behind the floral wallpaper
gripping a single wooden match
between the needles of his teeth?
Who could not see him rounding a corner,

the blue tip scratching against a rough-hewn beam,
the sudden flare, and the creature
for one bright, shining moment
suddenly thrust ahead of his time—

now a fire-starter, now a torchbearer
in a forgotten ritual, little brown druid
illuminating some ancient night.
Who could fail to notice,

lit up in the blazing insulation,
the tiny looks of wonderment on the faces
of his fellow mice, onetime inhabitants
of what once was your house in the country?

Aug 5, 2009, 5:55pm Top

Doomsday Book and Bellwether are both good too. I envy you just discovering her, though I wonder if you'll like the others as well. I've read To Say Nothing of the Dog several times already. It's one of my "comfort food" books.

Aug 5, 2009, 5:57pm Top

LOL! I missed the poem. You must have just posted it. This time, musicmom, I didn't even flinch or look away. Instead I eagerly read it! I'm saved! :-)

Aug 5, 2009, 8:43pm Top

I love the poem. My kids would say that I'm exactly like the woman worrying about the mice setting fire to the house.

Aug 5, 2009, 10:30pm Top

I had to laugh because my grandmother was afraid of nearly the same thing. My grandfather dropped matches outside, where they were immediately wetted by the morning dew so there was no danger. He couldn't find them. She was convinced a 'woodchuck' would bite one and start a forest fire. (I laugh every time at the mental image of this - can you picture it???:)

Edited: Aug 5, 2009, 10:45pm Top

>252 MusicMom41: I love it! Thank you, thank you. Wow, how did I live this long and not know of Billy Collins? You are my literary hero.

Aug 5, 2009, 10:46pm Top

Loved that poem. I'm also the type who worries about things like mice setting the house on fire. Well, fire in general is a big issue for me. Yesterday I bought Sailing Alone Around the Room. Now I've started a collection of Collins books because of your postings of his poems. Thanks.

Aug 7, 2009, 7:40am Top

Carolyn...hello....I found you again! Somehow the star got 'undone' on this thread, so I've spent an early AM (the turkeys woke me up at 5:40 as they strolled thru looking for seeds), going thru this fabulous batch of reading you've been doing.

I'm especially enchanted by Billy Collins....had never heard of him and will HAVE to go find some more and read him. One of the wonderful things I did enjoy about the 999 was reading more poetry, short stories, and other categories I might never have done.

And one last thank you for your early on suggestion to convert one of my categories to "Things Portuguese"-- I have found a used copy of Madeleine L'Engles' The Love Letters and along with Katherine Vaz' Saudade they will complete my last category and my 999.

Glad to see your summer is going well.

Aug 7, 2009, 12:50pm Top


The Love Letters was the first L'engle book I ever read and made me a convert. I loved it! You are so lucky to have a copy. I got it from the library many, many years ago and still remember what a great book it was. I do hope you enjoy it.

Congratulations on being so near to completing 999! I really have to discipline myself these next few weeks and read what I'm missing instead of reading "just for fun!" My Civil War category will prevent me from finishing before 9/9/99 but that one I'm determined to finish this year. I will also continue to read in it next year--it has been fascinating and I have collected some great books for it. Unfortunately, none of them will qualify as "quick reads!" :-)

Edited: Aug 8, 2009, 2:43am Top

Book 74:

Scott, Michele: Murder Uncorked
999 Mystery category (8/06/09)
Library 220 pages

I read this book at the same time I was reading a Nero Wolfe mystery so I don’t know if my impression of this work was unduly influenced by a comparison of the two novels. This is the first book in a series and has quite a bit going for it. I loved the setting in Napa Valley and the “discussions” of wine and wine-making. The plot was acceptable and the mystery puzzling. The final clue was not exposed until nearly the end of the story, but the author played fair with the reader who likes to figure out the puzzle. However, for me it was distracting that although the narration was third person, it was given from the perspective of the two main characters. I found that distracting and one of the characters I would have considered a suspect (as did the other main character) if there had not been that occasional POV shift. But that is a minor quibble.

The biggest problem was in the writing and in the character development. I read a good portion of this in the car and hubby could tell you that my main description of the writing, especially the way the characters often talked or reacted, tended to be “sappy” and “cheesy.” I read aloud to him some of those parts. I found the style, or lack thereof, of the narration distracting, to say the least, and often annoying. It definitely kept me from fully enjoying the story. I’m reading Nero Wolfe in order and the one I read this week is No. 14, so Stout’s work is much more polished. But thinking back to his first one, I don’t remember is being nearly this amateurish or clunky as this first novel was. So, for plot and story a solid 3 stars, for writing a generous 1 star. That makes it a 2 star book for me. A bonus was the recipes that were included (a la Diane Mott Davidson). I even saved a few for hubby to try now that he is retired. He loves to cook.

Aug 8, 2009, 2:42am Top

Book 75:

Stout, Rex: The Second Confession
999 Mystery category (8/07/09)
PL 199 pages

Number 14 in the series, this novel is a good example of the Nero Wolfe mysteries. The characters are well drawn and his continuing characters now seem to be the ones we will recognize as the series continues. Inspector Cramer does not appear in this story because the crime takes place outside his jurisdiction but we do get a brief glimpse of Purley Stebbins. Saul, Orrie, and Fred have settled well into the respective roles that they will occupy during the rest of the series. Archie has found his stride both as a detective and as a narrator. The book was first published in 1949 when the Cold War was developing and the American Communist Party figures in the plot of this story. I remember the 1950s well when we were very aware of the “Communist threat” so I found this aspect of the story interesting. (I was reminded of one of my favorite TV shows in my youth, “I Led Three Lives,” about a double agent.) One of the things I am discovering reading these novels in the order written is that my impression of having Nero Wolfe in most of them never leave his premises has been not accurate. Of the fourteen I’ve read so far Wolfe has left his brownstone more often than not. I think I’d better start keeping track of that statistic. In this novel I was wrong in my selection of the guilty party even though I had reasoned correctly from the clues. However, I didn’t pay attention to the most obvious clue of all! I’ll be careful not to make that mistake again. Recommended for vintage mystery lovers—4 stars

Aug 8, 2009, 2:45am Top

I need to get back to reading the Nero Wolfe series, since I never made it beyond number one. Thanks for the reminder, Carolyn.

