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January booklist

This year I've challenged myself to read 150 books (the same as last year), with the unspoken goal that I'd really like to do better than last year, even if only by one book. I don't know if it was luck or the fun of watching my progress (yay goodreads widgets!), but I'm off to a flying start - and 4% ahead of schedule.

This year I'm also going to be keeping track of formats, as well as what gets read from the Great Stack of Stuff I Need To Read Soon.

Without further ado, I give you:

1. Prince William and Kate: A Royal Romance, Matt Doeden

This illustrates a downside to ebooks: it's more difficult (for me, at least) to get a feel for what a book is like before reading. With a print book I can see cover art, flap blurbs, type size, length of book, and flip through a read snippets of the text to very quickly make a judgment on 1) who the intended audience is, and 2) if I'm interested.

This is one I found in my library's digital collection. Looked at the title, looked at the blurb, thought "yay!" and checked it out... only to find that it's a short book aimed at 3-5th graders. Not bad, but not at all what I was expecting, and it left me annoyed that the book description didn't make it clear what age level it was written for.

2. Blackout, Connie Willis

Ya'll KNOW what I think about this book.

3. Mosque, David Macaulay

I'm going through some architecture courses from The Teaching Company, and ya'll this stuff is awesome. I'm seeing architecture everywhere now (duh), which makes something as simple as driving down the street an adventure. "There's a supporting arch! I wonder what the hoop stress is on that dome?" etc.

Anyway, Mosque is about, you guessed it, the building of a mosque. Macaulay is awesome at combining illustrations and text.

4. Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, Laurie Colwin

A delightful collection of essays written by a person who obviously loves food. (There are people who like food, and there are people who LOVE food.) A bit dated, but charming.

5. Building the Book Cathedral, Macaulay, David

Very meta ... a book about how the book Cathedral was created. So it's basically like reading the original book (about the building of a great medieval cathedral) AND also getting to see the process of it being made at the same time.
6. Pretty in Plaid: A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomanical, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase, Jen Lancaster

I'm not a huge Lancaster fan - she's funny, but a little too something for my taste. To each his own, and all that.

7. All Clear, Connie Willis

<3 <3 <3 I don't let myself reread things very often anymore, but this was totally worth it.

8. Hagia Sophia, Lord Kinross

More architecture stuff!

9. Tout Sweet: Hanging Up My High Heels For A New Life In Rural France, Karen Wheeler

Sort of a cross between Bella Tuscany and Eat Pray Love: woman is unlucky in love, buys a ramshackle house in France, lives happily ever after. It was fun and cute, although at times it felt oddly as if some of the storylines never resolved.

10. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K Rowling

This doesn't need a review, does it?

11. Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy and the New Science of Desire, Martin Lindstrom

The subtitle says it all: this was a little more scientific than other similar books I've read, so I learned cool things about mirror neurons and other things I can't remember now, but which were very cool at the time. Trust me on this.

12. How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm and Other Adventures in Parenting around the World, Mei-Ling Hopgood

My recommendation for the month, and not just for mothers. :) Hopgood has a lively and entertaining style, and I greatly enjoyed this book - even though I have no children! She provides a great look at how culture shapes parenting styles, with the mostly unspoken underlying theme that children are adaptable and resilient, so don't stress out about figuring out the One Right Way to raise your children. :)

13. A Field Guide to American Architecture, Carole Rifkind

More architecture, yay.

14. Seeking Sicily: A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Mediterranean, John Keahey

I was disappointed in this, because Sicily is NOT a boring country, but this book was. =P It never seemed to really go anywhere, and he used a lot of words to not say very much at all.

15. A Countess Below Stairs, Eva Ibbotson

I saw this recommended as a readalike for Downton Abbey and ordered it from Paperbackswap without really reading the description - and I'm glad I did! It means I didn't realize it was a romance novel until I had already started it, and by that time I was hooked. It could have easily turned into a Harlequin-style romance, but it didn't - much more Mary Stewart style, minus the gothic/mystery overtones. Yes, it's fanciful and you'll have to suspend your disbelief that a displaced Russian countess could hack it as a maid in an English manor, but it's written with humor and verve and I unexpectedly loved it.

16. Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris, David King.

Ann Rule crossed with In the Garden of Beasts! Not AS fascinating as ItGoB, nor as good at getting the desperate feel of the era across, but nonetheless a comprehensive account of a shocking crime.
17. The Lacemaker and the Princess,  Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Just charming - juvenile fic set in the time of the French revolution. Bradley writes with a wonderful voice for both the time period and the social status of her protagonist. And I appreciated that it didn't have a totally neat, tied-up-with-a-bow ending. It felt very realistic.

from my stack: 2
ebooks: 5
audio: 1



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 2nd, 2012 11:25 pm (UTC)
It's always interesting to hear what you've been reading. I wish I had time to read Blackout. I need to start making a someday list, I suppose.
Feb. 3rd, 2012 02:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks for being interested. ;)
Feb. 3rd, 2012 10:29 am (UTC)
Oh, haven't you read any Ibbotson before? She's lovely--very sweet and usually very clean. I went through a phase with her awhile back.
Feb. 3rd, 2012 02:37 pm (UTC)
Never even heard of her! If I run into any more I will be very likely to give them a read, though. :)
Feb. 3rd, 2012 01:10 pm (UTC)
After seeing How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm pop up on your Goodreads list I wanted to read it, but my library doesn't have it! I suggested to acquire a copy, so here's to hoping!

And LOL about the Prince William/Kate book!
Feb. 3rd, 2012 02:39 pm (UTC)
w00t - we actually have a book Tulsa doesn't! ;) Seriously though, hope they get a copy. I thought of you while reading it; it seemed like something you'd find very interesting.
Feb. 3rd, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
LOL! I hope they take my suggestion!
Feb. 3rd, 2012 01:28 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed your comment on my Home Cooking review. :) I also just read Pretty in Plaid, and liked it, but thought it was the weakest of the Lancaster books I've read.
Feb. 3rd, 2012 02:40 pm (UTC)
I read My Fair Lazy while ago and liked it a lot better, so I won't judge her too harshly on this one. :)
Feb. 3rd, 2012 02:38 pm (UTC)
I need to pick up Blackout again - I got partway through early in January but then panicked about the number of library books and other to-read books I had sitting around and ended up not finishing. I loved what I did read of it, though!

Home Cooking is one of my go-to books when I need comfort. I can't remember if it's in that one or More Home Cooking, but her story about terrible dinner parties cracks me up - there's a woman who decides to recreate Medieval "Starry-Gazey Pie", in which eels poke their heads out of the pie crust, and a Scotsman who serves some sort of nasty undercooked rice dish and breakfast sausage - and always makes me feel better about the world.

Have you read any other Eva Ibbotson books? I love her, but only in small doses since all her books are extremely similar and it's easy to get annoyed by the sameness if you read too many in a row.
Feb. 3rd, 2012 02:43 pm (UTC)
If you start Blackout again, let me know. I love hearing people's comments as they read it. :D

Haha, yes, that awful starry-gazey pie! ICK.

I'd never even heard of Ibbotson before this! Any other particular ones to recommend?
Feb. 3rd, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
I like The Morning Gift, A Song for Summer, and The Reluctant Heiress best. A Company of Swans is okay, but the hero annoyed me for some reason that I don't even remember now, so I've never re-read it.
Feb. 4th, 2012 12:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'll see if I can find those anywhere.
Feb. 4th, 2012 01:56 am (UTC)
Just out of curiosity, what time of day do you do the most reading? I'm trying to figure out when would be a good time for me to be more regular about reading, and I'm interested in what other people do.
Feb. 4th, 2012 12:38 pm (UTC)
The bulk of my reading is done in about an hour every evening. I just don't feel like I've had a proper day if I don't get that reading time in at the end of it! I'm usually online during lunch, but I read during suppers. And I read at the gym if there's nothing good on tv. ;)

On weekends I usually end up with another hour or so in the afternoons. That's about it, really. It works for me, although there for awhile I was chronically sleep deprived and kept falling asleep anytime I read longer than 20 minutes, lol.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )