Friday, December 31, 2010

State of the Blog, Part One: The Lists


Christmas is sadly over, the new year approaches, and it is time for me to assess my reading progress for the year.  I approach this "winter" assessment with trepidation and excitement, since it lets me see how much progress I did -- or didn't make -- in 2010 and let's me plan ahead for 2011.  Out with the old; in with the new!

This is the first of my quarterly blog assessment posts.  This first part addresses the book lists. Part Two, coming soon, will take a look at the author lists.  Part Three will deal with the challenges I joined this year.

My List of Lists is over in the right-side column. These are Prize Winners, Must Reads, and other lists of books I have read or intend to read for some reason or another. Also in the right-side column is a list of my favorite authors. I add to both lists from time to time.

NOTE: If you are working on any of these lists, please leave a comment here or on the post for the list (click on the title below or in the right-hand column) and leave a link to any related post. I will add the links on the list post. 

In 2010, I read aaround 45 books from my various book lists. I got the most bang for my book buck by finishing The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien, so I could scratch The Lord of the Rings off several lists, and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, which was also on several lists. 

THE LISTS


Books read so far: 8/100
Books read in 2010: one, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
Books I hope to read in 2011:
  1. The Moonstone by Willkie Collins
  2. Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz
Books on my TBR shelf: 19


Books read so far: 76/100
Books read in 2010: 2 and 2/3
  1. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  2. Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion (reviewed here)
  3. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien (one-third of The Lord of the Rings)
  4. The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien (the last third of The Lord of the Rings)
Books I hope to read in 2011:
  1. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre
  2. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Books on my TBR shelf: 14


Books read so far: 30/99
Books read in 2010: 2
  1. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (reviewed here)
  2. Titus Groan by Mervin Peake (reviewed here
  3. The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
Books I hope to read in 2011: a couple, but I don't know which ones yet
Books on my TBR shelf: 19


Books read so far: 58/100
Books read in 2010: 6 and 2/3 (wow!)
  1. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  2. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake (reviewed here)
  3. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (reviewed here)
  4. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
  5. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien (one-third of The Lord of the Rings)
  6. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (reviewed here)
  7. The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien (the last third of The Lord of the Rings
Books I hope to read in 2011:  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Books on my TBR shelf: 6


Books read so far: 19/19
Books read in 2010: 4
  1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  2. The Red Tent  by Anita Diamant
  3. Small Island by Andrea Levy (reviewed here)
  4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (reviewed here)
Books I hope to read in 2011: six, but Cutting for Stone is the only one I know so far
Books on my TBR shelf: none


Books read so far: 75/101
Books read in 2010: one (Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney)
Books I hope to read in 2011:
  1. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (I am reading this now)
  2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Books on my TBR shelf: 20


Books read so far: 6/24
Books read in 2010: 3
  1. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (reviewed here)
  2. Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney 
  3. Small Island by Andrea Levy  (reviewed here)
Books I hope to read in 2011: Felicia's Journey by William Trevor
Books on my TBR shelf: one


Books read so far: 57/100
Books read in 2010: 2
  1. The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
  2. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas 
Books I hope to read in 2011:
  1. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (I am reading this now)
  2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Books on my TBR shelf: 20


Books read so far: 8/56
Books read in 2010: 3
  1. New Orleans Mourning by Julie Smith
  2. Citizen Vince by Jess Walter (reviewed here
  3. Down River by John Hart
Books I hope to read in 2011: The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carre
Books on my TBR shelf: 6


Books read so far: 33/100
Books read in 2010: 4
  1. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbon (reviewed here)
  2. Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion (reviewed here
  3. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (reviewed here
  4. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Books I hope to read in 2011:
  1. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  2. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
  3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Books on my TBR shelf: 22


Books read so far: 48/113 (and counting -- there are more books to add to the list)
Books read in 2010: 5
  1. The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris by Edmund White (reviewed here
  2. L'Affaire by Diane Johnson
  3. My Life in France by Julia Child (reviewed here)
  4. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas 
  5. Corked by Kathryn Borel (reviewed here)
Books I hope to read in 2011:
  1. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
  2. Death in the Truffle Wood by Pierre Magnan
  3. The Messengers of Death by Pierre Magnan 
  4. The Food of France by Waverley Root
Books on my TBR shelf: 24


Books read so far: I don't keep track, because I delete them after I read them
Books read in 2010: same
Books I hope to read in 2011: 11 more (but my resolution is to not freak out about it)
  1. The Evolution of Shadows by Jason Quinn Malott
  2. Soldiers in Hiding by Richard Wiley
  3. Jumptown: The Golden Years of Portland Jazz 1942-1957 by Robert Dietsche
  4. Another Way the River Has: Taut True Tales from the Northwest by Robin Cody   
  5. An Architectural Guidebook to Portland by Bart King 
  6. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees
  7. To the Woods: Sinking Roots, Living Lightly, and Finding True Home by Evelyn Searle Hess 
  8. 42 States of Grace by Maureen Hovenkotter
  9. Where the Crooked River Rises: A High Desert Home by Ellen Waterston
  10. Fish With What You Find by Jim Gilsdorf
  11. Because You Might Not Remember by Don Colburn
Books on my TBR shelf: 11


Books read so far: 8/96
Books read in 2010:
  1. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry; for my Battle of the Prizes, British Version  challenge
  2. The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
Books I hope to read in 2011: 3
  1. G by John Berger; also for my Battle of the Prizes, British Version challenge
  2. Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd
  3. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Books on my TBR shelf: 10

LT EARLY REVIEWERS

Books read so far: 29/33
Books read in 2010: 8
  1. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (reviewed here)
  2. Maimonides: and the Biblical Prophets by Israel Drazin
  3. Homer and Langley by E. L. Doctorow (reviewed here)
  4. The Wall in My Head: Words and Images from the Fall of the Iron Curtain, published by Words Without Borders Anthologies (reviewed here)
  5. Short Stories, Book I by Anton Chekhov (reviewed here)
  6. A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks (reviewed here
  7. Burmese Lessons: A True Love Story by Karen Connelly (reviewed here)
  8. Peaceful Places, Los Angeles by Laura Randall (reviewed here)
Books I hope to read in 2011:
  1. Just Enough Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse
  2. American Terroir by Rowan Jacobsen  
Books on my TBR shelf: 4



Books read so far: 22/43
Books read in 2010:
  1. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
  2. The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch (reviewed here)
Books I hope to read in 2011:
  1. G by John Berger (for my Battle of the Prizes, British Version challenge)
  2. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  3. How Late it Was, How Late by James Kelman or Shindler's List by Thomas Keneally
Books on my TBR shelf: 13


Books read so far: 23/30
Books read in 2010: 1 and 2/3
  1. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  2. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien (one-third of The Lord of the Rings
  3. The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien (the last third of The Lord of the Rings
Books I hope to read in 2011: maybe David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Books on my TBR shelf: 4


Books read so far: all of them!
Books read in 2010: zero (finished this list a couple of years ago)
Books I hope to read in 2011: none
Books on my TBR shelf: zero



Books read so far: 27/64
Books read in 2010: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (reviewed here)
Books I hope to Read in 2011:
  1. Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
  2. The News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck
  3. Them by Joyce Carol Oates
  4. Morte d'Urban by J.F. Powers
Books on my TBR shelf: 15


Books read so far: 16/34
Books read in 2010: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Books I hope to read in 2011:  
  1. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel 
  2. Counterlife by Philip Roth
Books on my TBR shelf: 11


Authors read so far: 20/106
Books read in 2010: Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney
Books I hope to read in 201: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
Books on my TBR shelf: 32 (but most by authors already read)


Books read so far: 59/100
Books read in 2010: 3 and 2/3

  1. Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
  2. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler 
  3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
  4. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien (one-third of The Lord of the Rings
  5. The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien (the last third of The Lord of the Rings
Books I hope to read in 2011:
  1.  The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (I am reading this now)
  2.  David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Books on my TBR shelf: 15


Books read so far: 3/15
Books read in 2010:

  1. Small Island by Andrea Levy (reviewed here)
  2. The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville (reviewed here)
Books I hope to read in 2011: maybe none
Books on my TBR shelf: 2


Books read so far: 3/20
Books read in 2010: zero
Books I hope to read in 2011: maybe none
Books on my TBR shelf: 2


Books read so far: 7/30
Books read in 2010: zero
Books I hope to read in 2010: 3
  1. The Human Stain by Philip Roth (which I am reading now)
  2. Soldiers in Hiding by Richard Wiley (also on my Guilt List)
  3. Seaview by Toby Olson
Books on my TBR shelf: 12


Books read so far: 41/85
Books read in 2010:
  1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  2. Olive Kitteridge is Elizabeth Strout (reviewed here)
Books I hope to read in 2010: at least 2 (for the Battle of the Prizes Challenge) 
  1. One of Ours by Willa Cather
  2. Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
Books on my TBR shelf: 25 (thanks, in part, to a great Christmas present)


Books read so far: 91/100
Books read in 2010: 4 and 2/3
  1. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster (reviewed here)
  2. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
  3. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (reviewed here)  
  4. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien (one-third of The Lord of the Rings
  5. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (reviewed here)  
  6. The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien (the last third of The Lord of the Rings)  
Books I hope to read in 2011:
  1. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (I am reading this now)
  2. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  3. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
Books on my TBR shelf: 6


Books read so far: 10/10 (it's my list)
Books read in 2010: Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbon (reviewed here)
Books I hope to Read in 2011: one change this year is a big step already
Books on my TBR shelf: who knows?


Books read so far: 35/60
Books read in 2010: zero
Books I hope to Read in 2011
  1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  2. Them by Joyce Carol Oates
Books on my TBR shelf: 14

Thursday, December 30, 2010

List of the Day: NBCC Award


First awarded in 1976, the National Book Critics Circle Award is an annual award given by the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) to promote the finest books and reviews published in English.

The main awards fall into six categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Memoir/Autobiography, Biography, and Criticism. Awards are not given to titles that have been previously published in English, such as re-issues and paperback editions.

This is the list of fiction winners.  So far, I've read exactly half, 17 out of 34.  Those I have read are in red.  Those currently on my TBR shelf are in blue.

2009 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

2008 2666 by Robert Bolano

2007 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

2006 The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

2005 The March by E.L. Doctorow

2004 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (reviewed here)

2003 The Known World by Edward P. Jones

2002 Atonement by Ian McEwan

2001 Austerlitz by Winfried Georg Sebald

2000 Being Dead by Jim Crace

1999 Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

1998 The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro

1997 The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald

1996 Women in Their Beds by Gina Berriault

1995 Mrs. Ted Bliss by Stanley Elkin

1994 The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

1993 A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

1992 All the Pretty Horses by Cormac Mccarthy (reviewed here)

1991 A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

1990 Rabbit at Rest by John Updike

1989 Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow

1988 The Middleman and Other Stories by Bharati Mukherjee

1987 The Counterlife by Philip Roth

1986 Kate Vaiden by Reynolds Price

1985 The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

1984 Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

1983 Ironweed by William Kennedy

1982 George Mills by Stanley Elkin

1981 Rabbit is Rich by John Updike

1980 The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard

1979 The Year of the French by Thomas Flanagan

1978 The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever (reviewed here)

1977 Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

1976 October Light by John C Gardner

NOTE
Last updated on December 30, 2010

OTHERS READING THE BOOKS ON THIS LIST
(If you would like to be listed here, please leave a comment with links to your progress reports or reviews and I will add them here.)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review of the Day: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


The ever-perky Juliet Ashton is in a slump after the success of her book, Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War, a collection of her popular, London-during-the-Blitz newspaper columns.  Looking for love – and an idea for a new book – leaves Juliet torn between a post-war fling with a dashing American publisher and her first-hand investigation of the German occupation of the Channel Island of Guernsey.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is told through a series of lively letters among the many characters, primarily Juliet, her editor, and a group of Guernsey residents who survived the war.  Juliet is delightful and witty without being cloying, the islanders are quirky and charming, and the supporting characters do their part as straight men to the comedians.

