Daily Archives: January 4, 2012

It’s COLD.

Well, no, not that cold. That was two years ago.

Not that cold either. That was last year.

And so was that.

Oh, all right. We’ve been spoiled so far this winter. The grass is bare, the streets are dry, the temperature is above zero (Fahrenheit).

Yes, but it’s definitely below zero Celsius. It’s turned from sweatshirt or jacket weather to hat-gloves-heavy-coat-and-shiver-anyway. Enough of this nonsense. This is what I want to see. Tomorrow.

More than I can chew?

Various diet books have assured me that we don’t eat with our mouths, we eat with our eyes. (This always strikes me as implausible, and also ridiculously messy if true.) Thus, for example, they claim it makes perfect sense to serve “guacamole” made of pureed peas.

Sorry, diet gurus. My eyes aren’t going to waste time eating when there are so many books to read. This is really a post for my own convenience; the real point of it is to be an easy to find list of everything I’ve just promised to read for an assortment of reading challenges.

Really. It’s just a list. A long list.

Move along. Nothing to see here, except a woman who never learned when to stop.

20000 Leagues Under the Sea
A Study in Scarlet (Doyle);
A Path of Shadows
A Forest of Kings
A Viking Voyage
Assorted unspecified Terry Pratchetts
Busman’s Honeymoon (Sayers)
Cards on the Table (Christie);
Champagne for One (Stout);
Daniel Deronda
Dead or Alive (Wentworth);
Death Comes As the End (Christie)
Don Juan
Double for Death (Stout);
Emma
Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Fearless Fourteen
Fer-de-Lance (Stout);
Graveyard Dust
Gray Mask (Wentworth);
Have His Carcase (Sayers);
Holiday for Murder (Christie);
Hope’s Edge, the Next Diet for a Small Planet
In the Bleak Midwinter
In the Best Families (Stout);
Ink Exchange
Jane Eyre
Lilith’s Brood
Maggie Without A Clue
Miss Silver Intervenes (Wentworth);
Mr. Zero (Wentworth);
Murder Must Advertise (Sayers, Lord Peter Wimsey);
Myth-ion Improbable
Nine – and Death Makes Ten (Carr);
Of Death and Black Rivers
One Virgin Too Many
Poirot Loses a Client (Christie);
Princesses, the Six Daughters of George III
Rattlesnake Crossing
Rolling Stone (Wentworth);
She Came Back (Wentworth);
Sister to the Rain
Star Island
The Case of the Lame Canary (Gardner);
The Black Mountain (Stout);
The Case of the Caretaker’s Cat (Gardner);
The Case of the Howling Dog (Gardner);
The Case of the Counterfeit Eye (Gardner);
The D.A. Takes a Chance (Gardner);
The Blind Barber (Carr);
The Crooked Hinge (Carr)
The Burning Court (Carr);
The Five Red Herrings (Sayers);
The Case Is Closed (Wentworth);
The Case of the Dangerous Dowager (Gardner);
The Red Box (Stout, Nero Wolfe);
The Hand in the Glove (Stout, Dol Bonner);
The Maltese Falcon (Hammett)
The Three Coffins (Carr)
The Nine Wrong Answers (Carr);
The Blind Side (Wentworth);
The Case of the One-Eyed Witness (Gardner);
The Forgotten Garden
The Complete Persepolis
The Clock Strikes Twelve (Wentworth);
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
The Case of the Restless Redhead (Gardner)
The Ivory Dagger (Wentworth);
The Problem of the Green Capsule (Carr);
The Man in the Brown Suit (Christie);
The Chinese Gold Murders (Van Gulik);
The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
The Peacock Feather Murders (Carr);
The New Faces of Christianity
The Moonstone
The Iron Khan
The Frogs
The Hound of the Baskervilles (Doyle);
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Sayers);
The Associate
Thirteen at Dinner (Christie);
Through the Wall (Wentworth);
Twilight
Ulysses
Un Lun Dun
Unnatural Death (Sayers);
War and Peace

and, probably, miscellaneous old short science fictions that I suspect aren’t keepers any more.

One world. Four elephants. And a turtle.

You got a problem with that?

Time to sign up for the Sir Terry Pratchett Reading Challenge. Because I don’t have any problem at all with the bit of cosmology in the post title.

This challenge doesn’t ask for a list of books, so for once I won’t give one. But I think I’ll start with the couple of books I haven’t read yet – I think they’re all Sam Vimes stories, for some reason. If I have time, I’ll indulge in some of the standalones that I haven’t re-read for a long time, like Moving Pictures and Pyramids.

Mmm, Pratchett.

More, more

I can’t stop! Another reading challenge – the Mystery and Suspense Reading Challenge.

You don’t have to post a planned reading list for this one, but I will anyway to help myself keep track. And I’m adding the rule that all these stories have to be published after 1960 to balance the vintage mysteries. And, of course, they have to come from my bottomless TBR.

  1. The Iron Khan by Liz Williams
  2. Graveyard Dust by Barbara Hambly
  3. Rattlesnake Crossing by J. A. Jance
  4. One Virgin Too Many by Lindsey Davis
  5. Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich
  6. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith
  7. Sister to the Rain by Melissa Michaels
  8. Of Death and Black Rivers by Ann Woodward
  9. Maggie Without a Clue by Kasey Michaels
  10. Star Island by Carl Hiaasen
  11. In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Roberts
  12. The Associate by John Grisham

(I was going to say that one reason my TBR is so huge is that I’ll read just about anything, but I realized that isn’t true at all. I won’t read stories with clunky dialogue – you know, the ones in which people say things like “As you know, Professor, we have been married for eleven years now. It may be possible that we have been married twelve years, because although you do not enjoy it, I always forget our anniversary. Has the virus escaped from the laboratory yet, or will that happen in the next chapter?”

And I won’t read stories in which the author gives us gloatingly enthusiastic descriptions of the killer’s poisoned thoughts or the victim’s terror during the long, slow murder. (I think that’s why I haven’t managed to get more than two chapters into The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I can smell the poison coming.) Or stories – at least, current ones – in which the author rubs his/her prejudices in your face. (I’ll give vintage stories a little more leeway; I think that’s because their authors are no longer qualified to vote, being dead, so they can’t do as much harm.)

and oh yes, ).

(How can you tell an ex-computer programmer? We’re compelled to balance our opening and closing parentheses, so the compiler won’t throw a hissy fit.)

But I’ll read more than enough kinds of books to fill three or four houses like the one I live in.

Adding to the confusion –

The Mixing It Up reading challenge. A little of this, a little of that – I’m planning to focus this one on my TBR purge, though, so there is an overall theme to my choices. Even though no one else – well, no one else who hasn’t tried to locate something in this house – will be able to see the theme.

Categories are –

1. CLASSICS
This can be any classic work, from Alcott to Zola.  Always fancied trying Great Expectations, or finally feel like tackling Jane Eyre?  Now’s your chance!  From the fun to the frightening, the gentle satire to the all-out swashbuckling epic, there are hundreds of years’ worth of books to choose from.
My pick – Daniel Deronda. Because I finally made it past the first hundred pages of Middlemarch and discovered it’s a good story, so maybe with persistence I’ll like this one too. (Don’t think I’ll ever figure out why I bought Daniel originally, though.)

2. BIOGRAPHY
This can be modern or historical, biography or autobiography.  From the latest celebrity autobiography to an academic biography of Henry VIII – it all counts!  Perhaps you fancy a book on your favourite classic movie star, athlete or musician?
My pick – Princesses, the Six Daughters of George III, by Fraser. Six biographies in one!
3. COOKERY, FOOD AND WINE
Ideas for this one range from a delectable cookery book to a food memoir (like Nigel Slater’s Toast or Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential), a book on wine to the history of marmalade.
I’ll wrestle with food as politics and moral duty, at least that’s what I expect this book will be about: Hope’s Edge, the Next Diet for a Small Planet, Lappe

4. HISTORY
More scope to indulge a whole range of interests here, including local history, military history or world history.  It might be a biography of Anne Boleyn, a book on World War II aircraft, a study of the American civil war, or something with a much smaller focus, like Bill Bryson’s At Home or Mark Kurlansky’s Salt: A World History.  Whatever floats your boat!
Ancient Maya history – A Forest of Kings, Schele and Freidel
5. MODERN FICTION
This covers literary and popular fiction, so you can’t really go wrong with this one.  From Sophie Kinsella to Haruki Murakami, Wilbur Smith to Isabel Allende, Jenny Colgan to Kate Mosse, you should be able to find something to fit your tastes!
The Forgotten Garden, Morton. Because it’s taking up a good two inches of shelf space, and it’s time to either fall in love with the story or free up some room.
6. GRAPHIC NOVELS AND MANGA
This will be an entirely new genre for me, but I’m looking forward to hitting the library to see what all the fuss is about!  First on my ‘to check out’ list will be Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes and Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta.
My choice – The Complete Persepolis by Satrapi
7.  CRIME AND MYSTERY
This category will cover everything from the genteel Agatha Christie and the scrummy Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke, through Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson, to the gruesome forensics of Martina Cole and Val McDermid.  You could even delve into some gritty true crime if that’s more your style.
I think I’ll delve into ancient crime – A Path of Shadows, by Haney, in which Lieutenant Bak solves crimes for the pharoah Hatshepsut.
8. HORROR
One for Hallowe’en, perhaps!  Maybe a modern writer like Stephen King or James Herbert, or you could turn to the classics with Edgar Allen Poe or the ghostly writings of M.R. James?  Some YA novels would also fit into this category – Darren Shan, or Lindsey Barraclough’s Long Lankin – but no paranormal romance!
No romance, as far as I can tell from the cover, but some serious spookiness, I think: Un Lun Dun, by Mieville
9. ROMANCE
I’d say the cheesier the better for this one, but it’s up to you!  Mills and Boon, paranormal romance, chick lit fluff, whatever.  Personally I’ll be browsing our Mills and Boon shelf at the shop and pulling out the trashiest title I can find!  🙂
How about Twilight (Meyer, of course), than which there is no cheesier? Come on – when was the last time you met a sparkly vampire?
10. SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY
Again, plenty of scope here.  From the hilarious characters of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld to Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings, Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries to Frank Herbert’s Dune, you can go modern or classic, and pick from any number of sub-genres.
Another book I’ve been intending to read for a long time – Lilith’s Brood, by Octavia Butler.
11. TRAVEL
The world is your oyster, as it were!  Maybe you’re going somewhere interesting on holiday and want to read up on it first?  Rough Guides, Lonely Planet guides, that kind of thing.  You could pick a Bill Bryson (always popular) or choose a book on a particular city, country or continent, like Francesco da Mosto’s Venice or one of Michael Palin’s books.  Then there are all the delectable memoirs by people who’ve moved abroad and opened a taverna/olive farm/vineyard!
No tavernas and olives – A Viking Voyage, Carter. A bunch of men in wet cold wool breaking their backs in an open boat in the North Atlantic. Maybe this should go in horror?
12. POETRY AND DRAMA
This could be a novelty collection of limericks, a collection by a particular poet, or if that sounds a bit daunting, a single, longer narrative poem.  How about ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, ‘Hiawatha’ or ‘The Waste Land’?  My particular favourite is probably Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’, which is more like a simple fairytale that just happens to rhyme.  Or you could choose a play – how about Ibsen, Miller, Shakespeare or the brilliantly witty Wilde?
There are some serious shading to grim selections on my list – time for a poem and poet that take, who took, nothing seriously. (Maybe Greek independence.) Byron’s Don Juan.
13. JOURNALISM AND HUMOUR
This one might take a little more thinking about, but it should be a bit of fun!  Journalism collections can range from Nick Hornby’s Shakespeare Wrote for Money to Marian Keyes’s Under the Duvet, Jeremy Clarkson’s The World According to Clarkson to Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Big Country.  Anything that’s been published in a newspaper or magazine first!  Humour could be a book of cartoons, a novelty joke book or The Wicked Wit of Oscar Wilde!
Well, it certainly intends to be humor. Let’s see if it succeeds: Myth-ion Improbable, by Asprin
14. SCIENCE AND NATURAL HISTORY
Again, this one throws the doors wide open for you to follow your interests.  Always fancied learning more about space?  Are you curious about the life of Charles Darwin?  Or got a lifelong love for a particular animal?  There are some wonderful ‘popular science’ books around too, including things like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, David Attenborough’s natural history books,and the entire works of the brilliantly funny Mary Roach.
My choice – Endless Forms Most Beautiful, Carroll. Much detail about how evolution happens, getting down and dirty among the genes.
15. CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT
This leaves the way open for pretty much anything, whether it’s reading The Hungry Caterpillar or The Magical Faraway Tree to your kids, revisiting the joys of The Secret Garden or Treasure Island, or devouring something from the modern tide of YA.  Lots of dystopian fiction, coming-of-age novels and supernatural shenanigans to choose from!
Time for YA – Ink Exchange, by Marr. Tattoos and fairies (faeries?) and high school, oh my!

16. SOCIAL SCIENCES AND PHILOSOPHY
Another wide area!  Books on society and women (Female Chauvinist Pigs, Living Dolls), books on society and children (Toxic Childhood, Nurtureshock), books on how television and the internet are affecting our lives, Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World, books on Freud or Marx…
The New Faces of Christianity – Believing the Bible in the Global South, by Jenkins. Religious growth in the southern hemisphere; what does that mean for the world’s future?

Oof. That’s an ambitious list – something in every category, and a lot of them are long and several are a long way from easy reading. Well, I did resolve to clear stuff out of this place by the end of the year – I have to read these sometime!