Monday, May 22, 2017

My 2017 Reading List: leftovers and new challenges

It's been pretty easy for me to get my reading done so far this year, since I've been ignoring my intellectual development in favor of drowning my sorrows in mystery stories.

I did manage to read The Secret History (what tripe) and finally finished Backlash. Also, I started re-listening to my Game of Thrones audiobooks, and rereading a book is one of the 2017 Read Harder Challenges. So I can feel pretty smug about knocking a big three books off my Mental Development Reading List.

This is what I have left over, as well as the stuff I've added to the list to get my total to 75 books. (I didn't actually reach 75, first because I've already read a boatload of mysteries this year, but also because I double-dip whenever possible with my challenging books, as in, if a book is on the Rory list and the Read Harder list, it's a twofer.)

Old stuff from the Rory list, which I've been planning to read since 2015

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

from the BBC list

9] Tolkein, J. R. R.: The Return of the King
10] Faulks, Sebastian: Birdsong
11] Niffenegger, Audrey: The Time Traveler's Wife,
12] Steinbeck, John: The Grapes of Wrath
13] de Bernières, Louis: Captain Corelli's Mandolin
14] Martel, Yann: Life of Pi
15] Seth, Vikram: A Suitable Boy
16] Ruiz, Carlos: The Shadow of the Wind
17] Marquez, Gabriel Garcia: Love in the Time of Cholera
18] Sebold, Alice: The Lovely Bones

The 2015 Read Harder Challenge

19] Stolze, Greg: SwitchFlipped (Read a book from an independent press)
20] Goldman, William: The Princess Bride (Read a romance novel)
21] Elliott, J. H.: Imperial Spain, 1469-1716, (Read a book recommended by someone)
22] Levy, Robert Joseph: Go Ask Malice: A Slayer's Diary (Read a guilty pleasure)
23] Sedaris, Amy: I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (Read a self-help book)

I also decided to read

24] Walker, Alice: The Color Purple

just because. Then there's the leftover

2016 Read Harder Challenge

Task 3: A collection of essays
25] McCarthy, Mary: A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays (also on RG list)

Task 4: read a book out loud to someone else

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

Task 8: Read a book originally published in the decade you were born
9] The Return of the King (BBC)

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

Task 11: Read a book under 100 pages
26] Didion, Joan: The Year of Magical Thinking: A Play (Rory)
Tzu, Sun: The Art of War (Rory)
de St.-Exupery, Antoine: The Little Prince (BBC)

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

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
29] Lewis, John: March

Task 17: Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the past three years
29] Lewis, John: March

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

Now for the new stuff, for which, in reaction to Gay Talese, I decided to feature female authors:

New titles from the Rory Gilmore list

31] Grealy, Lucy: The Autobiography of a Face
32] Chopin, Kate: The Awakening
33] Patchett, Ann: Bel Canto
34] Morrison, Toni: Beloved
35] Wurtzel, Elizabeth: Bitch
36] Ali, Monica: Brick Lane
37] Powell, Dawn: Complete Novels
38] Rodgers, Mary: Freaky Friday
39] Butler, Judith: Gender Trouble
40] Roy, Arundhati: The God of Small Things
41] Allende, Isabel: The House of the Spirits
42] Hathaway, Katharine: The Little Locksmith
43] de Beauvoir, Simone: Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter
44] Lakiri, Jhumpa: The Namesake
45] Tan, Amy: The Opposite of Fate
46] Metalious, Grace: Peyton Place
47] Hall, Rachel Howell: A Quiet Storm

New titles from the BBC list

48] Fielding, Helen: Bridget Jones' Diary
49] Byatt, A.S. Possession: A Romance
50] Blyton, Enid: The Faraway Tree Collection
51] The Bible yeah, I doubt this will happen

52] The Complete Works of Shakespeare or this

53] Ransome, Arthur: Swallows and Amazons
54] Zola, Emile: Germinal
55] Mitchell, David: Cloud Atlas
56] Robinson, Mistry: A Fine Balance
57] Albom, Mitch: The Five People You Meet in Heaven
58] Banks, Iain: The Wasp Factory
59] Shute, Nevil: A Town Like Alice
60] Hugo, Victor: Les Miserables

And finally, Brand! New! Titles! from the 2017 Read Harder Challenge

Challenge 1: Read a book about sports

61] Wade, Becky: Running the World

Challenge 6 and 18: Read an all-ages comic; read a superhero book with a female lead

Ms. Marvel

Challenge 8: Read a travel book

62] Post, Emily: By Motor to the Golden Gate

Challenge 10: Read a book set 100 miles or less from your location

63] Doyle, Brian: Chicago

Challenge 13: Read a non-fiction book about technology

64] Heffernan, Virginia: Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art

Challenge 15 and 20: Read a YA or middle-grades book by an author who identifies as LGBTQ; read an LGBTQ romance

65] Lo, Malinda: Ash

Challenge 22: Read a book of short stories by a woman

66] Welty, Eudora: Complete Short Stories

Challenge 23: Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.

67] TBD

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Six months of Backlash

It took me six excruciating months, but I finally finished reading Susan Faludi's Backlash.

This is not to say it isn't a good book; it's amazing. The thing is, I started reading it on November 7, 2016. Then ... stuff happened. And every time I tried to pick Backlash up and continue, I'd get maaaaaybe 10 pages in and my head would start to make loud, inaudible car alarm noises, which is my subconscious's way of letting me know that my head is about to explode.

So I spent months of dithering, feeling guilty, avoiding GoodReads, and reading almost anything but Backlash: George Simenon's Maigret novels, Mrs. Polifax novels, Arnuldur Indridason's Rejkyvek murder mysteries, re-reading George R. R. Martin's The Game of Thrones (currently on book three, A Clash of Kings, and wow, it moves way more slowly than I remembered. I blame finally getting HBO. Books longa, TV brevis.)

I finally managed to finish Backlash by making it my task while my daughter went to her Broadway dance class at the local community center. Instead of running errands, working out, or sitting on the big comfortable sofa in the lobby Facebooking for 90 minutes, I read Backlash. And after a few weeks of doing this, I finished it!

Honestly, it's like eating less and moving more and discovering that it actually does make me lose weight.

Anyway, if, like me, you haven't gotten around to watching Game of Thrones reading Backlash, read it. It is so good. I underlined like a boss. I could type entire paragraphs into my many politically-charged Facebook groups and shut the trolls up BAM. I could use passages to troll

I'm currently sitting in the Admiral's Club awaiting a flight to New York, and I brought two much shorter, and it is to be hoped, quicker reads with me: The Princess Bride (from last year's Read Harder Challenge: Read a romance novel) and Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, which I believe is also from the Read Harder Challenge--Read a book set in Asia.) Wish me smooth skies and quick reads.