The Numbers

DATE: 9/28/15

Titles Finished Total

  • Books: 916
  • Poetry: 75
  • Short stories: 36

Total for 2015: 75 titles

All titles left to go: 4,674 (This includes alternate titles and series titles. Case in point – The Berlin Stories is actually indexed as three different titles. However The Complete Sherlock Holmes is actually 4 novels and 56 short stories totaling 60 different titles.)

Next count: 10/26/2015 (Natalie Merchant’s birthday!)


This should be my favorite month because I’ve been so deeply tied to Just ‘Cause (think pink) and I love, love, love Halloween. But, all I can think about is the run. Here are the books, by the way!

  1. Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan 
  2. In a Strange City by Laura Lippman
  3. By a Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman 
  4. Recognitions by William Gaddis 
  5. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  6. Lady Franklin’s Revenge by Ken McGoogan
  7. Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao* by Junot Diaz 
  8. Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  9. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  10. Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  11. A Good Doctor’s Son by Steven Schwartz
  12. Drinking: a Love Story by Caroline Knapp
  13. Ancient Rome on 5 Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak
  14. Nero Wolfe Cookbook by Rex Stout
  15. Treasure Hunter by W. Jameson
  16. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (Jan)
  17. The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat 
  18. In Xanadu by William Dalrymple
  19. The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  20. Wild Blue by Stephen Ambrose
  21. Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore
  22. Greater Nowheres by David Finkelstein/Jack London
  23. Alma Mater by P.F Kluge
  24. Old Man & Me by Elaine Dundy
  25. Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
  26. Good Life by Ben Bradlee
  27. Underworld by Don DeLillo
  28. Her Name Was Lola by Russell Hoban
  29. Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton
  30. Fires From Heaven by Robert Jordan
  31. Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
  32. Herb ‘n’ Lorna by Eric Kraft
  33. Polish Officer by Alan Furst
  34. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
  35. Walden by Henry David Throreau
  36. Reservations Recommended by Eric Kraft
  37. Selected Letters of Norman Mailer edited by J. Michael Lennon
  38. Chasing Monarchs by Robert Pyle
  39. Saturday Morning Murder by Batya Gur
  40. Bebe’s By Golly Wow by Yolanda Joe
  41. Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose
  42. Broom of the System by David Wallace
  43. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  44. Little Follies by Eric Kraft
  45. Literary Murder by Batya Gur
  46. Bob Marley, My Son by Cedella Marley Booker
  47. Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  48. Southern Mail by Antoine de Saint- Exupery
  49. Measure of All Things, the by Ken Alder
  50. Two Gardeners by Emily Wilson
  51. Royal Flash by George Fraser
  52. Binding Spell by Elizabeth Arthur
  53. Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  54. ADDED: Castle in the Backyard by Betsy Draine 
  55. Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan
  56. Where Do You Stop? by Eric Kraft
  57. Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren
  58. Murder on a Kibbutz by Batya Gur
  59. Flash for Freedom! by George Fraser
  60. Murder in Amsterdam by Ian Buruma
  61. Petra: lost city by Christian Auge
  62. From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman
  63. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  64. Flashman at the Charge by George MacDonald Fraser
  65. What a Piece of Work I Am by Eric Kraft
  66. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson
  67. Ruby by Cynthia Bond
  68. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan
  69. Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan
  70. Murder Duet by Batya Gur
  71. Flashman in the Great Game – George MacDonald Fraser
  72. At Home with the Glynns by Eric Kraft
  73. Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme
  74. New Physics and Cosmology by Arthur Zajonc
  75. Grifters by Jim Thompson
  76. Snow Angels by James Thompson
  77. So Many Roads: the life and Times of the Grateful Dead by David Browne
  78. Short story: Drinking with the Cook by Laura Furman
  79. Short Story: Hagalund by Laura Furman
  80. Lone Pilgrim by Laurie Colwin
  81. Not so Short story: The Last of Mr. Norris by Christopher Isherwood
  82. short story: Jack Landers is My Friend by Daniel Stolar
  83. short story: Marriage Lessons by Daniel Stolar
  84. Light in August by William Faulkner
  85. Not so Short story: Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
  86. A Comedy & A Tragedy by Travis Hugh Culley
  87. Feed Zone by Biju Thomas
  88. Leaving Small’s Hotel by Eric Kraft
  89. Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser
  90. In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan by John DeFrancis
  91. Faster! by James Gleick
  92. Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
  93. ADDED: Families and Survivors by Alice Adams
  94. Inflating a Dog by Eric Kraft
  95. Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett
  96. Flashman and the Redskins by George MacDonald Fraser
  97. Queens’ Play by Dorothy Dunnett
  98. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  99. Petty by Warren Zanes
  100. Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  101. Homicide by David Simon
  102. Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman (AB)
  103. Disorderly Knights by Dorothy Dunnett
  104. Flashman and the Dragon by George MacDonald Fraser
  105. ADDED: A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez (ER)
  106. ADDED: Crows Over a Wheatfield by Paula Sharp
  107. ADDED: Time Traveler: In Search of Dinosaurs and Ancient Mammals from Montana to Mongolia by Michael Novacek
  108. Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman (Nov)
  109. Flashman and the Mountain of Light by George MacDonald Fraser (Nov)
  110. Pawn in Frankincense by Dorothy Dunnett (Nov)
  111. Andorra by Peter Cameron (Nov)

DNF = Did Not Finish; AB = Audio Book; ER = Early Review; DNS = Did Not Start; EB = E-Book

A Prayer for Owen Meany

Irving, John. A Prayer for Owen Meany. Read by Joe Barrett. Michigan: Brilliance Audio, 2009

Reason read: Even though most of A Prayer for Owen Meany does not take place in Canada I am reading this in honor of September being the best time to visit Toronto.

I don’t know where to begin with a review for A Prayer for Owen Meany. I have been driving to and from work everyday, listening to this incredible tale about a boy named Owen for a month now and I’ve been thinking there is no way I can sum this up story succinctly. Like other Irving tales, this is multifaceted and wrought with symbolism. As an adult living as an ex-pat in Toronto, Canada Johnny Wheelwright remembers his childhood and best friend, Owen Meany. They grew up together in the fictional seaside town of Gravesend, New Hampshire. To describe Owen as special is as inadequate as saying the Grand Canyon is “big”. There is so much more to Owen and his story from every angle. For starters, there is his size (barely five feet) and his voice (high-pitched and distinct). Then, there is his personal belief that is he is an instrument of God. Even when he accidentally hits Johnny’s mother with a line drive baseball, killing her instantly, he believes it was meant to happen that way. Owen is smart, witty, kind and considerate, but you can’t sway him from his political or religious beliefs (don’t get him started on John F Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe or later, the Vietnam war). I don’t want to spoil the story except to say you can’t help but fall in love with Owen and be shocked by the outrageous things he does.

My favorite scene was when Owen asks his dad to take him and Johnny to the beach in the middle of the night. The image of Owen banging on the cab of the truck, urging his father to drive faster will always stay with me.

Author fact: According to Irving’s website his birth name was Blunt but changed to Irving after his mom remarried.

Book trivia: the movie “Simon Birch” is based on A Prayer for Owen Meany but because the film is so dissimilar to the book Irving asked that the title and names of characters be different as well.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter “Lines That Linger; Sentences That Stick” (p 142). The line (or sentence) Pearl is referring to from A Prayer for Owen Meany is the opening sentence, “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”

As an aside: I love John Irving’s work so much I thought Pearl should have included a “Too Good To Miss” chapter for him.

Flashman and the Redskins

Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman and the Redskins. New York: Plume, 1983.

Reason read: Flashman and the Redskins continues the series I started in April in honor of Fraser’s birth month.

Flashman and the Redskins circles back to where Flash for Freedom left off. Harry Flashman is up to his old tricks again. If you think I’m joking just know that sex is mentioned on the very first page. That’s Flashy for you! But, in Flashman and the Redskins he takes it a bit further. To get out of yet another jam Flashman is forced to take up with Susie, a madame of a New Orleans brothel (surprise, surprise), but to further complicate things, he ends up marrying her to ensure safe passage across the west to California. It’s on this journey that Flashman encounters the “redskins” and ends up marrying an Apache Indian too. Never a dull moment for 28 year old Harry. The multiple marriages set the stage for the rest of Flashman’s story with a twist at the end.
Fast forward and Flash is back in the States, this time with his real wife, Elspeth. To give you some perspective, the events in Royal Flash happened twenty eight years earlier. Remember Otto von Bismarck? This time Flashman is up against an even craftier opponent…a woman he has wronged (it was bound to happen sometime).

The charming way Flashman looks at women: “…she looked like a bellydancer who’s gone in for banking” (p 337).

Best line, “But life aint a bed of roses, and you must just pluck the thorns out of your rump and get on” (p 442).

As an aside, earlier this year someone decided Washington D.C.’s professional football team’s name needed to be changed. Suddenly the word “redskin” wasn’t political correct. I have to wonder if someone will try to ban this book on the same premise?

Author fact: What can I tell you about Mr. Fraser this time? According to Flashman and the Redskins Fraser also wrote The Pyrates (another Flashy book; after The Great Game but before Lady). This book is not listed in Book Lust. Hmmm…

Book trivia: for some reason the pagination is weird. The pages skip from xii to 15 immediately and I don’t think any are missing. Odd. Another piece of trivia: my copy included a map of the U.S. from Minnesota to Idaho called “Flashman’s West.”

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the obvious chapter “George MacDonald Fraser: Too Good To Miss” (p 93). Where else?

Mysterious Affair at Styles

Christie, Agatha. The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Duke Classics, 2012. Epub 2015.

Reason read: September is Christie’s birth month.

Told from the point of view of Hastings, a guest at Styles, The Mysterious Affair at Styles tells the tale of a woman poisoned for her inheritance. Desperate for answers, Hastings introduces his friend, Inspector Hercule Poirot, to the dead woman’s son and to the crime in the hope the detective can solve the mystery. As with any mystery there is a revolving cast of characters, all suitable for the label “guilty.”
Having never seen film or television versions of Hercule Poirot, I picture him as a smug little man. His review of the crime scene is fascinating and I could picture his scrutiny perfectly. His relationship with Hastings is humorous, almost patronizing. The key to remember with this mystery is once a man is acquitted of a specific crime he can never be tried again for the same offense.

Lines worth mentioning: “Imagination is always a good servant and a bad master” (p 91) and “Who on earth but Poirot would have thought of a trial for murder as a restorer of conjugal happiness” (p 238).

Author fact: There is a lot of mystery surrounding Christie’s own life. At one point she herself became the center of a mystery as a missing person.

Book trivia: The Mysterious Affair at Styles is Inspector Hercule Poirot’s first appearance in an Agatha Christie mystery.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Tickle Your Funny Bone” (p 220).

Queens’ Play

Dunnett, Dorothy. Queens’ Play. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1964.

Reason read: to continue the series started in August in honor of Dunnett’s birth month.

Queens’ Play is the second book in the Lymond series starring “cool, daring, strangely haunted” Francis Crawford of Lymond. [By the way, don’t you just love that description of him? Not my words, though.] The year is 1550 and Mary, Queen of Scots is now a precocious seven years old. Actually, she’s not in this enough for me to call her precocious, I’m just imagining her that way. She has been sent to France as the betrothed to the Dauphin. Francis (or Lymond as he is sometimes called) goes “undercover” to follow her and protect her. There are a lot of other people who have designs on the throne and she is constantly at risk. As “Thady Boy Ballage” Lymond has dyed his hair jet black and poses as the companion to an Irish prince. He doesn’t stand on the fringes of politics and just watch for enemies. True to Francis form, Thady prefers and enjoys being in the thick of it, causing most of the trouble. He still drinks like a fish and plays just as hard as he protects.

I thought the cheetah/hare hunt was pretty outrageous and not nearly as fun as the rooftop scavenger hunt.

A word of warning – there are a great many characters in Queens’ Play and while Dunnett introduces you to the main players (three pages worth), there are more. I have read that Queens’ Play is the “slowest” of all the books in the Lymond series. For that I am grateful because I don’t want to give up quite yet. I still have several books to go!

Quote I liked for some weird reason, “Strong wine and stretched muscles disregarded, Lymond strode to the window and stayed there, gripping his anger hard until he could speak” (p 165).

Author fact: Dunnett was also an artist.

Book trivia: Queens’ Play is the second book in the six-book series.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Lines That Linger, Sentences That Stick” (p 142).


Simon, David. Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991.

Reason read: There is a book festival held in Baltimore every September.

Question: What happens when a reporter, already on the Baltimore police beat, is allowed to have unlimited access to the city’s homicide unit for a full year? Answer: Homicide: a Year on the Killing Streets, a 600 page play by play of what it is like to work a murder from start to finish. From the first report of a cold body to (sometimes) solving the case, Simon was there to witness and document every little moment. He followed various detectives as they got the call, examined the victim for cause of death, poured over the crime scene for clues, canvassed the neighborhoods for reluctant witnesses, stood over autopsies waiting for more evidence, paced the halls in hospital emergency rooms impatient for first-hand accounts from survivors, went on death notifications, stared at their murder boards trying to put the pieces together…These police officers portray the grim reality of crime but they also share moments of humor, sarcasm and a genuine love of the job. I found myself liking Detective McLarney and thinking it would be cool to have a beer with him.

Probably the hardest cases to read about were young Latonya Wallace and police officer Gene Cassidy.

Line I liked, “A heavily armed nation prone to violence finds it only reasonable to give law officers weapons and the authority to use them” (p 108).

Book trivia: This is an informal reporting on crime in Baltimore. No index, photographs or footnoted references.

Author fact: At the time of publication David Simon was a reporter with the Baltimore Sun. He took a leave of absence to write this book. In the time he took him to write Homicide 567 additional murders occurred.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the obvious chapter called, you guessed it, “Baltimore” (p 34).

Petty: the biography

Zanes, Warren. Petty: the Biography. Henry Holt & Co., 2015.

Reason read: as part of the Early Review program for LibraryThing.

This is not your typical biography. Maybe it’s because of Petty’s private nature. Maybe it’s the direction the author wanted to take with the story. Maybe this is an unauthorized “biography” and so intimate details could not and would not be forthcoming. Whatever the reason, this is more about the making of the band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, than it is about Tom Petty, the individual.
That is not to say there aren’t stories about Petty’s childhood and family life growing up in Florida. The abuses he suffered, the poverty he endured, the dreams he clung to as a teenager are all there. But other parts of his life, the monumental and profound, like getting married and becoming a father, are skipped over as if worth barely a mention.
It is hard to say if this biography is authorized by Petty or not. Interviews with Petty are slyly hinted at but not wholly confirmed. Zanes arrives at more detail through band mates and friends. Almost the same intimate details are available on Wikipedia.

If you are looking for a detailed account of the music scene when Petty got his start with Mudcrutch, this is the book for you. Zanes does a great job setting the stage, so to speak, as well as shuttling the reader through the industry’s changes over the years.


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