Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

Looking Ahead….

It’s been a busy week here, so my reading has been very slow. I’m plowing through Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy at the moment. I like the book, but I find myself getting confused by the names that are so similar; as we shift between scenes, it takes a few minutes for me to figure out where we are in each plot line. I think if I had more time to sit down and read in larger chunks, it might be easier going.  I’m about 200 pages into this 650 page work. Things are just beginning to get interesting. I expect to give you a full review by the end of the week.

A few days ago, I received a note from my niece (also a book lover) telling me that she just couldn’t get her nose out of the Jodi Picoult novel I had recommended. She then asked if all of her books were this good. I assured her that Picoult was one of my favorite living writers and that she should check out all of her novels. That discussion got me to thinking about some of the book releases that I am anxiously awaiting.  At the top of my list is Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult!  (No surprise there!) Jodi’s works have been appearing in February or March of each year.  For a brief synopsis of the book, you can check out Picoult’s website here.  The other release that has me on pins and needles is Ken Follett’s Edge of Eternity, the final volume of his Century Trilogy.  I’m gonna have to be really patient for this one……it’s not schedule for release until late 2014.

What author’s books do you have to get your hands on as soon as they are released?  Share in the comments section below.

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Reading Update

I’m still not happy with exactly how the format of this blog is turning out. Although I don’t plan on writing daily, I do want to provide some sort of routine update to how the reading is going rather than just waiting to post reviews. So……here’s the first update of my reading life.

My intentions were to read An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser while flying back and forth to Los Angeles. The travel didn’t happen (because of illness), but I still started the novel. I don’t know if the problem was how I was feeling or the writing. I struggled through 50 pages and knew this book simply had to be put away.  There are too many good books to read instead.

This morning, I returned my borrowed books to the Memphis Public Library and selected three more to dive into.  This week is all about making progress related to some personal reading projects.

At the top of the stack is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. This book is the final installment in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first two novels and had never gotten around to reading the last one.  The time has come to finish the adventures of these characters.

When I heard of the death of novelist Tom Clancy, I immediately knew that I wanted to read one of his novels. I tend to steer clear of these big, masculine thrillers. Because Clancy’s work has become such a part of mainstream culture, I decided I owed it to myself to give one of his works a try. Although I contemplated reading one of his lesser known novels, I opted for his 1989 work Clear and Present Danger. This 656 page tome looks really intimidating for some reason. As long as I don’t get tied up in minute details, I think I’ll be fine.

The last treasure in today’s haul is a biography of the Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn.  I’m not certain what I expect to learn from it, but I have committed to including biographies of composers and musicians as part of my reading diet.

I’ve always wanted to read through the major classics of Western literature. I have read many of them throughout my years of school. I was probably too young for many that I read during high school; in college, I was searching for a way to get through the books as quickly as possible rather than lathering in their beauty.  So, I’m in search of a list that can help guide me through my reading of the classics. It won’t exclusively dictate my reading; the list will merely be a project that I’ll work my way through in the coming years.

What are you reading now? I’m always looking for good recommendations from friends. Do you know of a list (other than the Time Magazine list of 100 important novels of the 20th century) that I might consider? I’m hoping to find something like “The 50 Novels Every Educated Person Should Read.” We’ll see what I find…..and I’ll make sure that I share!

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#42: Savannah (John Jakes)

I was first introduced to John Jakes’ work in junior high school.  I was doing an independent study in American history and the coordinator recommended I read the Kent Family Chronicles. Looking back on that recommendation, I’m still surprised; even though the history was fascinating, the novel was a bit too mature in content for my young mind. Since then, I’ve always been fascinated by Jakes’ works but have never really taken the opportunity to dive in.  This week, I visited a city that I dearly love — Savannah, Georgia — only this time I traveled there during the closing months of the Civil War as told by John Jakes.

Savannah is enthralling as a historical narrative. The details of the war leap from the page. The reader is horrified at the suffering of the innocents at the hands of Union and Confederate soldiers. As a story, however, I found myself wanting more. After reading 100 pages, I was tempted to set the book aside and start something new. The only thing that caused me to push ahead was the realization that there were less than 200 pages remaining. In those final pages, the historical accounts took a backseat to the tribulations faced by the central characters. THIS is what I appreciate about John Jakes’ novels. He is a master storyteller; I simply wish he would get the story rolling a bit sooner.

It’s always been on my bucket list to read the Kent Family Chronicles in its entirety; I still plan to do so, but I’m not feeling an intense desire to start after reading Savannah. If you’ve had a better experience with the works of John Jakes, I’d love to hear about it. I’m willing to give him another chance. I just need a recommendation of which book offers the best storytelling.

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#41: O Pioneers! (Willa Cather)

As a student, I remember enjoying reading My Antonia by Cather. I’ve always intended to read more of her works, but have never gotten around to it. This week, I stumbled across O Pioneers! on the library bookshelf and decided the time had come to revisit Cather.

O Pioneers! is the story of a farming family in Nebraska. After her father’s death, Alexandra finds herself with the responsibility of leading the family business, much to the chagrin of her older brothers. Despite difficulty and tragedy, Alexandra chooses to remain faithful to the land she inherited in hopes that her younger brother might have more choices in the future. Although the plot itself is rather simple, the novel is considered a masterpiece.

One of the major characters of O Pioneers! is the land itself. The land can be at times beautiful before suddenly taking on a vengeful, depressing air. Man’s inability to control the land (and by extension, man’s future) is a recurring theme of the novel. Personally, I loved how Cather finally stated this idea in the voice of Alexandra at the novel’s conclusion:  “We come and go, but the land is always here.  And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it — for a little while.” (Cather, O Pioneers!, 158)

Was this one of my favorite reads of the year? Probably not. Am I glad that I read it? Definitely. If you’re in the mood for beautiful word play from one of America’s leading female authors, take a chance and check out O Pioneers!

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