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Zoethe

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100 Book challenge - January edition [Feb. 1st, 2008|12:20 pm]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |accomplishedaccomplished]

It gets kinda of confusing now, continuing the 100 book challenge to my birhtday, but I am. January was not a bad month at all.

This was also the first month in which I am including any audio books. I resisted audio books for a long time, but I am spending so many hours in the car these days that it seemed foolish not to use the time to some good purpose. My personal audiobook rule is that the book must be unabridged to count.

So here's the January list:

65 - The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion's memoir of living through the death of her husband of 40 years, along with the near-death of their only child. Beautiful and heartrending.

66- The Betrayal of America - Vincent Bugliosi's analysis of the 2000 election. His point is not that Gore should have won, but that no matter who won the Supreme Court's decision was against the constitution, politically motivated, and a criminal affront to the citizens of the United States. The book was originally an article in The Atlantic Journal or The New Yorker or something, and the book is an expansion on that article. The original article is good, but the expansion drags some. I've always said that Scalia's vote to stop the Florida recount process was proof that he was not really the constitutional preservationist he claims to be, and this backs it up.

67 - The Omivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan looks at how food gets to our table. I found it excellent and scary.

68 - Obsidian Butterfly - LK Hamilton. Vampire porn. Nothing more to be said.

69 - Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong - James W. Loewen irked me so much that, honestly, if this had not been the only audiobook in the car I probably would never have finished it. While it's true that a lot of the ugly underbelly of American history is brushed right past, and while it's true that some of it deserves closer examination, his continual complaint that children are not told enough about American history combined by his charge that they are given too many facts to remember made me want to yell at him that he should, then, write a history book that somehow manages to reconcile both charges. Also, I consider myself pretty darned liberal, but the fact that he excoriates all conservatives but treats all liberals with kid gloves pissed me off. The book was far from even-handed.

70 - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Jean-Dominique Bauby wrote this book with the aid of an assistant who held up lettered flash cards and transcribed his thoughts one letter-blink at a time. Bauby, former editor of Elle in Paris, was felled by a stroke that left him able to communicate only by blinking one eye. The tale is supposed to be some uplifting story of one man's courage and ability to overcome. Don't be fooled. It's a horror story of how trapped and isolated a human can be inside of a body that just keeps staying alive. Amazing, but awful.

71 - Digging to America - Anne Tyler writes about two families who become friends only over the coincidence of both their Korean adoptee daughters arriving on the same plane. Like most Tyler books, it's wonderful and honest and raw and beautiful.

72 - The Gnostic Gospels - Elaine Pagels does not provide a translation of the Gnostic Gospels, the books discovered in the 1940s hidden in a cave. Instead, this is a comparative look at the difference between gnostic and orthodox philosophies of the life of Jesus and the reasons why the orthodox point of view prevailed while the gnostic disappeared. It's a fascinating introduction to gnostic thought, which in places reads more like Jung than like Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. It was fascinating to me to see that a kind of psychological thinking that I always assumed was of recent origin existed so long ago. A quick and accessible introduction to the issues of gnosticism.

73 - Narcissus in Chains - LK Hamilton. More vamp porn.

74 - To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design - Henry Petroski's book was on the shelf in the basement, and I needed something else to read while on the NordicTrack. But it was a serendipitous coincidence because the book is a fascinating layman's look at the art and science of structural engineering and how engineers learn more from failure than they do from success. A little dry in places, but Petroski is good with anecdotes and kept it interesting even for someone like me who is math-phobic.

75 - Seduced by Moonlight - LK Hamilton. Fairy porn for a change of pace. What can I say; I was sick in bed.

So, only 25 books left to reach 100 by April 24. I think it can be done.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jojomojo
2008-02-01 06:04 pm (UTC)
You may know this already, but I'd recommend avoiding Micah (in the Laurell K. Hamilton line). Well, I suppose it is still vampire porn, but that's all it is. More or less nothing else happens. And I was rather offended it was released and priced as a full-length book when it's more of a novelette, which they just printed in larger text and double-spaced.

A quick glance at Wikipedia seems to indicate she hasn't got any better since then, either.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 06:15 pm (UTC)
I never buy them full price - it's half-price books or nothin'. But thanks for the warning.
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[User Picture]From: phenom_woman
2008-02-01 06:53 pm (UTC)
Mmmm, vampire and fairy porn! But I am with you, half price or nothing!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 07:04 pm (UTC)
LOVING the icon!
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[User Picture]From: phenom_woman
2008-02-01 07:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks! She danaewhispering is going to make me a non holiday version of it!
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[User Picture]From: hookncrook
2008-02-01 06:56 pm (UTC)
I like how you intersperse porn novels in your heavier reading...yes...your reviews are correct on LKH.

I also thought the same about the Lies My Teacher Told Me. Plus as a kindergardner couldn't comprehend the Indians gettign killed off by the pilgrims. Some truths have to be given slowly...
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 07:07 pm (UTC)
I really do tend to go back and forth between stuff that makes me think and brain candy. And of course it's not that I'm reading in order, just the order stuff gets finished. Right now The Professor and the Madman is on the reading stand of the NordicTrack, a history of Rocky River is in the bathroom, American Theocracy is in the CD player in the car, The Mists of Avalon (reread for a book club I'm in) is by the bed, and Cerulean Sins is floating around the house somewhere. Books are not meant to be read one at a time!
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[User Picture]From: funwithrage
2008-02-01 07:17 pm (UTC)
I find that I like the fairy porn better, myself. It's less apologetic about its porniness--and Merry is easier for me to identify with than Anita.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 07:33 pm (UTC)
I find them both fun, but Anita's protests do occasionally get irritating.
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[User Picture]From: funwithrage
2008-02-01 07:49 pm (UTC)
I think my problem was that I started reading at the beginning. And that was all well and good, and the "I don't sleep with monsters" thing seemed reasonable...

And then, sometime in the third book, there was the Anita-Richard conversation in which she revealed that she didn't put out before marriage, and something about ZOMG I WAS DUMPED THE TRAUMA in college, or something. At which point I went "pffft" and set the book down.

Apparently it does get better, but that initial reaction kills my interest in the rest of the series.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 08:20 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was sort of "???" myself at that point, but I had friends who assured me that the smut eventually came along.

I don't pretend that I am reading them for anything other than the smut. The fact that she manages to make the stories fun along the way is completely secondary. The Merry Gentry books pretty much don't even pretend to have a story after the first one, and that's fine. They do exactly what I'm there for.
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[User Picture]From: shezan
2008-02-01 07:32 pm (UTC)
Amazing, but awful.

I couldn't finish it. I knew Jean-Do since I was 17. This is the scariest thing that can happen to anyone.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 07:38 pm (UTC)
I figured you must know him. Reading it must have been excrutiating.

Have you gone to visit him?
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[User Picture]From: shezan
2008-02-01 08:24 pm (UTC)
I had NO idea he was in that state, or indeed in that place. His family were not forthcoming, and I was among a number of perhaps not that close friends who were just told "He's in a coma & only family visits." I heard he'd died not knowing he had, in fact, been conscious all this while. The book was shattering.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 08:33 pm (UTC)
Gods, I can imagine.

I don't know if you feel comfortable about it, but I know - having gotten to the end of the book - that summer time, when everyone is away on vacations, is the hardest part for him and he is very lonely then. If you are going to be in town during any of July or August, you might want to contact the facility and see if he would welcome a visit. During much of the year it's tolerable because he does have his therapists and assistants, but during the time when they are away his life is incredibly vacant. I'm sure this year was better because of the movie, but you know how things fade from people's attentions. You might just want to put a tickler in your calendar for June. (I'm not trying to be bossy or guilt-tripping; just knowing that you couldn't get through the book I thought you might now realize this and want to know.)

I miss you. By the way, plans are afoot for a 50th birthday party for Linda and me in New Orleans at the end of May. Any chance you could join us?!
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[User Picture]From: shezan
2008-02-01 08:55 pm (UTC)
Didn't you know? He died shortly after finishing the book. Of course I would have gone immediately, and would have gone regularly. I just learned about it too late.

Hmmm, a N.O. party... I'm VERY tempted. I was twice, of course before Katrina, in NO and loved it, and I have friends there. It now depends on 1. my purse strings and 2. a possible new job which would kill it, I think. But who knows...

(Have you any news from Gabe?)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 09:30 pm (UTC)
No, I didn't realize that he had died! Oh, I don't know whether to feel sad or relieved.

I hear from Gabe once in a very long while. They seem to be doing better out in the country. It's too bad - we all got jobs and then the continual communication faded.

I completely understand if you can't come, but I will keep you updated on details, just in case!
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[User Picture]From: shezan
2008-02-01 10:28 pm (UTC)
It was so strange reading you about him as if he were alive; it made him real and there for a minute.

WHERE is Gabe now? In another country? Which?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 10:47 pm (UTC)
No, no, out IN the country. Like some small Illinois town.

The email address I have for her is [now deleted], but I can't locate the physical address right now.

Edited at 2008-02-01 10:50 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: kisekinotenshi
2008-02-01 08:07 pm (UTC)
See, I never had an issue with the whole "lying about history" thing as much, because I went to a private Quaker school when I was in elementary school (up 'til 4th grade), and while they did try to skim over the violent bits (they're Quakers, duh), they were pretty honest about most things. Plus we celebrated every single holiday in winter, including Kwanzaa (that was my favorite because that was the first time I ever had a pomegranate, which are now my favorite fruit). The only downside I ever saw was that when we moved to Missouri I was leaps and bounds ahead of my classmates and eventually forced to skip a grade (which ended badly in general).

I think next year I will try the 100 Book Challenge. I still have a few months until I finally graduate from undergrad, then I'm taking a year off before Grad school, so that would be a good time to do that, I think. Also write a book. XD

Edited at 2008-02-01 08:09 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 08:27 pm (UTC)
He talks about some interesting things, such as the fact that by the time the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower they found much of the work of "taming the wilderness" done because there were cultivated fields already waiting for them - left behind by the natives who had died of plagues brought to them by trappers and early explorers. That the first settlers did a lot of grave robbing and even engaged in cannibalism of the Indian dead in order to survive - fascinating now, but it didn't leave me feeling outraged that my fifth grade Pilgrim Thanksgiving party left out those facts.

I couldn't make 100 books in a year, but my goal, starting Jan 1 2007, was 100 by my 50th birthday, and I'm on track for that.
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[User Picture]From: kisekinotenshi
2008-02-01 10:00 pm (UTC)
I don't think my mind was big enough when I was eight to handle something like that. XD Maybe that's just me.

Well, 100 books in a year might be viable for me, but I don't have kids, a house, a job, or any friends (at least not yet). XD
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 10:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah, when I was first living in Alaska and we didn't know anything I was reading, like, a book every other day.

And how the hell did I not have you friended? Good gods....
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[User Picture]From: kisekinotenshi
2008-02-01 10:37 pm (UTC)
Uh, because you barely know me? XD And I meant hanging out IRL friends, I know I have plenty of great friends on LJ. Sadly, there is a lack of good people where I live. Which is why I'm moving after I graduate.

EDIT: I mean, don't get me wrong, I would be happy if you friended me! That would be awesome. XD

Edited at 2008-02-01 10:39 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 10:49 pm (UTC)
You comment regularly and you're intelligent and interesting. I thought I had you friended.

Can't promise I'll always read you - my reading is spotty - but I thought I had you on the list.

The people make all the difference in the world. We feel so lucky to have found such a fabulous group of friends here in Cleveland, and then a great extended network all kinds of places thanks to LJ. You can live almost anywhere if you have good people. Without them, nowhere is really worth it.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 10:51 pm (UTC)
And I did!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 09:39 pm (UTC)
It was definitely one of the best books in the series. I am most curious to see if Edward manages to have the life of which he is dreaming - I worry that it'll get him killed!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-02 12:05 am (UTC)
Cool!
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[User Picture]From: moocowrich
2008-02-01 10:16 pm (UTC)
I also enjoyed The Omnivore's Dilemma. There aren't many books that make me re-evaluate part of my life, but this one's trying hard.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-01 10:17 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I want Ferrett to read it so we can be on the same page and talk about what's realistic considering our crazy life.
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[User Picture]From: phoenix14159
2008-02-02 06:03 am (UTC)
It's not porn, since the protagonist is a high school student, but I highly recommend Twilight by Stephanie Meyer for vampiry goodness.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-02 09:47 am (UTC)
Oh, I've read the whole series! Are you rooting for the wolf or the vamp?
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[User Picture]From: phoenix14159
2008-02-02 09:03 pm (UTC)
The vamp, though I like the wolf a lot. I'm hoping he'll find some sort of happiness.

I usually sigh at love triangles and wish the author could conceive of polyamory, but in this case I don't think it could work! :-)

Did you know she has an adult novel, The Host coming out in May, and the next book in the Twilight series, Breaking Down planned for sometime later this year?

I read Twilight on a trip from Portland to Boston, and finished it the night I arrived. I was there long enough to get New Moon from Amazon for the return flight, but started it before I left (how could I resist?) and finished it on the first leg. Fortunately, I was able to find Eclipse at the bookstore in the Minneapolis airport. :-) I never buy books full price (I rarely buy them at all -- Portland has a great library system), but I made an exception in this case.
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[User Picture]From: phoenix14159
2008-02-02 09:04 pm (UTC)
Argh. Breaking Dawn. Makes a lot more sense.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-03 06:10 am (UTC)
Yes, that does make more sense! LOL! Is this going to be the one from Edward's POV?

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[User Picture]From: phoenix14159
2008-02-03 08:24 am (UTC)
No, that's Midnight Sun. It's not clear whether it's going to get published; if so it'll be after Breaking Dawn.

On the plus side, you can go to her web site and read Chapter 1.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-03 02:35 pm (UTC)
I have read that. My 15-year-old daughter will be disappointed if it doesn't get published.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2008-02-03 06:08 am (UTC)
I knew a new book in the series was coming out, but I didn't realize she was writing an adult book. I will be interested in reviews.

I've managed to borrow the books from my neighbor, whose teenaged daughter loves them, so no purchasing for me on this one, though I am dreadfully weak in the face of a bookstore.
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