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

See my list here
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

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009-42: Podcasts

This idea comes from Dewey's own Weekly Geek idea list which she shared on her blog, and which I, thankfully, swiped before her blog was removed and can now glean from as I ponder new and hopefully fun Weekly Geek tasks.

Dewey worded it this way, "find and review a link to a book podcast." I'm modifying this just a bit and am asking you to share with us a podcast you love, preferably book related, but not necessarily so. Give us the link, of course, and share with us details about that podcast and why you enjoy it so much. If you have a couple or three favorites, share them all!

Then, as the week goes on, check out every one's suggestions, find time to listen to a few, then come back and let us know what you discovered, and if you've found a new favorite podcast.

If you don't listen to podcasts at all, tell us why, or what it would take to peak your interest in them. Perhaps you could do as Dewey suggests, and do a little research (google book podcasts) and find one, then post on your blog what you discover and if you liked it or not.

Be sure to sign Mr. Linky both for the post on your favorite podcast, and the post on what new favorites you discover this week.

Happy listening!

This subject is right up my alley. I use my iPod daily and subscribe to at least 50 different podcasts, many related to books in some way. There's no way I can pick only one favorite, but I'll limit myself to three recommendations.

First is the Guardian Books podcast, put out by the UK Guardian newspaper. It includes author interviews, book reviews, and various other book-related news and events. Part of the reason that I like it is that the participants are so honest with their opinions -- it's not unusual to hear them say things like, "This book/chapter/whatever is really quite terrible, isn't it?" in that British accent that we Yanks love. This honesty is so refreshing, especially in these days of often hypersensitivity and political correctness. Check out the Guardian's books multimedia page here or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes here.

A second great one is Slate's Audio Book Club. Each episode is 30-60 minutes and consists of three participants (usually editors, writers, or reviewers) discussing a book at length. The book may be modern bestseller, a classic or anything in between (although they seem to focus almost exclusively on fiction). I recently listened to them discuss Anna Karenina and was blown away by how much I got from the discussion. It's kind of like sitting in on group discussion with the best literature professors you've ever met. The participants can occasionally be a little snarky, but not enough to really affect your enjoyment. Check out the full list of Slate's podcasts (not limited to just the Audio Club, so you have to whittle it down) here or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes here.

My last recommendation is PRI's Selected Shorts. This is an hour-long podcast of short stories read by actors live at Symphony Space in NYC and at various locations throughout the US. There's a number of audiobook/story/poetry podcasts out there and this one is by far the best, in large part because the readers are professional actors and therefore know how to read a story aloud. Check out their website here, download it from the NPR site here or subscribe in iTunes here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

TSS - Organization

I feel like I've been connected to my laptop by an umbilical cord this past week. I've been on it ALL THE TIME. Part of that is due to my becoming completely addicted to the Farmville game on Facebook (for which I'm receiving all sorts of gibing from my sisters, but I keep playing anyway). So, I figured that as long as I was on the computer 24/7 anyway, I might as well organize some of my book-related stuff.

I currently have accounts with both LibraryThing (for books I own) and Goodreads (for books I don't own but want to read), as well as PaperBackSwap (nickname: florida-fan) and BookMooch. I was looking around for a place that my son could trade some video games and signed up for Swaptree. This got me thinking about the books I've listed on PBS and Mooch that I haven't gotten any takers on. Maybe I could trade them on SwapTree? But to do this (and for my general well-being), I'd need to organize and update. So that's what I've started working on today. As an irritating aside to this, my computer has decided to run at snail speed, which makes this project oh so much more enjoyable.

My plan of attack is consists of several steps (some overlapping).

1. Search my LT account for books that can be disposed of. I currently own almost 900 books, but I tag them as read and unread, so maybe this won't take too long.
2. Classify books in my Goodreads account by genre and how much I want them.
3. Make sure I don't still have books listed somewhere that I no longer own.
4. Double-check whether my library has a book I want to read before putting/keeping it on a wishlist.

I don't know how long my enthusiasm for this project will last; I'm a great project-starter but not as good of a project-finisher. We'll see. At least it's something to do while my Farmville crops grow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Alyce of At Home with Books is giving away two copies of In the First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Contest open to U.S. and Canada through November 22.

Kristi of Books and Needlepoint is giving away three audiobook copies of What the Dog Saw by Macolm Gladwell. Contest open to U.S. and Canada through December 1.

J. Kaye of J. Kaye's Book Blog also has an audiobook copy of What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell. Contest open to U.S. and Canada through November 27.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Title: Tender is the Night

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

First Published: 1933

No. of Pages: 349

Synopsis (from B&N): "Set in the South of France in the decade after World War I, Tender Is the Night is the story of a brilliant and magnetic psychiatrist named Dick Diver; the bewitching, wealthy, and dangerously unstable mental patient, Nicole, who becomes his wife; and the beautiful, harrowing ten-year pas de deux they act out along the border between sanity and madness.

In Tender Is the Night, Fitzgerald deliberately set out to write the most ambitious and far-reaching novel of his career, experimenting radically with narrative conventions of chronology and point of view and drawing on early breakthroughs in psychiatry to enrich his account of the makeup and breakdown of character and culture.

Tender Is the Night is also the most intensely, even painfully, autobiographical of Fitzgerald's novels; it smolders with a dark, bitter vitality because it is so utterly true. This account of a caring man who disintegrates under the twin strains of his wife's derangement and a lifestyle that gnaws away at his sense of moral values offers an authorial cri de coeur, while Dick Diver's downward spiral into alcoholic dissolution is an eerie portent of Fitzgerald's own fate."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Fiction

Comments and Critique: I definitely agree with the statement in the synopsis that this was one of Fitzgerald's most ambitious and autobiographical novels. Whenever I read a novel by an author I've read before, I can't help but compare the works, and I found myself continually comparing this one to The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald's most famous work. I didn't love this novel as much as Gatsby, but in some ways it was a better work. You feel the characters' emotions more closely, so that some parts almost hurt you to read. The author gets more into the core of his characters here than he did in other works. Gatsby is a cleaner, more precisely written novel, but this one strikes closer to the bone.

The autobiographical nature of the book also jumps out at you throughout. I've heard that authors are constantly asked how much of themselves they put into their books and often the readers see more than is really there, but in this case you just know that it's not all fiction. I'm very curious to read more about Fitzgerald's life now and to see what critics have said about this book over the years.

I highly recommend this excellent book.

Challenges: 999 ("1001 Books"); (Another) 1% Well-Read; Guardian 1000 Novels ("Love"); Modern Library 100 Best Novels (#28 Board, #62 Radcliffe); Well-Rounded; What's in a Name? 2

(Another) 1% Well-Read Challenge completed

The challenge was to read 10 titles from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list (either the original or revised list). Here's what I read:

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne -- completed 3/21/09; review

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell -- completed 6/7/09; review

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

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle -- completed 3/15/09; review

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

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie -- completed 4/18/09; review

Nana by Emile Zola -- completed 10/11/09; review

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

Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald -- completed 11/8/2009; review

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

What's in a Name? 2 Challenge completed

The challenge was to read one book from each of six categories. I stuck to my original list of choices for all but one book. Here's what I read, with links to my reviews:

Profession: The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester -- completed 3/9/09; review

Time of day: Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald -- completed 11/8/09; review

Relative: Queenan Country: A Reluctant Anglophile's Pilgrimage to the Mother Country by Joe Queenan -- completed 1/21/09; review

Body part: A Fez of the Heart: Travels around Turkey in Search of a Hat by Jeremy Seal -- completed 8/7/09; review

Building: The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings: Poems, Tales, Essays, and Reviews by Edgar Allen Poe -- completed 1/24/09; review

Medical condition: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling -- completed 7/24/09; review