Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pulitzer Project Update

Will I never learn to go more carefully and read more thoroughly? Probably not. Sigh.
I forgot to add a Pulitzer Prize-winning book I have already read. While in law school, I read

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. It was during my first year, towards the end of the first semester, when I should have been studying for finals. I remember finishing it over Christmas break at my parents' house and wondering why I'd waited to so long to read it. I can't believe I missed this one when I made my original list. Okay, so that makes FOUR Pulitzer winners I've read. Which is still pathetic.

Anyway, now I'll return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

How Many Have YOU Read?

I've seen these everywhere, and have played along in my head, but now is the time to REALLY see how well-read I am.

!) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you love.
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated. (I will make these RED instead.)
5) Reprint this list in your own blog.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible - God (I don't think I've read it all, but I read a good deal of it during high school/college.)
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (I've read many, but not ALL, of his works. I do intend to get to all of them, though.)
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (I read this in high school, but intend to read it again soon...)
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (I read most of these, but not all, when I was a child. I intend to read them again soon, though.)
34. Emma- Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (If I could underline this five MILLION times, I would. One of my favorite books of all time.)
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding (Going to re-read soon.)
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White (Want to re-read.)
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables– Victor Hugo

Not bad, 36 of 100. I want to read almost everything on this list, though, so hopefully that number will shoot up soon.

Review: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

In trying to find an image of the copy I was reading for this post, I've discovered that a LOT of people have cats named Jane Eyre. And they like to pose said cats and take pictures of them.

This reading of Jane Eyre marks my third time entering her world. I believe the first time I read the book I was in high school. My mother had a copy, a large, illurstrated hard-back, and, when I was looking for a new book, she urged me to read it. I remember being reluctant; it was a CLASSIC after all, which meant that it would be boring. But I never found Jane Eyre to be a boring read. I loved it, and I love it still!

The second reading, when I got the copy that I re-read this time, had to have been for a college English class. I was an English literature minor, so it was probably for my Brit Lit class, but I really don't recall. The only proof I have of reading it a second time is the book itself.

As I have stated, I LOVE Jane Eyre. Jane is one of my favorite heroines of all time. She is far spunkier than most female protagonists of the time, and she's not beautiful herself, which made her much more relatable than the alabaster-skinned, blonde, blue-eyed heroines some authors created.

I far prefer Charlotte Bronte's writing to that of Jane Austen's (don't crucify me, Austen fans!). I think it's the Gothic elements. Because, overall, Jane Eyre IS a Gothic novel. And I love those little things that make it so: the madwoman in the attic; Thornfield Hall, the prototypic Gothic manor; the voices across the moors. Even Mr. Rochester, with his lack of physical beauty, seems to embody the Gothic hero.

Like most people, my favorite scenes are when Jane is at Thornfield, and, like most people, I HATE the parts where she is with St. John Rivers. But I think they are necessary to give a rounded picture of society at the time. The saintly, self-sacrificing St. John, ruled by his sense of religious duty is a nice foil to the turbulent, passionate Mr. Rochester, ruled by his emotions. Two men of opposite ends of the spectrum who each wish to make Jane his wife. And poor Jane, in the middle, knowing she should choose duty, but choosing to give in to her passions instead.

The love story between Jane and Mr. Rochester is my favorite of all time, with the exception of Anne and Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables. When the two of them came together, before Jane learned of the FIRST Mrs. Rochester, tears sprang to my eyes. I like a happy ending as much as the next girl, so I'm glad that all ends well with Jane.

I recommend this book to anyone who has never read it. Or to anyone who feels the need to read a classic that doesn't FEEL like a classic. It's a fantastic read.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Well, we made it safely through Tropical Storm Fay, with no more damage than some puddles and a broken umbrella. I got to miss work on Tuesday and Wednesday, which SHOULD have made for more reading time, but instead made for more play-drunken-board-games-with-friends time. And the Olympics. They are killing my reading time! And, pretty soon, it will be a new TV season, which means there will be new shows to watch and old favorites to get back into. I can't wait for Heroes and Chuck, particularly, to start back up, as well as The Office and 30 Rock. (I swear, not all of my TV-watching is on NBC, but you wouldn't know it from this post!)

This week I've received Barbara Taylor Bradford's
A Woman of Substance from BookMooch, as well as a copy of The Empress of Weehawken from Picador and LibraryThing. Now I just need to read and review it!

Hope everyone has a great weekend for reading!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

BBAW and the Pulitzer Project

Amy, at the blog My Friend Amy, is hosting Book Blogger Appreciation Week, September 15-19. I'm joining up, if for no other reason than to discover other book blogs I might like (as if I need more reading!). There are prizes and awards, as well as the creation of a Master Book Blog List! Sounds like it's going to be great! Thanks for hosting this, Amy.

Also, I'm joining the Pulitzer Project, an ongoing challenge in which the goal is to read all of the Pulitzer winners from 1918 to the present. So far, I've read three:

1940 - The Grapes of Wrath (read in high school English class, circa 1992, but which I plan to re-read soon, as I don't remember it)
1953 - The Old Man and the Sea (also read in high school, as a summer read right before my freshman year, 1991 - HATED this book, more than anything I have ever read, except possibly that other Hemingway novel, A Farewell to Arms. Actually, no, I hated Old Man and the Sea more.)
1961 - To Kill a Mockingbird (read in JUNIOR high, in Mrs. Setchell's class, circa 1990. LOVED IT then, loved it when I read it again a few years ago during law school, even love the movie...sigh...Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.)

It's pretty pathetic that I haven't read any Pulitzer winners since the early 90's. Not even the most recent winners! I believe most, if not all, of these are on my TBR list, but so is every other book in the known world, so I don't know when I'll get to them. Thank goodness for ongoing challenges without deadlines!

You can read more about the Pulitzer Project HERE.


Well, my sisters left for parts north yesterday. I was sad to see them go. We had a great week of beaching it, eating at various restaurants, watching the Olympics, shopping at the bookstore (at The Fiance's suggestion, even!). We didn't really do anything too terribly exciting, but when I'm with my sisters, I don't really want to do anything but hang out. And we definitely accomplished that.

Speaking of the Olympics, I battled supreme fatigue last night to stay up and watch Michael Phelps win his record eighth gold medal at the Games in Beijing. Ricky and I were up off the couch, cheering Lezak on in the last leg of the relay, like a couple of huge dorks. But it was cool to see history being made.

Now that the house is quiet again, maybe I'll get a little more reading done. I need to finish: this month's Glamour, which was started at the beach and is a little waterlogged at the moment; a book belonging to a co-worker, who wants it back, while several other co-workers want to borrow it; my Bookmarks magazine, long abandoned in favor of a library book; and poor Jane Eyre, still stuck with the Riverses, which I put down to read the copy of Bookmarks, and haven't picked back up again. Sigh. I WILL finish all my books!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I've been spending a lot of time at the beach with my sisters, and I have the lobster-shoulders to prove it. We're taking a break from swimming today in favor of indoor activities, which, hopefully, will not burn us. I've taken them to eat at one of my favorite places, and we've eaten at home a bit, too, since we're all poor. We've been watching the Olympics obsessively, when they're on, although I've been falling asleep much too early. In between all that, we've been having all the fun a flock of us generally have when we're in the same place. Ricky seems to fit right's been a great week so far.

Unfortunately, I have to go back to work tomorrow. I think we're going to have brunch at our favorite diner today, and probably do dinner with a couple of my co-workers. Ricky's brother is supposed to come into town today, also, so maybe we'll have dinner with him tomorrow night. All this eating out is kind of hard on the wallet (and the waistline -- Weight Watchers is out the window this week), but it sure is fun.

More book news when I get a chance to get back to reading. It's been mostly magazines and the beach this week.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


My sisters are here!!! Two of my sisters have come down from Ohio and Kentucky to visit me for the week. They got here yesterday afternoon, and I picked them up at the airport. Ran into some friends at a local bar, went grocery shopping, and now I'm waiting on them to wake up so we can hit the beach. We don't really have any major plans for this week, except getting as much beach/pool time as possible, but that's the way I like it. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to do a lot of reading while we're lying on the beach...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Review: 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

I'd heard lots about Alexander McCall Smith from other book bloggers, but never about the Scotland Street series. While at the library with my fiance' a few weeks ago, I found the newest book in the series on the "Recent Acquisitions" shelves. So I thought I'd check out the first of the series and see if I liked it.

And, you know what? It was just okay.

The story follows the residents of an apartment building at 44 Scotland Street in Edinburgh. The main character, Pat, is on her second gap year (which, not being familiar with British/Scottish slang, I assume is a break in one's schooling). She has recently moved back to Edinburgh from a mysteriously disastrous FIRST gap year in Australia. We never find out what happened during that year, but perhaps Smith covers it in a future book.

Pat moves into a flat at 44 Scotland Street with Bruce, a narcissistic rugby enthusiast upon whom Pat develops a hopeless crush, and takes a job at a gallery with Matthew, who is supported through his many failed enterprises by his wealthy father, and who develops a hopeless crush on Pat. Gradually, Pat meets the other assorted residents of 44 Scotland Street: Irene, an extremely controlling woman, her henpecked husband, Stuart, and her five-year-old prodigy Bertie and nosy neighbor and good friend, Domenica. The story also follows Matthew; Bruce's employer, Raeburn Todd, and his family; and Domenica's poetic friend Angus Lordie. Ian Rankin even makes a cameo appearance in the novel.

I didn't love this novel. At first, there seemed to be too many characters, and the storyline followed all of them briefly. This tended to be confusing, especially with regard to the peripheral characters, such as Bruce's boss' family. I can only assume they grow more important to the overarching story as the series progresses, because I cannot fathom why they ended up in this book.

Add to the plethora of characters the fact that I have never been to Scotland. I failed to understand a lot of the inside jokes, as well as the geographical, literary, and artistic references. I wish I could have appreciated those more, and if I had liked the novel better, I might have been tempted to do some research. But I didn't and I wasn't.

There was a slight mystery, dealing with a painting at the gallery where Pat worked, but it was far TOO slight for my taste, as the storyline mostly followed the lives of the various characters. I would have liked either no mystery at all, or a more intense one, with more of the novel centered around it.

Overall, I didn't hate the book. It was nice to while away the time, and, since it was published as a series of short vignettes in The Scotsman newspaper, it was easy to pick up and put down as I felt like it. Ultimately, though, it was just not my cup of tea.

Monday, August 4, 2008

More New Books

As if we weren't having money trouble, I ordered a bunch of books from Amazon last week. Those, along with a Mooched book, arrived today. So I now have the complete Earth's Children series, by Jean Auel. And I also now have the complete Avalon series by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I hope I like these. I fully expect to be reciprocally Mooching them in the future, though. I have a bad habit of acquiring books I don't intend to keep.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A New Look

Just wanted to change things up a bit. I think I like it.

Modern-Day Monsters

I am simply fascinated. Obsessed, really. Can't stop looking at that thing, wondering what the F it is. Is it a hoax? A sea turtle? Some mutant from Plum Island? A previously undiscovered creature of the deep? Horrifying and compelling, at the same time.

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,/
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"