The Numbers

DATE: 9/23/14
Titles Finished

  • Books: 812
  • Poetry: 74
  • Short stories: 32

Titles left to go (all combined): 4800
Next count: 11/24/2014

November the End List

This is the final month for the Challenge year. I don’t have much to say beyond that. Here are the books:

  1. In a Strange City Butcher’s Hill by Laura Lippman (to continue the series started in September) Note: Butcher’s Hill was supposed to be read in October but it took over a month for it to arrive.
  2. ADDED: All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
  3. Andorra by Peter Cameron
  4. Any Four Women Can Rob the Bank of Italy by Ann Cornelisen
  5. Beaufort by Ron Leshem
  6. Cradle of Gold by Christopher Heaney
  7. Grass Dancer by Susan Power*
  8. ADDED: Great Hunt by Robert Jordan (to continue the series started in October, because I forgot to mention the rest of the series)
  9. You Get What You Pay For by Larry Beinhart- MAYBE

*Planned as audio books

FINISHED (Dec 2013 – Oct 2014):

  1. Absolute Zero by Helen Cresswell*
  2. After the Dance by Edwidge Danticat
  3. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow*
  4. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin*
  5. Angels Weep by Wilbur Smith
  6. Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler.
  7. Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
  8. Art Student’s War by Brad Leithauser
  9. Baltimore Blues* by Laura Lippman
  10. Beirut Blues by Hanan al-Shaykh
  11. Benjamin Franklin: an American Life by Walter Isaacson
  12. ADDED: Biodegradable Soap by Amy Ephron
  13. Bring Me a Unicorn by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  14. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks*
  15. Black Lamb and Gray Falcon by Rebecca West (DNF)
  16. Bluebird Canyon by Dan McCall
  17. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
  18. Cabin Fever by Elizabeth Jolley
  19. Captain Sir Richard Burton by Edward Rice (DNF)
  20. Careless Love by Peter Gurlnink
  21. Caroline’s Daughters by Alice Adams
  22. Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks
  23. Children of Cambodia’s Killing Fields: Memoirs of Survivors compiled by Dith Pran
  24. Civil Action by Jonathan Harr
  25. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire*
  26. Culture of Disbelief by Stephen Carter (DNF)
  27. Dancer and the Thief by Antonio Skarmeta
  28. Dancer with Bruised Knees by Lynne McFall
  29. Dark Sun by Richard Rhodes (DNF)
  30. Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan*
  31. Dervish is Digital by Pat Cadigan
  32. Earthly Possessions by Anne Tyler
  33. Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder
  34. Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
  35. ADDED: Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  36. Faith Fox by Jane Gardam
  37. Falcon Flies by Wilbur Smith*
  38. Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
  39. First Man by Albert Camus
  40. Flower and the Nettle by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  41. Fordlandia by Greg Gandin
  42. French Revolutions* by Tim Moore.
  43. Georges’ Wife by Elizabeth Jolley
  44. Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee
  45. Half Magic* by Edward Eager
  46. Herzog by Saul Bellow
  47. History Man by Malcolm Bradbury
  48. Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  49. House of Morgan by Ron Chernow – attempted
  50. Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman
  51. In the Graveyard of Empires by Scott Jones*
  52. Inside Passage by Michael Modzelewski
  53. Inspector Ghote Breaks an Egg by H.R.F. Keating
  54. It Looked Like Forever by Mark Harris
  55. Last Train to Memphis by Peter Guralink
  56. Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  57. Leopard Hunts in the Darkness by Wilbur Smith
  58. Life in the Air Ocean by Sylvia Foley
  59. Long Way From Home by Frederick Busch
  60. Lotus Eaters by Tatjani Soli
  61. Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks
  62. Men of Men by Wilbur Smith
  63. Neighborhood Heroes by Morgan Rielly
  64. Now Read This II by Nancy Pearl
  65. Ocean of Words by Ha Jin
  66. Oedipus by Sophocles
  67. Owl Service by Alan Garner*
  68. Palladian Days by Sally Gable*
  69. Partisan by Benjamin Cheever
  70. ADDED: Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  71. Price of Silence by Liza Long
  72. Professor and the Housekeeper by Yoko Ogawa
  73. Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald
  74. Raw Silk by Janet Burroway
  75. Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro*
  76. Rose Cafe by John Hanson Mitchell
  77. Rose of Martinique by Andrea Stuart
  78. Run or Die by Kilian Jornet
  79. Running for Mortals by John Bingham
  80. Seeing in the Dark by Timothy Ferris
  81. Soul of All Living Creatures by Vint Virga
  82. Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff
  83. Thousand Ways to Please a Husband by Weaver/LeCron (E-book)
  84. Thrush Green by Miss Read*
  85. Toronto by Charles Way
  86. Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland
  87. War Within and Without by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  88. Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook.
  89. Winners and Losers by Martin Quigley
  90. Zero Days by Barbara Egbert


  • “Aftermath” ~ a poem by Siegfried Sassoon
  • “Romance” ~ a poem by W.J. Turner
  • “Kubla Khan” ~ a poem by Samuel T. Coleridge

Short Stories:

  • “The Huckabuck Family” by Carl Sandburg
  • “How to Revitalize the Snake in Your Life” by Hannah Tinti
  • “Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury
  • “Thirty Year Old Women Do Not Always Come Home” by Mark Winegardner
  • “Birdland” by Michael Knight
  • “Killer Inside Me” by Jim Thompson
  • “Down There” by David Goodis
  • “Crossing the Craton” by John McPhee.
  • “Lukudi” by Adrianne Harun
  • “The Eighth Sleeper of Ephesus” also by Adrianne Harun
  • “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges

For next year:

  • Hall of a Thousand Columns by Tim Mackintosh-Smith.

Creative Habit

Tharp, Twyla. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003.

Admission: I cannot hear Twyla Tharp’s name without thinking two things and they are one right after the other. First, my aunt’s best friend’s name is Twyla. I personally know no one else with such an interesting name. Two, who remembers the movie The Bird Cage with Robin Williams? Remember? There’s that fantastic scene with Robin dancing across the floor singing “Twyla! Twyla! Twyla!” Classic! Anyway, on to the review.

Twyla Tharp believes creativity is not something you are just born with. It shouldn’t be considered a gift. Instead, it is a craft to be honed. It should be cultivated and tended to just like a garden. There is a deliberate effort to creativity. While I didn’t participate in any of her exercises, her methods were clear.

Reason read: Okay, I will admit. Not even 30 days after swearing off non-Challenge books I pick up this one. But. But! But, full disclosure: I really didn’t read the whole thing.




Fifty-Year Silence

Mouillot, Miranda Richmond. A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War and a Ruined House in France. New York: Crown Publishers, 2015.

Reason read: an Early Review book from LibraryThing.

Here’s what I loved about Mouillot’s memoir straight away: she was unapologetic about the inaccuracies in her book. She admits a lot of her documentation is based on conversations and possible faulty memories. From some reason, that admission alone makes it all the more real to me.

How does a relationship go from just that, a relationship, to a subject for a book? When I think about Mouillot’s grandparents and their fifty year silence I find myself asking, what makes this divorce any different from other relationship that crashed and burned? Could we all write a story about a relationship that fell apart? Well, yes and no. Add World War II, being Jewish and escaping the Holocaust and suddenly it’s not just about a couple who haven’t spoken to each other. It’s a mystery of survival on many different levels. While Mouillot’s account is choppy and sometimes hard to follow I found myself rooting for her. I wanted her to discover the mysteries of love and relationships, especially since her own love life was blossoming at the same time.

We aren’t supposed to quote from the book until it has been published but I have to say I hope this sentence stays, “How do you break a silence that is not your own?” (from the preface). I love, love, love this question. It should be on the cover of the book because it grabs you by the heart and throttles your mind into wanting to know more. Maybe that’s just me. Case in point: I was drawn into the show, “The Closer” after hearing Brenda say, “If I wanted to be called bitch to my face I’d still be married” in a promo. One sentence and I was hooked. Sometimes, that is all it takes.

Book trivia: According to the galley I received, A fifty-Year Silence will have maps.

Biodegradable Soap

Ephron, Amy. Biodegradable Soap. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991.

This is such a short, snarky little story about a community in suburban Los Angeles. Claudia Weiss is becoming more and more obsessed with recycling and the environment while her husband leaves her for a younger, more self-centered actress. Claudia’s friends gossip and have affairs of their own. One friend starts up an affair with her personal trainer and gets caught. Interspersed in the story are different current events: the Soviet invasion of Lithuania, the war in Iraq, the Exxon-Valdez spill… It’s truly an odd book.

Quote worth quoting, “That was what he liked about Lara – she was completely self-obsessed and he didn’t think she’d ever had an altruistic thought in her life” (p 45).

Reason read: Ehpron’s birth month is in October.

Author fact: Ephron has her own website here.

Book trivia: This is a quick, quick, quick read. 159 pages…but not really. Each “chapter” is short and choppy; only 1-2 pages long. If you were to squish the pages it’s only — pages long.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “All in the Family: Writer Dynasties” (p 6).

Half Magic

Eager, Edward. Half Magic. Performed by The Worlds Take Wing Repertory Company. New York: Listening Library, 1999.

I read a whole bunch of reviews of Half Magic that began with the sentence, “I loved this book as a child…” and it got me thinking, do the reviewers love it now, as adults? And, if they do, do they love it for purely nostalgic reasons? I know there are songs I could never like or listen to if they weren’t intrinsically entangled with my memories of past great times (like the song “Rain Maker”).

