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scohva's 75 2009

75 Books Challenge for 2009

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1scohva
Nov 6, 2009, 11:28pm Top

Joining this late, but am in a little slump right now and thought this might help me read more.

2scohva
Edited: Dec 1, 2009, 3:34pm Top

What I've read so far this year:
January
1. Beauty by Robin McKinley
2. Ammunition by Ken Bruen
3. Arabella by Georgette Heyer

February

4. Fables v. 1 Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham
5. Fables v. 2 Animal Farm by Bill Willingham
6. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
7. Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn
8. Street of the Five Moons by Elizabeth Peters
9. Fables v. 3 Storybook Love by Bill Willingham
10. Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton
11. Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

March
12. The Terra-Cotta Dog by Andrea Camilleri
13. Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
14. The Road to Ruin by Donald E. Westlake
15. What's So Funny? by Donald E. Westlake
16. The Outfit by Richard Stark

April
17. Killing Floor by Lee Child
18. Dry Storeroom no. 1 by Richard Fortey
19. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice
20. Watch Your Back by Donald E. Westlake
21. Mariana by Monica Dickens
22. The Hunter by Richard Stark
23. milk, sulfate, and alby starvation by Martin Millar

May
24. The Burglar in the Rye by Lawrence Block
25. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
26. Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
27. Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust and Emma Bull
28. Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It by Geoff Dyer

3scohva
Nov 6, 2009, 11:37pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

4alcottacre
Nov 7, 2009, 12:10am Top

Welcome to the group! If ever there were a place to get out of a slump, this is it.

5VioletBramble
Nov 7, 2009, 12:35am Top

Welcome to the group!
What did you think of the Millar book?

6scohva
Edited: Dec 31, 2009, 9:42am Top

June
29. The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy
30. Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd
31. Lush Life by Richard Price
32. Journey Into Fear by Eric Ambler

July
33. Berlin Game by Len Deighton
34. A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler
35. Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby
36. Life Class by Pat Barker
37. Mexico Set by Len Deighton
38. London Match by Len Deighton

August
39. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré
40, Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr
41. Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
42. Mother's Milk by Edward St. Aubyn
43. Generation Kill by Evan Wright
44. Restless by William Boyd
45. The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton

September
46. The Cutie by Donald E. Westlake
47. I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal
48. The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
49. Nineteen Seventy-Four by David Peace
50. A Room With a View by E.M. Forster
51. Tithe by Holly Black

October
52. Youth by J.M. Coetzee
53. The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy
54. Daphne by Justine Picardie
55. Nineteen Seventy-Seven by David Peace
56. Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
57. Lux the Poet by Martin Millar
58. A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel
59. L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy

November
60. The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor
61. Some Hope : A Triology by Edward St. Aubyn
62. Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell
63. How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall
64. Queen of the Flowers by Kerry Greenwood

December
65. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
66. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
67. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
68. Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer
69. Old School by Tobias Wolff
70. No Tomorrow by Vivant Denon

Currently reading:
Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively
Nineteen Eighty by David Peace

Sorry about the erratic touchstones, will edit later. I'm probably not going to make 75, but I would like to get to 70.

7scohva
Nov 7, 2009, 1:10am Top

Thanks guys. I have been reading through the threads in this group and some others, so it's fun to finally make my own. As for the Millar book, I enjoyed it a lot, but it wasn't as weirdly charming as The Good Fairies of New York or Lonely Werewolf Girl.

8drneutron
Nov 7, 2009, 11:09am Top

Welcome!

9scohva
Nov 7, 2009, 11:59am Top

Thank you!

10scohva
Edited: Nov 9, 2009, 10:02am Top

60. The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor

A quietly sad story about a woman who has put her life on hold because of a choice she made as a child. Trevor describes the way this choice affects all who were involved throughout the rest of their lives. The descriptions of coastal Ireland are very atmospheric - it also made me realize how little I know about the Troubles. A melancholy novel about sacrifice, patience, forgiveness, and the passage of time - it was perfect fall reading. Four stars.

