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Thread: 2016 Reading Challenge

  1. #101
    Just Another Lazy Perfectionist Brightdreamer's Avatar
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    Took too long off this...

    Anyway, I found and read my Banned Book: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, a YA novel about a modern Spokane Indian boy who dares to leave the rez for a shot at a real future. An interesting, sometimes fun and sometimes tragic look at culture clash, the poverty cycle, the broken rez system, racism (across the board, not just by whites), and just what it means to want more in a world that's already decided you don't deserve it.

    Now I just have to finish up Animal Farm - still waiting for a cheaper copy, or for the library eBook to become available.

    My updated list:
    Book published this year: Behind the Canvas, by Alexander Vance DONE
    Book I can finish in a day:The One And Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate DONE
    Book I've been meaning to read: Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke DONE
    Book recommended by local librarian or bookseller: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black DONE
    Book I should have read in school: Animal Farm, by George Orwell (Fiction, an allegory in which farm animals overthrow humans, thinking to build a better society)
    Book chosen for me by a loved one: The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown DONE
    Book published before I was born: Watership Down, by Richard Adams DONE
    Book banned at some point: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie DONE
    Book I previously abandoned: Etiquette & Espionage, by Gail Carriger DONE
    Book I own but have never read: Wonderbook , by Jeff Vandermeer DONE
    Book that intimidates me: Moby Dick, by Herman Melville DONE
    Book I've read already at least once: The Princess Bride, by William Goldman DONE
    - Brightdreamer
    Brightdreamer's Book Reviews

    "Inspiration will strike you, and leave you for dead. The police will do nothing."
    - from The Daily Humorscope

  2. #102
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    Brightdreamer: although I don't read much YA, the Part-time Indian book sounds like something I'd like to read. The title reminds me of Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man, which is in the public domain and short enough for a day's reading.

    Brave New World got good at the 40% mark, and I can see why it's held up as a required reading staple. I get the idea, though, that like Alice in Wonderland there are a lot of political in jokes and allusions that are lost on us today. Of course the Ford references are to Henry Ford, and I caught a few others, but I'm sure there were more.

    I got started on my last book of the challenge: Voices of Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexeivich. This one was recommended by a bookstore owner, and was the local book club's selection about a year ago. It's survivors of the Chernobyl accident talking in their own words. No interviews, just discussions among themselves and monologues. Fascinating! Each person has his or her own style of story telling, complete with misunderstandings, limited perspectives, belief in rumors, and basically people being people. It's a little frustrating that there is only a very brief overview of the history of the accident, and no fact checking of the sometimes bizarre stories the locals tell. This book is going to stay with me a while.
    Join any time! Take the 2017 AW Reading Challenge. Pick 12 books from a list of topics and read/discuss with us throughout the year.

  3. #103
    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
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    Voices of Chernobyl has been on my to-read list for a while. Looking forward to hearing your opinion when you're finished, Chris.
    KINGLET: Coming in August 2017 from Fiery Seas Publishing!
    FISKUR: Releasing November 2017 from Fiery Seas!



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    And the occasional Tweet.





  4. #104
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    I finished the challenge!!!

    Book published this year: The Caine Prize for African Fiction anthology, due out in JulyDONE
    Book I can finish in a day: Max's Revenge by Sally Gould DONE
    Book I've been meaning to read: City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg. DONE
    Book recommended by local librarian or bookseller: Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich DONE
    Book I should have read in school: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee DONE
    Book chosen for me by a loved one: Gods at War by Kyle Idleman DONE
    Book banned at some point: Beloved by Toni Morrison DONE
    Book I previously abandoned: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley DONE
    Book I own but have never read: 1000 Acres by Jane Smiley DONE
    Book that intimidates me: Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving (just because it's long) DONE
    Book I've read already at least once: The Once and Future King by T.H. White DONE


    This is actually a bit of an accomplishment for me. I've shared elsewhere on AW that I couldn't functionally read until I was about 9 years old. As a result, although I read a lot now I read very slowly and I have a slight inferiority complex about it. I was actually worried I wouldn't finish the challenge at first, especially with some lengthy tomes on the list.

    Most of the books were pleasant surpises: City on Fire, Voices from Chernobyl, To Kill a Mockingbird (oncd it got going). I was disappointed by this year's Caine Prize, thought Last Night in Twisted River would have been much better at 2/3 its length, and Beloved was such a strange story I have to concentrate on it to remember anything about it, much less tell you what it meant.

    Several of you have here, elsewhere or by PM asked for my input on Voices from Chernobyl. I'm short on time right now but will post one later on today
    Last edited by Chris P; 09-07-2016 at 01:17 AM.
    Join any time! Take the 2017 AW Reading Challenge. Pick 12 books from a list of topics and read/discuss with us throughout the year.

  5. #105
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    So, I'd put Voices from Chernobyl on the required list for anyone interested in recent history, Russian/Soviet history, creative non-fic, memoir, biography, etc.

    First there're the stories: from people involved, from people not involved, people who saw it happen, people who came later, soldiers who helped clean up, people who refused to leave their homes, people who can't talk about it, people who need to talk about it. At first I was confused why so many people wanted to talk about the war with Germany, or Afghanistan, or Tajikistan. Then one person put it perfectly: "A war you can at least understand. There's never been anything like Chernobyl." Their stories revealed so many things I never would have thought of, but which make so much sense once said out loud: "In any other emergency, there is a food shortage. But there was plenty of food! We just couldn't eat it and the soldiers dug it up and buried it." "We rode our bikes to the plant and watched the fire."

    Then there's the writing. It's genius! Put a microphone in front of people and let them talk. No interviewing, no guiding, no digging for information. Just let people tell their stories in their own way. Let them talk about what they want to. Leave in all the rumors, the conjecture, the fantastical stories, the fear, the paranoia, and don't try to tease out or explain the actual facts. This is what people talk about and how they express it. Also, the stories are short; the longest takes about 25 minutes to read. This makes the book addictive and I plowed through it. "5 Min to end of chapter? Yeah, I can finish it before starting dinner."
    Join any time! Take the 2017 AW Reading Challenge. Pick 12 books from a list of topics and read/discuss with us throughout the year.

  6. #106
    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
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    Congratulations on finishing the challenge, ChrisP, and thank you for the review of Voices from Chernobyl. I just bumped it to a higher position on my to-read list.

    I haven't made a lot of progress on the McCullough book on the history of the Panama Canal - I'm about halfway through and while it's interesting, it's slow going (they haven't even started digging the damn thing yet). The Foer book was just released this week, and I'll be starting it today. Those two are the only unfinished books on my list.

    Book published this year: Here I Am, Jonathan Safran Foer
    Book I can finish in a day: Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline DONE
    Book I've been meaning to read: The Door, Magda Szabo DONE
    Book recommended by local librarian or bookseller: Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help, Larissa MacFarquar DONE
    Book I should have read in school: Animal Farm, George Orwell DONE
    Book chosen for me by a loved one: Selkirk's Island, Diana Souhami DONE
    Book banned at some point: Holes, Louis Sachar DONE
    Book I previously abandoned: The Path Between the Seas, David McCullough
    Book I own but have never read: Billy Bathgate, E.L. Doctorow DONE
    Book that intimidates me: The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett DONE
    Book I've read already at least once: Harpo Speaks, Harpo Marx DONE

    Can I just mention how much I'm looking forward to next year's Challenge? This has been a lot of fun and introduced me to some books and authors I might not have tried on my own.
    KINGLET: Coming in August 2017 from Fiery Seas Publishing!
    FISKUR: Releasing November 2017 from Fiery Seas!



    My Website:
    www.donnamigliaccio.com

    And the occasional Tweet.





  7. #107
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    I have liked the David McCollugh books I've read, but they've been on subjects i was interested in. I've not picked up any of his others for fear the subject matter, more so than the writing, wouldn't interest me. But then again maybe he's one of those writers who can make anything interesting.
    Join any time! Take the 2017 AW Reading Challenge. Pick 12 books from a list of topics and read/discuss with us throughout the year.

  8. #108
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrsmig View Post

    Can I just mention how much I'm looking forward to next year's Challenge? This has been a lot of fun and introduced me to some books and authors I might not have tried on my own.
    In December I'm going to post a thread where people can suggest categories. I have a list of about 25 already, but be thinking of more. I'm always on the lookout for intersring suggestions!
    Join any time! Take the 2017 AW Reading Challenge. Pick 12 books from a list of topics and read/discuss with us throughout the year.

  9. #109
    Just Another Lazy Perfectionist Brightdreamer's Avatar
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    And done!

    Just cleared George Orwell's Animal Farm, a fable/commentary on politics, class warfare, and human nature in general. Cynical and depressing and about as subtle (and repetitious) as a jackhammer delivering Orwell's points, with no real heroes or hope, it remains (sadly) as obvious and relevant today as it was when it first was published in the 1940's.

    An interesting challenge, all in all.

    Book published this year: Behind the Canvas, by Alexander Vance DONE
    Book I can finish in a day:The One And Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate DONE
    Book I've been meaning to read: Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke DONE
    Book recommended by local librarian or bookseller: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black DONE
    Book I should have read in school: Animal Farm, by George Orwell DONE
    Book chosen for me by a loved one: The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown DONE
    Book published before I was born: Watership Down, by Richard Adams DONE
    Book banned at some point: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie DONE
    Book I previously abandoned: Etiquette & Espionage, by Gail Carriger DONE
    Book I own but have never read: Wonderbook , by Jeff Vandermeer DONE
    Book that intimidates me: Moby Dick, by Herman Melville DONE
    Book I've read already at least once: The Princess Bride, by William Goldman DONE
    - Brightdreamer
    Brightdreamer's Book Reviews

    "Inspiration will strike you, and leave you for dead. The police will do nothing."
    - from The Daily Humorscope

  10. #110
    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
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    I started and finished the new Foer book this week and enjoyed it. Like most of his work, it's got a certain melancholy even when it's funny, and it was interesting the way he juxtaposed his main characters (an American Jewish family) against the larger issues of Israel and the conflicts in the Middle East. It sagged a bit in the middle, but I love the way he drops plot points into the narrative without explanation, trusting his readers to be smart enough to sort it out for themselves.

    That just leaves the McCullough book. I feel if I can just get past this middle point and get into the actual construction of the Panama Canal, it's going to pick up speed, but right now the politics behind the canal are bogging things down for me. I have three months to finish, so I'm not panicking.

    Book published this year: Here I Am, Jonathan Safran Foer DONE
    Book I can finish in a day: Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline DONE
    Book I've been meaning to read: The Door, Magda Szabo DONE
    Book recommended by local librarian or bookseller: Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help, Larissa MacFarquar DONE
    Book I should have read in school: Animal Farm, George Orwell DONE
    Book chosen for me by a loved one: Selkirk's Island, Diana Souhami DONE
    Book banned at some point: Holes, Louis Sachar DONE
    Book I previously abandoned: The Path Between the Seas, David McCullough
    Book I own but have never read: Billy Bathgate, E.L. Doctorow DONE
    Book that intimidates me: The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett DONE
    Book I've read already at least once: Harpo Speaks, Harpo Marx DONE

    KINGLET: Coming in August 2017 from Fiery Seas Publishing!
    FISKUR: Releasing November 2017 from Fiery Seas!



    My Website:
    www.donnamigliaccio.com

    And the occasional Tweet.





  11. #111
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brightdreamer View Post
    And done!

    Just cleared George Orwell's Animal Farm, a fable/commentary on politics, class warfare, and human nature in general. Cynical and depressing and about as subtle (and repetitious) as a jackhammer delivering Orwell's points, with no real heroes or hope, it remains (sadly) as obvious and relevant today as it was when it first was published in the 1940's.
    Hurray! Thanks for joining in! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Your comments on Animal Farm are very similar to what I would say about Brave New World. You can pretty much see anything that happened coming pretty early. I feel kind of bad about Brave New World, though. I wss so turned off by the classroom lecturiness in the first 40% that I started skimming and missed some of the solid writing later on.



    Quote Originally Posted by mrsmig View Post
    That just leaves the McCullough book. I feel if I can just get past this middle point and get into the actual construction of the Panama Canal, it's going to pick up speed, but right now the politics behind the canal are bogging things down for me. I have three months to finish, so I'm not panicking.
    If it helps, I think of political descriptions as case studies in human nature. Nothing illustrates self interest better than politics! ("All politics is local"-Tip O'Neal) Such a naked baring of the soul gives me some good insight into how people behave, which not only helps in life but in developing characters for my own stories.
    Join any time! Take the 2017 AW Reading Challenge. Pick 12 books from a list of topics and read/discuss with us throughout the year.

  12. #112
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    How's everyone's reading going, either for the challenge or otherwise?
    Join any time! Take the 2017 AW Reading Challenge. Pick 12 books from a list of topics and read/discuss with us throughout the year.

  13. #113
    Write. Write. Writey Write Write. mrsmig's Avatar
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    Well, I think it's safe to say I'm not going to finish the McCullough in 2016, and in fact, have given myself permission to cease reading it. It's more like a chore than a pleasure now, and I have SO many books I WANT to read in the coming months.

    ChrisP, thank you so much for starting this. I really enjoyed participating, and am looking forward to the 2017 Challenge!

    Book published this year: Here I Am, Jonathan Safran Foer DONE
    Book I can finish in a day: Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline DONE
    Book I've been meaning to read: The Door, Magda Szabo DONE
    Book recommended by local librarian or bookseller: Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help, Larissa MacFarquar DONE
    Book I should have read in school: Animal Farm, George Orwell DONE
    Book chosen for me by a loved one: Selkirk's Island, Diana Souhami DONE
    Book banned at some point: Holes, Louis Sachar DONE
    Book I previously abandoned: The Path Between the Seas, David McCullough DIDN'T FINISH
    Book I own but have never read: Billy Bathgate, E.L. Doctorow DONE
    Book that intimidates me: The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett DONE
    Book I've read already at least once: Harpo Speaks, Harpo Marx DONE

    KINGLET: Coming in August 2017 from Fiery Seas Publishing!
    FISKUR: Releasing November 2017 from Fiery Seas!



    My Website:
    www.donnamigliaccio.com

    And the occasional Tweet.





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