100 Books Or Bust: Playing Catch-Up

Last weekend I hit 25, which means I am 11 books behind my target of 100. I am still having fun, and have enjoyed all the books on one level or another, brain-candy or bubble-gum.

Here be the first quarter, in reading order:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling

The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver

The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas

A Very Private Gentleman: A Novel – Martin Booth

I Was Amelia Earhart – Jane Mendelsohn

Warm Bodies – Isaac Marion

Summer Crossing – Truman Capote

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

The Help – Kathryn Stockett

Aloft – Chang-rae Lee

Northline – Willy Vlautin

Body Surfing – Anita Shreve

The Snowman – Jo Nesbø

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union – Michael Chabon

The Piano Teacher – Janice Y.K. Lee

The Hours – Michael Cunningham

The Imperfectionists – Tom Rachman

Room – Emma Donoghue

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake – Aimee Bender

The Devil’s Star – Jo Nesbø

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1) – Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) – Suzanne Collins

Submarine – Joe Dunthorne

The Autobiography of Alice B.Toklas – Gertrude Stein

Working on 26-30!

Other 100 Books posts of mine can be found here.

What have you read this year?

recent, current, and on-deck reads

100 Books Or Bust: Double Digits

Cover of "Aloft"
Cover of Aloft

As of this morning, I finished my 11th book of the year.  I’m trying to vary lengths so I don’t ‘cheat’ with short books only.

So far, I’ve read:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – in two days, on an island.

The Lacuna – in a little more than two days, back to reality.

The Slap – I’m still calling this one ‘The Bitch Slap’.

A Very Private Gentleman – quoted here.

I Was Amelia Earhart – which took me a little over an hour here.

Warm Bodies – which resulted in maybe not so weird dreams and prompted another library experiment.

Summer Crossing –  which took me back to my University workshops.

The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas – which sat on my shelf for years, and took two days to read.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective agency – Recommended by my mother, who didn’t tell there were so many cows in the book.  Cows and tea.  And quiet humour.  And no, I have not read Agatha Christie.

The Help – recommended to my by everyone and their sister, which I ended up reading as part of the SITS book group this month.  I rationed my reading of this one, so it would last longer.

Aloft – Perfectly pitched, dry suburban drama set on Long Island.  Made me want to fly.

What’s next?  Any more suggestions?

100 Books Or Bust: An Unseasonable Read

Cover of "Summer Crossing: A Novel (Moder...
Cover via Amazon

Rising in Grady was an ungovernable laughter, a joyous agitation which made the white summer stretching before her seem like an unrolling canvas on which she might draw those first rude pure strokes that are free. Then, too, and with a straight face, she was laughing because there was so little they suspected, nothing. The light quivering against the table silver seemed to at once encourage her excitement and to flash a warning signal: careful, dear. But elsewhere something said Grady, be proud, you are tall so fly your pennant high above and in the wind. What could have spoken, the rose? Roses speak, they are the hearts of wisdom, she’d read so somewhere. She looked out the window again; the laughter was flowing up, it was flooding on her lips: what a sparkling sun-slapped day for Grady McNeil and roses that speak!

Summer Crossing, Truman Capote

This book has been collecting five years worth of dust on my shelves.  I sneezed through the whole thing.  It lasted 20 sneezes.

I was about 16 when I saw the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.   I remember being haunted and charmed.  I read the book soon after.  At the time, it was only the second book I got through in one sitting.

I read Mr Capote again in a writing workshop at Uni, studying his short stories.  I quickly developed a writer-crush and thought he was brilliant.

Aside from my favourite quote from the book at the top of this post, Summer Crossing was not so shiny.

I am consoled by the fact that he didn’t expect it to be published.  I feel like reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s again.

100 Books Or Bust: Zombies On Long Island, A Reading Experiment

Steacie Science and Engineering Library at Yor...
Image via Wikipedia

I recently finished Warm Bodies, a post-apocalypse love story in which one of the couple happens to be a zombie with other zombie friends.  I was going to say it’s not my usual, but I’ve decided I don’t have a go-to genre anymore.  I’ll read anything.  If it’s good.  But of course I won’t know if it’s good until I read it.  I can’t say no to anything, really.  Especially a book I can read in one night while Sarge is out watching zombie films.  And so, last week was quite serendipitous.   I also have a thing for first books/debut novels.  And this one was good.  Delicious in fact.

Went to the library last week, and came out with it.  I was quite excited to actually find a book in the library I’d wanted to read, instead of coming home with random finds, that become not-so random.  I believe, like people, certain books find you.  You meet them when you’re supposed to meet them.  While these chance meetings of book-in-hand do nothing for your existing to-read pile, your read/experience pile grows.  And on any random Wednesday you just may meet the person who becomes your new best friend or a book you can add to your favourites list.

Another not-so random book meeting is my current read, Aloft.  It’s always a strange/different experience for me to read a book set on Long Island.  The landmarks are the landmarks of my childhood.  It’s like going back.

The day after I finished Warm Bodies, I started Aloft.  That night I swear I had dreams about zombies wandering a strip-mall on Long Island.  This may or may not have had anything to do with my reading.

Up next: I’m impatiently waiting for the postman to deliver The Help and The Poisonwood Bible.

Try This:  Go to the library and check out a book you wouldn’t normally read, and then go for a coffee and talk to the person at the next table, or anywhere.  You may find your two new favourite things.

100 Books Or Bust: 70 Minutes

Cover of "I Was Amelia Earhart"
Cover of I Was Amelia Earhart

In the time it took Sarge to read one chapter of Ulysses, I started and finished I Was Amelia  Earhart, recommended by DB over at Getting in Touch with my Inner Basket Case.

This book was a blink.  A very poetic blink.  I wanted it to be longer, but I realise now the length was perfect for the story, the moments.

It reminded me of any books read in any year of High School English.  This is part of its charm.

I would recommend it for anyone who likes adventure, dreams and quick reads.

So far:

1.       Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire – Best one of the series so far.

2.       The Lacuna – Best one of the year for me, so far.

3.       The Slap – This one didn’t piss me off as much as I thought it would.  Still not very good.  Weak review, coming from me.  But that’s all I can say.

4.       A Very Private Gentleman – I loved this one.  Made me want to go back to Italy.  And back to the bookstore to get the copy of this book that doesn’t have George Clooney’s face on it.  Nothing wrong with his face, I just think movie tie-in covers don’t leave enough to the imagination.

5.       I Was Amelia Earhart – Dreamy.  Although the fact I read it right before going to sleep could have had something to do with the atmosphere it had for me.

95 to go!

What do you think I should read?  (If you’ve already suggested something, it’s on the list.)  Give me more!

For the fun of it, I’ll read anything anyone suggests!




100 Books Or Bust: Words And Wisdom

‘I enjoy books.  No room is fit for occupation without a lining of books.  They contain the condensed experiences of humanity.  To live fully, one has to read widely.  I do not intend to face a man-eating lion in the African veld, fall from an aircraft into the Arabian Sea, soar through outer space or march with the legions of Rome against Gaul or Carthage, yet books can take me to these places, to these predicaments.’

A Very Private Gentleman (filmed as The American), Martin Booth

When I was a kid and would announce to anyone who would listen that I was bored, my Nana would say, ‘Go read a book!’  So I did.

You should, too.


100 Books Or Bust

I eat books.  I am actually addicted to books, and reading them.  My two giant bookcases are three rows deep.  There is a stack by my bed, and in the office.  And at least four books on any other free surface in the house.  I put them there, anywhere, when deciding ‘what to read next’, and I don’t put them back, leading to quite random clusters throughout the house.  Sarge calls me the book-dropper, he can find me anywhere by following the trail of books.  I call him the book dealer, as we now share books and I have his collection to peruse.

Before the bookcases!

I am slightly obsessed with lists of books, like the New York Times 100 Notable Books of any given year, or the Man Booker Prize shortlist (and longlist), and the Orange Prize for Fiction.  And every time I read about a good book on NPR books, I want to read it Right Now.

With those lists, and my favourite authors, and my book group books, and Sarge’s books, and my thing for well-written memoirs, I am sure that I will reach a 100 books read in a year.  This is a target I’ve been setting myself since 2006.  Last year I read 28.  This year I will read 100.  I’ve set myself this personal challenge on Goodreads.  I typed ‘100’ where it said: ‘I will read ___ books this year.’ So there it is.

So far this year I’ve read:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – After years of saying I wouldn’t read the series, I’m now reading it.

The Lacuna – My favourite book of the year, so far.

Currently reading The Slap, which I keep calling ‘The Bitch Slap’.

On deck we have:

Let The Right One In

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

And after that, who knows?  Everything else!

What books would you recommend I read?

What are your reading goals for 2011?

Anyone else up for the challenge of 100?  Or 50, or 25?  Or 10?

Happy reading!