Challenge: 50 Books discussion

*Retired* 2008 Lists > Jessica's 50 Books

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message 1: by Jessica (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:43AM) (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #1 Water for Elephants

This was a reread for a book group, but I loved it just as much the second time!

And I'm very excited about this group - it's got me so motivated.

message 2: by Danine (new)

Danine (dulcemea) I've recently joined the elephant bandwagon. I'm glad you liked the book. I've yet to read it. Thank you for posting, Jessica!

message 3: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #2 Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations

message 4: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #3 Maus I

Oh my... I picked this up for a class and could not put it down. I think I skimmed it when I was in high school, but rereading it as a mom made me want to just about vomit from being so upset.

But a great book/graphic novel!

message 5: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #4 Inventing Iraq by Toby Dodge

message 6: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Hi Jessica! I read the Inventing Iraq book a couple of years ago. It didn't help me understand the country as much as I hoped it would...what did you think of it? It was a long read for a short book.

message 7: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments Hi Patrick - This was actually my second time through the book and after reading Gertrude Bell it resonated a little more with me. The Bell biography has a very positive outlook toward the British mandate and because of Bell's prolific writing you can really begin to understand the British perspective toward the Middle East. Inventing Iraq counters that really nicely by showing how the British perspective was so flawed and how that became detrimental. But, you're right in terms of not really coming away with more of an understanding of the country itself. I found myself often being disappointed because the author gave a really thorough description of the British perspective but didn't really follow it up with an alternate perspective.

For me the book told me more about British society and political policy than Iraq and it certainly highlighted how much I don't know about the country!

message 8: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #5 The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

#6 Hiroshima by John Hersey

message 9: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 335 comments Hi Jessica,
I loved Maus and Maus II. I had never read a graphic novel before and was amazed at how much the book was able to capture. After that I read Persepolis and Persepolis II and loved those too. I'll have to check out more graphic novels now that I know I like them.

message 10: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments Maus was my first graphic novel - I've never really considered looking into that genre. Persepolis looks fantastic and is now on my "to-read" list - thanks!

message 11: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) How did you like The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Jessica. I like the title!

message 12: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments It's a very fun read. It's about a female detective, set in Botswana. I'm not the biggest fan of mystery novels, but there's a lot more to the story than just solving the mysteries. This is just the first in a large series and I'm definitely up for reading more of them.

message 13: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #7 The Pacific War, 1931-1945 by Saburo Ienaga

message 14: by Emily (new)

Emily | 74 comments I loved Persepolis! It has been made into an animated film. I think it may be playing now. I also liked Maus, but I think I liked Persepolis better. I also read Water for Elephants for by book club, but I did not like it. I felt like it was too predictable and read too much like a movie. However, I wish I had liked it.

message 15: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #8 Holocaust Testimonies: the Ruins of Memory by Lawrence Langer

More gloom and doom... my semester's reading covers Hiroshima and the Holocaust and I am seriously beginning to lose faith in the human condition. This history used to be a lot easier to digest before I became a mother.

Any fluffy, happy book recommendations?

message 16: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #9 Downfall: the End of the Imperial Japanese Empire by Richard Frank

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Jessica | 47 comments #10 How Societies Remember by Paul Connerton

message 18: by Jessica (last edited Feb 29, 2008 08:29AM) (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #11 The 47 Ronin Story by John Allyn

message 19: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #12 Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson


message 20: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #13 First Into Nagasaki by George Weller

message 21: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #14 Prisoners of the Japanese: POWs of World War 2 in the Pacific by Gavan Daws
I am so depressed that I am so busy with reading and what not but I only have 14 books to show for it. I'm deep in the bowels of research hell so I am not actually finishing any of the books I'm reading. I can't wait for summer - I'm going to read lots and lots of quick books about puppies and fluffy bunnies!

message 22: by Linda (new)

Linda I'm currently reading Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations. While I'm intrigued by the subject and the woman, I wish the author would be a little more grounded and objective in her writing. Wallach often interjects or assumes unsubstantiated statements of fact, private thoughts and emotions of people, long-dead.

I believe this book would have been better billed as a well-researched historical novel rather than a biography. That said, I'm reading it because I'm intrigued with this intelligent and accomplished Victorian diplomat, linguist, adventurer, archaeologist, historian, and British spy.

message 23: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments I completely agree! I came across Wallach's work about a year ago while doing some research on Bell and was very frustrated with the author's lack of objectivity. The biography I finished this year was a more recent publication by Georgina Howell. I think Howell's is better. Although Howell does not take a critical approach when looking at Bell, her style worked more for me.

She is an interesting subject to study... her biographers seem truly taken with her - and with good reason, she is a remarkable individual. But when I've come across her name in academic works regarding the political construction of Iraq she is often seen as just another British imperialist mucking around in someone else's business. As someone who buys into the Orientalist argument, I cringe a little when Bell is portrayed uncritically as a hero of the Middle East.

message 24: by Linda (new)

Linda From the feminist perspective, I find it interesting that the Muslim men seemed to accept Gertrude Bell as they would another man, while their own women were secluded behind veils and curtains. Of course Western women were equally protected behind crenolines and parasols, one might argue...

I have no doubt that Bell and her cohorts mucked things up, when it comes to the political construction of Iraq, but hindsight is 20/20. Which is why I love to read history, imperfect though the retellings are. I wish more people would read history and discuss it, to help us understand our present, and move forward with more wisdom.

Thanks for pointing out Georgina Howell's publication; I'll check it out. It sounds like you're quite well-read on the subject.

message 25: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments Hurrah! Another book finished!

#15 Martyred Village by Sarah Farmer

It's about the commemoration of the 1944 massacre at Oradour (a village in France) by the Nazis. If anyone has a quirky interest in history and memory, it's an interesting examination.

message 26: by Jessica (last edited May 12, 2008 03:48AM) (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #16 Dresden by Frederick Taylor
#17 History Wars: the Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past

message 27: by Jessica (last edited May 18, 2008 01:13PM) (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #18 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#19 Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

message 28: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments Semester's over! I cannot wait to just read... no analyzing, no responsibility.

#20 Guilt by John Lescroart
Murder mystery with courtroom drama. Read for my bookclub. It's my first fun book outside of the semester so I may have enjoyed it more than I would have otherwise.

#21 Barefoot Gen, vol. 1 by Keiji Nakazawa
Recently translated, semi-autobiographical graphic novel about a little boy who survives Hiroshima. Great story.

#22 Cowboys Are My Weakness by Pam Houston
Another bookclub book. Anthology of short stories. The stories are good overall, but reading short stories from the same author through a whole book gets a little redundant.

message 29: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 35 comments Jessica and all:

I like that you have added a short desription after each book. I am failing in reading this year, I have
3 kids all under 12.

I am determined to overcome this however.


message 30: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments Sarah:
Wow! Three kids under 12 - that'll keep you busy!
Good luck!

message 31: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #23 Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Another graphic novel... I felt a little behind in my count and graphic novels are a great way to get a good book under the belt.
I know a number of folks have read this one, about a girl growing up in Iran during the revolution. Enjoyed it - I'll read the second one of the series when I get my hands on it.

message 32: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 35 comments 1. Bridget Jone's Diary by Helen Fielding

I read this earlier in the year and it really
made me laugh out loud.

message 33: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #24 Your One Year Old by Louise Bates Ames

OK, I only finished this because I'm in the middle of Foucault's Pendulum which is long and full of arcana that I have to look up so my projected pace for summer has been slowed and I really want to get through #25 by the end of June. I started reading this because I read 'Your Two Year Old' and actually found it useful, but this one wasn't so great. It ended up as one of my "bathroom books" - books that hang out in the bathroom and only get read there. Funny 'Stories from Real Life' chapter that provided examples of really extreme problems that made me feel like I'm doing alright with my kids.

message 34: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #25 Foucault's Pendulum

message 35: by Emily (new)

Emily | 74 comments So, you finished Foucault's Pendulum? I've tried. Was it worth it in the end?

message 36: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments Hi Emily,
I hate to admit it but I really did not enjoy it and I really wanted to! And, for me, the end was a bit of a disappointment.

I can absolutely understand why the book got such acclaim, but I'm on summer break - away from work, away from school - with two young kids and what I really wanted was a book I could escape into. I just don't know enough about the arcana, occult, and religious references to 'get' the book. So, I got the general plot, which took up about 100 of the 600 pages... hmmm, bummed I chose it.

message 37: by Emily (new)

Emily | 74 comments Yeah, not a summer read. I had the same problem-- didn't have the background to really "get" it. Reading it seemed like work rather than pleasure, but I still always wanted to get through it. Good for you! Hope you can now enjoy some summer page turners.

message 38: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #26 Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
#27 A Separate Peace by John Knowles

message 39: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #28 The Gravedigger by Peter Grandbois
#29 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

message 40: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #30 The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

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Jessica | 47 comments #31 Native Tongue by Carl Hiaasen

message 42: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #32 Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
I know this is just a short play, but I've decided to count it as one of my 50. I'm a high school history teacher by trade, but this year I've been assigned to also teach World Lit so I'm scrambling to keep a few steps ahead of the students. Oedipus was our first unit... so there you go.

#33 A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle
Never finished this one as a kid. Loved it!

#34 Th Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
I have been waiting all summer for a book to just suck me in - one of those books that you have to carry around with you everywhere just in case you get a second to read just a little bit further. This was it! Awesome fun!

message 43: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #35 The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
Drat! I should be engrossed in my class readings but instead I just can't put this trilogy down. I've limited my fun reading to only when I'm nursing my youngest daughter to sleep... I'm seriously considering putting her back on 2 naps a day until I finish The Amber Spyglass!

message 44: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #36 Gothic: Architecture and Scholasticism: an inquiry into the analogy of the arts, philosophy, and religion in the Middle Ages by Erwin Panofsky

You guessed it... this one was a thriller!

message 45: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #37 The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

message 46: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #38 Arms, Autarky, and Aggression by William Carr

Interesting theory about German foreign policy from 1933-1939.

message 47: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #39 A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle

message 48: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #40 The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich by Klaus Hildebrand
#41 Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Just finished teaching the LOF unit - I forgot how much I love this book!

message 49: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 47 comments #42 Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
#43 The Inferno by Dante Alighieri

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