Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Am I a good reader?

Unusual question? It just popped into my head as I was reading the Letter from the Editor in my most recent issue of Bookmarks magazine. It was about David Foster Wallace's suicide. I actually have never read any of his books because I could never get more than 40 pages into Infinite Jest (a book I gave up on more than a decade ago). But here he is, being mourned by the literary community.

I read a large number of books, by today's standard, but am I any good at appreciating the best of the best?

Are you a "good reader"?

I'm very excited that Wally Lamb is coming out with a new book - The Hour I First Believed - on November 11th! Ten years has been much too long to have to wait for a new work of fiction from Lamb.

Malcolm Gladwell has another book coming out -Outliers: The Story of Success. I have read neither The Tipping Point nor Blink. What am I missing, I wonder?

The Booker Prize Short List . . .
The book that currently piques my interest the most - The Northern Clemency by Philip Henser
From Bookmarks: "In 20th-century northern England, two families' fates and connections intensify as they reflect the social landscape of the early Thatcher era."

The Booker Prize Long List . . .
I can't believe that A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif was on it. I read this book as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer's program. It was a struggle to finish it.

Of Bookmarks' Best Books of 2008 (50 in total), I have only read one - The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, which I enjoyed but thought could have been funnier. Netherland by Joseph O'Neill sat on my nightstand for a couple of months, marked off at around page 10. I left it, came back to it and started over. Nowe it sits buried on "to read" bookshelves.

Hmmmm . . .

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Noel Streatfeild!

When browsing through my Trashionista blog feeds, I came across a blurb about Noel Streatfield's book Ballet Shoes being made into a film. What a flashback - Noel Streatfield! I loved, loved, loved all of her books growing up. In addition to Ballet Shoes, which was a personal favorite of mine, she wrote:

Theater Shoes
Tennis Shoes
Dancing Shoes
Movie Shoes
Circus Shoes
Party Shoes
Family Shoes
New Shoes
Travelling Shoes
Skating Shoes

They were written between the 1930s-1960s. My mom found some more of my childhood books in her basement. Oh I would love if the "Shoe" books were among them!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The oxymoronic "new classic"

First, I'm not sure how I feel about Entertainment Weekly naming "new classics." But I found this post on Readers Read interesting enough to write about it here. These are books published between 1983 and 2008. The top ten are:

1. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)

Of these, I've read numbers 2, 5, 7 and 9. I like Haruki Murakami, however, and number 10 is on my to-read list.

A sampling of other books from the top 100, which I have read:

15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
16. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
20. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (Ooooh, this is so an EW list:^D)
35. The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
37. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
50. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (Hmm . . was Oprah consulted on this list? ;^D)
60. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
88. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
96. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Blogs to check out

I've added a number of book-related blogs to my bloglines feeds, and I thought I would share a few:
She has a cool Graphic Novel Monday post. For all the Marjane Satrapi Persepolis readers, check out Chicken with Plums. For those who read Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto , check out Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person by Miriam Engerlberg
She has an interesting post about, mentioning Library Thing (which is how I found these blogs); Shelfari; GoodReads; Anobii; and BooksWellRead
Reviewers from around the globe. The latest review - A Page out of Life by Kathleen Reid - a book about women who join a scrapbooking club (he he!!!)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Home Girl: Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block by Judith Matloff

Here is a review of an ARC that I received as part of the Early Reviewers Group at LibraryThing. If you have not joined LibraryThing, you should - it's great!

Like Bringing Home the Birkin by Michael Tonello, I place this book in my "non-celebrity does something a little different and interesting and is able to write well about it" genre. I am ALWAYS drawn to it. This book started off a bit slow in my opinion, and I was worried. I didn't feel a connection with Matloff in Part One; I would have liked more personal background about her and more historical background about West Harlem. Part Two picked up, and I enjoyed the last 200 pages of the book. I think the book could appeal to a wide-range of readers because Harlem, if not West Harlem specifically, is a very recognizable setting. John, the husband's, presence in the book strengthens it, and Salami, Miguel, and Mrs. LaDuke are all interesting likeable "characters" in the book. I would recommend it to my larger neighborhood book club (members are all female, ranging in age from 30s to 60s)when it goes to paperback. And I will offer the ARC to my smaller more erudite bookclub ( as an interesting read, although I don't think we would select it as a bookclub pick.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

For Everyone Who Hasn't Read Everything

That's Bookmarks magazine's tag line, and I finally made a few minutes to peruse the May/June issue.

I'm excited to see that Chris Bohjalian (one of my favorite authors) has a new book out - Skeletons at the Feast - "Inspired by an actual World War II diary." I'm a little disappointed that it's a WWII book. I'm still a bit worn out on the topic after The Good German and Suite Francaise from earlier in the year. But since it is Bohjalian I'm sure it will be much better! :^)

The Readers Recommend section mentioned Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami as a favorite. I read Kafka on the Shore and remember really enjoying it. I've also read After Dark, which I didn't enjoy quite as much, but still found interesting. I think I'll pick this one up. The reader said: "He takes you on crazy adventures in the Tokyo underground and through the subconscious and never loses you. In fact, her turns the journey into a genuine suspenseful mystery."

Other books that sound interesting: The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt ; The Age of Shiva by Manil Suri

A fun book to read, perhaps? And discuss over Chinese take-out? ;^) I've said this before, but I am addicted to this type of book. A non-celebrity goes off and does something a little different and interesting, that ultimately might not be seen as anything of great consequence, but provides interestingknowledge on a piece of the world and observations on various aspects of humankind, let's say, and writes a book about it and gets published. I know why I like these books - it makes me feel like I, too, might one day do something different and interesting enough and be able to write a book about it that gets published. :^) Aaah, my dream come true!

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee (No, the "8" is not a typo . . .)

"Chinese restaurants in the United States out-number all the McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC franchises combined. . . . Lee, a second-generation Chinese-American, travels across the United States and to 23 other countries to discover how we came to inherit our peculiarly hybrid national cuisine, which has little to nothing to do with traditional Chinese cuisine."

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Books on the back of a door?

I came across this interesting post at - "Where we read books like they are going out of fashion." :^)
Would you stick your books on the back of a door?

I know that sounds like a mad question, but look!

Spotted in Marie Claire Maison by those amazing Apartment Therapy people, the books are held up by the "Sticklebook". The innovative design comprises an aluminium extrusion which acts as a bracket and polypropylene combed strip that grips the cover and pages of paperback books. The shelf is screwed onto the wall which itself helps support the weight of the book and is an integral part of the design. It is totally secure and fall-proof."
Hmmm, I have crappy doors in my house that I wouldn't really care about putting holes in. But how is the shelf screwed into the wall. Well, anyway, having more books innovatively displayed around my house would make me very happy. :^)

Learning to read - another casualty of the Bush Administration?

The following is a post from

Bush Plans to Eliminate RIF Program

President Bush's 2009 budget will eliminate funding for RIF, the Reading is Fundamental program which provides books and encourages reading for impoverished children.
President Bush's proposed 2009 budget eliminates all the funding for Reading Is Fundamental's book distribution program that has, since 1966, provided more than 325 million books to more than 30 million underprivileged children. "With 13 million children living in poverty in this country, the need for RIF has never been greater," said RIF CEO/president Carol Rasco. The annually funded RIF program is currently approved through September 2009, but if Bush's budget is approved, 4.6 million children will not receive 16 million free books the following year. RIF, the oldest and largest children's and family nonprofit literacy organization in the U.S, has been funded by Congress and six Administrations without interruption since 1975. "With a recent report showing a declining interest in reading among adults and teens, supporting children's literacy is critical to reversing this trend," said Rasco. "We received $26.6 million in federal funding in 2007 and we're requesting $26 million this year," said Frank Walter, RIF's director of marketing/PR, adding that 75% of funds are provided by federal grants and 25% is raised locally by RIF’s 19,000 volunteer outlets that distribute books at childcare centers, schools and migrant work programs. Ninety percent of the organization's funds go to purchasing new books for lower income children and for motivational reading activities that take place during RIF's book distribution. *****Author James Patterson's recent blog post urged fans to visit RIF's site and voice their concerns. "RIF, if you don't know, is one of the pioneers of kid-directed book distribution programs," Patterson wrote. "I've already reached out. Do you think you might take a couple minutes to reach out to your congresspersons? Infusing a love of books in our own kids is challenging enough.... imagine how hard it is to do in families without our resources and level of education." We are appalled. This is not a part of the budget that needs to be cut. But to stop it, it's important to write your congressperson and your senators. RIF's website is here. You can find your representatives here.

I'm sorry for the quasi-political post, but give me a break - the government can't spare $26million to better our country through a non-violent means? Talk about the continued warped perpsective on what patriotism actually means. I'll be letting my representatives know how I feel on this issue.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif

This book is another ARC that I received from Bookbrowse. I get advanced reader copies from Bookbrowse and Librarything, when I'm lucky. :^) Here is my quick review of the book. If you are interested in reading it, let me know - I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. As you can see in my somewhat snobbish review, I single you ladies out as being up to my high standards. ;^) (And no, you don't have to be exactly like me).

"An interesting read! I enjoyed this book. I thought it was well-written. I liked the main character, Under Officer Ali Shigiri, and I think that he really held the book together. As an American, I found it interesting to get a (fictional) look at the Pakistani military and political structure in the late 80s. I think the book, however, (and I could be totally wrong and am not trying to offend anyone) will mainly appeal to people like myself - post-graduate education, lived and traveled abroad, well-read, liberal. I wouldn't recommend it to my larger neighborhood bookclub, but I would recommend it to my smaller bookclub that reads extensively across all genres. "

Monday, April 7, 2008

What are your thoughts?

The Man Booker prize is celebrating its 40th anniversary by awarding The Best of the Booker to the best overall novel to have won the prize since it was first awarded in 1969. The public will get to give its input on a six-novel shortlist, when it is announced in May.

Here is the archive of books that won.

Here are the books I've enjoyed from that list:
2004 winner The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
2002 winner Life of Pi by Yann Martel
1993 winner Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle
1978 winnder The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch

Here are the books I did NOT enjoy from that list:
2006 winner The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (never finished)
2000 winner The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (never finished)
1999 winner Disgrace by JM Coetzee (never finished)
1996 winner Last Orders by Graham Swift

My thoughts - when they're good, they're good, and when they're bad, they are very, very bad.

What are your thoughts?

March Purchases

OK, So I too went a bit nutty this month with book purchases. I know I bought some books for the boys' Easter baskets but for the life of me I am not remembering them right now. I went to the Reading Tree (in downtown Alpharetta) recently -- it is a kids bookstore that is huge and has lots of great stuff (although I must admit the lady in the store was not the most friendly). They do story hours and have lots of toys out for the kids to play with. I suggest checking it out if you have not been, but try not to interact with the owners -- they are not nice and were actually rude to Cash (without whom they would not have a business........)

Here is what I recall buying (the advance reader's copies were being sold at coffee buy the book for $3 a copy -- although they may not be exactly final in their versions, what a bargain since these books are not available in paperback yet):

Shopaholic & Sister By Sophie Kinsella
The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michale Chabon (hardcover)
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (hardcover)
Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult
Homecoming by Bernhard Schlink (advance reader's copy)
Peony in Love by Lisa See (advance reader's copy)
Christine Falls by Benjamin Black (advance reader's copy)
Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcon
The Post-birthday World by Lionel Shriver
There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene (hardcover)
A Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence (used)
Epiphany by Ferroll Sams
Tomorrow by Graham Swift (advance reader's copy)
Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo
Fair Game by Valerie Plame Wilson (hardcover -- the memoir of the CIA agent that was exposed by the Bush administration in an effort to get even with her husband who had criticized Bush)

I have also already purchased a bunch for April (in hopes the baby comes early I am trying to get all my errands, etc. and stuff out of the way early this month!!!) Here is the list of what I bought friday of last week

