Seasonal Reading: Summer 2014

I’m always envious of the readers out there that can make a TBR list and actually stick to it. I don’t know how many times I have tried to make up a list of books (usually in an attempt to read the books I already own) only to find that after a couple of books I’m over it.  So something I’ve been doing the past couple of years is making a list of a 3 or 4 books I really want to read over the next few months. I find I’m more apt to stick to this and actually get to reading these books but that it still gives me wiggle room to add in some other books I might like to read.

When I make up these lists I somehow always seem to add books that kind of go with the seasons. For example in the Wintertime I always seem to want to read Ethan Frome, it just seems like the perfect time to read that to me.

So here are my picks for this summer:

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This will be a reread for me but it has been many years since I last read it.  The setting of the Belgian Congo in 1959 will come alive when I read it during the sweltering summer heat and humidity we have here!

 

 

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

I loved the mini-series when I was a kid and have always wanted to read the book. The book follows a family from 1915-1969 in the Australian Outback.

 

How to Make An American Quilt  by Whitney Otto

I’ve seen the movie many times and have always wanted to read the book and I was recently able to find it in a used bookstore for a couple of dollars.  It tells the stories of a group of women who quilt together  in the American South.

 

Do you ever read certain books at certain times of the year?

High Summer Read-a-Thon

Yes, yes…I haven’t been so good about updating this poor blog. I had been stuck in the midst of a reading slump, which passed, but then apparently morphed into a blogging slump. But I stumbled onto the High Summer Read-a-Thon at Seasons of Reading and it seems like the perfect way to get back into the reading/blogging routine. It is a week-long read-a-thon that runs July 16th-22nd, which scared me a bit at first, but it actually seems to be rather flexible. You don’t have to participate the full week which is perfect with work schedules, but just when you can for as long as you can. Sounds pretty relaxed doesn’t it?

Be sure and visit Seasons of Reading for more info.

The Friday 56

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda over at Freda’s Voice and here are the rules:

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.

It’s that simple

My selection is from page 56 of The Age of Innocence:

“But he saw her long gentle face puckering into tears, and felt ashamed of the useless pain he was inflicting.”

Shaking Off The Reading Slump…

So I won’t pretend to have an excuse for my absence. I’ve just had a bit of a reading slump lately. Which puts me way behind for all those challenges I so gleefully signed up for.  I had grand plans to read Anna Karenina in January and February when it was cold and snowy and it would create the perfect atmosphere for reading a Russian chunkster…but January and February ended up being the warmest we’ve had in quite sometime. Oh, and it never snowed. Therefore, I lacked drive to get started, but I am determined to get back on track!  Global warming is really screwing with my reading plans…

But here’s what I’ve been reading the past few months:

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

 

I’ve been putting this one off for so many years…why?? I think the maybe whole ” story told through several vignettes” thing was just a bit played out for me. Seems like I have read so many of them lately. This however I loved. You get a small, sometimes obscure, glimpse into different parts of Olive through all these different characters, yet in the end you get a complete view of the person she is. She’s complex, not always likeable, but interesting. I highlighted so many passages in this, the writing is just beautiful. I loved the last few pages, just really great writing.

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan-

 

I had really high hopes for this after hearing such glowing reviews from some people.  I loved the premise, I thought it was a somewhat clever play off  The Scarlet Letter. For some reason though the last quarter of the book bothered me. I didn’t understand why the main character made some of the choices she did, and some scenes almost seemed to be purely for shock value. For me the writing just got a bit clunky there at the end.

 

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafasi-

I’m a huge fan of reading books about books, or how books have shaped a person’s life. So this books about a secret reading club was a perfect fit for me. It really brought you into their lives and gave a greater understanding of what life in Iran is like for women. They discuss books like Lolita, The Great Gatsby, and Pride and Prejudice and you can see the parallels between these women’s lives and the books. Sometimes there were some confusing jumps in time, but all in all it was a fascinating read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chunkster Challenge 2012

This is the final challenge I’m signing up for! I swear it!                      

I had been planning on reading a few “chunksters” this year anyways, so it’s kinda perfect that I found this one. Here is some of the information for the challenge:

Definition of a chunkster:

A chunkster is 450 pages or more of ADULT literature, whether non-fiction or fiction. A chunkster should be a challenge.
If you read books in large print, your books will need to be 525 pages or more. The average large type book is 10-15% larger or more so it’s a fair estimate.
The rules:
  • No audio books.(There are exceptions to this rule.)
  • No e-books allowed. This was discussed in much detail in the 2011 challenge. The short version: a chunkster isn’t a challenge if you’re reading it on an e-reader.(There are exceptions to this rule.)
  • This year for the first time, essay, poetry, and short story collections will be allowed. Collections have to be read in their entirety to count. If you’ve needed a reason to finally pick up your copy of The Collected Works Of ____ now is the time.
  • Books may crossover with other challenges.
  • Anyone may join. (If you don’t have a blog, just leave a comment on this post with your challenge level and your progress throughout the challenge.)
  • You don’t need to list your books ahead of time.
  • Once you’ve picked a level, that’s it. You’re committed to it!

I’m going to be doing the Chubby Chunkster level, which means I will be committing to 4 books, and here are my choices:

1. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

2. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

3. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

4. The Passage – Justin Cronin

I’m a little nervous, chunksters tend to give me a bit of anxiety, but hopefully this challenge will help me get through! For the all the information and details click here for the  Chunkster Challenge 2012.

Some Mini-Reviews for 2011

Since I took off a bit more time than I had planned last month, I didn’t get a chance to talk about some of the books I read. So, since it’s already 2012, I thought I’d do a little post of mini-reviews as a kind of wrap up for December.

Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman        

I really loved this one. Ex Libris is a collection of essays about reading, books, just the reading life in general. I identified with so many of these essays, especially the one about combining libraries with her husband. This is definitely a book lover’s book.

 

 

 

 

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley                        

I have enjoyed all the books in the Flavia de Luce series so far, but I have to say this is my favorite yet.  I find these books to be so charming and delightful…which I guess is odd considering that there is usually a murder or two in them!

 

 

 

 

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan                              

I keep going back and forth on this one. I can’t decide if I really liked it or feel just “meh” about it (for lack of a better word). I normally like books like this, where the novel is composed of linked stories, but towards the end I just had to force myself to finish this. However, I will say the chapter told through Powerpoint was pretty brilliant.

 

 

 

 

If I Stay by Gayle Forman             

I have never been one to really read YA fiction. I never really read it all that much when I myself was a young adult.  Lately though, I have heard such great things about YA fiction that I have been reading it more, and I have been blown away by some of the books I have read.  I really enjoyed this one, it was intense and tragic, and you really got a sense of the characters bit by bit.  This book was also frighteningly accurate at times describing just what it’s like in the ICU when you have a loved one there, it brought back such strong feelings at times that I had to put it away for a few days and come back to it later.

I also read the follow-up, Where She Went, which was heartbreaking as well. It dealt more with the aftermath of  the accident, how the characters chose to deal with the grief, and moving on. It all felt and seemed realistic to me, but something about the ending of this book bothered me. It all felt too neat and tidy at the end. However, I would highly recommend them both.

 

All in all, I have to say that I enjoyed all these books and would recommend them.  I wasn’t able to delve as deep into some of these as would like, as I was trying to keep the reviews on the shorter side, but they are all worth checking out.

A slight break that turned into a not-so slight break….

So, after the Belated Readathon I planned on doing some posts and then maybe taking a small break for the holidays. Instead it turned into nearly a month. It wasn’t a bad blogging experience that kept me away or being exhausted from the fun that was the Belated Readathon either. I lost my mother in December 2009, it was sudden and unexpected, and something I’m still wrapping my head around. Even though there has been a passage of time, the December/holiday time of year is still hard for me.

I’m still figuring this whole blogging thing out and struggle with how personal to get on my blog ( I’m sure most book bloggers have had this dilemma as well in the beginning) so I won’t bore you with the details. But know that I’m here, and that I have been reading wonderful books, and have been visiting your blogs and enjoying your posts.

It’s a new year, and there are all sorts of fun reading challenges I have signed up for and that I’m looking forward to participating in. So I’m back and excited to get started!