The Wrong Mother by Sophie Hannah was the first of my fiction picks for the To Be Read Challenge. It’s a contemporary British mystery, with a plot that sounded interesting to me: a mother who needs a break sneaks away for a kid-free, husband-free vacation where she ends up having an affair. Fast forward one year later, and the wife and daughter of the man she met on vacation are found dead and when she sees this on the news, she notices that she looks like the wife. There were lots of twists and turns, which kept me intrigued. Tana French, who wrote two mysteries that I really like (In the Woods and The Likeness), wrote the blurb on the cover and she called it “gripping”, which I think was accurate. Definitely made me want to figure out what happened.
I first read about The Meaning of Wife: A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-First Century by Anne Kingston, in the comments of my favorite “wedding” blog: A Practical Wedding. I’m starting to do more reading about marriage and weddings as ours approaches and I was intrigued by the book.
This was the first book I finished for my new To Be Read Challenge, and I was disappointed I didn’t like it more. Kingston looks at the portrayal of wives in modern day Western society, but I felt like that some of her discussions on inequities applied equally to unmarried women (the chapter on abused wives for instance, could have applied to any woman in an abusive relationship). The chapter I liked most was “The Unwife” which dealt with how society treated unmarried women and the tendency to view these women as pre-wives, women whose marital status would eventually change. I think this is definitely something worth exploring further – why we treat women in particular as if a relationship is the ultimate goal.
I think some of the book also did not resonate with me because although I am getting married this year, there will be two wives in our marriage and no husbands, so discussions of the gender dynamics in marriage, while interesting and deserving of exploration don’t really reflect the thinking that I am doing in my life about what it means to become a wife.
I have found a new challenge for 2010. Yay!
Here are the details:
** Pick 12 books – one for each month of the year – that you’ve been wanting to read (that have been on your “To Be Read” list) for 6 months or longer, but haven’t gotten around to.
** OPTIONAL: Create a list of 12 “Alternates” (books you could substitute for your challenge books, given that a particular one doesn’t grab you at the time)
** Then, starting January 1, read one of these books from your list each month, ending December 31.
(for more information, please read the challenge FAQs)
By the end of the year you should’ve knocked 12 books off of your TBR list!
Additional rules/guidelines for this challenge:
* the challenge is to read 12 TBR books in 12 months — you can read those all in one month if you want, or one a month, or however you wanna do it.
* you should have a list posted somewhere for others to see
* you CANNOT change your list after January 1st, of the current year!!! [Carrie’s Note: Clearly I have already failed at this rule, but I’m going to to promise not to change my list after the day it is posted.]
* you can create an Alternates list of MAXIMUM 12 books, if you want, in order to have options to choose from (you can read these in place of books on your original list).
* audiobooks and e-books ARE allowed
* re-reads are NOT allowed, as they aren’t TRUE “TBRs”
* you CAN overlap with other challenges
These are my books for the challenge. Some I have in the house, others I will get from the library. They are all my on “To Read” list on Goodreads. (This challenge also had the benefit of getting me to review my Amazon wishlist, which used to hold my “To Read” books before Goodreads came around.) I’m not giving myself any alternates. It’s these 12 or bust – and in deference to my pitiful non-fiction reading last year, half are non-fiction.
1. The Meaning of Wife: A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-First Century by Anne Kingston
2. Stealing Buddha’s Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen
3. The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family by Laura Schenone
4. Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by H.W. Brands
5. When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins
6. The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffeeshops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community by Ray Oldenburg
7. The Wrong Mother by Sophie Hannah
8. The Known World by Edward P. Jones
9. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
10. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
11. Passage by Connie Willis
12. One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
2010 has arrived, in all its blustery, bright January glory. Jami and I bid farewell to 2009 by going out for sushi at our favorite DC sushi restaurant. 2009 treated us well. After a stressful 2008, all I wanted out of 2009 was a quiet, calm, uneventful year, and it delivered. It felt like 2009 was a bit of a break – a year to sit back, regroup and recharge. 2010 is already going to be a more jam-packed year for us – we get married in May after all. For being just exactly what we needed, 2009 deserved it’s own farewell celebration, and our dinner certainly fit the bill. Jami and I both got tasting menus, so we didn’t even have to order, just sit back as the chef sent out dish after dish of delicious Japanese food. We were quite spoiled – and are ready to make sushi on New Year’s Eve a tradition.
New Year’s Day already has its own food traditions, at least for this Southern girl – black-eyed peas (for luck) and collard greens (for wealth). Both having been properly devoured, we are ready to start our new year.