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42 of 52

A Pulitzer-Prize winning book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Published 1960.

I've never seen the film, and I had never read the book, either. But what a book it is. Scout's voice is spot-on for an intelligent child of six, seven, and eight. Though the narration all seems to happen at once -- reflecting upon past events -- her behavior and dialogue mature as she does, though she remains Scout from start to finish. I loved Calpurnia, too, and of course Atticus. I'm not sure how often I will visit this book again, but I'm very glad I read it.

Onward and upward: I started Philip Larkin's Jill last night. It should be a quick read. Nina George's The Little Paris Bookstore is in the car, and I am pretty enchanted by it. And I've got The Weird Sisters on my iPod, which I have listened to at least half of during work.

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A book more than 100 years old: Villette by Charlotte Bronte. First published in 1853.

LOVED IT. Lucy was far too tolerant of Monsieur Paul -- imperious little twerp -- but her behavior was appropriate, given the time it was written. I like Lucy, who is ferociously independent and makes her way in the world while remaining true to herself and her values. There is a constant undercurrent of hopelessness in the story that makes it difficult to read at times, though.

A memoir: Life from Scratch: a Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin. National Geographic, 2015.

I like the recipes peppered throughout the book and plan to try some of them eventually. I hadn't heard of Sasha Martin or her blog before reading this, though I will take a peek when I have time; cooking recipes from a different country every week is an astounding feat that took her almost four years to accomplish. She doesn't hide the sadness or ugliness of her experiences growing up, alternately bounding between foster homes and living with her mother. She makes peace with some of the people in her life, but the book ends with some things still unsaid, which is realistic.

Onward and upward: eleven books to go! I'm still listening to Mockingbird and should finish some time this week.

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A book written by an author with your same initials: Mike and Psmith by P. G. Wodehouse. Public domain, first published 1909.

Okay, so my middle name doesn't start with a G, but it was either Wodehouse or Patricia C. Wrede, and my middle name doesn't start with a C, either. First and last will have to do.

This was as effervescent and carefree as the Jeeves books, which were the only Wodehouse I had read. Loved it!

Bed. Good night. I'll backtrack a little on Terrier and go forth from there.

38 of 52

I finished reading during lunch. Late lunch at 4 pm, after I blogged on my break. (Bad me.)

A book based entirely on its cover: You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day, foreword by Joss Whedon. Touchstone, 2015.

I'm not a fan of Felicia Day -- I've seen Doctor Horrible and a Vaginal Fantasy Book Club video (The Lions of Al-Rassan) and nothing else that she's been in -- but I'm not not a fan, either. I don't know enough yet to be a fan. I needed a memoir, and I want most of my books to be by female authors, and I like her in the two things I've seen, so that's enough.

I've read memoirs where the author seemed too desperate to be funny or intellectual or whatever, and it just rubbed me the wrong way, so I stopped reading. I could not be more different from Felicia, but I related to her anyway. I even photocopied several pages for personal use: things about her breakdown and how she got out of it, journaling for therapy, her work ethic, that sort of thing. So I won't forget. Other than that, I can't really say why I liked it, I just liked it.

Here's my progress report, now that we're 75% of the way through the year:

progress report 20151001

Click to see the full size image. IP = in progress, which you probably figured out on your own.

32, 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37 of 52

I fell off the blogging bandwagon, but I'm still reading.

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Onward and upward: I've got Villette on CDs in the car, To Kill a Mockingbird on the iPod (though I'm listening to The Nightmare Before Christmas right now -- happy October!), and You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) to read at lunches. I have Wodehouse's Mike and Psmith on my Kindle for bedside reading. I own or have checked out all the books I need for the rest of challenge, except for two that are in demand at the library.

I've already given thought to a reading challenge for next year, though I'm still a bit undecided on how many books, how many should be new to me, and whether or not I should do categories like I did this year. I have read several books this year that I want to visit again, and other books I've read are part of a series. I have no intention of doing the book-a-week pace again next year, though. Maybe one new-to-me book per month -- I'm so glad I have taken in so many new stories this year -- and reading at least one book every two weeks.

I've set up a separate board at Pinterest just for this challenge here.

31 of 52

A book of short stories: Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Day They Met (50 New Ways the World's Most Legendary Partnership Might Have Begun) by Wendy C. Fries. Published in 2015 by MX Publishing.