Aug 8, 2009, 2:46am Top

Book 76:

Adler, Bill: The Cosby Wit
999 Biography/Memoir category (8/07/09)
PL 120 pages

Bill Cosby has been a family favorite ever since we became a family. Hubby and I, with his parents, saw Cosby in a theater in West Covina, California, shortly after we were married—before he was a big hit. We still talk about how my father-in-law practically rolled on the floor during some of the routines. When hubby was in graduate school we didn’t have a TV, but every Monday night we went to our friend’s apartment, had pot luck dinner and watched I Spy. We had all of his comedy LP records which our children grew up on; by the time they were in school they could recite most of the routines and when “The Cosby Show” was on TV in the mid-‘80s it was the only show allowed on our TV on a school night—we all watched it together.

This book was published in 1986 when that show was in its hey-day. I found the book on the Friends of the Library book sale shelf this morning for a dollar and couldn’t resist. Hubby and I had a lot of “running around” to do today and I became the “audio book” narrator as we learned about Bill Cosby’s life and his philosophy of humor and were reminded of many of the shows and comedy routines we enjoyed during those early years of our marriage. One thing new we learned was that Cosby was responsible for Electric Company on PBS which taught our older son to read (without our realizing it at first) before he entered preschool. If you can find the book, I would recommend it for any fan of Bill Cosby. It illuminates why he was so beloved and so influential from the ‘60s through the ‘80s and gives a glimpse into his life. 3 ½ stars

Aug 8, 2009, 2:51am Top

Wow, Stasia--your are up late. At work, I suppose. I'm about ready to drop! I love Nero Wolfe--definitely get back to hism. He only gets better as you go along!

I'm way behind again--barely keeping up with my thread, just occasionally glancing a a few others--if they don't have an intimidatingly number of posts! We leave Sunday to go up to the "house" for 2 weeks. I hope to find time to catcch up then. I'm packing Dune to start reading Monday.

Aug 8, 2009, 2:54am Top

Yes, I am at work and trying to catch up on threads, since RL has been interfering with my time on LT this week.

I am ready for Dune, too. I certainly hope we enjoy it!

Aug 12, 2009, 12:29pm Top

#264 - I'll have to look for that one. My dad had all of his lps and I grew up listening to them. They are some of the funniest things I have ever heard.

Aug 12, 2009, 12:50pm Top

#267 sgtbigg

Thanks for stopping by. The Cosby book isn't great literature, but if you are a fan it is a great chance to remember all the things you loved about his work. Find another fan and read it together--it will take longer because you will have a great time talking about it as you go along and sharing the laughter again as you did when you first saw him. And discussing what made him so great!

Aug 12, 2009, 2:21pm Top

I love Cosby. I listened to Wonderfulness earlier today. Chicken Heart is my favorite Cosby routine. I'll have to check out that book.

Aug 12, 2009, 7:50pm Top

Hello to you!
And, congratulations on surpassing the 75 challenge goal!

Aug 12, 2009, 10:28pm Top

Thank, Linda. I'm so obsessed with trying to juggle my 999 reads that I didn't even notice I reached one of my goals. Maybe I should take time to celebrate!

Aug 12, 2009, 11:02pm Top

Just stopping by to say hello, and congrats on meeting your 75 challenge goal!

Aug 13, 2009, 12:18am Top

Knew you could do it! Congratulations!

Aug 13, 2009, 9:21am Top


Aug 13, 2009, 9:40am Top

Congratulations, Carolyn, on making the 75 mark!!

And my favorite Cosby routine still has to be Noah.

Aug 13, 2009, 3:59pm Top

Hooray, Carolyn!

Aug 13, 2009, 6:15pm Top


Edited: Aug 13, 2009, 7:21pm Top

Congrats on #75.

Whenever someone talks about Noah's Ark I put in a "Whoompa, whoompa, whoompa, whoompa" but no one ever gets it.

Aug 13, 2009, 10:13pm Top

Thank you, everyone. Now onto finishing my 999 challenge!

Oh, NOAH!"

Aug 14, 2009, 1:13pm Top


Aug 15, 2009, 2:12am Top

Book 77:

Bradley, Alan: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
999 Mystery category (8/14/09)
Library 374 pages

This is a mystery with roots in the past that both precocious children and adults can enjoy. Eleven year old Flavia de Luce has a passion for chemistry and the means to learn about and exercise that passion. She discovers a crime with roots in her father’s past that she determines to solve. The twists and turns of the plot are interesting, but adding to the delight is Flavia’s discussions of chemistry and I also enjoyed her sister Daphne’s bantering about books. The culprit was not too hard to spot but that didn’t detract from enjoyment of the novel. It did give me food for thought about sisters, though. I was an only child and growing up I passionately wished that I could have had a sister. After reading this book I decided maybe I was lucky! :-D

Aug 15, 2009, 2:35am Top

One of these days I am going to get my hands on that book, lol.

Aug 15, 2009, 2:45am Top

I think you would really enjoy it! I got it from the library--I requested it about 10 weeks ago and finally got it.

Aug 15, 2009, 2:48am Top

One of the things that being on LT has done is get me back to reading poetry regularly, a habit I got out of when we moved to California in 1995. I have bought some new poetry books but more importantly I have gone back through the books I owned when we moved and have found some gems that I hadn’t read yet. My poetry book for August is one of these: The Weather of the Heart by Madeleine L’Engle. Periodically while I’m reading this book I will post a poem that I particularly like. The first one is where the title of the book derives.

To a Long Loved Love: 3

I know why a star gives light
Shining quietly in the night;
Arithmetic helps me unravel
The hours and years this light must travel
To penetrate our atmosphere.
I count the craters on the moon
With telescopes to make them clear.
With delicate instruments I measure
Secrets of barometric pressure.

Therefore I find it inexpressibly queer
That with my own soul I am out of tune,
That I have not stumbled on the art
Of forecasting the weather of the heart.

Aug 15, 2009, 3:23am Top

#283: My problem is my local library does not even have it! I am going to have to put it on ILL, I guess.

Aug 16, 2009, 9:28am Top

Carolyn - A belated congrats on 75 books! I have to say that one of my favorite parts of your thread is the poems you share.

Aug 16, 2009, 9:36am Top

HI Carolyn

I agree with Amy! I love the poems! Thanks a lot!

Aug 16, 2009, 4:21pm Top

#286 & 287

Thanks for the encouragement, Amy & Linda! I have loved poetry since I was a child and used to read it all the time until we moved back to California a few years ago. Where I live now I don't know anyone who enjoys poetry and I find it frustrating not to have anyone with whom to share special poems. (I also find I don't practice the piano as much as I should when I don't have any place to play! Poetry and music are meant to be shared. But sharing either of these takes courage because both are areas where one reveals ones inner self more deeply and risks rejection.)

I was a little wary at first about sharing poetry on LT--but I realized that those who don't like poetry could just skip those posts and I get so much pleasure when I get comments like yours. :-)

Aug 16, 2009, 10:12pm Top

Carolyn, count me among the ones who enjoy your poems! I read poetry competitively when I was in high school (I know--can you get any geekier?), and I still love the rhythms of it!

Aug 16, 2009, 10:34pm Top

Thanks for stopping by, Terri. If reading poetry is geeky then geeky is obviously good! Of course, that makes me a geek, too. Only I did "recitations". My competitive speaking was in the Extemporaneous Speaking arena. You bring back memories! :-)

Aug 16, 2009, 10:59pm Top

You can add me to the list of appreciative poetry readers. When I see that you have made a new post my reaction is, "Yes, I wonder if she's posted a new poem".

Aug 17, 2009, 12:24am Top

Thanks for asking, thomasandmary :-)

Another from The Weather of the Heart by Madeleine L'Engle

To a Long Loved Love:5

Words must be said, and silences kept,
Yet, that word better left unheard, unspoken,
Like that unsaid, can wound. O Love, I've wept
From words, have thought my heart was broken
From the looked-for word unuttered. Where
Silence should speak loud, we speak instead.
Where words of love would heal we do not dare
To voice them: From sound and silence both have fled.
Yet love grows through those quiet deepening hours
When silence fills the empty boundless spaces
Twixt flesh and flesh. Wordlessness is ours
And love is nourished through unspoken graces.
But O my love, as I need daily bread
I need the words of love which must be said.

Aug 17, 2009, 11:39am Top

Wow, that's wonderful.

Aug 17, 2009, 2:54pm Top

>292 MusicMom41: Beautiful.

Edited: Aug 18, 2009, 2:51am Top

Book 78:

Morley, Christopher: The Haunted Bookshop
999 Books about Books category (8/17/09)
PL 253 pages

This is the sequel to Parnassus on Wheels which I read earlier this month. Roger and Helen Mifflin are now running a secondhand bookshop in Brooklyn. They call it “haunted” because it is haunted by the ghosts of great authors of the ages. However, suddenly unexplained things begin to happen. The story is set immediately after the end of WWI just before President Wilson is to go to Germany for the treaty talks. Two younger characters are introduced, Titania Chapman who comes to be the new shop assistant and Aubrey Gilbert who comes to the bookshop to try to interest Roger in advertising his business and becomes smitten with Miss Chapman. There is also a mystery of sorts that needs to be figured out and as in Parnassus there is a lot of talk about books. This is a delightful easy read. 3 stars—recommended.

Aug 18, 2009, 9:39pm Top

Sounds like a good book for blisteringly hot and inhuman weather.

Aug 18, 2009, 9:47pm Top

Right--sweet and old fashioned! I do enjoy these once in a while. Gives the brain a break and goes well with a cold beverage. Also, even for me, a fairly fast read.

Aug 18, 2009, 9:47pm Top

Hi there Carolyn!

Aug 18, 2009, 9:58pm Top

>295 MusicMom41:: I read that years and years...ok, decades...ago and remember enjoying it. I'll have to reread it one of these days.

Aug 18, 2009, 9:58pm Top

Hi, Linda

Glad you cruised by. I'm starting to get up to speed--but it will take a while. I'm hoping to catch up on LT before I have to get ready for teaching.

Aug 18, 2009, 10:02pm Top

Tad, for you it would be a "sort story!" :-0

I picked up Last Light of the Sun today. Now I just have to find time to read it! I may save it for my Thanksgiving break in November when I would have time to relax and savor it.

Aug 25, 2009, 8:05pm Top

Book 79:

Granger, John: Harry Potter’s Bookshelf
999 Books about Books category (8/21/09)
PL 303 pages

First, I have a confession to make. I am absolutely crazy about the Harry Potter series. As with my children, I may recognize the flaws but I love the books unconditionally and pretty much equally. I bought this book on an impulse. We were on vacation last week and I was looking for something in Barnes & Noble in Fairfield and this book just leapt into my hands. It had been shelved in the wrong section—call it serendipity or call it fate but now it’s mine. Of course I had to read it immediately!

The sub-title is “The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures” and the first part of the book discusses the wide range of authors and genres that have influenced J.K. Rowling. Chapters three and four discuss Harry Potter as a Boarding School Story (a la Tom Brown’s Schooldays) and as a Gothic romance (a la Wuthering Heights and Dracula). That’s as far as I got the first night I had the book and I went to bed thinking what fun that was but I didn’t really learn anything I hadn’t already figured out myself after reading the novels several times. The next day the first sentence in chapter five said: “We’ve just spent two good-sized chapters demonstrating what you probably would have figured out after five minutes of reflection on the question, ‘What kind of books are the Harry Potter novels?’” I had to laugh out loud!

