Friday, December 19, 2014

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The intro is terrible probably because it's intended for people trying to catch up or people who forgot all the characters.

But overall I enjoyed it. This one was definitely more exciting, but the realistic stuff is terrifying and intense and the magical stuff is terrifying and intense.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Authors Beginning with B

As I explained in a previous post, I'm finally going to deal with the hundreds of books I inherited when Dad passed away by going through them by author last name. Dad's books by authors beginning with the letter B was voluminous so it took me much longer than A. I actually had a bunch of my mother's Dave Barry books in this section too. And I know you can't read all the titles, but there were just too many to photograph perfectly. It's more important to push through than to have it be perfect. And hey, now I'm theoretically 1/13th done!

B- Dad's Books 1
These are the ones I decided to keep- fiction and nonfiction mixed...

Books with B
And these. Hey there were a lot of B's!

B- No pile
This is the "no" pile.

Books with B
Kevin and Ericka's previously owned fiction*

B- Our Fiction
And these... and yes we have 3 copies of the Bible... and yes, maybe we should keep them
with nonfiction but we keep them with our fiction because we like the fiction books better 

B- Our Nonfiction
Kevin and Ericka's previously owned non-fiction

Books with B
My e-books, all free fiction in this case.

Any arguments in favor of some of the ones we're donating? Would you like one of those? Or against any of the ones I'm keeping?


*I left out Kevin's poetry books because he keeps those on a separate shelf and I don't want to disturb their order. Maybe I'll do an extra post about the poetry at the end.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this one much more than the first one in the series. The action has taken off, and I'm more invested in the characters on all sides of the war. Usually after this many pages there's some decision the author has made that I hate, but not so this time. I've been surprised but not deeply disappointed yet. I immediately started the third book.

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Authors Beginning with A

As I explained in the last post, I'm finally going to deal with the hundreds of books I inherited when Dad passed away by going through them by author last name. Dad's books by authors beginning with the letter A is a very small collection, so it's possibly given me an false confidence regarding how successful my new plan will be.

Dad- A
Dad's books with authors starting with A.

He also had Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams but I took it to my room to read, and now I can't find it. That was probably his favorite out of this small group.

Dad- A Yes
These are the ones I decided to keep (in addition to Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy)

Dad- A No
This is the "no" pile. St. Augustine is in there only because
Kevin already owned it and likes his translator.

Fiction A
Kevin and Ericka's previously owned fiction*

Nonfiction A
Kevin and Ericka's previously owned non-fiction

Ebooks A
My e-books, all free fiction in this case.

Any arguments in favor of some of the ones we're donating? Would you like one of those? Or against any of the ones I'm keeping?


*I left out Kevin's poetry books because he keeps those on a separate shelf and I don't want to disturb their order. Maybe I'll do an extra post about the poetry at the end.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Four Years Later: I Am Still Hoarding My Dad's Books 2014

It's been four years since my father passed away. He wasn't a very materialistic person and he valued only his books and his music. I ignored the issue of his music because I didn't particularly share his musical taste, but I also didn't know what to do about records, tapes, and CDs. I pretty much just listen to free music on the cloud which is good for not hoarding.

But the books! I shared his love of reading, both generally and sometimes specifically. And even the sight of them all clustered together reminds me of my dad. Looking at my books mixed with Kevin's doesn't give the same effect. Many of his books were old and the choices unique to him.  But there are so many of them! It's a wonder we were able to move them. I spent hours packing and unpacking them, and poor Kevin dragged them down one flight of stairs and up two. He must really love me.

When we move again one day, there are too many to take to a new place, and even if they weren't, I certainly won't read all of them. So in the interest of not hoarding I promised to cull them. That was four years ago, and a few of the most terrible out-dated non-fiction books have been culled here and there, but the vast majority of them remain.

Okay, so I have a plan now: I will go by Author last name. On any given day that I deal with the books I will go through one letter, and decide which are staying and which are going. I feel strongly that this will work! Now let's see.


Monday, September 29, 2014

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this as part of a 4-book set, and immediately started on the 2nd book so I'm not entirely sure where this book left off and the second one began. This book seems to just introduce the world Martin has created so he can actually get to the story in Book 2, which makes it a little dull. Despite having an entire book to make his introduction, there are a lot of not-too-deeply developed characters in this book. And yet, here I am reading the second book without even pausing in between, so there must be something I love about it.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

American Pastoral by Philip Roth

American PastoralAmerican Pastoral by Philip Roth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who am I to review this book? So I won't.

I highlighted half the book, but my favorite sentence is: “He had learned the worst lesson that life can teach - that it makes no sense. And when that happens the happiness is never spontaneous again. It is artificial and, even then, bought at the price of an obstinate estrangement from oneself and one's history.” I kind of wish I was like the early Swede and didn't understand this sentence.

Another sentence I love, but which is a bit less straight-forward is: "A dozen candles burned in two tall ceramic candelabra, and to the Swede, who sat flanked by his mother and by Sheila Salzman, everyone's eyes--deceptively enough, even Marcia's eyes--appeared blessed in that light with spiritual understanding, with kindly lucidity, alive with all the meaning one so craves to find in one's friends."

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Friday, August 29, 2014

We Were Flying to Chicago by Kevin Clouther

We Were Flying to ChicagoWe Were Flying to Chicago by Kevin Clouther
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not a real review because I'm a little biased (best short story collection EVER) but more of a quick summary:

  • The title story could easily be the anthem of our generation. The story is practically an act of rebellion.
  • The Prophet of Wyaconda is my new favorite short story of all time. I think it might have converted me a little.
  • Absolutely everyone who has read Isabelle and Colleen loves it. There's so much here that it's hard to break it down, but I could read it over and over again without getting tired.
  • Charleston for Breakfast really reminds me of our time in the Shenandoah Valley and the angst of being in my twenties though I did not experience those two things simultaneously, I can now imagine what that would be like.

If you're not a big reader, I suggest you read Isabelle and Colleen first, and then Charleston for Breakfast, and then T-Bone Capone, as these are probably the most accessible ones.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Your Baby's First Year by American Academy of Pediatrics

Your Baby's First YearYour Baby's First Year by American Academy of Pediatrics
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my favorite baby book. It has the most recent scientific information and no time-wasting personal stories. The first half the book covers pregnancy through the baby's first of year of life. You can either read it all in advance or as the baby grows (though you may not have as much time to do the latter). The second half of the book is not as well organized because it mixes in some sections you should read in advance (like baby-proofing and safety) with other sections that are mostly there just for reference (such as those covering specific genetic diseases). I would suggest carefully selecting which sections you need to read in the second half- it's a very long book and you really shouldn't spend a lot of time reading about things that definitely don't apply to your family.

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott

Flatland: A Romance of Many DimensionsFlatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read in July of 2010, but it's one of my favorites so I wanted to share. I originally read this book because Kevin referenced it while making fun of me in Things My Wife Complains About #14: Stairs. It's a lovely allegory about a stairless world! It's also interesting from a mathematical and scientific perspective.

*The digital version is available for free on Amazon for Kindle (and other places online): Flatland: a romance of many dimensions. But warning: this version is missing the illustrations and those are pretty awesome.

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Reading Resolutions 2014

Last year I discovered that it's a little tough for me to read more than about 24 books a year, so this year I wanted to steer myself in the direction of the books I most want to read.

First of all, I will be rereading Kevin's short story collection that comes out this year: We Were Flying to Chicago.

Obviously, the reason I started this blog was to encourage myself to read my dad's books, so I want to make it a priority to read his five favorite books this year. I've already read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, though it was many years ago, so I'll reread it. Gravity's Rainbow is going to be super hard. I might dip into some of the extra picks if I can't get through any of the main books.

Dad recs:
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (read)
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
The Shining Mountain by Peter Boardman
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Extra:
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy by Douglas Adams
The Decay of the Angel, Spring Snow, and The Temple of Dawn by Yukio Mishima

I also asked Kevin for some of his favorites. Obviously this is a tall order for someone who studies and loves literature as much he does, but he gave me the following. I very recently reread Gatsy, and read Jesus' Son and Invisible Cities, so I'll need to read the three on his extra list too.

Kevin recs:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (read)
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson (read)
American Pastoral by Philip Roth
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (read)
Extra:
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munroe
Esther Stories by Peter Orner

I also asked my friend Michele because she reads a lot, my list needed a feminine perspective, and in the past I've enjoyed her recommendations.

Michele's Recs:
Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushde

Extra:
Anything by Richard Russo or Isabel Allende

So that's about 16 choices...

Wild Cards:
I want to finish The Tempest by Shakespeare (because I already started it), and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon because a bunch of people on my Facebook recommended it. I want to finish reading or rereading my stack of baby-related books before my second baby is born. And I want to read the Game of Thrones books because FUN. I might reread some of my favorites (The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson) or throw in some non-baby non-fiction (to be determined).

If I manage to get through all that, I can either read whatever I feel like or just start working my way backwards through the list of recent Pulitzer Prize winners.

Pulitzer Prize in Fiction:
2013) The Orphan Master's Son by Johnson, Adam
2012) No award... Finalists:
          Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
          Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
          The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
2011) A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (read it)
2010) Tinkers by Paul Harding
2009) Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
2008) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
2007) The Road by Cormac McCarthy
2006) March by Geraldine Brooks
2005) Gilead by Marilynne Robinson,  (I really want to read this one)
2004) The Known World by Edward P. Jones
2003) Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (read it)
2002) Empire Falls by Richard Russo
2001) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
2000) Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 Review

In trying to decide how to pick my books in 2014, I decided to make this list of books I read in 2013 to get a feel for what happens when I have no plan. Here's my breakdown.

My favorite novel I read this year was The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark because of its psychological component. I would recommend it to everyone. My favorite nonfiction book was Poor Economics, not just because of its application to the developing world but because of its applications to all political and social problems everywhere. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is pretty amazing itself, and might be set an inspirational tone for the new year if you haven't read it already.

Novels:
House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, 12/30/13
Our Man in Iraq by Robert Perišić, 9/8/13
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, 7/24/13
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, 7/17/13
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, 6/16/13
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, 4/30/13
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, 2/27/13

Short Story Collections:
Pastoralia by George Saunders, 11/27/13

Sci-Fi:
Galaxies Like Grains of Sand by Brian W. Aldiss, 10/4/13

Trashy Reads:
Pledged by Alexandra Robbins, 11/5/13
The Day I Turned Uncool: Confessions of a Reluctant Grown-up by Dan Zevin, 11/4/13
The Magician King by Lev Grossman, 4/28/13
The Magicians by Lev Grossman, 4/6/13
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, 3/28/13
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, 3/25/13
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 3/4/13

Nonfiction:
Poor Economics by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo, 5/9/13
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 4/8/13
The Book of Drugs: A Memoir by Mike Doughty, 3/24/13
How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett, 1/5/2013

Baby-related Non-fiction:
NurtureShock by Po Bronson, 11/26/13
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, 11/6/13
From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds by Alexander Tsiaras 11/3/13
Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Glade B. Curtis 11/1/13
What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff, 10/30/13
Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, Toni Weschler, 8/9/13



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