wishfulclicking: stack of books (books)
I started 2010 with the goal to read 50 books. I fell short by 7 but I'm not stressing over it. Considering I went through a three month spell where I barely read anything, and other health issues popped up, I'm okay with what I managed to get done. Enough about the books I didn't read and now time to discuss the ones I did read.

Breakdown: 43 books total, 15 Young Adult, 2 books of poetry, 3 Graphic Novels, 2 nonfiction works, the rest majority Literary Fiction and some other mainstream fiction.

expanding on what I read )

Plans for 2011

Following some challenges from this post. Specifically the Shakespeare, Chunkster (books over 450 pages but I am including ebooks with this one), Quirky Brown. I have no plans in officially signing up for all of these (maybe Quirky Brown and Chunkster) but I do plan to unofficially lurk. Also, make some headway on all the books I own but have yet to read and maybe some rereads. More poetry and more nonfiction. Fill in some cultural holes perhaps. 50 books again for this year.

wishfulclicking: stack of books (books)
The good thing is that I have actually been reading, the bad thing is that I have been consistently failing to post about the books here. So I am going to try and do better but here are some standouts I've read recently.

The Lady Matador's Hotel by Cristina Garcia was a short book I picked mostly based off its cover. Sensuous is how I would describe this book, and not just because of one very hot sex scene involving the titular character; but just in how everything is described, the pictures were vivid and the story felt like something living behind my eyes as I read. After some reflection, I'm leaning towards thinking this book really dealt with the different ways people experienced and worked through grief and longing.

World War Z was everything I've heard others say it was and it did not disappoint me, even though I went in with the full amount of hesitance and cynicism that reading hyped books give me. Its scope is vast and it actually works, there's actual diversity and the scenario of a zombie plague is actually thought out and is displayed without mercy. This did make me wonder if the zombie thing is popular in other cultures.

Currently at 36/50. Still behind but the goal is still in reach.
wishfulclicking: (beyonce with book)
This was the book I picked up in the middle of Fahrenheit 451 and then didn't put it down because it felt like one of those books that if I stopped, I wouldn't pick up again or by the time I did pick it up again, I'd have to skim through the beginning to pick up all the threads.

In the middle of reading the book I wrote down that it mostly made me want to pick up As I Lay Dying Again because it had the distant mother trope and I preferred it with Addie than Norah in this book. So this book isn't that memorable for me and I only picked it up over some years ago because it was less than a dollar and it played with time (something which came to annoy me more than I thought it would) and it had multiple pov because that is something I'm interested in.

Mostly this book was about what makes us turn out the way we do, and are certain things predetermined. It dealt with feeling trapped in a life that is usually of our own design. How did the connections between blood affect things? Did they have any sway on our lives? Those are questions that I really enjoy seeing explored in fiction.

Just this novel felt like I was reading it through a haze of vaseline over the pages, making everything ill-defined and a dream like quality. The prose was easy and flowing so it was not a task at all to read, but also, there wasn't many moments that made me pause and dwell on what I had just read. One thing that kept on running through my head was the quiet tragedy found in living.

One quibble I had was the kids felt oddly written in this book. Another issue I had was that all the time hopping felt borderline unnecessary.
wishfulclicking: stack of books (books)
Alright so far I've read 11/50, and I decided to look back and see if I've changed my minds on any of the books.

The first ten:

Fetch
Fanboy & Gothgirl
Point Omega
American on Purpose
Geektastic
Street Love
The Other
The Hour I first Believed
The Fourth Bear
The Big Over Easy


That's two nonfiction titles, four YA books, so I'm feeling good about the variety I've reached so far. I've ditched at least two books, and I have some other ones I'm currently reading. Two graphic novels are on my to be read shelf. This goal is definitely doable even if I am behind my weekly book plan.

Out of those ten American on Purpose, Geektastic, The Other, The Hour I First Believed, and The Fourth Bear were my favorites but besides Fetch I've enjoyed all of them.
wishfulclicking: man in black and white pulling back a curtain to show moving sky (books: alex reading)
Both of these were YA fiction with male protagonists and neither one really wowed me.

FB&GG: The main character felt like an actual fleshed out teenaged boy in this, I definitely felt some sympathy for him even though I was aware of the dangers of first person narration; by definition they are also unreliable so how he was perceiving things (bastard stepdad, distant best friend, bullies) was not always how things were. I appreciated how Barry Lyga noted this and had this resolved by the final chapter. Fanboy's best friend is black and he doesn't feel like a caricature.

Kyra, the Goth Girl, is okay. She felt a little half formed but that just seems to be a function of the narrator. You only get to see what the protagonist sees.

This is my second time reading Barry Lyga's writing. I'm not opposed to reading more.

Fetch was a quick yet boring read. I picked it up because I had some mandatory sitting time (getting hair done is a little trying) and it seemed like something I could speed through. I was correct. Calder, the protagonist, is a Fetch, which is mostly like a grim reaper mixed with an angel. He's 330 years old in Fetch but has the appearance of a 19 year old mortal because that's how old he was when he died. The Fetch's main job is to be present at life or death moments and assist the spirits that decide to leave the mortal realm; the Fetch is not to try and persuade the soul's decision. At one Death Scene Calder spots a mortal woman, who he later calls Glory, and decides he is in love.

Um, ok.

When I saw the words Supernatural Romance on the cover, I thought I knew what to expect: supernatural boy wanders around, spots girl, forsakes vows/universe, goes after girl, gets girl either by gaining mortality after 'dying' or the girl becoming supernatural herself. I wasn't expecting the story inserting itself in the Romanov story, including the massacre.

Here's the thing: I don't mind historical fiction, I've even read and enjoyed some; but if a romance story is going to take place during a major event, it needs to be close to epic and probably a part of the action to hold my interest. Calder wasn't an interesting protagonist and I've always detested that immediate Fall in Love thing so many romances have, so Calder's 'emotions' just had me waiting for the truth to happen--which it did.

My main issue was I couldn't care about Calder and his problems, which made the book a chore to get through because Calder kept on flashing back to his past.

Isn't it funny how it sometimes seems easier to talk about the things you didn't like than what you actually enjoyed? Yeah, so I'm stopping now. Fetch isn't a poorly written book, just not enjoyable for me.

That brings me to 9/50 and 10/50. A fifth done with my goal! YAY!!!
wishfulclicking: man in black and white pulling back a curtain to show moving sky (books: alex reading)
Though barely breaking over 100 pages, Point Omega deals with heavy topics like the nature of time and life and it was not so much a dense read but it didn't feel like easy lifting either. This was another book written in the first person and the style of it wasn't a deterrent.

The book opens up with this 'unnamed' narrator watching a movie (Psycho) stretched out to 24 hours, as I guess a sort of rumination on life and time and the universe. (whatever) Then the first chapter starts with a filmmaker living with a retired war intellectual, Richard, in a near deserted desert house and trying to talk him into being in his movie that would just be a man in front of a wall. I say trying because Jim, the filmmaker, isn't really that intent on that, he just seems to like being away and basking in Richard's wisdom, and Richard likes the company and the willing pupil attitude Jim projects. Soon Jim's daughter arrives and something happens. I'm not saying what because I don't want to spoil.

The event changes everything and definitely makes the story feel more grounded in reality. I don't know if I like it happening or not because I wanted more discussions on life, time, and the universe; but, then again, I don't know how much more I could have taken, so maybe it ended at a right spot. Nothing is really resolved at the end but I don't hate that I read the book.

Some favorite quotes:

War creates a closed wall and not only for those in combat but for the plotters, the strategists. Except their war is acronyms, contingencies, methodologies.

Every lost moment is life.

That puts me at 8/50; not too bad but still behind. Perhaps this week will change that, I have 2 books started and I do plan on finishing Never Let Me Go soon.
wishfulclicking: man in black and white pulling back a curtain to show moving sky (naveen is shocked)
Last week I wrapped up three books to bring my total to 7/50; I'm still behind but I'm less behind than I was so I'm slightly satisfied.

5/50 was American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson. Gracious, witty, and humorous is how I'd describe Ferguson. He exposes parts of his past without being hurtful towards other and without making it all feel like too much. He doesn't draw away from his misdeeds and calling his past actions out as selfish or ill thought out, but he's also unapologetic about it. Yet he is kinds towards others; he changed the names of the people who were highlighted for less than great things in his autobiography. It's unfortunate that I can't stay up late enough to catch his show.

6/50 was Geektastic a collection of short stories by various YA Authors about different parts of geek culture. I really enjoyed the glimpses of lifestyles I'm less familiar with like LARPing, D&D, Cons, and the mention of fanfiction wasn't too shabby either ;) Each of the characters in the stories felt like real people (of course some stories were stronger than others) and there wasn't one I just wanted to rush through. I even went out and bought a David Levithan book after reading his story and now A Great and Terrible Beauty has moved up my TBR list.

7/50 Street Love by Walter Dean Myers. I mostly picked this book because it was short and focused on minorities in an urban setting, something I don't read much of; also Myers is an award winning novelist so I was interested in what he would do. This book is mostly written in free form poetry and it's kind of jarring, but that's more a personal thing. The main characters' sections both felt too similar and bordering on melodramatic and I preferred the side characters' parts more. It did end at a good place, though I do wonder what Damien and Junice's future would be.
wishfulclicking: stack of books (books)
The Other is my fourth book so far and it was a very good read. Short, it covers some of the author's speeches on his encounter with The Other as his career as a travel journalist, but most of the lectures are about the philosophical approach to meeting those different from ourselves. Ryszard witnessed an interesting time and the growth of a more multicultural world and the developing globalism, with the shadow of colonization and the power shifts happening. Anyone who followed my journal and saw all the recent For Prosperity quotes, well this is the book where they came from.

It's short, less than 200 pages, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in those topics. This was a good book because it's short but clear and mentions other schools of thoughts so I could research more if I wanted. This made me want to read his other book too.

4/50
wishfulclicking: tiana from tpatf (tiana says ummm)
The vanity of life is all we had, and there is no more vanity left in us. We are even ashamed of that we had; ashamed that we trusted the promises of life...

-------

The seeker embarks on a journey to find what he wants and discovers, along the way, what he needs.





I just finished The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb. This is my third book of his and while it took me a while to get into, the ending did not disappoint. I may have shed tears for the last twenty pages. That puts me at 3/50 but I do want to mention that this book is kind of massive, coming out over 700 pages.
wishfulclicking: man in black and white pulling back a curtain to show moving sky (books: alex reading)
the second in Fforde's Nursery Crime Division really makes me hope he continues this series. TFB picks up six months after TBOE closes, except now much has changed for Jack Spratt and Mary Mary and the NCD; they're still made fun of and not given much respect from the media and fellow officers.

This case uses the Goldilocks and Three Bears story, but the real star is the Ginger Bread Man. He escapes, wreaking murderous havoc wherever he goes.

One thing I really enjoyed in TFB is how alien Fforde makes the resident alien, Ash, without making him extraordinary. Usually when aliens pop up in stories they're scary or oh so very exotic, but Ash, while he is most obviously different (thinking and being fluent in binary and being more of a sac and other features), it's never made into a Big Thing. Also, he and Mary Mary begin a romance even though they're sexually incompatible, and even after certain events make Ash forget their romantic endeavor, Mary still wants to pursue him.

I do recommend the book, especially if you're a fan of Fforde, but if you like comedic mysteries with a fable twist, then I definitely suggest you pick it up.

So TFB puts me at 2/50.

------
(currently at page 126, so my reaction is based on what I've read so far. I'll post my full reaction after reading the entire book.)

Right now I have Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and it's much more boring than I thought. I find the protagonist, Kath, to be very dull and her friendship with Ruth, while very realistic in touching on some of the manipulation and push/pull of certain relationships also very frustrating because Ruth is not really a good friend. Now I say this acknowledging the shadow of the unreliable narrator because the story is in first person with a good chunk of it being one long flashback, so the story is told like Kath is telling the reader the story; it's written that Kath might get some of the things wrong so if things were written in another character's pov then things may come across differently.
wishfulclicking: stack of books (books)
The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde was my first completed book in 2010; it's set in a similar verse as Fforde's Thursday Next series, except instead of literary characters playing a role, Fforde uses fables and nursery rhymes for the foundation in his Nursery Crime Division books. TBOE is the first book in what seems to be an eventual series; there are only two books now but each book focuses on a case so it has the potential to be a series like Thursday Next.

The mystery for this book is the mysterious death of Humpty Dumpty, a minor celebrity in Reading. Jack Spratt, known for killing very tall people and the occasional giant, is the detective on the case and his new assistant, Mary Mary (quite contrary) doesn't really want to be a part of the NCD but her dream job of working in the Detectives' Guild is out of her reach.

Fforde knows his source and peppers the story with humor that only reveals itself if you know the original story also. Like Jack's ex-wife and his repeating desire to climb a bean stalk that has grown in his mothers yard; Giorgio Porgia, the crime lord; Jack's last failed case in trying to convict the three little pigs of murder; Mary's social nature; the new lodger, Prometheus. TBOE is an entertaining read, there were parts where I actually laughed out loud and there were parts where I was hissing in anger---the other detective, Chymes, I called him a bastard so many times while reading. But, Fforde does manage not making every character one note, and not relying too heavily on the literary stereotypes.

During the entire time I was reading this book, this is pretty much fanfiction kept on running through my mind, and it's true if you consider fanfiction to be taking characters and setting not your own and writing a story based off of those elements. I've got Fforde's The Eyre Affair on my book shelf and that does the same thing; plus on my TBRLater pile, I've got this book called Ahab's Wife which tells the story of a mentioned character from Moby Dick.

Back to my point, if I want to read fairy tale fanfiction, I much prefer Fables but this book works well as a comedic mystery that pokes fun at the classic genre a bit too. I did pick up the sequel because I want to see The Ginger Bread Man in action; but I don't see myself chasing down any of his other work.

---
1/50 books read so far. I like 50 as a number more than 52, and having two off weeks gives me space not to feel too bad for not finishing a book.

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