Passage by Connie Willis has been on my “To Be Read” list since grad school, so I feel quite accomplished being able to scratch it off. Even better I actually liked the book quite a lot. I’m an apprehensive reader of science fiction. I want something I can relate to, something not too far out there, and so I don’t read a lot of it. This is the third book I read by Willis though, and I’ve liked them all. The other two I’ve read deal with time travel, which seems to be the subgenre of science fiction that I consistently enjoy, while this one deals with death and near death experiences. I was worried that it would be depressing or disturbing all the death-related talk, but it didn’t actually both me, so that’s good. I’m encouraged to pick up other books by Connie Willis, even if they don’t deal with time travel. Odds are I will like them!
The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Community Centers, Beauty Parlors, General Stores, Bars, Hangouts and How They Get You Through the Day by Ray Oldenburg has been on my to read list since grad school. Sadly it didn’t live up to that long hype – I hated it so much, that I actually had to force myself onto a chapter-a-day schedule to get it read. Mostly I think the book is super dated. It was written in 1989 and so much about society, and planning, and day-to-day life has changed since then that it seemed pretty irrelevant. (The book is now on its Third Edition, published in 1999, which might have annoyed me less – at the very least it would be aware of this thing call “The Internet”, but DCPL of course only had the oldest edition, so that’s what I read). Oldenburg’s main point is that “third places” (places that are not home or work/school, where you can met informally, without prior planning with folks around you) are important, which is true, but I think this is a thing that planners all recognize now – “third-place” and “mixed use development” are all buzz words nowadays. So perhaps Oldenburg is really a victim of his own success – I don’t like him because all of his ideas have been adopted. It’s a positive way to view the book, I suppose. Me, I’m mostly glad it’s over.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead was the only children’s book I put on my To Be Read list. I had read about it on several blogs last year and it won the 2010 Newbery Medal, which is a good endorsement. It’s science fiction-tinged chapter book that follows a 6th grader in New York City in the 1970s. She receives several mysterious notes from someone that seems to know the future – her future. By the end of the book, I was really enjoying it, but I probably didn’t really get caught up until the last 30 pages, so I can’t give it a ringing endorsement. It was certainly an easy book to get crossed off the list though!
I’m speeding through these To Be Read books though – only 5 left on my list and it’s only March. I think my chances of success are high!
I’m a big history buff (if I did college all over again, I think I would be a history major), but my fondest love is for Social History. I’m not as interested in wars and governments as I am in the history of people (although of course wars and governments have quite an impact on people). When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins is a great look at the history of the last 50 years and how it has affected the lives of women. And everything has indeed changed – so drastically in my mother’s lifetime – that it’s amazing to be reminded of how different things used to be. Collins writes an interesting and very readable account of this time period and shows just how far we’ve come, and what issues still remain.
In addition to wanting to read this for the TBR challenge, I’m also hosting Book Club this month, so this was my selection for that. I’m looking forward to hearing what other folks have to say about the book.
I am just speeding through these To Be Read books! Good stuff.
Stealing Buddha’s Dinner is a memoir by Bich Minh Nguyen about her childhood in Michigan. She and her family (father, sister, grandmother and various uncles) escaped Vietnam during the Fall of Saigon, when she was just 8 months old. The book touches on growing up as an outsider in very White Michigan during the 1980s. This is manifested in many ways, particularly in the disconnect between the food she eats at home (her grandmother’s pho, her stepmother’s sopa) and the food her neighbors and classmates eat (Hamburger Helper, Shake and Bake). I enjoyed the book, but thought it felt a bit scattered (although I suppose that’s true of all of our memories of childhood. It reminded me of The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang (although if you only read one, I recommend the Latehomecomer before Stealing Buddha’s Dinner). That said, I certainly have enough room in my reading repertoire for a number of memoirs (one of my favorite genres) and Stealing Buddha’s Dinner did not disappoint.
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