Monday, October 31, 2011

October - This Month in Reading

Well, this month did not go so well for me with reading. I was really busy with work in the first half of the month, and for some reason the second half didn't go so well for reading either. I wasn't able to read very much at all - I only managed to read 5 books in October. I was hoping to read more than 15 books overall and read at least one book for each challenge, but clearly that didn't happen. Oh well! On the plus side, I did manage to catch up on War and Peace - hooray! I am now on track to finish the challenge right on schedule, and I'm really happy about that. I also read one of my TBR Pile Challenge books, London, and I really enjoyed it, so I made some headway in that challenge, so that was good too. In my defense, I had to read quite a bit of War and Peace this month, and London was a Harry Potter-sized 800+ pager (ha ha), so those did involve a lot of reading - so I was reading all along this month, it just doesn't seem like I did much when you add up the books.

For November, I want to:

  • Stay on track with War and Peace - all caught up as of Nov. 30
  • Read 1 book for the TBR Pile Challenge (I have 3 books left to read to complete the challenge, not counting the 2 alternates) - read 1 Nov. 25, 2011
  • Read 2 books for the Forgotten Treasures Challenge (I have 4 books left to read to complete Level 3, the bonus level) - read 1 Nov. 20, 2011/read 2 Nov. 30, 2011
  • Read 2 books for the Color-Coded Reading Challenge (I have 4 books left to read to complete the challenge, and I have 3 out of the 4 books purchased [during my Borders Closing Madness Buying] and ready to read - I just have to read them!) - read 1 Nov. 16, 2011/read 2 Nov. 20, 2011
  • Read 2 books for the GLBT Reading Challenge (I have 4 books left to read to reach 15 books read for this challenge, which was my goal, but I would also like to read a few more if possible to have 15 different authors) - read 1 Nov. 19, 2011/read 2 Nov. 28, 2011
  • Finish 1 book for the Haruki Murakami Reading Challenge (I have 2 books left to read to complete my planned 3 books for this challenge, and I'm actually halfway through one of his books, I just ran out of time to finish it in October, unfortunately. I'm also hoping to snag a copy of 1Q84 to use for this challenge, that would be great) - read Nov. 6, 2011
  • Finish 2 books for the Read Outside Your Comfort Zone Challenge (I have 8 left to read to complete the "Exploring the Unknown" level I signed up for. Luckily I have a couple books for this on hand, but I still might not reach that level now that I look at the list... I will try!) - read 1 Nov. 19, 2011/read 2 Nov. 28, 2011

November reading will be tricky for me because - drumroll please - I am actually going on a vacation for the first time in a LONG time. I can hardly wait!!! I will definitely be bringing books with me, but you know how that is - sometimes you are just too busy having fun to read. I'm hoping to have tons of fun and still read some, and I guess we'll see.

How was your reading in October? Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

London - Edward Rutherfurd

I got this book at a library sale several years ago and then it sat on my to-be-read shelf until I finally made it something of a priority by adding to my official TBR Pile Challenge list in January. Once again, I wish I hadn't waited so long to read it, I really enjoyed it! It's a book that spans the history of London, from Roman times to the present day (well, present when the book was published in 1997). I enjoy history when it relates to everyday life, i.e., when I can understand things like what people did all day, how they lived, how they worked, what they ate, what they wore, what they did for fun, etc., and this book is exactly that kind of history. I found myself very absorbed by the stories that followed some family lines through history, and it was a great way to brush up on or learn about historical events. I also enjoy being someplace and thinking to myself about how I am often standing on streets or going into buildings that have been used for a long time, and feeling a connection to the people in the past in this way. For that reason the last chapter almost had me in tears. I think the author might feel the same way I do about history.