There are a few places where the epistolary structure teeters – where an important story point or key transition too perfectly arrives in the morning post, just in time to move the narrative forward.  But the book is so short and the story moves along at such a quick pace that it is easy to rush past without noticing these minor flaws.

Mary Ann Shaffer wrote the book after years of researching the not widely known history of Guernsey’s occupation during World War II.  She includes horrific details of the war, including slave labor, executions, collaboration, and concentration camps, but telling the story from the post-war perspective provides needed distance, and the humor and cheerfulness of her characters make the darker themes tolerable.  Shaffer’s niece, Annie Barrows, finished the book when her aunt became too ill to complete it.

OTHER REVIEWS

So Many Precious Book, So Little Time

(If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society



I know of three women who are mad for him -- he'll be snapped up in a trice, and I'll spend my declining years in a grimy bed-sit, with my teeth falling out one by one.  Oh, I can see it all now: No one will buy my books, and I'll ply Sidney with tattered, illegible manuscripts, which he'll pretend to publish out of pity.
-- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows.
I loved this lively, funny, sweet little novel. I wish I had read it a year and a half ago, when my friend Cynthia first gave it to me.  My review will be up tomorrow.
 Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.




Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Mailbox Christmas Monday



Lady Q at Let Them Read Books is the December host of Mailbox Monday. Thanks Lady Q!

I'll be hosting in January, so please stop by next Monday to leave your first list of 2011.  And come back for all five Mondays in January because I will be hosting a book giveaway each week.

Santa came through for me this Christmas in a big way.  He brought me a lovely nine-volume set of Alexander Dumas novels published in 1893.  Each book has the same cover and the set includes:

The Count of Monte Cristo;  
The Three Musketeers;  
Viconte De Bragelonne (in 2 Volumes);
Marguerite de Valois and Chicot, the Jester 
The Forty Five Guardsmen, The Conspirators, and The Regent's Daughter;  
Memoirs of a Physician;  
The Queen's Necklace and Taking the Bastille; and  
The Countess de Charney and The Chevalier de Maison Rouge.   



But the biggest surprise -- and the project that took Santa a lot of time on Ebay -- was an incredible collection of gorgeous Easton Press and Franklin Library editions.  Some are personal favorites, others are classics, and several are Pulitzer winners I've been looking for for a long time.


The Pultzer winners in the bunch are:

Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington;
One of Ours by Willa Cather;
Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes;
The Store by T.S. Stribling;
Honey in the Horn by H. L. Davis;
Dragon's Teeth by Upton Sinclair;
Journey in the Dark by Martin Flavin;
Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens;
Andersonville by Mackinlay Kantor;
Advise and Consent by Allen Drury;
The Reivers by William Faulkner;
The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau;
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner;
Humbolt's Gift by Saul Bellow; and
Rabbit is Rich by John Updike

Sunday, December 26, 2010

List: The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction



The
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (formerly called the Prize for the Novel) has been awarded since 1918 for distinguished works of fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life. During some years (1920, 1941, 1946, 1954, 1957, 1964, 1971, 1974, 1977, and 2012) no award was given.

Those I have read are in red. I have read 49 of the 89 winners. Those currently on my TBR shelf are in blue, although I intend to read them all eventually. If anyone else is reading all the winners, I am happy to add a link to your progress reports. Please leave a comment with your link and I will add it.

The Prize winners since 1918 are:

2016: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

2015: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

2014: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

2013: The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

2011: A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

2010: Tinkers by Paul Harding (reviewed here)

2009: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (reviewed here)

2008: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

2007: The Road by Cormack McCarthy

2006: March by Geraldine Brooks (reviewed here)

2005: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (reviewed here)

2004: The Known World by Edward P. Jones

2003: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

2002: Empire Falls by Richard Russo (reviewed here)

2001: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

2000: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

1999: The Hours by Michael Cunningham

1998: American Pastoral by Philip Roth

1997: Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser (reviewed here)

1996: Independence Day by Richard Ford

1995: The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

1994: The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

1993: A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler

1992: A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

1991: Rabbit At Rest by John Updike

1990: The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos

1989: Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler (reviewed here)

1988: Beloved by Toni Morrison

1987: A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor (short review here)

