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Nickelini's 2009 Reading List, Part 2

75 Books Challenge for 2009

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Aug 31, 2009, 12:55pm Top

I was hoping to fit all of 2009 in one thread, but it's getting a bit long, so I'll start part 2 here. For the first part, go to: Nickelini's 2009 Reading List, Part 1

Edited: Dec 28, 2009, 1:26pm Top


102. The Incident Report, Martha Baillie
101. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Winifred Watson
100. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Rhoda Janzen
99. Disgrace, JM Coetzee
98. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
97. The Progress Paradox, Gregg Easterbrook
96. The Malaise of Modernity, Charles Taylor
95. Technology & Empire, George Grant
94. Push, Sapphire


93. First Nations? Second Thoughts, Tom Flanagan
92. The Malaise of Modernity, Charles Taylor
91. Kiss of the Fur Queen, Tomson Highway (reread)
90. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
89. The Disappeared, Kim Echlin
88. The Midwich Cuckoos, John Wyndham
87. Kappa Child, Hiromi Goto
86. Full Frontal Feminism, Jessica Valenti


85. A Climate For Change, Hayhoe & Farley
84. Kiss of the Fur Queen, Tomson Highway
83. Too Much Tuscan Sun, Dario Castagno
82. The Valley, Gayle Friesen
81. Lament for a Nation, George Grant
80. Blindness, Jose Saramago
79. The Diviners, Margaret Laurence
78. Under the Ribs of Death, John Marlyn


77. The Idea of Canada and the Crisis of Community, Leslie Armour
76. For Grace Received, Valeria Parrella
75. The Story of Lucy Gault, William Trevor
74. Thames: Sacred River, Peter Ackroyd
73. As For Me and My House, Sinclair Ross
72. Sweeter Than All the World, Rudy Wiebe
71. Beloved, Toni Morrison
70. Hana's Suitcase, Karen Levine
69. Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy


68. The Accidental, Ali Smith
67. Quite a Year For Plums, Bailey White
66. The Things That Matter: What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About the Stages of Life, Edward Mendelson
65. Kingdom Coming: the Rise of Christian Nationalism, Michelle Goldberg
64. Brixton Beach, Roma Tearne
63. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
62. Green Grass, Running Water, Thomas King
61. Half-Breed, Maria Campbell
60. Any Four Women Could Rob the Bank of Italy, Ann Cornilisen
59. The Child in Time, Ian McEwan


58. Five Quarters of an Orange, Joanne Harris
57. Paula, Isabel Allende
56. Unformed Landscape, Peter Stomm
55. Divided Minds, Shapiro & Shapiro
54. Death in Venice, Thomas Mann
53. The End of the Alphabet, CS Robertson
52. The Immaculate Deception, Iain Pears
51. Short Stories in Italian, Nick Roberts, editor
50. The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim
49. Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro


48. The London Scene, Virginia Woolf
47. Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamine, Nic Sheff
46. The Numerati, Stephan Baker
45. The Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole
44. The Robber Bride, Margaret Atwood
43. Oranges are not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson
42. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris
41. Portrait of a Lady, Henry James


40. The Graduate, Charles Webb
39. The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx
38. Late Nights on Air, Elizabeth Hay
37. The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women, Jessica Valenti
36. Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam, Peter Goldsworthy
35. Leonardo's Swans, Karen Essex
34. M is for Magic, Neil Gaiman
33. Where Angels Fear to Tread, EM Forster
32. Beautiful Boy: a Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction, David Sheff


31. 100 Ways America is Screwing Up the World, John Tirman
30. Travelers' Tales Tuscany, James O'Reilly, ed
29. Mister Pip, Lloyd Jones
28. Mutiny on the Bounty, John Boyne
27. The Lost Painting, Jonathan Harr
26. Veronika Decides to Die, Paulo Coelho
25. Generation X, Douglas Coupland
24. The Frozen Thames, Helen Humphreys
23. Jacob's Room, Virginia Woolf (reread)


22. Parade's End, Ford Maddox Ford
21. The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer
20. Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh (reread)
19. Edwardian Life & Leisure, Ronald Pearsall
18. Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West (reread 2X)
17. A Critical Commentary on Dickens's 'Great Expectations', John Barnes
16. Great Expectations, Charles Darwin


15. Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh
14. The Great War and Modern Memory, Paul Fussell
13. Speaking of Sex, Meg Hickling
12. Jacob's Room, Virginia Woolf
11. Chaucer, Peter Ackroyd


10. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, Eric Weiner
9. A Fine Brush on Ivory: an appreciation of Jane Austen, Richard Jenkyns
8. Terry Jones' Medieval Lives, Terry Jones
7. Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West
6. Parliament of Fowls, Legend of Good Women, & The Book of the Duchess, Geoffrey Chaucer
5. after the quake, Haruki Murikami
4. The General, CS Forester
3. Larry's Party, Carol Shields
2. Helen of Troy, Margaret George
1. Fruit: a Novel about a Boy and His Nipples, Brian Francis

Aug 31, 2009, 1:01pm Top

Starring you! I lurked on your old thread quite a bit but didn't comment that much, although I picked up lots of recommendations!

Aug 31, 2009, 1:07pm Top

Glad I can help with your book addiction!

Aug 31, 2009, 1:28pm Top

Just posting so I don't lose you, I'd hate it if in 2 months I suddenly discover you started a new one and I have about 50 books to add to the wishlist!

Sep 1, 2009, 10:59am Top

Following you around with the rest of your harem, Joyce. Got you starred again!

Edited: Sep 4, 2009, 2:16pm Top

69. Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy

British literature, 1891

Rating 4.5/5

Comments: Despite it being long winded, and having several infuriating characters, I thoroughly enjoyed Tess. There's just something I love about 19th century literature. My 21st century feminist self really wanted to rip Tess out of the novel to give her a good shaking, and I really wanted to sit Angel Clare down and give him a piece of my mind. But other than that, it was a great tragic read.

Why I Read This Now: I've been wanting to read Hardy ever since visiting Dorset this summer, and this book filled a spot in my Oldest Books in My Closet category for my 999 challenge.

Recommended for: 19th century fiction lovers, readers who like a book chock-full of dire events all dumped on one pretty heroine.

edited to fix touchstone.

Edited: Sep 1, 2009, 7:22pm Top

I loved Tess! Now, if you want to read more Hardy, I strongly strongly strongly recommend Far From the Madding Crowd. You won't regret it!

ETA: I, too, have huge issues with my 21st century feminist self wanting to jump into 19th century novels and give the heroines my viewpoint. But I'm sure you already knew that ;-)

Sep 1, 2009, 7:49pm Top

I just so happen to own Far From the Madding Crowd, and also Jude the Obscure, so I'll get to them sooner rather than later now that I've read my first Hardy. I think owning three books by Hardy without ever having read him shows that I fully expected to like him :-)

I never noticed the name of that book is "Madding" crowd . . . I just always read "Maddening". Now I'm off to find out what "madding" means.

Sep 1, 2009, 9:01pm Top

Oh, I love Hardy! The two on your shelf are equal to Tess, IMO. Jude the Obscure is very bleak but wonderful.

Sep 1, 2009, 9:19pm Top

I loved Tess, too but have yet to read more Hardy. I think we own those other books in #9, too!!

Sep 2, 2009, 1:03am Top

70. Hana's Suitcase, Karen Levine

Non-fiction childrens, 2002

Rating 4/5

Comments: Fumiko Ishioko is working to put together the Tokyo Holocaust Museum. She is haunted by one of the museum's few exhibits: a suitcase that had belonged to a girl named Hana at Aushwitz. Fumiko searches to find out whatever she can about Hana, a search that takes her to Prague and Toronto. The chapters alternate between Hana's story and Fumiko's search. A quick, satisfying read that tells a great story.

Why I Read This Now:I found my 12 year old daughter in the bathroom crying after reading this a few months ago and have meant to read it ever since.

Recommended for: This is a quick, easy read with lots of photos and drawings, so I'd recommend it for older kids but also for adults interested in the Holocaust.

Sep 2, 2009, 3:46pm Top

I cried when I read it, too!

