Tuesday, September 30, 2008
My first time participating in Tuesday Thingers:
Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
Forever by Judy Blume
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Giver by Lois Lowry
It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Sex by Madonna
Earth's Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
The Goats by Brock Cole
Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
Blubber by Judy Blume
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
Final Exit by Derek Humphry
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
What's Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
Deenie by Judy Blume
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
Cujo by Stephen King
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
What's Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
Fade by Robert Cormier
Guess What? by Mem Fox
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Native Son by Richard Wright
Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Fantasies by Nancy Friday
Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Jack by A.M. Homes
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
Carrie by Stephen King
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
Family Secrets by Norma Klein
Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
The Dead Zone by Stephen King
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
Private Parts by Howard Stern
Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
Sex Education by Jenny Davis
The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
Our high school today had a Shh, Raiders Reading period. For twenty minutes, everyone in the school just read for pleasure. I have two sections of the same physics course, and my class that had reading time was a bit ahead of the other, so I let them read for 45 minutes. The fact I was down to the last 60 pages in my thriller book Child 44, had nothing to do with it. It was so pleasant, as the school was completely quiet, and everyone read, whatever they wanted. I saw kids with school books (All Quiet on the Western Front) pleasure reading (My Sister's Keeper), even the newspaper. I had physics books available for anyone who forgot to bring their own book, selections like A Short History of Nearly Everything, The Trouble With Physics, and Quirks and Quarks Guide to Space. The library was crazy at lunch time, as last minute 'gotta getta book' types were searching. For a while I was at the check out desk, giving recommendations and approvals.
I am between books. I will start something tonight but I am not sure what it will be yet. A Complicated Kindness, People of the Book, or When Will There Be Good News? are at the top of my potential list.
Where is reading taking you today?
Monday, September 29, 2008
Man Booker longlist 2008
A great crime thriller that had me staying up waaay too late last night as we raced across Russia, escaped from a train headed to The Gulags, and hunted down a serial killer of children. Whew! It was quite a ride, and a provided a look at Stalin's Soviet Russia in the 1950s.
Lots of examining the political structure, where the State is all and anything can be easily misconstrued, and friends and neighbours disappear after the suggestion of evil, or treason. Leo works for the predecessor of the KGB, so he knows exactly how the system works - presumed guilty is the first response, and once accused, there is no escape, because just the hint of treason is enough to ruin a man or woman. There is no crime, only infiltrators from the West trying to take down Stalin. Murders aren't investigators - criminals confess. It makes it difficult for Leo to begin to search for what he believes is a serial killer, because all crime have been solved previously, so if he suggests that there is a serial killer, it means innocent people have been killed, and that the State made a mistake. And that definitely didn't happen.
This year the judges have been asked by booksellers to select more accessible books for the Man Booker longlist. They hit the mark with this one. Politics, crime, interesting characters, action, great twisting plot. I haven't finished Les Miserables yet, but there was a hint of the Javert/Valjean revenge aspect with Leo and Vasili, if we want a classical allusion to make the book seem more Booker-ish. Hell, it was just a great read.
"The Refuge of Insulted Saints"
Who is out revelling on All Hallows Eve? Where do the saints go once they are no longer saints? Why, Massey College of course.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity - in short, it was the beginning of the autumn term, and the year was 1969. It seems that there are always students who get absorbed by studying Dickens, and Dickens books stay alive. This story offers a creepy theory.
"The Kiss of Khrushchev"
Part evil-eye curse, part frog-prince, Davies takes the well known and flips them around. I am enjoying his reluctant acceptance of his role in dealing with the spirits that visit Massey College. Sort of a "Oh, great! Here we go again," attitude as another specter appears.
He keeps the tone light, with amusing situations, and then Bam! the creepy part of the ghost story appears and surprises me. I am understanding the appeal of Davies, and will have to add a novel by him to my TBR.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
in no particular order (this statement appears to be a lie - they are in order of favorites), my best reads:
Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips (Dec 2007)
When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
The Outcast by Sadie Jones
Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay
a couple other that I would like to mention as good reads, before the final list is made:
Exit Lines by Joan Barfoot
The Ravine by Paul Quarrington
A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif
A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
Will the following make the list? I hope to read before the year is out....
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Thursday, September 25, 2008
And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?
Outside my comfort zone in a good way: The Eyre Affair. Such a hoot and it was a new kind of fantasy/science fiction that was new to me. I've done the Harry Potter books, but it's not my usual type of books. Until The Eyre Affair, go read it!
I've been surprised that I've enjoyed graphic novels as much as I have. And Ender's Game introduced me to some sci-fi that wasn't so bad, so much so that I read the sequel.
Outside my comfort zone in a bad way: Pedro Paramo and my introduction to magical realism. I didn't understand a single thing about this book. I did learn there is a type of writing called magical realism and I'm not interested in reading more. There was a little bit in The Bone People but it was small and made sense in that story.
Also, books which wax philosophical in an abstract way without enough plot, like Elizabeth Costello, and The Picture of Dorian Grey do not appeal to me.
A book that surprised me recently was Running With Scissors. I thought it would be funny from the general descriptions, but I found it uncomfortable and inappropriate.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
1% well read, Japanese literature challenge
I'm fudging things a bit to use this for the Japanese literature challenge, as although Ishiguro was born in Japan, he moved to England as a young child. This book does take place for the most part in Japan, so I am going to count it.
The first novel written by Ishiguro has his signature beautiful writing. His writing matches the way my head thinks, so I find his writing very easy to get absorbed into. His sparse style tells so much more than you would expect. There isn't much in the line of plot here - Etsuko's younger daughter arrives at her English countryside cottage after the suicide of Keiko, the elder daughter. The mother is sent into a remembrance of a particular time of her life in Nagasaki, newly married after the war and the bomb and a friendship with an unusual neighbour in the months before her daughter is born. The neighbour, Sachiko and her young daughter Mariko are preparing to leave Japan with Sachiko's American boyfriend. For some reason, this time was important to Etsuko, even though other important information about her life and how she ended up in England with a different husband is never really told.
I enjoyed this slow meandering read and the view of life in Japan as life was changing there after the war. I wasn't always clear what the characters were about and their interactions, but an interesting passage near the end had me sitting up and rereading a page or so and blinking my eyes. Ishiguro is a great writer, and this book would be interesting for a group read, as there are some interpretations required to decide upon at the end.
I don't know enough about physics to critique the thesis of this book, but I was impressed with the arguments put forth by Smolin. I learned a lot and won't begin to admit I understood everything, but I found it fascinating. String theory, quantum theory, the standard model, and then loops and superstrings, and gauge bosons, my head was spinning. But Smolin writes clearly and easily, and I was getting bits and pieces straight in my head.
The book starts with the Unfinished Revolution and the five great problems in theoretical physics left to be solved. A bit of history and background. The second section was a Brief History of String Theory. This got a lot more confusing and I did some skimming, I confess. Again, the ideas are difficult and I couldn't expect to understand just from reading a few chapters what string theory is all about. (I have The Elegant Universe here to read later, which is the story of String Theory; I also have the DVD, which will probably get watched first.) A third section looks Beyond String Theory at other areas of research, besides string theory, in physics. Ideas got pretty big and abstact here.
The last section is really the most interesting for a person from the outside of the physics establishment. Smolin examines how the physics community has arrived at its standstill, with an elegant theory of strings that has little to no experimental evidence to support it. A combination of sociology, groupthink, and the politics of academia have lead to what he calls the trouble with physics. He offers some solutions, and doesn't claim to not have been a part of everything, but he certainly wasn't part of the in crowd of string theory, and so he is on the outside, somewhat, looking in. It leads a credibility to his argument.
At times, he reminded me of Richard Feynman, mentioned often in the book. Feynman was a bit of a rebel, and didn't lack any confidence in his abilities. Feynman was awarded the Nobel Prize, so he has the cred to back up his bravado. Smolin includes personal situations he's been involved in, and they are the framework to tell this story, but he seemed to always have recognized the good idea that others didn't, or known the outsiders he admires so much. Not a criticism, but just a feeling I got as I read. But to be able to outline the problems he sees, it takes a big thinker and someone who is a little outside the system. He also acknowledges his role in the systematic problems he identifies.
I wasn't sure whether to read this first, or to learn about String Theory (The Elegant Universe.) I decided on this one, with the hopes it will help me to critically read the other. This was a very interesting book, and should be read my most scientists or people with an interest in science, and physics especially. The writing is very accessible and his arguments are persuasive.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
a continuation of the reviews
"The Night of the Three Kings"
Davies continues with his annual ghost story during his time at Massey College. His tone is very easy to read and quite amusing. This time he chases down a ghost by the smell of his cigar. King George V was on a mission to reclaim a postage stamp, but carefully following Supernatural Regulations 64A in deciding who he could summon to assist him. Great ending in this one, but it might help to have some understanding of Canadian history and to know about WLM King's interest in the spiritual world.
"The Charlottetown Banquet"
Surely John A MacDonald is worthy of a ghost story himself, and in typical Canadian irreverence, his view of Canada is not what one would expect from the Father of our Country. Plus, amazing descriptions of food and drinks from the Charlottetown Conference in 1864. I could probably find the place downtown where the meal was served and really get in the mood while reading the story.
"When Satan Goes Home for Christmas"
Apparently, his listeners got tired of all his ghosts being famous, so Davies had to change his story a bit. But really, I think Satan is just as famous as the others, Davies just gets a chance to put down the egalitarians that had been complaining. Also, I forgot that the Devil was an angel at one point and got put out of God's Kingdom. Everyone wants to go home for Christmas.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Creepers refers to the ivy growing in the cemetery, around Prudence's grave, and even developing in the basement of Courtney's house! A creepy ghost story for the young teen and preteen set. I'm going to give this to my ten year old and see what he thinks about it.
Courtney and her parents move to a New England town and set up in an old house beside a cemetery. While a little creeped out to be beside a cemetery, she soon meets the unusual Geyers, a father and daughter who have a special interest in the cemetery, and their ancestor Prudence's grave especially. Courtney works with the Geyers and her family to solve the mystery of Prudence's burial. There are ghosts and witches and that weird ivy everywhere.
Each chapter begins with an article of some sort that adds to the story - a newspaper clipping, a journal excerpt, deed of sale. A nice touch. The ending was a little vague, so the reader is left to wonder who exactly some characters were. But while it was not exactly scary for me, it was a nice little ghost story for a younger reader.
also reviewed by alea
Friday, September 19, 2008
-- Dr. Seuss
Well, another bites the dust, but not in the good, stadium-rock way of Queen. More like "here's a challenge that didn't get done." Considering that this is a genre I love, and books I nearly always enjoy, I don't understand what happened.
Here was the list of books I had I hoped to read three from:
Children of Men - PD James
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
Pretties - Scott Westerfeld
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer
Only one got read. Pretties was very good. Life as We Knew It is still on order at the library. I really thought it would be here and I could read it before September 15th. I read a review of Oryx and Crake that made it very difficult to imagine picking it up, thanks for the heads up Jill.
And poor Cloud Atlas! I have it here, and I can't wait to read it, it just never got picked up. It's perennially my next read on the bedside table. Someday! The others were library reads and I never got around to picking them up.
How many challenges haven't you finished this year?
(I am down to two books in each of title and author in the A to Zed challenge, and I don't know if I'm going to make it. Who reads 24/26 books and can't finish a challenge? Oh right, me last year in the same challenge.)
Thursday, September 18, 2008
books to movies challenge,
I'm sorry to say so but, sadly it's true that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.-- Dr. Seuss
I haven't seen the movie yet, but I am intrigued, and of course, there is Brad Pitt.
This book is quite good, but probably not for everyone. The narrator, never named, has insomnia, and starts attending self help groups (liver cancer, melanoma, testicular cancer, brain parasites) around town to get a feeling of wellness. He runs into Marla, also attending self help groups she has no business going to. Around this time, the narrator meets Tyler Durden. They represent the new white male in America, who are working to get stuff that should, but doesn't, fulfill them. In an effort to feel something, anything, they start the Fight Club, for the chance to hit and be hit, no rules and finally feel like men. The first rule of Fight Club is that you don't talk about fight club. Eventually this doesn't become enough and Project Mayhem begins.
The writing style is unique and repetitive and helps the book have the impact it does. There was a Gen X feel to the narration, that this book is the coming of age of a new male, a generation of men raised by women, with no meaningful place in society. Consumerism is also ranted about as a great evil. The plot takes a very interesting twist near the end that I had started to suspect, but it was still good. I liked how the disassociation they felt for society was portrayed, although the thought that there are such angry people is quite scary.