The last two thirds of the book goes much deeper into the many layers of meaning behind this seemingly simple “children’s series.” Granger discusses the Moral Meaning, the Allegorical Meaning, and the Mythic or Anagogical Meaning of the books, still using well known classic literature examples for comparison. She also discusses the Alchemical meaning, which is why the originally title of the 1st book, The Philosopher’s Stone is significant.

This book has only deepened my appreciation for what J.K. Rowling has achieved. On many issues Rowling and I would not agree but we do share the underlying core values she has portrayed in her books and Granger’s analysis of the series has helped me to better understand why I love these books so much. Highly recommended for Harry Potter fans who want to go “farther up and farther in!” 4 ½ stars

Aug 25, 2009, 9:16pm Top

Oh, I soooo want this book - like you, I am crazy about Harry Potter. Plus, I just think it is so cool that a children's/YA series has received such attention and readership. Great review! :)

Aug 25, 2009, 10:16pm Top

I leafed through that book my last visit to Border's but resisted. After your review, I may need to reconsider.

Aug 26, 2009, 9:53am Top

Wow, Harry Potter's Bookshelf sounds great. That's going right on the wishlist! Thanks!

Aug 26, 2009, 10:04am Top

That book sounds wonderful, it's not just being added to the list, but getting a star which means it has priority for the checkbook.

Aug 26, 2009, 3:08pm Top

> 302 The book sounds great! I wonder if the author is related to Hermione. :) I am going to acquire this book as soon as I can!

Aug 26, 2009, 4:32pm Top

#302 - count me in also, I'll be looking out for this. I love to read this sort of thing and am a fan of the HP books.

Aug 26, 2009, 9:46pm Top


Thanks! It's nice to know I'm not the only Harry Potter fan(atic)! :-)

One of my first tasks next year is to going to be to reread the entire series--using the Granger book as reference. I only scratched the surface of what Granger said--and he puts everything in such a way that anyone could enjoy the book. Especially anyone who has a nodding acquaintance with the classic literature.

Edited: Aug 26, 2009, 9:53pm Top

Book 80:

Herbert, Frank: Dune
999 SciFi category (8/23/09)
PL 535 pages

My older son has been trying to get me to read this book for 20 years. I started it twice and just couldn’t seem to get into it so I gave up. After about 15 years of not mentioning it, he again asked me last year to read it and so, with a little help from Stasia who read with me, I finally managed to finish this book. A lot of readers on LT have mentioned how much they love this book, just as my son does, and I can see why. It’s a good story that keeps your interest, many of the characters are very well drawn, multidimensional beings, and there is plenty of action and suspense without being a “space opera.” It gives a lot of food for thought and definitely has a “philosophy” that has a lot of appeal for many readers that it is trying to illustrate. Before I go any further, let me admit that, although I found this novel “tough going” sometimes I really did enjoy it and have a great admiration for what Herbert has accomplished literarily. I’m glad I finally read it.

(Warning: If you really love this novel unconditionally stop here! I don’t want to lose any friends.) :-) Also—mild spoilers ahead.

So why did I find it difficult to read at times? Why, although I was enjoying it, did I find myself unable to really connect with the story or the characters? I felt like I was observing rather than experiencing or feeling the story. Stasia gave me the clue to my reservations about the book when she mentioned that she thought many of the quotes in the book seemed to sound Biblical. Below is the reply I sent to her:

I have noticed that there are a lot of quotes in the book that seem quite "Biblical". I assume they come from the "Orange Catholic Bible"--often referred to as the OC Bible or the OCB in the text of the novel. In the glossary of the book this is the definition of OCB: the "Accumulated Book," the religious text produced by the Commission of Ecumenical Translators. It contains elements of most ancient religions, including the Maometh Saari, Mahayana Christianity, Zensunni Catholicism and Buddislamic traditions. Its supreme commandment is considered to be: "Thou shalt not disfigure the soul."

This is an example of the philosophy of the book that makes me edgy. The novel was written in the sixties which was a time in our society when a lot of people started to believe in "everything and nothing"--at least in California, which is where I was then. I found it interesting that Paul did not come into his full power until he took a psychedelic-type drug. Some of the ideas of the Fremen reminded me of what the hippies were preaching back then. I kept wondering what "agenda" Frank Herbert had in writing this book. Did this plant the seeds of the "New Age" movement? I can see where this book would have a huge attraction for someone who was searching for something to "believe in."--and the sixties were definitely one of those times! It was the time of the "Beat" generation and the Viet Nam War. It was the end of the "Ozzie and Harriet" view of family and the age of the communes. It was one of those times when our society drastically changed its direction and never looked back. As with every historical upheaval, there have been many positives in some of those changes, but for some of us a lot was lost, also. I remember my mother sometime bemoaning what was lost as a result of WWII—this book helped me understand better how she felt.

Bottom line: A well written and interesting novel that deserves to be read. My rating does not necessarily reflect the merit of the novel. I do not buy into the author’s philosophy and world view and that influences my reaction. Guardedly recommended—3 ½ stars.

Edited to try to get touchstone to work!

