Thursday, January 31, 2008

UPDATE: January 2008

Books Bought:
American Girls About Town short story collection
The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella
The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden
The Great Influenza John M Barry
Awakening by Kate Chopin
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
An Audience of Chairs by Joan Clark

Books Read:

14. Persepolis 1,and 2 - Marjane Satrapi
13. Ex Libris - Anne Fadiman
12. House of Meetings - Martin Amis
11. The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
10. Eleanor Rigby - Douglas Coupland
9. The Case of the Missing Books - Ian Sansom
8. Shakespeare's Trollop - Charlaine Harris
7. The Remains of the Day - Kazou Ishiguro
6. 84, Charing Cross Road - Helene Hanff
5. The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak
4. Housekeeping vs The Dirt - Nick Hornby
3. Brainiac - Ken Jennings
2. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler - E.L. Konisburg
1. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz - Mordecai Richler

Challenge Update for January
Book Award Challenge July 1 2007 - June 30, 2008
read 14/12, but I have 3 more that I want to read before I consider this done

Canadian Book Challenge - Oct '07 - July 1 '08
read 6; still Nfld, PEI, Sask, Alta, BC, Yukon, NWT to go.

Series Challenge Dec 1 - June 30, 2008
haven't finished any series yet, but I only have one more to read in 3 series: Lily Bard, Shopaholic, Gardella Vampire Chronicles. I'll work on this for Feb

A - Zed Author and Titles Challenge all year 2008
read 10/52; still a long way to go obviously

Themed Reading Challenge Jan - June 2008
I've read my at least 4 already, but it's an 888 list, so 2 more to go; I'm waiting for The Uncommon Reader from the library

decades challenge - all year 2008
only 1, haven't begun thinking of this one yet

in their shoes - all year 2008

Cardathon Challenge - all year 2008

What's in a Name? all year 2008
1/6; first name

YAC books all year 2008

Man Booker Challenge all year 2008
1/6 although I might make this all short listed books, which means 0/6

notable books 2007 - all year 2008

In the Pub - all year 2008 nada

mini-challenges 2008

chunkster challenge 2

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

BOOK: Persepolis 1 & 2: Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return
by Marjane Satrapi

in their shoes challenge

This was my first graphic novel, and I am very impressed. This memoir of a young girl's life before, during, and after the Iranian revolution was very powerful. Part of the reason is that I am about the same age as Marjane, and I can remember the eighties, and the American view of what was going on. The war now in Iraq is even more relevant when you can see what happened twenty years ago to set it up. I had a student join my class in September from Iran and it is enlightening to read what his parents would have grown up in. One of the reasons his family left was so that he would not have to join the army, as all young boys must.

The first volume is from 1979, just before the revolution, until 1984, when Marjane left Iran. If more people read books, and could read what happens inside a country during a war, I'm sure there would be less of it. It is so easy to get an image of a country and its people from the news, but that shows us so little of what is going on. Satrapi's family is not represented in my past view of Iran, and I am so glad to have read this, and realize that many people in the country did not support the revolution, and also to get an appreciation for the history of Persia.

This teenager was wanting to fit in with her sneakers and punk music, wanting to be political and protest, and yet, wanting to survive as well. Her family was rebellious and cautious at the same time, eventually deciding to send their daughter away, for her survival and education.

Book 2, The Return, chronicles Marji's years in Vienna, trying to fit in as an Iranian in Europe, and then her return, an Iranian who has been away. She can't win. Her struggle to know herself resonated with me, and most women, as we balance our roles within society's expectations. Add living in a a Fundamentalist regime, having the length of your head scarf measured, and being taken in front of a Commission, on top of general life, and this story elevates to a different kind of struggle. But she is still trying to be feminine, meet boys, get educated and figure out who she is, mistakes and all.

Marji so impressed me, as she spoke the truth, except for a few cases with men! and stood up for her beliefs. She is a wonderful example of a strong woman. This memoir will stay with me for quite a while, and has opened my eyes to the possibilities of a graphic novel. I heard it is being made into a movie. There are two levels of this book - the woman and the country, and both are equally interesting.

Much like The Kite Runner showed a different side of Afghanistan, letting westerners see what the people were like - just like us, Perspolis has changed my view of Iran forever.

Monday, January 28, 2008

BOOK: Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

themed reading challenge

Bookies love to read books about reading, and apparently, writers enjoy writing about their love of books as well. This was a pleasant collection of essays, covering topics such as combining libraries between spouses, writing in margins, favorite pens, reading aloud, and second hand book stores.

I enjoyed Fadiman's stories of growing up in a family of devoted bibliophiles, who were fanatical about punctuation and obsessed with book trivia. A slim volume, perfect for an afternoon of easy reading, this book was ideal for my themed reading challenge: books about books.

CHALLENGE: Jane Austen Mini Challlenges

Mansfield Park

I would like to read the book now for this one, but I will have to get the image of Fanny out of my head, because this actress was just too jarring. The hair, the frown, smile, and the eyebrows just didn't fit with the times. It wasn't all bad, but it wasn't as good as Northanger Abbey and my new boyfriend, Henry Tilman.

I liked the parents in this one, not Fanny's, but Edmund's. And Edmund was good, almost good looking, but his sudden love of Fanny was quite abrupt. I wish there had been more with the sister's, Mariah and Julia, and that poor servant, Mrs Norris, who got put out on her ear when she didn't love Fanny enough. Mrs Norris reminded me of the cat from Harry Potter who patrols the halls. (I just read that JK Rowling named that cat after this character. Cool)

There seems to be so much to cover in the Austen movies that things happen abruptly. And unfortunately, with the changing times, it is hard to buy the whole 'cousins in love' aspect to the story. Ick. I liked the brother and sister who tried to marry into the family and provided some comic relief. I browsed a bit at the TWoP forum for Masterpiece, and I gather there were some radical departures in Fanny's character for this version, so it is just as well that I haven't read the book first.

Still looking forward to the Pride and Prejudice show.

BOOK: House of Meetings by Martin Amis

House of Meetings by Martin Amis

notable books challenge

These aren't called reading challenges for nothing. Some books make you think and really challenge your reading ability. House of Meetings by Martin Amis is from the New York Times Notable Book list of 2007. I haven't read any books by Amis before but I have heard his name.

The summary made it sound like a great plot: two brothers in love with the same woman, the pivotal night of a conjugal visit, ten years in a Soviet slave labour camp, a mysterious letter. It was well written, and well paced, in fact so well written that there were words here I've never seen before, and unfortunately, I don't look words up. It made me feel like I was a kid in grade five trying to read a grade ten reading level novel.

Also unfortunately, I didn't connect with the characters in this novel in any way.

Maybe it is a gender bias, as the other reviews are raves, but I didn't like reading this mean, and self-described violent man's life story. And maybe this is a trend, as I've read reviews of other books, like The Sea by John Banville and Everyman by Philip Roth, which are perhaps similar type books, old man telling his life story, and this just isn't connecting with some female readers. It was the plot of course, but I'm not sure what purpose it would serve to write this memoir to your twenty year old daughter. It felt self indulgent to burden a child with such a horrible story. And much like Tomorrow or On Chesil Beach, the final reveal was such a let down that it made me wonder what the fuss was about.

I'm trying to figure out why I didn't really enjoy this book. I didn't hate it, and there are probably people who would like it. The few books I've read set in Russia have found me having difficulty identifying with the culture. After reading Russka by John Rutherford years ago, I realized that that isolated country is so very different from European/American life, it makes it hard to connect. If you had an interest in Soviet life, this would be worthwhile. There is a lot of psychological character study here, and I do think there is a gender issue. I should be able to read about a man's inner struggle, but I didn't like it. Maybe I'm too soft but I don't want to imagine what happens to the psych after surviving ten years in a slave labour camp. It doesn't make the book bad, but if I am reading and choosing to immerse myself in a book for a few days, I do get to make that choice. It just makes the book not a good fit for me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

CHALLENGE: A Year of Reading Dangerously

The Officially Dangerous Titles, hosted at Estella's revenge

January: Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens (since Estella is our namesake)
February: The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (African American)
March: Cat's Eye, by Margaret Atwood (Atwood for Atwood's sake)
April: Transformations, by Anne Sexton (Poetry)
May: Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote (Southern)
June: Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov (Russian)
July: The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier (adolescent)
August: Maus I and II, by Art Spiegelman (Graphic Novel, Pulitzer winner)
September: The Secret Lives of People in Love, by Simon Van Booy (Independent)
October: The Human Stain, by Philip Roth (Contemporary/Jewish)
November: A Month of Classic Short Stories, Various - watch for a list
December: The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (Dusty)

Why Not?

January: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: I want to read a Dickens, I have A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver, but maybe not in January
February: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison I really don't like Morrison, and I think I've read this one already, years ago, when I believed Oprah about books
March: Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood I've read Cat's Eye, but I like Atwood and have others of hers to read.
June: Lolita by Nabokov I just finished Lolita
October: The Human Stain by Philip Roth I've read The Human Stain. Didn't like it at all.

My Official List of Reading Dangerously:
I'd like to try a combination of the official list and my adaptations

January: A Tale of Two Cities or Oliver to be read sometime during the year
February: A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines (African American)
March: Oryx and Crake by Atwood
April: Unsettled by Zachariah Wells (poetry)
May: Other Voices, Other Rooms by Capote (or some other Capote)
June: something Russian (are there any short Russian books?)
July: The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (adolescent)
September: The Secret Lives of People in Love
October: American Pastoral or The Plot Against America by Roth (Contemporary/Jewish)
November: classic short stories
December: The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck

Friday, January 25, 2008

MEME: Eva's Excellent Meme

It is cool to know where a meme started since this meme is an invention of Eva (A Striped Armchair). I've read many of these today; and I'm sure I will subconsciously take a few answers.

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews? Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and The Lord of the Rings

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?
Bridget Jones to go clubbing with,
Henry Tilman (I just watched Northanger Abbey, swoon) to have snarky discussions with,
Ed Kennedy from I Am the Messenger, to play cards with and have a few drinks

(Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?
On the Road by Jack Kerouac or maybe Moby Dick, both of which I tried to read last year.

Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?
I'm not embarrassed by any books I haven't read and will freely admit to it. Not only that, I publicly made a list of books I have no intention of reading: see here

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book?
I get a few of John Irving's books mixed up, but I am more likely to forget I read a book until I start reading it, especially mystery series by prolific authors like Agatha Christie or Ed McBain or Anne Perry

You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (if you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead of personalise the VIP)
Yann Martel is already doing this to Stephen Harper, but he doesn't seem to be getting anywhere.
Maybe The Giver, an easy book to read but with a big message.

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?
I think I'd like Italian. I've read a few translated Italian books, especially Andrea Camilleri and Italo Calvino

A mischievious fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread one a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?
This Can't be Happening at MacDonald Hall by Gordon Korman, a book from my childhood. It's very funny and I could easily read it every year.

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?
Oh, so many new authors! And the dystopian genre was rather new to me as a genre.

I've read my first vampire books, another genre I was not aware of.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.

Ooh, isn't this fun! First of all, the books don't have to be fancy and leatherbound, but a few special copies would be nice - The Stand, Anne of Green Gables, and Jane Eyre. I wouldn't worry about autographed works so much as complete works by an author. And, is it a magical library? So that, when I read a book by an author that I like, all of their books appear on the shelves. The DVD's of movies that have been made from books will also be there, to play on the big screen TV, discreetly hidden behind a painting.

A couple of big soft, winged back chair, a comfy couch, with a pile of blankets, a computer to keep up with my blogging readers and to hunt for more books, which appear on my shelves as I want them. Hardcover, trade paperbacks, mass market, it doens't matter that much. Availability is usually my issue.

I wasn't officially tagged, but I've been reading this everywhere and am possibly the last person to do this. I think it is pretty neat to be able to see where a meme started. I'm mentioning this and linking back to Eva, because I think she is having a draw. Aren't book bloggers just the best, most generous people? I think so.

BOOK: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

themed reading challenge, Cardathon, more something about me

I loved this book! The imagination, the humor, the adventure, and Jane Eyre or rather Mr Rochester, black holes and warped time and literary detective Thursday Next, SpecOps of the LiteraTec Swindon Office.

I took my time reading this, because I enjoyed thinking about it during the day, and all the effects and jokes in the book, and wondering what would be next. I luxuriated in the story and can't wait to read the next one, Lost in a Good Book. Fforde has created a parallel, not quite right world that revolves around books. There were so many funny parts, and perfectly plotted events, I can't begin to summarize. The story involves a madman, and books that have 'soft' boundaries, where people and characters are moving back and forth, and Jane Eyre plays a pivotal part. I am so glad I read Jane Eyre last summer as it added immensely to my enjoyment, knowing that plot. It sounds weird, but Fforde knows what he is doing, and I was quite safe in his hands. I think I probably missed many jokes and allusions because this is packed full of goodness.

Example of small funny part: There are Baconians, knocking on doors in London like Jehovah Witnesses, trying to convince people that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare's plays. That was hilarious.

POETRY FRIDAY: PEI poet laureate announced

We've had a poet laureate on Prince Edward Island the past number of years: John Smith, Frank Ledwell, and the recently announced David Helwig.

John Smith was my English 101 professor at UPEI; I took a few English courses from Frank as well. Ledwell is a delightful storyteller from my husband's village and we have his book The North Shore of Home, a collection of poetry and tales set in St Peter's Bay. And now today, David Helwig has been announced. I read his book The Stand-In a few years ago. If you glance around his website here, you might recognize The Indextrious Reader, who is quoted regarding his book Smuggling Donkeys.

I think it is kind of cool that PEI has a poet laureate. The only other laureate that I could name off the top of my head is Robert Frost, from the 1960s, in the States.

BACKGROUNDER (taken from Ragweed Press website)
The Poet Laureate Program was established in 2002 to honour individuals who have made a major contribution to the literary life of the province. Prince Edward Island's first Poet Laureate, John Smith, was appointed in December 2002. Frank Ledwell was appointed to the post in December 2004.

Objectives of the P.E.I. Poet Laureate Program:
To celebrate Prince Edward Island and its people;
To raise the profile of Prince Edward Island poets;
To promote a higher standard of literacy;
To raise public awareness of poetry and of the spoken word;
To create a spokesperson for literature in general and poetry in particular; and
To provide a focal point for the expression of Prince Edward Island culture and heritage through the literary arts.

Duties of the Poet Laureate:
The Poet Laureate shall undertake such activities to promote the objectives of the office as may be appropriate, including, but not limited to, composing poetry related to legislative or state occasions and events of significance, visiting schools, presenting or arranging poetry readings and assisting with writing workshops or other activities.

While looking up some background for this post, I found this poem that Frank Ledwell wrote about Terry Fox. I'm linking to the site, because I'm not sure about copyrights and what I am allowed to post here willy-nilly. It's a lovely tribute to a real hero, and evokes that lasting image of Terry, running on the highway, hobbling with that distinctive hop, skip, and run. I like how the poem starts at the beginning, before Fox became the whole country's memory, just a young man, so full of life. Two years ago, the Terry Fox Run on PEI was running across the Confederation Bridge, the 13 km span that connects the rest of Canada to PEI. To be running with thousands of people, living Terry's dream, was quite an emotional experience and a huge accomplishment for me. One person can make such a difference.

The last few lines of the poem would bring to mind for most Canadians the whole Marathon of Hope, from the one good foot dipping onto the Atlantic Ocean, to the heartbreak in Thunder Bay. And that reminds me, I want to order the book Douglas Coupland wrote about Terry Fox.

Mini Challenge #3: read a poem

Thursday, January 24, 2008


What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”

And, folks–Becca was nice enough to nominate Booking Through Thursday for a Blogger’s Choice Award–while you’re here, why don’t you head over and vote for us, too. Because, a vote for BTT is a vote for all of us who play each week!

I have mentioned this book here before, but it is one of my favorites: Random Passage by Bernice Morgan, and I may as well mention her newest book, Cloud of Bone as well. Both are Newfoundland books so may not be as well known outside of Atlantic Canada.

Farley Mowatt has a children's book Owls in the Family that I highly recommend to people with children.

I used to say Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, but it is a little better known these days. I think I would now include I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak in the category of a great book no one has heard of, but I know that our little blogosphere knows all about Zusak. And The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky was one of my favorite reads last year. Has anyone heard of it?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

MEME: My House

kookie did it, then chris, now me! Are you next? go ahead, try it.

What kind of soap is in your shower right now? moonsnail soap , a local company that produces handmade soap, but it is just mine! The rest of them use what ever's on sale.

Do you have any watermelon in your refrigerator? in the winter?

What would you change about your living room? rip up this carpet and put down hardwood floors, hopefully this year.

Are the dishes in your dishwasher clean or dirty? Dirty at the moment.

What is in your fridge? we got groceries last night, so lots of stuff! even cream cheese for bagels. And there are Coronitas, the little Coronas bottles.

White or wheat bread? whole wheat

What is on top of your refrigerator? bread machine, 6 boxes of cereal.

What color or design is on your shower curtain? purple and moss green

How many plants are in your home? a lovely collection of artificial plants. I let all my house plants die on my first maternity leave: I didn't think I could keep plants and children alive.

Is your bed made right now? why would I make it when I'm just going to get back in it tonight?

Comet or Soft Scrub? Comet, I guess. We don't use it much

Is your closet organized? to me. It might not look like it to someone else.

Can you describe your flashlight? We got 3 battery-less flashlights for Christmas this year, just wind, and go for 20 minutes. They are Duracell

Do you drink out of glass or plastic most of the time at home? Glass, but I have a collection of plastic/deck glasses that I use sometimes, and the kids definitely use plastic

Do you have iced tea made in a pitcher right now? No, but we keep limeaid made up for Long Island iced tea

If you have a garage, is it cluttered? No garage, but I bet it would be cluttered, if my basement is any indication!

Curtains or blinds? Both

How many pillows do you sleep with? two

Do you sleep with any lights on at night? we each have a bed light, and it is left on if the other person hasn't gone to bed yet. When my eyes are closed, it is dark, so lights don't bother me.

How often do you vacuum? not often enough

Standard toothbrush or electric? I recently bought a Dora brush after I had my wisdom teeth out so I could reach the back of my mouth better

What color is your toothbrush? it has Dora the Explorer on it!

Do you have a welcome mat on your front porch? I have a mat inside to catch the snow and mud.

What is in your oven right now? Nothing. I wish there was banana bread baking right now.

Is there anything under your bed? yikes; empty suitcase, scrapbooking materials waiting to be used, slippers, and dust bunnies-a-plenty

Chore you hate doing the most? dusting

What retro items are in your home? either everything or nothing

Do you have a separate room that you use as an office? we have no extra rooms in our little bungalow; the computer is in a corner of the living room

How many mirrors are in your home? 5

What color are your walls? sand - golden beige; bedrooms are all different

What does your home smell like right now? basketball sneakers?

Favorite candle scent? no particular favorite. vanilla maybe?

What kind of pickles (if any) are in your refrigerator right now? garlic baby dills

What color is your favorite Bible? no favorite

Ever been on your roof? not me, but last summer my husband had to get up on the roof in the middle of the night during a rain storm, natch, to fix a loose shingle. The rain dripped on his forehead in the middle of the night!

Do you own a stereo? not really, I have a little machine my Ipod fits onto that can play, and a cheap little CD player my daughter has appropriated for her room

How many TVs do you have? 2 that are plugged in, one for watching up stairs, one down for video games and the loser of the toss when there is football on.

How many house phones? 1 landline. no cell phones at all.

Do you have a housekeeper? nope

What style do you decorate in? cluttered country, with a dash of toys everywhere

Do you like solid colors or prints in furniture? both, a nice mix

Is there a smoke detector in your home? Two.

In case of fire, what are the items in your house which you’d grab if you only could make one quick trip? the scrapbooks I made

Sunday, January 20, 2008

CHALLENGE: Jane Austen Mini Challlenges

I haven't read a lot of Austen, but I think I might like the television shows. I watched Northanger Abbey tonight on PBS, and it was quite marvelous. Henry Tilman was perfect, and the actor who played him was ideal. I read Northanger Abbey last year for the Classics Challenge (winter)and I quite preferred it to Pride and Prejudice. I liked the humor as Austen pokes fun with her so very naive heroine and the hero who understands her perfectly, right from the start.

Look what I found at Becky's Cardathon blog. You have to picture the little smirk just behind those eyes of Henry Tilman's. Now I have a better memory of the show.

Here's the review I originally wrote last February for Northanger Abbey.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

I had planned to read Emma for the Challenge, but I never got into it, and it was too long. I decided to try Northanger Abbey on and I am glad I did. I ended up getting it from the library because I wanted to finish it more quickly, by the end of February.

I found this much more humorous as Austen seemed to be making fun of the social niceties of the day and also of her other novels,or at least other novels of that time. This is the story of Catherine, our heroine as she is directly called, as she matures and grows up to find love. She is sweetly naive and is confused by all the double talk of other characters. She assumes that people mean what they say and that isn't the case at all. She gradually becomes more careful of what she says and what she believes of others. Of course, there is a gentleman who recognizes her sweet charm and is the object of her affection. And it turns out well. Of course.
I really liked this one, more than Pride and Prejudice, and quite enjoyed the tale.

They did a marvelous job of bringing the book to life, including the imaginings as Catherine lets the novel Udolpho take over her imagination.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

BOOK: Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland

Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland

What's in a Name? challenge: first name

Annie, hostess of the What's in a Name? challenge, was having a contest this month: describe a book you have read with your name as a character in a book. I mentioned Elizabeth, from Pride and Prejudice, and Anne of Green Gables, my middle name. Interestingly, the main character in this book, my book for the first name category, is Liz, also my first name. It seems appropriate that so many circles are happening with a Coupland book, because his books are beautifully synchronous like that.

Coupland writes books full of messages and symbols, and interesting and real characters. Liz Dunn is a lonely woman. She has always been lonely, more lonely than sad. Coupland describes lonely so well and Liz is very articulate. As Liz prepares to have her wisdom teeth out, (like I did three months ago!) the Hale-Bopp comet flies over Earth, and her life changes, when the hospital calls with a message - a mysterious young man has her name inscribed on his Medic Alert Bracelet: In Case of Emergency, call Liz Dunn.

I'm not sure how Coupland does it. This little book about a lonely woman and how her life was changed contains such fantastic elements that if I tried to explain all the events, would make the book sound unusual and strange. But he presents them in a way that seem ordinary. I cheered for Liz and enjoyed the week I spent reading about her life. (I was in the Frankfurt airport two years ago, where a pivotal event occurs.) The usual Coupland popular references are here, the wry comments, the commentary on ordinary life and the fantastic things that people can do in ordinary life are here. Coupland writes solid and never disappoints.

Ooh, I get the cover now!

Friday, January 18, 2008


There is a little challenge going on over at Foma which I found on the always-hip-and-aware-of -things booklogged's areadersjournal (she's also got some signed Colleen Gleason's she's giving away, woohoo!)

Anyway, this challenge is called National Just Read More Novels Month, with the cute squished up letter tag. I failed at the NaBloMo whatchamacallit, but here's a challenge I can do. I've already won! The goal is to read a novel in January. Yes, just one. And you can start this any time in January and count any novel you've already read. I'm reading number 7 now. So, I can put this badge on my blog:


and this:


and even this one:


and there is a 10X that I'm aiming for. Stay tuned.

Go sign up and get a badge. I'm pretty sure anyone here reading at my blog has already read one novel. It's like Ed McMahon used to say - You may already be a winner.

MEME: 8 Random Facts About Me

I got tagged at Valentina's to do a random meme. Well, the meme isn't random, it is random facts about me. Eight, I believe, is the number I'm looking for.

1. I like curling. I'm Canadian, right? I really like watching it on TV- the Brier, the Scott, the Worlds. And to actually curl is so much fun. You have to love a sport that you can hold a beer while playing. And it isn't so difficult that I can't participate once a year in our teacher's bonspiel and look respectable. I must make it perfectly clear: I'm atrocious at it, horrible even, but it's fun to pretend I'm Colleen Jones out there, chomping my gum, and yelling, Hurry hard!

2. I've never owned a pet. My dad wouldn't let us when we were little, and now I don't need one more creature to look after, especially one that doesn't get more independent with every passing day. We are trying to grow Sea Monkeys, although I think they all just died.

3. I love Green Curry Chicken from our local Thai Take-out. Most Sundays, when the family decides it's a good night to eat out, my husband and kids all suggest Subway, which is my cue to call Leo and order my curry. So yummy, but no one else here likes it.

4. I teach at the same high school I attended. I'm not a big person for change in my life. I married the man I met at 19, and I live in the same community I grew up in. I won't even tell you how old some of my shoes are.

5. I love shoes! My favorite shoes are the customized flip flops I had made for my feet on Capri two summers ago. My sister and I got them together, and if they ever wear out, I will have to go back to Capri to get another pair!

6. I can't be too warm. Maybe, that day on Mykonos when we walked around all afternoon, and there wasn't much shade, that day may have been too hot, but generally, I am always cold. I always have a blanket on me, I wear mitts from September to May, and flannel sheets, ditto.

7. I have had high blood pressure since I was twenty, and take medication for it everyday. It's a family thing I guess, lots of stokes in the family.

8. I have to read before I go to sleep, even if it is only for a few minutes. It just doesn't feel right if I don't.

Anybody want to play?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

BOOK: The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom

The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom

a mobile library mystery

themed reading challenge

Israel Armstrong accepts a job as a librarian in Ireland. Things aren't exactly as they first seemed, as Israel is actually the librarian of the mobile library, and all the books, 15,000, are actually missing. And Israel is a bit of a boob.

The mystery is cute and there are funny passages as Israel tries to adapt to a very different life - he's a Jewish, vegetarian from big city London, used to coffee, papers, and civilization trying to live in a very small village with people who aren't very accommodating to him.

I found the interactions with Israel, while meant to be funny and show his ineptness could be a little uncomfortable. His boss in particular was so bossy and pushy, I found it difficult to believe it could happen, even to Israel. It is his job to find the missing books? Without calling the police? I realize it was necessary for the plot, and to set this up as a series, but it just seemed unfair. Maybe I took some of this a little too seriously, and it was meant to be more of a farce.

Final Verdict: cute little book, interesting characters, and the setting was great. There are more books coming in this mystery series which I might read, but it will be a library mystery book for me, not a buy it book. I'm not rushing to get the next book, but I would eventually read it.
* * * * * * * * *
Question: why do I have such trouble getting spaces in my blog spot entries? If I write a post, with spaces between paragraphs, and then post after preview, I never get my spaces. I have to save the draft, close the post, and then reenter through a draft/edit post, to get my spaces. Anyone else have this problem? Any solutions, or am I doing all I can?
In other news, another storm day! School was cancelled yesterday because of the impending storm, which never arrived, until today, so we are home again. Lots of correcting getting done, and a bit of reading too. A few panicked emails from students wondering on the status of their test that was supposed to be tomorrow (it is Friday) On the one hand, a storm day is great, but on the other hand, we only have next week before final exams, so the pressure will be on to cover the last chapter of material.

Monday, January 14, 2008

SHORT STORY MONDAY: The Summer My Grandmother Was Supposed to Die by Mordecai Richler

The Summer My Grandmother was Supposed to Die by Mordecai Richler
from my Norton Anthology from university
I enjoyed my read of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Richler so I thought I'd read his short story for my return to Short Story Monday. ( Did I mention Duddy's brother's name was Lenny? Is that a coincidence?)
Stories told of children's remembrances of youth are always somewhat suspect, as their version of events may be quite different from the adults of the same events. The title quite explains the events, but the back story of the situation that led the grandmother to live in the back room of the narrator's house, and the family decision to have his mother tend her mother, and then the family squabbles and tension that develop while caring for an elderly family member make up the bulk of the story. So this story is quite relevant today for the baby boomers looking after their parents. I liked the look at Jewish culture, as it is something I am not exposed to at all, and am not very familiar with. I know in larger cities, the Jewish population is bigger, but in PEI, there is not one I am aware of. The ending was a little touching too.
This story was in the section titled Focus and Voice, so the first person narrative and the perspective of the child were supposed to be important. It suggested rewriting the story from the mother's point of view. No thanks, I can imagine it, or find a novel to give me that experience. I'm a reader, not a writer.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Look what I got! That cutie Caper Chris from book-a-rama gave me this award. What a great way to start the year. Here's the citation:

"So, the point (and I do have one) to this post is motivated by my desire to hand some of that love and kindness back around to those who have been so very, very, very good to me in this bloggy world. My hope is that those who receive this award will pass it on to those who have been very, very, very good to them as well. It's a big kiss, of the chaste platonic kind, from me to you with the underlying 'thanks' message implied. I really do appreciate your support and your friendship and yes, your comments. ... Mwah!"

I have to pass this on to a few people, but this is really hard. I'll just pick a few people, but there are more, many more wonderful bloggy friends. It's always exciting to see a comment from them, because they are insightful, funny, and friendly. They were the first encouraging people I met in the lit-blogosphere, and I try to pass on that same helpfulness to new bloggers I meet.
They are also all very generous - I think they have all sent me something, all the way to PEI...

3M at 1morechapter - because she was so nice when I barged into her decades challenge, and helped me feel so comfortable in the reading groups she organizes at yahoo.

booklogged at a reader's journal - I blame/thank her for my immersion into the world of reading challenges with the Classics Reading Challenge last winter, and she's the first blogger I met in real life, and it wasn't scary at all!

literary feline at musings of a bookish kitty - wendy reads the best books, and I think we quite similar reading tastes. I look at her blog and organizing a lot, and copy her shamelessly.

bookfool at bookfoolery and babble - she probably needs a mwah now, and her Chunkster challenge was one of my first reading challenges.

wendy at caribousmom - was one of the first people to comment on my blog, and I followed her around, getting my feet under me for quite a while.
So thanks to all you talented, amazing friends I've met, and a big mwah from me!

BOOK: Shakespeare's Trollop by Charlaine Harris

Shakespeare's Trollop by Charlaine Harris

series challenge

Number four in the Lily Bard series, the penultimate book. (hee, I don't get to use that word very often) As I was looking into this series, I was disappointed that the series didn't continue, only five books. But now I am glad for a few reasons:
  1. I will be able to complete this series and it will be done.
  2. Many times, mystery series continue past the point where the author should, and the books just feel like books for the sake of the book. And you have to keep reading, even though they have lost their bite.
  3. Lily is starting to be normal, and that would be a good place for the series to end. She feels a part of the community, making friends, and able to put her past behind her. One more book should just about do it.
  4. Five is a nice number for a mystery series.
  5. Also for lists. hmm. I know. I can start the Sookie Stackhouse mystery series by Harris as well, and I think that one is still being written.

Excellent read, good mystery with lots of the characters from Shakespeare involved. Such a good read that that is all I did today, when I should have been correcting. This will bite me later in the week as I try to get through all the physics labs. I can't wait to read Shakespeare's Counselor.

BOOK: The Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguro

1989 Booker Winner, 1980s decade, Man Booker Challenge

I haven't seen the movie, but I would like to now. This quiet book is the memoirs of Stevens, proper butler to Darlington Hall from the 1930s to his present day 1956. Ishiguro has written an amazing book in that this is a character study of the main character, told in first person narrative, and the man has no inner thoughts, a completely flat character. It is completely sad how removed from himself he is without even realizing it. But the book is genius.

Stevens has lived his whole life as a butler and he is very invested in being the best butler, to the point that he has no relationships with anyone - his father, Miss Kenton, or anyone. He doesn't think critically about any decisions of his boss, who, it comes out, was quite the Nazi sympathizer before World War 2.

Later in life, he seems to feel that bantering is a skill he should acquire, as part of his repertoire of a good butler. But bantering doesn't come easily to him. This is typical of his interactions with other people. It is particularly sad when he retells events with Miss Kenton, the housekeeper. He keeps his emotions so bottled up, under the guise of professionalism, that he cannot even offer condolences or talk of anything that is not to do with the job.

Ishiguro offers a view of life in the upper classes in England, and what life may have been like 'on the job'. And he does such a great job of exposing Stevens character without saying anything, especially the parts that Stevens isn't even aware of. Ishiguro is on my list of potential favorite authors now, with two books (Never Let Me Go) that have impressed me.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

BOOK: 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, 97 pages

themed reading challenge, another from something about me

Way back when, historia picked this as one of her Something About Me books because: Because I love reading anything about books - and I absolutely LOVED the movie. There were several glowing reviews at the blog by everyone who read this. I bought this one, big decision for me since it is a slim volume, to read for the Themed Reading Challenge, books about books.

What a delightful little collection! I didn't realize it was nonfiction until the end; I'm such a twit. Helene Hanff, a NY writer, begins a correspondence with a Marks & Co. in London. This book demonstrates a different time, before instant communication and was very charming. Helene would ask for a book, and they would find it and send it. Then, she would send a few dollars cash in the mail. They scrupulously kept track of the cents in credit and debit. Helene develops a relationship with the company, sending lots of packages to help the Brits through post war rationing. Travel was much more difficult in those days, as it is hard to imagine today she wouldn't just jump on a plane and hop over the pond to meet them.

It was also a different time in books and publishing, as Hanff was looking for books of letters and collections of essays, and specific editions of books. Or it just may be there is a whole world of book collectors that I am not familiar with at all. (seems more likely) I am also reading Remains of the Day right now; I am having difficulty adjusting to the 21st century since my reading life is decidedly early 20th century England. Both books would be excellent for Anglophiles with delightful slices of life in England.

If you enjoy books about books, or England, or need a quick read, you could try 84, Charing Cross Road. And there is also a movie? I must look into that.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

May I Introduce...

1. How did you come across your favorite author(s)? Recommended by a friend? Stumbled across at a bookstore? A book given to you as a gift?
2. Was it love at first sight? Or did the love affair evolve over a long acquaintance?
It takes a while for me to add an author to my list as a favorite. It certainly takes more than one or two books. I would say I found my favorite authors when I was younger, and have loved so many of their books that I know I won't be disappointed.
My list includes Stephen King, LM Montgomery, Maeve Binchy, Agatha Christie, Anne Perry
They just have not let me down.
The contenders to make my list include: Douglas Coupland, Sophie Kinsella, Markus
Zusak, Charlaine Harris,
I found many of these authors this year, and I have loved their books, but I need to read some more before they can make my favorite's list.
So how do I find my favorite authors? I think they are somewhat popular and they write a lot of books. I can't remember where I first heard of them.

