SqueakyChu's - 75 Books Challenge for 2009 - Chapter 2
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Note to myself: I read 53 books in 2008.
FEEL FREE TO ADD YOUR COMMENTS AT ANY TIME!
My 75 Books Challenge for 2009:
...includes at least one local author!
1. The Girl on the Fridge - Etgar Keret
2. When The Emperor Was Divine - Julie Otsuka - Reading Group Orange January
3. The Master of Go - Yasunari Kawabata - Reading Globally Japan theme
4. Crow Lake - Mary Lawson - Reading Group Canada theme
5. The Woman Who Can't Forget - Jill Price
6. Recipes from America's Small Farms - Joanne Lamb Hayes
7. Friendly Fire - A.B. Yehoshua
8. Rat - Andrzej Zaniewski
9. Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter - J. Nozipo Maraire - Reading Globally Africa theme
10. Playing for Pizza - John Grisham
11. The Girls - Lori Lansens
12. Nervous Conditions - Tsitsi Dangarembga - Reading Globally Africa theme - What's in a Name Challenge 2
13. The Moldavian Pimp - Edgardo Cozarinsky - Reading Globally Argentina theme - What's in a Name Challenge 2
14. Death at the Old Hotel - Con Lehane - BookCrossing bookray - Local Author - What's in a Name Challenge 2
15. Outcasts United - John St. Warren - Early Reviewer
16. Maple Sugarin' in Vermont: A Sweet History - Betty Ann Lockhart - BookCrossing bookray
17. Loon - Jack McLean - Early Reviewer
18. The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
19. Going Gray - Anne Kreamer
20. Goat: A Memoir - Brad Land
21. Electroboy - Andy Behrman
22. The Tennis Partner - Abraham Verghese - Global Author Challenge
23. Touch and Go - Eugene Stein
24. The Big Year - Mark Obmascik
25. Fatal Light - Richard Currey - Early Reviewer
List of books continues in post #4.
Curious about my categories? Check out how they are arranged on my 999 Challenge.
26. The Wasp Eater - William Lychack
27. Among Other Things, I've Taken Up Smoking- Aoibheann Sweeney
28. Frida's Bed- Slavenka Drakulic - Global Author Challenge
29. Bird by Bird - Ann Lamott - Dewey Decimal Challenge
30. Joy Comes in the Morning - Jonathan Rosen - What's in a Name Challenge 2
31. What the Deaf-Mute Heard - G.D. Gearino - What's in a Name Challenge 2
32. My Latest Grievance - Elinor Lipman
33. Secret Son - Laila Lalami - Early Reviewer
34. Counting Coup - G.D. Gearino
35. The Soloist - Mark Salzman - Reading Globally Arts theme
36. Tongue: A Novel - Kyung-Ran Jo - Early Reviewer
37. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegetable Gardening - Daria Brown Bowman
38. Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout - Early Reviewer
39. Scream Queens of the Dead Sea - Gilad Elbom
40. The Longest Trip Home - John Grogan
41. American Rust - Philipp Meyer
42. Diet for a New America - John Robbins
43. The Yiddish Policemen's Union - Michael Chabon - Reading Globally Polar theme
44. Sorry - Gail Jones - Orange July
45. The Dawning of the Day : A Jerusalem Tale - Haim Sabato
46. The Twitter Book - Tim O'Reilly
47. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
48. McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales - Michael Chabon
49. The Way to the Cats - Yehoshua Kenaz
50. The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food - Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
List of books to be continued in post # 6.
51. Gaby Brimmer: An Autobiography in Three Voices - Gaby Brimmer - Early Reviewer
52. Push Comes to Shove - Wesley Brown - Concord Free Press
53. Going After Cacciato - Tim O'Brien
54. The Ghost in Love - Jonathan Carroll - Reading Globally, ghost theme
55. To Sibera - Per Petterson - Early Reviewer
56. Bringing Out the Dead - Joe Connelly
57. Writing in the Dark - David Grossman
58. Namako: Sea Cucumber - Linda Watanabe McFerrin
59. The Flying Troutmans - Miriam Toews
60. The Story of a Marriage - Andrew Sean Greer
61. Honey and Dust - Piers Moore Ede
62. Garlic and Sapphires - Ruth Reichl
63. Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person - Miriam Engelberg
64. Wearing Dad's Head - Barry Yourgrau
65. Brooklyn - Colm Toibin - CURRENT READ
66. Sixty Stories - Donald Barthelme - CURRENT READ
67. Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen - CURRENT READ
75. Uh Oh! No way I'll finish this challenge by midnight on New Year's Eve. :(
I try to read some of the more "off-the-beaten-track" books. My favorites are those that are great, but not known by many others. Then I like to spread the word. My best discoveries this year (in terms of authors) are Abraham Vergehese, Jack McLean, and G.D. Gearino.
I'm also slowly slogging my way through The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon which other LT-ers swear upon a stack of bibles (well, not really!) gets better. I sure do hope so. I'm one third of the way through the book and still not liking it.
I'm not slogging any more! About 225 pages into The Yiddish Policemen's Union, I'm starting to find the story interesting. The similes still have me rolling my eyes heavenward, though. :)
On to better things, chocolate zucchini cake sounds yummy, I happen to have extra zucchini in the fridge, I know what I'm doing this afternoon.
Susan - Do you need the recipe for the chocolate zucchini cake? My recipe is wonderful and so easy!!
For books that are prize winners, I sometimes want to finish them to see if I can figure out what others find so appealing about them. I know that Chabon is a wonderful writer so I didn't just want to dismiss his book. The funny thing is, that once I decide I'll force my way through a book, the book usually don't get any better through to its end.
P.S. I don't even remember noticing similes or metaphors while reading The Yiddish Policemen's Union, but I can get annoyed by things like that too. I remember thinking while reading Wallace Stegner, "This guy is just too in love with describing the light on this leg, it's really taking me away from the story, rather than into it." It's a fine line, isn't it? A friend and I were just talking about how great the writing was in Plainsong by Kent Haruf and we both remember thinking that as we were reading, but it didn't get in the way of the story. Have you read that book?
Edited to fix Touchstones (thanks, Madeline).
Ooh! Sorry is great so far and comes highly recommended by others. You can read it for the Orange July Challenge. That's an easy challenge in which you only have to read one Orange Prize winner or nominee in July. You're doing that already anyway!
I'm listening to The 19th Wife on CD. I picked up the book but think it seems better on audio. The narrator on my CD is excellent. He makes it more of a theatrical production than a book. Unfortunately, I only get to listen to it on weekends when I use my car. I now take the Metro (and a real book to read on it) to work during the week.
I don't really like to read more than one book at a time. One book alone allows me to better concentrate on the story. That said, I have no will power when I see an interesting book in my collection and take a peek at its first few pages. That often gets me hooked. A good way to read two books at once is to pick one fiction and one non-fiction. A non-fiction book often does not intertwine itself with a novel. Second, if you choose two novels to read at the same time, be sure they are completely different or you'll just find a character from one novel stepping casually into the pages of your other novel while you're reading it!
The similes and metaphors in The Yiddish Policemen's Union were brilliant. I just upped my rating for that book from 1 to 2 stars for those alone. They're the best I've ever read, I think. Here is a random sample:
Landsman crouches by the cot for another minute or so, collecting himself like a beggar chasing scattered dimes along the sidewalk.
A scrotal pair of propane tanks huddles against the side of the building.
Back through the village of Jims, a row of steel roofs along an inlet, houses like the last ten cans of beans on a grocery shelf before the hurricane hits.
I just opened the book at random to share these with you, but they are all brilliant and deserve a handbook of their own, preferably with a glossary to the book itself. By the way, there are such glossaries available on the web. Here is one glossary by a blogger.
That's another good reason for finishing some books I don't like. I can share information about them or talk about them knowledgeably.
Your touchstone points to a lone book. I think you mean Kent Haruf's Plainsong, didn't you? I haven't read it (or own it) yet.
Today bookoholic13 is listed as the #2 person for "Members with Your Books". Good call, LT! I actually got my copy of The Yiddish Policemen's Union directly from her in California through BookMooch!! :D
A new feature of my thread:
What DC is reading:
Seen read by someone on the Metro yesterday - Spook by Mary Roach.
Thanks for the examples from The Yiddish Policemen's Union. I remember "the scrotal pair..." metaphor because I had a slightly negative reaction to it. It felt crude, but it sounded like the kind of thing the narrator would say, and it did allow me to "see" the propane tanks. I would have to go back to see if it added to the story. I guess that's what you're saying, right? That some of the similes and metaphors didn't seem necessary? That they just distracted you?
I didn't like particularly like the story, but I thought the similes/metaphors were amazing. That's the thing about Chabon. He has great creativity with words and ideas. The way he put them together for this novel just didn't work for me. Would I read more of his books? Absolutely!
CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE
Yield: 24 squares
1 stick plus 1 Tbsp butter
2 cups sugar
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated orange rind
½ cup milk (or Lactaid)
2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
2½ cups flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x12 baking pan. In large bowl, cream butter & sugar. Beat in eggs, melted chocolate, vanilla, orange rind, and milk. Stir in zucchini. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix dry ingredients into zucchini mixture. Turn batter into pan. Bake for forty minutes. Cool on a rack before removing cake from pan. (Note: If using a Bundt or tube pan, bake for 1 hour.)
*** I have no idea when I found this recipe in The Washington Post. I’ve been making this recipe for years!
Congrats on quitting smoking! Not an easy task...
I read the 19th Wife last year, and liked it, but wondered to whole way through how much of the historical chapters were true. Books based on truth like that always make me think about which parts were embellished (American Wife really scared me, the whole thing seeming it could be fact)
I'm feeling kind of bad about this book. It seems as if it was loved by everyone who read it except for me. I found the writing too flowery for my taste and the story too depressing. I figured out the key element of the plot and only hoped that it would happen sooner so that the book would be done. Am I in a reading funk or what?
I think I was a bit disappointed with the story, too, because I'd been thinking it would give me more insight into the Aboriginal culture or at least more about the one Aboriginal character of Mary.
ETA: I didn't want to write a review of this book, but I finally did so. Slowly trudging on...
Rating - 2 stars
ETA: There are quite a few Orange Prize books of which I'm not particularly fond.
A secure pleasant solitude shaped itself around her. In the sweet warm air drifted lilting voices, occasional noise from outside, a banging door, a parrot-screech, a car passing slowly, crunching on the gravel. Nothing to disturb the composed inwardness of her own world of reading.
That quote is lovely.
Phew! I feel better now. Too bad I read that book for Orange July. It would have gone along with the Aboriginal theme for Reading Globally in August as Mary was Aboriginal and the author was Australian.
Did you notice how the narrative kept changing from first person back and forth to third person? That made me crazy as well.
(Trying to avoid spoilers) I didn't believe what was eventually disclosed. It didn't seem possible.
In addition, I usually feel some compassion for the mentally ill, but I never felt anything at all for Stella. Nicholas was just nasty. Perdita was pathetic. I should have at last felt something for her or her two friends. I felt as if I were in a conversation with someone I didn't like - trying to find a polite way to exit. :)
After finishing a disagreeable book, I don't want to think about it any more. I want to either throw it across the room or move it along to someone who will have a better appreciation of it.
It's often hard to put into words what make a book a bad fit for me. If the writing is good and everyone else loves it, why does it not appeal to me? That takes some thinking. I'm not one of those reviewers who gets off by bad-mouthing a book I dislike. I want to be able to clearly express what made it not appeal to me. In that way, I hope not to be putting down some very talented writers. In addition, I would like to direct only readers who would truly appreciate the book to it and those who would not away from it
I agree with you about the lack of negative reviews, though I more often than most, it seems, write critical comments. I think your explanation sums up my intentions as well: "I want to be able to clearly express what made it not appeal to me." And that doesn't bother me, because it's my own opinion, and very personal reaction, not a statement of fact.
I truly loved this book. It was so beautiful. Beware, though, because I cannot recommend this book to everyone. It is filled with Jewish liturgy (the author teaches in a Jerusalem yehiva), stories within stories, and the pulse of life in Jerusalem. This was a book that for me, a person who had once lived in that golden city, brought nostalgia for Jerusalem to the point of tears. I found myself sometimes drifting into the story itself by "visiting" the places mentioned or "tasting" the ka'ak, a type of pastry, or sipping the sweet mint tea. I would say I was more taken in by the setting of this story than most other readers would be.
The main character, Ezra, is a simple man who works in a laundry and lives a life of piety. In his own way, he brings charm to those who know him by the stories he recounts to others. Other memorable characters walk the pages of this book. Rahamim is a blind musician with a story of the past. Dr. Yehudah Tawil is Ezra’s erudite brother-in-law who loves to display his educational prowess. Haham Pinto is the sage who shares his knowledge by delivering religious sermons. Madame Sarah is Ezra’s wife and true soul mate.
The liturgy that accompanied this story was fitting and inspirational. Due to the way in which the author brought authentic teaching to the secularism of his novel, this book filled my soul. I simply did not want it to end.
Rating - 5 stars
Have you read the two graphic novels Maus (I and II) by Art Spiegelman? If not, you *must*. They're probably the best books around to understand the Holocaust in a way that is not too threatening or overwhelming for the reader.
I absolutely loved the Maus books and am still *mad* at my son for taking them to his high school literature class--wanting to prove that graphic novels can be an excellent way to tell even such a serious story--and never getting them back. I only feel better if I imagine dozens of high schoolers reading them every year--one hopes anyway.
Edited to fix my spelling and grammar. Can't think when I'm mad! ;-)
I liked the Maus books because I was able to actually "walk my way" into the crematoria and imagine the paths and the feelings that my grandparents must have had. It's really too sad to imagine.
I recently read an interesting book about the Holocaust called Fatelessness by the Polish novelist Imre Kertész. The copy I read was the newer translation. It's the story of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of a young boy. The story is told without any evil and without any politics. What I find most fascinating about Holocaust literature is the vast array of ways this part of history is presented to the public.
I had a feeling that the nonfiction might be a bit much for you given your family history. If you do ever decide to read heavier nonfiction about the Holocaust, that book and Martin Gilbert's are good starting points.
I appreciate your input on good Israeli authors. I hope you continue reading them so that I have some starting points.
A truly beautiful tale of Ezra Siman Tov. A simple man, a storyteller, a religious man who has dedicated every part of his life to god. He thinks he is unworthy due to an incident that occured during childhood, yet is deeply loved and honoured within his community.
Each chapter tells us a small part of his story. Through these tales and homilies, told by both religious leaders and by Ezra himself, we learn about him and his life.
If I had a pencil while reading, my book would be filled with underlined passages. The text was as thought provoking as it was elegant. A lovely book.
I agree, this is not a book for everyone, but if you are the right person it is a wonderful book.
This is a great little book. I'm new to Twitter so I found everything in the book really interesting and helpful. I'm not scared to make a mistake on Twitter now. After all, my message will be seen at most for about five minutes.
This book is well organized, comprehensive, pretty (love the colors and the birds) and fun (the writing allows for newbies to make mistakes). This is a book I'm hanging on to. It'll be a good reference because it has other links I'll probably find useful the more familiar I become with Twitter.
Rating -- 5 stars
You can also follow interesting entities. For example, I follow authors, book publishers, slow food organizations, LibraryThing (nice to have when LT is down for no apparent reason).
Twitter has no stupid games, surveys, give "someone a plant" as does Facebook.
In addition, it takes very little time to read. It's almost like the headlines that scroll at the bottom of a news program. The difference is that it scrolls vertically instead of horizontally and only includes news that you like.
Do I like Twitter? Well, yes!
ETA: It was actually a few LT members who enticed me to join Twitter. I found it overwhelming for a total of two days. Then I was off and running with it.
I leave for a few days and it takes me an hour to catch up on you. You have been a very busy girl and I ripped a lot of recx off your thread today. Thanx hon.
Well, I wanted to stop by and say hello as I am attempting to catch up will all my fav threads so I can get back to books.
Will catch you later my dear.
I was at the beach for a week and didn't really do much here at LT (although I did take my laptop this year - and couldn't resist logging in every now and then). :)
This is the second book by Anne Lamott that I have read. The first book of hers that I read was Bird by Bird which was a gentle and humorous guide to writing. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith is a book of essays. They are great! She talks about a variety of topics, but her son Sam pops up in many of them, and her abiding faith is prominent throughout. I find LaMott's writing to provide very pleasant interludes. It's the kind of writing that can be picked up at different times and not read straight through. She makes me laugh, and she tells it like it is. I enjoys the lessons of life that come shining through her work.
Rating -- 4 stars
Edited to stop italics. Probably should edit to make less vehement, but...
Which is the book you read? Perhaps I'll skip that one, but so far I've enjoyed her writing and the way she expresses herself. I think she's really funny.
By the way, you can be vehement on my thread. I don't mind. I like passion!
We have currently captured "most active talk" and "most read talk", but we have quite a ways to go until we beat both of them on "total messages" and "groups with the most members". I have no doubt that someday we'll be #1 in those categories as well.
Including the 999 Challenge group, these two groups are the ones I find most interesting and fun (and ones that are open for anyone in which to participate).
I'd never try to read all of the posts. I'd have to quit my job and stay home full time to do that! :)
This is an anthology of science fiction/fantasy/bizarre stories. I thought I'd like them more than I did because of the great list of authors this book contains. There were Stephen King, Dan Chaon, Michael Crichton, Neil Gaiman, Nick Hornby, and Elmore Leonard among others. The two best stories were by two authors I'd never read before.
One story I especially liked was "Chuck's Bucket" by Chris Offutt. In this science fiction tale, a man is immersed in a professor's time machine and enters multiple tongue-in-cheek and often hilarious realities. This was a very clever story and told in a delightful way.
My favorite story, though, was "The Albertine Notes" by Rick Moody in which a news reporter is working on an article about Albertine, a memory-boosting substance. This was a convoluted tale but terrifically engaging and imaginative. Even though I tend to shy away from sci-fi material, this is actually a story I'd enjoy reading over again at a later date.
Before you read Chabon's book, be aware that I rated it at 3 stars. The good and bad stories balance each other out. It's not a decidedly great collection of stories, but it did force me to read works by new-to-me authors. The authors I like I'll be sure to check out again.
In conclusion, this book was an author-stretching and genre-stretching book for me. I guess that's good in a way. Some of these authors I'd never even thought to try before (Michael Crichton? Elmore Leonard?? Nick Hornby???). That's the beauty of a good short story anthology. Just be aware who the editor is. I like Michael Chabon's talent (even though I didn't like The Yiddish Policemen's Union). :)
By the way, there are more books within this McSweeney's series. One is a book that I lost somewhere in my house. The short stories published in this series of book have all, at one time or other, been published in Mcweeney's Quarterly, a literary magazine.
As for this comment of yours "I think I was a bit disappointed with the story, too, because I'd been thinking it would give me more insight into the Aboriginal culture or at least more about the one Aboriginal character of Mary." - I wholly agree!
If you're curious, my initial response is here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/54129#1200813 (See post #129. Tthe link is correct, but the page may shift as images are downloaded.)
I'd probably never read Get Shorty. Ha!
--> Daniel (91)
I liked your review. My reaction to a book really comes from my heart (and maybe my guts!). I either get bored, upset or I get swept along. Sorry was book I expected to like, but didn't so much. I'm now reading a book I expected not to like, but now I'm enjoying it immensely (more on that specific book when I finish it). Anyway, go figure!
Edited to add: I completed my 999-challenge today! Y-A-Y!
*Stasia is going back to lurking again now*
Yolanda Moskowitz is a 76-year-old woman who ended up in a Tel Aviv rehab hospital after a debilitating fall. Her story is not only an amazing story of aging and that of a crotchety old woman, but it is also a glimpse of paranoia and the chance to stare uncertainty straight in the eye. Among the many colorful characters in this book (the artist Lazar Kagan, the nurse Satana, the masseuse Adela, the demented patient Paula), the reader gets to experience the drama of aging and becoming incapacitated. It’s a rough road.
Again I’ve fallen in love with the way Yehoshua Kenaz writes. He has the ability to dissect people to see things within themselves that perhaps even they cannot see. This is a book of humor, but not the hilarious kind. It's the gentle sad humor that comes with knowing that life is not perfect and the years are spinning by.
I especially love the translation from Hebrew by Dalya Bilu. The words of the novel are not complicated. Some of the sentences are translated literally from Hebrew, making me want to hold onto this book and perhaps, someday in the future, try to read it again in its original language. It will be a delight to read this book again at any time.
Rating - 5 stars
I'm surprised that this author is not better known outside of Israel. His work is that good. One of his books has already been made into a movie (which I haven't seen yet). I'm on the lookout for more of his books.
By the way, did you hear the very sad news that Asaf Ramon (son of the late Israeli astronaut) died today in an military plane accident? :(
I visited Nasa and saw the space shuttle ready for launch a few days before it took off on that trip.
Rest in peace, Asaf Ramon.
Right now I am reading Rashi's Daughters, the first in a trilogy. A fictionalized account of the real Rashi and how he lived and taught his daughters, in secret, the teachings of the Talmud. So far it's fascinating.
sad, but true.
Sounds interesting. There's a surprising discrepancy in the way that book was liked (or disliked) by LT reviewers!
Yeah. I can only get the good news by email or Facebook (via friends and relatives!).
I just got The Earth Hums in B Flat from Bookins. Thanks for the recommendation, Bonnie.
This was a CD I borrowed from my library. Much of what was in this book was content I had already learned from other "foodie" books. However, the chapter about farmed fish contained material that was new to me. That particular chapter I found fascinating as well as upsetting. The author is a vegan/vegetarian (varies) so the tone becomes a bit preachy at times. The message it gives is a good one, however, so don't write it off completely.
Rating - 3 stars
I won this book as an Early Reviewer and found it extremely interesting. It is the story of a Mexican woman, born with severely debilitating cerebral palsy. I selected this book because I thought it was about a Mexican Jew and love to read about Jews in Spanish-speaking countries. As it turns out, this woman was never observantly Jewish but fascinated me for other reasons. Due to severe aphasia (difficulty speaking), her main communication was done with the big toe of her left foot, either by using an alphabet board or by typing. The story was told in three voices: that of herself, her mother, and her lifetime caregiver. The most important lesson I took from this book was the intelligence and innate abilities of a woman who was so easy to write off as incapable. Who she was was as a person was so hidden in a body over which she had little control. There are nice lessons to learn by reading this book.
Rating -- 4 stars
My reaction to this book went from 3 stars, down to 1 star, up to 4 stars, and then settled on 3 stars! It was quite a roller coaster ride. My review turned out to be way too long as you shall see as you read it here. The reason it got so long was that I had the initial review (which was terribly composed and said nothing of value to any reader) evaluated by the Reviews Reviewed group who so kindly and gently guided me into improving what I wrote. I love being a student and working on my writing.
By the way, I'm offering this book up on LibraryThing's Member Giveaways.
An excellent book. I fully remember the time of the Viet Nam war, whether I want to or not. It was a tough time. Tim O'Brien is probably the best novelist I've read who writes about that time. He was an infantryman in that war. His writing reflects the terrible consequences of war as well as the gamut of emotions felt by its soldiers. I loved Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, and I'm equally impressed with Going After Cacciatio. Here's my full review.
Rating - 5 stars
While you study the book, go back to the Library of Congress website and take a look at the podcast of Tim O'Brien. I saw him deliver this talk on the day of the National Book Festival here in DC last month.
Tim O'Brien has now been officially added to my *favorites* list of authors.
Next up for me is To Siberia by Per Petterson because I won it as an Early Reviewer.
I haven't read In the Lake of the Woods, but I've got a copy of it!! I'll read anything else this man has written. He's won me over completely.
Jonathan Carroll books are so much fun to read, although I didn't like this one as much as I did others of his. He writes in an odd sort of genre. It's what I'd call urban fantasy. The story has real characters yet some of the elements of the story are fantasy. Two wonderful places to start with this author are either Bones of the Moon or The Land of Laughs, the latter being my favorite.
The Ghost in Love is the story of a man who experiences ghosts and other sorts of odd happenings after he falls and hits his head. He was supposed to die, but didn't. Hence his life is complicated by what happens subsequent to his accident. Here's my full review of The Ghost in Love.
Rating -- 3 stars
I was so lucky to receive this novel through LT's Early Reviewer program. Although I have this author's other well known book, Out Stealing Horses, I haven't had a chance to read it yet. I liked To Siberia very much. It's the story of the relationship of a sister and brother who grew up in Denmark. Do note that the author is Norwegian. It's a very lyrical book full of emotional depth. Here's my full review.
Rating -- 4 stars
Good choice...as I already have that book in my home and on my TBR list! :)
Wow! A most impressive and strong work by a debut author. Although the book came out in 1998, I took a chance on getting it through BookMooch because I never seem to find any books I like there. This one seemed somewhat interesting until I actually got it and started reading it. It exploded for me.
The story is by an author who once was a medic in New York City. The novel is of Frank, a medic in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. The book teems with the vibrant people and situations in that area of Manhattan in addition to the adrenaline-filled lives of medics at their work. Frank makes a most believable lead character. Anyone who has worked in the health field knows the ghosts (literally and figuratively) that fill the lives of those who deal with life and death on a daily basis. This comes across well as flashes of some situations never leave Frank's mind. Feeling burnt out by his job, but getting a rush from it nonetheless, he pushes and pushes to do the best he can for everyone he treats. Often, though, he doesn’t treat himself so well. Great book! Here's my full review.
Rating - 5 stars
There's got to be much, much more in this book than there could ever be in that movie. I'd say, for those who've seen the movie, it would be worthwhile to read the book and compare the two.
I'll have to check out the movie review, though. Thanks for reminding me of that.
Our county library has it, but only in audiobook format. Do you think it would be a good one to listen to?
Formerly known to me as a noted Israeli author, but now more familiar to me as the peacenik who lost his 21-year-old son in the Lebanon war, David Grossman is a man to whom one should give attention. In this slim volume (an ARC, published in 2008, that I actually picked up from BookMooch - what luck!), are several essays talking about the author's love for literature, its meaning for him, and how he sees Israel as it stands presently. Although what he says is not "political", what about Israel is not political? He speaks from his heart, though, and expresses why his literature delves into concepts more universal than the "situation" (the state of unrest between the Palestinians and Jews in Israel). He discusses the existential pain of modern-day Israel while only briefly touching upon the deep sadness of a fallen son. In the broadest sense possible, he knows that he is not alone in his sentiment. This is a book for reflection, all the more so if you are among those who love Israel and can also find something of value in Israel's diverse population and other populations which surround it. Here's my full review
Rating -- 4.5 stars
Uh oh! This is a book I think I should have like but really didn't. The author's writing style is very beautiful, however there is simply no story!
The premise of the book is that a family goes to Japan because 10-year-old Ellen's dad has been having an affair and her mom thinks that going to Japan, where Ellen's maternal grandmother lives, will resolve that problem. Ellen and her three siblings cavort together (a strength of the book, in my opinion) in Japan, and Ellen discovers her heritage. What is missing is anything of interest. At several places in the book, I saw an opening into a more interesting plot, but these ideas stopped just as suddenly as they started. Frustratingly, I plowed through the end of the book but got little reward for my endurance. Here's my full review
Rating 2.5 stars
I have a copy of The Yellow Wind. I just need to fit it into my reading list. You know the problem. :)
I heard people talking about this book and this author here on LT. I think it was on Reading Globally when we were reading Canadian authors. The novel's author, Miriam Toews, is from Winnipeg, Canada. Her writing is delightful. This was a fun read about a young woman on a road trip with her niece and nephew. The story deals with the teens' mother's mental illness, a tough topic. The book, however, free-spiritedly sails along, carrying with it a lot of love. Here's my full review.
Rating -- 4 stars
As always, I'm looking forward to what you think of it, Darryl. I have another book by Toews somewhere here at home. I'll have to find it now.
Stasia, I'd offer you my, copy but it's from my public library. They wouldn't think too highly of me if I mailed it to you. ;) Hope you find a copy, though.
(You have been adding a lot of stuff to my Wishlist this week!)
I loved Andrew Sean Greer's book The Confessions of Max Tivoli and was dissapointed how slow this book started out. The story takes place in 1953 San Francisco. A woman, husband and child live simply until a person of the past suddenly arrives at their home and seems to shatter their marriage. The story proceeds very slowly. Although I wasn't planning to not read the story completely, I was thinking about it. Finishing the novel was the right choice because the last third of the book was extremely well done and left me feeling satisfied that I did not give up this story half way through. Here's my full review.
Rating - 3.5 stars
By the way, if you haven't read The Confessions of Max Tivoli yet, do so right away. It's a wonderful love story about Max who was born an old man and who grows younger every day. I read this before I ever heard about "Benjamin Button".
I have not yet read Max Tivoli but do own it and have had it since well before Benjamin Button. I could not believe went he movie came out and it wasn't based on this book. I kept telling people there was this other book about a person aging backwards. How there are two stories about this still baffles me. I haven't seen the movie yet either. I will try to get the book read, it seem like a little one. Well, I'll move it up my list anyway.
I'm very glad you decided to stay with our 75 challenge group! You would be missed.
The Confessions of Max Tivoli sits on one of my book shelves waiting to be read. Your comments prompt me to try to find it among the piles that are now double and triple stacked.
Do read The Confessions of Max Tivoli and let me know how you like it. I thought it was really beautifully written.
The funny thing was that the protagonists o f"Max Tivoli" were named Max and Alice, the names of my dad and mom. Weird! Perhaps that is another reason why I like this book so much.
Yes, I can see how this book would be a Pulitzer Prize winner. The caliber of the writing is very high. However, it's not a prize winner for me. The ultimate test of a book is one that doesn't put me to sleep while listening to it in the car. Gilead did not pass that test. No more Marilyn Robinson.
I missed you, too.
Interestingly enough, the book Honey and Dust just "speaks to me" in the same way that Gilead did to you. I agree with you when you say that so much of what we read we actually bring to the book ourselves. Lines trigger memories, both happy and sad, in a way that we relive part of our past and feel that the author of the book "understands" us.
I can see where a book such as Gilead would be a comforting read when it supports us at the time of loss of life. I'm wondering if I should retrieve Gilead from the "tossed" pile and put it away to read at another time. I think I'll do just that. Perhaps the problem with this book was that I was listening to it rather than reading it. The narrator was great but the story was more of a diary than a linear story; probably not a good choice for weary highway travel.
My newest car CD is Brooklyn by Colm Toibin about an Irish girl headed to Brooklyn. I first read about it in the thread by kidzdoc. So far, I'm enjoying it very much. I even listened to it in the car today - with no adverse effects. :)
Don't say that! I'm still telling myself that even though I've read no more than 8 books in any other month this year, I could complete 14 this time. You never know.
After all, I do have a good pile of already-started books to draw from....
I read Brooklyn this year too based on Kidzdoc's recommendation as well as others that followed. It's sort of a quiet book and in many ways feels more real than lots of other books because the character doesn't take big chances or make huge changes. (Don't think I'm giving anything away.) Plus, I always like reading books that give me a feel for what it was like to live in another era. I thought my son would like it because he lives in Brooklyn now, but don't think there's enough there about the city to grab him.
Btw, Kidzdoc is responsible for more books added to my wish list than any other LT-er. And it's all one-sided, as he's always way ahead of me, reading books in hard-bound while I like to wait for the paperbacks to come out or I have to wait my turn at the library.
I needed so much thinking time while I was reading--it was like his comments were a catalyst for my own thoughts that I continued on with throughout the day.
Yeah. There are some books like that. While reading them, you just want to stop at a certain point, put down the book and think about a scene or an idea. One book that I read this year that did that to me was Dawning of the Day: A Jerusalem Tale by Haim Sabato. So many of the scenes in teh city of Jerusalem came alive for me (having lived in that city before), that I just wanted to lay the book aside awhile and remember the vivid details. Then I was ready to go back to read more.
I've decided to keep Gilead. I'll come back to it one day.
Kidzdoc is responsible for more books added to my wish list than any other LT-er.
I hear you. Today he's #4 on my list of "Members With Your Books". There's probably a reason for that! You dropped down to #20. :D I think kidzdoc has *the* most interesting thread of books read of any other LT-er. Perhaps that's because there are so many translated books and so many of which I've never heard. I love to discover new authors.
I'm with you. I prefer the trade paperbacks to all other forms of books.
I'm sad about my lowly status in terms of our libraries. I think I dropped down when I added a bunch of my children's books, and it will only get worse as I add more of them. But it sure was fun when we were by chance reading the same book so much of the time mid-year! :-)
edit. to change "are" to "our." How come I never see those grammatical mistakes until after I post?!
bonniebooks - Ellen Foster is a great book.
I never read Ellen Foster, but a long time ago I read another book by Kaye Gibbons. Perhaps it was A Virtuous Woman. I remember liking her quiet gentle way of writing and had been planning to read more of this author's books. Perhaps I'll make Ellen Foster my next.
Don't think you had to"sell" Gilead to me. This was not a book I disliked. I could see wonderful writing and also recognize that the writing was not capturing me at the time I was listening to it. There seems to be a lot that the author wants to say (and probably more that I should allow myself to hear). I know right away when I *totally* don't like a book. Those I usually want to throw across a room. Gilead deserves another chance at another time.
I think whatever kind of book Ellen Foster turns out to be will be okay as I remember liking Gibbons' writing style.
*I am so glad I was talked into journaling books read back in 1997. It's fun to look back at what my thoughts were at that time.
ETA: I also just looked up A Virtuous Woman here on LT where LT member drebbles said it was "one of those simple, quiet kind of books where there is little action or plot, just the story of two people who come to love and care for each other. Yet, it's the kind of story that will stay with you long after you've read it."
P.S. Glad my memory wasn't failing me. You had me worried there for a sec, Daniel. :)
ps - That is really cool that you have 12 years in your book journal. I have been keeping a list for some 18 years, but not a journal. You've inspired me, I think I'll do that and start by converting my 2009 threads into a journal.
It's was all on a very long Microsoft Works document page! Later, I pulled out the non-fiction, graphic novels, and short stories to give those books their own document page.
I just looked at my fiction document now. It's 97 pages long!
I stopped doing it when I joined LibraryThing because here I could do the same thing but share my comments. No one in my home (husband or three grown children, two who've moved away) is the least bit interested in what I write about books.
The fun thing about that 97-page document is that I can use the "find" button to access whatever I want even if I can't remember the name of a book. I've referred back to it very often in the past ten years, always in on-line conversations about books.
One thing I recently did that was especially fun was to pull up an old review of a book by Michael Zadoorian. He is a relatively unknown author who is also an LT author who not too long ago did an author chat here. I was able to pull up my old remarks about his book and post my review of it on LT for him to see after chatting with him. When I really read his book, Second Hand, was back in 2001 (eight years ago). Fortunately, I gave it five stars! :)
This was such a fun and fabulous read. It was made for me. The author is a "foodie" who travels to five countries in Asia as he attempts to see in person some very old methods of honey-gathering. You can read more about this book in my full review.
Very few people here on LT (only 10) have a copy of Honey and Dust. That's a shame. It is definitely worth reading. I want my copy to go to someone who will really appreciate it. I found that a member of my Bookcrossing group has this book on her wishlist (!) so I'm going to surprise her with my copy tomorrow. We just love to find and give away wishlisted books to each other.
Tomorrow is our BookCrossing group holiday party. I'm going to try to make a cheesecake. I hope it doesn't crack this time.
At our party each year, we do a fun game. Each of us brings a few (used/registered) books, wrapped in holiday paper. On the outside of each package is the first line of each book. One of us later reads the outside of the package and we decide if we want the package or not by the first line that was read. It is so much fun. Part of the fun was looking for books with odd first lines. If we don't like the book we win, no problem. It just gets passed along to someone else through Bookcrossing.
I've *got* to get others to read this book. It would be good if my review helps encourage that.
I'm only up to page 21, but this book has recipes instead of pictures. So guess what I'm doing? Not sure? I'm baking the New York Cheesecake. Its recipe is listed on page 20. The cake is cooling now, and tomorrow I'm taking it to the annual holiday party of my local Bookcrossing group.
How cool is that? Eating my way through a book...
Now I won't be able to give this book away when I'm done reading it. I've got to keep all of the recipes! :)
The recipe is really easy. I won't get to taste it until tomorrow. I'm going to transport it in its springform pan, riding on the Metro, I think. I hope it stays in one piece! If it turns out good and you want the recipe, I'll give it to you. Let me do the taste test first, though.
Amazon sells the Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook by Alan Rosen, BTW.
Another recipe I need to get is the pumpkin cheesecake tarts that my aunt's neighbor's eldest daughter made for Thanksgiving last week. I barely grabbed the last one, and it was fabulous!
Pumpkin cheesecake tarts? Yum! I have a 32-pound pumpkin which I grew this summer sitting in my living room. I have yet to figure out what to do with it. Pumpkin cheesecake tarts sound like a distinct possibility! :)
You may single-handedly double the number of LT members with this book in their libraries!
Yay! That makes me very happy. I like to promote lesser known good books/authors.
If you are near Alexandria, Virginia, tomorrow, that's where this cheesecake is going! :)
If you're ever in NYC, there is a Junior's in the food court in Grand Central Station in addition to the one on Flatbush Avenue.
I might get back to NYC one day so I'll keep that in mind.
When I was reading Dust and Honey, I did stop to taste some honey that my CSA farmer gave me this September from her bee colony. I felt I needed that to get the "taste" of the story I was reading. :D
Did you make the New York Cheesecake, Stasia?
You know what? I passed along my book to the perfect person tonight. She's a member of BookCrossing who wishlisted that book. She is going to read it on a yoga retreat this Jnauary and then pass it along to others at that retreat. The book will then remain in perfect hands. Ah, karma!!
I haven't checked the game news yet because I just got home from the BookCrossing party, and my husband (an avid Redskin fan) is at another family party. It sounds like a game I am glad to have missed. Ugh! :(
Your husband may need Xanax or Haldol to go to sleep tonight.
Your husband may need Xanax or Haldol to go to sleep tonight.
There can only be one explanation. During the off season, the Bengals (famously nicknamed the Bungles by the late, great Steeler announcer Myron Cope), who are 9-3, and the 6-6 Steelers switched defensive players.
The Eagles looked fantastic in beating the Falcons 34-7. And the Giants looked even better in beating the Cowboys!
I am sorry about the Steelers though - I am big Ben Rothlisberger fan. I will take just about anyone over the Raiders.
I hope you enjoy Garlic and Sapphires. I loved it when I read it. It made me a little hungry though at times, and I just loved how her personality would change depending on the disguise she adopted. I won't spoil it for you, but I'm going to watch for your review we can 'chat' about certain parts of her book later.
Oddly enough, I didn't like her other books as much as this one.
It's a good thing I picked Reichl's best book to read first then. :)
ETA: Did you make any of the recipes from that book?
It's more than I've ever done, though. It's too cold on Everest. The most I've done is make it to the top of a volcano in Guatamala many year ago. Anyway, it was warmer there. :)
This is a book which tells of the time that Ruth Reichl was the food critic for the New York Times. The author has to assume disguises in order to enter undetected into those restaurants she wishes to review. The result is a humorous story, some restaurant reviews, and some recipes. Here's my full review.
Rating - 4 stars
By the way, I *am* finishing A Pigeon and a Boy and I'll let you know what I think... it's now overdue and we leave the country in 14 days, so I really need to get to bed and read another chunk!
Looks like I'm heading for the end of the year, but I'll not be making my quota of books for this challenge. No problem, though. So far, I've read ten more books than last year with the very slight possibility (I doubt it, though) that I'll break 70 by the year's end. I'll try again this coming year.
How has everyone else done with this challenge? What other challenges are you attempting in 2010?
I think mine would have to be Going After Cacciato by Tim O'Brien. Perhaps that was colored by the fact that I saw the author in person at the National Book Festival this year, but I really get into his writing. I've also read The Things They Carried in the past and loved that book as well.
I'm at book 72: I think I can, I think I can . . . make it to 75 . . .
Next year, I'm doing the 75 Challenge again, the 1010 challenge, and the books-off-the-shelf challenge.
Top read of 2009???? I can't say any one book really stands head and shoulders (pages and binding) above the rest, but the one that keeps coming to mind is Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy by Diana Preston. Masterful job of detailed historical reporting, thoroughly documented, AND great storytelling. I loved the way she used quotations in her narrative!
#254: No way can I pick just one!
If choosing one that I think a lot of people would love, I would choose either The Chosen by Chaim Potok or Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
. . . and those are only my fiction choices!
We agree on many of the books you've read. I'm glad Bonniebooks and others have persuaded you to give Gilead another try. Perhaps it is better read than listened to? I do think timing is all-important in reading books.
I won't fill up your thread with everything I have to say because 2010 awaits. I will add that my favorite book of 2009 was Cutting for Stone. P.S. My name on the challenge is DonnaReads.
I have two books I'm torn between naming my favorite, so I'm going to go with the lesser known Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill which I loved.
Congratulations, Stasia!!! You narrowed your one book recommendation down to four. Good job! :)
By the way, The Chosen is still one of my husband's all-time favorite reads. He will not let me give away his very old copy of it to other Bookcrossing members. They have to find their own copy.
Whew! I just read 268 posts in your thread
Whew is right!! Sorry 'bout that. Next time, keep up... ;)
what an interesting LT name
My name is actually that of a hamster we had many years ago when I was breeding hamsters for a nearby pet store. None of my usual names (Madeline, my last name, my intials, etc.) would take at AOL IM so I kept adding choices at random. Finally I cam down to the names of all my hamsters. SqueakyChu was the first name that "took". :)
we are the same age
I'm glad Bonniebooks and others have persuaded you to give Gilead another try.
I think that sometimes timing is the thing. I know that previously I loved reading books about India, but now that the Reading Globally group recently did their theme as India, I had no interest in reading that type of fiction at that time. My favorite way of picking reads is totally at random. I'd be hopeless in any kind of formal book group.
(Re Gilead) Perhaps it is better read than listened to?
Even though the narrator was excellent, I think you may be right. I'll read the hard copy next try.
I won't fill up your thread with everything I have to say because 2010 awaits.
Looking forward to your comments...
I will add that my favorite book of 2009 was Cutting for Stone.
I've had that book wishlisted for a long time. Actually, ever since kidzdoc recommended it.
Have a great holiday, Donna!
Which of the O'Brien books are you intending to read this year? Both of the ones I read I've loved. They were Going After Caciatto and The Things They Carried. I saw and heard Tim O'Brien read this piece at The National Book Festival this past September. It moved me to tears. I then had to add him to my list of favorite authors.
I'm really liking the part of this book that is being narrated by the very old man. It reminds me of the crotchety old woman in The Way to the Cats by Yehoshua Kenaz. In Gruen's book, the female author seems right on target describing an aged man. In Kenaz's book, I felt that the male author so aptly described an old woman. Both do that so well! It always amazes me when an author can clearly place himself or herself inside the body of an entirely different person.
edited because I couldn't make the heart symbol. harumph.
1. Marley and Me by John Grogan - nonfiction - Who can resist a good animal story?
2. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak - fiction - During the Holocaust there were some good Germans.
3. The Confessions of Max Tivoli - Andrew Sean Greer - fiction - a new twist on a love story
Everyone else, what three books would you suggest as Perfect Books to Alleviate Holiday/Winter Stress?
#272: Hey, I can let you have 50 good book recommendations! Be glad you only got 4! lol
#278: Count me in as one of the Water for Elephants lovers!
I have the Max Tivoli book in my behind-the-library-door book stash. Hope to get to it soon. Also a big fan of Water for Elephants when I read it several years ago. I'm a sucker for old people reminiscing about their past. Hmmm...I wonder at what age that starts?
Duh! It's so hard because we read the same books! :)
I'm thinking. I'm thinking...
When I saw my longest post (on the new memes feature started by Tim), I almost fainted. People could fall asleep reading such long posts. :)
I used to be an on-line Scrabble addict as well. I was up to the intermediate level and got great pleasure from sometimes (if I got lucky) beating some good players. Yeah. The LT addiction I have now precludes me from ever going back to that.
Hmmm...I wonder at what age that starts?
I've been doing it all my life. Ha! I always like to remember the past, thinking of all its highlights and blocking out everything negative. "Life is good."
Okay, this is one of my favorite authors, and you have none of his books in your library. I checked this time.
The author is Jonathan Caroll. His books are a bit surreal. Think you can handle that? Read The Land of Laughs or Bones of the Moon. The former is my favorite.
Want to try an Israeli author? Read the (again) strange book by David Grossman called The Zig Zag Kid.
All three books are very entertaining. These are not especially "feel good" books, but they are really fun to read.
They're guaranteed to release you from stress.
At least I know that someone else is reading them. :)
I'm still finding it hard to write a good review, though (at least to my standards). I can think of all kinds of things I want to say about a book while reading it. However, when I go to write the review, those thoughts fly right out the window. Yes, I can take notes, but often I'm reading, burdened with heavy bags, on a crowded Metro train. Not exactly a choice place to write a book review.
A funny fantasy: I can see myself on a crowded Metro train dictating my book review into my cell phone. People slowly start turning their heads and then listen anxiously as I tell whether or not the book is worthwhile reading. When I give the book five stars, they cheer and applaud. Those who have cell phones dial to order the book right away. Others are busy scrambling as they look for some discarded piece of newspaper on which to write the book details. I hope those people talking on their phones are ordering their books from a local indie... :D
The photos of the snow in the D.C. area on The Weather Channel this morning are impressive. I hope that it ends soon.
It's a great day for baking, though. Later today, I'm going to try to bake a coffee cake from a recipe given to me by avaland.
ETA: I'm snowed in today so I'd be happy to read some fantasy...
The operative word here is strange. This book has some of the oddest stories I've read in a long time. I found this book at The Book Thing of Baltimore. After planning to keep it for a book fair in April, I discovered it was a Bookcrossing-registered book. I'd found a wild release! In addition, the book itself was wild enough to entice me to read it. I found that experience to be quite fun. You'll find more about this small, bizarre book on my full review.
Rating - 4 stars
To answer your questions from a couple of days ago, I'm in about the same place as you are with the challenge (a few books behind you currently), but I also managed to increase my reading significantly over last year, so I'm happy.
I don't know that I can even remember all the challenges I'm doing next year. Here's a start:
75 Book Challenge (of course!)
1010 Challenge--5 books per category
Books Off the Shelf Challenge (20 acquired 2009, 20 acquired previously)
Dewey Decimal Challenge
Best fiction book of the year: The Hunter's Moon
Best non-fiction book of the year: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
(Yeah, I know you didn't ask for two... but that's what you got! :P)
I'm hoping someone will start a best-of-the-year thread for this group (best 10%, to allow for Stasia's 50 ;)). I would do it, but I'm not sure what the policy is on asterisks....
You're hilarious, Zoe! I'm snowed in. We already have 18 inches of snow, and I'm going nowhere this weekend. What else am I going to do? Read?!
Yeah, I guess we should start a best of the year. Morphidae needs something else to count! Should we take a poll to see who should start it? ;)
Oops! This is post # 300. Next post will have to go to this new thread.
That was a surprise. I kind of thought Cancer Made me a Shallower Person, might make the list, but I didn't even like the other book, The Story of a Marriage that much. Its ending was very good, though; too bad the beginning irritated me so. I'd rather that people would read Andrew Sean Greer's The Confessions of Max Tivoli which, to me, was a superior book by far.
By the way, I always notice when a review of yours makes the Hot List. Pretty often, too. Accept my congrats for your overall good reviews!
big new year hug,
I wish you and your family a most Happy 2010! Cheers!!