Stephivist releases her inner bookworm

Converses75 Books Challenge for 2015

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Stephivist releases her inner bookworm

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Editat: des. 22, 2015, 4:31pm

Hi everyone! Although I seriously considered it last year, this is my first time attempting the 75 books challenge. I'm optimistic I'll be able to pull it off! I'm a huge nonfiction reader and I've already set a goal to read more fiction in 2015; hopefully this challenge will help with that. You can expect to see a lot of memoirs/biographies/autobiographies, historical fiction, literary fiction, women's history, medical history, and humor.

I do mini-reviews of some things I read on my blog, so sometimes I will just be commenting on my books in this thread and other times I will include a link to my longer review.

Like so many people here, I hope to tackle my TBR pile and list. I work at a library though, so the struggle is real.

Here is a quick peak at my progress. Scroll down the thread for reviews.

1. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (2011)
2. Yes Please by Amy Poehler (2014)
3. Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil by Paul Bloom (2013)
4. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (2008)
5. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (2014)
6. 1914: A Novel by Jean Echenoz (2014)
7. History Decoded: The Ten Greatest Conspiracies of All Time by Brad Meltzer with Keith Ferrell (2013)
8. Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham (2013)
9. The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander (2003)
10. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl (1970)
11. Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them by Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy MacNaughton (2014)
12. The 1950s Kitchen by Kathryn Ferry (2011)
13. Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson (2012)
14. Sweet Tooth: A Novel by Ian McEwan (2012)
15. Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 by Madeleine Albright (2012)
16. My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind by Scott Stossel (2014)
16 1/2. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks (2007) unfinished, pages counted in total read
17. Asylum by Patrick McGrath (1997)
18. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (2014)
19. Still Alice by Lisa Genova (2009)
20. An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine by Howard Markel (2011)
21. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954)
22. Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent by Anthony Rapp (2006)
23. Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cummings (2007)
24. 6 People Who Died During Sex: and 100 Other Terribly Tasteless Lists by Karl Shaw (2007)
25. Dr. Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz (2014)
26. Dear Committee Members: A novel by Julie Schumacher (2014)
27. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (2006)
28. Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay (2013)
29. Cool, Calm & Contentious: Essays by Merrill Markoe (2011)
30. The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley (2014)
31. The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel (2014)
32. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (2006)
33. It Looked Different on the Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy by Laurie Notaro (2011)
34. The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (2014)
35. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)
36. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (2014)
37. Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk (2008)
38. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (2005)
39. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan (2008)
40. Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. by Rob Delaney (2013)
41. Love Life by Rob Lowe (2014)
42. Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle (2007)
43. On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks (2015)
44. Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson (1999)
45. So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (2015)
46. Everything Is Perfect When You're a Liar by Kelly Oxford (2013)
47. Outreach: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections by Kate Theimer (editor) (2014)
48. Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization by Richard Miles (2011)
49. Dear Girls Above Me: Inspired by a True Story by Charles McDowell (2013)
50. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott (2014)
51. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962)
52. A Little Fruitcake: A Childhood in Holidays by David Valdes Greenwood (2007)
53. Some Luck by Jane Smiley (2014)
54. The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H. P. Lovecraft (1936)
55. Pretty in Plaid: A Life, A Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase by Jen Lancaster (2009)
56. The League of Regrettable Superheroes (Loot Crate Edition) by Jon Morris (2015)
57. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler (2013)
58. Girl Walks into a Bar . . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle by Rachel Dratch (2012)
59. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (1820)
60. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)
61. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (2014)
62. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami (1985)
63. Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson by S. C. Gwynne (2014)
64. On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind's Hard-Wired Habits by Wray Herbert (2010)
65. Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie (2011)
66. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schawatz (1981)
67. Psycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of by Harold Schechter (2012)
68. An Emergency in Slow Motion: The Inner Life of Diane Arbus by William Todd Schultz (2011)
69. The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells (1896)
70. Salt: A World History by Mark Kulansky (2002)
71. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (1977)
72. Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems by David Rakoff (2005)
73. The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet by Neil deGrasse Tyson (2009)
74. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1997)
75. Then Again by Diane Keaton (2011)
76. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1989)
77. I'll Have What She's Having: My Adventures in Celebrity Dieting by Rebecca M. Harrington (2015)
78. Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, Revisited, Volume 1 by Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm, selected and narrated by Ulf Bjorklund (1812/1857/2012)

2015 total books: 78
2015 total pages read: 15,106
2015 total pages listened to: 9,381

des. 31, 2014, 7:35pm

Hi! I saw on the intro thread that you're going to be reading 1Q84. I read it a few years back. Will be interested to see what you think.

gen. 1, 2015, 12:40am

Hi Stephanie, dropping my star. I am looking forward to following your reading in 2015.

gen. 1, 2015, 10:41am

Welcome! Don't forget about our What Are You Reading: Nonfiction thread! It's here:

I'm in the beginning of Catherine the Great as my first nonfiction for 2015.

gen. 1, 2015, 1:19pm

Welcome! Dropping a star to follow your reading this year. Nice to have you join the group ;-)

gen. 1, 2015, 3:48pm

Hi, and welcome!

gen. 1, 2015, 4:23pm

Hi Stephanie! I starred your thread, as it seems like we have some similar reading interests and, also, I have an enduring interest in archives, although it didn't end up being my major area of interest when I got my MLIS. Happy new year!

gen. 2, 2015, 7:19pm

Hi Stephanie! Returning your visit. I purchase the non-fiction collection for my library so I'll have to see if I find any under the radar books around here. :)

Editat: gen. 2, 2015, 9:18pm

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (2011)

I’ll be honest, I picked this book completely at random. I wanted to start the year with a fiction book (for a change from my usual reading) and this one popped up early in the list of available ebooks to check out from my local library. I knew little to nothing about it, other than the fact that it was well known.

There are two main reasons I should not have enjoyed this book:

1) The length. Depending on the edition, this book is around 1000 pages and was originally published in Japan as three separate novels. I usually avoid books of this length. I like to try and finish any book I start (even if I dislike it - I can only think of two books I put down in disgust). Avoiding random books over 500 pages means I don’t end up committing a lot of time to something I don’t enjoy.

2) The narrators. Murakami alternates first person narrators every other chapter (two in the first 2/3, then adding in a third person at the end). Typically this is not something I enjoy, as I like one story better than the other and end up skimming the “boring” chapters.

Despite all of that, I loved this book. Really loved it. Couldn’t put it down kind of loved it.

Looking at reviews, critics were disappointed with this work. It is true, I found some of the hundred of pages of description tedious, but I bought into Murakami’s world 100%. And once you believe it, the description just adds to the atmosphere. 1Q84 left me with questions, but ultimately satisfied with the ending. Sometimes you just don’t need to know everything, right?

2015 total books read: 1
2015 total pages read: 928

gen. 5, 2015, 11:57pm

Yes Please by Amy Poehler (2014)

As expected, I enjoyed this book. Amy Poehler's humor + memoir = win.

This book is a throw-it-all-in-the-pot type of memoir that may not be appealing to everyone. What do I mean by that? Poehler wrote chapters one different times in her life, but they don’t necessarily fit together in a timeline. A couple of the chapters are more like bulleted paragraphs without the bullets. Not for everyone, probably.

I’ll share my favorite excerpt: “I know how good I am at bemoaning my process and pretending I don’t care so that my final product will seem totally natural and part of my essence and not something I sweated for months and years.” Oh Amy Poehler, how you get me. It is good to point our your own nonsense sometimes.

2015 total books read: 2
2015 total pages read: 1257

gen. 6, 2015, 10:15am

Ooh, I've got the Poehler book just waiting for me on my Read Soon shelf - I can't wait! I love her.

Editat: gen. 6, 2015, 4:34pm

Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil by Paul Bloom (2013)

This has been on my TBR list for a while, but I never quite got around to it. Instead, I decided to listen to the audiobook while working. When it is slow and quiet, I’m happy to have a job where I can listen while I work. Like whistling, but better. (Snow White, get it?)

I zoned out a bit during this book, but the subject member was still quite interesting. Bloom discusses our morality and argues that we are actually born with limited morality. I found his discussion of specific behavioral tests with babies and toddler to be especially compelling.

I’ll share this one quote from Amazon’s conservation with Bloom. He is responding to the questions of whether babies are good or evil. “Both! We are born with empathy and compassion, the capacity to judge the actions of others, and a rudimentary understanding of justice and fairness. Morality is bred in the bone. But there is a nastier side to our natures as well. There’s a lot of evidence that even the youngest babies carve the world into Us versus Them—and they are strongly biased to favor the Us. We are very tribal beings. Our natures are not just kind; they are also cruel and selfish. We favor those who look like us and are naturally cold-blooded towards strangers.”

The audiobook itself was a bit unnerving though – the narrator sounded a lot of Patton Oswalt and I kept waiting for the evil baby punchlines.

Overall? Recommended.

2015 total books: 3
2015 total pages read: 1257
2015 total pages listened to: 288

Editat: gen. 7, 2015, 11:27pm

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (2008)

This is the first book in a trilogy. It wasn’t on my TBR list, but it caught my attention on a list of “books to read before the movie comes out.” Needing a book to read on my Kindle when I’d be waiting in the dark outside of my daughter’s dance lesson, I checked this one out from the library. I’m going to congratulate myself on two fiction books read this year already.

From In a country ruled by fear, no one is innocent. Stalin's Soviet Union is an official paradise, where citizens live free from crime and fear only one thing: the all-powerful state. Defending this system is idealistic security officer Leo Demidov, a war hero who believes in the iron fist of the law. But when a murderer starts to kill at will and Leo dares to investigate, the State's obedient servant finds himself demoted and exiled. Now, with only his wife at his side, Leo must fight to uncover shocking truths about a killer-and a country where "crime" doesn't exist.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a well-written read with a good balance between action and explanation to keep the story moving. I don’t know if I’ll continue with the trilogy – mystery/thrillers aren’t usually my cup of tea and I’m likely to lose interest – but it will be on my “maybe TBR” list for later in the year.

So far, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read this year. Not bad!

2015 total books: 4
2015 total pages read: 1747
2015 total pages listened to: 288

gen. 8, 2015, 1:17am

Wow. Hi to you from another Stephanie, and welcome to our crazed corner of the book reading world. :-)

Editat: gen. 8, 2015, 12:51pm

Hello, Stephanie! Here is a funny coincidence - when I first set up my library, my username was LovelyClio. :)

gen. 8, 2015, 7:42pm

>12 stephivist: oh dear :-)

Editat: gen. 11, 2015, 6:36pm

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (2014)

From "Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. . . . Kolbert introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human."

This book was pretty dense and I found myself fighting the urge to skim several times, but the subject matter was fascinating. Kolbert did a good job of making science accessible and avoided the tendency of similar books to become too repetitive or dry.

2015 total books: 5
2015 total pages read: 2083
2015 total pages listened to: 288

Editat: gen. 12, 2015, 11:19am

1914: A Novel by Jean Echenoz (2014)

From Five Frenchmen go off to war, two of them leaving behind a certain young woman who longs for their return. But the main character in 1914 is the Great War itself. Jean Echenoz, the multi–award–winning French literary magician whose work has been compared to Joseph Conrad and Lawrence Sterne, has brought that deathtrap back to life, leading us gently from a balmy summer day deep into the insatiable—and still unthinkable—carnage of trench warfare. With the delicacy of a miniaturist and with irony both witty and clear–eyed, the author offers us an intimate epic with the atmosphere of a classic movie: in the panorama of a clear blue sky, a biplane spirals suddenly into the ground; a tardy piece of shrapnel shears the top off a man’s head as if it were a soft–boiled egg; we dawdle dreamily in a spring–scented clearing with a lonely shell–shocked soldier strolling innocently to a firing squad ready to shoot him for desertion.

Nope, I just didn’t get this one. The book was short – it only took about an hour to read – and well-written, but the story was just so lacking. There was no time to develop any kind of real interest in the characters. There were a couple of times I sensed the author was attempting to make a dramatic reveal (a connecting between the characters, for example), but, as I was not invested, it fell flat. I think the argument may be that the main characters aren’t really the focus of the book; that the war is the important part. But the war felt like an afterthought when I was reading it. I’m not even sure how that is possible – how can the driving force of the plot seem like an afterthought? No, I just didn’t get this book at all.

I do think it would have been an excellent series of short stories telling the story of World War I through each of the soldiers and the woman left behind in the village. As it stands, I found it completely forgettable.

2015 total books: 6
2015 total pages read: 2213
2015 total pages listened to: 288

gen. 14, 2015, 12:08pm

History Decoded: The Ten Greatest Conspiracies of All Time by Brad Meltzer with Keith Ferrell (2013)

I never watched Bard Meltzer’s Decoded (or maybe even heard of it? I’m not sure), so at first glance this might seem like an odd choice of read for me. I am part-historian by trade though and a firm believer in asking questions and seeking out your own answers.

The book was a little fanciful for this historian’s taste, but I can definitely see the appeal. I might even blame some of the “drama” on the audiobook – it may not have been there if I was reading it myself. I also found out after the fact that I missed out when I chose the audiobook. Apparently, the book contains vintage-look envelopes with facsimiles of documents related to each moment in history. I enjoy stuff like that. Really, I enjoy anything that attempts to make history accessible.

Meltzer writes about his ten favorite historical conspiracies:
10. John Wilkes Booth: Was Lincoln's Assassin Apprehended?
9.Confederate Gold: Stolen Treasure or Hidden Wealth of a New Confederacy?
8. The Georgia Guidestones: America's Stonehenge
7. DB Cooper: American Outlaw
6. The White House: Where is the Cornerstone of Democracy?
5. The Spear of Destiny: History's Most Sacred Relic
4. Is there any Gold in Fort Knox?
3. The Real Da Vinci Code: Did Leonardo Predict an Apocalypse?
2. UFOs: Inside Roswell and Area 51
1. The Kennedy Assassination: the Truth is out There

A reader could easily only read the chapters most interesting to them and skip the others. I skipped the chapter D. B. Cooper, because that story just doesn't interest me, and the chapter on the Kennedy Assassination, because I've heard enough about that over the years.

2015 total books: 7
2015 total pages read: 2213
2015 total pages listened to: 448

gen. 18, 2015, 7:22pm

I'm just finishing up the audio of Bossypants by Tina Fey and I keep hearing that Yes Please is also very good. I think I'm going to get the audio.

I have had Child 44 on my kobo for ages - I think I need to get around to reading it soon.

Glad you're having a good start to your reading year.

gen. 18, 2015, 10:11pm

Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham (2013)

From On June 22, 1954, teenage friends Juliet Hulme—better known as bestselling mystery writer Anne Perry—and Pauline Parker went for a walk in a New Zealand park with Pauline’s mother, Honora. Half an hour later, the girls returned alone, claiming that Pauline’s mother had had an accident. But when Honora Parker was found in a pool of blood with the brick used to bludgeon her to death close at hand, Juliet and Pauline were quickly arrested, and later confessed to the killing. Their motive? A plan to escape to the United States to become writers, and Honora’s determination to keep them apart. . . . This mesmerizing book offers a brilliant account of the crime and ensuing trial and shares dramatic revelations about the fates of the young women after their release from prison. With penetrating insight, this thorough analysis applies modern psychology to analyze the shocking murder that remains one of the most interesting cases of all time.

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a salacious crime show connoisseur, so I recognized this crime easily from the title and had to pick it up. It was a good read. Extremely detailed – sometimes to a fault, it bordered on a good candidate for skimming – and touching on all aspects of the crime and girls’ childhoods. I really enjoyed the psychological aspect to the book, as it went deeper into major motivations behind the murder that can’t be done justice in a television episode.

2015 total books: 8
2015 total pages read: 2597
2015 total pages listened to: 448

gen. 18, 2015, 10:31pm

Yup, that was a good one - although it did make me stop and think a bit about reading murder mysteries by someone involved in committing a murder.

gen. 18, 2015, 11:58pm

Hi Steph! The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History looks really interesting, thanks for the review. There are several others up there that are already on Mt. TBR. I'll look forward to more reviews!

Editat: feb. 6, 2015, 11:03am

The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander (2003)

From t was a crime to horrify, fascinate, and mystify the ages. On the night of July 16, 1918, Bolshevik revolutionaries murdered the entire Russian royal family in a hail of gunfire. No one survived who might bear witness to what really happened on that mysterious and bloody night. Or so it was thought. In masterful historical detail and breathtaking suspense, Robert Alexander carries the reader through the entire heartrending story as told through the eyes of a real but forgotten witness, the kitchen boy. Narrated by the sole witness to the basement execution, The Kitchen Boy is historical fiction at its best. But more than that, the accessible style and intricately woven plot-with a stunning revelation at its end-will keep readers guessing throughout.

I pulled this one from my shelf where it has been waiting for a couple of years (at least). It is a used copy, so I probably snatched it up based on looks alone at my local library’s book sale.

I really enjoyed this one. It was an easy, but interesting read. I read a lot of historical fiction, but I’ve been disappointed in the books as often as I’ve enjoyed them. Alexander follows the last weeks of the Romanov family very closely, even reproducing letters from archival sources, and I was a little worried this would be one of those books that tries to throw in an outrageous plot line that just doesn’t fit with the rest. I think we’ve all read something like that – where the author is trying so hard to make their historical story more interesting, they completely lose the feel of their characters. The Kitchen Boy succeeds though; it feels legitimate right up until the end.

2015 total books: 9
2015 total pages read: 2826
2015 total pages listened to: 448

Editat: gen. 19, 2015, 1:23am

>22 drneutron: I agree. I would have to think twice before picking up one of her books.

>23 The_Hibernator: Thanks! If you read it, let me know what you think.

gen. 19, 2015, 5:09pm

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl (1970)

From Fantastic Mr. Fox is on the run! The three meanest farmers around are out to get him. Fat Boggis, squat Bunce, and skinny Bean have joined forces, and they have Mr. Fox and his family surrounded. What they don’t know is that they’re not dealing with just any fox–Mr. Fox would never surrender. But only the most fantastic plan ever can save him now.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of my all-time favorite movies and I thought it was high time I read the story that inspired it. It was typical Dahl and I enjoyed it. I was surprised to find several of the lines from the movie coming straight from the dialogue in the book - especially since the stories were so different.

2015 total books: 10
2015 total pages read: 2922
2015 total pages listened to: 448

gen. 20, 2015, 10:01am

Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them by Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy MacNaughton (2014)

When I picked this one up, I thought I was getting a book about the many reasons people get tattoos (me not really paying attention to what I’m deciding to read is becoming a theme this year). What I actually got was even better – hand drawn tattoos and explanations of the story behind them. The images were gorgeous and the stories were fun. I spent a little time after I read it thinking about what I would say if my two tattoos were included in the book.

From Why did you get that tattoo? Every tattoo tells a story, whether the ink is meaningful or the result of a misguided decision made at the age of fourteen, representative of the wearer's true self or the accidental consequence of a bender. These most permanent and intimate of body adornments are hidden by pants legs and shirttails, emblazoned on knuckles, or tucked inside mouths. They are battle scars and beauty marks, totems and mementos. Pen & Ink grants us access to the tattoos-and the stories behind them-of writers Cheryl Strayed and Roxane Gay; rockers in the bands Korn, Otep, and Five Finger Death Punch; and even a porn star. But it also illuminates the tattoos of the ordinary people living in our midst-from professors to thrift store salespeople, cafe owners to librarians, union organizers to administrators-and their extraordinary lives. Curated and edited by Isaac Fitzgerald, who sports twelve tattoos himself, each story “is like being let in on . . . secrets by . . . strangers who passed you on the street or sat across from you on the train” (Strayed) and features Wendy MacNaughton's gorgeously rendered full-color illustrations of the tattoos on black-and-white drawings of the bearer's body. At its heart, beneath its colorful skin, Pen & Ink is an exploration of the decision to scar one's self with a symbol and a story.

2015 total books: 11
2015 total pages read: 3066
2015 total pages listened to: 448

gen. 21, 2015, 10:27am

The 1950s Kitchen by Kathryn Ferry (2011)

This book focused on the changes to the kitchen in Britain in the 1950s when the modern kitchens started to emerge. I especially enjoyed comparing/contrasting the developments in more-compact Britain with the developments in the sprawling U.S. - the size of the area you are working with, the age of the home, and the materials available all makes a big difference on what becomes the most popular features and appliances.

From The 1950s was the first great age of the modern kitchen: labor-saving appliances, bright colors and the novelty of fitted units moved the kitchen from dankness into light, where it became the domain of the happy housewife and the heart of the home. Formica - a new space-age material - decorated with fashionable patterns topped sleek cupboards that contained new classic wares such as Pyrex and 'Homemaker' crockery, and the ingredients for 1950s British staples: semolina, coronation chicken and spotted dick. Electricity entered the kitchens of millions, and nowhere in the home was modern technology and modern design more evident. Bold color, clean lines and stainless steel were keynotes of the decade, and it is no surprise that 1950s kitchen style is now the height of fashion once again, with names like Cath Kidston picking up on the best of '50s kitchen kitsch, and manufacturers like Dualit, Kitchen Aid and Aga doing healthy business with retro appliances.