Anyway – Half Magic is about four siblings, three sisters and a brother, who stumble upon a magic talisman. This talisman, much like a nickel in size and shape, grants wishes…sort of. Every wish is exactly halved. “Desert isle” becomes just “desert” which is how the children end up in the Sahara rather than on a deserted island like they had originally wished. A talking cat becomes a mumbling cat, a barely understood cat. The more the children learn about the talisman’s capabilities, the more trouble they get into even though they vow their wishes are to be used for good intentions. If you want to listen to the audio version it would be in your best interest to get the “Worlds Take Wing Repertory Company” version. Instead of having one actor read the story, an entire cast of characters each take a part. The children are adorable.

Phrase I like, “terrible good intentions.”

Reason read: Eager died in October and it’s Halloween time – another reason to read about magic.

Author fact: Eager died young – in his 50s.

Book trivia: Half Magic was originally written in 1954 and remains Eager’s most popular book.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Fantasy for Young and Old” (p 83).

Eyre Affair

Fforde, Jasper. The Eyre Affair. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.

Reason read: Reason #1 – I was home-home and had finished the two books I brought with me. I was thinking Robert Jordan’s 800+ page behemoth would take much longer, but obviously I forgot I would be in the backseat for 5.5 hours, then on a boat for another hour, and then stuck in a very relaxing vacation on a very relaxing island with lots of time to read…
Reason #2 – October is Crime Prevention Month and since Thursday is a cop, more or less, I thought this would be appropriate. More or less.

So. Picture this: the year is 1985. The Crimean War is still raging and Great Britain is in a reverse time warp. Instead of being behind the times they are way ahead of them. England is a futuristic place where time travel is an everyday occurrence, the most common thing to clone is the resurrected Dodo bird (everyone has them as pets), and visitations to the pages of literature is child’s play. Thursday Next is a Special Operative in literary detection where not much is supposed to happen (it’s supposed to be a desk job after all). Most crimes in involve Byronic forgeries and protests over Shakespeare’s authenticity. That is until a minor character from a Dickens novel is found murdered outside the novel, changing the plot forever. That’s just for starters. When Jane Eyre herself is plucked from Bronte’s original manuscript and the kidnapper threatens to alter Great Britain’s most beloved story, Thursday rises to the challenge to rescue Jane. It’s no small task for the kidnapper is a former professor who once tried to seduce Thursday and seems to have godlike powers. To make matters worse, Thursday’s mind is not 100% on the case as she is distracted by a heartbreaking secret in the form of an ex-lover she can neither escape nor forget.
Fforde writes with cunning intention. Every chapter is riddled with wordplay, puns, literary allusions and trivia. With a names like Thursday Next, Hades Acheron, and Jack Schitt, you can just imagine the possibilities. Even the twins Jeff and Geoff got a giggle out of me. Because I am not up on pop culture I am sure some references went over my head.
One of my favorite scenes is when Thursday and the before mentioned ex-lover attend a performance of Shakespeare’s Richard III. Only this adaptation is more like The Rocky Horror Picture Show than serious theater in the round. The audience participation is hilarious. Another great moment is when Thursday’s uncle is showing Thursday his latest inventions. The bookworms are the best.
My only gripe is when Thursday is first asked to join the hunt to stop her former professor from destroying an original manuscript. Rule #1 is to never think or say the professor’s real name. If you do he can detect your whereabouts, your whole game plan right down to your very next move. After the first attempt to capture him goes horrible awry Rule #1 is abandoned and no one abides by it anymore. It doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Odd.

Favorite line, “The worms were busy reading a copy of Mansfield Park and were discussing where Sir Thomas got his name from” (p 152).

Author fact: Fforde has one of the most entertaining websites I have seen in a long time. Visit it here.

Book trivia: This is Fforde’s first novel.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapters called “Action Heroines” (p 6), “Companion Reads” (p 64), and “First Novels” (p 88). Also, from More Book Lust only in the chapter called “Brontes Forever” (p 35). As an aside, Pearl suggested reading The Eyre Affair with Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (for obvious reasons), but I already read Jane Eyre and The Eyre Affair for different reasons so it was pointless to read them again with Wide Sargasso Sea.

I have to say, one of the drawbacks to reading anything in Book Lust is that it is going to be old news. I always feel late to the party when I see a best seller with over 500 reviews on LibraryThing. It makes me wonder what I could possibly say that hasn’t already been said.

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton

Rice, Edward. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: the Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, and Brought the Arabian Nights to the West. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1990.

Doesn’t the subtitle of this book just about rope you in? If the subtitle doesn’t do it for you, how about the man himself? Explorer, scientist, secret agent man? Capable of speaking 29 different languages, supposedly most of them in their proper dialect. Thought to be a Gypsy. If anything, Burton should have the title of Most Interesting Man. He inherited his father’s wanderlust and would often move his family without reason. And, what about that Kama Sutra? Come again? In all fairness, I couldn’t finish the book. Interesting man or not, the writing just wasn’t. This is a classic case of “Did Not Finish.”

Reason read: Burton died in the month of October

Book trivia: There are a few photographs in Sir Richard Burton. Pity there weren’t more – Burton was an interesting looking fellow.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Star Trekkers” (p 222).


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