The Golden Notebook By Doris Lessing
Ada, or Ardor by Vladimir Nabokov
American Pastoral by Philip Roth
Before you Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Thursday, April 3, 2008

March Madness

For me it was about books, not basketball. :^) With Coffee Buy the Book going out of business, I may have set a new personal book buying record for one month. In no particular order:

And Now You Can Go by Vendela Vida (HC)
** This book has been on my "should pick it up list" since late 2003. Vida is part of 826 Valencia, a cool non-profit writing workshop in San Francisco. Well, at least that's what I remember it as when it first started when I was living out in the Bay Area. Mary Roach, author of the very interesting Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers was part of it then.

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon (TPB)
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (TPB)
**Recommended by Mary
The Day After Tomorrow by Alan Folsom (MMPB, Used)
**Recommended by Jen
Digging to America by Anne Tyler (TPB)
**I have read pretty much everything by this author
Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn by Gary M. Pomerantz (TPB)
**Talked up by a CBTB customer while I was there
Handling Sin by Michael Malone (TPB)
**Recommended by Jen
Isabel's Bed by Elinor Lipman (TPB, Used)
But Enough About Me: A Jersey Girl's Unlikely Adventures Among the Absurdly Famous by Jancee Dunn (HC)
Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie (HC)
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (TPB)
Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi (TPB)
The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer (TPB)
How to Negotiate with Kids . . . even when you think you shouldn't by Scott Brown (TPB)
Finding Grace when you can't even find clean underwear by Lisa Earle McLeod
An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons & True Stories edited by Ivan Brunett (HC)
The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew Mystery) (HC)
The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew Mystery) (HC)
The Bungalow Mystery by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew Mystery) (HC)
The Mystery at Lilac Inn by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew Mystery) (HC)
The Secret of Shadow Ranch by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew Mystery) (HC)
The Secret of Red Gate Farm by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew Mystery) (HC)
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin (HC)
Dooby Dooby Moo by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin (HC)
Fairyopolis: A Flower Fairies Journal by Cicely Mary Barker

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (MMPB) (B&N)
**Don't know where my original copy is, so decided to pick up another one
Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris (HC) (B&N)
Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult (HC) (Costco)
Welcome to Jesusland! Shocking Tales of Depravity, Sex, and Sin by Chris Harper, Andrew Bradley, and Erik Walker (EWC Charity Auction)
What Would Betty Do? How to Succeed at the Expense of Others in This World and the Next by Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian, as told to Paul A. Bradley :^) (EWC Charity Auction)

Thirty books is all I can find here in my room right now for sure. There were also 3 or 4 Junie B books from Costco - but those are in my car right now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Good Reads

(Okay, it's not a book picture, but I can't do a blog post without a photo. . .)

I just discovered a site called Good Reads where you can set up an account and add friends (like Facebook or Ravelry) and review your books. I have only just set up my account and haven't had much time to explore it yet, but it looks like fun.

If you get on and want to friend me, I'm Mbarkle. (So far I have no friends and it makes me sad. . .)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Grinning Sheepishly

Umm, it's a little embarrassing. But hey, I've read 6 of the books in the top photo already. Actually I've read the two books of mine in the bottom photo and the other three weren't even mine. I feel better now.

The Thirteenth Tale was fun. No spoiler, but it's got one of those big plot twists at the end (which I did NOT like).

The Sarah Vowell book, Assassination Vacation, was really a fun and quick read. It's a travelogue/history of three presidential assassinations -- I know, sounds horrible -- but she is hilarious, finds all the irony in these situations.

I just started the Marge Piercy book, Woman on the Edge of Time, and it's very interesting so far. I'm thinking it might make a good book club discussion book.

I bought My Father's Heart by Steve McKee for my dad for his birthday. I hope to borrow it back later on. It's the story of a man whose dad died of a heart attack at 50 and how it affected the son, which is exactly what happened to MY dad. . .


