Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

First published in 1929.

This was a book club pick in March, chosen by the adult daughter of a book club member. She's staying with her mom for a few months, and A Farewell to Arms was one of her favorite novels from her high school literature classes.

I had only just started reading the novel when we had the book club meeting, and despite my inability to really get into it, I was determined to finish. I put it on my Spring Reading Thing list so that I would be committed to do it. My sister lent me the Book on CD version she'd checked out of the library, and it helped me to listen rather than read. Yesterday, as I listened to the final paragraphs with tears in my eyes, I can truthfully say that I'm glad I finished it.

At our book club meeting, we talked about why Hemingway is considered one of America's greatest writers. We really didn't have a good answer for that - but did note that he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. (I have since noted that he also received the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for The Old Man and the Sea, which I had to read in high school and which I can't say is one of my favorite books.)

The book group also wondered what "classics" they are teaching in high school today. Most of us had read something by Hemingway when we were in high school. Other assigned reading in my high school American lit class included The Crucible, The Hairy Ape, Sister Carrie, and The Jungle. My daughter has recently read The Great Gatsby, The House on Mango Street, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in her English class. What have you or your children read?


Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

Published in 2007. 357 pages.

I can cross off the first book on my Spring Reading Thing list! Woohoo!

I am a big fan of Chris Bohjalian's novels. Midwives (1997) was the first one I discovered, and I've read all those he's published since that one (but I haven't yet gotten to the four he published prior to that). Before You Know Kindness (2004) is one of my all-time favorite books.

I really enjoyed The Double Bind. It was a compelling read, and Bohjalian's characters are always complex and interesting. There were twists and turns in the plot that both entertained and surprised me. Although this wasn't my favorite of Bohjalian's novels, I still highly recommend it. The "Questions for Discussion" at the end of the book would make this a great book club pick.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I totally love the idea of the
Spring Reading Thing!
A big thank you to Katrina
Callapidder Days!

I am an avid reader. I have been since the day, when I was six, that I was home from school, sick in bed, and my mom got B is for Betsy from the library for me to read. I think that was the start of my obsession with series novels, as well as my discovery of how wonderful libraries can be.

As I considered what books I want to read this spring, I decided to challenge myself to read (or finish reading) a total of thirty books - the twenty-five I've listed below, plus the book club picks that I don't yet know about (I'm involved with four different book clubs) and/or a couple additional items I haven't identified yet (that's in case I come upon something I just can't resist). I've tried to include a couple non-fiction with the fiction; both some light-hearted things as well as some more serious reads (but nothing too serious); some young adult selections; a few of my favorite mystery writers; some new releases, some others I've been meaning to read for a while, and even one "classic." This is going to be great fun!
  • Chris Bohjalian - The Double Bind (2007)*
  • Orson Scott Card - Sarah (2000) *
  • Anita Diamant - The Red Tent (1997)
  • Kim Edwards - The Memory Keeper's Daughter (2005)
  • Lisa Gardner - Hide (2007)
  • Ken Grimwood - Replay (1986)
  • Shannon Hale - The Princess Academy (2005)
  • Ernest Hemingway - A Farewell to Arms (1929)*
  • Jan Karon - In This Mountain (2002)
  • Sue Monk Kidd - Firstlight: Early Inspirational Writings (2006)
  • Sophie Kinsella - Shopaholic & Baby (2007)
  • John Lescroart - The Suspect (2007)
  • Gerald Lund - Fishers of Men (2000)
  • Gregory Maguire - Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (1999)
  • Betty Mahmoody - Not Without My Daughter (1987)
  • Stephenie Meyer - Twilight (2005)
  • Brandon Mull - Fablehaven (2006)
  • Christopher Paolini - Eragon (2003)
  • Michael Palmer - The Fifth Vial (2007)
  • Jodi Picoult - Actually I haven't decided which one to read. I recently read My Sister's Keeper (which I loved), and I'd really like to read something else Picoult has written, but I don't know which. Do you have any recommendations?
  • Alexander McCall Smith - Tears of the Giraffe (2003)
  • Caroll Spinney - Wisdom of Big Bird (2003)
  • Lisa Unger - Beautiful Lies (2006)
  • Gloria Whelen - Listening for Lions (2005)
  • Stephen White - Dry Ice (2007)

*I've already started reading this one.

NOTE: I've cross-posted this from my "regular" blog. That's where I post about all the aspects of my life, not just the books. Be sure to come visit me there as well here!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Things Hoped For by Andrew Clements

Published in 2006. 176 pages.

My daughters are both big fans of Clements' books for children and young adults. I think this one (recommended for grades six and up) is the second that I've read. (The other was The School Story.) I mixed this sequel up with its predecessor Things Not Seen, which I've yet to read but will definitely have to do.


The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger

Published in 2003. 519 pages.

This is number 60 on the 100 Books! meme - a book I hadn't yet read but wanted to, so I decided that I'd just do it.

I loved this book! The whole concept of time travel and the time-space continuum is intriguing to me - for example in Michael Crichton's Timeline, Connie Willis' Doomsday Book, the Back to the Future trilogy, several of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in The Lake House - and this is another great exploration of that idea.

Scott Turow had this to say:

To those who say there are no new love stories, I heartily recommend The Time Traveler's Wife, an enchanting novel, which is beautifully crafted and as dazzlingly imaginative as it is dizzyingly romantic.

Here are some discussion questions.


Recommended Read

I just read about Cane River by Lalita Tademy over at Beehive Bulletin, and I'm adding it to the "to be read" list. Thanks, Q!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Published in 2004. 448 pages.

I'd been meaning to read this for almost two years but for some reason hadn't got to it. Yesterday I was sitting at the library waiting for Sugar Plum to finish her writing workshop and I decided to start the book. I couldn't put it down! I definitely want to check out more of Picoult's work.

Here and here are some discussion questions and other information.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Step on a Crack
by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Published in 2007. 383 pages.

Great literature? Of course not! Fun, easy-to-read escapism? Definitely! I'm a big fan of Alex Cross, and I think I'm going to like Michael Bennett too.


The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America
by Bill Bryson

Published in 1989. 299 pages.

I started reading this one back in January for one of my book clubs, but when I realized I had a work commitment the night of the group meeting, I decided that I'd finish the book at a slower pace. Bryson's sarcastic humor is actually better enjoyed in small bites, so that worked out well. Here's a sample of Bryson's writing that I particularly liked:

I was entering a land of drifters: dreamers, losers, vagrants, crazy people - they all always go west in America. They all have this hopeless idea that they will get to the coast and make a fortune as a movie star or rock musician or game-show contestant or something. And if things don't work out they can always become a serial murderer. It's strange that no one ever goes east, that you never encounter anyone hitchhiking to New York in pursuit of some wild and crazy dream to be a certified public accountant or make a killing in leveraged buyouts. [page 233]


Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar

Published in 2005. 279 pages.

My then fifteen-year-old daughter read this one last year and frequently laughed out loud, so I knew I wanted to read it too. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I think David Lubar has a new fan. BTW Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie is a Beehive Award Nominee this year in the Young Adult category.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs by Ken Jennings

Published in 2006. 269 pages.

I read much more fiction than non-fiction, and I don't ever remember reading two works of non-fiction back to back - but that's just what I've done!

You can read more about Brainiac on my "regular" blog.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Between a Rock and a Hard Place
by Aron Ralston

Published in 2004. 368 pages.

You can read some of my thoughts about this incredible book on my "regular" blog.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Recommended Reads

Here is a link to thirteen books Thomma Lyn wants to get once she's caught up on reading a bunch of books she's already got. There look to be a number of good reads on the list!

Alyssa Goodnight also posted a list of books this week. Hers is here. Stephenie Meyer's New Moon is on that list, and I keep hearing really good things about Meyer - so I'm definitely going to check her out!