Evolution

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!


We Interrupt Myself & Moi

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.

 


Stop Drop and Reload

Has anyone else noticed this? My reading has gotten out of control. And when I say out of control I mean Out.Of.Control. Case in point: in 2013 I only read four books off the Challenge list. Natalie Merchant, my sister, my job and a friend all made book recommendations that I took. Four books. In 2014 I read ten books off the Challenge list. Five were all about running and five were gifts or recommendations. Ten books. In 2015 I read fifteen off Challenge list books. Fifteen books! We are only 2 1/2 months into March and already I have read nine off-Challenge-list books. This has GOT to STOP. At this rate I will never, ever finish the Challenge list. I keep spending time with books I shouldn’t. I’m pulling my hair out. You just can’t see me.

As of right now I am currently reading two books that are not on the Challenge list. Both are books that should have been Early Review books. So, here is the plan: I am going to finish up those books (In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White and Why the Grateful Dead Matter by Michael Benson) and then return to reading from the list as much as possible. I need to stop reading titles not indexed in the Lust books, drop books that have nothing to do with the Challenge and reload the ones that do. The end.


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


May Day

May is going to be a crazy month. I have no idea why I have so many books scheduled for this month. Have I gone mad? I doubt I will get through nine, count ’em, nine books in 31 days but there you have it. This is the list. In other news May is was: a trip to Toronto & a half marathon; & will be a trip to Bolton and a 60 mile walk. I think I am crazy.

  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. 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 (ER)
  16. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan)
  17. The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat (AB)
  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 DNF
  32. Herb ‘n’ Lorna by Eric Kraft
  33. Polish Officer by Alan Furst – AB
  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 – ER
  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. ADDED: Bob Marley, My Son by Cedella Marley Booker (ER)
  47. ADDED: Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  48. Southern Mail by Antoine de Saint- Exupery
  49. Measure of All Things, the by Ken Alder  (AB)
  50. Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson
  51. Royal Flash by George Fraser
  52. Fifties by David Halberstam (Apr – DNS)
  53. Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur
  54. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan (DNF)
  55. ADDED: Castle in the Backyard by Betsy Draine (EB)
  56. Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan (DNF)
  57. ADDED: Where Do You Stop? by Eric Kraft (May/Feb)
  58. Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren (ER)
  59. Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur (May)
  60. Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser (May)
  61. Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma (May)
  62. Petra: lost city by Christian Auge (May)
  63. From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman (May)
  64. Jordan by E. Borgia (May)
  65. Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill (May)
  66. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (AB/May)
  67. Flash at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser (Jun/Apr)
  68. ADDED: What a Piece of Work I Am by Eric Kraft (Jun/Feb)
  69. Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett (Jun)
  70. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson (Jun)
  71. Thirty-three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (Jun)
  72. Millstone by Margaret Drabble (Jun)
  73. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan (DNF)
  74. Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan (DNF)
  75. At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft (Jul/Feb)
  76. Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill (Jul)
  77. Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme (Jul)
  78. New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc (Jul)
  79. Grifters by Jim Thompson (Jul)
  80. Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (Jul)
  81. Snow Angels by James Thompson (Jul)
  82. Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill (Aug)
  83. ADDED: Leaving Small’s Hotel by Eric Kraft (Aug/Feb)
  84. Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser (Aug)
  85. Possession by AS Byatt (Aug)
  86. In the Footsteps of Ghanghis Khan by John DeFrancis (Aug)
  87. What Just Happened by James Gleick (Aug)
  88. Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (Aug)
  89. ADDED: Inflating a Dog by Eric Kraft (Sep/Feb)
  90. Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill (Sep)
  91. Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser (Sep)
  92. Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett (Sep)
  93. Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (Sep)
  94. Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (Sep)
  95. Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Sep)
  96. Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (Oct)
  97. Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill (Oct)
  98. Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett (Oct)
  99. Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser (Oct)
  100. Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
  101. Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Collin Cotterill (Nov)
  102. Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
  103. Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
  104. Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)

DNF = Did Not Finish; AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review; DNS = Did Not Start; EB = Electronic book


Counted Among the Crazy

As you may or may not know and as you may or may not care, I miscounted the books left to go in my Book Lust Challenge. I had previously decided I was going to embrace the new number and move on. Obviously, I didn’t embrace and I haven’t moved on. I am still trying to figure out how I miscounted. But. But! But, in that figuring out, I think I’m beginning to get answers. Go figure.

The root of the problem lies in what was indexed. Across all three Book Lusts the editors were not consistent with what information should be included. In Book Lust any book mentioned in the introduction was not included in the index. Full titles were not listed. A lot of the poetry and short stories were missed. In all, there were over 140 mistakes in the index of Book Lust. Now, let’s look at More Book Lust. 18 titles didn’t make it into the index and most of those were either poetry or short stories. Full titles were included (unlike Book Lust). In Book Lust To Go instead of missing information there was an overabundance of information. For starters, take the titles Le Marriage and Le Divorce. These two titles are indexed twice – once under L for Le and once under M and D for Marriage and Divorce, respectively. Two titles, four entries in the index. Duh. Another issue – only in Book Lust To Go is the series title indexed along with the individual books within the series. Example: Kristen Lavransdatter is the name of the series and it is composed of The Cross, The Wife, and The Wreath. Three books, four entries in the index. Interestingly enough, Kristen Lavransdatter is also indexed in More Book Lust but only by the series title. There is no mention of The Cross, The Wife or The Wreath. Surprise! Bottom line, I don’t really know how many individual titles I have to read. Meh.

So, as you can see (clear as mud) I am trying to sort out the titles. This is going to take some time. I’ll try not to go crazy.


The Numbers – explained

The numbers are in! Thanks to a severe omission of several chapters from Book Lust To Go I had to add 89 additional titles to the Challenge list, bringing my total number of books left to read to 4,809. While I am irritated by this new number, 4809 is a much better number than what I had been originally anticipating. I guessed 4,840. In order to remain positive, I will try not to fixate on the fact I thought I had 4,726 to go. I will put THAT number out of my head. I will. So. Moving forward, what this means is I will be even stricter about the “fun” stuff I read on the side. I will become pickier about the “outside” books. If you weren’t recommended by Pearl, forget about it. Wait. I’m a liar. I will still review Early Reviews for LibraryThing. I am loyal to the Thing. But being stricter with the rules also means I will give up on Challenge books more easily. Does it pain me to say that? No, strangely enough, in a way I’m relieved. It pained me more to struggle through a book I had no real interest in reading in the first place. Like that history of the atomic bomb…I found myself really reading only the even pages and skipping the odd. I would do that with any book I was particularly bored with. Hey – it worked. I got the gist of the plot and didn’t feel like I missed all that much. But, from here on out, if I don’t like a book within 25 pages I’m moving on. I don’t want Kisa reading to me on my death bed just so I can finish this challenge. So, on the plus side of these new “rules”, by not wasting a ton of time with the boring books, this means I will get to the books I am really looking forward to reading that much faster.

As penance for screwing up my numbers I am going to start a countdown on my blog. “I have read X number of books to date.”

Another confession – I honestly don’t believe Pearl read every book she recommended, either.