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bringing Home the Birkin by Michael Tonello

Through LibraryThing, I was lucky enough to snag an advance reader's edition of Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag by Michael Tonello. It is scheduled for release by Harper Collins on April 22, 2008. I posted a discussion/review at LibraryThing in their Early Reviewers group. It's not as fancy as most of the reviewers probably do. But you all know what little time I actually have to even think straight. So, I like to think this is my small part in getting the word out. Here it is:

I love this genre. It's a little memoir. It's a little travel. It's someone who is not famous, not a celebrity, hasn't won the Nobel Prize, writing about something interesting that he happened to do in his life. Interesting that is if you think being a Hermes (please excuse the lack of accent on the "e") reseller on eBay is interesting. And I have to say, it was and I did!

This book works in my opinion because Tonello wasn't an Hermes snob and could find the humor in this rather outrageous obsession with everything Hermes. I enjoyed his writing style and only had to laugh at some over-the-top corniness once - p. 87: "His voice was soft, but it carried. It carried more than any expensive bag could. Juan's voice carried love, and it went right to my heart." It makes me laugh even now.

I googled Tonello and found out he is 15 years older than I am, and I have to say, with his personality and sense of humor, I would have guessed him to be closer to my age. Not that soon-to-be 50 year-olds (hey! my own husband is going to be 46 this year!) are either old or not funny, but you know what I mean . . .I won't put in any spoilers on how the book ended. :^)

Tonello blogs at On February 8, 2008, he wrote a book-related post, which I found interesting.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My February Purchases

Oooh, did I spend in February!


Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

Life on the Refridgerator Door: Notes between a Mother and a Daughter by Alice Kuipers (HC)

Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

Big Bones by Meg Cabot

Shopaholic & Baby by Sophie Kinsella

Telling Tales edited by Nadine Gordimer

The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (HC)

The Deportee and other stories by Roddy Doyle (HC)


Bait and Switch: The (Futiles) Pursuit of the American Dream by Barbara Ehrenreich

Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections by Women Writers edited by Susan Morrison (HC)

Bling Bling by Minya Oh (a $30 coffee table book) :-)

I think there was probably even more, but that's all I can rememebr.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Secret Pleasures, Secret Disappointments

I have to admit. I was at the bookstore again today. This time I was with the whole family, so we spent our time in the children's section, getting books for the girls. But, as we were on our way to the front to pay, I couldn't resist doing another scan of the "Buy One, Get One Half Off" table . . . that I had just looked at a mere 30 hours before.

I can often find my "secret pleasures" on this table. And I'm here to confess. I know the rest of you could confess too - so let's hear it! :^)

Authors I read that might make you groan, in order of worst offender (i.e. I will pretty much buy anything they write) to newest offender - Sophie Kinsella (I happily picked up Shopaholic & Baby yesterday), Marian Keyes, Helen Fielding, Emma McLaughlin, Jennifer Weiner, Meg Cabot (I picked up a book called Big-boned; I haven't read anything by her).

I call these my "clear my brain" authors. They are mindless reads that entertain me. I think some of you might put Maeve Binchy in that category - another author, whom I actually love dearly and have had a reading relationship with since I discovered her in a Dublin bookshop in 1993. So, she's extra special and counts as real to me. :^)

That brings me to Jodi Picoult. I can read her books very quickly; they have a bit of the "clear my brain" effect, but it's different. It might be just the sense of accomplishment of quickly finishing a book, which is a real pick-me-up, for me.

Of her 14 published books, I have read: Songs of the Humpback Whale; Picture Perfect; Mercy; The Pact; Keeping Faith; Plain Truth; Salem Falls; Perfect Match; Second Glance; My Sister's Keeper (the first Picoult book I read in 2006); Vanishing Acts; The Tenth Circle; Nineteen Minutes. O.k., so the only Jodi Picoult book that I haven't read then is Harvesting the Heart - "the story of a young woman overcome by the demands of having a family" (hmmm . . .what a surprise that I haven't read THAT one).

