Happy New Year

Hope this year brings everyone great reads and lots of joy!

And this is why I have a problem with books....

So, recently, I was reading a book review at Books for Breakfast about The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George which I have read and loved.
So much that I bought her Helen of Troy book but it's been in my neverending TBR pile forEVER.
When Kristin mentioned reading that one next, it inspired me to do the same and she even suggested we have a read-a-long on our blogs.
This is where I reveal my book problem:  I have TOOOOOO many books and they are not cataloged correctly and are scattered throughout shelves in my small apartment.  Books aren't just books, they are furniture and decoration in my apartment.
But anyway, I realized that the Helen of Troy book I have is not the Margaret George novel but The Memoirs of Helen of Troy by Amanda Elyot.

So, what do I do?  Do I read that one and compare notes with Books for Breakfast?  Or do I go out and buy a copy of the book I originally wanted?
I'll confess that I really, really want to go out and buy that book.
Hey...I could do both....read the Amanda Elyot version then the Margaret George version.
Oh boy, this is starting to sound like homework. Put a due date on it and I'm done!

The New Years Resolution is not looking so hot...

Part of the 2010 Reading Resolutions Challenge was to come up with some resolutions of my own.
I said I'd TRY not to buy more books....sometimes it just doesn't work out that way.
I got three gift cards to Barnes and Noble and one to Borders.
Well you know I have to spend them...and right away!

The House in Paris by Elizabeth Bowen

I'm still reading this one but felt bad about the lack of posting during the Christmas holiday.  I had tons of time off and planned on reading a lot but on my last day before Christmas vacation, a bunch of drama took place at work leaving me in a total funk all through the holiday.
When I'm depressed or worried, I just can't concentrate enough to read.
I did a lot of shopping and movie watching with my time off.

Before all of this, I started reading The House in Paris and fully intended to finish it.  It wasn't what I expected but is surprising me with how lovely the story is even if it doesn't seem to be leading to a happy ending.
I love the way Elizabeth Bowen writes not just about Paris but the unusual people who reside in this boarding house.

Things are so much better at work so I think I can go back to my books now.

I can't wait to see how this is going to end.

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

Ok, so I finally finished this book.
I did get a little upset with something that happened and I put the book down for a while, but my curiosity got the best of me and I started reading it again.
The book did redeem itself in a way and the ending was a major cliffhanger which means we'll be waiting for a LONG while before we know what became of Jamie and Claire, Lord John, Young Ian, Bree, Roger and Jem.

I was thinking of starting the series all over again but how can I do that when I've got mountains of books in my TBR pile?

My Very First Reading Challenge

This is my first challenge and it's being hosted here.  What a great idea!

Read the following books:

A Dance to the Music of Time Vol. 1 - Anthony Powell
Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
Ashenden - W. Somerset Maugham
Carbon Diaries - Saci Lloyd
Safe at Home - Alyssa Milano
Shooting the Sh*t - Kevin Smith
The Path of Razors - Chris Marie Green
The Wild Things - Dave Eggers
The Namesake - Jhumpa Lahiri
The House in Paris - Elizabeth Bowen
Grotesque - Natsuo Kirino

*Update*  Added Helen of Troy - Margaret George

Do the following things:

Try TRY to control my book buying. (Even though I found a new wonderful second hand bookshop)
Read the books I own and not stop one book to start one I just bought.
Try to be better about keeping up with my reading blog.
Be a better commenter.
Find more time to read and less TV.

VERY Bad Jinx!

I was messing around with the blogger templates and lost my widgets!  It sounds so dirty but it's true.
I'll try to remember all the books I've read since starting this blog but don't hold your breath.

Bad Jinx

What a horrible book blogger I am.
But to be honest, I haven't been reading much.  This holiday season has been caaaahrazy!
I also got in the first four seasons of The Office on DVD so when I am able to squeeze in some "me time", I tend to watch a few episodes of that.
I did pick up something as a reread:  28 Barbary Lane by Armistead Maupin who is one of my favorites.
This is a collection of sequels to Tales of the City....that's the best way I can describe it since all of his books started out as serial stories in The San Francisco Chronicle.
I've loved his Barbary Lane characters for so long and suddenly last weekend, I wanted to visit with them again so I grabbed this particular copy that I found in a second hand book store in Lawrence, Kansas last year.
But even with that, I'm barely finding time to read.

However, I have a whole week off for Christmas and I intend on reading my ass off!

The Wild Things by Dave Eggers

I purchased The Wild Things while on a regular trip to Barnes and Noble.
I actually started it when I had jury duty on Monday and didn't want to lug the giant tome that is a Diana Gabaldon novel.  This book is much shorter and definitely lighter to carry in my handbag!
I was immediately drawn into the slightly grown up version of everyone's favorite Where the Wild Things Are story.

Dave Eggers is one of my very favorite writers so I have faith that he'll do this childhood favorite justice.

An Echo in the Bone - STILL

Yes....I'm still reading it. Bits and pieces..bits and pieces!
I was a bit underwhelmed with the beginning and the middle parts of this book. Now, towards the end, it's picking up speed and really starting to "wow" me.
But something happened in the book last night that made me put it down.
I don't want to spoil it for Gabaldon lovers but it really has tested my faith in the whole Jamie and Claire saga.
I kept thinking, "You have GOT to be kidding me! Please don't let this happen."
The pages are dwindling so I know I'm nearing the end which means a major MAJOR cliffhanger for another three years or so.

Funny how emotionally involved we get. I guess that's the work of good fiction.

An Echo in the Bone

I'm almost done with this book. I have been taking my time with it because Diana Gabaldon needs so much time between books. Also, because I have been so busy, keeping me from reading as much as I'd like. This is kind of depressing to me; I am afraid I won't live long enough to read all the books I want to read.

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon (in progress)

I was sick with the flu the day this came out but as soon as the doctor said it was ok for me to be around other humans, I ran to Barnes and Noble to grab my copy!

I became hooked on the Outlander series several years ago.  I read Outlander and never looked back.  I read the first four of these giant tomes in just two or three weeks.
I've actually reread the first three books more than twice.  It's that good!

The last two books have seemed a little tedious and exhausting.  I know Diana Gabaldon puts a lot of work and research into her books and that's why it takes so long but with each book, more and more characters are introduced and it seems like the focus is slowly starting to leave Jamie and Claire and even Brianna and Roger. 
I didn't even care for Brianna and Roger at first but they started to grow on me. 
However, in An Echo in the Bone, so much time is given to Lord John and William and not nearly enough on those we've become hooked on.

I'm sure Gabaldon has her vision and far be it for me to complain.  I'll still keep reading because I just HAVE to know how this will end even if we don't want it to ever end.

Sookie Stackhouse...

In the last week, I read #4 and #5 in the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris.

I won't even bother with a big write up because this isn't exactly Nobel Prize winning literature but they are sure tons of fun!
I was having a hard time getting back into the swing of reading.  It was like I couldn't focus (blame the iPhone!) but this was just the fluff I needed!

I was sick with the flu all this week and on Tuesday, Diana Gabaldon's newest in the Outlander series was released.  I was stuck in bed so I couldn't run out and buy it but the moment I was well enough to go back to work, I was in Barnes and Noble grabbing my copy!

Can't wait to get started!


This is why I haven't been blogging or reading.
I'm completely and utterly obsessed with my new iPhone.
Instead of reading, I just sit and play with it; the settings, ringtones, internet, apps...oh my God the apps!
Plus, I have Stanza, the awesome book reader app.
I realize I probably need an intervention but I'm hoping I can get back to reading before iPhone rehab is necessary.

Somerset Maugham was a perv?

Not long after I posted about my year-long obsession with Maugham, I found this article linked on another blog.
Apparently, W. Somerset Maugham was a depraved individual.

The most louche of all the expatriates who congregated on the beautiful stretch of coast between Nice and Monaco before World War II, the prolific writer held court at his fabulous mansion, the Villa Mauresque, in glamorous Cap Ferrat.

Nude bathing parties, drugs, lashings of champagne and nightly seductions of the local lads . . . Almost everyone who visited was shocked by his decadence.

Frankly, who's surprised? Aren't all brilliant writers somewhat insane?

Show me a normal writer and I'll show you a very bored reader.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Dammit. I guess I'll have to stop reading Swann's Way because I was on reserve at the library for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and it just came in.

I've heard nothing but good things about this book and the sequel so I definitely need to get caught up.

So...down goes Proust (temporarily) and I'll start the new book today.

Too Many Books!

After my post about Proust, In Search of Lost Time and Swann's Way, I decided to hit Barnes and Noble after work to find the second volume, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower aka The Budding Grove. I like having the second volume nearby so it'll feel like I have a reward at the end of Volume 1.
I found a copy but it was a Modern Library version and I sort of wanted a Penguin Books version to match my first volume. But I thought, "At least I know it's here and if I can't find the other version, I'll get this one."
I actually carried it around the store a bit before finally putting it back.

A few hours later, at home, I was on the phone with a friend and he was in the middle of a long story when I found my gaze wandering my rows and rows of books. Suddenly, my eyes focused in on something that I thought said Proust. I knew Swann's Way was right next to me so what could this be?
I jumped up and grabbed it, not believing my eyes. It was a hard bound copy of In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower.
I owned it all along.

This, my friends, is my problem.

Swann's Way

I started to write that I, obviously, enjoyed punishing myself because I'm once again embarking upon Proust.
But the only reason I think it might be punishment is the sheer size of the project. In Search of Lost Time consists of 7 HUGE volumes so it's not a quick read, for sure.
I picked up Swann's Way two years ago and started reading it. Proust has this talent of making one sentence last at least two pages. That's difficult for my small brain to process sometimes, so after a handful of pages, I gave up.

But one of my goals in life is to read it all so no time like the present, right?

I intended to begin where I left off but in two years, I had no memory of what I had read before so back to the beginning I went.
I'm glad I did because I am sinking into it much better than I did the first time.

I might have to take a break or two or fifty during my quest but before I die, I will read the entire thing!

Happy vs Miserable

I bought 14,000 Things to Be Happy About many years ago. When my grandmother died, it was the first time I had been so affected by death and just couldn't imagine being happy again.
So, when I saw this book, I grabbed it and became charmed by it.
It lists simple things like:

  • reading the newspaper
  • childhood friendships
  • Easter eggs
  • mint

I've kept it all these years and would browse through it now and then.

This year, at TLA, I went by a booth and discovered this book:
I cracked up! It's been years since I "needed" the other book and I've survived countless other tragedies so the fact that there is a whole book of things to be miserable about is hilarious.
For example:
  • Performance-enhancing drugs
  • Catholic guilt
  • Glowing red rodent eyes
  • Farmer's tans

I can't wait to use both of these books with my teen journaling kids. Because nothing is more miserable than being a teen!

Up at the Villa by W. Somerset Maugham

I began and finished Up at the Villa in one day. It's quite a short book, therefore, it was a quick read.
It's more of a crime and suspense story than any of the other Maugham books I've read.
I don't like to give the meat of the book away, I will say that it's about a recently widowed woman, Mary, who is staying at the villa of a friend in Florence.
She is caught between three men; her older suitor, a swaggering ne'er-do-well confidante and a very unlikely one night stand.

There is something so comforting and satisfying about W. Somerset Maugham. I can spend a whole day, buried in anything he writes.
Although, I'd have to say The Razor's Edge is my favorite so far, The Painted Veil and Of Human Bondage really haunted me for days after putting them down.

Started and finished Up At the Villa by W. Somerset Maugham today. Will write more later.

Starting Up At the Villa by W. Somerset Maugham today.

Recent Purchases

Using my Barnes and Noble membership coupon, I got 15% off of The Path of Razors by Chris Marie Green and I also purchased Up At the Villa by W. Somerset Maugham.

For about a year, I've been having a love affair with Maugham. I've been to used book stores looking for copies of his short stories and other novels. Love him!

The Strain

by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

I have to start off by saying I like vampire books. Oh yes, I've been obsessed with the Twilight series (until I read Breaking Dawn - yuck) and I've read Nancy A. Collins' books, the Bluebloods series and several of the Sookie Stackhouse books.
But I've never been a true horror fan. I am not a Stephen King lover- although I think Dolores Claiborne and The Stand were truly genius. I can count about 3 Dean Koontz books that I really like...so horror just isn't my favorite genre.
I received an advance reader copy of The Strain at TLA and didn't get to it for a couple of months.
This is definitely horror and it's definitely a vampire book but it's nothing like you imagine.
There is no swoon-worthy bloodsucker here. The starring vampire is bonechillingly frightening and you may have nightmares after reading this book.
I couldn't put it down. I've never read del Toro or Hogan but if they are as good separate as they are together, I can't wait to read everything they've written.

Apparently, this is going to be a trilogy. I am not a patient person when it comes to waiting on the next book in a series. I hope they hurry!


by Jose Saramago.

The idea and premise for this book is good. A large group of people are "infected" with some virus-type thing that causes sudden blindness and fear of an epidemic causes the government to segregate the blind and all of those who have had contact with them and then just leave them to their own devices.
The very idea is horrifying but I couldn't finish the book.

I'm sure it's simply a personality issue but Saramago's lack of punctuation really confused me. I kept wondering which character the dialogue belonged too.

I'm of the mind that life is too short to struggle through certain books, so I abandoned this one.

I noticed on Amazon that there is to be or has been a movie based on Blindness. I look forward to watching the movie more than trying to read the book again.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames

This David Sedaris book is his latest. I'm a huge fan and have read pretty much everything he has written. Naked will always be my favorite and Me Talk Pretty One Day is a close second but I really enjoyed Flames.
This one seems to delve deeper into Sedaris' social anxiety disorder as he gets older.
Whereas in the first few books, I enjoyed (is that even politically correct?) his stories that described his adventures with OCD.

Towards the end, Sedaris counts down his reason and techniques for quitting smoking. He moves to Japan, of all things, to distract himself! His stories of taking Japanese language classes and the hilarious Japanese to English translations all over Tokyo are awesome.

I finished this book in two days.

Score another one for David Sedaris!

The Reagan I Knew

I don't normally read political books or much non-fiction but this book intrigued me and when I told a friend about it, he sent it to me for my birthday.
I'm still working on it but it's pretty interesting.
I was expecting more of a Reagan bio...although I don't know why considering William F. Buckley, Jr. titled it "The Reagan I Knew", not "The Reagan Biography".
WFB included many letters from both Ronald and Nancy Reagan, plus his own letters to them.
It's a nice peek into the relationship WFB had with the Reagans and his court-side seat for Ronald Reagan's rise to the presidency.


Reading Challenges

My Library Thing