Sep 2, 2009, 4:16pm Top

Me, too.

Edited: Sep 2, 2009, 8:59pm Top

madding = frenzied
It's my favourite of the Hardys. But I really didn't like Jude the Obscure.

ETA: finding your daughter crying after reading a book is a sign that you have a reader there.

Sep 2, 2009, 11:50pm Top

Re: madding . . . I looked it up, and it means what I thought it meant, I just thought the word was "maddening". Weird that I confused that one! (Okay, well, it's not the first time I've been confused about a word, so maybe not weird).

Sep 3, 2009, 12:15am Top

There used to be an independent bookstore near my town called Far From the Madding Crowd. It went out of business after a few years, of course.

Sep 3, 2009, 12:10pm Top

Jude the Obscure is my favorite Hardy book. Tess was the first I read of his and I bawled like a baby in the end. I have read many of his books. I don't think I read one that wasn't depressing, but they are all good.

Sep 3, 2009, 3:30pm Top

Also a big Hardy fan - his poetry is also divine. I liked Jude the Obscure the least - but maybe was not in the mood for the negative story.

Sep 4, 2009, 2:24am Top

Jude the Obscure is my favorite Hardy as well.

Sep 4, 2009, 12:12pm Top

I have to admit I haven't read much Hardy. I love Tess but I read Return of the Native in high school and absolutely HATED it. Haven't had the heart to pick anything up since then...

Sep 5, 2009, 3:03pm Top

I love Hardy too. Jude the Obscure is my favorite as well. I've read it several times, and can never forget the line, "Because we are too menny."

Sep 5, 2009, 11:24pm Top

>18 jmaloney17:: I don't think I read one that wasn't depressing, but they are all good.
Didn't Far From the Madding Crowd have a happy ending? It's been a while since I read it.

Sep 6, 2009, 1:31pm Top

71. Beloved, Toni Morrison

American lit, 1987

Rating: 4/5

Comments: This is Morrison's masterpiece about slavery and a ghost, and also about the ghosts of slavery. Before I read it, I thought the novel was probably an interesting, well-crafted book that wasn't really my thing. After reading it, I'd still agree with that, although I liked it more than I expected to. I can see why it is widely acclaimed, and I think those acclamations are deserved, but I have to admit that sometimes I found my mind wandering and had to go back and reread sections.

Why I Read This Now: It was sitting on Mnt TBR, fluttering its pages at me and calling my name.

Recommended for: a wide-range of readers. This book appears on a lot of must-read lists, and it belongs there.

Sep 9, 2009, 1:03pm Top

72. Sweeter Than All the World, Rudy Wiebe

Historical fiction, 2001

Comments: Two interwoven plot lines make up this novel. The first is the story of Adam Wiebe (same surname as the author), a physician living in late 20th century Alberta, and obsessed with finding meaning from his ancestral past. The second story follows some of his Mennonite ancestors as they are chased by religious persecution through Europe—from Counter Reformation Antwerp and Friesland where some were burned at the stake, to 17th century Danzig were one, also named Adam Wiebe, was a prominent civic engineer, and another an artist; to Russia, Central Asia, and Paraguay. There are some particularly harrowing scenes of their torment under Stalin and during World War II.

Wiebe, an officer of the Order of Canada, is a masterful writer who ties these two storylines together to create both one—and many—stories. Ultimately, however, I was disappointed with this book. I think it came down to my expectations: I expected d, e, f and he gave me f, g, h.

What I liked: The author knows his history; no problems with accuracy or anachronisms here. He based the parts about the civic engineer in Danzig on a real person named Adam Wiebe, so it is with purpose that his characters have the same surname as he does (he’s not saying that he’s actually related to this 17th century person. Wiebe is a common Mennonite last name, my mother’s maiden name in fact, and I’m not related to Rudy Wiebe and probably not to this historical person either).

What I disliked: Throughout the 436 pages, I struggled to figure out what it was that I didn’t like and what was annoying me, and I still can’t find the words for it. I think it is that the narrative is just too disjointed. He skips from one train of thought to another, and often from location to location, and I didn’t see any purpose for it. I would have appreciated a more straightforward writing style. Also, Wiebe assumes his reader is both intelligent and well-educated; he spells out nothing, but I would have appreciated a bit more connection between his dots. To enjoy this book, the reader must have a good understanding of northern European history (the Low Countries, Prussia and Russia). I think this is a flaw that limits the potential readership for this otherwise fine novel.

I’m always on the lookout for the quintessential Mennonite novel to recommend to people who ask me to explain Menno history in fewer than three sentences. I had great hopes that this would be it, but alas, I think many readers would just be confused. As far as I know, there is no novel that goes back to 1500s Holland and forward to the 20th century. It’s a shame, because there are so many fabulous stories to tell—I guess I’ll just have to write that book!

Why I Read This Now: It’s one of the oldest books on Mnt. TBR, and I paid big bucks for it when it was published, so I thought I’d better just read it.

Recommended for: Readers who appreciate detailed accuracy in their historical fiction.

Sep 9, 2009, 6:09pm Top

It’s a shame, because there are so many fabulous stories to tell—I guess I’ll just have to write that book!

That's just what I was thinking! :-)

Sep 21, 2009, 12:24am Top

Joyce, I wanted to thank you for your recommendation of Green Grass, Running Water. I finished it today and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sep 21, 2009, 2:36am Top

Just popping in to say hi. You continue to add to TBR mountain. Thanks.

Sep 21, 2009, 9:31am Top

I noted on Stasia's thread that she enjoyed your recommendation of Green Grass, Running Water. I then re-read your review and gave it a thumbs up. I'm trying so hard not to add more books to my tbr pile since I have hundreds to read already, but I'm breaking the rule and adding this one.

Thanks for your excellent review! While I don't post often, I do visit here a lot and enjoy your comments and the conversations.

Sep 21, 2009, 9:32am Top

message 28....by the way Diane, you are one of the main culprits in adding to my tbr pile. I thank you for this (I think.)...I'm smiling of course!

Sep 22, 2009, 11:44am Top

73. As For Me and My House, Sinclair Ross

Canadian lit, 1941

Comments: This is the story of a very unhappy wife and her very unhappy (and unpleasant) husband living in the dry wind-swept Canadian Prairies during the Great Depression. The novel is part of the Canlit canon, and is considered the quintessential example of "Prairie Realism". Reviews of this book say that it is excellent but dark, extremely depressing and/or incredibly boring. I can see those points of view, but none of them fit my thoughts on the novel. I thought it was pretty interesting and not totally depressing. Currently, I give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars, but I have to write an essay on it in a few weeks, so will probably come back with more meaningful comments and a higher rating. Wait for it.

Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars

Why I Read This Now: Assigned reading for my Canadian literature course.

Recommended for: Readers who want to experience life in the Prairies during the Depression, people who want to read the CanLit canon.

Sep 22, 2009, 12:02pm Top

Interesting that you are doing a Canlit study - do you have the list of your readings as I would be interested to see what they assign?

Sep 22, 2009, 12:18pm Top

No problem. I'm actually taking two Canadian courses-- an English lit course and a humanities course. This is what I'll be reading this term:

English 357: Studies in Canadian Literature Since 1920; (this term the theme is Canadian prairie lLiterature)

1. As For Me and My House, Sinclair Ross (depression era)
2. Under the Ribs of Death, John Marlyn (Hungarian immigrant in Winnipeg)
3. The Diviners, Margaret Laurence (not sure what this one is about but it's supposed to be excellent)
4. HalfBreed, Maria. Campbell (Metis autobiography)
5. The Kiss of the Fur Queen, Thompson Highway (indigenous people and residential schools, I think)
6. The Kappa Child, Hiromi Goto (don't know much about this one but the author is Japanese).

Humanities 323: The Humanities in Canada; Modernity and Technology as a Philosophical-Political Problem

1. The Malaise of Modernity, Charles Taylor (modern philosophical classic)
2. Lament of a Nation, George Grant
3. Technology and Empire, George Grant
4. The Idea of Canada, Leslie Armour

Sep 22, 2009, 12:20pm Top

Thanks - the only one I have read (or recognize) is The Diviners. I really like Margaret Laurence.

