May Flowers Books

I can’t even begin to describe May. My first time to the Southwest. My first time traveling with family. Many different firsts. But, enough of that. Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • The Man in Gray Flannel by Sloan Wilson
  • Mariner’s Compass by Earlene Fowler
  • Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor
  • Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
  • Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

Nonfiction:

  • Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs
  • Farthest North by Dr. Fridtjof Nansen

Series Continuation:

  • Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
  • Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters

Ethel and Ernest

Briggs, Raymond. Ethel and Ernest: a True Story. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.

Reason read: May is Graphic Novel month. I read that somewhere.

This is Raymond Brigg’s story of his parents as a couple from the moment they met until death did them part. Simplistic in graphic novel form but powerful in message. What started off as an accidental communication for the couple kicked off a poignant romance that lasted fifty years. Brigg’s loving tribute continues through his parents’s courtship and marriage, his mom giving birth to him at 38 years old (their only child), the war and the political aftermath, the ravages of aging, and finally each of their deaths. What makes the retelling so heartwarming is Brigg’s ability to communicate parental emotion. Every fear, hope, happiness and expectation they felt towards their son was delivered and exposed in loving detail.

Author fact: Briggs was removed from his parents (evacuated during the war for safety) when he was five years old.

Book trivia: Ethel and Ernest is a graphic novel.

Nancy said: Pearl called Ethel and Ernest a “touching story” (Book Lust p 103).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Graphic Novels” (p 103). Interestingly enough, the title Ethel and Ernest and author Raymond Briggs are missing from the index.


Spring Pages

I will be traveling for part of May so who knows how many books I’ll be able to read for this month. Here is the list I will attempt:

Fiction:

  • Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson – in honor of May being Wilson’s birth month.
  • Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs – in honor of Graphic Novel month being in May.
  • Mariner’s Compass by Earlene Fowler – in honor of May is Museum Month.
  • Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor- in honor of May being Music Month.
  • Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters – in honor of the first Thursday in May being Prayer Week.
  • Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian – in honor of my father’s birth month. As a kid he read this book.
  • Five Children and It by E. Nesbit – in honor of May being Nesbit’s birth month.

Nonfiction:

  • Farthest North by Fridtjof Nansen – in honor of Peary’s birth month being in May. From one explorer to another.

Series continuations:

  • Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov – to continue the series started in January in honor of Asimov’s birth month.
  • Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope – to continue the series started in honor of Trollope’s birth month in April.

Crossers

Caputo, Philip. Crossers. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

Reason read: Arizona became a state in February.

Be prepared to go on an epic journey crisscrossing time when you read Crossers. Caputo will seize you by the scruff of your psyche to take you back and forth from the New York of September 11th, 2001 to the wild west of the early 1900s. You will bounce from the dirty roads of rural Mexico to the tranquil streets of Connecticut. Characters from all walks of life will march across the page: ruthless drug lords and crusty wild west outlaws; graceful artists and desperate illegal aliens. At the center of the story is one man, Gil Castle. Consumed by grief after losing his wife in the 9/11 attacks, Gil retreats to his generations old family’s ranch in a remote corner of southwest Arizona. There he joins his uncle and cousin and tries to rebuild his heart while mending fences, tending cattle, and fighting off mules and murderers. In this respite he thought he could escaped the senseless violence of the terror attacks, but when the present day ancestors of ancient ghosts come seeking revenge for something his grandfather had done, Gil realizes his own family’s past has a dark and dangerous story to tell and he will pay the price.

The line that gripped me, “The interregnum of fear that had gripped him on the train had passed; as grief, the true monarch of his heart, resumed its oppression” (p 32).

Author fact: Caputo also wrote Horn of Africa, which is also on my list.

Book trivia: This could have been a movie.

Nancy said: Pearl said “There are many good reads, both fiction and nonfiction, about an important but bleak subject: the hazards of illegally crossing the Arizona-Mexico border. Two of the best novels I’ve discovered are Philip Caputo’s Crossers and…” (Book Lust To Go p 31).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “AZ You Like It” (p 30).


Alice in Sunderland

Talbot, Bryan. Alice in Sunderland. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Books,  2007

Reason read: April Fools

One word: savor. Savor this book slowly. It’s only 319 pages but let every page have it’s moment in time. This is a beautiful piece of art, chock full of culture, biography, history, creative use of the English language (“follow your spirit” with a picture of someone chasing a vodka truck), a comic book inside a graphic novel, brimming with literary references (Thirty-Nine Steps and Rugby, the same school made infamous by Tom Brown’s Schooldays, to name a few) and much, much more. This is a comprehensive walk through history with a myriad of people and places leading the way. In Book Lust To Go Nancy Pearl called it “one of the richest experiences of her life (p 68).

The premise is really quite simple. Bryan Talbot has researched his hometown of Sunderland and found every possible parallel connection to Lewis Carroll’s famed The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. It’s brilliant. Read this alongside The Annotated Alice for a healthy dose of all things Wonderland.

Best quote, “All the lives seen tonight…so many lives…” (p 290). Case in point: here’s the ridiculously long list of Who’s Who in Alice in Sunderland. How about a game? How many people do you recognize?:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Al Davison
  • Alan Hargreaves
  • Alexandria “Xie” Kitchin
  • Alfred Jarry
  • Alice Liddell
  • Ally Sloper
  • Andy Capp
  • Arthur Racham
  • Arthur Frost
  • Bande Dessinee
  • Beatles
  • Bede
  • Benedict Biscop
  • Benny Hill
  • Beryl Formby
  • Bessie Wilcox
  • Betty Boop
  • Bill Shakespeare
  • Blondin
  • Bobby Thompson
  • Bram Stoker
  • Bryan Ferry
  • Caedmon
  • Capt. Edward Robinson
  • Capt. Joseph Wiggins
  • Capt. William Bligh
  • Caryl Hargreaves
  • Cary Grant
  • Catherine Cookson
  • Charles Dickens
  • Charles Kingsley
  • Charles Lutwidge Dodson
  • Charles Weiss
  • Charlie Chaplin
  • Chaz Brenchley
  • Chster P Hackenbush
  • Chico Marx
  • Chris Mullin
  • Clarkson Stanfield
  • Colin Wilbourn
  • Craig Knowles
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  • Dave Stewart
  • David Malan
  • David McKean
  • Dennis Potter
  • Dick Turpin
  • Disraeli
  • Doctor Who
  • Dorothy Williamson
  • Dracula
  • Duke of Wellington
  • Earl Zetland
  • Earl of Bute
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Edgar Atheling
  • Edith Liddell
  • Edward Bulwer Lytton
  • Edward Burne Jones
  • Edward Hylton
  • Edward Schoeder
  • Edwin Moss
  • Eileen O’Shaughnessy
  • Elizabeth I
  • Elizabeth Liddell
  • Ellen Terry
  • Emily Pankhurs
  • Emperor Claudius
  • Eric Gill
  • Florence Becker Lennon
  • Frank Caws
  • Franz Kafka
  • Frederick Cotton
  • Fredericka Liddell
  • Friar Tuck
  • George “Dubya” Bush
  • George Formby
  • George Hudson
  • George Lightfoot
  • George Lilburne
  • George Orwell
  • George Stephenson
  • George Washington
  • Gerald Frow
  • Gertrude Bell
  • Grace Slick
  • Grant Morrison
  • Harry Furniss
  • Harry Lauder
  • Harry Potter
  • Henry VIII
  • Hedworth Williams, Sr.
  • Henry George Liddell
  • Henry Holiday
  • Henry Hylton
  • Henry Irving
  • Henry Lambton
  • Henry Stanley
  • Houdini
  • Hunt Emerson
  • Ian Watson
  • Irving Berlin
  • Isabella Hazard
  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel
  • Jack Crawford
  • Jack the Ripper
  • James Herriot
  • James Joyce
  • Jan Svankmeyers
  • Jeff Smith
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Joe Nattras
  • John Bunyan
  • John George Lambton
  • John Humble
  • John Lawrence
  • John Lennon
  • John Lilburne
  • John Millais
  • John Paul Jones
  • John Proctor
  • John Ruskin
  • John Tenniel
  • Jonathan Hanker
  • Jonathan Miller
  • Jordan Smith
  • Joseph Conrad
  • Joseph Swan
  • Joseph Wiggins
  • Joshua Wilson
  • Karl Fisher
  • Karl Marx
  • Kate Adie
  • Keanu Reeves
  • Kelly Osbourne
  • Ken Russell
  • Kevin Cadwallender
  • King Athelstan
  • King Charles I
  • King Ecgfrith
  • King George I
  • King Harold
  • King James I
  • Lady Montagu Wortley
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Leo Baxendale
  • Leopold Hargreaves
  • Les Dawson
  • Lewis Carroll
  • Lily Lumley
  • Lizzie Webster
  • Lord Ravensworth
  • Luther Arkwright
  • MacDonald Gill
  • Manfred Mann
  • Manuella Bute Smedley
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Marie Lloyd
  • Marilyn Manson
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Mark Lemon
  • Marlene Dietrich
  • Mary Ann Robson Cotton
  • Mary Shelley
  • Mary Wortley
  • Max Ernst
  • Mervyn Peake
  • Michael Bute
  • Michelangelo
  • Mike D’Abo
  • Miles Standish
  • Mother Shipton
  • Mr T
  • Nannie Scott
  • Ned Kelly
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Nellie Melba
  • Nicholas Hawksmoor
  • Odo of Bayeux
  • Olga Lowe
  • Olive Hardy
  • Oliver Goldsmith
  • Oswald Moseley
  • Oswald Stoll
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Patrick Lavelle
  • Paul McCartney
  • Peter Camm
  • Peter O’Toole
  • Peter Smart
  • Peter Sutcliffe
  • Prince Leopold
  • Queen Elizabeth II
  • Queen Victoria
  • Ralph Steadman
  • Ravi Shankar
  • Reginald Hargreaves
  • Rev. Charles Collingwood
  • Rev. John Wesley
  • Rev. Robert Gray
  • Rex Hargreaves
  • Rhoda Liddell
  • Richard Nixon
  • Richard Thornton
  • Richard Wallace
  • Rick Griffin
  • Robert Bowes
  • Robert Graves
  • Robert Heinlein
  • Robert Liltburne
  • Robert Stephenson
  • Robin Hood
  • Robinson Duckworth
  • Roger Skelton
  • Roland Wilson
  • Rudolf Toffer
  • Saint Cuthbert
  • Saint Godric
  • Saint Hilda
  • Sally Geeson
  • Salvador Dali
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Sarah Junner Lawrence
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar
  • Scott McCloud
  • Septimus Scott
  • Sheri Holman
  • Sidney James
  • Sir Henry Havelock
  • Sir Humphrey Davy
  • Sir John Lambton
  • Sir John Conyers
  • Sir Walter Scott
  • Sir William of Hylton
  • Stan Laurel
  • Steven Spielberg
  • Stuart Dodgson Collingwood
  • Suzy Varty
  • T Arthur
  • TS Eliot
  • Tennyson
  • Thomas Dixon
  • Thomas Edison
  • Thomas Edward Lawrence
  • Thomas Henry Liddell
  • Thomas Paine
  • Thomas Randall
  • Tom Taylor
  • Tony Blair
  • Tove Jansson
  • Trina Robbins
  • Ulysses S Grant
  • Vesta Tilley
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Vladimir Nabokov
  • WC Fields
  • WH Auden
  • Wee Georgie Woods
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Wilkie Collins
  • William Bell Scott
  • William Blake
  • William Clanny
  • William Hogarth
  • William Hylton
  • William Joyce
  • William McGonagall
  • William Mills
  • William Morris
  • William Mowbray
  • William Reid Clanny
  • William the Bastard
  • William the Conqueror
  • William Wilcox
  • Windson McKay
  • Winnie Davies
  • Woody Allen
  • Yehudi Menhin

