The Numbers

DATE: 12/7/16

Titles Finished Totals:

  • Books: 1,033
  • Poetry: 75
  • Short stories: 50 43 (changed to reflect what Pearl is calling a short story)

Total for 2016 so far: 117 titles (including Early Review and fun books).

All titles left to go: 4,570

Next count: 1/3/2017! Happy new year!


On the Ocean

Pytheas of Massalia. On the Ocean. Translated by Christina Horst Roseman. Chicago: Ares Publishers, Inc., 1994.

Reason read: December is a good time to visit Greece, if you are so inclined to travel this holiday season.

Probably the biggest take-away I got from Christina Horst Roseman’s translation of On the Ocean was that Pytheas did not intend it as a sailing guide. What is amazing is that despite eighteen known ancient writers making reference to Pytheas over an 850 year-span, his original writings do not exist at all. It is obvious that On the Ocean was an important document but what happened to it? How was it not preserved in some way? In addition, Roseman states, “special problems are also raised by the work of two authors who probably made use of Pytheas, but in whose surviving work he is not named” (p 18). Wouldn’t that be considered plagiarism…if they had such a thing back then? A great deal of Roseman’s text is comparing what Strabo, Polybios and Pliny wrote as they were considered rivals of Pytheas.

Author fact: Roseman admits that through the years, because not a shred of Pytheas’s original writings exist, “assumptions have been accepted” about On the Ocean. I think that would be true of anything without substantiated proof. Rumor becomes real after awhile.

Book trivia: On the Ocean has an index of Greek words but no dictionary. There are quite a few passages in Greek without translation so right away I found it inconvenient.

Nancy said: not much aside from the writings of Pytheas don’t exist anymore.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Here Be Dragons: the Great Explorers and Expeditions” (p 111).


Tu

Grace, Patricia. Tu. University of Hawaii Press, 2004.

Reason read: New Zealand was discovered in December

The novel Tu opens and closes with a letter. New Zealander Tu Hokowhitu-a-Tu owes an explanation to his niece and nephew, Rimini and Benedict. Sandwiched between the letters there are Tu’s journals interspersed with third person flashbacks. In his journals Tu tries to tackle the war in his own words. The war everyone is signing up for. World War II. In flashbacks we learn Big Brother Pita thought he should stay home to care for his family until the fighting pulls him in and seesm to be the only way out. Pita follows feisty Brother Rangi, already wild with battle. Left behind is little Te Hokowhitu-a-Tu. Too-young-to-go-to-war Tu, but there’s no place he would rather be. Maybe because of his brothers? He wants to be useful. He wants to get away. Through his journals he implies enlistment means freedom and despite being underage he signs up for the Maori Battalion.
When it is all said and done, and the war is over(sorry, accidental spoiler alert), there is a poignant moment when Tu asks himself who will he be now that the war is finished and there is no more fighting. Where is his place in life?

I found it interesting that all three brothers would want to go into battle after seeing what war did to their father. Coming back from World War I and wracked by post traumatic stress disorder, their father at times was a wild and raging man; given to fits of insanity and violence.

Interesting to note: New Zealand’s June had 31 days back in 1943.

A quote that got me, “…I’ve decided I’ll write only when there are enough words in my head to create a flow to paper through a warmed up pen” (p 23). How many times have I said that same thing? Another quote, “When you see a man fall you’re not sure whether or not it was your bullet or someone else’s that dropped him, so his death does not feel so real to you” (p 82). Two more: “Perhaps there’s an in-between state where ghosts walk in and out of you, or where you could be your own ghost coming and going” (p 180), and “Reading intrudes on thought and takes a man away from so much self-pity” (p 238).

Author fact: Grace is not Patricia’s given last name. But, that’s not the interesting fact. She was inspired to write Tu by her Maori father’s involvement in World War II. He went to fight for the very country that was trying to control his.

Book trivia: Tu won the Montana New Zealand Book Award.

Nancy said: “…beautifully written and depressing…” (p 125). I would have to agree.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Kwikis Forever!: New Zealand” (p 125).


Wherever You Go

Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Wherever You Go, There You Are: mindfulness and meditation in everyday life. Read by Jon Kabat-Zinn. California: Renaissance Media, 1994.

Reason read: Mindfulness around the holidays is good to have! I’m starting early.

If you are reading Wherever You Go just to say you have read Wherever You Go (like I am) this will take you no time at all. Sometimes a page is as short as a paragraph or just a couple of sentences. But, if you are looking for mindfulness it is best to read this book slowly. Let each section sink in and be sure to savor each line. It is a basic introduction to Buddhist meditation without of mumbo jumbo.

As an aside, I thought this went well to follow MindValley creator Vishen Lakhiani’s book Code of the Extraordinary Mind.

Lines I really like, “best to meditate…” Whoops. Scratch that. No part of Wherever You Go may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever. No favorite quotes for this review.

Author fact: Kabat-Zinn is the founder and director or the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.

Book trivia: this didn’t come with my copy of Wherever You Go, but Zinn mentions a series of mindfulness meditation practice tapes that are to be used in conjunction with the book.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the obvious chapter called “Help Yourself” (p 110).


Jingle the Books

December is going to be a crazy month. I need to run 93¬† miles. I will be hosting my in-law’s Holiday party for the first time. I’m going to the Christmas Eve Patriots Game. What else? Oh. The books!

Nonfiction:

  • Conquest of the Incas by John Hemming ~ in honor of December being the best time to visit Peru
  • Rainbow’s End by Lauren St. John ~ in honor of Shangani Day in Rhodesia.
  • Paul Revere and the World He Lived in by Esther Forbes ~ in honor of Revere’s birth month (I’m guessing since he was baptized on January first.)
  • On the Ocean by Pytheas (translated by Christina Horst Roseman) ~ in honor of finally finding a copy of this book!
  • Geometry of Love by Margaret Visser ~ in honor of Rome’s Saturnalia Solstice.
  • Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre ~ in honor of December being the best time to visit India.

Fiction:

  • Tu by Patricia Grace ~ in honor of New Zealand being discovered in December.

Series:

  • Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright ~ in honor of finishing the series started in September in honor of Enright’s birth month.

Early Review:

  • Yoga for Athletes by Ryanne Cunningham ~ for LibraryThing

Thanks for the Books

November was a stressful month. The injury that sidelined me for the last half marathon of the season continued to plague me & myself but I pushed through it – ran 70 miles for the month. I don’t think I have ever mentioned this here but…back on January I was a dumbass and agreed to a 1000k challenge. By November 1st I had 267k left to go. I’m now down to 151k. Almost 100 miles. But enough of that. It stresses me out to even think about it.

Here are the books finished for November:
Fiction:

  • Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton. I thought of this as a short story because it’s less than 100 pages long.
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • The City and the City by China Mieville (AB)
  • Advise and Consent by Allen Drury – confessional: I knew that a fictional political book might bore the crap out of me but what I didn’t expect was outright disgust after the election. I couldn’t stomach the contents of Advise and Consent.

Series:

  • Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright. (AB)
  • Love Songs From a Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill
  • Toast to Tomorrow by Manning Coles

Nonfiction:

  • Living Poor by Moritz Thomsen
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn (audio and print)
  • Baby Doctor by Perri Klass
  • The Fifties by David Halberstam

Postscript: it came in too late for me to mention here, but I DID get that Early Review book that I was pining for. I’ll review it next month.


Advise and Consent

Drury, Allen. Advise and Consent. New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1959.

Reason read: Not to state the obvious but November is election month and unless you have been living under a rock you know we have to elect a new president.

Confessional: I just couldn’t finish this…maybe because of the election? I’m not sure. I just feel as if this country is broken – very, very broken and reading about politics, even fictional, at this time is not a good thing.

The inside flap to Advise and Consent states it is “…a story so sweeping and complex in its conception that each segment alone would make an enthralling book.” Right. I’m sure that’s why the entire story is over 600 pages long. Drury has crafted five segments: Bob Munson’s book, Seab Cooley’s book, Brigham Anderson’s book, Orrin Knox’s book and Advise and Consent.
Advise and Consent opens with the announcement of the President of the United State’s controversial appointment of Bob Leffingwell as Secretary of State. Right away Drury’s language is witty and mischievous as if there is a twinkle in the eye of the storyteller. If you have ever watched “House of Cards” then you know how deviously politics can be played out. Advise and Consent is no different.

Author fact: Drury covered politics as a reporter for multiple publications including The New York Times.

Book trivia: Advise and Consent has a few drawings by Arthur Shilstone.

Other book trivia: Advise and Consent won a Pulitzer.

Other, other book trivia: Advise and Consent was made into a movie.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Politics of Fiction” (p 189)


Evolution

I started this book challenge thing in November of 2006. Since then I have read over 1,000 books, thanks to Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust series. I’ve had fun. I’ve learned a lot. But, it’s time for a change. No, I’m not quitting the challenge…just changing some things up a little. All things have a natural progression. If you were to look at my first reviews in 2006 I didn’t mention an author fact or any book trivia. In a lot of reviews I didn’t even find a favorite line to quote as proof I read the book. Those elements of the review evolved slowly over time. Recently, I found two more details that need to change and, unlike the previous changes, these come with an announcement instead of a slow introduction.

The first is simple. If Pearl says something specific¬† about a book or author I want to note it, so I’m starting a “Nancy said” sentence right after book trivia. If she didn’t say anything other than to list the title, oh well. I think this addition to the review is a natural one, since I have been mentioning what Nancy said about some titles. Case in point: Pearl liked Halberstam’s The Fifties and I made note of that.

The second change is very dramatic (to me in my own little world anyway). This change literally throws all my comparison stats out the window. I am moving the anniversary to a calendar year. For ten years now I have counted the books read between December 1st and November 30th as a complete year. It’s too complicated that way for reasons I can’t get into right now. Let’s just say a January 1st to December 31 cycle will work best. Let the (new) games begin!