Weekly Geeks

WG Book Pile URL_thumb[3]So, Weekly Geeksters, tell us, do you have a collection, (or are you starting a collection,) of one particular book title? If so, what’s your story? Why that book, and how many do you have, and what editions are they? Share pictures and give us all the details.


Or perhaps you dream about starting such a collection. What title would it be and what would it take for you to get motivated to start collecting?

Or maybe it’s the works of a particular author you collect (or want to collect) instead a certain book title?

Personally, I don’t have one single title that I collect.  I don’t really see the point in that, truthfull.  It’s just not me.  For one, I admit I’m not much of a re-reader, even when it comes to my favorite books.  There are just so many titles I want to read that I can’t bear to go back and read something over again.  Secondly, why more than one copy, even if you do read a book numerous times?
There are some subjects that I collect books on, like the subject of Charles Manson.  I have 5-6 books on the Manson murders, all stemming from my reading of Helter Skelter, by Vincent Bugliosi.  I just find the Manson family to be intriguing, as well as creepy, for obvious reasons.
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I also have quite a few books that have to do with Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, possibly my favorite book ever, if I could only pick just one.  I have a few biographies on Margaret Mitchell, as well as the two sequels Rhett Butler’s People and Scarlett.  The only one I declined to add to my library was Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone, which I had to put down midway through because I found it both confusing and atrocious.  I also have a really cool book with tons of pictures and descriptions of the lifestyles during that time period.
Please feel free to add a comment regarding any collections you might own!

Sunday Salon

This week has been quite busy for me.  I finished moving, so I spent all weekend unloading,  The highlight was having all my books in my new place finally.  I estimate that I have around 600 books.  I went ahead and set up all my bookshelves and then decided to take on the unwieldy task of alphabetizing my entire book collection.  Let me assure you–this was no easy feat.  I started out by divinding my library into the 26 letters of the alphabet, by author’s last name.  Then I went through, with the help of my boyfriend, and put each pile in order.  It took a few hours and we didn’t finish until almost 2am last night.  There were a couple times I contemplated giving up and just throwing all the books on the shelves at random, but luckily we got it all sorted out.  Hopefully it stays that way!!

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This week I finished Sacred Hearts, by Sarah Dunant, which was a wonderful read.  I will definitely be reading her other two books.  I got an ARC copy of Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler.  I’m only about 100 pages in but so far it’s a quick read.  It’s a great summer read in the sense that it’s light and fluffy.

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After that, I plan on starting Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh.  I received this book about three weeks ago from Bookswim and it’s been languishing on my shelves since then.  I’d like to have it finished by the end of the week so I can send it back with my next shipment.

Book Review: Sacred Hearts

Sacred Heartssacredbl

by Sarah Dunant

Imagine what it must be like to be a prisoner to your own destiny.  Such is the life of Serafina, a young girl who finds herself locked away in the Santa Caterina convent in Ferrara , Italy during the sixteenth century.  During that time, with dowries so high, many parents chose to marry off only one daughter, with any other daughters being sent to convents, where the dowries were much lower and the daughters would still be socially accepted.  Serafina had hoped to be married to her true love, Jacopo, an aspiring musician, but her parents did not approve of his modest standing and instead chose to send Serafina to the convent while marrying off her younger sister to a nobleman.

While in the convent, Serafina begins working alongside Suora Zuana, the convent’s dispensary sister.  They forge a relationship that plagues Suora Zuana throughout the book.  Santa Caterina is enmired in political circumstances that the abbess, Madonna Chiara, is attempting to handle, but which Suora Zuana is forced to struggle with as she attempts to help the young novice Serafina.  Abbess Madonna Chiara is an interesting character; she is very stoic and, despite the fact that she has grown up in the convent, she has a knowledgeable grasp on the inner-workings of the outside economy and politics.  She was a very conflicting character for me because I admired her drive and her fortitude, but it was hard to come to terms with the fact that she was in favor of overlooking individuals for the better of the convent as a whole.  In theory, it doesn’t sound too awful, but as the book went on, it seemed that she took it too far.  The manner in which she took it upon herself to keep Serafina and Jacopo apart was disturbing and it exposed the contradiction of how Abbess Chiara was forced to juggle her vows to God, and morality in general, against protecting the best interests of the convent.

Suora Zuana was also faced with the same conflictions as her abbess.  She finds herself drawn to Serafina, especially seeing as Suora Zuana also entered the convent unwillingly.  At first she expects Serafina to accept her fate, as she herself has done, but as Sacred Hearts unfolds, Suora Zuana finds herself in a personal struggle between following the instructions of the abbess or helping Serafina follow her heart.  At the same time, Suora Zuana is attempting to disengage herself from her past life.  She is still very caught up in her earlier years, before her father passed away and she entered Santa Caterina, and while she doesn’t want to let go of her father, it is made obvious to her by the abbess that she cannot fully accept God and her present life in the convent if she is unwilling to let go of her old life.

San-Giorgio-Ferrara-001As mentioned before, Sacred Hearts is an interesting look in to convent life in the sixteenth century.  The politics involved in the running of a convent often clash with the meaning of the convent itself; many times the focus on the Father and Son is overwhelmed by outside sources.  One battle that rages on throughout the book is that of Suora Umiliana and Abbess Chiara.  While enclosed, the sisters are still able to participate in some of the luxuries of life, such as meeting with their families, singing and performing plays.  The Abbess uses these freedoms to her fullest extent and is able to count on income through produce and benefactors.  However, Suora Umiliana is of the belief that the convent is given too many luxuries and the sisters are therefore not able to fully focus on the religious aspects of the convent.  Due to the circumstances with Rome , and the fact that other convents are being put under massive restraints, Suora Umiliana’s vision could very easily become reality, much to the chagrin of the abbess.  Additionally, Suora Umiliana had the chance to become abbess but lost the position to Madonna Chiara; despite that loss, Suora Umiliana has quite a few other nuns that are willing to back her up in her visions for the convent, so the threat to Madonna Chiara is very real.

Although Serafina is the protagonist of the story, the way in which Dunant takes the time to weave an entire picture of convent life is a true gift to the reader.  While maybe not the most intriguing subject matter to some, Dunant was able to write a forceful book with all the inner workings of life in a convent.  While at times a sad and lonely place, there is a real sense of hope involved.  This became one of those books I wouldn’t let myself put down; I would try my hardest to read it as I was geeting ready for work in the morning, because I was so completely drawn in to the storyline.  I am now especially convinced that I need to read my copy of In the Company of the Courtesan, not to mention snag a copy of The Birth of Venus as well.

Booking Through Thursday

btt2What’s the lightest, most “fluff” kind of book you’ve read recently?

I would say that one of the most fluff books I’ve read recently is Dragonfly in Amber, by Diana Gabaldon.  Her books are perfect for lazy summer days.  Page upon page of romance dragonflymixed with time travel.  I don’t generally read anything from the romance genre, but Gabaldon’s books have enough substance that you don’t feel as if you’re just reading your typical bodice ripper.  The story centers around Claire Randall, who travels back in time and falls in love with a Scot named Jamie.  Dragonfly in Amber is the second book of the series (Outlander being the first), which continues on with I think five or six more books.  I read Outlander a few months ago and while I’ll probably continue reading the series, I do like to take some time off between each book because they are so long, as well as sappy and cliché, so that generally by the end I need a rest.  However, if you’re looking for a great romance that’s fairly light, the Outlander series is a good choice.

Book Review: The Plague of Doves

img_plague The Plague of Doves

by Louise Erdrich

The Plague of Doves is Louise Erdrich’s thirteenth novel.  I’ll admit, I had not even heard of her before chancing upon this book, but she is known as an author of Native American history.  Doves is a story that revolves around quite a few people, with the protagonist being Evelina Harp.  Evelina begins the story during her childhood, when she learns from her grandfather, Mooshum, about decades earlier when he and three peers were unjustly accused of murdering a family, solely based on the fact that they were Native American.  Mooshum is the only one of the four that was not hanged.  The story then begins switching from narrator to narrator, with Evelina narrating other parts of the book.  While Doves is a tragic tale for all those involved, there is a sense of hope and peace that is involved as well.  Even in Evelina’s case, as she transforms from a spunky, quizzical girl to a sullen teenager.

Erdrich also had a great way of injecting small bouts of humor into a very serious book.  For instance, one of the most humerous parts of the book, during which I was practically laughing out loud, is during the funeral of Mooshum’s brother, when the minister presiding over the funeral proceedings believes that it is actually Mooshum who has died.  Mooshum, meanwhile, is sitting in the church listening to his own eulogy while the minister unknowingly rambles on.  I appreciated that Erdrich was able to draw laughter from such a tragic book.

Doves also spends much time delving into the relationship between the Native Americans and the whites.  Considering the lynching of three innocent men that took place, it becomes apparent from the beginning of the book that the issue of racial divides plays a large hand.  One of the narrators, Judge Antone Coutts, seems to have the most level head of the bunch, seeing as he’s had a lot of time to reflect on past experiences, not to mention that, being a judge, he has more of an insight into the crimes committed (both the slaughtered family as well as other crimes) over the years.  At one point, Coutts says “the entire reservation is rife with conflicting passions. We can’t seem to keep our hands off one another, it is true, and every attempt to foil our lusts through laws and religious dictums seems bound instead to excite transgression.” These lines exemplify the struggle going on throughout the book, which eventually leads to a desolate, empty town.

I came away from this book trying to piece together what I had read.  While this is an amazing book, it does have the issue of being disjointed.  While a lot of times, this is used as a literary tool, Doves didn’t master it in the way I had hoped for.  I had a difficult time connecting the characters and remembering who was who.  Every time I opened the book, I had a hard time recalling what I had previously read and tying it into the story as a whole.  It was interesting in the sense that I was never too excited to open the book, but once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down.  I read afterwards that the reason for the separation between the portions of the book is because it originally was not published as a book.  Instead, each part of the book was published separately as a short story.  Had I known that when I began reading, I would have had a different point of view throughout, I think, and would have had an easier time connecting each portion.

Regardless of the aforementioned flaw, there is a reason this book was a runner up for the Pulitzer this year.  The storyline and prose are both enthralling and definitely worth reading.

Sunday Salon

TSSbadge1So . . . my first Sunday salon post.  Just minutes ago, I finished Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich.  It was a runner-up for the Pulitzer this year, and after reading it I’m not surprised.  It was a lot to digest though–I’m hoping to post my review of it tomorrow but it’s one of those books that requires a lot of reflection.  I’m not quite sure what to make of it.  I read it on my Amazon Kindle–it was the first book in awhile that I’ve read on my Kindle, so it was nice to get back in the swing of things in that regard.

Next I’ll be reading Sacred Hearts, by Sarah Dunant.  As I posted on Friday, it’s my first ARC, so I’m super excited.  I figured it should be next on my list, since the publisher was so nice to send it to me.

My boyfriend and I spent quite awhile perusing Barnes & Noble yesterday.  Surprisingly, I came away with nothing.  I considered picking up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stiegthe_girl_with_the_dragon_tattoo.large Larsson, but in the end I knew I already had it in my pool on Bookswim, so I decided to save my $15.  Plus, I just kept reminding myself that I have so many books I have yet to read already waiting for me at home.  For once I had self control!  Usually I am a big sucker for the bargain tables at B&N, but this time nothing really caught my eye,  In a way, I suppose that was good too.  I’m very inclined to buy a book at a cheap price, only to decide later on that I’m not really interested.

My boyfriend, however, was much more successful.  He bought four books: The Neon Bible, by John Kennedy Toole, World War Z, by Max Brooks, The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger and Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson.  The first and last are books that I haven’t read yet and am interested in though, so I will benefit from his purchases.

Weekly Geeks: week of August 22, 2009

WG Book Pile URL_thumb[3]I think just about every reader has a least one book that they’ve been meaning to read for awhile (months or even years) but, for one reason or another, they just haven’t gotten around to it. Maybe it’s a book a friend recommended last year, or a title you’ve flirted with in a bookstore on more than one occasion, or maybe it’s a book that’s sitting right there on your bookshelf, patiently waiting for you to pick it up — but the thought is always there, in the back of your mind: Why haven’t I read this yet?

This week, tell us about a book (or books) you have been meaning to read. What is it? How long have you wanted to read it? And, why haven’t you read it yet?

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Considering my TBR pile is hundreds of books long, there are numerous books that I could mention in this post.  The one book I have that I really want to read and seems to be glaring at me from my shelves is Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy.  It’s not only that it’s one of those books I feel that I just HAVE to read (although that is a factor)–I also really anticipate that it’s a book I’ll enjoy.  One of the biggest issues in regards to why I haven’t read it is it’s size.  I can be sort of put off by large books.  Sometimes the time and effort is more than I’m willing to spare.   Plus books that heavy are such a pain to prop up and hold in the bathtub or in bed, which is why I downloaded Anna Karenina onto my Amazon Kindle.  Therefore, I am checking one of the reasons for not reading it off my list.  I promise, it will happen soon!  Maybe reading this book should be one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2010.

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