Category Archives: Books

Liz’s Suggestions for April

1. Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild (a look into the Tea Party movement and the broader disenfranchisement of white lower/middle class Americans. Selected for April book club.)

2. Get in Trouble by Kelly Link (short stories, author speaking at Mission Creek Festival in IC this spring.)


3. Flash Boys by Michael Lewis (insight into Wall Street corruption, written by author of The Big Short.)

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Bad Blogger: Hit it!

A few things have happened over the last several months that I have been neglecting my bit of the internet.

Of note: We bought a house, have started all sorts of house projects, finished a few, planned to tackle others, etc.

I continue to read books of varying quality, and am part of a book club that is probably the best thing since sliced bread.

This post  shall be dedicated to my book club, which I love dearly deep down in my heart cockles.  I feel like we probably need super hero capes and masks to properly indicate the awesomeness of this group of ladies to the world.  Others will know how fantastic they are by their usage of brightly colored lycra and knee high patent leather boots.

The conversations we have are political, religious, boozy, funny, silly, serious, commiserating, book oriented, life oriented, nothing oriented, and generally fantastic.  This book club has subjected me to some of the worst: “Room” and best: “The Fault in Our Stars” books I wouldn’t have read without their impetus.  I’ve never stumbled upon a better group of friends or developed such a deep appreciation for other people in a short number of months.

A few highlights: Pope Joan: A Novel, and The Fault in Our Stars.  Go read them both.

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Bibliophilia: December

December was a lovely month, but is also going to be known as Jane Austen-palooza for my reading patterns.  I have one other reading related conquest to share.  I read 100 books in 2011.  They weren’t all classic literature, although there have been several of those.  It came down to the wire, though.  I finished two books on December 31st, 2011.  I finished Persuasion midday and then Age of Innocence at 10:44 pm.  I rang in my new year getting into bed at my mother in law’s house after reading all day.  I’m sure I was marvelous company.  Let’s jump in, shall we?

Mini Reviews:

Northanger Abbey was short, which was the thing that most redeemed it for me.  I have a friend who said it was the best Austen novel, so I jumped in.  It was fine

Emma was the next.  I don’t know if you know this, but Clueless, the movie about valley girls starring Alicia Silverstone, is based on Emma.  Therefore the whole time I was comparing the people in the novel to the characters in Clueless.  I am still not sure what character Amber is supposed to be.  This mental comparison is the only thing that distinguishes it from the others in my mind.

Persuasion blurs together with the rest of my reading aside from the fact that Anne, the protagonist, is significant because she’s old (late 20s).  It was fine.

Age of Innocence is an Edith Wharton novel along the same lines as some of the Austen works in its societal posturing and description thereof.  However, it had more intrigue, which I enjoyed.  I did feel that the end was a little bit of a let down.  I suppose, however, that it was intended to end with an exhalation rather than a dramatic sigh.

The Picture of Dorian Grey was more memorable.  I knew the general theme of a portrait reflecting a man’s insides, and found it really well done.  Not only are the characters easy to follow, but the pacing was fairly swift.  I found it a respite from Austen.

Queued Up: I read Ender’s Game already, which I was shocked to find not on my reading list.  Go read Ender’s Game.  Then there will be a smattering of other things.  I’m reading A Secret History for book club and have begun Catch 22, Mansfield Park, and The Count of Monte Cristo, so we’ll see how things pan out.

Total: 66/1294

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Bibliophilia: November

It took me three months, but I finished War and Peace. It was probably the hardest book I’ve ever read because I found it incredibly dense and difficult. I even made a chart distinguishing characters because they kept intermingling in my mind. Nevertheless I finished it. It has some company, too. Let’s go to the reviews.

Mini Review:

War and Peace is on of those books in life you’re just supposed to read. Some of the literature I’ve read about it indicates that it is supposed to be the best novel that has ever been written. I am not sure I agree with that assessment. Maybe it is a portrait of a time and style that has a longevity, but I found it really difficult. The non-military pieces were much like Anna Karenina. It looked at Russian noble families and the things that make up their lives. Then the military pieces all blurred together into a great, endless blather of war and horses. I am proud to say I’ve read it. I’m grateful I never have to read it again.

The Three Musketeers on the other hand was fantastic! I started reading it once during high school and got bogged down in the vocabulary and the french vernacular. This time around, I was completely blown away. The pacing, the action, the engagement was all SO GOOD.

I do have to share my one sadness, though. Ya know the Three Musketeers movie from Disney? It’s got Chris O’Donnell, Charlie Sheen, and Tim Curry in it. Well, I have a deep and abiding love for that particular movie. It is nothing like the book. I know. A little part of my childhood heart was broken by this fact. I want you to be prepared so you don’t have to go through what I did.

My third book for November was Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I was not looking forward to this book. It’s one that your’e supposed to read because it’s so socially important. My Kindle has a picture of Harriet Beecher Stowe on it. She is not a hip looking lady. I was not looking forward to it. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was the social commentary reasonable, it was not unpleasant to read. In fact, Miss Stowe is pretty darn sassy. She would make these comments and then have a delightful interjection about how we’re all hypocrites. It pulled on my heart strings and made me smile. Now I look at Harriet much more fondly when she pops up as my Kindle screen saver.

Queued Up: I’m working on The Age of Innocence and will try to get at least one other book list book in December, but may have to do more reading of holiday fluff and baking and such not, so we’ll see.

Total: 61/1294

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Bibliophilia: October

These books are falling like my ability to finish books in October.  I only finished one, A Room with a View.  I am getting close with War and Peace, so it’ll definitely show up on November, but alas, October was unsuccessful.

Mini Review: 
A Room with a View started really slowly.  I did not fall depply in love with this.  Much like Jane Austen’s writing, this suffered from a Victorian sensibility that I struggle with.  I understand that delicate sensibilities and propriety were the foundation of their relations between the sexes, but as a modern woman and a romantic curmudgeon, it was a bit much.  Tat said, I did enjoy how all ended well.

Queued Up: I’m planning to finish Uncle Tom’s Cabin and War and Peace.  As I’ve made significant progress in both of them, I may be able to throw in some new literature.

 Total: 58/1294

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Bibliophilia: September

Two days in a row, I’m practically a professional.  I read several books in September, but the only one from this book list was Slaughterhouse-Five.  I had intended to stick to this book list, because 1294 books really is enough for me to tackle, but there is a book list from the Guardian, which is often credited to the BBC, I believe.  It filters around Facebook from time to time.  Anyway, it’s a list of 100 books that well read people should have read.  I have read some, but not all, so I decided to sprinkle those in.  From that list I read The Kite Runner, The Secret Garden, and Anne of Green Gables.

It’s been a nice process to work through some of the books that I never got around to reading when I was younger.  I jumped right into fantasy in middle school, so I’m doing some backtracking, although I will never be able to get through all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  It just isn’t possible.

Mini Review: 

Slaughter-Five is the second work by Vonnegut that I have tackled.  It uses science fiction tropes like time travel and aliens to create a picture that is highly unusual.  Billy Pilgrim’s life bounces around from moment to moment, centering on themes of war and fate.  It’s a quick read, but has a lot of depth.  I am glad that I encountered this particular book, even if I wouldn’t choose literature like this for every book.  It’s worth a read.

 Queued Up: I’m planning to tackle A Room with a View, keep plodding through War and Peace and will maybe try to get through Uncle Tom’s Cabin in time for a October report.

 Total: 57/1294

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Bibliophilia: August

Well, I’ve been busy and neglecting my little corner of the internet.  To make up for that, I am planning to post at least a few days in a row to get on track with things.  With that, August’s Bibliophilia

Mini Reviews: 

The Fountainhead Oof.  What do I even say about The Fountainhead?  It is incredibly Individualist.  Let me clarify.  It will beat you over the head with the theme of INDIVIDUALISM so many times that you will suffer brain damage and start to lather at the mouth.  IT IS ABOUT INDIVIDUALISM.  The man will not keep you down IF YOU ARE AN INDIVIDUALIST.  This book was 700+ pages of how being an INDIVIDUAL will be all you ever need.  It was my favorite book I’ve ever read, clearly.  Then, to add insult to injury, I realized it isn’t even on the stinking book list!  It’s on A DIFFERENT book list I have looked at.  <twitch>  We will not speak of this again.

Actual book list books were:

Their Eyes Were Watching God which I actually tried to read last summer, I started with this one, and for one reason or another, I wasn’t able to make it through.  It was too much for me to get past the ebonics.  This time I knew about them going in, and was better able to get through them.  It ended up being a compelling read.  I understand why it has become a seminal work in the literature of African-American authors.  This one is worth picking up, even if you aren’t reading a book list with it included.

The Metamorphoses of Ovid is the other one I picked up.  I finished it after reading it for a few months in small pieces.  It’s a wonderful amalgamation of Greek mythology.  I took Latin as an undergrad, so it has been nice to reread and learn some of the mythology that I so enjoy.  However, it also had the side effect of making me want to name my theoretical future offspring things like Io and Arachne.  Thankfully, this has passed.

Queued Up: I’m working on The Kite Runner and a few other things, but we’ll see what I finish in September.

Total: 56/1294

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Bibliophilia: July

The summertime insanity has kept right on going, as evidence by my poor ability to read books in June, and now in July.  I finished A Tale of Two Cities, but that is all.

Mini Reviews: 

A Tale of Two Cities is a story about the French Revolution and what it means on many levels, personal, social, and political.  I know that Dickens sympathizes with the poor, but I found that A Tale of Two Cities was compelling and different than other works of his, because he does not support the mob mentality and brutality that accompanies it.  He reproaches the people who needlessly take the lives of others.  Overall, I didn’t like it at well as Great Expectations, but did enjoy it.
Queued Up: I’m in the middle of The Metamorphoses of Ovid, and The Fountainhead, and anticipate being in the middle of them forever, or next month until August.
Total: 54/1294

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Bibliophilia Update: June

Due to starting a new job, moving, going home twice, and general insanity, I only read two books in June.  I read more than two books in June, but only two from my book list.  I read Dracula and Of Mice and Men.

Mini Reviews: 

Of Mice and Men is pretty short, but has really intense themes.  I had planned to read East of Eden really soon, but may put it off, for fear of it being as intense as Of Mice and Men.  I also found it really heartbreaking to know that George had taken so many pains to take care of Lennie, just to “put him down” at then end of the book.

Dracula I absolutely loved.  I feared that it would be a bit morose, but instead it was a tale of grand adventures crossing the globe.  I loved the analysis of sexuality, folklore, and colonialism.

Queued Up: I’m in the middle of A Tale of Two Cities, The Metamorphoses of Ovid, and The Fountainhead, all of which I hope to finish in July.

Total: 53/1294 

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Bibliophilia Update: May

This month I have read Pride and Prejudice, Animal Farm, The Life of Pi, The Blind Assassin, The Graduate, and Great Expectations.

Mini Reviews:

Animal Farm had many of the same themes as 1984.  I saw the pigs turning into men from a mile away.  I enjoyed how the pigs manipulated and changed the rules of the farm-yard as it best fit their needs, however the story seemed to follow precisely the path I thought it would.  I don’t know if that makes me a good predictor or the story predictable.

The Blind Assassin took awhile for me to get into.  I felt like the three storylines were not integrated until late in the book, which was, I am sure, Margaret Atwood’s intention.  It was sad and lovely and heartbreaking, especially knowing how Iris ends up alone, giving her triumphs and trials all to Laura, even in death.  It took me about 1/3 of the book to get into it, but once I was in the story was a lovely adventure.

Great Expectations is my second Dickens work, and the second that I have liked more than I anticipated.  I fell in love with Pip and his little world in the first half of the book.  I found the comeuppance of both Pip and Estella to be fairly perfect as they had to come to terms with their avarice and poor behavior.

The Life of Pi was an allegory for the stories that people tell through humans, animals, and even plants.  The religious undertones that permeated his narration took a view of life that contrasted with the views of adults in his life and the conventions of society.  While I understood the nature of the story’s big picture, I found the book itself grim.  The animals devouring each other and taking advantage of their small space for predation was difficult to read for  me.

Pride and Prejudice is a portrait of the Victorian world it was written in.  Only after reading a bit of literary criticism was I able to discern some of the components of the book lost on my modern mind.  Elizabeth’s ridiculous mother and thoughtless sister Lydia provide Elizabeth with people on whom she can utilize her razor-sharp wit along with her love struck sister, and the proud Mr. Darcy.  I still didn’t love it, but it was worth the read.

The Graduate was a whim that I started late in the month.  It is a coming of age story for a man who has just finished college and is looking for his path in life.  This book takes place in the 60s and perhaps I am jaded as someone who came of age during a recession, but he is just whiny.  He gets these great opportunities for funded graduate school and throws them away in favor of beer, a pool, and an affair.  He eventually finds true love with Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Elaine and scales mountains to get to her.  I found the writing a bit perfunctory, but that was probably a stylistic choice more than anything else.

Queued Up:

Dracula – Bram Stoker, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Total: 51/1294 

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