Books, SBS, DayQuil, Beer

You guys, I am all but guaranteed to complete my 30 Books in 2007 challenge. And the best thing is? It wasn’t that much of a challenge. I just read books like I normally do, and have had no problem trying to reach 30 books. Maybe next year, if I really want to challenge myself, I’ll go for 50. Maybe.

Anyway, wanna know what I read recently? Book 28 was one I’ll have to link to for purposes of keeping other members of the SDBBE in suspense. So, it was this book over here (Isabel’s contribution to the book exchange). And I really enjoyed it. It got off to a bit of a slow start, but when it picked up it got really good. I will probably pick up other books by that author in the future.

For Book 29, I finally, for the first time in my life, read Pride and Prejudice. (My sister-in-law Jenn has never been more proud!) I figured I should see what all the fuss was about. And, let me just say, that the fuss? Was well-deserved. I really loved this book. And I may have had a dream about a Colin Firth/Matthew MacFayden-hybrid Mr. Darcy the night I finished the book. And the Mr. Darcy of my dreams may have been incredibly gorgeous. I’m just sayin’.

But, all resulting dreams aside, I really did enjoy the book. And I definitely plan on reading more Jane Austen whenever I get the chance.

As luck would have it, the 30th book I will be reading is my SDBBE book for this month. Which means it must be finished by the end of this month. Which means I will definitely have read 30 books in 2007. Because I am awesome.

Speaking of books and being awesome, I got my first Secret Blogger Santa gift yesterday. And it kicks ass. My lovely SBS sent me a list of books that she thought I would enjoy, along with a short blurb about each book and why it’s so good. And the list? Is awesome. I have read (and enjoyed) a couple of the books on the list already, and there are a couple of others that are currently on my library holds list. So, clearly, my SBS has good taste in books! The majority of the list is of books I’ve never heard of, but they are all ones I would like to pick up now that I know they exist. So, awesome job, Secret Blogger Santa of mine! Thank you so much!

Finally, I’m sick today. So I took some DayQuil this morning. And now I’m feeling a bit … uh … loopy as a result. So I apologize if any of this post is incoherent. And I’m also kinda bummed because we have plans to go to Old Chicago to drink beer and celebrate the end of some hideous classes that Tim had this semester. Thanks to the DayQuil, I feel good enough to go to Old C’s. But, no thanks to the DayQuil, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to partake in the beer consumption. Which I have been looking forward to (i know! weird, right? i don’t even like beer!) because I want to work on completing the holiday beer tour so I can get a really cute shirt. But if I combine beer buzzing with my current DayQuil buzzing, there’s no way I would be able to drive home. And since we are celebrating Tim being done with these classes, it’s really not fair to ask him to drink less so he can drive me home. Being sick is stupid.

Movies and Stuff

Erin asked “What are your top 10 favorite movies?”

How about I give you a top 7 and then give you 3 recent favorites? Will that be okay? Great.

My top seven movies, in no particular order are:

  1. Life Is Beautiful — Subtitled, but I have nothing against subtitles and neither should you. Especially not for this movie. It is incredible.
  2. What Dreams May Come — Love, love, love. Love it more every time I watch it. It’s beautiful on every single level.
  3. As Good As It Gets — What’s not to love about Jack Nicholson? Nothing, that’s what.
  4. Bridget Jones’ Diary — Classic chick flick. One instance where the movie is just as good as the book. (Although the same is not true for the sequel. The second book is fabulous, whereas the second movie was stupid.)
  5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — God, I love Johnny Depp. And the rest of this movie, too.
  6. The Princess Bride — If this movie isn’t on your top 10 list, you have no soul.
  7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! — The cartoon. NOT the Jim Carrey version. Just so we’re all clear.

Three recent favorites, also in no particular order, are:

  1. 300 — Say what you will about airbrushed abs, but I loved this movie. Loved it.
  2. Fracture — What’s not to love about Anthony Hopkins? Nothing, that’s what.
  3. The Prestige — I enjoyed this one so much that I just recently picked up the book from the library. (Book challenge Book 27!) The book was way different from the movie, but in a good way. The movie was great, and the book was great, and they were two completely separate entities. I think if I had read the book first and then seen the movie, expecting it to be like the book, I would have been really disappointed in the movie. In fact, having seen the movie first, I was a little disappointed in the book at the beginning. But then I stopped expecting the book to be like the movie and absolutely loved it. So my recommendation to you would be to rent the movie, and then read the book, and drop any expectations that the two would be more than remotely similar. And then come back and thank me for turning you on to two such wonderfully entertaining bits of media.

I’ve Been a Readin’ Fool Lately

Stacey asked for a book review, and since I’ve read a few books in the last few weeks, now seems like as good a time as any to do a Book Challenge update. (For you new readers, completing the Book Challenge requires me to read 30 books in 2007.)

Here’s what I’ve read since my last update.

Book 23 was this one. (SDBBE-ers should not click that link unless they want to be big cheaters and ruin the surprise.) It was kinda sorta okay. When I received it, I wasn’t sure if I would like it. While it was nothing I ever would have picked up on my own, the whole point of a book exchange is to try new things maybe find a new author/genre you never knew you liked, right? So I kept an open mind and started reading. And while I definitely won’t be picking up anything else by that author, I didn’t hate the book either. It was fine. The guy had a tendency to be a bit preachy at times. He also clearly thought he was very clever and he was also very proud and smug about how clever he was. I found myself rolling my eyes at him through much of the book. But there were other parts that I really enjoyed, too. I think the eye-rolling outweighed the enjoyment about 60-40, thus the lack of desire to read any more by the same author. But still, a 40% enjoyment rate isn’t too terrible.

Books 24, 25, and 26 were The Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts. Heather sent these to me awhile back, and I was kinda sorta interested in them but never really got around to reading them. After completing last month’s SDBBE book, I needed something else to read and so picked up Morrigan’s Cross. About 20 pages in, I was hooked. It was a little more of a fantasy storyline than I would normally choose, but it sucked me in and would not let me go. I had a couple of books come in from my hold list at the library before I finished this one, but as soon as I turned the last page I picked up the second book in the trilogy, Dance of the Gods. At this point I was completely addicted, and spent every spare hour I had (and even a few hours when I should have been doing some freelance work) with my nose buried in the book. I finished that book in a couple of days, and, thanks to my husband’s understanding of my need to feed my addiction, read the entire third book, Valley of Silence, yesterday.

You guys, these books were so great. They’re about a circle of six people who come together from different worlds and centuries to fight an epic, world-saving battle against an army of vampires. In between all the cool vampire action there are some really great love stories, and the whole thing is incredibly romantic. I may have cried a little at the end of the third book, that’s how attached to the story and characters I was.

Heather, thank you so much for sending me these books! I absolutely loved them, and I’m so glad to have them on my book shelf so I can read them again whenever I want. This was definitely a case of trying something new that I wouldn’t have picked up on my own and discovering that I really really like an author. I can’t wait to pick up more of Roberts’ work.

A Book Challenge Update and a Birthday Wish

Official NaBloPoMo Idea Count:
Ideas Received: 30!
Ideas Needed: 0!
Thanks, guys (especially Kat who provided a whopping 10 ideas)! Feel free to keep the ideas flowing if you want — I’m sure I’ll need more ideas even after November is over.

I finally finished my 22nd book of the year: Hawaii by James A. Michener. It was pretty good, but it took me a looonnngggg time to read. Michener is a bit long-winded, as it turns out. I enjoyed the story — historical fiction about, you guessed it, Hawaii — but about 3/4ths of the way through the book I just got tired of it. Toward the end, a lot of the characters still held my interest, but the whole Whipple-Hale-Hewitt-Hoxworth-Janders family who basically ran the islands got to be pretty ridiculous. It’s funny how you can be so invested in a family and then, 500 pages later, have absolutely no interest in them whatsoever.

Long-windedness aside, I did enjoy most of the book. Michener held my interest for about 800 of the 1060 pages. Maybe if he and his editor had trimmed about 200 pages off I would have loved the book a lot more. All in all, I’m glad I read it, but I won’t be rushing out to buy any more of this author’s work.

But enough talk about books. There are more important things happening today. Specifically, Lindsey’s birthday. So everybody get out of here and go wish Lindsey a very happy birthday!

Five Books That Everyone Should Read, Now and Forever, Amen

A while* ago, Gary requested that I write more about the books I read so that he could get some ideas for good reading material. I try to do that with the Book Challenge, but there hasn’t been an update on that recently because I have been reading a 1,000-page book and it is taking me forever. It’s really good, so I don’t mind, but the print is small and I only get about 20 minutes/day to read, so it’s taking awhile*. Since I picked it up, I had to take a break to read Harry Potter (so, that would be book #21 on the list), and then I took another break just last week to read my SDBBE** book (which was a book I’ve already read several times before; I haven’t decided if I’m going to let myself count re-reads towards my 30-book goal. Probably if I’ve only read 29 other books by December 31, I will count it. Otherwise I might not). So, the book challenge is a bit slow-going at the moment, thus the lack of literature-related posts. (Look how I said “literature” right there. As if to imply that I tend to read high-brow works of fiction and not just a bunch of chick lit and trashy romance novels. Good one, Audrey.)

SO, ANYWAY. Here is a list of my five all-time favorite books. Books that I own (with the exception of one, which will be on my Christmas list this year. Gift-givers take note.) and could read over and over and over again. I love them for different reasons, and there’s quite a range of themes, writing styles, etc. on this little list. One is humorous. A couple are so beautifully written that they blur the line between prose and poetry. Another is one of the mots romantic books I’ve ever read. All of them are thought-provoking and amazing in their own way.

Without further ado, I give you Five Books That Everyone Should Read, Now and Forever, Amen:

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett Armageddon is coming, and it’s all going to start in a little town outside of London. Oh, and it’s going to happen this Saturday.

This book has it all: An angel and a demon who would really prefer to keep the whole human race around for a bit longer, an 11-year-old Antichrist, his pet hell hound, the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse, the 4 other horsemen of the Apocalypse, prophecies, witch hunters, fortune tellers, satanic nuns, and some of the best footnotes ever written.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this book, but I still laugh out loud every single time. It actually manages to get funnier with each reading. It’s hilarious, intelligent, and at times even heart-warming and thought-provoking.

Read it. I promise it will be well worth your time.

The Bone People by Keri Hulme – Three New Zealanders with drastically different backgrounds — an abused orphan, an emotionally-shattered widower, and a deeply introspective recluse — are brought together through unexpected circumstances and struggle to come to terms with the past, the present, and one another. This book is, at its core, all about family.

Oh, but it’s so much more than that. It is poetry. It is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. It is tragic, infuriating, depressing, elating, inspiring, and joyous.

It is incredible.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger — Henry travels through time, although he can’t control where (when) he goes, when he leaves the present, or how long he’ll stay in the past or future. He is married to Clare, who first met him when she was about six and he was a middle-aged man who had shown up in the meadow near her house claiming to have come from the future.

I checked this book out from the library on a recommendation from several of you Internet people. From the moment I picked it up I was completely sucked in, and over the following two days I only ever put it down long enough to eat, sleep, and go to work.

It’s a love story more than a science fiction novel. It’s not one of those change-the-past-to-fix-the-future stories; Henry can’t alter the course of his and Clare’s lives any more than he can control his time traveling. What it is, though, is an extraordinary tale that I would read over and over again (if only I had a copy of my own).

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – A chilling and disturbing novel about a dystopian society in the “near future.” Women are strictly controlled and separated into castes — childless Wives, housekeeping Marthas, and fertile Handmaids who serve as surrogates for the Wives. Offred (read: of-Fred, as she is the Handmaid in Fred’s house), describes her life as a handmaid, remembers longingly her life before everything changed, and desperately wonders what became of her own husband and daughter.

This is another novel in which the prose borders on poetry, but if you’ve read any of Atwood’s other work, that shouldn’t surprise you. She is an excellent writer with many great books; of the books of hers that I’ve read, this is without a doubt my favorite.

It’s a work of fiction, of course, but it’s just believable enough to thoroughly creep you out. My favorite line in the entire book is this one: “Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub, you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”

Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith – Published in 1930, this eye-opening novel places you in the passenger seat of one of the ambulances driven by women at the front lines in France during World War I. The horrifying nightmares these women face are a far cry from what the “Doing Our Bit!” propaganda at the time would have had you believe.

I’ll admit that this book might not be for everyone. The details get a bit gory at times, and the book is full of heavy political undertones. However I do think it’s a worthwhile read for anyone, regardless of political leanings. It’s an interesting look at society’s perception of war versus the harsh reality of the front lines, and it’s incredibly well written to boot.

 

So, there you have it. My five all-time favorite books. If you happen to read any of them, let me know what you think**. And if you want, feel free to chime in with your all-time favorite books in the comments. If I ever finish this 1,000-page book, I’m going to need more good reading material. So bring on the recommendations!

*Awhile? A while? This is one rule I can never remember. Help me, fellow grammar geeks!

**SDBBE participants should maybe not rush out to the library/book store and check out/buy all of these books right away. It’s possible that one of them will be making its way to your house sometime in the next few months***.

***I hope that by saying this I haven’ t gotten your hopes up for one of the books that is not coming to your house. But, you know, the library is a wonderful place and can help you through that potentially difficult time.

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