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Thread: The 2019 AW Book Reading Challenge! New year, new categories, new books and new friends

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  1. #1
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    The 2019 AW Book Reading Challenge! New year, new categories, new books and new friends

    Welcome back Reading Challenge alums, and welcome all new comers. Are you ready? Oh, yeah. I’m ready. *rubs palms in expectation*

    As in prior years, each us chooses 12 books from the list of categories below to read and discuss throughout the year. We each read our own 12, unless you have titles in common and want to discuss; some of us do that sometimes. Join any time during the year, and sorry, no cash or prizes for finishing first. The only rule is to have fun.

    Please read the sticky in this forum regarding spoilers.

    All right. We’ve waited long enough. Here we go:


    1. I remember that!: A book about a historical event that took place in your lifetime.
    2. That old black magic: A paranormal novel.
    3. Top of the heap: A book on any Top Whatever list.
    4. What you will read to your grandchildren: A children's book (middle grade or younger).
    5. East meets West: A book taking place in Asia (Turkey to Japan, Siberia to Vietnam)
    6. Just the (alternative) facts, Ma’am: An alternate history.
    7. Doorstoppers: A book more than 600 pages.
    8. Be the change you want to see: A book about a sociopolitical issue.
    9. Best friend: A book with a dog on the cover.
    10. The heart and mind of a writer: An author memoir or collection of essays by an author.
    11. Anyward, ho!: A travel novel (any genre, including non-fiction).
    12. Alma mater matters: A book about or taking place on a college or university campus.
    13. Learn the Quadrille: A regency romance.
    14. Crossing the (color) lines: A book about a person of color (PoC), any variety, written by an author of the same variety.
    15. One more try: A book from a genre you have given up on.
    16. By its cover: A book you know nothing about, chosen solely by the FRONT cover (no reading the jacket flap, back cover blurb, or reviews).
    17. Back in the day: A historical of any genre.
    18. Do you deliver?: A book where food, cooking, restaurants, chefs, etc. play a major role.
    19. Support the home team: A book by a fellow AWer (Check people’s sigs, or this thread might help: https://absolutewrite.com/forums/sho...rently-reading).
    20. Do you read about the land down under?: A book about or taking place in Australia, New Zealand or Pacific Islands.
    21. Steady there, cowboy: A western.
    22. The sporting life: A book with an athlete main character, or about sports.
    23. The butler might have done it: A mystery.
    24. Down on the farm: A book featuring farmers, agriculture, or taking place in an agrarian setting.
    25. Flights of fancy: A book in which airplanes figure prominently.
    26. Better known for . . .: A book by someone who’s more famous for something other than writing.
    27. Halcyon days: A bestseller or book published the year you turned 21 (or 12 if you aren’t yet 21 ). This list should help you: https://lithub.com/here-are-the-bigg...ast-100-years/
    28. Keep up with the Joneses: A book everyone else seems to have read but you have not.
    29. You might also like. . .: A book recommended by someone real, or by a bot.
    30. QUILTBAG: A book with a major LGBTQ+ character or about an LGBTQ+ issue.
    31. Tag team: A book by more than one author.
    32. Takin’ care o’ business: A book taking place in a corporate setting, or about a business, or about a business leader.
    33. Happy days are here again: A book published between 1945 and 1960.
    34. Ye olde booke shoppe: A book written before 1800.
    35. No hablo: A book originally written in another language (i.e., a translation).
    36. Metrosensual: A romance set in a major city.
    37. Read it again, Sam: Reread a book you have already read.
    38. My hometown: A book by a local author.
    39. Tuesdays with Balaam’s Ass: A book with a non-human (animal or fantastic creature) main character.
    40. Out of Africa: A book taking place in Africa (including North Africa).
    41. Locked up: A book taking place in a prison, mental institution or treatment center.
    42. Literary literal alliteration: A book whose title or author’s name is an alliteration.
    43. Still time for more chapters: A memoir/biography by/about someone who’s still alive (as of January 1).
    44. Backlist delight: Read a lesser-known book from the back catalog of a best-selling author.
    45. Who was that, again?: A book about a person you know little about.
    46. Be your own boss: A self-published novel.
    47. Succinct: A book with a one-word title.
    48. Matryoshka books: A book mentioned or discussed inside another book.
    49. What you read: A book you loved as a child.
    50. I’ve met them!: A book by someone you have seen in person (either know, seen at a book fair, heard at a speaking engagement, in line at the ATM, whatever).



    Happy reading everyone, and thanks for taking part!
    Last edited by Chris P; 01-01-2019 at 06:39 PM.
    The 2019 Reading Challenge is underway. Join any time! Click for details

  2. #2
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    It looks like this year will be one where I get caught up on a lot of older books I should have read long ago, but never did. Better late than never! So, after using a random number generator to select my categories (okay, I made a couple substitutions), I have:


    2. That old black magic: A paranormal novel. The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
    7. Doorstoppers: A book more than 600 pages. Mexico - James Michener
    13. Learn the Quadrille: A regency romance. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
    14. Crossing the (color) lines: A book about a person of color (PoC), any variety, written by an author of the same variety. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave - Frederick Douglass
    17. Back in the day: A historical of any genre. My Name is Red - Orhan Pamuk
    19. Support the home team: A book by a fellow AWer. A Dangerous Fiction - Barbara Rogan
    24. Down on the farm: A book featuring farmers, agriculture, or taking place in an agrarian setting. Charlotte's Web - E. B. White
    27. Halcyon days: A bestseller or book published the year you turned 21. The English Patient - Michael Ondaatji
    29. You might also like. . .: A book recommended by someone real, or by a bot. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
    33. Happy days are here again: A book published between 1945 and 1960. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
    37. Read it again, Sam: Reread a book you have already read. Freedom - Jonathan Franzen
    43. Still time for more chapters: A memoir/biography by/about someone who’s still alive (as of January 1). Educated - Tara Westover
    The 2019 Reading Challenge is underway. Join any time! Click for details

  3. #3
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    I finished Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. I still love the book, but still hate every single character in it. I wouldn't even have coffee with any of them! The story chronicles the courtship and marriage of Patty and Walter, Patty a college basketball star who has her career cut short by an injury, and Walter an industrial executive who turns to environmental conservation efforts. Patty languishes in suburban doldrums, eventually falling for Walter's punk rocker college buddy Richard, who she never really gets over. Walter's conservation efforts trend toward the ever more radical, eventually learning how to game the corporate philanthropy system to launch a population education scheme with his hot associate Lalitha. As I mentioned, none of the characters had any redeeming value, and the book could have ended at about the 85% point. The last bits feel tacked on out of an obligation to tidy up loose ends, which I felt went against the entire point of the rest of the book--that real life is messy and in many ways incomplete. As for why I wanted to re-read the book--that my current project is superficially similar and I wondered if I was unconsciously influenced--I"m no longer even thinking about that. The Minnesota--DC connection is so incidental it's not relevant.


    2. That old black magic: A paranormal novel. The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
    7. Doorstoppers: A book more than 600 pages. Mexico - James Michener
    13. Learn the Quadrille: A regency romance. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
    14. Crossing the (color) lines: A book about a person of color (PoC), any variety, written by an author of the same variety. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave - Frederick Douglass
    17. Back in the day: A historical of any genre. My Name is Red - Orhan Pamuk
    19. Support the home team: A book by a fellow AWer. A Dangerous Fiction - Barbara Rogan
    24. Down on the farm: A book featuring farmers, agriculture, or taking place in an agrarian setting. Charlotte's Web - E. B. White
    27. Halcyon days: A bestseller or book published the year you turned 21. The English Patient - Michael Ondaatji
    29. You might also like. . .: A book recommended by someone real, or by a bot. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
    33. Happy days are here again: A book published between 1945 and 1960. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
    37. Read it again, Sam: Reread a book you have already read. Freedom - Jonathan Franzen Done! 1/14/19
    43. Still time for more chapters: A memoir/biography by/about someone who’s still alive (as of January 1). Educated - Tara Westover
    The 2019 Reading Challenge is underway. Join any time! Click for details

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW yesandno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris P View Post
    I finished Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. I still love the book, but still hate every single character in it. I wouldn't even have coffee with any of them! The story chronicles the courtship and marriage of Patty and Walter, Patty a college basketball star who has her career cut short by an injury, and Walter an industrial executive who turns to environmental conservation efforts. Patty languishes in suburban doldrums, eventually falling for Walter's punk rocker college buddy Richard, who she never really gets over. Walter's conservation efforts trend toward the ever more radical, eventually learning how to game the corporate philanthropy system to launch a population education scheme with his hot associate Lalitha. As I mentioned, none of the characters had any redeeming value, and the book could have ended at about the 85% point. The last bits feel tacked on out of an obligation to tidy up loose ends, which I felt went against the entire point of the rest of the book--that real life is messy and in many ways incomplete. As for why I wanted to re-read the book--that my current project is superficially similar and I wondered if I was unconsciously influenced--I"m no longer even thinking about that. The Minnesota--DC connection is so incidental it's not relevant.

    This is pretty much what I thought of it. It was one of those books that I read from beginning to end, and then was sad for quite some time. Not because of what happens to people as much as what they demonstrate about their characters. I prefer Franzen's essays to his fiction.

  5. #5
    The new me oneblindmouse's Avatar
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    So my challenge is now:

    1. Read it again, Sam: Memoirs of an invisible man, by H.F. Saint DONE 14.01.19
    2. Doorstoppers: Tombland by C. J. Sansom IN PROGRESS
    3. Anyward, ho! The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
    4. Who was that again? Alfred the Great by David Horspool
    5. East meets West: The Lord of Death by Eliot Pattison
    6. I remember that! La furia y el silencio: Asturias primavera de 1962 by Jorge M. Reverte
    7. The butler might have done it: Heresy by S.J. Parris
    8. Do you read about the land down under: Capricornia by Xavier Herbert
    9. Succinct: She by Rider Haggard
    10. Keeping up with the Joneses: Sapiens: A brief history of humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
    11. Just the (alternative) facts, Ma’am: The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton by Diane Atkinson
    12. Back in the day: historical, any genre. TBD. Either Queen of Tears by W.H. Wilkins OR A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain by Marc Morris

    "Strange Destinies" by Guillermo Rubio Arias-Paz, translated from the Spanish and out now on Amazon and the Endless Bookcase.

    Goodreads

  6. #6
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    I knew the Frederick Douglass book was short, but I never expected I would finish it that quickly! Less than four hours. That's got to be a record for me. It's easy now with so many other slave memoirs and other works that came afterward (Twelve Years a Slave, Uncle Tom's Cabin) to overlook the power this book would have had in 1845. The Abolition movement was just gathering significant steam, slavery was still hotly defended across the country, and general emancipation was by no means a certainty, and wouldn't be for another 20 years. Douglass chronicles his life from early childhood through his marriage after escaping to New York, and plainly relates the hardships of slave life. Even when things are relatively good, things are still bad. He also gives us a glimpse into the mind of the slave, and sheds light on our confusion today as to why more slaves didn't revolt or escape. I'm now more interested than ever to read the recent David W. Blight biography of Douglass, to see if there is a more in-depth discussion of mentalities, as well as to fill in details Douglass left out, such as how he actually escaped (he left this out because there were living people who could be affected by his telling it, but he also didn't want to cut off anyone still enslaved from escaping).


    2. That old black magic: A paranormal novel. The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
    7. Doorstoppers: A book more than 600 pages. Mexico - James Michener
    13. Learn the Quadrille: A regency romance. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
    14. Crossing the (color) lines: A book about a person of color (PoC), any variety, written by an author of the same variety. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave - Frederick Douglass Done 1/14/19
    17. Back in the day: A historical of any genre. My Name is Red - Orhan Pamuk
    19. Support the home team: A book by a fellow AWer. A Dangerous Fiction - Barbara Rogan
    24. Down on the farm: A book featuring farmers, agriculture, or taking place in an agrarian setting. Charlotte's Web - E. B. White
    27. Halcyon days: A bestseller or book published the year you turned 21. The English Patient - Michael Ondaatji
    29. You might also like. . .: A book recommended by someone real, or by a bot. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
    33. Happy days are here again: A book published between 1945 and 1960. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
    37. Read it again, Sam: Reread a book you have already read. Freedom - Jonathan Franzen Done 1/14/19
    43. Still time for more chapters: A memoir/biography by/about someone who’s still alive (as of January 1). Educated - Tara Westover
    The 2019 Reading Challenge is underway. Join any time! Click for details

  7. #7
    Just Another Lazy Perfectionist Brightdreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris P View Post
    I knew the Frederick Douglass book was short, but I never expected I would finish it that quickly! Less than four hours. That's got to be a record for me. It's easy now with so many other slave memoirs and other works that came afterward (Twelve Years a Slave, Uncle Tom's Cabin) to overlook the power this book would have had in 1845. The Abolition movement was just gathering significant steam, slavery was still hotly defended across the country, and general emancipation was by no means a certainty, and wouldn't be for another 20 years. Douglass chronicles his life from early childhood through his marriage after escaping to New York, and plainly relates the hardships of slave life. Even when things are relatively good, things are still bad. He also gives us a glimpse into the mind of the slave, and sheds light on our confusion today as to why more slaves didn't revolt or escape. I'm now more interested than ever to read the recent David W. Blight biography of Douglass, to see if there is a more in-depth discussion of mentalities, as well as to fill in details Douglass left out, such as how he actually escaped (he left this out because there were living people who could be affected by his telling it, but he also didn't want to cut off anyone still enslaved from escaping).
    I read that last year - definitely an eye-opener. What struck me was how the writing style seemed almost modern compared to other books from that period that I've read; the version I read had two forewords by contemporaries, both (IIRC) white abolitionists, that had the typical over-the-top phraseology, but Douglass's words flowed much more naturally and smoothly. Also, his observations on how slave-owning changed the white people around him were interesting, making monsters out of men and women, and how religion mostly made them even worse as they used the Bible to justify brutality (the bit at the end where he talks about there being two Christian churches in America with antithetical ideas rings very true today.)
    - Brightdreamer
    Brightdreamer's Book Reviews

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

  8. #8
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brightdreamer View Post
    I read that last year - definitely an eye-opener. What struck me was how the writing style seemed almost modern compared to other books from that period that I've read; the version I read had two forewords by contemporaries, both (IIRC) white abolitionists, that had the typical over-the-top phraseology, but Douglass's words flowed much more naturally and smoothly. Also, his observations on how slave-owning changed the white people around him were interesting, making monsters out of men and women, and how religion mostly made them even worse as they used the Bible to justify brutality (the bit at the end where he talks about there being two Christian churches in America with antithetical ideas rings very true today.)
    I was struck by the prologues too. The two writers seemed to fall over themselves, almost to the point I thought they might be exploiting Douglass as justification for their views. It also seemed to have a air of "white people have approved this message" to give it weight. I think the formal style of the time was overly stilted, and Douglass's un-formally educated style was much more conversational and therefore "modern." I too couldn't help drawing comparisons to modern Christianity, and reflected that although the slavery laws changed very rapidly as a result of the war, attitudes didn't, nor did the religious leanings that justified slavery in the first place. I have yet to run into anyone anywhere who thinks slavery should come back, but I can definitely see the mindset that allowed it, and the Jim Crow that followed it, to flourish.
    The 2019 Reading Challenge is underway. Join any time! Click for details

  9. #9
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    Another short one: Charlotte's Web by E. B. White. I watched the movie when I was little, and surprisingly remember most of it, particularly as I read along. Fern adopts a runt piglet set to be culled, and names him Wilbur. Wilbur lives the good life, making friends in the barnyard, including with Charlotte, the spider that lives in his doorway. Wilbur learns that he is to be slaughtered that autumn, and Charlotte embarks on a mission to save him. She writes messages to the humans in her web, and Wilbur's fame spreads. It's easy to overthink this one, but Charlotte represents belief in someone for their own sake, while Templeton the rat is mostly too selfish to care. In the end, Wilbur matures and believes in himself because of Charlotte, and can disregard Templeton's naysaying. I know this is a children's book, and despite the message I found the story to be overly linear with no intensity, and the writing simplistic to the point of being boring. I've read other books/stories that did this much more interestingly and effectively without being over kids' heads.



    2. That old black magic: A paranormal novel. The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
    7. Doorstoppers: A book more than 600 pages. Mexico - James Michener
    13. Learn the Quadrille: A regency romance. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
    14. Crossing the (color) lines: A book about a person of color (PoC), any variety, written by an author of the same variety. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave - Frederick Douglass Done 1/14/19
    17. Back in the day: A historical of any genre. My Name is Red - Orhan Pamuk
    19. Support the home team: A book by a fellow AWer. A Dangerous Fiction - Barbara Rogan
    24. Down on the farm: A book featuring farmers, agriculture, or taking place in an agrarian setting. Charlotte's Web - E. B. White Done 1/17/19
    27. Halcyon days: A bestseller or book published the year you turned 21. The English Patient - Michael Ondaatji
    29. You might also like. . .: A book recommended by someone real, or by a bot. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
    33. Happy days are here again: A book published between 1945 and 1960. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
    37. Read it again, Sam: Reread a book you have already read. Freedom - Jonathan Franzen Done 1/14/19
    43. Still time for more chapters: A memoir/biography by/about someone who’s still alive (as of January 1). Educated - Tara Westover
    The 2019 Reading Challenge is underway. Join any time! Click for details

  10. #10
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    I swapped out Pride and Prejudice for a title released last year, A Wicked Kind of Husband by Mia Vincy. I had to chuckle at the variations on the themes of the titles in the Regency Romance section of Amazon. People seem to have a thing for naughty dukes. I lean toward the opinion that most genre titles have at least a touch of tongue-in-cheekiness, and so far A Wicked Husband is delivering nicely. Quite fun so far!



    2. That old black magic: A paranormal novel. The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
    7. Doorstoppers: A book more than 600 pages. Mexico - James Michener
    13. Learn the Quadrille: A regency romance. A Wicked Kind of Husband - Mia Vincy
    14. Crossing the (color) lines: A book about a person of color (PoC), any variety, written by an author of the same variety. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave - Frederick Douglass Done 1/14/19
    17. Back in the day: A historical of any genre. My Name is Red - Orhan Pamuk
    19. Support the home team: A book by a fellow AWer. A Dangerous Fiction - Barbara Rogan
    24. Down on the farm: A book featuring farmers, agriculture, or taking place in an agrarian setting. Charlotte's Web - E. B. White Done 1/17/19
    27. Halcyon days: A bestseller or book published the year you turned 21. The English Patient - Michael Ondaatji
    29. You might also like. . .: A book recommended by someone real, or by a bot. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
    33. Happy days are here again: A book published between 1945 and 1960. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
    37. Read it again, Sam: Reread a book you have already read. Freedom - Jonathan Franzen Done 1/14/19
    43. Still time for more chapters: A memoir/biography by/about someone who’s still alive (as of January 1). Educated - Tara Westover
    The 2019 Reading Challenge is underway. Join any time! Click for details

  11. #11
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    I was astonishingly old (like, in my mid-twenties) before I knew that Watership Down was not about submarines in the Second World War. True story. I think I had it confused with Sink the Bismarck, believe it or not.

    I finished my replacement Regency romance: A Wicked Kind of Husband, by Mia Vincy. What fun! Cassandra's nineteen-year old sister Lucy is living a life of brandy-fueled dissipation, and to save Lucy and her family's reputation, Lucy needs to be introduced to society and married off. Quick! (Because that always works). But with their father in the grave and their mother's mind crumbling with grief and opium, there is nobody through which Lucy can be introduced. Perhaps Cassandra's husband Joshua can help. There is just one problem: Cassandra has met her husband exactly once in their two years of marriage, on their disaster of their arranged wedding night before Joshua had Cassandra carted off to the wilds of Warwickshire to stay out of his business--official or "otherwise." Both Cassandra and Joshua are completely likable characters, the (at first caustic then sweet) chemistry between them is delightful, and the steamy scenes are tastefully and effectively done. I like the modern envisioning of empowered women in historical settings. The book hit a slow part at about the 60% mark, and in my opinion never really recovered although it did pick up. I have a theory, though: I think Mia Vincy might be the pen name of a male author. The sex scenes seemed male-oriented to me (focused on visuals and thrilling experimentation rather than intimacy) and the author goes into much more heart-felt depth on Joshua's emotional processing than Cassandra's (especially regarding the climax scene). I hate to generalize based on male and female reading tastes, but it did have me wondering. I can't tell if the POV is omniscient or head hopping, but in either case it didn't bother me until the "he" and "she" pronouns got confusing in a couple places. Although this book won't have me waiting on the edge of my seat for the next books in the characters' universe--this really isn't my genre--the book was fun and had a lot of heart.



    2. That old black magic: A paranormal novel. The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman
    7. Doorstoppers: A book more than 600 pages. Mexico - James Michener
    13. Learn the Quadrille: A regency romance. A Wicked Kind of Husband - Mia Vincy Done 1/26/2019
    14. Crossing the (color) lines: A book about a person of color (PoC), any variety, written by an author of the same variety. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave - Frederick Douglass Done 1/14/19
    17. Back in the day: A historical of any genre. My Name is Red - Orhan Pamuk
    19. Support the home team: A book by a fellow AWer. A Dangerous Fiction - Barbara Rogan
    24. Down on the farm: A book featuring farmers, agriculture, or taking place in an agrarian setting. Charlotte's Web - E. B. White Done 1/17/19
    27. Halcyon days: A bestseller or book published the year you turned 21. The English Patient - Michael Ondaatji
    29. You might also like. . .: A book recommended by someone real, or by a bot. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
    33. Happy days are here again: A book published between 1945 and 1960. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
    37. Read it again, Sam: Reread a book you have already read. Freedom - Jonathan Franzen Done 1/14/19
    43. Still time for more chapters: A memoir/biography by/about someone who’s still alive (as of January 1). Educated - Tara Westover[/QUOTE]
    The 2019 Reading Challenge is underway. Join any time! Click for details

  12. #12
    Don't tell him, Pike Helix's Avatar
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    Here's my pick:


    I remember that!: A book about a historical event that took place in your lifetime.

    The Bridge by Enza Gandolfo. It's a novel about the collapse of the West Gate Bridge, Melbourne, during construction in 1970.


    That old black magic: A paranormal novel.

    Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills. This could fit into paranormal, alternative history, one word title and/or interesting front cover.

    East meets West: A book taking place in Asia (Turkey to Japan, Siberia to Vietnam)

    On the Java Ridge by Jock Serong. Another book that could fit into a few categories. Set in the Timor Sea between Sumba (Indonesia) and Ashmore Reef (Australia), it's about Australia's refugee policy.


    Be the change you want to see: A book about a sociopolitical issue.

    No Friend But The Mountain: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani. On the subject of our disgraceful and inhumane refugee policy...Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish-Iranian journalist held on Manus Island. https://www.theguardian.com/australi...text-at-a-time


    Crossing the (color) lines: A book about a person of color (PoC), any variety, written by an author of the same variety.

    Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko.


    Do you read about the land down under?: A book about or taking place in Australia, New Zealand or Pacific Islands.

    Flames by Robbie Arnott. Set in Tasmania.


    The butler might have done it: A mystery.

    White Night by Anne Cleeves. The second book in the Shetland series.


    Down on the farm: A book featuring farmers, agriculture, or taking place in an agrarian setting.

    The Lost Man by Jane Harper. Crime story set on a cattle station in outback Queensland.


    Better known for . . .: A book by someone who’s more famous for something other than writing.

    Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby. Throsby is a talented musician and this is her second novel.


    No hablo: A book originally written in another language (i.e., a translation).

    Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of The Dead by Olga Tokarczuk. An 'existential thriller', translated from Polish.


    Still time for more chapters: A memoir/biography by/about someone who’s still alive (as of January 1).

    Grant & I by Robert Forster. Musician Forster's memoir about his time in the Go-Betweens.


    I’ve met them!:
    A book by someone you have seen in person (either know, seen at a book fair, heard at a speaking engagement, in line at the ATM, whatever).

    The Distant Echo by Val McDermid. Crime!
    Last edited by Helix; 01-01-2019 at 03:32 PM.


  13. #13
    Don't tell him, Pike Helix's Avatar
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    [ ] I remember that!: The Bridge by Enza Gandolfo.
    [ ] That old black magic: Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills.
    [ ] East meets West: On the Java Ridge by Jock Serong.
    [ ] Be the change you want to see: No Friend But The Mountain: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani.
    [ ] Crossing the (color) lines: Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko.
    [ ] Do you read about the land down under?: Flames by Robbie Arnott. Set in Tasmania. I'm about a third of the way through this. It's hard to categorise. I'm not sure if it's a novel or a series of overlapping short stories. Each chapter/story is in a different voice, ranging from that of a fisherman who hunts tuna with the help of a seal to that of a rakali (native water rat), and they are all part of a bigger narrative arc. The first chapter/story is one of the most arresting pieces I've read in a while. (And the rakali story is quite affecting.) I'm not sure this book is for everyone, but I'm enjoying it. It's about a man who is trying to find his sister. Sort of.
    [X] The butler might have done it: White Night by Anne Cleeves. Just finished this one. Entertaining tale, but I'm not sure I'm convinced by the ending.
    [ ] Down on the farm: The Lost Man by Jane Harper.
    [ ] Better known for . . .: Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby.
    [ ] No hablo: Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of The Dead by Olga Tokarczuk.
    [ ] Still time for more chapters: Grant & I by Robert Forster. [ ] I’ve met them!: The Distant Echo by Val McDermid. Crime!


  14. #14
    Don't tell him, Pike Helix's Avatar
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    [ ] I remember that!: The Bridge by Enza Gandolfo. Am about to start this one.
    [ ] That old black magic: Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills.
    [ ] East meets West: On the Java Ridge by Jock Serong.
    [ ] Be the change you want to see: No Friend But The Mountain: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani.
    [X] Crossing the (color) lines: Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko. Loved this. It's about violence and dispossession and intergenerational trauma, making it a tough read in some respects. But it's also funny and full of heart.
    [X] Do you read about the land down under?: Flames by Robbie Arnott. Set in Tasmania.
    [X] The butler might have done it: White Night by Anne Cleeves.
    [ ] Down on the farm: The Lost Man by Jane Harper.
    [ ] Better known for . . .: Cedar Valley by Holly Throsby.
    [ ] No hablo: Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of The Dead by Olga Tokarczuk.
    [ ] Still time for more chapters: Grant & I by Robert Forster.
    [ ] I’ve met them!: The Distant Echo by Val McDermid. Crime!


  15. #15
    Dedicated Lurker bdwilson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cobalt Jade View Post
    I also feel obliged to say SF writer John Varley came up with a similar concept years before Morgan wrote his book. In Varley's story, people can take expensive recordings of their brains up to the time of the recording, so if they die, a clone can created with the recording downloaded into it. The main character is an environmental artist who keeps getting murdered and makes a new recording and clone every week to keep up with the clues.
    Quote Originally Posted by yesandno View Post
    I love the older John Varley. Have often recommended Steel Beach to people and they were never disappointed. Recently read Irontown Blues and while it didn't grab me early on, it turned out to be a good reintroduction into the Eight World series. Looking forward to the next book. Irontown Blues features a dog as one of the main characters, by the way. I had problems with the way it was handled at first, but it ended up being charming.
    I don't think I've read anything by John Varley yet. Might have to take a look; those sound interesting

    I'm back with an update far earlier than I expected. It's been a long time since I've read a King book, but his name is still the first one I give when I'm asked for my favourite author. This reminded me of why. There were a few things that tripped me up, but I've been trying to make sure I take more time for reading during the day and with this book I didn't have to work to remember. I had it out as soon as I could, because I wanted to know what was happening and what happened next.

    There was a bit of a hitch for me, as a character introduced part way through is apparently from a previous trilogy of his, and it wasn't an old-school-King Easter egg, where you catch it if you've read the earlier book(s) but continue without a stumble if you don't. This one practically shouted the existence of the other story. All the same, the character was interesting and it got through all that eventually and continued on with the story I was actually reading so all good. I may actually go check out the trilogy now.

    Onto The Alchemist now, to finish out this month's book club selections.

    2. That old black magic: Storm Front by Jim Butcher
    3. Top of the heap: The Outsider by Stephen King (B&N Top 100 Bestsellers, 2018) [Done]
    6. Just the (alternative) facts, Ma’am: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
    14. Crossing the (color) lines: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    17. Back in the day: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
    23. The butler might have done it: A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
    27. Halcyon days: Timeline by Michael Crichton (published November 1999)
    29. You might also like. . .: Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan (recommended on a list when I was looking for futuristic mysteries last year) [Done]
    33. Happy days are here again: Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie
    31. Tag team: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
    35. No hablo: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    47. Succinct: Redshirts by John Sclazi [Done]

  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW yesandno's Avatar
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    Yay! Happy New Year! I've picked my categories and chosen some of the books. Will fill in the blanks when I find the right books.

    1. East meets west: A book taking place in Asia - TBD
    2. Be the change you want to see: A book about a sociopolitical issue - TBD
    3. The heart and mind of a writer: An author memoir or collection of essays by an author - Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace
    4. Crossing the color lines: A book about a person of color. - The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle also qualifies for "One more try."
    5. One more try: A book from a genre you have given up on. - The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers (fantasy)
    6. Do you deliver?: A book where food, cooking, restaurants, chefs, etc. play a major role. - With Bold Fork and Knife by M.F.K. Fisher
    7. Halcyon Days: A book published the year you turned 21. - London Fields by Martin Amis
    8. Keep up with the Joneses: A book everyone else seems to have read but you have not. - The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
    9. No Hablo: A book originally written in another language. - My Discovery of America by Vladimir Mayakovsky
    10. Read it again, Sam: Reread a book you have already read. - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    11. Matryoschka books: A book mentioned or discussed inside another book. - The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry
    12. I've met them: A book by someone you know - The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink
    Last edited by yesandno; 01-01-2019 at 06:28 PM.

  17. #17
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    Great titles, everyone! I've not read any of them. Looks like another exciting year of exploring the world of books.

    I'm starting off with Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. I read about half of it a few years ago, and gave up on it when I found myself hating all three main characters although I was taken by the writing and really wanted to like the book. However, I have more selish reasons for reading it. My current writing project is based on Sinclair Lewis's Main Street, the plots of all three books (Main Street, Freedom and mine) are similar enough I want to, on one hand, see successful examples of how to do it, and two, make sure I've not been "unduly inspired by" (i.e., be seen as riping off) Franzen.
    Last edited by Chris P; 01-01-2019 at 07:14 PM.
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  18. #18
    figuring it all out
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    I wrote this and posted and my computer didn't save it. So, let's try again. I decided to just pick random numbers. I think I'll start with Poisonwood Bible.

    1. A book on any top whatever list: The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
    2. Just the (alternative) facts Ma'am: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
    3. Do you deliver: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
    4. Alma Matter: The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    5. Down on the Farm: Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag
    6. My hometown: Hunger by Roxane Gay
    7. Out of Africa: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
    8. By it's cover: Unholy Land by Lavre Tidhar
    9. Best Friend: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
    10. The Heart and Mind of a Writer: Happiness by Heather Harpham
    11. Keep up with the Joneses: Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
    12. QUILTBAG: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

  19. #19
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    Great list, Verboten! The Donna Tartt one was nearly on my list. Roxanne Gay is someone I really shoild read; let me know what you think. Also let me know what you think of Cutting for Stone. I got less than 50 pages into it before shouting "Oh, please!" and flinging it far, far away. I seem to be the only person who didn't like it, but I'm willing to reconsider if someone puts it in a good light.
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  20. #20
    Benefactor Member mrsmig's Avatar
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    ::rubs hands together gleefully:

    6. Just the (alternative) facts, Ma'am: Everfair by Nisi Shawl
    9. Best friend: Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
    10. The heart and mind of a writer: Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders
    11. Anyward, ho! The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert McFarlane
    27. Halcyon Days: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
    28. Keep up with the Joneses: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
    29. You might also like... Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the British Royal Household by Adrian Tinniswood
    31. Tag team: The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
    35. No hablo: The Weaver by Emmi Itaranta
    39: Tuesdays with Balaam's Ass: Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird by Tim Birkhead
    42. Literary literal alliteration: The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
    47: Succinct: Floodpath by John Wilkman

    A lot of books I've already read are appearing on others' lists, so I'm looking forward to discussing those. Chris P, thanks again for hosting this thread!
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  21. #21
    Benefactor Member mrsmig's Avatar
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    I finished my first Challenge book, Emmi Itaranta's The Weaver. I wasn't bowled over by it. There's some gorgeous prose, but also some peculiar translations (several references to a "jarred" door, when I think the translator was trying to say that the door was ajar, and similar near-misses that occurred often enough to be distracting). The story bogged down about two thirds of the way through and I had to push myself to finish it.

    [ ] 6. Just the (alternative) facts, Ma'am: Everfair by Nisi Shawl
    [ ] 9. Best friend: Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
    [ ] 10. The heart and mind of a writer: Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders
    [ ] 11. Anyward, ho! The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert McFarlane
    [ ] 27. Halcyon Days: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
    [ ] 28. Keep up with the Joneses: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
    [ ] 29. You might also like... Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the British Royal Household by Adrian Tinniswood
    [ ] 31. Tag team: The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
    [x] 35. No hablo: The Weaver by Emmi Itaranta
    [ ] 39: Tuesdays with Balaam's Ass: Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird by Tim Birkhead
    [ ] 42. Literary literal alliteration: The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
    [ ] 47: Succinct: Floodpath by John Wilkman

    Next up is King/Straub's The Talisman.
    Last edited by mrsmig; 01-17-2019 at 05:25 PM.
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  22. #22
    Benefactor Member mrsmig's Avatar
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    I finished my Tag Team selection: Stephen King/Peter Straub's The Talisman, a book that was far longer than it needed to be. I actually found myself growing annoyed as I got deeper into the book; it felt like the authors could have used a good strong editor to say, "boys, you're just being self-indulgent now." By the final 100 pages I was only skimming because I was so eager to be done with it, and irritated by the sloppy writing (there's a fair amount of head-hopping, and at one point, a first-person narrator intrudes, for just a single sentence, and never reappears). I was also bugged by the fact that in a cast of hundreds, there's only one major female character, who spends most of the book being sick and waiting on the hero to rescue her. The hero, incidentally, is one of those 12 year-old white boys that King so often chooses as a protag. So bleah - not an enjoyable read for me at all.

    [ ] 6. Just the (alternative) facts, Ma'am: Everfair by Nisi Shawl
    [ ] 9. Best friend: Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
    [ ] 10. The heart and mind of a writer: Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders
    [ ] 11. Anyward, ho! The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert McFarlane
    [ ] 27. Halcyon Days: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
    [ ] 28. Keep up with the Joneses: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
    [ ] 29. You might also like... Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the British Royal Household by Adrian Tinniswood
    [x] 31. Tag team: The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
    [x] 35. No hablo: The Weaver by Emmi Itaranta
    [ ] 39: Tuesdays with Balaam's Ass: Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird by Tim Birkhead
    [ ] 42. Literary literal alliteration: The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
    [ ] 47: Succinct: Floodpath by John Wilkman

    Not sure what I'm going to tackle next.
    Last edited by mrsmig; 01-23-2019 at 06:18 AM.
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  23. #23
    Benefactor Member mrsmig's Avatar
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    I finished Lily and The Octopus (my Best friend selection), which was a quick read. I was hoping for something more than a "this is the story of my wonderful dog and the Huge Life Lesson I learned from said dog" tearjerker, and the midsection of the book was certainly a departure from the usual narrative - but that departure was so over the top that I kept stifling giggles at stuff which was, I think, supposed to be deadly serious (e.g. a dachshund firing a full-sized harpoon gun). Once that extended sequence was over I was back in all-too-familiar territory. I liked that the narrator was a gay man - that gave the book some special twists - but overall, I've read so many books of this ilk that no tears were, in fact, jerked.

    [ ] 6. Just the (alternative) facts, Ma'am: Everfair by Nisi Shawl
    [x] 9. Best friend: Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
    [ ] 10. The heart and mind of a writer: Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders
    [ ] 11. Anyward, ho! The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert McFarlane
    [ ] 27. Halcyon Days: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
    [ ] 28. Keep up with the Joneses: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
    [ ] 29. You might also like... Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the British Royal Household by Adrian Tinniswood
    [x] 31. Tag team: The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
    [x] 35. No hablo: The Weaver by Emmi Itaranta
    [ ] 39: Tuesdays with Balaam's Ass: Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird by Tim Birkhead
    [ ] 42. Literary literal alliteration: The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
    [ ] 47: Succinct: Floodpath by John Wilkman

    Up next: The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild. I just realized how many of my selections feature animals.
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  24. #24
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrsmig View Post
    (e.g. a dachshund firing a full-sized harpoon gun).
    You have more self control than I do if you stifled that laugh.

    I understand your expected formula on dog books. Years ago, I came across Dara: The Autobiography of a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. It walked a straight line between being sugar sweet and overly intense, not really achieving either. It was interesting to read a non-human POV, but it didn't seem very doglike, which I think would have added more of the flavor the author was going for.
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  25. #25
    Benefactor Member mrsmig's Avatar
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    Finished The Urban Bestiary - quite good, with writing that was often lyrical and on occasion, surprisingly gritty. I started Congratulations, By the Way, which is such a short, succinct read that I was 75% of the way through it after a mere 20 minutes of reading. It's structured like one of those little inspirational gift books and to be honest, I thought there was going to be a lot more to it. I made myself stop because Saunders' writing is quite good and I wanted to savor it. I'm sure I'll finish it tonight in bed so I'm calling it done.

    Next up: Floodpath.

    [ ] 6. Just the (alternative) facts, Ma'am: Everfair by Nisi Shawl
    [x] 9. Best friend: Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
    [x] 10. The heart and mind of a writer: Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders
    [ ] 11. Anyward, ho! The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert McFarlane
    [ ] 27. Halcyon Days: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
    [ ] 28. Keep up with the Joneses: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
    [ ] 29. You might also like... Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the British Royal Household by Adrian Tinniswood
    [x] 31. Tag team: The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
    [x] 35. No hablo: The Weaver by Emmi Itaranta
    [ ] 39: Tuesdays with Balaam's Ass: Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird by Tim Birkhead
    [x] 42. Literary literal alliteration: The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
    [ ] 47: Succinct: Floodpath by John Wilkman
    Now available on Amazon!




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