Edited: Sep 26, 2009, 7:30pm Top

74. Thames: Sacred River, Peter Ackroyd

Non-fiction, 2007

Comments: This book would have been great if only it had a strong editor. As it is, it's poorly organized (despite the impressive looking table of contents) and repetitive. It strikes me that Ackroyd did all this research, and didn't want to leave anything out, so included every little tidbit he found. Too often he simply lists names and places. Parts of it are extremely interesting, and I think the whole book would have improved if he had been pickier about what he included, and expanded on the stories he did use. The book is great when he sticks to historical stories and interesting trivia and facts; it falters when he strays into speculation and trying to tie in his "sacred" theme. I also would have enjoyed more scientific and geographical detail (although the book does include many detailed maps, which I think is fabulous). It took me almost two months to read this book--one, because it was too big to take along on my holidays, but mostly because I could only read a chapter or two at a time. That's okay, it's just that type of book. This book is 447 big pages, but I think it would have been much stronger if he'd edited it down to about 300.

Why I Read This Now: When I was in England this summer we stayed at a farmhouse B&B outside the village of Ewen (Gloucestershire) that advertised itself as "next to the infant Thames". (See picture in post #39). The Thames in their field was really just a puddle. Across the road, we walked along the Thames footpath for about a mile, and were stunned to see that this swampy trickle was the mighty Thames that flows past the Houses of Parliament all those miles away. I don't think many tourists in England just happen across the source of the Thames (well, technically the actual source was about a mile away, but close enough for someone who hadn't planned it!). I found this utterly fascinating, so when I saw this beautiful blue book, full of illustrations and maps, I just had to buy it. Despite my criticisms, I plan to keep this book and will use it to plan my future excursions along the Thames.

Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Readers interested in the cultural aspects of the Thames and who have a good feel for the geography of the area (even with the maps, he speaks to someone who knows where Wapping is).

Sep 25, 2009, 1:37am Top

75. The Story of Lucy Gault, William Trevor

Irish literature, 2003, audiobook

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: The Anglo-Irish Gaults see the writing on the wall when the Troubles hit their area of Ireland--and their home--in 1920. So they decide to pack up the house and leave the country. Eight-year old Lucy has other plans, however, and through a series of unfortunate events, she is believed to be drowned. Of course, that couldn't be true, because it's early in the book, and look at the title. Anyway, her parents believe it and flee the country.

I really enjoyed the writing, and the mood, and the sense of place, and basically the whole feeling of the novel. But as the story progressed, I found myself saying "hey!" and getting frustrated. "What do you mean no one can locate the parents?" "What do you mean the landowners never once check on their property . . . in TWENTY years? Really?" I guess you could chalk this up to my 21st century sensibilities in a world of passport checks and the digital recording of every aspect of our lives, which I realize didn't exist in 1920. But still. Really? At this point, I started thinking of the book as an Irish Home Alone.

But still, I really did like the book, and for those of you who don't think Home Alone, there's lots of sad stuff about wasted opportunity and missed chances and such.

Why I Read This Now: Needed an audiobook, this one was available, and I picked it because it's on the 1001 list, which has recommended some pretty interesting books to me that I wouldn't have otherwise read.

Recommended for: a broad audience.

Sep 25, 2009, 7:02am Top

Your comment about the "Irish Home Alone" really gave me a chuckle. Thanks!

Sep 25, 2009, 10:10pm Top

#36: That was the first Trevor book I ever read and I really enjoyed it. I am glad that despite your reservations, you enjoyed it as well.

Edited: Sep 26, 2009, 7:40pm Top

Re: post 35, above. This is the head of the Thames River, in Ewen, England (July 2009). Please click on the picture to see larger detail.

Sep 27, 2009, 3:18am Top

How beautiful! Thanks for sharing the picture, Joyce.

Sep 27, 2009, 4:20pm Top

Congrats on reaching 75 books!

Sep 28, 2009, 2:06am Top

Sep 28, 2009, 9:34am Top


Sep 29, 2009, 9:03am Top


Edited: Nov 7, 2009, 11:25pm Top

76. For Grace Received, Valeria Parrella

Italian fiction, 2005

Rating: 4/5

Comments: Guess what? I'm not going to tell you . . . if you want to hear about this unusual book, check out a future issue of www.Belletrista.com. ;-)

Why I Read This Now: Because Lois wanted me to.

Recommended for: Readers who like something different, fans of current Italian literature.

Edited to give you the link for the review at Belletrista:

Sep 29, 2009, 2:16pm Top

77. The Idea of Canada and the Crisis of Community, Leslie Armour

Non-fiction, 1981


Comments: Poli-sci meets philosophy in Canada. Had some interesting moments, but overall pretty dull.

Why I Read This Now: Req'd reading for my Humanities in Canada class.

Recommended for: Canadian poli-sci philosophy geeks, those suffering from insomnia.

Oct 2, 2009, 11:30am Top


Edited: Oct 4, 2009, 2:45pm Top

78. Under the Ribs of Death, John Marlyn

Canlit, 1957

Rating 2/5

Comments: I think this is the first Canadian novel to explore the immigrant experience. Set in the mean streets of North Winnipeg, the story follows the son of Hungarian immigrants from boyhood in 1913 into the Great Depression. Lots happens in this story, but it just didn't hold my interest. Definitely wouldn't have read this on my own. But it does have a really pretty purplish-blue cover.

Why I Read This Now: assigned reading for my Canlit class.

Recommended for: oh, I have no idea.

Oct 5, 2009, 11:12am Top

#48: Skipping that one, I think, if you would not even recommend it for Canadians!

Oct 5, 2009, 11:44am Top

Well, other people in my class liked it. I don't really know why I didn't like it . . . it may have been that I found it hyper-masculine, or that the author was constantly talking about dirt and decay, and things were always stinky. I just didn't find it a pleasant world to spend my time in, even though it was well written and all.

Oct 5, 2009, 11:50am Top

#50: I think I am on your side of that argument and will go ahead and pass.

Oct 5, 2009, 11:55am Top

Very wise move.

Oct 7, 2009, 8:09am Top

Hehe, I love the idea of the only thing to recommend a book is that it has a pretty cover.

Oct 15, 2009, 2:20pm Top

Back in post #31 about As For Me and My House, by Sinclair Ross, I said I'd probably be back with more comments and a higher rating once I wrote my essay on this novel. Well, here I am, and I'm sticking with my 3.5/5 star rating, although I will say that this book has proven to be much more interesting upon deeper study. It's full of slippery language and ambiguity, which is always fun.

Oct 15, 2009, 10:16pm Top

ok, caught up again. Thompson Highway is quite funny. Love Margaret Laurence, of course. Not really all that fond of Sinclair Ross. Big laugh at the Irish "home alone" comment. But loved the photograph of the source of the Thames. I read his London last year and it rambled a lot too but I enjoyed it regardless, so I still think I want Thames: Sacred River, even if it is poorly edited. I find the river and its city deeply interesting. Thanks for the reviews!

Oct 17, 2009, 7:16pm Top

I might have recommended this already, and if I have, just ignore me, but I liked Sinclair Ross' short story collection, The Lamp at Noon and Other Stories more than As For Me and My House. "The Painted Door" is especially good.

Oct 17, 2009, 7:55pm Top

Oh, I've heard that "The Painted Door" is good. I'll have to remember to track it down.

Oct 19, 2009, 12:17pm Top

80. Blindness, Jose Saramago

Literature, 1997

Comments: I expected to really love this book based on what I'd heard about it. Well, I didn't. It started out fine, quickly deteriorated, then got better, and then had an ending that didn't work for me. The writing was interesting and I thought worked well with the blindness metaphor-theme thingy going on, but there were several times I said to myself "Really? Is that where he's going to take us? Do we have to go there?" and several times where I rolled my eyes and said "only a man would write this!". I also had trouble actually picking this one up--I just didn't find it all that interesting. Still, it wasn't all bad, and did have it's moments. I liked the doctor's wife, although she was a bit saint-like. But she rose to the challenge of what was thrown in front of her, I guess.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Why I Read This Now: my book club

Recommended for: dystopian fiction fans

Oct 19, 2009, 12:33pm Top

I said to myself "Really? Is that where he's going to take us? Do we have to go there?" and several times where I rolled my eyes and said "only a man would write this!".

