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

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See my list of books read here

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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

Friday, October 31, 2008

giveaways galore

Seems like every day there's another chance for free books -- it's like heaven on Earth!! Here's a couple more:

Teddy at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time is giving away 5 copies of Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst and 5 copies of Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips. Read more and enter the contest here (make sure to tell Teddy that I sent you!). Open to U.S. and Canada, ends Tuesday, November 4 (Election Day -- don't forget to vote!!).

Teddy also has a signed copy of The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry for one lucky reader. Enter here. This one is open until Wednesday, November 12, U.S. and Canada only.

Julie P. over at Booking Mama (this woman is the Giveaway Queen!) has up to 5 copies of Gods Behaving Badly to give away -- she'll give one away for every 15 entries she receives. Check it out here. Open to U.S. only, ends Friday, November 21.

Anna at Diary of an Eccentric has two giveaways going that interest me. First is Capote in Kansas by Kim Powers -- enter here. Ends Friday, October 31. She also has Lydia Bennet's Story by Jane Odiwe. Enter here -- also ends October 31.

Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener

Title: Tales of the South Pacific

Author: James Michener

First Published: 1948

No. of Pages: 384

Synopsis (from B&N): "Enter the exotic world of the South Pacific, meet the men and women caught up in the drama of a big war. The young Marine who falls madly in love with a beautiful Tonkinese girl. Nurse Nellie and her French planter, Emile De Becque. The soldiers, sailors, and nurses playing at war and waiting for love in a tropic paradise."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: No matter how many books I read that have been made into movies, I never stop being surprised at how different they can be. Even in those cases where the basic story if the same, the book always has so much more – more characters, more plot, more depth. I know this, and yet every time I’m surprised.

This book is, of course, the basis for the Broadway show and movie, “South Pacific.” I have loved that movie ever since I was a kid – I’m a sucker for musicals. Of course, as I got older, I understood more of the story as it related to WWII, but that didn’t diminish my admiration. And as much as I loved the movie, I like the book even more.

One thing that I liked about the movie compared to the book is that they didn’t cut out large parts. More often, the movie condensed several characters into one and had that one carry out the actions of all of them. The book is more of a series of interconnected vignettes rather than one seamless story. Under that model, the author couldn’t develop the characters as much, unless he wanted a much longer product that what resulted. I will say that Nellie the Nurse comes across as much more airheaded in the movie than you get the feel she is from the book, but I think that probably has to do with the fact that the movie overall has a Pollyannaish quality that isn’t found in the book. The book gives a much more realistic view of what life for the American forces was like out there, including the boredom, the fooling around when women were available (and occasionally when they weren’t), and the sickness. (One of the lines from the movie that always makes me snicker is when Lt. Joe Cable says something about having “that darned malaria” in a golly-gee kind of way).

The other major difference between book and movie is that the book was mostly about the fighting, while the movie focused more on the romances. I guess that's to be expected, because how many people want to see a musical about the military side of war? This difference results in different characters taking prominence in the book, as compared to the movie. I found it fascinating, not to mention that the descriptions of the natural beauty in the Pacific were enough to make me want to jump on a plane.

Would You Recommend This Book to Others: Yes, especially if you like the movie.

Challenges: Book Awards II Challenge; Pulitzer Project

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

more books for the bookcase, and another giveaway

My son needed an Agatha Christie book for his litrature class, so I hit the local Goodwill yesterday -- their used book selection is AWESOME. They didn't have the book he needed but I got several more books for me. Thought I'd share my finds:

Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson
March by Geraldine Brooks
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
The Sweet Potato Queens' Field Guide to Men
French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France by Richard Goodman
Bhagavad Gita translated by Swami Prabhavananda & Christopher Isherwood
What Would Jackie Do?: An Inspired Guide to Distinctive Living by Shelly Branch and Sue Callaway
The Under Dog and other stories by Agatha Christie

And now for the giveaway:

Julie P. at Booking Mama is giving away 2 copies of In the Land of Invisible Women by Dr. Qanta Ahmed. Contest is open until November 7. Read the book summary and enter the giveaway here.

The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved by Gary Jansen

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

Gary Jansen

and the book:

The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved

FaithWords; 1st FaithWords Ed edition (October 28, 2008)


GARY JANSEN is an editor at Doubleday Religion and former editor-in-chief of the Quality Paperback Book Club. His writing has appeared in USA Today, Newsday, and the Chicago Sun-Times. THE ROSARY is his first book.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 11.99
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: FaithWords; 1st FaithWords Ed edition (October 28, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446535842
ISBN-13: 978-0446535847


What Is the Rosary?

Imagine for a moment that you have just fallen in love with the person of your dreams. Picture it right now. Picture your ideal. Picture your beloved. This person is beautiful, smart, and wise. This person is caring and loves children.

This person values friendship in a way you’ve never experienced, and when you are in the presence of your beloved you feel whole: energized, perplexed, inspired, and amazed.

Now, you’ve experienced loves in the past, but this relationship is different. It’s mutual and nurturing. The more deeply you fall for your beloved, the more human you feel.

Could it be that your soul was asleep for years and that this person has awakened you, has even resurrected your spirit, your will, your desire? You feel changed, because you are changed. You feel that maybe the world around you has been covered in thin diaphanous veils and with each step you take toward your beloved, a layer is removed. Your vision becomes clearer and clearer. Colors are more colorful, sounds are crisper, you hear music in noise. For the first time since you were a child you experience wonder.

So continue imagining your beloved and continue seeing your relationship expanding, growing with each word, with each action, with each hope. Time passes; it has just been the two of you for some time. Then your beloved asks you to meet the parents.

What is your reaction now? Are you anxious? Nervous?

What are they going to think of me? Am I good enough? Are they going to see through to my faults?

It’s one thing to be in a relationship, you think; it’s an entirely different thing to add the parents. You’ve done a pretty good job of hiding some of these things from your beloved, but parents always know, especially mothers.

Your beloved senses your anxiety and reassures you that everything will be fine. The fateful day arrives and you walk to the parents’ home. As your beloved takes your hand, you notice that your palms are sweaty.

Your beloved knocks. The door opens. You meet Mom.

And she turns out to be the nicest person you’ve ever met.

She welcomes you into the family, and she radiates kindness and beauty. All that worrying, all those moments of self- doubt subside, and in a matter of seconds you feel excited to be in her presence. You look around and don’t see the father, but you sense that he is everywhere in this home.

Now let’s take a step back. You have never experienced a love like the one you have with your beloved, and, while you feel an openness, you admit to yourself that this person can be a mystery to you. You have questions. It’s not that you don’t feel close to your beloved, it’s just that you begin to hunger and thirst to know everything about this love that has come into your life. And to be perfectly honest, you feel intimidated, because your beloved is such a complete person, and you feel, more often than not, less than whole.

What were you like as a child? What were your parents doing before they had you? What were your friends like? Did you ever get lost? What were some of the loneliest times of your life? Why did you come into my life?

You’ve held off asking some of these questions of your beloved, but here in front of Mom, you feel strangely comfortable to let loose. It’s as if she is standing there ready to embrace you and help you understand everything. Who better than your beloved’s mother to answer all these questions swirling in your mind? Who better to provide insight than the woman who carried your beloved in her body for nine months and who experienced the pain and joy of bringing her child into the world?

You begin to ask all your questions, and this woman who you’ve just met seemingly transforms into your own mother. She smiles and takes down a scrapbook and the two of you begin looking at pictures. This is a picture of me when I first found out I was going to have a baby, she says. This is a picture of my cousin and me, we were both pregnant at the same time. Here’s one right after the birth. So many people came to visit us. Here are a few pictures of a wedding we attended, and this

is a picture of . . .

So you sit in her presence and page through the scrapbook of their lives. These pictures tell stories, and you begin to understand what was once a mystery. You feel this family’s happiness, their sorrows, their illuminations, and the glory of their lives. All of a sudden, the worries, the fears, the doubts, the brokenness, the distractions that you seem to feel on a daily basis fall away and you are transformed by love.

That is the Rosary.

Wait, you may be saying, what does all this have to do with the Rosary?

Isn’t the Rosary some long complicated prayer where you say the Hail Mary a couple hundred times while holding a set of beads?

Yes, but not exactly. The Rosary is a prayer that is longer than most in the Christian tradition, but it’s a simple prayer, and like all simple things, it is beautifully complex once you get to know it.

Yet, the Rosary is more than just a prayer, it is a journey to the beloved, an invitation to fall in love with Christ by sitting in the presence of His mother and observing through the prism of her life — and your life — the radiance of divine revelation. Anyone can say a prayer or go to church or quote the Bible, but it is only through loving Christ and entering into a relationship that we can, through patience, meditation, and contemplation, align our earthly desires and longings with the will of God.

According to Merriam- Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, the word rosary is derived from the Latin word rosarium, meaning rose garden, and has been a form of prayer — traditionally said with the aid of beads, since before the time of the Reformation.

One characteristic that makes this prayer different from many others is the use of repetition. Popularized by the Order of St. Dominic in the fifteenth century, the Rosary is a cycle of repeating prayers that combines meditation with devotion. It is comprised of four sets of mysteries — or time periods — from the Gospels and are named the joyful, the sorrowful, the luminous, and the glorious. Each set of mysteries in turn is made up of five specific events from the life of Christ. A decade, which is just a fancy word for a prayer repeated ten times, traditionally the Hail Mary, is said for each event. There are prayers that begin the Rosary, prayers between each decade and prayers that end the Rosary. While the focus on the Rosary is always Jesus Christ, the guide connecting the mysteries is Mary herself who takes us by the hand and leads us through the miraculous journey of her Son’s life.

While you can pray all four sets of mysteries in one sitting, it is common for people to choose one set and focus attention on those events. The Rosary can be a difficult prayer in the beginning. Many will balk at the idea of repeating the same prayers over and over again (how boring!), but through practice and imaginative meditation, you’ll come to realize, as Romano Guardini notes in The Rosary of Our Lady, that the greatest things in life are repetitious: the cycles of life, the turning of seasons, the beating of a heart, breathing. Life is repetition.

One misconception about the Rosary that makes many non- Catholics suspicious is that it’s a prayer to Mary. This isn’t true. One does not pray to Mary when he or she says the Rosary, a person prays with Mary, the way someone would pray with another person at church or in a prayer group. Imagine this. Suppose I ran into you on the street. You’re a prayerful person, and you know I am too. You are going through hard times. Maybe your parents are ill. Maybe you have lost your job. Maybe you are dealing with a death of a loved one. We talk for a few minutes and as we part you ask me to pray for you. I assure you I will.

Praying the Rosary is no different than that exchange. It is spiritual union, an act of love for the benefit of another. As Pope John Paul II stated in his 2002 apostolic letter, On the Most Holy Rosary, the Rosary is a prayer of learning and illumination that allows, “The principal events of the life of

Jesus Christ [to] pass before the eyes of the soul . . . they put us in living communion with Jesus through — we might say — the heart of his Mother.”

Ultimately, the Rosary is your prayer and can be prayed the way you see fit. It’s a gift from God, and there is much to be learned from such a generous offering. But if the Hail Mary is the one thing that is preventing you from taking part in this divinely inspired exercise, then sit in the presence of Mary and say the Our Father instead. And if the Hail, Holy Queen, which ends the Rosary cycle, is also not to your liking, then recite the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me.”

Friday, October 24, 2008

more giveaways

1. Go check out Fashionista Piranha for this awesome contest. Here's what she says:

"I am a sucker for good historical fiction (perhaps you have noticed?) and I am especially fond of historical fiction centering around kings and queens. The intrigues of royalty fascinates me, and besides, all the princesses always have the nicest, jewel-encrusted dresses!

I haven't done a big contest in a while, so it's time for another extravaganza - for every fifty entries I receive, another book will be added to the lot. There will be multiple winners in a random drawing, and each winner gets to pick one item from the following:

1. The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner
2. The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
3. The Tsarina's Daughter by Carolly Erickson
4. The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
5. Helen of Troy by Margaret George (added 10/20/08 after receiving 50 entries!)
6. A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell (added 10/23/08 after receiving 100 entrie!)
7. ...find out after 150 people enter!

The contest will run until November 15th, 2008."

There are multiple ways to enter and the contest is open internationally.

2. Trish at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? is giving away a copy of The Likeness by Tana French. You can read her review and enter the contest by clicking here. Trish states, "Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we? THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I’VE READ THIS YEAR." That's enough of a recommendation for me.

3. Julie at Booking Mama has two more giveaways. One is a copy of The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. This giveaway is in connection with a Blog Talk Radio show on October 29 with the author. Read more about the show and enter the contest here. Open until October 29.

Second, Julie is giving away two signed copies of The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran. Click here to enter. This one is open until November 14.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Title: The Grapes of Wrath

Author: John Steinbeck

First Published: 1939

No. of Pages: 464

Synopsis (from B&N): Although it follows the movement of thousands of men and women and the transformation of an entire nation, The Grapes of Wrath is also the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, who are driven off their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots, Steinbeck created a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its insistence on human dignity.

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: John Steinbeck was a master storyteller. He had the ability to get you interested in the story and to hold your interest for page after page. The story of the Joads is heartbreaking but at the same time shows mankind’s strength of character in the face of overwhelming odds, especially in the character of Ma Joad. Without doubt, she was my favorite – she showed resilience through poverty, hunger, and death, all the while presenting a brave face to the outside world and trying everything she could to keep her family together.

It’s always been difficult for me to imagine what it was truly like to live through the Great Depression. The only family I have that was alive then is my grandmother. She’s told me a little about her life growing up on a central Florida farm as the 2nd oldest of 8 children, but has never wanted to talk much in detail about the experience. I’ve noticed that many elderly people do that, they either don't discuss it or they downplay the hardships that you know they suffered, often with the comment that, “We didn’t have much, but then neither did anyone else.” It’s almost like it wasn’t as bad because so many were suffering right alongside. That was also a theme in this book. Steinbeck really focused on the interaction of the migrants and showed how they looked out for one another, shared their food and lodgings, and provided moral support.

My copy of the book has extensive commentary, which provides a good look at the historical and social context of the story. My next step is to watch the movie version, which I’ve always heard is excellent, and see how it compares to the book.

Interesting facts:: John Steinbeck lived with an Oklahoma family and travelled with them to California as research for this book. The Grapes of Wrath won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1940. John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Would You Recommend This Book to Others: Yes

Challenges: 1% Well-Read Challenge; Banned Books Challenge; Book Awards II; Lit Flicks Challenge; Pulitzer Project

Black Dogs by Ian McEwan

Title: Black Dogs

Author: Ian McEwan

Publication Date: 1998

No. of Pages: 176

Synopsis (from B&N): "Set in late 1980s Europe at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Black Dogs is the intimate story of the crumbling of a marriage, as witnessed by an outsider. Jeremy is the son-in-law of Bernard and June Tremaine, whose union and estrangement began almost simultaneously. Seeking to comprehend how their deep love could be defeated by ideological differences Bernard and June cannot reconcile, Jeremy undertakes writing June's memoirs, only to be led back again and again to one terrifying encouner forty years earlier--a moment that, for June, was as devastating and irreversible in its consequences as the changes sweeping Europe in Jeremy's own time. In a finely crafted, compelling examination of evil and grace, Ian McEwan weaves the sinister reality of civiliation's darkest moods--its black dogs--with the tensions that both create love and destroy it."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: This is the first Ian McEwan novel that I've read. I'm amazed at how skillful he is with words, it makes me so jealous. This is one of those books in which the plot really isn't important. What is important is the interaction of the characters and the psychology behind those interactions. I actually read this book several months ago and unfortunately did not make any notes, so I feel unequipped to provide an adequate review here. All I can say is that I thought it was a great book and I'm absolutely going to keep McEwan's other books on my TBR list.

For a professional opinion of this book, see Bette Pesetsky's review in the New York Times (originally published Nov. 8, 1992) here.

Would You Recommend This Book to Others: Yes

Challenges: Complete Booker; Man Booker Challenge; What's In a Name Challenge

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

National Book Award Project ongoing book list

The goal of this challenge is to read all the winners of the National Book Award. This is a perpetual challenge. Click on the picture or click here to go to the challenge's webpage. This post will list the books that I've read so far. Although the goal of the challenge is to read the winners, my list will contain both those books that won and those books that were nominated. Click on the book titles to read my reviews.

1958 - Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (nominated)
1952 - The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (nominated)
1953 - East of Eden by John Steinbeck (nominated)
1956 - A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor (nominated)
1953 - Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
1959 - Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (nominated)
1980 - The World According to Garp by John Irving

100 Shots of Short ongoing story list

The goal of this challenge is to read 100 short stories. This is a perpetual challenge. Click on the picture or click here to go to the challenge's webpage. This post will list the stories that I've read so far.

1. The Social Triangle by O. Henry
2. Wiser Than a God by Kate Chopin
3. Four Blue Chairs by Hanif Kureishi
4. The Vessel of Wrath by Somerset Maugham
5. That Was Then by Hanif Kureishi
6. Tobin's Palm by O. Henry
7. Girl by Hanif Kureishi
8. The Last Leaf by O. Henry
9. A Point at Issue! by Kate Chopin
10. The Dinner Party by Joshua Ferris (printned in The New Yorker, August 11, 2008)
11. The Plymouth Express by Agatha Christie
12. Awake by Tobias Wolff (printed in The New Yorker, August 25, 2008)
13. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe
14. Gorse is Not People by Janet Frame (printed in The New Yorker, Sept. 1, 2008)
15. The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allen Poe
16. The Noble Truths of Suffering by Aleksandar Hemon (printed in The New Yorker, Sept. 22, 2008)
17. Three by Andrea Lee (printed in The New Yorker, Sept. 29, 2008)
18. A Spoiled Man by Daniyal Mueenuddin (printed in The New Yorker, Sept. 15, 2008)
19. Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li (printed in The New Yorker, Oct. 13, 2008)

Complete Booker ongoing book list

The goal of this challenge is to read all the winners of the Man Booker prize. This is a perpetual challenge. Click on the picture or click here to go to the challenge's webpage. This post will list the books that I've read so far. Although the goal of the challenge is to read the winners, my list will contain both those books that won and those books that were nominated. Click on the book titles to read my reviews.

1996 - Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (shortlist)
2001 - Atonement by Ian McEwan (shortlist) -- review
1979 - A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul (shortlist) -- review
1992 - Black Dogs by Ian McEwan (shortlist)
2000 - The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
2003 - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (longlist)
2002 - Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (shortlist)
1997 - The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
1986 - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (shortlist)
2002 - Life of Pi by Yann Martel
1981 - Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
2007 - Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (shortlist)
1995 - Morality Play by Barry Unsworth (shortlist) -- review
2005 - Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (shortlist)
1990 - Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt
2004 - Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (longlist)
1989 - The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
1993 - The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (shortlist)
1991 - Time's Arrow by Martin Amis (shortlist)

Martel-Harper Challenge ongoing book list

Novelist Yann Martel sends 2 books per week to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Go here to find out more about why and to see the list of books. The goal of this challenge is to read those books. Click on the picture or click here to go to the challenge's webpage. This post will list the books that I've read so far. The numbers indicate where the book falls in the series as presented to the Prime Minister.

Animal Farm by George Orwell, book #2
The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman, book #12 -- review here
The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, book #44
The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de St.-Exupéry, book #14 -- review here
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, book #39
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, book #3 -- review here
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, book #13

Pulitzer Project ongoing book list

The goal of this challenge is to read all the winners of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. This is a perpetual challenge. Click on the picture or click here to go to the challenge's webpage. This post will list the books that I've read so far. Although the goal of the challenge is to read the winners, my list will contain both those books that won and those books that were nominated. Click on the book title to read my review.

1919 - The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
1921 - The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
1932 - The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
1937 - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
1940 - The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
1948 - Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener
1961 - To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
1981 - A Confederacy of Dunces by Robert Kennedy Toole
1988 - Beloved by Toni Morrison
1995 - The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
1999 - The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (nominated)
2002 - Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Checkin' Off the Chekhov ongoing story list

The goal of this challenge is to read all 201 short stories written by Anton Chekhov. Click on the picture or click here to go to the challenge's webpage. This post will list the stories that I've read so far.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Title: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Author: Mark Twain

First Published: 1885

No. of Pages: 324

Synopsis (from B&N): Huckleberry Finn, rebel against school and church, casual inheritor of gold treasure, rafter of the Mississippi, and savior of Jim the runaway slave, is the archetypical American maverick.

Fleeing the respectable society that wants to "sivilize" him, Huck Finn shoves off with Jim on a rhapsodic raft journey down the Mississippi River. The two bind themselves to one another, becoming intimate friends and agreeing "there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft."

As Huck learns about love, responsibility, and morality, the trip becomes a metaphoric voyage through his own soul, culminating in the glorious moment when he decides to "go to hell" rather than return Jim to slavery.

Mark Twain defined classic as "a book which people praise and don't read"; Huckleberry Finn is a happy exception to his own rule. Twain's mastery of dialect, coupled with his famous wit, has made Adventures of Huckleberry Finn one of the most loved and distinctly American classics ever written.

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: Somehow, I never read either this book or Tom Sawyer while growing up. I don't know how I missed them; it seems like everyone in the country read them except me. So for years, I've said to myself that I had to read them -- there had to be some reason why everyone else had. Even if it was only because teachers insisted, there had to be a reason why.

Now I understand. Both books are great stories. I have read other works by Twain in the past and I can see why Huck Finn is considered his masterpiece. It's funny, the people feel like real people and not archetypes or caricatures, and parts of the story really make you think. I found that I could identify with almost everyone in some way -- their way of thinking, their desires, their fears, something. Twain had a real gift for capturing the essence of people, sometimes placing them in a good light but also showing their absurdities, their ignorance, or their meanness.

Would You Recommend This Book to Others: You bet! I can't believe I waited so many years to finally read it.

Challenges: 1% Well-Read Challenge; Banned Books Challenge; 2008 TBR Challenge

Short story challenges

I mentioned during Readathon that I love short stories. I'm a big fan of listening to them on my iPod -- both Public Radio International and the New Yorker have shows that feature them. So when I found two great short-story challenges recently, I immediately decided to jump in. Both were created by Rob and sound great. You can check out his posts on them by clicking on the pictures below.

Rob describes this one as follows: "The challenge is a simple one - no time limit, no specific titles, just the goal of reading 100 self-picked short stories as and when possible." Simple, right? And you can knock out a short story in no time, certainly a heck of a lot faster than full-out novels. I'm not going to attempt to pick out my list beforehand, I'm just going to read them as the mood takes me. I'll keep a running list in another post.

Anton Chekhov wrote 201 short stories, in addition to his wonderful plays. The goal of this challenge is to read all 201, in the order presented. There's no time limit. I've been looking at the bookstores, and many of the Chekhov story compilations out there only offer, at most, about 40 of the stories. There is a box set of all 201, translated by the great Constance Garnett, which will be going on my Christmas list. In the meantime, I'll have to get by with reading them online. The entire collection can found here. Again, I'll keep the list in a separate post.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Book giveaways!

Here's information on several book giveaways that are currently going on:

Julie P. over at Booking Mama is giving away a copy of The Lost Diary of Don Juan by Douglas Carlton Abrams (read the author's guest post and enter the giveaway here) and five copies of Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (read Julie's review here and enter the current giveaway here). Finally, Julie is giving away 10 copies of The Space Between Before and After by Jean Reynolds Page (read Julie's review here and enter her giveaway here.)

Shana at Literarily is also giving away a copy of The Lost Diary of Don Juan. You can read her review and enter the giveaway here. Other books being given away by Shana include a copy of Belly of the Whale by Linda Merlino (read Shana's review here and an interview with the author and enter the giveaway here); 2 copies of The Pools by Bethan Roberts (read her review here and read an interview with the author and enter the giveaway here); and 5 copies of Hollywood Crows by Joseph Wambaugh (enter the giveaway here).

Book Room Reviews is giving away the Hatchette 10 Book Halloween Spooktacular set here. Keep checking their site for future giveaways -- they offer a variety.

Don't you love the chance to win free books??

10 Out of 100 Out of 1001 challenge complete!

Thanks to this past weekend's Readathon, I was able to finish this challenge with a week to spare. For some reason, the 1001 book list intrigues me -- I'm sure it's partly just because I'm a list person and this sort of thing is a great opportunity to make another spreadsheet, lol.

The goal of this particular challenge was to read 10 of the first 100 books (first meaning the most recent) from the 1001 list, with 1 book from each group of 10. I skipped the groups of 10 that contained a book that I had already read. I had to make some adjustments to my original choices, here's what I actually ended up reading:

[1-10] skipped, previously read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

[11-20] skipped, previously read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

[21-30]Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

[31-40] Youth: Scenes from Provincial Life II by J.M. Coetzee

[41-50] Life of Pi by Yann Martel

[51-60] The Devil and Miss Prym: A Novel of Temptation by Paulo Coehlo

[61-70] skipped, previously read The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

[71-80] Intimacy by Hanif Kureishi

[81-90] skipped, previously read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

[91-100] The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

I don't know if Books of Mee will be hosting a sequel to this challenge for the next group of 100, but I'd sign up if it's offered. If you're interested in the 1001 books list, you can also check out the 1% Well-Read Challenge -- it runs through February 2009.

It's also occurred to me that this list would make a good perpetual challenge. I've looked around and haven't seen one offered yet. I'd be interested to know if others would like to see such a challenge offered.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Readathon wrap-up

We did it!! Congrats to everyone who participated, it was great to see so many people reading and posting. I tried to look at the blogs of everyone who signed up at least once, but I'm planning to spend some serious time this week going back and checking out the blogs in more depth, I can't wait to see what everyone was reading (I can feel my TBR list ballooning up already, lol).

I want to send a special shout-out to the Readathon organizers and cheerleaders, this is for you:

Here's my answers for the End of Event Meme:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Had to be about hour 19, that was 3 a.m. here, I knew I wasn't going to make it much beyond that so I didn't even try. Kind of bums me out because I really wanted to rack up more hours than I did last time.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Ugh, too hard to choose! I'll have to give some more thought to this question.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Rather than having one post for each hour that contains all sorts of different information, maybe you can break it down into separate posts -- for instance, you'd have an Hour 10 Challenge post, an Hour 10 prize update post, an Hour 10 Reader of the Hour post, etc. My reason for suggesting this is that there's so much info and it gets hard to follow after a while, especially when you're getting tired.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I liked having different people host on Dewey's blog, trying to do the whole time herself can't be good for her.

5. How many books did you read? completed 1 book and 2 short stories, got a good start on 1 other book

6. What were the names of the books you read? I completed Youth by J.M. Coetzee. The 2 short stories were The Social Triangle by O. Henry and Wiser Than a God by Kate Chopin. The book I got started on was Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener.

7. Which book did you enjoy most? I enjoyed everything that I worked on.

8. Which did you enjoy least? N/A

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? N/A

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Guaranteed!! I'd love to be a reader, a cheerleader, and an organizer, but I know I can't do it all -- I don't want to have to pick!

Readathon update #7

It's now 3 a.m. here and my mind is starting to turn to mush. I can feel my bed calling me. This will most likely be my last update, once I hit the sheets there's no way I'm getting up before this is over. I've had a blast again this time -- thanks so much to Dewey and all her helpers, and all the wonderful cheerleaders. You guys rock!!

Final stats before heading off to Snoozeville:

Title of work(s) read since last update: Wiser Than a God by Kate Chopin (short story); about 1/3 done with Tales of the South Pacific
Number of works read since you started: 3
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 2 hours
Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!): approximately 11 hours 15 minutes
Mini-challenges completed: 6
Prizes you’ve won: 3
Caffeinated drinks consumed: just 1, can you believe it??

Good night, all!!

Readathon update #6

I actually have nothing of a reading nature to report. We got back from our date about 1/2 hour ago -- it was an interesting experience. More of a party than a concert, with lots of old Southern money. I didn't know a soul. But the music rocked and we had a good time. I was a good girl and didn't have anything alcoholic, even though it was mighty tempting. But I plan to get in at least a couple more hours of reading and that plan would be ... well, let's just say it wouldn't work out if alcohol had been involved. I'll be doing good to keep my eyes from crossing while being stone-cold sober, lol.

On the sports front, I just have to throw out that hubby's team kicked butt today, and the Red Sox won, so all's right with the world. Now back to the books!

Check out this blog

For those of you looking to add to your TBR pile (and who among us isn't?), be sure to stop by Bart's blog at Barts Bookshelf -- he's running a book giveaway of his own in conjunction with Readathon! Aren't book bloggers great??

