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tymfos tentative 1010 try thread two

1010 Category Challenge

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Edited: Sep 14, 2010, 11:47pm Top

My first thread is getting quite slow to load, so I think I'll start a new one here for the second half of the year.

I started this challenge by aiming for 5 books in each category. But as I've reached 5 in favorite categories, I've moved on to aim for 10 in at least some of them. (Does that make this a 5 & 10 thread?)

My first thread in this challenge:

My 2010 75 Challenge thread is here:
#1 http://www.librarything.com/topic/78980
#2 http://www.librarything.com/topic/83758
#3 http://www.librarything.com/topic/88141
#4 http://www.librarything.com/topic/90698
#5 http://www.librarything.com/topic/93832
#6 http://www.librarything.com/topic/97045

My 2009 75-Challenge threads are here:
#1 http://www.librarything.com/topic/69362
#2 http://www.librarything.com/topic/74808

I also have a Books off the Shelf Challenge thread:

I'm my categories (still evolving slightly) are:

1. "Blue vs. Gray" (US Civil War)
2. "Whodunit?" (mystery/suspense fiction)
3. "Strange but True?" (supernatural folklore, paranormal investigations, parapsychology, etc., non-fiction)
4. "Kid Stuff" (juvenile/YA fiction)
5. "Destroyed in Seconds" (disaster/rescue/recovery)
6. "A Matter of Faith" (Christianity / world religions/spirituality/devotional)
7. "Start Your Engines!" (motor sports, cars)
8. "20th Century, USA" (20th Century US history, non-fiction)
9. "Interesting People" (non-fiction: memoir, biography, etc.)
10. "Scary Fiction" (horror/gothic/ghost stories)

I began on 10/10/09, and hope to end on 10/10/10 -- but I may carry it through to the end of 2010.

Edited: Dec 31, 2010, 2:09pm Top

Category 1 : BLUE VS. GRAY US Civil War

1. Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson (finished 4/27/10)
2. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (re-read finished 4/30/10)
3. The Madness of Mary Lincoln by Jason Emerson (finished 5/13/10)
4. Winfield Scott Hancock: A Soldier's Life by David M. Jordan (started 06/13/10; finished 7/8/10)
5. Disaster on the Mississippi: The Sultana Explosion, April 27, 1865, by Gene Eric Salecker. (finished 8/10/10).
6. Shiloh: A Novel by Shelby Foote (started 9/7/10; finished 9/13/10)
7. Andersonville Diary by John Ransom -- audio book (finished 11/2/10)
8. Lincoln's Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Shenk (started 11-10-10; finished 11/28/10)
9. Fort Sumter to Perryville (Civil War, Vol. 1) by Shelby Foote (started 9/21/10; finished 12/27/10)
10. Joshua Chamberlain and the American Civil War by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (finished 12/31/10)

This Category is complete!

Edited: Jul 8, 2010, 1:42pm Top

Category 2. WHODUNIT? mystery/suspense fiction

This is a category where I know I'll read more than five!

1. Thou Shalt Not Grill (started 10/10/09; finished 10/17/09)
2. Easy (Depoy, by Phillip Depoy (finished 10/28/09)
3. When Day Breaks by Mary Jane Clark (started 11/5/09; finished 11/9/09)
4. Look Again by Lisa Scottoline (started 11/10/09; finished 11/19/09)
5. Cross by James Patterson (started 12/7/09; finished 12/9/09)
6. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny. (Started 12/10/09; finished 12/20/09.)
7. Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (started 1/10, finished 1/29/10)
8. Raven Black (Cleeves) by Ann Cleeves. (started 2/3/10; finished 2/4/10)
9. Murder With Peacocks by Donna Andrews (started 3/26/10; finished 3/31/10)
10.The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny (finished 4/8/10).

This category is completed (Though I'll surely read more mysteries!)

Edited: Dec 18, 2010, 4:34pm Top

Category 3: STRANGE BUT TRUE? paranormal non-fiction: supernatural folklore, parapsychology, paranormal investigations, etc.

1. Ghost in the Mirror: Real Cases of Spirit Encounters by Leslie Rule. Finished 12/27/09.
2. Ghost: Investigating the Other Side by Katherine Ramsland. Finished 12/29/09.
3. Haunted Deland and the Ghosts of West Volusia County by Dusty Smith. Finished 3/22/10.
4. Dark Woods, Chill Waters: Ghost Tales from Down East Maine, by Marcus LiBrizzi (formerly #5)
5. Ghosts of New York by Susan Blackhall (formerly #6)
6. Cape May Ghost Stories: Book Two by Charles J. Adams, III (started 7/29/10; finished 7/30/10) (formerly #4a)
7. Atlantic County Ghost Stories by Charles J. Adams (read 7/30/10) (Formerly #4b)
8. William James on Psychical Research (started 11-9-10; finished 11-30-10) (formerly #7)
9. Adventures in Immortality: A Look Beyond the Threshold of Death by George Gallup, Jr. (started 12/13/10)
10. Haunted Valley . . . the Ghosts of Penn State by M. L. Swayne (12/18/10)

This category is now complete!!!

As of 12/8/10, I decided that books of any kind or length will count for the "final five" in each category; I took books that were formerly 4a and 4b and moved them down as separate items into the final five.

Edited: Sep 28, 2010, 11:25pm Top

Category 4: KID STUFF juvenile / YA fiction

1. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko. Finished 12/6/09.
2. 10086550::In The Woods (Stevenson) by Robin H. Stevenson. Read 1/11/10
3. Over My Dead Body by Kate Klise; illus. by M. Sarah Klise. Read 1/11/10
4. Scat by Carl Hiaasen. finished 1/13/10.
5. Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn. read 1/25/10.
6. Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin. Finished 3/13/10.
7. Mockingbird (Erskine) by Kathryn Erskine. Finished 4/19/10
8. Here Lies the Librarian by Richard Peck
9. Jane Emily: And Witches' Children by Patricia Clapp (Started 9/26/10; finished 9/28/10)
10. Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan (started 9/28/10)

This category is complete

Edited: Dec 20, 2010, 4:14pm Top

Category 5 (how appropriate, like a very big hurricane!)
DESTROYED IN SECONDS! disasters & rescue/recovery, non-fiction
this is another category where I'll almost certainly exceed five books:

1. Report from Ground Zero: The Story of the Rescue Efforts at the World Trade Center, by Dennis Smith (started 10/28/09; finished 11/05/09.)
2. Fire in the Grove: The Cocoanut Grove Tragedy and its Aftermath by John C. Esposito. (started 11/5/09; finished 11/8/09)
3. Nine Minutes, Twenty Seconds by Gary M. Pomerantz. (started 12/9/09; finished 12/12/09.)
4. The Wreck of the Whaleship Essex by Owen Chase. (finished 1/31/10)
5. When the Mississippi Ran Backwards by Jay Feldman (started 5/21/10; finished 6/13/10)
6. Deadliest Sea: The Untold Story Behind the Greatest Rescue in Coast Guard History by Kalee Thompson (finished 8/15?/10)
7. 102 Minutes: The untold story of the fight to survive inside the twin towers by Jim Dwyer (started 9/7/10; finished 9/11/10)
8. The Other Side of the Night by Daniel Allen Butler (finished 12/6/10)
9. Robert Ballard's Lusitania by Robert Ballard with Spencer Dunmore (started 12/18/10; finished 12/19/10)
10. A Night to Remember by Walter Lord (finished 12-20-10)

This category has been completed!

Edited: Sep 23, 2010, 12:08am Top

Category 6: A MATTER OF FAITH Christianity / world religions / spirituality / devotional

1. Tracks in the Straw (Loder) by Ted Loder. (Started 12/5/09; Finished 12/23/09)
2. A Child Shall Lead Them: Lessons in Hope from Children with Cancer by Diane M. Komp. (Read 12/31/09),
3. Strength to Love by The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Finished 2/26/2010)
4. Why Me? A Doctor Looks at the Book of Job by Diane M. Komp, M.D. (read 3/29/10)
5. Spirituality and the Autism Spectrum: Of Falling Sparrows by Abe Isanon (finished 4/25/10)
6. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller (finished 5/14/10).
7. Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott (finished 5/23/10)
8. UnChristian by David Kinnaman (started 5/10; finished 7/15/10)
9. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott (finished 8/19/10)
10. The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis (finished 9/22/10)

This category is completed.

Edited: Dec 29, 2010, 8:20pm Top

Category 7: START YOUR ENGINES! motor sports, cars (mostly non-fiction; may throw in a novel or two on the subject)

1. He Crashed Me, So I Crashed Him Back by Mark Bechtel. (Finished 2/28/10)
2. They Call Him Cale: The Life and Career of NASCAR Legend Cale Yarborough by Joe McGinnis (Finished 3/1/10)
3. St. Dale by Sharyn McCrumb (re-read in honor of visit to NASCAR Hall of Fame, started 6/20/10; finished 6/25/10).
4. Once Around the Track by Sharyn McCrumb (started 6/10; finished 7/13/10)
5. No Fear: Ernie Irvan the NASCAR driver's Story of Tragedy & Triumph, by Ernie Irvan and Peter Golenbock with Debra Hart Nelson. (finished 7/27/10)
6. Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans by A.J. Baime (read 9/4/10)
7. Against Death and Time: One Fatal Season in Racing's Glory Years by Brock Yates (started 9/15/10; finished 9/21/10)
8. Hard Driving: The Wendell Scott Story: The American Odyssey of NASCAR's First Black Driver by Brian Donovan (started 11-10-10; finished 11-27-10)
9. Swapping Paint by Jim Lavene (started 11/30/10; finished 12/16/10)
10. Growing Up NASCAR by Humpy Wheeler (started 12/21/10; finished 12/27/10)

this category is now complete

Edited: Dec 31, 2010, 2:09pm Top

Category 8: 20th CENTURY, USA non-fiction, 20th century U.S. history

1. A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger (Started 12/13/09; finished 12/13/09)
2. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman (finished 5/13/10).
3. Columbine by Dave Cullen (started 5/14/10; finished 5/22/10)
4. Cape May Court House by Lawrence Schiller (started 7/28/10; finished 7/29/10)
5. Murder in the Adirondacks: An American Tragedy Revisited, by Craig Brandon (finished 8/19/10)
6. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Roberta Skloot (audio book started 9/16/10) note: this could go in 20th cent. USA category, instead)
7. The Little League that Could by Ken Rappoport (finished 10/5/10)
8. Ghosts of Mississippi by Maryanne Vollers (finished 11/9/10).
9. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (started 12/21/10; finished 12/30/10)
10. The Black Cloud: the great Florida Hurricane of 1928 by Eliot Kleinberg (started 12/30/10; finished 12/31/10)

This category is complete!

Edited: Dec 31, 2010, 2:16pm Top

Category 9: INTERESTING PEOPLE non-fiction: biography, memoir, etc.

1. Singing God's Work: The Inspirational Music, People, and Stories of the Harlem Gospel Choir by Allen Bailey. 159 pages. (Started 11/23/09; Finished 12/5/09.)
2. The Story of My Father by Sue Miller. 171 pages, memoir. (Read 1/24/10)
3. Critical Care by Theresa Brown. 189 pages, medical memoir. (Finished 4/12/10)
4. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (finished 5/1/10)
5. The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. (started 7/13/10; finished 7/19/10)
6. Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther
7. When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan; illustrated by Brian Selznick (finished 12/31/10)
8. Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport; illustrated by Bryan Collier (12/31/10)
9. Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Kadir Nelson (12/31/10)
10. Dizzy by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Sean Quaills (12/31/10)

This category is complete!

Edited: Jul 8, 2010, 1:49pm Top

Category 10: SCARY FICTION horror/gothic/ghost stories
This is another category where I am sure I will read more than 5 books.

1. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (started 10/10/09; finished 10/16/09)
2. Fear (Hubbard), by L. Ron Hubbard (started 10/17/09; finished 10/18/09)
3. Ghost (Lightman) by Alan Lightman (started 10/19/09; finished 10/20/09)
4. The Face by Dean Koontz (Started 10/21/09; finished 10/27/09)
5. The Haunted Rectory (Valentine) by Katherine Valentine (finished 11/21/09)
6. Sleep No More (Rolt): Railway, Canal, & Other Stories of the Supernatural, by L.T.C. Rolt (Started 12/9/09; finished 12/10/09)
7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (started 1/1/10; finished 1/9/10)
8. The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb (finished 3/15/10)
9. The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill (started & finished 3/15/10)
10.Sumner Island by Michael Cormier (finished 5/9/10).

This category is completed. (though I'll surely read more scary fiction!)

Edited: Jul 8, 2010, 3:09pm Top

Summary of Challenge through June 30, 2010:

Categories fully completed (10 books):
#2 Whodunit?
#10 Scary Fiction

Categories completed to initial goal (5 books)
#4 Kids' Stuff (7 total)
#5 Destroyed in Seconds
#6 A Matter of Faith (7 completed; 8th book in progress)

Categories not at minimum goal:
#1 Blue vs. Gray (3 books, 4th in progress as of June 30)
#3 Strange but True (3 books)
#7 Start Your Engines (3 books; 4th in progress)
#8 20th Century USA (3 books)
#9 Interesting People (4 books)

Total of 55 books completed between December 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010.

Edited: Jul 8, 2010, 1:28pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: Jul 8, 2010, 3:08pm Top

Book #56
Title: Winfield Scott Hancock: A Soldier's Life
Author: David M. Jordan
Genre: non-fiction (biography)
Length: 318 pages plus notes & index
Source: Purchased new several years ago
Dates: started 6/13/10; finished 7/8/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge; Books off the Shelf Challenge; 1010 Challenge, "Blue vs. Gray" category book #4

This book started out with tremendous promise: thorough, yet readable and even, at times, entertaining.

This is a detailed biography of the great Civil War General and 1880 Democratic candidate for President. I wanted a battlefield atlas in my other hand while reading some of the battle descriptions (though three simple maps were included in the book itself.) At some points, the narrative seemed almost too detailed -- especially in the accounts of the various political mechanizations going on during the years Hancock was in play for the nomination as candidate for President. At that point, my reading of the book slowed down a bit.

The book returned to its original more engaging quality in the closing chapters, especially the final chapter, "Pure Gold," which functioned as an epilogue.

The author did a good job conveying the qualities of Hancock as a soldier and a human being, and demonstrating how so many of those who knew or served with him greatly admired him. I do feel that the biographer was, perhaps, a bit too partisan in his admiration of his subject, though certainly there was much to admire about Gen. Hancock.

The books contains fairly extensive notes and an index.

Recommended to those with an interest in Gen. Hancock, and especially to those with an interest in details of both the Civil War and post-Civil-War 19th-century politics.

Jul 8, 2010, 7:51pm Top

> 1 Hah, love it! A 5 & 10 challenge. That might actually make sense as the years roll on, too. Perhaps less intimidating than an 11-11-11 challenge, 12-12-12, etc.

Jul 8, 2010, 8:03pm Top

> 15 I think as the years roll on, something has to give for all of us on this type of challenge; only the most intensely avid readers are going to manage, say, a pure 15-15-15 Challenge!

At some point, even the number of categories is going to get out of hand.

Jul 13, 2010, 11:36am Top

Finally got caught up to you. I also chuckled at your 5 & 10 challenge - a great idea.

Jul 13, 2010, 1:57pm Top

I don't mind a wide variety of categories (such as 15) but it's the number of books to be read in each that would pose a problem.

I'm already thinking about next year and this from a person who, before LT, never thought beyond her current read.

Jul 13, 2010, 5:31pm Top

#17 Glad you caught up to me!

#18 Yes, they would require a lot of books! And I am thinking ahead in my reading much more than I used to before LT.

Jul 13, 2010, 5:50pm Top

#18, 19 Not only thinking ahead more than before, but being a lot more deliberate, and choosy, about picking new books to read.

Jul 13, 2010, 5:53pm Top

#20 Absolutely!

Jul 13, 2010, 6:18pm Top

>18 lindapanzo: I've got my tentative 11 categories for next year (at least subject-wise although I haven't officially named them), but these could be subject to change between now and January!

Edited: Jul 13, 2010, 6:22pm Top

a lot more deliberate, and choosy, about picking new books

I must admit, I still like to read a fair amount of what some readers would consider, ah, less than choosy. ;)

I still haven't come up with my 11 categories for next year. I do want more than one mystery category, though. I maxed that category out way too early this year. And I think I want to build in a little more flexibility in at least some of the categories from the start.

Jul 13, 2010, 6:23pm Top

Hey, this year I had a 5 & 10 thread?

How about a 7-11 thread for next year?

Jul 13, 2010, 6:47pm Top

#24 There's a thought.

I need to add more mystery categories while keeping many (7 or 8) of the 10 current ones and adding a Civil War category.

Having a bonus series category this year let me read a lot of mysteries and fit them in there.

Edited: Jul 14, 2010, 2:48pm Top

Book #57:
Title: Once Around the Track
Author: Sharyn McCrumb
Genre: fiction (difficult to classify genre)
Length: 306 pages plus author's note
Source: Purchased used several years ago from The Book Barn
Dates: started 6/10; finished 7/13/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge; Books off the Shelf Challenge; 1010 Challenge, "Start Your Engines" category book #4

Sharyn McCrumb is a favorite author of mine, and I love NASCAR, but it took a while for me to be drawn into this NASCAR-themed novel. The premise seemed a little contrived: a group of women investors decide to field an all-female race team. Well, not quite all. The highly-visible pit crew, crew chief, and lead engineer of the team will be women. But there aren't quite enough qualified women to fill all the behind-the-scenes slots. And they need an experienced driver that the small team can afford -- a fellow named Badger Jenkins.

Off the track, Badger is an affable good ol' boy with a fondness for animals and country life. (When we meet him, he's been in the midst of an animal-rescue effort saving an endangered turtle he found while out fishing.) And he's very nice looking. But put him in a firesuit, and he's something like Superman to his fans. Women swoon and/or try to proposition him. (There's something about a man in a firesuit . . .)

The novel follows the (often mis-)adventures of the team through much of a NASCAR season. Suffice it to say, it's not smooth sailing for the new team. As if mechanical issues and pit crew training difficulties weren't enough, throw in The Personal Manager from Hades handling Badger's business affairs, and the ribbing they take about their sponsor ("Vagenya," a Viagara-type drug for women) and life in the fast lane is far from smooth sailing.

This is NOT McCrumb's best novel, but it's an educational one for anyone curious about NASCAR and its public appeal. It's a sweet little story, but it also explores the themes of NASCAR as a sport from a variety of POVs. It touches on the ideosyncracies of the only major sport in America to be privately owned. It studies the way people (from sponsors to crew members to various types of fans) relate to race car drivers; it explores issues of teamwork (the driver may be the "star" of the team, but it takes a lot more people to put together a racing effort); it even delves into the mechanics of the race car a bit.

Some of the NASCAR details are outdated as the sport operates now -- there have been rule changes and even title sponsorship changes (series naming) in the few years since the book was written. However, the details were reasonably accurate when McCrumb wrote the book. Her author's note indicates plenty of knowledgeable advisors who kept her "on track" in her writing.

I suppose you have to be a NASCAR fan to fully appreciate this book; but I wish a few non-NASCAR fans would read this, just to have their eyes opened as to the compexities of ths sport. It's not just one guy in a car turning left, as so many uninformed people claim.

Jul 14, 2010, 1:39pm Top

For next year, I'm definitely doing a "Titles found via other LT members" category so I have an excuse to read them all. Or at least 11 of them.

Edited: Jul 15, 2010, 4:47pm Top

Book #58:
Title: UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity . . . and Why it Matters
Author: David Kinnaman
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Length: 255 pages
Source: Purchased new this year at Ollie's
Dates: finished 7/15/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge; 1010 Challenge, "Matter of Faith" category book #8

Unchristian is based on the Barna Institute’s detailed research among young adults about their primary perceptions of Christianity -- which are overwhelmingly negative. The behavior of too many Christians is, well, UNChristian.

I think this book makes a lot of valid points, and it’s obvious from the research that there are a lot of folks who need to take notice. I may quibble with some details of his solutions and theology. However, the basic finding is spot on: for the sake of the Gospel, Christians must observe more carefully the commands to “love neighbor as self” and “judge not lest you be judged." These are commands where we all fall short and, thus, have no standing to judge others because they are different from ourselves.

Read more of my take here: http://www.librarything.com/work/3580859/reviews/56006166

Jul 15, 2010, 5:07pm Top

I like how you give a mini-synopsis of your review here with a link to the full review.

That's a nice idea. If people want to know more, they can take a look.

Edited: Jul 15, 2010, 5:27pm Top

I usually put my entire review in the thread, but this review was just WAY TOO LONG. I couldn't find a brief way to say what I wanted to say for the formal review. I'd seen some other folks do it this way, and thought I'd try it. Glad you approve! Maybe I'll do it more often.

Jul 16, 2010, 8:08am Top

That is interesting, since the book seems to focus on perceptions of Christian people and extrapolate from that to perceptions of Christianity as a religion. Does he discuss the reasons for conflating the two at all?

Jul 16, 2010, 9:43am Top

My husband has been struggling with how to explain to his pentecostal family why he's backed away from church. It sounds like he could just hand them this book. It's exactly what has turned him off. We've talked about how there are many other denominations out there with much different interpretations but right now he wants a total break. Which I can understand. It's regularly clear from discussions with areligious friends that the evangelical/pentecostal version is the only one that anyone thinks of these days as Christianity. Well, the Catholics are in the news but... They're positive that left wing Christians are extinct. The younger ones insist they never existed. Dr. King is the obvious counter to that and some (we're talking 20-somethings) had no idea he was a minister.

Edited: Jul 16, 2010, 6:26pm Top

#31 The research polled people ages 16-29 (and split them into groups based on whether they were Evangelical, other "Born Again" Christians, other "self identified" Christians, or "outsiders." They were asked about their experiences with individual Christians and with the institutional Church, and about their perceptions of Christianity.

Typically, people had fairly high opinions of Jesus, but when it came to their view of Christians and The Church, you might say that the ratings plummeted -- especially among outsiders, but suprisingly much among young church people. Many are familiar with at least the teachings of Jesus, and say that individual Christians and the Church as an institution don't live by them very well.

The research is broken down in a lot more detail than I can express in a review (which is already too long). But one point of the book is that the cumulative actions of individual Christians that a person encounters (in person and via the media) eventually have a large role in forming that person's picture of Christianity, or at least of the institutional Church. While some people had good stories about Christians who projected a positive image, all too many people reported a lot of experiences that they perceived negatively.

#32 It's regularly clear from discussions with areligious friends that the evangelical/pentecostal version is the only one that anyone thinks of these days as Christianity

You said it! Non-Christians generally lump all Christians together and think we're all pretty much the same.

Jul 18, 2010, 3:01pm Top

That was a good review. You deserve your place among the other hot reviewers. It's such a charged issue that a thoughtful review is welcome and I've added it to my wishlist.

Jul 18, 2010, 9:56pm Top

#34 Thanks for the kind words. It is a difficult issue to deal with in a group where there are such diverse opinions!

Jul 20, 2010, 12:08am Top

Book #59:
Title: The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein
Author: Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
Genre: non-fiction; biography / literary analysis
Length: 323 pages plus notes, index
Source: Purchased last fall at Ollie's
Dates: started 7/15/10; finished 7/19/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge; 1010 Challenge, book #5 in"Interesting People" category; Books off the Shelf Challenge

This is the story of the famous "ghost story contest" initiated by Lord Byron in the summer of 1816, which resulted in the writing of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. More broadly, it's the story of the people who were gathered together that fateful summer; Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Godwin (Shelley's lover, who would later become Mary Shelley); Mary's step-sister Claire Claremont, who was Byron's lover and had probably also been Percy Shelley's lover; Dr. John Polidori, who would write his own novel as a result of his involvement in the group --The Vampire, which introduced elements that influenced Stoker's Dracula). It also attempts to analyze how the life experiences of the group influenced their writings.

I'm not sure how to rate or review this. My knowledge of the subjects of this book is limited; however, I know just from what I've read on threads here (regarding a Percy Shelley biography) that some of the conclusions the Hooblers have drawn about Mary Shelley's life contradict what others have published. The Hooblers acknowledge that the surviving record allows for various interpretations -- many letters and pages from the journals of Mary Shelley and others have not survived.

I'm not sure how expert their interpretations are of the literature, especially the poetry -- I am not an expert on poetry.

However, it was a pretty good read. These are fascinating people living in a fascinating time, and I thought that the book gave a resonable overview of their lives and influences upon one another.

Jul 22, 2010, 2:48pm Top

Hi Terry, some interesting reading recently! I don't know too much detail about the Shelleys, Byron etc either, but it sounds like that was an interesting introduction to the context and the people behind the books.

Good review and interesting discussion about Unchristian. It made me wonder how similar/different would be the results of a research project like that here in the UK. The place of religion in our society is rather different. However, the voices that speak most loudly and are most often represented in the media are certainly the more extreme conservative (both evangelical and catholic) ones, both within and outside the Church of England, so I think there is the same tendency for non-Christian people to assume that all Christians are like this. I guess there is a challenge to the rest of us to make our presence felt - but not by loudly judging others (not even judging them for being judgmental).

All Christians, whatever our tradition, have the capacity to (and often do) give Christianity a bad name by the way we behave and treat others. Conversely, we all have the opportunity to communicate positively what our faith means, before we even say a word, by our actions and example. I'm thinking of a saying of, I think, St Francis:
"Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary"

Jul 22, 2010, 3:40pm Top

#37 I love that quote from St. Francis -- it's one of my favorites!

Yes, we all have our moments when we are less than exemplary in how we represent our faith, as well as the potential for positive witness. You never know who will be watching/listening and be influenced one way or the other.

(not even judging them for being judgmental).
Yes! A dear pastor friend once acknowledge that his great sin was judging those who were judgmental -- a failing with which I readily identified.

I think we're all too good at seeing "the other guy's" faults, and not so good at seeing our own.

Edited: Jul 28, 2010, 4:12pm Top

Book #60:
Title: No Fear: Ernie Irvan the NASCAR driver's Story of Tragedy & Triumph
Author: Ernie Irvan and Peter Golenbock with Debra Hart Nelson
Genre: memoir
Length:203 pages
Source: Public Library
Dates: finished 7/27/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge; 1010 Challenge, book #5 in"Start Your Engines" category

This book starts out with a bang -- literally. Imagine driving into a concrete wall at 190 mph (and this in the days before racing safety innovations such as SAFER barriers, HANS devices, etc.). When Ernie Irvan arrived at the hospital after his crash at Michigan International Speedway, he was given only a 10-15% chance of survival -- and, had it not been for perfect care by the track physician, he would not have made it to the hospital alive.

This book grabs the reader's attention by beginning with this most dramatic moment of Irvan's life . . .

read more: http://www.librarything.com/work/8188397/62282981

I think ANY reader would find the account of Irvan's injury and subesequent (almost miraculous) recovery fascinating; probably only NASCAR fans would be interested in some of the ground covered in this book.

Jul 29, 2010, 9:08pm Top

Book #61:
Title: Cape May Court House: A Death in the Night
Author: Lawrence Schiller
Genre: non-fiction; real-life legal thriller
Length: 368 pages
Source: Purchased used, summer 2009
Dates: started 7/28/10; finished 7/29/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge; 1010 Challenge, book #4 in"20th Century USA" category; Books off the Shelf Challenge

Perhaps I'm pushing it a bit to put this in the 20th Century category -- the legal procedings recounted in this book dragged into the 21st century -- but the "death in the night" referred to in the subtitle, which started the entire legal odyssey, happened in 1997.

I bought a used copy of this book on impulse at a library sale last year -- mainly because of the title locale, with which I am somewhat familiar. I found the book very hard to put down once I began reading it. This is the story of an accident (or was it?) that left a woman dead. Citing the Medical Examiner's report, the woman's husband (a respected dentist) sued the Ford Motor Co., claiming that a defective air bag killed his wife. Ford counterd -- with the theory that she was strangled, and the accident was used as a cover up and attempt at profiting by her death.

I can't say that I was especially impressed with how the story was told; but the events themselves kept me reading. I'm sure it took a lot of persistent research to track down all the information which is recounted here. I kind of agreed with the summary a previous owner of the volume scribbled on the inisde back cover: "VG" (presumably, Very Good), "but too long!" I felt there was more detail than necessary for a general reader like myself. However, I imagine readers in the legal profession would be fascinated by all the details recounted. It's amazing to see how much maneuvering can be done when a bunch of lawyers go to work on a high-stakes lawsuit; and how much money goes into fighting on each side.

The story's ending might be a let-down to some readers, simply because in non-fiction you can't tidy up all the loose ends; it is what it is. Sometimes there are no easy answers. But after reading this, I do know that I definitely wouldn't want to go up against a big company in court!

Edited: Jul 31, 2010, 12:25am Top

The following pair of books by the same author are so short and "lightweight" that I'm counting them as one item:

Book #62a: Cape May Ghost Stories: Book Two
Book #62b: Atlantic County Ghost Stories

Author: Charles J. Adams, III
Genre: non-fiction; regional folklore/"true" ghost stories
Length: 109 pages, 116 pages
Source: Purchased new at the "Old Salt" shop on the Ocean City, NJ boardwalk in Summer, 2009
Dates: started 7/29/10; finished 7/30/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge; 1010 Challenge, book #4 in"Scary but True?" category; Books off the Shelf Challenge

These books aren't particularly well-written, and would benefit from some copy editing, as there are a number of grammatical & word usage errors. The format of the first seemed a bit cheesy, though the second looked a little more stylish. Both include photos of many locations, which I enjoyed. Most of the stories aren't particularly scary, though a few were a bit creepy. They are quick, fun reads filled with some regional color and history and a few chills. Having spent time at the Jersey Shore in my youth adds to my enjoyment of these little books.

Edited: Aug 11, 2010, 2:55pm Top

This book could go in either the disaster or Civil War category. However, I have more need of books to fill the Civil War category, so there it shall go -- at least for now.

Book #63:
Title: Disaster on the Mississippi: The Sultana Explosion, April 27, 1865
Author: Gene Eric Salecker
Genre: non-fiction
Length: 215 pages plus extensive appendix & notes
Source: purchased Frogtown Books, Toledo OH, August 2009
Dates: finished 8/10/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge; 1010 Challenge, Civil War category. Books off the Shelf Challenge.

The explosion of the steamship Sultana (croweded with newly-released Civil War POW's) in April 1865 killed more people than the sinking of the Titanic -- yet few people are familar with this. Why? Salecker deals with this question, and many others, as he presents a detailed account of the chaotic events leading up to, during, and after the terrible tragedy.

I admire Salecker the tremendous amount of research he must have done to compile this -- especially Appendix B, which lists (as best possible) those aboard the Sultana. There is no single reliable source for names of those on the ill-fated steamer.

Salecker is not a "great writer," but competently chronicles the complex chain of events regarding the Sultana tragedy. I found this account, filled with direct quotes from survivors, strangely compelling.

Aug 11, 2010, 2:02pm Top

#42 I've got a different Sultana book so I'll go with that one. Sultana by Alan Huffman is the one I own. Yours sounds better though.

This is one of those little-known disasters that more people should be aware of.

Aug 11, 2010, 3:07pm Top

Linda, I look forward to reading your comments about the Huffman account after you read it!

Edited: Aug 11, 2010, 3:15pm Top

I was hoping to read the Sultana book this month because the Reading Through Time group focus for this month is the Civil War but, with everything going on, I'm not sure I'll get to it right away.

I always think it's so terribly sad for someone to survive a catastrophe, only to die from something else soon thereafter. For instance, I've heard of Iraqi War veterans coming home only to be hit by a car and the like.

I think that's part of the attraction of a Sultana book for me. These guys survived the Civil War/prisoner of war camp and then died on the way home.

Aug 20, 2010, 8:39am Top

I always think it's so terribly sad for someone to survive a catastrophe, only to die from something else soon thereafter.

I agree wholeheartedly!