You've got me laughing and curious; maybe I'll pick it up to read a few passages here and there, but otherwise skip this one. Thanks for your honest comments! :-)

Oct 19, 2009, 3:51pm Top

Who knows, Bonnie, you might like it. A lot of other people do! But I can't recommend it.

Edited: Oct 19, 2009, 4:02pm Top

79. The Diviners, Margaret Laurence

Canlit, 1974

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: Wow. I don't really know what to say about this novel--there's just so much going on in it. Basically, it's the story of a middle-aged woman looking back on her memories. A lot on the nature of memory, what is real and what isn't and does it matter, etc. There are lots of interesting well-fleshed out characters, and a few important characters that are mysterious. Hmmm, don't know what else to say without writing a book myself. All I can say is give it a try . . . but devote some time to spend with the novel. I started out reading just a page or two at a time and it really wasn't clicking, but once I was able to read 50-100 pages in a sitting, it got so very much better. My only complaint is that I thought it was a bit long (525 pages)--not that I thought anything needed to be cut out, I think it's just that I personally like shorter books. But it flows, so even with its length, it's a fairly quick read.

Why I Read This Now: assigned reading for my CanLit class.

Recommended for: a broad audience who enjoys literary fiction.

Oct 19, 2009, 7:09pm Top

Four stars, eh? It's been on my tbr shelf for some time, but I may not get to it this year. Sounds a bit intimidating, at first.

Oct 19, 2009, 7:22pm Top

Good call. Yeah, I'd say "intimidating" described my feelings when I approached it. "Hopeful" too though, because I was told it was great (it's one of those books people say they read multiple times and get different things out of). Part of the intimidation comes from knowing that I'll have to write about it and sound intelligent (unlike my drivel, above). But if you're just reading for pleasure, it's an easy read once you get into it (I actually think the beginning is a bit choppy, but it comes clear fairly quickly). I recommend you move it up your TBR shelf.

Oct 19, 2009, 7:43pm Top

Thanks, I will! (I am glad I don't have to write about books and sound intelligent!)

Oct 19, 2009, 10:40pm Top

Okay, I have a dilemma that I want to run by the people who have followed me though this thread. I joined the 75 Book Challenge because it was a place to track my reading, log my comments and have some conversation about books I've read. I especially love the conversation. But I don't really care how many books I read--it's the journey, not the destination. Then after I'd started this 75 books thread, someone invited me to join the ClubReads group, which is about the same thing, but without a goal of a specific number of books to read. So I've been posting to both, and I get different people commenting on the different threads. I'm thinking for 2010, I'd prefer to only post once, and it makes more sense to post over there. But I don't want to drop all my friends here. Do you think if I post only over at the ClubRead thread, that people will still find me? I've always had more conversation here, and I'd hate to lose that. Should I continue to post in two places? I'm also thinking that maybe I should move to the 100 thread instead of 75, since I usually read from 80- 90-something books a year. I guess I'm wondering where you look for threads that interest you?

Oct 19, 2009, 11:13pm Top

I follow people more than groups, so I'll still read your thread if you move! I read quite a few of the CR threads (including yours).

Oct 19, 2009, 11:15pm Top

I post in both the 75 and 100 books read groups and have more interaction in the 75. It really doesn't matter- just let people know which group you are in and they will follow!

Edited: Oct 20, 2009, 1:26am Top

I just loved Margaret Laurence when I discovered her 10 years ago. I cannot understand why she is not better recognized.

I was also invited to the Club Read - but just couldn't sustain two threads in all my laziness. There is a slightly different cohort of readers over there - and a few that posts in a tight-knit group. i like it here because I always seem to meet new people, it is a very open forum and I get a big variety in comments. So I dropped the Club Read thread - well I never really started to be honest. I agree with Cushla - I follow people rather than anything else, though.

Oct 20, 2009, 1:41am Top

I think all the people who have been following you will keep starring you as long as you're reading books that they're interested in. I only have a thread going in the 50-book group right now, but I've starred and posted comments on lots of 75-ers' threads--nobody has kicked me out yet! **skedaddles away, covering her butt**

Oct 20, 2009, 2:37am Top

Bonniebooks, I think that is one benefit of LT. Everyone here has a genuine love of books and enjoys being able to discuss both the good and the bad we encounter.

Oct 20, 2009, 8:41am Top

>68 kiwidoc: kiwi, I was also posting in both places and dropped out of Club Read.

I still have some threads starred there and I will star yours if that is where you choose to stay Nickelini! I agree that it is the journey that is important and I'm not really worried about reaching 75 books this year, but I've already passed the 50 mark.

I have threads starred in almost all of the different challenge groups. The real challenge for me is keeping up with all of them!

Oct 20, 2009, 8:58am Top

>68 kiwidoc:, 71: add me to the "posted in both places and dropped out of Club Read" crowd. I don't know why, but I always had more interaction in this group than in Club Read. I lost energy for double-posting when I stopped getting comments over there.

Joyce, like the others who've replied so far, I follow people more than groups. I'm not even an actual member of this group, because I didn't necessarily want to follow ALL of the threads. I visited several groups at the beginning of the year to check out who was posting where and starred threads of interest. I go to "Your starred" in Talk to keep up with those threads, and "Your groups" for the groups I'm a member of.

Whatever you decide, you can't hide from me ... I'll find you and star you!! :)

Oct 20, 2009, 10:02am Top

I agree with Linda. I'm also not a member of Club Read but have starred certain threads in the group like Joyce's, Depressaholic's and Avaland's. I'm still a member of the 50 challenge but don't post there much anymore, except - again - for my starred threads: ElliePotten, bonniebooks, spacepotatoes etc. People whose book choices and/or reviews I love I follow no matter what group they belong to.

Oct 20, 2009, 10:54am Top

It doesn't matter what group you are in--Club Read, 50 Book Challenge, 75 Book Challenge, 100 Book Challenge, 999 Challenge, etc.--I check each group occasionally to make sure that I've starred the people I'm interested in!

Oct 21, 2009, 4:43am Top

Count me in as someone who checks not only this group's threads, but several in Club Read as well.

Oct 21, 2009, 8:39am Top

I also post in Club Read, but, like you, I don't find there is much conversation or even comment on books read there, except among few readers who like fantasy (I don't). Initially, I planned to drop out of this group, but I'm glad that I didn't.

If you enjoy this thread more, why let the numbers bother you? Does anybody really care about the "challenge" issue and whether or not they read 75 books, less, or more? It's not like there's a big prize at stake! I certainly don't find myself picking up short books to meet a goal number, or feeling competitive when I see that someone else has read more books than I have. I read what I want to/have to and just add them for my own curiosity. I don't think anyone here would object if you just posted that you have decided not to count books read but will still be posting here for the conversation.

That said, I've got you starred in both threads and at least one other. But once new threads for 2010 start in January, you might want to post a link on the new 75 thread to let folks know where you have gone, if you choose to move.

Oct 21, 2009, 10:15am Top

It's not like there's a big prize at stake!

What!! There's not? And here I was already planning how to spend that cheque at the end of the year. I'm so disappointed.

Edited: Oct 21, 2009, 11:49am Top

Joyce, I just want to chime in and say that whichever group you post in, I'll still stalk follow you!

ETA: Cariola has a good idea about posting a link at the end of this thread when you decide where to go.

Oct 21, 2009, 2:48pm Top

77> I think alcottacre would be pretty hard to beat . . . .

Oct 21, 2009, 4:25pm Top

But you only get a prize if you STOP at 75 - so that rules out Stasia!!

Oct 21, 2009, 4:36pm Top

Hehehehe, I love that idea!!! A prize for the only one of us to hit 75 bang on for the year

Oct 21, 2009, 6:04pm Top

How do you know there is only one person going to hit 75 this year, Jenny? I like the idea, too, though - it would be hard to do, I would think, squeaking in just under the wire with exactly 75.

