Wednesday, November 06, 2013

November: A Plan Called Reading

I don't usually plan my reading.  It's purely a mood thing, but this month I joined a couple of challenges.  Plus, there are some other books I want to get to.  As a result, November finds me with a tidy little reading list:

1. Johnny Cash: The Life - Robert Hilburn.  I pre-ordered this book on August 28, then practically stood over my Kindle until I got the notice via email on October 31 that it was ready to be downloaded.  Then I devoured it in hungry gulps over a three-day weekend.   There are some scandalous bits about Johnny Cash's life, but for Hilburn, the music is the main thing.  He seems impatient when Cash is concentrating on endeavors (he's especially scornful of Cash's acting, calling it "wooden", which I thought was mean) other than honing his artistic vision.  The part in which Cash decides to become a Branson performer but almost simultaneously goes to California and meets producer Rick Rubin reads like a suspense novel.  Even though I knew how things came out, I was still all whew and wiping my forehead.  Devoted fans and more musically-minded, critical readers should both be pleased with this thoughtful, in-depth examination of The Man In Black.  It's obviously a labor of love.  I found myself favorably comparing Johnny Cash: The Life to Peter Guralnick's excellent two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love. (Kindle)

2. If on a winter's night a traveler - Italo Calvino.  This is one of the challenge books I'm reading with Care and Avid Reader.  So far, not so good.  This is my subway book, and it's got me dreading my rides to and from work.  I like Calvino's ruminations about being a reader, but this post-modern stuff of novels breaking off one after another is getting on my nerves.  I know I'm "supposed" to love it and think it's brilliant, and that I don't makes me feel all grumpy, unwashed and Philistine-like.  Still, I'm going to see it through till the end.  I want bragging rights, the snob cachet, and I also need more international authors on my year-end list. (Kindle)

3. The Caine Mutiny - Herman Wouk.  There's a group on Goodreads who is tackling the Pulitzer fiction list, and The Caine Mutiny (which won in 1952) is up for this month.  I've seen the Humphrey Bogart movie several times, so I'm wondering how it will differ from the book.  I don't know where I got it, but I seem to have a first edition of the novel.  It's got no dust jacket, and the spine has a water stain, but it's in pretty good shape.  I like the endpapers:  (Hardcover)

4. Shadow of the Moon - M.M. Kaye.  The last time my reading buddy, the fleet-of-eyeball (and apparently swift of eardrum too, since she's taken up audio books with great success) Teri came to visit, she brought this novel with her.  I can't remember if she said it's her all-time favorite, or among her all-time favorites.  From the looks of this volume, it's obviously got to be in her top five:

I've never read any of M.M. Kaye's work, but I'm confident I'll like Shadow of the Moon.  Teri has an excellent track record for recommendations.  Chocolat, Flannagan's Run, and In This House of Brede were all books she pressed into my hands that I enjoyed tremendously.  My only worry is that I'll misplace one of the sections of this book, or it'll come apart even further.  (Hardcover)

5. The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien.   They've got some tall, tall bookshelves in my university library; I'm guessing the top shelves are at least two feet above my head.  One day, I got tired of craning my neck and squinting to no avail, so I grabbed a step stool and found The Things They Carried, a book I've been meaning to read since it came out in 1990.  I've a little shy of it because it's gotten so much praise, but I'm ready now.  (Paperback)

6. An Abundance of Katherines - John Green.  The latest Rainbow Rowell novel, Landlines, doesn't come out until July of 2014.  My strategy is to make do with John Green novels until then.  (Paperback)

7.  The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards.  I got this book from my friend Val.  I've been reading it on an occasional basis.  The writing is beautiful, but it's very much a "women's novel". (Paperback)

8.  Jenny & The Jaws of Life - Jincy Willett.  I found this one at the November Busan Book Swap. It's a  collection of short stories first published in 1987 and brought back into print 25 years later, thanks to the hearty endorsement of David Sedaris.  If Sedaris likes these stories, that works for me.  I also couldn't resist this cover: (Paperback)

Who knows what other books will creep onto this list between now and the 30th?  Not that I want to deviate, but what *should* creep onto the list?  Whaddaya got?


Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Shadow of the Moon! Wow! This is maybe the first time I have ever heard anyone speak of Shadow of the Moon. I LOVE Shadow of the Moon. Shadow of the Moon and The Far Pavilions are both really wonderful, if you're into swooshy romantic sagas (romantic here meaning more like, romantic in tone; although there is also a romance in each of the books). I adore them.

Kar said...

If on a Winter's Night is beautiful and frustrating. I finally decided it was an inside joke Calvino was trying to share.

The Things They Carried resonates. Yes, I think that is the correct word.

Jenny said...

Aw, I love the Calvino. He's so obviously a reader, and the first chapters are all from books I'd want to read!

Care said...

==> "I want bragging rights, the snob cachet, and I also need more international authors on my year-end list. (Kindle)"

Perfectly valid reasons.

Hope you enjoy TTTC as much as I did. :)

Unruly Reader said...

The Johnny Cash book sounds fantastic! And there's even suspense -- that's good writing, man.

Unruly Reader said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unruly Reader said...

And I can't wait to hear what you think of "The Things They Carried." I want to say more about this one, but I'm going to shush now.