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Archive for the ‘books’ Category
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SoManyPreciousBooksSoLittleTime is hosting an ARC reading challenge. I’ve never actually participated in a blog challenge before and I have a bunch of ARCs that need to be read, so I might as well participate!
1-3 ARCs, pick at least one to read and review
4-6 ARCs, pick two to read and review
7-9 ARCs, pick 3
10+ ARCs, pick at least 4.
I debated whether to only include ARCs that have yet to be released, all ARCs I have, or all books I’ve been sent to review. I think I’m going to go with all ARCs I have, although the ones that haven’t been released yet probably have priority anyway.
Here’s what I’ve got (although I think more are on their way):
- Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi
- Water Keep by J. Scott Savage
- The Spirit of the Place by Samuel Shem
- The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
- The Glimmer Palace by Beatrice Colon
- Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
- The Air We Breathe by Andrea Barrett
- The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
- White Mary by Kira Salak
The last one is only theoretically coming, but I’m sure even if it doesn’t I’ll end up with at least one more ARC by September. Honestly, I’m hoping at I’ll have all of these (at least other than 6, 7, and 9) read by mid-September, because most of them were sent to me to review and I don’t want to get way past the release date. “Water Keep,” in particular I really have to read, as I’m participating in the blog tour. All that being said, here’s my list of ‘must reads’:
- The Spirit of the Place
- Water Keep
- The Lace Reader
- The Glimmer Palace
These are chosen based on how long I’ve had them/how strong I feel my obligation to get them reviewed is.
Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (or, if you haven’t been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?
Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?
I am a part of a unique book club that is actually a book/wine club. We discuss first the wine, then the book. I’ve talked about the book club here and here. We only pick our books one month out because evidently we aren’t nearly as organized as a bunch of the other book clubs out there. Basically people just come with suggestions of things they want to read or have recently read and would like to discuss. One time I even went through my wishlist of books and tagged some of them ‘bc rec‘ (book club recommendation) so I would buy something I already wanted anyway, instead of getting something completely different. Our book club founder Kelly usually at least starts off our discussion, but (again) we aren’t one of those organized book clubs. We don’t have a list of questions or anything, we just start talking; normally that could be a problem, but not after tasting 6 different bottles of wine!
I am generally able to go into my book club books with an open mind so that my level of appreciation doesn’t differ one way or the other depending on whether or not a book is for book club. I’ve even read (and loved) some books I probably wouldn’t have picked up otherwise, like “The Glass Castle” and “Middlesex“. I will admit, though, that there were a couple of times that I wasn’t going to be able to make it to book club and I was glad, because I had no intention of reading the chosen book. The only thing that changes about a book for book club, is that it will be finished by a certain time. It will not be put off to read ARCs or for theme reads, because it will be complete by the time book club night rolls around again.
Potter-mania is alive an well. The prequel that J.K. Rowling wrote for a charity auction just sold for $61/word. Read more about it here.
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Oksuta
This was my second time reading “When the Emperor Was Divine,” and I found it just as moving as my first time.
“When the Emperor Was Divine” is the haunting story of a Japanese-American family from Berkeley during World War II. The father is taken from their house shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor for a loyalty hearing. He is then kept in an internment camp in the desert. Not long after, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 and the rest of the family must pack up their house and let themselves be taken to another camp in the desert.
This story is told from five different points of view, although there are only four characters. The first three points of view are all third person limited omniscient, focusing first on the mother, then the daughter, and finally the son. This spans from the time the “Instructions to all persons of Japanese ancestry” are posted through the end of their time in the camps. Once the war is over, we see first person narration from the son, followed by almost first person stream of consciousness from the father.
The switch in narration is beautifully done to reflect the shock and dehumanization felt by the family. The book holds you at just the right distance to witness of the confusion and disbelief experienced by the people taken from their homes, called disloyal, and relocated to camps in the American desert. The father’s narration shocks and shames and contains more feeling than the rest of book put together.
I think this is an extremely well-done book on an important topic, and I highly recommend it.
“Springtime on Mars: Short Stories” by Susan Woodring
I received “Springtime on Mars” as part of a blog tour for Susan Woodring. This book of short stories was released at the end of February by Press 53, a small, independent press whose goal is to showcase exemplary literary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction and whose website admonishes you to “Literate Yourself” (a motto I love, by the way). “Springtime on Mars” is proof that small publishers like Press 53 can put out works which can compete in quality with offerings from the major publishing houses.
I was amazed with the variety of stories told in “Springtime.” All of the stories are set approximately between the 1950s and the 1970s and deal with life in middle-income middle America. Some stories are told in first person, others in third, some from the perspective of children, other from adult perspectives. Yet somehow all of the stories seem to have their own, authentic personality, no two sounding alike.
The slight exception to that rule is the couple that is the focus of two stories. We see them first a married couple with two children, then later are taken back to the early days of their marriage, which provides a greater depth and background for the original story. The decision to tell Marianne and Joe’s story out of chronological order lends complexity to the characters that the reader is left to discover for his or herself, upon realizing that this couple’s future has already been revealed to her or him.
I am not generally a fan of short stories, I often cannot stay interested in a set of characters I know will only be around for 20 pages or so. However, “Springtime on Mars” kept me wanting to see what characters Woodring was going to introduce next. I was more invested in “Springtime on Mars” than I have been with any collection of short stories since “Interpreter of Maladies.” The subjects, and even the writing styles, of the two books are very different, but the heart is the same. I would recommend “Springtime on Mars” to fans of short stories as well as to those who would like to give short stories a try.
Well, my day at the Printer’s Row Book Fair got cancelled due to weather. I left church and it was pouring, but the wind was too strong to use an umbrella. It was like jumping into the shower with all of my clothes on. We have strong thunderstorm warnings for the rest of the day.
I do have a fair amount of work to get done today, but I think I’ll spend at least some of the time that I would have been down there reading. I’m working on “Dolphins Under My Bed” by Sandra Clayton. It is interesting, but I don’t think it is something I can spend hours at a time reading. It seems to work best reading just 2-3 chapters at a time. I just can’t figure out what I want to read with it…
Oh, and by the way, here’s a copy of the business cards we made up. Too bad I can’t use them today.
Today may not end up being comprised of a lot of reading, but there are sure going to be a ton of books!
This afternoon I will be traveling to downtown Chicago to attend the Printer’s Row Book Fair. There are author events, booksellers, and exhibitors. I plan to focus primarily on the exhibitors and pretend I got to go to the BEA. If I can make it down there in time, I will also be going with my friend Megan to see Augusten Burroughs speak for a bit. Megan actually created some business cards for me to hand out to exhibitors , if appropriate, but Brian and I had a very difficult time getting them to print out. I’m actually off to Kinkos right now to see if I can copy one from regular paper onto the nice business card paper. If not, I’m tempted to buy some card stock and try to print it and cut it. Or we’ll just have to wait on the nifty business card thing. I’ll try to add a picture of them later…