Dark, twisted, violent, and a statement of a sad generation.
As an aside, I've watched Big Brother all season, and they had a Swim Club, where Dan tried to teach Renny and Ollie how to swim. The first rule of Swim Club was never to talk about Swim Club. Ha! I never would have know the significance before this book. I must rent the movie.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.-- Dr. Seuss
For the literary feline, wendy's anniversary, she had a contest and asked people to pick their most romantic literary couple. I can't believe I dickered about this, and tried to think of any other couple. Anne and Gilbert are the most romantic couple ever. Their love story is my most favorite of all time, and if I ever forget this again, or get swayed by Bridget and Mark, or Catherine and Henry Tilney, send me back to this post.
I know there are a lot of Anne of Green Gables fans out there, and even many readers new to her in this, the centennial anniversary of the publication. But there is much more to the story than just Green Gables. The first three books, including Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island, make a lovely trilogy and if you haven't read them all and are planning to, I will be giving away plot information in the rest of this post. But when a book is one hundred years old, can you really spoil the ending?
There is the musical, Anne of Green Gables, which has played at Confederation Center in Charlottetown for nearly forty years. If you ever get a chance to see the musical, like booklogged and candleman did last year, I highly recommend it. Even people who don't know the story enjoy it. Sometimes the show goes on tour, so if you get a chance, go see it, and bring your tissues.
So what has got me all excited, when I've seen that musical every couple of years? Four years ago, a new musical, based on the second and third books was produced in a small local theatre, the Victorian Playhouse, Anne and Gilbert: the Musical. It played to all sell-outs its first year. When the Islanders come out and support a play, you know it is a hit. I've been meaning to go every year, but didn't get around to it until this year. Yes, it has continued playing every year since it began. It even had a little run in Ontario. Eight year old daughter and I headed up to Summerside Sunday afternoon for a little theatre.
It was perfect. The actors, most of whom are from PEI, the singing, the music, the story. Everything was what you would want. It's not easy to condense two full books into one musical, but the authors ( B Johnson, L Hochhauser, N White) did a terrific job. Lisa Parent, who plays Anne, is just ideal. Remember how perfect Megan Fellows was in the Sullivan movie 'Anne of Green Gables'? Well, this Anne was just as good. Her singing was amazing, and she nailed that combination of spunk and emotion that defines Anne. Gil was the perfect Gil. Marilla and Rachel Lynde had me in tears, sobbing, as they agreed to move in together. And then, in the end, when Gilbert watched Roy propose, and gave Anne the letters from her parents, and then she realized? I fell apart. (That was an example of adaption for the musical, but if they had written it like the book, with Gil nearly ... I can't even say it, I would have completely lost it. I liked how they wrote it. ) I could go on and on and on about the things I loved in the play.
If you get a chance to see this play, if you love Anne, you must see these musicals. We bought the CD to play on the ride home, and daughter and I have been listening to it nonstop.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I am having fun finding a good Seuss quote for my posts this week.
This week in reading I am going to a Fight Club, which is starting off pretty weird but good, (don't tell about the fight club!), trying to finish The Trouble With Physics, and staying away from my huge pile of requested library books before they topple over on me. My plans of reading, and the actual implementation of the plan are quite inversely related. Oh, well.
Where is reading taking you today?
Monday, September 15, 2008
Earlier this year, Nicola reviewed this Robertson Davies book of ghost stories, and I noted it as a terrific book to read for this year's RIP. Davies is also Canadian and he went on quite a run at John Mutford's Great Wednesday Compare. How could so many people be raving about his books and I've never read anything of his, and barely heard of him? And then, the last piece to this synchronicity explosion: bybee changed her literary fanboy crush from Nick Hornby to Robertson Davies. This was huge. And I just found out that it is Short Story September. So now the stage is finally set to read a Robertson Davies short story book of ghost stories.
"How the High Spirits Came About" Davies explains that these ghost stories came about during his years at Massey college in Toronto. Every year at Christmas he would tell a ghost story. The college was famous for having a ghost in living there, and Davies tried to pay homage with his stories to some famous scary stories. It helped to know that these were meant to be read aloud.
"Revelation From a Smokey Fire" The narrator is in his study and the fire is smoking too much. Suddenly someone appears, another Master of the College from the past, or is it? This was very cute and funny.
"The Ghost Who Vanished By Degrees" A scholar who failed his PhD thesis and then killed himself, comes back and insists on trying again. For the PhD, not the suicide.
"The Great Queen is Amused" A spell accidentally brings some dead characters alive, including a number of Canadian authors. I didn't recognize many of them, but I did notice Susanna Moody, she probalby wasn't fun to talk to. The spell came from an Aleister Crowleymagic book. Now that name rings bells, but I am blaming Stephen King, or maybe it's from Good Omens?
....more next week...
I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!-- Dr. Seuss
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Holy cow! I won one of those Hachette boxes of books from Trish, Hey Lady! Whatcha Reading?
2. The Book of Calamities: Five Questions About Suffering and Its Meaning
By Peter Trachtenberg ISBN: 0316158798, $23.99 eBook also available
3. Say You’re One of Them By Uwem Akpan ISBN: 0316113786 $23.99 Audio Book, eBook available
4. Bo’s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership By Bo Schembechler , John Bacon $13.99 ISBN: 044658200X Audio book, ebook also available
5. Knowing Right from Wrong: A Christian Guide to Conscience By Fr. Thomas D. Williams $19.99 ISBN: 0446582018 eBook also available
6. Titanic’s Last Secrets: The Further Adventures of Shadow Divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler By Brad Matsen $27.99 ISBN: 0446582050 Audio book, ebook also available
7. A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative By Roger von Oech (25th Anniversary) $16.99 ISBN: 0446404667
8. Ethics 101: What Every Leader Needs To Know By John Maxwell $9.95 ISBN: 0446578096 Audio book, Audio book, ebook also available
9. The Self-Esteem Trap: Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-Importance By Polly Young-Eisendrath $25.99 ISBN: 0316013110 Audio book, ebook also available
10. Roads to Quoz: An American Mosey By William Least Heat-Moon $27.99 ISBN: 0316110256 Audio book, ebook, large print also available
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The only rule is this: thou shalt not steal! If you see a quote you like on someone else’s blog, you can post it in addition to your quote for the day, even with your quote for the day, but please link to where you originally saw it. Of course, it’s possible that more well-known quotes may appear on more than one blog just by chance, but these things happen among honorable people such as ourselves.
This sounds like a fun theme to try. I already know who most of my quotes will be from, and I put one in already in a post today. Now the trick will be getting a post done everyday. I wonder what my odds are?
And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.-- Dr. Seuss
Book Awards II Challenge: Newbery 1996; 2nds challenge (previously read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler)
Four misfits come together to form a friendship and learn about kindness, to each other and in protecting other people.
I took this out of the library for my children but nobody seemed interested, so I read it instead. Four sixth graders are chosen to compete in a middle school question competition, but the book is about much more than that. Told from alternating points of view, each of the characters and their teacher learn a lesson about kindness and compassion as their lives overlap in some interesting ways. The main story is at the Academic Bowl competition, and then as a new question comes up, one of the kids goes back and tells their story. The style was unique and introduces young readers to a more unique, nonlinear plot line. Each character was well defined and individual, and as a group, they were so much stronger than they were alone.
Now I just need to get my sixth grader to read it and see what the target audience would think. It reminded me a bit of Maniac Magee, another great Newbery winner.
Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.-- Dr. Seuss
Books to Movie Challenge, Book Awards II: Man Booker Winner 1996
Well, it was an award winning Booker, from the nineties. Lots of character analysis, not much plot. Okay to read, well written, but not that engrossing.
Old friends are asked to scatter the ashes of Jack, off the jetty in Margate. Many different characters narrate their own chapters, and gradually, the reader sees the past and present of the characters, understands the connections between people, and motives behind actions. My biggest issue was the lack of nouns and names. So many he's or him's that I found it hard to keep track of backstories. That is me being a lazy reader as much as anything.
Interestingly, I think I would enjoy the movie. The relationships between the characters were complicated and on the big screen, more of the emotion should come through.
This is my second book by Swift, and I am concluding that his writing style does not make great reading for me. I acknowledge that his writing is good, characters are interesting and well written, but just not my cuppa. I imagine many readers will enjoy this one, especially if you like character studies of a life and examining friendships. Depending on how the reading challenges go this fall, I may come back and use this for the 2nd's Reading challenge.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Again this challenge runs from September 1 - December 1, 2008 and is hosted by Callista. I enjoyed trying this one last year, so I'll give it another go. 3 books that have been made into movies:
1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
2. Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. Last Orders by Graham Swift
4. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
5. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
6. The Elegant Universe by Brian Green
7. Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
8. The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden
Yikes! I almost forgot about this! Back to school has changed my computer habits and reading habits and sleeping and, well, you get the picture. We had the remains of one of those hurricanes blow by us and we got a dump of rain. Lots of basements and streets flooded. It's the first time I can remember we've had roads washed out here. Crazy weather for sure. I hope everyone along the eastern seaboard survived the weather events this last week and stayed relatively dry.
Reading wise, I am visiting with some mates in a pub in London and we are about to deliver our friend's ashes as per his last wishes. It's Last Orders often at our favorite pub in Graham Swift's Booker winning novel.
Where is reading taking you this week?
Monday, September 8, 2008
2nd Canadian Reading Challenge
What will life be like when you are old(er)? This is the story of four very different old people, because even though we say old, everyone is very different. The stereotype of the little old lady is not possible because unless we are all the same now, there is no way we all turn into the same little old lady. We recently buried a 98 year old grand aunt who could only be described as 'quite a lady'. I can only imagine what she must have been like as a young woman; her sharp tongue did not develop in her eighties when I first met her. In Exit Lines, Idyll Inn retirement home opens up, and four very different people meet and, against all logic, become friends. Then they undertake a risky mission.
Sylvia while independent now, was well off, and has an estranged daughter to whom she was never very maternal. She has always done what she wants, and knows how to talk to people to get her way or at the very least, intimidate them.
George was a shoe salesman, married with a daughter who has moved away. His recent stroke has taken away his independence, and his wife, who has Alzheimer's, is in another facility. Because his speech is very limited, he can't talk about another resident with whom he shares a past.
Greta moved with Dolph from Germany after the war. They had three loving daughters before a tragic accident leaves Greta widowed. She manages to raise her family and work and learn English somewhat. Although she sounds like a fighter, she's pretty bland.
Ruth was a child protection worker, and daughter of two Jews who survived the war. She found love late, and then is widowed as well.
There is a light, humorous tone to the book, but some serious issues of old age, including diseases, loneliness, family responsibilities, and death are dealt with. Each of the characters is nicely done with distinct traits and back story. The characters have some connections in their past and then in the present have to deal with a euthanasia dilemma. I found this a very interesting aspect of the book and liked how Barfoot showed the different sides and opinions. As we each get closer to old age, these questions are more likely to come up.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Where is reading taking you today? I am in an old age home and some of the residents seem to be on the verge of a revolt of some sort. (Exit Lines by Joan Barfoot.) I'm still looking into the Trouble With Physics and real life is going to slap me in the face today, as I am back to my physics classroom. Oh my. The students arrive Thursday.
Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment or a link to your post and share where reading takes you.
Monday, September 1, 2008
African Reading Challenge: Algeria; 1% Well Read
What are my impressions after reading this book? It's a classic, so that comes with a bunch of preconceived notions for me, which is layers, messages, and deep. Usually I don't like classics because they are deep, with hidden messages and layers. For some reason though, I kind of like Camus.
Camus tells a story about a town in Algeria, Oran which becomes infested and then isolated, with the bubonic plague. There are a bunch of characters that I had a hard time keeping straight, so they each probably represent a different philosophy. At some point, I thought that there must be some analogy to world war two, and my reading after confirmed this inkling. The German invasion and occupation of France is the parallel. What makes Camus an interesting read for me is that the plot and story at its lowest level is still interesting, but I can recognize and still even enjoy the other level. The characters are facing difficult situations all in their own way and there are philosophical discussions going on that I somewhat skim over.
The Plague tells a great story and has levels for some readers who like that stuff. Camus is a Nobel Winning author who writes in a very accessible style.
Isn't that an awful cover I have? I bought this at a used book sale, but it just screams Important Book!