Pearl, Nancy. Now Read This II: a guide to Mainstream Fiction, 1990 – 2001. Greenwood village, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 2002.
Now Read This II is set up much like Now Read This I and why shouldn’t it be? The first one was a success. Like the first Now Read This the second is broken up into four different sections: setting, story, characters and language. The wealth of information about each title is still there: title, author, publisher, date of publication, brief abstract, second appeal, subject list, other recommendations, Oprah selection, good for book groups, and whether or not is was a prize winner. Like the first NRT I am intrigued by the titles and wish I could add them to my challenge.
Reason read: This is the second half of the Now Read This series
Author fact: I’m sure this is news to no one. Nancy Pearl has her own action figure, complete with shushing capabilities.
Book trivia: I particularly liked the section on how to hold a book group discussion.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the
chapter acknowledgments (p xi).
Harr, Jonathan. A Civil Action. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.
Confessional: this was my third attempt to read this. The first two times I got bogged down by the legalese of it all, but for some reason the third time was a charm. Because this was a Hollywood movie (one I didn’t see, of course) I was expecting a different ending. This is the tragic but true story about a group of Woburn, Massachusetts citizens and the lawsuit they filed against two major companies for dumping what they believed to be cancer-inducing chemicals into their drinking water. Instantly, I think of 10,000 Maniacs and their song, “Poison in the Well.” I don’t think it was written for or about Woburn but it’s eerily similar. Residents in the song and of Woburn know their water “tastes funny” and during certain times of the year they avoid consumption of it all together. Some go so far as to complain loudly, but time and time again they are told the levels of toxins are negligible and there is nothing to worry about. It’s only after Anne Anderson’s child develops leukemia, and Anderson starts to notice multiple cases of the rare disease in her hometown, that she decides to hire an attorney, Jan Schlichmann. The rest that follows is a series of brutal court battles. There are times you think it’s an open and shut case and other times when it’s no so obvious. The depositions and testimonies leave you wanting to pull your hair out. Every single detail is covered in Harr’s story. My suggestion is, after you have finished reading the book, do some research about the trial. Read about what happens later and it will make you feel better.
Reason read: John Jay was born in December and became the first Chief Justice of the United States in 1789.
Book trivia: Most people will remember this as a 1998 movie starring John Travolta. As a book it was a best seller and won the 1995 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.
Author fact: At the time of publication Jonathan Harr lived and worked in Northampton, Massachusetts.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Legal Eagles in Nonfiction” (p 135).
Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Read By Simon Prebble. Audio Renaissance/Bloomsbury Publishing.
This is such an ambitious read! I actually listened to it on audio (26 cds; 32 hours) and it was well done. Simon Prebble’s reading is great; probably the reason why I was able to finish all 700+ pages. The extensive footnotes were inserted at the right times (but are separate tracks so you can skip them if you like. I did.). Clarke does a great job making the characters and their magic seem otherworldly and mysterious. I particularly enjoyed when characters sensed something was amiss but couldn’t quite figure out why they felt that way. “Like a fifth point on a compass” was how one character described it. There is a subtle eeriness to the landscape when magic is afoot. Clarke’s vivid descriptions are imaginatively delicious. But, back to the plot. Many reviewers felt the story was too long and drawn out. I agree it lagged in places but Clarke’s gift of storytelling made up for the lengthy plot. Each volume is the introduction and delving into of a significant character. Volume I focuses on the entrance of Mr. Gilbert Norrell. Elderly and stodgy Mr. Norrell is discovered to be a practicing magician long after it was thought magic was dead. After The Learned Society of York Magicians convinces him to move to York to revive the practice, Norrell is called upon to revive the dead fiancee of a Cabinet minister and aid in the war against Napoleon (the ships made of water was one of my favorite scenes). In Volume II Jonathan Strange is further introduced as burgeoning magician from Shropshire. When he learns of Mr. Norrell is he prompted to meet this other practitioner. While they dispute the significance of the legendary Raven King, Strange becomes Norrell’s pupil and ultimately overshadows Norrell’s capabilities as a magician. After some time with Norrell, Strange is sent to Portugal and Spain to further aid the British against the French. As Strange’s magic grows stronger the competition grows until the Raven King kidnaps Strange’s wife.
Quote I agree with, “House, like people, are apt to become rather eccentric if left to too much on their own…” (p 488).
Reason read: Clarke was born in the month of November.
Book trivia: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was considered for many different awards: shortlisted for the Hugo Award and the Guardian First Book Award, long listed for the Booker Award…to name a few.
Author fact: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is Susanna Clarke’s first book.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Plots for Plotzing” (p 186).
So. Here we are. Year Eight of the Book Lust Challenge. I haven’t even read 1,000 books yet. Sometimes I ask myself why I even bother (because I’ll probably be dead before I ever finish this thing), but then I think about all the great books I have picked up simply because of the challenge; books that would have remained a mystery. So. Drum roll…here are the books of Year Eight:
- After the Dance by Edwidge Danticat
- Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin*
- Andorra by Peter Cameron
- Any Four Women Can Rob the Bank of Italy by Ann Cornelisen
- Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler
- Art Student’s War by Brad Leithauser
- Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman
- Beaufort by Ron Leshem*
- Beirut Blues by Hanan al-Shaykh
- Benjamin Franklin: an American Life by Walter Isaacson
- Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks*
- Black Lamb and Gray Falcon by Rebecca West
- Bluebird Canyon by Dan McCall
- Bring Me a Unicorn by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
- Cabin Fever by Elizabeth Jolley
- Call It Sleep by Henry Roth
- Captain Sir Richard Burton by Edward Rice
- Careless Love by Peter Gurlink
- Caroline’s Daughters by Alice Adams
- Cradle of Gold by Christopher Heaney
- Culture of Disbelief by Stephen Carter
- Dancer with Bruised Knees by Lynne McFall
- Dark Sun by Richard Rhodes
- Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan*
- Earthly Possessions by Anne Tyler
- Eye of the World by Robert Jordan*
- Faith Fox by Jane Gardam*
- Feast of Love by Charles Baxter*
- First Man by Albert Camus
- Fordlandia by Greg Gandin
- Georges’ Wife by Elizabeth Jolley
- Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee
- Good Life by Ben Bradlee
- Grass Dancer by Susan Power
- Hall of a Thousand Columns by Tim Mackintosh-Smith
- History Man by Malcolm Bradbury
- Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
- House of Morgan by Ron Chernow
- Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman
- In a Strange City by Laura Lippman
- Inside Passage by Michael Modselewski
- Inspector Ghote Breaks an Egg by H.R.F. Keating
- It Looked Like Forever by Mark Harris
- Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott*
- Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
- Last Train to Memphis by Peter Guralink
- Long Way From Home by Frederick Busch
- My Father’s Moon by Elizabeth Jolley
- Now Read This II by Nancy Pearl
- Ocean of Words by Ha Jin
- Palladian Days by Sally Gable*
- Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
- Power Without Glory by Frank Hardy
- Raw Silk by Janet Burroway
- Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro*
- Rose Cafe by John Hanson Mitchell
- Rose of Martinique by Andrea Stuart
- Thousand Ways to Please a Husband by Weaver/LeCron
- Wheels Within Wheels by Dervla Murphy
- Winners and Losers by Martin Quigley
- You Get What You Pay For by Larry Beinhart
*Planned as Audio books
Here are the three books that are on the list for this December:
- Eighth Day, the by Thornton Wilder
- Civil Action by Jonathan Harr
- Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff
- “Romance” from the Anthology of Modern Verse edited by W.J. Turner
- “War” from the Poems of Siegfried Sassoon by Siegfried Sassoon
Of course, I will read more than 60+ books and two poems and. And! And, I haven’t included the short stories. I am keeping the list modest for now. Five books a month sounds about right…we shall see, won’t we?
Another year over.
- Abide By Me by Elizabeth Strout
- Adventures of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
- Ancient Athens on 5 Drachmas a Day by Philip Matyszak
- Apollo: the epic journey to the moon by David West Reynolds
- Apples Are From Kazakhstan by Christopher Robbins
- Arctic Grail by Pierre Berton (I started this last year. No, sorry – two years ago)
- Ariadne Objective by Wes Davis
- Ariel by Sylvia Plath
- At Home in the Heart of Appalachia by John O’Brien
- Author, Author by David Lodge (audio)
- Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris
- Beautiful Swimmers by William Warner
- Before the Knife by Carolyn Slaughter
- Bellwether by Connie Willis
- Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengist (audio)
- Beyond the Bogota by Gary Leech
- Big Mouth and Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates
- Billy by Albert French
- Bit of Wit, A World of Wisdom by Yehoshua Kurland (Early Review book from LibraryThing)
- Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
- Brass Go-Between by Oliver Bleeck
- Breakfast with Scot by Michael Drowning
- Brush with Death by Elizabeth Duncan
- Brushed by Feathers by Frances Wood
- Burma Chronicles by Guy DeLisle
- Burning the Days by James Salter
- Camus, a Romance by Elizabeth Hawes
- Cardboard Crown by Martin Boyd
- Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean by Jackson Galaxy
- Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lillian Jackson Braun
- Child that Books Built by Francis Spufford
- Churchill, a life by Martin Gilbert
- City in the Sky by James Glanz
- City of Thieves by David Benioff
- Conspiracy and Other Stories by Jaan Kross
- Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
- Death in Verona by Roy Harley Lewis
- Descending the Dragon by Jon Bowermaster
- Diamond Classics by Mike Shannon
- Diary of a Mad Housewife by Sue Kaufman
- Difficult Young Man by Martin Boyd
- Dining with Al-Qaeda by Hugh Pope
- Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
- Domestic Manners of the Americans by Fanny Trollope
- The Evolution of Jane by Catherine Schine
- Edward Lear in Albania by Edward Lear
- Fanny by Edmund White
- Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
- Final Solution by Michael Chabon
- Fixer by Joe Sacco
- Flamboya Tree by Clara Olink Kelly
- Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco
- Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Zabat Katz
- Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Gerald Martin
- Galton Case by Ross MacDonald
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
- Girl in Landscape by Jonathan Lethem
- God: a biography by Jack Miles
- Gold Coast Madam by Rose Laws
- Golden Spruce by John Vaillant
- Good City edited by Emily Hiestand
- Good Thief’s Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan
- Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan
- Good-bye Chunk Rice by Craig Thompson
- Grand Ambition by Lisa Michaels
- Guardians by Geoffrey Kabaservice
- Her by Christa Parravani
- Hole in the Earth by Robert Bausch
- Hole in the World by Richard Rhodes
- Home Before Dark by Susan Cheever
- House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre
- Iliad by Homer
- Idle Days in Patagonia by William Hudson
- Imperfect Harmony by Stacy Horn (for LibraryThing’s Early Review program
- Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark
- Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer
- Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith
- Keeping it Civil by Margaret Klaw (Early review book)
- Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street by Michael Lewis
- Light Infantry Ball by Hamilton Basso
- Lives of the Painters, vol 2, 3 & 4 by Giorgio Vasari
- The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz
- Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou for the Early Review Program
- Mortality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith
- Naked to the Waist by ALice Dark Elliott
- No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
- Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin
- Now Read This I by Nancy Pearl
- Now Read This II by Nancy Pearl
- Of Human Bondage by William Maugham
- Old Friends by Tracy Kidder
- Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
- Outbreak of Love by Martin Boyd
- Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
- Panther Soup by John Grimlette
- Path Between the Seas by David McCullough
- Patrimony: a true story by Philip Roth
- Pick-Up by Charles Willeford (part of Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s)
- Playing for Keeps by David Halberstam
- Points Unknown edited by David Roberts
- Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
- Ready for a Brand New Beat by Mark Kurlansky
- Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes (part of Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s)
- Return of the Dancing Master by Henning Mankell
- Rosalind Franklin: Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox
- Scar Tissue by Michael Ignatieff
- Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
- Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham – did not finish
- Star Beast by Robert Heinlein
- Star Trap by Simon Brett
- Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
- Suzy’s Case by Andy Siegel (as recommended)
- Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (Part of Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s)
- Tatiana by Dorothy Jones
- Tattered Cloak by Nina Berberova
- Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
- Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
- This is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakawila for LibraryThing
- Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
- Ticket for a Seamstitch by Mark Harris
- Time, Love, Memory by Jonathan Weiner
- True Crime: Real-Life Stories of Abduction, Addiction, Obsession, Murder, Grave-Robbing and More edited by Lee Gutkind (Early Review)
- Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers
- Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery
- Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin
- What you Owe Me by Bebe Moore Campbell
- When Blackbirds Sing by Martin Boyd
- White Devil by John Webster
- Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer
- Widow for One Year by John Irving
- Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
- Women of the Raj by Margaret MacMillan
- Working Poor by David Shipler
- Year in Provence, a by Peter Mayle
- “Golden Angel Pancake House” by Campbell McGrath
- “Lepanto” by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
- “Listeners” by Walter De La Mare
- “Mandalay” by Rudard Kipling
- “Road and the End” by Carl Sandburg
- “Sea-Fever” by John Masefield
- “Winter” by Marie Ponsot
- “In My Craft or Sullen Art” by Dylan Thomas
- The Long Hill” by Sarah Teasdale
- “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
SHORT STORIES COMPLETED:
- “Here’s a Little Something” by Dan Chaon (from Among the Missing)
- “Big Me” by Dan Chaon (from Among the Missing)
- “Servants of the Map” by Elizabeth Barrett (from Servant of the Map)
- “The Cure” by Elizabeth Barrett (from Servants of the Map)
- “In the Land of Men” by Antonya Nelson (from In the Land of Men)
- “Goodbye Midwest” by Antonya Nelson (from In the Land of Men)
- “Ado” by Connie Willis (from Impossible Things)
- “At the Rialto” by Connie Willis (from Impossible Things)
- “A Tiger-Killer is Hard To find” by Ha Jin (from Bridegroom: stories)
- “After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town” by Ha Jin (from Bridegroom: stories)
- “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri (from Interpreter of Maladies)
- “A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri (from Interpreter of Maladies)
- “A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies” by John Murray (from A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies)
- “Watson and the Shark” by John Murray (from A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies)
SHELVED UNTIL NEXT YEAR:
- House of Morgan by Ron Chernow
- Rose Cafe by John Hanson Mitchell
- Ocean of Words by Ha Jin
Harris, Mark. A Ticket For a Seamstitch. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957.
When we next meet up with Henry Wiggen he is still pitching for the New York Mammoth baseball team. He is still selling insurance during the off-season. He also still writing (and getting published so his nickname of Henry “Author” Wiggen is getting around). He is now a veteran ballplayer. The plot of Ticket for a Seamstitch is super simple. A seamstress fan of Wiggen writes to ask for a ticket to a game on the fourth of July. Fellow (and very single) teammate, Piney, reads the letter and becomes involved, thinking the girl is a “looker.” He has hopes she might be a potential girlfriend in the future. Only when she arrives, all the way from California, she is not the girl he thought she was and very married Wiggen is left to entertain her. This third book in the series is lighter on the play by play baseball and took me only an afternoon to read.
Lines liked: “The only thing bothered her sleep was in the middle of the night the boys all come banging on her door, wishing to discuss baseball, they said, she said” (p 71), and “What is philosophy to Piney Woods who is off to the moon on a motorcycle with a dream of a perfect and naked girl in his mind, and he will solve it all by science when he gets there” (p 99).
Reason read: This is the third book in the Henry W. Wiggen series. I started the series in October in honor of the world series. Yay Red Sox!
Book trivia: This is the book that put Harris on the map. Although, I’m not sure why. It isn’t as dramatic as the last one. The full title is A Ticket for a Seamstitch, Henry Wiggen but polished for the Printer by Mark Harris.
Author fact: According to the back flap of Ticket for a Seamstitch Harris spent time in New York, California, South Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico, Colorado, and New Hampshire.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (p 229).
Weiner, Jonathan. Time, Love, Memory: a Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.
time, Love, Memory is Seymour Benzer’s story. While Charles Darwin was obsessed with finding the origins of species, Benzer was obsessed with figuring out the origins of behavior. He dedicated his research to finding out the riddle of both animal and human behavior. He wanted to dig deeper into the concepts of nature and nurture, knowing that life was a balance of both. The the diea of reading a book about genes, fruit flies and DNA sounds boring, don’t worry. Weiner’s style of writing adds a warm and humorous texture to the otherwise scientific plot.
Quotes I liked, “In the universe above and around us, physics opened new views of space and time; in the universe below and inside us, biology opened first glimpses of the foundation stones of experience: time, love, and memory” (p 6) and “While the rest of the congregation chanted and his father looked away, Seymour read Stern and Gerlach’s The Principles of Atomic Physics (p 36).”
Reason read: Seymour Benzer passed away in the month of November. This is read in his honor.
Author fact: Weiner is better known for his book, The Beak of the Finch. In fact, acclaim for Beak is on the back of Time, Love, Memory which makes me think Time, Love, Memory isn’t as good and shouldn’t be bothered with. I think that whenever I see praise for a book different from the one I am reading.
Book trivia: Time, Love, Memory has both illustrations and photographs scattered throughout the text. This is the way I prefer “artwork” to be showcased.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Jonathan Weiner: Too Good To Miss” (p 233).