Fun stuff: Ever wonder why all public doors are supposed to open outward? The answer is in Alice in Sunderland. Did you know there is a missing Alice chapter called Wasp in a Wig? Or that Grace Slick is such a huge fan of Alice that she created a whole series of Wonderland inspired paintings when she retired from music.

Favorite line, “Don’t confuse the genre with the medium” (p 187).

Author fact: Talbot has his own website here.

Book trivia: I know I said it before but this book is an oversized visual treat.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Comics with a Sense of Place” (p 68).


April Comes Quickly

I don’t know where March went. I’ve looked under calendars and in date books and I still can’t figure it out. The month went by so fast! Here are the books finished for March:

  • Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
  • The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
  • Family Man by Jayne Krentz
  • Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (AB)
  • The Brontes by Juliet Barker (DNF)
  • Means of Ascent by Robert Caro (DNF)
  • Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan (Fun)
  • In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White (would have been an Early Review book a long time ago)

On tap for April (besides a little Noodle 5k run):

  • A Considerable Town by MFK Fisher ~ in honor of April being the best time to visit France
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman ~ for fun
  • Green Thoughts by Eleanor Perenyi ~ in honor of gardening month
  • Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot ~ in honor of April Fools
  • Don’t Eat This Book by Morgan Spurlock ~ in honor of April being Food Month (AB)
  • The Grand Tour by Tim Moore ~ in honor of Harvey Ball passing in April

Remembering February

So, February was a weird month. Being sick and injured didn’t help except that both ailments gave me more time to read. Turning 47 turned out to be not a big deal. Just another number in the grand scheme of things. The groundhog didn’t see his shadow either so there are less numbers in winter… And speaking of numbers – here are the books:

