The Sunday Salon

Happy Sunday all!  I admit, I have done absolutely nothing this weekend.  Yesterday I was out of my bed for maybe two hours.  That gave me a lot of reading time though, which is what I had wanted.  I just love having a day with absolutely no obligations.  However, I think I OD’d on sleep, so I am trying to make up for my laziness today!

So, with all my laying about yesterday, I finished Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters.  This poses a big issue only because I am having a hard time finding a book to follow it up with, it was THAT good.  It is only the second book of Waters’ that I have ever read, and that is tragic.  I need to seek out all of her books ASAP!

So, I am supposed to be starting off on my Booker challenge, which I mentioned in my post last Sunday–I want to spend the next two weeks reading from this years longlist or winners from previous years.  Unfortunately, I forgot I need to read my book club book for our meeting on the 27th–The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman.  So I started it yesterday, but . . . it just wasn’t striking me.  I was not in the mood for non fiction, I guess.  So I started February, by Lisa Moore, which was longlisted for this year’s Booker.  The writing style is a little too disjointed for me, so I wasn’t completely onboard with this one either.  So we’ll see where my reading goes today.

So that’s where my reading is at this point–to make up for my lazy day yesterday, I probably won’t get as much reading done today, as I have some household chores to catch up on.  I hope everyone else will get some reading done though!

Sunday Salon

Happy Sunday all! I am just going to jump straight into my new plan for the last two weeks of August–

So the longlist for the Booker award were announced a week ago.  This excites me greatly—I have no explanation as to why, because I haven’t heard of a lot of the books and, as much as I want to read them every year when they are announced, I never do.  In fact, I never read more than one or two.  Not to mention that I have fallen behind in the Booker challenge.  I signed up for the Winner’s Circle category, meaning that I agreed to read six books that had one the Booker.  So far, I have read The Gathering, by Ann Enright.  It was not good, meaning, I thought it sucked.  Then I tried to tackle Wolf Hall—I even joined a read-a-long.  Sadly, I am thinking that may remain a DNF forever.  So I really need to get my butt in gear and read five more Booker winners (and hopefully they’ll be good this time!).  To help me, I have decided to devote two weeks to read nothing but Booker winners.  I will also throw in a few from the longlist this year.  For those of you who haven’t seen the list, here it is:

Peter Carey Parrot and Olivier in America

Emma Donoghue Room

Helen Dunmore The Betrayal

Damon Galgut In a Strange Room

Howard Jacobson The Finkler Question

Andrea Levy The Long Song

Tom McCarthy C

David Mitchell The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet 

Lisa Moore February

Paul Murray Skippy Dies

Rose Tremain Trespass

Christos Tsiolkas The Slap

Alan Warner The Stars in the Bright Sky

The two weeks I have chosen are August 16-30.  Hell, may as well just throw in August 31 while I am at it.  My reading has been pretty slow lately, so I don’t expect to complete the challenge, but it will be nice to have two weeks to focus completely on Booker wins.  Here are some on my TBR pile—

-Room, by Emma Donoghue

-February, by Lisa Moore

-Skippy Dies, by Paul Murray

-The Slap, by Chris Tsiolkas

-The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga

-The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai

-The Sea, John Banville

-Disgrace, JM Coetzee

-The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

So there you have it.  It is more books than I usually read in one month, let alone two weeks, but I will just emjoy myself and however many I read off the list will be a plus.    If anyone wants to join me, feel free!

Ok, on to my reading from this week.  I read Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins, in order to get ready for the release of Mockingjay.  I can’t believe I waited so long to read the second book in the series!  I also read In a Heartbeat, by Loretta Ellsworth.  Last night, I started Cleo, by Helen Brown–a memoir about a family cat that helped mend the wounds of a family.  Sounds a bit hokey, but I was enthralled.  I would have read the whole thing in one sitting had my eyes not failed on me, so I will be reading the final 60 pages this morning, alongside my husband, who is equally sucked in by The Passage, by Justin Cronin.  I bought it for him after seeing all the reviews on other blogs–I knew it would be right up his alley and I was right!

I hope everyone else has a relaxing Sunday with lots of reading!

Book Review: The Gathering

The Gathering

Anne Enright

Grove Press

272 pages

I don’t generally put much stock into Amazon ratings.  I especially didn’t in this case–the Amazon ratings in the case is only three stars. Well, maybe I should pay a little more attention to those ratings, because in this case they were spot on.

The Gathering is the story of Veronica Hegarty–a middle aged woman who lives in Dublin and is mourning the death of her older brother Liam.  She is battling against an intolerable mother and a husband she is bored with.  As the story unfolds, we are told more and more about the situation that stems from Liam and Veronica’s childhood.

I loved this book from the very first paragraph.  Literally.  I read the first paragraph numerous times and even made my fiance listen to me read it aloud.

I would like to write down what happened in my grandmother’s house the summer I was eight or nine, but I am not sure if it really did happen.  I need to bear witness to an incertain event.  I feel it roaring inside me–this thing that may not have taken place.  I don’t even know what name to put on it.  I think you may call it a crime of the flech, but the flesh has long fallen away and I am not sure what hurt may linger in the bones.

I was utterly captivated, but it didn’t last long.  The story was a good one and the prose were masterful as well, but the story started meandering and I eventually got bored with it.  I have seen some reviews that ascribe the problem to Veronica’s lack of honesty (whether it be conscientious or not) but that factor actually fascinated me.  I love being able to openly question the narrator and I loved that Veronica was open with the fact that we shouldn’t trust her.

The Gathering seemed to just fizzle out.  With such a great premise (who doesn’t love family drama and secrets) and the kind of talent Enright has, it is almost unbelievable that I didn’t love this book, but the construction of the novel fell flat.

I read this book for the Man Booker Challenge.

Other Reviews:

Asylum

Booklit

Shelf Life

Reading Matters

A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook

S Krishna’s Books

another cookie crumbles

Boston Bibliophile

Caribou’s Mom

1 More Chapter

I purchased this book from Barnes & Noble

Sunday Salon

I’m sure I am not the only one snowed in right now.  So much for spring coming early this year!  We got an absolute ridiculous amount of snow over the course of Friday and Saturday.  So much so that my boss sent me home from work at noon Friday.  I decided that was the perfect opportunity to lay in bed and read.  I kid you not when I say I read all afternoon Friday and pretty much all day yesterday.  It was heavenly!

So this week I read the following:

-finished The Gathering, by Anne Enright

-read the second portion of East of Eden, by John Steinbeck

-Eating the Dinosaur, by Chuck Klosterman

-Wifey, by Judy Blume

-half of Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts, by Penny Colman

Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts is my first DNF in awhile.  I liked it at first–it is a history of burial.  After reading a book on New Orleans cemeteries, I decided I wanted to delve deeper into the topic of cemeteries, burials, etc.  So I checked this book out of my library.  And there was some good stuff in there!  It talked about being buried alive (can you imagine?!).  One man even had his tomb rigged with a buzzer to the caretaker’s cottage in the event that he woke up after being buried.  The buzzer never rang (except for one false alarm) and has since been disconnected.

So what happened, you may ask?  Two things.

-The book went off on too many tangents.  I am not interested in burial since the beginning of time.  This is my problem, not that of the author really, but I think it could have been organized a bit better.

-It wasn’t very well researched.  There were no resources noted and the author included a lot of things she heard from other people.  Meaning she would describe a burial place that her friend saw.  It just didn’t seem viable.  Which leads me to my biggest problem . . . I actually found an instance where the author was dead wrong.  It had to do with New Orleans cemeteries.  Twice, she noted that burials in New Orleans take place above ground because of flooding (this is a common fallacy, and it may be partially true, so I could have forgiven that) and she went on to say that all burials in New Orleans take place above ground. This is completely false.  There are quite a few cemeteries in New Orleans that are almost 100% underground burials.  At that point, I decided, since I know little about burials, that the author could be bamboozling me on some other points as well.  So I gave up.

I am very happy to say, however, that I finished books for two separate challenges this week!  I finished The Gathering towards the beginning of the week, which counts towards The Complete Man Booker Challenge.  And then I read Wifey, for the Shelf Discovery challenge.  I finally feel like I am making the tiniest bit of headway towards my current challenges!

I don’t know how much reading I’ll get done today, since all my household chores fell by the wayside the past two days as I read myself into a stupor, but I hope to start The Women, by TC Boyle, before the day is through.  I hope everyone else has a wonderful Sunday!

The Sunday Salon

 

My Sunday Salon this week will be pretty condensed.  Our household computer has an awful virus.  Hopefully it is remedieed soon but in the mean time I am typing on my fiance’s laptop.  I am not a fan of laptops and it sucks not having my normal computer with all my information on it, so until my computer is fixed, I doubt I will be on the computer much.

This week, my reading was as follows:

I finished The Book of Fires, by Jane Borodale

I read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Because my wedding will be in New Orleans (5/13/2010), I had compiled a list of New Orleans based reading for everyone to choose from for the trip.  Everyone that will be in New Orleans for the wedding got a copy of the list, so we’ll see if anyone is as enthusiastic as me!  I doubt I will read much from the list until the wedding is a little closer, but I did go ahead and read Images of America: New Orleans Cemeteries, by Eric Brock.  My fiance wasn’t too thrilled at the prospect of traipsing through cemeteries on our honeymoon, but the architecture and grandeur of the cemeteries down there can’t be ignored!

I am now reading The Gathering, by Anne Enright.  It was the winner of The Man Booker prize in 2007 and will be my first book towards The Man Booker Reading Challenge of 2010. 

Since I am a little remiss in posting my Library Loot, I will go ahead and include it now.  I got three books this week:

I had to get The Shack for my book club but I admit I am unsure about it.  I have heard that the story is ok, but that the writing technique is very subpar.  I will give it a chance but I don’t intend on reading it all the way through if what I have heard turns out to be true.

How is your Sunday?  Anyone getting a lot of reading done?  Unfortunately, I am not–I wish I could spend the whole day reading!

The Sunday Salon–on Friday!

I know, I know—it’s not Sunday yet. My fiancé and I are taking a small excursion this weekend for his daughter’s birthday. She is having a birthday party this weekend so we will be out of town attending that. Thus, I figured it would make more sense to post my Sunday Salon early as opposed to Sunday night when I get back.

This week, I read Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton, for The Classics Circuit. Check out my tour stop here. I also started Girl in a Blue Dress, by Gaynor Arnold. I just realized this book was long-listed for the Man Booker prize in 2007 and I can definitely understand why. It is the compelling, fictionalized account of the spurned wife of Charles Dickens. I am telling you, I cannot put it down. I hope to finish it over the weekend but with all the birthday activities going on, it may not be possible.

So, speaking of the Man Booker Prize one of the challenges I am most excited for this year is The Man Booker challenge. I can’t really explain why I have been anticipating it so much, but for whatever reason my appetite for challenging literary fiction has been whetted for the past few weeks and it’s all I want to read. I chose to participate in the Winners Circle , which means that I will (hopefully!) read six winning books. I have already bought a few of the winners, including the 2009 winner Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel. I got to thinking that maybe I should read some books from other challenges as well. So I perused over the list of winners of the Orange Prize for Fiction and then I decided What the heck, I should read six Orange winners as well. So that’s what I have decided to do. I have already chosen five of the books I will read. These five books are books I have either been wanting to read or having at least heard about. The sixth book will be decided at a later date. The five books I have chosen to read are:

Home, Marilynne Robinson

Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

On Beauty, Zadie Smith

Property, Valerie Martin

Bel Canto, Ann Patchett

There is actually a blog, The Orange Prize Project, devoted to the perpetual challenge of reading all of the Orange Prize winner. If you are interested in reading some of the winners, or some of the books shortlisted/longlisted, it’s a good resource to check out. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Sunday Salon

Yet another weekend of getting hardly any reading done!  Must be the holidays.

I am currently reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery.  I only just started it last night and my book club is meeting at my house this Wednesday to discuss the book, so fingers crossed I will finish it in time!

This week I also read You Better not Cry, by Augusten Burroughs, and The Purloined Boy, by Mortimus Clay.

Books I read and reviewes in November are:

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley

Unfinished Desires, Gail Godwin

Peony in Love, Lisa See

Hate List, Jennifer Brown

Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson

The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins

The Jade Cat, Suzanne Brogger

Sylvia’s Lovers, Elizabeth Gaskell

I also read My Darling, My Hamburger, by Paul Zindel and A Separate Country, by Robert Hicks, both of which will be reviewed soon!

November saw the end of one challenge–the Clear Off Your Shelves challenge hosted by S Krishna’s Books.

My goal was to read 20% off my shelves each month for October and November.  In October I read 47% off my shelves–amazing!  A lot of it had to do with the read-a-thon though.

In November I read 10 books, 2 of which came from my shelves.  So I just barely completed the challenge in November.

I also joined another challenge this month.  Probably against my better judgment!

The Complete Booker Challenge

The information for this challenge can be found here. The challenge runs from January 1, 2010-December 31, 2010.

Additional information:

  • There are several levels of participation:
Winners Circle:  read at least 6 winners
Contender:  read at least 6 shortlisted nominees
Longshot: read at least 6 longlisted nominees
Booker Devotee: choose a year, and read all 6 shortlisted works from that year
Booker Fanatic: choose a year, and read all 13 long- and shortlisted works from that year
  • Overlaps with other challenges are permitted.
  • Book selections don’t have to be posted right away, and lists may be changed at any time.
  • SIGN UP using Mr. Linky below. Please link directly to a specific post about this challenge.
  • Post your reviews:
    • If you’d like to be a contributor to this blog, please email the moderator (an email address is required, so comments to this post won’t work).
    • Mr. Linky will also be available for those who do not wish to become contributors.

Have fun!

I am signing up for The Winners Circle.  I am going to read the following four books for sure.  I haven’t decided on the final two yet.

Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel

The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga

The Gathering, Anne Enright

The Sea, John Banville

So how is everyone else spending their Sundays?

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