1986: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

1985: Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie

1984: Ironweed by William Kennedy

1983: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

1982: Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike

1981: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy O'Toole

1980: The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer

1979: The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever (reviewed here)

1978: Elbow Room by James Alan McPherson

1976: Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow (reviewed here)

1975: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

1973: The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty

1972: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

1970: Collected Storiesby Jean Stafford

1969: House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

1968: The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron

1967: The Fixer by Bernard Malamud (reviewed here)

1966: Collected Stories by Katherine Anne Porter

1965: The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau

1963: The Reivers by William Faulkner

1962: The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O'Connor

1961: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

1960: Advise and Consent by Allen Drury (reviewed here)

1959: The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor

1958: A Death in the Family by James Agee

1956: Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor

1955: A Fable by William Faulkner

1953: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

1952: The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

1951: The Town by Conrad Richter

1950: The Way West by A. B. Guthrie, Jr.

1949: Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens

1948: Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener

1947: All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren (reviewed here)

1945: A Bell for Adano by John Hersey (reviewed here)

1944: Journey in the Dark by Martin Flavin

1943: Dragon's Teeth by Upton Sinclair

1942: In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow

1940: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

1939: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

1938: The Late George Apley by John Phillips Marquand

1937: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

1936: Honey in the Horn by Harold L. Davis

1935: Now in November by Josephine Winslow Johnson

1934: Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller

1933: The Store by T. S. Stribling

1932: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

1931: Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes

1930: Laughing Boy by Oliver Lafarge

1929: Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin

1928: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

1927: Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield

1926: Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis

1925: So Big by Edna Ferber

1924: The Able McLaughlins by Margaret Wilson

1923: One of Ours by Willa Cather

1922: Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington (reviewed here)

1921: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

1919: The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

1918: His Family by Ernest Poole


NOTE

Updated July 16, 2016.

OTHERS READING THE PULITZER WINNERS

If you are working on reading all the Pulitzer fiction winners and want to list your blog or related link here, please leave a comment with the link and I will add it.

The Pulitzer Project (a group blog)
Rebecca Reads

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!


Christmas is my favorite day of the year. I hope everyone is celebrating in their favorite way! 

By pure serendipity, this is also my 1,000th blog post. That is quite a milestone. Another cause for celebrating around my house.



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Literary Blog Hop: Wallflowers

Literary Blog Hop


The Blue Bookcase hosts a "Literary Blog Hop" for blogs "that primarily feature reviews of literary fiction, classic literature, and general literary discussion."

Each week, in addition to hopping around and visiting some terrific book blogs, participants answer a bookish question.  This week's question comes from Lisa at bibliophiliac:

What literary title (fiction or non-fiction) do you love that has been under-appreciated? We all know about the latest Dan Brown, and James Patterson isn't hurting for publicity. What quiet masterpiece do you want more readers to know?
There are plenty of books I've read that I think deserve a wider audience.  David Lodge's How Far Can You Go? (reviewed here), The Assistant by Bernard Malamud (reviewed here), and  Play It As It Laysby Joan Didion (reviewed here) are just three I can think of off the top of my head.

But if I had to choose one "quiet masterpiece" to champion, it would be The Road Home by Jim Harrison.  In general, Harrison is an under-appreciated American treasure, which he has made a career out of.  A good part of his memoir, Off to the Side, is his telling of his life on the fringes of literary society.

The Road Home is a sweeping, multi-generational story in "The Great American Novel" tradition.  Set in the sandhills of Nebraska, the book takes up where Harrison's prior novel, Dalva, left off, filling in the story of Dalva's family, the formidable Northridges.  There are pioneers, farmers, Indians, artists, lovers, and birdwatchers.  There is art, literature, food, wine, love, and death.  It is wonderful.

My Top 10 list will always include The Road Home.  I've read it twice, including reading it out loud to my husband on a long road trip. I will read it again, for sure.

2 Days to Christmas



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Opening Sentence of the Day: The Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peael Pie Society



"Dear Sydney,
Susan Scott is a wonder."


-- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows.

This has been waiting for me for over a year and I am so excited to finally turn my attention to it.

I was immediately sucked into this epistolary novel set in post-WWII England, including the Channel Island of Guernsey, which had been occupied by Germans during the war.

3 Days to Christmas



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: The Portrait of a Lady



"I've always been intensely determined to be happy, and I've often believed I should be. . . . But it comes over me every now and then that I can never be happy in any extraordinary way; not by turning away, by separating myself."

-- The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

I have a limited tolerance for Henry James, as I've discussed here and here.

Listening to the audio version has helped immeasurably. I can actually comprehend the narrative the first time through. But nothing will ever make James truly pleasurable for me because the main characters are always fussing about nothing.  This is how she explains why she is turning down the man's marriage proposal.  What is she dithering about?

This book is on the Radcliffe Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century list.  After I finish this, I'll only have six to go before I finish all the books on this list. That might be a great goal for 2011.


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.




4 Days to Christmas



Monday, December 20, 2010

Mailbox Monday


Lady Q at Let Them Read Books is the December host of Mailbox Monday.

I have high hopes that Santa will bring books this week! But last week, the pickings were slim.

Luckily, I got a book last night when we exchanged gifts with my one of my brainiac stepdaughters, this one in her residency at Columbia.  To help me plan our next trip to Manhattan to visit her, she got me:

eat.shop nyc: A Curated Guide of Inspired and Unique Locally Owned Eating and Shopping Establishments



This will tide me over with armchair travel fantasies until Christmas comes.

5 Days to Christmas




Saturday, December 18, 2010

Foodie's Reading Challenge



Margot at Joyfully Retired is hosting a challenge for 2011 that I am very excited about: The Foodie's Reading Challenge!

I love reading books about food.  I often read cookbooks cover-to-cover, like a narrative book.  And there are several books sitting on my TBR shelves that focus on food.  This is going to be a lot of fun.

Definition of a Food Book 

Participants do not have to chose their books in advance, but here is a little guidance from Margot:

A food book is a book which is centered around food and/or drinks. That could be a cookbook, a food biography or memoir, a non-fiction book focused around a specific food, wine, chef or restaurant. Also allowed is a fictional story in which food plays a major role.

My Reviews


The Food of France by Waverley Root (reviewed here)

American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters, and Fields, Rowan Jacobsen (reviewed here)


Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories From the Local Food Front by Joel Salatin (reviewed here)

The Onmivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan (which I didn't review, but discussed here)

With a Jug of Wine: An Unusual Collection of Cooking Recipes by Morrison Wood (reviewed here, with a recipe) 

I also read French Spirits: A House, a Village, and a Love Affair in Burgundy by Jeffrey Green, which I thought would be about food, but wasn't at all, so doesn't count as my sixth book. Drats.


Possibilities

I signed up at the "Bon Vivant" level to read four to six books.  My plan is to read books that are already on my TBR shelves.  Some of those in the running include (in no particular order):

The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America's Emerging Battle Over Food Rights by David E. Gumpert

James Beard on Food Delights and Prejudices by James Beard (I started this one on December 1)

On the Town in New York by Michael Batterberry

Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family by Patricia Volk

The Tuscan Year: Life and Food in an Italian Valley by Elizabeth Romer

Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl

Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee

Epicurean Delight: The Life and Times of James Beard by Evan Jones

Vie De France: Sharing Food, Friendship and a Kitchen in the Lorie Valle by James Haller

A Cordiall Water by M. F. K. Fisher

The Feasting Season by Nancy Coons

Dumas on Food: Selections from Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine by Alexandre Dumas

And it might be a good idea to include this one:

French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating For Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano

Other Ideas


This challenge reminds me of the Spice of Life Challenge, which was a favorite of mine in 2009. For that challenge, I read and reviewed these four books, three of which I loved. Can you guess which one I didn't?

  1. Au Revoir to All That by Michael Steinberger (my non-fiction choice; reviewed here)
  2. The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones (my fiction choice; reviewed here)
  3. The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso (my cookbook choice; reviewed here)
  4. Julie & Julia by Julie Powell (my memoir/essay choice; reviewed here
NOTES: Updated December 3, 2011.


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