Saturday, May 15, 2010

On My Wish List

On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It's where you can list all the books that you desperately want but haven't actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming.

There is supposed to be a way to link my post to her website, but unfortunately I was unable to locate the Mr. Linky. At any rate, I thought this would be fun, since there are so many books that I want. I found this on Lost in Books, and one of these days I am going to figure out how to insert multiple images so that I can include book covers, but I am technologically inept sometimes and can't get them to appear anywhere but at the top.

First up is Bite Me by Christopher Moore. I'm a big fan of Christopher Moore's work, and have read all but two of his novels. Hmm, actually I have read all but three since I haven't read this one which is his latest work. Bite Me is the third installment of the love story that began with Bloodsucking Fiends and continued with You Suck. Now it seems that a vampire cat is stalking San Francisco and the plucky human Abby Normal has to call open the assistance of the vampire lovers Jody and Tommy to save the city. I almost bought this yesterday but since I spent an hour in A.C. Moore and I had an hour's drive ahead of me I did not go to the bookstore.

Next is The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz. This is also part of a series (fourth and final installment) and the books are uproariously funny. The Spellmans are a family of private investigators and as a result are fairly dysfunctional with each other. The first book in the series, The Spellman Files, won an Alex Award (book written for adults with high teenager appeal), and started a grabbing war at my book club's paperback book exchange a few years ago.

I'm also hoping to acquire How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. The title is mostly tongue in cheek, but she's caught a lot of flack from individuals without a sense of humor over it. At any rate, this is her best selling baking book and I have been coveting it for a while now. I love her show whenever I happen to catch it on t.v., and love her writing style.

And finally, I am hoping to buy I, Zombie by Chris Roberson. This is a first in a series of graphic novels, and it sounds hysterical. It is being presented as the story of Gwendolyn “Gwen” Dylan, zombie girl detective. Think graveyards, ghosts, vampires and werewolves with a twist, according to the website Graphic Content. I first found out about it from the folks who do the library comic Unshelved.

So there you have it!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I may be out of my mind

because I am actually considering participating in this challenge.

The 48 Hour Book Challenge. In reality it is actually less hardcore than the 24 hour read-a-thons that get hosted twice a year. The object here is to read as much as you can in a 48 hour period, while with the 24 hour ones the object is to try and read for 24 hours straight. Yikes! It is highly doubtful that I could accomplish that as I need lots of sleep. Last night I fell asleep while watching a new Eddie Izzard program. How does that happen? I love Eddie Izzard, he makes me laugh until my sides ache, and yet he was talking about firefighters and the next thing I knew I was waking up and he was talking about Yemen. Sunshine sent me to bed.

Speaking of Sunshine, he is now addicted to Doctor Who. We will most likely be having a Who marathon this weekend, watching seasons 1 and 2. But back to books and challenges. I'm not sure why I am so taken with reading challenges, but I imagine it is because 1) it makes me feel less like I am reading in a void and 2)because it focuses my reading. So, if I can arrange it, I plan on trying this challenge.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

WWW Wednesdays

I really meant to post yesterday, but somehow things just got away from me. I was going to do Teaser Tuesday, but alas and alack, I failed on that. I think it had something to do with the nasty gray weather making me very tired, or perhaps because I had to bake a cake, or because my beloved Sunshine found a tick on my neck. Shudder. I think I have thanked him ten times since he got it off and ignited the nasty thing on the patio. (Man, I love my dog, but his tick taxi service has got to stop. They don't bite him, he has preventative on, they just hitch a ride into the house. I'm making myself feel sick just thinking about it.)

Anyway! About books.

What have I read lately? This weekend I finished Educating Alice by Alice Steinbach and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, both of which I loved.

What am I currently reading? On Monday I started the second book in the Flavia De Luce mystery series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley. I'm absolutely loving it, which isn't surprising since I loved the first book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. It jumped ahead of the books I was thinking of starting next when it arrived along with my gift for my mother for Mother's Day. Plus, I had to go to the allergist on Monday and I needed a book I knew I would love.

What will I read next? Boneshaker is at the front of the list followed by The Serpent's Tale, but I also have the following books checked out and one of them may leapfrog ahead. The Mostly True Stories of Homer P. Figg (Newbery), No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (1st in a series challenge), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Typically British challenge), The Blind Side, Obit, and The Affair of the Poisons, all of which are for various categories in my 100 book challenge, and the read my name challenge. Speaking of the 100 book challenge, my total is now at 21 books, not counting picture books. With only seven and half months remaining reaching one hundred is not looking too good. Clearly I must either read faster or read shorter books.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Childhood is calling

or at least the books are. It is no secret that I really enjoy children's and young adult literature. I am not embarrassed in the least to be seen reading a children's book in public, and I still consider Beverly Cleary to be one of my favorite authors. Way back in graduate school I took both a children's literature course and a young adult literature course (both of which I thoroughly enjoyed), and during that time I made the decision that I was going to try and read as many of the Newbery medal and honor books as possible.

Unlike some enthusiasts, I am not going to attempt to read all of them. For one thing, there are just too many. There are 89 winners so far, with 294 honor books. Why so many honor books? Well, they frequently select more than one book as an honor. For example, in 2010 there were four honor books selected and in 1931 there were 8. They were really honor happy from 1930-1959. At any rate, besides the prohibitive quantity of books there are many that I just have no desire to read, and I'm not going to force myself to read a book I'm not interested in just for the sake of having read them all. I might be persuaded to read Up the Road Slowly if you paid me a lot of money, but otherwise it is not going to happen. That being said, there are an awful lot of them that I stretched myself to read and found I really enjoyed, such as I, Juan de Pareja.

While I wouldn't go so far as to say that the award committees select books that are too difficult for children, or that they only select boring books, I do think that this award suffers from well meaning adult syndrome in the sense that they select books that they think children should like, not necessarily ones that they will. A good example of this is the book A Single Shard. I loved this as an adult, but I know that as a child I would not have appreciated it on the same level. I also think that the Newberys suffer from Oscar syndrome as well, where books about serious topics are deemed more worthy than say humorous books. And while I certainly wouldn't hand over the list to a reluctant reader as a finding aid, there are plenty of books on there that have long lasting and wide ranging appeal. A number of Little House books won honors, as did Charlotte's Web, A Cricket in Times Square, Mr. Popper's Penguins and Ramona Quimby, Age 8.*

But why am I rambling on about this? I stayed up late last night to finish When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, the winner for 2010, and I loved it. It is difficult to write a review without giving away spoilers, but it is a great hybrid novel with a well paced and interesting plot, believable characters, and a nice mystery. Newberys that I haven't read is one of my categories for my 100 book challenge. So far I have read three of them, although I counted one in my recommendation section. This brings my total of Newberys read to 93**: 47 Medal winners and 46 honor. Interestingly enough many of the honors from the 1930s are no longer in print, which is a shame since generally that is where there is more variety in subject matter. My ultimate goal is to read at least half of the honors, and over 60% of the winners. Wish me luck!

*Like anything with voters, the results are subjective, and sometimes there are make up awards given (The Midwife's Apprentice comes to mind here. The author's previous book, Catherine Called Birdy was so much better than Midwife, yet Catherine got the honor while Midwife won the award the following year. Pretty much a make up), while other times personal politics interferes. The year Charlotte's Web won an honor a committee member happened to personally dislike E.B. White and admitted that he would never vote for his work to win the top prize so the committee had to compromise and awarded him an honor instead. In fact, a new award was created to recognize books and authors that never won the big prize because of this gross unfairness. How many of you have even heard of The Secret of the Andes, let alone read it? (That would be the book that won instead of Charlotte's Web). Hmm? That's what I thought.

**Edit: I have actually read 94, with 48 medal winners. I had forgotten that I had read It's Like This Cat by Elizabeth Neville. Doesn't speak too highly of it does it?