In my most recent Bookmarks magazine, I found the perfect description of Picoult, and it captures why, for me, she is different from my other "clear my brain" authors. It was written as a tag for her forthcoming (March 2008) book Change of Heart - "Picoult is the current master of the current-events-moral-dilemma strain of fiction." Yep, that about says it. It's why I will probably read every book Picoult writes.

And, finally, my (not-so) secret disappointments - books in my pile, started, but probably never, ever to be finished. Here are mine. I know you have some too! What are yours?

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
The Mercury Visions of Loius Daguerre by Dominic Smith
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart
The Mother Tongue: English and how it got that way by Bill Bryson (one of my favorite authors!)
The Good German by Jospeh Kanon

Thursday, January 31, 2008

My January Purchases

Bbbrrrrrrr! I felt very cold in January, so I didn't get out to do as much book buying as usual. ;^) But, here is what I can recall purchasing:

Lord Foul's Bane: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever (Book One) by Stephen R. Donaldson (
I bought this book because it is part of a series. I came across this author in my most recent Bookmarks Magazine (I think) that mentioned the second book in The Last Chronicles. So, of course, I had to go back to the beginning.

This is what Wikipedia has to say:

Donaldson's most celebrated series is The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, which centers on a cynical leper, shunned by society, who is destined to become the heroic savior of an alternate Earth. Covenant struggles against the tyrannical Lord Foul, who intends to break the physical universe in order to escape his bondage and wreak revenge upon his arch-enemy, "The Creator".
The Chronicles were originally published as two trilogies of novels between 1977 and 1983. According to his current publisher, Putnams, those two series sold more than 10 million copies. A third series, "The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" began publication in 2004 with the novel "The Runes of The Earth." With the second book of that series, "Fatal Revenant," Donaldson again attained bestseller status when the book reached number 12 on the New York Times Bestseller List in October of 2007.

I have no idea if I will actually enjoy this book, but I just love trying new reads.

And then what better to balance Lord Foul's Bane than:

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by C.S. Lewis (Borders 1/2 price table)
From the back cover: "An unfailingly honest and acutely perceptive observer of humanity, C.S. Lewis recounts his search for joy, a spiritual journey that led him from a traditional Christian childhood in Belfast to a youthful atheism and, finally, back to a confident Christianity."

I've been quite surprised to find all of this religious writing by Lewis. I've always thought of him exclusively as Chronicles of Narnia, which I read as a child, completely missing any religious symbolism I am sure, and which I plan to re-read this year.

World of Boo by Duane K. Maddy (

This book is so odd - in a good way. It will take less than 30 minutes to read. The back cover says - "Discover The World of Boo. A fictional organization created by one man combining a childhood collection of stuffed animals with personalities he has encountered through a lifetime of triumphs and tribulations." I was drawn to it because it is also kind of a series, and we call Naomi - "The Boo" :^D

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (B&N)

Queen Elizabeth starts to borrow boks from a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace. Helen Fielding is quoted on the back cover as saying - "Alan Bennett is one of the greatest comic writers alive, and The Uncommon Reader is Bennett at his best - touching, thoughtful, hilarious, and exquisite in its observations."

Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott (Borders 1/2 price table)

I've read several of her other books, so I'm surprised I haven't read this yet - or didn't read it first since I usually enjoy reading chronologically.

The Daily Show and Philosophy edited by Jason Holt (Borders 1/2 price table)

"This book brings together nineteen essays on the many moments of Zen to be found in the artful humor of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report."

Hmmm . . . we'll see.

Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile (Borders 1/2 price table)

Jonathan and I saw the movie over Christmas andI found the story line interesting enough that I want to go back and read the book. I could do without Hanks, Hoffman, and Roberts on the cover, but it was on the buy 1, get 1 half price table.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Getting Started

I look forward to meeting each of you and participating in the group. To give you some insight on my reading preferences, here are the books I’m reading in January and February:

Literary Mystery
The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Crime (Texas and Mexico)
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Crime (Tornados, Oklahoma)
The Breathtaker by Alice Blanchard

Historical (post Civil War and the West)
Redemption Falls by Joseph O’Connor

Historical (Alaskan gold strike)
The Fugitive Wife by Peter C. Brown

Historical (Boudica, Celtic)
Warrior Queen by Alan Gold

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

With Still Small Voices They Speak by Ann Foskey, photography by Marc Del Santro

Saturday, January 12, 2008

What to read in 2008?

