Saturday, November 02, 2013

October, 2013: You Read Sixteen Books; What Do You Get?

I'm not sure what you get!  Eyestrain?  Happiness?  Relief?

I'm at 113 books now, so I can set myself on optical cruise control and easily meet my goal of 126.  I have mixed feelings about passing the set goal, because that means the bar will be automatically set higher by one book for the next year.  I've been steadily climbing since 2008.  One of these years, that steady escalation will falter, but I hope not for a long time.

Anyway.  Here's October's pile.  Except for a couple of books, I was insanely, chatteringly happy about my reading:

1. Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang - Joyce Carol Oates.  I like Oates better when she's shorter, so Foxfire was right up my alley.  The story of a girl gang in the 1950s.  If you don't feel like reading this, at least check out the 2012 French/Canadian movie version. (paperback)

2. The Beast Within - Emile Zola.  Mon Dieu!  Trains and murders and murders on trains and murderous impulses and people with low foreheads and underslung jaws. I love Zola when he gets savage, and I was a train wreck myself by the time I finished. (Kindle)

3. Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail - Louise Shivers.  A short, spare novel about a love triangle on a tobacco farm in 1930s North Carolina. Roxy, the main character, will make you want to pull your hair out in frustration, but read it for Louise Shivers' gorgeous use of language.  One reviewer said it was like an Appalachian ballad; I think that's right.  (Kindle)

4. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass - Frederick Douglass.  My friend Val gave me this book.  It's the true account of Douglass's birth into slavery up to the time he managed to escape.  Even from an early age, he was determined to find a better life, and employed all kinds of tricks and subterfuges to learn to read and write, which was illegal for slaves. A great book.  A classic read, in the best sense of the word. (paperback)

5. Flowers in the Attic - V.C. Andrews.  I read this one to plug a reading gap from my adolescence. I didn't like it at all, but felt compelled to keep reading.  It's like a horrid congealed mess of Dickens, the Marquis de Sade and The Boxcar Children. I won't be continuing the series.  (Kindle)

6. Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell.  I didn't think I could love Rainbow Rowell any more after Eleanor & Park, but I was wrong. I want to sit down and write fanfic about Cath and Wren and Levi and the whole gang.  (Kindle)

7. The Silent Wife - A.S.A. Harrison.  This book is cool in the way that The Turn of the Screw is cool.  The actions, or non-actions of Jodi, one of the main characters can be read it two different ways. I felt this one at a visceral level.  (Kindle)

8. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets - Stephen Crane.  I wish Crane had developed this story a little more.  As it stands, it's little more than the author showing off how well he can replicate turn-of-the-century Brooklyn dialect.  (Kindle)

9.Attachments - Rainbow Rowell.  The setting is a newspaper office, right around Y2K.  Lincoln, the tech guy, has to monitor the employees' email for inappropriate content. While monitoring, he gets caught up in Jennifer's and Beth's correspondence, and starts falling in love with Beth.  In anyone else's hands, this novel would be a complete mess.  Possibly drivel.  But Rainbow Rowell has magical powers, and Attachments is sweet, funny, witty, surprising...I could go on, but now it's time to cry.  I'm out of Rainbow Rowell books until Landline, her latest, is published sometime next year.  (Kindle)

10. The Thin Commandments - Stephen Gullo.  I got all excited about this book here.  Update: Nothing bread-ish has entered my Carb Face since October 21.  (Kindle)

11. Twelve Years A Slave - Solomon Northup.  In 1841, Solomon Northup, a free black man, was lured by kidnappers under the pretense of work to Washington, D.C., where he was captured and sold south, to Louisiana.  This book is his account of the brutality and cruelty he had to endure for twelve years, and the day-to-day affronts to human rights he saw around him.  I'm eager to see how Northup's story has been told in the new film version.  (Kindle)

12. Fifty-Nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had - Edward Achorn.  Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn was the winning pitcher in the very first World Series.  Baseball back then was a brutal game.  For example, catchers had no protective gear.  They actually liked it when the weather was hot and humid because their hands would swell up and it would provide a cushion when they caught the ball.  The "Fifty-Nine" of the title refers to the number of games Radbourn pitched in one season.  No pitcher has ever matched or beaten that record.  (paperback)

13. Emily Dickinson: Beyond The Myth - Patricia Sierra.  This version of Emily Dickinson seemed carefully researched and thought out, but she comes across as slightly boring and ordinary.  Her sister-in-law, Sue, comes across as a real piece of work, though.  She was so strange and off-putting that I missed her when she was out of the novel for a few pages.  (Kindle)

14. Three Nights in August - Buzz Bissinger.  I loved reading about my St. Louis Cardinals and getting into the strategic mind of past manager Tony La Russa, but I found Bissinger's writing style distracting at times.  I know we loved Albert Pujols back when this book was published in 2005, but the many references to "the great Pujols" made me roll my eyes.  (paperback)

15. The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg. What do Michael Phelps, the military, Target, Saddleback Church, AA, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have in common? These are all individuals or groups that aware of how the power of habits, and how they can be molded with great deliberation.  A lively and engaging read.  I'll make it a habit to look for more of Duhigg's writing. (paperback)

16. Home Cooking - Laurie Colwin.  Colwin did domesticity so well in her novels that I am not surprised to see her applauded for her food writing.  Her recipes are so clear and lucid that they make my toes curl with pleasure.  She was one of my favorite authors and I still miss her.  (Kindle)


raidergirl3 said...

You think Flowers of the Attic was bad (disclaimer - read them all, loved them when I was a teen) you should see the movie. I think I even paid to see it at the theatre in the day, just based on nostalgic good memeories. Oh my. But I also believe there is a remake, or did I dream that?

Unapologetically Mundane said...

So when do you think you'll get to see this slave movie that's getting so much acclaim? Five years? Ten years? Not having access to American media is the #1 reason I can't leave.

Bybee said...

Usually movies that have "Bread Feet" in them come to Korea within 3-6 months of release.

If you came here, you'd have to live in Seoul. Itaewon.