Tuesday, May 2, 2017

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

A day late, but I'm still recovering from the reading marathon Saturday. I read for 17 hours (with a lot of little breaks), finished 3 books, and read a total of 611 pages in 7 different books. I've slowed down with my reading significantly this week, to catch up on other work, but here are the books I'm currently into:
  • The Idiot, by Elif Batuman
  • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West
  • Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Beauty Hurts Girls and Women, Renee Engeln
  • A Swiftly Tilting Planet, by Madeleine L'Engle (audiobook)
  • The Animators, by Kayla Rae Whitaker
I'm listening to the Madeleine book with my kids as we drive -- they really gotten into audiobooks in the car this year! We've done the entire Chronicles of Narnia, much of the Wrinkle in Time series, and a couple Harry Potter books. I'm not sure where we will go next. Any suggestions?

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, Opening Survey

Today I'm participating in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon. I've lost track of how many years I've been doing this. It's one of my favorite things!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Western Illinois.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? The Lost Book of the Grail, by Charlie Lovett. A literary mystery!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Homemade ricotta cheese with homemade olive oil and rosemary crackers.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I'm a poet, editor, and college English teacher.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? Today I actually got up early enough to start right at the beginning, and that's a first.

Monday, January 23, 2017

It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

 I finished a lot of books last week, mostly because I participated in the 24 in 48 readathon last weekend. I'd never done this readathon before, and it was a lot of fun! You try to read 24 hours over the course of Saturday and Sunday. I only made it to 15 1/2 hours, but that still felt like a luxurious amount of reading time! Here's a list of the books I finished last week.
  • Here I Am, Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Man's Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl
  • Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult
  • Pinning the Bird to the Wall, poems by Devon Miller-Duggan
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis (on audio with my kids)
  • Loner, Teddy Wayne
  • The Guest Room, Chris Bohjalian
All of these books were good reads, except I didn't care for the novel Loner. None of the characters in this book were likeable, so it was hard to care about them, and the novel really didn't have any redemptive qualities, which is something I like to see in novels. Rather, the people were pretty awful, and stayed awful. Man's Search for Meaning was a particular good and helpful book. I think everyone should read this one!

This week, as usual I have a big pile of books I've started, and without a readathon coming up, I'm sure it will take me awhile to finish them. Here's my list of current books.
  • Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Why Write? Mark Edmundson
  • Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere But Here, Angela Palm
  • ADHD Nation, Alan Schwarz
  • Purity, Jonathan Franzen
  • Outlaw Christian, Jacqueline Bussie.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

TBR List, 2017

My TBR list is well over three hundred books now, but in an attempt to narrow down what I'd like to read first, I've made a TBR list for 2017. I'm not listing every single book I will probably read this year, since I like to leave room for books I find randomly by browsing the library. Here is my list. What is your list?

Novels
1. Swing Time, Zadie Smith
2. Vivian Versus the Apocalypse, Katie Coyle
3. The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman
4. Dietland, Sarai Walker
5. Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
6. Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler
7. Dinner with Edward, Isabel Vincent
8. Made for Love, Alyssa Nutting
9. A Separation, Katie Kitamura
10. Rabbit Cake, Annie Hartnett
11. Sleeping Giants, Sylvain Neuvel
12. Blind Submission, Debra Ginsberg
13. My Real Children, Jo Walton
14. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
15. The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic, Emily Croy Barker
16. St. Ursula's Girls Against the Atomic Bomb, Valerie Hurley
17. The Dollhouse, Fiona Davis
18. Loner, Teddy Wayne
19. The Bookshop on the Corner, Jenny Colgan
20. Meeting the English, Kate Clanchy
21. Gutenburg's Apprentice, Alix Christie
22. The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton
23. One True Loves, Taylor Jenkins Reid
24. The Rules of Love and Grammar, Mary Simses
25. Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders, Julianna Baggot
26. My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She's Sorry, Frederik Backman
27. Act of God, Jill Clement
28. I Am Radar, Reif Larsen
29. Charmed Particles, Chrissy Kolaya
30. Imperium, Christian Kracht

Nonfiction
1. Slow Reading, John Miedma
2. The Pleasure of Reading, Antonia Fraser et. al.
3. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
4. The Case of Sugar, Gary Taubes
5. Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living, Manjula Martin
6. Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live, Peter Orner
7. Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream, Leonard Zeskind
8. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family Hitler's Berlin, Erik Larson
9. How Does That Make You Feel?: True Confessions from Both Sides of the Therapy Couch, Sherry Amatenstein
10. Wise Mind Living: Master Your Emotions, Transform Your Life, Erin Olivio
11. The Year of Reading Dangerously, Andy Miller
12. Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books, Michael Dirda
13. One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, Kevin Kruse

Poetry
1. The Multitude, Hannah Faith Notess
2. The Canopy, Patricia Clark
3. Tasty Other, Katie Manning

Memoir
1. Without a Map, Meredith Hall
2. Origins of the Universe and What It All Means, Carole Firstman
3. The Accidental Farmers, Tim Young
4. Lab Girl, Hope Jahren
5. Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here, Angela Palm
6. Avid Reader: A Life, Robert Gottlieb

Monday, January 16, 2017

It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

Last week I finished three books: A Farm Dies Once a Year, by Arlo Crawford; Who Do You Love?, by Jennifer Weiner (on audiobook); and The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life, by Anu Partanen. The Nordic Theory of Everything wasn't quite what I expected. I suppose I was hoping for a book that would show me, personally, how to live better through Nordic theories, but instead the book focused on government policies, all of which I am helpless to change. Yes, free or cheap daycare would be great, as would basically free health care, but I can't do anything about the high price of these things in America. So the book ended up being kind of depressing rather than uplifting, though it certainly sheds further light on problematic ways in which the American governments treats it citizens.

This week I'm still working on Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl and Outlaw Christian: Finding Authentic Faith by Breaking the Rules," by Jacqueline Bussie. These books are enlightening, and are best read in small doses so that you can take the time to ponder them. I'm also still working my way through Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer. I was very enthusiastic about this book for the first few hundred pages, but at this point I'm thinking Foer needed a better editor who would have advised him to cut the book by 100 pages or more. It's gotten tedious and repetitive, and the deep philosophizing of the characters is starting to seem pretentious. At this point, I'll be glad when the book is over! In the meantime, I've started the new Jodi Picoult book, Small Great Things. I always enjoy the suspenseful plots of Picoults books, and I've still got The Guest Room, by Chris Bohjalian on audio as well. This book is gripping, though quite disturbing as it delves into the sex slave trade.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

It's Monday (or actually, Tuesday). What Are You Reading?

As usual, I've got a lot of books going at once. I tend to work on multiple nonfiction books at once, though I can do only one novel at a time, unless one is an audiobook. Somehow I can keep track of two novel plots if one is an audiobook.

The paper novel I'm working on right now is Here I Am, by Jonathan Safran Foer. I've never read him before, but am enjoying this one so much that I want to read the other books he's written as well! On audio I've got The Guest Room, by Chris Bohjalian. I always enjoy Bohjalian's books, and the narrators are excellent, which is a must for a good audiobook experience.

For nonfiction I'm working on Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl, Outlaw Christian: Finding Authentic Faith by Breaking the 'Rules," by Jacqueline Bussie, and The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life, by Anu Partanen. Do you see a theme? I might be worried about the current political climate and where things are going from here!

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Best Books From My 2016 Reading List

Of the 91 books I read in 2016, here are my top 10. (You can click on the book covers to order from Amazon)

1. The Chimes, by Anna Smaill (fiction, novel) The most interesting and unusual post-apocalypse book I've ever read.



2. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff (fiction, novel) A national book award finalist last year.



3. The Nix, by Nathan Hill (fiction, novel) Epic novel that's scarily politically relevant at the moment.



4. America the Anxious: How Our Pursuit of Happiness Is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks, by Ruth Whippman (nonfiction) One of the most sane and helpful books about happiness I've read.



5. The Inseperables, by Stuart Nadler (fiction, novel) One of Kirkus' Best Books of 2016.




6. Vinegar Girl, by Anne Tyler (fiction, novel) Based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.



7. An Abbreviated Life, by Ariel Leve (memoir) Ariel Leve's mother was a crazy poet, which made her childhood both interesting and unstable.



8. The Hatred of Poetry, by Ben Lerner (nonfiction). "...I, too, dislike it and have largely organized my life around it and do not experience that as a contradiction because poetry and the hatred of poetry are inextricable in ways it is my purpose to explore." -the author



9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K Rowling, both on audio book (fiction, novel). I enjoyed the audio version of these even more than my initial experience of reading them myself, because of the magic of Jim Dale's voice.



10. Modern Lovers, by Emma Straub (fiction, novel) An NPR Best Book of 2016, an Entertainment Weekly Best Book of 2016, a Slate Best Book of the Year, a Washington Post Notable Fiction Pick