2015 total books: 12
2015 total pages read: 3130
2015 total pages listened to: 448

gen. 22, 2015, 7:40am

>28 stephivist: That one sounds really interesting!

gen. 24, 2015, 8:14pm

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson (2012)

On the surface, humorous, sarcastic, and slightly neurotic memoirs are my go-to book. Something I gravitate to. I took a risk on this one though - even though it is my kind of book, I've never been a big fan of "The Bloggess" (aka Jenny Lawson). I decided to audiobook this one, thinking that I would be more likely to "get" the humor if listening to it. Good choice! I didn't really like the intro, but once Lawson got into a good rhythm and started her longer stores, I was laughing.

From For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris—Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut. Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.”

A quote, to give you a feel for the book: "I've found, though, that people are more likely to share their personal experiences if you go first, so that's why I always keep an eleven-point list of what went wrong in my childhood to share with them. Also I usually crack open a bottle of tequila to share with them, because alcohol makes me less nervous, and also because I'm from the South, and in Texas we offer drinks to strangers even when we're waiting in line at the liquor store. In Texas we call that 'southern hospitality.' The people who own the liquor store call it 'shoplifting.' Probably because they're Yankees. I'm not allowed to go back to that liquor store.”
― Jenny Lawson, Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

2015 total books: 13
2015 total pages read: 3130
2015 total pages listened to: 784

gen. 26, 2015, 5:10pm

Sweet Tooth: A Novel by Ian McEwan (2012)

I really loved this. I don't really have any better comments - I just really loved this story.

From Cambridge student Serena Frome’s beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for MI5. The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. England’s legendary intelligence agency is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with those of the government. The operation is code named “Sweet Tooth.” Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is the perfect candidate to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley. At first, she loves his stories. Then she begins to love the man. How long can she conceal her undercover life? To answer that question, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage: trust no one. Once again, Ian McEwan’s mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love and the invented self.

2015 total books: 14
2015 total pages read: 3450
2015 total pages listened to: 784

Editat: gen. 28, 2015, 3:39pm

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 by Madeleine Albright (2012)

Okay, so the subtitle is a little misleading. Hardly “A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948,” I’d describe this as “A Short History of World War II from the Czech Viewpoint.” I was not expecting such a dense history when I downloaded this and likely would have abandoned it if I hadn’t decided to go with the audio version. Not because it was bad – on the contrary, I quite enjoyed it – but because I wasn’t really looking to read a history of WWII and wouldn’t personally qualify this as a memoir.

All that being said, I liked this book. The pre-war section was extremely interesting, as much of what I’ve read and learned in school glosses over the early years in Czechoslovakia and Poland to focus on later battles and growing atrocities. The personal stories that are included (and there were many) was extremely interesting and did add a bit of a more personal touch to the story.

From From former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright comes a moving and thoughtful memoir of her formative years in Czechoslovakia during the tumult of Nazi occupation, World War II, fascism, and the onset of the Cold War. An intensely personal journey into the past that offers vital lessons for the future, Prague Winter combines the intimacy of an autobiography with the drama of an exciting and well-told story—all underpinned by the gravity and intelligence of a serious work of history. The result is a highly readable and incisive work filled with tragedy and triumph, a resonant narrative informed by Albright’s remarkable life experience and her characteristic candor in speaking hard truths.

2015 total books: 15
2015 total pages read: 3450
2015 total pages listened to: 1264

feb. 5, 2015, 2:46pm

I've seen Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century a few times and have been quite curious about it. Glad to hear it's a good read. Putting it on my library wish list.

I enjoyed The Kitchen Boy too. I'm a sucker for anything Romanov.

I agree that audio is the way to go with Let's Pretend this Never Happened. The Hubster and I listened to it on a road trip and both enjoyed it.

feb. 6, 2015, 11:01am

My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind by Scott Stossel (2014)

I listened to this one. Overall, I enjoyed it. I found it to be a little long, but thought the mixing of personal stories with the history of anxiety to be quite successful. As an anxiety-sufferer myself, I could relate to a lot and was fascinated by some of the long-suffering historical figures.

From A riveting, revelatory, and moving account of the author’s struggles with anxiety, and of the history of efforts by scientists, philosophers, and writers to understand the condition. As recently as thirty-five years ago, anxiety did not exist as a diagnostic category. Today, it is the most common form of officially classified mental illness. Scott Stossel gracefully guides us across the terrain of an affliction that is pervasive yet too often misunderstood. Drawing on his own long-standing battle with anxiety, Stossel presents an astonishing history, at once intimate and authoritative, of the efforts to understand the condition from medical, cultural, philosophical, and experiential perspectives.

2015 total books: 16
2015 total pages read: 3450
2015 total pages listened to: 1680

feb. 6, 2015, 11:04am

I am de-lurking to say that I have really been enjoying your reviews. Your latest one sounds very interesting.

Editat: feb. 8, 2015, 6:21pm

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks (2007)

I didn't finish this one and won't be counting it to my 75, but wanted to review it here anyway (I am counting the pages I read to my total). I am a huge Oliver Sacks fan. This book never really stood out as one I would enjoy however - and, in the end, I was right. After renewing it once, I admitted that I would never get past 1/2 way done and gave up. It was interesting, for sure, but seemed a bit repetitive since I wasn't enthralled by each of the separate chapters. Unless this seems really appealing, I wouldn't dive into it as you first Oliver Sacks experience. I'd probably suggest Hallucinations first, if you haven't read any of his before.

From Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does—humans are a musical species. Oliver Sacks’s compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains, and of the human experience. In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people—from a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; from people with “amusia,” to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven seconds—for everything but music. . . . Music is irresistible, haunting, and unforgettable, and in Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks tells us why.

2015 total books: 16
2015 total pages read: 3650
2015 total pages listened to: 1680

feb. 10, 2015, 4:49pm

Asylum by Patrick McGrath (1997)

I think I liked the idea of this book more than I actually enjoyed reading it. That being said, it wasn't bad. Sometimes predictable, sometimes not - I'm firmly in the middle on this one.

From Patrick McGrath has created his most psychologically penetrating vision to date: a nightmare world rocked to its foundations by a passion of such force and intensity that it shatters the lives--and minds--of all who are touched by it. Stella Raphael, a woman of great beauty and formidable intelligence, is married to Max, a staid and unimaginative forensic psychiatrist. Max has taken a job in a huge top-security mental hospital in rural England, and Stella, far from London society, finds herself restless and bored. Into her lonely existence comes Edgar Stark, a brilliant sculptor confined to the hospital after killing his wife in a psychotic rage. He comes to Stella's garden to rebuild an old Victorian conservatory there, and Stella cannot ignore her overwhelming physical attraction to this desperate man. Their explosive affair pits them against Stella's husband, her child, and the entire institution. When the crisis comes to a head, Stella makes a decision--one that will destroy several lives and precipitate an appalling tragedy that could only be fueled by illicit sexual love.

2015 total books: 17
2015 total pages read: 3904
2015 total pages listened to: 1680

feb. 11, 2015, 1:16pm

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (2014)

This is – I’m embarrassed to admit – a very long overdue Early Reviewer’s book.

I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children when it first came out in 2011 and enjoyed it enough. I wasn’t a can’t-put-it-down type of situation and I wasn’t thrilled with the ending, but I liked it enough to suggest it to my daughter. I probably wouldn’t have picked up Hollow City if I hadn’t received it through Early Reviewers, although I was pleased to read the sequel when I did.

One big problem – it had been too long since I read the first book; I didn’t remember who the children were, what their powers were, or how they related to each other. For the first couple of chapters, I was trying to rebuild those relationships in my mind while the plot was moving right along. I seemed to remember more by chapter five though – at least enough that I no longer felt lost.

What can I say at this book? I think I didn’t enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed knowing the story. Does that make sense? I kept turning page after page because I wanted to know, not necessarily because I couldn’t put it down. I’m a little disappointed that it ended on another cliffhanger.

From Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011—an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike. Publishers Weekly called it “an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.” This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises

2015 total books: 18
2015 total pages read: 4304
2015 total pages listened to: 1680

Editat: feb. 16, 2015, 1:24pm

Still Alice by Lisa Genova (2009)

The movie preview looked so compelling, I knew this had to be on my to-read list. The story was painful and beautiful. Highly recommended.

From In Lisa Genova’s extraordinary New York Times bestselling novel, an accomplished woman slowly loses her thoughts and memories to Alzheimer’s disease—only to discover that each day brings a new way of living and loving.
Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what it’s like to literally lose your mind...

2015 total books: 19
2015 total pages read: 4597
2015 total pages listened to: 1680

feb. 19, 2015, 10:14pm

An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine by Howard Markel (2011)

I'd give this book a run-of-the-mill-average rating. It was fine. Some of the subject matter was fascinating, some parts fell a little flat, some completely lost my attention.

From When Freud and Halsted began their experiments with cocaine in the 1880s, neither they, nor their colleagues, had any idea of the drug's potential to dominate and endanger their lives. An Anatomy of Addiction tells the tragic and heroic story of each man, accidentally struck down in his prime by an insidious malady: tragic because of the time, relationships, and health cocaine forced each to squander; heroic in the intense battle each man waged to overcome his affliction. Markel writes of the physical and emotional damage caused by the then-heralded wonder drug, and how each man ultimately changed the world in spite of it--or because of it. One became the father of psychoanalysis; the other, of modern surgery. Here is the full story, long overlooked, told in its rich historical context.

2015 total books: 20
2015 total pages read: 4933
2015 total pages listened to: 1680

feb. 20, 2015, 3:15pm

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954)

Damn good.

From Robert Neville may well be the last living man on Earth . . . but he is not alone. An incurable plague has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures who are determined to destroy him. By day, he is a hunter, stalking the infected monstrosities through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn....

2015 total books: 21
2015 total pages read: 4933
2015 total pages listened to: 2000

març 4, 2015, 3:45pm

Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the Musical Rent by Anthony Rapp (2006)

It’s no surprise this book was on my to-read list – I’ve been a huge RENT fan since first seeing it in 1999. I saw it a few more times on various traveling tours since then, even driving five hours to see original actors Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp perform as Roger and Mark in 2009. I would have driven ever further.

