One of my all time favorite 10,000 Maniacs songs is “The Painted Desert” off the album, Our Time in Eden. If you have never heard it, the premise is simple. A couple is trying to have a long distance relationship. Or…one of them is anyway…While one is off in the Southwest, the other waits patiently for the time when he? she? can join the other. But, soon the patience tarnishes and the one left behind find themselves pleading, “I wanted to be there by May at the latest time. Isn’t that the plan we had or have you changed your mind? I haven’t heard a word from you since Phoenix or Tuscon. April is over. Can you tell how long before I can be there?” The underlying poison is that the partner has moved on and the answer to the question is “never.” How ironic.
Having said all that, April IS over. As far as the run is concerned, I begrudgingly ran a half mara and a 10k and despite not training for either, I am pleased with both races.
And I read a fair amount of books:
- Amber Beach by Elizabeth Lowell
- Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
- The Corner: a Year in the life of an Inner-City Neighborhood by David Simon and Edward Burns
- The Evolution of Everyday Objects by Henry Petroski
- Bogey Man by George Plimpton
- To the Is-Land: an Autobiography by Janet Frame
- Charmed by Nora Roberts
- The Venus Throw by Steven Saylor
- “Unexplorer” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
- “Travel” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
- “Wild Geese” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
- New and Collected Poetry by Czeslaw Milosz
- Deeply Grateful and Entirely Unsatisfied by Amanda Happe
I’m really looking forward to spring. The chance to run outside (sorry, New Guinea) & a little more green in my life. Here are the books planned:
- Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel ~ in honor of the best time to visit Mexico (AB). I think this will only take a few days to read so I’m adding:
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (AB) as a backup ~ in honor of the Oscars (even though they just happened, embarrassingly so).
- Falling Angels by Barbara Gowdy ~ in honor of the time Niagara Falls stopped flowing, and,
- Treachery in the Yard by Adimchinma Ibe ~ in honor of Nigeria’s president as of 2015.
Both of these fictions are short-short so I should be able to read them in a day or two each.
- Breaks in the Game by David Halberstam ~ in honor of March Madness (basketball)
- The Big Empty edited by Ladette Randolph ~ in honor of Nebraska becoming a state in March.
- Red Bones by Ann Cleeves ~ to continue the series started in January in honor of Up Helly Aa.
- Endymion by Dan Simmons ~ to continue the series started in January in honor of Science Fiction month. This sucker is 600 pages long. Not sure I’ll finish it in time…
- Hall of a Thousand Columns by Tim Mackintosh-Smith ~ to continue the series started in February in honor of Exploration month. This is an ILL and it hasn’t arrived yet, so I’m not sure I will finish it in time.
Early Review for LibraryThing:
- Ma Speaks Up by Marianne Leonne ~ maybe. I “won” it in February but it hasn’t arrived yet.
- EDITED to ADD: I just got word I also “won” My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul. It isn’t expected to arrive for awhile so this is really an April book.
December did not suck entirely. I was able to run 97 miles out of the 97 promised. The in-law holiday party was a lot of fun and I got to most of the books on my list:
- Conquest of the Incas by John Hemming (DNF)
- Rainbow’s End by Lauren St. John
- Paul Revere and the World He Lived in by Esther Forbes
- On the Ocean by Pytheas (translated by Christina Horst Roseman)
- Geometry of Love by Margaret Visser
- Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre .
- River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard (AB)
- Tu by Patricia Grace – I read this in four days because it was due back at a library that didn’t allow renewals.
- Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright. I listened to this on audio on my lunch breaks. It was a good way to escape for a little while each day. Confessional: I didn’t finish the whole thing but since it is a continuation of the series it doesn’t matter.
- Yoga for Athletes by Ryanne Cunningham – this was an October book that took me a little time to review because I was too busy using it to run!
- Disaster Falls: a family story by Stephane Gerson
What can I tell you about the new year? Not much. I can tell you about the Challenge books! Here’s what I have planned:
- The Book of Puka-Puka by Robert Dean Frisbie ~ in honor of National Geographic Travel Month
- Italy and the Grand Tour by Jeremy Black ~ in honor of travel and a personal resolution to see Italy some day
- Another Life by Michael Korda ~ in honor of the selfishness of resolutions (it’s all about me).
- Captain of the Sleepers by Mayra Montero ~ in honor of Hostos Day in Puerto Rico
- Hyperion by Dan Simmons ~ in honor of Science Fiction month
- Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright ~ to continue the series started in September (no I didn’t finish this last month like I thought I would)
- Any Human Heart by William Boyd ~ in honor of the month most people start a journal
- Dirty Work by Gabriel Weston (NOTE: I didn’t actually receive this as an Early Review. I was supposed to back in 2014. I just decided to borrow it from the local library & read it anyway).
December is going to be a crazy month. I need to run 93 miles. I will be hosting my in-law’s Holiday party for the first time. I’m going to the Christmas Eve Patriots Game. What else? Oh. The books!
- Conquest of the Incas by John Hemming ~ in honor of December being the best time to visit Peru
- Rainbow’s End by Lauren St. John ~ in honor of Shangani Day in Rhodesia.
- Paul Revere and the World He Lived in by Esther Forbes ~ in honor of Revere’s birth month (I’m guessing since he was baptized on January first.)
- On the Ocean by Pytheas (translated by Christina Horst Roseman) ~ in honor of finally finding a copy of this book!
- Geometry of Love by Margaret Visser ~ in honor of Rome’s Saturnalia Solstice.
- Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre ~ in honor of December being the best time to visit India.
- Tu by Patricia Grace ~ in honor of New Zealand being discovered in December.
- Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright ~ in honor of finishing the series started in September in honor of Enright’s birth month.
- Yoga for Athletes by Ryanne Cunningham ~ for LibraryThing
I started this book challenge thing in November of 2006. Since then I have read over 1,000 books, thanks to Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust series. I’ve had fun. I’ve learned a lot. But, it’s time for a change. No, I’m not quitting the challenge…just changing some things up a little. All things have a natural progression. If you were to look at my first reviews in 2006 I didn’t mention an author fact or any book trivia. In a lot of reviews I didn’t even find a favorite line to quote as proof I read the book. Those elements of the review evolved slowly over time. Recently, I found two more details that need to change and, unlike the previous changes, these come with an announcement instead of a slow introduction.
The first is simple. If Pearl says something specific about a book or author I want to note it, so I’m starting a “Nancy said” sentence right after book trivia. If she didn’t say anything other than to list the title, oh well. I think this addition to the review is a natural one, since I have been mentioning what Nancy said about some titles. Case in point: Pearl liked Halberstam’s The Fifties and I made note of that.
The second change is very dramatic (to me in my own little world anyway). This change literally throws all my comparison stats out the window. I am moving the anniversary to a calendar year. For ten years now I have counted the books read between December 1st and November 30th as a complete year. It’s too complicated that way for reasons I can’t get into right now. Let’s just say a January 1st to December 31 cycle will work best. Let the (new) games begin!
Can I talk about books and running at the same time? I just have to. In the August batch of the Early Review program for LibraryThing I “won” a book called The Boy Who Runs by John Brant. I was pretty excited to read it because as you may have guessed from my other ramblings besides books I’m pretty excited about running. [Reading about running is probably the next best thing to running.] Notice I said I was pretty excited to read it. Past tense. Was. It would have been all well and good if I had actually received the book. Because I haven’t. Not yet. Bummer.
Fast forward to this week. Another message on LibraryThing. “Congratulations, you have won Yoga for Athletes by Ryanne Cunningham.” Another Early Review book! Under normal circumstances I would be beside myself with joy. Besides being excited about books and and being excited about running I am pretty excited about yoga for athletes. [I’ll give you an example: I won Yoga for Runners by Christine Felstead in 2014 and I STILL use it as a bible for routines both before and after runs. I not only read and reread her book, I went on to buy not one but two of her yoga videos. I became a huge fan all because of LibraryThing and the Early Review program.] But, getting back to my original rant. Notice I said would be beside myself with joy. Would be. I’m not beside myself with joy because in the past 12 months I haven’t received three books (four if you count Dorothea’s book that I can’t seem to get ER to acknowledge). Given that track record there is a chance Cunningham’s book won’t make it to me. Bummer. It’s not LT’s fault. I know once I’ve “won” a book it’s up to the publisher to get it to me.
The good news is Cunningham’s book is slated to be published this coming Tuesday. I’ll wait a month and borrow it from my local library.
I am trying to move into this month without cracking up or breaking down. I’ve lost the run temporarily and even a small interruption sets me back. You know it is with a mental stability that isn’t quite that solid. I don’t want to say anything more than that.
Here are the books. Nonfiction first:
- Living Poor: a Peace Corps Chronicle by Moritz Thomsen – in honor of the month Ecuador’s civil war for independence ended.
- Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn – (AB) in honor of the holidays and how much they can stress you out. I’m reading this and listening to it on audio.
- The Fifties by David Halberstam – in honor of finishing what I said I would.
- Baby Doctor by Perri Klass – in honor of National Health Month.
- Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton – in honor of National Education Week. This should take me a lunch break to read.
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – in honor of Gaiman’s birth month.
- Advise and Consent by Allen Drury – in honor of November being an election month (and is it ever!).
- Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright – (EAB = electronic audio book) to continue the series started in September in honor of Enright’s birth month.
- A Toast To Tomorrow by Manning Coles – to continue the series started in October in honor of Octoberfest.
- Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill – to END the series started in May in honor of Rocket Day.
October is…another half marathon. Maybe another trip to Monhegan (not sure yet thanks to it being hurricane season) but what I’m sure about is definitely reading more, more, more books!
- Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau – in honor of magical realism month
- The Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill – to continue the series started in May in honor of Laos Rocket Day
- A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell (AB) – in honor of Halloween
- Toast to Tomorrow by Manning Coles – in honor of October being the best time to visit Germany. Note: just found out this is the second Tommy Hambledon book in the series so you will probably see A Drink to Yesterday before A Toast to Tomorrow.
