Sunday, April 6, 2014

Why I've become an Affiliate with BookPeople in Austin

Last year, Hastings closed its doors in Paris, Texas.  Luckily, we have a great Public Libary  that carries new books and classics.  Unluckily for me, I'm not the world's best at returning or rechecking books on time.  And I'm not so great at getting on the waiting list for the books I want.  So I don't read every single book from the Library.

Recent selections at the Paris Public Library
I have a kindle, and I have kindle apps on my phones and tablets, and I can always read my kindle books on cloud.  I also listen to books on my ipod, or ipad, and phone.

BookPeople in Austin, Texas
 Even with all those choices,  I want a real book to read at all given times. But I am very scared of the possibility that soon there will be only one huge universal bookstore and ten authors who actually get published.  I don't like having to buy from one universal store as my only option for the books I want to purchase.  So I felt very lucky to visit BookPeople in Austin earlier this year where I was able to by a stash of books to last awhile.  Some, like the Hilary Mantels and The Iliad,  I had already read or listened to but liked them so much I needed them in hard form. 

BookPeople winter stack, from hotel view in Austin
The Amy Tan is a signed first edition!

I'm thrilled to announce that BookPeople in Austin has approved me to Affiliate with them on my book reviews on my blog.  This book store works hard at all the things bibliophiles and bookworms need to be able to get from their bookstores:  a great selection of hardback and paperback books, signed copies, author lectures, a coffee store and hangout place, clerks who know their books and the store, and who actually make recommendations, an online presence, and even a signed first edition club if that kind of thing floats your boat.  Perhaps most importantly, they don't just order and push the blockbusters.  I am convinced that it is because of indies that most authors even get published.

I'm in the process of converting my book reviews to all link to their online store.  Of course, all of those going forward will be linked for you.  I hope you'll consider buying some of your books through this great store, or maybe other indie bookstores.  Why does it matter?  Well, because without indie bookstores, there are basically one or two large companies making all of the choices for which books get pushed and which don't.  And I am concerned that just means that who ever spends the most money gets the most push, right? Be forewarned that when that happens, basically, the whole sky will fall. 

(For more on this line of thought, see this Huffington Post offering on independent bookstores.)

Maybe someday I'll retire (yeah right!) and run a cool indie bookstore in Paris, Texas.  Or maybe someone else will.  But until then, I'm happy to give you all links to books from  BookPeople in Austin.  And by all means, when traveling, please go visit them and other bookstores in person!

Here are links to the books in my winter stack:

I've loved Amy Tan a long time.  This book was a different offering from her, but is a worthy read.  True to its title, it is a new look at multicultural Shanghai, its courtesans, and the men who "love" them. 

(See below).

Bring Up the Bodies

Hilary Mantel jumped way up on my favorite author's list, and resparked my love of history with her political literary explorations of Henry VIII's lawyer, that infamous Cromwell, and his maneuverings to serve his king while keeping his head.  How often have you ever heard of anyone who won two Booker Prizes? 

I'm shocked I haven't read this yet.  Thanks to BookPeople, I will soon be able to.  I, Claudius, is named by many persons as the best historical fiction book ever written.  We'll just have to see about that!

A Year of Writing Dangerously: 365 Days of Inspiration and Encouragement

This is a daily offering, about a paragraph or so long, of inspiration on writing.  I love it and have about half of the pages dog eared so I can go back and refresh my writer's soul.  Rather than type out one of my favorite quotes, here is a picture of it, to entice you:

So remember, if you are interested in purchasing these right now, in almost any format, click the picture or hyperlinked title, and you can go shop BookPeople!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Escape! History, Mystery, Art, Epic Tales, Inspiration, Drug Abuse and Romance AND BOOKPEOPLE LINKS!!

Let's just say March has been a month.  I'm going to tell you about it just as soon as I can make myself sit down and write about it.  I didn't think I had finished reading any books, but low and behold, Goodreads has reminded me that I have actually listened to a good number.  Here they are, they were great! And even better, I am now affiliated with BookPeople in Austin, Texas, so you can buy every single one of these books (in multiple formats) through that great indie bookstore by simply clicking the book link! (More on that later, too, but just trust me on this one, they are awesome and totally in sync with my reading choices and likes, and we want to keep them around at the same time that we feed our reading fettish).

So check these out, I think there will something of interest to you:

by Bruce   Holsinger    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher's blurb: In Chaucer's London, betrayal, murder, and intrigue swirl around the existence of a prophetic book that foretells the deaths of England's kings London, 1385.

(Via Audio & Ereader). Very enjoyable twisting historical mystery set in the time of Chaucer, chalk full of famous personalities, written by a professor who obviously knows his stuff. If you are much on historical fiction, you'll probably have read Kathryn, as in the mistress of John of Gaunt who has some famous Henries in his line of descendants. I had to read along with the audio to keep all the names/ events straight at first.  There are many memorable characters that aren't always what they seem. Very good book for those who love to visit historic worlds and who like a bit of a thrill in what they read.

by Donna Tartt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publisher Blurb:  A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and determined to avoid being taken in by the city as an orphan, Theo scrambles between nights in friends’ apartments and on the city streets. He becomes entranced by the one thing that reminds him of his mother, a small, mysteriously captivating painting that soon draws Theo into the art underworld.

(Via Audio).  My best description of this is Pulp Fiction meets Dickens.  Yes, while reading the book, you'll be reminded of Oliver and Great Expectations, but you'll also see a thoughorly modern mash up and you'll wonder throughout how it will end.  I think modern fiction does a much better job of starting with a bang, but ending poorly; while classical fiction starts slow but ends brilliantly.  This book is one of those rare books that delivers in a modern way, while also ending just right, and while making a big statement.  I see what all the fuss is about now and I'm glad I took the time.   It's a big tome, but worth the read.  Would also make a great book club selection, despite its length, because there will be plenty to discuss.  

And just for the record, I'm with you, Hobie!
  by Graeme Simsion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher shortened blurb: 
Don Tillman, professor of genetics, must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver. 

 (Format: Audio) Very cute easy read. Picture an Aussie Sheldon /Spock who logically deduces that he should marry but hates wasting his time on incompatible women so he designs the perfect test to find the perfect wife.  In walks the delightful Rosie with a project of her own, who, if she were taking the test, would utterly flunk it. When you are in the mood for something that will make you smile, read this!

by Homer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Via Audio and book, yes it took me forever, and I'm still reading the book, which I found at Bookpeople.  Troy was not destroyed in a day).  So wonderful.  If you've never fallen in love with the Iliad, stop what you are doing and listening to this audio version right now and marvel at the skill of the narrator, translator, and Homer.  Marvel that you are listening to something in the format it was heard thousands of years ago.

by Elizabeth Camden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Format: Audio).  I kept seeing this book pop up for me so I finally went for it. At first I thought I was going to be disappointed, but then the layers kept building and it turned out to be satisfying,  with good characters who had believable dilemmas, plus a fun thriller aspect.  It was also a subtle inspirational book, which was a pleasant surprise.

Lydia's traumatic childhood leaves her with lasting needs, yet she is surprisingly resilient.  She overcomes great odds to make a life for herself, a life with seemingly great order. Then she meets a man at work who likes to subtly throw chaos into her order,  and off we go. This book explores the themes of drug abuse and addiction, redemption, love,  and recovery. The historical setting makes the addiction and recovery theme safe, so that we can really experience that reality without our modern day prejudices.  It also explores the human need for connecting with God and our tendency to try to do it all on our own, killing ourselves in the process.  Thumbs up!

NOTE: I felt there might be some historical inaccuracies, but being from the south I wasn't sure so I was able to look past them.  In the end the drug addiction theme was very well explored, and not commonly found, so I think the book is a worthy offer. Also the historical aspect is pretty minor so not terribly distracting unless maybe you live in the area.


Remember, if you want to check out ordering any of these books,  in many formats, click the book picture or title, and it will take you directly to the BookPeople online link to order the book.  Thank you BookPeople for making it so easy!  

Monday, February 24, 2014

Does Violence Ever Discount Artistic Mastery? Further 2014 TBR Musings

Reading Challenge Update --

I have finished two more books of the twelve I picked from my bookshelf for the 2014 TBR ChallengeOnce again I am glad I read them.  I liked one of them a great deal.  I hated the other a great deal, although it was more masterfully written.  So I am wondering more about literary mastery than book details here.  

The Passing BellsThe Passing Bells by Phillip Rock

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here is the Goodreads publisher's blurb:  

From the well-kept lawns, rich woodlands, and gracious halls of Abingdon Pryory, from the elegant charm of summer in London's Park Lane to the devastation of Ypres and the horror of Gallipoli, this is the story of the Grevilles - two generations of a titled British family and their servants - men and women who knew their place, upstairs and down, until England went to war and the whole fabric of British society began to unravel and change.

Here is my Goodreads review:

I read / own a first edition of this book.   Good historical fiction, with great detail about many aspects of WWI: societal changes, the battles and politics of the battle "plans", the care of the wounded, and the battle for free Press.  Right up there with Birdsong (but not as character  specific) and Fall of Giants (but not as broad and sweeping).  Glad Downton Abbey and 2014 reading challenge inspired me to read this little treasure that was languishing in my bookshelf.  Having said that, the ending was rushed, as if the writer had reached his limit. Still, I'm looking forward to reading the sequels. If you like historical epics with war, politics and romance, you'll enjoy this.

What I find interesting is that I liked this book and look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.  It wasn't fluffy or senseless, but told some things about World War I that other books haven't explored, and I was pulled into the story.  Being a WWI book, it had plenty of violence, but it was content with context.  

I don't feel that way about the next book I forced myself to finish, even though the context can certainly be debated.  I just felt the content went too far.  Does that make me unworthy?  Or, if more than half of the population feels that way, does it bring the worthiness of the book down a notch or two?  And why does this debate even matter?

I guess the last question is easiest to answer.  The debate matters because this book has been put on a very high pedestal as a literary masterpiece.  Now that I've read it, I can firmly say that it is my opinion that it does not belong there.

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the WestBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Here is the publisher's summation:  

An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the "wild west." Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

Here is my immediate reaction after I finished it, my Goodreads review:

Thank God this is over.  Yes, the allegory is a mind quest and the descriptions of the land are amazing, but they compromise 30% of the book. The rest is blood and guts. I don't see how that combination makes for the praise this book gets, although I do see how violence is arguably a must to make the point.  I think people like the book just because it's difficult to attempt to figure out.  It's the whole emperor's clothing posing as violence in literature.  

What neither of those reviews tell you is the whole mystery of "the Judge," one of the pivotal characters in the book.  Is he Death?  Is he God?  Is he a Prophet?  Is he War?  Is he the Bile of our Souls?  The Pestilence of Mankind?  Is he a Fallen Angel?  Is he the Devil?

He is definitely eloquent.  For example, here is a quote from the Judge that is a summation of his prophetic bent in the book:

“This is the nature of war, whose stake is at once the game and the authority and the justification. Seen so, war is the truest form of divination. It is the testing of one's will and the will of another within that larger will which because it binds them is therefore forced to select. War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence.War is god.”  

Many have read the book over and over, proclaiming it brilliant and spending much time debating the Judge.  I honestly don't much care what the Judge is.  And I can't believe I am saying this, but I really don't care how wonderful the writing is either.  The bigger question to me is something that readers are discussing on Goodreads about this book, and that is this:  most women hate this book.

I don't like to think in generalities like that, so I am trying to figure out why I hate this book, why I have no use for it.  Is it because I am a woman?  I don't think so.  Maybe it is something more fundamental than even that.  Is it because I have given birth and this book is violently opposed to life?  I'm just not sure.  But that hasn't stopped me from enjoying many other war books.  (See my review above, or my War Book Reviews in November of 2012, or my enthusiasm for The Iliad).  In fact, I have pretty much figured out that if you give me a politically charged historical fiction with war in it, I'm going to love it.  So it isn't war.  

No, it is the overabundance of violence in general.  I can take a bit of it, see it on the news everyday, see it on television, and in movies, and read it in books.  I'm planning to go see MacBeth this weekend at PJC (and you should, too).  But I don't go for horror, I don't enjoy a  slash fest, I don't long for escape in violence, whether by devilish books, TV, or movies.  It isn't my cup of tea.  I don't gain anything from it and I don't see how society does either. 

Maybe even more important is that over the course of my profession I have seen the aftermath of lethal violence.  Murder and mayhem really happen to people.  When it does, absolutely nothing in the legal system can ultimately make it better for the victims. Why glorify it?

So, I'm going to pass on going in depth and studying the gift of this writer.  I've read enough of his books to know that I need to just move on.  I'm not saying that this book should be pulled off the shelf, but I do think it should come off of its high pedestal.  Accolades for literary masterpieces should be saved for those rare books that have something great to offer for society through the ages.  This book does not.   

Does this mean I should never read Lolita?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Not the Secret Lives of Bees, but Much More

The Invention of WingsThe Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really wanted to rate this audiobook a 4.5.  It is a compelling story of several women  and how they eventually break from very stringent Charleston convention and laws that upheld slavery and  bridled women.   It is based upon a true story of very early abolitionist /feminist. Kidd did much research and kept this quote on her desk during the process: "History is not just facts and events.  History is also a pain in the  heart.   We repeat history until we are able to make another's pain in the heart our own."

This is a different type of offering for Kidd, so if you think you are going to get another "Secret Lives of Bees" you aren't. Still, if you had the heart to love that book, please read this one and remind yourself, or find out, how we even got to the sixties, and where we are going now. It is huge that we are finally finding the strength to tell and hear these difficult stories. As much as I wish that slavery and the lack of women's rights were not a part of our history, they are. It is important that we look back, so that we can continue to move forward.

View all my reviews

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What do The Iliad and Butterflies have in common?

Sometimes life surprises you.  Well, I'd say most days, actually.  But when it does so with serendipity, that is when you have to stop and acknowledge it. I've just had such a month, culminating in an aha of a day.

The Iliad: (The Stephen Mitchell Translation)

I forced myself to read Bleak House (see review) in January as a part of my 2014 TBR Challenge .  At the same time, I started listening to The Iliad.  My bookclub will soon discuss The Song of Achilles (see review) at my suggestion, and since I had already read it, why not just revisit The Iliad?   I'm absolutely in love with the audio of this edition right now, this translation by Stephen Mitchell, so much so that I also happily picked up the actual book at Book People in Austin.  (There is some controversy with this translation, because it is based on a publication that cut some of the great epic, arguing that it was not a part of the original.  Regardless, the audio version and the book are a real treat.  I promise, if you haven't encountered a translation of The Iliad that leaves you breathless, you are missing out.  I've tried Pope's version, which was Sam Houston's love, but it is beyond me at this modern moment.  Maybe some archaic day.)  Mom & Me & Mom 

Still, I had to have something Non-Bleak Non-Greek to listen to, so I did what I usually do, and just listened to a bit of a few audio books I had in my queue, randomly sticking with the one the interested me the most at the moment.  That ended up being Mom & Me & Mom, by Maya Angelou.  I had just finished listening to this book about a mother and her daughter, when  I went to see Paris Community Theatre's production of Butterflies Are Free.

Oh, and did you know that high school soccer revs up in January (yes outdoors, YAY!)? 

Now, none of these things have anything to do with the other, do they?


Unless you are a mom with a son on that soccer team, who just happens to be a senior.

You see, the play's title, Butterflies Are Free, is from a famous quote from Dickens in Bleak House, and is actually discussed in the play and is a theme of the play.   Here it is:

“I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies.”

Don Jones references this quote in the play.  Don is a blind man trying to live on his own. Don has a protective mom.  

Don is talking about the poem with Jill, a free spirit, who had basically misquoted it.  The interesting thing about Harold Skimpole in Bleak House is that he is a character who likes to freely borrow money with no thought of paying it back, and he seems to get away with it.  

Of course, no one can go through life completely and utterly free.  Not if you are lucky enough to love someone.  Nor should you entrap a human with your love.  Great themes.  Great truths.

When I was a brand new mother of my baby boy, one night when he was certainly not even a month old, I dropped him on his head.  I did!  I did.  I committed the cardinal sin of changing his diaper without the new one in my hand, so I used my body to hold him up on the table, while I turned to grab the new diaper.  I felt him start to role like a little boulder off of a cliff.  The weight of his head pulled him down quicker than I could grab him. Watching him falling to the floor, without even the knowledge to throw his hands up for protection, was like having my guts torn out by vultures. (I'm sorry if you don't like my similes, but when in Greece, right?)

I was still hysterically wailing by the time he had quit crying.  My husband was forever more deemed the calm parent, which is a wild turn of events.  We still tease our son about how brilliant he would have been if I had not dropped him on his head.  Luckily, it was peer and beam house, with a wood floor.

But that is when I learned the first lesson of the hardship of mothering, the life long quest of parenting.  That lesson is this -- 

[besides the obvious]

The hardest part of parenting is trying to protect that baby, and realizing that you can only do the best that you can do.  You can't protect him.  You can't make sure she is always 100% safe.   Sometimes, you have to swallow your tears and release the butterflies.  And that is really, really hard.  But that is your job, even when you want to swoop in and save the day.

That is what The Iliad  is about, too.  Almost every bit of The Iliad  is about relationships. Except the awesome fighting parts and the beautiful similes. But otherwise, The Iliad is about life, and learning how to inspire persons to heroic, tragic, wonderful action.  It is about loving someone enough to let them go and live or die, knowing that you can't protect them against the perversity of life.  

So I'm loving watching this soccer team, these young gods, these warriors, and I'm hearing The Iliad playing in my head, and I'm looking at my graduating senior knowing that I'm about to have to let him go.  I'm like Thetis, immediately rising in the grey mist to go to Achilles when he needs her, Thetis who lets him be. I'm about to be like Mrs. Jones, who does the right thing with her son, however hard.  I'll be a John Jardyce, who has to let the wards grow up and go their way. Maybe someday when he is in trouble,  I will pull through for him, the way Maya Angelou's mom, did (would someone PLEASE make a movie of this!!!).

Low and behold, at the same time I am processing all of this, our preacher, Rob Spencer, preached about when bad things happen in his series reflecting on how we Christians get it wrong.  Because the truth is that we do get it wrong, I certainly have.  The other truth is that of those four parents I mentioned above, at least half of their treasures suffer difficult or tragic outcomes.  Life is like that.  So what do you do if your outcome is horrible?  What do you do if you know someone who is living through that horrible outcome?  Do you say something innane?  Do you tell that dear person that it is all in God's plan?  I have a really hard time with that, whether it is true or not.  Don't say that to a grieving person!  If it is so, let them come to their own conclusion and declaration.  What do you do instead?  Here is what Rob told us in his sermon that he thinks (reprinted here with permission), and I agree with him:

[Rob was reflecting on how he felt when his son was about to start driving.]

I do not believe that prayer is magic.  If I just pray hard enough and long enough that my son who is turning 16 in July will somehow have a protective shield around him when he drives!  I don't believe that.

I do pray that God would help me be the best teacher, and help him be as prepared as possible for those teen driving years.  But even if I am the very best teacher and if he is the best student, it in no way fully guarantees his safety!!!  But it can help me appreciate every minute that I have with him.  There are no guarantees that when he walks out our front door he will return the same way.

Sometimes we make good decisions and sometimes we don't.  Sometimes the decisions of others impact us. And sometimes bad stuff just happens.

When tragic times come my way, I may turn my back on God.  I may curse God.  But I believe with all my heart that God will help me through those dark valleys of life.  

And I believe that he will do it with people like you! 
Amen, Rob.  And may it be so.  May I be one of those persons.  May you be one of those persons.  And may we have the strength to allow our warriors to grow up and go to the beach of their destiny.  May we allow our butterflies to fly free.   

Inspiring Amazing Mom & Maya Angelou

Mom & Me & MomMom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The world will never have enough excellent books about Mom. This is one of them and it needs to be made into a movie! Who knew?  I won't tell you the surprises, just leave it to you to read this short little gem.  This is for all those imperfect moms out there and their children who will get it right, eventually, because of the bigness of their love. This was food for the soul for me because I have teens right now, and somehow feel I will never get it right again,which is a weird place to be.  Now I have renewed hope.  Don't miss this little gem.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bleakly Bleak In The Bleak Mid Winter: Bleak House, by Dickens

Oh you good soldier you, for boldly marching forth to this post despite that title.  Yes, Bleak House was my first read on my 2014 TBR Challenge list.  Yes, I found it very wearying.  Yes, I did have to have the inspiration of the challenge to get it done.  And, yes, I am glad I read it.

Not so glad that I listened to it.  I normally advocate that classics are better heard.  But perhaps Dickens is more a Virgil than a Homer, because I have found that I officially hate listening to Dickens and will never do so again. (They say that Virgil helps us see greatness in The Aeneid, but Homer lets us hear greatness in The Iliad.  Dickens is not a Homer).

It is just about impossible to listen to Dickens because of all the little curious characters that he adds to most of his books, to finally tie them back in at some point.  I get why this is fun when the books are serialized, but trust me, in Bleak House on the audio you can just about tell when you are at the beginning of the next serialized publication.  It takes until around Chapter 16 (one fourth of the way through a long book) to get some momentum, that blessed AHA moment of I get this character now, and by that time I was hopelessly lost and having to look at summaries on spark notes which were pages in themselves. Not so enjoyable.

In order to even write the review I want to write, I had to see the print version, but I'm truly not so interested in having it on my shelf, so I did a quick search in an ereader, and found a lovely copy complete with original edition illustrations.

Now that would have been so much more fun for my journey.

I tell you this so that you know that I now officially decree:  DO NOT LISTEN to Dickens.  Read his books.  You can still go to the famous play every Christmas or so, but don't listen to him.

I wanted to read Bleak House for  really only one reason and that is:  Mistress Law.  Being a lawyer, I try to find a few books of inspiration a year, such as the wonderful My Beloved World by Sonia Sontomayor.  I knew that Bleak House would not be an inspiration in an uplifting way, but more of a call to arms way:  "Oh ye lawyers, open thine eyes and discern the sufferings of thy clients who have entered thy strange world."    

 So, I shall take a bit more time and think through all of the things I learned as a lawyer and post elsewhere, with a link.  But for the moment, let me just say, if you want to read something slightly depressingly foggy and bleak, with some sides of very interesting people and their stories, with some
death and even a surprising murder with a cool detective story built in, and some really funny moments,but also mingled with the oppression and misunderstanding of the law, and debt, and misery, and crooks, and lawyers, and those people who cause lawyers to exist in the first place, then please, be my guest and read Bleak House, preferably with the original illustrations, so much more fun.  And when you are finished, go ahead and shout it out:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 Favorites of Books Published this Year

Here  is my Top Ten list of books published and read  in 2013.  If you are interested to learn more, click the Title to take you to my blog about it, or click the bookcover to take you to Goodreads and my review of it there. 

Texas History:
1. The Son The Son   --  What a great book about Texas!


2. My Beloved World My Beloved World                               3. Lean In Lean In  Women, Work, and the Will to Lead 

Excellent writing, historical and dramatically different in presentation or subject matter:

Historical Magical Realism / Fantasy:

Thinking outside the Box:
8.  David and Goliath: The Triumph of the Underdog  David and Goliath 

Dramatic Historical Fiction:

9. Fever  Fever   

And, of course, something related to performance arts that I loved:

10. Diary of a Redneck Opera Zinger Diary of a Redneck Opera Zinger  -- What a fun book!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

2014 TBR Challenge

Anyone out there have a good number of books on your shelf (real or virtual)  that need TO BE READ?  

Yeah, LOL!  

Ehem, yours truly does.  So this year I am going to officially participate in the 2014 TBR Challenge.  If you are also a glutton for punishment with a bookshelf a bit too full, I invite you to join me.

[UPDATE, Challenge COMPLETED -- Bleak House , I'm so bleakity bleak glad, my January read].

Naturally, there are some rules.  First, the book cannot have been published in 2013.  That is the big kicker.  Also, you must post your list in the right places and follow up by the due dates, so make sure and check the link I provided if you want your participation to be official.  Here is my list, in no particular order, and I've indicated the ones I have read, with a link to the review:

The Passing Bells (Passing Bells, #1)

1.  The Passing Bells.  I've had this hardback book for a number of years, taken from my mother-in-law's bookshelf.  It looked interesting, but I never read it.  Last year, it got attention as a book to read if you are a Downton Abby fan.  I thought it looked familiar and LOW AND BEHOLD, it was still on my shelf.

(I've read it and recommend it!  Review Here )

The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)

2.  The Wise Man Fears.  Loved the first book, and have been meaning to read this.  Bought it for my son, who read it and passed it on to Dad, who takes about a year to read books, so, My Turn, Finally.  Fantasy, but in a Magical Realism way, like Harry Potter (except darker and not for youngsters) and Game of Thrones (except Winter is not Coming, but something else is).

On the Road

3.  On The Road.  Yeah, been sitting there making me feel guilty.  No further explanation needed. 

Day After Night

4.  Day After Night.  Loved the Red Tent, but haven't read Anita Diamant since then.  Bought this several years ago, because I also love WWII books.  But I've been into WWI more lately, so this one has played second fiddle.  Looking forward to it.

From Love Field: Our Final Hours With President John F. Kennedy

5.  From Love Field.  A friend I trust to recommend good books gave me this to read, in this 50th anniversary year.  It is just wrong that I didn't make time to read it.

Bleak House

6.  Bleak House.  Charles Dickens takes on the chancery court with this novel that caused legal reforms.  Untrue to character, its length is scaring me off.  But I bought it, and I know I'll be glad to read it, so Dickens made the list.

[ CLICK HERE FOR MY REVIEW finished Jan, 2014, HOORAY].

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West

7.  Blood Meridian.    Believe it or not, the Coen brothers have not yet directed/produced the bloodiest McCormick novel, because that distinction belongs to this book.  It is also the bloodiest book that is praised and praised and praised, ad infinitum, by so many, which is why I don't want to read it and do want to read it, so it's in bookshelf limbo.  Now I don't have to just hope that PJC's 2014 production of McBeth will but me in the mood.

[I've read it and HATED IT.  Review here . ]

The Lincoln Lawyer (Mickey Haller, #1)

8.  The Lincoln Lawyer.   On our shelf, I haven't read it, and I need something a bit more legally fun since Bleak House and Blood Meridian are on the list.  Dickens and the Coen brothers be darned.


 9.   1776.  Have I really not read a David McCullough book yet?  Apologies to whoever gave this to me with high recommendations!

The Enchantress of Florence

10.   The Enchantress of Florence.    I can't help but pick up a Salmon Rushdie book when I see one, thanks to Book Club.  So I came home with this one, but never read it, even though I'm highly intrigued to see Rushdie interweave the High Renaissance with the Mughal Empire of the same time period.


11.  Finn.  I think I picked this up from someone in Book Club.  I'm somewhat linear, so it felt wrong to read this book when I had not read Huck's own book.  Remedied and ready to walk in his dad's shoes. 

Teaching Life: Letters from a Life in Literature
12.  Teaching Life  Letters from a Life in Literature.    I ordered this from the Bas Blue catalog years ago.  More than just a literary / teaching guide, this book was written in response to the sudden death of one of his students, who died tragically in an automobile accident on her way to Salwak’s office to talk over her career plans.  It isn't long but doesn't have much white space so I need a little extra incentive to pick it up.

New York
The Street of a Thousand BlossomsOk, as per the rules, there are two alternatives in case these don't pass muster,  the alternates are New York and The Street of a Thousand Blossoms.

So . . . Challenge On!  And I already feel better about all these poor little books who are pining away for me to pick them up and read them.