Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Book Bingo Blackout: School's In!


 Unruly Reader strikes again! Isn't this school theme worthy of at least seven complimentary words that border on worshipful?  I'm totally enthralled.

Unruly has a description of each category/school subject:



I can see myself acing this challenge and going to the head of the class then graduating with honors. My plan is to come back and add updates here every month, so watch this space.

Sunday, January 01, 2023

2023 Reading Resolutions

 


Keep it simple. 

That's what I tell myself, but when I see a brand-new, unvarnished, pristine new year, something in me wants to get downright ornate with my resolutions. Read all the classics! Read your own shelves! Let your inner book snob take over! Don't read anything written before 1790! Don't read anything originally written in English!

I can never keep a whole list of resolutions, so maybe if I tell myself to read whimsically, I'll suddenly have a perverse need for structure.

Here are a few resolutions I'm pretty sure I can keep:

1. Read 62 books in 2023

2. Use the library.

3. Show the hometown bookstore lots of love.

4. Stay in the book group.

5. Continue posting to my beloved book blog, My Blob.

6. Oh, hell...read whimsically.

Regarding the above photo: This was the first draft of my 2023 resolutions. I thought I'd save it here, just to see...

Friday, December 30, 2022

2022 Reading: The Breakdown

Total # of Books Read in 2022: 71

 Fiction: 29

Nonfiction: 42

Audiobooks: 16

Graphic Novels: 1

Male Authors: 25

Female Authors: 46

19th Century Books: 1

20th Century Books: 8

21st Century Books: 62

Who Was...? Books: 17

Authors From Other Countries:

 10 (Canada, Spain, England, Germany, Australia, and South Africa)

Longest Book:

  Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark 1,118 pages

Shortest Book: 

Who Was Chloe Kim? by Stefanie Loh  49 pages

You Go Back, Jack, Do It Again (Rereads): 

 The Thorn Birds, The Book Thief, Daisy Jones and The Six, The Good Earth, and My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Library Books: 52

Bybeeary Books: 14

Borrowed: 5

DNF: 

Midnight on the Orient Express, Resistance Women, and  Demon Copperhead

DNF & Good Riddance: 

Kings Row by Henry Bellamann. Rusty prose. Labored psychological stylings. I fled.

Give Me Back My Time: 

Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama by Bob Odenkirk and Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Eyeroll: 

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Utterly Delicious: 

Taste by Stanley Tucci, Home Baked by Alia Volz and Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Pop Culture Thrills Galore:

  Everybody Thought We Were Crazy by Mark Rozzo

Jaw Hit The Floor Repeatedly:

  I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy 

Better Late Than Never: 

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt  But really, I ask you: who but who sleeps on a book for almost THREE g0##@%& decades???

Yes, I Cried Buckets:

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, Half Empty by David Rakoff and Red Comet by Heather Clark

Yes, I Was Pissed Off Enough To Jump Into The Book:

French Braid by Anne Tyler, Never Let Her Go by Ann Rule and Red Comet by Heather Clark

Road Trip Yes Please:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (Savannah, Georgia)

Reading Hangover: 

Red Comet by Heather Clark and Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Claustrophobic Flare-up: 

The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff 

Upraised Middle Finger: 

Who Was Ponce de Leon?  All those conquistadors, yuck.

Seriously Good Seriously Serious Fiction: 

The Leavers by Lisa Ko ,The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, and True Biz by Sara Novic

I Was Meta Cool When Meta Wasn't Cool: 

A View From The Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor

Favorite True Crime Reads:

The Murder Book by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell and The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale

Badass: 

Constance Kopp from The Kopp Sisters series, Meridy Volz from Home Baked, and Marie de France (?)  from The Matrix

Favorite Pet:

 Desmond the cat from French Braid

Strangest Narrator:

 Death from The Book Thief

Bridge Books (started in 2022 but won't finish until 2023):

Poison by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, Sons by Pearl S. Buck, The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford, and Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography by Gail Levin

I'm starting to see splinters, so I think I've broken down 2022's reading about as far as it will go. Now, it's time to make some book resolutions for 2023.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

2022 Reading: The Nonfiction

 I can't believe I read so much nonfiction this year. As they used to say in the old cigarette commercials, it was the taste that satisfied. I even flirted with the idea of having an all-nonfiction year in 2023, but not sure if I can live completely without fiction. Anyway, here's the list. Favorites are highlighted in green.

January

Taste: My Life Through Food - Stanley Tucci. 

Who Were the Navajo Code Talkers? - James Buckley, Jr.

Who Is Queen Elizabeth II? - Megan Stine.

What Was The Plague? - Roberta Edwards.

The Fran Leibowitz Reader - Fran Leibowitz.

February

Murder Book: A Graphic Memoir of a True Crime Obsession - Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell.

Who Were Stanley and Livingstone? - Jim Gigliotti.

Chasing the Last Laugh - Richard Zacks.

Garbo - Robert Gottlieb.

March

And Never Let Her Go - Ann Rule.

Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco - Alia Volz.

Born With Teeth - Kate Mulgrew.

What Were the Salem Witch Trials? - Joan Holub.

Half-Empty - David Rakoff.

April

Crying in H Mart - Michelle Zauner.

Who Was Charles Schultz? -Joan Holub.

What Was The Harlem Renaissance? - Sherri L. Smith

May

Films of Endearment - Michael Koresky.

The Taking of Jemima Boone - Matthew Pearl.

What Is Juneteenth? - Kirsti Jewel.

June

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business - Dick Van Dyke.

Who Is Jimmy Carter? - David Stabler.

Who Was Johnny Cash? - Jim Gigliotti.

Happy-Go-Lucky - David Sedaris.

Who Is Chloe Kim? - Stefanie Loh.

July

What Are Castles and Knights? - Sarah Fabiny.

The Witches - Stacy Schiff.

Who Was E.B. White? - Gail Herman.

What Is The AIDS Crisis? - Nico Medina.

Long Walk to Freedom - Nelson Mandela.

Who Was Ponce de Leon? - Pam Pollack.

August

Who Was Nelson Mandela? - Pam Pollack and Meg Belviso.

The Wicked Boy - Kate Summerscale.

September

Dust Bowl Girls - Lydia Reeder

Everybody Thought We Were Crazy - Mark Rozzo.

October

Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama - Bob Odenkirk.

I'm Glad My Mom Died - Jennette McCurdy.

November

Who Was Georgia O'Keeffe? - Sarah Fabiny.

Three Martini Afternoons at The Ritz - Gail Crowther.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt.

December

Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath - Heather Clark.

Who Was Steve Irwin? - Dina Anastasio.


My Very Favorites, My WOW Reads: 

Taste, Home Baked, Crying in H Mart, Everybody Thought We Were Crazy, I'm Glad My Mom Died, Three Martini Afternoons at The Ritz, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and Red Comet.

Monday, December 26, 2022

2022 Reading: The Fiction

For some reason, this wasn't a big fiction reading year for me. Perhaps my tastes are changing.

Checkmarks below indicate a hearty recommendation. 

I want to recommend The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles, but fairly or unfairly, I keep comparing it to his first novel Rules of Civility, which I *really* loved. I'd also recommend The Thorn Birds, but the Justine section, which is the last 100+ pages of the novel is Such. A. Slog.

January
Billy Summers - Stephen King
Matrix - Lauren Groff ✅
Fates and Furies - Lauren Groff

February
Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple

March
The Lincoln Highway - Amor Towles
Mrs. March - Virginia Feito
The Dressmaker - Kate Alcott

April
The Devil All the Time - Donald Ray Pollock ✅
French Braid - Anne Tyler ✅
Ocean State - Stewart O'Nan ✅

May
The Leavers - Lisa Ko ✅

June
Pretty Baby - Mary Kubica
Vinegar Girl - Anne Tyler ✅
The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough

July
The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver ✅

August
A View of the Harbour - Elizabeth Taylor ✅
Lady Cop Makes Trouble - Amy Stewart ✅
My Year of Rest and Relaxation - Ottessa Moshfegh
Bluebird, Bluebird - Attica Locke
Girl Waits With Gun - Amy Stewart ✅

September
Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions - Amy Stewart ✅
True Biz - Sara Novic ✅
Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit - Amy Stewart ✅
The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven - Nathaniel Ian Miller

October
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak ✅
Daisy Jones and The Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid ✅
Little Man, What Now? - Hans Fallada

November
The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck ✅

December
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

Overall favorite: The Kopp Sisters series

DNF: Demon Copperhead - Barbara Kingsolver (but I plan to take it up again in 2023. Just ran out of time with my library checkout and there was/is a waitlist. And my name is back upon it.)

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Cov-ember

 This post was originally meant to be all about how I rocked Nonfiction November, and I did, but of course I must mention how, on the last day of the month, COVID-19 kicked me in the ass with its hobnailed boots. And my little (!) Spawn, too!!!  So now we're in quarantine. This is difficult to write, so I'd better move along. Brain fog is real, and my fingers are not obediently flying to the proper keys.

1. Who Was Georgia O'Keeffe? - Sarah Fabiny. Nonfiction. My favorite part was when Georgia went down to Mexico to meet up with her good friend Frida Kahlo.

2. The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck. Novel. Audiobook. Loved the narration. I can't think of his name, but he played the assistant principal on Boston Public.

3. Three Martini Afternoons at the Ritz - Gail Crowther. Nonfiction. Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Boston, 1958. Where's my time machine?

4. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt. Nonfiction. Audiobook. I'm mad at myself for sidestepping this brilliant book for -oh god- three decades! Novels are so jealous they cry because this book has got so many juicy characters, terrific atmosphere, a murder mystery and magic. Like so many people who have read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I have added visiting Savannah to my bucket list. Give it a go, if you haven't already. The audiobook version is superb.

Looks like only four books, but not really. I got 150 pages into Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver and was absorbed, but had to turn it back into the library before finishing. There's a waiting list.

I'm slowly and enjoyably working my way through Heather Clark's excellent biography Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath. Esquire just put out a list of 50 of the best biographies of all time. Red Comet is on it, and that's damn right.

I need to stop writing now. See you for December and the year-end wrap-up.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Socktober

 


For some reason, I've lost a lot of socks lately. And they all belong to my Disney Princess collection. Of course I only lose one out of a pair, so on any given day, you can find me wearing Jasmine on one foot and Mulan on the other. Or Ariel. Somehow, I've been able to hold on to both Belles. Must be part of my bookworm powers at work, because I also still have both Fuck Off I'm Reading socks.

Speaking of reading, I finished five in October, and I didn't tell anyone to do...that. File under restraint.

1. Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama - Bob Odenkirk. Memoir. Better Call Saul is my new favorite show, so I was eager to read this book. The library has it, but it was checked out, so I got a wild hair and bought it, knowing that it was going to be spectacular. Um...kinda jumped the gun on that one. It's not spectacular. It's not even good. It's like Mr. Odenkirk was mumbling in his sleep and someone sat by his bed and transcribed. At various points in the book, he says himself that it's not very good, and whether or not he was being self-deprecating, he's right.

2. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak. Novel. I read this for book group. Audiobooked it, and it was wonderful. Actually, this was my second reading, but it was so many years ago -- that first year or so that I was in Korea.

3. I'm Glad My Mom Died - Jennette McCurdy. Memoir. At first, I didn't want to read this book because of the title, but everyone kept saying how good it was. And they were right! McCurdy is  a great writer and she certainly had enough material to work with. I can't count how many times my jaw dropped. This is one of the best memoirs I've ever read.

4. Daisy Jones and The Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid. Novel. I read this back in 2020 (I think) and really liked it. Then Sarah, the coordinator of the book group mentioned that the library had it in audiobook form, and it was one of the best she'd ever listened to. Mental note to myself: When Sarah speaks... All of the voice actors were on point, and Jennifer Beals as Daisy Jones was incredible. Now, thanks to this book, I've got a Fleetwood Mac thing going on.

5. Little Man, What Now? - Hans Fallada. Novel. This German novel was published in 1932, shortly before Hitler came into power. The economy in Germany is dismal, but Johannes (Sonny) gets his girlfriend Emma (Lammchen) pregnant, so they take a deep breath and plunge into matrimony. Sonny struggles with horrible and petty bosses, sketchy housing and infuriating red tape from government agencies. The Nazis are in evidence, but part of the background noise. This part of the book is well-done. There are also several colorful characters Sonny and Lammchen meet along the way, and Fallada gets sidetracked by them the way Richard Llewellyn got sidetracked away from Ernie Mott and his Ma in None But the Lonely Heart. Still, a pretty good read. I felt invested in the two main characters and their challenges, and wish that Fallada had written a sequel so we could see if Sonny and Lammchen's fortunes improved or not. My copy is a British English translation; I'd have preferred American English, but that's a minor quibble.

Right now, I'm heavily into Nonfiction November, and already eager to blog about that!