August Gusted

When I look back at August my first thought is what the hell happened? The month went by way too fast. Could the fact that I saw the Grateful Dead, Natalie Merchant (4xs), Trey Anastasio, Sirsy, and Aerosmith all in the same month have anything to do with that? Probably. It was a big month for traveling (Vermont, Connecticut, NYC) and for being alone while Kisa was in Charlotte, Roanoke, Erie, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Colorado. And. And, And! I got some running done! The treadmill was broken for twenty days but in the last eleven days I eked out 12.2 miles. Meh. It’s something. Speaking of something, here are the books:


  • African Queen by C.S. Forester
  • Antonia Saw the Oryx First by Maria Thomas
  • Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object by Laurie Colwin
  • Strong Motion by Jonathan Frazen
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley
  • Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes


  • American Chica by Marie Arana
  • Florence Nightingale by Mark Bostridge
  • Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson

Series continuation:

  • Die Trying by Lee Child
  • Foundation’s Edge by Isaac Asimov

Early Review cleanup:

  • Filling in the Pieces by Isaak Sturm
  • Open Water by Mikael Rosen

Travels of August

Since the Run for Nancy was only a few days ago I am still on a high from not only running four miles, but running four miles without pain. No pain whatsoever. The pain is so gone it’s as if I imagined the whole thing. Weird. Weird. Weird. As for books, since I don’t have any other running plans in the near future:


  • The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe – in honor of August being Chick Lit month.
  • The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay – in honor of Courtenay’s birth month being in August.
  • Daring to Dream by Nora Roberts – in honor of August being Dream Month (hey, I read it somewhere).
  • Niccolo Rising by Dorothy Dunnett – in honor of Dunnett’s birth month being in August.
  • The Case of the Missing ServantĀ by Tarquin Hall – in honor of Rajir Ratna Gandhi’s birth in August.


  • A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird – in honor of Colorado becoming a state in August.
  • Eurydice Street: a Place in Athens by Sofka Zinovieff – in honor of the Dormition of the Holy Virgin.
  • A Season in Red by Kirsty Needham – in honor of the Double Seven festival in China.

Series continuations:

  • The Big Bad City by Ed McBain – to continue the series started in July.

If there is time:


  • Under the Snow by Kerstin Ekman – in honor of Ekman’s birth month.
  • Crazy Jack by Donna Jo Napoli – in honor of Fairy Tale Month.



Maguire, Gregory. Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. New York: Harper Collins, 1995.

It is always interesting when someone is so captured by a story that he or she starts to imagine the “other” side of it. Or when he or she shows the perspective from another, lesser known character’s point of view. The foundation of the plot has been laid but no two people have the exact same experience. It makes sense that the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz would have her own story to tell. We only know Dorothy’s side of things. Gregory Maguire is the perfect person to capture the WWotW’s story. Again, it makes perfect sense.

While Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz specifically for children with a simple plot and even simpler language Maguire wrote Wicked decidedly for adults. Sex drugs, violence. You name it. Of course the main character is Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West. She is born a bright green skinned child with the sharp teeth of a shark and a gnashing stoicism and wit to match. As she grows up she forms an unlikely friendship with her college roommate, Galinda. After their Goat professor is murder they they uncover a politically corrupt system where the civil rights of Animals (those that can talk) are being abused. The Goat was just starting to uncover the Wizard of Oz’s corruption. It’s after this event that Galinda and Elphaba take different life paths. An interesting thing starts to happen – around page 300 you start to root for Elphaba, wanting her to survive. Of course Maguire’s plot runs close to Baum’s but with much more detail and twists and turns.

Back in 2006-2007 I didn’t have my list of challenge books memorized. When I went to the Massachusetts Library Association annual conference Maguire was on the bill as a guest speaker. He had copies of most of his books for sale and he even read a piece from Wicked. At the time I didn’t realize Wicked was even on my list. As a result I missed an opportunity to picked up a signed copy for the challenge. Duh!

Frivolous detail: One of the most delicious details of reading Wicked is that with my copy the page edges are painted a bright granny-smith green.

Favorite quotes: “If you can’t remember whether your marriage vows have been broken or not, there’s not much good in acting like an offended saint” (p 38) and “You can’t divorce your particulars from your politics” (p 173).

Author Fact: Gregory Maguire has a wicked sense of humor (pun totally intended). For examples, go to his website and specifically look at the Q&A page or just play around.

Book Trivia: Wicked was made into a Broadway production in 2003 and sadly, I think more people have seen the musical than have read the book. But, after reading Fahrenheit 451 I am not surprised.

Reason Read: August is Fairytale month.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Fractured Fairy Tales” (p 94). Read with The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

August ’12 is…

NEW! Heads up! I have decided to add one audio book per month. I am tired of driving to work hearing the same songs day in and day out. I think I will get further in this whole book challenge if I allow myself at least one audio book. I only spend 3 1/3 hours in the car per week so all audio books would have to be kept to a duration under 12-13 hours long in order to hear it within the month. I can’t listen to an abridged version so I think finding the right book each month will be an additional pita (pain in the azz). I don’t know. I’ll figure it out.

So. August. Before books August is about a few trips. I’m all over the place, aren’t I? Maine sometime at the beginning of the month and Denver near the end. I *should* have plenty of time to read/listen to books along the way, though. So here is the list (some of them I’ve actually started reading, as I have admitted earlier AND since I’ve cheated I can add a few more than normal):

  • After You’ve Gone by Alice Adams ~ a collection of short stories in honor of Adam’s birth month. I feel really good about adding this one because I didn’t tackle any short stories in June (and June is Short Story month),
  • Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin ~ a short(er) story in honor of Baldwin’s birth month,
  • Kristin Lavransdatter: the cross by Sigrid Undset ~ finally, finally finishing the series started in June! This has been good but really long and detailed!
  • Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum and Wicked by Gregory Maguire to be read together in honor of August being fairytale month.
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey
  • by Thornton Wilder in honor of the month Peru was recognized as independent from Spain (and because it’s super short!).

For Audio:

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury ~ in honor of Bradbury’s birth month. I think I will have to think of something else to add to the audio list since I have a flight to Denver to deal with. I’m choosing Ten Hours Until Dawn: the True Story of Heroism and Tragedy by Michael Tougis ~ in honor of being on the water.

For LibraryThing:

Finishing Sex So Great She Can’t Get Enough by Barbara Keesling AND (I have to laugh at this) The Most Memorable Games in Patriots History by Bernard Corbett. Yup. The very book I was expecting exactly one year ago. I’ll still read it! I just got word of a third Early Review book but since I haven’t received it I won’t mention it here…

For Fun:

Finishing up Tattoo Adventures of Robbie Big Balls by the hilarious Robert Westphal…and mysterious someone dropped Cats Miscellany by Lesley O’Mara in my mailbox. Maybe I’ll get to that. Maybe I won’t.