Oct 22, 2009, 11:48am Top

81. Lament for a Nation: the Defeat of Canadian Nationalism, 40th Anniversary Edition, George Grant

Political science, 1965

Rating: 3/5 stars

Comments: the Canadian poli-sci classic, with an 85 page introduction. When Grant wrote this he predicted that Canada was destined to be absorbed into the American empire. Apparently this book rekindled some degree of Canadian nationalism, and Petro-Can. Poli-sci and philosophy aren't my area of interest, so I would have given this two stars, but it made me think, so I bumped it up a star.

Why I Read This Now: assigned reading for my humanities in Canada class.

Recommended for: Historians, philosophers and poli-sci people who are interested in Canada.

Oct 22, 2009, 11:56am Top

82. The Valley: a novel, Gayle Friesen

Contemporary literature, 2008

Rating: 2/5 stars

Why I Read This Now: I bought this book on a whim last month--it was to be my little escapist treat in between all my assigned reading.

Comments: 38 yr old Gloria returns to the family farm that she left when she was 18 to finally confront her old demons. I looked forward to reading this because it's set about an hour from where I live and where many of my cousins grew up on similar farms, and I expected to really relate to both the characters and the setting. Nope. Although the book had its moments, overall it rang false. I didn't relate to the characters, and I really disliked the main character. Friesen has written several YA books (some of which I read and liked), and this book definitely had the YA feel, despite the adult themes.

Recommended for: unfortunately, I can't recommend this book.

Oct 22, 2009, 1:25pm Top

Thanks! You're doing a good deed by saving us all from a mediocre book.

Oct 22, 2009, 1:36pm Top

It is probably important to read books that one would not ordinarily pick up, Joyce - I know I always go for the same sort of thing and need to broaden my horizons. Also not that keen on politics, but I am a fan of philosophy.

re the Friesen book - one to miss. Thanks.

Edited: Oct 26, 2009, 4:47pm Top

83. Too Much Tuscan Sun, Dario Castagno

Travel, Memoir, 2004

Rating: 4/5 stars

Comments: Those of you who follow my threads may remember that I have a pet peeve about books where some English-speaking person glides into Italy and effortlessly sets up housekeeping whilst being entertained by lovable locals and learning valuable life-changing lessons. The most egregious offender of this genre is Under the Tuscan Sun, but I've read many others. I picked up Too Much Tuscan Sun because it sounded like I may have found a kindred spirit as the book is billed as telling "a native Tuscan's side of the story."

Dario Castagno is a travel guide working in the Siena area. The chapters alternate between interesting information about the area and stories of the, uhm--entertaining--clients he has taken on tours. This wasn't quite the anti-Tuscan Sun that I had in mind . . . he still over-romanticizes Tuscany, and I've had enough Tuscan rhapsody to last me the rest of my life. But that's not his fault--he does, after all, make a living by showing people the fabulousness of Tuscany. But the parts about the tourists were priceless. Laugh out loud funny in places. I wish he'd written more on them and a bit less on Tuscany itself.

Why I Read This Now: I just learned about it and it was at the library.

Recommended for: Anyone who is thinking, or even just day dreaming, of traveling to Tuscany . . . if you're undecided now, you'll be booking a trip with him when you finish the book! He's very likable, and you want him to be the one to show you around the place.

Oct 26, 2009, 5:44pm Top

Hi Nickelini - going back to previous comments this is my first year on LT group threads and I started in the 999 challenge, 100 & 75 book challenge. I find this group has the most discussion and generates more interest in books than the other groups. I follow a few in Club Read, I enjoy my 999 challenge but it is more of a personal journey for me.

Two books that are satires of the 'Brits into Tuscany' you might like to take note of are: Tuscany for Beginners - more chick lit, but very funny and Cooking with Fernet Branca which is totally over the top and was longlisted for the Booker Prize back when it was first published.
I've read a few of those Italian journey books and a few set in Spain so know what you mean, they all follow the same pattern. I'll look out for Too Much Tuscan Sun.

Oct 27, 2009, 5:46pm Top

I will look out for the Tuscan book as well!

Oct 27, 2009, 5:58pm Top

Count me in, too!

Oct 27, 2009, 6:33pm Top

Thanks, Avatiakh . . . I'll look out for those titles!

Edited: Oct 30, 2009, 12:07am Top

84. Kiss of the Fur Queen, Tomson Highway

Canlit, 1998

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Comments:This beautifully composed book follows the lives of two Cree brothers from their birthplace in northern Manitoba, to their school years when they were forced to attend an abusive Catholic residential school, through their adult years as artists (one became a concert pianist, the other a dancer). The novel covers some pretty rough areas, but the storytelling is absolutely lyrical. I would expect a book that covers sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse and homosexual struggles to be completely depressing, but Highway's use of magical imagery and humour made this a wonderful read. I'm looking forward to writing an essay on this book, and rereading it in the process.

Why I Read This Now: assigned novel for my CanLit class.

Recommended for: I highly recommend this book to mature readers who appreciate well-crafted prose and aren't squeamish about difficult subject matter.

Oct 29, 2009, 12:51pm Top

Thanks for the review, its gone immediately onto my wishlist.

Oct 29, 2009, 10:47pm Top

Sounds good! It sounds like the brothers are Native Canadians too, right? That makes sense in terms of being forced to attend the residential schools. The loss of family and culture is another crime against the students and their families.

Oct 30, 2009, 12:06am Top

Ooops! Yes, they're indigenous. Slightly MAJOR to the story! I think I had a line in my comments about that, but then changed it and dropped that crucial detail. Now I feel silly and I'll go back and add that they were Cree. Thanks for pointing that out! (oh, and Native Canadian isn't really a term that is used--I recently learned that from an indigenous scholar that the correct term is "indigenous". I believe aboriginal is also okay. Specifically in Canada we have three groups of indigenous people: First Nations, Metis, and Inuit, but those aren't really good enough--you're supposed to know the specific group. However, since this summer I've read four books written by indigenous authors, and in all four books they use Indian and Half-breed copiously. So go figure!).

Oct 30, 2009, 12:14am Top

I found the no more... lots of... too much Tuscan sun book at the library yesterday. Looks like just what I need for when I finish the never-ending bio of Martha Gellhorn!

Edited: Oct 30, 2009, 12:27am Top

Yeah, I didn't know what term to use. "Native American" has been the more formal term used by authors here, but then many Indians call themselves Indians, so it's hard to know what to say--especially since we (Euro-Americans) "hyphenize" everyone else but ourselves. And there's always the situation of members of a groups having words for themselves which would never be OK for others outside of the group to use.

ETA: Thanks for telling me what's the preferred usage in Canada.

Edited: Oct 30, 2009, 11:45am Top

85. A Climate For Change: Global Warming Facts For Faith-based Decisions, Katharine Hayhoe & Andrew Farley

Non-fiction, 2009

Rating 3.5/5

Comments: A straightforward review of all the evidence for climate change, including charts, illustrations and lists of further reading. Written specifically for the reader who is resistant to accepting that climate change is happening.

Why I Read This Now: ER book.

Recommended for: anyone who wants a simple (but not simplistic) explanation of climate change. Their target audience is the group of Christians*who deny climate change--I'm not sure if this rational approach will convince anyone who irrationally denies climate change.

*I still can't get my head around what Christianity has to do with denying climate change.

edited to fix touchstone.

Oct 30, 2009, 12:07pm Top

I'm not sure if this rational approach will convince anyone who irrationally denies climate change.

You're probably right, but I appreciate their efforts! My sisters are rabid conservatives and Christians (don't believe these words necessarily go together) and I'm not sure that they know why they don't believe in climate change--other than they tend to believe whatever Fox "News" (especially Glen Beck, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly) tells them.

Oct 30, 2009, 3:33pm Top

Argh! I definitely recommend you buy them this book then!

Oct 30, 2009, 9:47pm Top

Bonnie - I've now posted my review on A Climate for Change on the book's page, so you may want to check it out.