So, this book? First, a complaint - I listened to the audiobook and the quality just didn't seem 100% there. A little tinny and distracting, at first. Overall though, very fun. Not recommended if you haven't seen - and enjoyed - RENT; the book obviously covers more of Rapp's life, but focuses on the years he was involved with the play.

From Anthony Rapp had a special feeling about Jonathan Larson's rock musical Rent as early as his first audition, which won him a starring role as the video artist Mark Cohen. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Rent opened to thunderous acclaim off-Broadway -- but even as friends and family were celebrating the show's first success, they were also mourning Jonathan Larson's sudden death from an aortic aneurysm. And when Anthony's mom began to lose her battle with cancer, Anthony found himself struggling to balance his life in the theater with his responsibility to his family.

2015 total books: 22
2015 total pages read: 4933
2015 total pages listened to: 2320

març 4, 2015, 8:18pm

Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cummings (2007)

I really enjoyed this. For starters, I am a memoir junkie. This one really sticks out as cream of the crop though. Many people might not like it, but I loved how the book jumped back and forth between Cummings's experiences on Who Do You Think You Are? (that celebrity genealogy show) and childhood memories (traumatic childhood memories). It was a lovely balance. I ended up reading the book cover to cover in one sitting with a couple glasses of wine.

From When television producers in the UK approached him to appear on a popular celebrity genealogy show in 2010, Alan enthusiastically agreed. He hoped the show would solve a family mystery involving his maternal grandfather, a celebrated WWII hero who disappeared in the Far East. But as the truth of his family ancestors revealed itself, Alan learned far more than he bargained for about himself, his past, and his own father. With ribald humor, wit, and incredible insight, Alan seamlessly moves back and forth in time, integrating stories from his childhood in Scotland and his experiences today as a film, television, and theater star. At times suspenseful, deeply moving, and wickedly funny, Not My Father’s Son will make readers laugh even as it breaks their hearts.

2015 total books: 23
2015 total pages read: 5237
2015 total pages listened to: 2320

març 8, 2015, 5:04pm

6 People Who Died During Sex: and 100 Other Terribly Tasteless Lists by Karl Shaw (2007)

This was a fun read, but the historian in me kept wanting to fact check (knowing the tendency of these kinds of books to stretch the truth or fall into urban legend type myths).

From All in perfectly bad taste. Prepare to be amazed, appalled, disgusted, and hugely entertained by this compendium of indelicate oddities. Nothing is too inane, too insane, too bizarre, or too distasteful for this incredible, seemingly impossible, but absolutely true collection of facts from across the ages and around the world.

2015 total books: 24
2015 total pages read: 5541
2015 total pages listened to: 2320

març 8, 2015, 8:38pm

Dr. Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz (2014)

This was just an okay read for me. The author included quite a few related tangents into general medical history of the time. These were probably useful in the grand scheme of things, but I was expecting more strictly-Mütter-focus.

From Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools—or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the middle of the nineteenth century. Although he died at just forty-eight, Mütter was an audacious medical innovator who pioneered the use of ether as anesthesia, the sterilization of surgical tools, and a compassion-based vision for helping the severely deformed, which clashed spectacularly with the sentiments of his time. Brilliant, outspoken, and brazenly handsome, Mütter was flamboyant in every aspect of his life. He wore pink silk suits to perform surgery, added an umlaut to his last name just because he could, and amassed an immense collection of medical oddities that would later form the basis of Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum.

2015 total books: 25
2015 total pages read: 5925
2015 total pages listened to: 2320

març 10, 2015, 4:36pm

Dear Committee Members: A novel by Julie Schumacher (2014)

An okay read, but largely forgettable - even taking into account the unique format.

From Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters, while one floor above them the Economics Department is getting lavishly remodeled offices. His once-promising writing career is in the doldrums, as is his romantic life, in part as the result of his unwise use of his private affairs for his novels. His star (he thinks) student can't catch a break with his brilliant (he thinks) work Accountant in a Bordello, based on Melville's Bartleby. In short, his life is a tale of woe, and the vehicle this droll and inventive novel uses to tell that tale is a series of hilarious letters of recommendation that Fitger is endlessly called upon by his students and colleagues to produce, each one of which is a small masterpiece of high dudgeon, low spirits, and passive-aggressive strategies. We recommend Dear Committee Members to you in the strongest possible terms.

2015 total books: 26
2015 total pages read: 5925
2015 total pages listened to: 2512

març 16, 2015, 6:01pm

How I Love Now by Meg Rosoff (2006)

I really enjoyed this one. Loved that it was written as a first person narrative - it made the audio book even better.

From Fifteen-year-old New Yorker Daisy is sent to live in the English countryside with cousins she’s never even met. When England is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy, the cousins find themselves on their own. Power fails, system fail. As they grow more isolated, the farm becomes a kind of Eden, with no rules. Until the war arrives in their midst. Daisy’s is a war story, a survival story, a love story—all told in the voice of a subversive and witty teenager. This book crackles with anxiety and with lust. It’s a stunning and unforgettable first novel that captures the essence of the age of terrorism: how we live now.

2015 total books: 27
2015 total pages read: 5925
2015 total pages listened to: 2706

Editat: març 21, 2015, 10:44am

Dear Mr. Knightley: A Novel by Katherine Reay (2013)

Audiobooked this one. And I loved it, really loved it. . . until the last twenty minutes. Somewhere in the middle of the book I laughed to myself, "I bet it will turn out (redacted spoiler). ::chuckle:: Nah, that would be awful." Of course that is the way it ended. It wasn't enough to ruin the book for me, but I was disappointed.

From Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger. Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore. But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress. As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken. Reminding us all that our own true character is not meant to be hidden, Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.

2015 total books: 28
2015 total pages read: 5925
2015 total pages listened to: 3105

Editat: març 29, 2015, 10:21pm

Cool, Calm & Contentious: Essays by Merrill Markoe (2011)

Eh, this one wasn't a winner for me. Usually this is exactly the kind of book that I can depend on, but I found myself wanting to skim a lot. A couple of essays stood out for me - the opener about her mother was excellent - but it was mostly forgettable. I ended up just skipping two of the essays written about her dogs. . or well, as a conversation with her dog. Not cute.

From In this hilarious collection of personal essays, New York Times bestselling author Merrill Markoe reveals, among other things, the secret formula for comedy: Start out with a difficult mother, develop some classic teenage insecurities, add a few relationships with narcissistic men, toss in an unruly pack of selfish dogs, finish it off with the kind of crystalline perspective that only comes from years of navigating a roiling sea of unpleasant and unappeasable people, and—voilà!—you’re funny!

2015 total books: 29
2015 total pages read: 6213
2015 total pages listened to: 3105

març 29, 2015, 10:21pm

The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley (2014)

I enjoyed this one, but it probably won't make my to-recommend list. I found the first half of the book extremely intriguing, but Worsley lost me when she started to move into the twentieth century authors. I listened to this one and found myself getting caught up in that audiobook trap where you realized you have zoned out and missed who-knows-how-many pages. Speaking of the audiobook, I did not like the narrator. She came off prim and stuffy to me. That probably didn't help. I'd suggest skipping the audio version if you are interested in the book.

From Murder—a dark, shameful deed, the last resort of the desperate or a vile tool of the greedy. And a very strange, very English obsession. But where did this fixation develop? And what does it tell us about ourselves?
In The Art of the English Murder, Lucy Worsley explores this phenomenon in forensic detail, revisiting notorious crimes like the Ratcliff Highway Murders, which caused a nationwide panic in the early nineteenth century, and the case of Frederick and Maria Manning, the suburban couple who were hanged after killing Maria’s lover and burying him under their kitchen floor. Our fascination with crimes like these became a form of national entertainment, inspiring novels and plays, prose and paintings, poetry and true-crime journalism. At a point during the birth of modern England, murder entered our national psyche, and it’s been a part of us ever since.

2015 total books: 30
2015 total pages read: 6213
2015 total pages listened to: 3471

març 31, 2015, 6:58pm

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel (2014)

Loved, loved, loved this! Some of the stories had gut-punching, haunting endings. This will be on my recommendation list for anyone who enjoys a good short story collection.

It might be helpful to know that I did not like Wolf Hall - couldn't finish the thing - so don't necessarily pass this one up if you didn't like her previous work.

From Hilary Mantel is one of the world's most accomplished, acclaimed and garlanded writers. Uniquely, her last two novels, Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring up the Bodies, both won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. In this new collection of ten stories, all her gifts of characterization, observation and intelligence are once again fully on display. With settings ranging from Saudi Arabia to Greece to London, they reveal a great writer at the peak of her powers.

2015 total books: 31
2015 total pages read: 6469
2015 total pages listened to: 3471

abr. 12, 2015, 10:08pm

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (2006)

I audiobooked* this one and I liked it, but not as much as How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. I wasn't interested in continuing the series (especially after reading some reviews of book 3 and 4), but suggested the first one to my daughter. I did really enjoy the concept of the moon changing orbit and sending the Earth into turmoil. It led to a lot of really believable catastrophe. Overall, good.

From High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, like "one marble hits another." The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintery in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove. Told in a year’s worth of journal entries, this heart-pounding story chronicles Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all—hope—in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

*Really should be a verb.

2015 total books: 32
2015 total pages read: 6469
2015 total pages listened to: 3823

abr. 12, 2015, 10:12pm

It Looked Different on the Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy by Laurie Notaro (2011)

Loved it! Laughed to myself the whole time.

From Everyone’s favorite Idiot Girl, Laurie Notaro, is just trying to find the right fit, whether it’s in the adorable blouse that looks charming on the mannequin but leaves her in a literal bind or in her neighborhood after she’s shamefully exposed at a holiday party by delivering a low-quality rendition of “Jingle Bells.” Notaro makes misstep after riotous misstep as she shares tales of marriage and family, including stories about the dog-bark translator that deciphers Notaro’s and her husband’s own “woofs” a little too accurately, the emails from her mother with “FWD” in the subject line (“which in email code means Forecasting World Destruction”), and the dead-of-night shopping sprees and Devil Dog–devouring monkeyshines of a creature known as “Ambien Laurie.” At every turn, Notaro’s pluck and irresistible candor set the New York Times bestselling author on a journey that’s laugh-out-loud funny and utterly unforgettable.

2015 total books: 33
2015 total pages read: 6687
2015 total pages listened to: 3823

abr. 12, 2015, 10:17pm

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (2014)

So good. This is really an amazing story. Recommended for anyone interested in comic book history, superhero history, or women's history.

From Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has uncovered an astonishing trove of documents, including the never-before-seen private papers of William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator. Beginning in his undergraduate years at Harvard, Marston was influenced by early suffragists and feminists, starting with Emmeline Pankhurst, who was banned from speaking on campus in 1911, when Marston was a freshman. In the 1920s, Marston and his wife, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway, brought into their home Olive Byrne, the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most influential feminists of the twentieth century. The Marston family story is a tale of drama, intrigue, and irony. In the 1930s, Marston and Byrne wrote a regular column for Family Circle celebrating conventional family life, even as they themselves pursued lives of extraordinary nonconformity. Marston, internationally known as an expert on truth—he invented the lie detector test—lived a life of secrets, only to spill them on the pages of Wonder Woman.

2015 total books: 34
2015 total pages read: 7119
2015 total pages listened to: 3823

Editat: abr. 15, 2015, 6:11pm

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)

The Lottery haunted me when I read it in school, so it seemed like I should read something else by Jackson. I ended up with the 2006 Penguin Classics edition of The Haunting of Hill House.

I’ll start with a complaint. This edition had an introduction that included a little background on Jackson’s life, as well as some basic critical analysis of her writing. Unfortunately, the analysis also included character and plot information about the story I was about to read. After several pages of the introduction, I realized it was giving me more information about The Haunting of Hill House than I wanted to know, so I skipped to the story and only came back to the introduction after I finished. Good move on my part; turns out the introduction gave away the ending. Spoiler alert, introduction!

Jackson’s story was great, although I did feel like the character of Mrs. Montague really broke the claustrophobic atmosphere that had been very effective until she walked in the door. Probably a personal preference though.

From First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

2015 total books: 35
2015 total pages read: 7327
2015 total pages listened to: 3823

abr. 16, 2015, 6:35am

I make it a point never to read the introduction first, for that very reason. Penguin seems to be particularly bad about it, especially with their 'classics.'
Also, I love The Haunting of Hill House! Have you seen the movie (the original, not the awful remake)? Scariest movie I've ever watched.

abr. 16, 2015, 3:52pm

I've only seen the remake. It is actually probably a big reason why I was not interested in reading this story sooner.

abr. 16, 2015, 4:03pm

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (2014)

I started 2015 with 1Q84 and instantly fell in love with the book - I'm clearly on the positive side of its mixed reviews. When I saw that my library had more of Murakami's work available on Overdrive now, I knew he was going to be monopolizing my time.

I "checked out" Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki last night around 6pm and had to stay up late to finish the whole thing. I was absolutely engrossed. I don't know what it is about Murakami's writing, but I feel like I just "get it." It feels hyper-realistic and ethereal at the same time. Both works by him that I've read left important questions unanswered at the end, but not in an unsatisfying way. I'm going to try Kafka on the Shore next.

From Here he gives us the remarkable story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages.

2015 total books: 36
2015 total pages read: 7727
2015 total pages listened to: 3823

abr. 17, 2015, 6:36am

Oooh, Kafka on the Shore is so, so good - I hope you love it as much as I did!

abr. 21, 2015, 3:40pm

Yep - I learned my lesson the hard way. Never read the introduction first.

abr. 29, 2015, 8:50pm

Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk (2008)

I'm not a big fan of Palahniuk, but I had a couple of hours to kill waiting at my daughter's school and this one was already on the Kindle. Spoiler alert! - I liked it. It was fun, but not for everyone I'm sure.

From Cassie Wright, porn priestess, intends to cap her legendary career by breaking the world record for serial fornication. On camera. With six hundred men. Snuff unfolds from the perspectives of Mr. 72, Mr. 137, and Mr. 600, who await their turn on camera in a very crowded green room. This wild, lethally funny, and thoroughly researched novel brings the huge yet underacknowledged presence of pornography in contemporary life into the realm of literary fiction at last. Who else but Chuck Palahniuk would dare do such a thing? Who else could do it so well, so unflinchingly, and with such an incendiary (you might say) climax?

2015 total books: 37
2015 total pages read: 7924
2015 total pages listened to: 3823

abr. 29, 2015, 9:03pm

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (2005)

Continuing my Murakami binge, I picked up this one. It is my least favorite of his works I've read so far, but I still liked it enough. This story didn't grab me as much as 1Q84 or (especially) Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage. I got lost in some of the description - and not in the way you want to get lost in a book.

From A tour de force of metaphysical reality, it is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom. Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle–yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered, just as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually revealed, with one escaping his fate entirely and the other given a fresh start on his own.

2015 total books: 38
2015 total pages read: 8372
2015 total pages listened to: 3823

maig 3, 2015, 4:12pm

You seem to be reading an interesting array of books.

>62 stephivist: I haven't read Kafka on the Shore yet, though I am familiar with the notion of even the worst of his works being better than the best of most.

maig 4, 2015, 12:51pm

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan (2008)

I learned some really interesting facts and tidbits from this books, but found it to be a little repetitive. If I had been reading it instead of listening to the audio book, I probably would have started skimming about half way through. Verdict: Good, not great.

From Humans used to know how to eat well, Pollan argues. But the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, complicated, and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists-all of whom have much to gain from our dietary confusion. As a result, we face today a complex culinary landscape dense with bad advice and foods that are not "real." These "edible foodlike substances" are often packaged with labels bearing health claims that are typically false or misleading. Indeed, real food is fast disappearing from the marketplace, to be replaced by "nutrients," and plain old eating by an obsession with nutrition that is, paradoxically, ruining our health, not to mention our meals. Michael Pollan's sensible and decidedly counterintuitive advice is: "Don't eat anything that your great-great grandmother would not recognize as food."

2015 total books: 39
2015 total pages read: 8372
2015 total pages listened to: 4079

maig 13, 2015, 2:32pm

Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. by Rob Delaney (2013)

I haven't had a lot of free time to read lately, but I have been doing a series of repetitive tasks at work allowing me to continue audiobooking it up. This particular book wasn't on my to-read list, but I needed something funny and it was the most recent thing added to my library's digital humor section that sounded enjoyable. The result: I mean, this isn't anything to write home about, but it was exactly what I expected. Delaney shares a lot of his often-difficult life and gives you laughs in the meantime.

From Rob Delaney is a father, a husband, a comedian, a writer. He is the author of an endless stream of beautiful, insane jokes on Twitter. He is sober. He is sometimes brave. He speaks French. He loves women with abundant pubic hair and saggy naturals. He has bungee jumped off of the Manhattan Bridge. He enjoys antagonizing political figures. He listens to metal while he works out. He likes to fart. He broke into an abandoned mental hospital with his mother. He played Sir Lancelot in Camelot. He has battled depression. He is funny as s***. He cleans up well. He is friends with Margaret Atwood. He is lucky to be alive.

2015 total books: 40
2015 total pages read: 8372
2015 total pages listened to: 4287

maig 21, 2015, 1:22pm

Love Life by Rob Lowe (2014)

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Rob Lowe and that feeling grew after I read his first book, Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography. That work was humorous, honest, and surprising inspiring. My current lack of time to read at home created a perfect opportunity to check out the audiobook of his latest work, Love Life.

Now, you might not know what to expect from a memoir by Rob Lowe entitled Love Life and – to be honest – I didn’t really either. Turns out, it focuses on all different kinds of reasons we love life and ways we have love in our life – career, family, support, etc. I enjoyed it, but not as much as Stories I Only Tell My Friends. Definitely start with that one if you want some Rob Lowe in your life.

From When Rob Lowe’s first book was published in 2011, he received the kind of rapturous reviews that writers dream of and rocketed to the top of the bestseller list. Now, in Love Life, he expands his scope, using stories and observations from his life in a poignant and humorous series of true tales about men and women, art and commerce, fathers and sons, addiction and recovery, and sex and love.

2015 total books: 41
2015 total pages read: 8372
2015 total pages listened to: 4559

maig 22, 2015, 6:42am

>66 stephivist: I keep meaning to listen to this one, too, soon, since I loved the audio version of his first book. Thanks for the reminder!

maig 24, 2015, 9:54pm

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle (2007)

Excellent. Humorous. Creepy. Sad.

From A westerner's visit into North Korea, told in the form of a graphic novel. Famously referred to as one of the "Axis of Evil" countries, North Korea remains one of the most secretive and mysterious nations in the world today. In early 2001 cartoonist Guy Delisle became one of the few Westerners to be allowed access to the fortresslike country. While living in the nation's capital for two months on a work visa for a French film animation company, Delisle observed what he was allowed to see of the culture and lives of the few North Koreans he encountered; his findings form the basis of this remarkable graphic novel. Pyongyang is an informative, personal, and accessible look at a dangerous and enigmatic country.

2015 total books: 42
2015 total pages read: 8548
2015 total pages listened to: 4559

maig 24, 2015, 10:06pm

On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks (2015)

Great memoir. Exactly the level of quality you would expect from Dr. Sacks. I was absolutely surprised and overwhelmed by his descriptions of growing up and starting his career as a young man. Highly recommended.

From When Oliver Sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote in his report: “Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far.” It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. From its opening pages on his youthful obsession with motorcycles and speed, On the Move is infused with his restless energy. As he recounts his experiences as a young neurologist in the early 1960s, first in California, where he struggled with drug addiction, and then in New York, where he discovered a long-forgotten illness in the back wards of a chronic hospital, we see how his engagement with patients comes to define his life. With unbridled honesty and humor, Sacks shows us that the same energy that drives his physical passions—weight lifting and swimming—also drives his cerebral passions. He writes about his love affairs, both romantic and intellectual; his guilt over leaving his family to come to America; his bond with his schizophrenic brother; and the writers and scientists—Thom Gunn, A. R. Luria, W. H. Auden, Gerald M. Edelman, Francis Crick—who influenced him. On the Move is the story of a brilliantly unconventional physician and writer—and of the man who has illuminated the many ways that the brain makes us human.

2015 total books: 43
2015 total pages read: 8964
2015 total pages listened to: 4559

juny 1, 2015, 1:29pm

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson (1999)

I've not been a huge fan of Erik Larson and usually pass over his books. When I found myself stuck in an airport after reading the two books I brought (why did I leave the Kindle at home!?), this one jumped out at me from the airport bookstore shelf. I'm fascinated by the story of the Galveston hurricane, but - although I've watched several television shows about it - never read a full-length book. After a quick look to make sure this book wasn't going to alternate chapters of two different stories (hate that), I picked it up. Glad I did - great book!