  1. A.D.: After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld
  2. Beautiful Place to Die by Philip Craig
  3. If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now by Sandra Loh
  4. Rocksburg Railroad Murders by K.C. Constantine
  5. As She Crawled Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem (AB)
  6. Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan
  7. Her First American by Lore Segal
  8. Down Where the Moon was Small or And I Shall Sleep…Down Where the Moon was Small by Richard Llewellyn
  9. Path to Power by Robert Caro – finishing TODAY!
  10. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder (AB)
  11. Tom Brown’s School Days by Thomas Hughes (DNF)
  12. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  (AB) – will finish in March
  13. The Art of Dying by Patricia Weenolsen

For Fun:

  1. Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
  2. Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan
  3. The Ultimate Treadmill Workout by David Siik

For LibraryThing’s Early Review program:

  1. Liar by Rob Roberge

I also spent some time revisiting the Challenge list. Because of all the missed individual titles I wanted to redo the schedule. That took up a great deal of my time!


A.D.

Neufeld, Josh. A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge. New York: Pantheon Books, 2010.

Reason read: Mardi Gras is held in New Orleans every February. Rather than read this in August (typical because of the date of Hurricane Katrina) I decided to twist it up a little. Just as Pearl did (see BookLust Twist at the end of this review).

Right from the very beginning you know you are in for something deeply moving and very special when reading the graphic novel A.D. (although technically it is not a novel. Novel implies fiction, right?). Neufeld starts the reader off looking at Earth from outer space. As we look down on North America we almost get a sense of the calm before the storm. On the next page the graphic orientates us to the tragedy to come as we get a bird’s eye view of the city of New Orleans. We are coming in closer. We see the city as one entity and the storm as another, as if they are two strangers being introduced at a party. As the days go by we follow the lives of seven New Orleans residents. This becomes a biography of each individual.
To me, what is incredibly sad is the emphasis on their naivete, their attitude of “this is no big deal” all because hurricanes in their corner of the world come and go. They have lived through them before. They are experts in the realm of weather. That may be true, but no one expected the levies to go…

Yes. You can read this in one day as posting this on the first implies. My recommendation? Read it several times. Read and share it. There is a message hidden in the comic.

My favorite StopYouInYourTracks quote: “At least then we wouldn’t have had to walk on top of the things I cared about the most” (Leo, on page 171).

As an aside: Neufeld wasn’t the only artist to be shocked by Hurricane Katrina. Many talented individuals expressed their grief through art. But, listen to Natalie Merchant. She wrote a song called “Go Down Moses” (on her self titled album) that addresses not only the city of New Orleans after the hurricane, but the Danziger Bridge tragedy as well. Danziger is what she was referring to when she says, “let your people cross over.” Sad.

Author fact: the author of A.D. is JOSH Neufeld. Josh, not Joshua as Nancy Pearl refers to him. He is Josh in twelve different places in the book: on the front cover, on the title page, four times on the copyright page, in the afterward, on the “about the author” page, on the back flap and three in separate instances on the back cover. Not once does the name “Joshua” appear anywhere. Call me crazy, but I think he wants to be called Josh. For more information on Josh and this project, check out this link.

Book trivia: this was a New York Times best seller. Of course it was.

BookLust Twist: in Book Lust To Go but not for the reasons you would think. You’re thinking this would be in the chapter “New Orleans” but it’s not. It’s in “Comics with a Sense of Place” (p 68).


…Why I Run…

Inman, Matthew (aka the Oatmeal). The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2014.

Reason read: because I’m still stuck on running books even though I’m officially done being psycho.

I cannot, cannot, cannot stress how frigging funny this comic* is. I found it while searching for something completely (and I do mean completely different), but sooo happy I found it. In a nutshell, it’s the illustrated running biography of Matthew Inman, better known by his comic name, the Oatmeal. But, he’s not your typical athlete. When he runs he’s chased by a “fat cherub” he calls the Blerch (the little voice in your head that convinces you you’re better off sleeping in late or eating cake or both, maybe even at the same time?). And speaking of cake, Inman is not immune to food addiction. He runs so that he can eat “like a fast moving dumpster” (p 18). His words not mine. See what I mean? Funny. There’s more: slaying kraken, being vain, running from Giant Sparrow Bees in the mountains of Japan, tips on running a marathon; there are even race stickers. And much more. I kid you not. Maybe it’s because I am a runner (kinda sorta maybe) but I had more laugh-out-loud moments than I knew what to do with.

