arrianarose's 50 in 2012 challenge
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A new year, a fresh start. The end of 2011 was a tough one personally, for myself and those around me, but I'm hopeful that this new year will be brighter and happier. Although I didn't make my 50 books this past year, I was fairly close and I feel confidant that I will do better this time around. Wish me luck!
Good luck to you, arrianarose!! I took a look at your profile and we have quite a few books in common. Happy reading and here's to a better year!
Thanks! I'm off to a slacker start here, but I've halfway through Team of Rivals, at least. Good luck to you as well!
After an entire year of banning myself from re-reading any book, I'm pleased to say that I did manage it, but I'm putting no such restriction on my reading this year, for my own sanity! Sometimes you just need to snuggle down with an old favorite or two! At the same time, however, I'm not sure if I want to include re-reads in my 50 or not. For the moment I'll "number" them here by letter to differentiate from new reads.
A. The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey Jan 27
B. Damia by Anne McCaffrey Jan 28
C. Damia's Children by Anne McCaffrey Jan 28-29
I adore these books and it's sad to think that there will never be a new Anne McCaffrey book for fantasy fans to look forward to. Thankfully, there are so many she did write for us to go back to. The Pern books (and Piers Anthony's Xanth series), were my introduction in middle school to the world of fantasy and science fiction writing and I am forever grateful.
1. Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey Jan 22: Jan 31
Yay, my first official new book finished in 2012! Good story, though not as good as the first one, and it seems the Melisande thread is going to be drawn out into the final book, though I'm not sure how I feel about that. I think in this book Carey is drawing very explicitly from other authors, or at least that I noticed. Having finally mastered The Count of Monte Cristo last year, her La Dolorosa was immediately familiar to me and there were a few other times that happened, though none as significant.
2. The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan Jan 12: Feb 14
Audio books are definitely new for me, though my dad used to listen to them all the time. He bought me a few recently, so I'm trying them out on the ride home from work, which seems to be going well. The subject matter here was extremely interesting, but the plot and characters seemed overly sentimental. Non-fiction seems more my speed if I want to read up more on ideas surrounding Mary Magdalene et al.
4. Eva Luna by Isabel Allende Mar 1: Mar 8
Not too much to say about this book. It was good, but nothing really amazing, I thought. I'd read Daughter of Fortune a few years back and really liked it, but didn't feel the same connection here. I do like the way she writes, though, so I'll have to read The House of the Spirits at some point.
Hi Ameise1! Allende is definitely a good storyteller. Everything she writes about is so vivid, it's like a movie reel in your head.
6. 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson Mar 30: Mar 31
I don't know what it is about WWII, but I'm a sucker for any well written novel (or, better yet, memoir) during that time period. I didn't want to put this book down. It focuses on the emotional repercussions of war and the need for empathy and forgiveness, of both oneself and others, in order to make a good life after war has ended.
7. The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco Feb 15: Apr 4
My second audio book, much longer than the first one. I'm a bit peeved right now at how the book ended. I feel that I've put quite some time into this story and should have gotten something more than "Huh?" in return. Give and take, right? Ack! Apparently not. Anyway, though, I am definitely liking having an audio book on in the car. It started out as a test run and it has definitely passed. Now I need to find a good source for audiobooks.
10. Rhadopis of Nubia by Naguib Mahfouz Apr 9: Apr 15
I liked Khufu's Wisdom, but this one did not have likable characters. Rhadopis started out as an interesting woman, but quickly became brainless and self-involved. The Pharaoh was petulant, selfish and entitled, never a winning combination. I had no interest in the outcome of events and only finished it because it was fairly short and I felt obligated. These are from Three Novels of Ancient Egypt and I'm hoping the last one is good so I can have two out of three.
13. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James Apr 28: May 4
I am highly irritated by the ending of this book. I started off interested in the characters and wanting to see what shape Isabel's European adventure if freedom was going to take. She definitely seemed naive and narcissistic, but she was barely older than a teenager and had a rather sheltered life, so it didn't seem that atypical. I was thrilled that she didn't marry a man she'd met only a few days prior, despite the fact that he was a lord. She seemed to have the same, more modern viewpoint as myself on the situation, a bit flabbergasted and mildly appalled. But then as soon as she starts to really live life and have a bit of fun, we're thrown into other character's viewpoints and told, oh, by the way, she got engaged to this sleazy guy with nothing going for him. We are given none of her thoughts on the matter, none of her reasoning for getting married, none of her sentiments at all. And, as soon as she gets married, her modern ideas vanish to be replaced with (to my 21th century ears) archaic ideas about her role as dutiful wife, bound to please her husband as her master and remain subservient to his wishes, all despite the fact that he does not respect her rights as a person, is mean and small and assumes she is cruel mined just because he is. And don't even get me started on the way he treats his daughter, as some inhuman bauble to put on a shelf, artificially grown have no mind or heart and punished when a spark of personality does show. Now, it's not the I expected a happy ending, but she just goes home and that's it? Really? How is there no middle ground here? I just wish the sleazy duo of Osmond and Mm. Merle had come to some untimely end and made everyone's lives easier. Okay, I have more ranting in me, but I think I'll close it up regardless. It get it that there were very limited options for women and a blazing spotlight is being drawn to that fact. At the same time, however, what Isabel wanted most was to be able to choose, and her choices inevitably seem to disappoint and all seem reactionary rather than proactive. Everyone kept saying she was brave, but I seem to have missed it.
14. An Atomic Romance by Bobbie Ann Mason Apr 5: May 10
Another audiobook, the last one I own! A library trip is definitely needed this weekend or my drive home will not be nearly as interesting.
17. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy May 5: May 25
I was supposed to read this long ago as part of the preliminary summer work for AP English, but then decided to just take Honors English and never read more than about five pages of it. Thirteen years later, (eep!) I can now shift it out of the tbr pile! It's probably best that I held off on reading it, as I liked it well enough now, but I think it would have bored me back then. I wonder, since thoughts and tastes do change over the years, if I should re-read The Great Gatsby. I absolutely despised it when I read it in high school, but perhaps now I'd find something worthwhile in it.
I wish you luck on that one, and would be curious to know, but I have to admit....of all the books that I've reread since highschool, The Great Gatsby is the one that really didn't improve any with my age. I can appreciate it more, perhaps, but enjoy it...afraid not.
Well, at least I'll have company in my boat, then! It seems that nearly everyone else has only glowing things to say about it and I've never been able to figure out what it was they loved so much. If I do attempt it, I'll have to let you know if anything has changed in my enjoyment level or lack thereof.
19. Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki Jun 12: Jun 15
It's always interesting in an autobiography to see how an author chooses to portray herself, what she focuses on, how she self edits. Mineko focused on the external, the culture and history more than the internal, the emotional. It actually read a bit more like a biography than an autobiography, I feel, but it was a very interesting story.
20. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot May 14: Jun 22
Spectacularly done, emotional and engaging. Read as an audiobook on my way home from work every day, I would come home in turns furious at the effrontery and racism present in the mid century medical community, heartsick for the abusive childhood of Henrietta's children, proud of Deborah's fortitude in the face of terrible and confusing information regarding her mother and sister, even at the detriment of her own health, and lastly crying over the way the story ended.
I love nonfiction and this is good example of why. Real life has so much to offer us and these are the stories that really do effect our lives and they way we live.
21. The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne Jun 21: Jun 23
22. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink Jun 23
An odd combination, I suppose, but it's that kind of a weekend. I didn't expect to finish The Reader all in one day, but it was an extremely fast read, and definitely interesting in the questions it raises, especially as regards to love and free will. Can one choose to love or not love someone or is love of one's control? Is one ethically obligated to stop loving someone if confronted with crimes they have committed or does love exist despite and outside of reality? We are all flawed to a greater or lesser extent, and although we may admire a person's good deeds or admirable character, it's ultimately the person that we love, not their actions or attributes. It's reconciling ourselves to that fact that then becomes the difficult part.
Like you, I thoroughly enjoy audio books as I commute... Try listening to at least the first Harry Potter and the Sorcerer' stone. The narrator is absolutely amazing in how he is able to portray all the characters at once. It literally sounds like he is an entire cast of characters!
Sorry for the late response! I'll have to do that. My roommate has all of the Harry Potter audio books and a few other similar YA series. I'll have to borrow them at some point!
23. A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich Jun 24: Jul 12
24. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James Jul 1: Jul 6
The first one was great. Not to mention I was up in Maine, just a bit further north along the Kennebec for a family reunion, while I was reading it. My mom even wants to borrow it, and she's not at all a nonfiction reader generally. It's been ridiculously hot this summer and my nonfiction reading tends to slip a bit in the heat. For me, no air conditioning at home + sticky summer heat = shorter books and lack of substance.