A new year on the calendar, a new year for reading. :^) I'm really looking forward to 2008. I am not pregnant. I am not giving birth. And I am not in those early infant months when readings seems impossible (Sorry Jen!). So, I am fully prepared for my challenge to read 100 books this year. A goal I set for myself annually. Last year, I read around 65 books I think.

What to read? I've decided I have to read all of the books that were given to me for Christmas. And I've already read several of them. But when I'm out with that buying urge - what should I spend my money on?

I subscribe to Bookbrowse, so I thought I would check there. Here are some recent (last year or two) releases that the critics are giving two thumbs up that I thought looked interesting:

Fiction/South America & The Caribbean

The Pirate's Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson
"Inspired by a few facts from Errol Flynn's life, and rooting her story firmly in Jamaican history, Cezair-Thompson vividly imagines the life of Ida, who is little more than a child herself when she gives birth to her daughter May, the illegitimate child of 1930/40s movie star Errol Flynn - known as a swashbuckling adventurer on screen, and for his glittering parties and affairs off screen. " from

The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander
"From its unforgettable opening scene in the darkness of a forgotten cemetery in Buenos Aires, The Ministry of Special Cases casts a powerful spell. In the heart of Argentina’s Dirty War, Kaddish Poznan struggles with a son who won’t accept him; strives for a wife who forever saves him; and spends his nights protecting the good name of a community that denies his existence--and denies a checkered history that only Kaddish holds dear. When the nightmare of the disappeared children brings the Poznan family to its knees, they are thrust into the unyielding corridors of the Ministry of Special Cases, the refuge of last resort." - from the jacket

Fiction/Strong Female Leads

Away by Amy Bloom
Panoramic in scope, Away is the epic and intimate story of young Lillian Leyb, a dangerous innocent, an accidental heroine. When her family is destroyed in a Russian pogrom, Lillian comes to America alone, determined to make her way in a new land. When word comes that her daughter, Sophie, might still be alive, Lillian embarks on an odyssey that takes her from the world of the Yiddish theater on New York’s Lower East Side, to Seattle’s Jazz District, and up to Alaska, along the fabled Telegraph Trail toward Siberia.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
The author of the Tony Award winner The History Boys, Alan Bennett is one of Britain’s best-loved literary voices. With The Uncommon Reader, he brings us a playful homage to the written word, imagining a world in which literature becomes a subversive bridge between powerbrokers and commoners. By turns cheeky and charming, the novella features the Queen herself as its protagonist. When her yapping corgis lead her to a mobile library, Her Majesty develops a new obsession with reading. She finds herself devouring works by a tantalizing range of authors, from the Brontë sisters to Jean Genet. With a young member of the palace kitchen staff guiding her choices, it’s not long before the Queen begins to develop a new perspective on the world - one that alarms her closest advisers and tempts her to make bold new decisions.


Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai
Hugely charismatic, humble, and possessed of preternatural luminosity of spirit, Wangari Maathai, the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and a single mother of three, recounts her extraordinary life as a political activist, feminist, and environmentalist in Kenya.

Heart in the Right Place: A Memoir by Carolyn Jourdan
Carolyn Jourdan had it all: the Mercedes Benz, the fancy soirees, the best clothes. She moved in the most exclusive circles in Washington, D.C., rubbed elbows with big politicians, and worked on Capitol Hill. As far as she was concerned, she was changing the world. And then her mother had a heart attack. Carolyn came home to help her father with his rural medical practice in the Tennessee mountains. She'd fill in for a few days as the receptionist until her mother could return to work. Or so she thought. But days turned into weeks.

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman
When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city’s zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen “guests” hid inside the Zabinskis’ villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
In The World Without Us, Alan Weisman offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity’s impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth, without us.In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; which everyday items may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe.