My Challenges (timed)

See my list here
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, April 30, 2009

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

Title: The Problem of Pain

Author: C.S. Lewis

First Published: 1940

No. of Pages: 104

Synopsis (from B&N): "Why must we suffer? 'If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow his creatures to suffer pain?' And what of the suffering of animals, who neither deserve pain nor can be improved by it? The greatest Christian thinker of our time sets out to disentangle this knotty issue. With his signature wealth of compassion and insight, C. S. Lewis offers answers to these crucial questions and shares his hope and wisdom to help heal a world hungering for a true understanding of human nature."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Nonfiction

Comments and Critique: This book was so wonderful and so thought-provoking that I wanted to reread it immediately after I finished, and I would have if I didn't have so many other books waiting. But I guarantee that I'll be scanning it, if not reading in its entirety, again very soon. There were a number of points that I want to write down somewhere -- I'd go into it here but 1) it's really better suited outside of a review, and 2) I know that I couldn't do it justice. It's enough to say that this book has given me an entirely new view on human pain and why God "let's bad things happen." My only caveat to potential readers is that this is not an easy book -- it's incredibly intellectual and parts can be difficult to understand. I consider myself relatively intelligent, but I'm not ashamed to admit that some parts went way over my head. But even that can't detract from the overall greatness of this book. Highly, highly encouraged.

Challenges: 999 ("C.S. Lewis"); Spring Reading Thing

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Title: Jane Eyre

Author: Charlotte Bronte

First Published: 1847

No. of Pages: 466

Synopsis (from B&N): "Immediately recognized as a masterpiece when it was first published in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is an extraordinary coming-of-age story featuring one of the most independent and strong-willed female protagonists in all of literature. Poor and plain, Jane Eyre begins life as a lonely orphan in the household of her hateful aunt. Despite the oppression she endures at home, and the later torture of boarding school, Jane manages to emerge with her spirit and integrity unbroken. She becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she finds herself falling in love with her employer—the dark, impassioned Mr. Rochester. But an explosive secret tears apart their relationship, forcing Jane to face poverty and isolation once again.

One of the world’s most beloved novels, Jane Eyre is a startlingly modern blend of passion, romance, mystery, and suspense."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: Confession -- I'm a sucker for a romance, provided it takes place in the late 18th-early 19th century. It took me a bit to get into this one (I didn't care for the chapters on Jane's childhood), but once she reached adulthood, I was hooked. The writing style may seem somewhat awkward for readers not used to books from this period, particularly in the dialogue, but I find it beautiful, almost regal sometimes. The plot holds your interest throughout (although I wish I hadn't already known Mr. Rochester's secret; it made for quite an anticlimax), in part because you can't help falling in love with the characters and hoping for a happy ending. I can't say that I love this book the way I do Jane Austen's novels, but it's definitely going on my reread shelf.

Challenges: 18th and 19th Century Women Writers; 999 ("Decades"); (Another) 1% Well-Read Challenge; A to Z (author "B"); Classics Challenge; Decades '09; TBR Lite

Monday, April 27, 2009

What are you reading on Mondays? - April 27

It's been another good week -- I'm making good progress on several of my reading challenges. The Read-a-thon always seems to give me a jumpstart. Maybe it's the residual adrenaline from such focused reading.

Recent completions:

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman -- review here

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith -- review here

The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis -- I haven't written a review yet and it may not be posted right away. There's so much I loved about this book and I want to do my best to do it justice.

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells -- review here

Reading this week:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte -- I'm about 3/4 done with this one, so hopefully I'll finish it up this week.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . .: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein

Up next:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Maus by Art Spiegelman

Title: The Complete Maus

Author: Art Spiegelman

First Published: 1973 (part I) and 1986 (part II)

No. of Pages: 295

Synopsis (from B&N): "It is the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in 'drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust' (The New York Times).

Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek’s harrowing story of survival is woven into the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century’s grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Nonfiction

Comments and Critique: I found this to be an original and innovative way to present a survivor's story. I especially liked the way the author didn't shy away from showing his or his father's faults. I was also very impressed by the amount of work that must have gone into the drawings and the way the author was able to communicate so much emotion through this medium. I've never read a comic book in my life and part of me still has doubts about whether this form of book can be literature, but if it isn't, then this book gets it pretty close.

Challenges: 999 ("Dewey's Books"); Dewey's Books Challenge; Martel-Harper Challenge; Orbis Terrarum 2 (Sweden); Spring Reading Thing 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Title: The Little Prince

Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

First Published: 1943

No. of Pages: 85

Synopsis (from B&N): "An aviator whose plane is forced down in the Sahara Desert encounters a little prince from a small planet who relates his adventures in seeking the secret of what is important in life."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: This was a charming little story, but I'll admit it -- I can't relate those who've said that it's one of their all-time favorites. Maybe I'm missing something, but to me it was just a nice kid's story. Yes, there are themes that grown-ups can benefit from, but other books have presented them better. I'm going to try to check out some reviews and see if I can discover what others see in it.

Challenges: 999 ("Dewey's Books"); Dewey's Books Challenge; Martel-Harper Challenge; Spring Reading Thing 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Title: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

First Published: 1998

No. of Pages: 235

Synopsis (from B&N): "The No.1 Ladies´ Detective Agency, located in Gaborone, Botswana, consists of one woman, the engaging Precious Ramotswe. A cross between Kinsey Millhone and Miss Marple, this unlikely heroine specializes in missing husbands, wayward daughters, con men and imposters. When she sets out on the trail of a missing child she is tumbled headlong into some strange situations and not a little danger. Deftly interweaving tragedy and humor to create a memorable tale of human desires and foibles, the book is also an evocative portrait of a distant world."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: I really enjoyed this book. The characters were so realistic and I loved the descriptions of Africa. I was a bit surprised because I was expecting one large mystery, not a series of small vignettes, but once I readjusted my expectations I was completely on board. Very enjoyable and I will absolutely be reading more of this series.

Challenges: Orbis Terrarum 2 (Zimbabwe)

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Title: The Time Machine

Author: H.G. Wells

First Published: 1895

No. of Pages: 94

Synopsis (from B&N): "The Time Machine, H. G. Wells’s first novel, is a tale of Darwinian evolution taken to its extreme. Its hero, a young scientist, travels 800,000 years into the future and discovers a dying earth populated by two strange humanoid species: the brutal Morlocks and the gentle but nearly helpless Eloi."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: This is one of those books that I'm of two minds about. I don't like science fiction as a rule and it took a high level of motivation for me to read this, at least in the opening chapters. On the other hand, time travel is the one area of scifi that really intrigues me. Overall, the book is too far out of my comfort zone, but any dislike I have is based more on my preferences than the book itself.

Objectively, the book is well-written and without any major flaws. Parts did strike me as being somewhat narrow-minded (the narrator travels 800,000 years into the future and still finds matches?) and the narrator seemed a bit too caught in attributing the problems of his day to the future, but I suppose that problem could be found in any story set in the future -- there's just no way of knowing what will happen and whether the things we think are important now will remain important over hundreds or thousands of years.

Even though I'm unlikely to put this one in my reread pile, I would be more willing to do so if the reread occurred with a group, as there are lots of things that I'd love to talk about with others. So even though this one wasn't my cup of tea, the fact that it makes you think and can lead to discussions has its own value.

Challenges: 999 ("Decades"); (Another) 1% Well-Read Challenge; Classics Challenge; Decades '09; Spring Reading Thing 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Title: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Author: Agatha Christie

First Published: 1926

No. of Pages: 288

Synopsis (from B&N): "Dr. Sheppard has no idea his finicky, foreign neighbor is actually retired detective Hercule Poirot. When wealthy Roger Ackroyd is found brutally murdered, Poirot can’t resist stepping in to sort out clues and find the killer. This third Poirot mystery has all the author’s trademark touches — a pithy portrait of English village life, a cast of unforgettable characters, and a plot of Byzantine complexity. Due to its shocking twist ending, the book remains one of the most controversial mysteries ever written."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: I've watched Hercule Poirot mysteries on TV for a number of years now and love them, but this is the first time I've read one of the books that the shows have been based on (I have not seen a version of this particular story, however). I loved this book as much as the TV versions. As usual, I didn't solve the mystery but I've come to accept that I don't have the mind of a detective. This story was first-rate, entertaining, and easy to read. My copy of the book is included in a 5-novel compilation and I'll definitely be reading the other stories in the future.

Challenges: 999 ("1001 Books"); (Another) 1% Well-Read Challenge; A to Z (author "C"); Martel-Harper; Spring Reading Thing 2009

The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved by Gary Jansen

Title: The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved

Author: Gary Jansen

First Published: 2006

No. of Pages: 95

Synopsis (from B&N): "Written for both Catholic and Protestant Christians, candid explanations on why and how to pray the rosary along with useful instructions on how to get the most out of the meditative and spiritual exercise of repeating prayers are in the first of two sections. Prayers including a visual and spiritual journey that illuminates the teachings of the New Testament follow in the second section."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Nonfiction

Comments and Critique: This is a nice little book that gives readers an introduction to the rosary. The reproductions of artwork are beautiful and a nice inclusion. One thing the author states that I really like is that prayer should not just be about what we say to God, but about what He is saying to us and how the rosary helps you to hear Him. I pray the rosary occasionally and feel a stronger connection than through more informal prayer.

Unfortunately, this book is just too basic to be a good reference, especially for non-Catholics. I know some people have issues with the rosary: its repetitive nature, whether its a prayer to Mary (it's not), etc. This is not the book to overcome those issues. It's a nice book to use while praying the rosary, but will probably not bring anyone to the prayer who does not already pray it. If you're interested in a more in-depth look at the rosary, a better book is Praying by Hand: Rediscovering the Rosary As a Way of Prayer by M. Basil Pennington.

Challenges: 999 ("Catholicism"); Spring Reading Thing 2009

What are you reading on Mondays? - April 20

This past weekend was the semi-annual 24 hour Read-a-Thon. This was my 3rd time participating. I completed 3 1/3 books this time -- I think I could have done better but I wasn't feel well and had difficulty making myself focus. I always enjoy the readathon, I just wish there were 2 of me, 1 to read and 1 to check out everyone else's blogs and encourage them.

Recent completions:

Bella Tuscany: the Sweet Life in Italy by Frances Mayes -- review here

I haven't written my reviews for the 3 books I finished during the readathon, but I'll have them done this week. The books were:

The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupèry

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved by Gary Jansen

Reading this week:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

Up next:

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Readathon update #3

Time now: 1:30 a.m. My eyes are seriously starting to blur and my butt hurts from sitting so long (just what you wanted to know, right?). Luckily, I included an audio book in my choices this time so I can give my eyes a rest. The plan is now to settle down in my bed with my earbuds in and try not to fall asleep right away. I know it will happen, though, and I'm not going to fight it. No need to make myself sick and cranky tomorrow. So this will be my last update before it's all over, but I'll have a wrap-up post sometime tomorrow.

Stats since the last update:

Title of work(s) read since last update: The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved by Gary Jansen
Number of works read since you started: 3
Next to be read: I'm about 1/3 done with The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. I won't finish as part of the Read-a-thon, but should finish it up in a day or two. I'm also about halfway through my audiobook version of The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
Running total of time spent reading since you started: No idea whatsoever.
Total pages read: Lost count, will tally up when my eyes are working better
Mini-challenges completed: 4, I think
Caffeinated drinks consumed: I was good and held to 2 all day. I've broken my caffeine habit and drink mostly water now, and feel 100% better.

Rereading mini-challenge

The mini-challenge this hour asks about rereading books. The instructions:

1. Go back to your blog, and tell us about the books you’re rereading during the mini-challenge. Maybe post a picture of each book and describe why you love it enough to reread it.


2. Go back to your blog, and give us a list of your top favorite rereads of all time. You know, those books that you can go to time and time again for comfort and escape. Again, pictures are good. :)

I'm not currently rereading anything, so I'll do #2.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: I've read it so many times that I can say the dialogue with the characters. I picked the picture for the DVD and not the book because, come on, it's Colin Firth (yum).

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: I actually haven't read this one in several years, but I used to read it at least once, sometimes twice a year.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: simply one of the best books ever written

Mini-challenge prize winner

The winner of my Nod to Nonfiction mini-challenge is (drumroll please...)

Chris from Book-a-Rama

Congratulations! Please email your mailing address to missporkchop AT yahoo DOT com and I'll get the Bill Bryson book to you. The $20 Better World Books portion of the prize will be sent via online gift certificate, so that you can shop at your leisure.

Thank you to everyone that participated in the challenge. Wonderful comments, and you've given me a bunch of new titles and authors to add my TBR list, woohoo!! I also want to encourage everyone to check out Better World Books -- it's a great way to stock up on books (as low as $3.48 used, FREE SHIPPING in the U.S. and only $3.97 shipping everywhere else) and do good in the world at the same time. You can read about them more in detail on their website or in my previous post. (Please note that I am not in any way affiliated with the company and get nothing from promoting them -- I just believe in what they're doing:-)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Readathon update #2

It's now 10 p.m. here and I really don't feel like I've gotten anything read. I can't understand it because I've been working at it all day. Somehow, the Agatha Christie book has seemed to take FOREVER, which doesn't make sense to me because it's been very enjoyable and seemed like it was moving right along, until I looked at the clock. Oh well, as long as it's a good book, that's what counts.

Stats since the last update:

Title of work(s) read since last update: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Number of works read since you started: 2
Next to be read: The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved by Gary Jansen
Amount of time spent reading since last update: Off and on all day.
Running total of time spent reading since you started: Who knows? I'll have to calculate later.
Total pages read: 225
Mini-challenges completed: 3
Prizes won: 0
Caffeinated drinks consumed: 2 and I'm done. It's water from here on out.

Tammy's mini-challenge: A Nod to Nonfiction

Welcome, readathoners!! Hope everyone is having a great time and reading lots of wonderful books.

I love nonfiction and read it as often as, sometimes more often than, I do fiction. So I'd like to know what you think of nonfiction. What is you favorite non-fiction book and why? What genre(s) do you enjoy and are there particular writers that you would recommend to others? If you don't read non-fiction, why not?

Please leave your answers in a comment to this post. The prize is a paperback copy of A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson and your choice of books from Better World Books, up to $15 $20 (used books can be as low as $3.95, so you could get up to 5!). One winner will be chosen at random, but you must answer the question(s) to be eligible. This challenge is open for 2 hours.

First Lines mini-challenge

This mini-challenge is to give the names of books for the following first lines:

1 - 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

2 - The Opera Ghost really existed.: The Phantom of the Opera

3 - 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

4 - "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.: Little Women

5 - All children, except one, grow up.: Peter Pan

6 - When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

7 - This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve.

8 - When Mary Lennox was sent to Misslethwaite Manor to live with her uncle, everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen.

9 - 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.:

10 - Who is John Gault?: Atlas Shrugged

11 - A mile above Oz, the Witch balanced on the wind's forward edge, as if she were a green fleck of the land itself, flung up and sent wheeling away by the turbulent air.: Wicked

12 - Sunday, 1 January. 129 lbs (but post-Christmas), alcohol units 14 (but effectively covers 2 days as 4 hours of party was on New Year's Day), cigarettes 22, calories 5424.: Bridget Jones' Diary

13 - Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number 4, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

14 - Even in high summer, Tintagel was a haunted place; Igraine, lady of Duke Gorlois, looked out over the sea from the headland.: The Mists of Avalon

15 - What can you say about a 25 year old girl who died?: Love Story

16 - When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.: The Time Traveler's Wife

17 - 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.

18 - Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler's pushing a gun in my mouth and saying the first step to eternal life is you have to die.: Fight Club

19 - There are some guys who enter a woman's life and screw it up forever.

20 - Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Love Your Local Library mini-challenge

For this challenge, we're supposed to answer questions about our local library. I love my library and love to brag on it every chance I get. The questions:

1. What is the name of your local library? What city is it located in? My library is the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library in Tallahassee, Florida. LeRoy Collins was raised in our area and became the 33rd Governor of Florida, from 1955 to 1961.

2. How often do you go to the library? If you're a regular, do the staff know you? I go every few weeks. I'd probably go more often but I generally borrow several books at once and it takes me a while to finish them. Our library is rather large, so I doubt if the staff know me from anyone else, but they may recognize my face.

3. Do you browse while you're there or just pick up items you have placed on reserve? Sometimes I browse, it depends on how much time I have available and how many items I've already planned to grab. I almost always browse the DVDs, though.

4. What is your favorite thing about your local library? They have a fabulously large and diverse collection, and if they don't have something, they can get you whatever you want through interlibrary loan. I also love how wired they are -- you can request and renew items online, and they have a large number of ebooks and audiobooks for download.

Read-a-thon update #1

I didn't get off to a very good start, despite my best intentions. I didn't even pick up a book until 2 hours in. But I'm hoping to get in my groove soon and make some progress.

Stats since the last update:

Title of work(s) read since last update: The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupèry
Number of works read since you started: 1
Next to be read: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Amount of time spent reading since last update: 1 hour
Running total of time spent reading since you started: 1 hour
Total pages read: 83
Mini-challenges completed: 0
Prizes won: 0
Caffeinated drinks consumed: Still working on my first

Readathon is under way!

It's 8 a.m. here -- I've got my stack of books, the family has been given numerous warnings throughout the week that I will be unavailable today, and I'm ready to go! I even planned ahead this time and have several templates drafted for updates, so all I have to do is fill them in.

Instead of relisting the books that I'm going to tackle today, I thought it'd be fun to use my (relatively) new camera and snap a pic:

It's a little blurry, I know, I'm having problems with the focus. Guess that's what I get for letting my 7- and 5-year-old nephew and niece use the camera on our last outing. Not sure how many of these I'll get through, but I'm going to give it a shot. (And I can thank my dog for the Bill Bryson book looking rough at the corners -- needless to say, we broke him of that chewing on the books habit REALLY quick).

Happy reading, everyone!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes

Title: Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy

Author: Frances Mayes

First Published: 1999

No. of Pages: 286

Synopsis (from B&N): "In this follow-up to her bestselling account of her love affair with Tuscany, Mayes carries forward the concerns and people of Under the Tuscan Sun, while exploring new themes: gardening, travel throughout Italy, deepening friendships with Italians, and primavera, a new season. Interweaving sections on language, art, food, and wine with her journeys in Italy, this [book] captures what Mayes has called 'the voluptuousness of Italian life' in the lyrical, sensuous style that distinguishes her previous work."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Nonfiction

Comments and Critique: I'm a very down-to-earth type of person, very literal and rational-minded, so this book is a departure from the style I'm normally drawn to. The author's style is very ephemeral, almost artistic in its way, giving you the sound and smell of the surroundings instead of the more literal descriptions you often find in travel books. An example:

"The road from Cortona to Montepulciano, one of my favorites, levels from terraced olive groves to luxive, undulating hills, brilliant with golden wheels of wheat in summer, and now in spring, bright green with cover crops and long grasses. I can almost see the July fields in bloom with girasoli, giant sunflowers, the hallelujah chorus of crops."

I can see Van Gogh and Monet in my mind's eye when I read scenes like that. Another difference between this and other travel books is that this author is so much more literary, quoting poetry and referencing books that I've never heard of (which doesn't do much for my self-image as a bibliophile, I must say). This is to be expected since she is a poet and the chair of the creative writing department at an American university, but it does make for a different reading experience. I like the way this book is different and hope to read more by this author in the future.

Challenges: 999 ("Travel")

Monday, April 13, 2009

What are you reading on Mondays? -- April 13

Recent completions:

Reading this week:

Bella Tuscany: the Sweet Life in Italy by Frances Mayes

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis

Up next:

Next weekend (April 18-19) is the semi-annual Dewey's 24 hour Read-a-thon, and although I don't expect to finish all of these, I thought I'd give a sneak peek of what I might be reading then:

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupèry

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

The Rosary: A Journey to the Beloved by Gary Jansen

The Uncommon Reader: A Novella by Alan Bennett


Another week, another dud: I'd picked I've Been Gone Far Too Long: Field Study Fiascoes and Expedition Disasters to read as part of the 999 Challenge. The Amazon review described it as "a compendium of hysterically funny travel crises," which sounded right up my alley. To be kind, let's just say that I was disappointed. I didn't find the stories either funny or arising to the level of crises. My overall feeling was that these were stories that you'd probably hear from friends and acquaintances about their travels in which you'd smile good-naturedly and then diplomatically change the subject. And maybe the stories would be slightly amusing if you had been there or if they had been written by trained humor writers, rather than by scientists. Don't get me wrong, I'm highly appreciative of the work scientists do, but they're not exactly known for their ability to make you guffaw.

Book Awards II complete

I deviated from my original list, but I did read 10 award-winning books so I'm marking this one as complete. I'm hoping that there'll be a Book Awards III this year -- there are a number of awards that I've never paid any attention to and another challenge will help me go outside my comfort zone. Anyway, the books that I read for the challenge this time ended up being as follows:

Atonement by Ian McEwan (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, 2002) -- review here

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton (winner of the PEN/Hemingway award, 1988) -- review here

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (winner of the Man Booker prize, 1997)

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (winner of the Pulitzer Prize, 1940) -- review here

Life of Pi by Yann Martel (winner of the Man Booker prize, 2002) -- review here

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (García Márquez won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982) -- review here

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (winner of the PEN/Faulkner award, 1995) -- review here

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre (winner of the Edgar Award, 1965) -- review here

Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener (winner of the Pulitzer Prize, 1948) -- review here

The World According to Garp by John Irving (winner of the National Book Award, 1980) -- review here

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Eleanor of Aquitaine by Marion Meade

Title: Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography

Author: Marion Meade

First Published: 1977

No. of Pages: 355

Synopsis (from Amazon): "A comprehensive account of the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine. The wife of King Louis VII of France and then of King Henry II of England, and mother to Richard Coeur de Lion and King John, she became the key political figure of the 12th century. Eleanor's long life inspired a number of legends. At twenty-five she set out for the Holy Land as a Crusader and at seventy-eight she crossed the Pyreness to Spain to fetch the granddaughter whose marriage would be, she hoped, a pledge of peace between England and France. This is a compassionate biography of this charismatic queen and the world she ruled over."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Nonfiction

Comments and Critique: I've known for years that Eleanor of Aquitaine played an important role in the history of England and France, but not until I read this book did I truly understand just how large and historically important that role was. She was never the type of woman to sit back and let life happen to her -- she was active from her youth through her last years, and not just in the ways that women were traditionally active. She was not only a Crusader, but actually led armies, occasionally against her own husband. She was also incredibly intelligent, politically astute, beautiful, and hardy enough to outlive 2 husbands and 8 of her 10 children. Clearly, a force to be reckoned with.

The book is well-researched and balanced. The persons discussed are presented in as much depth as you could expect this many centuries on. There are no paintings or other artwork to be relied on to give us an idea of what everyone looked like, so you have to use your imagination quite a bit, but that is certainly no fault of the author's. Incidentally, I couldn't help but have a mental picture of Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor the whole way through the book, brought on from her portrayal in "The Lion in Winter," a superb bit of casting and a great movie to watch in conjunction with this book (trivia #1: Katherine Hepburn is actually descended from Eleanor of Aquitaine). I'd also recommend "Becket," with Richard Burton as Thomas Becket and Peter O'Toole as Henry II (trivia #2: Peter O'Toole also played Henry II in The Lion in Winter and was nominated for Best Actor both times).

Challenges: 999 ("Biography"); It's Good to Be Queen

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Nonfiction 5 Challenge 2009

Trish from Trish's Reading Nook has also graciously taken over the Nonfiction 5 Challenge this year. I love nonfiction, so this is one of my favorite recurring challenges.

The Rules: (unchanged from previous years)

1. Read 5 non-fiction books during the months of May - September, 2009 (please link your reviews on Mister Linky each month; Mister Linky can be found each month on Trish's blog)

2. Read at least one non-fiction book that is different from your other choices (i.e.: 4 memoirs and 1 self-help)

3. If interested, please sign up with the link to your NFF Challenge post (all choices do not need to be posted and may change at any time)

My choices for this year are:

Josephine: A Life of the Empress by Carolly Erickson -- completed 5/21/09; review here

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert -- completed 7/5/09; review here

Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa and Sarah Lennox, 1750-1832 by Stella Tillyard -- completed 5/12/09; review here

Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration by Antonia Fraser -- completed 9/19/09; review

Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle -- completed 7/25/09; review here

Classics Challenge

Since I've got a bunch of classics on my list for this year anyway:

This challenge is being hosted by Trish of Trish's Reading Nook. The challenge runs April 1 through October 31. Cross-posting is allowed and lists can change at any time. The challenge has a dedicated blog.

The participation levels are:

1. Classics Snack - Read FOUR classics
2. Classics Entree - Read FIVE classics
3. Classics Feast - Read SIX classics

Bonus round (optional): Choose a book from the list of potential future classics at the blog and read that in addition to the classics you have picked.

I'm going for the classics entree. My list:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte -- completed 4/29/09; review here

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells -- completed 4/21/09; review here

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen -- completed 7/21/09; review here

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton -- completed 8/2/09; review

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley -- completed 9/1/09; review

Bonus round: TBD

Friday, April 10, 2009

Summer Vacation Reading Challenge

Another great challenge, yay!!

Molly at My Cozy Book Nook is hosting her first challenge. The goal is to read either 3 or 6 books between May 22 (just prior to Memorial Day) and September 7 (Labor Day). You can read books from any genre, but they must allow you to "travel" to a locale that you would like to visit.

The levels are participation are:

Beach Bum: read 3 books; cross-over book selections from other challenges may count; and you do not have to list books in advance.

Globe Trotter: commit to reading 6 pre-selected books during this time frame, but you may substitute up to 3 books due to changes in travel plans. Cross-overs for 5 out of the 6 books are allowed, but ideally one book will be read for this challenge alone.

And there are prizes! There'll be a prize for participants signing up before May 15 and a grand prize for finishing the challenge (1 each, to be drawn randomly).

I'm choosing the Globe Trotter option. The books I'm selecting are:

The Fill in the Gaps 100 Project

When I read about this project on Michelle's (a.k.a. 3M) blog, I knew I had to join.

The idea is to pick 100 books (probably ones that you've always meant to read but never have) and read them over the course of 5 years. Many readers are going with the idea that completion of the project consists of reading 75% of their lists (in other words, giving yourself a 25% margin for error in case you just can't stand some of the books). There's a dedicated blog for the project where participants can post their lists, reviews, and general comments.

My Fill in the Gaps Project will end on April 9, 2014.

My list:

1. Achebe, Chinua -- Things Fall Apart
2. Ackroyd, Peter -- The Lambs of London
3. Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi -- Half of a Yellow Sun
4. Allende, Isabel -- The House of the Spirits
5. Amis, Kingsley -- Lucky Jim
6. Amis, Martin -- Money: A Suicide Note
7. Andrić, Ivo -- Bosnian Chronicle
8. Anonymous -- The Thousand and One Nights
9. Arenas, Reinaldo -- Before Night Falls
10. Atwood, Margaret -- Oryx and Crake
11. Aurellius, Marcus -- Meditations
12. Barnes, Julian -- Flaubert's Parrot
13. Bolaño, Roberto -- The Savage Detectives
14. Borges, Jorge Luis -- Ficciones
15. Bryson, Bill -- Shakespeare: The World as Stage
16. Buckley, Christopher -- Thank You for Smoking
17. Burgess, Anthony -- A Clockwork Orange
18. Calvino, Italo -- If on a winter's night a traveler
19. Camus, Albert -- The Outsider
20. Carey, Peter -- Oscar and Lucinda
21. Chabon, Michael -- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
22. Chandler, Raymond -- The Long Goodbye
23. Chandra, Vikram -- Sacred Games
24. Cheever, John -- The Collected Stories of John Cheever
25. Choderlos de Laclos, Pierre -- Dangerous Liaisons
26. Coelho, Paulo -- Veronika Decides to Die
27. Coetzee, J.M. -- The Life and Times of Michael K
28. Collins, Wilkie -- The Woman in White
29. Diaz, Junot -- The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao
30. Dickens, Charles -- David Copperfield
31. Dostoevsky, Fyodor -- The Brothers Karamazov
32. Dumas, Alexandre -- The Three Musketeers
33. Eggers, Dave -- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
34. Eliot, George -- Middlemarch -- completed 7/12/09; review
35. Faludi, Susan -- Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women
36. Faulkner, William -- Light in August
37. Fielding, Henry -- Tom Jones
38. Fitzgerald, F. Scott -- This Side of Paradise
39. Flaubert, Gustave -- Bouvard and Pécuchet
40. Ford, Ford Madox -- The Good Soldier
41. Forster, E.M. -- A Room with a View
42. Galsworthy, John -- The Forsyte Saga
43. García Márquez, Gabriel -- Autumn of the Patriarch
44. Gaskell, Elizabeth -- North and South
45. Golden, Arthur -- Memoirs of a Geisha
46. Goldsmith, Oliver -- The Vicar of Wakefield
47. Gordimer, Nadine -- TBD
48. Greene, Graham -- Our Man in Havana
49. Hamid, Mohsin -- The Reluctant Fundamentalist
50. Hammett, Dashiell -- Red Harvest
51. Hanif, Mohammed -- A Case of Exploding Mangoes
52. Hardy, Thomas -- Far from the Madding Crowd
53. Hemingway, Ernest -- For Whom the Bell Tolls
54. Hesse, Herman -- Rosshalde
55. Hugo, Victor -- Les Misérables
56. Ishiguro, Kazuo -- TBD
57. Johnson, Diane -- Le Divorce
58. Joyce, James -- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
59. Kafka, Franz -- The Trial
60. Kalish, Mildred Armstrong -- Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression
61. Kapuscinski, Ryszard --Travels with Herodotus
62. Kundera, Milan -- The Unbearable Lightness of Being
63. Lahiri, Jhumpa -- Interpreter of Maladies
64. Lawrence, D.H. -- Lady Chatterley's Lover
65. Levi, Primo -- Survival in Auschwitz
66. Lewis, C.S. -- The Chronicles of Narnia
67. Lewis, M.G. -- The Monk
68. Llosa, Mario Vargas -- The Cubs and Other Stories -- completed 5/3/09; review
69. Macintyre, Ben -- Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal
70. Martel, Yann -- The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios
71. Maugham, Somerset -- Of Human Bondage
72. Maupin, Armistead -- Tales of the City
73. McEwan, Ian -- Amsterdam
74. Montgomery, L.M. -- Anne of Green Gables
75. Murakami, Haruki -- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
76. Naipaul, V.S. -- A Bend in the River -- completed 9/3/09; review
77. Nemirovsky, Irene -- Suite Francaise
78. Neruda, Pablo -- TBD
79. Paxman, Jeremy -- On Royalty: A Very Polite Inquiry into some Strangely Related Families
80. Radcliffe, Ann -- The Mysteries of Udolpho
81. Rand, Ayn -- The Fountainhead
82. Remnick, David -- Resurrection: The Struggle for a New Russia
83. Rushdie, Salman -- The Satanic Verses
84. Saramago, Jose -- The Double
85. Sayers, Dorothy L. -- Murder Must Advertise
86. Self, Will -- The Book of Dave
87. Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr -- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
88. Steinbeck, John -- TBD
89. Stendhal -- The Charterhouse of Parma
90. Stevenson, Robert Louis -- Treasure Island
91. Tarkington, Booth -- Alice Adams
92. Tolstoy, Leo -- The Kreutzer Sonata
93. Trollope, Anthony -- Barchester Towers
94. Voltaire -- Candide
95. Waugh, Evelyn -- Decline and Fall
96. Wharton, Edith -- Ethan Frome -- completed 8/2/09; review
97. Winterson, Jeanette -- Written on the Body
98. Wodehouse, P.G. -- Thank You, Jeeves
99. Woolf, Virginia -- Mrs. Dalloway
100. Zola, Emile -- Nana -- completed 10/11/09; review

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Title: Atonement

Author: Ian McEwan

First Published: 2001

No. of Pages: 351

Synopsis (from B&N): "Set in 1935 England, this "New York Times" bestseller is enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class, making it a profound--and profoundly moving--exploration of shame and forgiveness, of atonement and the difficulty of absolution."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: I can't begin to tell you how much I loved this book. The author's style is incredibly engaging. The plot holds your interest, but the book is also very strong on character development. The characters are fully fleshed out and you feel like you're reading about people you know and care about. The level of detail of the historical settings is very descriptive. I don't want to say anything much about the plot, as it's all important and I don't want to give anything away. I haven't yet seen the movie adaptation but I've also heard good things about it and am looking forward to watching it. A fabulous book, highly recommended.

Awards: Man Booker Award, 2001 (shortlist); Commonwealth Writers' Prize, 2002 (European region winner)

Challenges: 999 ("Booker/National Book Award"); Book Awards II; Complete Booker

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Kristi at Books and Needlepoint recently gave me this lovely award:

Isn't it pretty?

The Rules:
1) Put the logo on your blog/post.
2) Nominate up to 9 blogs which allure, amuse, bewitch, impress, or inspire you.
3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let them know that they have been splashed by commenting on their blog.
5) Remember to link to the person from whom your received your Splash award.

Unfortunately, I think every blog I read has already received this award, so I have no one left to pass it on to:(

But please know that I'm impressed, inspired, and often amused by all my book blogging friends.

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's Monday, what are you reading?

I had planned to participate in this last week, and even started writing a post, but somehow never got around to finishing it. But not being a quitter (at least not right off the bat), I thought I'd try again.


Recent completions:

The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah -- review here

Catholicism for Dummies by Rev. John Trigilio Jr. and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti -- review here

Reading this week:

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Biography by Marion Meade

I've Been Gone Far Too Long: Field Trip Fiascoes and Expedition Disasters edited by Monique Borgerhoff Mulder and Wendy Logsdon

Up next:

The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis

I'm also gleefully looking forward to the April 2009 version of the 24-hour Read-a-thon, happening April 18-19 (just under 2 weeks from now!). I've got a bunch of short books picked out and am really looking forward to making some headway in my challenges. Sign-ups are open now.

Recently acquired titles:

None lately, but I did win a copy of A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal from Teddy that I'm very excited to add to my collection.


One of the books that I picked for the World Citizen Challenge turned out to be a bit of a snooze, but I'm not sure if it was the book or if I just wasn't in the right frame of mind. Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt sounded interesting and was, to a certain extent, but then I lost interest around the third chapter. I may give it another try or maybe pick up the audio version (shout out to my library for being so AWESOME in its collection!), so I'll let you know how it turns out.

It's Monday! What are you reading this week? is a weekly event hosted by J Kaye's Book Blog to list books completed last week, books currently being reading, and books to be finished this week.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Catholicism for Dummies by Rev. John Trigilio and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti

Title: Catholicism for Dummies

Author: Rev. John Trigilio and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti

First Published: 2003

No. of Pages: 394

Synopsis (from B&N): "Whether you’re a Catholic or not, you may be totally clueless or just unaware of some aspects of Catholic traditions, history, doctrine, worship, devotion, or culture. No sweat. Regardless of whether you’re engaged, married, related to a Catholic, or just curious about what Catholics really do believe, this book is for you.

Catholicism For Dummies is not a catechism or religious textbook, but a casual, down-to-earth introduction for non-Catholics and reintroduction for Catholics. It gives commonsense explanations so that the next time you’re invited to a Catholic wedding, Baptism, funeral, Confirmation, or First Communion, you won’t be totally confused. You’ll also discover other important topics that can help you better understand the Catholic culture—from morality and devotions to worship and liturgy. This book will familiarize you with Catholicism by showing you:

What it means to be a Catholic: traditions, prayers, beliefs, and holidays
Who is who in the Catholic hierarchy
How Catholics worship
What the Seven Sacraments and Ten Commandments are
The book regarded as the holiest to Catholics: The Bible
The Church’s stand on some sticky issues

Catholicism For Dummies presents a rich tapestry andhistory of the Catholic faith—from devotions to doctrines. This intelligent and faithful look at Catholicism will open your eyes to this religion and answer many of the questions you may have about it."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Nonfiction

Comments and Critique: A great introductory look at the Catholic Church. It provides a succinct overview of the Church's beliefs and practices with the standard "for Dummies" touches, including useful icons to point out technical info, tips, items to remember, etc., and the lighthearted humor found in other "Dummies" books. My only negative comment is that for every topic presented, I thought of at least a dozen questions that I wondered about in more detail. But this book is not meant to provide in-depth discussions of topics, so the fact that it didn't provide all the answers is not a defect in any way.

Also, in case you wonder, this book received an imprimatur, which is an official declaration that a publication is free of doctrinal or moral error. While the lack of an imprimatur does not automatically mean that a publication contains errors, anyone interested in learning what the Church truly teaches (especially if you're a non-Catholic) should look it for in a book to avoid the possibility of receiving inaccurate and possibly biased information. I'm going to be reading a number of books about Catholicism this year and I will indicate in my comments for each whether it received this designation.

Challenges: 999 ("Catholicism")

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Giveaways of the week

It's time for the Giveaways of the Week!

Teddy is giving away up to 3 copies of the audiobook version of Drood by Dan Simmons. Contest ends April 17, open to US and Canada only. Enter here. (Teddy has several more giveaways going as well, so be sure to look around).

J. Kaye is giving away an ARC of The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams. Winner will be announced April 25 on J. Kaye's blog and will NOT be notified by email. Open to US and Canada and you must be 18. Enter here.

Amy is giving away Mary, Queen of France by Jean Plaidy. Contest ends April 5, open everywhere. Enter here.

Unmainstream Mom has 5 copies of The Crimes of Paris by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler to give away. Contest ends April 11, US and Canada only. Enter here.

Also giving away 3 copies of The Crimes of Paris is Julie. Contest ends April 15, US and Canada only. Enter here.

Modern Library's 100 Best Novels ongoing list

The goal of this challenge is to read all the books contained on the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels list. 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. The books included were picked by the Board of the Modern Library; there is also a Reader's list and a "rival" list composed by the Radcliffe Publishing Course at the request of the Modern Library. You can view the lists here. My list may contain books from all 3 lists -- I will indicate in which of the lists a particular book is included, along with the ranking. Click on the book titles to read my reviews.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (Board #58, Radcliffe #42)
Animal Farm by George Orwell (Board #31, Readers #20, Radcliffe #17)
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (Readers #1, Radcliffe #92)
The Awakening by Kate Chopin (Radcliffe #50)
Beloved by Toni Morrison (Readers #31, Radcliffe #7)
A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul (Board #83)
The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (Radcliffe #65)
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Board #5, Readers #18, Radcliffe #16)
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (Board #80, Readers #88, Radcliffe #74)
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (Board #7, Readers #12, Radcliffe #15)
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (Board #64, Readers #19, Radcliffe #2)
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (Radcliffe #60)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Readers #77)
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (Board #74, Readers #91, Radcliffe #20)
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Readers #24, Radcliffe #26)
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor (Radcliffe #61)
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (Board #10, Readers #22, Radcliffe #3)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Board #2, Readers #13, Radcliffe #1)
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Readers #53)
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (Board #69)
Howards End by E.M. Forster (Board #38, Radcliffe #52)
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Radcliffe #53)
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (Board #19, Readers #69, Radcliffe #24)
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (Radcliffe #45)
Kim by Rudyard Kipling (Board #78, Radcliffe #95)
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (Board #4, Readers #34, Radcliffe #11)
Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Board #41, Readers #25, Radcliffe #8)
The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington (Board #100)
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (Board #90, Radcliffe #100)
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (Board #13, Readers #6, Radcliffe #9)
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (Radcliffe #12)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (Readers #90, Radcliffe #28)
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster (Board #25, Radcliffe #59)
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (Radcliffe #71)
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (Board #18, Readers #23, Radcliffe #29)
Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence (Board #9, Radcliffe #64)
Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Board #28, Radcliffe #62)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Readers #5, Radcliffe #4)
The World According to Garp by John Irving (Readers #64, Radcliffe #37)

I Suck at Challenges update #3

I haven't completed any challenges since the last update and I've managed to add a couple more challenges to my list. But I am making progress.

1% Well-Read: 2/10 *** NEW
18th and 19th Century Women Writers: 0/5
999 Challenge (the biggie): 14/81
A to Z Challenge: 14/26
Book Awards II: 8/10
Chunkster: 0/3
Decades '09: 4/9
Dewey's Books: 1/6
Dewey Decimal: 5/10
It's Good to Be Queen: 0/3 *** NEW
Orbis Terrarum: 2/10 *** NEW
Spring Reading Thing: 0/9 *** NEW
TBR Lite: 2/6
What's in a Name 2: 3/6
World Citizen Challenge: 3/7

The Non-fiction Five Challenge starts next month, so that'll be another one to add to my list. I'm also planning to tack on the Classics Challenge, the Elizabeth Gaskell mini-challenge, the George Eliot mini-challenge, and the Baker Street Challenge, plus I'm looking for a good Agatha Christie challenge.

Booking Through Thursday - April 2

I haven't done one of these for some time, but this week's topic jumped up and grabbed me.

"I saw that National Library week is coming up in April, and that led to some questions. How often do you use your public library and how do you use it? Has the coffeehouse/bookstore replaced the library? Did you go to the library as a child? Do you have any particular memories of the library? Do you like sleek, modern, active libraries or the older, darker, quiet, cozy libraries?"

The library is one of my all-time favorite places. In fact, the very word "library" makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, that's how much I love it. I use my local library constantly -- we're blessed to have a wonderful collection of books (including audio), CD's, and DVD's, and the collection is always growing. And if they don't have a particular something, you can request it through interlibrary loan and it usually shows up in just a day or two.

I used my library in part so as not to buy every single book that I want to read, in an attempt to keep my personal library under control (as it's now over 800 books strong, I don't know how successful I am). I also take advantage of the other items available -- getting DVD's there sure beats paying to rent them. About the only thing I don't use that the library offers is the Internet, only because I'm on it what seems like every minute of the day anyway.

I don't think libraries are being replaced at all, I know mine is always full of people no matter what day or time I go there. And considering the library collection beats any bookstore's inventory hands down, I don't know why anyone would choose the store (unless they just need the coffee that bad).

I can't think of a time when I didn't love the library. I remember being in elementary school and going to our local library (a very, very small one) and wanting to spend hours, maybe days, there. Nowhere was I as happy and content as browsing the stacks. The feel and smell of the books, the orderliness to it all, the comfortable enveloping quiet, all the adventures and relationships waiting to be found between the covers of the books -- heaven on earth.