Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Unread LibraryThing Meme

Consider yourself tagged if you are reading this. When you post your list on your blog, please track back to mine so that I can read your lists too.

The rules:
Bold what you have read, italicize books you’ve started but couldn’t finish, and strike through books you hated. Add an asterisk* to those you’ve read more than once. Underline those on your tbr list.

Jonathan Strange & M. Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment*
One hundred years of solitude
Wuthering Heights*
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick*
Madame Bovary*
The Odyssey*
Pride and Prejudice*
Jane Eyre*
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov*
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies? I think I've read this but am not entirely sure
War and Peace*
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Iliad*
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius
Atlas shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury tales*
The Historian
A portrait of the artist as a young man*
Love in the time of cholera
Brave new world
The Fountainhead*
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo I have read this, but it was so long ago that I can't count it.
A clockwork orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons
The Inferno*
The Satanic Verses
Sense and sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray*
Mansfield Park*
One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
To the Lighthouse*
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver TwistA long time ago.
Gulliver’s Travels*
Les misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The curious incident of the dog in the night-time
The Prince*
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes
The God of Small Things
A people’s history of the United States : 1492-present
A confederacy of dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
DublinersThe unbearable lightness of being
The Scarlet Letter*
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye*. I didn't really like it.
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Aeneid*
Watership Down*
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit*
In Cold Blood
White teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Saturday, April 26, 2008


I read--ok, skimmed--a book while waiting for my husband to finish up at work, and it occurred to me: Thank God for books like these. Else, what would we use as kindling? I am sure that someone somewhere will learn to appreciate this book. It's one that I've put on Book Mooch--have at. Only because it's one that I am trying to off load will I spare naming it here.

Gracian's The Art of Worldly of Wisdom was interesting. I read it (along with the one above) while getting a pedicure and waiting for my husband. It definitely has some gems in it. For example, "...Virtue alone is sufficient unto itself: and it, only, makes a man worth loving life, and in death, remembering."

So, today the fam' spent a day shopping, and, I, as a result, have some new acquisitions:

  • Dave Barry, Dave Barry's Greatest Hits (Ballantine Books, 1988). With my job, I could use some laughs.

  • Steve Martin, Born Standing Up (Scribner, 2007). I think he wrote this a long time ago, but I am not sure. This was one of Bill's picks.

  • Dava Sobel, Longitude (Walker and Company, 2005). If Patrick O'Brian and William F. Buckley like it, then that's good enough for me.

  • Vanora Bennett, Potrait of an Unknown Woman (Harper, 2007). Historical Fiction has been on my mind recently. Henry VIII's court and the English in general around that time interest me. Note to authors: if you put Sir Thomas More on the covers to your books, I'm at least 50% more likely to buy it than not.

  • David Liss, A Conspiracy of Paper (Ballantine Books, 2001). Historical thriller. Could be horrible. Looked worthy. We shall see.

  • Martha Cooley, The Archivist (Back Bay, 1999). It's described in one review as valuable and rare. I've liked Byatt's spin on literary detective stories, so I thought I'd try this one.

  • Mortimer J. Adler, Aristotle for Everybody (Touchstone, 1997). Thank God for used bookstores.

  • Kelly Jones, The Seventh Unicorn (Berkley, 2005). Art detective story.

  • Edwin Thomas, The Blighted Cliffs (St. Martin's Press, 2005). Naval adventure.

  • Matthew Pearl, The Poe Shadow (Random House, 2007). "Thick with intrigue." We shall see.

  • Charmaine Craig, The Good Men (Riverhead Books, 2002). A historical novel about the Cathar Rebellion. It's probably a lot about the failures of the Catholic Church. I hope it does more than harp on those failures and is, instead, informative about the Cathars.

  • John Irving, The Cider House Rules (Ballantine Book, 1993). Let's hope it's as good as they say it is.

  • Alison Jenkins, The Antique Sampler Set (Reader's Digest, 2007). Looks like some good crossstich projects may be in my near future.

  • Caleb Carr, The Italian Secretary (Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005). I loved the Alienist, which I read nearly 10 years ago; so, keep your fingers crossed, please (I know I will).

  • Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth (New American Library, 2007). Oprah and I don't generally overlap in our reading selections. I guess I can make one exception.

  • Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels (Ballantine Books, 2007). One of my favorite (most inspiring) speeches ever is in this book. At some point, I'll post about it.
  • Thursday, April 24, 2008


    Well, it took much longer than expected, but, finally, the vast majority of our books has been entered into LibraryThing (or enough that I feel comfortable changing from a private to a public setting). I'm not going to add all of our music scores, as they would all have to be hand entered and I simply don't have the patience for that. Our library is under Voracious_Reader should anyone be looking for it--see the side bar as well for a direct link to our library. LibraryThing really is terrific for keeping track...especially at 1,665 and counting.

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    Not Bad

    I read She said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall by Misty Bernall yesterday. Cassie's mother's expresses that her daughter's death matters more or at least as much as what lead to her answer of "Yes" at the hands of the Columbine shooters, than that she simply said "Yes."

    She makes the case that without faith and parents that happened to find out that their child was in trouble, Cassie could have had a very different, but equally infamous life. The story is of what was--as well as what could have been--for a deeply troubled, but incredibly determined teen.

    It is the power of a mother's love that hopes all things, that brings us Cassie's story. Her mother asks "why my daughter?" "My death is not my own, but yours, and its significance depends on what you do with it" she quotes from a Hebrew prayer service for fallen soldiers. What significance does her daughter's death have?

    Whether or not the exchange between the gunman and Cassie actually took place, which is apparently debatable, doesn't really matter. We want that exchange to have happened. She's a heroine. For evil to have looked into the face of good, and for good, even in the face of death, to have triumphed is uplifting. Faith does not come easily for Cassie, nor most of us. Yet, in the end, when it was really all that mattered, it did come. She was not alone, and she did not doubt. So, it isn't the truth of the exchange that matters. The significance is the desire within us to answer "Yes."

    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    Much News

    I always feel that so much time elapses between posts that I can hardly decide what to write each time. I wont discuss work, as I have done nothing but for a month. In terms of books, our library was recently finished, and I am still busy cataloging all the books. It's not easy, but it is a lot of fun.

    On a related note, one of my dearest friends has mentioned being a devoted Book mooch member and I have finally joined as well. It's almost cult-like. I find myself checking to see when my friends last longed onto the site. Creepy? Perhaps. It really is a lot of fun though. There will be a hyperlink or a cloud on the left-hand-side of this blog to get to the site. If you love books, don't always want to keep what you've read, you have access to the Internet and the post office, then this is perfect for you.

    Regarding recent reads, my mother-in-law gave us two huge bags of books to read and dispense with however we should chose. Yippee! I wont give a list of the acquisitions here because the books are already tucked away in the library. Most seemed highly readable, some are keepers, and others will make a graceful exit to the Book mooch pile when we've finished with them. Either way, it was really very nice of her to think of us.

    On an earlier visit she had brought a pile and in it was Daniel Tammet's Born on a Blue Day. It's an autobiography by a man who has two unusual genetic syndromes: (1) autism and (2) synesthesia. He has a highly functional form of autism called Asperger's with which I am somewhat familiar because one of my friends has the same syndrome. Asperger's manifests itself in a variety of ways, but most people who have it are highly intelligent and lack the ability to develop social skills from the same set of stimulus as others. In short, they tend to be smart and awkward. Synesthesia can mean the ability to see words as colored, numbers have personalities or shapes etc.

    Hence, born on a blue day does not mean a rainy day, but that Tammet experiences Wednesdays, the day on which he was born, as blue. It was entertaining and uplifting, but I still get the sense that I don't entirely know him. It's not clear whether that's as a consequence of his syndromes keeping him from adequately expressing himself, that it's my failure as a reader, or, that, in his late twenties, he simply isn't old enough to know himself. He is clearly highly creative and mathematical in the way that he experiences and interprets things. In some ways, he is able to describe the difficulties of his life as concepts and experiences, but not as feelings. I found myself filling in the gaps in emotion with my own. He verges on poetic at times--mostly, as he describes his experiences of synesthesia--and has wrought an inspiring tale. Being entirely unfamiliar with autobiographies, I can draw no comparison. If you like reading about the human mind, I would recommend it.

    On an entirely different note. I was entirely ready to call Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl a delicious piece of smut, and, then I realized that that simply wasn't giving it it's just due. It was an exceptionally quick read for being slightly over 700 hundred pages. If you enjoy light historical fiction, I would highly recommend it, having no idea how it compares to the movie, which I've not seen.

    It was fun if not entirely historically accurate. I wont go into the deviations from accepted history, as that would ruin aspects of the story. I realized that anyone writing about Henry VIII's wives would find it difficult not to read a little bit like a romance novel at times. Gregory really didn't slip too often into lurid details, and she really gave a good feel for the comings and goings to and from the Tudor Court. In terms of historical drama, I prefer Gulland's ability to craft characters with greater depth and sense of purpose to Gregory's entertaining but weaker narrator and a 21st century perspective that creeps around all four of the book's corner, but I will gladly read another Gregory book.