My Challenges (timed)

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Completed 8 of 9

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Completed 2 of 3

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Completed 2 of 4

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Completed 71 of 81

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Completed 9 of 10

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Completed 34 of 50

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Completed 1 of 2

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Completed 1 of 2

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Completed 1 of 5

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Completed 3 of 5

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Completed 5 of 100

My Challenges (perpetual)

See my list of stories read here

See my list of stories read here

See my list of books read here

See my list of books read here


See my list of books read here

See my list of books read here

See my list of books read here


New York Times Book Review: 6/40
New Yorker: 0/36
New York Review of Books: 0/20
Vogue: 1/16
Email: 841/1373

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Booking Through Thursday - February 21

All other things (like price and storage space) being equal, given a choice in a perfect world, would you rather have paperbacks in your library? Or hardcovers? And why?

For most books, I prefer paperbacks because (as mentioned in the question) both my space and my funds are limited. Also, given that I won't re-read most of the books that I have, I don't worry as much about having a format that will last over time. But for books that I love and will read over and over again, I'd always prefer to have hardcovers so that they don't fall apart (or at least not as quickly) from continued use.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light

From Publishers Weekly: "Mother Teresa was one of the most revered people of the 20th century, so it is no surprise that 10 years after her death people still want to know what impelled this poor, humble Albanian woman to give her life to God so completely. Kolodiejchuk, a Catholic priest and friend of Mother Teresa’s who is actively promoting her cause for sainthood, assembles a startling and impressive collection of her writings, most of which have never been seen by the public. Two themes especially shine through in Mother Teresa’s letters, namely, her absolute conviction that she was doing God’s will, and a deep and surprising chasm of darkness within her that some would call the dark night of the soul. It is also apparent that this saintly woman was no pushover. In her quest to found the Missionaries of Charity, she aggressively pursued approval from her bishop, fully confident that God desired this work to be done. Kolodiejchuk is at times a bit presumptive in his interpretations of Teresa’s letters, as no one can say for certain what was in her mind and heart at all times. What we do know, in part thanks to this volume, is that Mother Teresa’s vocation to care for the poorest of the poor will continue to inspire people for generations."

I loved this book. Mother Teresa had the kind of absolute, die-hard faith that I've dreamed of having. But for years, I assumed that she was somehow "holier" than I could ever hope of being. Reading of her internal struggles and her doubts, and her continued devotion to what she was sure was God's will for her, has made her more human to me and even more of an inspiration. I'm beginning to see that faith doesn't mean never questioning and never doubting, but doing what you believe God is calling you to do anyway. I'm also starting to accept that part of that means accepting that there may be a bigger picture than the one I see, and that I have to trust God to know what's best for me, which may often contradict what I think or want. I highly recommend this book for anyone, whether Catholic or otherwise, who wants an example of true faith, trust, and love of God.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Booking Through Thursday - February 7

"But, Enough About Books

Okay, even I can’t read ALL the time, so I’m guessing that you folks might voluntarily shut the covers from time to time as well… What else do you do with your leisure to pass the time? Walk the dog? Knit? Run marathons? Construct grandfather clocks? Collect eggshells?"

I'm a project person, and right now my 2 projects involve podcasts and movies (incidentally, both of which I included on my 101 in 1001 list, thought it would provide more incentive). I've gotten hooked on podcasts, and normally maintain 900 of them on average at any given time. So one project is to listen to a whole bunch of them and decrease the total number -- not so easy to do, since there's always new ones. No matter how many I listen to, when I update my iPod, I'm right back at the number I started with.

My other project is to watch every movie ever nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, Director, Actor/Actress, Supp. Actor/Actress, and Foreign. I've made a lot of headway on that project -- I think I'm about 40% done right now. The main problem that comes up is that the same movies are shown on TV over and over again, and some from my list are never shown at all. Netflix has helped on that, so now the biggest problem I have is finding time to sit in front of the TV. (That and not getting too disappointed when I watch a real stinker -- and there are more than you'd expect to find in Oscar history).

Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt

Synopsis (from B& "Winner of England's Booker Prize and a literary sensation Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once an intellectual mystery and a triumphant love story. As a pair of young scholars research the lives of two Victorian poets, they uncover their letters, journals, and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire -- from spiritualist séances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany. What emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passion and ideas."

This is a beautifully written novel -- I can understand why it received the amount of praise it did when it was released. It was a little slow going at first, but then picked up so that I didn't want to stop reading, always a good sign. I have to admit that there were parts that I didn't understand, including much of the poetry, but then poetry is one of those areas that I've never been terribly comfortable with. The other "problem" parts relate to the high-minded academic approaches to literature on the part of some of the characters, very theoretical, for which I have never felt an attraction -- it feels too much like scientific dissecting of the work, instead of enjoying the work for its own sake. But overall, I enjoyed it and am not sorry to have read it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Freedom to Read Week and a New Challenge

For those of us who just can't get enough book challenges, check out:

Thanks to Christina for reminding me to check this out!

This one kicks off during Freedom to Read Week (February 24 through March 1). Set a goal for yourself to read as many banned or challenged books as you wish between February 25 and June 30, 2008. You can sign up at Pelham Public Library's Fahrenheit 451: Banned Book web log to record your goal and report on your progress. Don't know what to read? They've got lists (and you know how we love lists!) to make your choice easier.

Turns out that several of the books that I've picked for other challenges are on the banned lists, so I'll be able to kill two birds with one stone. The challenge only lasts 4 months, so I'm limiting my official goal to 5 books -- but I'm going to list the 12 I picked and see if I can't finish them all by next year's Freedom to Read Week. My list:

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, February 4, 2008

101 in 1001 - Goal #38 complete

Goal #38 - Sponsor a child

I did some research and decided to go with Save the Children. I signed up for a monthly donation of less than $30 and I am now the sponsor of a 9 year old girl in Mozambique. They sent me a welcome kit that includes facts & figures about the country. The ones that stick out the most to me are these:

Population living below the national poverty line: 69%.

Life expectancy: 41 years.

I'm hoping that my donation can help improve this little girl's life. It seems like such a small thing to do, especially in a country in which we have so much, but I guess that enough small things add up to something truly meaningful.