From On September 8, 1900, a massive hurricane slammed into Galveston, Texas. A tidal surge of some four feet in as many seconds inundated the city, while the wind destroyed thousands of buildings. By the time the water and winds subsided, entire streets had disappeared and as many as 10,000 were dead--making this the worst natural disaster in America's history. In Isaac's Storm, Erik Larson blends science and history to tell the story of Galveston, its people, and the hurricane that devastated them. Drawing on hundreds of personal reminiscences of the storm, Larson follows individuals through the fateful day and the storm's aftermath. There's Louisa Rollfing, who begged her husband, August, not to go into town the morning of the storm; the Ursuline Sisters at St. Mary's orphanage who tied their charges to lengths of clothesline to keep them together; Judson Palmer, who huddled in his bathroom with his family and neighbors, hoping to ride out the storm. At the center of it all is Isaac Cline, employee of the nascent Weather Bureau, and his younger brother--and rival weatherman--Joseph. Larson does an excellent job of piecing together Isaac's life and reveals that Isaac was not the quick-thinking hero he claimed to be after the storm ended. The storm itself, however, is the book's true protagonist--and Larson describes its nuances in horrific detail.

2015 total books: 44
2015 total pages read: 9300
2015 total pages listened to: 4559

juny 2, 2015, 4:10pm

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (2015)

This one has been on my to-read list since the moment I head about it and - I'm happy to report - did not disappointed. I was a little bored by Ronson's book on psychopaths, but not this one. Oh, so good. I couldn't put it down. Read it!

From For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us - people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work. Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job. A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people's faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control.

2015 total books: 45
2015 total pages read: 9604
2015 total pages listened to: 4559

juny 2, 2015, 10:15pm

Everything Is Perfect When You're a Liar by Kelly Oxford (2013)

Nothing special, but funny.

From From her beginnings as a wunderkind producer of pirated stage productions for six-year-olds, through her spirited adventures watching self-gratifying monkeys, throwing up on Chinese-food delivery men, and stalking Leonardo DiCaprio, here are the goofy highs and horrifying lows of life as Kelly Oxford.

2015 total books: 46
2015 total pages read: 9940
2015 total pages listened to: 4559

juny 12, 2015, 11:31am

Outreach: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections by Kate Theimer (editor) (2014)

I'm an archivist and read this one as part of my self-selected continuing education. Great case studies. I found something interesting, worthwhile, and applicable to my current job in nearly every chapter.

From Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections explores how archives of different sizes and types are reaching out to new potential users and increasing awareness of programs and collections. The book features twelve case studies that demonstrate ideas that can be transferred into many other settings. Some of the practices described in the case studies rely primarily on technology and the Web to interact with the public, while others are centered on face-to-face activities. All twelve case studies look at outreach as identifying the organization’s intended audience, building new ways of reaching them, and helping the organization achieve its mission. Each also reflects a philosophy of experimentation that is perhaps the most critical ingredient for any organization interested in developing its own “innovative” practices.

2015 total books: 47
2015 total pages read: 10,138
2015 total pages listened to: 4559

juny 13, 2015, 1:02pm

Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization by Richard Miles (2011)

I am an archivist and historian by trade, but ancient history isn’t typically my preference. I thought it would be nice to mix-it-up a bit though and this book jumped out at me from my library’s audiobook offerings. It was . . . dense, to say the least. Perhaps I should have picked something a bit more manageable than the entire history of Carthage. That being said, it was very interesting and I certainly learned a lot. I now have some concrete facts to add to my broad-picture Carthage history.

From The devastating struggle to the death between the Carthaginians and the Romans was one of the defining dramas of the ancient world. In an epic series of land and sea battles, both sides came close to victory before the Carthaginians finally succumbed and their capital city, history, and culture were almost utterly erased. The first full-scale history of Carthage in decades, Carthage Must Be Destroyed reintroduces modern readers to the larger-than-life historical players and the ancient glory of this almost forgotten civilization.

2015 total books: 48
2015 total pages read: 10,138
2015 total pages listened to: 5103

juny 13, 2015, 5:04pm

Dear Girls Above Me: Inspired by a True Story by Charles McDowell (2013)

A very enjoyable, fun read. Recommended.

From When Charlie McDowell began sharing his open letters to his noisy upstairs neighbors—two impossibly ditzy female roommates in their mid-twenties—on Twitter, his feed quickly went viral. His followers multiplied and he got the attention of everyone from celebrities to production studios to major media outlets such as Time and Glamour. Now Dear Girls breaks out of the 140-character limit as Charlie imagines what would happen if he put the wisdom of the girls to the test. After being unceremoniously dumped by the girl he was certain was “the one,” Charlie realized his neighbors’ conversations were not only amusing, but also offered him access to a completely uncensored woman’s perspective on the world. From the importance of effectively Facebook-stalking potential girlfriends and effortlessly pulling off pastel, to learning when in the early stages of dating is too presumptuous to bring a condom and how to turn food poisoning into a dieting advantage, the girls get Charlie into trouble, but they also get him out of it—without ever having a clue of their impact on him.

2015 total books: 49
2015 total pages read: 10,426
2015 total pages listened to: 5103

juny 22, 2015, 12:44pm

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott (2014)

So good. This book had my full attention from the first few pages. I actually found myself disappointed to leave work every afternoon knowing that I likely wouldn't have a chance to keep listening to the book at home. Highly recommended if you enjoy women's history or have an interest in the Civil War. This is one of my favorite reads so far this year.

From Karen Abbott illuminates one of the most fascinating yet little known aspects of the Civil War: the stories of four courageous women—a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow—who were spies. After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives.

2015 total books: 50
2015 total pages read: 10,426
2015 total pages listened to: 5631

Editat: juny 25, 2015, 2:34pm

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (1962)

Ohhhh, so good. I can't say I was surprised by the major plot points, but it didn't really matter in the end. I was immediately drawn in by the mysterious story and little bits of madness that peeked through. As the madness grew throughout the book, I wanted to reach into Blackwood mansion and save the characters. Now that is the sign of an engaging plot!

From Publishers Weekly via Since the mysterious death of four family members, the superstitious Mary Katherine "Merricat" Blackwood, her ailing uncle Julian, and agoraphobic sister Constance have lived in a bizarre but contented state of isolation. But when cousin Charles arrives in search of the Blackwood fortune, a terrible family secret is revealed. Bernadette Dunne's reading is flawlessly paced and suspenseful. The voices she provides the cast of characters are spot on: precocious Merricat is haunted and increasingly desperate; Constance is doting but detached; Uncle Julian is both pleasantly dotty and utterly unnerving; and Charles is the conniving villain listeners will love to hate. A treat for fans of mystery and suspense.

2015 total books: 51
2015 total pages read: 10,426
2015 total pages listened to: 5791

juny 26, 2015, 4:01pm

A Little Fruitcake: A Childhood in Holidays by David Valdes Greenwood (2007)

It is blistering hot outside so I decided to be defiant by reading a little Christmas treat. Not much to say here; it was a pleasant read.

From For young David Valdes Greenwood, the indomitable “little fruitcake” at the center of these tales, nothing is sweeter than the promise of the holidays. A modern-day Tiny Tim, he holds fast to his ideal of what Christmas should be, despite the huge odds against him: Sub-zero Maine winters. A host of eccentric relatives. And his constant foil: a frugal, God-fearing Grammy who seems determined to bring an end to all his fun. A book that’s “fa-la-la-licious” (Louisville Courier Journal) and filled with funny, charming Yuletide memories (from building a Lego® manger to hunting for the perfect Christmas tree), A Little Fruitcake will inspire even the biggest Grinches around.

2015 total books: 52
2015 total pages read: 10,681
2015 total pages listened to: 5791

juny 29, 2015, 10:36am

Some Luck by Jane Smiley (2014)

This came to me highly recommended and. . . I'm not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, I was interested in the family. On the other hand, I wasn't very interested in the page to page narrative. So, take that for what it's worth. I'm not sure if I will read the next book in this series, but I might wikipedia the plot to see what happens to the family.

From On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different children: from Frank, the handsome, willful first born, and Joe, whose love of animals and the land sustains him, to Claire, who earns a special place in her father’s heart. Each chapter in Some Luck covers a single year, beginning in 1920, as American soldiers like Walter return home from World War I, and going up through the early 1950s, with the country on the cusp of enormous social and economic change. As the Langdons branch out from Iowa to both coasts of America, the personal and the historical merge seamlessly: one moment electricity is just beginning to power the farm, and the next a son is volunteering to fight the Nazis; later still, a girl you’d seen growing up now has a little girl of her own, and you discover that your laughter and your admiration for all these lives are mixing with tears.

2015 total books: 53
2015 total pages read: 10,681
2015 total pages listened to: 6207

jul. 1, 2015, 12:16pm

The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H. P. Lovecraft (1936)

Lovecraft might not have had a high opinion of this novella - claiming it "has all the defects I deplore—especially in point of style, where hackneyed phrases & rhythms have crept in" according to wikipedia - but I found it to be wonderful. Lovecraft rarely disappoints and The Shadow Over Innsmouth is no exception.

From The story describes of a strange hybrid race, half-human and half an unknown creature that resembles a cross between a fish and frog, that dwells in the seaside village of Innsmouth (formerly a large town, but lately fallen into disrepair). The townspeople worship Cthulhu and Dagon, a Philistine deity incorporated into the Cthulhu Mythos.

2015 total books: 54
2015 total pages read: 10,681
2015 total pages listened to: 6,275

jul. 14, 2015, 11:14am

Pretty in Plaid: A Life, A Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase by Jen Lancaster (2009)

I am a fan of Jen Lancaster (although I've never read her most popular book, Bitter is the New Black), plaid, and argyle socks. Clearly this book spoke to me from the shelf. I didn't love it though. I'd rate it a firm okay. Unless you are a big Lancaster fan, skip this one and read one of her other books instead.

From Before she was bitter, before she was lazy, Jen Lancaster was a badge- hungry Junior Girl Scout with a knack for extortion, an aspiring sorority girl who didn't know her Coach from her Louis Vuitton, and a budding executive who found herself bewildered by her first encounter with a fax machine. In this hilarious and touching memoir, Jen Lancaster looks back on her life-and wardrobe-and reveals a young woman not so different from the rest of us.

2015 total books: 55
2015 total pages read: 11,046
2015 total pages listened to: 6,275

ag. 9, 2015, 9:09pm

The League of Regrettable Superheroes (Loot Crate Edition) by Jon Morris (2015)

This was a fun read. I found the writing a bit dry though and it could have used better editing - several instances of missing works and awkward sentences stood out even while reading casually. That may only be an issue with the Loot Crate Edition though. FYI - Loot Crate is a monthly geek and gamer subscription box.

From Special 5x8 inch small-sized edition, a July, 2015 LootCrate Exclusive, is an abbreviated edition with 128 pages. For every superhero hitting the big time with a blockbuster movie, there are countless failures, also-rans, and D-listers. The League of Regrettable Superheroes affectionately presents one hundred of the strangest superheroes ever to see print - from Atoman to Zippo - complete with backstories, vintage art, and colorful commentary. Drawing on the entire history of the medium, the book celebrates characters that haven't seen the light of day in decades, like Natureboy, Dr. Hormone, Thunder Bunny, and more. It's a must-read for comics fans of all ages!

2015 total books: 56
2015 total pages read: 11,174
2015 total pages listened to: 6,275

ag. 10, 2015, 3:56pm

>82 stephivist: I knew this looked familiar. My husband subscribes to Loot Crate too and I thought this looked interesting. I think it's great they send books sometimes. He also got Ready Player One a few months ago.

ag. 23, 2015, 9:05pm

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler (2013)

Confession: Even though it says so right there in the title, I didn't realize this was a novel when I decided to read it during some recent travel. I figured it out pretty fast though. Overall, I enjoyed it. Not my favorite read this year, but it kept my attention and I liked the story. It probably wouldn't come to mind if someone was asking for recommendations for their to-read list.

From When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the "ungettable" Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn't wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner's, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick's Cathedral and take the rest as it comes. Everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby's parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous--sometimes infamous--husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott's, too? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler brings us Zelda's irresistible story as she herself might have told it.

2015 total books: 57
2015 total pages read: 11,558
2015 total pages listened to: 6,275

ag. 23, 2015, 9:17pm

Girl Walks into a Bar . . .: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle by Rachel Dratch (2012)

A fun read, but nothing spectacular.

From Anyone who saw an episode of Saturday Night Live between 1999 and 2006 knows Rachel Dratch. She was hilarious! So what happened to her? After a misbegotten part as Jenna on the pilot of 30 Rock, Dratch was only getting offered roles as "Lesbians. Secretaries. Sometimes secretaries who are lesbians." Her career at a low point, Dratch suddenly had time for yoga, dog- sitting, learning Spanish-and dating. After all, what did a forty- something single woman living in New York have to lose? Resigned to childlessness but still hoping for romance, Dratch was out for drinks with a friend when she met John. Handsome and funny, after only six months of dating long-distance, he became the inadvertent father of her wholly unplanned, undreamed-of child, and moved to New York to be a dad. With riotous humor, Dratch recounts breaking the news to her bewildered parents, the awe of her single friends, and the awkwardness of a baby-care class where the instructor kept tossing out the f-word. Filled with great behind-the-scenes anecdotes from Dratch's time on SNL, Girl Walks into a Bar... is a refreshing version of the "happily ever after" story that proves female comics-like bestsellers Tina Fey and Chelsea Handler-are truly having their moment.

2015 total books: 58
2015 total pages read: 11,844
2015 total pages listened to: 6,275

set. 1, 2015, 5:04pm

Thanks to my reading Regrettable Superheroes, The Hubster's new nickname is "Captain Science"

it was fun.

set. 4, 2015, 1:43pm

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (1820)

A short story, yes, but I listened to this as an individual audio book (and likely wouldn't have read it in a collection) so I'm counting it. Classic for a reason; I enjoyed it.

From "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a short story by American author Washington Irving, contained in his collection of 34 essays and short stories entitled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Written while Irving was living abroad in Birmingham, England, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was first published in 1820. Along with Irving's companion piece "Rip Van Winkle", "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is among the earliest examples of American fiction with enduring popularity.

2015 total books: 59
2015 total pages read: 11,844
2015 total pages listened to: 6,371

set. 16, 2015, 6:38pm

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

When I was a teenager, I managed to get it into my head that I needed to read and appreciate Henry James. So I did, tackling The Turn of the Screw and The Portrait of a Lady. And I hated them. I just didn't *get* the stories at all. Re-reading The Turn of the Screw, I finished with a very different opinion and very much enjoyed it. I might even try to tackle The Portrait of a Lady again before the year ends if I'm feeling particularly adventurous. I'm not sure if my opinion about that one will be as easily changed though.

From The Turn of the Screw, originally published in 1898, is a gothic ghost story novella written by Henry James. Due to its original content, the novella became a favourite text of academics who subscribe to New Criticism. The novella has had differing interpretations, often mutually exclusive. Many critics have tried to determine the exact nature of the evil hinted at by the story. However, others have argued that the true brilliance of the novella comes with its ability to create an intimate confusion and suspense for the reader.

2015 total books: 60
2015 total pages read: 11,844
2015 total pages listened to: 6,449

set. 21, 2015, 2:23pm

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (2014)

This book made me feel very uncomfortable. . . in a good way. The narration felt real and flawed. I could see myself in some of it - and that frightened me a bit. A very engrossing read. Probably not for everyone.

From Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all. Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes—a colicky baby, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.

2015 total books: 61
2015 total pages read: 12,036
2015 total pages listened to: 6,449

set. 24, 2015, 4:19pm

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami (1985)

Yes, continuing my love affair for Murakami. There is so much I shouldn’t like about his work; this one has a fantasy world, alternating narrators, an ending full of questions - all things I usually avoid. Something about his writing though leaves me engrossed from beginning to end. Needless to say, I buy-in to Murakami’s world building 100%. Like I said about Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, this book is somehow both hyper-realistic and ethereal at the same time. I listened to this one and the narrators were excellent.

From In this hyperkinetic and relentlessly inventive novel, Japan’s most popular (and controversial) fiction writer hurtles into the consciousness of the West. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World draws readers into a narrative particle accelerator in which a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters collide to dazzling effect. What emerges is simultaneously cooler than zero and unaffectedly affecting, a hilariously funny and deeply serious meditation on the nature and uses of the mind.

2015 total books: 62
2015 total pages read: 12,036
2015 total pages listened to: 6,865

set. 30, 2015, 4:55pm

Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson by S. C. Gwynne (2014)

I became a little bit fascinated by Stonewall Jackson after his brief appearance in Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy. I knew next to nothing about the man - little more than he was a Civil War general with a reputation of being unmovable - but suddenly found myself wanting to learn more about this odd person. Rebel Yell was a hefty read; its 688 pages felt twice that much to me. I’ll blame this on the blow-by-blow detail of the battles and military movements. Yes, I expected that in a biography of Stonewall Jackson. I just wanted a little . . . less. If you are a biography-lover like me, I’d think twice before digging in unless you also have an interest in military history or the Civil War. That being said, a great read overall.

From Rebel Yell is written with the swiftly vivid narrative that is Gwynne’s hallmark and is rich with battle lore, biographical detail, and intense conflict between historical figures. Gwynne delves deep into Jackson’s private life, including the loss of his young beloved first wife and his regimented personal habits. It traces Jackson’s brilliant twenty-four-month career in the Civil War, the period that encompasses his rise from obscurity to fame and legend; his stunning effect on the course of the war itself; and his tragic death, which caused both North and South to grieve the loss of a remarkable American hero.

2015 total books: 63
2015 total pages read: 12,724
2015 total pages listened to: 6,865

oct. 2, 2015, 2:04pm

On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind's Hard-Wired Habits by Wray Herbert (2010)

I give them one a firm "okay." It was a decent read, but nothing to write home about, mostly rehashing things I'd heard before.

From lives are composed of millions of choices, ranging from trivial to life-changing and momentous. Luckily, our brains have evolved a number of mental shortcuts, biases, and tricks that allow us to quickly negotiate this endless array of decisions. We don’t want to rationally deliberate every choice we make, and thanks to these cognitive rules of thumb, we don’t need to. Yet these hard-wired shortcuts, mental wonders though they may be, can also be perilous. They can distort our thinking in ways that are often invisible to us, leading us to make poor decisions, to be easy targets for manipulators…and they can even cost us our lives. The truth is, despite all the buzz about the power of gut-instinct decision-making in recent years, sometimes it’s better to stop and say, “On second thought . . .”

2015 total books: 64
2015 total pages read: 12,724
2015 total pages listened to: 7,169

oct. 14, 2015, 3:50pm

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie (2011)

A one-word review is all that is necessary here . . . spectacular.

From The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure German princess who became one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history. Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into empress of Russia by sheer determination. For thirty-four years, the government, foreign policy, cultural development, and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands. She dealt with domestic rebellion, foreign wars, and the tidal wave of political change and violence churned up by the French Revolution. Catherine’s family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers, and enemies—all are here, vividly brought to life. History offers few stories richer than that of Catherine the Great. In this book, an eternally fascinating woman is returned to life.

2015 total books: 65
2015 total pages read: 12,724
2015 total pages listened to: 7,825

oct. 15, 2015, 8:21am

A one-word response is all that's necessary here too...Yep!

oct. 15, 2015, 1:18pm

I have one word too...wishlisted. :)

oct. 15, 2015, 9:00pm

>93 stephivist: That one has been on my wish list for awhile, and I'm not sure why it hasn't surfaced to the top. Years ago, Memphis had a "Catherine the Great" exhibit that was incredible. I've heard nothing but good things about Massie's book.

Editat: oct. 20, 2015, 11:26am

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz (1981)

I was feeling nostalgic. Like so many children of the '80s, I grew up with these books and read them religiously, but not at night b/c those drawing were haunting. I still have my original copy of More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (or possibly my husband's copy, we aren't sure) and bought the trilogy for my daughter when Scholastic offered the set with the original art. After seeing a story online touting an upcoming documentary on the books (, I felt the need to pick one up and see if it still had any appeal.

I enjoyed revisiting this part of my childhood. The drawings were still terrifying and, even though the stories didn't have my shaking in my boots, I could really see their appeal for youngsters. And I also noticed for the first time that these books have extensive end notes and additional information in the back providing some history on the classic stories.

I only read the first of the books, but I remember the second one being my favorite and expect to pick it back up sometime soon.

2015 total books: 66
2015 total pages read: 12,835
2015 total pages listened to: 7,825

Happy Halloween!

Editat: oct. 20, 2015, 11:37am

Psycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of by Harold Schechter (2012)

Okay, so the title is a little clickbait-ish. I passed it up several times before checking it out from my library's e-book selection just because of the title. I was pleasantly surprised by the content though. Don't judge a book by its cover, right? What we've got here is short snippets of the crimes that were infamous for their day - and often similar to those that still live on in pop culture today - but were ultimately forgotten. All of the "crimes of the century" that faded. I really enjoyed how the book gave you short blurbs about crime (a few pages each) grouped into time periods with a little bit of analysis and context in between. It really worked and made this an enjoyable read.

