Books on the Nightstand discussion

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What are you currently reading? June 2011

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Kats (Kathinka) | 131 comments Notwithstanding the fact that I'm a chaotic (or in certain people's vocab: "polybookalist" - anyone?!) reader at the best of times anyway by having at least three different books in different formats on the go, I must admit that I'm stuck with six different books right now - which is ridiculous.

So, on this long ("ascension" holiday) week-end I shall finally finish The Twin (in German: Oben ist es still) which one of my book clubs discussed in May but as I couldn't make it to the meeting anyway, the book took a backseat.
However, it is rather good - so this is #1 in June to be ticked off the massive CR (currently reading) list!

If the sun comes out again and we're heading lake-side, however, I will probably take
From This Moment On with me - just like a hardback copy of some gossip magazine.... love it!


Flora Bateman (BookwormFlo) | 189 comments I'm just now starting The Old Fox Deceiv'd. I finished up The Secret Garden which I thought was wonderful.


Eric Kibler | 964 comments Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker

I read this play, "Circle Mirror Transformation" by Annie Baker today, and I loved it!

The action of the play takes place during a six week acting class held at a community center. The characters consist of a teacher and her four students: a teenage girl, a former actress brushing up on her craft, the teacher's husband, and a recently divorced carpenter. Aside from the actress, Theresa, none of the students are actors.

The action starts with an acting exercise, the purpose of which the audience or reader may not readily understand, but take my advice and roll with it. The play finds its stride when the "actors" start to make connections with one another and to reveal themselves, becoming emotionally vulnerable in the process. It's a cliche to say so, but you WILL laugh. You WILL cry. And at certain points you'll grin like an idiot.

I once was in a production of "Hamlet" where my wife directed, and a good friend of mine, who was at that time not experienced in theater, acted as stage manager. My wife was agonizing over how all the characters in the scene would make their entrances. Finally she said, "let's discover everyone", a theater term meaning that when the scene opens, everyone is already onstage. My friend the stage manager knew just enough of wacky actor antics to interpret "Let's discover everyone" as a cue to engage in some of those touchy feely acting exercises that acting classes are renowned for. He actually raised one foot like Snagglepuss preparing to "exit, stage right" at a rapid clip, not wanting to be a part of any "sharing".

Let me just say that this play involves everything that my friend feared. But let the reader or the theatergoer have no fear. All the discovery is done by the characters in the play. Not by the reader or viewer. Yours is only to experience vicariously the pleasure, laughter, heartbreak, and wonder that these characters go through on their journey to discover themselves and each other.


Vanessa | 330 comments Kats wrote:Kats Notwithstanding the fact that I'm a chaotic (or in certain people's vocab: "polybookalist" - anyone?!) reader at the best of times anyway by having at least three different books in different formats on the go, I must admit that I'm stuck with six different books right now - which is ridiculous.

I'm having the same problem right now. I hate reading more than one book but I just wanted to read everything all at once. So, I'm still reading the graphic novel Cancer Vixen: A True Story. Plus I just started Little Altars Everywhere. I loved Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, chick lit sticker be damned (I hear the third book is a mess though.) That humid Southern gothicy setting is perfect for early summer.

And, I'm reading another book about my favorite author, John Steinbeck--A Journey into Steinbeck's California


Jessica Gridley | 8 comments I am about 1/3 into Swamplandia! by Karen Russell Swamplandia! I heard such great things about it and I am enjoying it, but the author is very descriptive and half the time I don't know what she is describing (I may or may not have had to google what a barge was haha). I wonder if anyone else had this problem or if its just me.


message 6: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 02, 2011 10:35AM) (new)

Oh, boy! it's been a while since I've chimed in as to what I'm reading, but don't worry, I'm not going to do a massive update! I'm just going to tell a little story about a book that I'm reading now, Calling Mr. King (by Ronald De Feo.) I picked up a signed ARC at BEA, which is icing on the cake as the company I work for had recently secured the audiobook rights to the title. My DH was very excited to be able to narrate it. On the plane ride home, he was laughing and chuckling his way through the book as I looked wistfully on. He asked me NOT to read it as he wanted to be able to tell me the story as we worked on it. Okaaay.... Then, still on the plane, he started cursing. It turns out he's too old to play the protagonist!

DH: "I can sound like I'm in my mid-thirties, right?"
ME: "Um, no, honey you're, um, a more mature voice..."
DH: "But..."
ME: "Let it go..."

Well, the good news is that I can now read the book (and I am!) And it *is* funny and smart. It's about a hitman who seems a little distracted with architecture at the moment...



Calling Mr. King by Ronald De Feo
Calling Mr. King (by Ronald De Feo)
Release Date: August 30, 2011


Vanessa | 330 comments Tanya, I'm positive it can't be the same guy but I saw Ronald DeFeo and thought, "Amityville Horror?"


message 8: by Santiago (last edited Jun 02, 2011 11:52AM) (new)

Santiago Cepas (santiiiii) | 13 comments Jessica wrote: "I am about 1/3 into Swamplandia! by Karen Russell Swamplandia! I heard such great things about it and I am enjoying it, but the author is very descriptive and half the time I don't know what she..."

I've just ordered the book. I usually enjoy long descriptions, as long as the author knows what she is doing, and you can see the forest for the trees from time to time. This doesn't seem to be the case for what you are saying, hope the thing improves over time.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Vanessa wrote: "Tanya, I'm positive it can't be the same guy but I saw Ronald DeFeo and thought, "Amityville Horror?""

I saw Ronald De Feo at BEA but did not take a picture so I'm not sure; but it could be the same person: Black hair, tall, thin, a bit of an esoteric and eccentric vibe?

He was very sick (nothing contagious though!) In fact, he had called in to cancel his appearance; but later showed up in the afternoon. He was very gracious and I would love to meet him when he's feeling better :-)


Ann Thackrey | 17 comments I'm reading Still Waters  A Mystery by Nigel McCrery, and it's very good, but also dark. I love the mystery and the main character, Det. Mark Lapslie. I am also finishing The Giver, which was a quick, easy read, but very thought-provoking.


Nicole (pinkrain718) | 29 comments I'm starting the month off with a book everyone has read but me: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn  by Betty Smith. My book group always includes a decade read in their monthly options so I'm able to read all the books I never got around to reading!


Jason (JasonCT) | 69 comments Just finished Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson Before I Go to Sleep and while a good read, I wouldn't say it was the most outstanding thriller that it's purported to be.
One thing the author does well is create characters that make the reader guess where their true intentions lie.
A 3* read for me. If you're interested in reading more, my review can be found here: http://wp.me/pTRJE-6E


Jason (JasonCT) | 69 comments @ Ann - I rather enjoyed STILL WATERS myself. Watch your fingers ;)


Ann (akingman) | 2023 comments Mod
Vanessa, Tanya, doesn't appear to be any connection between the two Ronald De Feo's. I wasn't aware of the Amityville Horror connection with anyone of that name, but here's a link to the author's bio:

http://www.lukeman.com/BiosF/defeo.htm

As far as I can tell from google, the Amityville DeFeo is still in prison.


message 15: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 02, 2011 11:42PM) (new)

Ann wrote: "Vanessa, Tanya, doesn't appear to be any connection between the two Ronald De Feo's."

I'm so embarrassed! The reference to the Ronald De Feo of The Amityville Horror infamy had actually escaped me, despite my having listened to the audio edition fairly recently! I wasn't really sure what Vanessa had been referring to and I had proceeded to reply regardless. I sometimes astound myself in my obtuseness :-(


Vanessa | 330 comments Hah!I'm the one bringing up an obtuse reference. It just caught my attention because Ronald DeFeo is kind of an unusual name. It's weird how some things get stuck in your head.


Ann Thackrey | 17 comments Jason wrote: "@ Ann - I rather enjoyed STILL WATERS myself. Watch your fingers ;)"

Jason, Thanks! I am really enjoying Still Waters also. Seems there is more than one mystery involved. Although it's not a true "whodunit", you don't know who the murderer really is and strange things happen during the investigation. I love mysteries, especially British ones!


Robin (mcrobusaolcom) | 189 comments Jessica wrote: "I am about 1/3 into Swamplandia! by Karen Russell Swamplandia! I heard such great things about it and I am enjoying it, but the author is very descriptive and half the time I don't know what she..."

I read this, but could not get into it. I think the writing was good, the story just lost me. May be I was in a funky mood. Had heard so much about it and was looking forward to reading it.


Ellie (EllieArcher) Vanessa wrote: "Kats wrote:Kats Notwithstanding the fact that I'm a chaotic (or in certain people's vocab: "polybookalist" - anyone?!) reader at the best of times anyway by having at least three different books in..."

I wish I'd read this before I posted on another thread: I feel so foolish but this made me feel a little better. I'm currently reading: Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov Death of a Dentist (Hamish Macbeth, #13) by M.C. Beaton The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber Tonio Kröger by Thomas Mann The Bookman's Promise  A Cliff Janeway Novel by John Dunning The Queen of Patpong  A Poke Rafferty Thriller by Timothy Hallinan All Souls Day by Cees Nooteboom Moloka'i by Alan Brennert and am about to start (for 2 different book clubs) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and The Pillars of the Earth  by Ken Follett.

I'm generally a multi-book reader but even for me this is excessive. My nightstand is breaking! Help!


Ann Thackrey | 17 comments I finished Still Waters: A Mystery yesterday, and highly recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries. It is creepy and dark, but very suspenseful. I could hardly put it down.
I just started Cutting for Stone  by Abraham Verghese and already know it will be excellent. I knew it would be good based on Ann's recommendations on the podcasts. It was also one of the top ten favorite books for 2009 for BOTNS -another reason I know it will be great!


Callie (calliekl) | 637 comments I picked up Dreams of Joy: A Novel last night, and it is so wonderful already. I absolutely adored Shanghai Girls, and I have been waiting anxiously for the sequel ever since it was announced. It is already better than expected!


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Last night I re-read Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi. At risk of projecting too much into it, I would posit that it's definitely a sophisticated story with layers of meaning and themes to it. On the surface, it's about an old man in Afghanistan who is traveling with his grandson to the coal mines where his own son works. When I read it the first time, I was struck with the idea that it was about grief. Now I'm reading it and seeing it can be about identity and so much more too. I now have The Patience Stone on hand. I've read this one before too (as well as listened to the audio as narrated by Carolyn Seymour) and I'm curious to see if the ideas about identity that took seed while I was reading Earth and Ashes will bear out in this novel also. The Patience Stone is about a woman who is taking care of her husband. Sitting by his bedside while he lies comatose, she initially prays for him; but the prayers eventually give way to one-way conversations. I'll probably finish this tomorrow night and then move on to Atiq Rahimi's A Thousand Rooms of Dreams and Fear. In reading Atiq Rahimi one is aware that there's the story and then, there's the transcendent truth beyond it.

Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi
Earth and Ashes
by Atiq Rahimi

The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi
The Patience Stone
by Atiq Rahimi

A Thousand Rooms of Dreams and Fear by Atiq Rahimi
A Thousand Rooms of Dreams and Fear
by Atiq Rahimi


Jason (JasonCT) | 69 comments I just finished The Devil She Knows  A Novel by Bill Loehfelm The Devil She Knows: A Novel and I really loved it.
If you're a fan of crime fiction that is somewhat dark and gritty (think of gangsters in the 40's and lots of men wearing fedoras) this book is for you!
Would love to see the books main character Maureen have a series.
If you're interested my review can be found here: http://wp.me/pTRJE-6W


Marie Montondo | 4 comments I just finished Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. I liked it enough, but wasn't as impressed as I thought I might be, given Ann's rave reviews. I'm moving to Scotland in a few months, though so thought it might get me excited (if you want to read a book about the Jacobite rising in Scotland, though, I would recommend White Rose Rebel, which has a more impressive female protagonist and is written by a Scottish woman!)

And, after putting it off for ages, I finally started reading The Hunger Games just 2 nights ago, and only have a chapter to go! I love it!


Linda | 1494 comments Mod
I just finished Zeitoun by Dave Eggers by Dave Eggers.

I was livid through the second half of the book.
The story of Zeitoun who immigrated from Syria, married an American-born convert to Islam, has a family, develops his own remodeling, handy-person business and is known through New Orleans when Katrina threatens the city. Kathy, his wife, leaves town with the kids while Zeitoun stays behind for to protect his properties. Through the first part of the book, we learn the true character of Zeitoun. The second part of the book made me shudder due to the character that our government showed Mr. Zeitoun.

I have now started Ghost Rider  Travels on the Healing Road by Neil Peart by Rush's Neil Peart.


Flora Bateman (BookwormFlo) | 189 comments I'm currently reading The Three Musketeers which has been fun so far. I'm also about 1/4 of the way into The Fall and I've just started on The Scientific 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Scientists, Past and Present which has been interesting.


Paul (pdmalt) | 44 comments Linda wrote: "I just finished Zeitoun by Dave Eggers by Dave Eggers.

I was livid through the second half of the book.
The story of Zeitoun who immigrated from Syria, married an American-born convert to Is..."


I felt the same way. To think that such a travesty could occur in a country that so highly values freedom is mind-boggling!


Vanessa | 330 comments Ellie wrote:I wish I'd read this before I posted on another thread: I feel so foolish but this made me feel a little

WOW. That is quite the list.

I just finished Timothy Hallinan's first book in that series, A Nail Through the Heart. It was ok but I thought the characters were kind of wooden. Do you think the series improves? (btw, I love John Burdett's Thailand mystery series.)

Someone has been trying to get me to read The Master and Margarita. They even gave me their old copy. And a stack of Vonnegut after I said I wasn't blown away by Cat's Cradle and now that stack sits and taunts me. I think I'll move it to the spare bedroom so I don't have to look at it.


Callie (calliekl) | 637 comments I read The Master and Margarita a couple years ago. I found it kind of enjoyable, but super bizarre. I think the translation I had was not such a good one, because I know other people got way more out of it than I did.


Vanessa | 330 comments We have lots of conversations about translation quality in my book group. It really does make or break the book.

I've been told the one to look for (and really for any Russian lit) is the Pevear/Volokhonsky version.


Kate | 216 comments I finished House Arrest: A Novel and really enjoyed it. As a nurse practitioner, I felt the whole story really resonated with many accurate details. Still continuing Mr. Peanut which is mesmerizing, but a little bleak. And after that something lighter to get in the mood for summer!


Jason (JasonCT) | 69 comments Hi everyone!
I just finished Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington Alice Bliss and WOW. This is a gem of a book. A coming of age tale that is so moving.
I had a reading first with this book, in that I actually cried during the final scene. It was 2am and there I was sitting on the edge of the bed with sobbing tears. Never had it happen before.
But Alice is a moving young woman.
A def. and rare 5* read for me.

If you're interested my review can be found here: http://wp.me/pTRJE-75


message 33: by Jason (last edited Jun 07, 2011 05:26PM) (new)

Jason (com4) | 2 comments I just finished The Dharma Bums and enjoyed it well enough. I have now decided to see what happens at the other end of the spectrum by starting The Pale King.


Linda | 1494 comments Mod
Finished Here We Go Again by Betty White on audio. Light, breezy, typical Betty White. On to Dewey  The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron


Melissa W (melissawiebe80) | 174 comments Still reading Outlander (Outlander, #1) by Diana Gabaldon, but am almost finished with The Book Of Negroes by Lawrence Hill(which is an engrossing read) and have started The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

I finished up A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear by Atiq Rahimi yesterday. Remember how I said I was re-reading Rahimi with the idea of looking at the theme of identity? Well, something else entirely caught my attention. In Earth and Ashes, there's story told within the book that presents the idea that in order for a happy ending to occur, a sacrifice must be made. In many stories I've read, the sacrifice is always made by the antagonist, which always makes for a satisfying close. But what happens when the sacrifice must be made by one of the good guys? Essentially, this is the heart of injustice and is more realistic then the HEA tales many of us consume at different levels. Anyway, in "A Thousand Rooms," the story involves a young Afghan in 1979 who is stopped after curfew on the streets of Kabul and beaten badly, A young woman retrieves him from the gutter and brings him into her home... This is an fairly keen exposition of the theme of injustice and a little heartbreaking. There's a glossary at the end of the book which I would recommend actually reading *before* the story.

Now I'm reading The 52nd Poem by Thomas Trofimuk. The story is about a guy who breaks up with one woman, starts a relationship with another; but continues to write poetry to the former. Over the course of a year (one poem a week) his feelings change and to whom he actually writes his 52nd poem is revealed at the end of the book. I've had a literary crush on Thomas Trofimuk ever since Waiting for Columbus and ordered this book two years ago. I'm not sure why I've waited so long! I have to say, for those interested in the physical form of print copies, it's gorgeous. The predominantly blue cover has a cut-out window with the title appearing within and, the pages are creamy and deckle-edged :-)


A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear by Atiq Rahimi
A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear
by Atiq Rahimi

Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi
Earth and Ashes
by Atiq Rahimi

The 52nd Poem by Thomas Trofimuk
The 52nd Poem
by Thomas Trofimuk

Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk
Waiting for Columbus
by Thomas Trofimuk


message 37: by Amy (last edited Jun 08, 2011 06:00AM) (new)

Amy | 452 comments Currently I am reading A Visit from the Goon Squad for the Goodreads challenge and Food Rules. I got notice from the libray that Sweet Valley Confidential is ready for me (can't wait to go back to Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High days!). Then I will be on to House Arrest for the BOTNS discussion this month. Not sure how much extra time I have this month, but the next book up is Sarah's Key. If I don't get this one started by the end of June, I'll have to start July with Summer Crossing for my book club.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan Food Rules  An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan Sweet Valley Confidential  Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal House Arrest  A Novel by Ellen Meeropol Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay


Flora Bateman (BookwormFlo) | 189 comments Just now starting The Peach Keeper


nancy (npjacoby) | 250 comments In the middle of Three Stages of Amazement and I really like it.
Finished Secrets of Eden (on audio)...loved listening to it..very surprising ending
starting The Snowman on Audio today


Robin (mcrobusaolcom) | 189 comments Reading The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obrehtand A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer EganGee. It is really hot in NJ today. Guess I'll just have to stay IN AND READ.


Robin (mcrobusaolcom) | 189 comments Did I ever say I LOVE BOTNS? I do. Michael and Ann, thank you for all the great stuff you do, and thank you for all that you read and share. You both are marvelous!


message 42: by Claire (last edited Jun 09, 2011 09:03AM) (new)

Claire (Clairebear8) | 34 comments I'm finishing up Jane Eyre(started it last month and loving it. I can't believe its taken me this long to read this! Not sure what I'll start next.


Katharine | 4 comments Oh, so jealous of someone reading Jane Eyre for the first time... I just started The Widower's Tale, by Julia Glass.


Ann (akingman) | 2023 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "Did I ever say I LOVE BOTNS? I do. Michael and Ann, thank you for all the great stuff you do, and thank you for all that you read and share. You both are marvelous!"

Oh, thank you so much. :)


Flora Bateman (BookwormFlo) | 189 comments Finished The Peach Keeper and really loved it. I've moved on to Divergent which is really good so far.


Jay Bullman | 128 comments I finished up Little Children. Tom Perrota hasn't failed me yet. I really enjoyed this. You can feel the frustration and boredom oozing from every character.
I'm moving on to The Death and Life of Bobby Z. Don Winslow is another one of those authors that just ties me to a runaway train and doesn't stop until I hit the last page.

On the graphic novel front I read Morning Glories Vol. 1: For A Better Futurewhich I'm not sure that I really liked but am fascinated to find out what happens next. I also read Jonah Hex, Volume 7: Lead Poisoningwhich was another helping of gritty western goodness. If you like westerns at all I beg you to check these out. I'm now starting with Batgirl: The Flood.


Shannon B | 78 comments I am currently reading The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon, great read so far!

I love seeing what everyone else is reading! My to-read grows each time I log on!


Vanessa | 330 comments I'm enjoying my stint as a literary polyamorist these days (really, we have to come up with a word for this and trademark it!)

I'm still reading A Journey into Steinbeck's California, which is giving me so much information about the locations and people that inspired Steinbeck's writing, plus there are lots of pictures. It's piqued my interest in the ArtPlace series which has lots of other offerings: Michelangelo's Rome, the Transcendentalist's New England, Dorothy Parker's New York. I'm going to hold out for Faulkner's Mississippi.

I'm reading The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris which is written by a guy who gives literary walking tours of Paris. I wouldn't normally read two travel books at the same time but this one is due back at the library soon.

And I'm reading Batman: The Dark Knight Returns which I haven't read since it came out and then only in pieces at someone's house.


Paul (pdmalt) | 44 comments I just began Cleopatra: A Life and am already hooked.


Vanessa | 330 comments Jay wrote:On the graphic novel front I read Morning Glories Vol. 1: For A Better Futurewhich I'm not sure that I really liked but am fascinated to find out what happens next.

BTW, I will check these graphic novels out. I hadn't heard of Morning Glories but I'll try it. It looks, on the surface, a little like the Runaways which is a series I sorely miss.


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