- Ape and the Sushi Master by Frans de Waal – in honor of October being Gorilla Month
- The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright – to “continue” the series started in September in honor of Enright’s birth month (yes, another series read slightly out of order).
- The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani. Don’t ask.
If there is time I would like to add Aeneid by Virgil in honor of Great Britain’s poetry month.
September was a cool month. On the 10th I ran a half marathon (2:10:16), was able to get to Monhegan (and introduce the island to some new people), and get to a lot of reading:
- Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill
- Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
- Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
- Consul’s Wife by W.T. Tyler
- Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry (AB)
- Life and Death of Edwin Mullhouse by Steven Millhauser
- Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright
- Best Game Ever by Mark Bowden
- The Trial by Franz Kafka
- Which Side Are You On? by Elaine Harger (ER)
- Which Side Are You On? by George Ella Lyon (for fun)
AB = Audio book
ER = Early review
I’m not exactly sure what September will bring. The renovations for the library are finally finished (with a crazy punch list, I might add). The backyard is complete minus the hot tub, fire pit and patio furniture (that’s stage II). I have a half mara in ten days so I’m anticipating a good run month. Here are the planned books:
- Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill – to continue the series started in May in honor of Laos Rocket Day
- Edwin Mullhouse: the life and death of an American Writer – to honor kids in September
- Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng – Mao died of cancer in September.
- Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry – Cold War ended in September
- The Trial by Franz Kafka – September is the best month to visit the Czech Republic.
- Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner – September is Southern Gospel month
- Which Side are You On? by Elaine Harger – an Early Review from LibraryThing.
August was…the final push to move back into the new library space. People who used to work there won’t recognize it. August was also the finishing of the deck and patio. It looks awesome. Sidelined by injury I only ran 60.86 miles this month. But. But! But, here are the books:
- Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill
- Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell (AB)
- Lost City of Z by David Grann
- The High and the Mighty by Ernest Gann
- If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
- Children in the Woods by Frederick Busch
- Flora’s Suitcase by Dalia Rabinovich
- ADDED: Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
- ADDED: Dorothy Gutzeit: Be True and Serve by Dorothy Gutzeit (ER)
My favorite was Dogs of Riga followed by Anarchy and Old Dogs.
My obsession with moving rocks has come to an end now that the big boys are playing in the backyard. This hopefully means I’ll scale back to just two fanatical activities: running and reading. Or reading and running. I wonder who will win out? I am in the last month of training before the half marathon, but here are the books planned for August:
- Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill – to continue the series started in May in honor of Laos Rocket Day. I have been able to read other books in the series in one to two days.
- Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell – in honor of July being one of the best times to visit Sweden (listening as an audio book).
- Lost City of Z: a tale of deadly obsession in the Amazon by David Grann in honor of August being the driest month in the Amazon.
- The High and the Mighty by Ernest Gann in honor of August being Aviation month.
- If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin in honor of Baldwin’s birth month (print & AB).
- Children in the Woods by Frederick Busch in honor of Busch’s birth month (short stories).
- Flora’s Suitcase by Dalia Rabinovich in honor of Columbia’s independence.
PS – on the eve of posting this I ran 7.93 miles. Why the .93? My calf/Achilles started to give me grief so I had to stop. Now I wonder if the running has a chance to catch the books?
July was a nutty month. Lots of music: Phish three times, Warren Haynes at Tanglewood, Dead and Company twice, and Coldplay. (August is only Pearl Jam and Mieka Pauley.) We made it up to Monhegan for a week and down to CT twice. And! And. And, I moved a lot of rocks (don’t ask). For the books it was:
- Milk in my Coffee by Eric Jerome Dickey
- Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill
- Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (AB)
- The Last Battle by Ryan Cornelius
- Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
- 8:55 to Baghdad by Andrew Eames
I think, once I got used to Dickey’s style, I grew to like Milk but my favorite by far was The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh. Is it a movie? Because if it isn’t, it should be. I said that in the review as well.
Full disclosure: I had Lost Upland on my list as well. I simply ran out of time and couldn’t get to it. I’m okay with seven books for the month.
July. Summertime. Lots of music (starting with you guessed it, Phish). Lots of running (hopefully all outdoors). Lots of travel, lots of play. Plenty of reading:
- Milk in My Coffee by Eric Jerome Dickey (in honor of National Cow Appreciation Day on the 14th. I kid you not.)
- Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill (#3 – to continue the series started in May in honor of Rocket Day)
- The Last Battle by Cornelius Ryan (#3 – to continue the series started in June for D-Day)
- Cranford (AB) by Elizabeth Gaskell (in honor of Swan Upping. If you don’t know about this day, check it out. It’s fascinating. Or you can wait for my review when I’ll explain the practice.)
- Black Faces, White Faces by Jane Gardam (in honor of Gardam’s birth month)
As an aside, I have read the last two Cotterills in a day each, so I know I need to add at least one or two more books to the list. I’m off to the great unknown for vacation so when I get back I’ll probably have to revisit this list.
Also, I should note that I won another Early Review book from LibraryThing, but since its not here yet I won’t promise to read it. 😉