As a postscript, I had this quote of Inman’s taped to my treadmill for the longest time (long before I even knew of the Oatmeal or his book): “The Blerch is a horrible anthropomorphized white blob, a monster made of mayonnaise and hatred…” Why did I have this taped to my treadmill? Because everyone has a Blerch.

*I can’t call it a “graphic novel” because it’s not fiction, but it’s not your typical comic book either. You just have to read ti to see what I mean.


October

This should be my favorite month because I’ve been so deeply tied to Just ‘Cause (think pink) and I love, love, love Halloween. But, all I can think about is the run. Here are the books, by the way!

  1. Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan 
  2. In a Strange City by Laura Lippman
  3. By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman 
  4. Recognitions by William Gaddis 
  5. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  6. Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan
  7. Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz 
  8. Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  9. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  10. Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  11. A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz
  12. Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp
  13. Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak
  14. Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout
  15. Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson
  16. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan)
  17. The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat 
  18. In Xanadu by William Dalrymple
  19. The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  20. Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose
  21. Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore
  22. Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London
  23. Alma Mater by P.F Kluge
  24. Old Man & Me by Elaine Dundy
  25. Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
  26. Good Life by Ben Bradlee
  27. Underworld by Don DeLillo
  28. Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban
  29. Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton
  30. Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan
  31. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
  32. Herb ‘n’ Lorna by Eric Kraft
  33. Polish Officer by Alan Furst
  34. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
  35. Walden by Henry David Throreau
  36. Reservations Recommended by Eric Kraft
  37. Selected Letters of Norman Mailer edited by J. Michael Lennon
  38. Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle
  39. Saturday Morning Murder by Batya Gur
  40. Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe
  41. Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose
  42. Broom of the System by David Wallace
  43. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  44. Little Follies by Eric Kraft
  45. Literary Murder by Batya Gur
  46. Bob Marley, My Son by Cedella Marley Booker
  47. Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  48. Southern Mail by Antoine de Saint- Exupery
  49. Measure of All Things, the by Ken Alder
  50. Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson
  51. Royal Flash by George Fraser
  52. Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur
  53. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  54. ADDED: Castle in the Backyard by Betsy Draine 
  55. Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan
  56. Where Do You Stop? by Eric Kraft
  57. Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren
  58. Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur
  59. Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser
  60. Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma
  61. Petra: lost city by Christian Auge
  62. From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman
  63. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  64. Flashman at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser
  65. What a Piece of Work I Am by Eric Kraft
  66. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson
  67. Ruby by Cynthia Bond
  68. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan
  69. Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan
  70. Murder Duet by Batya Gur
  71. Flashman in the Great Game – George MacDonald Fraser
  72. At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft
  73. Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme
  74. New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc
  75. Grifters by Jim Thompson
  76. Snow Angels by James Thompson
  77. So Many Roads: the life and Times of the Grateful Dead by David Browne
  78. Short story: Drinking with the Cook by Laura Furman
  79. Short Story: Hagalund by Laura Furman
  80. Lone Pilgrim by Laurie Colwin
  81. Not so Short story: The Last of Mr. Norris by Christopher Isherwood
  82. short story: Jack Landers is My Friend by Daniel Stolar
  83. short story: Marriage Lessons by Daniel Stolar
  84. Light in August by William Faulkner
  85. Not so Short story: Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
  86. A Comedy & A Tragedy by Travis Hugh Culley
  87. Feed Zone by Biju Thomas
  88. Leaving Small’s Hotel by Eric Kraft
  89. Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser
  90. In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan by John DeFrancis
  91. Faster! by James Gleick
  92. Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
  93. ADDED: Families and Survivors by Alice Adams
  94. Inflating a Dog by Eric Kraft
  95. Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett
  96. Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser
  97. Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett
  98. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  99. Petty by Warren Zanes
  100. Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  101. Homicide by David Simon
  102. Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (AB)
  103. Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett
  104. Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser
  105. ADDED: A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez (ER)
  106. ADDED: Crows Over a Wheatfield by Paula Sharp
  107. ADDED: Time Traveler: In Search of Dinosaurs and Ancient Mammals from Montana to Mongolia by Michael Novacek
  108. Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
  109. Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
  110. Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
  111. Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)

DNF = Did Not Finish; AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review; DNS = Did Not Start; EB = E-Book


Happy Birthday Benito

Here we are, three months into a new year of the Challenge. March marks month four. Weird, I know. Here are the books. You will notice a few additions. That’s because I found out that Batya Gur wrote a series and Murder on a Kibbutz is in the middle.