11alcottacre
Nov 7, 2009, 11:15pm Top

#10: The Story of Lucy Gault was my introduction to William Trevor and I loved it. I know some people that the story did not work, but it really clicked for me. I am glad to see you enjoyed it as well.

12scohva
Edited: Nov 12, 2009, 4:00pm Top

61. Some Hope : A Trilogy by Edward St. Aubyn
Bleakly comic but ultimately moving set of novels that cover three periods in the life of wealthy Englishman Patrick Melrose. The first, Never Mind, takes place over two days or so at the Melrose house in Provence when Patrick is five. Set around a dinner party, Patrick and his mother endure abuse at the hands of David Melrose (Patrick's father and Eleanor's husband) and the guests deal with his extreme snobbery. Told from multiple points of view, the most serious, but not without its comic moments.
The next novel, Bad News, shows Patrick in his early twenties as a drug addict as he travels to New York to collect his father's ashes. Told solely from Patrick's point of view, it had some particularly funny moments as Patrick tries to purchase drugs in various NYC locations.
The third, my favorite, Some Hope, has Patrick (in his late twenties and miserably clean) and others as they get ready for and attend a country house party. Characters seen or heard of in the first two volumes make appearances. This part especially skewers the British upper class, but also has the most touching moments. A scene near the end nicely mirrors a scene at the beginning of Never Mind, but with a better outcome, and shows that while things may never be perfect, some mistakes don't have to be repeated and that people can be redeemable. I loved Mother's Milk in August and liked these very much too. Four and a half stars.

62. Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell
The second of her mysteries I've read - they feature Professor Hilary Tamar and four young and attractive barristers(?). This one takes place in Venice and London. These are mysteries where the plot itself is secondary to the characters. I find the characters and their banter entertaining. Highly enjoyable. Four stars.

13alcottacre
Nov 13, 2009, 5:37am Top

#12: I will look for Some Hope. Thanks for the recommendation on that one.

I have Thus Was Adonis Murdered sitting on my shelf waiting patiently to be read. One of these days I will get to it!

14scohva
Edited: Dec 2, 2009, 8:47am Top

I hope when/if you do read them you enjoy them - both funny in different ways, one with very black humor and the other in a witty, British way.

63. How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall

I'm not sure how I felt about this one. It took me a couple of months to read (with large breaks in between). The writing in this novel that deals with art, life, love, identity, sex, and death was often very beautiful. It was fun discovering the connections between the four different threads in the novel as the story unfolded. I would probably rate this a three and a half star novel, maybe raised half a star to four because of some of the beautiful writing.

15alcottacre
Nov 23, 2009, 12:27am Top

#14: I already added that one to the BlackHole after seeing it on kidzdoc's thread. Sounds like it will be an interesting read.

16scohva
Edited: Dec 2, 2009, 8:47am Top

64. Queen of the Flowers by Kerry Greenwood

Lightish mystery set in Melbourne, Australia in the late 1920s. Enjoyable - on the whole I prefer to read mystery series in order, but this mystery, while fun, does not make me NEED to go out and purchase these books in order. I will however read those that are available at my library and probably those from the author's other series (apparently contemporary) as well.

17Whisper1
Dec 1, 2009, 3:21pm Top

Welcome to our friendly well read group!

18scohva
Edited: Dec 2, 2009, 8:46am Top

Thank you! I'm definitely getting lots of good reading ideas from various threads.

65. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
The effect of this 1989 Booker Prize winner is mostly cumulative. It tells the story of very dignified, very professional butler Mr. Stevens as he journeys to meet the former housekeeper of the house where he has spent much of his life working as well as his reflections on his past career. Stevens, whose life has been subsumed by that of his employer, is very controlled throughout, and it is only at the end when he lets some of that control slip a little, that the emotional power of the novel is felt. The book also portrays some of the differences in pre- and postwar British society. Ishiguro writes beautifully, and while overall it is a very melancholy novel, there are also quite a few funny scenes. Four and a half stars.

