Sunday, July 27, 2008

G. K. Chesterton Recommendations?

G. K. Chesterton was a very happy person.

I was reading along in a book about gratitude and its benefits when I came to a chapter about G. K. Chesterton. He was able to be thankful for everything, according to this book.

Now I'm intrigued. I want to read something he has written. I don't know where to start. Any suggestions?

Sunday Salon: Choosing Good Reads

I am very good at choosing excellent books.

I was at a book sale this week. I was ploughing through tables and tables of books and throwing books, right and left, into my box.

A lady stopped me. "You are fast," she said.

"I know what I like," I told her. "I know what books are good."

She looked at me and my enormous box of books. "How do you know those are going to be good?" she asked.

A good question. I read newspaper reviews, I told her. I look through lists of award-winning books. I read other people's blogs. I keep a wishlist. I listen at book groups. I read lots of books about good books.

"Wow," she replied, looking a little bewildered. "I thought I was doing good. I read the reviews in the New York Times each week!"

I wonder what other ways there are to find the good books. That's what we want, right? The good books.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Salon: San Francisco Books

I'm barely squeezing this in, but we just got in from a day at Yosemite.

I only finished two books this week; it's been a slow reading week for me. I brought both books with me on our trip because both books have San Francisco ties.

One is The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer. It is fiction and is set in San Francisco. In addition, the story centers on the ambiguity of marriage and our trip is for our 30th wedding anniversary. I didn't buy the main character's motivations until the whole story wrapped up and everything became clear. Once I got to the end, I loved the book. As a woman who has been married for thirty years, you can take it from me that relationships can be very unclear.

The other book is The Crack in the Edge of the World. It's the story of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire and it was full of cool information about the San Andreas Fault and earthquakes and early San Francisco.

It was fun reading about places while you are actually walking through the places.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Friday Finds...on Saturday

My excuse: I'm off in California, on my 30th wedding anniversary trip!

At the cool Green Apple Books, I found two books I'm itching to read:

Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost
The Wishing Year

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Salon: Unaccustomed Earth

It is always a little hard to move forward after a great reading week.

I have two books I set aside weeks ago for our San Francisco trip (we leave Tuesday). I was tempted to go ahead and start them today....But, no, I'll put them in my suitcase and save them for the trip. One is nonfiction, an account of the 1906 earthquake. The other is a fiction book that is set in San Francisco. It's The Story of a Marriage and I've been eager to read it ever since I got it in early July.

I'll try to be good....

I also got four books from the library that have been on my wishlist for a long time. I think I'll start the one that is calling me in the loudest voice, Unaccustomed Earth.

The Best Reading Week Ever

This week has been the best reading week ever, in a year with many, many great reading weeks.

I completed four books that I would happily add to my list of best reads ever.

All four books were in my TBR, some for a long time.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I read this back in high school, but I don’t remember it having the impact on me that it had on me now.

This has to be one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Gatsby is America. He comes from poor stock, people to whom he is only loosely connected. Gatsby is a self-made man, but don’t look too closely at how he made his fortune. Gatsby is fascinated by the beautiful, the rich, the flashy, and his goal in life becomes to be part of that world. At his core, Gatsby is deeply lonely and has no one with whom he can share his vision and his dreams. All around him disappoint him in the end.

A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul

Mr. Biswas (and that is his name, even when he is a little boy) is cursed from birth. The fortuneteller when he is born predicts a terrible life for him and every prediction comes true. Mr. Biswas inadvertently causes the death of his father. He has great difficulty finding a way to make a living and he struggles, moving from unsuccessful job to unsuccessful job. Mr. Biswas is tricked into an unhappy marriage. He has great problems connecting with his in-laws, his siblings, his mother, his wife, his neighbors, and even his children. Throughout all his life, his one dream is to obtain a house of his own and this dream proves to be the most elusive of all.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

My dad gave my twelve-year-old nephew a copy of Robinson Crusoe and told him that he ought to read it. My nephew is a reluctant reader and never got very far in the book. After reading it this week, I can see why.

Robinson Crusoe was a tough read for me. You know the story, of course. Crusoe, against his parents’ wishes, heads out to the sea and ends up a slave. He escapes from slavery only to later return to the sea and become shipwrecked on an island.

How he manages to survive is a fun read. And he does survive, despite a lack of water and food and companionship, despite hurricanes, despite cannibals.

The daunting vocabulary and the lengthy sentence structure make this a challenging read for a child.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Talk about reading outside your comfort zone! Are there ever any happy war stories? Certainly not in this book. It is a book of sorrow and death and remorse and gore and misery, but every word feels very real, very true. The stories edge, at times, into the surreal, but that never takes away from the truth of the book.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Books Read in 2008

Current Total: 180

You Must Read This Book (Grownup):
*So Many Ways to Begin by Jon McGregor
*Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
*Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
*Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat
*For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
*My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead edited by Jeffrey Eugenides
*The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
*A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul
*The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

You Must Read This Book (Kid):
*The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
*Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schlitz
*Sounder by William Armstrong
*The Giver by Lois Lowry
*Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
*Crispin by Avi
*Holes by Louis Sachar
*Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
*The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
*Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
*Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
*The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
*Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
*Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
*Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

Thoughtful, Well-Written Reads (Grownup):
*Sundays in America by Suzanne Shremper Shea
*Fire in the Blood by Irene Nemirovsky
*A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz
*The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
*The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
*Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan
*Relentless Pursuit by Donna Foote
*The Mammy by Brenden O'Carroll

Thoughtful, Well-Written Reads (Kid):
*Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
*Crossing Bok Chitto by Tim Tingle
*A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
*Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
*The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
*Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
*Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron
*Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Disappointments (Grownup):
*Shortcomings by Adrien Tamine
*Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
*The Book of Proper Names by Amelie Nothomb
*Blood by Patricia Traxler
*Genius Denied by Jan and Bob Davidson
*Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates
*Underground by Haruki Murakami

Disappointments (Kid):
*Hitty by Rachel Field
*Daniel Boone by James Daugherty
*Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
*The Dark Frigate by Charles Hawes
*The Story of Mankind by Hendrik VanLoon

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Overrated Classics

I seem to be on a classics read run these days, so I feel like I am a good person to answer these questions!

What is the best classic you were “forced” to read in school (and why)?

I could not believe how easy to read and how funny Don Quixote was!

What was the worst classic you were forced to endure (and why)?

We all complained about Lord Jim. I have no memory of the story, but, even today, when someone talks about an awful classic, this is the first book that comes in my mind.

Which classic should every student be required to read (and why)?

I don't think anyone should be required to read a book. I think students should be given lists of good books and should be able to choose a book that suits their needs. Isn't this what we do as adults? Some guidance...but also some choice....

Which classic should be put to rest immediately (and why)?

Keep them all out there. Obviously a lot of people adored these books once upon a time, so there still might be something in the book for others.

**Bonus** Why do you think certain books become “classics”?

Classics have something that rings true in people, despite culture, despite time.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday Salon: What I'm Reading

I'm reading the last story in My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead. This is a book of stories about love, but hold on Harlequin readers....There are no happy endings here.

Sunday Salon

Buy a Friend a Book Week

Spot is holding all the books I finished at the Read-a-Thon last weekend (minus one and plus one). They are all registered at BookCrossing. I would love to pass them along to someone who will log them in at BC, especially someone who has never joined BC or someone who has the book on her wishlist.

Leave a post here if you see something you'd like to read! If there is more than one person interested in the same book, I'll draw for a winner.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

New 1001 Books List

A new 1001 Books to Read Before You Die List has been published.

Read and Release

I've been bookcrossing for six years now. This week I registered my 5,000th book.

What is BookCrossing? It's my favorite hobby. I read books, register them online at BookCrossing, and then leave the books where other readers can find them.

I will be happy to send a book from my available shelf to anyone who would like to join BookCrossing.