Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Salon: Turns out it's OK to be Me

Any shy or introverted people out there?  The two things are very different--I used to be painfully shy (it still pops up now and again) but mostly I'm just introverted.  I need some quiet solitude to recharge my batteries and let all of my observations settle down into organized thoughts (as opposed to my husband and youngest daughter who claim that there is only one circumstance in which they prefer to be alone--I'll leave you to puzzle out when that might be).  My life--with a husband that loves to be social and four children that are...well, children--provides continual opportunities to stretch myself and grow, but there are some innate characteristics that one simply doesn't grow out of.

There was a fascinating opinion piece in the New York Times today that discussed how our society tends to think of shyness as an illness.  Prompted by a Zoloft ad, (that seeks to illuminate the difference between being shy and having social anxiety,) the author discusses how our society tends to disfavor introverted or shy personality traits, and points out why this ought not to be.  Introverted people have played a big role in human history (from Moses to Darwin, Proust to Einstein) and yet the idea still prevails that shy people should become more outgoing.  Why this may be is a whole other discussion; I'm just glad to see the issue brought to light.  I'm generally not surrounded by other people who love to discuss the things they are reading, writing, or creating, so this article gave me a morsel of hope, and a renewed appreciation for the book blogging community.  I'm definitely not the most social book blogger around, but I'm okay with that.

As a side note, my family will be exploring the Great Outdoors this week--camping in the Sequoias (south of Yosemite) so it might be pretty quiet around here until next weekend.  Actually, I should have said "camping" because it's not like I'll be in a tent or anything.  I'll be clean, comfy, and cozy in a hotel bed a few miles away from where my parents and my kiddos will be camping.  But it'll be all "Great Outdoors" during the day.  Turns out, I'm okay with that too.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb by George Rabasa

It's a rare treat for a book with a rather depressing topic to feel lighthearted and humorous, but that's exactly what George Rabasa has given us in his new title: Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb.  The amazing thing is that he manages to do this without coming off as flippant or inaccurate.  This, in my opinion, is even more impressive than if he'd gone the serious route (as in the film Garden State (or the book C) where the storytelling style directly mirrors the mental state of the main character) because balancing humor with mental illness is a seriously fine line.

Just how ill Adam and Pia are is an interesting matter to consider, especially as compared against the "sane" people in their lives.  The blurb on the back of the book describes Adam as "no saner than he wants to be" and (because I'm having a hard time summarizing it myself) the synopsis goes like this:
      From the moment Adam Webb sees Francine Haggard--in the van that is supposed to return them to the Institute Loiseaux--the two young mental patients are inextricably connected. Adam will never let this girl go.  From Hijacking the van, to hiding her in his bedroom and then spiriting her away to Minnesota's north woods, "Miss Entropia" becomes the focus of Adam's every thought and of everything he does.
      He believes her to be a goddess, his own goddess.  But the pyromaniacal Miss Entropia will be neither worshiped nor owned.  And so Adam's possessiveness is destined to push her to the point where her fury will ignite.  Theirs is an incendiary love story, an unbalanced Romeo and Juliet, that spins and arcs its way strangely toward tragedy.
The writing is crisp, with a fair amount of dialogue, and every page moves the plot forward, illuminating the characters' personalities.  It was a great experience and a joy to read--another score for Unbridled Books! If you are up for a unique voice in writing, and a humorous jaunt through "normal" life, you really should pick this book up.  I thought it was brilliant.  I'll leave you with a random quote (from pages 226-227 at an art museum) to whet your appetite:
     An hour later we were in the Walker, standing before a skinny security guard too tall for the pants cuffs hovering above his ankles, who faced us with a look of profound indifference.  His attitude was reassuring since heightened interest from people in uniforms made us uneasy.
      "Can you direct us to the Picasso exhibit, sir?" Pia asked him.
      "Galleries three and four," he said with a nod toward the stairs behind him.
      Clearly Pia expected more. "What's your name?" she asked, as if she planned lodge a complaint for his lack of enthusiasm.
      "Wow, short for Rafaello. A great artistic name.  Art is in your DNA, Ralph.  You are preordained for your profession."
      He directed a look at her, then a quick glance in my direction to see if I was complicit in this exchange.  I tried to convey with a slight shrug that I was simply a bystander.
      "You must love your job," Pia said.  "Spending your day surrounded by all this great art."
      "Anything else I can do for you?" He gave Pia a blank stare designed to bring this odd conversation to its conclusion.
      "I'm looking for Girl Before a Mirror," she said.
      "I don't know her," he said, already dismissing us from his attention.  "Check the ladies room."
      Pia took his answer at face value.  "No, you wouldn't know her.  She's Marie-Therese. She was Pablo's mistress back in the '30s."
      I rushed to the rescue.  "it's one of Picasso's paintings."
      "Galleries three and four," he repeated mechanically.
Like I said, it's a treat. Eat it up!

Title: Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb
Author: George Rabasa
Pages: 336
Published: 2011 Unbridled Books
Read For: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
My Rating: 4.5 stars

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beautiful & Pointless by David Orr

So, I've been on a poetry quest this year, right?  I've been reading it, writing it, and generally trying to figure it out.  So when I was browsing my local Barnes & Noble (on the day that I bought my new Nook)  I made sure to pick over the poetry shelves (which, by the way, are farther off the beaten path than Alaska).  On the highest shelf of the farthest wall on the lowest level of the bookstore, I saw the spine of this pretty orange book smiling at me.  It looked like it needed a home, and my impulse-book-buying-urges were in Full Justification Mode.

What I Hoped This Book Would Be:
I've struggled with modern poetry largely because, as the title of this book affirms, many of the poems I read feel pointless.  I don't know about you, but if I'm reading something and I'm thinking What's the POINT?? then I generally don't feel like it was a worthwhile read.  This book: A Guide to Modern Poetry, looked to be just the thing to explain to me how modern poetry has evolved, and what on earth I'm missing.  I want to know why "good poetry" is considered good, and why it is so difficult to find different styles of modern poetry.

In many ways, the book was exactly what I was looking for and did what I hoped it would do.  It answered many of my questions and went far to clarifying the current poetry climate.  Also worth mentioning is the fact that it was written in an easy to read, humorous, and intelligent manner.  On the other hand, I was disheartened and disappointed by what I found.  It actually left me rather depressed, and though a good dose of reality isn't necessarily a bad thing, I'm still left wondering if the opinion of this NYTimes Poetry Critic is universal.  If it is, then modern American poetry is in a sad state indeed.

The Good Stuff:
Not of great use for learning how to analyze modern poetry,  but still rather helpful in understanding what modern poetry is, and how it got there.  Among other things, reading poetry is a journey towards understanding how a specific poet thinks and views the world.  In this sense, biographical information about the author may end up being a valuable commodity, depending on the specific writing style.  I liked that the author pointed out that there are some poems/poets that nobody really understands. What this means is that if you don't understand a poem, it isn't necessarily your fault.  Perhaps the poem is appreciated for reasons other than appeal.  Don't discount your gut reaction.  The chapter on Form ended up being a great explanation about the fluidity of poetry rules.

The Sad Stuff:
It turns out that, in the author's world at least, all poets are liberal, political, and non-religious.  Not only that, but it is far too easy to obtain a MFA these days, and the Golden Days of Poets-With-Ambition are long gone. Orr spoke often of the inner politics of poetic elite, at once bemoaning and defending immature and/or illogical behavior.  As far as why "good poetry" is considered good, this portion of the chapter Ambition was telling:
Many of us in the American poetry world have a habit of exalting foreign writers while turning them into cartoons.  [...]  How else, really, to explain the reverse condescension that allows us to applaud pompous nonsense in the work of a Polish poet that would be rightly skewered if it came from an American?
That, to me, shows a couple of things.  First, there really are no absolutes in quality of poetry--beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Second, being a successful American poet has more to do with politics and popularity than anything else...explaining why it is often difficult to find variety in currently publish poetry.

