Sunday, December 19, 2010

Here's to Henry

"The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, And all the sweet serenity of books." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This year was by far my worst year of reading . . . ever. Although there are 11 days left in the year, I am calling it. I do not think I read even 15 books this year. January started off fine, maybe 1-2 books off pace. But then, that was it.

I don't want to be one of "those" people - a person who doesn't read. How can a life-long well-loved habit be lost so easily and seem almost insurmountable to regain?

Do I need a fabulous recommendation? Not really. I have lots of books, hundreds, in my house to choose from - books that once must have intersted me. I've started The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman - that Mary references below in her most recent post. I'm on page 36. It's a perfectly good book - but rather than lie in bed and read for 1-2 hours in the evening, I just lay there and stare at the TV.

Maybe I should give my TV away? :-)

I don't know what to do to make 2011 what 2010 was not - a wonderful year of reading.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summer Reading

What is everyone reading this summer?

I know Jen plans to reread Gone with the Wind. The neighborhood book club is reading Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll and A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Those two are on my list.

Right now I'm reading The Believers by Zoe Heller (unavailable on Kindle last time I checked, so I bought the paperback). I'm liking it so far, it's a dysfunctional family kind of a story.

Two fabulous books I've read in the past month or so are

(1) The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. This one is a story of the lives of various messed-up people involved in producing an English-language newspaper in Rome. Lots of interconnected stories, very funny.

(2) The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall. The story of a man with four wives and 28 children, living in a *plyg* community in Utah. He is a sorry, lazy, hapless father, which means that he's a failure at being the leader he's asked to be. Also very funny, but deals with some serious issues like child neglect, etc. A joy to read -- main character is a loveable screw-up.

I read Jane Smiley's latest, Private Lives, and it was okay if you like quiet books. The main character is a wife who lives her life in a kind of a fog, which makes you want to shake her by the neck and yell *wake up.* But it's also the story of a long loveless marriage, with a fair amount of the outside world and its history intruding. (It's set from about 1900-50s, World War II)

I am planning to read the latest Steig Larrson, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest over the summer.

Anyone else read something good?

Monday, March 29, 2010

2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction . . .

goes to Sherman Alexie for War Dances - "a collection of stories on the themes of love, betrayal, familial relationships, race, and class." I didn't really enjoy his 2003 collection of short stories Ten Little Indians. Is this one worth a try?

A challenge?

Could I read all of the selections and vote? Time is tight!

The Lost Man Booker prize of 1970

Would I want to?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Top Selling Hard Covers of 2009

Publisher's Weekly has published a list of the top-selling books of 2009.

Top 5 Fiction

The Lost Symbol: A Novel by Dan Brown (Doubleday)
The Associate: A Novel by John Grisham (Doubleday)
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Putnam/Amy Einhorn)
I, Alex Cross by James Patterson (Little, Brown)
Ford County by John Grisham (Doubleday)

Top 5 Non-fiction

Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin (Harper)
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think about Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment by Steve Harvey (Harper)
Arguing with Idiots: Hoe to Stop Small Minds and Big Government by Glenn Beck (Threshold)
Liberty & Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto by Mark R. Levin
True Compass: A Memoir by Edward M. Kennedy (Twelve)

How many of these have you read? I have only read The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which I very much enjoyed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Seeking inspiration

It's February 17th and my year of reading is already flopping. Sigh . . .I need some inspiration. It's too early to call the whole year, but 7 books by February 17th may be my worst start in recorded history. It's not for a lack of books on my nightstand or on my shelves. I'm not in a relaxed place though. I think I read best when I am feeling more relaxed.

I'm going to plug in to a site -; I need to find that next great book that I won't be able to put down!

In the interim, I think I will pick The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowel back up again; I'm halfway through and recall tht I was enjoying it. :-)

Friday, January 1, 2010

A new year of reading - what is the plan?

It's 8:35am on New Year's Day, 2010. I'm up way too early and without a hangover, SO, I have time to reflect on the year of reading ahead.

I am going to call 2009, "the year without reading." Technically, this is not true, of course. I would have to be dead or recently blinded and not learned braille yet for there to ever truly be a year without reading. But, overall, I felt like I read less than usual in 2009.

I did have two magnum opuses (opuses being more common in the English language than "opi"; he he) in my reading list:

World Without End by Ken Follett, 1024 pages (I read it on the Kindle - 20,000+ clicks!)
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, 1488 pages

Books like that can take a bit of time. Each book was for a bookclub, so they were on a deadline as well, which perhaps cut down on my simultaneous, multiple books reading.

My book total for the year was 73.

Here is a sampling of my favorite books (in alphabetical order, by author's last name), read in 2009 :

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
People of the Book: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks
Valeria's Last Stand by Marc Fitten
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
City of Refuge: A Novel by Tom Piazza
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaeffer & Anne Barrows
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

My LEAST favorite book of the year was Netherland by Jospeh O'Neill. God, that was awful. My entire neighborhood bookclub hated it as well.

Surprisingly, Jodi Picoult's Handle with Care falls in the least favorite category as well.
Here is my LibraryThing review of the book:
I am a huge Jodi Picoult fan and have read every book she has written. Handle with Care was disappointing. If you have read My Sister's Keeper and hated that pointless ending, you will hate this one as well. Picoult is a very formulaic writer and the formula usually works, but here, Picoult just lacked original detail. Handle with Care is another book featuring a relationship between a sick sister and a healthy sister, decisions that tear a family apart - it felt too similar to My Sister's Keeper, but it was not as well told, the characters were not as compelling/likeable. I'm worried now. I hope Picoult's next book is better!

So, 2010. What is the plan?

In the wee hours of this first day of January, as I lay in bed, preparing to sleep, I finished off an advanced reader copy of The Journal Keeper by Phyllis Theroux. It was interesting and inspiring and filled with literary references. One way I enjoy reading is to flow from one book to a literary reference, or to another book by the author. So, perhaps I will do that.

I think I will choose Ten Poems to Set You Free, Roger Housden, because I NEVER read poetry. And I can buy it right now on the Kindle. :-)

Have a Happy New Year of reading!!