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1. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is where I humbly offer up a retraction: So right before reading The Great Gatsby again, I watched the movie. It was beautiful and sad and frustrating and I felt like it gave the characters a lot more depth, and therefore made them a lot more sympathetic, than I remembered from my many-years-ago reading of the book.

So I went around and loudly proclaimed that while the movie was all of these things, I hate hate HATED the book and it was horrible and depressing and there was nothing likeable about it at all.

But, yanno, I couldn't get the movie out of my head and so I read the book again to see how much better the movie was than its source.

And ... the book is beautiful. Still frustrating and sad and sometimes I can't take that kind of beautiful-but-sadness and sometimes I can, but my goodness the language is lovely.

So, Gatsby, I'm sorry I was so vocal in my ignorance.

2. The World's Strongest Librarian, Josh Hanagarne (audio)

I've interacted with Josh some on twitter and he seems to just be the nicest guy - and so passionate about libraries. This book is about his struggles with Tourettes and how weightlifting and becoming a librarian helped him - with a side of struggles with faith and with fatherhood. He writes with a lot of personality and humor, and while I found the library parts the most interesting, the whole thing was quite engaging.

3. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, April Tuckolke

This had some real promise - old house, absent parents, mysterious stranger, gothic overtones - but absolutely fell apart into a heap of the most ridiculousness ever. I can't even describe how ridiculous it was.

4. Daring Greatly, Brene Brown

I started this in August, I think, and actually set it aside for over a month because it was too hard to read - it seemed to require too much brain power because there was so much to think about. I took some notes that, when I find them again (I'm working through the mess that is my desk) I'll probably share.

5. The Outlandish Companion, Diana Gabaldon

Rereading the Outlander series made it fun to revisit this companion book. I enjoyed rediscovering the stories of how she fell into writing historical fiction and behind-the-scenes research details.

6. Longitude, Dava Sobel

And now we get into vacation reading! Read this on the plane into NYC. It's about the man who invented the first really accurate way for seamen to figure out their longitude, which I had not realized was such a terrible problem, because I don't know much about sailing history. But now I know more.

7. How to Live with a Pampered Pet, Eric Gurney

jkgeroo had saved this out from storage just so I could read it. :) It reminded me of Richard Armour, one of my favorite of the old humorists. And the pictures ... hilarious!

8. Deadhouse, John Temple

Who doesn't want to know what it's like to work in a morgue, am I right?! I jest, I jest, but this was a short but highly interesting book, as long as you're into that thing.

9. I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett

I don't know how I missed this last book in the Tiffant Aching series, considering it was published three years ago (!!). It was marvelous - so much deep, serious stuff, all wrapped up in a humorous package.

10. Ajax Penumbra 1969, Robin Sloan

Acquired this book and met Robin Sloan at a mysterious, secretive event that involved free alcohol, a random assortment of interesting people, a possibly non-existent can of peanuts.

Readers, first I accused Robin Sloan of being creepy to me on Twitter. Then I high-fived him AND got him to sign my travel book. And then some other random people wanted to sign it too, so they did. And that is how my day was MADE.

11. Five Children and It, E. Nesbit

I like Nesbit but had managed to avoid this was until now. Don't hate me, but I thought the Psammead was really strange and slightly creepy.

12. Every Day in Tuscany, Frances Mayes

Okay, I loved Under the Tuscan Sun as much as anyone, but I think it's time she give it up trying to spin more books out of her life in Italy. This seemed overly saccharine and pseudo-poetic and included a whole lot of nothing.

13. Silver Wedding, Maeve Binchy

Read this one on the plane back; it wasn't one of her best, but as usual she excels in painting portraits of troubled people, and somehow managing to more or less solve their problems by the end of the book.



( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 13th, 2013 09:11 pm (UTC)
I agree about Great Gatsby, at least from what I remember. I would probably feel differently now than when I read it as a teenager who wanted to love classics, but I still remember certain parts and how lovely they were written.

Yes, I'd like to hear your Daring Greatly thoughts. I started that book (just read the sample, I think) and knew I wasn't in the right frame of mind to read it, so I didn't follow through.
Oct. 13th, 2013 10:32 pm (UTC)
It just seemed really intense to read. Hopefully I'll find those notes tomorrow. :)
Oct. 13th, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
I adore E. Nesbit... and also find "Five Children And It" to be a rather weird book. I think I've only read it twice ~ once as a child and then once as an adult to see if my dislike of it remained. It did. :P I've read her other books repeatedly in adulthood, but not that one.

aaaaand I so agree with you about Mayes. Loved her first one. The follow up one (can't recall if that's the one you mention or another one) struck me as self-centered and whiny when it wasn't boring.
Oct. 13th, 2013 10:34 pm (UTC)
Glad to see I'm not the only one to feel that way... on both counts. :)
Oct. 13th, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
Your previous impression of The Great Gatsby is what I felt about Howard's End. Ugh! I loathe that book! I wonder if I'd feel differently about it if I were to read it again. I say "if" because I really don't know if I'll ever get the desire to give it a second chance.

I have always loved The Great Gatsby. The story is downright depressing, but everything is just so beautiful. And, yes, the language is absolutely breathtaking.

I really want to see the movie!
Oct. 13th, 2013 10:55 pm (UTC)
I really didn't find anything I'd change about the movie. It was pretty near perfect.
Oct. 13th, 2013 09:33 pm (UTC)
And I agree with you about Psammead. I didn't get any warm fuzzies over him either.
Oct. 13th, 2013 09:50 pm (UTC)
Great Gatsby so perfectly captures the 20's. There was so much beauty and sadness in that era!

I used to hate John Steinbeck. Why? No idea. I think I didn't particularly care for "The Pearl." Then I read "East of Eden" and I felt tremendously guilty for ever saying anything bad about the guy!
Oct. 13th, 2013 10:59 pm (UTC)
I admit that I've never warmed to Steinbeck. :p
Oct. 14th, 2013 02:44 am (UTC)
I feel exactly the same way about Frances Mayes. Loved her first book, the others have been too saccharine/pretentious. I never managed to finish "Bella Tuscany" and haven't picked up any of the others.
Oct. 14th, 2013 11:19 am (UTC)
I just reread Gatsby the summer before last. I remembered liking it in high school. This time I did not. The language is quite nice in places, and I loved the period colloquialisms; but the story itself... I felt weighed down by it. Nothing good happened to anyone.

I have experienced this with other books though (in harmony with other commenters above), notably Jane Eyre. I hated hated hated it the first time through. I hated it the second time. The third time I saw many good things, especially in the writing; but I don't know that there will be a fourth time.

Edited at 2013-10-14 03:21 pm (UTC)
Oct. 16th, 2013 10:58 pm (UTC)
I think Gatsby is one I have to be careful to read at the right time, too - I can't be at all depressed, or it feels oppressive. It's not a happy story.

Jane Eyre, on the other hand ... :) Purely a personal thing, but it's my favorite classic. I'm impressed you read it three times if you hated it so much!
Oct. 16th, 2013 11:13 pm (UTC)
Was really working on seeing what everyone else sees in it.
Oct. 14th, 2013 11:39 am (UTC)
I'm excited for your Daring Greatly thoughts. There IS a lot to think about. I'm still thinking about it, and I read it at the beginning of the year.
Oct. 14th, 2013 01:28 pm (UTC)
Harumph. Gatsby.

Well, okay. Now I am tempted to watch the movie and re-read the book and see if my feelings are swayed. I will be open to it. I despised the book in high school but I often despise books that I read for class. I remember just being so aggravated at Gatsby and his quixotic obsessession that he somehow thought was love. But maybe that's the point.. to be frustrated and irritated at all the characters? Perhaps I just don't like tragedies.

Also, I haven't read The Five Children and It since I was a little kid. It didn't feel creepy at the time but I am sure it would feel so if I read it again. I just remember being frustrated by the "wishes-gone-awry" storyline. It's like watching an episode of I Love Lucy and watching her fall to her own demise and being able to do nothing about it but shake your head.

And yet, I love dystopian themed novels? Weird. Speaking of witch, the third Veronica Roth novel is coming out in 8 days. Woot.
Oct. 16th, 2013 11:01 pm (UTC)
I never like being told I *have* to read something, so I'm glad I didn't get assigned many books, lol. I think The Hiding Place and 20,000 leagues under the sea are the only two I remember having to read for school.

And YES, Five Children and It was just like that. Repeating the same mistake over and over - don't they ever learn?!
Oct. 14th, 2013 07:57 pm (UTC)
I Shall Wear Midnight made me cry SO MUCH. Such a perfect ending to that series!
Oct. 16th, 2013 10:58 pm (UTC)
I was not expecting all those feels. o_O
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )