Friday, June 29, 2012

Top 5 Books: Mid-Year Report

I love how blogging helps me digest and reflect on the books I read.  The end of June seems as natural a time to reflect on my goals as does the end of the year, and a Top 5 felt in order.  First, a few challenge stats: (I'm doing (obviously) much better in some challenges than others, but I think it balances out.)
  • Books read as of 6/30: 66 [feels pretty good!]
  • Reading Willa Cather Chronologically: 3 out of 4 (75%) [this one's in the bag]
  • Reading the Newbery Medal Books: 4 out of 5 (80%) [I can do it!]
  • Reading the Pulitzer Prize Winners: 2 out of 5 (40%) [no 2012 winner = I don't care]
  • Reading from my To Be Read Shelf: 3 out of 10 (30%) [oh...books on my shelf? oops.]
  • Reading Short Stories and Poetry: 4 out of 6 (67%) [duty calls...must.read.poetry.]
  • Reading from my Wish List: 4 out of 12 (34%) [this one is fun. how'd I get behind?]
  • Back to the Classics Challenge 2012:  6 out of 9 (67%) [loving me some classics this year.]
  • Spring into Junior Fiction Challenge: 8 out of 10 (80%) [hrm.  may acknowledge defeat.]
  • Art of the Novella Challenge: 0 out of 18 (0%) [August will be here WAY too soon...]


AND...my Top 5 of 2012 [so far]

Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese

This book was so AllTheRage when it was released that I pretty much decided not to read it.  But then Emily loooved it, and I started revising my opinion (I trust that girl's opinion!)  Finally, it was chosen for my book club, and I was entranced from the first page.  I haven't talked about it much because I don't know where to start.  It's one of those books that is so special that I simultaneously want to buy it for every person on earth, and hide every copy under my mattress so I never run out.  It was beautifully written, with beautifully real & complex characters and themes.  Highly recommended.

A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness

I talked about this book here, and I highly recommend reading Heidi's opinion on it (she has the insight of first-hand experience - well worth reading her thoughts!)  This is another book that hooked me from the beginning.  The writing, accompanied by beautifully fitting illustrations, allowed an incredible understanding of the emotional confusion inside a child coming to terms with an impending tragedy.  I don't think I've ever seen such an intimate issue portrayed so well.  (And, just in case you are wondering, my 11 year-old daughter fell in love with it too, so it's not just for biggies, and not just for littles.)

11/22/1963, Stephen King

Admittedly, when I picked this up I was in the mood for a cracking good read, something that has been more difficult for me to find the more I read.  The trip back to the late 50s/early 60s was so much fun for me.  More than just the JFK story, this is a comparison of the times in which we live and of those gone by.  And without the threat of freaky horror happenings, it is a book that I'm glad to recommend to a wide variety of people.  It's a chunkster, but it's Stephen King...which means that the story is the show and you needn't worry about getting bogged down.

The Painted Veil, W. Somerset Maugham

What a terrific surprise my first Maugham book was!  I bought this on a whim, partially because the author had been mentioned at book club, and partially because it was short and had a good cover.  (what? those sound like good reasons to me!)  It instantly felt like a guilty pleasure: too much fun to be any good.  But it was good.  I adored every word of this book, I think, and can't wait to add more Maugham to my shelf.  I almost bought The Razor's Edge instead, and now I'm wondering if I'll like that one just as much...I've heard it was a departure for him.
The Song of the Lark, Willa Cather

I almost didn't include this one because it was a re-read, but I love it so much I couldn't leave it out.  I feel like this is my book.  It describes the intimate nature of the creative spirit like I've never before experienced.  Being one of Cather's "prairie" novels, you should expect a good dose of atmosphere here as well, although it doesn't all take place on the prairie.  You get some city and southwest mixed in there too, each subsequent place as tangible as the one before it.  The choices that Thea makes lands her in an unenviable place, which is a bit sad to see since it is also the thing she deemed more important than anything else.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Giveaway Winners!

Thank you so much for all who entered my giveaway!  I'm thrilled to be sending out a copy of Winter's Bone as well as a copy of The Lacuna...and a big thanks to Judith for hosting the Literary Giveaway event (thanks Judith!)

I had my kiddos pick the winning numbers (can you get any more random than kids?) and here's who won: Charlotte Padgett (Winter's Bone) and Jinky (The Lacuna).  Congrats and I hope you enjoy!  I'm sending you both emails so I can get these books in the mail.


 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book/Movie Pairing: The Family Fang and Moonrise Kingdom

Are you familiar with director Wes Anderson (of Royal Tenenbaums fame)?  I happened to have the great pleasure of watching his new movie, Moonrise Kingdom, this weekend and I absolutely loved it.  Though I've avoided it until now (who knows why?) I am now an ardent fan of his films.  I actually think the only other film of his I've seen is Darjeeling Limited - which is fabulous because that means I've a good number of promising films to enjoy now that I know I love him. ;)

Succinctly put, Moonrise Kingdom is about "A pair of young lovers [who] flee their New England town, [causing] a local search party to fan out and find them."  What makes it work is Anderson's impeccable sense of balance.  Not only did it strike that perfect funny/sad tone, but the characters are at once quite quirky and oh-so-easy to identify with.

I loved this movie.  I wanted to marry it.  Well, not exactly.  But I would like to find a way to plaster on my wall so I can watch it constantly and continuously.  (rated PG-13, btw)


The Family Fang, (if you've read any reviews of it already you may have heard,) has a very Wes Anderson vibe.  The super-quirks, the funny/sad...the ability to talk about serious subjects without being tiresome.  Set against the backdrop of performance art contrasted with imperfect art of raising a family, and told through a series of rather awkward moments, Wilson left me contemplating the blind journey we each make from childhood to adulthood.

Although propulsively readable, it doesn't dip into shallow waters for a minute.  I loved how, instead of spiraling into a mess of neatly-wrapped platitudes, it stayed engaging, funny, and contemplative until the very end.  It left me at once feeling completely satisfied and hungry for more.

"People would call him Professor Fang, which sounded so much like a supervillain that he wasn't sure he could go through with it."

What's your opinion about funny/sad books (and movies) with quirky characters?  Does that perfect balance make your heart sing like it does mine?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Literary Givewaway Blog Hop

Welcome!
I'm excited to join the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop hosted by Judith @ Leeswammes this time around.  There are so many blogs joining in, all giving away books or bookish items.  I'm looking forward to visiting other literary blogs, and am hoping to find some new bloggy friends!


My Giveaway:
I've had a couple of books on my shelf that I've been wanting to give away, so there are a couple of options for you all.  I'm only shipping to addresses in the US this time around, but there are many (MANY) blogs that are shipping worldwide, so be sure to check out the linky list below!

Two lucky winners can look forward to getting one of these guys in your mailbox:



Winter's Bone takes you into the Ozark mountains and gives you a haunting peek at the drug culture in the area.  Haunting and atmospheric (I loved the movie, too!).  See my review for a bit more info.

The Lacuna is the story of Harrison Shepherd, who was born in America to an American father and moved to Mexico with his Mexican mother, and is trying to find his place in the world.  A "lacuna" is an unfilled space, or a gap, and is a theme repeated throughout the book.  Read my review for quotes and more info.


You can enter for one or both of the books. To enter, please read the rules and then fill in the form below.

The rules:
  • Anyone can enter. You do not need to have a blog.  Fill out the form below and select which book(s) you want to enter for.
  • You need to supply an address in the US where you can receive packages, and an email address where I can contact you.
  • You can enter the giveaway through Wednesday June 27th. I will close the giveaway around midnight (PST) that night.
  • Note that double or invalid entries will be removed.
  • I will notify the winners by email. The winners need to answer my email within 3 days, or I’ll announce a new winner.
  • You do not have to be a follower or become a follower, although if you like my blog I hope you will! (See buttons in the side bar on the right for options).That’s it! Good luck and thanks for playing.

Now start blog hopping!
For more giveaways check out these blogs...the giveaways are worldwide unless mentioned otherwise.

Participating blogs:
  1. Leeswammes
  2. Candle Beam Book Blog
  3. Musings of a Bookshop Girl
  4. The Book Whisperer
  5. Book Journey (US/CA)
  6. breieninpeking (Dutch readers)
  7. bibliosue
  8. heavenali
  9. I Read That Once...
  10. The Parrish Lantern
  11. The Bibliomouse (Europe)
  12. Tell Me A Story
  13. Seaside Book Nook
  14. Rikki's Teleidoscope
  15. Sam Still Reading
  16. Nishita's Rants and Raves
  17. Readerbuzz
  18. Books Thoughts Adventures (North America)
  19. 2,606 Books and Counting
  20. Laurie Here (US/CA)
  21. Literary Winner (US)
  22. Dolce Bellezza
  23. The House of the Seven Tails
  24. The Book Diva's Reads (US)
  25. Colorimetry
  26. Roof Beam Reader
  27. Kate's Library
  28. Minding Spot (US)
  29. Silver's Reviews (US)
  30. Book'd Out
  31. Fingers & Prose (US)
  32. Chocolate and Croissants
  33. Scattered Figments
  34. Lucybird's Book Blog
  35. The Book Club Blog
  1. Lizzy's Literary Life
  2. The Book Stop
  3. Reflections from the Hinterland (US)
  4. Lena Sledge's Blog
  5. Read in a Single Sitting
  6. The Little Reader Library (UK)
  7. The Blue Bookcase (US)
  8. 1morechapter (US)
  9. The Reading and Life of a Bookworm
  10. Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea
  11. My Sweepstakes City (US)
  12. De Boekblogger (Europe, Dutch readers)
  13. Exurbanis
  14. Sweeping Me (US/CA)
  15. Living, Learning, and Loving Life (US)
  16. Beauty Balm
  17. Uniflame Creates
  18. Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book (US/CA)
  19. Curiosity Killed The Bookworm
  20. Nose in a book (Europe)
  21. Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews (US)
  22. Giraffe Days
  23. Page Plucker
  24. Based on a True Story
  25. Read, Write & Live
  26. Devin Berglund (N. America)
  27. Ephemeral Digest
  28. Under My Apple Tree (US)
  29. Annette Berglund (US)
  30. Book Nympho
  31. A Book Crazy, Jane Austen Lovin' Gal (US)
  32. Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

There I was: heading for the couch with purpose, book in hand.  It was time to get some serious reading done.  Mary Shelley's Frankenstein hadn't captured my attention thus far, so I knew I needed to concentrate and focus focus focus.  But wait, perhaps I'd better check my email before diving in?  Five minutes later I was contentedly absorbed...in a game of Plants vs Zombies.

Have I mentioned that I am a master procrastinator?  My responsible side has gotten better at fooling my procrastinatory side (who is in turn trying to fool my responsible side in the first place...at what point does this qualify as a mental problem?) and I finally buckled down and plowed through the rest of  the book.

I liked the story of Frankenstein and the monster he created.  The mystical-science aura reminded me a bit of Jules Verne (that was fun) and there is certainly plenty of food for thought presented.  However, the biographical portion of the introduction was much more interesting to read.  Shelley's super-introspective, emotional, memory-flavored sentences bored me to distraction (as noted above).

Last August I read Shelley's novella, Mathilda and adored it.  I loved how her writing perfectly exuded the emotions she was trying to portray.  Her writing style wasn't necessarily any different in Frankenstein, but it did lack the passion that I felt in Mathilda.  Without the great force of feeling, I found the writing to be too flowery and sentimental for my taste.

Can you believe that I've never watched an adaptation of Frankenstein?  I imagine there must be an assortment to choose from, and I'd like to see how it translates into film.  Any suggestions?


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Your Turn: Pick Out My Son's High School Reading...please?

I have the wonderful/difficult task of picking out my 16 year-old son's required reading for his last two years of high school (he'll be completing high school at home with me, while also working part time).  I was all excited about this until he confessed that he doesn't like reading: it's too boring.

That was depressing.

This is the boy who knew the names and sounds of letters at 18 months and was reading by 3 because he had in insatiable curiosity and drive.  By 2nd grade, he started coming home from school each day sapped of life and energy, and no amount of intervention & alternate schooling has been able to rekindle his love of reading and thirst for knowledge.

Now that I've got everyone depressed, let's move on to happier topics: picking books and making book lists.  As I mentioned about a gazillion years ago, my ideas about required high school reading have evolved, but basically I want to show him the possibilities, giving him a taste of what else is out there.  I want him to see the approachable side of quality literature, and most of all? Enjoy himself.

He's read multiple Shakespeare plays already, so the bard is out.  He liked All Quiet on the Western Front, said that To Kill a Mockingbird was fine.  I'd like to move him into more modern literature, perhaps, and definitely a short story unit.  His current interests?  He's a musician and a surfer who loves anime and video games.  If he reads a whole book, he likes fantasy.  We will be doing some formal writing, but I'd like to keep literature analysis on the informal side.  He's not planning on jumping straight into a four-year school, so I'm more concerned with the experience than how it will look to colleges.

Got it?  Now it's your turn.  Who would you suggest that would spark an interest in literature?  Murakami? Vonnegut? Any ideas?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Reading About Prohibition

Did you see the Ken Burns PBS documentary about Prohibition?  I found it fascinating, and wanted to know more.  I bought the DVD so I could re-watch it, as well as a book it featured: Last Call by Daniel Okrent.

I'm a little over halfway through the book, and there are so many good things that I couldn't wait until I finished reading it to start chatting about it.

I've always been curious about how our country went from the ideal of freedom to such restriction in a rather short amount of time.  Also, I had a pretty terrible education and was always left wondering about the details of the first part of the 20th century in general.  This book does a fabulous job at explaining all of that.  Rather than confining its scope to the alcohol agenda, the book explores all the aspects that joined together to make Prohibition a reality.  Plus, the writing is entertaining and there are ton of interesting tidbits.  For example:

Did You Know?
  • The seed scattered by John Chapman--'Johnny Appleseed'--produced apples that were inedible but, when fermented, very drinkable.
  • Per capita, multiply the amount Americans drink today by three and you'll have an idea of what much of the nineteenth century was like.
  • By 1875 onward, fully one-quarter of federal revenues came from the beer keg and the whiskey bottle.
  • By 1909 some 70 percent of American saloons--in New York and Chicago, more than 80 percent--were owned by, in debt to, or otherwise indentured to the breweries.

I had no idea how pivotal this time was for our country.  From slavery issues left over from the Civil War and Reconstruction, to women's rights, immigration, and the income tax, and the whole idea of what role the federal government should play in general, Prohibition was much more complex in the making than a simple feud over alcohol.  Everyone got involved and used whatever agenda they needed to in order to reach their own goals.

I'm currently reading about California wine country, and loving the insight.  Truly, I feel like this book tells a more thorough story of modern American history than anything else I've experienced.  And did I mention the writing is great too?  I can't wait to delve into organized crime and more details about the social drinking that F. Scott Fitzgerald was so familiar with.  This book has been like a bowl full of candy for me so far.  Mmmm.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

More Stories by Willa Cather

Youth and the Bright Medusa was published in 1920 and contained a collection of eight short stories that revolve around themes of fame and fortune, and the great price they extract.

Four of the stories had been previously published in The Troll Garden (Paul's Case, A Wagner Matinee, The Sculptor's Funeral, and A Death in the Desert) so I won't rehash them here (you can see my post about them if you like.)  Of these four, Paul's Case seems to be the most popular, although I infinitely preferred A Wagner Matinee, as it contains that real warmth of spirit and nostalgic reflection that I loved about Cather.

The four other stories had been published in various magazines before appearing in this collection, and are very much opera star/famous girl centered, a little too concentrated a topic for me.  While Cather's writing here is polished, I didn't connect with the characters or the theme as I thought I would, based on how much I loved Song of the Lark - ostensibly about the same topic.

Coming, Aphrodite!
The first story in the collection was my favorite of the four I hadn't yet read.  It was full of vivid scenes, and the characters were unique and interesting, with personality quirks and distinct motivations.  Don Hedger, and unknown painter, finds himself with a new neighbor, Eden Bower, who quickly disrupts the peace and patterns Hedger and his dog had previously enjoyed.  They get to know each other in a rather jolting, awkward manner, trying to get past their differences of temperament.

I enjoyed the trip to Coney Island, and liked Hedger's devotion to his dog...not that I'm a huge dog person, but it added nice dimension to the story.  I didn't much like the whatever happened to so-and-so? way the story ended, simply because Cather seems to like to fall back on that format (similar to how Flannery O'Connor likes to make something terrible happen to her characters at the end of her stories) and I was hoping for something different.  However, that's a minor complaint for a story that was so full and interesting.

The Diamond Mine
Okay, I liked this story too.  It's a rather sad story of a girl who worked her patootie off, finally succeeding at becoming a famous singer, only to be unappreciated and taken advantage of by all of her family, husbands and child included.  When Cressida Garnet happens to be on the same ship as a cousin of her first husband, we are allowed a picture of her her trials as well as a brief spot of happiness she looks back on fondly.

It is sad, but easily conceivable, to see how hard it might be for a hugely famous person to find true, loyal friendship.  Even when Cressida found someone who didn't seem to care so much about her money for once, things didn't turn out well in the end.  And yet she somehow retained hope, through all her family's selfishness and the absence of love or friendship, she may have been tired and hurt, but she didn't become jaded.  Could she have acted differently and still protected her tender heart?  It's nice to think she could have, but I'm not so sure.

A Gold Slipper and Scandal
Both of these stories involve Kitty Ayrshire, an opera singer.  The first relates the story of a disgruntled husband that is coerced in to hearing Kitty perform despite his general dislike for people such as he imagines Kitty to be.  He has to come to terms with his stereotypes and prejudices later when he ends up inadvertently escorting Kitty on her train ride after the show.  In the second story, we get to reflect with Kitty and her friend about a scandal of sorts that had happened years earlier in New York.

I didn't fall in love with either of these stories, but did enjoy the brief discussion in the first story about Leo Tolstoy's "What is Art?" and I discovered that "Scandal" was a favorite story of F. Scott Fitzgerald...a tidbit I found interesting.  I suppose that ties into his interest in the shenanigans of the upper crust?


Youth and the Bright Medusa was the 7th of 19 books in my Chronological Willa Cather Challenge, and 3 of the 4 I wanted to get read this year.  Next up in this challenge is her Pulitzer Prize Winner: One of Ours.

Friday, June 8, 2012

It's in the Air: Read-Along Time!

It's finally that time I've been working up to all year: On the Road (Kerouac) readalong at Unputdownables.  There's still time to join if you're up to it!  The book will be read throughout June and July, and the first chunk is open for discussion TODAY (the 8th).  Like always, I'm not sure how much of the progress I'll be posting on, but you've been warned. :)

Earlier this year I read (listened to, actually) One and Only: The Untold Story of On the Road, as a sort of introduction to the era and characters.  Soon I'll find out if that was a good choice or not!


In other read-along news, Emily at As the Crowe Flies and Reads is hosting a reading of Telegraph Avenue: the yet-to-be-released Michael Chabon book.  I believe that the sign-ups are closed, and I've decided not to join in...so why on earth am I talking about it?  It's an idea I love - publishers, booksellers, and bloggers getting together for a little pre-pub-experiment.

The only book I've read by Chabon is Gentlemen of the Road, and I was really not impressed.  However, everybody [and their brother] loves him, the Pulitzer Board loves him, and the synopsis of Telegraph Avenue is intriguing, especially as NorCal is a place close to my heart.  But.  I'm afraid I won't love it so I'm going to follow their discussion and do some cheerleading on the side.  That will all be happening in the month of July, so stay tuned!


Also happening in the JU** months is Allie's (at A Literary Odyssey) Victorian Celebration.  Have you decided to join in on this one?  Last year I focused on keeping up with regular adult fiction, and found myself missing nonfiction and classics, so I've swung back over to those this year.  I love how this works together with the Classics Club and the Back to the Classics Challenge.  It's motivation!

I couldn't wait for June to arrive and got a jumpstart on this challenge in May by reading The Warden by Anthony Trollope, but I'm not stopping there!  I'm currently reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and am hoping to get through at least one more before I jump into my classic novellas in August.  And after that?  Well, after that I'll need a break. :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

ReadThisBook: The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

How hard is it to find a book that makes you laugh, consistently, all the way through, and still make your heart ache and your mind ponder?

The story told in The Lonely Polygamist--that of 45 year-old Golden Richards: husband of 4 and father of 28--wouldn't have nearly the same effect told by a different author.  Brady Udall has the peculiar insight and talent for the job: necessary ingredients to turn this book into a wonderful story.  I love how the book was captured in this tidbit:

"By turns laugh-out-loud funny and hauntingly sad, this novel is a big, fat, satisfying read that will make you reconsider what it means to be part of a family. Plus, it contains the naughtiest, goofiest 11-year-old boy who will ever break your heart.”
-- Roberta Dyer, Broadway Books, Portland, OR (via IndieBound)

Some of my love for this book was certainly due to the fact that it was amazing on audio.  David Aaron Baker?  Love him.  By the time I was halfway through the book, I had to pause and search Audible for what other books he's narrated (plenty of options).  He had a distinct voice for each character, which really brought them to life.

Now, I am not a fan of polygamy as a subject.  It's a topic that instantly puts a pit of SAD at the bottom of my stomach.  In my mind, it negates the individuality and specialness, to some degree, of each person involved.  I suppose I don't understand The Principle; the ascetic ideal is one I have a hard time accepting.  However.  (You knew there was going to be a BUT, didn't you?)  For the first time, there was a seed of sympathy, of understanding, accompanying that sadness.  Udall understands the nuances, and by showing his characters in a somewhat extreme (and occasionally ludicrous) light he allows the reader to see how simply human they are.


I loved how the characters were introduced...even the houses and the dog, and eventually Roy: the atomic test weapon...each with their own little history, their own narrative flavor.  I loved Rusty (poor crazy kid) and wish I'd known Glory.  The references to Reno were additionally funny to me, having lived relatively near it for much of my life.  I do wish the story hadn't been wrapped up quite so tidily, but since it all seemed pretty plausible (and since I'd enjoyed myself so much along the way) I can't really complain.  The book was over before I was ready, leaving me with a smile still on my face and an ache in my heart.

(A warning: be prepared for some bodily functions.  Many of the plights that Golden and his 11 year-old son Rusty find themselves in are a bit awkward and there is a smattering of strong language, including many mild but stereotypical 'gay' references.  I found it to fit the characters he had created, but if you're sensitive to these things it could possibly affect your opinion of the book.)

Friday, June 1, 2012

For the Record: May 2012

What? May's OVER you say??  It's been a strange reading month, with me feeling somewhat ho-hum about what I'm reading, but that should all change soon since summer is nigh.

10 Books Read in May: (59 year-to-date)
2 ARC/Obligation:
  - The Lola Quartet, Emily St. John Mandel (4) [ARC from LibraryThing/Unbridled]
  - Dreams of Joy, Lisa See (4) [For my Book Club]
4 for Fun/Challenges:
  - The Warden, Anthony Trollope (3.5) [quite an enjoyable author, despite the rating]
  - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark (3.5)
  - The Painted Veil, W. Somerset Maugham (5)
  - The Hand That First Held Mine, Maggie O'Farrell (4.5)
4 for my Junior Lit Challenge:
  - The Matchlock Gun, Walter D. Edmonds (2.5)
  - Homer Price, Robert McCloskey (4)
  - Shiloh, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (3.5)
  - The Shakespeare Stealer, Gary Blackman (3.5)

                 


1 DNF:
The Listeners, Leni Zumas (arrived in an Indiespensable shipment)
    I know that the folks at Powell's Books are in love with Tin House Books (local to them, I believe) but this is the second Tin House book I've received as their primary selection,  and I liked this one even less than the first...so naturally I wish they'd lighten up on the infatuation.  It's a beautiful copy, of course, but trying to read it was like popping blood blisters: I could have done if I'd had to, but there was really no need to put myself through the torture.  I don't think the writing was terrible, but then I couldn't understand what the heck I was reading.
"Zumas's debut novel comes at the reader in over a hundred self-contained, lucid pieces....creating a compelling build-it-yourself tapestry of cherished memories and open wounds."—Publishers Weekly


Challenges:
This month I read 5 books of 51 (22 year-to-date) for my various year-long challenges, as well as 2 for my Spring into Junior Lit challenge (read 8 of 10 total).
   - Wishlist: The Hand That First Held Mine (8 more to go)
   - Classics: The Warden, The Painted Veil (4 more to go)
   - Newbery: The Matchlock Gun, Shiloh (1 more to go)

3 Current Reads:
  - Last Call, Daniel Okrent.  I tried to tell myself to finish Team of Rivals before picking up another non-fiction book, but that effectively stalled my reading altogether so I relented.  Last Call is a fascinating read about Prohibition with tons of wonderfully entertaining information.
  - The Lonely Polygamist, Brady Udall.  I've been meaning to read this ever since it was nominated for the Indie Lit Awards last year (didn't make it to the short list though).  I researched it before voting on a tie-breaker, and liked his writing style, it's sort of funny/sad, which suits me.  I'm actually listening to it on Audible, and the narrator (David Aaron Baker) is as fabulous as the writing.
  - Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Er, um, yeah.  I haven't given up yet but I haven't made much progress either...it's written well and is interesting, but it is effectively 4 biographies in one go, and so is a lot to digest.  I've ended up ordering my own copy so that I can annotate without compunction (I've been annotating Last Call to pieces and am finding that it's a wonderful way to absorb all those facts.)  Don't think the library would appreciate me annotating their copy.

  

On My Nightstand:
  - On the Road, Jack Kerouac: Readalong with Wallace @ Unputdownables is starting this week.  This, I'm hoping, will be a fabulous way to get through a book I don't think I'll like much. :)
  - The Bird Saviors, William J. Cobb: ARC from LibraryThing and Unbridled Books.
  - The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson: I picked this up at a chance trip to Barnes & Noble because, you know, I need more books.

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