The book is dedicated to the curators and staff of the Museum of London, a wonderful museum I was lucky enough to visit, coincidentally around the time this book was originally published. I loved the museum and I always highly recommend it to people visiting London, and I am very much hoping to get back to it soon. Now I'll add this book to the visiting-London recommendation too. In fact, I wish I could have read it before I visited London, but at least when I go back I might be able to remember some of what I read. I'd also read other books by this author, apparently he has written other books about other places/cities. They'll probably have to wait until I am able to clear some existing to-be-read books but they're on the list. I highly recommend this book!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Ántonia - Willa Cather

Willa Cather is another writer I feel like I should have read a long time ago and never managed it, so when I found this book on the trusty Library Sale shelves, I happily paid the 50 cents to fill in this gap in my reading. I really enjoyed this book. I think it was more of a character study than a novel almost; the characters felt very real and alive. The description was gorgeous, and made me long for a time machine so I could go back and see Nebraska as it is described by the author. I'll make it a point to get to more of Cather's writing, but again it might have to wait until I have cleared more of my to-be-read books.

Oh, and in an intriguing twist that hearkens back to my July reading theme,  this book has a minor episode featuring a tramp whose meager personal effects include a copy of the poem "The Old Oaken Bucket," which became a popular song that was parodied by my obsession, Nat M. Wills, "the Happy Tramp." As the book was originally published in 1918, a year after Wills' death, it is possibly a reference to him... serious food for thought and research!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Blogger Hop/TGIF

Another lovely Fall Friday! Welcome to my blog, I hope you enjoy your stay!

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question:

What is your favorite spooky book (i.e. mystery/suspense, thriller, ghost story, etc.)?

My response: Great question! I like mysteries and I love true crime books and books about serial killers, but  I don't often read truly spooky books. This year, however, I found a great one: 

Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman

It's a truly creepy, suspenseful, and gothic (the literary genre, not the dress-in-black-and-listen-to Bauhaus kind), and I absolutely loved it. I highly recommend it! It's a great book to read this month. I ran out and bought myself a copy on the day it was released, and I'm planning to reread it closer to Halloween for a fun spooky experience.

And of course because I love to make lists even when I am supposed to choose only one thing, another book that I discovered this year is another new favorite: 

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

It's another gothic book, this one more a mystery/suspense story. I thought it was fantastic and I'm dying to read The Moonstone by the same author.

And an old favorite that is creepy as all get out is:

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi

The true story of the Manson Family killings, it's truly frightening and should make you double check that you locked your doors at night. 

This week's question:

Show & Tell: Where do you grab a book and get lost in it? Show us your favorite spot you like to read.

My response: I sometimes read in bed, but more often I read in my living room, on the sofa. 

I move the lamp closer to the sofa for better light (if I need it) and curl up and get lost in a good book!

Where do you like to get lost in a book?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls

I don't know what to say about this book. I admire the author's inner strength, intelligence, and fortitude, and obvious writing talent, but I couldn't help but be irritated by her (understandable) need to seemingly apologize for so much of her parents' behavior - which was horrible. I'm not sure there is a word in English that conveys just how horrible I think her parents were. They were people who never should have been in the same room with a child, let alone had 4 that they basically refused to take care any kind of care of. I don't care how the parents grew up - I'm tired of bad behavior being excused by a bad past - they should have done better for their children. I'm amazed that the author was able to end up being very successful based on her appalling childhood, and I am glad that she seems to have escaped it. In fact, maybe growing up the way she did made her more determined to succeed than she would have been if she had had the other extreme of bad parenting, today's "helicopter parents" that smother their children... who knows. This book really made me angry the whole time I was reading it and now I am desperate for a palate-cleanser - I hope I can choose one from my enormous stack of Borders bargains!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'm with Fatty - Edward Ugel

I'm not sure what to think of this book. It's billed as some kind of weight-loss memoir, but I think the author has much deeper addiction problems than just weight gain. There were some amusing turns of phrase and etc., but overall I found the narrator irritatingly cranky and annoying. And maybe it's his privileged background, but I can't help but feel like his problem is a uniquely first-world issue that's kind of dismaying in a larger context, especially for someone who comes from a wealthy family, who is married to a woman from a wealthy family, and has the resources to have a personal trainer, and a nutritionist, and a gym membership, and prestigious cooking classes from a world-class chef, etc. It's too much like Malled for its own good. The good news: it was one of my (many) $1 Borders books.

The Hiding Place - Corrie ten Boom

I first read this book as a child and I have reread it at intervals ever since. It's an amazing story about one family's resistance activities in Nazi-occupied Holland. I just recently discovered that their home is now a museum and can be visited - I can hardly wait to see it!