Aug 20, 2010, 3:22pm Top

Book #64:
Title: Deadliest Sea: The Untold Story Behind the Greatest Rescue in Coast Guard History
Author: Kalee Thompson
Genre: non-fiction
Length: 289 pages, plus notes
Source: purchased new this year from Borders
Dates: finished 8/15?/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge; 1010 Challenge, "Destroyed in Seconds" category, book #6.

Wow! This book was practically un-put-downable, if such a word existed. I am always enthralled by stories of those who risk their lives to save others, and the US Coast Guard search-and-rescue teams are near the top of my list of real-life Heroes. This book was a gripping account of a very difficult rescue operation. It was a complex tale, and I felt Thompson told it quite well.

In the dark, early-morning hours of March 23, 2008, the fishing vessel Alaska Ranger sank in the darkness of an Arctic gale, leaving 47 people fighting for their lives in the deadly-cold waters of the Bering Sea, hundreds of miles from the nearest available help. This book is the story of those on the ill-fated ship, and those who sought to save them from an icy, watery death.

Sometimes the narrative felt a little back-and-forth because there were so many different parties involved, in different capacities, and the author had to get the reader up to speed on all of them while holding our interest -- so the book wasn't totally linear in time. In the prologue, we meet the Coast Guard watchstander and hear the Mayday -- then in Chapter 1, we go back in time a bit and learn about the boat that eventually sends the Mayday. As other parties are brought into the picture, we relive portions of the disasterf from their POV's. But I liked the way the author introduced us to the doomed fishing vessel through the eyes of a new crew member. And it all held together very well in the end, I thought.

Aug 21, 2010, 9:18am Top

Book #65:
Title: Murder in the Adirondacks
Author: Craig Brandon
Genre: non-fiction (scholarly true crime)
Length: 364 pages plus notes
Source: purchased years ago while in the Adirondacks
Dates: finished 8/19/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge; 1010 Challenge, 20th Century category; Books Off the Shelf challenge
Notes: The subject of this book is the crime upon which Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy was (rather loosely) based.

I have had this book for years, and started reading it several times. With the latest trip to Big Moose in the Adirondacks, I decided it was time to finally read it and finish it.

It is about a true crime, but it is not of the "true crime" genre as commonly understood. Part I of the book is a very scholarly -- almost too scholarly -- presentation of the facts of the murder of factory worker Grace Brown at Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks by her lover Chester Gillette. Part 2 looks at the myths which have emerged about the crime over the years.

The reason for Brandon's meticuous attention to detail about the crime in Part 1 of the book is obvious from his comments in Part 2; between the sensational (and often false) newspaper coverage in the newspapers of the time, and the famous novelization by Dreiser, which altered many details of the events -- and the subsequent movies based on Dreiser's book -- the true story of what happened that tragic July day in 1906 has been largely lost. Brandon seeks to set the record straight and dispel the myths that have been perpetuated over the years. With his careful scholarship and reporting, I believe he accomplishes this goal quite well. But it is not always gripping reading -- which is OK. I learned a lot. I did find myself skimming sometimes.

Aug 21, 2010, 9:21am Top

Book #66:
Title: Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith
Author: Anne Lamott
Genre: essays
Length: 320 pages
Source: purchased used from Frogtown Books in Toledo, OH in 2009
Dates: finished 8/19/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge, Books off the Shelf Challenge, 1010 Challenge, "Matter of Faith" category.

Anne can be a little heavy-handed with the political commentary sometimes. I'm a little to the left of center, but she can be too stridently left for me. The saving grace is that she knows it, and she tries to temper her political passion with awareness of the commandment to love your neighbor . . . even your enemies . . .

And then there are those frequent moments when Lamott offers up literary and philosophical gems, mined from the stuff of everyday life.

I generally enjoy reading Lamott, even though she occasionally drives me crazy with her poltical rants. I want to tell her what she often seems to try to tell herself; "Lighten up a bit!" But that's Anne.

Aug 21, 2010, 9:23am Top

Oh, I forgot a book! It was a short one, so maybe that's why. Posted out of the order I read it, but not a big deal, I guess.

Book #66
Title: Dark Woods, Chill Waters: Ghost Tales from Down East Maine
Author: Marcus LiBrizzi
Genre: regional folklore / "true" ghost stories
Length: 140 pages plus notes
Source: purchased new at Portland Head Light (Maine) gift shop
Dates: read sometime between 8/14/10 and 8/17/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge, 1010 Challenge "Scary but true?" category

Some of these stories were pretty creepy. But they would have seemed better if the author hadn't insisted on telling the reader every other paragraph or so how creepy the stories are.

From intro:Breaking over the ghost tales collected here is a sense of unspeakable horror and dread . . .It is likely that you will never encounter ghost stories more horrifying than those contained in this book . . . (Horrifying? Or just horrible?)
From the second story: Some ghost stories are more frightening than others, and the following tale from Jonesboro, Maine, is among the worst. (Yes, truly among the worst, I fear)
From the sixth story: Of all the tales of the supernatural, few are more horrifying than the legend of the murdering ghost . . . (I won't repeat myself here.)

And how about this, from the 9th story: . . . a truer, more ghastly tale couldn't be told. It is arguably the most sensationally gruesome instance of supernatural horror imaginable. All our worst nightmares are laid out here . . . (An English Composition teacher's nighmare, perhaps?)

The problem is made worse by the author's insistence on placing the most outlandish spin on the events described. So if someone dies in a haunted place, even of natural causes like pnumonia, the person was "murdered" by the ghost.

Many of the underlying folktales buried by the writer's overindulgence are, however, pretty creepy. And the author does do a fair job of describing the locale, to provide some genuine atmosphere. And there are some nice historical nuggets, including some which would "debunk" the legends surrounding the basis for the haunting. (This, according to the author, must be a sign that there is some primordial evil in the area which the legends are trying to explain . . .)

I do love the cover art -- looks like an atmospheric painting of the Owls Head Lighthouse . . . which, as I recall, is not the subject of any of these stories. . .

Aug 21, 2010, 9:26am Top

Milestone! I've reached the point where I have at least five books in each category -- my goal!

Some of the categories have filled out to 10 items, and a few more are well on their way to that number.

Aug 21, 2010, 8:21pm Top

Congratulations on reaching your goal!

Aug 21, 2010, 8:34pm Top

Congrats on reaching your goal. About the ghost stories - I would rather figure out for myself how good the writing is, and not have the author tell me. That's just annoying.

Edited: Aug 25, 2010, 4:25pm Top

#52, 53 Thanks so much! Glad you stopped by!

I am thinking about next year's challenge. I know that the group is up and running. I know it will take some time to set up my thread, and don't feel I have enough time to do it properly now.

I have decided to simply give my categories (sometimes goofy) names and NOT define them, and feel free to use any books that can in any way fit the category name. I did a pretty good job of staying with my categories this year, but I was constantly tweaking the "definition" of what was included in several of them.

I'm also going to allow more space for reading mysteries next year, and especially series -- catching up with old favorites, trying new ones that have been recommended. In fact, I'm just going to allow more space for reading what I want to read.

These are the categories I currently have under consideration:

tymfos major-league 2011 challenge:

1. Play Ball!
2. Leadoff
3. On-deck
4. Fireballers, Rainouts, Steals, & Errors!
5. Phantom player
6. All-Stars
7. Night games & Yankee killers
8. As American as baseball & apple pie
9. Cars, trains, boats & planes
10. Doctor, Lawyer, Indian chief
11. Utility Players

I know these are odd categories, and a lot of them are baseball-related terms, but I'm putting my own "spin" on them so I can put many different types of books into them! I already have books in mind that fit, one way or another, as I view the categories. And the "utility players" category is for the books that don't fit into the regular lineup!

And I'm already editing the list!

Edited: Aug 25, 2010, 4:40pm Top

I keep tweaking the names of next year's proposed categories to try to have room for all the books I want to read. I wanted to keep to the baseball theme, but gave up on a couple of the categories.

I need the "cars, trains, boats & planes" to get in some of my books about racing, trains, and commercial fishing. And I have several books about doctors, but not enough for a whole category -- but I also have a few law-related books, and want to read a biography of Tecumseh, thus the "doctor, lawyer, Indian chief" category.

These category names don't stray too far from the main theme -- the teams are constangly traveling, and every team has a doctor or two . . . and a lawyer . . . at least.

Aug 25, 2010, 4:44pm Top

A baseball theme!! How wonderful.

(I've already changed 3 of mine in just a week or two.)

Aug 25, 2010, 4:49pm Top

I should have known you'd approve!

Aug 25, 2010, 4:53pm Top

I may change the "night games & Yankee killers" category to "foul territory." I want a place for mystery/suspense/thriller-type books that don't fit my series categories. (I'm using "leadoff" and "on-deck" for the first and next in a series.) Any votes on which is the better title?

Aug 25, 2010, 5:07pm Top

No extra innings?

I also like the doctor, lawyer, Indian chief category. I had a doctor category and didn't have enough books. Changed it to lawyer and wasn't interested enough. Recently changed it to "books and reading." A doctor/lawyer combo probably would've been a good idea.

Aug 25, 2010, 5:31pm Top

No extra innings?

My "utility player" category is the one I'm using for books that don't fit into the regular lineup.

But I am trying to have categories for those things that I read a lot of!

Aug 25, 2010, 5:40pm Top

What do you intend for "Fireballers, Rainouts, Steals, & Errors!"?

Edited: Aug 25, 2010, 5:54pm Top

What do you intend for "Fireballers, Rainouts, Steals, & Errors!"?

Books about fires, floods, robberies, and disasters caused by human error, perhaps?

(I may even work in a real baseball pitcher's bio.)

Like I said, if I can remotely relate a book to the title of the category, it's fair game to go there!

The real stick-and-ball sports category will be "play ball!"

Aug 25, 2010, 5:55pm Top

As much as I've enjoyed reading disaster books during 999 and 1010, I've cut that category for 11 in 11 in lieu of an extra mystery category. Who knows? I might add it back in.

Aug 26, 2010, 2:34pm Top

I love your idea for a baseball-theme for next year! I've been having fun trying to figure out what you were thinking for some of them...

Aug 26, 2010, 6:29pm Top

#64 I'm still figuring it out myself. I'm leaving this "loose" enough that I may surprise myself with what I fit into these categories!

Last night I was up late, and I did put together my thread for the 11 in 11 category challenge group, or whatever it's called:


Edited: Sep 2, 2010, 7:56am Top

I almost forgot that this book could go into this category!

Book #67:
Title: Ghosts of New York
Author: Susan Blackhall
Genre: True ghost stories / local folklore / historical photographs, drawings, etc.
Length: 141 pages plus index & picture acknowledgments
Source: purchased new at Ollies earlier this year
Challenges: 75 Challenge, 1010 Challenge "strange but true?" category

This is a large (about 9X12) and handsome book, nicely formatted and filled with wonderful sepia-toned photographs, drawings, and portraits. The sheer beauty of the book (to me) is enough for me to forgive some sloppy writing/editing.

And there are errors! There are problems with dates: Peter Stuyvessant obviously didn't die in 1880, which would have made him over 200 years old. And it's unlikely that a crown-appointed colonial governer held that post between 1802-1808 -- especially if he died in 1723. (Or that would really be quite a ghost story!) Also, one story about side-by-side buildings kept me totally confused about what happened in which building.

Given the errors that were easy to spot without knowledge of the material, I wonder how many other errors there were which I'd have no way of recognizing. Nontheless, it was a fun book with a lot of local history and flavor to go with the ghosts.

Sep 4, 2010, 10:21pm Top

This was the perfect holiday weekend read: I could hardly put it down. (Thank heavens, hubby had commitments outside the house and my son was busy with his own reading!)

Book #68:
Title: Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans
Author: A.J. Baime
Genre: non-fiction
Length: 259 pages plus extensive end notes and index
Source: Public Library
Dates: Started and finished 9/4/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge; 1010 Challenge, "Start Your Engines!" category
Notes: Also includes nice section of photographs.

This is a book that folks not into cars and racing might never be inclined to look twice at. But it's not just a story about cars going fast. Like most books, it is all about people -- their strengths and weaknesses, hopes and dreams, gifts and fobiles, friendships and feuds, hometowns and travels. And a fascinating bunch of people they are -- larger than life, filled with massive ambition and egos to match. Author A.J. Baime does a fine job in telling the tale.

Sep 7, 2010, 1:10am Top

Book #69:
Title: Here Lies the Librarian
Author: Richard Peck
Length: 145 pages
Source: Public Library
Dates: finished 9/6/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge; 1010 Challenge, "Kid's Stuff" category
Notes: interest level: middle school grades

I rather enjoyed this little story of two orphaned siblings in rural Indiana in 1914. It involves a library and an automobile race -- what better subject matter for my interests?

Sep 11, 2010, 11:09am Top

Book #70:
Title: 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive inside the Twin Towers
Authors: Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn
Genre: Non-fiction
Length: 278 pages plus notes, acknowledgments, and index
Source: Public Library
Dates: finished 9/11/10
Challenges: 75 challenge, 1010 challenge
Notes: read this week for the anniversary of 9/11/01

This is an impressive, meticulously researched, detailed account of what went on inside the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in the 102 minutes between the first airplane strike at 8:46:31 a.m. and the collapse of the North Tower, the second of the two towers to fall, at 10:28:25 a.m. According to the Authors' Note, ". . . accounts are drawn from 200 interviews with survivors and witnesses, thousands of pages of untranscribed radio transmissions, phone messages, e-mails, and oral histories. All sources are named and enumerated." (Indeed, the book includes extensive end-notes.) At the front of the book, they list 365 people who were in the building the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 -- people whose actions they were able to trace to some degree. At the end, they list 130 of that 365 who did not survive. Of course, there were thousands more people in those buildings that day, over 2,700 of whom did not survive, but it would be impossible to research the actions of every soul who was there that day.

The book moves through the disasterous morning starting with a Prologue time-stamped 8:30 a.m. which gives the reader a sense of who some of the people are who were there at the time the first plane hit. It continues tracking the fates of these people and others in the Towers whose locations and actions could be verified through records and survivors' accounts. The stories are tragic, heroic, gritty. It's amazing to think that people around the country watching TV knew more about what was happening, as far as the "big picture," than those in the Towers -- many of whom did not know that the chaos in which they found themselves had been caused by airplance strikes upon the building.

The authors don't confine themselves to the events of the morning, but also examine choices made during the planning and design of the buildings which affected people's ability to survive and escape. Here they tend to get a bit repetitive: the 1968 NYC building code, under which the Twin Towers were built, made changes that adversely impacted safety. I personally think it's not realistic to think that any building could be built to stand up to the kind of attack that occurred that day without significant loss of life. However, features of the "old" code would almost certainly have saved at least some of the lives that were lost, and they explain why at every opportunity. The book also looks at the state of disaster response in NYC. While nobody in their right mind would question the heroism of the first responders who went into the buildings that day (and these authors appear to be in their right minds!), it is obvious that poor communication probably contributed to the body count that day. They delve into the reasons for this. They also chronicle the often gracious and sometimes heroic actions of everyday civilians as they helped one another try to survivie.

There are times when the book is a bit confusing, and I had to go back a page occasionally and establish in my mind what area of which tower certain events were occurring in. This is not so much a fault of the book as it is a simple matter of the complexity of the events of that fateful day. If it is difficult to take in after years of analysis, one can hardly imagine the confusion being experienced by those there as the events unfolded. Diagrams are included in the book which are helpful to the reader in understanding the unfolding of events.

This is a good book about an extremely difficult subject, and a very moving portrayal many of the lives caught up in that terrible disaster.

Edited: Sep 13, 2010, 10:57pm Top

Book #71:
Title: Shiloh: A Novel
Author: Shelby Foote
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 226 pages
Source: Public Library
Dates: started 9/7/10; finished 9/13/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge (book #75 in that challenge!); 1010 challenge, #6 in Blue vs. Gray category

He said books about war were written to be read by God Amighty, because no one but God ever saw it that way. A book about war, to be read by men, ought to tell what each of the twelve of us saw in our own little corner. Then it would be the way it was -- not to God but to us. (from Chapter 6 of Shiloh)

The above passage explains beautifully what Foote was doing when he wrote this book: he was writing a book the way it was for the men who were fighting, a book for people to read. Foote writes with the voices of various participants on both sides of the battle, giving us the limited perspective of each one, deftly (but subtly) guiding the different narrators across one anothers' paths -- or across the paths of individuals about whom other narrators have written -- to provide a sense of what it was like to be in the battle. There is no "bird's eye view" (or "God's eye view") of the battle as a whole, just the experiences of different participants and the limited knowledge they were able to obtain about what was going on at the time, but woven together to create an overall impression of the battle.

The writing is superb, the descriptions vivid and gripping. I've read a lot about the Civil War, but by the time I finished this novel, I had a fresh appreciation what it must have been like to be a participant in battle.

Sep 21, 2010, 3:46pm Top

Book #72:
Title: Against Death and Time: One Fatal Season in Racing's Glory Years
Author: Brock Yates
Genre: Non-fiction / Faction (true events related by a fictional first-person narrator)
Subject: the deadly 1955 automobile racing season
Length: 235 pages plus photos and bibliography
Source: Inter-Library Loan
Challenges: 75 Challenge; 1010 Challenge, "Start Your Engines" category

The year 1955 was a deadly one in racing. Among the casualties: 80 spectators killed by a wreck at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This book looks at the events of the year, placing them within their social context.

On the one hand, we think of the 1950's as the era of Ozzie and Harriet, with the rise of the middle-class suburban way of life. But there was another side to that glossy picture; thousands of men, many of whom had seen military action, were restless and seeking thrills. The growth of automobile racing -- a sport which, at that time, had about a 50 percent mortality rate among professional drivers -- was a part of that, as was the birth of rock 'n' roll and a new type of movie star.

I wonder how many people today realize that actor James Dean was actually on his way to a sports car race in which he planned to participate, breaking in the engine of his new Porsche 550 Spyder, when he had his infamous fatal auto wreck?

This book is different from most non-fiction in that it employs "faction" -- as the author explains, "a first-person, unidentified narrator is a witness to much of the action in an attempt to more intimately link the reader to the real ... events. . . the events are as factual as I could make them, nonwithstanding the passage of time and the blurring of memories." One other fictinonal character is used, who is described an "amalgam of the wealthy, privileged women who followed the sport of automobile racing during that period."

I'm not sure that the faction device helped the story any -- the events were interesting enough in their own right -- but I didn't find it too distracting.

Sep 21, 2010, 8:14pm Top

Sounds like some you've been reading some good stuff lately. Thanks for the reviews.

Sep 22, 2010, 7:43am Top

#72 Thanks for stopping by!

Edited: Sep 22, 2010, 7:47am Top

Book #73:
Title: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Author: Rebecca Skloot
Genre: Non-fiction
Subject: Henrietta Lacks and her family; Henrietta was the source of the HeLa cell line, the first immortal cell line used in scientific research.
Length: 12:30:56 (Audio book)
Dates: started 9/15/10; finished 9/21/10
Source: Overdrive electronic media download through district library
Challenges: 75 challenge; 1010 challenge, 20th Century USA category
Notes: Audio Book

This was fascinating! It dealt with the life of Henrietta Lacks and her family. It dealt with the science of cell culture. It also deals with complex issues of medical ethics that are still with us today, regarding informed consent regarding the use of tissues taken from patients' bodies. This is an eye-opening book. Given all the medical progress made using the HeLa cell line, knowledge of and credit to the woman from whom the original cells were harvested is long overdue.

The audiobook was well done. However, as with most non-fiction audios, I do regret not being able to see how terms are spelled, and the lack of notes and indix which are probably available in a printed version.

This book could go in either the Interesting People category or the 20th Century USA category. For now, I have it in 20th Century USA because it is more than a biography; however, I recognize that many the issues involved in the book continue into the 21st century.

Edited: Sep 23, 2010, 12:21am Top

Book #74:
Title: The Problem of Pain
Author: C.S. Lewis
Length: 157 pages plus index
Dates: finished 9/22/10
Source: family library
Challenges: 75 challenge; 1010 challenge, "matter of faith" category; off the shelf challenge.

I decided to read this (it may be a re-read from many years ago) because a number of people in my life are dealing with issues of pain. Lewis deals with all manner of suffering -- physical, emotional, mental -- in this work.

I did not find this book terribly helpful. Perhaps it is simply that, as he stated in his preface, he was not claiming to say anything original except in the last two chapters, but simply to articulate traditional teachings of the faith, and I've read enough theology for his points to be familiar. Of those last two chapters, where he admittedly indulged in some speculation, the one on animal pain was not at all akin to my views -- I feel he does not fully appreciate the intelligence and nobility of some of God's created creatures. The one about heaven was interesting.

Sep 28, 2010, 11:19pm Top

Book #75
Title: Jane Emily: And Witches' Children
Author: Patricia Clapp
Genre: story 1: YA ghost story / story 2: YA historical fiction
Subject: story 1: nasty child ghost / story 2: Salem Witch trials
Length: 293 pages, including author information
Source: Purchased this year -- from Bookcloseouts.com (I think)
Challenges: 75 challenge, 1010 challenge "Kid's Stuff" category

Jane-Emily was quite a creepy ghost story -- perfect read as I head into the October Halloween season. The other story in the book, Witches' Children, was about the Salem Witch Trials, written from the POV of one of the young girls who started the hysteria. I didn't enjoy that one so much, but largely because it's horrible to contemplate the tragedy of all the people who died because of the actions of those girls.

Edited: Sep 29, 2010, 12:21am Top

Book #76:
Title: Down a Dark Hall
Author: Lois Duncan
Genre: YA horror
Length: 181 pages
Source: Public Library
Dates: Read 9/28/10
Challenges: 75 Challenge, 1010 Challenge, "Kid's Stuff" category book #10
Note: finishes this category in the 1010 challenge

This was Halloween brain candy. I wanted a short, quick, easy read that would keep me turning pages while in an easily-distracted frame of mind. This creepy YA book about a sinister private boarding school was perfect for my mood.

Sep 29, 2010, 12:13pm Top

>77 tymfos: I read that book years ago when I was in the 4th grade. Several of us read it back then, and we all loved it. I don't think they could keep it on the shelf in the library.

Sep 29, 2010, 1:59pm Top

Lois Duncan! I haven't thought about her since I was in middle school! Is she still alive?

Sep 29, 2010, 3:05pm Top

#78 I don't think I'd read it before, but it's the type of book I loved at that age.

#79 I did an internet search for her, and she has her own website.
She has been editing updated versions of her old suspense books, which are going to be re-issued. She specifically mentions Down a Dark Hall on her home page!

Edited: Sep 30, 2010, 7:05pm Top

I won't be completing any more books this evening, so I may as well post this.

Summary of 1010 Challenge through September 30, 2010:

All categories have been completed to the "original" goal of 5 books

Categories fully completed (10 books):
#2 Whodunit?
#4 Kids' Stuff
#6 A Matter of Faith
#10 Scary Fiction

#1 Blue vs. Gray -- 6 books read, 1 in progress, 3 more needed to fully complete category
#3 Strange but True? -- 6 books read, 4 more needed to fully complete category
#5 Destroyed in Seconds -- 7 books read, 3 more needed to fully complete category
#7 Start your Engines -- 7 books read, 3 more needed to fully complete category
#8 20th Century USA 6-- books read, 1 in progress, 3 more needed to fully complete category
#9 Interesting People -- 5 books read (and may settle for 5 in this category)

Edited: Oct 22, 2010, 12:00am Top

I almost forgot that this ER book actually fits into this challenge!

Book #77:
Title: The Little League that Could: A History of the American Football League
Author: Ken Rappoport
Genre: non-fiction (sports)
Length: 199 pages
Dates: finished 10/5/10
Source: LT Early Reviewers
Challenges: 75 challenge; 1010 challenge, 20th Century USA category
Notes: I received this Early Reviewer edition as bound uncorrected page proofs, and am basing this review upon this edition.

I enjoyed this look at the AFL, from its origins to the time the full merger with the NFL was accomplished. I enjoyed meeting the pivotal people who made things happen, and reading the stories (some of them hilarious) of those days.

That said, this didn't have the feel/flow of a narrative history. There was a choppiness to the book. Each chapter seemed to be more a self-contained unit about a particular area (coaches, stadiums, TV coverage, etc.) and each existed without a sense of the total whole. The structure tended to introduce repetition on the one hand, and a little confusion on the other. (Who was that? Where did I read about him earlier?) An instance of repetition: the famous "Heidi" incident was covered in the section about TV coverage; it was later covered in the section on AFL rivalries, and the second account was written as though the earlier reference hadn't existed. Since my copy is uncorrected proofs, I suppose that some of this may still be edited out in the actual book text.

Also there were extensive "sidebar" items, usually about specific subjects, usually important individuals, which broke into the flow of the narrative. It was nice to go in-depth about some of the people, but it further disrupted the flow of reading.

And one chapter consisted of a series of "Tall Tales and Short Stories" -- anecdotes just randomly presented to the reader, each under its own heading.

While not brilliantly written, this was still a fun journey down memory lane, and I learned a lot about this marvelous chapter of American pro football history.

Nov 2, 2010, 11:21pm Top

Book #78:
Title: Andersonville Diary
Author: John L. Ransom
Genre: diary
Dates: finished 11/2/10
Source: NetLibrary Audio Books
Challenges: 75 challenge; 1010 challenge "Blue vs. Gray" category
Notes: audio book obtained on loan online through public library

It's difficult to critique someone's diary -- especially when that someone survived the hell-hole that was the Andersonville POW camp during the Civil War.

I think for most anyone who is at all familiar with the Civil War, the name Andersonville brings to mind the most horrific of conditions, thousands dead, survivors who came out looking like skeletons. John Ransom's diary recounts the day-to-day events of a union soldier taken POW and eventually sent to that most infamous of Confederate prison camps. It is sometimes repetitious because life was repetitious -- day after day, scrounging for food, fighting off the "raiders" -- fellow prisoners who were as brutal as their captors -- dealing with the grossest of unsanitary conditions, starvation, disease, cruelty, death. (So many dead!)

I must say that I can hardly believe Ransom survived it all, and I get the feeling he's surprised, too. I'm impressed that he had the tenacity to keep up the writing through all his trials -- trading food for pencils and notebooks to write, entrusting filled notebooks to fellow prisoners when he was too incapacitated to carry them all. Ransom had a great eye and ear for detail, and somehow managed to maintain some semblance of humor through much, if not most, of the horror he endured. His diary is a fascinating account of survival with honor. Recommended.

ETA to fix typos and clarify thoughts, and to add: The published diary (at least the edition I had) included a summary at the end which indicated the death rate at Andersonville for each month of its operation. Such wholesale death boggles the mind!

Nov 3, 2010, 11:33pm Top

Just looking at my categories and thinking what I'd have to read to fill each with a full 10 items by the end of the year.

Blue vs. Gray: finish the Foote vol. 1, read the ILL I just ordered, and then one more title.
Strange but true: 4 more books
Destroyed in Seconds: 3 more books
Start Your Engines: read the other ILL I just ordered, and 2 more books
20th Century USA: 3 more books
Interesting People: 5 more books

I would need a total of 21 books (including the one I have started) in two months -- not unheard of, but not likely with the holidays coming.

Edited: Nov 9, 2010, 6:32pm Top

Oops! Double post! Now, why did that (my post of Ghosts of Mississippi) appear twice?

Nov 9, 2010, 4:05pm Top

I spent way too much of my day off finishing this book. It was very difficult to put down!

Book #79:
Title: Ghosts of Mississippi
Author: Maryanne Vollers
Genre: non-fiction
Length: 386 pages plus notes & index
Dates: finished 11/9/10
Source: On bookshelf for over a year
Challenges: 75 challenge; 1010 challenge, "20th Century USA" category; off the shelf challenge
Notes: National Book Award finalist

This is the story of Mississippi civil rights activist Medgar Evers, his murder, and the long fight to bring his murderer to justice. It's also a tale about the abysmal, institutionalized racism which existed in 1950's-1960's Mississippi and the kind of courage it took for anyone to in any way advocate for change. (During those years, there was no Klu Klux Klan in that state, of any amount, prior to the passage of the national Civil Rights Act because the state and local governments had more or less taken on the functions of the KKK for so many years.)

Author Maryanne Vollers weaves a compelling, suspenseful narrative of the events in Jackson, Mississipi in those difficult years leading up to and following Evers' assasination. She also introduces us to some amazing people. Despite the fact that I knew from history, more or less, the outcomes of the three trials, I had not known the details "how" the investigation and prosecution proceded. I was a bit startled how emotional I was as the verdicts were recounted -- especially the final one.

Nov 9, 2010, 6:23pm Top

That was worth posting twice.

Amazing what was done and thought only fifty years ago.

Edited: Nov 9, 2010, 9:49pm Top

Ghosts of Mississippi sounds intriguing. Good review!

Edit to fix wrong touchstone..... ** rolls eyes at technology **

Nov 9, 2010, 9:55pm Top

#87 Amazing what was done and thought only fifty years ago.

It is amazing how much has changed . . . though unfortunately there are still some folks (skinheads, neo-Nazis) who would think and do similar things . . . fortunately they are no longer the people in power.

#88 I thought it was very well written, and a story well worth telling.

Nov 13, 2010, 1:04pm Top

#88 Hi, lkernaugh! Thanks!

rolls eyes at technology**
Oh, yeah! ;)

I'm working on four -- FOUR -- non-fiction reads at a time right now, no novels at all, trying to fill in gaps in this challenge. In addition to the Foote, I'm reading Lincoln's Melancholy, which will probably also go in the Civil War category.

I'm reading Hard Driving: The Wendell Scott story, which will probably go in the "Start Your Engines" category, though it could go in 20th-century USA, too. This biography of the first African-American NASCAR driver, written by a Pullitzer-prize winning journalist, looks at race relations from a somewhat different point of view than I've seen covered before.

I'm also reading William James On Psychical Research, which will go in my "Strange but True" Category.

Nov 24, 2010, 7:58am Top

I have been struggling with this 1010 challenge. I made the initial goal of 5 in each category by 10/10/10 easily, but wanted to go on and finish out 10 per category by the end of this year. It's not going to work by ordinary means. I'm behind in categories that tend to be chunksters, for the most part. It isn't fun any more. I don't have time or space to read any fiction at all for the rest of the year. And fiction "sparks" my reading -- I'm finding I'm not wanting to read without a novel waiting for me somewhere in the pile, even when the non-fiction reads are good.

So I'm going to do a compromise. When I finish the current reads, I'm going to try and help fill out the remainder of the categories with children's picture books that I'd highly recommend -- good Christmas presents -- most of them re-reads. Hey, I'm a kid at heart anyway (or childish, at least). I'll continue to read grown-up books that appeal to me in the remaining categories, plus my fiction.

That way, I can satisfy my OCD-ish desire to fill in the blanks on my 1010 slate without sacrificing my reading enjoyment.

Nov 24, 2010, 1:34pm Top

>91 tymfos: Great solution! And I'll be watching for the reviews -- I'm always looking for good picture books.

Nov 24, 2010, 1:48pm Top

I love picture books! I know that I had the same intention back when I first began the 1010 challenge -- if I couldn't finish with adult (and an occasional YA book), then I would fill it out with picture books. I think I'll be able to finish with the books I have chosen for the remainder of the challenge without resorting to the picture books, but I think it's a great way to finish it off!

Nov 24, 2010, 4:38pm Top

#92, 93

Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you like my solution. It feels like cheating a little, but I knew going in that 10 in each category would be a stretch. This will be my first 100 book year, and not all have fit into the categories.

I've revamped my categories for next year's 11 challenge to allow for more fiction and a wider latitude of choices. And I know for sure I won't get 11 in each category, so I'm making it a 711 challenge -- aiming for 7 in each category.

Edited: Nov 27, 2010, 6:32pm Top

Dag nab it, whole sentences keep disappearing from my post! I give up with what's here.

Book #80.
Title: Hard Driving: The Wendell Scott Story: The American Odyssey of NASCAR's First Black Driver
Author:Brian Donovan \
Dates: started 11-10-10; finished 11-27-10
Genre: non-fiction
Length: 291 pages + acknowledgments, notes & index
Source: inter-library loan
Challenges: 1010 Challenge (start your engines category) & 75 Challenge

This book offers a significant look at US race relations in the 1950's through early 1970's, from a unique and informative perspective.

Wendell Scott first raced in the lower levels of NASCAR in the early 1950's, shortly after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. But whereas Robinson had key support from major figures in MLB, Scott was pretty much on his own.

Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Brian Donovan presents a carefully-documented, balanced account of the career of the pioneering black NASCAR driver. He explores the complex social, political, and financial issues that surrounded the fortunes and misfortunes of Scott's racing career. We see some bigoted villains, some heroes of fair play, a lot of people who simply followed the winds of their own financial and political self-interests, and some whose motivations and intentions are impossible to know for certain. Certainly the rural southern roots of NASCAR played a part in the pervasive difficulties Scott encountered -- even white drivers from outside the South often encountered a certain bias in those days, though not nearly to the degree and intensity that Scott experienced.

Donovan also chronicles aspects of Scott and his family away from the track, including his son Wendell, Jr.'s struggle with drug addiction; and Scott's disillusioning encounter with Hollywood. (The movie Greased Lightning was loosely -- and I mean very loosely -- based on his career.) And he attempts to analyze what Scott accomplished in his career:

He had established his niche in history as the racial pioneer who broke a tough sport's color barrier in a hostile time. He had become a favorite of many thousands of fans. He had won respect and affection from colleagues who included some of the world's best racers. He remains the only black driver ever to win at NASCAR's top level. And while he didn't go into racing for political or racial reasons, the bravery, hard work, and uncompromising grit he displayed over twenty-one years as a racer certainly helped to soften many people's prejudices in an era when American values stood at a decisive turning point.

Edited: Nov 29, 2010, 5:00pm Top

Book #81:
Title: Lincoln's Melancholy
Author: Joshua Wolf Shenk
Dates: started 11-10-10; finished 11-28-10
Genre: non-fiction
Length: 243 pages (+ over 100 pages of notes, sources, & index)
Source: inter-library loan
Challenges: 1010 Challenge ("Blue vs. gray" category) & 75 Challenge

Most people with an interest in history have heard about Mary Todd Lincoln's mental problems, as documented in The Madness of Mary Lincoln which I read earlier this year. Lesser known are Honest Abe's psychological issues. Strong historical evidence exists which indicates that, prior to his presidency, Abraham Lincoln suffered several emotional breakdowns resulting from clinical depression, and that he suffered from "melancholy," or chronic depression, for most of his life.

Most enlightening is Shenk's contention that it was precisely Lincoln's tendency to depression which helped to fuel his greatness as President. Shenk argues that the wisdom and perspective Lincoln gained in his struggles with depression were vital to how he managed the challenges and tensions of the Executive Office during the Civil War. Indeed, the link between depression and creativity -- and Lincoln demonstrated genuine creativity in dealing with the challenges of an embattled nation -- has been documented by numerous studies. One aspect of Lincoln's personality which may have served our nation particularly well was his "depressive realism." At a time when many predicted that the War would be over in a few months, he knew better and was not disillusioned when the going was much tougher than was widely expected.

The book also looks at the differences between how depression, particularly in public figures, was viewed in Lincoln's day compared with today. People accepted Lincoln's melancholy nature, and were even attracted by it; far different than today, where the mere hint of a history of mental health treatment can derail a potential candidate.

As one who, like Lincoln, has inherited a tendency toward depression, I found this book both interesting and inspiring. It was refreshing to see how Lincoln learned to cope with his dark moods and to channel his energies to constructive use.

The book ends with an epilogue which examines the history of Lincoln scholarship, and how this facet of his life and personality has been obscured in most histories of the man.

ETA to fix clumsy grammar

Nov 29, 2010, 5:08am Top

#96 Very interesting!! I've got this one on my list for my 11 in 11 challenge Lincoln and the Civil War category.

Nov 29, 2010, 5:02pm Top

97 Good, Linda! I hope you find it as interesting as I did!

Nov 29, 2010, 5:05pm Top

I would also like to read the book about Lincoln as writer. (Can't remember the name offhand.)

First though, I'd like to read the David Herbert Donald comprehensive Lincoln bio or maybe the other, newer one.

Who knows? I may also visit the Chicago History Museum and/or head down to Springfield, IL for some in-person research, too. It's only a few hours away, on Amtrak.

Nov 29, 2010, 5:10pm Top

Any of the ideas you just posted sound great, Linda!

Edited: Dec 1, 2010, 7:55am Top

I needed to finish this in November to make my monthly "Books off the Shelf" challenge quota. It was somewhat after midnight that I got to the end, but since it was still November in all the time zones west of here, I'm counting it as a November read.

Book #82:
Title: William James on Psychical Research
Author: William James; compiled & edited by Gardner Murphy and Robert O. Ballou
Dates: finished 11/30/10
Genre: non-fiction edited compilation of writings
Length: 332 pages
Source: purchased last year via Amazon.com
Challenges: Off the Shelf, 1010 (Strange but true? category); 75 challenge

Oh, what to say about this one? A while back, I had read Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life after Death by Deborah Blum. It was so fascinating that it made me want to look at some "primary source" material from the principals in the origins of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR).

This book wasn't nearly so readable. It was a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a very interesting man. But it was, at times, extremely hard for me to process what he was saying. James was many things: a trained physician, a psychology professor, a philosopher, as well as a psychical researcher in his later years. He was an academic, and much of what is written here is written for fellow academics of his time period. I found the personal letters included in the volume much easier to read, for the most part.

I've heard people say casually of James, "Oh, he became a spiritualist later in life." Not quite so. He always viewed himself first and foremost as a scientist in he field James considered as scandalous the general scorn held by the scientific establishment for what we now call the "paranormal." Since these phenomena were so widely reported throughout history, he felt them worthy of study. The refusal by scientists to even look at them appeared, to him, a dogma as rigid as that of any religious cleric. The role of science, he insisted, was to investigate objectively the nature of the world -- even those parts that didn't fit current scientific theories. This (and his own search for meaning in life) was the impetus behind his psychical research. And while he clearly decided that something was going on beyond what established science at that time would accept, it's not accurate to call him a spiritualist in the classic sense. His writings indicate that he had not accepted, at least as proven fact, the existence of life after death -- though he clearly leaned toward wanting to believe in it, and refused to accept scientific claims that it was "impossible."

The most tedious section of this book, for me, was the section about the investigations into "Mrs. Piper," a medium who was extensively investigated by the SPR. Yet this section gives us a clear glimpse into his investigative method. He pulls out those exchanges where the medium, in her trance, appears to be in some ways "on target" with her communications from the "beyond." He indicates what is accurate, what is not, what may have been known to the medium through "normal" channels. The thoroughness of how he dissects the communication is part of what makes it tedious, yet it demonstrates how critical he could be in analyzing his subject. Indeed, he alienated some of his spiritualist acquaintances and friends with his seemingly skeptical analysis.

The book also explores the development of James' religious thought, which is related to his search for the truth regarding life after death. His was a rather unconventional belief system, but he clearly wanted -- needed -- to believe that there was some higher power in the universe.

His views about the relationship of human consciousness and "psychical" phenomena are quite interesting, and seem to grow out of his intense, pioneering work in the field of psychology combined with his philosophical/religious speculations. He credits his friend and SPR colleague Frederick Myers for much of the groundwork.

I wouldn't recommend this for the casual reader who is interested in the paranormal. For someone who is seriously interested in the roots of paranormal research, this is probably a must-read. Thus I found it difficult to rate. I gave it 3 1/2 stars, which is a "guardedly recommended" kind of rating. Its historical value in its field calls for a higher rating, but it was a bit of a slog to get through.

Dec 7, 2010, 9:50am Top

Book #83:
Title: The Other Side of the Night: The Carpathia, the California, and the Night the Titanic was Lost
Author: Daniel Allen Butler
Dates: 12/3/10-12/6/10
Genre: non-fiction
Length: 244 pages plus sources & index
Source: ILL
Challenges: 1010 (disaster category); 75 challenge

Another disaster book for me; another look at the Titanic tragedy for the world. This one focused on two other ships on the North Atlantic that terrible night: the Carpathia, which rushed to Titanic's rescue, and the California, which didn't. There has long been controversy over where the California was that night, and why her Captain Lord didn't respond to rockets (a universal disaster signal at the time) spotted by his subordinate officers being fired by a nearby ship. Was she the Titanic? The Board of Trade Inquiry and US Congressional inquiry seemed to think so.

Since then, several books have been written which attempted to defend Captain Lord's claim that the California was much farther from Titanic. This book appears to be an attempt to refute those works and draw out the facts which support the Board of Inquiry's decision. As far as that goes, I'm in agreement with the author.

I found the book an easy read that drew me in until the last chapter, where I had a problem with one of his main conclusions. I have no trouble with the book examining the facts of the tragedy, but I do have a problem with the author's final diagnosis of Captain Lord -- though the author does make a compelling case. I had wondered why only one library in the state ILL system had the book, and after reading several critical reviews, this seems to be the sticking point for most.

I'm not sorry I read it, as I knew surprisingly little about the Titanic's sinking and I learned a lot; but I would only guardedly recommend it.

Edited: Dec 16, 2010, 10:30pm Top

Book #84:
Title: Swapping Paint
Authors: Joyce and Jim Lavene
Genre: Cozy Murder Mystery
Pages: 278
Source: purchased through Amazon.com
Series: Stock Car Racing Mysteries, book 1
Setting: Charlotte, NC
Main Characters: Glad & Ruby Wycznewski
Challenges: 75 challenge; 1010 challenge
Note: Last 19 pages feature "Glad & Ruby's Track Log (basically, a tour guide to racing-related sites in the Charlotte, NC area) and an excerpt from the next book in the series. (But I read it, so I'm counting the pages!)

I had high hopes for this new mystery series. It's hard finding novels that deal with racing. Sharyn McCrumb has written a few good ones; there's a series of NASCAR-sanctioned romance novels (published by Harlequin, I believe), in which I have no interest. But someone here on LT mentioned this series -- a mystery series! -- and I looked the first one up.

The story is told in the first person by narrator Glad Wycznewski, a retired detective from the Chicago PD who is spending his retirement with his much-younger, southern-born wife Ruby. Glad is reasonably sensible, but keeps letting the impulsive Ruby lead him into risky actions against his better judgment. In this book, Ruby's brother, a rookie stock-car driver, is a suspect in the murder of another driver.

A lot of the characters felt like stereotypes; most did, in fact. The plot wasn't very compelling. I think the character of Glad has some potential -- he's rather interesting, though it's hard to believe that a former police detective would let Ruby lead him into some of the behavior displayed in the book. But, of course, the cozy genre usually features acts of stupidity by those engaged in finding Whodunit, so I probably shouldn't be surprised.

I wouldn't recommend this except to die-hard stock car fans who like mysteries(and even those folks need to be aware that, in a few short years since publication, the book already seems dated in some respects).

Dec 17, 2010, 8:52pm Top

Book #85:
Title: Adventures in Immortality: A Look Beyond the Threshold of Death
Authors: George Gallup, Jr. & William Proctor
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 179 plus lengthy appendix and index
Source: ILL
Challenges: 75 challenge; 1010 challenge, "Strange but True?" category

In the early 1980’s, the Galup Poll conducted several national surveys to ascertain the attitudes held by Americans eighteen and older regarding immortality. A special focus of this process pertained to the collection and analysis of accounts of “near death” and “verge of death” experiences. This book, written by George Gallup, Jr. with William Proctor, flows out of those poll results.

Full review here:

Dec 18, 2010, 4:32pm Top

Book #86
Title: Haunted Valley . . . The Ghosts of Penn State
Author: M.L. Swayne
Genre: campus folklore/"true" ghost stories
Pages: 103 plus sources
Dates: 12/18/10
Source: Purchased through Amazon.com (this year, I think)
Challenges: 1010 Challenge ("strange but true?" category) and 75 Challegne

I grabbed this little book from my shelf, late last night, in order to finish off a category in my 1010 Category Challenge. I originally bought it because, well, it was about familiar territory. It has the obvious appearance of a self-published work. It contains some nice historical nuggets about Penn State University -- the main campus and also the various branches throughout the state (and their environs). Some of the stories are a little creepy to read late at night with the lights low and everyone else in the house sound asleep upstairs, but it's not a really scary read. The writer approaches his subject matter with a wry sense of humor, as well as a healthy dose of skepticism.

It's just a shame that someone did not proofread the galleys; or, if they were read, proofread them again after corrections were made. The numerous errors were annoying almost beyond what I could bear. Some were ordinary typos; some were careless errors in grammar or general wording; some look like they were the result of sloppy editing ("replacing" a word but forgetting to remove the word that was being replaced; inserting parenthetical phrases into the wrong spot in the sentence, etc.); one appeared to render the opposite meaning to what was obviously intended.

If you are familiar with Penn State and its environs, this book might be worth looking over if you can borrow a copy or get one cheaply and have time for a light read. Otherwise, I really can't recommend it.

Dec 19, 2010, 7:30pm Top

Book #87
Title: Robert Ballard's Lusitania
Author: Robert Ballard with Spencer Dunmore; Paintings by Ken Marschall; Historical consultation by Eric Saunder
Genre: Non-fiction (pictorial)
Pages: 213 plus endnotes, credits, sources, & index
Source: purchased at Ollie's
Challenges: 1010 Category Challenge, "destroyed in seconds" category; 75 challenge

I thought this book was marvelous: well-organized and spectacularly illustrated.

The first 140 or so pages provide an overview of the history of Lusitania and her sinking. It is certainly not the kind of detailed historical account I found in Diana Preston's marvelous volume about Lusitania, but it appeared accurate and reasonably complete; it also gives one a real "feel" for what it was like to travel in the different classes (or "cabins") of accommodation. And the photographs are marvelous! It is filled with historical photographs of both the exterior and interior of the great liner -- including seldom-seen images of the spartan 3rd-class (or "third cabin") accommodations. We also see samples of menus and Cunard Line promotional literature of the time.

About 50 pages are devoted to Ballard's 1993 expedition to the remains of Lusitania, where they lie off the Irish coast; and to his own hypothesis (a reasonable one, I think) about the source of the "second explosion" after the torpedo hit and the reason the ship sank so quickly. The undersea photographs (which include a trifold of the entire wreck, backed with a trifold diagram of the ship as she was) are stunning. I was also impressed by attempts to make the images understandable to the average viewer; they are presented, in most cases, with diagrams of the ship indicating what portion we are seeing and photos of those itiems/sections as they were in the liner's heyday.

Highly recommended!

Edited: Dec 21, 2010, 8:14am Top

Book #88:
Title: A Night to Remember
Author: Walter Lord
Genre: non-fiction
Original Copyright: 1955
Pages: 179 pages + preface, acknowledgments & passenger list
Dates: finished 12/20/10 (early a.m.)
Challenges: 75 Challenge; 1010 category challenge (final book in "destroyed in seconds" category); off the shelf challenge

This is probably still the definitive book about the Titanic sinking; it's almost certainly the best known -- and for good reason. It is extremely readable and offers enough information about the tragedy without innundating the reader with detail. I do wish there were footnotes/endnotes; my copy, at least, does not have any, though the acknowledgments give credit to many sources.

Reading this makes me see how much the author of my recent read on the subject "borrowed" from Lord (whom he claimed as a mentor) -- some passages seemed almost identical, particularly near the end of the book after the survivors were picked up by the Carpathia. Odd that he strongly disagreed with Lord about some key issues for which Lord's statistical and anecdotal evidence seems much stronger.

Dec 21, 2010, 8:09am Top

Book #89
Title: Death Be Not Proud
Author: John Gunther
Genre: memoir
Original Copyright: 1949
Length: 161 pages
Source: My bookshelf
Challenges: 75 challenge; 1010 challenge, memoir category; off the shelf challenge
Note: This is a reread, though it has been many, many years since I read it (high school? college?)

John Gunther obviously poured his heart and soul into this heartbreaking yet inspiring account of his teenage son's fatal battle with a brain tumor -- but in a restrained, thoughtful way. He is a true wordsmith and his literary skill in combination with his emotional investment make for a truly moving, memorable read.

Dec 27, 2010, 6:51pm Top

Book # 90:
Title: The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville
Author: Shelby Foote
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 810 plus sources & index
Dates: finished 12/27/10
Source: Hard copy was on the shelf for several years (gift from hubby, I think); audio was download from Overdrive Media via district library
Challenges: 1010 Challenge ("blue vs. gray" category), Books Off the Shelf Challenge, and 75 Challenge
Notes: First volume of Foote's Civil War trilogy. I read some of it, listened to some on audio

No time to comment now. Enough has been written about Foote's Civil War narrative trilogy that I probably can't add anything that hasn't been said before.

Edited: Dec 29, 2010, 8:13pm Top

Book # 91:
Title: Growing Up NASCAR
Author: Humpy Wheeler
Genre: Non-fiction
Pages: 298 pages
Dates: finished 12/27/10
Source: Purchased this year via Amazon
Challenges: 1010 Challenge ("start your engines!" category), and 75 Challenge

The book was OK, but I think I expected a little more from this one. "Racing's most outrageous promoter" came across a little tamer than I anticipated.

Edited: Dec 31, 2010, 9:40am Top

\Book # 92Title: The Worst Hard Time
Author: Timothy Egan
Genre: Non-fiction
Dates: finished 12/30/10
Source: Purchased at Waldenbooks in 2009
Challenges: 1010 Challenge ("20th century USA" category), Books off the Shelf, and 75 Challenge

Wow! Certainly, I'd heard about the Dust Bowl -- even read The Grapes of Wrath -- but Timothy Egan's non-fiction account of the epic disaster really made the events come alive. Highly recommended!

Edited: Dec 31, 2010, 9:56am Top

Book #93
Title: The Black Cloud: the deadly hurricane of 1928
Author: Eliot Kleinberg
Pages: 250 plus endnotes, index, etc.
Dates: 12/30/10 to 12/31/10
Source: purchased at a used bookstore Jan 2010
Challenges: 1010 Challenge (20th cent USA category); 75 Challenge

The subject matter -- the 1928 Florida hurricane which was part of the famous novel Their Eyes were Watching God -- was certainly interesting. I just found the telling a little disjointed, a little hard to follow.

Dec 31, 2010, 2:05pm Top

read the following books for young people to finish off my 1010 Category challenge! (done!):

Book #94
Joshua Chamberlain and the American Civil War from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s American Heroes series. (Book #10 in my Civil War category)

A brief telling for young people of the story of the famous Civil War hero -- one of my son's favorite Civil War officers. I spotted a few historical inaccuracies and crass oversimplifications. The book seemed mainly designed to inspire young people to aspire to lives of discipline and courage.

The following four picture books were books 7-10 in my "Interesting people" category:

Book #95
When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan; illustrated by Brian Selznick

This Robert F. Sibert Honor book tells, in simple words and striking sepia-toned illustrations, the highlights of the life story of the great contralto Marian Anderson. The words of spirituals are woven throughout the text, gently emphasizing Miss Anderson's solid roots growing up in South Philadelphia's Union Baptist church. (Members of the church were prepared to pay her tuition to music school, but she was denied entry due to segregation; the same members eventually paid for her lessons with noted voice teacher.) An afterword written for adults adds additional insight for older readers.

Book #96
Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport; illustrated by Bryan Collier

The collage illustrations of this book, with its simple text, are filled with symbolism which remind us of the faith-based roots of The Rev. Dr. King's non-violent struggle for civil rights. Caldecott Honor book; Coretta Scott King Honor book.

Book #97
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
This winner of the Coretta Scott King Award and Caldecott Honor Book is filled with striking imagery of the most famous woman of the Underground Railroad. It is told via a prayerful dialogue between Harriet and God, who she truly believed talked with her and sustained her.

Book #98
Dizzy by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Sean Qualls

This innovative picture book tells the story of the great jazz innovator Dizzy Gillespie in a very jazzy way.

Edited: Dec 31, 2010, 2:18pm Top

OK, all the spots in all my categories are filled, but I only have 98 book entries . . . or at least, that's where the numbers leave off. I either forgot to post something, or I mis-numbered somewhere, since I have 10 slots filled in 10 categories.

I don't have time to go back and figure it out. I've got 10 books listed in the 10 categories at the top of this thread, should be 100 books even with the "new math" . . .


Dec 31, 2010, 2:22pm Top

OK, I found 2 books listed as #66. And I decided a while back that the two short books I originally listed as #62 could each be counted individually. So that's the reason my numbers only come to 98 here, when there are actually 100 that I finished.

Dec 31, 2010, 3:36pm Top

Congratulations on finishing your challenge!

Dec 31, 2010, 4:07pm Top

Congrats on finishing 1010. Looking forward to seeing your 11 in 11.

Dec 31, 2010, 5:59pm Top

#116, 117 Thanks, Dave and Linda! Happy New Year!

Jan 1, 2011, 12:47pm Top

Congratulations on finishing the challenge! And just in time!

Jan 1, 2011, 12:58pm Top

Happy New Year and congrats on finishing your challenge!

Jan 1, 2011, 3:40pm Top


Edited: Jan 3, 2011, 5:18am Top

Thanks, Sandy, Lori, and Ivy!

On to the 11 in 11 challenge!

Jan 8, 2011, 9:27am Top

Just wanted to say you have very interesting reads and will be following you in 2011.

Jan 8, 2011, 9:20pm Top

#123 Thanks! (Your screen name makes me smile, because I had an Aunt Marge.)

Group: 1010 Category Challenge

253 members

23,214 messages


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