Saturday, October 28, 2017

Beautiful Words

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”  (Henry James)

Summer afternoon are the two most beautiful words, he says
and I certainly know what he means.
But I wake up today and realize, Saturday morning is also a strong contender
which gets me thinking.

Hot coffee
warm cookie
new book

all have their charm.  Or how about

big hug
sweet kiss
true love or even
hot sex?

Depending on the circumstances, I'm sorry might be the most beautiful thing you've ever heard.
You're right is nice, but we probably shouldn't fixate on it.
Me too. Yeah, that one can work wonders.

I considered war's over, but it's not just that the apostrophe
makes me feel like I'm cheating
War leaves too much damage even as it ends.

Firelight camaraderie is a fancy one that sounds as beautiful as it means.
Melodious harmonies
incandescent luminescence
ethereal serendipity
okay, now I'm just going by sound, in which case I would add baseball player Yuniesky Betancourt 
whom I know nothing about, but whose name I occasionally chant to myself.

But let's get back to basics.

October sunshine
Cerulean sky
Fall leaves
Hot coffee
Saturday morning

I'm alive.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

TTT: Unique Book Titles

The delightful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish host this weekly list challenge.  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check them out!

The topic this week is Top Ten Unique Titles

I wasn't even going to put together a post after the exhausting whirl of read-a-thon, but I love this topic too much to pass it up.  It's going to go up late in the day, but I'm writing it before I read anyone else's list, so I won't be too influenced.

1.  The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg
I read the book, liked it, and still have trouble wrapping my mind around the syntax of that phrase.

2. Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
It's so charmingly specific!

3. I Am A Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President by Josh Lieb
Just rolls off the tongue, right?  And it's as funny as you'd expect.

4. Stotan! by Chris Crutcher
Another one that will only ever understand if you read the book. And I love that the exclamation point is integral to the title.

5. Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy
Not content to stop at "unique title," the author also went for "unique format" by writing a novel that consists solely of lists.

6. Lowriders to the Center of the Earth by Cathy Camper
Again, the grammar on this kind of throws me, plus the whole contradiction of cars and center of earthness.

7. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
The title sells itself to my middle schoolers every time.  They can't get over seeing the word "ass" on a cover.

8. I Am a Taxi by Deborah Ellis
While many moms may relate to this statement, the cover makes it clear that this is not the context.

9. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
What else can we expect from the author of the gorgeously named (and absolutely fantastic) "Chaos Walking" series?

10. Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King
King writes such phenomenal magical realism that it doesn't surprise me I had to ponder which of her titles to choose.

I feel bad that I'm not including cover images, so here's a couple of things I have laying around my desktop.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday Post #23 and Read-a-Thon Wrap-up #4

 Thanks to Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer for hosting Sunday Post each week!

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon Summation

I read yesterday from 5 am until 5:30 pm, took a two hour nap, then read until I fell asleep on the couch at 2:30 in the morning.  I am still pretty groggy today, so forgive me for typos and brevity.

My finished stack looks very much like my goal stack, which I'm proud of.  I didn't get through the Anna Kendricks memoir, but I read part of it and I read a graphic novel. I also got inspired by Heartless to start re-reading Alice in Wonderland, but I got too tired to get far.  All told, I read 1,636 pages.

My favorites were definitely Heartless and and Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story.

I have found that I can't spend too much time on check-ins and challenges, because it pulls me away from actually reading. But I do want to participate in some of the events, because otherwise it's just me reading alone in my house.  There was a book-and-a-beverage post early in the day, so I shared the cover I'd pulled off my book and the cup of hot cider I was drinking.  

There was the "10 minute Closet Costume" challenge, so I tossed on the pieces of the Professor McGonnogall costume I'm gathering for Halloween on over my jammies and presented the world with this:

Late in the evening there was a book/clock challenge, and I put together this one. I've read all of the books.  (For the clock's center, I went with the Three Investigators rather than the more obvious Secret of the Old Clock, because Nancy was always my least favorite mid-century teen sleuth.) I spent far too much time debating between I Am Number Four and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, which I enjoyed a lot more as a book.  But the number is four, not fourth, so I went with that. Also, I'm so groggy that it took me this far into the paragraph to remember I already posted the clock last night. Check out that post if you want to know the titles. 

Sunday Post
In addition to the books I read this weekend, I read Woof last week.  It was really cute, and I see why my daughter enjoys the series so much.

I posted more than usual this week, in part because I was prepping for read-a-thon.

We had conferences at school, so I worked a couple of 13 hour days.  We get a day off to make up for it, but I went in for an equity training on Friday.  It was kind of sad to lose the day off, but the training was good.

I need a nap.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Read-a-Thon Challenge: Book Clock

Stacy of Stacy's books has challenged us to put together a clock using books. My eyes are too blurry to handle the other part of the challenge, identifying the books in her books clock, which are strategically scattered with fall leaves.  Mine is nowhere near as pretty or subtle, but we are into hour twenty, I think.  Nineteen?  Something like that.

I chose only titles I've read. 

1:00 Let the Right One In
2:00 A Tale of Two Cities
3:00 Lips Touch Three Times
4:00 I Am Number Four
5:00 Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
6:00 Six of Crows
7:00 Seven Day Magic
8:00 Eight Cousins
9:00 Nine Horses
10:00 Ten Days a Madwoman
11:00 Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams
12:00 The Wind's Twelve Quarters

Clock: The Mystery of the Screaming Clock 

The time: 11:16 pm PST when I finished my design.

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon Starting Questions

And GO!

Trust me, I can think of very few 4:45 wake-ups that would be this easy to get up for, but I'm always excited for read-a-thon.  So excited it's hard to get to sleep, which is inconvenient, of course.

Questions to start off the first hour:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Here I am in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon on the west coast of the United States.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I've been wanting to read A Gentleman in Moscow since it came out over a year ago, so probably that one.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Fleur de Sal caramels from Trader Joe's.  TJ's should really sponsor my read-a-thon.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I teach reading at a middle school, and one of my students said, "So it's really a challenge to see if your family can go 24 hours with no mom."  You got it, kid!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
This is my fourth time participating--woo-hoo!--and I asked friends and readers to vote on my stack.  So we'll see how well I do sticking to it.

Okay, enough blogging--I'm going to go read!

Friday, October 20, 2017

The People Have Spoken: My Read-a-Thon Books (and Back-ups)

Be honest with me now.  Did you just vote on the color scheme you liked?

I had 24 people that responded to my survey about which books to read for tomorrow's read-a-thon.  There was a bit of a rush towards the end that knocked off the front-runners, so it was all very exciting for me. 

Scrappy Little Nobody led the pack all week, and I figure it will be a pretty easy read.   My students gave me a ringing endorsement of The Seventh Most Important Thing, which one team is reading in language arts right now, so I will keep it handy as well. 

This is one that changed at the very end.  Courage for Beginners had been easily winning, then when I went in to check final results, The Memory of Things stole the crown.  

This is another one that caught me off guard today.  Firegirl had been a clear winner as of last night.  Looks like I'll be giving Nine, Ten a try instead.  Of course, these being the short MG books, they are all contenders to be slipped into the lineup when I get tired.

Heartless, on the other hand, seized the lead early and never let it go.  There were several shout-outs for My Lady Jane in the comments though.

A Gentleman in Moscow was the other steady leader.  Which is good, since it's the one I mentioned earlier that won a similar vote previously but...I haven't read it yet.  And I want to!  I really do!  So I will probably start my day with that, since it is pretty hefty.

There are a few graphic novels hanging around the house that I haven't read yet, so I will shuffle them into rotation when I need a break.  My daughter is waiting for me to read the second book in Spencer Quinn's Bowser and Birdie series so I can read the third one with her, so I may get to that too.  Overall I tend to be pretty flighty when trying to stick to reading lists, so it's really anybody's guess as to what I will ACTUALLY read, but I am going to pull this stack together and look to it first. 

Nice blue and black stripe you chose for me!  I, of course, thought immediately of the Estonian flag.

But maybe that's just me.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

whitewashing covers

Last summer I saw an article about the whitewashing of covers.  It led me to a few other articles, and I thought, "Hm, that would be a great discussion post topic."  Sadly for society, but luckily for my blog, it's the kind of discussion topic you can forget about for a few months without it becoming any less timely.

Let's start with the kerfluffle that got my attention in the first place.  It seems Justine Larbalestier's book Liar has a short-haired black protagonist, as is reflected in this cover.

But the original US edition of her book featured a long-haired white girl instead, thus:

See if you can spot the difference. 

After an uproar from the author, agent, and community, the publishers changed the cover.  Then a year later, the same publishing company came up with this cover for a book about, yes, a brown skinned character:

Um, not only am I not sure what the hell she's wearing, she's also white.  And part of the premise of the story is that the protag is exotic in her darkness.  (Which sounds problematic itself, but I haven't read the book, so I have no idea how it's handled.)  Uproar ensued, the publisher apologized, and came up with this instead:

Bonus: it no longer looks like a smutty mid-80s Harlequin romance.  No judgement if that's your thing, but I believe the book is YA fantasy, so it really wasn't quite the right vibe.

It's not just Australian and debut authors who deal with this blatant misrepresentation.  Rick Riordan--maybe you've heard of him?--has dealt with this with editions all over Europe.  One of his characters is described as African American and of Egyptian descent.  This is how the Russian publishers pictured that:

Can you spot the AA character?  Me neither.  Neither could Riordan, who has no control over what goes on covers, and only sees the foreign language editions after they're released.  He called out the Dutch edition and the Italian edition, and he called out the Russian one too.  I suspect you have to be an author of his renown to get Russian publishers to listen to your thoughts on misrepresenting race, but at least it worked.  This is the more recent cover:

Hey, look!  The black character is actually black! 

There are so many things wrong with this.  First, the excuse that people won't buy books with people of color on the cover.  Um, excuse me?  How many times does this have to be proven false?  Okay, maybe that's really the only thing wrong with it, but it reflects some different layers of racism throughout society, from the possibility that it's true, to the lack of diversity in publishing that would let an entire group of people implicitly assume this, to the bland, "Oh, we never meant to offend" responses.  (Don't even get my started on the idiots who were upset that the black characters in The Hunger Games were played by black actors in the movie adaptation.)

It got me thinking about book covers and representation, that's for sure.  One thing I noticed is how often covers of YA/MG books about kids of color either don't show people at all (see examples here and here), or show silhouettes instead of realistic art (examples here and here.)  I am actually a total sucker for covers with silhouettes or unique art, so I mean no disrespect for these books or covers--just pointing out that a kid of color is not necessarily going to look at that and go, "Oh, people like me are in books too!" even though these books offer some terrific representation.

From there, I started pondering the difference between the covers on books that are "about" race (either they deal with slavery/Jim Crow/police brutality for black people or with immigration/migrant work for Latinos, or, possibly, with the country of origin for any of the above and Asians) and the books that feature POC just as...people.  Of course, people of color have to navigate a world in which racism exists, so it would be foolishly color-blind to look for books that don't include that aspect.  I'm trying to say something about books that reflect the most common "single story" versus books that offer additional stories, or stories that challenge that stereotype. That really narrows the list of books with covers that clearly feature non-white characters on the cover. 

When Dimple Met Rishi
This Side of Home
Brave and Awkward

The Wrath and the Dawn
Boy 21
Miles Morales
Rani Patel in Full Effect

Shadows of Sherwood
Fake ID
The Hate U Give
To All the Boys I've Loved Before

So what am I trying to say? If we start from the position that representation matters, it is clear that even as we push for more books that represent the full range of human experience, even those books are lagging behind on making it visible in the most obvious way that this is a book about "kids like me" or "kids like my friends" or even "kids not like me but that's not a big deal." 

Is this something you've noticed?  I have to admit, I'd never thought twice about it before I came across the first article.  (White privilege in action.) But I'm paying attention to it now, to the extent that I may overcome my knee-jerk disdain of movie covers and get my classroom library a copy of the Everything, Everything cover that features the actress instead of the pretty art. 

Here are the articles I read as I learned about this:

That was a first--a bibliography for my blog. 

Discuss!  What are your observations and opinions about this?  Have you ever mentally pictured a character as the wrong race due to cover art?  

Monday, October 16, 2017

TTT: Food In Books

The delightful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish host this weekly list challenge.  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check them out!

The topic this week is Top Ten Yummy Foods Mentioned In Books (Does a character eat something you'd love? Or maybe the book takes place in a bakery/restaurant that makes yummy things? You could also talk about 10 of your favorite cookbooks if you don't read foody books.)

At first I thought, "Oh, I can't think of any particular book foods.  Other than November cakes.  And Turkish Delight, of course.  Oh, and there's pulled taffy, and maple sugar drizzled in the snow..."  Alright, FINE.  I can think of book food.  Mostly desserts, because duh.


1.  November Cakes in The Scorpio Races
Finn finds my left hand, opens my fingers, and puts a November cake in my palm. It oozes honey & butter, rivulets of the creamy frosting joining the honey in the pit of my hand. It begs to be licked. 
It sure does.  Apparently Maggie Stiefvater has actually developed a recipe for the treat she made up for her book.   I haven't tried it yet, but you definitely should.  I should too.  Let's all make November cake!

2. Turkish Delight in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
At last the Turkish Delight was all finished and Edmund was looking very hard at the empty box and wishing she would ask him whether he would like some more.  
I understand that Turkish Delight is often a disappointment to people who read the book before they taste it, but I quite like it, and can see how it would have been a delightfully exotic and tasty treat for an English boy during WWII.

3. Maple syrup boiled down and drizzled in the snow from Little House in the Big Woods and Understood Betsy.

She found a clean white snow-bank under a pine-tree, and, setting her cup of syrup down in a safe place, began to pat the snow down hard to make the right bed for the waxing of the syrup.  The sun, very hot for that late March day, brought out strongly the tarry perfume of the big pine-tree. Near her the sap dripped musically into a bucket, already half full, hung on a maple-tree.  (from Understood Betsy)

I'm digging all the archaic hyphens.   They always made it sound so fun, but then, Little House in the Big Woods also includes a scene that makes playing with an inflated pig bladder from a freshly slaughtered pig sound fun.

4.  Pulled taffy from Little Women (I think?!?) and The Bobbsy Twins (maybe?!?) definitely in Raggedy Ann Stories.

"I know how we can have a whole lot of fun!" Raggedy Andy said to the other dolls.  "We'll have a taffy pull!" 
This is another one that popped up in the old children's books (does Anne pull taffy in high school?) and always sounded enchanting to me.  Now it just sounds like a royal pain, and I'll buy my taffy at the beach like a sane person, thank you very much.

5. Fried green tomatoes from, yes, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafĂ©.  Since it's the title, I'm not searching for a quote, but I will say there was one year when I was staying with my parents and they had a ton of tomatoes that weren't ripening, we looked up how to make this, and it was super yummy.  And yes, the idea for how to use them came solely from this book title.  No southerners in our family tree.  (My mom's other use for green tomatoes was making a moist chocolate cake, which I also highly recommend.)

6.  The Christmas goose in Dickens's A Christmas Carol.
There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of bone upon the dish), they hadn't ate it all at last!
Typing that out, I realized the probable origin of my tendency to write long sentences, full of parenthetical asides.  Too much Dickens in my impressionable youth. 

Those are all the delicious (or at least delicious sounding) foods I remember from literature.  There's also Anne's blackberry cordial and Katniss's feast on the train, but I'm going to call it good for now.  Go forth and read about other delicious stories throughout the community!


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Post #22

It has been nearly a year since I last joined a Sunday Post link-up.  Thanks to Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer for hosting it so faithfully.

 Hello!  How have you been?

Not gonna lie, my main impetus for jumping back in is that I want to do a "make me read it" poll, and I figured a link-up would get me more voters than just posting on my own.  But I'll play nice and give you an update of the week too.

What I read this week
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me ****
Release ****
Side Effects May Vary ***
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore ****

I'm also reading The Hidden Oracle to my daughter, and trying to find a good audiobook to listen to on my commute.  I was listening to One Dark Throne, but it wasn't working for me in that format, so I'm back to the holds list for a paper copy. So I switched to nonfiction, which has worked for me before, but my selection, Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets is more of an oral history, and I think I need narrative nonfiction.  Then I started listening to Welcome to Night Vale (the novel, not the podcast), and it was fun for awhile, but it's kind of wearing thin.  I've just downloaded another nonfiction book, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, that I hope will work out.

On the blog this week
I willfully misinterpreted the TTT topic and posted nine books with the word "fall" in the title and one with the word "autumn.

I borrowed Deb at Readerbuzz's tag about the longest books I've read and hope to read.

I tried to comment on other people's blogs at least a tiny bit each day!

IRL this week
My family was sick.  I stayed mostly healthy, knock wood.  We had our first progress report, so all of a sudden my students were all super industrious.  I treated myself to a new pair of pants and a shirt.  I tried an almond milk latte and decided I didn't like it.  My daughter made dinner Thursday night all by herself while I sat on the couch with a book.  I learned about Google Lit, which is a process of tracking the geography of a book on Google Earth, and I'm super excited to be putting together a lesson plan using it when we start reading Refugee next week.   One of my best friends just moved home to northern California this summer after missing being near her family for a decade, and now she's staying with relatives in Sacramento, hoping the house they JUST BOUGHT doesn't burn down and waiting to see when the school she JUST GOT HIRED AT will re-open.  I find it tempting to hold Trump responsible for this.

Your turn!
So as I've mentioned, Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon is coming up next weekend.  Yay!  This will be my fourth or fifth time participating.  I really love it, and look forward to the semiannual event.  This is the week to be settling on a reading pile, and as always, I have enough books I currently actively want to read to last me until 2020.  This is where you come in.

I've divided my possible to-reads into a few groups.  YOU choose your favorite from each group.  I read it.  Sound like a plan?

Without further ado:


The first time I took this picture, I had two books in there that are due today.  Whoops!  Guess I'll be reading those in another era.

I just really like blue covers.  Also, my son spray painted his scooter gold.

I know I'm going to need some of these to keep me going when I get exhausted.  These are all books from my classroom library that I've never read, but would like to be able to recommend to students with more knowledge.  

These have all been in my possession and on my to-read list for far too long.  They look long, but I suspect they won't be particularly challenging reads, so still good for this event.

But don't they look cute in that tree?  And let's not talk about the fact that the last time I did a "make me read it" thing, one of those books was chosen for me to read.  I will do better this time, I swear!

These are the ones that I have to give back already.  I just find myself mildly hilarious for posing my books on the random crap on my porch, like my kid's second hand skateboard.  I'm such an Instagrammer.  #Not.

Okay, are you ready?  Here's the voting form!  I'll keep it up all week and post results on Friday, so I can have my stack ready to go at 5:00 Saturday morning.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Mt. TBR Checkin #3

If you are new to the Mt. TBR challenge, check out the post at My Reader's Block in which she explains.  But the short version is, I'm trying to read a bunch of books that I've owned prior to 2017, and the more books I read, the higher mountain I get to claim I've scaled.  And I'm here to answer all your burning questions about my trek so far!

As it turns out, I missed the first check-in, so technically this is my second.  I also technically missed this one, as it was supposed to be posted by Oct. 10, but I'm still going forward with it.  Furthermore, as I reviewed what I've done so far, I was kind of excited to realize that my official goal was El Toro, or 75 books, with a hoped-for stretch to Mt. Everest, or 100 books.  I'd gotten it into my head that it was 100 books or failure, and it is looking doubtful that I'll make it.  75 is more within my reach, so I will continue on.

1. Tell us how many miles you've made it up your mountain (# of books read)

I've passed Pikes Peak, elevation 14,115 ft., aka 12 books.

After two dozen books, I passed Mont Blanc, at 15,774 ft.
Now, THAT'S a mountain.  No offense, Colorado.
Three dozen books took me up Mt. Vancouver on the Alaskan/Yukon border, topping out at 15,787 ft.

I've recently summitted Mt. Ararat, and yes, spellcheck, summitted is a word.  Mt. Ararat is in Turkey and has an elevation of 16,854 ft, which equals 48 books.

Next up, Mt. Kilamanjaro, which is 10 books away at 60 books.  A quick math check lets you know I'm at 50 books so far.  25 of these books to read by Dec. 31.  I think I can, I think I can.

2. Complete ONE (or more if you like) of the following:

B. Pair up two of your reads. But this time we're going for opposites. One book with a male protagonist and one with a female protagonist. One book with "Good" in the title and one with "Evil." Get creative and show off a couple of your books.

I am going to go with This Side of Home and Around the World.  

Around the World is a graphic novel that traces the journeys of three world circumnavigators: Thomas Stevens, Joshua Slocum, and the better-known Nelly Bly, I'm a fan of author/artist Matt Phelan's style, and I enjoyed learning about these three eccentric and determined individuals, and how they ended up taking on this particular challenge.  

This Side of Home takes place in one neighborhood of Portland, Oregon.  It is the story of gentrification and how two sisters respond differently to the changes happening around them.  This one really resonated with me, as their hometown is my hometown, and their neighborhood is the neighborhood my dad grew up in.  It also really pushed my thinking, since white Portland and black Portland don't actually communicate much.  See my review for more thoughts.

D. Choose 1-4 titles from your stacks and using a word from the title, do an image search.  Post the first all-eyes-friendly picture associated with that word.

For this one, I'll choose the four books I've read this quarter that I enjoyed the most (other than the two I just listed).  So that brings us to:

My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen
image search: "Dog years"

Burn Baby, Burn by Meg Medina
image search: burn baby burn
Well, that's...different.

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War
image search: salt
Hardly a surprise.  

image search: nation's hope

I like Ike.

And there you have it.  Wish me luck in my final haul up El Toro.  I am really enjoying reading my classroom library and connecting more books to more kids!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Longest Book Tag

The Longest Book Tag! This tag was created by Ditsha @ Betwitchingly Paranoid and I read about it on Deb's Readerbuzz.

It is not actually the book tag that is the longest (though I feel like I've seen some serious contenders for THAT title), but the tag about longest books.  Just in case you were all, "Okay Wendy, I only have so much time to spend reading book blogs and I don't know that I'm willing to commit to a super long book tag on your little blog."  

The Rules: 
1. Make a list of five of the longest books you’ve read. 
2. Select two of the longest books on your TBR. 
3. Discuss. 
4. Tag others. (Wanna play?  Consider yourself tagged!)

Yes, Goodreads will sort by page count, which is super helpful.  I discarded the series that it grouped together, which leaves us with:

  1. Les MisĂ©rables clocks in at 1,463 pages. I actually don't remember a whole lot about it, which is kind of sad, considering there is a WHOLE LOT to remember, and I read it more recently than any other book on this list.  I know the basic gist from hearing people talk about the musical.  Also, my high school principal legally changed his name to Jean Valjean, which is weird, right?  
  2. War and Peace is right behind it at 1,392 pages.  I remember this one much better, even though I read it longer ago, because my college professor had us write 17 word summaries after each reading assignment. Turns out that was a great way to get us to focus on the core ideas without overburdening us with work. That Russian Lit class was one of the best and most fun courses I took in college.
  3. I can't swear that I've read every single one of the 1,216 pages of the catchily named A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, and Construction, but I've certainly done more than skim it.  It is also the most expensive book I've ever bought, because after borrowing it from an acquaintance, I really struggled to give it back until I found a used (!) copy for $65. It is fascinating, even if it is written in tiny type on whisper-thin paper and illustrated with blurry black and white photos.
  4. I don't read horror, so I haven't read much Stephen King.  I ended up with a copy of The Stand while I was in Peace Corps, where my "library" consisted of books my fellow volunteers passed around.  I was coming down with a cold when I started it, and I decided the next morning that I was too sick to go to work.  But apparently not too sick to spend the rest of the day finishing it.  1,153 pages, and I still remember the opening scene.
  5.  I read the 1,037 pages of Gone with the Wind over a three day weekend sometime in middle school.  I remember bragging to my piano teacher about this, and her shutting me down with the insinuation that I probably hadn't really understood any of it at that pace.  She may have been right, but still--rude! I wouldn't recommend it, by the way, though we all must admire the way she created Scarlet as a non-lovable protagonist.

And on my TBR, we have two of my all time favorite authors:
  1. Bleak House.  (Also Little Dorrit and David Copperfield.)  I read a lot of Dickens in my younger days, but never got around to these.  1,036 pages of Victorian melodrama--what's not to love?
  2.  The Unreal and the Real: The Selected Short Stories of Ursula K. LeGuin is only 751 pages, but it's massive.  I bought it for myself when we earned Powell's cards by selling eight boxes of old books.  Haven't cracked it once.  Really want to though!

I notice that there are a lot of classics in the over-a-thousand-pages category.  And while I read a lot of classics in my teens and twenties, I have all but stopped reading them at this point in my life.  Maybe when I'm a retired empty-nester I will have the mental space to dedicate to these books. Part of my issue is that I don't like to take more than a few days to finish a book, and I don't have the big blocks of free time needed to do that with a longer book.  

As I mentioned above, if this looks like fun, you are hereby tagged to do your own!

Monday, October 9, 2017

TTT: Fall Books

The delightful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish host this weekly list challenge.  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check them out!

The topic this week is Ten Books With Fall/Autumn Covers/Themes (If the cover screams fall to you, or the books give off a feeling of being Fallish).

Fall is an okay season, but doesn't do much for me as a book theme.  So I decided to be overly literal and present to you books with the word "fall" in the title.  They have nothing to do with autumn, so I added one with "autumn" in the title,  just for good measure. I've read a couple of them, but most of them I found on my to-read lists.

Before I Fall
I liked this one quite a bit more than I'd expected, what with the teen angst cover and all.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it's better than Groundhog's Day, to which all repeated-time stories are inevitably compared to.

Snow Falling on Cedars
This is one of my all-time favorites. The setting, the time period, the star-crossed love, the mystery, the prejudice, the court-room drama--it is satisfying on so many levels.

Before The Fall
from Goodreads: 
On a foggy summer night, eleven people--ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter--depart Martha's Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs--the painter--and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.

I'm intrigued; aren't you?

Things Fall Apart
I've got to be honest here: I read this classic Nigerian work back in college, and I remember little about it other than the sense of a place I knew nothing about.  

Falling into Place
from Goodreads:
On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 

When I went back to Goodreads to gather the link and description, I noticed that four of my "friends" have read it.  Two rated it one star.  Two rated it four stars.  Which will I agree with?  

Free to Fall 
From Goodreads: 
What if there was an app that told you what song to listen to, what coffee to order, who to date, even what to do with your life—an app that could ensure your complete and utter happiness? 

What if you never had to fail or make a wrong choice?

What if you never had to fall? 

Bring on dystopias inspired by The Giver!

Decline and Fall 
I suspect the satirical humor of this one might miss me, as did Lucky Jim, a book that earned me my only angry attack from another reviewer on Goodreads for my failure to appreciate the humor. However, I do like Waugh, so I'd try it.

Never Fall Down  

From Goodreads: 
This National Book Award nominee from two-time finalist Patricia McCormick is the unforgettable story of Arn Chorn-Pond, who defied the odds to survive the Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979 and the labor camps of the Khmer Rouge.  

So, not a light read or anything, but most likely very worthwhile.

The Way We Fall 
From Goodreads: 
It starts with an itch you just can't shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you'll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they’re old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in. 

And then you're dead. 

Sounds like great fun!

An Event in Autumn 
A novella in the Kurt Wallender series.  I've read a few of these, and we watched the Kenneth Branagh series. Really good, in that super bleak Scandinavian mystery style. One of the episodes was based on this story, but I don't remember the details, so it'd be worth a read.