Snash's 12 Category Reading Challenge

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Snash's 12 Category Reading Challenge

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jan 7, 2012, 8:08am

We're going to be moving this coming year so reading time may be challenged but we'll see how it goes. I'll try for 5/category but we'll see.

Categories to come.

jan 7, 2012, 8:12am

Here are the Categories

1) World Literature - translated
2) American Literature
3) English Literature
4) Sociology/Politics
5) US History
6) World History
7) Travel Books
8) Science
9) Memoir
10) Writing/Creativity/Art
11) Classics
12) Early Review Books

Redigerat: dec 22, 2012, 4:44pm

World Literature

1) Group Portrait with Lady by Heinrich Boll
2) The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
3) Inez by Carlos Fuentes
4) The Polish Boxer by Eduardo Halfon
5) My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Redigerat: nov 16, 2012, 3:06pm

American Literature

1) Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
2) Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones
3) Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman
4) Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
5) The Odds: A Love Story by Stewart O'Nan
6) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
7) March by Geraldine Brooks
8) The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
9) American Pastoral by Philip Roth
10) Young Hearts Crying by Richard Yates
11) Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

Redigerat: nov 27, 2012, 11:36am

English Literature

1) Sense of an Ending
2) The Impressionist by Hari Kunzru
3) More Baths, Less Talking by Nick Hornby

Redigerat: okt 8, 2012, 8:20pm

World History

1) The Southern Tiger by Ricardo Lagos
2) The Women of the Cousin's War
3) Constantine the Emperor

jan 7, 2012, 8:16am

Travel Books

Redigerat: apr 29, 2012, 8:02pm

Redigerat: mar 23, 2012, 4:08pm

Redigerat: maj 27, 2012, 8:25am

Writing/ Creativity/ Art
1) The Librarian's Guide to Micropublishing

jan 7, 2012, 8:17am


Redigerat: jan 23, 2012, 3:58pm

Early Review

1) Wayward Saints by Suzzy Roche

jan 7, 2012, 8:26am

Revolutionary Road was a superbly written account of Frank and April Wheeler who lived in but disdained suburbia. The book relates their attempts to right this discordance and be true to themselves. The characters are finely drawn, not always likable, but believable.

jan 7, 2012, 3:00pm

Welcome back Sharon and a great book to start your challenge with!

jan 17, 2012, 2:31pm

Signing Their Rights Away consists of 39 thumbnail portraits of the men who signed the Constitution. Despite their briefness they included information on their upbringing, education, contribution to the Constitutional Convention, and life afterwards with a bit of color thrown in as well. The book also includes a copy of the constitution and its amendments . By reading the whole book one gets a sense of the gathering, that they weren't more perfect than a gathering of leaders would be now, making their accomplishment all the more amazing.

jan 23, 2012, 3:58pm

Wayward Saints was an engaging book full of intriguing well drawn characters. Family, fame, faith, identity, and forgiveness are all issues which are touched upon. I liked that the characters changed and grew over time but that it was within a believable range. Nobody became a saint. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book.

feb 8, 2012, 1:42pm

I've read several books about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims. Making Haste from Babylon contained lots of information lacking in others. The motivating conditions in England and Europe, the ongoing interaction between the colony and England, and the contribution of economic and political factors in Plymouth's founding and survival all are masterfully fleshed out in this book. I also liked the portraits drawn of several of the major players.

feb 26, 2012, 8:31am

The Southern Tiger is a political memoir written by Ricardo Lagos, president of Chile from 2000 to 2006.
It provides a history from his point of view of Chilean history from Allende to the present. It includes insights into those policies that were instituted that helped Chile to become a strong country, economically and democratically.

feb 26, 2012, 8:46am

The Southern Tiger sounds interesting. Was it really biased? Or was it a fair history that leads the way for what happened. Chile hasn't had a very pretty history, but I know a bit about it's Colonial history then I have a big blank and I pick up again at Allende.

feb 29, 2012, 4:00pm

Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones is just an excellent collection of short stories set in Washington DC during the 50's to 70's. The characters are black, many elderly. Jones captures a mood and situation brilliantly. The stories reverberate with humanity struggling with the effort of making sense of life.

mar 17, 2012, 9:16am

The Myth of Choice was a very readable discussion of choice, noting the American love affair with freedom of choice, how political stances associate themselves with it to gain support, how often choices are not really choices. Much of the book describes the various ways that our choices are limited by biology, culture, economics, etc. The author then makes suggestions as to how to gain more control over our choices and how public policy could help. I found the book very clear and thought provoking.

mar 23, 2012, 4:09pm

Winnie and Gurley is essentially the memoir of a family, the couple of the title being the author's grandparents. It presents Winnie as the author knew her from his childhood and the slow revealing of the family secret over the next 40 or 50 years. After a concentrated effort of putting all the pieces together, the book then presents the lives of Winnie and Gurley beginning to end. I was a little disappointed that the second half did not reveal much additional information, just more straightforwardly presented. I enjoyed the book for its exploration of ancestors as real people from their perspective as much as possible. So often ancestors are only seen as known by their children which is necessarily colored and lacking.

apr 1, 2012, 10:31am

The Perfect Square was an excellent history of a square and a neighborhood. With quotes from diaries and histories, descriptions of people, and numerous pictures, the history of Rittenhouse Square is brought to life. As such it also provides a peak at the history of Philadelphia as a whole. A very enjoyable, readable, and informative book.

apr 8, 2012, 8:43am

Sense of an Ending is a well written and engaging book about time, aging, and memory, exploring how memory forms our sense of self and what an unstable foundation that is. There's even a bit of mystery in the book. I very much enjoyed the book.

Redigerat: apr 29, 2012, 8:10pm

Philadelphia: 300 Year History The history of Philadelphia is presented over 750 pages, sometimes in more detail than desired but thoroughly. An attempt is made to present its many facets including economic, social, cultural, and political. The book was compiled in 1982 so obviously does not address the past thirty years. As a new resident of Philadelphia, it provided a good picture of the city through the centuries.

apr 29, 2012, 8:04pm

Masters of the Planet is an excellent overview of where paleontology is now in understanding the origins of modern humans. It comments on some of the many controversies without getting bogged down in them, readily admitting the gaps in our knowledge. In fact, the author insists on not jumping to conclusions and presenting conjectures as exactly that. It has been some 20 years since l last visited the subject and I was impressed by the progress and the discoveries that have been made over that time.

maj 22, 2012, 10:45am

It took me a long time to read Binocular Vision because I couldn't read more than one or two stories a day. There was too much to digest. The stories were beautiful at every depth with wonderfully drawn characters. I especially appreciated that the stories were varied in location, character types, and outcome. Not all were depressing, nor all uplifting. An excellent collection

maj 26, 2012, 9:08pm

Good to know about Binocular Vision. I don't usually read short stories but I have had that category in the past to branch out my reading. Binocular Vision goes on the To Read Later list when I get the urge to dive back into short stories.

maj 27, 2012, 8:26am

The Librarian's Guide to Micropublishing is meant as a guide to helping Libraries assist their clients with micropublishing for little or no cost. It is equally useful for the individual. Explanations are provided for the various options and ways to micro publish and where costs could enter and suggestions for how to avoid them or how much to expect. He also provides a very nuts and bolts description of how to prepare a text that will convert to PDF and then to Lulu or Create Space to provide a good looking book. This discussion is entirely from a Microsoft computer but so far I've found the information provided allows the Mac user to manage. For any author considering micropublishing, i would recommend the book.

maj 27, 2012, 10:26am

Looks like the ER program was good to you with Masters of the Planet. Since it's the 100 year anniversary of Piltdown Man, it sounds like a good plan not to jump to conclusions and a good time to read a paleontology book. Did it spend a lot of time discussing how these early humans lived their daily lives?

maj 27, 2012, 4:14pm

It did spend some time approaching that topic but also noting that it's pretty impossible for us to put ourselves in their shoes and a lot of speculation is necessary to guess how they lived. I heartily recommend the book.

maj 27, 2012, 8:08pm

Definitely going on the wishlist. I've read some Steven Barnes where he writes fiction about early humans, so was curious how much a conservative paleontologist would say we know.

jun 3, 2012, 8:50pm

Fight Club is a savage attack on dull, proper, law abiding, meaningless life, suggesting the anarchy that may lurk behind the compliant drone. It's unsettling and unpleasant as it forces the reader to take note of one such person as he struggles to feel alive.

jun 5, 2012, 8:38am

Destiny of the Republic is an intriguing history. Although I've read quite a bit of history of this time, it provided much new information. I have a new appreciation for both Presidents Garfield and Arthur along with a renewed skepticism for doctors. This is a very readable enjoyable history.

jun 10, 2012, 6:31pm

The Odds: A Love Story is the story of a late middle age couple on the verge of bankruptcy and divorce, who are making a last desperate attempt to save themselves. Parts are funny but mostly it's a rather pathetic struggle. It's a short book but still felt like it could be shorter.

jun 19, 2012, 5:11pm

The Women of the Cousin's War is the biography of three women involved in the Cousin's War (War of the Roses). It's a readable account attempting to restore these women to their rightful position in history, acknowledging their power and political acumen in very turbulent times.

jul 1, 2012, 8:49am

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a book with excellent character portrayal and scene portrayal. Many of its characters will stay with me and the descriptions of life amongst the poor immigrants of Brooklyn will define my image of that time and place.

jul 1, 2012, 8:52am

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was one of my mother's favorite books, but I never read it. It's going on the WL.

jul 1, 2012, 12:43pm

Oh, Cammy, you definitely need to read it. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Sharon.

jul 1, 2012, 2:01pm

I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn last year and was absolutely enthralled, I think it's an American classic!

jul 1, 2012, 6:38pm

I was initially a little hesitant fearing it would be too sentimental for my taste. No problem there, whatever sentimentalism present was made palpable by a overwhelming sense of honesty and truth.

jul 1, 2012, 11:37pm

I think the fear that it would be sentimental is what has kept me from reading it for this long. The title seems a bit sentimental.

jul 2, 2012, 4:57pm

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.... I have that one! As for when I will get around to reading it... well..... sometime soon I hope!

jul 3, 2012, 7:24pm

I read ATGiB when I was in high school. I think I should try and dig up a copy.

jul 13, 2012, 7:19am

Group Portrait with Lady is a fascinating book on many levels. It's a book about 20th century German history, human nature amidst chaos, an intriguing cast of characters, and political commentary presented with sarcastic humor within a complex but effective format.

jul 21, 2012, 8:44am

March was a very engaging book about the effects of war upon a person and a family, most particularly upon a person's ideals. It's told from the view point of the father of "Little Women"

jul 30, 2012, 4:51pm

The Inheritance of Loss has some spectacular writing, pithy but terse sarcasm, along with some impressive insights into human nature. There was a disconnect between the characters but that seemed the point. If you loose contact with your family or country, your relationships with others suffer.

jul 30, 2012, 11:59pm

Ah, The Inheritance of Loss has been on my WL for awhile. Hope I get to it sometime!

aug 7, 2012, 2:46pm

Flashing back and forth between primordial and recent time, Inez tells the story of longing and artistic love mired in a mass of allegory. I feel like I should be impressed but since much of it went over my head, I wasn't impressed nor did a particularly enjoy the book.

aug 10, 2012, 2:28am

Hmmm - I believe you, but I love Fuentes. I won't be reading Inez this year, but maybe next year. I'll let you know what I think. Sounds like it may be a little less accessibly than some of his other writing. & the premise doesn't sound that promising.

aug 18, 2012, 4:09pm

The Poisonwood Bible was a powerful no holes barred indictment of white man's meddling in Africa. Beyond that it's a psychological study of a family's adjustment to upheaval, death, and immersion in an antithetical culture. Gripping and excellent. I felt the different characters were perhaps an bit over drawn which accounts for a rating of 4.5 instead of 5.0.

aug 18, 2012, 10:56pm

I got The Poisonwood Bible at a library booksale years ago. Sounds like I better get around to reading it!

aug 19, 2012, 7:54am

I picked it (The Poisonwood Bible) up at the literacy booksale yesterday in Greenville. I've enjoyed the other books I've read by Kingsolver so I picked up that one and what appears to be a sequel to The Bean Trees that I recently read.

aug 27, 2012, 3:07pm

My engagement with most of The Impressionist suffered because of the protagonist's lack of internal self. Of course, this was precisely the point. The series of events which created this selfless person were gruesome, while the events which ripped apart his carefully constructed facade finally made the character likable. It was a better book in its entirety than it was during its reading.

aug 28, 2012, 8:28pm

I have The Impressionist sitting on my TBR bookcase and I have to say, your comments on the book have renewed my interest in reading it!

sep 8, 2012, 6:32pm

American Pastoral is a fascinating characterization of a family of third generation immigrants and their friends when confronted with disaster. While revealing the nature of the people and the forces that formed them, the book also tells the story of America as it reached power and affluence, the youth of the 60's found it despicable, and then life went on as it had.

sep 14, 2012, 5:09pm

In Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age Johnson provides an interesting approach to tackling societal problems based on broad, diverse, and egalitarian input and distribution of information, using the internet as system model. The examples are interesting and encouraging. It's certainly an approach worthy of consideration. His enthusiasm may extend its powers too broadly but who's to say. It's certainly worked well in numerous cases.

sep 26, 2012, 2:40pm

In West from Appomattox the author describes the political developments of Victorian America developing the thesis that the political concepts and conflicts of today were formed then. On the one hand were the individualists personified by the cowboy, on the other "special interests" who insist that the playing field is not even. Gathering government support by associating individualist middle America with a need, has allowed that segment of the population to gather more government support than the special interests who are viewed as getting too much.

okt 8, 2012, 8:21pm

Constantine the Emperor is a scholarly biography of the man. As much as possible the source material used by the author is that which was written at the time. As a powerful and influential man, many false legends and exaggerations have been perpetrated about his life over time. This book attempts to get at the truth and appears to do so. It is an important book to counter the rampant myths. While some of the information was engaging and interesting, there were sections where the detail overwhelmed.

okt 24, 2012, 8:05pm

Young Hearts Crying tells the story of an aspiring poet and a rich girl, artist-wanna-be who got married, had a kid, divorced, and then lived on. It seems to essentially tell the story of how the dreams of youth either shift with maturity or detrimentally hold a person in immaturity. This same theme seems to be illustrated through numerous characters. Did not enjoy as much as Revolutionary Road, too much immaturity in repeated sexual conquests.

okt 31, 2012, 5:43pm

In The Polish Boxer the author explores the nature of reality, art, and identity via a collection of vignettes. The writing is exquisite. My only reservations are that sometimes it seemed the author was more obtuse than necessary. There were also some scenes whose point I missed. They were mesmerizing nonetheless.

nov 16, 2012, 3:08pm

Buddha in the Attic was a description of Japanese women brought to the US to marry Japanese men in the 1920's and 30's. It presents the variety of experience from farm life to J-town, husbands kind to abusive, having children who shun Japanese culture and then their interment with WWII. The information and the sense of their lives is conveyed, although I found the style of "some of us....." and some of us....." wearing over the course of an entire book

nov 27, 2012, 11:37am

In More Baths, Less Talking Nick Hornby's humor grabs the reader suggesting an entertaining read whether one agrees with his take on various books or not. However, by half way through I was finding his humor rather wearing. It probably works read once a month as it was conceived. I did find some books to check out and don't regret reading the book

nov 27, 2012, 11:49pm

Hmmm - I saw a more glowing review of More Baths, Less Talking but I know what you mean about a sense of humor getting wearing. If I do pick it up, I'll take your advice and read it sporadically. That way the book bullets won't all hit at once too.

nov 28, 2012, 8:57am

Sounds like a good plan to me although you may not respond the same as I. It is true that others were more glowing.

dec 22, 2012, 5:03pm

My Struggle had some spectacular musings on death, and explorations of the ambivalent feelings of a son for his father, but I found nearly half the book a struggle to read. Too many scenes with little significance were described in excruciating detail. It didn't help that I found the author as a teenager rather unlikeable.

dec 30, 2012, 10:44am

I found Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to US Empire a very thought provoking book. Just as the litany of power plays by the corporate/government/military top players suggest all is hopeless, the author displays surprising optimism about counter movements of the past and those going on now. He manages to pull together trends in foreign affairs, education, economics, and science as mechanisms to benefit the present power system of the few. This is done with many references but in a straightforward, easily read style.