Tuesday, November 28, 2006

2007 TBR Challenge

I've decided to join this 2007 TBR Challenge. You pick 12 books that have been on your "to be read" list for at least 6 months or so, and you just haven't gotten to them. You read one of these books per month in 2007, knocking 12 books off your list!!

So here's my 12:

Shantaram by Gregory Roberts
A Hole In the Universe by Mary McGarry Morris
An Unfinished Season by Ward Just
Deception by Denise Mina
The Plot Against America by Phillip Roth
The State Boys Rebellion by D'Antonio
Waxwings by Jonathan Raban
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
A Certain Chemistry
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller
Shalimar the Clown by Salmon Rushdie

This will be a great challenge for me, because I make a long list, but tend to want to read the book I most recently put on the list. These are books I really wanted to read, but somehow have gotten overlooked for the more recent titles.

Join me, anyone?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Book Meme

1. One book that changed your life:
Island of the Blue Dolphins

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:

Gone With the Wind

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:

The Holy Bible

4. One book that made you laugh:

Dress your Family in Courduroy and Denim

5. One book that made you cry:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

6. One book that you wish had been written:
Yoga and Meditation for Nervous Christians

7. One book that you wish had never been written:

The Disapparation of James

8. One book you’re currently reading:

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Empire of the Sun

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Winter Reading Challenge Book Review #2: Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

I got the recommendation to read this book a long time ago (by my standards - maybe 8 months or so?) from a cousin who I really trust when it comes to literary material. Even her husband liked it, which told me it wasn't an entirely "chick" book. But something about it just screamed "chick book" to me. Not that that is a bad thing - we all need pure entertainment fiction sometimes. But with limited time to read, I try hard to read something that will add some knowledge base to my brain. I don't really like classics, and I don't like fiction that is "too light", so I strive for something somewhere in between those two ends.

Anyway, I picked it up because of the reading challenge. After all, it's been decorating my night table for some time. It was one of those books, as I knew it would be, that draws you in from the first page. Written in the first person, you immediately connect with the tone of the narrator, even though she apparently isn't all that honest or forthright in her relationships. And something is seriously wrong with her relationship with her family, which quickly becomes apparent in the first chapter.

I wonder if, being Southern fiction, it will get compared to To Kill a Mockingbird or Catcher in the Rye or something. I found the book much more engaging than I found either of those classics (for the record, I did not really like either of them) and would compare it more to Bastard Out of Carolina. If you've read that and liked it, you'll like this.

There was a mystery about the book, which I won't spoil, but it is well crafted and although you realize you're missing something, it's not easily apparent what the twist is. I never read a book twice, but I would choose this book again if I hadn't read it. It's just one of those kinds of "easy read/mindless" books that I can't have a steady diet of. There's nothing wrong with it per se, it's just that it's pure entertainment and nothing substantially more.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Winter Reading Challenge Book Review #1: Dark Voyage by Alan Furst

I'm not much for sea stories. I tried hard to read Patrick O'Brian's Captain Aubry series, but I couldn't even get through Master and Commander, the first one. I just didn't understand what was going on. The only real sea story I've ever loved was Voyage of the Narwhal, and that primarily because of the psychological exploration of the men in the crew.

So I approached Dark Voyage with caution. I've heard so many wonderful things about Alan Furst. He is a "superior chronicler" of World War II, and this book in particular got astounding reviews. It took me a long time to get into it. There was a real "should I or shouldn't I" moment when I was afraid I would give up on it. But I think what kept me going is that the writing was beautiful, and the main character DeHaan was compellingly drawn. He never gets too mushy, as he shouldn't about a merchant ship's captain, and yet you get a deep view of the internal workings of DeHaan's heart and mind.

Eventually, I was drawn in, and boy was I. By the last 1/3 of the book, I was sitting on the edge of the couch and shushing my husband if he tried to interrupt. One of those books where you'll say "sorry, sorry, I'll start dinner in a minute". You may have to tolerate, as I did, not exactly knowing what was going on in the beginning. But it's like a snowball that gains momentum and I was sorry to turn the last page.