Aug 26, 2009, 9:57pm Top

Book 81:

Hart, Carolyn: Death on Demand
999 Mystery after 1980 category (9/24/09)
PL 195 pages

This was a delightful, frothy mystery that takes place on a fictional barrier island off the coast of South Carolina, accessible only by boat. The title comes from the name of the mystery bookstore Annie Laurence has inherited from her uncle and put all of her money into refurbishing. There are several mystery writers who make Broward Island home and they meet Sunday evenings at the shop to visit and discuss there latest ventures. One Saturday Annie has an argument with one of those writers who has announced his intention of exposing everyone’s “dirty laundry” at the next meeting. Of course, at that meeting before he can reveal any horrible secrets he is murdered. I used to live in Savannah and I loved the setting of the book (one character even goes by ferry to Savannah for an errand in finding the solution to the mystery) and was in stitches at the sly allusions of the superiority of Broward Island in comparison with Hilton Head, which I frequently visited while living in Savannah. In addition to loving the setting and the many references to actual mystery authors, I found the characters interesting and the story intriguing. For those reasons, even though I figured out the murderer less than a third of the way through the book, I still had a great time reading the story. This is the first in a series and I have the second one on hand. It is 100 pages longer so maybe in this one Hart will be able to bury her clues a little deeper. Recommended for lovers of cozy mysteries—3 stars

Aug 26, 2009, 10:05pm Top

Since I've read 81 books you would think I would be done with my 999 challenge! Not so. Bad planning or bad choices--I wtill have 12 books to read to finish the challenge. So I will be picking only books that will fit into my new and improved version (if I hadn't revised it I sould have over 20 more books to read!) until the challenge is finished.

I hopefully plan to finish 999 in September. Here’s what needs to be done:

I need 12 more books. Six are planned because they are either in progress or will be due at the library before the end of September. That leaves 6 free choices —which will keep the pressure off!

CATEGORY 1: Classics & Fiction (need 2)

8. Twain, Mark: The Mysterious Stranger & Other Stories
9. Parkin, Gaile: Baking cakes in Kigali (library—due 9/21)

CATEGORY 2: Books about Books & Authors (need 2)

8. Rehak, Melanie: Girl Sleuth—Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her
9. TBC (to be chosen)

CATEGORY 3: Science Fiction (need 2)

8. Heinlein, Robert: Have Space Suit—Will Travel
9. TBC

CATEGORY 4: Fantasy (need one)

9. TBC

CATEGORY 5: Vintage Mysteries (need one)

9. TBC

CATEGORY 6: Mysteries after 1980 (need 2)

8. TBC
9. TBC

CATEGORY 7: Poets and Poetry (COMPLETED 5/31/09 + 2 extra)

CATEGORY 8: Memoir, Biography, Letters, History (need 2)

8. Holland, Julie: Weekends at Bellevue (Early Review book)
9. Brent, Francis: The Lost Cellos of Lev Aronson (library—due 9/15)

CATEGORY 9: Because I want to (COMPLETED 7/02/09 + several extra!)

Aug 26, 2009, 11:55pm Top

I thought you were going to do a Bujold for either science fiction (Barrayar or fantasy (The Curse of Chalion)?

Aug 27, 2009, 8:58am Top

Well, if you need a stand-alone fantasy, try Elantris. It's excellent. Also Drood is about Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens and the writing of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Dan Simmons is an excellent writer, but can be a bit long.

Aug 27, 2009, 10:28am Top

#131 roni

Cordelia's Honor is on my TBR shelf--my short list of books to read soon, that I physically have in hand. But it is two novels and I want to be able to enjoy it and not rush through. I'm finishing 999 first then reading from my "short list" for fun. I did not know about The Curse of Chalion--but I just looked it up and I've put it on my wish list. I will be continuing to explore both SciFi and fantasy and will not forget about it.

#132 drneutron

{I had been planning to read Drood for quite a whlie--I'm glad you reminded me. I don't usually read "horror" novels but I do read Dickens and Collins and The Mystery of Edwin Drood many years ago. I'm not familar with Elantris or Brian Sanderson but I'm putting this on my wishlist for next year.

Thanks both of you for your suggestions. I think the reason I've become so enamored with this genre is because with all the help I'm getting in discovering new books and authors I've had really good reading experiences. Although I've had various levels of enjoyment in reading these new-to-me authors I haven't found a "clunker" yet! It helps to have good guides when exploring new territory.

Aug 27, 2009, 5:04pm Top

>310 MusicMom41:: It's the piano recitals, I'm telling ya...they rot the brain!

Edited: Aug 27, 2009, 5:17pm Top

>310 MusicMom41:: Seriously, though. If you read Herbert as a philosophical series, it's going to disappoint. Books 2 through Zillion in the series get progressively lamer in that regard. If you read them—which I heartily discourage—I think you'd be even less pleased with his philosophical stances (though you might change your mind about what they were!).

I think what makes Dune such a favorite among so many people who read SF is that it's one of the best-realized worlds out there. It's largely self-consistent and beautifully detailed. You can imagine parts of it that he doesn't talk about without much effort. Part of this is the completeness of his vision and part of it is his writing ability to make it feel real.

In some respects, this is similar to Tolkien. You know, if you think only about the story, The Lord of the Rings is not top notch. Everything in it is simply too archetypical and pat. Yet, his world is probably the most wonderfully-realized fantasy world ever done. One of my favorite quotes about Tolkien is, "If Tolkien's creation is viewed as The Lord of the Rings, then it is the work of a second-rank writer. However, if his creation is viewed as Middle Earth, he is one of the greatest artists of our time."

Dune is not The Lord of the Rings but it does share that aspect to a lesser degree.

Put a pretty good action story on top of that and the result is a book that is pretty consistently considered one of the greats.

Just my two cents.

Aug 27, 2009, 5:38pm Top

>312 MusicMom41::

Define "vintage"...any mystery before 1980?

A couple of suggestions I'd make:

Books about Books & Authors

A pairing (yes, it's two books) that's very interesting to read is Lawrence Durrell's Prospero's Cell and Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals. Both books are memoirs of their family's time in Corfu and...since both are authors...that makes them books about authors! :-) You can see my review of the first in last year's group and the second is simply hysterically funny.

Science Fiction

I don't remember what you've read this year off the top of my head, but if you want to try something different, the absolutely bestest book of SF short stories ever made was Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, edited by Robert Silverberg.

If you want to stay with novels, how about some Roger Zelazny (perhaps This Immortal or Lord of Light)? Both are classics in the field.