The Verdict:
Half of this book was fabulously informative and the other half was irritatingly depressing.  If I could turn back time, I'd read every other chapter: The Personal, Form, and The Fishbowl, (skipping The Political, Ambition, and Why Bother?)  That way I'd be able to remain pleasantly content in my optimism and new found knowledge.  Taken all together, there was an amazing amount of reading-between-the-lines, which (while being a fascinating thing to observe and digest) was ultimately very off-putting.  To say that it tempered my enthusiasm for modern poetry would be an understatement.

[edited to add another quote]
      Much as the growth of trees is affected by the quality of the soil, the writing we call poetry is affected by the methods we've developed to produce, distribute, and discuss it.
      In many ways, this is obvious.  Consider, for instance, publishing and reviewing.  The structure of the poetry world helps determine which books end up in print, which in turn determines what poems audiences have the opportunity to hear about and read, which in turn determines what the average, educated person believes to be "poetry", which in turn has an effect on how many poets feel about their own work.

Title: Beautiful & Pointless
Author: David Orr
Pages: 224
Published: 2011 Harper
My Rating: all said and done, I guess this one balances out at a 3

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Art of the Novella (and other Summer Goals!)

Have you seen this challenge?  I'm at least fascinated, perhaps even captivated...and trying to find an excuse (and the momentum) to be an unstoppable bibliomaniac.

Curious – Read 1 novella
Fascinated — Read 3 novellas
Captivated – Read 6 novellas
Passionate — Read 9 novellas
Mesmerized – Read 15 novellas
Obsessed – Read 21 novellas
Fanatical – Read 27 novellas
Unstoppable — Read 33 novellas
Bibliomaniac — Read all 42 novellas

They're cute, they're short, they're written by great authors, (go look at all the titles here,) they're accompanied by prizes, and August sounds like a great month for reading, don't you think?  :)  I'm going to join the challenge, but I'm going to resist going whole hog.  For now.

Other Summer Goals:
Since wrapping up May's reading, I've been trying to decide what my reading goals for the summer should be.  Of course, I'll never reach them, but I love to have something to aim for.  

Today I was sorting through some bookshelves, and am really feeling the need to get through/get rid of some of the Junior Fiction on my shelves.  For the most part, my kiddos aren't interested in Newbery-type JF unless I've read it and highly recommend it.  Which means that my bookshelves are full of books that will never be read unless I read them first...and kids grow quickly, so I'm running out of time.  Since reading through some of these books will help me accomplish two of my other goals (reading the books on my shelves, and reading the Newbery winners) I'm thinking this is a good plan.

There are some other books (for challenges) that I want to have read before school ramps up again after Labor Day:  - Alexander's Bridge,  O Pioneers (Willa Cather Challenge) and Gone With the Wind (Back to the Classics Challenge) at least.

Wish me luck...let summer officially begin!

Townie by Andre Dubus III

I have an illogical and unsubstantiated bias against memoirs.  It's really irritating.  If it were a simple matter of taste, and I didn't happen to enjoy memoirs, that would be one thing...but that's not it.  I have enjoyed the memoirs I've read, for the most part.  But it's like this: I can't get over the idea that reading a memoir is akin to listening in on someone's therapy session.  It just feels weird.  There are just too many feelings intrinsically entwined with a memoir, (something I think about continually while reading one,) and it leaves me rather worn out.

My personal issues aside, Townie was an interesting book.  I read it because it was a Powell's Indiespensable selection, and I was completely unfamiliar with the author (haven't read House of Sand and Fog or any of his father's work).  I can't help but think that it would have been more rewarding to read under the following circumstances:

  1.) I was previously familiar with his (or his father's) life or writing
  2.) I was a guy (lots of weight lifting and fighting in this book)
  3.) I could relate to the time or place (1970s Massachusetts)
  4.) It was a tad shorter (not enough variance for 387pp.)

Even with these issues, though, it was an enjoyable, lasting read.  I appreciated the thoughtfulness and compassion he wrote with--it balanced out his circumstances.  After his parents divorced in 1970, Andre was taken out of his academia-entrenched lifestyle and plummeted into the poverty, drugs, and violence of a depressed mill town.  He and his siblings were basically left to fend for themselves as their mother struggled to stay afloat (emotionally and financially) and their father lived nearby, somehow unaware of the situation.

This book is a clear picture of how our past looms large.  Everyone has things in life that are difficult to process or understand, that are difficult to put behind us and move beyond...things that are typically more monumental in our own minds than could possibly be communicated to anyone else.  It is evident within the first few pages that the author has captured the haze through which we view our parents when we are young, and the journey we make to realizing that they--like us--are just people.

What was unique about this memoir is the viewpoint on writing.  Andre began life in the midst of some literary greats, but his parent's divorce quickly changed his surroundings. Because of this, he focused on developing his physical strength--something that would help him deal with the life he'd been given--sparing little time for intellectual or creative endeavors.  How these extremes ended up balancing out, and how he ended up finding himself as a writer, is fascinating.

So you see: a memoir: a book I'd never have picked up on my own, that I didn't think I would enjoy, ended up being an experience that has stuck with me.  One of my next book club books is a memoir, (Look Me in the Eye,) and while my smile obfuscates internal groaning, Townie has given me another reason to hope: another reason to convince myself that memoirs aren't that bad after all.

Title: Townie
Author: Andre Dubus III
Pages: 387
Published: 2011 W.W. Norton & Co.
Read For: Powell's Indiespensable
My Rating: 3.5 stars (above average!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

If There is Something to Desire by Vera Pavlova

I have found a poet I love.  Perhaps it was bound to happen sooner or later, considering my determination, but part of me feared that poetry was going to be another of those areas where my tastes are not the norm...that I'd remain the unfulfilled oddball in the corner, wondering what was wrong with me (I like to write poetry, why on earth don't I like to read it?)  Thankfully, it was just a matter of finding the right poet.

Vera Pavlova is a Russian poet whose work is translated by her husband, Steven Seymour.  (As a side note, my Russian friends inform me that Americans always stress the wrong syllable in Russian isn't Pav-LO-va, but PAV-lo-va...maybe someday I'll get it right on the first go round.)  It's refreshing to experience a view of life from a different culture.  The only downside to having a favorite poet who writes in a foreign language is that I am unable to enjoy all that she has written.  If There is Something to Desire is her first full-length volume to be published in English, and I'm crossing my fingers (and hoping) that it won't be the last.

Praised for her succinct directness, I find that her little thoughts are often a combination of heartbreak and whimsy.
Why is the word yes so brief?
It should be
the longest,
the hardest,
so that you could not decide in an instant to say it,
so that upon reflection you could stop
in the middle of saying it.
Somehow she manages to encapsulate so much in so few words, making this volume of 100 small poems highly re-readable.  There were only a handful that really grabbed me at the time of reading, but I have a feeling that I will gain new favorites through the years.  This is a volume that will stay on my shelf only to be pulled down again and again--I love the way she looks at the world.
Basked in the sun,
listened to birds,
licked off raindrops,
and only in flight
the leaf saw the tree
and grasped
what it had been.
Pavlova's poems are easy to appreciate (some more than others) and worth checking out.  I think my favorite of the collection--because I'm a goof and this just tickles my fancy--is this brief statement:
I have brushed my teeth.
This day and I are even.
This is poetry I can love.  A little humor, and somehow a lot of back-story--it sets my imagination rolling!  Light and dark, quick yet lasting.  What do you think of these three poems?  How do they compare to other poetry you may be familiar with?  As always, I'm open to recommendations!  This volume gives me hope of finding other favorites out there...this journey into poetry is becoming much more exciting.

Title: If There is Something to Desire
Author: Vera Pavlova
Pages: 128
Published: 2010 Knopf
My Rating: 4.5 stars

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Salon: E-Reading Refined

The e-reading forces converged on me this week, and I am pleased with the results.

Setting the stage was the rise and fall of Amazon and Borders (respectively) and the looming issues about big/small business,  print/virtual books, and the change in how the publishing industry is working in general.  I've been a customer of Amazon's since the dark ages (well, 1997) and have been a fan of the discounted prices and prime shipping, but the more they've grown, the more I've grown disenchanted (and the more my children grow, the more brain cells I have to be able to put towards conscious shopping decisions, which--as it turns out--is a good thing).

Second,  I finally signed up for NetGalley--something I'd resisted because I have enough books on my TBR as it is, but decided to do in order to increase my chances for getting ARCs I'd actually enjoy (a problem I seem to somewhat plagued with)--and realized that I might run into some problems with Kindle compatibility.  Reading on my computer screen really isn't an option for me.  My eyeballs get tired enough as it is.

Third, Unbridled Books, one of my favorite small presses, teamed up with independent booksellers this last weekend and offered 25 e-books for 25 cents each.  I couldn't resist, unsurprisingly, but was so excited that I didn't do my research before buying the e-books, and discovered that Google E-books, (when in encrypted, non-PDF form,) are not compatible with the Kindle. Grr.  It really isn't about the $6.25 I spent on 25 books I wouldn't be able to's irritation that a company as huge as Amazon would seemingly have their customers a bit lower on the priority list than the all-important dollar.

And THEN: Barnes & Noble released their Simple Touch Reader--an e-ink, touch-screen, e-reader that has not only addressed all the issues that made Kindle a better product than the previous Nook, but has done so at a very reasonable price.  I've had my Kindle2 for 2 years, and got to experience a friend's 1st Edition Nook in March, and I have to say that Kindle was far better for usability and battery life.  In the Simple Touch Reader, however, the battery life has been improved, the touch-pad response time is much quicker, and the unit is much more compact (while retaining the same screen size).

The straw that broke the camel's back was Belle.  She mentioned on my post about the Unbridled Book Sale that she was thinking about buying a Nook, even though she already owned a Kindle, and the rest--as they say--is history.  I simply couldn't think of a reason why I shouldn't.  My household is very technology minded, and my husband has been known to upgrade computers and game systems fairly regularly, so why can't the e-readers get in on the action as well?

It wasn't the easiest thing in the world to figure out how to get my Google e-books onto my new Nook, but before long, it was loaded, and I was up-and-reading.  I'm supposed to be reading Beloved (for my book club which is hopefully not tomorrow night) but couldn't not read something on my new toy, so I started reading Small Acts of Sex and Electricity by Lise Haines (not brilliant so far, but entertaining nonetheless).

I'm itching to get off the computer and do some more reading, but before I bail I thought I'd make a quick list of the features that have finally caught the Nook up to Kindle in my estimation:
  - the battery life: it looks like it is now actually comparable to the Kindle
  - weight: the Nook is no longer the heavier option
  - full touchscreen/e-ink combo: best of both worlds (& the e-ink is crisper than the Kindle2)
  - page turning is not only quicker, but done with less effort--a simple touch or swipe on the screen
  - highlighting, adding notes, and using the dictionary are now much quicker and simpler
  - more text options: fonts, sizes, margins, line spacing--personalize it!

After one day of reading, I'm fully aware that I may still be in the honeymoon phase, but so far I am very impressed with the new Nook.  I love the smaller size and the simpler, quicker navigation.  Not to mention that I now have options for obtaining books.  I still adore seeing books on my shelf (and nightstand, and end tables, and anywhere else I can stack them up) up the Simple Touch Reader is a great way to read.  It made for a pretty fun weekend, too. :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Outside Influences (Literary Blog Hop)

Literary Blog HopThis week, The Blue Bookcase presents this question for the Literary Blog Hop:

What other outside influences affect your reading experience? Do you think these influences enhance or detract from the experience?

The main outside influence that affects my reading experience is discussion about the book.  This can have both negative and positive effects, depending on the circumstance.

If book-talk comes in the form of hype over a book I haven't read, I'm generally negatively affected...although this tends to diminish if I put enough time between the excitement and when I read it.  If a book has been hyped up, my expectations are elevated to a standard that is hard to reach.  That's why I try to wait before reading super-popular books (part of the reason I've delayed reading Possession...I want to approach it with an open mind!)

On the other hand, I occasionally read a book that I didn't know much about, and have rather conflicting thoughts on.  This is when a book club or lively blog discussion is really rewarding.  Being able to bounce your thoughts off of someone else, and getting to hear how they interpreted it is a fabulous way to really think it through.  A perfect example of this was when I read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  I was torn between ambivalence and interest until my book club discussion really helped me think about some of the underlying themes.

So, suffice it to say that I like being able to come to my own conclusions about a book, but I equally enjoy seeing if someone else can change my mind.  Not in a you-can't-change-my-mind-because-I'm-SO-stubborn sort of way...rather, I just love the process of trying on another person's thought process.  Book discussion is tops, don't you think?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Three Cheers for Cheap Indie E-books!

Unbridled Books has teamed up with American Booksellers Association to offer 25 e-books for 25 cents each from June 9-11.

Unbridled Books is one of my new favorites, so I'm excited about this opportunity.  If any of these titles come close to Safe From the Sea or Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb (I haven't written a review for this one yet, but it was great,) then we're all in for a treat.

The titles are all Google eBooks, and will be available for 25 cents via IndieCommerce websites...which you can find at this IndieBound page.

Here's a list of the 25 books, including blurbs and cover photos.  Spread the word, and get in on the fun!  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

It's always a little scary to jump into a book that comes laden with expectations.  Oftentimes, expecting a book (or anything else for that matter) to be amazing is the perfect way to set yourself up for disappointment.

Revolutionary Road came with such expectations for me.  Richard Yates appeared to be something of a literary darling: quite a favorite amongst book bloggers and respected by his contemporaries, even if his name was a little less known to the general reading populace.  Other than those vague notions, the only thing I knew about the story were the bits and pieces I could remember from seeing the movie trailer once or twice back in 2008.  Now, having read (and loved) the book, I am interested in seeing the film, just to see how it compares.  I'm very happy that I hadn't seen it before reading the book, (so that I was able to get the full thrill-of-discovery experience,) although I can't imagine the movie having anywhere near the amount of detail and insight the book had...even if you have seen the movie I'd still recommend reading the book.

The premise is simple, and I don't think that anything is spoiled by knowing it. Frank and April are a young, disillusioned married couple living in mid-century American suburbia.  The magic in the book comes from the viewpoint on the era, the readability and lightness of the prose, and the incredible characterization.  You may not identify with Frank or April, but if you don't understand who they are...let's just say that it won't be Richard Yates' fault.  However, having some life experience under your belt before reading the book will go far in developing a connection with the story being told.

Richard Yates provides a perfect example of how a literary work doesn't need to be lofty, arrogant, or overly symbolic in order to be well done.  Here is a book with fascinating characters, insightful prose, and a sprightly pace that will leave you thinking and longing for more.  Thankfully, there is more Richard Yates to be had. You can be sure I'll be searching it out.
a quote from page 332: 
The whole point of crying was to quit before you cornied it up.  The whole point of grief itself was to cut it out while it was still honest, while it still meant something.  Because the thing was so easily corrupted: let yourself go and you started embellishing your own sobs, or you started telling about the Wheelers with a sad, sentimental smile and saying Frank was courageous, and then what the hell did you have?
Title: Revolutionary Road
Author: Richard Yates
Pages: 346
Published: Vintage 2000 (orig. 1961)
My Rating: 5 stars

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Open During Construction...

Hello friends!

I'm going to be giving the old blog a facelift tonight...will you do me a favor and let me know if anything stops working or disappears in the new and improved version?  Hopefully this will make everything cleaner and easier to use (for you and for me!)  As the dust settles, I'd love to know what you think!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

For the Record: May 2011

Whew! Crossing May off my list. (That feels good!)

I actually got a lot of reading done in May.  I'm not real sure how that happened, but I think it has something to do with it being the end of the school year and my 3 home-schooled kiddos running out of work to do.  Like I mentioned on Thursday, I actually started to feel like I was reading too many books, (everything was starting to feel somewhat mediocre) and switched to some slower reads.  Hopefully that's a sign that I'll be able to pick up those previously abandoned classics soon (Our Mutual Friend, Daniel Deronda).

11 Books Read in April: (52 Year-to-Date)
1 Read-Aloud to my kiddos:
  - The Iron Dragon Never Sleeps by Stephen Krensky (educational Gold Rush--2.75)
1 ARC:
  - Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb by George Rabasa (probably the best ARC ever--4.5)
1 for Book Club:
  - The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (3)
3 for Challenges:
  - The Troll Garden and Others by Willa Cather (for my personal Cather Challenge--3.5)
  - Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (for my Pulitzer/Back to the Classics Challenge--3.5)
  - Ghost Light by Joseph O'Connor (for my Top 5 of 2010--4)
4 from Recommendations:
  - Townie by Andre Dubus III (from Indiespensable--3.5)
  - If I Stay by Gayle Forman (from ??? book blog--sorry! 3.5)
  - Bright Before Us by Katie Arnold-Ratliff (from Indiespensable--3)
  - That Night by Alice McDermott (a book club alternate pick--3.5)
1 Just Because:
  - Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (what a book! --5)

The Iron Dragon Never SleepsMiss Entropia and the Adam BombThe Weird SistersThe Troll Garden and OthersGilead: A NovelGhost Light: A NovelTownie: A MemoirIf I StayBright Before Us (A Tin House New Voice)That NightRevolutionary Road

Chocolat1 DNF: -Chocolat by Joanne Harris--the second month in a row that I didn't finish a book club selection, and I feel really guilty about it.  At least they were for different book clubs. Right? Hm.  Anyhow, Chocolat was fine.  I stopped about 1/3 through (around page 100) partially because I wasn't going to be able to go to my book club (or finish it on time if I could go) but mostly because it was starting to rub the magic off the movie.  My apologies to the author, but the movie had Johnnie Depp and great music.  You know?  If the movie was going to stay a favorite, the book had to go.

3 Current Reads:
  - The Story of Christianity Vol. I by Justo L. Gonzalez (non-fiction)
  - If There is Something to Desire by Vera Pavlova ( good I don't want it to end)
  - Stolen Village by Des Ekin (non-fiction...about Ireland!)
Story of Christianity: Volume 1: Volume One: The Early Church to the ReformationIf There is Something to Desire: One Hundred PoemsThe Stolen Village, Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates

On My Nightstand:
  - Beloved by Toni Morrison (my next book club book)
  - Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (saving this for when I need a quick read)
  - Eli the Good by Silas House (LOVE Silas House...but this YA title is also being saved for a needed quick read)
  - A Chunkster: either Gone With the Wind, or I'll be responsible and finish up Daniel Deronda/Our Mutual Friend.  We'll see.  I'll conquer Beloved and we'll go from there.
Beloved (Everyman's Library)Girl, InterruptedEli the Good

Plan for June:
  - Worry less about # of books per month, and more on my challenges.  And, um, catch up on book reviews.  Still.
  - Shoot!  I just realized I haven't made any summer goals yet!  Yikes!  Plan for June: make summer goals before summer is gone.