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What did you read last month? > What I read ~~ December 2012

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message 1: by Alias Reader (last edited Dec 30, 2012 08:10AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments Here is a folder for you to list the books you read in December 2012

Please provide:
~ A GoodRead link
~ A few sentences telling us how you felt about the book.
~ How would you rate the book


message 2: by Alias Reader (last edited Dec 30, 2012 08:21AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments I didn't read much in December. However I did surpass my year goal of 52 book.


I read 54 books in 2012
33 Nonfiction
21 Fiction

My December reads were:

Theodore Roosevelt by Michael L. Cooper Theodore Roosevelt
By Michael L. Cooper
Part of the Up Close series
Non-fiction
YA
Rate 5/5
This young adult book was very good. It was clear, concise and well written. Well done or as TR would say, Bully !

Remembering Manzanar Life in a Japanese Relocation Camp by Michael L. Cooper Remembering Manzanar: Life in a Japanese Relocation Camp
By Michael L. Cooper
Non-fiction
YA
Rate 4/5
This YA book is a very simple 65 page look at one of the ten Japanese interment camps that was set up after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. To this day, people make an annual pilgrimage to the camp. The name of the camp is Manzanar. And to this day people make an annual pilgrimage to the camp. Slender though it may be, it was very interesting. I knew very little about the forced, mass evacuation of all people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast during WWII. Elementary thought the book may be, I still learned quite a bit. The amazing photos in the book are by the famous photographer Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange. The photos alone make the book fascinating. I didn't realize the book was a very young adult book when I requested it from the library. However, I am glad that I decided to still read it.

Following Atticus Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship
By Tom Ryan
Nonfiction
Rate: 3/5
The author and his dog Atticus climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire's four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. Tom and Atticus have a very strong bond. The story became a bit too repetitious and dragged out for me. The book easily could have been cut by 50 pages. I felt the book needed more action. I liked the book. I didn’t love it.
Here is the You Tube Trailer for the book.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA41sU...


message 3: by Michele (new)

Michele Weiner | 161 comments I read too much this month, which is a sort of weather report! I wasn't outside quite as much as usual. I tried reading some lighter fare, but some of my choices were unsatisfying. Here goes.
A Question of Identity I love police procedurals featuring quirky detectives, but this one was boring. There was not a single character I could get into, and no suspense, either.
HHhHI've had kind of a thing lately about Heydrich's assassination in Prague. Binet states the facts of Heydrich's life and death, but spends much time talking about the difficulty of writing a good biography. What do you do when you want to humanize your subject, but you don't actually know what he said to his wife before he left that morning, etc. After I read this one, I read Like a Man by David Chacko, an actual historical fiction that was far better than HHhH.

Sweet Tooth got a lot of positive hype, but I thought it was mediocre. It's about a young girl named Serena who becomes an MI5 secretary and then an operative and her life and loves. I didn't like it much, though there was quite a twist at the end.
The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau This book I enjoyed. The story of one incredible man, and how many more could be told about those brave men who fight our wars. Inspiring, really.
The Twelve A little dystopian sic-fi vampire tale that is the second in a planned series of three. I liked the first one mildly, but this was not up to standard. It read like James Michener with bloody stuff. I will not be reading Book 3.
The Testament of Mary The imagined tale of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and how she may have felt about him and his work. Interesting, and it sure provoked my bible-studying Christian friend!
Love BombFunny book about suburban southern New Jersey (not so far from my home town in central NJ) and a terrorist bride who shows up at a wedding and takes all the guests hostage. I liked it, so I won't tell you what happens next.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour BookstoreAgain, a funny book that had lots of good writing, clever observations, Google satire and an occult mystery. Light fare, but good.
Defending Jacob I'm sure many of you have read this. It was a book club read for me, and as the group's designated contrarian, I fulfilled expectations by not liking it as much as the group did. It's about a young man who may or may not have committed a murder, his father the prosecutor and his mother the psychologist. But it has some junk science in it that I took exception to. It's not badly written, but I'm not the biggest fan.
Der Hundertjährige, der aus dem Fenster stieg und verschwand This is the link they gave me, but I read it in English, not German, and it's about a Swedish man who decides on his hundredth birthday to jump out the window and run away from the nursing home he has been assigned to live at after he blew up his house while taking revenge on a fox. It's a very funny book about his adventures. This book is too big to describe. The old man, Allan, has particpated like Zelig in lots of big moments and met lots of big men. In between he'd been subjected to medical experiments, been exiled to the Gulag, and tortured in Iran. It's a great book if you don't want reality to intrude. Loved it.
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? I read the reviews when this one came out, and marked it to watch. Then while researching Julian Barnes for a book club, I came across the fact that the author of this book had a homosexual affair with the wife of Julian Barnes back in the 90's, so I that tipped the scales. I didn't take to her style of writing. Very ideosynchratic world view (I think I spelled that wrong) and lots of justifying her way of looking at things. Bored me.
Finally, I read the first two books in the Patrick Melrose series by St.Aubyn. They are very short, wonderfully written descriptions of a dysfunctional British upper class family. In the first, Never Mind, Patrick is five. The family is at their farmhouse in France, entertaining others of their ilk. Something startling happens and changes the whole flavor of the book. Then Bad Time visits Patrick at age 22, on a trip to NYC to retrieve the body of his father, who had died on a visit there. Patrick has mixed emotions about his father, and the book covers the three or four days he was in NYC. It's stunning, I think, but not in a happy way. I am saving the rest for when I get done with my obligation reading (for book clubs and to review for Book Browse).


message 4: by Alias Reader (last edited Dec 30, 2012 10:31AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments Michele wrote: The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau This book I enjoyed. The story of one incredible man, and how many more could be told about those brave men who fight our wars. Inspiring, really
----------

This sounds amazing, Michele. I've added it to my mile long TBR list.

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Michele wrote: Defending Jacob I'm sure many of you have read this. It was a book club read for me, and as the group's designated contrarian, I fulfilled expectations by not liking it as much as the group did.
---------

Michele, you made me lol. That is also my role in my f2f bookclub.

I think I am going to borrow/steal that phrase. Looking over my book jnl for the year there wasn't one book they choose that I could say I really liked. I like going to the meetings. It's a night out. But I really am going to reconsider finishing books that give me agita.
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Michele wrote: The Testament of Mary The imagined tale of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and how she may have felt about him and his work. Interesting, and it sure provoked my bible-studying Christian friend!
------------
This sounds interesting. Since it is under 100 pages, I'm going to put it on my TBR list. Thanks for the title!

I enjoyed reading your reviews very much, Michele !


message 5: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments I read very little this month due to the holiday preparation and out of state guests.

I read 145 books for 2012.

December read --
The Black Violin by Maxence Fermine The Black Violin by Maxence Fermine Beautiful writing. 4/5

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. Great characters, well done. 4/5

The Life of Our Lord Written for His Children During the Years 1846 to 1849 by Charles Dickens The Life of Our Lord: Written for His Children During the Years 1846 to 1849 by Charles Dickens.Dickens wrote this for his young children, never meant to be published. 4/5

Remarkable Creatures  by Tracy Chevalier Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. Very interesting story of two single spinsters who collected fossils of fish on the beach in the 19th century. 4/5

Dear Life Stories by Alice Munro Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro. Preferred Runaway, 3/5.

An Old-Fashioned Girl (Puffin Classics) by Louisa May Alcott An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott. Moralist story directed to young girls. 3/5

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.20th century England clones lives.

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. Classic, loved the short story "A Christmas Memory" in the back of the book.

Writing a Woman's Life (Ballantine Reader's Circle) by Carolyn G. Heilbrun Writing a Woman's Life by Carolyn G. Heilbrun. Great resource. 4/5

just finishing this #146
Christmas Holiday by W. Somerset Maugham Christmas Holiday by W. Somerset Maugham


message 6: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Carol wrote: "I read very little this month due to the holiday preparation and out of state guests..."

10 books is reading very little?? Wow! That's a busy month for me. LOL.


message 7: by Amy (last edited Dec 30, 2012 02:28PM) (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments I also surpassed my reading goal of 75 books this year.
Books read: 95
69 fiction
26 nonfiction

My December reads were as follows:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See: Set in 19th-century China, in a remote Hunan county. Two young girls are paired as "laotongs," an officially sanctioned friend/relationship that is made for the purpose of emotional companionship and eternal fidelity. The book follows the lives of these two girls from the early 1820s until 1903. It details the physical and psychological pain of foot binding; the suffering of women of the time, who were treated as property; the terrible trek up the mountains to escape from the horrors of the Taiping Revolution; the painful return back down the mountain; and all of the emotional aspects of their "best friends" relationship. An interesting read. 3/5 stars.

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan: Set in a fictional Red Lobster restarant in New Britain, CT, the book follows the restaurant’s crew on its last day before corporate headquarters closes the branch for good. A rather melancholy read, but good. I enjoy O'Nan's works. 3/5 stars.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova: A tale of a woman who suffers from a condition called "left neglected," a brain injury in which the patient loses the ability to perceive anything coming from the left side of the body. At the beginning of the book, she is is the quintessential multitasking suburban Boston parent who works 24/7 as a consulting firm executive, who mothers when she's not sending text messages, and who is verging on a nervous breakdown. And then, making a business call while driving, she's in a car accident that leaves her brain damaged. The remainder of the book is about slowing down, her recovery, getting her life in order and taking care of the many other things she "left neglected" before the accident --i.e. her family and herself. A good read. 3.5/5 stars.

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan: A fairly standard novel about the secrets and simmering emotions of one dysfunctional family over the course of a single summer month spent in Maine. 3/5 stars.

Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon: My favorite read this month. The book stems from an article that Solomon wrote in 1994 about deafness. In the course of researching the article, he realized that many issues confronting the deaf are not unlike those he has faced as a gay man. The book grew to include chapters on dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, disability, prodigies, transgender identity, children who are conceived during a rape and those who become criminals. Each chapter includes the stories of families in which children and their parents struggle with identity. Unlike families in which identity is vertically passed through generations — i.e., being Catholic, Jewish, Greek, etc., — in these families the child belongs, by accident of birth, to a horizontal identity group, one composed instead of other people who share her/his difference. The author interweaves individual families’ tales with wider meditations on science, medicine, psychology, and philosophy. It was a truly fascinating read, and one that really made me think. Highly recommended. 4.5/5 stars.


message 8: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments Carol wrote: "I read very little this month due to the holiday preparation and out of state guests.

I read 145 books for 2012.

----------------

Congratulations on the 145 books, Carol. That is quite an accomplishment. Especially since you read quality books.

I agree with Ethan Frome. I loved the writing in that book. It was my first taste of Wharton. I will definitely read more.

I know you said it was a slow month for you, but to me, you had a terrific December. Well done!

I enjoyed reading your comments on the books you read this month. Thanks so much for sharing with the group.


message 9: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments Amy wrote: "I also surpassed my reading goal of 75 books this year.
Books read: 95
69 fiction
26 nonfiction

Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon: My favorite read this month.


---------------
Well done on surpassing your year goal, Amy! And congratulations on a fine December.

All the reviews for Far From the Tree I've read have all been very positive. Glad to see you thought so, too.

I enjoyed reading your reviews. Thanks for sharing.


message 10: by Carol (last edited Dec 30, 2012 05:18PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Amy wrote: "Carol wrote: "10 books is reading very little?? Wow! That's a busy month for me. LOL."

It's very easy when you can't work.

I read The World We Found and thought it ended abruptly & could have a sequel. I will have to read Last Night at the Lobster since it is in New Britain, CT. I also liked Still Alice (my mother-in-law Alice is dealing with this) and Honolulu by Alan Brennert. If you like his work check out Moloka'i.


message 11: by Connie (last edited Dec 30, 2012 09:03PM) (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 285 comments Carol and Amy, I read Last Night at the Lobster in a library bookgroup. Stewart O'Nan used to live in Avon, CT, and he based his book on the closing of the Torrington Red Lobster restaurant nearby.

I've liked all of Lisa Genova's books, but Still Alice was my favorite. When I read it in a library bookgroup, the middle-aged members loved it since they were dealing with Alzheimer's Disease in their parents. It scared the over 70 year old members since many of them had some minimal memory loss. It was very difficult for the older members to finish the book.


message 12: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments O'Nan lived in Avon . . . small world! I did not realize that he was the one who advertised in The Hartford Courant regarding the 1944 Hartford Circus Fire -- my dad was fortunate to survive.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hartford...


message 13: by Connie (last edited Dec 30, 2012 09:33PM) (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 285 comments Carol wrote: "O'Nan lived in Avon . . . small world! I did not realize that he was the one who advertised in The Hartford Courant regarding the 1944 Hartford Circus Fire -- my dad was fortunate to survive.
http..."


What a scary experience for your father! Did O'Nan interview your Dad?

O'Nan lived in Avon until 2 years ago, then moved to west to Michigan (or around that area).


message 14: by Amy (last edited Dec 31, 2012 08:12AM) (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments O'Nan wrote The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy. If you haven't read it, you should--it's very good. My husband is a firefighter in Norwich, and he collects books about fires and firefighting. O'Nan's is one of the best I've read on the subject. Especially poignant since the circus fire happened in our home state, and you can picture the Hartford streets that are mentioned.

Carol--I have read both "Honolulu" and "Moloka'i." I agree--they are both good reads. And Connie--I agree with you about "Still Alice." That's my favorite of Lisa Genova's works so far. I had tears in my eyes by the end of it.


message 15: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Connie wrote: "Carol wrote: "my dad was fortunate to survive..."

No he didn't. He is a quiet guy, had a difficult childhood so he's not much of a talker.


message 16: by Michele (new)

Michele Weiner | 161 comments Fascinating group and book lists this month. I feel like a slacker. Thanks to you all for taking the time to let us bibliophiles know what you're up to. So impressive.


message 17: by Maicie (last edited Dec 31, 2012 08:29PM) (new)

Maicie | 25 comments I fell short of my reading goals this year. I blame this new grandparenting thing. Then I thought I could beef up my reading list by adding some of the books I've been reading to my one-year-old grandson. I am not above cheating!

Kiddo books:
Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball. 4 stars. Adorable.

Bubble Bubble by Jack Tickle. 5 stars. Board book with gurgling sound. Makes the car trip to the grocery store tolerable.

Wings by Salina Yoon. 5 stars. First book my grandson ate...a very high recommendation from a baby.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?. 4 stars. A classic.

Walter the Farting Dog. 4 stars. Gigglefest.

Everyone Poops. 5 stars. Heaven help me. This is my grandson's favorite book.

Zombie in Love. 5 stars. Wonderful zombies-in-love story.

Goodnight Moon. 4 stars. Can you believe my grandson does NOT like this book? I had to rate it for him.

Buzz-Buzz, Busy Bees (Mini Edition): An Animal Sounds Book. 4 stars. Another great board book with sound.

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My books. Some are just as juvenile as my grandson's books but with more pages!!!

Red Dragon. 4 stars. The book is every bit as scary as the movie.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler. 3 stars. Juvenile fiction. I didn't enjoy this as much as other readers but I'll keep this one in mind when my grandson gets older.

Before I Go To Sleep. 3 stars. A woman suffers an injury that causes her memories to be erased everytime she falls asleep. Interesting story but parts of the plot were improbable.

River of Heaven. 4 stars. More of a 3.5 star book but it was a page turner so I rounded up. A story where past and present collide.

Quarantine: A Novel. 3 stars. Historical fiction. The details about how a quanantine shuts down a sea port in 1796 were very good. The character development was less than ideal.

The Art of Fielding. 4 stars. Highly recommend. I admit I skimmed that baseball parts (ugh) but the story is top-notch. I don't usually read series or sequels but if this author writes a follow-up book you can count me in.

The Night Circus. 4 stars. Romantic Fantasy. Not my usual genre but this book amazing. The tale of two magicians, a circus and a deadly competition.

The Art of Racing in the Rain. 5 tearstained stars. My favorite read of the month. Narrated by a dog who is owned by a race car driver. Again, I skimmed the car parts but the dog is everything I want my husband to be. Highly recommend.


message 18: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Maicie--the children's books count! Of course they count! Especially since they are paired with quality cuddle time with your grandson. :)

I also really enjoyed "The Art of Fielding." I have been avoiding "The Night Circus," for some reason. It's good to hear that you liked it. Maybe I'll give it another look-see.


message 19: by Alias Reader (last edited Jan 01, 2013 01:27PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments Maicie wrote: I skimmed the car parts but the dog is everything I want my husband to be.
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Maicie you win Most Amusing Reviews this month ! I love your comments on the kiddie books.

And your Art of Racing in the Rain review literally made me lol.

Thanks for sharing your December reads with us.


message 20: by Susan from MD (last edited Jan 01, 2013 04:07PM) (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments I finished Soul Mountain and parts were excellent while other parts were disturbing in a way that I could not get past. This is the story of a man who thought he was going to die but then found out that he was misdiagnosed. He went on a journey that was at once inspirational and self-indulgent; prepare yourself for the rape and subjugation of women if you read this one. I gave it a 3.5/5 because I couldn't deal with how women were portrayed in much of the book. My review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

I think I'm off to read Everyone Poops ... or Walter the Farting Dog! Hee!


Carolyn (in SC) C234D | 82 comments Very enjoyable post, Maicie!


message 22: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments Susan wrote: I think I'm off to read Everyone Poops ... or Walter the Farting Dog! Hee!
-------
:) Sounds like the ticket after such a difficult read.


message 23: by Sumofparts (last edited Jan 02, 2013 08:32PM) (new)

Sumofparts | 37 comments Enjoyed everyone's posts as usual and also as usual, added more books to my to-read list, yay!

My reads for December
Beijing Confidential: A Tale of Comrades Lost and Found in the New Forbidden City by Jan Wong
3 stars
Interesting look at how Beijing and China have changed since the Cultural Revolution as well as telling the story of the author's search for a person she reported to the authorities when she was studying at Beijing University in the 1970s and the story of that person's life after being turned in. The book was published in 2007 and between that time and when I visited Beijing in October 2011, there seemed to be more changes so some of the observations already felt a little dated but the book also opened my eye to things I hadn't noticed since I was getting a much more distant view (I was with a tour group while the author had friends taking her around and had lived in Beijing for longer periods of time). Also, some of the author's observations in comparing Toronto and Beijing seemed off from my perspective (I'm also from Toronto); I think this could be partly because she was making observations assuming a certain audience.

Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirre
4 stars
Book description from the Goodreads entry: A gripping, darkly comic first-hand account of a young underground revolutionary during the Pinochet dictatorship in 1980s Chile.

I've been meaning to read this book all year and I'm glad I read it because it was really eye-opening and made me realize how much I take for granted. I liked how the author described her life as a revolutionary, "warts and all", and admire her and her family for their commitment and the sacrifices they had to make for the cause. In terms of the book being "darkly comic", I do think it was actually funny in places (for example, in the juxtaposition of what a "normal" girl growing up would expect to experience versus what the author experienced, specifically how matter-of-fact her mom is, and in the author pointing out the irony of certain middle-class "revolutionaries" who continue to enjoy their comfortable lifestyle and privilege) but the darkness is definitely there.

The Game by Ken Dryden
3 stars
This was one of the finalists for the 2012 Canada Reads (Something Fierce above won; I'm trying to read all 5) and while I enjoyed it, I don't think I would've picked it up otherwise. I'm not a hockey fan by any means but that didn't stop me from finding most of the book engaging. I felt the author did try to explain who was who and why each player was important or relevant. I think maybe the author wasn't quite sure what he was trying to write about or maybe I just didn't quite grasp it; the chapters are mostly split by the days in a week during his playing life at different arenas and games and he used them as jumping-off points to talk about the game of hockey in general (its history, the cult of celebrity around the players, how fans connect to the game, the development of new players, etc.) and then brought it back to his personal experiences.


message 24: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie H (stephy711) | 45 comments December 2012
A Feast for Crows -George RR Martin (1060 pages)
One of the slower books in the series but picks up at the end. Still a worthwhile read

Silverfish -David Lapham (160 pages)
One of the worst Lapham graphic novels I've read. I wanted to like it a lot more than I did

And a got partway through quite a few other books but didn't finish them yet


message 25: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments Sumofparts wrote: "Enjoyed everyone's posts as usual and also as usual, added more books to my to-read list, yay!

My reads for December
Beijing Confidential: A Tale of Comrades Lost and Found in the New Forbidden Ci..."

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How exciting that you traveled to Beijing ! That must have been a trip of a lifetime.

Thanks for sharing your reads. Very interesting.


message 26: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments Stephanie wrote: "December 2012
A Feast for Crows -George RR Martin (1060 pages)
One of the slower books in the series but picks up at the end. Still a worthwhile read


--------------

For Christmas my niece wanted all 5? books in the series in hardcover. She was quite thrilled when her mom got them for her.

We were in the HBO store in NYC and they didn't have them. Luckly B&N had them.

I don't recall the last time I read a 1000+ page book. That takes dedication, Stephanie!

Thanks for sharing with us, Stephanie.

I really appreciate all the people who participate in this thread each month. I so look forward to reading about everyones read....even if it does make my TBR list grow a mile long!


message 27: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments I agree, Alias--I look forward to reading everyone's lists every month. And not just because I end up adding at least 2 or 3 more books onto my already unwieldy TBR list!


message 28: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments As always, i treasure the fact so many here share the list of books they've read in the past month. Comments are great but just listing the title with the GR link helps me learn about books i didn't know exist. Thank you, each & every one.

I read 64 books last year. Frankly, the only reason there are so many is because i read 8 plays and 5 YA fiction books. This helped me break the 2000 mark of books i remember reading in my lifetime. If i eliminated all YA, plays, poetry books and mysteries, i suspect there would be about 20 books. ;-)

ANYway, here is my list of books i completed in December.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell made my favorites list. It is a remarkable writing feat, featuring 6 storylines, 6 styles of sharing and 6 main characters.

I finally wrapped up my reading of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, which i began several years ago with the GR classics (or it is Great Reading?) group. The second of the 2 books was superior to the first & helped me truly understand the popularity over the centuries of this book.

The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland was my sole contemporary novel. It was likable, if not great. It is a sort of epistemological novel, mostly between a middle aged man & a teenaged female, both of whom work at a Staples store.

This was our September book, wasn't it? ANYway, i finished Winston S. Churchill's The Gathering Storm this month. It was rewarding and i was moved several times. However i quickly tired of all the excerpts. However, in my next book i better understood why WSC included so many excerpts, so was more forgiving.

Dangerous GameDangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History by Margaret MacMillan is, as the subtitle states, about how historical "facts" are created and then used by others. It covers much history, including WWII & Churchill.

The Uninvited by Dorothy Macardle is a "genre" (not sure that is the term i want) toward which i gravitate. For some reason novels written in the 1930s & 1940s call to me. This one is about two siblings who purchase a house by the sea in the UK. It is haunted, thus the title. Naturally the brother must fall in love with the daughter of one of the ghosts. :-) Enjoyable, and i learned much about the current theories of such phenomena in that era.

Keeping with my unacknowledged theme of WWII, i read Longest Day: The Classic Epic of D Day by Cornelius Ryan, partly because it was on my "use or lose" shelf. It was an interesting summation of D-Day, broken into 3 parts--the Wait, the Night and the Day. Told from many perspectives, it moved quickly but not exactly thoroughly enough for me. Still, a good introduction to D-Day.

The Happy Hollisters and the Whistle-Pig Mystery written by Jerry West. Why, yes, this was on my "use or lose shelf". It was written later than i thought, in the early '60s, which made it one of the few children's books about families that i've read from that time. The family with 5 children live in a small lakeside community. Actually, i learned several things, including the fact that a whistle pig is another name for a groundhog.

The Ugly American, which was apparently co-authored by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick, was my final book of the year. It is an agenda-driven book, a fictionalized account of diplomacy in Asian countries. Lederer later wrote a book i read a year or two ago, A Nation Of Sheep, a nonfiction version of almost everything he wrote about in TUA. Btw, the "ugly American" character in the book, with his own chapter, is literally an unattractive man, not the sort of know-it-all pig we tend to associate with that expression. I think the arrogant association came about because of the other characters, particularly politicians and diplomats in the book.


message 29: by Connie (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 285 comments Deb, your mention of the Happy Hollisters book brought back memories of my childhood since I read many books in that series. I've picked up a few books in the last year that are childrens or YA that somehow I skipped when I was growing up--and it's been fun to read them.


message 30: by Connie (last edited Jan 03, 2013 09:28AM) (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 285 comments My books for December were mostly short reads or historical fiction. I don't like to read heavy tomes when I'm busy around the holidays.

The Sweetness of Tears: A Novel by Nafisa Haji. 4 stars. A multicultural book about a woman who finds out the background of her birth father when she is 18. Set in the USA and Pakistan.

The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards. 2 1/2-3 stars. This book had too many different plot lines going. It would have been a better if the author taken her ideas and developed them more in two books.

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher. 3 stars. Another memoir by this talented, but troubled, actress. Includes memories of the last years of her father, Eddie Fisher.

Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by David Dosa. 4 stars. The geriatrician author tells about a cat that senses when people are facing their last days, and keeps a comforting vigil with them and their family members. The book also has lots of good information about Alzheimer's Disease in his stories.

Just a Hint - Clint by Lori Foster. 2 1/2-3 stars. Light chick-lit romance/mystery.

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio. 4 stars. A blackberry winter, when snow comes in the spring when the blackberry bushes are flowering, comes to Seattle. A newspaper reporter investigates an unsolved crime from another blackberry winter years ago. Historical fiction.

The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich. 4 stars. Multigenerational book about the whites and Native Americans in a small town in North Dakota, with some Native Americans unjustly accused of murder. Beautiful lyrical writing.

By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder. 4 stars. Historical childrens/YA fiction based on experiences of the author's family as they moved westward to South Dakota to stake a homestead.

Lucky's Lady by Tami Hoag. 2 1/2-3 stars. Romance set in a bayou in Louisiana.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. 4 stars. A memoir about the author's early life, growing up black, poor, and female in Arkansas and California in the 1930s.

The Year of the Lucy by Anne McCaffrey. 3 stars. A wife and mother is trying to balance her domestic life with her creative life as a sculptress.

Winter study by Nevada Barr. 3 1/2 stars. A mystery involving park ranger Anna Pigeon who is stationed on an isolated island in Lake Superior for the winter. A group of scientists are studying wolves in this frigid environment when a tragic event occurs.

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway. 4 stars. A prickly biology teacher with difficult medical problems becomes the guardian of her teenage niece. The joy in the teacher's life comes from spending time breeding roses. The bonding between the aunt and the niece has positive effects on both of them.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. 4 stars. Wonderful dystopian novel about a fireman whose job is to burn books in a futuristic society. Lots of food for thought about governmental thought control, and censorship. Great imagery in his writing.

Mystic Seafood: Great Recipes, History & Seafaring Lore from Mystic Seaport. 3 stars. It's a book about the different kinds of seafood along the East Coast, including historical information and recipes.


message 31: by Alias Reader (last edited Jan 03, 2013 09:34AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments Madrano wrote: I read 64 books last year. Frankly, the only reason there are so many is because i read 8 plays and 5 YA fiction books. This helped me break the 2000 mark of books i remember reading in my lifetime. If i eliminated all YA, plays, poetry books and mysteries, i suspect there would be about 20 books. ;-)
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Congratulations, Deb !

I also include a lot of YA. It's all non-fiction YA. I love these books. They provide a nice foundation for me to move on to more detailed books if I wish. And I love that I can learn about a topic without having to read a doorstop size book.

I read a few plays with Book Nook Cafe last year. I hope we can drum up some interest to read a few more this year.


message 32: by Alias Reader (last edited Jan 03, 2013 09:56AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments Connie wrote:
By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder. 4 stars. Historical childrens/YA fiction based on experiences of the author's family as they moved westward to South Dakota to stake a homestead. ..."

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I loved the TV series. I should try out the books. Thanks for the nudge to put it on my TBR list.

EDIT: I see this is the order of the 9 book series:
Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, Farmer Boy, On the Banks of Plum Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years.

I thought I would find these on Kindle for free. No such luck. My library also doesn't have e-books for this series.

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Connie wrote: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. 4 stars. Wonderful dystopian novel about a fireman whose job is to burn books in a futuristic society. Lots of food for thought about governmental thought control, and censorship. Great imagery in his writing.
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Loved this book ! Somehow I missed it as a young adult. A friend of mine raved about it. So I put it on my DL one year. So glad I did. I think I underlined something on every page.

Congratulations on a terrific reading month, Connie. As always, I enjoyed reading your comments.


Carolyn (in SC) C234D | 82 comments Continuing on my streak of reading few books every month, my December reads follow (we did travel for a week and a half over the holidays, and I read almost nothing):

The Sun Also Rises--I think I read this many years ago; this time it was for book group. We had a good discussion, led by a former teacher, who gave quite a bit of helpful background of the times. I liked the book, but wasn't crazy about it.

Mr. Churchill's Secretary--I enjoyed this. I like the topic (WWII), and it was fast-paced and well-written. Had a few little quibbles, but not enough to seriously detract from the book. Not quite as good as the Maisie Dobbs' series. This is the first in a series, I'd like to read more.

I've started another book, but haven't been able to finish, and now I have to get going on our next book group selection. SMB, SLT.


message 34: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments Carolyn, I read TSAR and enjoyed it a lot.

It sounds like you have a great reading group.


message 35: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Connie wrote: "Deb, your mention of the Happy Hollisters book brought back memories of my childhood since I read many books in that series. I've picked up a few books in the last year that are childrens or YA the last year that are childrens or YA that somehow I skipped when I was growing up--and it's been fun to read them. ..."

Connie, i wasn't a reader as a child, so missed much children & YA literature. It's all new to me, which is kinda nice but one can't help but wonder if i'd been a different child had i read some of them. (This is why we read to our children, btw.)

ANYway, it's funny you wrote the above because when i saw the Laura Ingalls Wilder book on your list, i realized that is a good example. I read the series to my daughter, beginning when she was 4, primarily because she liked the TV series. Well, she learned to read from those books. I didn't realize this until i tried to rush a passage & she "corrected" me!

As a result of sharing those with her, i went on to read some of Laura's writing as an adult (she had a column in her local Missouri newspaper) & a biography of her. Good reading, and all considered children's books. Incidentally, we read it when we lived in South Dakota. Friends there grew up with the series taught in school. To a person, they were turned off the book, as a result. To them, it was rehashing of what they'd heard their kinfolk share. Go figure.

My favorite is still The Bobbsey Twins Keeping House series. Corny, old fashioned and right up my mythical alley. The Hollisters were Happy, i'll give them that. I really like how much can be learned about more than good manners & how to be friends. Those families had real learning adventures!


message 36: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 239 comments My December reads, which were also quite short reads.

When She Woke In a high-tech Texas of the future, where fundementalism rules and criminals have a skin pigmentation process to identify their crime, a young woman tries to survive. Not my usual read. 2 stars.

Mutiny on the Bounty The story of Bligh's mutiny told from the POV of his fictious 14 YO cabin boy. Lovely phrasing, just as I think a poor teenage boy of the time would speak and imagine. 4 stars.

Curfewed Night Kashmiri journo's childhood and early adulthood growing up in Kashmire's capital. I found it disjointed and hard to follow. 2 stars.


message 37: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 239 comments Tulip Fever A love triangle set in early 17th century Amsterdam in the time of tulip fever (trading of bulbs at exhorbitant prices). An interesting short read, with sparse writing which I prefer. 4 stars.

The Messenger Part fact, part fiction, the experiences of an informant for the exiled Polish government during the Nazi invasion. 2 stars.

Indelible Ink Set in contemporary Sydney, Marie King is a middle class divorcee who, with grown children and an 'empty' dull life, visits a tattoo studio which begins something of an addiction and opens a can of worms within her family. Sad and at times gritty with lovely imagery of Sydney. 3 stars.

A Christmas Carol Another Dickens classic that I had passed by until now. 3 stars.


message 38: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments Lesley wrote: Mutiny on the Bounty The story of Bligh's mutiny told from the POV of his fictious 14 YO cabin boy. Lovely phrasing, just as I think a poor teenage boy of the time would speak and imagine. 4 stars. "
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I think I am one of the few who has never seen the movie. I should rent it.

If you liked Mutiny, you may like


A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes A High Wind in Jamaica~~Richard Hughes
The movie is quite good. I purchased the book a few years ago, but have not read it yet.

Thanks for sharing your December reads with us, Lesley!


message 39: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17617 comments Lesley wrote:
A Christmas Carol Another Dickens classic that I had passed by until now. 3 stars.

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Only 3 stars??? humbug !

:)


message 40: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Lesley wrote: "My December reads, which were also quite short reads.

When She Woke In a high-tech Texas of the future, where fundementalism rules and criminals have a skin pigmentation process to identify their ..."


It looks like you had a good reading month, Lesley. I'm interested in the first one, as we live in Texas. We aren't there yet, though.


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