If you wanted something that is ultra-fast to read, how about Alexei Panshin's Rite of Passage; it's a bit young adult and goes very quickly.


I'd second drneutron's recommendation of Elantris.

Vintage Mysteries

I assume you've read Sayers' stuff.

Have you ever tried any H. R. F. Keating? He wrote mysteries that took place during the British Raj. His most famous books are the Inspector Ghote series but one very enjoyable stand alone is The Murder of the Maharajah.

Mysteries After 1980

Have you tried Lindsey Davis? She's my favorite "comfort read" when it comes to mysteries. They take place in old Rome, but were written in the last few decades. The first is Silver Pigs.

I'm really enjoying Donna Leon's series, the first being Death at La Fenice.

If you want something a little edgy, try Jonathan Lethem's Gun, with Occasional Music. It's a science fiction mystery...a bit strange, but well enjoyed.

Edited: Aug 28, 2009, 12:00pm Top


I will ignore that! (shuffling away and muttering under my breath)

#317 Tad

Actually, we pretty much agree about Dune--you are just able to articulate what I thought better than I was. The world and many of the characters that I though were well done is what kept me going and enjoying the book. I also agree with you about LoTR--without the world he created the story would would just be another fantasy quest adventure. However, the main reason I can read LoTR with unalloyed pleasure and delight is because Tolkien's "world view" is much more in line with mine that Harbert's is. I'm not giving up my copy of Dune because I may decide to revisit it sometime--there was a lot I loved about it. I do not plan to read the sequels. However, someone recommended that I read House Atreides, which is written by his son and is the back story of the Atreides family. Have you read that. If it is good, I wouldn't ind finding out more about the family--I thought they were interesting and I was never quite sure why the Emperor was so determined to eliminate them.

Aug 27, 2009, 5:43pm Top

>317 TadAD:: And finally...*cough*new thread*cough*. Slow to load on iPhone. It's no longer the second quarter as your thread title says. *grin*

Aug 27, 2009, 5:45pm Top

>319 MusicMom41:: I'm just teasing. Remind me to tell you about the unwitting concert I gave some time.

Edited: Aug 28, 2009, 12:15pm Top


"Define "vintage"...any mystery before 1980?"

Okay, be picky! I usually define "vintage" as anything before 1950 and especially "Golden Age"--but I'm trying to get this challenge over and I'm not sure everything on that list would fit. I should just say "mysteries before 1980." Okay. And just yesterday i told hubby I didn't have to worry because there was no "999 police force." :-D

Books about Books & Authors

"A pairing (yes, it's two books) that's very interesting to read is Lawrence Durrell's Prospero's Cell and Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals."

I remember your reviews of those and I was interested in them, but that was before "wishlist" became an option and I was putting everything on little slips of paper. Thanks for reminding me! I will add them to my wish list--I do want to read them.

Science Fiction

"the absolutely bestest book of SF short stories ever made was Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, edited by Robert Silverberg".

I have been looking for this one--I remembered that recommendation. It's hard to find since it's out of print and my library doesn't have it.

I'm adding Roger Zelazny This Immortal and Lord of Light and, also, Alexei Panshin's Rite of Passage for consideration next year. Stasia and I intend to do further reading in both SciFi and fantasy. If I find it, I may do the Panshin book this month--ultra fast is how I hope to finish the 999 challenge.


"I'd second drneutron's recommendation of Elantris." That makes it a shoo in for either this year or next year's list! :-)

Vintage Mysteries

"I assume you've read Sayers' stuff."

Multiple times and I will read them again. I've also read most of her other works, too.

"Have you ever tried any H. R. F. Keating? He wrote mysteries that took place during the British Raj. His most famous books are the Inspector Ghote series but one very enjoyable stand alone is The Murder of the Maharajah."

This one is new to me--thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely look for his(?) work. I may try the stand alone first before I start a series.

Mysteries After 1980

"Have you tried Lindsey Davis?"

Another new author for me. I think I may have read your review but now I will add Silver Pigs to my wish list.

I have Death at La Fenice awaiting me and probably will read it as one of the two I need. I had planned to read it when I was on vacation the last two weeks but forgot to pack it.

Jonathan Lethem's Gun, with Occasional Music is one I might try. I absolutely loved Motherless Brooklyn a few years ago, but the next one I tried didn't click with me so I haven't read anything else by him.

Thanks for all the advice--this should help me have some really great reads while I'm finishing that very stressful challenge! BTW As when I get the 999 finally finished I plan to go back to my Civil War reading--I haven't abandoned that quest. I just want to do it without pressure.

Aug 27, 2009, 9:08pm Top

I am reading My Family and Other Animals right now, and it is laugh out loud funny besides being so beautifully descriptive that I want to leave right now for Corfu. and Tad--thanks for the "Duh" moment as I hit myself in the head and realize that Lawrence Durrell is Gerald Durrell's brother "Larry"!

Aug 28, 2009, 6:46am Top

#317 TadAD

I love that quote about Middle Earth. Utterly right. Thanks for sharing it :)

Aug 28, 2009, 11:35am Top

Hmmmm, I got Dune some time ago as it seemed to be one of those books that everyone should read, but from all your comments, I'm starting to think it's not going to be my kind of thing at all (I'll commit the heresy of admitting that I'm not a Lord of the Rings fan - partly because of the depth of detail about Middle Earth).

MusicMom, I'm not sure what category of mystery he'd fit in to (somehow "vintage" just doesn't sound right), but I love Dashiell Hammett - have you read anything by him?

Aug 28, 2009, 11:58am Top


I do like Dashiell Hammett. I have read The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man and I have The Dain Curse which I intend to read soon, I hope. It was intended for the 999 challenge but I might save it so I don't have to race through it. As I said above, "vintage" to me refers to age--I arbitrarily say before 1950--rather than the style. I also have some Raymond Chandler that I plan to read and would consider "vintage".