Since you're interested in Kiss of the Fur Queen, I need to recommend to you a similar book that I liked even better: Green Grass, Running Water (we're comparing 4.5 stars and 5 stars here, so not much better, and I have a feeling after I reread Kiss, I'll upgrade it). Both tackle serious issues, but I'd say Green Grass is lighter. They're both fabulous.

Oct 30, 2009, 10:23pm Top

Thanks for the added rec, Joyce! I'm thinking I still might like Kiss of the Fur Queen better, 'cas I'm not big on magical realism.

Have you read Obasan by Joy Kogawa? I can't remember whether it's a memoir, or just reads like one, but it's about a Japanese-Canadian little girl (you can tell me the proper term) who was growing up very comfortably in Vancouver before WWII, and then follows her family during and after the war.

Oct 31, 2009, 5:22am Top

#98: As a both a Christian and a conservative I can tell you what Christianity has to do with denying climate change: absolutely nothing.

Oct 31, 2009, 9:40am Top

You know, that's what I thought, and then I saw this book and I thought "let's here what they have to say," and now that I've read it, I see that as you say, it's "absolutely nothing". :-)

Oct 31, 2009, 10:31am Top

Joyce, glad you too enjoyed the Tomson Highway and King books. I worked at Trent University for many years and witnessed the evolution of the Indigenous Studies department from a fledgling diploma program into a full-fledged B.A. to Ph.D. program. It was exciting to watch the department grow from a tiny group of non-native faculty who taught what little was available in printed history (and weren't particularly well regarded) into a large department which now encompasses everything from oral Ojibway/Mohawk/Cree courses, First Nations literature and arts, history written by indigenous authors, etc., etc., taught mostly by very educated and vibrant indigenous faculty. Along with the growth of the program there was a corresponding rebirth in cultural identity, which was very positive to be around and one which expanded the university's aspect into a whole new dimension.

Best of all, for a reader, were the books available in the bookstore! So pleased to see you bringing these to the awareness of others. I've loved reading your reviews.

Oct 31, 2009, 11:01am Top

Tiffin, wow, that's really interesting! Thanks for sharing that--I had no idea. I find it interesting that a few years ago I would have questioned whether I'd be able to relate to either of these books, and this year I'm putting them right up at the top of my fav books list.

Oct 31, 2009, 11:02am Top

Have you read Obasan by Joy Kogawa?

I haven't, but it's been on my TBR list for some time. It's often taught at university, so I was holding off in case it became assigned reading, but I'm just about finished with school, so I'll have to read it on my own. Thanks for the recommendation.

Oct 31, 2009, 11:12pm Top

#105: I agree with Joyce, Tui, that is interesting!

Edited: Nov 4, 2009, 4:22pm Top

86. Full Frontal Feminism, Jessica Valenti

Non-fiction, 2007

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Why I Read This Now: I am considering buying this for my niece and wanted to preview it.

Comments: I was very impressed by the same author's Purity Myth when I read it last spring. Full Frontal Feminism covers a lot of the same material, but is written in a different tone of voice--the author was aiming at teens and young women, whereas Purity Myth is written for a broader audience. I'm not the target audience, so I'm not sure that it's fair for me to critique her writing style, but I don't know that it would have appealed to me even when I was 18. I appreciate a well-placed swear word, but I would call Valenti's use of foul language here to be gratuitous swearing. Unfortunately, I think over use of bad language makes the speaker sound inarticulate and less intelligent. Which is too bad, because Valenti is obviously articulate and intelligent. My other problem with this book is that it's very US-centric, which limits its value. Even though Valenti is obviously writing to a US audience, it would have been both interesting and inspiring to hear about the struggles and triumphs of women in other parts of the world. I think The Purity Myth is a much better book, but I will go ahead and purchase Full Frontal Feminism for my niece, just because social activism is new to her and I think this book will speak to her on her level.

Recommended for: the target audience (14-22 year olds).

Nov 4, 2009, 5:38pm Top

My older son, who reads a lot and is very smart and articulate, went through a stage in his early 20's where he was swearing all the time and it was just a f*ing habit! ;-) You could maybe think the author was going through that phase herself, but since it doesn't sound like swearing was a part of Purity Myth, maybe it's an affectation to appeal to that audience. Too bad, huh?

P.S. I need to remember to check out Purity Myth next time at the book store.

Edited: Nov 5, 2009, 10:52pm Top

87. The Kappa Child, Hiromi Goto

Contemporary lit, 2001

Rating: 4/5 stars

Why I Read This Now: required for my Canadian lit class.

Comments: This is a most unusual book. The protagonist is a one of four sisters in a Japanese family who settle on the Canadian prairies where the father tries to grow rice (wrong climate!) and she tries to model her life after Little House on the Prairie. This is interspersed with the pajama-wearing protagonist as an adult, now living in the big city (Calgary) and trying to sort out herself and her place in her dysfunctional family. There are Japanese mythological creatures, alien abductions, lesbians and lots of cucumbers.

The book started out strong, but then got kinda confusing. There were parts I thought were great, but there were too many time periods and places, and I wasn't sure where and when I was. Also, the author was really fixated on bodily fluids--she covered all of them, including eye boogers (though I think she missed belly button lint, ear wax and toe jam). Talking about bodily fluids is not really my thing. But in the second half of the book, things came together, I stopped being annoyed by the protagonist and had more fun with her, and the weirdness grew on me. I've always been a fan of weird art, but this was almost too weird, and honestly, if I didn't have to read this for class, I might have given up. But I didn't, and I'm so glad. I finished it this morning, and I've thought about the book all day in a very warm, happy way. I have to write a paper on it, so I'll reread it, and I'm looking forward to revisiting it. I initially gave it 3.5 stars, but I've reconsidered and raised it to 4.

Note: this book won the Tiptree Award, which I've never heard of, but is "an annual literary prize for works of science fiction ("SF") or fantasy that expand or explore one's understanding of gender." Cool.

Recommended for: Readers who enjoy weird books.

Edited: Nov 8, 2009, 1:17pm Top

Hey, have you all checked out the latest issue of Bellestrista yet? If not, go there right now! http://www.belletrista.com/2009/issue2/index.php

I wrote two reviews, and I promised to give you links to them, so here you go:

64. Brixton Beach, by Roma Tearne

76. For Grace Received, by Valeria Parrella

Nov 8, 2009, 12:20am Top

Nice job, Joyce! And yes, I have read the newest (very dangerous to the BlackHole) edition of Belletrista.

Nov 8, 2009, 1:14pm Top

88. The Midwich Cuckoos, John Wyndham

Science fiction, 1957

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Comments: Some strange force causes life in a small English village to stop for a day--they call it the Dayout. No one can remember what happened, and no one can explain it. Soon they learn that every female of childbearing age who was in the village that day is pregnant. Of course it turns out that the babies, all 61 which are born on the same day, are not human, and have strange powers. They quickly grow into some pretty scary children.

The book is very post-WWII Britain, which to me is an unexpected setting for a science fiction novel (though SF isn't my genre, so what do I know). But it's very Englishness is what pulled this out of the regular SF fare for me.

Why I Read This Now: I recently listened to the BBC radio play, and read the book as a comparison. I much preferred the radio play.

Recommended for: fans of vintage SF, Agatha Christie readers looking for a twist . . .

Nov 8, 2009, 11:37pm Top

I already have that one in the BlackHole. One of these centuries, I will get to it *sigh*

Nov 14, 2009, 12:22pm Top

89. The Disappeared, Kim Echlin

Contemporary lit, 2009

Rating 4/5 stars

Comments: You'll have to check the next issue of Belletrista.com to see my comments on this story of obsessive love set in Montreal and Cambodia.

Why I Read This Now: writing a review for Belletrista.com

Nov 15, 2009, 12:18am Top

Another one already in the BlackHole . . .

Edited: Nov 24, 2009, 12:43pm Top

90. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway


Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Why I Read This Now: I needed something to read before bed and I thought it was time to read this one since I've been packing it around since the early 1990s.

