Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday Tangents - NaBloPoMo no mo', and questions for you!

For those of you following The Continuing Saga of My Stupid Shoulder (co-starring My Klutzy Feet), I had a follow-up with the orthopedic surgeon the day before Thanksgiving. The shoulder is doing well - the Ultrasling is doing its job, apparently - but he's sending me for an MRI, which will allow him to see things that don't show on an X-ray, and he'll want to see me again once the results come back. I hope we will not be discussing surgery at that point, but I'll let y'all know how it goes. Do you think I should ask for an injury-free 2011 for Christmas?

Speaking of Christmas...have you started on your preparations yet? A lot of our shopping is done - mostly thanks to Tall Paul, not me - and we're planning to put up the tree this coming weekend, which will be the earliest we've done it in a few years. I'm glad; it always helps my holiday mood when the house looks like it's holiday time!

Another Christmas question for you:

You Are Sending Christmas Cards

You are a nostalgic and caring person during the holidays.

It's important for you to feel connected to other people this time of the year.

You do your best to stay in touch with everyone who is important to you. Even a little note shows you care.

Nothing delights you more than getting a card from someone you haven't heard from in a while. That's the true spirit of Christmas for you.
The truth is, I haven't sent Christmas cards for several years...but otherwise, the description sounds about right!

A query unrelated to Christmas: Have you tried Tumblr? What are your impressions. positive and negative? I'm kicking it around, but I'm really not sure what it offers other than a sort of compromise between this place and Twitter - short-form blogging, but not limited to 140 characters - and part of the appeal comes from my restricted Twitter access these days, to be honest. I'm FAR too long-winded to migrate my blogging there, but I'm thinking about exploring it as a supplement of sorts to The 3 R's Blog. If you're into it, tell me what you think!

However, even if I do decide to give Tumblr a tumble, I'm not sure how soon it'll happen. Having made good on my November NaBloPoMo pledge - not even derailed from daily posting by the aforementioned Stupid Shoulder - I will be following through on my plans for a short blogging break. I'll still be reading - and hopefully commenting on your posts - so I won't be fully "unplugged." But I don't have any posts scheduled here for a few days, so y'all get a break too!

Back next week - see you then!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Talk: *Emily of Deep Valley*, by Maud Hart Lovelace

Emily of Deep Valley: A Deep Valley Book
Maud Hart Lovelace
Harper Perennial Modern Classics (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback (ISBN 0062003305 / 9780062003300)
Fiction (YA/children's), 336 pages
Source: Publisher, via Book Club Girl (Jennifer Hart)
Reason for Reading: Review

Opening Lines: "'It's the last day of high school...ever,' Annette said. She said it gaily, pulling Emily's hand and swinging her about so that they faced the red brick building with its tall arched windows and doors, its elaborate limestone trimming, its bulging turrets and the cupola that made an ironical dunce cap on top of it all. Annette threw a kiss at it, then lifted her right hand and opened and shut the fingers in a playful wave. 'Good-bye, old jail!' she said."
Book Description: Emily Webster, an orphan living with her grandfather, is not like the other girls her age in Deep Valley, Minnesota. After graduation, she longs to join the Crowd and go off to college—but she can't leave her grandfather alone at home. Resigning herself to a "lost winter," Emily nonetheless throws herself into a new program of study and a growing interest in the local Syrian community, and when she meets a handsome new teacher at the high school, Emily gains more than she ever dreamed possible.
Comments: While characters from Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy-Tacy series make guest appearances in this novel, Emily of Deep Valley stands on its own; perhaps that's why I'd never read it until now, although I've read nearly all of the author's other books multiple times. This is genuinely a case of "better late than never," though. I'm pleased to have finally made the acquaintance of Emily Webster. We met while I was nursing a dislocated shoulder for the second time this year, and her story was a perfect comfort read.

Emily isn't another version of Betsy Ray, and her Deep Valley, Minnesota isn't the same as Betsy's either. Orphaned Emily was raised by her grandparents, and is her grandfather's primary caretaker now that her grandmother has passed on. She has plenty of girl friends, but is neither boy-crazy nor a boy-magnet, although she is respected by her fellow members of the Deep Valley High School debate team, where she's the only girl. As she approaches the end of senior year, Emily has reluctantly accepted that her responsibilities at home will keep her from going off to college like the rest of her crowd, but she's really not sure what to expect from life after high school. Struggling to keep her wits and spirits up as the summer ends and her friends leave town, Emily hatches a few projects that take her in unanticipated directions, enlarging her world and bringing new people into it.

Because she's grown up in different circumstances, Emily has a maturity that Betsy didn't have at the same age, although she still has some growing up to do, and her first year after high school affords her many opportunities to do that, even without college. Her challenges are different from Betsy's as well, as is the way she rises to meet them. I found her to be determined, sympathetic, and endearing, and I was particularly charmed by her relationship with her grandfather, who seems to be as energized by Emily's projects as she is. And like its protagonist, the novel itself seems to have a depth and level of maturity that sets it apart from its author's other works. Lovelace introduces some memorable characters and surprisingly contemporary concerns in this novel as she writes about life in her well-known town from a new perspective, but she allows Emily to mingle with some familiar players as well. As noted, this is a stand-alone novel, but if you've read the Betsy-Tacy books, it's enjoyable to see how some of the characters from those become part of Emily's story.

Emily of Deep Valley is a coming-of-age novel for all ages, and despite its early-20th-century setting, doesn't feel dated. I found it a joy to read, and it will go on my "keeper" shelf with my other Maud Hart Lovelace books.

Rating: 4/5

Other reviews, via the Book Blogs Search Engine:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankfully Reading Weekend: Update and Mini-Challenge #3

I've done almost no reading at all today - we were up early and out to do some shopping before the stores got too busy. It worked - and I was pleasantly surprised that, two days after Black Friday, the stores didn't look like war zones! The ones we visited were organized and well-stocked...even Toys-R-Us. Now that we're home I have some writing to do, but I'm hoping to settle in with my book later this afternoon.

For today's Thankfully Reading Weekend Mini-Challenge, Jen wants to know:
What reading community are you thankful for, and why? Are you thankful for book bloggers? The book community on Twitter? Your spouse or family that lets you ramble on and on about what you’re reading and doesn’t complain (at least not too much) about the myriad of books flowing into the house?
For me, it's book bloggers, without question. The book community on Twitter is a supplement to that, for me; mine is largely made up of the same people whose book blogs I read. Twitter has given me the chance to get to know some of them better, but I'm not on Twitter as much as I used to be, and I would really miss these folks if they migrated most of their activity to Twitter and Tumblr instead of their book blogs!

Book bloggers, I am thankful that you make me aware of books and authors and reading trends. I'm thankful for the reflections you share and the discussions you engage in. I'm thankful for the reading companionship they provide...and I'm thankful to call many of you my friends!


Sunday Salon: The end (of the year) is coming!

The Sunday 

I finished and reviewed my 50th and 51st books of 2010 last week, although the reviews have yet to post here (LibraryThing is all caught up, though). I'm excited to have crossed that threshold this year - and with time to spare! - since I've fallen short of it for the last two years; I didn't even crack 40 books read in 2008, which was dismal. Dismal by book-blogger standards, at any rate;  I blogged more that year, but wondered if it was right to even call myself a book blogger when I seemed to have less and less time for books.  I had to remind myself that my perceptions are skewed by the company I keep, and that even 40 books is a helluva lot of reading compared to the general population!

Day 14 - Visual Representation of a Reading ListImage by margolove via Flickr
However, my excitement is slightly tempered by a nagging feeling that my reading productivity is tied to the recuperation periods from my shoulder injuries - stretches of time when I wasn't up to doing much other than reading or writing much more than reviews of what I'd read. If that's the case, it's probably not something I can repeat next year - or that I'd want to, really, under those circumstances! Then again, I could be overthinking it all...

I have just one more piece of "deadline" reading in 2010, and one blog-tour date in January, so I'm hoping to wrap up this year with more "at-will" reading. I've cut back on review requests and acceptances, and realized that too many review books back-to-back wears me out - three or four at a stretch seems to be about my limit. I've just finished a short themed-reading jag with the second of two popular histories of modern feminism, both from my own TBR stacks. I'm back to fiction with my current read, but one of my reading goals for 2011 is to do a better job of getting nonfiction into the mix - I've fallen short in that category this year, and I've missed it.

But apparently I haven't missed out on good fiction this year - 17 of the 20 books I've rated 4/5 or better are novels, and because of that, I'm going to have a very difficult time choosing a Fiction Book of the Year! I'm seriously considering not doing it, to be honest, but I still have few weeks to decide. And the quality of a year's reading really should matter more than the quantity, shouldn't it?

Have you begun contemplating your year-end wrap-up yet? Are there any books that are must-reads for you before the end of 2010?

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankfully Reading Weekend Update, and Mini-Challenge #2

I didn't set aside any books specifically for this Thankfully Reading Weekend, but I did make a bargain with myself not to blog until I'd finished the book I had in progress. I've just done that, and I'll probably make a start on the review before I sit back down with something else to read. Today's my main day for reading, as I'm at home on my own through mid-afternoon, so I'd like to make good use of it!

Meanwhile, here's my contribution to TRW Mini-Challenge #2, hosted by Beth Fish:
"Today's mini-challenge is to share a photograph of your TBR pile or at least one bookshelf. "
Who has just one TBR pile? Here are a couple of mine:

Yes, that's a lava lamp on that table. It belongs to my stepson, but we keep forgetting to have him take it back up to his room.

Most of TBR Purgatory lives in a bookcase downstairs and a built-in cabinet in the upstairs hallway.

Some of the books in here are in my "keeper" collection, but all the ones stacked up in front are TBR.
All of this is TBR. It's kind of insane, isn't it? But if it's wrong to have your house overrun with books to be read, I don't want to be right!


Not-quite-Wordless Weekend: Sunrise Over Los Angeles

There's a little scenic-overlook park on Mulholland Drive, just above the Hollywood Bowl, that I pass on my way to work. I had a little extra time one morning when traffic actually wasn't horrible, and I stopped there to take a couple of pictures.

This is the city. Los Angeles, California. Morning traffic is a little on the light side, which is probably why I had time to stop for picture-taking. That's a light fog, not smog, looking toward downtown.

This is also the city, looking toward the west. Way out there in the distance? That's the Pacific Ocean.
I had actually hoped to capture a more typical morning rush hour on the 101 Freeway - that is, no rushing and mostly at a standstill - so y'all would know why I complain so much about my commute, but I had some kind of luck that morning. I've had better luck this week, though, since I've been off work since Thursday!

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankfully Reading Mini-Challenge #1: Thanks for this Book!


I haven't done much reading aside from blogs so far during this Thankfully Reading Weekend - tomorrow will be my big day for that - but I'm taking part in the first mini-challenge anyway. The assignment:
Write a post about the book you are most thankful for.  This could be a book released this year or twenty years ago.  Your post should include why you are thankful for that book.
I don't know if it's the book, but one book I remain thankful for, more than ten years after first reading it, is this one:

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
I read Anne Lamott first as a novelist, but I find her nonfiction more vivid and vital, and I read Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life at a time when I really needed it.  Lamott's writing is direct, honest, blunt, and ultimately affirming. It's an often-recommended writing text, but I found the "...and Life" portion even more valuable. I really should commit to a re-read so I can blog about it, but I remain grateful that I have read it.

Something missing at Christmastime this year

Cross-posted at TheSmartlyLA

My son’s been out of college for almost four years. He lives 3000 miles from me, and about 1000 miles away from his dad’s hometown. He’s got a good job, his own apartment (no roommates!), his own activities and interests, and the occasional girlfriend (but not “the girlfriend,” at least not yet). He doesn’t own a car – he has chosen to live in a city where he doesn’t need one – or have a mortgage or children, but for the most part, he’s living an adult’s life. 

I was never a parent who wanted my kid to stay little forever; I always saw my job as raising a future adult. The future is now, and along with it is a time that I’ve both expected and dreaded. I’ve been trying to prepare myself, and the rest of the family, for awhile now, saying, “We can’t just assume Chris will come out here for the holidays any more. It’s going to be a new decision for him every year.”
I usually start asking him about the decision in September, but he rarely commits before early November. This year, however, he started giving me hints a little earlier than normal. He was down to just four vacation days for the year, and he’d had some unexpected expenses, but he wasn’t sure…
But when I got an IM from him on November 1 floating the idea of a Skype call on Christmas morning, I was pretty sure I was looking at my first holiday season in 26 years without my kid. (Two years ago he came for Thanksgiving instead.) The money, the time, and the knowledge that some of his friends would be staying in town for the holiday too had all pretty well sealed the deal that he’d spend Christmas in Washington DC instead of Southern California. I’m glad he won’t be alone, but I’m sorry he won’t be here with me, his stepdad, and his extended family. We did get to spend some time with him this summer when we were on the East Coast for vacation, and that’s helping me take the news a little better than I might otherwise.
My family has always been pretty far-flung geographically, and there have been many years when we couldn’t all be together during the holidays. Work responsibilities, the challenges of traveling with small children, the cost of plane tickets, obligations to the in-law side of the family – any or all of these have contributed to not having a big family gathering, and we’ve accepted that and made do. And there were years when I was the one who didn’t come home for Christmas, especially when my son was little. At the time, I felt that my parents should be understanding about my need to start my own traditions, with my own young family…and I think they were, but now that the shoe’s going on my foot I’m getting a sense that they may have had some very mixed feelings about it.
I’ve known parents of young children who can’t imagine the day might come when their kids are somewhere else on Christmas morning. And maybe it won’t; I’ve known families who’ve never lived far apart, or who have had the resources to bring everyone together every year no matter what. But I’m not from that kind of family, and therefore my son isn’t either.
I’ve been getting used to long-distance parenting over the last few years, and as I said, this is something I expected eventually, but it’s not something I was looking forward to, either. It’s going to be strange. A video call is better than nothing, and preferable to an old-school phone call because we will see each other – sort of – but it’s definitely not the same. The fact that his absence will mean more Christmas-morning cinnamon rolls for the rest of us is by no means an even trade.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...Image via Wikipedia

I wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving Day, and hope you have at least a few - but hopefully many - things in your life to be grateful for and appreciative of this year! Today, I'm thankful for a long weekend, a dinner that won't require much effort on my part (thanks to Tall Paul's picking up for my slacking dislocated shoulder), and everyone who takes the time to share "reading, 'riting, and randomness" with me here!

I'll be spending some time over the next few days participating in the Thankfully Reading Weekend. I hope you'll get the chance to be thankful for doing something you enjoy, too. 


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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Talk: *Unstoppable in Stilettos*, by Lauren Ruotolo (TLC Book Tour)

Unstoppable in Stilettos: A Girl's Guide to Living Tall in a Small World by Lauren RuotoloUnstoppable in Stilettos: A Girl's Guide to Living Tall in a Small World
HCI (2010), Edition: 1, Paperback (ISBN 0757315143 / 9780757315145)
Memoir/self-help, 200 pages
Source: Publisher. via TLC Book Tours
Reason for reading: Review/blog tour

Opening Lines (Chapter 1): “Seventy-five steep white concrete steps separate me from my hotel room in Santorini, Greece.  I know because I counted them. But the motivation to descend each step down the cliff, where my hotel is nestled, makes the challenge worth it: my two favorite boys Cameron and Mikey and the promise of sharing with them a glass (or two or three) of crisp Greek white wine (which is similar to a sauvignon blanc) on the balcony of our honeymoon suite while watching the sunset hit the horizon of the vast Mediterranean.”

Book description, via the publisher:  How does a girl who was originally predicted to live a wheelchair-bound existence become adventurous, self-assured, successful, and . . . unflappable? Standing 4 feet 2 inches tall in flats (which she would never be caught dead in, anyway), Lauren Ruotolo has spent her thirty-four-ish years seeing the world from a unique angle—upward facing. Lauren was born with McCune-Albright syndrome, a mysterious and rare genetic disease that researchers say occurs in anywhere between 1 in 100,000 and 1 in 1 million people. Some people with the condition tend to go the wheelchair route, but that was never a road Lauren wanted to travel. Her preferred method of transportation, instead, includes stiletto heels. Lauren has avoided the label of 'disabled' through uniquely discovering who she really is, and now you, too, can learn the secrets to living life in a big way.

Comments: I still have the original e-mail Lisa from TLC sent me about this book:
“Would you consider being on this tour, for obvious reasons ;-p”
They’re obvious if you’ve met me in person, anyway, which Lisa has - and once you know that Lauren Ruotolo is even shorter than I am. Although I usually don’t read "inspirational self-help," I couldn’t turn down such a personalized invitation!

Lauren Ruotolo has the rare genetic disorder McCune-Albright syndrome, which has left her with fragile bones and kept her from growing any taller than 4’2”. However, it’s had no detrimental effects on her intellect and personality. Her determination not to see herself as “disabled” - or for anyone else to view her in that light either - has brought her into her mid-thirties with a successful career in her chosen field, a prosperous lifestyle, and an eagerness to share what a challenging life has taught her.

Unstoppable in Stilettos is a fast, breezy read, written very conversationally. Its author’s voice comes through strongly. At times, she came on just a bit too strong for me, actually, but she seems pretty self-aware about her bold personality, because it’s what she’s chosen to develop. Lauren’s condition was diagnosed when she was a small child, and she was fortunate to have parents who advocated for her and supported her drive not to get special treatment because of it. She came across to me as fiercely positive, but not without a willingness to be introspective, and she has some fun and interesting stories to tell. 

I would have liked to know more specifics about Lauren’s condition itself and how it’s affected her, but perhaps because she has chosen not to dwell on it or let it limit her, she really doesn’t talk about it much beyond the basics. The “life lessons” she shares struck me as pretty basic too, but that’s probably because I’m older than what I perceive as the intended audience for them (and I admit to a bias against prescriptive advice books).

Aside from the self-help aspects, I found this a pretty enjoyable read. Lauren Ruotolo tells her story in an engaging and open manner, and I liked getting to know her. However, I do not share her opinions on shoes; I prefer heels between 1 and 3 inches high - and ironically, I was wearing flats both times I fell and dislocated my shoulder!

Rating: 3/5
Other stops on this TLC Book Tour:
Monday, October 25th:  Juggling Life
Thursday, October 28th:  Stiletto Storytime
Tuesday, November 2nd:  The House of the Seven Tails
Wednesday, November 3rd:  Simply Stacie
Monday, November 8th:  Daydream Believer
Wednesday, November 10th:  In the Next Room
Monday, November 15th:  A Nut in a Nutshell
Tuesday, November 16th:  Silver and Grace
Thursday, November 18th:  Girls Gone Reading
Tuesday, November 23rd:  Amy’s Creative Side
Friday, November 26th:  Rundpinne

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Talk: *Looking for Alaska*, by John Green

Looking for Alaska [Paperback] by Green, John
Looking for Alaska
John Green
Speak/Penguin (2006), Paperback (ISBN 0142402516 / 9780142402511)
Fiction (YA), 256 pages
Source: Personal/purchased copy
Reason for reading: None in particular; new-to-me author, but a book-blogger favorite

Opening lines: “The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party. To say that I had low expectations would be to underestimate the matter dramatically.”

Book description: Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . After. Nothing is ever the same.

Comments: I never went to boarding school, so I don’t know this personally, but are elaborate pranks an essential part of the experience? Between ...Frankie Landau-Banks and John Green’s Looking for Alaska, I’m getting the impression they might be. But there’s a lot more to both of these novels than practical jokes. I never would never have guessed that Looking for Alaska was John Green’s first novel; it’s also my first novel by John Green, but it won’t be my last. I definitely get the book-blogger love for this author now!

Miles Halter - a tall, skinny high-school junior soon to be better known as “Pudge” - is reasonably happy to transfer to the Alabama boarding school his dad attended, since he doesn’t feel like he’s leaving much behind in central Florida. The classes at Culver Creek make him work harder than he’s used to, but he’s surprisingly fascinated by his World Religions class and its ancient teacher, Dr. Hyde. Even more fascinating are the new friends he’s making; he’s not exactly a big hit socially, but he becomes part of a small group that includes two of the school’s underground leaders, his roommate Chip “the Colonel” Martin and dorm neighbor Alaska Young. Miles has never known anyone like this appealing girl, with beauty, brains, an unpredictably moody nature, a roomful of books, a fake ID that yields contraband cigarettes and alcohol...and a college boyfriend that puts her out of reach as anything more than a friend, but he’ll take it.

This novel defied my expectations in a few respects. I really thought I’d be annoyed by Alaska - I thought she’d be the sort of magnetically, influentially quirky girl that men seem to write about more than women do, as she hovers on the edge of fantasy - but I wasn’t. The novel hinges on her, and she really needs to draw the reader as much as she does Miles; Green made that happen, at least for me. As it happens, I found all of the main characters vivid and appealing, and I really enjoyed their story. As I said, it wasn’t all pranks and hijinks; while there’s no shortage of humor in the storytelling, some themes are treated quite seriously. School itself is one of them, and Miles - who narrates the novel in first person - mentions studying quite often. 

Looking for Alaska is an intelligent novel that rings emotionally true; it’s a fun read, but not a shallow one. There’s a noticeable and entirely appropriate shift in tone in the latter third of the story, and it enhances the story’s effect. I wasn’t sure how much I’d like this book; I liked it a lot, and will definitely be reading more of John Green’s fiction. Paper Towns is already in the TBR stacks.

Rating: 4/5

This qualifies for the Read Your Own Books Challenge (ROYB 2010) (17/20)

Other reviews via the Book Blogs Search Engine

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thank-You Shout-Outs (Weekend Assignment #245)

Weekend Assignment # 245: Give Thanks
Thanksgiving is upon us, the time of year when we're asked what we're thankful for. Let's take the opportunity to interpret this literally, and actually thank someone! Tell us about someone in your life, past or present, whom you would like to thank for what they did, and why.

Given the way the second half of 2010 has gone, it wasn’t hard for me to decide who deserves special thanks this year, and the fact that I dislocated my shoulder AGAIN last weekend just reinforced it. I have operated at a diminished one-armed capacity at times, and I have been fortunate to have people around who’ve accommodated and tried to make things easier for me. I especially appreciate their putting up with me because I'm an annoying combination of neediness and control issues; I'll ask for your help, but I hate to keep asking, so if I've been waiting a while I'll go ahead and do it myself anyway (even if I probably shouldn't).

Meet my new companion, the Ultrasling!
 My coworkers: I’ve been at my current job for over seven years and am senior person in my department. I’ve been allowed to work flexible schedules and work from home when I’ve had medical appointments and/or no transportation to the office, and my boss - who commutes from the same suburb that I do - has offered to drive me to and from work himself if needed. I don’t like having to ask for special treatment, but I do thank them all for providing it!

My sister: The “stay at home mom” who’s almost never at home has chauffered me to medical appointments, filled out paperwork, taken care of errands for me, and made sure I didn’t have to miss lunch. I moved to SoCal after my first marriage ended because my extended family was here, and I’ve had even more reason than usual to appreciate them this year!

My husband: Actually, let me have him tell you this himself (via Facebook): “He must be an absolute saint to cook and clean and shop and, well, everything else he does while you heal up. You should do something really nice for him when you are all better.” I’m sure I will (insert eyebrow wiggle here)! But in all seriousness, my incapacitating injuries have forced him to make a fair amount of adjustments and additions to his normal routines, and he’s done it all with a smile. I’m sure the best way to thank him for all he’s done would be to stay injury-free next year, and I will certainly try to do that, but in the meantime, I hope this very public thank-you note will do - I’m really glad he’s been here through all this craziness!

If you have someone special to thank this year, do it via this Weekend Assignment! Here’s how:

**1. Please post your response no later than than 12:01 AM on Thursday morning, November 25th, your local time. You can do this either in a blog entry of your own or in the comments section of the assignment entry. No submissions will be accepted after that time unless I really want to.
2. Please mention the Weekend Assignment in your blog post, and include a link back to the original entry.
3. Please go back to the original entry after you've posted, and leave a link to your entry in the comments to the assignment. Please post the URL itself rather than a live link.
4. Visiting other participants' entries is strongly encouraged!

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Salon: Season of the Lists

The Sunday 

Year-end is fast approaching, like it or not, and one sign of that is the arrival of the Lists. Because I’m once again nursing a dislocated shoulder and not up to a lot of (one-handed) writing, I thought they’d make a good cut-and-paste post topic for this week’s Sunday Salon.

Amazon.com got a head start on the 2010 best-book recaps, announcing its Editors’ Top 10 in October. The editors’ choices mixed fiction and nonfiction, and included books that had been widely praised throughout the year, as well as one that wouldn’t be released until several weeks after the list went public.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
Faithful Place: A Novel, by Tana French
Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War, by Karl Marlantes
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson
Freedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club),  by Jonathan Franzen
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson
To the End of the Land, by David Grossman
Just Kids, by Patti Smith
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis

I haven’t read any of these...yet. I suspect The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will long-list in Nonfiction in the Indie Lit Awards, so I’ll be reading it as a panelist. I plan to read Freedom eventually, but feel honor-bound to rescue The Corrections from TBR Purgatory first; the French and Larsson books are likewise on hold until I get through their earlier works. And because I loved Seabiscuit: An American Legend - and it’s in bookstores as of last week - I’ve put Unbroken, in hardcover, on my Christmas wish list.

A couple of weeks later, Publishers Weekly revealed its Top 10 of 2010, which also mixed fiction and nonfiction. It repeated some of Amazon’s picks, but varied from its own 2009 list in including some titles by women and people of color.

A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan (Knopf)
Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand (Random)
The Surrendered, by Chang-rae Lee (Riverhead)
The Big Short, by Michael Lewis (Norton)
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot (Crown)
Just Kids, by Patti Smith (Ecco)
Man in the Woods, by Scott Spencer (Ecco)
The Lonely Polygamist, by Brady Udall (Norton) - finally, something I’ve already read!
The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson (Random)

A Visit from the Goon Squad is already on my wish list, but as a “wait for the paperback” selection.

Have you read any of these “Best of the Year” selections yet? Are you planning to?

And one more list, from a tag on Facebook. Feel free to play along if you haven’t already!

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Bold those books you've read in their entirety. Italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
 (I’m already at 6 - should I stop now? NO!)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials trilogy - 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
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
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
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 - A.A. 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
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
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 Inferno - Dante
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 - E.B. White
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

I’ve read just over 40 of these books in their entirety, but I have no idea what that’s supposed to signify, given the highly eclectic - to put it mildly - nature of this list! How did you stack up?