My Books. My Life.

"Let us read and let us dance – two amusements that will never do any harm to the world." ~Voltaire~

1/8/2005 January 8, 2010

Filed under: Chatter — Michelle @ 2:30 pm
Tags: ,

Five years ago today, I married my favorite person in the world. While I don’t think I’m old enough to have a 5-year anniversary, it has apparently come and we must celebrate it. So today we are driving across the state and spending the weekend in St. Augustine. We have a room at a small inn and with the chilly weather we’ve been having, I think it should be a nice cozy weekend (I’m going to pretend it’s the Dragonfly and St. Augustine is Stars Hollow). Luckily, St. Augustine is probably one of the few places in Florida that can be enjoyed in 30-degree weather (unlike the Daytona trip from last January).

Sadly, this means I will not be around to join in the fun with all you Bloggiesta participants, but I hope you all have an enjoyable and productive weekend.  I hope to see all kinds of changes when I return on Monday.

One of My Favorite Wedding Pictures

*I added a soft focus to the picture and I can’t decide if I like it, but I really wanted to play with Picassa.

 

Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse January 7, 2010

Filed under: Book Review — Michelle @ 7:25 am
Tags: ,

Title: Right Ho, Jeeves
Author: P.G. Wodehouse (read by Nicolas Coster)
Genre: Perfection (thanks to Maria for helping me find the correct genre)
ISBN: 1597771917 (Audio)
Pages: 8 CDs, 9 hours (print version is 240 pages)
Year: 1934 (recorded in 2008)
Publisher: Orignal – Herbert Jenkins/Audio – Pheonix Audio
Source: My collection – Christmas gift from Ben
Rating: 5/5

Plot summary (from The Book Depository):

Gussie Fink-Nottle’s knowledge of the common newt is unparalleled. Drop him in a pond of newts and his behaviour will be exemplary, but introduce him to a girl and watch him turn pink, yammer, and suddenly stampede for great open spaces. Even with Madeline Bassett, who feels that the stars are God’s daisy chain, his tongue is tied in reef-knots. And his chum Tuppy Glossop isn’t getting on much better with Madeline’s delectable friend Angela. With so many broken hearts lying about him, Bertie Wooster can’t sit idly by. The happiness of a pal – two pals, in fact – is at stake. But somehow Bertie’s best-laid plans land everyone in the soup, and so it’s just as well that Jeeves is ever at hand to apply his bulging brains to the problems of young love.

Other Books I’ve Read By Author: The Code of the Woosters

Why I Picked Up This Book: It was an audio and I had a long drive home after Christmas. Plus Bertie and Jeeves are hilarious.

My thoughts:

Reading Wodehouse is absolutely fabulous. Listening to Wodehouse is simply wonderful.  Nicolas Coster did a wonderful job bringing the characters to life.  And of course, the messes Bertie manages to get himself into and the lengths Jeeves goes to to get him out of them are more than entertaining.  I know a lot of you are already Wodehouse fans, but if you aren’t, I challenge you to read one of his books and not like it.

It’s hard to review this book because you really have to experience the madness to appreciate it.

So I’m going to leave you with things this book made me want to do:

  • Go back in time or be rich enough to summer somewhere.
  • Have a butler who solves all my problems.
  • Try Anatole’s food.
  • Refer to all alcohol-infused nights as taking place in a “post-orange juice era.”
  • Be British.

I’m also glad that this was my first book of 2010.*  I think it starts my year off perfectly.

Will I Read This Author Again?: Of course!

*I know that audio books should count as books read, but I still feel like I needed an asterisk next to the claim that it was my first book of 2010.  With time, I’ll get past this.  I promise.

 

Teaser Tuesdays January 5, 2010

Filed under: Meme,Teaser Tuesday — Michelle @ 10:03 am
Tags: ,

“Well, well, well, Jeeves.”

“Yes, sir.”

“This is splendid news.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You see now how right I was.”

“Yes, sir.”

“It must have been rather an eye-opener for you, watching me handle this case.”

“Yes, sir.”