And fyi - I love a good historic crime television show and only recognized one of the crimes mentioned. Pretty good, I think.

From In the horrifying annals of American crime, the infamous names of brutal killers such as Bundy, Dahmer, Gacy, and Berkowitz are writ large in the imaginations of a public both horrified and hypnotized by their monstrous, murderous acts. But for every celebrity psychopath who’s gotten ink for spilling blood, there’s a bevy of all-but-forgotten homicidal fiends studding the bloody margins of U.S. history. The law gave them their just desserts, but now the hugely acclaimed author of The Serial Killer Files and The Whole Death Catalog gives them their dark due in this absolutely riveting true-crime treasury.

2015 total books: 67
2015 total pages read: 13, 251
2015 total pages listened to: 7,825

oct. 27, 2015, 11:53am

An Emergency in Slow Motion: The Inner Life of Diane Arbus by William Todd Schultz (2011)

I didn't like this one. I found it incredibly boring - and it certainly didn't help that the book described photograph after photograph that I couldn't actually see without looking them up online. I don't know. . . my response to the psychological analysis of Arbus was pretty much "ugh, get over it." I'm not proud of this reaction as I take mental illness very seriously, but it is what it is. The book was slow and seemed to rehash the same thing over and over again; I struggled to finish it. My least favorite so far this year.

From Diane Arbus was one of the most brilliant and revered photographers in the history of American art. Her portraits, in stark black and white, seemed to reveal the psychological truths of their subjects. But after she committed suicide in 1971, at the age of forty-eight, the presumed chaos and darkness of her own inner life became, for many viewers, inextricable from her work. In the spirit of Janet Malcolm's classic examination of Sylvia Plath, The Silent Woman, William Todd Schultz's An Emergency in Slow Motion reveals the creative and personal struggles of Diane Arbus. Schultz veers from traditional biography to interpret Arbus's life through the prism of four central mysteries: her outcast affinity, her sexuality, the secrets she kept and shared, and her suicide. He seeks not to diagnose Arbus, but to discern some of the private motives behind her public works and acts. In this approach, Schultz not only goes deeper into Arbus's life than any previous writer, but provides a template with which to think about the creative life in general.

2015 total books: 68
2015 total pages read: 13,507
2015 total pages listened to: 7,825

oct. 27, 2015, 4:39pm

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells (1896)

Excellent. I'm a big Wells fan, so I was surprised to be picking this up for the first time.

From A shipwreck in the South Seas, a palm-tree paradise where a mad doctor conducts vile experiments, animals that become human and then "beastly" in ways they never were before--it's the stuff of high adventure. It's also a parable about Darwinian theory, a social satire in the vein of Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels), and a bloody tale of horror. Or, as H. G. Wells himself wrote about this story, "The Island of Dr. Moreau is an exercise in youthful blasphemy. Now and then, though I rarely admit it, the universe projects itself towards me in a hideous grimace. It grimaced that time, and I did my best to express my vision of the aimless torture in creation." This colorful tale by the author of The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds lit a firestorm of controversy at the time of its publication in 1896.

2015 total books: 69
2015 total pages read: 13,507
2015 total pages listened to: 8,013

Editat: nov. 5, 2015, 2:20pm

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky (2002)

I’ve been doing a lot of database work lately allowing me to listen to an audiobooks uninterrupted for several days. This particular one has been in my to-read queue for a while now, but I was a little unsure if a history of salt could command my attention for thirteen hours. I’m happy to report that I had absolutely nothing to worry about. This book is a history of the world through the eyes of salt. Fascinating from start to finish.

From In his fifth work of nonfiction, Mark Kurlansky turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions. Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Salt by Mark Kurlansky is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece.

2015 total books: 70
2015 total pages read: 13,507
2015 total pages listened to: 8,497

nov. 9, 2015, 4:53pm

The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (1977)

I found the first half of this one interesting and a good read (i.e. listen), but was totally bored by the middle. Maybe it is just too well-known a story?

From In December 1975, the Lutz family moved into their new home on suburban Long Island. George and Kathleen Lutz knew that, one year earlier, Ronald DeFeo had murdered his parents, brothers, and sisters in that house. But the property complete with boathouse and swimming pool and the price were too good to pass up. Twenty-eight days later, the entire Lutz family fled in terror. This is the spellbinding, best-selling true story that gripped the nation, the story of a house possessed by evil spirits, haunted by psychic phenomena almost too terrible to describe.

2015 total books: 71
2015 total pages read: 13,507
2015 total pages listened to: 8,753

Editat: nov. 12, 2015, 3:04pm

Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems by David Rakoff (2005)

Enjoyable, well-written, and humorous.

From David Rakoff takes us on a bitingly funny grand tour of our culture of excess. Whether he is contrasting the elegance of one of the last flights of the supersonic Concorde with the good-times-and-chicken-wings populism of Hooters Air; working as a cabana boy at a South Beach hotel; or traveling to a private island off the coast of Belize to watch a soft-core video shoot—where he is provided with his very own personal manservant—rarely have greed, vanity, selfishness, and vapidity been so mercilessly skewered. Somewhere along the line, our healthy self-regard has exploded into obliterating narcissism; our manic getting and spending have now become celebrated as moral virtues. Simultaneously a Wildean satire and a plea for a little human decency, Don’t Get Too Comfortable shows that far from being bobos in paradise, we’re in a special circle of gilded-age hell.

2015 total books: 72
2015 total pages read: 13,747
2015 total pages listened to: 8,753

Editat: nov. 12, 2015, 3:12pm

The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet by Neil deGrasse Tyson (2009)

I was fascinated by the whole Pluto-debacle and - even though I don't have any mushy feelings for the icy rock - fully intend to tell my grandchildren how "back in my day we had nine planets." It was very interesting to learn about the background from the man on the inside.

From In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted Pluto out of planethood. Far from the sun, wonder Pluto has any fans. Yet during the mounting debate over rallied behind the extraterrestrial underdog. Disney created an irresistible pup by the same name, and, as one NASA scientist put it, Pluto was "discovered by an American for America." Pluto is entrenched in our cultural, patriotic view of the cosmos, and Neil deGrasse Tyson is on a quest to discover why. Only Tyson can tell this story: he was involved in the first exhibits to demote Pluto, and, consequently, Pluto lovers have freely shared their opinions with him, including endless hate mail from third graders. In his typically witty way, Tyson explores the history of planet recently been judged a dwarf.

2015 total books: 73
2015 total pages read: 13,747
2015 total pages listened to: 8,977

nov. 28, 2015, 8:46pm

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1997)

I can't even explain my love for Murakami. I'm not a good reviewer of his works because I read them in complete awe.

From Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II. In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

2015 total books: 74
2015 total pages read: 14,354
2015 total pages listened to: 8,977

des. 9, 2015, 11:37am

Then Again by Diane Keaton (2011)

Eh. I really thought I would enjoy this, but I found the whole thing rather boring.

From . . . . Diane Keaton’s unforgettable memoir about her mother and herself. In it you will meet the woman known to tens of millions as Annie Hall, but you will also meet, and fall in love with, her mother, the loving, complicated, always-thinking Dorothy Hall. To write about herself, Diane realized she had to write about her mother, too, and how their bond came to define both their lives. In a remarkable act of creation, Diane not only reveals herself to us, she also lets us meet in intimate detail her mother. Over the course of her life, Dorothy kept eighty-five journals—literally thousands of pages—in which she wrote about her marriage, her children, and, most probingly, herself. Dorothy also recorded memorable stories about Diane’s grandparents. Diane has sorted through these pages to paint an unflinching portrait of her mother—a woman restless with intellectual and creative energy, struggling to find an outlet for her talents—as well as her entire family, recounting a story that spans four generations and nearly a hundred years.

2015 total books: 75
2015 total pages read: 14,354
2015 total pages listened to: 9,281

des. 10, 2015, 6:33am

>106 stephivist: That's too bad. I really like her, but I don't want to her her memoirs if they're meh.

des. 21, 2015, 3:26pm

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1989)

This is one of those books that I really can't believe I hadn't read before now. To be honest, I was shooting for this on to be my #75 instead of a fluffier book, but I finished Diane Keaton first. . oh well (ha!).

Overall, I found this to be fascinating. It was a bit more laborious than I usually like my fiction, but painted such a vivid picture that I'll forgive that. My lack of knowledge of Indian culture and the Islamic faith made some of the passages difficult to digest and I'm sure I missed some of the more subtle references, but I don't feel this hindered my reading. Not a book for everyone though.

From One of the most controversial and acclaimed novels ever written, The Satanic Verses is Salman Rushdie’s best-known and most galvanizing book. Set in a modern world filled with both mayhem and miracles, the story begins with a bang: the terrorist bombing of a London-bound jet in midflight. Two Indian actors of opposing sensibilities fall to earth, transformed into living symbols of what is angelic and evil. This is just the initial act in a magnificent odyssey that seamlessly merges the actual with the imagined. A book whose importance is eclipsed only by its quality, The Satanic Verses is a key work of our times.

2015 total books: 76
2015 total pages read: 14,930
2015 total pages listened to: 9,281

des. 21, 2015, 3:33pm

Congrats on blowing past 75!

des. 22, 2015, 4:09pm

I'll Have What She's Having: My Adventures in Celebrity Dieting by Rebecca M. Harrington (2015)

A fun, blow-off read, but hardly anything worth mentioning.

From A hilarious look at the eating habits of the fit and famous--from Gwyneth's goji berry and quail egg concoctions to Jackie Kennedy's baked potato and Beluga caviar regimen--Rebecca Harrington leaves no cabbage soup unstirred in her wickedly funny, wildly absurd quest to diet like the stars.

2015 total books: 77
2015 total pages read: 15,106
2015 total pages listened to: 9,281

Editat: des. 22, 2015, 4:32pm

Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, Revisited, Volume 1 by Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm (1812/1857)
Selected and narrated by Ulf Bjorklund (2012)

Another fun read. I knew some of these stories, but not all. My only complaint - I audiobooked this one and did not care for the narrator. He spoke quickly and lacked dramatic pause and emotion, sounding more like he was standing in front of a room reading from the book.

From Overdrive: Let yourself be transported back to "Once Upon A Time" with these engaging fables from the Brothers Grimm. These are magical adventures from the original storytellers, beloved throughout the world and passed down through the centuries - captured here in high quality audio. From Rumpelstiltskin to Snow-White, visit the world of the cautionary tales of Germanic folklore that inspired the modern fairy tales of your youth.

2015 total books: 78
2015 total pages read: 15,106
2015 total pages listened to: 9,381