Monday, February 29, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge: Weeks 8 and 9

While I was on the road and this past weekend, I finished up a few books from the list.

I took Adeline by Norah Vincent with me on the road to cover week #34 - A book with a title beginning with the 1st letter of your name.  This was a slow read for me.  I think I would recommend it - to a small pool.  If you don't immediately know who Lytton Strachey is, you will probably be lost throughout a lot of the book. (I could see my mum, who is an English major and ex-English Lit teacher liking it).  At any rate, this is a fictional retelling of Virginia Woolf's last hours, although the book jumps forward and backward to points in her life that are (the author feels) formative.  I think the author was attempting to write the book in a voice similar to that of Woolf's, with some stream of consciousness type writing, but on the other hand...Woolf suffered from some form of mental illness, so there are parts of the internal dialogue that are just plain confusing and rambling and hard to figure out what's going on.  A list of the prominent writers and intellectual minds of the early 20th century are liberally scattered throughout - Woolf and her husband ran in artistic circles and he was part of the Bloomsbury Group, but if you don't know much about TS Eliot or Yeats, or Strachey, it's hard to have much of a reference. I think it's also difficult to have but so much suspense when writing about an actual living person - Woolf killed herself by walking into the river Ouse and drowning - so you kind of know from the outside how the book is going to end, right? Anyway..... an esoteric but interesting read.  If it sounds like something you'd love, give it a shot.  If you are scratching your head about why one would read this, I'd recommend picking something else.  (FWIW, there was a LOT of information about bipolar disorder and depression in here....)

I also started and finished Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose.  I originally picked up this book thinking it was a contemporary piece, but it's not.  Written by Stegner in the early 1970s, there's some peace, love and rock-n-roll references going on in it.  The copy I picked up (Penguin Classic) had almost 35 pages of analysis by a literary critic at the front end - I find that sort of annoying.  I like to approach a book and decide for myself what the succinct points of it are, and not have that outlined for me in a Cliff Notes version.  Anyway, the book is centered around a retired (and now disabled/confined to a wheelchair) historian who is researching his grandparents lives.  His grandfather was an explorer at heart, an engineer who worked on irrigation and mining projects in the west in the late 19th century.  His grandmother was a Quaker, an artist from New England, who ran with the artistic set in the Northeast US.  The story covers 4 generations of this family - although it focuses mostly on his grandparents.  I liked this book more than I expected to.  I think in part because: A) I read Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence earlier this year and the grandmother in the book is definitely from that group and B) There are a lot of places in the book that are places I've been to - Leadville, Colorado, and Boise, Idaho, for instance - and it was fun for me to layer the 1870s or 1890s view of life in the "Wild West" over what I know today.  Then, as now, irrigation and water is a HUGE deal.  A good book, I thought.  Contemplative, interesting, good back story.

I've now started Margaret Atwood's Bluebeard's Egg for week #17 (a book with a beautiful cover). It's a collection of short stories, some autobiographical, some not - a VERY mixed bag so far.

The 2016 List
1. A book you meant to read in 2015, but didn't
2. A book set in a different continent
3. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2015 (winner or nominated)
4. A book by an author you discovered in 2015
5. A book with a title beginning with the 1st letter of your name:  Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose - DONE.
6. The highest rated on your TBR
7. A book about books
8. A classic book with less than 200 pages:  Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence - DONE
9. A book that was mentioned in another book
10. A book by an author you feel you should have read by now
11. A book from the Rory Gilmore challenge
12. A childhood classic
13. Reader’s Choice:  Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell - DONE.
14. A book with one of the five W’s -or H in the title (Who/What/Where/When/Why/How) What She Left - T.R. Richmond - DONE.
15. A book set in the past (more than 100 years ago)
16. A book from the top 100 mystery novels
17. A book with a beautiful cover: Bluebeard's Egg by Margaret Atwood
18. A book on a summer/beach reading list
19. A non-fiction book
20. A book with a first name in the title
21. A book from the Goodreads Recommendations page
22. The first book in a new to you series
23. The next book in a series you are reading
24. A "between the numbers" book of a series (0.5, 1,5, 2.5, etc.)
25. A book whose main character is in a profession that interests you
26. A book everyone is talking about
27. A book with a beautiful title (in your own opinion)
28. A biography, autobiography, or memoir
29. A book by an author who writes under more than one name:  The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) - DONE.
30. A fairytale from a culture other than your own
31. A work of young adult fiction:  The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge. DONE.
32. A historical fiction book
33. The 16th book on your TBR
34. A book about mental illness: Adeline by Norah Vincent - DONE
35. An award winning book
36. An identity book - a book about a different culture, religion or sexual orientation
37. A book that you've seen the movie of but haven't read
38. A book about an anti hero:  Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace - DONE.
39. A previous suggestion that did not make it into the list
40. A novella from your favorite genre
41. A book about a major world event (fiction or non-fiction)
42. A top 100 fantasy novel
43. A book about a thing that goes bump in the night
44. A book you're embarrassed to read in public
45. A book related to a hobby or passion you have
46. A crime story:  The Cutting Season by Attica Locke - DONE.
47. A book with a type of food/drink in the title
48. A dystopia
49. A book with a great opening line
50. A book originally written in a language other than English:  Tove Jansson's The Summer Book - DONE.
51. A short story from a well-known author
52. A book published in 2016

Tour de Fleece - Week 2

I'm pretty happy with my progress for the Tour so far this year!  I've been trying to have a goal of 15 minutes of spinning a day, o...