Which, I suppose, is my segue to the second book. I've held off on adding it to the list here out of a slight embarrassment at reading it at all. I thought maybe I'd just wait until I finished all three and then I'd post them, but even though it's a quick read, it's not good enough that I'm going to read all three immediately. I had no intentions of reading the series, but a non-reading coworker (Literally. I've worked with her for six years and she hasn't read more than a few chapters a any book in that whole time. The mind boggles...) read all three in two weeks, so I felt compelled to find out what all the hype was about. Okay, so confession - I'm a closet reader of Harry Potter fanfiction, though I've never read any Twilight fanfics. It's fun and addictive and I love it. That said, there's a wide range in the world of fanfiction, from utter crap to extremely well written pieces. Fifty Shades, unfortunately, seems to have come from the "meh" section of the spectrum. Interesting idea, lackluster execution. I swear, if I read another "baby" or "down there" in the next two books, I'm going to throw them across the room. On the plus side, I think the email conversations are hysterical. Maybe she should have done this up as an epistolary novel instead.
25. Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James Jul 19: Jul 22
26. Leaving Mother Lake by Yang Erche Namu Jul 14: Jul 25
Two down, one to go. The incessant repetition is getting a bit old, but there have been a few blatant Pretty Woman scenes, and I do love that movie. haha
Leaving Mother Lake was good, but it's the kind of book I wish included photographs. I would have loved to see some snapshots of Namu's family or the lake and mountainside. The view into a fairly removed culture was incredibly interesting, but Namu's personal story was not nearly as riveting. I like that it gave me more info on cultures in that region of the world at the same time that I am listening to Three Cups of Tea in the car, which was completely unplanned.
27. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro Jul 28: Aug 2
I'm not sure what I want to say about this precisely, except that I liked it a lot and it was rather strange. I've always liked this type of book, but I think it's the way this one was written that makes it unusual. It seems a bit dreamlike and I can't quite decide it if seems realistic or not. I think it's the complacency that throws me off. I can't conceive of such a large pool of individuals so calmly accepting the fate that's been decreed for them. Hm. Definitely an author I need to read more from.
28. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd Aug 5: Aug 8
29. Three Cups of Tea by Patrick Lawlor Jun 25: Aug 9
Another audiobook down! It seemed to go much faster, I'm surprised to realize that I started it in June. Fascinating, and I just ordered Into Thin Air from Paperbackswap to continue along that path. I also started Infidel as my next audiobook for the car. Secret Life of Bees was good too. I borrowed it from my mom years ago, but it's been sitting in a pile unread until now. A good, quick summer read.
30. Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James Jul 23: Aug 18
And done. Off they go to paperbackswap. Not something I'll be reading over again.
32. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky Aug 22: Sep 3
I'm a bit teary right now, not at the book, though it was very good, but at the real life story behind it. The appendix, with the author's own notes and letters from her, her husband and then friends trying in vain to save two people who had already been killed by the war, are more affecting and enduring that any novel. This is why I read non-fiction. As much as I love fiction, these few pages of letters and statements of events, to me, show the experience of war, heartbreak, love and courage, more than any novel can, even in 200, 500 or 1,000 pages.
40. Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff Oct 1: Nov 9
Another audiobook successfully completed. Although the information interested me, though, I found myself drifting off a bit while listening. I'm not sure if it was the book or the narrator that didn't quite work for me, but perhaps it was a bit of both. I'll definitely have to stop at the library tomorrow to get a new one for the car.
45. For All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose Nov 19: Dec 7
Another excellent audiobook completed. I've decided I very much like when the author is the narrator.
No new books completed, but I did just inherit my grandmother's Harvard Classics Complete Set 50 Volumes, which is extremely exciting! My crowded living room is even more so now, with the addition of her glass-fronted bookcase and book collection. The only irritating part is that I'll have to manually enter all of them into LibraryThing, as they are pre-ISBN and it seems to be an exercise in futility to search for them on the Add Books page. I think this will definitely make up for the fact that I'm likely to be just under my 50 mark this year.
46. Kushiel's Avatar by Jacqueline Carey Dec 12: Jan 2
Finished slightly after the new year, but I'll still count it as a 2012 book, as well as the audiobook I've nearly completed. Not too bad for a total - 47 new books and 6 rereads.
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