Witchyrichy: Determined in 2015
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So, here I go again! This year is all about reading the books I already own OR borrowing books I don't from the library OR diving into all those digital books on the Kindle.
And, I want to be more active in the groups. I love reading about what others are reading! I would love some tips from long time members as to how they stay active AND keep up with their reading.
Now that I finished my first book, here's the ticker:
January 2015 Completed 8
The Remains of the Day
Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster--the Creators of Superman
The Empty Throne
Gould's Book of Fish
February 2015 Completed 10
Dancing At The Rascal Fair
A Confederacy of Dunces
When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II
The Abolition of Man
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
Two Years Before the Mast
A Salty Piece of Land
The Big Rock Candy Mountain
No Strange Fire
March 2015 Completed 7
The Things They Carried
Ride with Me, Mariah Montana
The Winter King
The Sea is My Brother
The Men Who United the States
The Windward Road
Murder in the Raw
April 2015 Completed 8
Phi Beta Murder
Dust Tracks on the Road
Murder on the Moor
Murder of the Bride
A Dangerous Place
A Murder of Magpies
May 2015 Completed: 8
A Week in Winter
The Girls of Atomic City
Murder At Midnight
Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall
If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name
June 2015 Completed: 6
Miss Buncle's Book
The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion
The Beekeeper's Lament
Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society
How To Teach Adults
The Old Patagonian Express
July 2015 Completed: 9
Bucking the Sun
Welcome to the Great Mysterious
Snow in August
Preludes and Nocturnes
The Memory of Running
A Cotswold Ordeal Audio
August 2015 Completed: 5
A River Town
As Always, Julia
The Distant Hours
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels
September 2015 Completed: 9
Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas
Ready Player One
Murder at the Vicarage
The Invention of Fire
The Bartender's Tale
Twelve Steps To A Compassionate Life
The Dive From Clausen's Pier
October 2015 Completed: 11
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
Murphy's Law (audio)
Ten Little Bloodhounds
By Book or By Crook
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Death of Riley (audio)
For the Love of Mike (audio)
November 2015 Completed (8)
The Lay of the Land
Oh Danny Boy (audio)
At the Corner of King Street
Neighing with Fire
Booked For Trouble
In Dublin's Fair City (audio)
The Charlemagne Pursuit
December 2015 Completed (8)
Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People
The Templar Legacy
The Problem of the Surly Servant
The Alexandria Link
Angela's Ashes (audio)
My first book for the new year is going to be The Remains of the Day as part of the British authors challenge.
Today's ice storm left me with a bit of extra time so I managed to finish Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster--the Creators of Superman. I'm not sure amazing is the right word for the title: as with many early creators, they lost out when it came to the money and led pretty sad lives.
I also found Brad Ricca's writing style a bit convoluted and I get easily frustrated with what I think of as the Freudian approach to literary reviewing. In this case, Superman and the other comics created by Siegel and Shuster are evidently thinly veiled references to their personal lives and psychological sufferings. I'm not sorry I read it but could have stopped about half way through. It may be that I'm just not enough of a comic book fan to appreciate the book.
I have read several biographies this past year: one was a solid five star/best of 2014 type of read, and one I just could not "get into". The subject for the "clunker" biography was fine, but the author left me feeling like I couldn't care less about the subject. Too bad.
I have a similar relationship to biographies as you, I think.
>19 Copperskye: I loved both the books. Sweet Thunder was good but perhaps the characters are getting a bit stale the third time around. Plus, I like Morgan but I miss the voice of the young narrator in The Whistling Season.
I enjoyed the book, perhaps more than I thought I would. I don't mind that Boyle doesn't provide any hint as to what is true and what isn't. That's what the Internet is for, I guess. This article from Chicago Reader does a good job of teasing out the fact and fiction: http://goo.gl/KTSspH
I always do a bit of research after I read the book and, in this case, I discovered that the book was written after the television series, which is available on Amazon on demand...I may give it a look. Gaiman is a master of description, with a Dickensesque ability to create characters that border on the caricature.
I'm trying to read my ROOTS this year so this challenge was an opportunity to dig into the book. And what a book it was. Fantastical, horrific, hilarious even at times: I was absorbed and repelled often at the same time. Like Riven Rock that I just read, this book is based in non-fiction but veers into fiction without always making clear which is which. Gould, the narrator and erstwhile painter of fish, is as unreliable as they come even as he seems to be stripping his life and soul bare for the reader.
I have an old friend that lives in Tasmania and when I mentioned reading the book, she commented that Flanagan was "the big cheese around here."
But at its core, this is the story of two men who brave the new world together. It is richly drawn with sudden sadness and grief even in the midst of great joy. The ending came as a surprise, a shock really, but written in love and care so melodrama doesn't overwhelm. Doig can be understated but can also write drama that rises from the page.
What a book! Comedy bordering on farce but in the end, goodness seems to be rewarded and everyone, with the exception possibly of Myrna Minkoff, Reilly's girlfriend, gets what they want.
Wikipedia calls it a picaresque novel and it does indeed depict both satirically and humorously the adventures of a roguish hero of low social class who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. Ignatius J. Reilly is confounding to all those around him. He seems to wish to do good and yet can't quite figure out how to do it without causing complete chaos in his life an the lives of those around him.
New Orleans with its wide variety of oddballs plays an important role in the book. We meet tourists, prostitutes, policemen and business owners, all who got caught up Reilly's world.
If only O'Toole had lived to write the sequel!
I may have gotten overly enthusiastic with the TIOLI challenges for February, forgetting that it was short month!
Challenge #5. Read a book with a number in the first sentence
Two Years Before the Mast with fourteenth in the first sentence DONE
Challenge # 9. Read a book mentioned or listed in a book about books
I'm taking advantage of the "primary source" option and reading When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II DONE and then hoping to fit in The Big Rock Candy Mountain that is mentioned in the book as well.
Challenge #10. Read a non-fiction comic
I have two Logicomix about Bertrand Russell and Bohemians DONE with Bohemians but realized I had read Logicomix in 2011.
Challenge #12. Read A Book With a Three Word Title but the first word cannot be "The"
No Strange Fire
Challenge #6. Read a book that can be found on openculture.com
The Abolition of Man DONE
I've finished one and am well on my way to finishing another one. Mostly I think I'm daunted by Two Years Before the Mast AND The Big Rock Candy Mountain.
On the slack tide when fish that are normally enemies, simply take a break: "Fish know they need a break from the cycle of the food chain, and that happens at slack tide.' 'So, it's kind of a universal time out?' 'I call it Quiet Time...People would be better off if they did the same...You have to think more like a fish than a man and look for the slack tides and the pools and eddies in life ao you can catch your breath and reflect on the good moments.'" (p. 226)
"Life, when you get right down to it, is no more complicated than the gears on the Fishmobile. But there is one big exception...the Fishmobile has three basic gears--forward, neutral and reverse. We have only two. There is no reverse on the road of life, Tully. You just keep moving forward, and every now and then you try to catch a little neutral." (p. 148)
It occurred to me that the best stories are told from the times of change, when old and new ideas clash. Certainly The Big Rock Candy Mountain came from that place when America was expanding into the wilderness and The Winter King also, as the Saxons and the Christians began to change Britain into England.
It feels like it has taken forever to get through the last two books of the month: Mountain Time and A Murder of Magpies. They were both just so-so: not stellar Doig and a just-OK mystery.
So, what next? I saw the posting for the May TIOLO challenges and may try a few. I also got a ping that a new Maggie Hope mystery is out as well. There are all kinds of unread books lying around along with lots on the Kindle so buying a new book seems less than frugal.
Harris recommends doing some reading in Buddhism and meditation so I may add a couple of these books to the TBR list.
And, I had decided I wasn't going to do the TIOLI challenges in June: I just wanted to read what I wanted. It turns out, however, that I was able to easily match several of those reads with challenges! Gaiman fit, along with Fannie Flagg's The All-Girl Filling Stations Last Reunion and Amy Hill Hearth's Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society. Plus a few more books that have been lurking around on the shelf and the Kindle for awhile.
I am looking forward to more great reading in June!
I loved If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name. It was a lovely series of inspirational essays about finding the good in life wherever we end up. Lende live in Haines, Alaska, and write obituaries for the local paper. She is a tough woman who helped build her family's cabin and trekked above the treeline on a goat hunt but her tender side shines through in her descriptions of losing her dog or praying for a neighbor's child lost at sea. The chapter dividers, bits from Lende's "Duly Noted" column, give a glimpse in a lively community who brave cold and dark and snow, snow, snow, to live on the edge of God's magnificence.
I was glad of an excuse to dig into The Beekeeper's Lament with its summery cover meeting one of the June TIOLI challenges. It's a fascinating look at the perils of being a commercial beekeeper. As someone with just two hives, I was interested but I think the story would be engaging for anyone who has followed the problems of bees.
Spalding is a great guide who tells us that he doesn't always practice what he preaches AND that what he preaches may not be the best practice for all of us. His reference list and recommended readings are excellent fodder and I may dive into a few more before the fall semester.
Welcome to the Great Mysterious
The Storyteller and The Postmistress both dealt with World War II and the Holocaust in different ways. Picoult dug into the horror in a personal way, weaving the stories of a survivor and a guard together. I had figured out the twist before the end but that didn't matter to the story. The characters were authentically drawn and, as a baker myself, I love the baking thread that tied all the stories together.
The Postmistress was equally powerful with its tale of two women who find that the truth is not always the best path to take. Something is coming and we don't know what so living each moment is essential.
I couldn't say if one or the other was better: different views of human beings living through heartbreak and horror in the best way they can.
I'm working on ROOTS right now and pulled a dozen books off the shelf. The two I chose--Flight and The Memory of Running were similar in terms of the characters: young men trying to find their way in the world despite tragedy.
As Always, Julia was wonderful. Hard to believe that people used to write these kinds of letters and that those letters led to a lifelong friendship. The book was full of food, of course, but also politics and books and so much more. Just terrific. I read Dearie last year and have been looking for a chance to dive into this book as well. Can't recommend both of them enough as a glimpse into the life of this icon of American cooking and television.
They were both lots of fun if a bit preachy at times, most notably in Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas. Larry Diamond, the conduit of the Mali tales, takes up long pages filling us in and it gets a little long. I didn't mind the use of the second person as much as I thought I might.
I enjoyed Jitterbug Perfume a bit more, I think. You discovered the story as it was told with little in the way of long fill ins.
I'm heading off to the beach next week and hoping to get lots of reading done...just 13 to go for the 75 and only a few for my ROOTS goal. It's been all analog books since I've been working on cleaning off the shelves. There are lots of good books waiting on the Kindle as well but I can't read it in the pool or before bed so I'm sticking with "real" books right now since those are the two times I read.
Meanwhile, I got four hours of listening time to the second Molly Murphy mystery and it occurred to me that she is somehwat pricky as well, with a similar characteristic of jumping to conclusions about people without giving them a chance to explain. Death of Riley provides more insight into life in New York at the turn of the century.
I set a goal to read 25 of my own books each year and usually don't quite reach it. You'd think with all the books I keep buying that it would get easier, but no.
You read a lot of Ivan Doig this year! Do you have a favorite?
>75 Copperskye: Hmm...a favorite Doig? I think it has to be This House of Sky, his memoir of growing up in Montana. His mother died when he was young and he was raised by his father and his grandmother. They didn't always get along but they both loved him fiercely. It was the kind of childhood that I don't think really exists any more and Doig really did it justice in his memories.
That being said, I loved the Montana trilogy for its wonderful storytelling. Much of it, I think, was drawn from Doig's own life.
I've been doing audio as well: my new car makes it so much easier to listen to books as it has both bluetooth and a USB port. No more listening through the static-y radio. I found that I had bought Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy series when I closed out my Audible account. The third one is ready to go but for now, I don't have a trip. I may have to get on the treadmill.
I have about three more books to go to reach my Take It Or Leave It goal for October...it could happen!
Meanwhile, I've moving through Rhys Bowen. I just finished listening to the third book in the Molly Murphy series. I got most of it done on a road trip and then it helped me get in several walks on my visit as I wanted to keep listening. I've got the fourth book downloaded and ready for my drive home tomorrow. Maybe it will encourage me to get back on the treadmill!
With the cold weather here, I have books beside two beds: downstairs on the warmer night but probably mostly upstairs now that winter seems to have arrived. Both books are mysteries set at the Outer Banks, also purchased at a favorite Indie bookstore, Island Books in Corolla, NC. Neighing With Fire is the third in a series set in Corolla and featuring the wild horses. Booked for Trouble is set in the Bodie Island lighthouse imagining a library set in the lighthouse. They are easy reading and, as cold weather settles in, a reminder of warmer days as we vacation in Corolla every year.
I have the best job on the planet and every year, I run a conference for nearly 1000 people. It ended on Tuesday and I'm still tying up loose ends. But, the free time has arrived: a few Christmas gifts to finish, some cookies to bake but there's lots of reading time!
I followed up one mystery thriller with another: The Charlemagne Pursuit was terrific! Love the history tie in and how the bad guys seem to win. I've started on the Cotton Malone series from the beginning now.
I've been meaning to read Nadia Bolz-Weber's Accidental Saints since I heard her interview on NPR. I took it with me to the conference because I thought it would make easy evening reading with its short but thoughtful chapters. I was right. Her willingness to admit her own faults and her ideas about how we find God even when we aren't looking was just the tonic I needed after 16-hour days of being surrounded by people. I'm reading Pastrix now and also loving it.
Colm Toibin tells the story of Eilis Lacey who finds her place in Brooklyn after being sponsored by a priest. She works hard and shows a sensible side to the world, but we are able to peer into her thoughts as she navigates between the old and new world. I enjoyed it although the prose sometimes seemed stilted. The story was layered with details, intimate glimpses into the lives of the characters, petty, passionate and so human.