Tuesday, January 02, 2007

 

The Year Has Come To A Close


Okay, i'm not sure i'll find a cool picture...maybe. i know it's already the second, but i was unable to post until just today. what a fun year! i'm actually sad to be finished this project. No no, this herculean task hasn't made me swear off reading, but it was just fun to let everyone know what i think. well, i guess nothing prevents me from doing that normally. but you know what i mean. this was a great way for me to think about and sometimes evaluate what i read. anyhoo, let me tell you my favorite five books of the year:
In a Sunburnt Country by Bill Bryson (Book 16)
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (Book 5)
Eaters of the Dead (Book 12)
The Seville Communion (Book 40)
East of Eden (Book 24)
i discovered bill bryson this year, as well as john steinbeck. i did read a lot of silly mysteries and such in order to get more accomplished, but i do enjoy the mindless read. sadly, i didn't reach 100, and not even 80, but by reading 79 books this year i made it through 1.52 books per week this year. i did read through the entire bible this year, however i don't count that since i've done that before. i am looking forward to reading through some old favorites as well, such as the lord of the rings, harry potter and dracula. i'm also excited about tackling some hard books, such as the brothers karamazov and beginning the harry potter series in german (it took me 20 minutes to get through a few pages, so it's a good thing i've waited). thanks to everyone who has faithfully read this, and to super anne for inviting me to join her. i hope that this has inspired more people to read!

 

Book 79: Perfume


this was a good book. weird, but good. sadly, i couldn't read it in the original, german, which is the only other language i know. oh well. this is the story of a young man, jean baptiste grenouille (or something french) who has the best nose in the world. he was born amid poverty and squalor in 18th century paris and has no scent of his own. but he can smell miles away, distinguish thousands of odors and aromas and can create the most fabulous perfumes. he rises from orphan to errand boy for a tanner to the secret behind paris' most famous perfume house. this doesn't satisfy him and he goes on a quest to acquire his own scent and to create something so heavenly that all people will love him. he has never experienced anything like tenderness or belonging, due to the fact that he has no odor. it's strange and people wouldn't say that's the reason they are driven from him, but it's the reason that he has lacked human companionship his whole life. in the pursuit of scent he realizes that beautiful young women who are just on the verge of womanhood have a particular scent. so he becomes a murderer in order to preserve their odor and create perfume. it's actually not as creepy as it sounds, and yet it is pretty creepy. i would recommend this book!

Monday, January 01, 2007

 

Closing Thoughts



What a year! I have had fun keeping track of all the books I've read and keeping all my faithful blog readers updated on my book reading. I want to thank all of you who have been reading my blog, giving suggestions and reading the books I've read. I would also like to thank my co-blogger Venus the Reader for undertaking this adventure with me and keeping me reading.

I would like to sum up the year by first listing my favorite books that I've read this year. I couldn't rank them so I'm just going to put them in the order I read them in. So, here they are...
#3: Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
#11: In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
#36: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
#37: When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy by John Piper
#41: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
#49: Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner
#54: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
#58: Eragon by Christopher Paolini
If you're looking for a book to read and still haven't read any of these, put them on your list.

Some of you may be wondering what my reading goals for 2007 are so I thought I'd fill you in on those too. I don't think I'm going to worry about counting at all because I want to read some more classics (and I always read those slower). I'm not sure which classics I'm going to read but feel free to give me some ideas. I also want to reread some of my favorite books like Gone with the Wind and the Lord of the Rings books.

My final thought has to do with the best book I've ever read in my life, the Bible. I didn't read the whole Bible this year so I couldn't blog about it but I try to spend some time reading it everyday. I've never been more challenged, encouraged, and satisfied by a book in my life. Here's a verse that I love from the Bible that sums up what God's word, the Bible, is to me...

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." ~Hebrews 4:12

No other book in the world is as good as the Bible!

Thanks for reading this blog and have a great 2007!!!



Sunday, December 24, 2006

 

#62: The Amber Room


I ended up vetoing all of my short books fro the library and chose this 400 page suspense novel next. Reading The Amber Room was well worth the time. I read another book by Steve Berry earlier this year that I liked and I was just as pleased with this one. The Amber Room is actually the first of his novels but still a great read.

It is a story of art collectors and their employees, former employees of the Soviet Union and their children racing across and searching Europe for the missing art called the Amber Room. Now the book is fiction but the Amber Room is really a missing art and its not just a painting but a whole room made out of amber. The slight element of truth added a bit of wonder to the story. The book was hard to put down and pretty suspenseful. I never would have predicted the ending and I really enjoyed reading the whole thing.

Friday, December 22, 2006

 

Book 78: From Russia With Love


i just finished this book about three minutes ago. i like james bond movies. as long as i can remember, i have. i vaguely remember watching them when i was little, and then during a week my sophomore year in college a friend and i watched all of them in a row. i enjoyed the latest one, and so decided i should actually read at least one of the books. who is the real james bond, as ian fleming intended? this was the earliest one available, and though it's the second movie it's actually the fifth book. i guess it's just like the movie, for those of you who have seen it. a russian spy sets out to seduce bond so some other evil henchman can kill him while traveling through europe on the orient express. but of course, in a lot of whispers and "oh, james," she falls for him. the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger, which i found somewhat intriguing. i would agree that the lastest movie, casino royale, does more to capture the author's character. bond thinks and broods quite a bit, he's not always sure of himself and cares about his job, something he never did on celluloid until now. this was an incredibly easy read, and i enjoyed it. i might read some more of them, especially since it's december 22nd and am 22 books away from my goal. as soon as i finish posting i will immediately start something new.

 

#61: Bleachers

I will admit I have wanted to read the book Bleachers by John Grisham for awhile but I chose this one from my bag of library books because it was short. I am actually going to read the books I checked out in order from the shortest to the longest so I can get my numbers up before 2007.

Anyway, Bleachers was a good book by Grisham, although not his typical lawyer book. It was the story of a legendary high school football coach and all of his players. When the coach, Eddie Rake, was just days away from death many of his players from 34 seasons of coaching came back to pay their respects and go to his funeral. The main character Neely Crenshaw, and all-American quarterback, came back to his town after 15 years and has to fight some of his memories from his football days. It was easy to get into the story and enjoy the characters. Overall: good book.

 

#60: How the Irish Saved Civilization


My aunt and uncle recently took a 3 week trip to Ireland to visit some long lost (they weren't really lost because my Grandparents have visited them and they write frequently) relatives and enjoy learning a little more about the country that my Grandma's parents came from. During their trip they picked up a few good books and recommended them to me. The first one that I was most intrigued by is called How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. This is actually the first book in a series called The Hinges of History. Cahill's goal in this series it to retell the story of Western civilization through a series of stories about "great gift-givers" or those who aided civilization in getting to where it is today through their culture and passions.

This book was interesting, thoughtful, intelligent, and sometimes even difficult to read. Cahill shared the story of what drove the Irish to become great and even powerful missionaries of Christianity. He also explained their interest in literature, specifically Christian literature, during the Dark Ages. If it weren't for their desire for knowledge and making copies of books, Western civilization may have lost great pieces of literature. The reason the book was sometimes difficult to read was the historical names and literature pieces that the author mentioned were often foreign to me. But I actually read this book while I was giving finals and sitting by my computer at school so I was able to look up anything I didn't know on the Internet. Don't worry I still kept alert and watched for cheaters. I learned a lot of history about Europe, St. Patrick, about literature, and Ireland's role in a specific time period of history. This is a great book that I would recommend to anyone.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

 

Book 77: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid


ah, another one by bill bryson. you might as well just stop reading now, because you know i'll recommend it. this was our hero, bill, reminiscing about his boyhood in des moines, iowa. he was, of course, a superhero as the title of the book implies. this was the easiest read by him yet. it was more than just his tale of growing up; it was a nostalgic look back at what some might consider the golden age of middle america: the fifties. we had just won the war, the economy was booming, many of our cultural mainstays were in full swing and just about everyone was godly and happy. it was a delightful and humorous read. as with all of his books, i had to laugh out loud which last night got me some funny looks on the stationary bike. i think this is what i'll get my dad for christmas. he is only one year younger than bill, also grew up in the midwest, and i'm sure will identify with many more of the experiences. and bill...i'm still waiting for your call. or comment.

 

#59: My Freshman Year

My Freshman Year was an interesting book written by a middle aged professor/anthropologist who decided to go back to school as a freshman to write about college students. She found herself confused by the actions and reactions she got in class from her students so she determined her sabbatical project was going to be going back to school. She actually moved into the dorms, went to freshman orientation and signed up for a normal amount of classes. To protect the students after she wrote the book and to get realistic data, the author changed her name and hid her real identity from students most of the time unless specifically questioned. Having only graduated from college 4.5 years ago myself I didn't find her data all too shocking but I was interested to read her perspective on the American college student. This book was fairly enjoyable and informative so I would recommend it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

 

Book 76: Layer Cake


i really love most things british. maybe that is because of my parents' influence. as i just wrote, we watched a lot of public television growing up, and most of their programming seems to come from the bbc. so when i saw guy ritchie's crime capers about inept cockney criminals, i wanted to see more. so i watched the movie layer cake, produced by the same outfit. it was okay, less funny that the ritchie films, and a bit hard to follow. so i read the book upon which the film is based. it was okay. full of dry humor and more profanities than i have ever encountered in one book. yikes. i don't think i could in good conscience recommend the book due to how much the word f*#@ appears on every single page.

our hero, nameless, is 29 and has been in the london drug business for ten years. he would like to get out by age 30, but the boss, jimmy, has one last job for him. he and his partner, one mister mortimer, go looking for some rich geezer's daughter, try to unload about two million ecstasy pills and avoid the russian mob. oh, and he meets a nice girl on the way. not unlike the film, the book was a bit difficult to follow. i thought it was a little two long, and there was an awful bit of british slang. some i figured out while other words i still have no idea what they mean. clockwork orange was easier than this. it was a fast and easy read, but my eyes did feel a bit beat up, again, due to the prolific cussing. oh well.

 

Book 75: The Headless Bust



Ah, three-quarters of the way finished. even though i will immediately post about book #76 after this, and am almost through book #77, i seriously doubt my ability to finish twenty-three more books in two weeks. sad, i know, but i did my best. i love edward gorey and have since i was little girl. my parents were, and still are, avid fans of pbs' mystery show, which always opened with a cartoon by gorey. he writes small weird books and i recently discovered that a friend of mine also likes edward gorey. he is pretty much the first person outside of my family who has ever heard of him. what a guy. i hope you're reading this and feeling complimented. anyhoo, i read this at his house. yes, it's short but not really a children's book, so it counts. i have also taken the liberty of putting up a picture of the gashlycrumb tinies, an alphabetical exercise of the macabre.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

 

Book 74: His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass


this is the first in a trilogy of fantasy books for children. i've not yet decided if i'll continue. my sister was an education major for a while, and she still might be but i forget. i think she recommended this. it was okay...but i don't usually like fantasy. it always involves strange characters with whom i just don't feel comfortable. lyra is a little girl who lives in oxford, england, but it's not our england. all people have daemons, which are little animals attached to us. i guess they are like the personification, or animal-fication of our souls. lyra and her daemon (i can't spell his name; she calls him pan for short) embark upon an adventure when her father, who until recently she believed to be her uncle, is captured. she is going to rescue him and find out why children around the country are disappearing when they meet a beautiful woman and her monkey daemon. she finds out that they are performing experiments on the children, lord asriel (lyra's dad) is trying to use some kind of dust to bridge to another world and has all sorts of problems. there are witches, balloon aeronauts, armored bears and i thought, a lot of confusion. for a kid's book, it had a pretty mature and frightening message, namely that original sin is something adults make up to keep kids in line. in our "free" society that only wants to do what feels right, i guess it shouldn't surprise me. however, i think it shows a lack of responsibility that iss somewhat disturbing. oh well, it was quick and a pretty easy read.

 

Book 73: Congo


Drat. i just typed about this and then accidentally lost it. will try to remember what i wrote. started out with, wow, i want to read eragon too. am not sure that will happen any time soon. so, i'm hesitant to say this... but i will....this was not my favorite book of the year. it took forever to read because it was such a chore. this was surprising to me because it came highly recommended, and i enjoyed my first crichton novel (see post 13, or something like that). the premise of this book was intriguing as well; a scientific expedition meets something sinister and previously unknown to man in the jungle. oh my, what can this be? let's send another group of inexperienced and self-absorbed people and discover the problem. but then crichton digresses; we have to learn the history of everything he mentions...like gorillas, satellite imaging, computer chips, american sign language and lots of other insignificant (to the story but to me in general) scientifc facts that due to boredom i have blocked from my memory. and then when we finally figure out what's going on, it's kind of anticlimatic and all of a sudden the book is finished. i think he had to write about all those things in great detail because if you take that out the story itself is actually only 7 pages.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

 

#58: Eragon


I've had to ask many of my students to stop reading the book Eragon by Christopher Paolini several time in class. After reading it myself, I understand why they had so much trouble putting it down. It is an extremely well written story that captures the reader from the first page. I decided to read the book because I saw that it was being made into a movie and I enjoyed every page and I can't wait to see the movie. It's the first book of a trilogy written by Paolini. The third book still hasn't been published. I am expecting the 2nd book to be good and I already checked it out from the library. I'm not sure if I'll get it read by the end of this year though so I can't promise a blog entry about it.

Here is a summary I found on Amazon..."Eragon, a young farm boy, finds a marvelous blue stone in a mystical mountain place. Before he can trade it for food to get his family through the hard winter, it hatches a beautiful sapphire-blue dragon, a race thought to be extinct. Eragon bonds with the dragon, and when his family is killed by the marauding Ra'zac, he discovers that he is the last of the Dragon Riders, fated to play a decisive part in the coming war between the human but hidden Varden, dwarves, elves, the diabolical Shades and their neanderthal Urgalls, all pitted against and allied with each other and the evil King Galbatorix. Eragon and his dragon Saphira set out to find their role, growing in magic power and understanding of the complex political situation as they endure perilous travels and sudden battles, dire wounds, capture and escape."

Thursday, November 30, 2006

 

Book 72: Enduring Love


this book has been made into a movie. i saw the trailer a couple of weeks ago and thought it looked interesting, but i usually try to read the books first. this was a great novel. the writing has a dreamlike quality that pulls the reader in. i felt as though i was watching the events of the story unfold through a window on a rainy day. that might not make much sense, but it had a pleasant effect.

joe and clarissa are academic types, a childless couple living in london. clarissa is a professor of keats and joe, having once been on the path to research scientist, is now a free-lance science writer who is calm, rational, and well, scientific. they picnic one day near oxford and the events of that afternoon throw them into a whole mess. there is a ballooning accident; joe and several other men try to rescue the man and boy struggling, and one of the men dies. through this joe begins to feel guilt at his own survival, and he meets jed parry, another one of the would-be rescuers. parry begins to harrass joe, waiting outside his flat, believing joe is sending him messages of love. parry is determined to bring joe to god and to begin the love relationship he has deluded himself into desiring. it's was bizarre, but a book that i looked forward to reading. i think one of the most interesting facets of this book is the juxtaposition of joe's clinical and scientific mind with parry's, and then the unraveling of joe's mind and relationship with his wife as a result of paranoia. one thing i did find disturbing was the fact that wacko parry talked about god all the time. why do stalkers and serial killers in media always end up being "religious" while those who are sane and normal are the rational atheists. that's not quite fair. anyhoo, enough of this post. i liked the book and i requested the movie from the library. i think i would read more of ian mcewan.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

 

#57: The Princess


The Princess by Lori Wick was an entertaining novel. I have never read anything by Wick before. She is a Christian author and is pretty cheesy. The Princess is the story of Shelby and Nicolai and their journey towards falling in love. Nicolai is a young prince who agrees to an arranged marriage after his first wife's untimely death to uphold the law of his country. Shelby is the woman he married. So, as you may be able to imagine although Nicolai is kind to Shelby he has a hard time loving her and Shelby doesn't really know him at all so she has a hard time loving him. Not to spoil the ending but eventually they fall in love and this is the story of them getting there.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

 

Book 71: Judge and Jury


so i finished my last two books at anne's house, without bringing an adequate reading supply. i was stuck for a whole day without anything to read, so anne let me read this book. i do believe it was the last book she blogged about...another fabulous book by james patterson. this is only the second by him i've read. they are similar to another favorite of ours, mary higgins clark. both of these authors tend to write formulaic books...and this one was good. i read it in a day and a half. this one follows an fbi agent who has just arrested a crime boss, the horrid trial and all the intrigue we could handle the day after thanksgiving. nick, the fbi agent, gets dumped by ellen, the hotshot anesthesiologist (i had no idea you could be a hotshot in this field. i had to laugh a good three minutes about this ridiculousness before i could resume reading) and then of course falls in love with andie, the juror who experiences some personal tragedy at the hands of the crime boss. i hope i didn't give anything away by that synopsis, but i figured that out by reading the book jacket, so it shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone reading this book. i think i like james patterson. he writes mindless, easy-to-read junk. although i did just write that my brain was hurting with all the mindlessness. oh well.

 

Book 70: Into the Wild


this is another that got me by the cover. it's brief description of the contents sounded macabre in the extreme...about someone's decomposing body being found by a moose hunter. naturally, i couldn't wait to read it. this is the story of chris mccandless, a wealthy young man from the dc area who decided, upon his college graduation, to get back to real living. he traveled around the united states for almost two years, hitchhiking and working odd jobs, living out of his backpack and tent until he headed for alaska where he met his demise. the author does highlight mccandless' foolishness and improper perspective about nature, yet he gives the guy some credit, unlike most alaskans. he was woefully unprepared and uneducated about how to survive in the wilderness. and so he died.

this was an interesting and easy read. krakauer, the author, touches on the pull the frontier exerts over all of us. especially as americans, there seems to be something about wild and beautiful places that calls to us. we have been raised in an individualistic culture, and tramping out into isolation to commune with nature and look inside oneself is a natural application of our belief that we ourselves are teh pinnacle of society. man, this keyboard stinks. still at the champaign library, by the way. mccandless was a young man with big dreams and a firm conviction that the rules of civilization, his family, society, and even common sense, no longer applied to him. sadly, this cost him his life, and while many scoffed at his death and proclaimed is was some sad dreamer's just desserts, i don't think we are really that different. as americans we believe that we can do anything we set our minds to, in fact it's our duty to push boundaries, limitations and established anything. but i'm not actually sure that any of those things are actually true. i think they are, like the american dream and paul bunyan, myths of our american society we love to believe.

 

Book 69: Queen's Ransom


so, another murder mystery book, in the series about ursula blanchard. just a note of interest...i'm blogging from super anne's library. while i'm not loving this computer, the rest of the experience is all too heady. it's much bigger than the stow one which i most often frequent. industrial and functional, this library could use some more decorative touches, but it seems to have quite a selection. awesome. i love libraries!

on to the book. it was okay. i think i have been reading so many of these silly books that my brain is beginning to hurt. the pain is not from comprehensive difficulty, rather it's protesting drivel. this one in particular, was difficult because of the numerous sub-plots. i never quite understood what was going on, nor did i want to. anyhoo, i am going to make more of an effort to read better books. ha. think i'll have to use anne's computer at home to put up a picture. drat.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

 

#56: Judge and Jury


Judge and Jury turned out to be one of my favorite books by James Patterson. It is more of a trial story than a mystery and the Italian Mafia is involved so that makes it exciting. The two main characters are an FBI agent and a juror on the trail for the head of a Mafia family. I don't want to say too much about the story because I don't want to ruin anything. Like all James Patterson books the chapters were short, the font was big and it didn't take long to finish the book. Patterson produced another entertaining story and I enjoyed it. Sorry I don't really have much to say about this book either. It's a good Patterson book to read if you've never read one before.

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