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Readathon update #5 and the Very Mini-Library Cat Challenge

Not much of an update this time. I'm still plugging away at Tales of the South Pacific -- I've only managed to get about 1/4 of the way through. And for the next several hours, I won't be getting any reading done. Hubby had a surprise for me tonight -- he's taking me to a jazz and zydeco concert! In addition to being a ParrotHead, I love jazz music. And zydeco is just the most fun. It puts a crimp in my reading, but I think the break will be good, and I'm not about to turn down a date with my darling hubby.

Before I go, I wanted to complete Sharon's mini-challenge. Too cute! My answers are:

1. The library cat closest to me is AndyCat at Pitts Library, Andrew College, Cuthbert, Georgia (not in my state, but closest in miles, so I'm assuming that counts)

2. Dewey lived (apparently he died in 2006) in the public library in Spencer, Iowa

3. Dewey was in the documentary "Puss in Boots: Adventures of the Library Cat"

4. Dewey's full name is DeweyReadmore Books

Readathon update #4 and Walkin' & Snappin' mini-challenge

For this mini-challenge, Kim over at Page after Page wanted us to take a break. go for a short walk and take a picture of what we saw. After changing from my comfy shorts into a pair of pants (the temperature dropped, didn't expect that), I took a quick stroll and snapped a photo of my newly clean front porch:

I spent some time reading out there today and it was wonderful -- I love living in Florida!!

Title of work(s) read since last update: still working on Tales of the South Pacific
Number of works read since you started: 2
Next to be read: continue with Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener; short story by Kate Chopin
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 1 hour 30 minutes
Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!): approximately 7 hours 15 minutes
Mini-challenges completed: 5
Prize you’ve won: one
Caffeinated drinks consumed: still holding at 1, but I can hear the siren call from my fridge -- "Come have a frosty beverage! You know you want me!!"

Readathon update #3

Woohoo, I won a prize! I'd love to see everyone win something, there are so many wonderful participants this time.

My quiet time is now over. Husband is home and football is on -- now I can just hope and pray that his team wins, lol. Not that I blame him, I yell louder than he does when my team is playing.

Stats since the last update:

Title of work(s) read since last update: The Social Triangle by O. Henry (short story); began Tales of the South Pacific
Number of works read since you started: 2
Next to be read: continue with Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener; short story by Kate Chopin
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 1 hour 15 minutes (the Name That Book mini-challenge was kicking my butt!)
Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!): approximately 5 hours 45 minutes
Mini-challenges completed: 4
Other participants you’ve visited: I'm going to remove this one in future posts because I'm trying to visit everyone at least once
Prize you’ve won: one
Caffeinated drinks consumed: holding at 1, we'll see how long this lasts. If I can just stay away from the beer-in-honor-of-football

Readathon update #2

Whew! I finished Youth this hour, and that means I've completed the 10 Out of 100 Out of 1001 Challenge -- yeah, me! I had to agree with Wendy's comment in my last post re: picking Coetzee for the readathon. But I stuck to my plan and got him finished first thing, now I can move on to the lighter reads in my stack.

Didn't know I was going to be Reader of the Hour, thanks to everyone for your comments!

I'm going to use the template provided in Dewey's welcome post in the rest of my update posts, with a few changes as needed (for instance, I'm changing "title of books read" to "title of works read" because I plan to be reading a number of short stories today). So without further ado:

Title of work(s) read since last update: Youth by J.M. Coetzee
Number of works read since you started: 1
Next to be read: Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener; short story by O. Henry and/or Kate Chopin
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 3 hours
Running total of time spent reading since you started: (keep track of this one to be eligible for a prize!): approximately 4.5 hours
Mini-challenges completed: 3
Other participants you’ve visited: too many to list (thanks to Aerin for the great site for keeping up with everyone!)
Prize you’ve won: none yet, but I'm hoping!
Caffeinated drinks consumed: just 1; I'm currently drinking decaf diet coke -- so far my body seems to be fooled!

Readathon update #1

I'm currently working on Youth by J.M. Coetzee. I'm about halfway done and am really enjoying it. I've got a number of his books on my TBR list, so I was very happy to find that I like his writing style, it means I won't feel the need to shift the other books to the bottom of the list!

My husband, God bless him, decided to go into the office today. He said it was to get work done that he can't do during the week, but I suspect it was really so that I'd have the house to myself for reading -- isn't that sweet? Now if I could just get the cockatiel to stop screeching...

Fall 2008 Readathon -- intro post

It's finally here! To start, we've been asked to answer the following questions, sort of a "get to know you" post.

Where are you reading from today? Crawfordville, Florida (a suburb of Tallahassee)

3 facts about me …

I love college football, but luckily my team (Go Gators!) is off this week, so my reading time won't be interrupted by must-see-TV

Whenever I sit down to read, 1 of my 2 beagles has to sit in my lap and look at the book. I think I've trained him to love books, too.

I'm a ParrotHead.

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? 4 novels, 1 nonfiction, and 5 books of short stories

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? I'd like to increase my number of hours -- 13 last time. My original goal had been to finish at least 3 books, but I changed my book choices at the last minute, so that threw a monkey wrench into those plans.

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time? Take several breaks or you'll wear yourself out. Mix up your reading choices -- you want to keep it interesting and not fry your brain. If you don't meet your goals, don't worry. This is supposed to be fun, no one's going to grade you:)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October 2008 Readathon Goals

Being a planner type, I've made my list of possible books for this Saturday's Readathon. (Don't know about Readathon? Check it out here.) I've decided on the following:

A Dog's Life by Peter Mayle -- just for fun and because it's been sitting on my shelf forever

Forever England: North and South by Beryl Bainbridge

The Lambs of London by Peter Ackyroyd -- not on my list for the 10 Out of 100 Challenge, but is on the 1001 Books list

Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener -- will count for Book Awards II Challenge and the Pulitzer Project

Time's Arrow by Martin Amis -- will count for Booker Challenge; also on the 1001 Books list

When the Astors Owned New York: Blue Bloods and Grand Hotels in a Gilded Age by Justin Kaplan -- another just because book

Youth by J.M. Coetzee -- will count for 10 Out of 100 Challenge

Each book is relatively short; Tales of the South Pacific is the longest at 384 pages, so I don't expect to finish it in 1 day, but maybe I can get a start. I would like to at least finish Youth and Time's Arrow, since they're both on my challenge lists. Last Readathon I read 3 books. I'm making that my goal this time, too.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton

Title: The Book of Ruth

Author: Jane Hamilton

Publication Date: 1997

No. of Pages: 328

Synopsis (from Amazon): Author Jane Hamilton leads us through the arid life of Ruth Grey, who extracts what small pleasures and graces she can from a tiny Illinois town and the broken people who inhabit it. Ruth's prime tormentor is her mother May, whose husband died in World War II and took her future with him. More poor familial luck has given Ruth a brother who is a math prodigy; Matt sucks up any stray attention like a black hole. Ruth is left to survive on her own resources, which are meager. She struggles along, subsisting on crumbs of affection meted out by her Aunt Sid and, later, her screwed-up husband Ruby. The book ends with the prospect of redemption--but the tale is nevertheless much more bitter than sweet.

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: This is one of those books that I both like and disliked. I was okay the first 3/4 or so, although I did want to take the main character to the woodshed a few times (more on that in a minute), but the last few chapters made me want to throw the book out the window. It almost seemed like the author was tired of the book and just wanted to get it over with -- the issues and feeling she brought out in Ruth didn't seem to progress naturally at the end, they just kind of rushed through, helter skelter, and presto, you're done. Very unsatisfying.

Regarding the woodshed remark, this is one of those things that has more to do with me than the book/character. In this case, you've got a character who's basically a doormat for everyone, her mother most of all, which is something that I CANNOT STAND. I understand why she's that way and I can even sympathize, but it still makes my skin crawl. Seriously, it takes every bit of patience that I have not to scream, "GET A BACKBONE, ALREADY! STAND UP FOR YOURSELF!! QUIT TAKING THEIR !*%$*!" Like I said, though, this is more about me than a fault of the book. In this area, the author did quite a good job of making you relate to the character, even if you did want to throttle her.

Would You Recommend This Book to Others: Yes. I'd classify it as a good book to read eventually, but not one of my You Must Read This Now books.

Challenges: 2008 TBR Challenge; What's in a Name? Challenge; Book Awards II Challenge

Weekly Geeks #21 - First Lines

It's another scavenger hunt, yeah!! I love this type of thing. This time, Dewey has given us 100 first lines from books. The goal is to identify the book and author. Rather than try to paraphrase the "rules," here they are direct from her blog:

1. Look over the list of first lines. How many can you identify immediately? Post these in your blog, with the answer (the book title and author). If you’re not 100% positive of your answer, please google the line to be sure. Otherwise, your wrong answer will be spread around to other bloggers.

2. If you like, list a few or more first lines without answers and ask your readers if they can identify any of them. It’s fine to list all of them for your readers to look at, if you’re so inclined.

3. If you want to, you can also go around visiting other Weekly Geeks and commenting with the answers to any lines that stumped them. The more WGs you visit, the more will visit you!

4. If you want to take part in a contest to see who can get all 100 lines identified, visit the Weekly Geeks who sign Mr Linky below, take their identified lines from their blogs and post them in your own post. Your own list will grow this way. Please don’t forget to link to any Weekly Geeks whose identified lines you take!

5. If you eventually have all 100 lines identified in your blog post, please email me at dewpie at gmail dot com. Don’t email me if you get all 100 by looking at the blog of someone else who got all 100, though, because obviously that person beat you to it.

6. There is a prize! If no one gets all 100 answers, the prize goes to the blogger who gets the most. If multiple bloggers get all 100, the winner is the first person who emails me a link to a post with all 100 correct answers.

7. I’ll offer the winner a choice of a few of the prizes I was setting aside for the read-a-thon and he or she will get to choose one. These choice won’t be anything donated by other bloggers, though, because those bloggers intended those prizes for the read-a-thon.

A couple rules:

1. If you think you might know the source of some first lines but aren’t positive, it’s ok to google them to double-check, as I said. But googling all of them is cheating! Googling any of them because you’re stumped is also cheating! Googling something like “first lines of books” and getting a bunch of answers in one place is also cheating! The point is to get lots of WG blog-hopping going on, and if someone googles all the lines and posts all the answers right away, then the fun is over. SADFACE.

2. I found all these lines at one website. If you happen upon that site (or a similar one) in your googling, please avert your eyes as soon as you realize it. And please don’t tell anyone else the url of the site. I feel a little unethical posting all the lines from that site here without linking to it, so I’ll be sure to cite my source in next week’s post, when I announce the winner.

And here's the list (my answers are in bold):

1. Call me Ishmael. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

3. A screaming comes across the sky. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (thanks Joanne)

4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce (thanks Dewey)

8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. 1984 by George Orwell

9. 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, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

10. I am an invisible man. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

11. The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard.

12. You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

13. Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested. The Trial by Franz Kafka

14. You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler. If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino

15. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.

16. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

17. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo.

18. This is the saddest story I have ever heard.

19. I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me.

20. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

21. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.

22. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

23. One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary. The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon (thanks Jessi)

24. It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. City of Glass by Paul Austger (thanks Joanne)

25. Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

26. 124 was spiteful. Beloved by Toni Morrison

27. Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing. Don Quixote by Cervantes

28. Mother died today. The Stranger by Albert Camus

29. Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.

30. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. Neuromancer, by William Gibson (thanks Jessi)

31. I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man.

32. Where now? Who now? When now?

33. Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. “Stop!” cried the groaning old man at last, “Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree.”

34. In a sense, I am Jacob Horner.

35. It was like so, but wasn’t.

36. —Money . . . in a voice that rustled.

37. Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

38. All this happened, more or less. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (thanks Joanne, boy do I feel like a doofus, I just read this book a couple of months back)

39. They shoot the white girl first.

40. For a long time, I went to bed early.

41. The moment one learns English, complications set in.

42. Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.

43. I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false azure in the windowpane;

44. Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

45. I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.

46. Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex’s admonition, against Allen’s angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa’s antipodal ant annexation.

47. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

48. He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

49. It was the day my grandmother exploded.

50. I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (thanks Joanne)

51. Elmer Gantry was drunk. Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis

52. We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.

53. It was a pleasure to burn. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

54. A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (thanks Joanne)

55. Having placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes’ chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression.

56. I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, tho’ not of that Country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull; He got a good Estate by Merchandise, and leaving off his Trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my Mother, whose Relations were named Robinson, a very good Family in that Country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual Corruption of Words in England, we are now called, nay we call our selves, and write our Name Crusoe, and so my Companions always call’d me. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

57. In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street.

58. Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.

59. It was love at first sight.

60. What if this young woman, who writes such bad poems, in competition with her husband, whose poems are equally bad, should stretch her remarkably long and well-made legs out before you, so that her skirt slips up to the tops of her stockings?

61. I have never begun a novel with more misgiving. The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

62. Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.

63. The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children’s games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up.

64. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

65. You better not never tell nobody but God. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

66. “To be born again,” sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, “first you have to die.” The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

67. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.

68. Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden.

69. If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me, thought Moses Herzog. Herzog, by Saul Bellow (thanks Jessi)

70. Francis Marion Tarwater’s uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave and a Negro named Buford Munson, who had come to get a jug filled, had to finish it and drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it in a decent and Christian way, with the sign of its Saviour at the head of the grave and enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up.

71. Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there’s a peephole in the door, and my keeper’s eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me.

72. When Dick Gibson was a little boy he was not Dick Gibson.

73. Hiram Clegg, together with his wife Emma and four friends of the faith from Randolph Junction, were summoned by the Spirit and Mrs. Clara Collins, widow of the beloved Nazarene preacher Ely Collins, to West Condon on the weekend of the eighteenth and nineteenth of April, there to await the End of the World.

74. She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James

75. In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.

76. “Take my camel, dear,” said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.

77. He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull.

78. The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

79. On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen.

80. Justice?—You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law.

81. Vaughan died yesterday in his last car-crash. Crash by JG Ballard (thanks Joanne)

82. I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.

83. “When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,” Papa would say, “she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing.” Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (thanks Joanne)

84. In the last years of the Seventeenth Century there was to be found among the fops and fools of the London coffee-houses one rangy, gangling flitch called Ebenezer Cooke, more ambitious than talented, and yet more talented than prudent, who, like his friends-in-folly, all of whom were supposed to be educating at Oxford or Cambridge, had found the sound of Mother English more fun to game with than her sense to labor over, and so rather than applying himself to the pains of scholarship, had learned the knack of versifying, and ground out quires of couplets after the fashion of the day, afroth with Joves and Jupiters, aclang with jarring rhymes, and string-taut with similes stretched to the snapping-point.

85. When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon. Last Good Kiss by James Krumley (thanks Joanne)

86. It was just noon that Sunday morning when the sheriff reached the jail with Lucas Beauchamp though the whole town (the whole county too for that matter) had known since the night before that Lucas had killed a white man.

87. I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot,” or “That Claudius,” or “Claudius the Stammerer,” or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius,” am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled. I, Claudius by Robert Graves

88. Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women.

89. I am an American, Chicago born—Chicago, that somber city—and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent.

90. The towers of Zenith aspired above the morning mist; austere towers of steel and cement and limestone, sturdy as cliffs and delicate as silver rods.

91. I will tell you in a few words who I am: lover of the hummingbird that darts to the flower beyond the rotted sill where my feet are propped; lover of bright needlepoint and the bright stitching fingers of humorless old ladies bent to their sweet and infamous designs; lover of parasols made from the same puffy stuff as a young girl’s underdrawers; still lover of that small naval boat which somehow survived the distressing years of my life between her decks or in her pilothouse; and also lover of poor dear black Sonny, my mess boy, fellow victim and confidant, and of my wife and child. But most of all, lover of my harmless and sanguine self.

92. He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.

93. Psychics can see the color of time it’s blue.

94. In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together.

95. Once upon a time two or three weeks ago, a rather stubborn and determined middle-aged man decided to record for posterity, exactly as it happened, word by word and step by step, the story of another man for indeed what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal, a somewhat paranoiac fellow unmarried, unattached, and quite irresponsible, who had decided to lock himself in a room a furnished room with a private bath, cooking facilities, a bed, a table, and at least one chair, in New York City, for a year 365 days to be precise, to write the story of another person—a shy young man about of 19 years old—who, after the war the Second World War, had come to America the land of opportunities from France under the sponsorship of his uncle—a journalist, fluent in five languages—who himself had come to America from Europe Poland it seems, though this was not clearly established sometime during the war after a series of rather gruesome adventures, and who, at the end of the war, wrote to the father his cousin by marriage of the young man whom he considered as a nephew, curious to know if he the father and his family had survived the German occupation, and indeed was deeply saddened to learn, in a letter from the young man—a long and touching letter written in English, not by the young man, however, who did not know a damn word of English, but by a good friend of his who had studied English in school—that his parents both his father and mother and his two sisters one older and the other younger than he had been deported they were Jewish to a German concentration camp Auschwitz probably and never returned, no doubt having been exterminated deliberately X * X * X * X, and that, therefore, the young man who was now an orphan, a displaced person, who, during the war, had managed to escape deportation by working very hard on a farm in Southern France, would be happy and grateful to be given the opportunity to come to America that great country he had heard so much about and yet knew so little about to start a new life, possibly go to school, learn a trade, and become a good, loyal citizen.

96. Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space. Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood (thanks Joanne)

97. He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.

98. High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour.

99. They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.

100. The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane