Sunday, November 27, 2016

68 of 75; or, Dark times

OK, wow. Been a while.

So ... I kind of got swept up in politics, and, in common with other registered voters, my reading started to revolve around articles posted on Facebook. After a while, I smartened up and started ignoring articles from sites like HillaryClintonIsGod.co and the like, and stuck to stories from The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, etc. Mainstream media for the win! Even if my candidate lost, at least I wasn't wasting too many brain cells on junk news sites.

(Here's a tip for how to avoid seeing them—turn down the volume on those one or two people you know who share EVERYTHING to Facebook. Or find candidates from the opposing party and like their pages. This will give Facebook's algorhythm a much-deserved kick in the pants.)

But hey, good thing I read a book about Donald Trump last May! Because it's always best to be prepared.

I was going to paste in the most recently-updated version of my list, but it would be more efficient to say that I read Henry IV, Part I, and Girl, Interrupted, and am about 100 pages into Backlash. Because a long feminist tome doesn't make me feel at all ranty at the moment, no ma'am.

I also read—and see whether you can tell what I read before and after the election:

The Casino: A Century of Elegance, by Cecilia ... (a history of a private club in Chicago which for mysterious reasons has accepted me as a member.)

The Old Curiosity Shop, by Charles Dickens

The Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens

The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler

Farewell my Lovely, by Raymond Chandler

The Third Man, by Graham Greene

Jar City and The Silence of the Grave, by Arnaldur Indriðason 

Mr. Kiss and Tell: Veronica Mars, Book II, by Rob Lowe and 

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life, by Steve Martin

If you guessed that I threw myself down a deep well of noir murder mysteries after Hillary lost---ding ding ding! You're absolutely correct.

All told, I've read 68 of my 75 books. Which would be sort of impressive ... except the last eight were audiobooks. Come on, people—it's too much to expect me to turn actual pages.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Books, books, everywhere ... but what the hell should I read next?

I just finished Nicholas Nickleby, which is episodic and melodramatic, with a shiny perfect hero, doll-like heroines, daffy comic characters, warmhearted philanthropists, and dastardly villains of deepest dye.

So naturally, I loved it. I really don't understand why all the Thinking Individuals I know look down on Dickens. I mean, sure, he's sentimental, but he was agitating for social change, so his fiction resembles Social Justice propoganda. And it worked. And it inspired other writers to do the same thing, which is how we got Uncle Tom's Cabin and eventually, FINALLY, emancipation of the slaves. And yes, Dickens' stories are unrealistic, but hey! So are Gabriel Garcia Marquez's and Kurt Vonnegut's, and they seem get away with it.

So, Nicholas Nickleby, yay. But what to read next? Let's look at an updated list, with all the stuff I've read removed.

From the Rory list:

1] Daughter of Fortune, Isabelle Allende
2] Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol 1, 1884-1933
3] I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie
4] The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
5] The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition, Donald Kagan
6] Quattrocento
7] The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age
8] War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

from the BBC list:

9] Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
10] The Time Traveler's Wife
11] The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
12 ] Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernières
13] The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
14] Life of Pi
15] A Suitable Boy
16] The Shadow of the Wind
17] Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
18] The Secret History, Donna Tartt
19] The Lovely Bones

The 2015 Read Harder Challenge:

20] SwitchFlipped (Read a book from an independent press)
21] Half-Breed (Read an author who is a member of an indigenous people)
22]The Princess Bride (Read a romance novel)
23] Lays of Ancient Rome (Read collection of poems)
24] Imperial Spain, 1469-1716, J. H. Elliott (Read a book recommended by someone)
25] Go Ask Malice: A Slayer's Diary (Read a guilty pleasure)
26] I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (Read a self-help book)

and 37 other titles to be determined, one of which will be

27] The Color Purple, Alice Walker

And now, to fill out my 75 titles, additions from the 2016 Read Harder Challenge. This is a draft of my early picks, selected because they're either already on my list, or are on the Rory Gilmore reading list:

Task 3: A collection of essays
28] A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays, Mary McCarthy (Rory)

Task 4: read a book out loud to someone else
TBD

Task 7: Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel
13] The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (BBC booklist)

Task 8: Read a book originally published in the decade you were born
29] Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg (Rory)

Task 11: Read a book under 100 pages
30] The Year of Magical Thinking: A Play by Joan Didion (Rory)
or
The Art of War, Sun Tzu (Rory)
or
The Little Prince (BBC)

Task 13: Read a book that is set in the Middle East
31] Palace Walk: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1, Naguib Mahfouz

Task 14: Read a book by an author from Southeast Asia
32] Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Sijie (Rory)

Task 15: Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900
8] War and Peace (Rory)

Task 17: Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the past three years
33] TBD

Task 19: Read a non-fiction book about feminism, or deals with feminist themes
34] Backlash, Susan Faludi (Rory)

or

The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir (Rory)

Task 20: Read a book about religion
35] The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels (Rory)

Task 23: Read a play
36] Henry IV Part I (Rory)

Task 24: Read a book about a character who has a mental illness
37] Girl, Interrupted (Rory)

I've decided to go with Girl, Interrupted, because I can get the Kindle edition right away ... and I'll probably finish it by dinner tomorrow. But I've been digging through the books in my house in New Hampshire. There are lots of titles left by the previous owners, and I found a collection of plays by Noel Coward. I'm thinking of reading one of those instead of finishing Henry IV Part One. I've only managed to slog through a couple of acts of it .... I don't know; there's just something about Shakespeare's history plays that gives me the pip.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Things have slowed to a crawl

Wow, I have really not been updating. I'd castigate myself for being a horrible blogger if I hadn't been blogging elsewhere for OVER TWELVE YEARS jesus I can't even believe it myself.

Anyway, progress is being made! Albeit painfully. Fourteen books since June. Many of them audiobooks, due to the incredible amount of time I spent driving (around Lake Michigan for a family vacation, then to Oklahoma City and back to take Miss Buxom to college.)

Onward! Since I last blogged about what I'd read in May, I've finished (Rory books in bold)

Seven books in June


Trump Nation by Timothy L. O'Brien (a Book Bub e-reading bargain I couldn't resist)
Walden by Henry David Thoreau (went through two audiobooks before I found a narrator that didn't annoy me)
Aunts Aren't Gentlemen by P. G. Wodehouse (audiobook)
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (audiobook)
Bricking It by Nick Spalding (audiobook)
Ironweed by William Kennedy
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (audiobook)

Four books in July


Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Diet and Fitness, by Laura Slater
Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens (audiobook)
Europe through the Back Door, 2016 by Rick Steves
Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich

Three books in August


The Memoirs of William T. Sherman (audiobook)
A Cool Breeze on the Underground by Don Winslow (audiobook)
Carrie by Stephen King

Currently reading


I picked up a few (OK, a lot) of books at the Full Circle bookstore in Oklahoma City. I started P. G. Wodehouse's The Small Bachelor. I've been bogged down in Henry IV Part One so I started The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck. Could this be interpreted as a kind of commentary? Perhaps.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May update—the Plath part

I finished The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. And it took for-fucking-EVER. On GoodReads I had a starting date of January 26th. I hope that marks the day I brought the book home and maybe read the back cover or some such, because four months? For one book? Really? Even if it's 720 pages long, that is a long-ass time to spend reading a single book.

I'd be ashamed, except that the book has very small print. And is non-fiction. And has lots of end notes. And is studded with appendices and I swear, I was dutifully reading my way through all of them ... until I got to Sylvia's working notes about St. Teresa of Avila. I decided that I'm not a Plath scholar and don't need to read every. single. word. I read The Bell Jar and her (then) two published collections of poetry in the 1970s, when I was a young woman with literary aspirations, because that's what you did. But I haven't read them since, because books about mental illness and confessional poetry are not really my thing.

I also finished Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath, by Anne Stevenson, which I picked up in April in a used book store in Washington, D.C. I needed some secondary source material to fill in the gaps in the journals, because the gaps are sizable. What Sylvia included: minute descriptions of why a boy she's dating is suitable or not suitable for a husband; self-castigation about procrastinating; discussions of writer's block. What she left out: her breakdown, suicide attempt, marriage to Ted Hughes, and Ted Hughes' affair. 

Unfortunately, Bitter Fame is a not-uncontroversial biography that apparently pissed off Plath's fans big time. This is actually OK with me. I'm not Team Sylvia, so I didn't mind that Sylvia came across as kind of difficult because I have been given to understand that that's one of the hallmarks of being mentally ill, which—newsflash—she was. However, in addition to being the opposite of a hagiography, I found the writing pretty ham-handed, and the discussions of Plath's writing were cursory at best.

I'm not Team Ted, though. No, not at all. In fact, I saw this poem when I did an image search for Sylvia Plath that cracked me up:


So hey—I finally finished one of the Big Leftover Rory books from 2015! Also a biography that I can count towards my Read Harder Challenge. Hooray!

In other news, I also read Little Dorrit, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Angela's Ashes, Let the Dead Lie, and The Winthrop Woman, for a total of seven books this month.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a nerd

And sometimes I strap on my pocket protector and do things thoroughly.

So about this Rory Gilmore book challenge. When you go over and over something and keep seeing errors, they start to bug you. And there are some dumb errors in the Rory Gilmore list that have gotten on my last nerve. In the list as I found it, Bambi is listed as Walt Disney's Bambi and appears in the W part of the list. Way to alphabetize, dimwits.

And then there are situations where a short story is mentioned. Is it OK to read just "The Lottery," or do I need to read the entire collection of Shirley Jackson's short stories? And what if a book is mentioned because Rory's mocking it? As I've said, I'm a nerd who does things thoroughly, so I'd still read the book in question. But it would be nice to know that Rory Gilmore hated The Da Vinci Code, so I wouldn't feel pressured to like it. I don't want to waste time searching for literary qualities that don't exist. (I hated The Da Vinci Code. I expect you've already figured that out.)

Anyway, I decided to do a Gilmore Girls rewatch, noting what books were mentioned. Because it struck me that perhaps whoever put together the list needed an editor.

It turns out that while many authors are alluded to, and many works of literature are mentioned, but Rory does not spend seven seasons sitting around reading. In fact, I was wondering how she got the reputation for being such a bookworm.

Well, here I am at Season 1, Episode 9, "Rory's Dance," and I'm finally seeing Rory read. First, The Group, while Tristan is annoying her.





And then The Portable Dorothy Parker, which she carries in her evening bag the night of the school dance.





The Rory Gilmore Challenge List: books read before I'd ever heard of her, and once I started the challenge

Ok, now I'm just being anal. It's just that once in a while I'm in a book store and I can't remember what books I have left to read. So here I go: anything not crossed off is fair game for the reading challenge.

Also, it's good to know that I've read 36 books because of a fictional smartypants high school girl on television.

1984 by George Orwell
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – read – July 2010
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Babe by Dick King-Smith
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bambi by Felix Salten
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger – read
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

The Collected Stories by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père

Cousin Bette by Honoré de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Crucible by Arthur Miller (although I believe they're referring to the movie)
Cujo by Stephen King
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Daisy Miller by Henry James

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Deenie by Judy Blume
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Don Quixote by Cervantes

Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
Emma by Jane Austen
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger

Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers (Season 1--could be the movie)
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry (TBR)
Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III (Lpr)
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
How the Light Gets in by M. J. Hyland
Howl by Allen Ginsburg
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Iliad by Homer

I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Ironweed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" by Mark Twain
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
"The Little Match Girl" by Hans Christian Andersen, Season 1, Episode 1
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Love Story by Erich Segal
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Manticore by Robertson Davies

Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken from Season 1, Episode
The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and Its Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken, Season 1 Episode
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Night by Elie Wiesel
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Old School by Tobias Wolff
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
On the Road by Jack Kerouac

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Othello by Shakespeare
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Property by Valerie Martin
Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
"Rapunzel" by Grimm Brothers
"The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe

The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings Book 3 by J. R. R. Tolkien
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
"Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" by Stephen King
Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Fever by Edith Wharton
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin from Season 1 Episode (I believe this is the movie)
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – started and not finished
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
"Snow White and Rose Red" by the Brothers Grimm
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
A Streetcar Named Desiree by Tennessee Williams
Stuart Little by E. B. White

Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Unless by Carol Shields
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee – read
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – started and not finished
The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Day, May Day

It's time for my May update! Yay! Only six books this month. Boo.

Titles from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge list


R is for Ricochet, Sue Grafton
S is for Silence, Sue Grafton
The Code of the Woosters, P. G. Wodehouse

Thank God Rory occasionally reads something a little frivolous and doesn't only read Russian novels, gender studies classics, and memoirs by Civil War generals.


Also reads


Mycroft Holmes, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, reviewd here
She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, Jennifer Finney Boylan (Read Harder Challenge, Task 12) reviewed here
Bad Country, C. B. McKenzie


Also reading


I'm about to finish Angela's Ashes, which I'm enjoying much more than I thought I would. I think I read an excerpt of it somewhere, and that, combined with the cover art, made me think the book was going to be depressing AF. But it's not.

I'm still working on The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath (Rory) and even bought Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath because sometimes a solid secondary source fills in background information and adds a note of rationality and objectivity to the adolescent self-center.

I guess I could use that Sylvia Plath biography for my Read Harder Challenge "Read a Biography" task. Although I was planning to read a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt or Colette. But whatEVER, Sylvia, sheesh.

I'm also reading Ironweed (Rory) as well as rereading The Winthrop Woman because I've been asked to facilitate a book club meeting about it. (I suggested the book to the bookclub based on its having been the hot sexy book when I was in seventh grade. Since that was over 40 years ago, can I count this towards my 2016 titles? Does it count as reading when I'm rereading? I honestly remember very little about it. Except for the hot sexy bits, of course.)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Jennifer Kinney Boylan's She's Not There: an audible problem

As I'm still struggling with Sylvia, I decided to pick up another book to work on. I chose an audiobook to listen to while I'm driving, doing laundry, picking up the house, etc.

Sad to say, about two-thirds of the books I've "read" are books I've listened to. Not because don't enjoy sitting around for hours with my head in a book, but because my house will implode if I don't keep moving. Not to mention my frequent time behind the wheel of a car. What with errands, driving back and forth to Chicago, and folding laundry, I can listen to a ten hour-long audiobook start to finish in two days. Easily.

This time I branched out to the BookRiot's 2016 Read Harder Challenge part of my list. This task is "Read a book by or about a person that [sic] identifies as transgender." I picked She's Not There, by Jennifer Finney Boylan.



After listening to about half of the book, I've unfortunately realized that I'd like the book much more if I were reading it. It's a sad fact that most of the time, authors don't do particularly well by their own books. Jen Lancaster being a notable exception to the rule that Jennifer Kenney Boylan illustrates beautifully.

First of all, Boylan claims to have an androgynous-sounding voice, but it's more androgynous-lite. When I listen to the audiobook, I never think "I'm listening to a woman," and this undercuts some of the things she says. The power of her prose would be increased if I read all the way through the book, which starts when she's a five year old boy, and heard a woman's voice in my head. Or if she started narrating in a man's voice and then gradually became more feminine-sounding. (OK, it's a bit much to expect audiobooks to contain special effects. They're not movies.)

The thing is, in She's Not There, Boylan discusses her speaking voice and speech patterns. She worked with a vocal coach. She consciously tried to employ the rising inflection (referred to by linguists as "uptalk") that she claims many women adopt. She also mentions how ironic it is that the same rising inflection she criticized as a male English professor is now something she uses herself. In the book, she describes being nonplussed when she catches herself using uptalk. And she does it pretty frequently.

The thing is, when she reads her book aloud, you can't tell whether she realizes she's doing it. Is the uptalk deliberate, and employed for humorous effect, or is Boylan better than I am at sounding like a stereotypical young woman? I became so curious about it that I checked out the text over on Amazon. I couldn't see the whole book, but I caught a couple of examples where Boylan has added a question mark to her text to convey the use of uptalk. But when you hear it, you can't tell whether she knows she's doing it? And it bugs me?

I also find her sloppy S's off-putting.

But worst of all is her habit of separating nouns and verbs with a moment or two of silence, as though she were, adding a comma. That's what it sounds like when she, reads. And it's incredibly, annoying.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: Mycroft Holmes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Mary Sue


In another attempt to avoid reading more serious books :cough: theendlessjournalsofSylviaPlath :cough: I decided to listen to the audiobook edition of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's expansion of the Sherlock Holmes universe, Mycroft Holmes.

I should begin by saying that although I have read all of the Conan Doyle stories and novels, watched all of the BBC television adaptations starring Jeremy Brett, and am currently keeping company with both Sherlock and Elementary, I am by no means a Holmes fanatic. I just like mysteries and Victorian literature, so it's kind of a natural direction for me to head in.

Because of this liking-but-not-LOVING point of view, I have no problem with updates to the canon. I thought it was brilliant in Sherlock when Benedict Cumberbatch texted, rather than spoke to people, or covered himself with nicotine patches instead of smoking a pipe. In Elementary, Jonny Lee Miller can be a recovering addict, and Lucy Liu can be a female Watson; it's all good.

Therefore I was delighted to try Mycroft Holmes. I mean, really. Talk about a built-in opportunity to broaden the readership's knowledge of a character. I felt the same way you'd feel if J. K. Rowling decided to write The Adventures of Dumbledore.

Parts of the book were quite good. I liked the interplay between Mycroft and Sherlock; I liked the hints of a juicy backstory for their mother. I liked that Mycroft's fiancée was pursuing higher education and social reform. I liked the sense of the massive bureaucracy needed to run the British Empire and the way Mycroft happily envisioned himself as a cog in that enormous machine. I liked the insights I got into the history and culture of Trinidad as well as the post-Civil War period in American and international history.

But Mycroft Holmes is, at heart, fan fiction. Fan fiction, in case you aren't aware of the phenomenon, is written by fans of popular novels, television shows, and movies. It started with Star Trek and was published in zines. Now it's happening with Star Wars, Harry Potter, My Little Pony, Naruto, Pokemon, Supernatural, and it's all over the internet. You may or may not be aware that the Fifty Shades trilogy, now threatening to continue into what—a sexology?—started as Twilight fan fiction.

So you see, fanfic has a lot to answer for. But it can also be considered a form of adaptation. We have expectations of film adaptations of our favorite novels; we expect them to be faithful to the originals. But at times, a filmmaker takes familiar characters and settings and runs amok. This is pretty much what happened with Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland. There's Alice, and a Mad Hatter, and a Red Queen, but the story itself is all but unrecognizable. In this sense, the movie is failed fanfic.

One way of reviewing Mycroft Holmes is to see how well it succeeds with already existing characters and situations. In this, I think Abdul-Jabbar did pretty well. The Mycroft in this book is only 23 years old, and Sherlock is only 17, so they are at an embryonic state, and Abdul-Jabbar handles this well. He doesn't do anything that conflicts with our already-established understanding of the characters.

My only problem, other than the somewhat pedestrian prose and flat dialogue, was in the character of Cyrus Douglas. He is a middle-aged Trinidadian who has moved to London to go into the tobacco business, and has become Mycroft's best friend. At many times during the novel, Cyrus, who seems destined to be the Watson to Mycroft's Holmes, takes over the narrative. Without including any spoilers, I'll just say that Cyrus is Practically Perfect in Every Way. Which makes sense, because Cyrus is a Mary Sue.

In case this isn't clear (I mean, not everyone spends their time reading 15-year-old Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfic ... SPUFFY4EVA) a Mary Sue is basically the author of a fanfic, made pluperfect, and inserted into the narrative. She's the beautiful, talented, kind, understanding—basically perfect—girl who shows up at Hogwarts and Harry Potter (or Draco Malfoy) falls in love with her. 

In Mycroft Holmes, Cyrus is athletic, intelligent, enterprising, open-minded, and capable of teaching many things to his young friend Mycroft. He has a rich backstory and has suffered and endured things that Mycroft can not even imagine. This gives the author the opportunity to school his callow white English character on Imperialism, racism, social skills, martial arts, and how to be a good person. 

This is not to say that I didn't enjoy the book. It is more of an action story than a mystery, and the pace plods a bit at times, but parts of it are very good. I get a clear sense of place, whether we are in London, Trinidad, or on board a steam ship. And the end, in particular, kicks ass.  I hope that Abdul-Jabbar continues the series. I just hope that next time, he pays a bit more attention to his eponymous hero.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Slogging through Sylvia

Not me.


I picked up The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath at a second-hand store in Hyde Park back in January. In the past week, I've managed to read 100 pages of it. Needless to say, this hasn't been a particularly inviting read. Not only is it over 700 finely-printed pages long, it's Sylvia Plath. Which isn't easy for me to deal with. 

Here's the thing; I get incredible secondhand embarrassment from reading Sylvia Plath's letters and journals. It's almost like watching I Love Lucy. There are many reasons for this, the first of which is primary identification. Sylvia Plath grew up in a suburb of Boston, went to Smith College, majored in English literature, and wrote poetry (duh). So did I. So there are times when it's a cringing embarrassment to read her ... the self-centeredness, the judgmental attitudes, and most of all, the rhapsodies about the various boys she had crushes on. And I don't get the feeling that she was writing with an eye towards publication, so on top of everything else, I feel like a voyeur. I've also read the collection of letters she wrote home to her mother, so to read her journals and get an idea of what she really thought, as opposed to what she was telling Mom ... well, it fills me with literary insight and such, but it makes me feel uncomfortable. Then there's the fact that I know what happened to her.

What with one thing and another, it's almost as awful as reading Anne Frank.

And she's so focused on men. I want to tell her, "Jesus, Sylvia, calm down. You're a freshman in college. You don't have to find a husband right now." But then I realize that she was writing in the 1950s, at the height of the get-the-women-back-into-the-kitchen postwar period. As a rising sophomore, she was already worried that she wasn't going to be able to have a family and a career. 

I can't tell whether I was spoiled rotten. Perhaps I was. But as a student in the 1970s, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to have a career as well as a husband. And I also realize how incredibly thoughtful she was. And already such a wordsmith. I mean, yeah, an annoyingly show-offy one, but holy hell. She was 18.

I remember being an 18-year old poetry-writing freshman English major at Smith College ... and I think I was putting about 10 percent of her energy, work ethic, and intelligence into thinking about my life, where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to do.

Then again ... I wasn't a genius.  I guess that helps.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Susan Silverman is Spenser's Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and other ruminations


OK, so for April I decided to give myself a bit of a break. I'd been reading some rather heavy books that were, frankly, unenjoyable in the extreme. And these were sandwiched between books that were amazingly dumb, like The Da Vinci Code. So I thought, "Hey, there are New York Times best selling mystery stories on the Rory list. They must be pretty good. I'll read some of them!"

Accordingly, I read

R is for Ricochet, Sue Grafton (Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge list)
S is for Silence, Sue Grafton (Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge list)


Eh. They were OK. I guess I like my private investigators funnier, more literary, and based in Boston. Basically, I want them to be Spenser. In fact, the last time I was in Boston, I took advantage of my Back Bay location to go running on the Esplanade. I may or may have not looked (in vain) for Spenser and Hawk.

Fixed that for you

However, if I take a minute or two to stop fangirling and force my thoughts along somewhat more intellectual lines, I find myself wanting to do a compare-and-contrast conference paper about female private investigators dreamed up by women, and women characters as dreamed up by men. Because I've always been uneasy about the tiny amount of food Robert Parker allowed Susan Silverman to eat. Susan will sit there and peel apart a club sandwich, nibble on a lettuce leaf, and maybe finish a quarter of a sandwich in half an hour. On the other hand, Grafton's character Kinsey Millhone has the appetite and eating habits of a teenaged boy.

That says something about the two characters and their authors; I just don't know what.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ten books in March

For a total of 26 out of a total of 75 for this year.

  1. Memoirs of a Geisha from the BBC list
  2. The Da Vinci Code from the BBC list, also the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge list (I also saw the movie, which was Task 18 of Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge 2016--in case you're curious, the movie was better!)
  3. Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare and Makeup
  4. Lies & the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair & Balanced Look at the Right from the Rory list, also Task 21 of Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge 2016
  5. Sacred Time Rory
  6. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers Rory, also Task 2 of Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge 2016
  7. Atonement BBC, also Rory
  8. The Shining Task 1 of the Read Harder Challenge, Rory
  9. A Beautiful Place to Die Task 16 of the Read Harder Challenge 2016
  10. Galápagos Rory

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Progress so far


From the Rory list:

1] Daughter of Fortune, Isabelle Allende
2] Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol 1, 1884-1933
3] Galápagos, Kurt Vonegut
4] I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie
5] The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
6] The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition, Donald Kagan
7] Quattrocento
8] Sacred Time
9] Tender Is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
10] The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
11] The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age
12] War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

from the BBC list:

13] The Lord of the Rings, Book 2: The Two Towers, J. R. R. Tolkein
14] Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
15] The Time Traveler's Wife
16] The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
17] The Kite Runner
18 ] Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernières
19] Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
20] The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
21] The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
22] Atonement, Ian McKeon
23] Life of Pi
24] A Suitable Boy
25] The Shadow of the Wind
26] Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
27] The Secret History, Donna Tartt
28] The Lovely Bones

The 2015 Read Harder Challenge:

29] SwitchFlipped (Read a book from an independent press)
30] A Guest Of Honour (Read an author from Africa)
31] Half-Breed (Read an author who is a member of an indigenous people)
32]The Princess Bride (Read a romance novel)
34] Macbeth (Read a retelling of well-known story)
35] Lays of Ancient Rome (Read collection of poems)
36] Imperial Spain, 1469-1716, J. H. Elliott (Read a book recommended by someone)
37] Go Ask Malice: A Slayer's Diary (Read a guilty pleasure)
38] I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (Read a self-help book)

and 37 other titles to be determined, one of which will be

39] The Color Purple, Alice Walker

And now, to fill out my 75 titles, additions from the 2016 Read Harder Challenge. This is a draft of my early picks, selected because they're either already on my list, or are on the Rory Gilmore reading list:

Task 1: Read a Horror Book
40] The Shining, Steven King (Rory)

Task 2: A non-fiction book about science
41] Stiff (Rory)

Task 3: A collection of essays
42] A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays, Mary McCarthy (Rory)

Task 4: read a book out loud to someone else
TBD

Task 5: Read a middle grade novel
43] Deenie by Judy Blume (Rory)

Task 6: Read a biography
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette (Rory)
or
2] Eleanor Roosevelt Volume 1 1884-1933 (Rory)

Task 7: Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel
21] The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (BBC booklist)

Task 8: Read a book originally published in the decade you were born
44] Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg (Rory)

Task 9: Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie award
45] The Twelve Clues of Christmas: A Royal Spyness Mystery, by Rhys Bowen, read by Katherine Kellgren

Task 10: Read a book over 500 pages long
24] A Suitable Boy (BBC list)

Task 11: Read a book under 100 pages
46] The Year of Magical Thinking: A Play by Joan Didion (Rory)
or
The Art of War, Sun Tzu (Rory)
or
The Little Prince (BBC)

Task 12: Read a book by or about a person who identifies as transgender
47] She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, Jenner Boylan

Task 13: Read a book that is set in the Middle East
48] Palace Walk: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1, Naguib Mahfouz

Task 14: Read a book by an author from Southeast Asia
49] Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Sijie (Rory)

Task 15: Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900
12] War and Peace (Rory)

Task 16: Read the first book in a series by a person of color
50] TBD

Task 17: Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the past three years
51] TBD

Task 18: Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie.
16] The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck (BBC)

or

23] Life of Pi (BBC)

Task 19: Read a non-fiction book about feminism, or deals with feminist themes
52] Backlash, Susan Faludi (Rory)

or

The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir (Rory)

Task 20: Read a book about religion
53] The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels (Rory)

Task 21: Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or non-fiction)
54] Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken (Rory)

Task 22: Read a food memoir
55] Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (Rory)

Task 23: Read a play
56] Henry IV Part I (Rory)

Task 24: Read a book about a character who has a mental illness
57} Girl, Interrupted (Rory)

My 2016 Reading Challenge (updated to subtract what I've read this year)

For the fourth year in a row, I'm participating in the GoodReads reading challenge. I'm planning to read 75 books.

My list is a continuation of last year's, where, again, I set a goal of reading 75 books. I selected 75 books from the Rory Gilmore Book List, the BBC Book List, and the Read Harder Challenge.

This was very ambitious of me, because some of the books on my list were Very Heavy Going Indeed. I didn't manage to read the 75 titles from these extremely worthy lists--far from it--there were cozy mysteries that needed reading, too!

For this year, I retained all the books I hadn't read in 2015, so I'm like the U. S. Government--already in debt. I kept the leftovers and added new titles to suit the tasks of the 2016 Read Harder Challenge. Many of the books work for more than one part of the list, which frees up some books for me to pick.

From the Rory list:

1] Daughter of Fortune, Isabelle Allende
2] Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol 1, 1884-1933
3] I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie
4] The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
5] The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition, Donald Kagan
6] Quattrocento
7] The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age
8] War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

from the BBC list:


9] Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
10] The Time Traveler's Wife
11] The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
12] Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernières
13] The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
14] Life of Pi
15] A Suitable Boy
16] The Shadow of the Wind
17] Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
28] The Secret History, Donna Tartt
29] The Lovely Bones

The 2015 Read Harder Challenge:

30] SwitchFlipped (Read a book from an independent press)
32] Half-Breed (Read an author who is a member of an indigenous people)
33] Lays of Ancient Rome (Read collection of poems)
34] Imperial Spain, 1469-1716, J. H. Elliott (Read a book recommended by someone)
35] Go Ask Malice: A Slayer's Diary (Read a guilty pleasure)
36] The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck (Read a self-help book)

and 37 other titles to be determined, one of which will be

37] The Color Purple, Alice Walker

And now, to fill out my 75 titles, additions from the 2016 Read Harder Challenge. This is a draft of my early picks, selected because they're either already on my list, or are on the Rory Gilmore reading list:


Task 3: A collection of essays
38] A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays, Mary McCarthy (Rory)

Task 4: read a book out loud to someone else
TBD

Task 7: Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (BBC booklist)

Task 8: Read a book originally published in the decade you were born
39] Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg (Rory)


Task 11: Read a book under 100 pages
40] The Year of Magical Thinking: A Play by Joan Didion (Rory)
or
The Art of War, Sun Tzu (Rory)
or
The Little Prince (BBC)

Task 13: Read a book that is set in the Middle East
41] Palace Walk: The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1, Naguib Mahfouz

Task 14: Read a book by an author from Southeast Asia
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Sijie (Rory)

Task 15: Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900
War and Peace (Rory)


Task 17: Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the past three years
42] TBD

Task 19: Read a non-fiction book about feminism, or deals with feminist themes
43] Backlash, Susan Faludi (Rory)

or

The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir (Rory)

Task 20: Read a book about religion
44] The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels (Rory)


Task 23: Read a play
45] Henry IV Part I (Rory)

Task 24: Read a book about a character who has a mental illness
46] Girl, Interrupted (Rory)