I wonder if there is actually a use of "vintage" referring to mysteries that has a more precise meaning? If anyone know about this I would like to know about it. I don't like using terms inaccurately. :-)

Aug 28, 2009, 5:44pm Top

Oh my, my 999 Challenge is still pending because I'm about half done with the list. My August goal had been to read through several of the books, but I got waylaid by other books! Every book on my challenge list I want to read, so I'm just going to have to buckle down and NOT buy or borrow any books for a couple of weeks. LOL--we'll see how that resolution goes!

Aug 28, 2009, 7:38pm Top

Death on Demand sounds like a fun read.... adding that to my wishlist. The longer I stay on LT, the more books I end up adding to my TBR and ultimately bookshelves. At this rate, I should really just find a cosy corner in a bookstore's storage area, put down a bed, and live there. Do you think anyone would notice? I could rent out my house.

Aug 28, 2009, 8:14pm Top

There's the Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore in Paris! Don't they have beds right in the middle of the store?

Aug 28, 2009, 8:20pm Top

ooh..really? what a great idea! that alone would be worth a trip to Paris again. How did I miss this place the last time I visited the city? time to start filling that travel piggy bank again

Aug 28, 2009, 10:37pm Top

#327 Prop

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has trouble sticking with the "schedule." I, too, want to read the ones on my list--I'm just going to read some of them after I finish my "revised 999 challenge"--without feeling pressured to have to read quickly. Like you, I keep getting distracted by books either suggested on LT or impulse buys at the book store that don't fit my categories. I'm really impressed with the people who are able stick to their schedules. I thought I would be one of them--I guess I'm not as "organized" as I thought I was. :-)

Aug 28, 2009, 10:39pm Top

cameling and bonnie

Living in a bookstore sounds like a great idea! My husband think that's what I'm trying to accomplish in our home as I keep adding books and bookshelves! :-D

Edited: Aug 29, 2009, 1:40am Top

LOL! I'm lucky because I work out of my home so I have an excuse for continuing to buy books and having books in every room in my house.

Oh yeah, and I have a bed, couch or bench in every room too, so it's a very reader-friendly house.

Aug 29, 2009, 8:24am Top

Hi Carolyn

Students are back on campus and I worked many long hours this week. I'm catching up on threads. I see the book The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain on your message 321.

This is one of my all-time favorite books. So many only read his classics. Personally, I think his later works are the best.

Aug 29, 2009, 1:41pm Top

Carolyn, it's way past time for you to move on to the third quarter and a new thread! 335 messages on this one!

The Bujolds in your omnibus ARE quick reads--they have great stories that move you along very quickly IMO. Tad always recommends starting with Barrayar and going back to Shards of Honor afterwards, because she was a much more mature author when she wrote Barrayar and you get a better feel for her writing. I'm not at all sure I don't concur, even though I did it the other way around.

Aug 29, 2009, 10:34pm Top

#333 bonnie

I also teach privately (music) and have my studio in my home. I have books in every room but the living room (hubby was just talking yesterday about that would have to be where the next set of shelves will go). I got new shelves this summer and reorganized my library so I should have an easier time finding things now. Now all I have to do is add a tag to each book to tell where it is located. Unfortunately, even with all the extra shelf space--10 feet long and over 7 feet high--I still have some books that need a home. :-(

One of the best things about working out of your own house is that when you have a free moment you have all your books available to choose something to fill the time! :-)

Aug 29, 2009, 10:42pm Top

#334 Linda

You were the one who sent me the book! :-) As it turns out I had read only the first story (Jumping Frog) of the four. I have been really enjoying it--I'm about halfway through the last story. It was published posthumously and it is really interesting--although it is unlike any other Twain I've ever read. I loved The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and The 1,000,000 Pound Bank-Note.

Aug 29, 2009, 10:45pm Top

#335 roni

Way past time! I need help. I'm going to your profile. :-)

Aug 30, 2009, 8:23pm Top

Book 82:

Heinlein, Robert: Have Space Suit—Will Travel
999 SciFi catgory (8/28/09)
PL 249 pages

I found this YA novel, published in 1958, absolutely delightful. I found the two young adventurers, Kip and Peewee, charming and believable and the alien who helps them is, in my limited experience, unique and fascinating. How could I not be enchanted by a being who is called “Mother Thing” and whose language is expressed in music notation? In some ways this is also a coming of age story about Kip who discovers a lot about himself. I did find it amusing that with the existence of spaceships and a lunar base and all the “advanced” science and math they talked about they were using slide rules to make calculations and Kip was always concerned about the decimal point. I remember those days! But even though aspects of the story are dated I think middle school children could still enjoy the book—as long as someone could explain to them what a “slipstick” is and why the decimal point is a problem. :-) Recommended—3 ½ stars

Aug 30, 2009, 8:27pm Top

Book 83:

Twain, Mark: Mysterious Stranger & Other Stories
Classics & Fiction category (8/30/09)
PL 121 pages

Linda (Whisper1) sent me this book because I had never heard of Twain’s novella, The Mysterious Stranger. Of the four stories in the book I had previously read only the first story, The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, a short and humorous folk tale published in 1865. According to the blurb on the back, the stories in this volume were chosen to span Twain’s entire writing career. The second story, The 1,000,000 Pound Bank-Note, is a light-hearted tale about a destitute young man who is given a bank note he can’t cash so how will he be able to survive? I loved The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, a masterful story about greed and hypocrisy. The final story, The Mysterious Stranger, was published posthumously in 1916 and reveals how disillusioned Twain had ultimately become with humanity and the universe. It’s a strange but fascinating dark fantasy set in the Middle Ages with a character who is omniscient and a surprising twist at the end. Although I cannot buy Twain’s ending this story gives the reader a lot to ponder. Highly recommended—4 stars

Aug 31, 2009, 12:49am Top

#339: OK, I have got to dig out my copy and give it a re-read, you have convinced me, Carolyn.

#340: Adding The Mysterious Stranger to Planet TBR. Thanks to both you and Linda for the recommendation.

Aug 31, 2009, 8:36pm Top

Book 84:

This book didn't fit into my 999 challenge and I forgot about it until I started to do my August summary. (It could have gone in the Because I Want To! category, but that one is already full.)

Beck, Glenn: An Inconvenient Book (8/20/09) Audio

I had seen Glen Beck’s name on LT so when we saw this audio book on sale we bought it to use for our trip up north this month. I discovered that in addition to being an author he is also host of a radio talk show, which explains a lot about this audio book. It is done in segments that include humor, political issues and haranguing. I agreed with much of what he said, disagreed with some and found some of the humor amusing. He could have used a good editor because we usually “got the point” long before he finished talking about it. My biggest objection to this audio version was the manner in which he narrated, especially when he was talking about the political stances of people with whom he disagreed. He tended to use a derisive and often downright nasty tone of voice in these instances which I did not find amusing and I felt demeaned his presentation, even when I agreed with the point he was making. This audio book illustrates what my husband and I consider to be one of the biggest problems we have in the United States now. Political debate has been reduced to the level of trying to smear your opponent rather than each side trying to present a reasoned argument to support its view point on an issue.

Bottom line: He had some interesting things to say about current issues and raised questions that should be considered and discussed from both sides. The impact of his political message, in our opinion, was often lessened by the demeaning style of delivery.

Aug 31, 2009, 8:38pm Top

Book 85:

Leon, Donna: Death at La Fenice
999 Mystery after 1980 category (8/31/09)
PL 278 pages

This is the first novel in a mystery series featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti of the Venice police force. It is a good introduction to the series with an interesting story and well developed characters that come to life for the reader. The story revolves around the victim, a world renowned music conductor who is murdered between acts of a performance of La Traviata. One of the reasons that this book appealed to me so much was because I spent a week in Venice when I was in college and saw a performance of La Traviata at the opera house while I was there. The atmosphere of the book brought back many memories. I remember vividly walking the winding streets (sometimes getting lost!) and riding gondolas on the canals and as I read I felt almost like I was there once again it seemed so familiar. Highly recommended—4 stars

Aug 31, 2009, 8:47pm Top


Please forgive my addled brain. After you reminded me, I then remembered that I did indeed send this to you...

I'm very glad you enjoyed it.

Hugs to you

Aug 31, 2009, 9:00pm Top

I'm so impressed that you're sticking with your 999 Challenge, Carolyn. I've totally abandoned mine. Don't worry if you don't stick to your exact schedule, you're still rocking it! :D

Aug 31, 2009, 9:15pm Top

Summary for this August.

Books read in August:

70. Tarbell, Ida M.: He Knew Lincoln
71. Willis, Connie: To Say Nothing of the Dog
72. Collins, Billy: Sailing Around the Room
73. Morley, Christopher: Parnassus on Wheels
74. Scott, Michele: Murder Uncorked
75. Stout, Rex: The Second Confession
76. Adler, Bill: The Cosby Wit
77. Bradley, Alan: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
78. Morley, Christopher: The Haunted Bookshop
79. Granger, John: Harry Potter’s Bookshelf
80. Herbert, Frank: Dune
81. Hart, Carolyn: Death on Demand
82. Heinlein, Robert: Have Space Suit—Will Travel
83. Twain, Mark: Mysterious Stranger & Other Stories
84. Beck, Glenn: An Inconvenient Book Audio
85. Leon, Donna: Death at La Fenice

Book Talley for August:

Books Acquired 19 (2 read)
Books Read PL 9 (Pages: 2,958)
Books Read non PL 3 (Pages: 784)
Audio Books heard 1 (6 hours)
Audios Acquired 2

Total 15 books: 3,742 pages + 1 Audio = 16 (12 fiction; 4 nonfiction)

Best in August:

Fiction: Willis, Connie: To Say Nothing of the Dog
Nonfiction: Granger, John: Harry Potter’s Bookshelf

This has been one of my most productive reading months ever with 16 books read!
Nine of the books I read this month were purchased this year from recommendations on LT.

This thread has become unwieldy so I will start a new thread tomorrow. When I figure out how to make the link I will post it on this thread. Wish me luck!

Aug 31, 2009, 9:53pm Top

Wow, you are sooo organized in presenting your summary!


See you on your new thread!

Sep 1, 2009, 2:59am Top

I'm so glad you loved To Say Nothing of the Dog. It was my first official SF recommended to me by this cooly weird (or weirdly cool) guy who worked at the University Book Store who was determined to find me a SF book that I would love. It has turned out to be one of my "comfort food" books.

Sep 1, 2009, 12:25pm Top

#346: Nice summary, Carolyn!

Sep 1, 2009, 9:47pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Sep 1, 2009, 9:49pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Sep 1, 2009, 10:20pm Top

MusicMom's Thread 3

Okay, it looks like this worked the first time! Amazing. That's the link to MusicMom's next thread, for your reading convenience!

Sep 3, 2009, 8:03am Top

see you on your new thread! (however, I'm keeping this one starred as well because I need to catch up on all the reviews I've missed while away!)

Sep 3, 2009, 9:49pm Top

Thank you, roni! We are going up to our other house next week and that's where Bujold is--so I will be starting it then! :-)

Glad you are home safely--I really enjoyed your "travel notes". Also glad you weren't in the path of the fires. I struggling to keep up with LT this month--things should smooth out for me when I get into the "rhythm" of my teaching. The beginning of the year is always stressful!

Sep 3, 2009, 10:16pm Top

New thread? But I just found this one...

Sep 4, 2009, 5:43am Top

I'm catching up on threads... interesting that you didn't love Dune because I pretty much hated it. I've been told that's sacrilegious since I am a SF fan. But I've never been a lover of prodigious-boy children stories. Funny how TadAD said how he's similar to Tolkein because they're both into world building because I can't read Tolkein either. *ducks for cover*

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2009

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