My sister posted the link to this little toy on Bookface, and I had fun playing with it last night. After plugging in a dozen or so of the longer entries from the stacks my destination, DFW was the clear winner, with Leo Tolstoy and James Joyce tying for second. I’m so sure. I got a good giggle out of it, though, when I plugged in my review of Rhett Butler’s People, and the result was … Margaret Mitchell! Hahaha. (For non-blog results, I kept getting ol’ JJ, with a single nod to Robert Louis Stevenson. Perhaps I ought to tighten things up.)
Nothing. Well, that’s not quite true. You see, I ran out of the library books that I WANT to read, and have a bunch more on hold the library that haven’t yet arrived (damn you, Multnomah County Library! *shakes fist*). All I’ve got left now are Margaret Irwin’s The Galliard, a very old-fashioned (and not especially accurate) Mary, Queen of Scots novel, and Cinderella Dreams: The Allure of the Lavish Wedding. So I’ve been supplementing by reading my totally rad (and interesting) American Heritage Cookbook circa 1969. Of course, the problem with that is now I want to make New England Boiled Dinners, chowder, and Anadama bread.
This week, I polished off Joan Aiken’s classic The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (one of my childhood favorites), Valerie Martin’s Property, Anya Seton’s The Hearth and Eagle (another factor in my cravings for New England cuisine), a classic Madeline L’Engle Chronos book, A Ring of Endless Light, and another of my crack books, The Morland Dynasty: The Victory by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. Not too shabby. I’m still getting back in gear post-wedding, but I do have a lot of catching up to do, here and at Gourmanderie.
This week, look forward to catch up book reports from December, as well as the new year. I’ve given up all thought of posting them in chronological order, but the reading dates will still be posted at the bottom of each book report–and there’s always the master lists to refer to.
Notice I haven’t been posting much of late, but I do have excuses, really, really good ones, too. You see, there was Christmas, and all that leads up to it, and well, it really doesn’t end till 7 January, thanks to celebrating Orthodox Christmas (hooray for the Julian calendar!)–although, it ought not to end till then for the rest of you if you’re doing the Twelve Days of Christmas right. So you know, there was a great deal of baking and shopping and cleaning and cooking and decorating and celebrating to do. And then there’s that whole wedding thing, which is fast approaching (less than three weeks now!). And as a consequence of that, I’ve been working extra hours for the cold, hard cash, and been occupied with things like petticoats and veils, and making roses out of Persuasion and Emma, and figuring out how many waffles sixty-odd (very odd) people might eat, and what to dance to. You know how it is.
But! I have been reading, and reading plenty. I hope to buckle down and bust out those reviews this week during a lull before things get REALLY crazy and I get REALLY behind. My last book of 2009 was World War Z, an oddly fitting choice. It’s been a good year (or not quite an entire year, since I started in April), and I’ve read some good books, and complete five reading challenges.
How many books read in 2009?
129 that I counted for the blog since its inception 20 April. Plus, there was one I kept not putting on the list because I needed to scan the cover (it’s INTEGRAL) to the review!), and I did actually skim all of Julie and Julia one night (feh!), but was too embarrassed to mention it. So, 131? And I suppose I could estimate another oh, 70-80 for January through mid-April. So just about 200ish? I could have done better, but that’s a fairly respectable number, I think.
How many fiction and nonfiction?
Lucky for me, I counted as I went! This was an odd year, with only four non-fiction reads that I counted. I haven’t the faintest how much during winter and early spring was non-fiction, but probably more. I won’t hazard a guess, however. It’s been a banner year for fiction in my household!
Male/female author ratio?
83 authoresses (plus one editrix), and 51 authors/editors. I must credit my habit of reading several works in a writer’s oeuvre for the really excellent, if somewhat skewed, ratio of women to men. But hurrah for the ladies! Special shout-outs to Noel Streatfeild, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, and of course, Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Favourite book of 2009?
Out of those I’d never before read, definitely The Joyous Season by Patrick Dennis, Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, David Garnett’s lovely Lady into Fox, the horrifying The Terror by Dan Simmons, and the always excellent Richard Peck and Ghosts I Have Been. Also notable was Cynthia Harrod-Eagles’ Morland Dynasty, a series I have been enjoying very much.
There were some really enjoyable books, but those stand out the most.
Oh my god, by far Rhett Butler’s People, a travesty. I’ve been so disgusted by it that I haven’t been able to write about it yet.
Any that you simply couldn’t finish, and why?
I am ashamed to say that I’ve had The Lady’s Not for Burning by Christopher Fry out on library loan for MONTHS now. I started it, and after maybe a dozen pages, I put it down. And I haven’t been able to pick it back up for more than a page at a time. I have no idea why. I feel like I would love it, but I cannot make myself read it! What’s wrong with me? And I couldn’t get into Little, Big fast enough, and had to return it unfinished to the library. Bah!
I also lost interest in Stendhal’s The Red and the Black and Zola’s Thérèse Raquin. And between losing Villette by Charlotte Brontë, and finding it again months later, I haven’t been able to finish it. Oh, and fucking Waverly (Sir Walter Scott).
I am a dreadful person, uncultured and barbaric. Read the rest of this entry »
Suggested by JM:
“Life is too short to read bad books.” I’d always heard that, but I still read books through until the end no matter how bad they were because I had this sense of obligation.
That is, until this week when I tried (really tried) to read a book that is utterly boring and unrealistic. I had to stop reading.
Do you read everything all the way through or do you feel life really is too short to read bad books?
I have a hard time not finishing books, even when they suck and are total crap. I finished both The DaVinci Code and Neanderthal, for crying out loud! Sometimes I keep reading because it’s like a trainwreck, and I can’t help myself from seeing how bad it’s gonna get. I also have a perilously short attention span, and would rather be reading even drivel than entertaining myself inside of my head (how DO people do that?). For me, it’s the craving that beaver stew and hoecake could never appease.
Offhand, I can’t think of the last book I put down in disgust and didn’t pick back up.
Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!
Though there is something to be said for an autobiography, and the firsthand knowledge and the alluring intimacy it can offer, I tend to prefer biographies written about people. In a biography, the narrative isn’t filtered through the subject’s own ego, and it may be possible to gain a more objective view. Then again, the fascination of a really remarkable autobiographical document, such as The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans, is something not to be missed. Of course, there is the danger of a biased biographer, but we must learn to pick and choose our sources for reputable biography, considering them as we would any primary and secondary source materials. No matter which you choose to read, you ought to always consider the bias of the writer: What is their purpose in writing this? What story are they telling?
One thing I enjoy about biographies, is the sometimes vast access to documents both public and private, and they way that these become more accessible to a wider public. And the best ones will have various documents written by the subject, providing those intimate glimpses, those “truths” in which we’re so interested.
Of course, I tend to read biographies of people who are centuries dead, which does bias me, as there is little to no chance of a tell-all biography being published!
Some of my favorite biographies: Queen of Scots by John Guy, Madame Sarah by Cornelia Otis Skinner, Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman
Favorite autobiographies: The Kids Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans, I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
Suggested by Jennysbooks:
Something I’ve been thinking about lately: “What words/phrases in a blurb make a book irresistible? What words/phrases will make you put the book back down immediately?”
Honestly, I don’t pay that much attention to blurbs. I know a lot of them are done as reciprocal favors, and beyond that, the hyperbole is sometimes laughable. I might take a second glance at a book if I should see one by an author I really like and respect, but then again, after the Hell House debacle (“Hell House is the scariest haunted house novel ever written. It looms over the rest the way the mountains loom over the foothills.” –Stephen King), maybe I won’t.
(Blurb is a funny word.)