19tloeffler
Dec 2, 2009, 3:32pm Top

That book has been on my list for a long, long time, and I got a copy of it at the book fair in October. Maybe I'll make it the first book in my downsizing-the-stacks challenge.

20Whisper1
Dec 2, 2009, 3:57pm Top

Terri
As I mentioned to Stasia last night, I've downsized the stacks each time I move -- only to resize the stacks again.

21tloeffler
Dec 2, 2009, 4:09pm Top

Well, to be truthful, the downsizing of the stacks only refers to what's there now. No guarantee that they won't increase in size; I'm just going to try to start reading some of them!

22scohva
Dec 2, 2009, 4:23pm Top

19 - I would recommend it.

19/20 - My own unofficial downsize the stacks (read 5 of my own before purchasing 1) failed horribly when I heard about the bookcloseouts.com sale on the kitchen thread and I ordered seven books. Justified of course by the fact that some of them were hard to find, and one I was going to buy no matter what and it was much cheaper there than in a store, but still... it's definitely not the time of year to do that.

23scohva
Dec 13, 2009, 11:22am Top

66. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Funny, sad, sometimes horrifying graphic novels about an Iranian girl's life from the time right after the Revolution when she was ten up through when she leaves for France at the age of 24. Satrapi does especially well at showing the personalities of the people in her life. Very interesting and I'd like to know more about Iran. Four and a half stars. Has anybody seen the movie?

24boekenwijs
Dec 13, 2009, 2:17pm Top

#23: Yes, I've read the book and saw the movie. They are quite similar, as the same drawings are used in the movie, but it is worth to watch it.

25scohva
Edited: Dec 19, 2009, 2:32pm Top

67. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Many here have already read this year's Booker Prize winner, and all the excellent reviews made me eager to read it. It's interesting to see how Mantel's style seems to differ in her historical novels from that of her novels set in a more modern era. All the characters in Wolf Hall are wonderful and recognizably human. They have memories and lives that extend beyond the scope of the novel, and Mantel does an excellent job making us feel that. Cromwell is fascinating, intelligent, and quite modern (for his time) character. The beginning of the transition of England from a fairly isolated island to a nation heavily involved in the political, religious, and economic affairs of Europe is one of the most interesting aspects of this novel, and it is a change in which Cromwell has a large part. Wolf Hall is evocative of the times and helped me to realize why people may have done what they did or thought how they thought. A well-deserved winner. I'm looking forward to the sequel. Five stars.

26alcottacre
Dec 19, 2009, 5:16pm Top

There is a sequel?! I did not know that. Any details?

27scohva
Edited: Dec 19, 2009, 7:09pm Top

I think it is in the process of being written now, and I've heard a tentative title, but can't remember. I'll see if I can find it.

Ok, after reading something in The Guardian about the prize, it is still in the notes stage and will be called The Mirror and the Light.

28alcottacre
Dec 20, 2009, 12:20am Top

Thanks for the info!

29scohva
Dec 20, 2009, 11:49pm Top

No problem!

68. Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer

A book about not writing a book about D.H. Lawrence, and the human need for activity or occupation. It discusses various aspects of Lawrence's life (with some Rilke) thrown in, but mostly covers the writing process and how Dyer felt while writing the book, which was not shelved under literary criticism but under memoir - which is not what Dyer intended when he set out to write the book initially. I find Dyer funny, but there are probably people who might find his neuroses and tendency to overthink (as written in this book) obnoxious - I just have similar characteristics and so could relate, also I don't think he takes himself entirely seriously. Dyer writes well about places and in this volume he discusses Italy, Mexico, and the United States, both his experiences as well as Lawrence's. The book made me interested in reading some of Lawrence's nonfiction at some point, as well as Rilke. Four stars.

30alcottacre
Dec 20, 2009, 11:56pm Top

#29: I already have that one in the BlackHole. I can really relate to the overthinking problem!

31scohva
Edited: Dec 21, 2009, 12:27am Top

Any opinions as to which of the three books that I am taking with me on vacation I should read first? Choices are:

White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

32alcottacre
Dec 21, 2009, 12:24am Top

I have not read any of those, so sorry, I am not going to be any help.

33BookAngel_a
Dec 21, 2009, 7:29am Top

Another overthinker here... :)

34scohva
Edited: Dec 26, 2009, 11:48pm Top

Merry late Christmas!

69. Old School by Tobias Wolff

A very short novel set mostly at a boys' boarding school in New England in 1960-61. Famous writers visit the school, and the students submit pieces of their writing for the honor of having a face to face audience with the writer. The novel concerns deception (both self- and to others), issues of class, and storytelling. There are two different sections - I wish they had been a bit more balanced, but otherwise very good, quiet story. Four stars.

On a side note, and I don't think I knew this, but the author visited my brother's high school. He didn't get to meet him, but considering the plot of the novel, I thought it was amusing.

35alcottacre
Dec 27, 2009, 12:00am Top

#34: That one looks pretty good. I will try and locate a copy. Thanks for the recommendation!

Happy late Christmas to you, too.

36scohva
Dec 30, 2009, 9:50pm Top

70. No Tomorrow by Vivant Denon

This was an Early Reviewers book, more of a short story, and in a dual language edition. No Tomorrow was written prior to the French Revolution and describes the mannered seduction (in oblique language) of a young man over the course of an evening. An interesting look at some of the social mores of the time and with a nice twist, it is less about manipulation than Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the most famous French novel of the mid to late 18th century . Three and a half stars.

37scohva
Edited: Dec 31, 2009, 10:32am Top

Year-end wrap up:

70 books read (the most since I've been keeping track, which is only since 2005)

7 nonfiction - I'd like to read more, but that's actually a pretty good number for me.
63 fiction
2 rereads Arabella and A Room With a View

10 favorites (in no order, but limited to one per author since I tend to go on author jags)

1. Mother's Milk by Edward St. Aubyn - Funny, sardonic, and sometimes sweet without being saccharine

2. L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy - Complicated plot, but enjoyable like the movie.

3. A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel - I chose this (barely) over Wolf Hall because I think it had more of an emotional impact on me, and I really enjoyed the way she alternated styles occasionally throughout the novel.

4. Nineteen Seventy-Four by David Peace - Very grim crime fiction, makes Yorkshire in the 1970s sound like the most bleak place imaginable, but stylistically interesting, and packs a large punch.

5. Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer - Again, it was close run between this and Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It, but I felt that this one was a little more profound and cohesive.

6. Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín - Probably my favorite of the quieter, more subtle novels I've read this year. I just got The Master with a gift card, and am looking forward to reading it in the upcoming year.

7. Dry Storeroom no. 1 by Richard Fortey - Very funny and charming. I like museums and I like seeing things behind the scenes, so this was perfect. Also, it made me want to be a 19th century amateur fossil collector.

8. Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust and Emma Bull - An epistolary novel, with slight fantasy elements. I really enjoyed this at the time, it's a little pretentious, but I loved the characters. James is Lymond-like (Dorothy Dunnett) at the beginning, incredibly intelligent and with the potential for great charm, but very brittle, and it was nice seeing him develop into a person who could reveal his feelings somewhat.

9. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis - Perfect May reading, humor, and enjoyable plot, and a love story.

10. How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall - I'm surprised by my inclusion of this, but I really liked seeing how the various stories may or may not have tied together, and the descriptive writing was just beautiful.

Authors who didn't make the list, but I read multiple works by and greatly enjoyed and plan on reading more by: Len Deighton, Eric Ambler, William Boyd, Graham Greene.

38alcottacre
Jan 1, 2010, 2:17am Top

Happy New Year, Abigail!

39scohva
Jan 6, 2010, 1:36pm Top

My small map of countries visited in novels in 2009. Hopefully that will improve this year.

visited 16 states (7.11%)Create your own visited map of The World

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2009

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