After about twenty stories, many of which showed the beginning and fell back into telling in the end, I felt like asking, "Are we there yet?" There wasn't as much variety as I had hoped; the vast majority of the stories happened in either the late nineteenth century or within the last two decades. It could have used another proofreader, too. Having said that, it's well written, and I did enjoy it. Just don't try reading it in one go. Try it in little sips, one or two stories at a time. You'll enjoy it more than if you bulldoze you way through it like I did. She writes damn good Sherlock fanfiction, and I'm delighted when someone crosses over into getting published. (This is AtlinMerrick.)

Onward and upward: The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear has made me laugh my ass off more than once, but at least one of those times was due to Bronson Pinchot's audio performance. I think I'm on the twelfth life now, so I'm pretty close to the end.

I might have done this one before

Bold the Books you've read.
Italicize the books you started and never finished.
Leave the others alone.

Titles from a BBC link. They think you'll have read only 6 books from the list. How many have you read?

1 - Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 - The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 - Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 - Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 - To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 - The Bible
7 - Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 - Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 - His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 - Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 - Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 - Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 - Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 - Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 - Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 - The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 - Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 - Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 - The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 - Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 - Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 - The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 - Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 - War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 - The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 - Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 - Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 - Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 - Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 - The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 - Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 - David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 - Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 - Emma - Jane Austen
35 - Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis
37 - The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 - Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 - Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 - Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 - Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 - The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 - One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 - A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 - The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 - Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 - Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 - The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 - Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 - Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 - Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 - Dune - Frank Herbert
53 - Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 - Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 - A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth.
56 - The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 - A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 - Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 - Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 - Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 - Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 - The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 - The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 - Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 - On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 - Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 - Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 - Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 - Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 - Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 - Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 - The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 - Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 - Ulysses - James Joyce
76 - The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 - Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 - Germinal - Emile Zola
79 - Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 - Possession - AS Byatt.
81 - A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 - Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 - The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 - The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 - Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 - A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 - Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 - The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 - Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 - The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 - Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 - The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 - The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 - Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 - A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 - A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 - The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 - Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 - Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Someone at the BBC needed to proofread this; look at 33 and 36.

If I'm counting correctly (not entirely sure; I'm a bit tired), that's twelve started but not finished and thirty-one read.

Right. Dishes. Good night, all.


30 of 52

A book set in high school*: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark. First published by Macmillan in 1961. Audio performed by Miriam Margolyes.

I was a bit apprehensive about this category. I can't even watch Daria any more, because I either identify with the annoyances too much or am disdainful of everything else that goes on. Good news was that none of the young women was as insipid as I had feared. Bad news was that Miss Jean Brodie was. I thought the book well written, but I didn't like the story or any of the characters. I only kept reading because I liked the narration.

*I realize that "high school" doesn't exist in the UK in the same way it does in America, but the students are at the same school for the duration of the novel, and much of it takes place when they're 14-18 years old, so that's close enough for me.

Onward and upward: I've started Tamora Pierce's Terrier, the first in her three-book Beka Cooper series. I'm halfway through Wendy C. Fries's The Day They Met, which is fifty different ways Sherlock Holmes and John Watson might have encountered each other.

EDIT: Just to see which books fit which categories -- and in case I want to switch things around -- I've done another spreadsheet to keep track. Every book I've read fits at least four categories, and one of them fits twelve out of fifty-two. But even after thirty books, there are three categories that have no books: a book published this year, a book published the year I was born, and a book written by an author with my initials.

Image under the cut.Collapse )

Why yes, I am a huge nerd. Why do you ask?

27, 28, and 29 of 52

A book that became a movie: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. First published in 2007 by Knopf.

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A book that was originally written in a different language: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Translated into English by Alison Anderson. First published in 2008 by Europa Editions.

OH MY GOSH READ THIS BOOK. Read more...Collapse )

A book from your childhood: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Adapted into graphic novel format by Eric Shanower, line art by Skottie Young, color by . First published in 1900 by George M. Hill; graphic novel published by Marvel.

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Onward and upward: I just bought four audio books that I'm fairly certain I'll like, so that will keep me busy well into August. (I save up Audible credits for months without buying anything and then binge-buy four or five over a weekend.) Goodreads says I'm on track with the challenge, neither ahead of or behind schedule, but I want to get ahead again. I have lots of pocket parts and loose-leafs to file at work before the autumn semester begins, so I will have plenty of time in the stacks when I can focus part of my brain on the task in my hands and have enough brain left over to follow an audio book properly. I also have a trilogy of print books I haven't read yet, and each one can fulfill a category I haven't read yet, so I've pulled them off the shelf.