Comments: I rather enjoyed this one--more for the writing style than what Hemingway actually has to say. I can see why some readers find this one less than enthralling and dislike the characters--mostly they just move from one exotic locale to another and get drunk. I think there are quite a few novels about this "lost generation" of disillusioned post-WWI adults, and I much preferred Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies just because it was funnier. But the Sun Also Rises did have some nice imagery of northern Spain that makes me want to go there. Overall a quick read and not a waste of time.

Recommended for: lovers of sparse prose.

Nov 24, 2009, 1:07pm Top

I have The Sun Also Rises on my shelf TBR for awhile now, Joyce. "one exotic locale to another and get drunk" doesn't sound too bad to me as long as I'm not driving ;). I think I'll move this one up, perhaps its time has come.

Nov 24, 2009, 1:29pm Top

Joyce - well done with the Belletrista reviews. Very enticing - both now on the TBR pile.

Glad you liked Wyndham - I enjoyed all his SF as a teen and would love to revisit him. I was a big SF fan then, with him and HG Wells and a few others of early-mid 20th century. I don't seek SF out much now though.

Interesting to hear your thoughts on the Echelin - which has garnered some very mixed reviews. I have that waiting for me, also.

Nov 29, 2009, 11:25pm Top

91. Kiss of the Fur Queen, Tomson Highway

Yes, I recently read this book at #84, but this weekend I did a thorough reread so I can write an essay on it. What a fabulous book. I definitely missed things the first time through--many themes showed up, and I really noticed the fabulous writing. This is a book that should be read slowly. I think this would make a great selection for the CBC Canada Reads competition (the 2010 selections will be announced Dec 1).

Nov 30, 2009, 2:08am Top

#121: To me, always the sign of a great book: having read it, would I immediately read it again? Sounds like you have one right there!

Nov 30, 2009, 6:46am Top

Still have it on my wish list based on your previous rec, Joyce. Still sounds great! Thanks for giving us a heads-up on the CBC Canada Reads competition.

Edited: Nov 30, 2009, 3:52pm Top

92. The Malaise of Modernity, Charles Taylor

Philosophy, 1991

rating: 3/5

Why I Read This Now: assigned reading for my Humanities in Canada course.

Comments: The most readable of the books assigned for this course. This is the book form of the 1991 Massey Lectures.

Recommended for: readers of philosophy, poli-sci, the Canadian canon (it's on the Canadian Literary Reviews 100 Most Important Books list).

There is a touchstone, but it won't load this morning.

Nov 30, 2009, 7:48pm Top

93. First Nations? Second Thoughts, Tom Flanagan

Non-fiction, 2000

rating: 4/5

comments: This is a difficult book to summarize in a sentence or two, because it's so politically loaded, so I'll cheat and copy from the back cover: "both controversial and thought-provoking, Thomas Flanagan's First Nations? Second Thoughts disccescts the prevailing orthodoxy that determines public policy towards Canada's aboriginal peoples." He shows how "while trying to help an entire group, we end up helping only a fraction--the least needy members of the group--while actually harming the life chances of the majority." A very interesting book.

recommended for: every Canadian taxpayer, anyone interested in indigenous issues. The leaders of band councils will not like it.

why I read this now: I've been reading a lot about Canada's indigenous people this term, some of it from the POV that "anyone who's ancestors weren't here before 1492 needs to leave Turtle Island (North America)". This was a good balance.

Edited: Dec 5, 2009, 8:32pm Top

94. Push, Sapphire

Fiction, 1997

rating: 4/5

Why I Read This Now: This is the novel that the current movie Precious is based on. I saw the movie trailer for the first time when the film was shown the Toronto Film Festival, and I find it so intriguing--I think it's the acting and the main character that really grab me. So when I saw the novel, I couldn't resist.

Comments: Even though the book is set in NYC, Claireece Precious Jones lives in a world that I can't even imagine. This is the US at its ugliest--her life is as horrible as any child's could be. Unloved, she is abused by the mother she lives with and the father that visits occasionally--often enough to get her pregnant at 12 and then again at 16. She's completely illiterate and knows nothing of the world other than slavery and abuse. But she ends up in an alternative school, and through the guidance of a teacher who believes in her, Precious learns to read and realizes that there is hope for her.

The novel is written in non-standard English, to mirror what is going on in Precious's mind (although she sure knows how to spell profanity, and my, does she use a lot of it!), and the English improves as the novel--and her education--progresses.

Overall, a hopeful and positive novel, with strong feminist undertones. And a quick read.

Recommended for: a good story for anyone who can stomach the graphic details and frequent crude language.

Dec 5, 2009, 8:54pm Top

Great review, Joyce. I was wondering about this book, and now I'll make sure to read it. Thanks!

Dec 5, 2009, 9:00pm Top

Very nice review; I need to read this one soon, as I want to see Precious in the near future.

Dec 5, 2009, 10:26pm Top

Nice, Joyce! I think I already put the book on my wish list based on your earlier comments about it during the festival, but if not, it's on now! There are not that many movies that I really want to see when they first come out, and I want to see this one, so I think I'll see the movie first then read the book.

Dec 6, 2009, 2:45am Top

I'm thinking of seeing the movie tomorrow, and if I do, I'll let you all know how it compares. I can already see differences in the trailer (actually, I think the movie looks better than the book)

Dec 6, 2009, 1:43pm Top

A number of my colleagues have been raving about the movie. Hope you like it!

Dec 6, 2009, 11:07pm Top

95. Technology and Empire: Perspectives on North America, George Grant

Non-fiction, 1969

Comments: A collection of political philosophy essays. Zzzzz.

Why I Read This Now: required reading for Humanities 323

Recommended for: Lovers of Canadian politics and philosophy.

Rating: 2/5

Dec 7, 2009, 2:11am Top

#132: Love the 'Comments' on that one. I will look it up next time I need some rest :)

Dec 10, 2009, 10:36am Top

96. The Malaise of Modernity, Charles Taylor

Comments: This was a detailed, sentence-by-sentence reread in preparation for an essay I have to write. Amazing how difficult books change on the second reading.

Dec 12, 2009, 9:27pm Top

97. The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse, Gregg Easterbrook

Non-fiction, 2002

rating: 3/5

comments interesting book looking at why people in the Western world are so miserable when the quality of life has never been better. A nice balance for all the intellectual nihilism I've been drowning in this past week. I think a lot of his facts are wrong, but I'm not sure if it makes all that big a difference to the overall message.

why I read this now: I had to wait in the library the other day and I came across this. It's related to the paper I'm currently writing and takes a different view, so I thought I'd read it.

recommended for: people who think life has no meaning. Maybe it does, after all.

Edited: Dec 17, 2009, 12:02pm Top

98. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen

British literature, 1818

rating: 3.5/5

comments: A charming story about a naive young girl who reads too many Gothic novels. At 17 she gets the opportunity to leave the sleepy village where she lives to visit the bright lights, big city of Bath. She doesn't encounter the Gothic horrors and evils that she expects to find, but instead finds the horrors and evils of Regency period English society.

I didn't enjoy this one as much as other Austen books I've read, but that might be because instead of immersing myself in the book, I read it in bits and pieces over several weeks.

why I read this now: This was book 5 of my Austen-a-year reading plan. One more to go! (I'm not worrying about Sanditon, The Watsons or Lady Susan but maybe one day I'll hunt those down).

recommended for: Janeites and fans of Gothic lit.

Edited to say: I just noticed that I finished this book on Dec 16, Jane Austen's birthday. Happy 234th b-day, Jane!

Dec 18, 2009, 8:34am Top

I felt very much as you did about Northanger Abbey. Seems, as it was her first, she was discovering what worked for her and what didn't.

Ms. Austen has aged gracefully, I think.

Will you be joining the 75er's in 2010?

Dec 19, 2009, 4:04pm Top

I think I'm going to move over to the 100 Book thread, because even though I don't always make 100 books, I usually come close. I'll post a link in a week or so, and anyone who's interested can follow me there.

Dec 20, 2009, 1:41pm Top

99. Disgrace, JM Coetzee

South African literature, 1999

Why I Read This Now: I wanted to read something completely different from what I've read that past few months. The other morning I was listening to Paul Simon's Graceland album, and I thought "Africa! I need to read something African." Disgrace was the first book that I found in my TBR pile that fit the African & Completely Different description.

