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?

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.


logo_topMost people don’t see the allure in renting books.  It’s understandable—why rent when there are libraries?  Why shell out the cash, especially in today’s economy?  I once followed that way of thinking, but became a convert to the idea of renting books almost two years ago, when I discovered Bookswim.  Bookswim (www.bookswim.com) is like the Netflix for bookworms.  You choose a monthly membership (anywhere from 2 books at a time for $15/mo. to the devout reader plan, 11 books at a time for $39.94/mo) and, depending on what level of membership you have, you get to keep a certain number of books while sending the rest back (this excludes the occasional reader plan, in which you get two books per shipping and must return them together).

Each time you send books back, you log onto Bookswim and change your status to reflect that your books have been shipped.  You then have the option of reserving one book in your pool that you absolutely MUST have next.  That book is guaranteed to be shipped in your next package. Bookswim is also great at making sure that they offer the most popular books, including books from the current NY Times bestseller list. Meanwhile, if you decide you’d like to keep a book instead of sending it back to Bookswim, you can notify them via the website and your credit card is automatically charged during the next billing cycle.  I used this feature once when I rented American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis.  Once I finished it, I couldn’t bear to send it back.

Personally, I rarely ever use the public library.  I am constantly racking up fines and the convenience aspect is just not there for me.  I also get excited to find a new package of books waiting for me in the mailbox.  I currently do the 3 book at a time plan (light reader) because I already have so many books at home that I have yet to read, plus I’d prefer not to pay more than $20/mo, which is what my current plan costs.  I have to say, I’ve had nothing but good experiences in the two years I’ve been using Bookswim.  My one complaint is that you can only have up to one hundred books in your rental pool at a time.  If I had my choice, I’d have probably double that number in my pool at any given time.

Bookswim isn’t for everyone but, if like me, the library isn’t really an option that you have or use,, Bookswim is a great alternative.

Friday Finds


No new book purchases this week, although I was beyond excited to find my first ever ARC waiting for me today, courtesy of Random House. It is Sarah Dunant’s newest book Sacred Hearts.  I already own In the Company of the Courtesan, although I regret to say I have yet to read it.  However, Dunant caught me eye even before that, so I’m happy to have the opportunity to review her latest book!

BTT: Booking Through Thursday

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

(Tell me you didn’t see this one coming?)

n252254 In looking through the last few books I’ve read, the most recent one that I would consider one of the best (at least so far this year), is My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike, by Joyce Carol Oates.  This is not the first time Oates has taken a sensational, true life situation and fictionalized it with her own twist.  My Sister, My Love is based on the murder of beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey and told from the viewpoint of the older brother (in this case, instead of the siblings being Burke and Jonbenet Ramsey, they are Skyler and Bliss Rampike).  As in reality, the Rampike family quickly came under suspicion, with Skyler being a suspect himself.  However, the book takes great literary license in painting the picture of a morally depraved family.  While Jonbenet’s murder has never been solved, Oates does make clear in the ending of the book who killed Bliss Rampike.

For those of you who enjoyed Blonde, Oates’ fictionalized account of the life of Marilyn Monroe, My Sister, My Love is right up there alongside it.

Feel free to leave a comment about the best book you’ve read recently!

For fun!

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?

I tend to stay away from hardback because of the weight of the book as well as the price.  I will always go for the cheapest version of a book.

Bookmark or dog-ear?

Bookmark.  I never dog ear.

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?

A select few of my books are grouped by subject matter.  The others are grouped by author but are not in any type of order.

Keep, throw away or sell?

Keep, unless it’s a book I don’t enjoy, at which time I’ll either sell it or give it away.

Keep dust jacket or toss it?

Most of the time I’ll remove it while I’m reading, but other than that, I keep them.

Last book you bought?

I went to Barnes and Noble two weeks ago and bought three books.

The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb, for myself

Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy O’Toole, for my boyfriend, although it’s one of my favorite books and my last copy was never returned by a co-worker who I lent it to and who, subsequently, no longer works with me.

The World According to Garp, John Irving, also for my boyfriend, but I’ve wanted to read it for awhile, so I figured I was killing two birds with one stone.

Last book someone bought for you?

Last Christmas most likely.

What are some of the books on your to-buy list?

I have a list that is currently five pages long of books I don’t have that I want to read, but I won’t buy many of them.  I tend to go into bookstores without a specific book in mind, and just browse the sale tables.

Collection (short stories, same author) or anthology (short stories, different author)?

I like the change of pace that an anthology offers.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?

I’ve only read the first three Harry Potter books (and that was years ago!) and none of Lemony Snicket, so I can’t really say.

Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading?

I always read in the morning when I wake up.  If it’s a work day, I only have 20-30 minutes, but on a weekend, I could be in bed for up to an hour after I wake up reading with my morning cup of coffee.  I also read at night before bed.  I try to get in bed at least a half an hour early so that I’ll have time to read.

The books you need to go with other books on your shelves?

I am always open to classics and I rarely ever sell them when I’m done or give them away.  At the moment, I know I need more Dickens, Jessica Mitford and Joyce Carol Oates.

Do you read anywhere and anytime you can or do you have a set reading time and/or place?

A lot of the time I will carry a book with me in the event that I have some spare time to read.  Generally though, I do the majority of my reading at home, either in the bath, in bed, or on the couch.

Do you have seasonal reading habits?

Sometimes I am more inclined to go with lighter reads in the summer.  I also have a penchant for scary books around Halloween.

Do you read one book at a time or do you have two or more books going at once?

I rarely ever read more than one book at once.  I like to be able to focus solely on one book at a time instead of flipping back and forth between numerous books.

What are your pet peeves about the way people treat books?

I don’t really mind how others treat their books.  I don’t even so much mind how others treat my books—I care more that I receive my books back.  There’s nothing worse than having one of your books borrowed and never returned.

Name one book you surprised yourself by liking.

I was surprised that I enjoyed The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michael Faber, as much as I did.  It is one of my favorite books from this year, but I was skeptical about the sheer length of it, coupled with the fact that many reviews about the book had some harsh words about the ending.  I think that, especially when a book is that long, readers want some type of closure by the time they finish a book, and that wasn’t necessarily the case with The Crimson Petal, but in my opinion, the ending added to the general mystique of the book.

How often do you read a book and not review it on your blog? What are your reasons for not blogging about a book?

So far, in the past two years that I’ve blogged, I’ve reviewed every single book I’ve read.  I like having my reviews for my own reference, because a few months after finishing a book, it’s never as fresh in my mind as when I first finished it and blogged about it.  I can think of a book or two that I just couldn’t get into and, because I barely started it, in that case I generally wouldn’t review it, but that would be the only situation where I wouldn’t blog about a book.

What about your book and reading habits?  Come on, share!

Weekly Geeks

Week of August 15, 2009

There have been times in my life where I reread a book (or author) I hated–or thought I hated–but the second time around ended up loving. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever changed your mind about a book or author the second time around? Have you ever given a book or author a second chance?

If you have, I’d love to hear your stories. Blog about your experience(s) in giving second chances.

If you haven’t, I’d like you to consider giving a book or an author a second chance. You can blog about your intentions to do so–or if you’re a quick reader, maybe you can even squeeze something in!

Can’t think of a single book or author? Don’t worry, you can stretch this one to include movies or music if you prefer.

It is just very interesting to me how time can change tastes and perceptions. How subjective the reading experience is and always will be.

Leave your answers (links) in the comments!

One author that comes to mind right away is Joyce Carol Oates.  In high school (we’re probably talking about ten years ago), I read We Were the Mulvaneys.  I’m not kidding when I say I absolutely loathed it.  I’m fairly certain I tried numerous times to get through it and just never could.  I can’t pinpoint what my problem was, since it was quite a long time ago, but I think I found it boring.  Since then, I have read a handful of books by Oates and loved them all.  Mulvaneys could have just been a fluke on the part of the author, but I’m pretty convinced that I just wasn’t mature enough at that point in my life to appreciate her prose.  Everyone’s reading tastes evolve, and I’m no exception.  I purchased We Were the Mulvaneys within the past few months and plan on rereading it sometime soon to see if my feelings have changed.

The situation described above though is virtually a one-time circumstance.  I rarely reread books because there are so many new titles I want to read, so they chances of me rereading a book a didn’t like the first time around are slim to none.