December Updates

So, by the end of November I was a blathering mess, wasn’t I? I know I was. Mea culpa. Three xrays, five vials of blood taken, one CT scan, and two therapy sessions later, here are the updates. The protruding ribs are being blamed on chiropractic appointments even though I felt the rib cage move before I started see Dr. Jim. The nerve pain is being controlled by medication. The spot on the lung and possibly tumor…no results as of today. White blood cell count still elevated. Possibility of cancer…still a possibility.
But. But! But, enough of all that. Here are the books: I have a week off at the end of the month so I am anticipating it will be a good reading month. Here are the books planned:


  • Any Old Iron by Anthony Burgess (EB) – in memory of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th.
  • The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin – in memory of Le Guin passing in 2018.
  • Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund – to honor Alabama becoming a state in December.


  • The Female Eunuch by Germain Greer – to honor women’s suffrage law.
  • Cry of the Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owens (EB) – to honor the wedding anniversary of Mark and Delia.
  • Lost Moon by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger – in honor of the moon landing.
  • Stet: an Editor’s Life by Diana Athill (EB) – in honor of Athill being born in December.

Series continuation:

  • The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (AB) – to continue the series His Dark Materials, started in November in honor of National Writing Month.
  • The Unicorn Hunt by Dorothy Dunnett (EB) – to continue the series Niccolo House, started in August in honor of Dunnett’s birth month.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Squelched by Terry Beard.

If there is time:

  • Black Tents of Arabia by Carl Raswan – in honor of Lawrence of Arabia.
  • This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun – in honor of Jelloun’s birth month.

November New

What do you do when the most inappropriate sentiment unexpectedly comes out of someone’s mouth? A confession that should never have left the lips of the confessor? Instead of thinking of the actions I should take I chose to take none. I do nothing. Distance makes it easy to ignore and deny. When I can’t avoid I read. Here are the books started for November:


  • Foolscap, or, the Stages of Love by Michael Malone – Malone was born in the month of November; reading in his honor.
  • Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko – in honor of November being Native American Heritage month.
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – November is National Writing month. Choosing fantasy for this round.
  • Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller – Routsong’s birth month was in November. Reading in her honor.
  • Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser – reading in honor of Millhauser’s birth place, New York City.


  • Expecting Adam: a True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic by Martha Beck – in honor of my mother’s birth month.
  • The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah – in honor of Morocco’s independence was gained in November.

Series continuation:

  • Scales of Gold by Dorothy Dunnett – to continue the series started in honor of Dunnett’s birth month in August.

Fun: nothing decided yet.

Early Review: I have been chosen to receive an early review but I will refrain from naming it in case it doesn’t arrive.


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.

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