“The simple, direct method never fails.”

“No, sir.”

“Whereas the elaborate does.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Right ho, Jeeves.”

– Page 17 of  Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse –

[I basically cheat every week and use more than 2 sentences.]

teasertuesdays31

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
 

The Sunday Salon: My 2010 Goals January 3, 2010

Filed under: Currently Reading,Reading Goals,Sunday Salon — Michelle @ 10:07 am
Tags: ,

The Sunday Salon.com

It’s a new year and I’m using this turn-a-new-leaf time to write my first post for The Sunday Salon.  These are some of my favorite posts from other bloggers and I want to join in the fun.  The description of the Sunday Salon is one of a mini-readathon, but I’ve noticed that most use it as a sort of weekly recap or a place to discuss a particular idea.  So if I’m doing it wrong, let me know, but I’m taking my cue from loads of other book bloggrers.

This week has been a bad one for reading and a good one for blogging so I guess overall it’s been an average week.

Reading

Despite the limited time spent at work, I still didn’t manage to finish a book (a feat I last accomplished on December 5 – how sad).  I am currently reading:

It is my goal of the day to get to page 600 in The Sweet Far Thing.  That’s about 125 pages and will bring me 200 pages from the end and is certainly possible if I can just sit down and do it.  I must say I’m not enjoying this book very much and only want to finish it because it’s the  last in a trilogy.

Blogging

This could very possibly be the most I’ve written in one week.  This week I told you about my Christmas goodies both in book form and reading related.  I shared my favorite books of 2009 and my reading stats for the year.  My favorite post (and most visited by you) is my husband’s guest post sharing his favorite books of 2009.  I’m glad you all enjoyed hearing from him and left encouraging comments.

I loved reading everyone’s end of the year recaps.  This might be my favorite time of the year to open my google reader.

Goals

Everyone is talking about their reading goals for the new year.  I don’t want to set myself any numeric goals because I’ve learned that I can’t predict how much time I’ll have to read.  Instead, I want to set a few guidelines that can apply no matter how much I read and list a few books/authors that I hope to get to in 2010.

  • I want to read more adult literature than young adult/middle grade.  While I love YA/MG books, I felt like I got a little distracted from other books in 2009.  So it doesn’t matter if it’s one book more or 30 books more, I just want to read more adult literature than not.
  • I’m aiming for 20% of my books to be classics.  That’s a little better than I did in 2009.
  • And I’m aiming for 15% of my books to me nonfiction/memoir v. fiction.  I’m trying to broaden my reading horizon.
  • Specific authors:
    • Margaret Atwood (never read)
    • Isabelle Allende (never read)
    • Kurt Vonnegut (haven’t read in awhile)
  • Specific books:

While I didn’t meet all of last year’s goals, I did like having them as a guide, so that’s all this is: a guideline. If I don’t meet it, no worries.  I’ve also joined a few challenges so with these guidelines and the challenge requirements, I think my year is on the right track.  If only I could finish The Sweet Far Thing.

 

My Year of Reading (in Numbers) January 1, 2010

Filed under: Chatter,Reading Goals,Year End Review — Michelle @ 1:25 pm

Some Numbers:

  • Books Read: 42 (1 audio)
  • Pages Read: 13,807 + 13.1 hrs audio
  • Average Pages per Book: 337
  • Books Acquired: 156
  • Fiction: 38
  • Nonfiction: 4
  • Female Authors: 26
  • Male Authors: 16
  • New (to me) Authors: 24
  • Most Read Author: Maud Hart Lovelace (5)
  • Kid’s Lit: 13
  • Contemporary Fiction: 11
  • Classics: 6
  • Young Adult: 5
  • Memoirs: 3
  • Plays: 2
  • Essays: 1
  • Short Story Collection: 1
  • Rereads: 3
  • Series Started: 4
  • Longest Book: War and Peace (1,386 pages)
  • Shortest Book: The Tales of Beedle the Bard (107 pages)
  • Library books: 10
  • Books from my collection: 32
  • Challenges finished: 1 (Maud Hart Lovelace)
  • Challenges failed: 1 (Everything Austen – will finish this year)
  • Challenges continuing: 1 (Shelf Discovery)

2009 Goals

  • Read 48 Books (4/month) – Failed
  • Read Northanger Abbey and re-read Pride and Prejudice
  • 12 Classics (1/month) – Failed (I read 6 and was much better earlier in the year)
  • Specific Books
    • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
    • Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
    • Peony in Love by Lisa See
    • The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
    • Something Rotten and First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
    • The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (I’m halfway through)
    • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

To sum up: I thought I would read more this year since it’s the first full year that I haven’t been in school, but regular old work life turned out to be more time-consuming than expected. I also didn’t mean to read so much kid’s lit but between Betsy-Tacy, Harry Potter re-reads, and The Mysterious Benedict Society that somehow became my biggest genre. I think it was a successful year even if it wasn’t my best according to numbers.  I discovered the greater book-blogging community, reading challenges, and I participated in my first read-a-thon.  And I enjoyed almost everything that I read which has to be the most important measuring stick.

Thank you all for listening to my ramblings this year and leaving wonderful comments for me.  I’m looking forward to seeing what 2010 brings.

 

My Favorite Reads of 2009 December 31, 2009

Filed under: Year End Review — Michelle @ 2:25 pm
Tags:

When I sat down to write this post, I was going to give you my top 5 reads of 2009.  I only read 42 books so anything more than that seemed like a cop-out.  But I read some really good books this year and I could only get my favorites list down to 10.  With one honorable mention.  I know – it’s pathetic.  But I have actually ranked them so you can see my top five.  You will also notice that there is significant overlap with this post and my husband’s below. Mostly because as soon as one of us loves a book, we incessantly nag the other to read it (in 2009’s case, it was all me nagging I think).  My next post will be a year-end reading recap with stats and other fun figures, but for now here are my top 5 10 11 books of 2009.

Honorable Mention: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

(review)

A surprisingly enjoyable read that I couldn’t bear to leave off this list.  It is a book about a teenage girl at a private boarding school who tries to break secret society traditions and gender roles.  And she likes P.G. Wodehouse.

10: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

After creating this list, I realized that I failed to review a number of my favorite books.  And I read this one almost a year ago now so it’s hard to remember what it was exactly that I liked about it.  I guess I feel like it’s one of those great coming of age stories that all girls (well boys too but they’ll be hard to convince) should read like To Kill a Mockingbird or Little Women.

9: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

(review)

As much as I love happy endings, I also love tragic ones.  I loved this story so much as I was reading it, but the way it ended sealed its fate on this list.

8: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

(review)

A fantastic series for young readers and equally enthralling for adults.  This year I read all three MBS books and while I enjoyed all of them, this one was the best by leaps and bounds.  I was looking for a new group of kids to start following and Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance were just what I needed.

7: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

(review)

This book took me ages to read.  I really struggled to get into it.  I don’t know if it was my mood at the time or my desire to love this book as much as everyone else, but it just wasn’t working for me.  Then I decided I was reading it no matter what.  And I fell in love with it.  I’ve just learned that my attention span for epic novels (this, War and Peace, Middlesex, etc.) is just something I will probably struggle with no matter how good they are.

6: Peony in Love by Lisa See

(review)

Part of why I love reading is because of the knowledge I gain through each book.  Peony in Love (and all of See’s novels) are full of history and culture that I knew very little about.  The characters in this book are based on real people and the book that the story revolves around is a real book.  The way that See manages to shape this into a story is simply amazing.

5: Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace

(review)

I think I will always remember 2009 as the year I discovered Betsy-Tacy.  I wish I had read it as a child so that I could have reread it 10 times by now.

4: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

(review)

Everyone I’ve discussed this book with has said that it took them some time to get into the novel.  Me? I was pulled into the story immediately.  It revolves around one apartment building in France and its diverse and eccentric tenants.  Our two narrators are a 12-year-old girl intent on killing herself and a middle-aged concierge hiding her true passion for high culture and the book is full of philosophical ramblings and right place, right time interactions.  Tell me you don’t want to read that book.

3: Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy

I never reviewed Love Begins in Winter. I’m not sure why because I have so many good things to say about it.  The book is made up of five short stories about chance encounters, hope, and (you guess-it) love.  It is remarkably written – one of those books that makes you realize how wonderful language can be when manipulated just right.  This was a spur of the moment buy and read and I’m thankful I wandered into that bookstore in St. Louis and picked it up.

2: The Hunger Games (review) and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

(review)

The Hunger Games/Catching Fire make the list at #2 because this series was my most enjoyable reading experience of the year.  I got completely lost in the books and cannot wait for the third book to come out in the fall.  They weren’t the “best” books I read this year, but reading is entertainment and entertain me these did.

1: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (review)

I apparently never reviewed this book and thus my thoughts about it are escaping me, but I know for a fact that it is my favorite book read in 2009.  It was one of those books that gets as close to perfect as possible.  The language was beautiful, the story was beautiful, and the characters were beautiful.  Please read it.

***

Wow, this post took way longer than I anticipated. I really hope you enjoyed it. And stay tuned for my next 2009-recap post.

Happy New Year!

 

Guest Post: My Husband’s Top Ten Books of 2009

Filed under: Guest Post,Year End Review — Michelle @ 11:44 am
Tags:

Today you all get a special treat. My husband has decided to write a guest post with his favorite reads of 2009.  Ben reads even more than I do and he’s a high school English teacher so reading is sort of his thing. I like to think that I have something to do with it since his passion for reading started around the same time as our relationship, but I know he would have become a reader anyway. I am working on my own top reads of the year as well as a reading recap post.  In the meantime, and without further ado, I turn this post over to Ben.

*****

10. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: We grow up and see the word differently as Francine’s eyes are opened to the harsh realities of being a child in America, just as we did with Scout Finch.

9. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: SPOILERS This novel was a laugh-out-loud chronicle of a typical teenage boy. Until it turned dark. The dizzying pace at which Oscar spirals downwards reminds us that life is fragile. END SPOILERS

8. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout: From the opening, haunting pages Strout hooks the reader.  The way characters and stories are woven together across generations is simply marvelous.  Uplifting and heart-wrenching at the same time.

7. Amsterdam by Ian McEwan: Typical Ian McEwan- wonderful prose, great story, tension, and an unforgettable twist.

6. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: This is the third Pulitzer winner on my list (Oscar Wao and Olive Kitteridge) and it’s easy to see why.  The struggles of Calliope/Cal become a metaphor for the city of Detroit (lovingly and harshly portrayed).  Severe, unblinking, and honest, Eugenides opens our eyes to the realities of an intersexed person.

5. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss: Absolutely beautiful and lyrical prose.  Krauss breaks your heart with Leo’s story, only to put it back together through Alma.

4. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: Extremely intriguing, mysterious, and dark.  We discover the true horrors of Kathy, Rose, and Tommy’s purpose in life is discovered (or at least suspected) by the reader much sooner than the characters, which makes it all the more terrifying.  Your heart bleeds and hopes for Kathy as she struggles with the realities of her life.

3. The Hunger Games/Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins: These novels have filled part of the hole left in my soul by the ending of Harry Potter.  A combination of “The Lottery”, “The Most Dangerous Game”, and The Truman Show.  Insanely addictive and captivating, I cannot wait until the final volume is released next summer (rumored to be titled The Victors).

2. Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy: The most poignant and beautifully written book I’ve read in several years.  This collection of short stories touched me the way that only a select few books have.  I was nearly brought to tears multiple times, not because of the stories, but by the beauty of the language.

1. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon: This first novel shows the promise of Chabon’s talent (which will later be fully realized in the brilliant tour de force that is The Amazing Adventures of Kavelier and Clay).  This book gave me that ineffable feeling that accompanies reading a truly special piece of literature.  Carefully crafted plot and characters lead us to conflicts that arise naturally, as if the author simply let the characters take the story where they will.