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.


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

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!


February ’12 is…

I feel like I should be singing that diet song that Jennifer Hudson sings – you know the one about it being a new day, a new dawn or a new whatever? Every February I see a chance to refresh, renew, in other words start the fukc over. Think New Years resolutions only a month late. But. But! But, I have my reasons. I was born in the month of February so to me, this month IS my new year. I shouldn’t be here so every year that I am is like starting over. But, enough about all that. Here are the books:

  • Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban in honor of Hoban’s birth month. I plan to read this on a smoke break. LOL
  • Personal History by Katharine Graham in honor of February being Journalism month.
  • Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer in honor of February being a big month for history.
  • Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien to continue the Lord of the Rings series that I started with The Hobbit last month.

I did get notification that I got an Early Review book from LibraryThing. That’s cool. What’s even cooler is that it’s a book about the Coast Guard. Having just come from an very, very classy veteran’s (air force) funeral for my uncle I am interested to explore the history of my father’s military branch.

Edited to make a correction: I misspelled Mrs. Graham’s first name as Katherine. My apologies.


A Simple Act of Gratitude

Kralik, John. A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life. New York: Harper, 2010.

My first “off schedule” read for 2012. Why? I was boarding a plane & heading across the country for a funeral. Flying + funerals = Frightened me lately. I needed something to distract me from the twelve plus hours we would be traveling. As for the who, what, where, when and why details I’ll leave them for another day and another place.

So, back to the book review. I chose A Simple Act of Gratitude because it looked like something I could devour on a cross-country flight. I was determined to start it on the east coast so that I could finish it and return it on the west coast. A Simple Act was that kind of book.

If you haven’t heard of this book the premise is simple: typical lawyer is losing his grip on the good life. He is going through a divorce, his company is failing and is about to be evicted, his girlfriend just broke up with him and his seven-year-old daughter has to sleep in his grungy, cramped, falling-apart apartment every time she comes to visit. He’s losing touch with friends and family because he has nothing good to say about anything or anyone. He’s even gaining weight. Then one day he has an epiphany and this is where I get a little confused. On the back of the book it describes how a thank you note from John’s ex-girlfriend inspires him to set out to write 365 thank you letters in a year, one for each day. That’s all well and good – to give the girlfriend credit – until you read page 17. On page 17 John is hiking alone on New Years Day when he is inspired by the memory of his grandfather and a story about a silver dollar and the moral of the story amounts to this, if you thank me for the silver dollar I just gave you another silver dollar will come your way. It’s that promise of “good things to come” that supposedly prompts John to write all those letters.
Regardless of who inspired John in the first place, the ex or the grandfather, amazing things do start to happen after John writes a few letters. It inspires him to write more and more and more. His life slowly starts to turn around. John’s journey to gratitude IS inspiring. He makes so many transformations you are prompted to put pen to paper yourself…just to see what happens.

Favorite lines, “I wanted to be more than another lawyer slinging hatred for a living” (p 13) and “I was way past the weirdness of writing a thank-you note to a cat lady” (p 58).


January ’12 is…

Happy freakin’ New Year!

I am making the resolution to clean up the blogs from 2011. In reviewing everything I read through the year I am noticing some that didn’t get tagged properly, some that weren’t put into the right categories and, horror upon horrors, one that didn’t even get published! WTF?! By all counts I *think* I read 65 fiction titles, 25 nonfiction titles, 12 Early Review/Librarything books, 2 for-fun books and 9 poems. This is, of course, cheating because I included the “attempts” as finished. As promised, I did get at least 50 pages into each failed read.

So, what about 2012? I am still off the reading schedule but have come up with a temporary plan. Kind of like when the plane breaks down and you realize you have to drive to your destination. Think “Trains, Planes & Automobiles.” You need a new map. No, wait. That line was from “Tommy Boy.” Wrong movie. Anyway. So, here is the plan of attack for January 2012:

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit or There and Back Again and finish The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates. That’s it. Not a crazy ambitious reading list for such a long month, but I’m taking one road at a time and not mapping out the entire journey like I usually do. This is a different year so I’m looking forward to reading a little differently as well.

Happy New Year!