Thursday, January 2, 2014

For the Record: November and December 2013

Well, happy belated Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and happy New Year!  As years go, this has been a crazy one on many fronts, and Christmas snuck up on me more stealthily than it usually does, but I still managed to read a couple books (surprisingly!)  I'm technically on vacation, so I should be able to pull together my year-end posts here quite soon.  I must say that I'm antsy to get on with a new year. For now, though, here's how the last couple months have shaped up for me in the reading department.

4 Books Read in November &
4 Books Read in December: (79 total for 2013)

3 read aloud to my 9 year-old:
  - The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl (4) So much fun!  Now I know why my others kiddos loved the movie.  Of course, it is Roald Dahl, so I shouldn't be much surprised.
  - Pippi Goes on Board, Astrid Lindgren (3.5) I'm not much of a Pippi fan (she wears me out) but this one was more balanced than the first...which means that my 9yo didn't like it quite as much but I probably liked it more.  Still, Pippi exhausts me.
  - Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Laura Amy Schlitz (4) Not necessarily entertainment reading, but a fantastic addition to studies on Medieval times.

1 Nonfiction:
  - Nelson Mandela: Portrait of an Extraordinary Man, Richard Stengel (3.5) This book coincidentally arrived in my mailbox (from one of my book club friends that bought it on a trip to South Africa) on the same day that Nelson Mandela died, so I began reading it immediately.  It was a good introductory look at Mandela's life, arranged into an assortment of life lessons.  Good if you want a quick, cursory look; not the best choice if you are looking for an in-depth biography.

4 Others:
  - When She Woke, Hillary Jordan (3) My book club read Mudbound this month, which I read in August, so I read Jordan's newer book so that I would have more to contribute to the conversation. The two books are so opposite from each other!  My biggest complaint with When She Woke was that it didn't feel thoroughly thought-through...almost unfinished in some ways.  The first half of the book was intriguing, thoughtful, and promising, but the second half didn't deliver.  It seemed to transform into an action movie.  Weird.
  - Too Much Happiness, Alice Munro (4) While I was reading this, Munro won the Nobel Prize; a second happy literary coincidence!  My first experience with her, and another attempt to really appreciate the Short Story form.  A very good collection.  I think I like short stories after all
  - Guests on Earth, Lee Smith (3) I loved Smith's Fair and Tender Ladies, and I've been nearly obsessed with the 1920s and 1930s all year, but this book fell somewhat flat.  It was an alternate perspective on Zelda Fitzgerald, but ended up being more of a focus on the history of mental health care than anything else...and not even that in a very full sense.
  - The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness (4) I squeezed this book into the final minutes of the year - luckily it is a fast paced book that is easy to read in a crowd. (Very few books I read fall into this category!)  It is very well written teen dystopian fiction with intense action that spurs deeper thought.  It is also the second in a series...I rarely read the second in a series, but my 13yo daughter insisted I read on.  :)   I have a feeling I'll be reading the third (and final) book in the series sometime soon.


2 Current Reads:
  -  Oil, Upton Sinclair.  I'm about halfway through the audio and it has become a little slower in pace so my interest has slacked.  I don't get a whole lot of audio time, so this might last throughout January.
  - Free Air, Sinclair Lewis.  This is the first year in quite a while that I haven't begun my year with a Jane Austen book.  I forgot to bring my new (annotated, illustrated) copy of Sense & Sensibility on vacation with me, so that'll have to wait until I get home on Sunday.


On My Nightstand:
  - The Lighthouse Road, Peter Geye.
  - Breathing Lessons, Anne Tyler. My pick for our next book club read.  I'm looking forward to it!



  1. Breathing Lessons is a Pulitzer? Nice. Let us know how that is. I'd like to read Lighthouse Road too. I don't have it though. I guess it's on my TBR list. I hope you had a Merry Christmas. Have a wonderful vacation!

    1. I was surprised how much I enjoyed The Beginner's Goodbye - the first of Anne Tyler's I'd read - so I'm looking forward to Breathing Lessons, especially considering it is a Pulitzer about marriage. I'll let you know how it is!

      Our Christmas has been packed full of friends and family, so that's wonderful. I hope you've had some good family time as well!

  2. Peter Geye - he wrote something else that you liked very much, right?

    1. Yes! Good memory! He wrote Safe From the Sea, which we picked for the first Indie Lit Awards. I remember liking how tangible the setting felt, & hoping for another good experience in this one.


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