I have a new favorite action movie

I LOVED MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Some spoilers under the cut. Read more...Collapse )

EDIT: Here's a review with more things to say than Brilliant! Amazing! Fantastic!



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A book written by a woman A book written by someone under 30: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Written by Marie Kondo. Audio performed by Emily Woo Zeller, Tantor Audio, 2015.

Yes, it sounds like it's too good to be true. You can't tidy your home once and then be done, right? The jury is out for me, since I haven't finished or had time to maintain, but it sounds like it could work. Kondo was born with an instinct to keep her space tidy, and she has tried and studied many methods for organizing, storing, and tidying. (You hear the word "tidy" a lot in this book.) She doesn't seem to take mental illnesses like depression -- which affects motivation and whether or not you even care about a tidy home -- into account. She only focuses on tidiness (the place not being cluttered with stuff) and not on cleanliness. Since my home currently lacks both tidiness and cleanliness, I'm tackling the former first so there's less stuff to shift around when I do my annual occasional pre-holiday heavy cleaning. Cleaning has to be done when I dirty a dish or use a bath towel, but tidying only has to be done once, because the mind set behind the Konmari method stays with you and affects everything you acquire from there on out.

Her method centers around one question that you apply, individually, to EVERY SINGLE ITEM YOU OWN. Every knickknack, sock, dish towel, spatula, and photograph. You touch it and ask yourself, "Does this spark joy?" If it does, put it in its place. If it doesn't spark joy, then it gets donated, recycled, or put in the trash. I'm not sure if it's more cultural or religious, but she anthropomorphizes items, including writing utensils, clothes, books, and the house itself. As a result, when you do discard an item, you thank it for what it has done, even if all it did was give you the pleasure of buying it or show you that this isn't a good color on you. I don't assign emotions to inanimate objects, but thanking these things helped me make progress over the weekend.

Kondo's last name has even become a verb for jettisoning possessions that don't spark joy: "I Kondoed three bags of trash and enough recycling and shredded stuff to fill two recycling bins." (True story; I did this from Friday night to Sunday evening before collapsing on the sofa around 8 pm last night. I almost feel bad for not leaving enough space in the recycling bins for the other eight households in my building.) I thanked a perfectly good Winnie the Pooh, kissed his nose, and put him gently on a pile of books by the dumpster yesterday. Ten minutes later, a woman came by and took him with her. Instead of being squashed in a box in the garage, he's free to be loved by her nephew.

There's more to this than does-this-spark-joy. Absorbing the concept of only keeping things that make you happy isn't just about choosing material items in your home; it's a mind set that people have carried over into their personal and vocational lives. In that way, this is a sort of self help book. It's easy for me to be all gung ho at the beginning, which is where I am, but I have a hard time finishing what I start. Time will tell if it helps me, but I liked listening to this book, and I appreciate the motivation I got from it over the weekend. I was happy every time I put something in the trash or recycling, so even though I didn't find my passport and am going through a big disappointment because of this, I can truthfully say that it's been a good weekend. I'm already glad I got this book.

Here are a couple of blog posts about the method and its effects:



As for Marie Kondo herself, she has stopped taking individual clients and is training others her method so they can take on clients. If I find that this method works for me in the long term, I'll look into getting certified.

Onward and upward: twenty-six down and twenty-six to go! I'm two books ahead of my one-a-week pace, and that pleases me, but books are taking a back seat to finding my passport this week.

I'm still at FB but have otherwise fallen off the social media wagon recently. I'm okay, but I don't want to discuss why until I know the outcome of this passport thing. *waves to flist* I hope you all are doing well!

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A book set during Christmas: The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore. William Morrow & Co., 2004. Audio performed by Tony Roberts.

Another audio book, and I laughed my butt off from start to finish. At least three times per CD, I found myself muttering, "This is the weirdest shit I have ever heard." But when I wasn't marveling at the weirdness or wrinkling my nose at the casual sexism, I was cackling.

I needed a book set during Christmas for the challenge, but I didn't want romance or "the true meaning of Christmas" shoved down my throat. Eu-fucking-reka. There are a few romantic moments (as much smut as love), but once I read that there were zombies in the story, I knew I had found what I wanted. It's set in a small town on the central California coast, and when a boy who sees Santa take a shovel to the neck meets a not-too-bright angel of the Lord determined to grant a child's Christmas wish, all hell breaks loose. And that's not even taking a fruit bat with Ray Bans, a dope-smoking constable, or the former B-movie star off her meds into account.

Cynicism, dry humor, and the undead. This book is exactly what I wanted for Christmas. The ending was a bit weak and disappointing, but I liked it anyway.

Onward and upward: Fanfiction break! I will stay ahead of my book reading schedule, but I found a Sherlock fanfic series where Sherlock adopts Jim Moriarty's son. I've got to a good part -- lots of tension -- so everything else shall wait until I finish reading. (Next year, I'm including novel-length fanfics in any reading challenge I end up doing.)

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A book you can finish in a day: The Search for Delicious, written by Natalie Babbitt. First published in 1969.

I can't remember what sparked my interest in this title. Probably some "books to read to your kids" list from a blog or website I like. But it's been on my to-read list for some time, so when I got home from the dentist with half my face numb and a little sore yesterday afternoon, I picked it up. Took me so short a time to read that I still managed to spill water down my front after I finished the book. (Though you probably didn't need to know that.) I read Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt when I was in school, but I hadn't read anything else of hers. It's her first book as an author, though she had illustrated books for a few years before this.

It's a fairy tale and meant for children, perhaps eight to eleven years old, so it was a quick read, and few characters have any depth at all. The queen is contrary, her brother is wicked, the king is stubborn. Everyone fights over opinions, which I think is the point of the book. That, and pointing out the difference between a problem and an inconvenience. All in all, it's a charming story, and I'll look for a copy to give to Mimi for Christmas once she's into chapter books.

Onward and upward: I'm not making much progress with The Wind in the Willows; too bored. I am, however, still laughing my butt off at The Stupidest Angel when I'm in the car, but it's slow going because my car's CD player loses its place when I drive over rough roads. Half hour a day, tops. As Queen of the Last Minute, I haven't finished my Promptfest entry yet, so I shall find an audio book to listen to while I finish coloring tonight, tomorrow night, and over the weekend.

22 and 23 of 52

Trilogy 3: William Shakespeare's Star Wars: The Jedi Doth Return. Written by Ian Doescher. Illustrations by Nicolas Delort. Inspired by the works of George Lucas and William Shakespeare. Quirk Books, 2014.

The Ewoks' dialogue was a bit odd, since it was in verse but not iambic pentameter and had an AABA rhyming scheme, but it wasn't too off-putting. The final scenes went by a bit quickly, since there's so much action that can get summarized in a few lines of stage direction or dialogue. But I liked this one as much as I liked the other two. I'll go on to the prequel trilogy eventually, to see if Doescher can make them palatable.

A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't: Watership Down. Written by Richard Adams. Originally published in 1974. Audio book read by Ralph Cosham.

As with Kavalier and Clay, I lost patience toward the end of the audio book, grabbed the paper, and read it so I could get to the end quicker. Unlike K&C, I was completely enchanted by this book. I'd found it dull in eighth grade -- the only rabbit I was interested in was Bugs Bunny -- and pulled a shoddy book report out of Cliffs Notes. (Still got a C, though.) The mythology interwoven into the contemporary rabbits' story was interesting, and who ever thought a story about herbivores could be so thrilling? This is another for the bookshelves.

Onward and upward: I started The Stupidest Angel on audio and am on chapter three. This is one weird book, but I've laughed a lot already. A FB friend tried to get me to read her book (there is no justice in this world) since I needed something set during Christmas for the challenge. I told her that, at 41, I don't need the true meaning of Christmas or hearts and flowers shoved down my throat for the umpteenth time ... zombies suit my current frame of mind much more. She backed off. I've also started The Wind in the Willows, which might not be such a good idea immediately after Watership Down; too many beasties all at one time. But it's going quickly.

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A book that scares you: Jaws. Written by Peter Benchley. Doubleday, 1974.

Like Carrie, it was difficult to find spoilers or to get too scared by this because it's been so firmly entrenched in popular culture for decades. I was a couple of months old when the book came out, and I can't remember a time when I didn't know the famous music.

I would hide the rest of my thoughts because of spoilers, but this book is almost as old as I am, so I shan't bother.

I suppose there's some sort of metaphor or motif tying the shark attacks to Brody and his marital problems, but I am a shallow person and didn't see it. I found the latter jarring and out of place in the book. The dinner party especially seemed to unnecessarily slow down the story, and the Ellen/Matt affair was stilted and weird. Maybe this was good writing forty years ago, but it read like cliche after cliche. The shark parts, however, were interesting and, yes, scary at times, though familiarity with the story due to pop culture (even though I've never seen it) helped me avoid being truly frightened.

The book was okay. I'm glad it's over.

Onward and upward: I tried Sandry's Book a decade or two ago after seeing that Tamora Pierce had written something not-Tortall, but I couldn't get into it. I shall have another go. I'm in the middle of The Jedi Doth Return.

Wicked bad headache today. Not sure if I slept in a bad position or what, but I was so out of it that I only managed to eat a few bites of breakfast. For those of you who know me, you know that's unusual.

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Trilogy 2: William Shakespeare's Star Wars: The Empire Striketh Back. Written by Ian Doescher. Illustrations by Nicolas Delort. Inspired by the works of George Lucas and William Shakespeare. Quirk Books, 2014.

Here's another book (all three, actually) I may get in print at some point (from a used bookstore), even though I have the trilogy on my Kindle. There are illustrations, and they don't show up well on the little grainy screen.

Neither Boba Fett nor Yoda speaks in iambic pentameter like everyone else. (Even R2D2's beeps and Chewbacca's howls and chuckles have the correct number of syllables.) Boba Fett speaks in prose. Doescher figured that if Admiral Piett called bounty hunters scum, he could write Fett's words like Shakespeare wrote commoners' dialogue. But Yoda ... it took me a minute to figure that one out. I saw his dialogue was always put in groups of three lines, and then I thought to count the syllables. Yoda speaks in haiku!

The chorus describes the action sequences a little less in this book than in Verily, a New Hope, but we still get the gist of what goes on. I'm not sure how someone who has never seen the films would envision it, though. I can't remember a time that I wasn't obsessed with -- or at least a devotee of -- Star Wars.

Reading these books makes me wonder how this sort of story could be staged. Not just read, but performed. I'd love to see it. Like in Ashland, Oregon -- how would such a prestigious Shakespeare festival handle it? I'm not sure they'd touch it with a ten foot pole, but if they did, I think it could be fun.

Onward and upward: I started The Jedi Doth Return before I turned out the light last night. I probably won't get much done this weekend -- Mom's coming -- but I'll see what I can do. Despite slacking off over the last three weeks, I'm still ahead of schedule.

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A popular author's first book: Carrie. Written by Stephen King. Random House, 1974.

I expected to be scared and freaked out more than I was, but I pretty much knew what was going to happen. It's hard to avoid spoilers on a forty-year-old book and a popular thirty-seven-year-old movie. But it was still chilling. I don't think I'll read it again, though. Horror isn't my thing, and I've had a few too many devoted religious people telling me what to do and that I'm going to hell to think it entertainment.

Onward and upward: I'll see what I can manage this weekend. Awakenings is still in progress, and I might finally start Oz. *shrug* I'm rereading sheffiesharpe's At Least There's the Football series yet again, and Khorazir started a new magical realism fic that has me checking AO3 twice a day. (I never agreed to give up fanfiction, and according to Goodreads, I am five books ahead of schedule.)

18 of 52

A nonfiction book: Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. Written by Oliver Sacks, MD. Knopf, 2007. Audio read by John Lee.

Dr. Sacks has written another fascinating book on the human brain in all its complexity and variation. This one (obviously) has to do with the effect of music on injured, diseased, or otherwise un-average people. He mentions patients who, either from birth or from some changes in their lives, are/become abnormally attracted or repulsed by music. (Musicophobia as well as musicophilia, though the latter gets more attention here.) How the lack of skills the average person possesses can be balanced by an exceptional aptitude for music. Whether it's an opera singer with Williams syndrome or getting an Alzheimer's patient to remember the date by singing it to him every morning, Sacks takes us through decades of his experiences in psychiatric medicine. Some subjects are people he has mentioned in his previous books, such as Dr. Temple Grandin.

I enjoyed listening to the book a great deal, and I like the amiable-sounding voice of John Lee (I admit I'm prejudiced in his favor, as he performed the lovely Dawsey Adams -- among others -- in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society audio book).

Eighteen books in ninety-one days. I shan't slack off, but I am happy with my pace so far.

Onward and upward: I hope to read Marvel's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (a book from my childhood) this weekend, and I have another Oliver Sacks book, Awakenings (published the year I was born), on my Kindle. Sissy Spacek reading To Kill a Mockingbird (Pulitzer Prize winner) waits on my iPod.

17 of 52

A book with a love triangle: The Lions of Al-Rassan. Written by Guy Gavriel Kay. 1995, Harper Collins Publishers.

This isn't your typical, will-she-choose-him-or-the-other-him triangle. For starters, one of the men is married already. That's not really the issue. The issues are friendship, loyalty, trust, politics, war (holy and otherwise), court intrigue, and religion.

The book starts with a political assassination and takes off running from there. We have a sort of AU of a medieval Iberian Peninsula with Muslims, Jews, and Christians, only they're the Asharites, Kindath, and Jaddites, respectively. The three people in this love triangle all grow to truly love and respect each other: Rodrigo Belmonte is a Jaddite soldier with a wife and sons, Ammar ibn Khairan is a poet and advisor to an Asharite king, and Jehane bet Ishak is a Kindath physician like her father before her. All three are forced from their homes and meet in the court of another city in Al-Rassan, and though their friendship/love/respect grows during the time they spend in their adopted home, the actions of others eventually force them to separate. The climax of the book is an event that I dreaded for the two hundred pages that preceded it.

It wasn't the easiest book to get through -- I kept flipping forward to the map and list of principal characters in the front of the book to keep them straight in my mind -- but holy cow, it was so good. Like Longbourn and a few other books I've borrowed from the public library for this challenge, I will definitely find a paper copy of this book for my shelves.

Onward and upward: finish the stuff I've already started -- I'm still working on Bluebeard's Egg -- and get through the three books I requested from the public library. I'm a few books ahead of schedule, and I want to maintain that lead, but Easter weekend will be busy, and then work will be rough for the next few months. *shrug* See how it goes.

Big image below the cut: Progress!Collapse )

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A book with bad reviews: Longbourn. Written by Jo Baker. Knopf, 2013. Audio performed by Emma Fielding.

Since it doesn't have to be exclusively bad reviews, I decided this would do. In the world of Jane Austen's books, we read of nobility and gentry. Even the poorest of her protagonists has servants. And even if those characters have many cares to deal with, there is so much that they don't have to deal with. Before indoor plumbing and disposable sanitary supplies, someone had to handle the emptying and cleaning of chamber pots, hauling water inside, and washing the rags used every month by five women menstruating at the same time. The quote often used as a selling point for the book -- how Elizabeth might not be so content to muddy her petticoat if she had to wash it herself -- is not the worst that Sarah, Polly, James, and Mr and Mrs Hill have to deal with.

Reviewers complained that the book lacks the wit of P&P. Of course it does. The protagonists don't have lives of leisure. They do heavy work from dawn to dusk, which doesn't exactly allow the time to refine their wit and humor the way someone genteel could. There is humor in the book, but it is a mostly somber story with moments of happiness. It wrapped up a little too quickly for my taste -- I still despaired of a satisfactory ending less than ten minutes before the audio version ended -- but most of the threads of the characters I came to care about tied up in a satisfactory way. I liked Sarah immensely. The servants' stories vaguely mirror the Bennets' at times, and just as Elizabeth grows and changes in P&P, Sarah comes to know herself and find her courage, too. Events occasionally paint the Bennets in a slightly negative light (and, in contrast, we can feel sympathy for the awful Mr Collins), but it's from the servants' point of view, and no relationship is without friction. I'm okay with seeing the beloved (and rightly so) Elizabeth Bennet at less than her best.

I was braced for an unhappy ending -- not everyone at Goodreads marks their spoilers properly -- but I was happy as it ended. (I had thought that finding a book that made me cry for this challenge would be difficult, and this is the third in only sixteen.) Emma Fielding gave a good performance. Having listened to it, I will definitely go looking for a print copy to purchase and reread.

Onward and upward: I'm closer to the end of The Lions of Al-Rassan. (I want to discuss it without having to worry about spoilers.) I have The Search for WondLa from the library, but two CDs in, I have realized that I might have an easier time reading it than listening to it. Ian Doescher's The Empire Striketh Back waits on my Kindle, and a fourth graphic novel arrived from Amazon last week. (It was the only way I could think of to revisit something from my childhood while still having something new to enjoy.) After I finish it, I'll set it aside to give to one of my nieces as a Christmas or birthday present ... unless I like it so much that I decide to keep it!

Babbling.Collapse )


Panda Whut
Keladry Lupin

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