Mayday, Mayday!

The entire world has changed seemingly overnight. No, that’s not true. COVID-19 had been brewing and building for months and months. Festering and threatening overseas. We knew it would come our American way, and yet. Yet! Here we are. I have been laid off from my job; have been quarantined for 40 plus days; have not seen the inside of a store of any kind; have not driven a car or talked face to face with another human being besides my Kisa. For over a month, I have been separated by screens and paranoia. I couldn’t even say goodbye to one of my closest friends for fear of contamination before he stole across borders towards a new home. Words like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Hangout, and Live Stream rule my daily existence. My insanity has been kept in check by these words, walking 8-9 miles a day, writing letters, and finishing chores I always said I would get to but never did (sewing ripped clothes, making curtains, hanging art, you name it). The one activity I haven’t done much of is…read.
Nothing bothers me more than someone saying, “think of all the time you have to read!” They mean well but they just don’t know. When I was a kid I spent a lot of time reading. When I could get away with it, my nose was constantly in a book. In the dead of winter, when the summer tides of friends had gone out, I was left with my sister and a handful of kids close in age. Close, but not quite. Dead low tide was a boy one year older. A girl three years younger. A boy two years older. A boy four years younger. No one exactly shared my birth year. I found myself turning to friends within the pages of books. Lots and lots of books. Lots and lots of friends. My dad was not a fan of these relationships. He viewed fiction as leisure or worse, laziness. “Get outside! Get some fresh air!” was his constant bark from early October through May. His bark was so biting I grew up fearing fiction was a form of loafing; something to never to be caught doing in broad daylight. I remember smuggling Nancy Drew under my shirt when I went to the school bathroom; ducking under covers with a flashlight to join Bilbo on his great adventure; climbing trees with Stephen King clenched in my teeth. Hiding to hang out with a paperback became normal.
In 2006 when I started the BookLust Challenge, I thought I had slayed the old insecurities. I thought I could spend time with a book without guilt. For fourteen years I held onto this belief as a private gospel…until I got laid off and I couldn’t sit on the couch with a book. All the old feelings of leisure, loafing, laziness came flooding back. Guilt. I realized I only read when I was killing time, waiting for something else. Constructive book devouring? I don’t know. For years, I could juggle reading 5-6 books at a time and finish 10 in a month. But! That was when I was on hold with a vendor, bored in the boardroom, waiting in line at the grocery store, fighting nerves in the doctor’s office, sitting as a passenger on long car/train/plane/boat rides. Reading kept me from waiting for anything. Take all the time you need while I finish this chapter…
I have been out of work for one month, collecting unemployment equal to my take-home pay and yet I’ve only managed to finish two books. I guess I could try to tell myself I am waiting to go back to work, but that’s too abstract for my too literal mind. Mayday! Mayday, I can’t read.

I always said I will die before I officially finish the reading Challenge. Now I know it to be true.


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.


We Interrupt This Book

I’m not sure how to say this so I’m just going to come right out and say it. I fukced up. Somehow, in some way, I screwed up my Challenge list. I don’t even know how I figured out something had gone horribly awry. All I know is this- dozens of books from Book Lust To Go didn’t make it onto my lists, and believe me, there are a few. I am the queen of lists. I have a double no, triple no, quadruple no, quintuple-check system for keeping my books in order. Behold:

  1. First there is the excel spreadsheet called “Twist List.” It has every single title from all three Lust books. This spreadsheet is alphabetically tabbed and each title is color coded for which Book Lust it came from (white for Book Lust, light green for More Book Lust, light turquoise for Book Lust To Go, dark green for both Book Lust and another Lust book, brown for More Book Lust and another Lust book, dark turquoise for Book Lust To Go and another Lust book, and purple for when I finish the title).
  2. Then, there is a spreadsheet called “Lust To Go List.” It’s the same alphabetically tabbed list as Twist only it’s not color coded and when I finish a book it simply gets deleted from the list. It’s literally a list what I have left to read.
  3. The third spreadsheet is called “Schedule Calendar” and it is all the titles from all three Lust books organized by the month I plan to read them in. Each month gets its own tab: Jan, Feb, Mar and so on.
  4. The fourth and penultimate check system is the “Chapter List.” Each Lust book has its own spreadsheet broken out by chapter. Think of it this way: it’s the index of Book Lust et al in excel spreadsheets. Example: Once I finish a book in the chapter “Montana: the Big Sky Country” (Book Lust p 156), for example, I color code the title. At a glance I cen see I read three titles and there are ten more left to read.
  5. The fifth and final check is not a spreadsheet. It’s actually my LibraryThing account. Every book I have to read is in my “catalog” and tagged “accomplished” when I have read it.

I know, I know. It’s complicated. But, it works. So. Back to my dilemma. Somehow I realized that whole chapters of Book Lust To Go didn’t make it onto the first two lists. I’m not sure how that happened. It kills me to say my comprehensive reading list is not so comprehensive. How to fix this mess? Right now I am systematically (read=painfully) going through Book Lust To Go‘s index and checking the titles against Twist and Lust To Go. I’m up to ‘M’ and I’m adding titles where necessary (and that’s the part that REALLY kills me). Sometimes I only need to add a title to Twist and not To Go. Not sure what happened there, but whatever. Occasionally, I have been checking LibraryThing to see if I included the missing title in my catalog. Nine times out of ten the title is there, so I’m not going to worry too much about that. The lists I haven’t checked (yet) are the Schedule Calendar and the Chapter list. I’ll cross those bridges later. For now, I have enough titles mapped out that I won’t miss the missing…if that makes sense. Watch – I’ll probably end up reading nothing but books on Hong Kong at the bitter end because that’s one of the chapters I completely missed. Oh well.


September Back To School List

I’m a day late with this…

The list is now really getting shorter! Summer is over just like that. And so is Year Seven. Here are the remaining books for October and November. Just two short months to go.

  1. Deafening by Frances Itani – October
  2. Going Wild by Robert Winkler – October
  3. Guardians by Geoffrey Kabaservice – November
  4. Ocean of Words by Ha Jin – October
  5. Panther Soup by John Grimlette – November
  6. Southpaw by Mark Harris – October
  7. Time, Love, Memory by Jonathan Weiner – November
  8. What you Owe Me by Bebe Moore Campbell – November

ON DECK FOR SEPTEMBER:

  1. At Home in the Heart of Appalachia by John O’Brien
  2. Burma Chronicles by Guy Delise
  3. Child that Books Built by Francis Spufford
  4. ADDED: City in the Sky by James Glanz
  5. Light Infantry Ball by Hamilton Basso
  6. Old Friends by Tracy Kidder
  7. Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

FINISHED:

  1. Abide By Me by Elizabeth Strout
  2. Adventures of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
  3. Ancient Athens on 5 Drachmas a Day by Philip Matyszak
  4. Apollo: the epic journey to the moon by David West Reynolds
  5. Apples Are From Kazakhstan by Christopher Robbins
  6. Arctic Grail by Pierre Berton (I started this last year. No, sorry – two years ago)
  7. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  8. Author, Author by David Lodge (audio)
  9. Beautiful Swimmers by William Warner
  10. Before the Knife by Carolyn Slaughter
  11. Bellwether by Connie Willis
  12. Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengist (audio)
  13. Beyond the Bogota by Gary Leech
  14. Big Mouth and Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates
  15. Billy by Albert French
  16. ADDED: Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
  17. Brass Go-Between by Oliver Bleeck
  18. Breakfast with Scot by Michael Drowning
  19. Brush with Death by Elizabeth Duncan
  20. Brushed by Feathers by Frances Wood
  21. Burning the Days by James Salter
  22. Camus, a Romance by Elizabeth Hawes
  23. Cardboard Crown by Martin Boyd
  24. Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean by Jackson Galaxy
  25. Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lillian Jackson Braun
  26. Churchill, a life by Martin Gilbert
  27. City of Thieves by David Benioff
  28. Conspiracy and Other Stories by Jaan Kross
  29. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
  30. Death in Verona by Roy Harley Lewis
  31. Descending the Dragon by Jon Bowermaster
  32. Diamond Classics by Mike Shannon
  33. Difficult Young Man by Martin Boyd
  34. Dining with Al-Qaeda by Hugh Pope
  35. Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
  36. Domestic Manners of the Americans by Fanny Trollope
  37. The Evolution of Jane by Catherine Schine
  38. Edward Lear in Albania by Edward Lear
  39. Fanny by Edmund White
  40. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
  41. Final Solution by Michael Chabon
  42. Fixer by Joe Sacco
  43. Flamboya Tree by Clara Olink Kelly
  44. Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco
  45. Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Zabat Katz
  46. Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
  47. Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Gerald Martin
  48. Galton Case by Ross MacDonald
  49. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
  50. Girl in Landscape by Jonathan Lethem
  51. God: a biography by Jack Miles
  52. Gold Coast Madam by Rose Laws
  53. Golden Spruce by John Vaillant
  54. Good City edited by Emily Hiestand
  55. Good Thief’s Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan
  56. Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan
  57. Good-bye Chunk Rice by Craig Thompson
  58. Grand Ambition by Lisa Michaels
  59. Her by Christa Parravani
  60. Hole in the Earth by Robert Bausch
  61. Hole in the World by Richard Rhodes
  62. Home Before Dark by Susan Cheever
  63. House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre
  64. Iliad by Homer
  65. Idle Days in Patagonia by William Hudson
  66. Imperfect Harmony by Stacy Horn (for LibraryThing’s Early Review program
  67. Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer
  68. Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith
  69. Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street by Michael Lewis
  70. Lives of the Painters, vol 2, 3 & 4 by Giorgio Vasari
  71. The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz
  72. Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou for the Early Review Program
  73. Mortality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith
  74. No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
  75. Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin
  76. Of Human Bondage by William Maugham
  77. Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
  78. Outbreak of Love by Martin Boyd
  79. Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
  80. Path Between the Seas by David McCullough
  81. Patrimony: a true story by Philip Roth
  82. Playing for Keeps by David Halberstam
  83. Points Unknown edited by David Roberts
  84. Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
  85. Ready for a Brand New Beat by Mark Kurlansky
  86. Return of the Dancing Master by Henning Mankell
  87. Rosalind Franklin: Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox
  88. Scar Tissue by Michael Ignatieff
  89. Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
  90. Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham – did not finish
  91. Star Beast by Robert Heinlein
  92. Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
  93. Suzy’s Case by Andy Siegel (as recommended)
  94. Tatiana by Dorothy Jones
  95. Tattered Cloak by Nina Berberova
  96. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
  97. Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
  98. This is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakawila for LibraryThing
  99. Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  100. True Crime: Real-Life Stories of Abduction, Addiction, Obsession, Murder, Grave-Robbing and More edited by Lee Gutkind (Early Review)
  101. Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers
  102. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery
  103. Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin
  104. When Blackbirds Sing by Martin Boyd
  105. Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer
  106. Widow for One Year by John Irving
  107. Women of the Raj by Margaret MacMillan
  108. Working Poor by David Shipler
  109. Year in Provence, a by Peter Mayle

POETRY COMPLETED:

  1. “Golden Angel Pancake House” by Campbell McGrath
  2. “Lepanto” by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
  3. “Listeners” by Walter De La Mare
  4. “Mandalay” by Rudard Kipling
  5. “Road and the End” by Carl Sandburg
  6. “Sea-Fever” by John Masefield
  7. “Winter” by Marie Ponsot
  8. “In My Craft or Sullen Art” by Dylan Thomas
  9. The Long Hill” by Sarah Teasdale
  10. “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

SHORT STORIES COMPLETED:

  1. “Here’s a Little Something” by Dan Chaon (from Among the Missing)
  2. “Big Me” by Dan Chaon (from Among the Missing)
  3. “Servants of the Map” by Elizabeth Barrett (from Servant of the Map)
  4. “The Cure” by Elizabeth Barrett (from Servants of the Map)
  5. “In the Land of Men” by Antonya Nelson (from In the Land of Men)
  6. “Goodbye Midwest” by Antonya Nelson (from In the Land of Men)
  7. “Ado” by Connie Willis (from Impossible Things)
  8. “At the Rialto” by Connie Willis (from Impossible Things)
  9. “A Tiger-Killer is Hard To find” by Ha Jin (from Bridegroom: stories)
  10. “After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town” by Ha Jin (from Bridegroom: stories)
  11. “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri (from Interpreter of Maladies)
  12. “A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri (from Interpreter of Maladies)
  13. “A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies” by John Murray (from A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies)
  14. “Watson and the Shark” by John Murray (from A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies)

NEXT YEAR:

  1. House of Morgan by Ron Chernow (as previously mentioned)
  2. Rose Cafe by John Hanson Mitchell

Strangled Charity

I have a decidedly dumb dilemma. Books. Too many of them. Well, more accurately I have too many uncorrected proofs. Nearly 70 different titles. In the beginning…we’re talking 2006..I was asked to join LibraryThing’s Early Review program. Here’s how it works: ever month LT posts a list of new books to be published and you request one to be reviewed before publication. I have been honored to “win” nearly 70 early publications and I have reviewed them all. Well, let me clarify. I have faithfully reviewed every title I have received. I’m still waiting for two…

In the beginning it was a pride thing. I was so thrilled to be asked to join this program that I saved every single book I was asked to review. I wanted to keep an entire collection of “librarythings” to mark the accomplishment. But now they are taking over! Ironically, the two favorites I wanted to keep I loaned away and never saw again (The Translator and Losing Clementine). But, back to the books I can’t keep. I argue with myself and moi about what to do all the time.

Here’s how it goes:
Me: We donate them to a charity?
Myself: It’s uncorrected proof. No one wants to read an unfinished product.
Me: We could donate them to a library?
Moi: You wrote tags, notes and stuff all through them. You underlined and dog eared pages. (Shame on you, librarian!)
Me: We could give them to friends?
Myself: And how would you decide who gets what? Think of that Orgasmic Pregnancy one! Who would get that?
Me: We could offer them up free to anyone interested near and far? FaceBook? They would just pay my shipping costs?
Myself: And what if people don’t send you $$ to mail them? You are trying to renovate your kitchen, remember?
Me: We could throw them out?
Moi: You would hate yourself and chase after the recycling truck to bring them back.
Me: We could just keep them?
Myself: Out of the question. You don’t hold onto books unless you love them. You are running out of room with things you don’t love.
Me: I do hate clutter.
Moi: See?

So. What to do? Maybe when the weather gets warmer I’ll set up an alfresco book store with a big ole “Free” sign and see what happens. It could be a study in sociology. Do people like uncorrected proofs? Would they mind my in-page musings? Do people like free no matter what? And who will take that Orgasmic Pregnancy book?


Pulse Check

This is the list for Year Seven of the Book Lust Challenge. I’ll update it at the end of each month, just to keep myself honest.

  1. Abide By Me by Elizabeth Strout
  2. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  3. Among the Missing by Dan Chaon
  4. Apollo: the epic journey to the moon by David West Reynolds
  5. Arctic Grail by Pierre Berton (I started this last year)
  6. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  7. At Home in the Heart of Appalachia by John O’Brien
  8. Beautiful Swimmers by William Warner
  9. Before the Knife by Carolyn Slaughter
  10. Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengist
  11. Beyond the Bogota by Gary Leech
  12. Big Mouth and Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates
  13. Brass Go-Between by Oliver Bleeck
  14. Breakfast with Scot by Michael Drowning
  15. Brush with Death by Elizabeth Duncan
  16. Burma Chronicles by Guy Delise
  17. Burning the Days by James Salter
  18. Camus, a Romance by Elizabeth Hawes
  19. Cardboard Crown by Martin Boyd
  20. Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lillian Jackson Braun
  21. Child that Books Built by Francis Spufford
  22. Churchill, a life by Martin Gilbert
  23. Conspiracy and Other Stories by Jaan Kross
  24. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
  25. Deafening by Frances Itani
  26. Death in Verona by Roy Harley Lewis
  27. Diamond Classics by Mike Shannon
  28. Dining with Al-Qaeda by Hugh Pope
  29. Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
  30. Domestic Manners of the Americans by Fanny Trollope
  31. Edward Lear in Albania by Edward Lear
  32. Fanny by Edmund White
  33. Final Solution by Michael Chabon
  34. Fixer by Joe Sacco
  35. Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco
  36. Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
  37. Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Gerald Martin
  38. Galton Case by Ross MacDonald ~ reading right now
  39. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
  40. Girl in Landscape by Jonathan Lethem
  41. Going Wild by Robert Winkler
  42. Golden Spruce by John Vaillant
  43. Good Thief’s Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan
  44. Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan
  45. Good-bye Chunk Rice by Craig Thompson
  46. Grand Ambition by Lisa Michaels
  47. Guardians by Geoffrey Kabaservice
  48. Hole in the Earth by Robert Bausch
  49. House of Morgan by Ron Chernow
  50. House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre
  51. Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer
  52. Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith
  53. Light Infantry Ball by Hamilton Basso
  54. Lives of the Painters (vol 2, 3 & 4) by Giorgio Vasari
  55. Mortality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith
  56. No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
  57. Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin
  58. Ocean of Words by Ha Jin
  59. Old Friends by Tracy Kidder
  60. Panther Soup by John Grimlette
  61. Points Unknown edited by David Roberts
  62. Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
  63. Return of the Dancing Master by Henning Mankell
  64. Rosalind Franklin by Brenda Maddox
  65. Rose Cafe by John Hanson Mitchell
  66. Scar Tissue by Michael Ignatieff
  67. Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham
  68. Southpaw by Mark Harris
  69. Tattered Cloak by Nina Berberova ~ reading right now
  70. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
  71. Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
  72. Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  73. Time, Love, Memory by Jonathan Weiner
  74. Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers
  75. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery
  76. Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin
  77. What you Owe Me by Bebe Moore Campbell
  78. Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer
  79. Widow for One Year by John Irving
  80. Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
  81. Working Poor by David Shipler

Anniversary of Crazy

November marks the seventh anniversary of the crazy idea I would read everything indexed in Book Lust by Nancy Pearl. Subsequently that idea mushroomed into reading everything indexed in More Book Lust and most recently, Book Lust To Go as well. Let’s do a little math, shall we? In six years I have read 583 books. That is approximately 97 books a year. If I continue at that rate I will finish the Lust Challenge when I am 93 years old, give or take a year or two…..

I had this conversation with someone a few days ago and without warning the thought that I might not finish this challenge depressed me. Not because of my own mortality but because of all the interesting books I will miss. I had a horrible thought – what if I spent a considerable time slogging through something I found only mildly interesting while I missed out on something completely riveting? What a not nice thought. I shared this ugly-ugly and my companion stridently changed the subject. What if you were to consider November a “new” year and you list out the books you are planning to read? This, of course, would not include LibraryThing and the Early Review program. It would not include the “strays” (as I’ve taken to calling them). Those are the books picked up for no other reason than a good suggestion or an intriguing cover. Accountability. I like it. It gives me structure. So, without further ado, here is the conservative list for Year Seven 11/2012 – 11/2013 in alphabetical order, of course:

  1. Abide By Me by Elizabeth Strout
  2. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  3. Among the Missing by Dan Chaon
  4. Apollo: the epic journey to the moon by David West Reynolds
  5. Arctic Grail by Pierre Berton (I started this last year)
  6. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  7. At Home in the Heart of Appalachia by John O’Brien
  8. Beautiful Swimmers by William Warner
  9. Before the Knife by Carolyn Slaughter
  10. Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengist
  11. Beyond the Bogota by Gary Leech
  12. Brass Go-Between by Oliver Bleeck
  13. Breakfast with Scot by Michael Drowning
  14. Burma Chronicles by Guy Delise
  15. Burning the Days by James Salter
  16. Camus, a Romance by Elizabeth Hawes
  17. Cardboard Crown by Martin Boyd
  18. Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lillian Jackson Braun
  19. Child that Books Built by Francis Spufford
  20. Churchill, a life by Martin Gilbert
  21. Conspiracy and Other Stories by Jaan Kross
  22. Deafening by Frances Itani
  23. Death in Verona by Roy Harley Lewis
  24. Diamond Classics by Mike Shannon
  25. Dining with Al-Qaeda by Hugh Pope
  26. Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
  27. Domestic Manners of the Americans by Fanny Trollope
  28. Edward Lear in Albania by Edward Lear
  29. Fanny by Edmund White
  30. Final Solution by Michael Chabon
  31. Fixer by Joe Sacco
  32. Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco
  33. Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
  34. Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Gerald Martin
  35. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
  36. Girl in Landscape by Jonathan Lethem
  37. Going Wild by Robert Winkler
  38. Golden Spruce by John Vaillant
  39. Good Thief’s Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan
  40. Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan
  41. Good-bye Chunk Rice by Craig Thompson
  42. Grand Ambition by Lisa Michaels
  43. Guardians by Geoffrey Kabaservice
  44. Hole in the Earth by Robert Bausch
  45. House of Morgan by Ron Chernow
  46. House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre
  47. Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer
  48. Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith
  49. Light Infantry Ball by Hamilton Basso
  50. Lives of the Painters (vol 2, 3 & 4) by Giorgio Vasari
  51. Mortality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith
  52. No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
  53. Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin
  54. Ocean of Words by Ha Jin
  55. Old Friends by Tracy Kidder
  56. Panther Soup by John Grimlette
  57. Points Unknown edited by David Roberts
  58. Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
  59. Return of the Dancing Master by Henning Mankell
  60. Rosalind Franklin by Brenda Maddox
  61. Rose Cafe by John Hanson Mitchell
  62. Scar Tissue by Michael Ignatieff
  63. Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham
  64. Southpaw by Mark Harris
  65. Tattered Cloak by Nina Berberova
  66. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
  67. Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
  68. Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  69. Time, Love, Memory by Jonathan Weiner
  70. Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers
  71. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery
  72. Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin
  73. What you Owe Me by Bebe Moore Campbell
  74. Widow for One Year by John Irving
  75. Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
  76. Working Poor by David Shipler

I’ll update this list May 1st, at the halfway mark. I haven’t spelled out which books I will listen to on CD. This also doesn’t reflect when I’ll read them either. All I know is that I will continue to read whenever and wherever I can. Standing in line at the grocery store, trapped in the backseat of a moving vehicle, before bed, in the bath, while my kisa watches hours of football, with a glass of wine, during storms, by candlelight and sunlight, on vacation, while I’m sick, or waiting for the pasta water to boil. I will skip the books that bore me to tears. I will start books early and finish them late. This is my new year’s resolution.


Oct ’12 is…

October. What I can I say about October besides it is a yin yang of good and bad. Three different friends celebrate their anniversaries in this month so it is a month of love for some. My cousin passed away October 10th last year. A new dark cloud anniversary for some. Kisa and a friend and I head to Monhegan for a week. It will be good to be homehome. In fact I’ll need to post this early in order for it not to be almost two weeks late. What else is October? Halloween. Pumpkins. A return to cozy knee high leggings. Kisa and I are already talking about buying and burning wood. The stove didn’t see much action last year. Here are the books:

  • Hackers edited by Jack Dann ~ in honor of October being computers month. Disclaimer ~ I had to place an interlibrary loan on this one so I’m not sure I’ll actually read it in time.
  • Persian Boy by Mary Renault ~ a continuation of the Alexander the Great series. Note: I am not reading the third and final book of the trilogy.
  • Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper ~ a continuation of the Leatherstocking series. Nope. I’m just saying I’ll read it when I know I won’t. If the preceding book was “attempted” the following book won’t even get a chance. New rule.
  • The Outermost House: A year of life on the great beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston ~ in honor of October being animal month
  • Dialect of Sex by Shulamith Firestone ~ in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month and strong women (I started this last year and didn’t finish it in time).
  • Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Giorgio Vasari ~ in honor of October being art appreciation month.
  • And for audio: The Man From Beijing by Swedish author Henning Mankell ~ as a wild card book.

For the Early Review program on LibraryThing I am reading Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee by Thomas Craughwell. I’m pretty excited about this one. Historical cooking with a Founding Father. You can’t go wrong!


Ten Hours Until Dawn Postscript

This should be a ps at the end of the Tougias review but somehow it doesn’t seen appropriate to put it there. What I am about to say has nothing to do with the review but is essential to the enjoyment of the book. LISTEN TO THE AUDIO BOOK! Seriously. I wrote my review before listening to the acknowledgments and thank yous and the I-couldn’t-have-written-this-book-without-you spiel. I should have waited until all that was over. Here’s what I would have included:
Listen to the very end of Ten Hours Until Dawn. What you will hear will chill your heart and break your soul. Listening to the actual radio calls between Coast Guard stations Glouster, Salem and Peabody and Frank Quirk, Captain of the “Can Do” is breathtaking. You spend so much time hearing an actor portray these people and you spend so much time with Tougias’s words that when the real exchange is finally heard it’s like a punch to the gut. On a personal note, I felt actual anger listening to the captain of the Global Hope fumble for the correct terminology to describe his situation. I felt sheer helplessness listening to Charlie Bucko make the mayday call from the “Can Do”. Listening to these people blew my mind. Maybe I am so moved because my father was a tried and true Coastie. To be sure I have been thinking of him as I heard Frank Quirk’s brave voice on the radio. Next month marks the 20th anniversary of my father’s passing; a man who died while trying to save the life of another.
But, back to Ten Hours Until Dawn. I have to admit this is one of those rare times when I want to read the book even after hearing the audio version. This is a story that truly resonated with me.