Monday, January 16, 2017

Mailbox Monday: The One-Cent Magenta

What books came into your house last week? One non-fiction book caught my eye.

The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World by James Barron. I asked for this early review copy from LibraryThing because it sounded interesting to me and I want to pass it on to my husband, who is quite the philatelist:

Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Vicki of I'd Rather Be at the Beach.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017 Challenge: The Crooked House Challenge

Inspirational blogger and book fan Hannah Braime encourages people to read by hosting a 26-book and 52-book reading challenge every year. Her challenges don't have a particular theme, but each book fits a particular category or requirement -- like a scavenger hunt.

My friend Rachelle, who owns the delightful Crooked House Books here in Portland (and on-line) organized a group of people to undertake the 26-book version of Hannah's challenge. That's why I call this my Crooked House Challenge. She created a Facebook page for the group, for anyone interested in playing along, so feel free to join in.

The rules are simple. To complete the challenge, you have to read 26 different books. Each has to be completed in 2017. One book cannot be applied to more than one category, but books can overlap with other challenges. We are just trying to read 26 books in 2017, not necessarily one book every two weeks, although that is what it will average out to be.

  • A book you read in school
  • A book from your childhood
  • A book published more than 100 years ago
  • A book published in the last year
  • A nonfiction book
  • A book by a male author
  • A book by a female author.
  • A book by someone who isn’t a writer 
  • A book that became a film
  • A book written in the 20th century
  • A book set in your hometown/region
  • A book with someone’s name in the title
  • A book with a number in the title
  • A book with a character with your first name*
  • A book recommended to you by someone else
  • A book with more than 500 pages
  • A book you can finish in a day
  • A book previously banned
  • A book with a one word title
  • A book translated from another language
  • A book to improve a certain area of your life
  • A memoir or journal
  • A book written by someone younger than you
  • A book set somewhere you’ll be visiting this year
  • An award winner
  • A self-published book

* Our group agreed to change this one a little because there are several people, including me, who have unusual first names. I could spend a lifetime looking for a book with a Gilion in it (pronounced with a hard G by the way, so it's not a funny spelling of Gillian). We agreed to change this one to a book with a character with your first or last name, or a book written by someone with your first or last name. I think I can find a book written by an author named Dumas.


None so far.

Friday, January 13, 2017

2016 Books

I read 108 books in 2016, which surprised me because I was crazy busy at work last year, including moving our office, which added turmoil. Here is the list, in the order I read them.

Take the stars with a big grain of salt. Five stars go only to a very few all-time favorites. Four stars go to books I think are really good or would recommend to anyone. I rate a book a 3 if I liked it personally, but wouldn't think of recommending it. Most books get 3.5, which means that I liked it and would recommend it to people who like that genre or type of book. See this post for details.

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin (4/5)

More Baths Less Talking: Notes from the Reading Life of a Celebrated Author Locked in Battle with Football, Family, and Time Itself by Nick Hornby (3.5/5)

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz (4/5)

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi (3/5)

Mike by P. G. Wodehouse (3/5)

A New Lease of Death by Ruth Rendell (3.5/5)

A Little Dinner Before the Play by Agnes Jekyll (reviewed here; 3.5/5)

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (3.5/5)

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (3.5/5)

The Big Seven by Jim Harrison (3.5/5)

The Fur Person by Mary Sarton (3/5)

Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess (4/5)

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (4/5)

Kate Vaiden by Reynolds Price (2.5/5)

Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo (3.5/5)

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (3/5)

I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron (3.5/5)

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith (4/5)

Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark (4/5)

Here Kitty Kitty by Mallory McInnis (3/5)

Fallen into the Pit by Peter Ellis (3.5/5)

The Complete Short Stories, Vol. I, East and West by W. Somerset Maugham (5/5)

The Bell by Iris Murdoch (4/5)

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (3.5/5)

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (Booker Prize winner; 3.5/5)

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (3.5/5)

Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olson (3.5/5)

Payment in Blood by Elizabeth George (3.5/5)

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny (3.5/5)

Bech is Back by John Updike (4/5)

Wild Horses by Dick Francis (3.5/5)

Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols (4/5)

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne (4.5/5)

The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope (4.5/5)

Morte D'Urban by J. F. Powers (National Book Award winner; 3.5/5)

Family Album by Penelope Lively (3.5/5)

The British Museum is Falling Down by David Lodge (3.5/5)

The Water's Lovely by Ruth Rendell (3.5/5)

Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley (3/5)

Miles Gone By by William F. Buckley, Jr. (4/5)

Death and the Joyful Woman by Ellis Peters (3.5/5)

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume (3/5)

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck (3/5)

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor (2/5)

Queen Lucia by E. F. Benson (4/5)

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes (3.5/5)

The Last Dead Girl by Harry Dolan (3.5/5)

Afternoon Men by Anthony Powell (3.5/5)

Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family by Patricia Volk (4/5)

The River Swimmer by Jim Harrison (3.5/5)

Paris: A Love Story by Kati Marton (3/5)

A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read (3.5/5)

Devices and Desires by P. D. James (4/5)

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby (4/5)

The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina (3.5/5)

Orlando by Virginia Woolf (2.5/5)

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Bailey's Prize winner; 3/5)

Ten North Frederick by John O'Hara (National Book Award winner; 3.5/5)

The Old Men at the Zoo by Angus Wilson (Anthony Burgess' Top 99; 4.5/5)

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (4/5)

Winter and Night by S. J. Rozan, (Edgar Award winner; 3.5/5)

You & Me by Padgett Powell (James Tait Black Prize winner; 3.5/5)

Missing Justice by Alafair Burke (3/5)

Shaken and Stirred: Through the Martini Glass and Other Drinking Adventures by William L. Hamilton (3/5)

Think Like a Lawyer Don't Act Like One: The Essential Rules for the Smart Negotiator by Aernoud Bourdrez (3/5)

A Brief History of Seven Killings by James Marlon (Booker Prize winner; 2/5)

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan (5/5)

The Known World by Edward P. Jones (Pulitzer Prize winner; National Book Critics Circle Award winner; 3/5)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (3.5/5)

One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant (3.5/5)

The King's English : A Guide to Modern Usage by Kingsley Amis (4/5)

Mr. White's Confession by Robert Clark (Edgar Award winner; 3.5/5)

Missing Person by Patrick Modiano (Nobel laureate; 3/5)

Bettyville by George Hodgman (3/5)

Don't Point That Thing at Me by Kyril Bonfiglioli (3.5/5)

Psmith in the City by P. G. Wodehouse (3/5)

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (3.5/5)

The Company She Keeps by Mary McCarthy (4/5)

Nobody Move by Denis Johnson (3/5)

A Flag for Sunrise by Robert Stone (BOMC's Well Stocked Bookcase; 2.5/5)

Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers by Tom Wolfe (5/5)

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (3.5/5)

Laughter on the Stairs by Beverley Nichols (3.5/5)

Sunlight on the Lawn by Beverley Nichols (3.5/5)

After You with the Pistol by Kyril Bonfiglioli (3.5/5)

Something Nasty in the Woodshed by Kyril Bonfiglioli (3/5)

Miss Mapp by E. F. Benson (3.5/5)

The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton (4/5)

Be Cool by Elmore Leonard (3.5/5)

A Writer's People by V. S. Naipaul (3/5)

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice by Bill Browder (3.5/5)

All the Little Live Things by Wallace Stegner (3.5/5)

The Light and the Dark by C. P. Snow (3/5)

Billingsgate Shoal by Rick Boyer (Edgar Award winner; 3.5/5)

Artists in Crime by Ngaio Marsh (3.5/5)

Nutshell by Ian McEwan (4/5)

Secondhand Smoke by M. Louis (3.5/5)

A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders (3/5)

Library of Luminaries: Coco Chanel by Zena Alkayat (3.5/5)

Lucia in London by E. F. Benson (3.5/5)

The Invisible Girls by Sarah Thebarge (3/5)

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (5/5)

Glamorous Powers by Susan Howatch (3.5/5)

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (3.5/5)

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris (3/5)

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (4/5)

Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming (3.5/5)

Never Flirt with Puppy Killers: And Other Better Book Titles by Dan Wilbur (3.5/5)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Beginning: Through a Green Lens


Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.



As a kid in the Aurora public schools, it was clear that any small gift I might possess was verbal rather than mathematical.

-- from the author's Introduction, "Dancing with Pan," to Through a Green Lens: Fifty Years of Writing for Nature by Robert Michael Pyle, published by OSU Press.

The entirety of conservation is uniquely and deeply intertwined with natural history.

-- from "Conservation and Natural History," first published in Northwest Conifer (1968).

Pyle is a trained biologist and ecology PhD who turned his talent and enthusiasm to nature writing half a century ago. He has written 20 books and hundred of essays, as well as fiction and poetry. This collection offers a sampling of his essays spanning the fifty years of his writing career.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Teaser Tuesday: Where the Wind Dreams of Staying

In the desert, the sun swaggers like a bully. Even in April the southern Nevada sky is barely big enough to hold all the light.

-- Where the Wind Dreams of Staying: Searching for Purpose and Place in the West by Eric Dieterle, a new memoir published by OSU Press.

The memoir is more a collection of essays than a linear autobiography, which I am happy with because I find the pot luck approach more interesting. This teaser is from an essay called "Virgin Territory."

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

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