Showing posts with label RYOB challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RYOB challenge. Show all posts

01 January 2010

Reading Challenges: Free-Range 2010

Looking back on 2009, I see failed to complete or even keep up with most of the reading challenges I had signed on for:
  • The Jewish Reading Challenge -- The only challenge I managed to meet and I actually surpassed its requirements (read "at least 4 books by Jewish Authors or about Judaism") by reading nine books! But that was early in 2009, when I was full of vim and vigor. Reviews for the books I read are here and here.
  • Read Your Own Books (RYOB) Challenge -- Started out pretty well with this challenge and, by July, I had read twenty-five of the thirty-seven books on my list, but then I stopped. One of my problems was that I (obviously) read all the books I really wanted to read first! After that, those that remained were mostly dreary or nonsense and I could not get myself to crack them open. It turns out that, if I own a book and haven't read it yet, it's usually because I don't want to.
Books Read for RYOB: 
Bride Stripped Bare, The by Nikki Gemmell 
Hedwig & Berti by Frieda Arkin 
Yarrow by Charles de Lint 
Stepford Wives, The by Ira Levin 
Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer  
Landing by Emma Donoghue 
Price of Salt, The by Patricia Highsmith (Claire Morgan) 
Friend of My Youth by Alice Munro 
Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster 
Vision of Emma Blau, The by Ursula Hegi 
Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip 
Jewel of Medina, The by Sherry Jones 
Speed of Dark, The by Elizabeth Moon  
Handmaid of Desire, The by John L' Heureux 
Last September, The by Elizabeth Bowen 
Well of Loneliness, The by Radclyffe Hall 
True Game by Sheri S. Tepper 
Light of Other Days, The by Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter 
Burmese Days by George Orwell 
Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer 
Inglorious by Joanna Kavenna 
Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino 
Dear Fatty by Dawn French 
Ally by Karen Traviss 
North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge -- I re-read the first three (Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas. Club Dead) and then lost interest. At the end of every book was another book, so it felt as if there was no "real" ending and that everything I read before was just a very long prologue to the next book ... does that make sense to anyone? Maybe, when the series ends, I will take them up again.
What does all this mean for 2010? It means I won't be doing reading challenges. They can be fun, but I find that once I put a book on a list, I stop wanting to read it. Also, I tend to be a free-range reader and reading by list is stressful for me -- my reading feels restricted and more like homework then pleasure. So, for 2010, I'm sticking with good ol' Samuel Johnson: "A man ought to read just as inclination leads him, for what he reads as a task will do him little good."

12 July 2009

Ally (Wess'har Wars, Book Five) by Karen Traviss

The Eqbas Vorhi (the militant branch of the Wess'har ) are still bent on tidying up the ecological disaster that is Umeh before they head off to Earth to do the same thing for us. Alas, they are overextended and call in help from the Skavu -- a species so militant in its commitment to ecological protection that it makes the Eqbas Vorhi look positively cuddly.

Meanwhile, Lindsey continues to help the bezeri migrate to land ( thanks to a handy infusion of c'naatat ) to rebuild their lost civilization. Of course, she doesn’t think this through and all sorts of not-really-good things happen.

And Aras, Shan, and Ade all continue to try to cope with the aftermath of Shan’s abortion … which was a whole book ago. (And I wish they would get over it already. Which makes me heartless, I know, but A/S/A seemed to spend most of this book not doing much besides moping and having conversations they'd already had in other books. Goshdarnit).

And, if that weren’t enough, c'naatat finds a new host !

(Insert ominous drum roll here‎)‏.

Overall, not the best book in the series as much of it just felt like set-up for Judge. All I can do now is cross my fingers and hope that the finale lives up to my expectations ...

RYOB Challenge 2009: Ally (Wess'har Wars, Book Five) by Karen Traviss (Eos, 2007)

05 July 2009

North and South

"... a strong-minded woman, equal to any emergency."

This was my second attempt at reading Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. The first time was immediately after viewing the BBC production and the film was too much in my mind. I also made the mistake, in my eagerness to "really get into the novel," of reading the introduction first. Since I left college, I never start with introductions as I find they tend to make me read novels in a more scholarly/literary way ... I find myself looking for motive and meaning, device and theme, when I should just be eating up the actual meat of the story.

Anyway, by the time I picked North and South up again I had forgotten enough of the film and the introduction to not be hindered by suppositions as to what awaited me in the novel. I knew it would be good and that was quite enough ...

Margaret Hale, a proud vicar's daughter from rural southern England, must adjust to the changes in her life when her father leaves the Church after a "crisis of conscience" and moves the family to the northern industrial town of Milton (where no-one will know them and he will not be reminded of his failing -- he pays poor thought to his family's ability to cope with this life change and I found his handling of the situation to be rather appalling).

In Milton, Margaret slowly discovers her own inner strengths as she takes over the running of their new (impoverished) household when it becomes clear her mother is too ill (and weak) and her father too impractical (and weak) to do so.

Despite her reduced circumstances, Margaret still entertains the same shocking class prejudices she picked up from living in London with her gentrified relations. She is appalling snobbish and close-minded in her opinion of the industrial North, its manufacturers and tradesmen, its hustle and bustle. Happily, Margaret soon gets a rude awakening from mill owner John Thornton, who is well respected by his peers and his employees, but no gentleman as Margaret would define such a man. As the two interact, Thornton comes to love her even though he knows Margaret will never have him ...

But, of course, she does. In the end. After they both learn not to be all proud and uppity and stop making terrible presumptions about people.

In a nutshell: It's Pride in Prejudice in the Industrial Revolution! (Let's face it, Mr. Darcy would have been so much sexier with his own steam engine ... or is that just me? I like a strong, principled, working hero who will probably not, in a fit of ennui, gamble the family estate away).

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (Penguin Books, 2003)

19 May 2009

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

Life's not all beer and skittles.

As we all know, The Well of Loneliness is the grandmother of Lesbian literature. It tells the story of sexual invert (lesbian) Stephen Gordon whose sexual leanings are ruddy obvious from a very tender age. She falls in love first with a maid and then later with a neighbor, but that relationship goes badly and she is forced to leave her home. Eventually, Stephen goes to France where she serves as an ambulance driver in World War I and falls in love with Mary Llewellyn. Alas, their love is complicated by social inhibitions and comes to no good end.

If The Well of Loneliness sounds depressing, that is because it is. It is also rather beautiful and enraging. Yes, after I finished reading this novel, I admit I wanted to go tip some cars over and set them on fire. And then re-read the novel.

Irritatingly, many of the issues raised in The Well of Loneliness are still issues we face today. Whether it is safe to have a public relationship. Whether one may marry and have children. Whether one may manage the death of a loved one. Issues from 1928, still on the table today.

That said, The Well of Loneliness isn't just a "message" novel. It is also a beautifully written romantic tragedy full of enough determined characters and purple-y prose to entertain any lover of chunky historic novels.

RYOB Challenge 2009: Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness (Avon Books, 1981)

30 April 2009

"Totem to King's Blood Four."

RYOB Challenge 2009: Sherri S. Tepper's The True Game (Ace, 1996).

In The True Game, a young man named Peter is sent from the safety of his school out into a world to find his mother. Along the way, he discovers a set of carved game pieces and a mysterious book ... long lost treasures that will reveal untold Talents, set in motion ancient plans, and tell the true history of his world.

I was very amused by Tepper's successful creation of a world based, apparently, on a Dungeons and Dragons-esque version of chess. The characters are (mostly) all pieces in the Game (from Pawns to Kings) and they are playing for life or death. The world of The True Game, you see, is entirely based on the Game. Its political and social structure, its economics and religion, are all dependent on what happens in the Game. As we learn through Peter, how you live your life and what Talents are discovered in you at adolescence, determines what sort of rank or type of piece you are in the Game. Of course, no-one wants to be a sacrificial Pawn!

The True Game collects the first three books in the True Game series (King's Blood Four, Necromancer's Nine, Wizard's Eleven). There are nine books in this series, grouped together in three different trilogies. The other two trilogies concern the boy's mother, Mavin Manyshaped (The Song of Mavin Manyshaped, The Flight of Mavin Manyshaped, The Search for Mavin Manyshaped) and his wife, Jinian (Jinian Footseer, Dervish Daughter, Jinian Star-Eye). I understand that the trilogies are not ordered chronologically (the middle trilogy happens first). I suspect, rather like with the Chronicles of Narnia, you could read them in either in the order set by the author or chronologically without your brain exploding!

20 April 2009

Yes, I See How Clever You Are (Shut Up, Already!)

RYOB Challenge 2009: John L'Heureux's The Handmaid of Desire (Soho Press, 1996).

The Handmaid of Desire is set in the English department of an unnamed California university ("The university") where Olga Kominska, a mysterious visiting professor famed for her feminist theory, has arrived to teach a course on Foucault. Will Olga be the answer to her peers's prayers or will she destroy their tiny incestuous universe?

The novel started off promisingly, but had become quite tedious by Part II. I began to hate all the characters and just wanted the book to end ...

The Handmaid of Desire is a snide little novel full of academic in-jokes and literary styling I am just too dumb to appreciate. I will be quite happy to donate it to the FOL book sale.

12 April 2009

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

Out there is the dark: the dark we don't know about yet.

In a near-future America, where autism can be identified and cured in utero, Lou is a high-functioning autistic who has adapted very successfully to living in "normal" society. He works, with other high-functioning autistics, for a company which values his pattern-recognition skills. One day, he hears rumors of an experimental new treatment which might make the remaining autistic people "normal."

Lou's senior manager also hears about this treatment and decides all autistic employees should have this treatment -- whether they want it or not.

Lou is conflicted -- should he take the treatment and become "normal?" Who would a "normal" Lou be? Is it better to be “normal?” What is "normal," anyway?

This is a thought-y sort of book and much recommended.

(I'm still amused by Crenshaw's casual dismissal of "that woman, whatever her name was, that designed slaughter-houses or something" -- he is referring, of course, to Temple Grandin, author of such excellent books as Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior and Emergence: Labeled Autistic).

RYOB Challenge 2009: The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon (Ballantine Books, 2004)

20 March 2009

Not a Gem

RYOB Challenge 2009: Sherry Jones's The Jewel of Medina (Beaufort Books, 2008).

The Jewel of Medina is a retelling of the life of The Prophet Muhammad's child bride, Aisha. I don't know how factual this novel was supposed to be, but it read like a bad historical romance.

The characterization is terrible -- very wooden and one-dimensional. Even Aisha, described by the book jacket as "one of the most important women in Islam, and a fierce protector of her husband's words and legacy" never seemed like a real woman who lived and breathed. Mostly, I found her annoying and wished The Prophet would consummate their marriage so she would shut up.

Do you want to know how Aisha felt about being a Muslimah at the birth of Islam? Sadly, on that the book is curiously silent. What was Aisha's relationship with Allah? What was her spiritual relationship with The Prophet? This book will not tell you these things.

However, the book will tell you Aisha was good with a sword, felt stifled by her marriage, and thought she was unattractive. It will tell you those things many times.

The Jewel of Medina has a sequel in the works, but I won't be reading it.

10 March 2009

Thar Be Fairies in Them Thar Hills

RYOB Challenge 2009: Patricia McKillips's Solstice Wood (Ace, 2006).

Patricia McKillip has been one of my favorite fantasy authors since I read The Forgotten Beasts of Eld way back when. Alas, I could not get into Solstice Wood. I just could not suspend my disbelief and accept fairies in the Catskills or magic knitting circles. The fantasy elements were fine and the "real life" story of a girl returning home to face her past was okay, too, but I could not get the two to work together.

Also, rather irritatingly, McKillip's up state New York didn't ever "feel" real -- Lynn Hall and its village might just as well have been somewhere in the British Isles for all the sense of place I recieved. Honestly, I would never have placed the world of Rois Melior (Winter Rose) in North America so, maybe, I just found the disputation of my assumptions jarring?

And why must we have the Fairy Raed in North America, anyway? Why not proper strange indigenous fairies with proper strange indigenous fairy ways?

04 March 2009

Agape, Eros, Philia, Storge, Thelema ...

RYOB Challenge 2009: Ursula Hegi's The Vision of Emma Blau (Scribner, 2000).

In 1894, thirteen-year old Stefan Blau runs away from his home in Bergdorf, Germany to find his fortune in America. In this land of opportunity, Stefan finds success but no great purpose until he travels to Lake Winnipesaukee and begins to dream of an apartment complex he would build and of a "small, stocky girl in a black dress whirling through the courtyard as if she were dancing or, perhaps, throwing a tantrum." The story then follows the building of the complex and the fortunes of the Blau family across a century.

Stefan Blau and his wives were quite interesting and I wish Hegi had dealt with them longer before moving on to the children and grandchildren who were, frankly, not nearly as fascinating or dynamic. Indeed, the descendants always gave off a feeling of doom and fatalism, as if they were trapped in some god-awful Greek tragedy ...

Though possessing a certain kind of beauty, The Vision of Emma Blau, is not an uplifting book and a left me feeling numbed and in want of lighter, kinder reading material.

02 March 2009

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

About three pages in, I realized I had already read Case Histories. Yes, it is official -- I have now read so many books that I can no longer remember which I have read and which I have merely read about!

I've delayed talking about this novel, because while I've read it twice now, I still don't know what to say about it. Although I can't discuss it very coherently (and have given up trying), Case Histories is a good mystery and well worth reading. The various characters and plot lines intertwine most interestingly and, for a book so full of tragedy, is actually quite funny.

And now I'm going to make it sound depressing:

This novel focuses on the theme of loss, I think. Everyone loses something or someone. Even in the finding, there is a sense of loss. Oh, yes, the novel's ostensibly about the investigation of three cold cases by private detective Jackson Brody, but that's window dressing. Good, interesting, well-written window dressing to be sure:

  1. One hot summer night, a young girl disappears from a tent in her family's garden. Years later, tidying up after their father's death, her sisters find her favorite toy locked in his desk drawer. A toy which was supposed to have disappeared with the sister ...
  2. A girl takes a job in her father's office and is brutally murdered. Why was she killed? By whom was she killed? The father, bound up in idolized memories of his daughter, requires answers ... but what will he do when he has them?
  3. A woman finds herself shackled to a needy baby and demanding husband in the middle of nowhere. Desperate for escape, she makes a particularly bloody choice ... or does she?

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (Little, Brown and Company, 2004).

01 March 2009

Could Put Me Off The English Entirely

RYOB Challenge 2009: E.M. Forster's Where Angels Fear to Tread (Vintage International, 1947)

Where Angels Fear to Tread is the story of a stifled English widow who (suitably chaperoned) goes on holiday to Italy and falls in love with a younger Italian man, earning the censure of her in-laws. Her brother-in-law is dispatched to sort the mess out, but arrives too late -- the foolish woman has married that shiftless son of a dentist. Of course, they cut her. Of course, the marriage fails. Of course, she dies tragically.

So sad, so unfortunate, so easy to forget ... if only she hadn't died having a baby. Can't leave the poor mite in the hands of the Italians! No, the baby must be brought to England where he can be raised properly.


What tiresome people, these English in-laws! Stiff, one-dimensional, and consistently irritating! Every time I thought I glimpsed something redeeming in them, they went all horrible again. Miss Abbott was probably the only likeable one in the bunch, but only before she went all "goddess-y."

I'm thankful this wasn't the first Forster novel I'd read for, if it had been, I would read no more.

Odious, odious people!

28 February 2009

Friend of My Youth: Stories by Alice Munro

Teresa was not vulgar -- she was just foreign.

Pretty sure I picked this story collection up in Vermont over a decade ago after I took US/Canadian Literature I & II. We'd read several of Munro's short stories in class and I remember being quite taken with her writing style. But not so taken, apparently, that I ever read this collection. No, it followed me from Vermont to my parents and then on to our first home and now here -- somehow (and rather surprisingly) never managing to be culled during any of my weeding fits.

So, yes, this book was made for RYOB 2009.

What did I think of it? I thought it was pretty good -- the stories are well crafted with distinctive characters and (usually) definitive endings. Some stories I wish Munro had spun out into full-length books, but most are perfect as they are. While Munro isn't the most descriptive of writers, she does know how to move a story along.

If you're not familiar with Munro, I should warn you that these aren't "happy" stories. Many of them feature topics or themes which may make readers a little uncomfortable (anxiety, remorse, sexual repression, and adultery pop up over and over again). Perfect grey March recession reading!

RYOB Challenge 2009: Alice Munro's Friend of My Youth: Stories (Vintage, 1991)

22 February 2009

The Price of Salt by Claire Morgan (Patricia Highsmith)

"I let it boil and it's got scum on it," Carol said annoyedly. "I'm sorry."

But Therese loved it, because she knew this was exactly what Carol would always do, be thinking of something else and let the milk boil.

First off, Claire Morgan was a pseudonym of Patricia Highsmith. Everyone knows Highsmith, right? She wrote all those psychological thrillers with that creepy Ripley in them, remember? If you haven't read her novels, you're probably familiar with the film, The Talented Mr. Ripley?

Anyway, she also wrote this sapphic classic which was groundbreaking because it had a happy ending! Oh noes, happy lesbians! No-one sticking her head in an oven or slitting her wrists in the bath! No-one coming to her senses and settling down with a nice man.

So, a lesbian classic ... that has been mouldering on my bookshelves for the past four or five years. Bad, reader, bad. All I can say is that, while it was a well-intentioned present from The Husband, I took one look at the burbs on the back and thought "reading this will make me stick my head in an oven."

Well, I was wrong. The Price of Salt is a rather lovely (if bittersweet) romance centering around Therese and her lover, Carol. Therese is very young (a girl, really) who, while in a dead relationship with a young man she neither loves nor desires, falls in love with Carol. Married-but-divorcing, mother-of-Rindy Carol.

Highsmith's characters are all complex and believable -- even the boorish husband escapes caricaturing and comes across as a real (if unlikeable) person. Therese and Carol's relationship is utterly believable and the choices they make in their relationship seem appropriate (even while occasionally making me want to slap someone) for their time.

Or so I guess. Obviously, I read this novel through the filter of fifty-seven years and some of the choices the characters make or the events the plot turns on seem down-right imponderable to me. I need, I fear, a Norton Critical Edition of The Price of Salt. Something that will present the work in its context (and, maybe, explain what the title means).

RYOB Challenge 2009: Claire Morgan's The Price of Salt (Naiad Press, 1994)

05 February 2009

Faro's Daughter

In Faro's Daughter, Mr. Ravenscar is outraged to discover his young pup of a nephew has (the fool) declared his intention to marry a girl out of a gaming hall! He sets out to thwart this union by any means necessary, but soon finds that the girl won't be easily overthrown ...

Not that Miss Grantham has any intention of marrying the young pup -- she fully intends to chuck younger, prettier girls at him until one sticks -- but she won't suffer Ravenscar's superiority or assumptions!

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book. Perhaps it helps that, as a one who must make her way in the world, Miss Grantham no silly chit or idle miss, but a commonsensical and dashed forthright woman. (Yes, I admit her decision to have Mr. Ravenscar kidnapped was very silly, but she was so deliciously outraged when she arranged it and the outcome was so amusing I did not mind her momentary lack of sense).

Unlike most historical romances by contemporary writers, there's no sex in this book and very little kissing yet Deborah and Max's romantic future is never in doubt. Besides doing such a marvelous job creating (and maintaining) the delicious combination of desire and rivalry which motivates Deborah and Max, Heyer also does an excellent job with her secondary characters and their respective plot lines.

Heyer essentially created Regency romance as we know it today and, as I love a good Regency romance, I've often wished to read her novels -- except they looked so dated and icky. Happily, many of her novels have recently been repackaged with extremely attractive (if inaccurate) covers. Unhappily, these new editions are bleeding me dry.

So, no new Heyers until I read the one's I already own! Thank you, RYOB, for legitimizing book shopping!

RYOB Challenge 2009: Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer (Sourcebooks, 2008)

24 January 2009

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

I confess to never having seen the film versions of The Stepford Wives and only picked up the novelette a few years ago because of its slimness and relative cheapness. I am immensely glad I listed it for the RYOB Challenge as The Stepford Wives turned out to be a ripping good yarn.

What's the story about? Ostensibly, it is about Joanna, Walter, and their children's move to a twee Connecticut suburb where well-endowed housewives cheerfully polish their husbands' bowling trophies all the live long day. Are these women for real? Or is something sinister afoot? It won't ruin anything to tell you that something sinister is afoot -- the women are all robots and soon pretty little Joanna will be one, too.

For such a thin story, The Stepford Wives raises all sorts of interesting questions and I ended up spending far more time thinking about Joanna than I ever did reading about her.

That said, I think that even if you are an "action" reader who doesn't like "thoughty" or "philosophical" books, you will still enjoy The Stepford Wives. Levine moves the story along at a good clip and doesn't waste a lot of time on description or detail. The questions of identity and social value are all there, but he doesn't deal with them. That's for the reader. He's just telling a ripping good yarn.

A ripping good yarn which was so extremely creepy, reading it gave me the heebie-jeebies even while I laughed at the impossibility of building perfect robot wives in a 1972 Connecticut suburb ...

However, if you think you can replace a woman with a robot, how perfect does she really have to be?

Which raises, in my mind, the "are women human?" question and then I start thinking about the whole philosophy of "women as hollow vessels" and ... I need to have a lie down before I start kicking men in the 'nads and setting them on fire.

RYOB Challenge 2009: Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives (Harper Paperbacks, 2002).

04 January 2009

"honesty is of the utmost importance"

RYOB Challenge 2009: The Bride Stripped Bare by Anonymous/Nikki Gemmell (Fourth Estate, 2003)
Shallow. Overwrought. Unsubtle. Stereotypical. Boring. Badbadbad¹.

Woman marries someone she feels safe with, but is unexcited by. Bored by her marriage and seemingly resigned to that boredom, she stills manages outrage at her husband's possible affair with her sex therapist best friend². Wronged wife commences upon a string of what are supposed to be, I think, extremely erotic adventures, but which seem merely sad and stale. Where is the joy of sexual awakening? Where is the power of a woman come into her sexual self?

The woman becomes pregnant³, is left by her husband, and goes to pieces. Eventually, she reassembles, gives birth, and plays happy family with her returned husband while thumbing her nose at her friend.



¹ I dare you to read the scenes with the cabbies and not laugh.
² Who later sends the wife anonymous love letters.
³ Her husband's baby. This is a conventional unconventional story, after all.

"Why throw away a needful day / To go in search of Yarrow?"

RYOB Challenge 2009: Yarrow by Charles de Lint (Orb, 1997)

Reprint of an early mythic/urban fantasy published in 1986. Set in 1982 Ottawa, Yarrow tells the story of Cat Midhir, a reclusive best-selling fantasy writer who is having problems finishing her current book because she can't dream. Previously, all Cat's writerly inspiration has come from dreams of an Otherworld where she is told the stories of that place by its fey inhabitants. Cat thinks she's just been repackaging those stories in her books and has no craft of her own. So what to do when she stops dreaming? Well, it turns out she hasn't stopped dreaming! Her dreams are simply being stolen by a psychic vampire! But with the help of Old Hippie Guy, Bookstore Man, and the Intrepid Cabbie she will live to write another day!

Can you tell I didn't think very highly of this book? To me, Yarrow seemed more like the outline of a book or series than a work complete in itself. The story lacked depth and the characters were so underdeveloped that they were easily confused with one another. And then the hideously cliché and extremely off-putting sexual violence! Gah!

31 December 2008

RYOB 2009 Challenge (Partial) List

read your own books challenge logo
Some of the manymanymany unread books that have ghosting around my house and which I intend to read for RYOB 2009:
  1. Hedwig & Berti by Frieda Arkin
  2. The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen
  3. The Annotated Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina
  4. The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter
  5. Yarrow by Charles de Lint
  6. Trader by Charles de Lint
  7. The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul Di Filippo
  8. Landing by Emma Donoghue
  9. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
  10. Dear Fatty by Dawn French
  11. North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  12. The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmell
  13. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
  14. The Vision of Emma Blau by Georgette Heyer
  15. Faro's Daughter by Ursula Hegi
  16. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
  17. Recipes for the Perfect Marriage by Morag Prunty/Kate Kerrigan
  18. The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence
  19. The Handmaid of Desire by John L' Heureux
  20. The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones
  21. Inglorious by Joanna Kavenna
  22. Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino
  23. The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
  24. Solstice Wood by Patricia A. McKillip
  25. The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
  26. The Annotated Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery et al
  27. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
  28. Friend of My Youth by Alice Munro
  29. Burmese Days by George Orwell
  30. Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
  31. Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer
  32. True Game by Sheri S. Tepper
  33. Ally by Karen Traviss
  34. Judge by Karen Traviss
  35. Filth by Irvine Welsh
  36. Porno by Irvine Welsh
Wow, thirty-five titles and that's just the fiction!

02 December 2008

2009 Reading Challenges ... More Than I Can Chew?

For 2009, I'm going light(er) on reading challenges. I considered participating in The 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge, but decided I have an unfair advantage as a librarian, because ninety-nine percent of my household's reading material already comes from the local or state library system. I don't really need a challenge to encourage me to use my library more!

Instead of library books, I will be focusing on my own. My goal for the The Read Your Own Books (RYOB) Challenge is simply to read all the unread books in my house between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2009. This includes the ones I started, but never finished. If a second attempt won't get me through them, I'll donate these "unreadables" to the Friends of the Library's bookstore.

Alas, can't post a list for RYOB yet, because I need to take stock first. While my house is full of bookcases, my books are pretty free range (some might even go so far as to call them feral).

Another challenge I am participating in (which does involve sweet seductive library books) is The Jewish Literature Challenge (21 Dec 2008 -- 27 April 2009). The challenge is quite simple as it only requires me to read four books and allows for many different kinds so I am free to read as widely (or narrowly) as whim takes me!

My "four" books:

How this Night is Different by Elisa Albert (short stories)
Joheved (Rashi's Daughters, Book 1) by Maggie Anton
Never Mind the Goldbergs by Matthue Roth (YA)
Sex, Murder and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (YA)
The Jew of Home Depot and Other Stories by Max Apple (short stories)
The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff
The Matzo Ball Heiress by Laurie Gwen Shapiro
The Romance Reader by Pearl Abraham
The Saturday Wife by Naomi Ragen
The Shiksa Syndrome by Laurie Graff
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

I've already started in on The Matzo Ball Heiress and The Jew of Home Depot even though I haven't yet finished The A~Z Reading Challenge. I have two titles left (Undead and Unwed and The Year the Colored Sisters Came to Town), but I don't know if I'll complete the challenge before 1 January.