  1. Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (DNF)
  2. In a Strange City by Laura Lippman
  3. By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman (AB)
  4. Recognitions by William Gaddis (DNF)
  5. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  6. Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan
  7. Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz (AB)
  8. Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  9. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  10. Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  11. ADDED: A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz
  12. ADDED: Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp
  13. ADDED: Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak
  14. ADDED: Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout
  15. ADDED: Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson (ER)
  16. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan)
  17. ADDED: The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat (AB)
  18. ADDED: In Xanadu by William Dalrymple
  19. ADDED: The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  20. Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose
  21. Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore
  22. Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London
  23. ADDED: Alma Mater by P.F Kluge
  24. ADDED: Old Man & Me by Elaine Dundy
  25. ADDED: Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
  26. Good Life by Ben Bradlee
  27. Underworld by Don DeLillo
  28. Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban
  29. Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton
  30. Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan
  31. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce DNF
  32. Herb ‘n’ Lorna by Eric Kraft
  33. Polish Officer by Alan Furst – AB
  34. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan (Mar)
  35. ADDED: Walden by Henry David Throreau
  36. ADDED: Reservations Recommended by Eric Kraft (Mar/Feb)
  37. ADDED: Selected Letters of Norman Mailer edited by J. Michael Lennon – ER (Feb -?)
  38. Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle (Mar)
  39. ADDED: Saturday Morning Murder by Batya Gur (Mar)
  40. Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe (Mar)
  41. Lives of the Muse by Francine Prose (Mar)
  42. Broom of the System (David Wallace (Mar)
  43. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan (Apr)
  44. ADDED: Little Follies by Eric Kraft (Apr/Feb)
  45. ADDED: Literary Murder by Batya Gur (Apr)
  46. Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson (Apr)
  47. Royal Flash by George Fraser (Apr)
  48. Fifties by David Halberstam (Apr)
  49. Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur (Apr)
  50. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan (Apr)
  51. Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan (May)
  52. ADDED: Where Do You Stop? by Eric Kraft (May/Feb)
  53. Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur (May)
  54. Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser (May)
  55. Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma (May)
  56. Petra: lost city by Christian Auge (May)
  57. From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman (May)
  58. Jordan by E. Borgia (May)
  59. Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill (May)
  60. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (May)
  61. Flash at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser (May)
  62. ADDED: What a Piece of Work I Am by Eric Kraft (Jun/Feb)
  63. Castles in the Air by Judt Corbett (Jun)
  64. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson (Jun)
  65. Thirty-three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (Jun)
  66. Millstone by Margaret Drabble (Jun)
  67. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan (Jun)
  68. Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan (Jul)
  69. At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft (Jul/Feb)
  70. Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill (Jul)
  71. Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme (Jul)
  72. New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc (Jul)
  73. Grifters by Jim Thompson (Jul)
  74. Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (Jul)
  75. Snow Angels by James Thompson (Jul)
  76. Ararchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill (Aug)
  77. ADDED: Leaving Small’s Hotel by Eric Kraft (Aug/Feb)
  78. Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser (Aug)
  79. Possession by AS Byatt (Aug)
  80. In the Footsteps of Ghanghis Khan by John DeFrancis (Aug)
  81. What Just Happened by James Gleick (Aug)
  82. Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (Aug)
  83. ADDED: Inflating a Dog by Eric Kraft (Sep/Feb)
  84. Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill (Sep)
  85. Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser (Sep)
  86. Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett (Sep)
  87. Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (Sep)
  88. Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Sep)
  89. Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Sep)
  90. Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (Oct)
  91. Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill (Oct)
  92. Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett (Oct)
  93. Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser (Oct)
  94. Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
  95. Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Collin Cotterill (Nov)
  96. Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
  97. Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
  98. Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)

DNF = Did Not Finish; AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review


The Shortest Month

This is the second month of this strike-through technique and I’m not sure I like it. I am really bothered by the fact that any additional books get crossed off almost immediately. Sigh. I will say this, though – I like how the crossed off titles look against the full list. Impressive!

  1. Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (DNF)
  2. In a Strange City by Laura Lippman
  3. By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman (AB)
  4. Recognitions by William Gaddis (DNF)
  5. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  6. Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan
  7. Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz (AB)
  8. Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  9. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  10. Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  11. ADDED: A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz
  12. ADDED: Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp
  13. ADDED: Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak
  14. ADDED: Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout
  15. ADDED: Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson (ER)
  16. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan)
  17. ADDED: The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat (AB)
  18. ADDED: In Xanadu by William Dalrymple
  19. ADDED: The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  20. Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose (Jan)
  21. Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore (Jan)
  22. Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London (Jan)
  23. ADDED: Alma Mater by P.F Kluge (Jan)
  24. ADDED: Old Man & Me by Elaine Dundy (Jan)
  25. ADDED: Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy (Feb)
  26. Good Life by Ben Bradlee (Feb)
  27. Underworld by Don DeLillo (Feb, maybe)
  28. Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban (Feb)
  29. Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton (Feb)
  30. Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan (Feb)
  31. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce (Feb)
  32. Herb ‘n Lorna by Eric Kraft (Feb)
  33. Polish Officer by Alan Furst – AB (Feb)
  34. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan (Mar)
  35. ADDED: Reservations Recommended by Eric Kraft (Mar/Feb)
  36. Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle (Mar)
  37. Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur (Mar)
  38. Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe (Mar)
  39. Lives of the Muse by Francine Prose (Mar)
  40. Broom of the System (David Wallace (Mar)
  41. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan (Apr)
  42. ADDED: Little Follies by Eric Kraft (Apr/Feb)
  43. Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson (Apr)
  44. Royal Flash by George Fraser (Apr)
  45. Fifties by David Halberstam (Apr)
  46. Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur (Apr)
  47. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan (Apr)
  48. Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan (May)
  49. ADDED: Where Do You Stop? by Eric Kraft (May/Feb)
  50. Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser (May)
  51. Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma (May)
  52. Petra: lost city by Christian Auge (May)
  53. From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman (May)
  54. Jordan by E. Borgia (May)
  55. Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill (May)
  56. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (May)
  57. Flash at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser (May)
  58. ADDED: What a Piece of Work I Am by Eric Kraft (Jun/Feb)
  59. Castles in the Air by Judt Corbett (Jun)
  60. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson (Jun)
  61. Thirty-three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (Jun)
  62. Millstone by Margaret Drabble (Jun)
  63. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan (Jun)
  64. Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan (Jul)
  65. At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft (Jul/Feb)
  66. Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill (Jul)
  67. Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme (Jul)
  68. New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc (Jul)
  69. Grifters by Jim Thompson (Jul)
  70. Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (Jul)
  71. Snow Angels by James Thompson (Jul)
  72. Ararchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill (Aug)
  73. ADDED: Leaving Small’s Hotel by Eric Kraft (Aug/Feb)
  74. Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser (Aug)
  75. Possession by AS Byatt (Aug)
  76. In the Footsteps of Ghanghis Khan by John DeFrancis (Aug)
  77. What Just Happened by James Gleick (Aug)
  78. Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (Aug)
  79. ADDED: Inflating a Dog by Eric Kraft (Sep/Feb)
  80. Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill (Sep)
  81. Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser (Sep)
  82. Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett (Sep)
  83. Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (Sep)
  84. Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Sep)
  85. Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Sep)
  86. Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (Oct)
  87. Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill (Oct)
  88. Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett (Oct)
  89. Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser (Oct)
  90. Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
  91. Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Collin Cotterill (Nov)
  92. Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
  93. Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
  94. Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)

DNF = Did Not Finish; AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review


Maus II

Spiegelman, Art. Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began. New York: Pantheon, 1992.

I think by the time I read Maus II I was conditioned to lose the conundrum I previously faced with Maus I. When I first read Maus I I struggled with the dilemma of an extremely serious storyline wrapped in a cartoon; the holocaust in pictures. With the reading of Maus II my mind could reconcile the conflict. The heavy topics return as Spiegelman’s father continues his story of survival. At this point he is a prisoner in the concentration camp at Auschwitz and surviving because of his ability to appeared skilled at whatever the gestapo or Nazis need, whether it be working with tin or fixing shoes. The most poignant element of Vladek’s story is that he never gave up on his wife. Being that she was so thin and frail, he feared the worst but he never lost some small hope that he would see her again. The struggle between father and son held the most emotional tension, despite Vladek’s ordeals. Evidence of Alzheimer’s disease complicates their relationship, as does the leaving of Vladek’s second wife, Mala.

Stunning quotes, “If you want to live it is good to be friendly” (p 62) and “I wish he and Mala could patch things up and make each other miserable again” (p 120).

Reason read: to finish the Maus series I started well over a month ago.

Author fact: Thanks to Wikipedia I learned that Spiegelman came up with the Garbage Pail Kids after the Cabbage Patch Kid craze. Interesting.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Graphic Novels” (p 103). Funny how I didn’t mention this earlier, but Spiegelman, Maus I and Maus II are not in the index of Book Lust. Somehow they were left out.


Changing It Up January

A new year deserves new things; new ways of thinking and new ways of doing. Here is the list I promised in December. Instead of separating the list into “finished” and “still to go”, I thought for this go-round I would just cross off the titles I finished. This system will force me to stay on top of the books I add, but we’ll see…Just testing something…

As an aside, I gave up completely on Robert Jordan. Sorry.

  1. Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (DNF)
  2. In a Strange City by Laura Lippman
  3. By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman (AB)
  4. Recognitions by William Gaddis (DNF)
  5. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  6. Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan
  7. Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz (AB)
  8. Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  9. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  10. Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  11. ADDED: A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz
  12. ADDED: Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp
  13. ADDED: Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak
  14. ADDED: Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout
  15. ADDED: Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson (ER)
  16. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan)
  17. Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose (Jan)
  18. Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore (Jan)
  19. Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London (Jan)
  20. ADDED: Alma Mater by P.F Kluge (Jan)
  21. Good Life by Ben Bradlee (Feb)
  22. Underworld by Don DeLillo (Feb)
  23. Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban (Feb)
  24. Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton ((Feb)
  25. Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan (Feb)
  26. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce (Feb)
  27. At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft (Feb)
  28. Polish Officer by Alan Furst (Feb)
  29. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan (Mar)
  30. Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle (Mar)
  31. Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur (Mar)
  32. Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe (Mar)
  33. Lives of the Muse by Francine Prose (Mar)
  34. Broom of the System (David Wallace (Mar)
  35. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan (Apr)
  36. Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson (Apr)
  37. Royal Flash by George Fraser (Apr)
  38. Fifties by David Halberstam (Apr)
  39. Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur (Apr)
  40. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan (Apr)
  41. Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan (May)
  42. Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser (May)
  43. Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma (May)
  44. Petra: lost city by Christian Auge (May)
  45. From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman (May)
  46. Jordan by E. Borgia (May)
  47. Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill (May)
  48. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (May)
  49. Flash at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser (May)
  50. Castles in the Air by Judt Corbett (Jun)
  51. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson (Jun)
  52. Thirty-three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (Jun)
  53. Millstone by Margaret Drabble (Jun)
  54. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan (Jun)
  55. Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan (Jul)
  56. Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill (Jul)
  57. Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme (Jul)
  58. New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc (Jul)
  59. Grifters by Jim Thompson (Jul)
  60. Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (Jul)
  61. Snow Angels by James Thompson (Jul)
  62. Ararchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill (Aug)
  63. Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser (Aug)
  64. Possession by AS Byatt (Aug)
  65. In the Footsteps of Ghanghis Khan by John DeFrancis (Aug)
  66. What Just Happened by James Gleick (Aug)
  67. Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (Aug)
  68. Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill (Sep)
  69. Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser (Sep)
  70. Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett (Sep)
  71. Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (Sep)
  72. Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Sep)
  73. Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Sep)
  74. Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (Oct)
  75. Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill (Oct)
  76. Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett (Oct)
  77. Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser (Oct)
  78. Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
  79. Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Collin Cotterill (Nov)
  80. Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
  81. Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
  82. Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)

DNF = Did Not Finish;AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review

So, right off the bat I see something I don’t like. When I add new books they don’t get their “day in the sun” so to speak. I add them to the list and then cross them off immediately. That doesn’t seem fair.


Maus: a Survivor’s Tale

Spiegelman, Art: Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale. My Father Bleeds History. New York: Pantheon Books, 1973.

Maus I is such a curious conundrum. On the one hand, you are mostly looking at pictures. The very idea of a “comic book” is something out of childhood and inherently considered “light reading.” Definitely not something to be taken seriously. On the other hand, you have Spiegelman’s story itself: a son interviewing his father to get the perspective of a Polish Jew who survived the Nazi concentration camps of World War II. Fear, starvation, distrust, torture, suicide, execution, genocide. All pretty heavy subject matter and without a doubt, difficult to read in any context. Even in his characterization Spiegelman plays with our perceptions. He uses enemies in the natural world to drive home the story; using cats for the Germans and mice for the Jews; pigs for the police.
Here’s the underlying truth, the war never leaves Spiegelman’s father. Even though he survived the war, survived the concentration camps, survived to tell his tale, he lives in the shadow of memory. He worries constantly about money; is distrustful of his own family’s intentions (trying to steal from him). Betrayals of the past run deep and dictate how he trusts others.

Reason read: Pearl Harbor anniversary is Dec 7th (Remembrance Day). Confessional: I started this in November in honor of Veterans’ Day.

Stop and think line, “He survived me my life that time” (p 80). Even though we would normally say, “he saved my life” I think this phrasing, saying the word “survived” carries more weight.

Author fact: Check out the author info in Maus I. There is a lot going on in the illustration.

Book trivia: My favorite part was the comic within the graphic novel. The styles were so vastly different. The importance of the comic was clearly illustrated.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter “Graphic Novels” (p 103).