BOOK: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Chunkster Challenge (545 pages), Themed Reading Challenge (books about books), Young Adult Challenge, Notable Books Challenge

A few comments:

1. I am an ostrich. I bury my head in the sand when I'm scared. I avoid, avoid, avoid to deal with things I don't want to deal with. That's why this book took me as long as it did to read. It was put down and left for several days at a time. As beautiful as the writing was, and it was beautiful, holy cow! As beautiful as it was, I could only read a few chapters at a time. Which surprised me, because I usually devour books when I read them, speeding through like a Tasmanian Devil, staying up too late to finish a page, a chapter, the whole damn book. But I had to protect myself from this book somewhat, because of the intensity of emotion.

2. I think I am done reading Holocaust books. They are awful, depressing, and the uplifting part of any book, that is always there, is only against the background of depravity and horror that I don't like to delve into. Again, the ostrich. I saw A Beautiful Life at the theater, and it was beautiful, but I remember this horrible, frantic feeling, about halfway through as the father and son were heading to the camp: What year is this? Is it 1944? or '45? How much hope can I hope for here? Because we all know how that whole thing turned out, and there aren't many good endings when you are headed for a camp.

3. Marcus Zusak writes the most beautiful, uplifting books. There is a hope on his soul of the beauty capable in humans even in the most horrific of settings. His writing gently caresses you while reading, saying there, there, we'll get through this and you will see what you should see. Have faith in me, and the human race: we are capable of great good.

4. Death may be one of the best characters I've ever read. His perspective on humans, and his gentle caring were the best part of the book. Such a terrific narrator for life in Germany during the Holocaust.

5. I liked the divisions of the book, into ten books with little chapters within. It made it easier for me to read, (see note 1), and when I saw the significance at the end, it was even better. Again, Zusak is an amazing writer.

6. After the end of the book, go back and reread the Prologue. It is probably a good idea with most books, but by the end, the beginning made so much more sense.

7. Do we need a summary? Liesel is sent to live with foster parents in Munich at the beginning of WW2. Hans and Rosa take and love Liesel, as well as a Jewish man, Max, in their basement. Liesel touches a few characters, especially Rudy, her neighbour who dresses up like Jesse Owens and runs, and the Mayor's wife, keeper of the library, around which much of the novel revolves, and Max. Death is always around. Books and words are very important, as they should be.

8. Extra Credit Assignment: Compare Hans and Rosa to Matthew and Marilla in Anne of Green Gables.
Both take in an orphan, damaged, looking for love and support. Matthew and Hans immediately know how to love, unabashedly, the little girl thrust in to their lives. The child has an immediate connection to the Hans and Matthew. This is where the phrase 'kindred spirits' comes from. Marilla and Rosa are brisk, not showing overt displays of love, and it seems unclear what the relationship is between the Marilla/Anne and Rosa/Liesel. However, in both cases, they show their emotions less freely, but with no less passion and devotion. Their love of the girls, and Hans and Matthew, are the most touching moments of the books, because it is more unexpected.

9. War is no good. Both sides lose, everyone loses. Except Death. He does very well in wars.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

BOOK: Housekeeping vs The Dirt by Nick Hornby

Housekeeping vs The Dirt: Fourteen Months of Massively Witty Adventures in Reading by Nick Hornby

themed reading, essays (mini challenge)

This would be the sequel to The Polysyllabic Spree, Hornby's collection of essays from the Believer, something I've never read. When I originally read the Spree, I thought I read a lot of different books, but I recognized very few of the books Hornby read and even fewer of the books he bought - two separate categories, as we all know. His writing was still hilarious, as if he understood the voice in my head and knew how to tickle it. Two years later I'm reading the sequel and my book intelligence quota (B.I.Q.)has risen immensely.

Several excerpts are included: Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell(I've read); Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris (I want to read and had heard of ); Persepolis, a graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi (which I recognize the name of from the Graphic Novel challenge); Citizen Vince by Jess Walters, plus a few more. But it is Hornby's essays as he studies his reading, and the writing of other books and his admiration of authors that keep me reading.

I wish I could analyse and discuss books as coherently and interestingly as he does. I can follow his train of thought but as soon as I try to explain what I just read, I can't. His logic is not my outline logic ( I organize ideas in classic outline form, with Roman numerals, letters, numbers, etc), but it still works. His defence of reading what you like makes so much sense - why struggle through a book you find difficult and are not enjoying? And then in another essay, he talks about buying a book because he'd like to be the guy who reads a book like that.

I think this is the book that So Many Books, So Little Time wanted to be, but wasn't quite there. It was very good, but Hornby is even better.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

CHALLENGE: Hometown Challenge

I'm from little old Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island:

No, no, no, Charlottetown does not look like that.

Ah, that's more like it. Callista had a great idea to read a book either set in your hometown, or written by someone from your hometown. I've got two choices:

1. So Long, Jackie Robinson by Nancy Russell

Nancy lives here and wrote this children's book (9-12 yrs) sport book about Jackie Robinson breaking into the majors in Montreal in the 1950s. I bought this for my son for Christmas; he's a sports nut.

2. Lorelei by Lori Derby Bingley

Lori grew up on the street behind me and I was friends with her older brother, who now works with my husband. Lori is also the Sparks/Brownie leader for my daughter and is an author of several novels. I'd like to read one of her books.

I have from November 1, 2007 to March 1, 2008 to read my book or two.

Here's a real picture of Charlottetown on the harbour front

Saturday, January 5, 2008

BOOK: Brainiac by Ken Jennings

Brainiac by Ken Jennings

Cardathon Challenge, in their shoes

Answer: Brainiac
Question: What's a really good book I got for Christmas?

Sorry, I had to do that.

Not only did I get this book for Christmas from my sister, I gave the same book to my sister for Christmas. She was reading it while she was over for a visit, and reading out questions and quotes, intriguing us. I couldn't wait to get started. And I started using the Book Darts she gave me while reading this book. Thanks sis.

Some people apparently have a sponge-like brain that sucks up information and detail almost from birth, through some perfect-storm coalescence of curiosity, compulsiveness, and innate talent. These people are indiscriminate information gourmands, driven by inexplicable urge to scrawl every scrap of knowledge that comes their way onto their blank chalkboard of a brain. We did not choose trivia. Trivia chose us. p 7

I should confess my trivia history: we are a trivia (trivial?) family. We love trivia: my husband and parents and I played in a bar league before the children were born, and we won one season. In university, my roommate and some fellows from the boy's dorm had an ongoing Trivial Pursuit game until we knew all the questions before they were even read. Jeopardy! of course is still very big: we keep the daily calendar in the bathroom. My husband's siblings and their spouses are perennial champions at the Blueberry Festival annual summer Trivia Contest held in the local rink. So Jennings is preaching to the confirmed here. We Love Trivia!

The book follows Jennings' improbable run of winning 74 games on Jeopardy! but more than that, he investigates the rise of trivia games, the history of the popularity of trivia. Each chapter, titled for example What is Audition? (the applying for Jeopardy! process) or What is Composition? (writing good questions) also include about ten questions in them, with answers at the end of each chapter. Jennings has a very winning style, and is very funny. If you haven't been reading his blog, Confessions of a Trivial Mind you are missing out on an amusing read.

From the first trivia books, to the first radio and television shows, to the College Bowl games, to the town of Stevens Point annual 54 hour radio trivia contest, all manner and types of trivia are analysed. I particularly liked Jennings telling of his Jeopardy! experience, not revealing anything he couldn't - legal confidentiality clauses, but his winsome, charming, self deprecating manner makes this book a wonderful, overall, enjoyable read.

I'll leave with my trivia questions I throw out to my classes when time is short:

What is Chef Boyardee's first name? Hector
What three words best describe the Grinch? stink, stank, stunk
Where do you find the Sea of Tranquility?the moon
highlight the space after the question for the answer.


It's Buy a Friend a Book Week! Hey now, settle down, I'm not giving away a book yet. But there are some other generous souls out there in blogland, like Dewey and Rhinoa. They would love to give away a book or two. Head on over to their blogs to enter.
Dewey is giving an additional challenge of coming up with a good name for the draw, as her teenage son picks the name he likes best. I've been working all day to come up with something. Rhinoa tries to let her cats pick, so think catnip when you comment at her site.

Friday, January 4, 2008

CHALLENGE: Chunkster Challenge 2

the definition: chunkster - a book with more than 450 pages; a kick-ass novel; method of combining reading and arm-lifts.

the preamble: Last year, I looked at Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in the library, and decided I didn't really want to carry a brick around for 5 months while I tried to read it. Also, this was my toughest challenge last year.

the rationale: I really didn't want to sign up for this because chunkster books scare me. I worry I won't like it, that it will take too long to finish when there are so many other more reasonable books (250 - 400 pages) out there. But I probably read at least 4 big books in a year. It helps that I am reading The Book Thief right now, weighing in at about 545 pages. As well, so far I am sticking with Les Miserables at livejournal, a chapter a day. That's two right there. So let's make a little list of books I know I'd like to read, and see what it looks like.

the list:

  1. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak: 550 pages
  2. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo: ? but it's 365 chapters
  3. The Night Watch, Sarah Waters: 503 pages
  4. Lisey's Story, Stephen King: 653 pages
  5. Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl: 514 pages
  6. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith: 483 pages
  7. The Boleyn Inheritance, Philippa Gregory: 518 pages
  8. Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons, Lorna Landvik, 483 pages

the caving: I am sure I can read 4 of these by December 20th, 2008.

the credits: think pink dana is hosting this year, since bookfool is looking after her mother, and we are all thinking of them.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

CHALLENGE: The Mini-Challenge 2008

Sponsored by group owner, Wendy (caribousmom)

1. Complete all twelve mini-challenges from January 1st through December 31st of 2008 and become eligible for some fun prizes at the end of the year. DO NOT start this challenge prior to January 1, 2008.
2. Challenges may be completed in any order and may overlap other challenges. Work through them at your own speed.
3. Participants must EITHER post their progress (and reviews if appropriate) to their blog with links to this group OR directly to this group.
4. After completing each challenge, go to the database and record the completion date in the correct column next to your name.

Here are the challenges: (bolded when completed, and linked where possible)

1. Read a short story - review it "Making Love While the Kettle Boils" - Kate Sutherland Feb 20
2. Read a children's book - review it From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler
3. Read a poem - tell us about itTribute to Terry Fox Jan 25
4. Read a banned book - review it The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler Feb 19
5. Give a book away (you may donate to charity, give a book to a friend, leave a book "in the wild" to be found by another long as you do not sell it!) - post why you chose the book you did and where it went sent Buying a Fishing Rod for my Grandfather and Elizabeth Costello to edith_jones
6. Read two (2) articles from any one magazine - tell us about them Babble an online parenting magazine
7. Read a classic (for this challenge a classic is defined as a piece of literature which has stood the test of time, has literary merit, is widely read, and was published prior to 1970) - review it The Plague
8. Go to a book event and then tell the group about your experience (book events may be library events, author readings, seminars/lectures pertaining to books or reading, etc...) Budge Wilson author reading
9. Read an essay - tell us about it Housekeeping vs The Dirt by Hornby
10. Read something inspirational - tell the group why it inspired you This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun
11. Read a book written by a "new-to-you" author - review it The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
12. Participate in a group or buddy read and discussion (this can be either a face to face book club, an on line group, or a blog/buddy read). Tell the group what you read and with whom; give us a review! Read Heidi with Nana and Rachel

BOOK: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler by E.L. Konisburg

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler by E.L. Konisburg

1968 Newbery Winner (Book Awards Challenge)

I bought this for my ten year old son for Christmas but he hasn't been intrigued by it enough yet - I told him it's like Night at the Museum, but maybe not completely. I read it last night, taking a break from the intensity of The Book Thief; Nazi Germany stories do that to me.

The story is cute although a little dated, as Claudia runs away from the injustice of chores and a too small allowance, and from a desire to stop being ordinary. (Her life did not have the makings of an after school special) She chooses her younger brother Jamie, excellent with money, to go with her. Claudia is a great planner and they stay at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. They encounter surprisingly few obstacles and live a pretty cool week on their own with a mystery to try to solve.
The author includes an afterward to my edition which explains how times have changed and what could and could not have happened today. It makes the book a nice history lesson as well as a good story. I hope my son will read this soon as it is a nice little easy read that shows life in a different time.

MEME: Booking Through Thursday


Last week we talked about the books you liked best from 2007. So this week, what with it being a new year, and all, we’re looking forward….
What new books are you looking forward to most in 2008? Something new being published this year? Something you got as a gift for the holidays? Anything in particular that you’re planning to read in 2008 that you’re looking forward to? A classic, or maybe a best-seller from 2007 that you’re waiting to appear in paperback?

With all the reading challenges going on, I've got tons of books I'm looking forward to. The first ones I am looking forward to:

The Book Thief (already on page 180)
Brainiac - got for Christmas
Atonement - the movie previews are driving me nuts
Never Have Your Dog Stuffed - Alan Alda is funny and cool
The Remains of the Day - I read my first Ishiguro last year and loved it!
The Lost Highway - another new author I really enjoyed last year

I'm also looking forward to going to the Pub - a reading challenge focused on reading books published in 2008. I'm not sure yet what books those will be - other than I know Sophie Kinsella has a new book coming out this spring.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

BOOK: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler

Canadian Book Challenge, Quebec entry

I think I really liked this book. I mean, I think I really liked this book. For poor Duddy Kravitz was a great character. Growing up Jewish in 1950s Montreal, Duddy wants to make something of himself. His grandfather told him once that a man without land is nobody and Duddy makes it his goal to get some land. He's a schemer and feels that no one wants to help him, which they don't. And some people even are actively trying to put him down, because Duddy has an attitude. Some might call it arrogant, and trying to put himself at a higher station than life has given him. And people in power don't like to see someone else trying to usurp their power.

I just felt Duddy was focused, and determined, and he didn't care who got in his way on the way to the top. He certainly wasn't afraid of hard work, and he never got into anything very illegal although he probably skirted very close when he brought the pinball machines into Canada. His family thought he was a bum and dreaming too high, and yet he was the one who did everything for the people who didn't appreciate him, helping his brother stay in medical school and looking after his uncle on his deathbed. The back of the book called Duddy a 'hustler', which he was, but hustlers are successful because they are charming. I felt for Duddy in his struggles and his attempt at redemption within his family and community. He certainly made a lot of mistakes and was quite selfish, but I still rooted for him.

This is a classic Canadian novel and I am so glad I read this for the Canadian book challenge. The Quebec setting was a big part of the book and that is important to me for this challenge, as I read by province.

(It's the wrong cover. and I really like my cover. I have to balance my compulsive need for the right cover with my cheapness of buying second hand books that are not widely around)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

LIST: 2007 books, by the numbers

I'm making this post to have a record of my books Read in 2007, with a few bonus stats.

total books: 131 (yikes! I think I read 45 books last year)
average per month: 10.9
Fiction: 117
Nonfiction: 14

books for Around the World in 80 books: 24
books for Booking the 50 States: 11
Pulitzers: 3 this year + 5 previous = 8
Bookers: 3 this year + 2 previous = 5
new to me authors: 76

short story collections: 7
mystery: 17
classics: 23
young adult/children: 22
It gets a bit confusing at these categories; classic is before 1950s, and as for YA, I'm not sure exactly what my criteria is.

bolded are top 10 + 1
131. Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures - Vincent Lam
130. A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
129. The Christmas Thief - Mary Higgins Clark
128. Mercy - Jodi Picoult
127. Ishmael - Daniel Quinn
126. Shakespeare's Christmas - Charlaine Harris
125. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
124. The Cricket and the Hearth - Charles Dickens
123. Irish Stories for Christmas - John B Keane
122. The Hours - Michael Cunningham
121. One Good Turn - Kate Atkinson
120. Monkfish Moon - Romesh Gunesekera
119. Gods & Monsters - Christopher Bram
118. Hockey Dreams - David Adams Richards
117. a boy of good breeding - Miriam Toews
116. Veronika Decides to Die - Paulo Coelho
115. Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman
114. The Lost Salt Gift of Blood - Alistair MacLeod
113. The Inuk Mountie Adventure - Eric Wilson
112. Rises the Night - Colleen Gleason
111. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
110. Everything's Eventual - Stephen King
109. Farewell, My Lovely - Raymond Chandler
108. Shakespeare's Champion - Charlaine Harris
107. The Gum Thief - Douglas Coupland
106. The Tale of Despereaux - Kate DiCamillo
105. The Rest Falls Away - Colleen Gleason
104. Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman - Richard P Feynman
103. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
102. On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan
101. Other Colors - Orhan Pamuk
100. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
99. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
98. Among the Shadows - LM Montgomery
97. Tomorrow - Graham Swift
96. We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
95. Fighting Ruben Wolfe - Markus Zusak
94. O Pioneers! - Willa Cather
93. Cloud of Bones - Bernice Morgan
92. Number the Stars - Lois Lowry
91. The Reluctant Fundmentalist - Mohsin Hamid
90. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
89. Never Let Me Go - Kazou Ishiguro
88. Inkheart - Cornelia Funke
87. The God of Small things - Arundhati Roy
86. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
85. We - Yevgeny Zamyatin
84. I Am the Messenger - Markus Zusak
83. The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
82. The Halifax Connection - Marie Jakober
81. Galileo's Daughter - Dava Sobel
80. Murder on a Girls' Night Out - Anne George
79. The Year of Secret Assignments - Jaclyn Moriarty
78. The Princess of Burundi - Kjell Eriksson
77. HP and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling
76. Killer Swell - Jelff Shelby
75. Arthur & George - Julian Barnes
74. Shakespeare's Landlord - Charlaine Harris
73. Restless - William Boyd
72. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
71. The Hound of the Baskervilles - AC Doyle
70. The Bone People - Kerri Hulme
69. Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
68. Alentejo Blue - Monica Ali
67. The Echo Maker - Richard Powers
66. One for the Money - Janet Evanovich
65. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
64. Zlata's Diary - Zlata Filipovic
63. Good Intentions - Joy Fielding
62. The Translator - Leila Aboulela
61. Quite a Year for Plums - Bailey White
60. The Devil in the White City - Erik Larson
59. So Many Books, So Little Time - Sara Nelson
58. Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
57. Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind - Ann B Ross
56. Assassination Vacation - Sarah Vowell
55. My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
54. Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
53. The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman
52. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
51. The Swallows of Kabul - Yasmina Khadra
50. In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
49. A Man Without a Country - Kurt Vonnegut
48. Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
47. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
46. The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman
45. The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
44. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
43. The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory
42. the perks of being a wallflower - stephen chbosky
41. The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides
40. The Giver - Lois Lowry
39. The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett
38. A History of the World in 10.5 Chapters - Julian Barnes
37. The Indian in the Cupboard - Lynne Reid Banks
36. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
35. Elizabeth Costello - JM Coetzee
34. Zombie - Joyce Carol Oates
33. The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
32. Reef - Romesh Gunesekera
31. The Pigman - Paul Zindel
30. The Boy Who Lost His Face - Louis Sachar
29. Ordinary People - Judith Guest
28. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
27. The Baron in the Trees - Italo Calvino
26. The Gun Seller - Hugh Laurie
25. The Great Gilly Hopkins - Katherine Paterson
24. The Stranger - Albert Camus
23. The Shape of Water - Andrea Camilleri
22. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
21. On the Water - HM van den Brink
20. Ignorance - Milan Kundera
19. Partners in Crime - Agatha Christie
18. Pedro Paramo - Juan Rulfo
17. Northanger Abby - Jane Austen
16. The Inheritance - Louisa May Alcott
15. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
14. Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson
13. The Secret Adversary - Agatha Christie
12. All Families are Psychotic - Douglas Coupland
11. Generation X - Douglas Coupland
10. something blue - Emily Giffen
9. A Wrinkle in Time - Madelaine L'Engle
8. Night - Elie Wiesel
7. Istanbul - Orhan Pamuk
6. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - RL Stevenson
5. Dispatches From the Edge - Anderson Cooper
4. On the Road - Jack Kerouac DNF
3. Hey Nostradamus! - Douglas Coupland
2. Longitude - Dava Sobel
1. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson

repeat authors:
Neil Gaiman: 4.5
Douglas Coupland: 4
Charlaine Harris: 3
Robert Louis Stevenson: 2
Orhan Pamuk: 2
Agatha Christie: 2
Katherine Paterson: 2
Romesh Gunesekara: 2
Raymond Chandler: 2
Julian Barnes: 2
Dava Sobel 2
Jodi Picoult: 2
Colleen Gleason: 2
Markus Zusak: 2
Lois Lowry: 2