Friday, January 30, 2009

The Good Women of China

January 26 was the start of the Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year because it's start is linked to the moon. I thought this would be a perfect choice for the January holiday for the Every Month is a Holiday challenge.

The book I read was Xinran's The Good Women of China. Now, I would NEVER have heard of Xinran if it's hadn't been for Joy and the A-Z Challenge that she hosted last year. X authors are hard to find! I decided to do this challenge again this year (this time hosted by ...) and so was in a fix once more. I am so incredibly glad that I picked up Xinran's book when I saw it in a secondhand bookstore. I really think that my life is richer because I read this one.

The Good Women of China is non-fiction. Xinran is a Chinese journalist who had a radio show about Chinese women and their lives. Women could call in or leave messages and had the opportunity to tell their stories. Xinran gathered these stories and her experiences getting them and meeting the women involved and put it all in a book.

What she created is very powerful. Women in China had to live through so much - not only the traditional society aspect of things but also the political side of things. Women were married off by either their parents or by the revolution. They were used, abused and thrown out. They lost their children, they lost the loves of their lives, they ended up alone or with husbands they didn't care for. Survival was the main goal and everything else got buried in the process.

But these women's stories show that some things can't be buried, not really. The emotions in this book are so powerful that I couldn't tear myself away from the stories. Who knew that a non-fiction book about women in China could be such a page turner?

I think that this one sentence sums up how the Cultural Revolution affected people:
"Humanity and wisdom were banished to places which did not know there was anywhere in this world where women could say 'no' and men could read newspapers."
Reading this made me sad for the people of China and very interested in reading more about their country, including about the Cultural Revolution. If you've read anything interesting on these subjects, please let me know!

Challenges: 999 Challenge, A-Z Challenge, Countdown Challenge, Dewey Decimal System Challenge, Every Month is a Holiday, New Authors, Well-Seasoned Reader, World Citizen Challenge


I needed a happy book, so my friend Elaine brought me SeinLanguage by Jerry Seinfeld. It's a short book, but it sure made me laugh! I really needed that while I was waiting in our cold apartment for someone to come and fix the heating!

I love Jerry Seinfeld - I've recently started renting Seinfeld on DVD and it's still SO funny. His books reads very easily - you can picture him actually saying everything live, my brain was doing accents on certain words and everything.

Here are a few passages that cracked me up:
Or, you ever move a TV set in the back of your car? Then you've got to leave the car in the street for a couple of minutes, you put a sweater over the TV. "It's a couple of sweaters, that's all. One of them happens to be square with an antenna coming out of it."
This one is also great:
According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that seem right? That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy."
And this one totally cracked me up, probably because I'm preparing to move and this is exactly how I feel!
When you're moving, your whole world is boxes. That's all you think about. "Boxes, where are the boxes?" You just wander down the street going in and out of stores, "Are there any boxes here? Have you seen any boxes?" It's all you think about. You can't even talk to people, you can't concentrate. "Will you shut up? I'm looking for boxes!"
If you don't know Jerry Seinfeld, you should really check him out, he's one of my favorite comedians.

Challenges: 999 Challenge, A-Z Challenge

Monday, January 26, 2009

My first graphic novels!

I finished my first graphic novels this weekend - Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Long Way Home by Joss Whedon and No Future for You by Brian K. Vaughn and Joss Whedon. They're Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, only in comic format.

I am a HUGE fan of Buffy and of Joss Whedon. I've seen the series numerous times - in fact we're re-watching it again and are on season 4. When the season 8 comics stared to come out I was excited, but somehow I put off getting them until some later unspecified date. As some of you know, I didn't really consider comics and graphic novels as something I'd like - and certainly not as something like a book!

Thanks to Nymeth I'm overcoming the stereotypical information that lives in my head. :-)

I LOVED these two books. I loved the storylines, I loved the artwork, I loved the experience of adding something visual to my reading. I won't go into the story because of spoilers, but if you like Buffy then it's definitely worth getting this. I have my Season 6 of Angel one lined up too and I can't wait!

Having said that, it did take me a while to get used to the comic format - I had trouble telling some of the characters apart and I didn't know what order to read the dialogue in. I got used to it though and I think I have it now. I hope, at least!

The only negative thing I have to say is that they went by too fast! I can't wait for the next installments!

Challenges: Graphic Novels, My Year of Reading Dangerously, 1st in a series, Countdown Challenge

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

I loved this story as a child, although reading it as an adult I'm not quite sure that I actually read the whole thing. I vaguely recall having a beautifully illustrated edition so perhaps I skimmed and mostly looked at the pictures.

In any case, I kind of knew the story of course, but I didn't realise how differently I would take it now. Lewis Carroll's imagination is increadible - he creates a wondrous world for Alice to visit, with interesting creatures and cards to are alive and the ability to change one's size. I love the way this little book is written, almost in a stream-of-consciousness way, as if the author just wrote about whatever the previous section reminded him of.

I also loved the word plays - I laughed out loud many times.

A charming book. I'd like to read Through the Looking Glass too, which I'm sure I've never read. If you're interested, the stories about Carroll and the really Alice are very interesting too. Although the bios I found make no mention of the hallucogenics that he must have been on to create this story!

Challenges: 999 Challenge, A-Z Challenge, Casual Classics, Celebrate the Author (Carroll's birthday is on January 27), Childhood Favorites, Decades 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

On Beauty

I received On Beauty by Zadie Smith from a friend and since I heard lots of people say they loved it, I was really excited to read it. Plus I've been on a quest to find quality books which aren't miserable and I was told that this was such a book - a happy book. For these reasons and some others, I thought I would love it. I wanted to love it. But as sometimes happens when you hear too much hype, I didn't love it. That makes me very sad but there it is.

On Beauty is basically about the Belsey family and a litttle bit about the Kipps family. The two have a feud going, but some members are drawn to each other despite this. First and foremost there's Howard, head of the Belseys. Intellectual, professor at a liberal arts college, going through a midlife crisis, he loves his family but is dissatisfied with his life in general. I suppose he gets to thinking that there must be more. There's his wife Kiki who has to deal with Howard's crisis, as well as the varied crises of their children and her own disappointments. There are the Belsey children who are trying to find their place in the world. The opposing Kipps family is similar, except that their beliefs are right-wing, so very much unwanted in Howard's liberal arts world.

This book is about so many things that it's hard to know where to start. It's about people - regular people who want to achieve something in life, who want to be happy who want others to think of them in a certain way. It's about belonging, that incredible need to feel part of something, but it's also about the need to be an individual and to follow one's own course.

It's about the differences between men and women, in their actions and their reactions. I love this following thought of a male character: "He had not seen her since that afternoon. And with the miracke that is male compartmentalization he had barely thought of her either."

It's about love and how it survives and changes and breaks. Not only about romantic and sexual love, but also about sibling love. Here is a passage that really touched me, the thoughts of Jerome about his sister Zora and his brother Levi:

"Before the world existed, before it was populated, and before there were wars and jobs and colleges and movies and clothes and opinions and foreign travel - before all of these things there had been only one person, Zora, and only one place: a tent in the living room made from chairs and bed-sheets. After a few years, Levi arrived; space was made for him; it was as if he had always been."
On Beauty also has a political edge, a racial aspect. The Belseys are an inter-racial family and one of the Belsey children wants to be only Black. He wants to belong with his 'brothers'. But Howard is white and a professor and he and Kiki (who once said that she gave up everything Black for her husband) built a regular, white middle-class life for their family. Whether this is actually possible or not is also a theme that runs through this book, as is whether we should help 'our' people. This passage really struck me:

"...but this self-hatred. When I look at Condoleeza, and Co-lin - God! I want to be sick - I see this rabid need to separate themselves away from the rest of us - it's like "We got the opportunity and now the quota's full and thank you very much, adios."
I've gone on long enough, but there is more to say! The book is about so much more but I guess you'll have to read it yourself. And I think you should read it - Zadie Smith's amazingly original use of language warrants it. I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to for many reasons - the main one is probably that I really wanted a happy book and this was recommended to me as such. It's Certainly not a happy book - all the characters are dissatisfied with their lives and are struggling to find/accept their place in the world.

Challenges: A-Z Challenge, 999 Challenge, Countdown Challenge, New Authors

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What I bought...

Most of our luggage coming back from the US was books... shocking, eh? Not only did I book or two in every historical place we visited, regular bookstores also called my name. My favorite (besides the giant Borders) was a small secondhand one in Salem - a photo is included in this post. Aside from these, we happened upon a book sale - all books for a dollar. How could I possibly resist? Thankfully we didn't have much cash left or the damage would have been worse.

Here's what I got:

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Dune by Frank Herbert
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Alan Gurganus
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
The Fifth of March by Ann Rinaldi
A Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Wifey by Judy Blume
Ill Wind by Rachel Caine
Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Don't Know Much about the Civil War by Kenneth C. Davis
A Guide to the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 by David C. Brown
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Native American Songs and Poems , ed by Brian Swann
Woman in the Nineteenth Century by Margaret Fuller
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
The Plain Janes by Cecil Castelucci and Jim Rugg
Walden; or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau
Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson
The Long Way Home by Joss Whedon and Georges Jeanty
No Future for You by Joss Whedon, Brian K. Vaughan and Georges Jeanty
Angel - After the Fall by Joss Whedon and Brian Lynch

And if you look at one of the photos, the box sitting on top of the books is a Book Hug for Book Lovers. It's just a stand so that you can read while eating or whatever, but what a cool name! Marketing makes shopping in the US such a pleasure, all the creative names for things!

So what do you think I should read first?

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Classics Challenge - Wrap-up posts

So, here we are. We're approaching the end of the New Classics Challenge. During January, please do your wrap-up post (if you've finished, that is!). Make sure that include your vote for which of the 100 books is your favorite - and don't forget to tell us why!

The winning book will be sent to a lucky winner chosen by the scientific method favored here in the blogosphere, i.e. names in a hat. If the winner already owns/has read the winning book, they will receive the next one on the list.

Leave the link to your specific post below. Make sure it's your specific post please, if I can't find your post on this then you won't be included in the draw!

New Classics Challenge - January Reviews

I'm not doing very well hosting this challenge. It's already the 16th and I'm just putting this up. Plus, there is no way that I myself will finish this one. Funny, eh?

Anyway, enter your January reads here. The challenge finishes at the end of this month so don't forget to do a wrap-up post - and be sure to vote for which one book of the 100 that is your favorite and let us know why. I'll put up a separate linky for these wrap-up posts, only January reviews go here!

My holiday reading

I'm back! Boston was amazing, I loved it! I bought loads of books of course, a post just on that is coming up. For now I just wanted to get a couple of reviews in. I didn't get to do a lot of reading, which is good because it means I was actually doing Boston-stuff. I thought I'd read a lot on the plane, but with the personalised entertainment that they have now being pretty cool, I watched movies instead. :-)

I read two girly books during my trip - Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella and The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. I'm also about a quarter into On Beauty by Zadie Smith. I'm not sure I like it yet... so far I seem to be avoiding it, which is why it didn't get read on holiday.

Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella was fun. Becky is now married to Luke and trying to get used to post-honeymoon married life. Which is nothing like what she thought it would be. When she finds out she has a long-lost sister, she's determined to become best friends with her. Only it turns out that her sister is nothing like her and getting along is very difficult.

I really like the Shopaholic series. It's fun but not brainless. I love Becky - perhaps because I'm kind of like her. But with less money. :-) She makes me cringe sometimes, also because I'm kind of like her. Especially her logic resembles mine, it's funny. Some of her thought processes are exactly like mine, which is pretty scary since she's a character created to make people laugh. :-)

Challenges: A-Z, Chick Lit 2, What's in a Name 2

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot was also really fun. I've been wanting to read it since I saw the movie, which I really liked. Plus I bought parts 2 and 3 in by mistake when I was in Dublin in November, so when I saw the first part in a great bookstore in Salem, I had to take it! I think most of you know the story so I won't repeat it. If you like girly YA fiction then this one's for you! It was perfect for airports, because it didn't reaquire much thinking or concentration...

Challenges: A-Z, Young Adult Challenge, 999 Challenge, 1st in a series, 2nds Challenge

And here's a photo of the boookstore in Salem I mentioned. Heaven.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The reason for my silence...

I'm in Boston! :-) We took a week-long holiday in New England - actually it was supposed to be New England, but is mostly Boston due to the snow. We did make it over to Providence for a night, but didn't like it and came straight back! Boston is awesome and we're having a great time. Our hotel is fantastic (if anyone needs a recommendation) and they have computers in the lobby, which is where I am currently taking a break from shopping and eating. Ive been book-shopping like crazy and reading a little, more on that will come soon. I'll be on my way home soon and will re-join the blogging world then! :-)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Movies watched in 2009

6. Sex and the City (*****)
5. American Pie 2 (***)
4. Waitress (***)
3. Slumdog Millionaire (*****)
2. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (***)
1. The Second Summer of the Sisterhood (***)

Books read in 2009

Total read: 107
Audiobooks: 7
Graphic novels: 8
New-to-me authors: 68
Non-Fiction: 13
Classics: 19
Short Stories: 2 (144pp)

107. Shadows in Bronze by Lindsey Davis (**) 250/366pp
106. A Break With Charity by Ann Rinaldi (*****) 295pp
105. Fables volume 1 - Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (*****) 127pp

104. The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar (*****) 
103. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery (*****) 237pp
102. Native American Songs and Poems, An Anthology edited by Brian Swann (**) 54pp
101. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (*****)
100. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (****) 386pp
99. The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg (****) 176pp
98. The Tales of Beetle the Bard by J.K. Rowling (*****) 105pp
97. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs (***) 432pp

October (7 books; 2,197pp)
96. Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts (****1/2) 321pp
95. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, volume 1 by Joss Whedon et al. (*****) 296pp
94. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (***1/2) 276pp
93. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (*****) 288pp
92. No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay (****) 468pp
91. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (****) 241pp
90. Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot (****) 307pp

September (6 books; 2,035)
89. Misconceptions: Truth, Lies and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood by Naomi Woolf (***) 246pp
88. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist (****) 519pp
87. The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith (****) 210pp
86. Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (****1/2) 400pp
85. in Polish: Krysztalowy Aniol by Katarzyna Grochola (***1/2) 540pp
84. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (*) 120/288pp

August (7 books; 2,561pp + 1 audio)
83. Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston (****) 256pp
82. The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy by Polly Williams (****) 371pp
81. The Hours by Michael Cunningham (****1/2) 240pp
80. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (*****) 432pp
79. The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted by Elizabeth Berg (**1/2) audiobook
78. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (****) 400pp
77. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (**) 542pp
76. Undead and Unemployed by MaryJanice Davidson (****) 320pp

July (9 books; 2,521pp)
75. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz (***1/2) 512pp
74. The Best Friends' Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine (*****) 242pp
73. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (*****) 288pp
72. We Thought You Would Be Prettier by Laurie Notaro (***1/2) 240pp
71. The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant (*****) 352pp
70. Murder on a Bad Hair Day by Anne George (****1/2) 246pp
69. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Wolves at the Gate by Joss Whedon et al. (*****) 136pp
68. Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland (*****) 281pp
67. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (**1/2) 224pp

June (8 books; 1,795pp + 1 audiobook)
66. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (****1/2) audiobook
65. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (*****) 96pp
64. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery (*****) 323pp

63. A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare (****) 112pp
62. A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (***) 192pp
61. Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky (*****) 272pp
60. Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillip (***1/2) 304pp
59. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (*****) 320pp
58. Messenger by Lois Lowry (****) 176pp

(16 books; 4,178pp)
57. Sweethearts by Sara Zarr (****) 224pp
56. in Polish: Szosta Klepka - Malgorzata Musierowicz (***) 188pp
55. in Polish: Brzechwa Dzieciom - Jan Brzechwa (****) 124pp
54. First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde (****1/2) 416pp
53. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (*****) 287pp
52. Coraline by Neil Gaiman (****) 185pp
51. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller (*****) 231pp
50. Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult (***) 496pp
49. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry (****) 215pp
48. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (*****) 208pp
47. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (****) 512pp
46. Sleeping Beauty and Other Stories (*****) 234pp
45. The Stork Club by Imogen Edwards-Jones (***) 182pp
44. Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr (****) 192pp
43. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (*****) 256pp
42. Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler (****) 228pp

April (9 books; 2,438pp + 2 audiobooks)
41. Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella (*****) 446pp
40. Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein (*****) 224pp
39. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (****) 400pp
38. Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (****) 176pp
37. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton (***) 368pp
36. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (***1/2) 403pp
35. Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut (****1/2) 157pp
34. But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes by Anita Loos (**) audiobook
33. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos (***) audiobook
32. Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey (*) 120/300pp
31. I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna (****) 144pp

March (6 books; 1,580pp + 1 audiobook)
30. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (***) 207pp
29. Seek the Fair Land by Walter Macken (***) 300pp
28. Pawing through the Past by Rita Mae Brown (**1/2) 333pp
~Short Story: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (****) 80pp
27. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (*****) 180pp
26. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (***) 96pp
25. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (****1/2) 464pp
~Short Story: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald (****) 64pp
24. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (*****) audiobook

February (14 books; 3,067pp + 2 audiobooks)
23. Night by Elie Wiesel (*****) 126pp
22. The Family Way by Tony Parsons (***1/2) 400pp
21. Aesop's Fables by Aesop (***) audiobook
20. Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels (**1/2) 252pp
19. Karlson on the Roof by Astrid Lindgren (**1/2) 176pp
18. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (*****) 341pp
17. Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (*****) 337pp
16. Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon (**** 1/2) 410pp
15. Nothing's Sacred by Lewis Black (** 1/2) audiobook
14. The Witch of Portobello by Paolo Coelho (***) 368pp
13. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (****) 128pp
12. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (***1/2) 180pp
11. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (*****) 137pp
10. Out by Natsuo Kirino (****1/2) 388pp

January (9 books; 2,438pp)
9. The Good Women of China by Xinran (*****) 240pp
8. SeinLanguage by Jerry Seinfeld (***) 192pp
7. No Future For You by Joss Whedon and Brian K. Vaughn (*****) 120pp
6. Long Way Home by Joss Whedon (*****) 136pp
5. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (****) 160pp
4. On Beauty by Zadie Smith (***1/2) 443pp
3. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (***) 283pp
2. Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella (***) 384pp
1. Code to Zero by Ken Follett (***) 480pp

Last year's challenges

When I did my post on my favorite books read in 2008, I didn't include any information about challenges. So here it is!

I completed 27 and failed to complete 2. Although not by much! :-)

I failed to complete these:
1. 100+ Reading Challenge
2. 888 Challenge

1. 1% Well-Read Challenge
2. 10 out of 100 out of 1001
3. 342,745 Ways to Herd Cats
4. A-Z Challenge
5. Banned Books Challenge
6. Book to Movie Challenge
7. Chick Lit Challenge
8. Chunkster Challenge
9. Classics Challenge
10. Decades '08 Challenge
11. Eponymous Challenge
12. Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
13. Initials Reading Challenge
14. Lit Flicks Challenge
15. Man Booker Challenge
16. Mythopoeic Challenge
17. Non-Fiction Five Challenge
18. Novella Challenge
19. Numbers Challenge
20. Once Upon a Time II
21. Orbis Terrarum Challenge
22. R.I.P. III
23. Seconds 2008
24. Southern Reading Challenge
25. Spring Reading Challenge
26. Title Master Reading Challenge
27. Unread Authors

I've pretty much joined all the challenges going for 2009 so we'll see how I do. :-)

Code to Zero

My first book of the year was a Ken Follett - Code to Zero. I picked it up while at my parent's place at the end of 2008, but since I only finished it this year, it counts for 2009.

I think I've read a few of the older Ken Follett books - most of which I enjoyed as great fast-paced thrillers. I then read Pillars of the Earth, which was completely different and fantastic. I still have to get World Without End...

Reading Code to Zero meant back to thrillers for me... I can't remember the last time I read anything in the genre, which is strange, since I remember always liking thrillers. This one was good, action-packed and with a human side, which I like. Basically, a man woke up in a train station and couldn't remember who he was. He started on a quest to find out the truth and found a lot more than he bargained for - including the FBI and an interest and involvement in the space race. He eventually found out the truth about his life, of course.

What I liked most about this book is that as the main character was finding out more and more about the life he led, he often couldn't understand the choices he made. As soon as he was no longer emotionally involved and did not remember any of the baggage, life and the important things in it looked completely different. And looking at things differently helped him make decisions that were better for him and which made him happier.

Oh, and I read it in Polish. :-)

Challenges: A-Z Challenge, 999 Challenge, Genre Challenge, Numbers Challenge, Suspense and Thriller Challenge

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A-Z Challenge 2009

I finished this one in 2008 and really enjoyed it, so am definitely doing it again. There are many options this year (check out the challenge post), but I'll be sticking to the same formula as in 2008, so by title AND by author. The only difference from last year is that I'm not making a list, simply slotting in whatever I read for the other ten thousand challenges I signed up for!

Completed: 48/52 as of 30 December 2009

By title:

A - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
B - The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
C - Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels
D - The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted by Elizabeth Berg
E - Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
F - The Family Way by Tony Parsons
G - Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon
H - How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
I - I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna
J - Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
K - Karlson on the Roof by Astrid Lindgren
L - Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
M - The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
N - Native American Songs and Poems, edited by Brian SwannO - On Beauty by Zadie Smith
P - Persepolis (The Complete) by Marjane Satrapi
Q - Queen of Babble in the Big City by Meg Cabot
R - Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Gray
S - Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella
T - The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
U - The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
V - Vegan, Virgin, Valentine by Carolyn Mackler
W - The Witch of Portobello by Paolo Coelho
X - Elephants on Acid and other bizarre eXperiments
Y - Ya-Yas in Bloom by Rebecca Wells
Z - Shadows in BronZe by Lindsey Davis

By author:

A - Atwood, Margaret - The Handmaid's Tale
B - Black, Lewis - Nothing's Sacred
C - Cabot, Meg - The Princess Diaries
D - Davidson, MaryJanice - Undead and Unemployed
E - Edwards-Jones, Imogen - The Stork Club
F - Follett, Ken - Code to Zero
G - Grahame, Kenneth - The Wind in the Willows
H - Hinton, S.E. - The Outsiders
I - Iovine, Vicki - The Best Friends' Guide to Pregnancy
J - Jacobs, Kate - The Friday Night Knitting Club
K - Kirino, Natsuo - Out
L - Loos, Anita - Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
M - Meyer, Stephanie - Twilight
N - Nemirovsky, Irene - Suite Francaise
O - Orenstein, Peggy - Waiting for Daisy
P - Pfeffer, Susan Beth - Life As We Knew It
Q - Quindlen, Anna - A Short Guide to a Happy Life
R - Roberts, Nora - Morrigan's Cross
S - Seinfeld, Jerry - Seinlanguage
T - Thompson, Hunter S. - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
U - Umrigar, Thrity - The Space Between Us
V - Vonnegut, Kurt - Slaughterhouse-Five
W - Wiesel, Elie - Night
X - Xinran - The Good Women of China
Y - Yang, Gene Luen - American Born Chinese
Z - Zarr, Sara - Story of a Girl

In their shoes

Vasilly over at 1330V is hosting the In their shoes challenge, which encourages us to read memoirs, biographies and autobiographies. Check out the dedicated blog for the full rules - but basically I can choose what to read and how many books to read!

A list of possibilities is below.

Completed: 6 as of 9 May 2009

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells
Nothing's Sacred by Lewis Black
The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maus I and II by Art Spiegelman
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Night by Elie Wiesel
Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein
The Stork Club by Imogen Edwards-Jones

Political History Challenge

Sharon of Ex Libris is hosting this interesting challenge, to read 4 books on or related to political history in 2009. For full information, go to the challenge post.

A list of my possibilities is below.

Completed: 0/4 as of 1 January 2009

PRL for beginners by Jacek Kuron and Jacek Zakowski (in Polish)
The Provisional IRA by Patrick Bishop and Eamonn Mallie
Life of a European Mandarin by Derk-Jan Eppink
Great Power Diplomacy 1814-1914 by Norman Rich
Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 in review

Well. I didn't make my goal of reading 100 books, I only got to 97. But - I missed January and this is definitely more than I have ever read in any one year anyway so I still feel good about it. Plus I discovered so many great authors. Plus I made some good friends around the world. I loved my first year of blogging!

As I said, I read 97 books in 2008. Here are some end-of-year stats:

Total read: 97
Fiction: 87
Non-fiction: 10 (I really want to work on this)
New-to-me authors: 77
By women: 60
By men: 37
In translation: 7 (I clearly need to work on this)
In Polish: 6
Classics: 12
Favorite discovered authors: MaryJanice Davidson, Joseph O'Connor, Markus Zusak, Laurie Halse Andersen, Joanna Harris, Jane Yolen

And my top-20 for 2008:

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda

It's been a great reading year and I am looking forward to 2009!

Happy New Year everyone!