Comments: This book had a lot to say, but I don't have much to say about it. This is my first Coetzee, and I think he's a gifted writer. I thought the characters were very real, although they weren't particularly likable. I really wanted to like Lucy--I can see her point, but she frustrated me.

Rating: 3.5/5 . . . I feel I should rate it higher, but I just can't.

Recommended for: Readers who like their fiction literary and dark.

Dec 20, 2009, 11:45pm Top

#138: I am sorry that you are leaving the group, Joyce. I will check in on you on the 100 book challenge.

#139: I have that one at home to read somewhere. Sounds like I can wait on it for a bit longer.

Dec 21, 2009, 7:27am Top

I am also sorry to hear of your move but I'll be following your thread in the 100's. Good luck : )

Edited: Dec 22, 2009, 2:17pm Top

100. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: a Memoir of Going Home, Rhoda Janzen

Memoir, 2009

Why I Read This Now: I am always on the lookout for the perfect Mennonite book--the one I can hand to people who don't know what a Mennonite is. Of course this is as silly as expecting to find a book that sums up the entire Jewish experience, or Japanese, but yet my search continues. I didn't expect this book to be the answer, but it did pretty well (for the record, the closest I've found is A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews--still far from the perfect all-encompassing Menno book, but way up there).

Comments: A 40-something woman returns to her parents' home and community after some serious health problems and the end of a disastrous marriage. She had entered "the mainstream," as Janzen likes to call it, as an adult and her return to her culture helps her to heal.

This book is known to be "laugh out loud" hilarious, but some reviewers say that her humour wears thin after a while. However, I found the humour to be a more subtle kind of amusing, and rather than wearing thin, her memoir got more serious and reflective as she revealed the details of her past. Lots there about pain and growth for the reader who isn't particularly interested in her ethnicity.

As for the Mennonite details, however, I think she did a good job. My upbringing was a lot more liberal and we just didn't do the whole dorky thing that she suffered through, although I did know some dorky Mennonites too, so I could understand what she was saying. And dorky childhood stories are so much more entertaining than non-dorky. Also, I only shared about 40% of her food experiences, which is odd because food is such a huge component of any culture.

Rating: 3 3/4 out of 5

Recommended for: people who like memoirs of survivors of horrific marriages inserted with a good dose of humour; readers who want to learn a bit about Mennonite culture.

Edited: Dec 22, 2009, 4:20pm Top

Hmm...darn it! I was interested in it until you said recommended "for people who like memoirs of survivors of horrific marriages..." but I always like reading about other cultures. I really liked A Complicated Kindness btw.

Dec 22, 2009, 5:38pm Top

Oh, give it a try if you're interested. What do I know? I'm just trying to say it's not just a book about being a Mennonite--she has a purpose for revisiting her culture, so there's something else going on in the book.

Dec 23, 2009, 1:55am Top

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress sounds very interesting! I also have A Complicated Kindness around here somewhere, so I will have to get to that soon. :D

Dec 27, 2009, 1:41pm Top

101. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Winifred Watson

Britlit, 1938

Rating: 3.5 /5

Comments: A charming book about a spinster who has led a dull, sheltered life and accidently falls in with a group of glamorous bohemians. As the title suggests, all the action happens in a day.

Why I Read This Now: looking for a light read

Recommended for: readers working through the 1001 Books list and need a break from all the grim, depressing books on the list.

Dec 28, 2009, 12:49am Top

#146: Serendipity! I just picked that one up this morning. It has been on the nightstand stack for a while now :)

Dec 28, 2009, 1:22pm Top

102. Incident Report, Martha Baillie

fiction, 2009

Rating: 4/5

Comments: This is an unusual little novel, written in the first person voice of a library worker who uses the form of library incident reports. Many of the incident reports sound like posts in the "Annoying things that patrons do, say, don't say, etc." thread over at the Librarians Who LibraryThing group ( http://www.librarything.com/topic/64782#1675941), which just happens to be one of my favourite threads here at LT. But there is also a story going through the incident reports, and in her strange, detached way, Baillie tells quite a moving story--I almost cried at one point, and that's a rare thing.

Why I Read This Now: I'm fascinated with libraries, but this one pretty much makes it certain that I never want to work in a public library. At least not in a dodgy area of town.

Recommended for: readers who enjoy something different, and of course, anyone who has ever worked in a library.

Dec 28, 2009, 1:46pm Top

I am a dark and literary freak so I really enjoyed Disgrace but I can see how many would not!

Sorry to see you leaving the 75ers. Please leave a link, Joyce.

Dec 28, 2009, 2:14pm Top

Well, I didn't dislike Disgrace . . . I'm pretty much on the warm side of ambivalent. I can see that he's a good writer, and I'll try his work again sometime. But first I have to attack Mnt. TBR.

Dec 28, 2009, 8:08pm Top

Nickelini, glad you got hold of Mennonite and that you liked it! I did wish she'd made one more pass at revision and smoothed out the organization a bit.

The Incident Report sounds great, I love original concepts like that. It'll pair nicely if I ever get to Quiet, Please.

Dec 29, 2009, 2:39am Top

The Incident Report looks good. Thanks for the recommendation, Joyce.

Edited: Dec 31, 2009, 1:18pm Top

I'm influenced by Jfetting's personal read awards to create my own. So here we go:

Top 10 fiction reads

1. * Return of the Soldier, Rebecca West
2. * Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh
3. Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam, Jeff Goldsworthy
4. * Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
5. the Robber Bride, Margaret Atwood
6. the Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim
7. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
8. Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
9. * Green Grass, Running Water, Thomas King
10.* Kiss of the Fur Queen, Tomson Highway

* = top five

edited to break up the thread into smaller bits.

Edited: Dec 31, 2009, 1:22pm Top

Top non-fiction reads:

1. *Kingdom Coming: the Rise of Christian Nationalism, Michelle Goldberg
2. *The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women, Jessica Valenti
3. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, Eric Weiner
4. Terry Jones' Medieval Lives, Terry Jones
5. Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction, David Sheff

* = favourites

Dec 31, 2009, 1:30pm Top

Worst books of the year (not including boring academic stuff I had to read):

Under the Ribs of Death, John Marlyn; Veronica Decides to Die, Paulo Coelho; The Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole; and with special distinction, the book I thought would never end, Parade's End, Ford Maddox Ford.

Dec 31, 2009, 1:40pm Top

Biggest Surprise:

Green Grass, Running Water, Thomas King and Kiss of the Fur Queen, Tomson Highway. Who knew indigenous literature could be so delightfully fun? Never mind literary, masterful and creative.

New-to-me authors who are now favourites:
Evelyn Waugh, Rebecca West, Haruki Murikami, & Peter Goldsworthy.

Biggest Disappointments:
Blindness, Jose Saramago; A Child in Time, Ian McEwan; Tweak, Nic Sheff; The Graduate, Charles Webb; and Mister Pip, Lloyd Jones.

Dec 31, 2009, 1:48pm Top

And the final 2009 awards:

The Strangest Fun Reads of the Year: Fruit: a Story of a Boy and His Nipples, Brian Francis, and Kappa Child, Hiromi Goto (go, CanLit!).

Honourable Mention: Other Very Good Reads: Jacob's Room, Virginia Woolf; The Frozen Thames, Helen Humphreys; Late Nights on Air, Elizabeth Hay; Shipping News, E Annie Proulx; Oranges are not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson; The End of the Alphabet, CS Richardson; Death in Venice, Thomas Mann; The Accidental, Ali Smith; and The Incident Report, Martha Baillie.

Jan 1, 2010, 2:48am Top

Happy New Year, Joyce!

Jan 4, 2010, 3:36pm Top

This thread is now complete. You can find me at: http://www.librarything.com/topic/79647

Jan 4, 2010, 10:50pm Top

Love all your categories. I read Fruit on your recommendation and it was good--I just didn't include any Y/A books in my considerations. I stole your "worst book" category; I'm going to go back and add my "Biggest Surprise" book. Starred you for 2010.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2009

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