Sunday, September 30, 2012

September - This Month In Reading

September was a dismal month for reading in terms of volume, although I did manage to read the four books I intended to read at the end of August, one for each reading challenge even, and a spare just for good measure (ha ha). So although I wanted to read more (as usual), for once I managed to fulfill last month's reading prediction - hooray! I managed to finish the Color-Coded Reading Challenge, and I'm very close to finishing a couple others - let's recap:

1. The Color-Coded Reading Challenge - 9/9 books read - challenge completed! Hooray!
2. The Around the World Challenge - 10/12 books read, plus 2/2 alternate books read; 10th book is about halfway finished, and 11th book probably won't happen - I can't seem to find a book set in the Gambia :-(
3. The Mixing It Up Challenge - 14/16 books read; 2 other books are on hand and are crossovers for the TBR Pile Challenge so that will be good
4. The TBR Pile Challenge - 7/12 books read; 0/2 alternate books; with only 3 months left in 2012 I will have to step up my reading for this challenge! I am on track to finish Moby-Dick at the end of 2012 by reading it one chapter at a time, so that leaves 4 books to be read over the next 3 months, and at least 2 of them are large-ish.

All in all, I'm pleased with this overall progress.

So for October, possibly my favorite month of the year, my goal is to read at least 4 books, preferably one for each remaining challenge, or at least 2 TBR books and the last 2 Mixing It Up books so I can finish these challenges on time. In the meantime, I will keep searching for a book set in the Gambia because I don't like to leave that one book unread. I already know that the first week of October will be crazy at work, which means fewer reading minutes, but I hope I can use the rest of the month to make up for this and read, read, read!

How was your reading this month?

The Devil Drives: A Life of Sir Richard Burton - Fawn M. Brodie

Got this book from a sketchy street vendor in Philadelphia, and I was so happy to find it, as I had read a little bit about the amazing linguist, anthropologist, and explorer Sir Richard Burton (not to be confused with the actor Richard Burton), and thought he was undoubtedly one of the most intelligent and interesting people who have ever lived, and I wanted to read more. Sadly, I placed the book on the shelf and there it sat. My desire to learn more about this amazing man somehow got eclipsed by..... life, I guess! I think part of the reason I may have been reluctant to read this book was that it was written in the mid 1960s and sometimes books like this, particularly from that era, can be dry and pedantic and dull, and I didn't want this amazing man to get buried in a boring book. The mid-60s was also rife with "Freudian analysis" of everything, which can be extremely tiresome as well. So thank goodness for RoofBeam Reader's TBR Pile Challenge! I put this book on the list this year and managed to finish it just in time to count it for September - hooray!

I am happy to report that I very much enjoyed the book. The writing was not dull at all, it was very readable and although it maintained an academic tone it wasn't boring as I had feared. Also, the Freudian nonsense was not epidemic through the entire book. Before reading the book, I had a rather negative opinion of Burton's wife, and this book actually made me a little bit more sympathetic to her (but just a little). As an undisciplined language junkie, I was very interested to read about how he mastered 40 languages (including dialects) - turns out discipline is a main ingredient, ha ha. Once again, I am glad I read this book and annoyed at myself for taking so long to do it. Recommended.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Captain Alatriste - Arturo Pérez-Reverte

At the Borders last days sales, I got a copy of a book in this series, but it's one of the later books, so I had to read the previous books and hence got this from the library. I enjoyed this book, it had just the right amount of swashbuckling adventure and court/political intrigue. The setting is 17th-century Spain and I love historical fiction (and costume dramas on film/TV) so this was a fun, fast read. Recommended.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Battle Royale - Koushun Takami

Stumbled across this on my beloved Library Sale shelves, and knew it was something of a precursor (maybe you could call it an ancestor) of The Hunger Games, so I picked it up. You can definitely see where Suzanne Collins may have gotten the original idea for her series from this book, although her series is not at all a carbon copy. (Side note - do people still use this reference now that carbon copies are not often used?) A violent story set in a dystopian Japan, I enjoyed this fast-paced quick reading brick of a novel, and I must say, despite not being a huge horror fan, I would like to see the movie based on this someday. If you're a fan of contemporary horror authors you will most likely enjoy this book. Recommended (but not necessarily for the faint of heart).

Young Goodman Brown and Other Tales - Nathaniel Hawthorne

When reading books for the Color-Coded Reading Challenge, I try to choose books that use the titular color as a color, i.e., The Man in the Brown Suit, but had to make an exception because believe it or not, brown is not a common color in book titles - or at least not common in book titles on my TBR pile and/or in my library! So it was that I ended up reading this book of short stories. I had read a few of these stories in school/college - The Minister's Black Veil, The Birthmark, etc., but the majority of these stories were new to me. Once again I have to say I wish I could have read these in a discussion group; it would be fascinating to discuss the themes. My new favorite has to be The Artist of the Beautiful (it's on Project Gutenberg if you want to read it as well; I know I'll be re-reading it in the near future!). Recommended.

With this book, I have officially completed this year's Color-Coded Reading Challenge. I really like this challenge, it's a fun way to discover books I might not otherwise encounter. Thanks to Bev for hosting it again! There is still time to register for 2012 if you want, so go check it out! If you're still reading for this challenge, feel free to comment with good books you discovered for next year, since I will definitely be participating as long as Bev hosts. :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Man Who Went Up In Smoke - Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

The second book in the Martin Beck series. I managed to get copies of the first, fifth, and ninth books in this series, so I have to hit the library to read the others so I can read the books that are officially part of "Mount TBR." I enjoy these mysteries, I find I am not able to predict the solution but the solution is always there and it's very plausible but well hidden. There is an air of melancholy about the books that I like too. Recommended.