Sunday, March 20, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge: Week 12

I was under the weather this weekend, so I did a metric tonnage of reading while I knit on some plain vanilla stripey socks and couch potato'ed it.

I finished up Cervantes Street for week #15's topic: A book set in the past, more than 100 years ago.  Lots of information in this (fictional) account of Miguel de Cervantes's life - about which not much is known.  In theory the book purports to create the world behind the writing of Don Quixote but since there is so little known about the author that can be validated with extant historical documents, take it with a grain of salt.  I'll admit that my knowledge of mid-16th century Algiers and the Turks is limited, so I enjoyed filling in some of the gaps of that with the storyline of this book.  I had a hard time switching between the 3 voices the author used to advance the narrative: Cervantes's himself, a rival writer whom he knew in school, and a clerk turned spy hired by the rival writer to spy on Cervantes.  I found myself having to reread the beginnings of chapters as I missed the change in voice and was confused about who was speaking.  I'll give it an overall B-.

I then moved onto week #4's topic: A book by an author you discovered in 2015.  If you kept up with my list from last year, you'll know that Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See made my top 5 list for books read in 2015.  Four Seasons in Rome, which I chose to read for this week's topic, is a completely different book but all the things I loved about his writing last year held up in this book too.  The book chronicles the 12 months he and his wife and their twin sons (kudos to his wife for embarking on this adventure with a set of twins less than a year old - she's a trooper!) spent in Rome after he receives an appointment/stipend to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  In theory, he is going to use that time to write a book on the WWII resistance in France, but instead what falls from his pen is a love story about Rome and about writing.  His writing is so evocative, so lyrical, it makes me want to grab Pliny the Elder's Natural History and sit and read it (which is saying something). His dry wit combined with perfectly chosen words to capture a moment, a burst of sunlight, a tree's bark in the winter made this a contemplative read that I savored every word of.  Highly recommended.

I then picked up a quick palate cleanser with Anthony Horowitz's The Three Monarchs, to fulfill week #24 with a book between other books.  This is a short story based on the Sherlock Holmes's characters (a missing Dr. Watson chronicle, if you will).  Horowitz's Sherlock Holmes stories - he has other full-length ones - are brilliantly done.  I read The House of Silk by this same author and loved it (I'm a Holmes fan).  He completely captures the writing style of Conan Doyle, and brings the great detective back to life, along with his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson.  A fun read - one I thoroughly enjoyed for a little mind candy.

Up next, which I've just started is River of Doubt by Candice Millard, is my book for week #35 for an award-winning book.  This history tells the story of Theodore Roosevelt's journey down the Amazon to an uncharted tributary of the great river and the hardships the exploration party encountered during the trip after Roosevelt's election defeat in 1912.  I know nothing about this story, but 3 chapters in, I'm already waiting to see each page of the adventure unfold.  Even better that it's not fiction.

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: Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr - DONE.
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):  Cervantes Street by Jamie Manrique - DONE.
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.):  The Three Monarchs by Anthony Horowitz - DONE.
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: River of Doubt by Candice Millard.
36. An identity book - a book about a different culture, religion or sexual orientation:  Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - DONE.
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

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