Books on the Nightstand discussion

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What are you currently reading - September 2010

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael (mkindness) | 537 comments Mod
Let the September reads commenting commence!


message 2: by Kirsty (new)

Kirsty (kirstybooks) | 116 comments I want to become more active in this group as I love the podcast and blog so I guess here is a good place to start!

I'm currently reading Mockingjay... I'm making slow progress as I'm so tired at the moment that reading before bed just isn't happening because my eyes close after a few pages! I'm enjoying it though. I'm not sure it's captured me as much as the other two books did, but it's stil a fun read.


message 3: by Joel (new)

Joel (joelevard) I always have a few books going in multiple formats:

- Villain by Shuichi Yoshida: On paper. I saw it touted as "the next Stieg Larsson?" Which, maybe. I mean, it's a translated crime thriller. I guess. Interesting so far, but like all Japanese fiction I've read, a bit odd in tone and formal in syntax.
- Persuasion by Jane Austen: via dailylit emails.
- Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson: Kindle
- Hyperion by Dan Simmons: Audio. Almost done, and a really great sci-fi twist on The Canterbury Tales.

A varied lineup.


message 4: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (pinkrain718) | 33 comments Kirsty wrote: "I want to become more active in this group as I love the podcast and blog so I guess here is a good place to start!

I'm currently reading Mockingjay... I'm making slow progress as I'm so tired at ..."


I too have been reading Mockingjay. I'm half-way through and officially hooked! I read before bed and I seem to be falling asleep later and later every night!


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Blood Harvest by SJ Bolton.


message 6: by Elhara (new)

Elhara | 36 comments The History of Love is what is on my nightstand. It's very unique and so far, I like it. I should have known better, picking up Oprah: A Biography. The only thing I knew of Kitty Kelley was that she writes about celebrities without official consent. I'm not liking the snarkyness. It's probably Ms. Kelley's reputation that is adding to the atmosphere. Maybe that's not very fair of me. But.. it is what it is. I'm an Oprah fan and that comes with a little protectiveness (I know...Corny!) What can I say? I'm not sure I'll get through this one.


message 7: by Eric (last edited Sep 02, 2010 06:49AM) (new)

Eric | 1175 comments Mod
Finished Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life

When I started this book, I hadn't read any of Carver's work, but had only seen Short Cuts, the film Robert Altman had made of a clutch of his stories and one poem. While reading it, I read a couple of books worth of his short stories and one book of poems.

This is the story of the redemption of a man. The son of an alcoholic, he marries Maryann Burk, the love of his life, and they have two kids. He doggedly pursues his dream of being a writer, and until the age of thirty or so, makes steady progress. By the late sixties he has carved out (no pun intended) a name for himself. It is at this point that he is captured by the myth of the hard-drinking writer, and allows alcohol to become his "muse". A long, slow slide downward begins. Maryann follows him into alcoholism. There is domestic violence, parental neglect, and the work slows down to a crawl as Carver's body and mind deteriorate. Through it all, he retains his gift for friendship, surrounding himself with other drinker/writers who respond to the big, boyish lug. He moves frequently, shows a distressing ineptitude with money, and fails at several prestigious writing workshops and teaching posts.

Through all this, his editor, Gordon Lish, is instrumental in what success he manages to cobble together. Lish attacks his prose with a heavy hand, abbreviating the stories, increasing their ambiguity and their unsettling effect. As a result, Carver becomes known as the father of a new minimalism, also called "dirty realism". This stylistic label may have more to do with the reshaping Lish did on the work than with the stories as originally written.

In the late seventies, Carver bottoms out, hits AA, and finally quits drinking, although he still smokes prodigiously (both tobacco and marijuana). Although Maryann quits too, they separate and never manage to totally repair their relationship, although they remain important to one another. Ray takes up with writer Tess Gallagher, who becomes the companion of his last ten years.

These ten final years are charmed. Ray gets out from under the editorship of Lish, sheds the stylistic labels that he resented, repairs his relationship with his kids (although certain fictionalized aspects of these relationships cause hurt feelings, as do some confessional essays and poems), attains the recognition he always wanted, does a lot of fishing and spends time with his many friends. When he is eventually hit by terminal cancer in the late eighties, he never falls into self-pity, but enjoys the "Gravy" of his final days. "Gravy" is a poem he wrote about this attitude of his. If you can, pick up any collection of his poetry from the eighties to see a portrait of a man who has come to an ability to enjoy the now; to savor every moment. The collection Where Water Comes Together with Other Water: Poemsis almost an instruction manual on enjoying life.

Unfortunately, Tess Gallagher comes off in the book as greedy and grasping near the end. Gobbling up all the rights to Carver's work from Maryann and Carver's children. She saw him through his final days, though, and that's something. But Maryann was Ray's true protectress, the lioness who sacrificed everything and worked hard through Ray's dark days to enable his writing career.


message 8: by Peg (new)

Peg | 73 comments Eric, great review. I too haven't read any of Carver's work but will now.


message 9: by Peg (last edited Sep 03, 2010 01:28PM) (new)

Peg | 73 comments I recently read The Lotus Eaters It is the story of a fledgling female photographer in Vietnam at the start of the American involvement. Personal relationships include sexual but it isn't THE major part of this story - at least not for me.

What I felt so engrossed in was the atmosphere of Vietnam - the weather, the landscape, the people,the culture, the war from all sides and her relationship to all of that through her camera and through herself. The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli


message 10: by Carla (new)

Carla  (carlathompson) | 42 comments I just finished The Condition by Jennifer Haigh, really liked it and also finished Cleaving by Julie Powell. I haven't read Julie and Julia yet, but Cleaving was a real eye opener, I enjoyed every bloody bit of it. Currently working on Cutting for Stone by Abraham Vergese, sorry if I messed up the spelling, it is living up to all it's great reviews.
Carla


message 11: by Esther (new)

Esther (eshchory) For some reason I picked up Mothers Who Think: Tales Of Reallife Parenthood. It is collection of columns from Salon about Motherhood.
Heaven knows what possessed me to start reading it. I have read Salon enough to know that I am not the target audience and most times it manages to irritate me in some way. Even the friend who gave it to me warned me that I should probably just pass it straight on to someone else.
Problem is that once I start a book I find it very difficult to abandon it. This is even worse because they are short stories so I live in hope that the next story will be better. And to be honest after the first few that made my skin crawl there were several I enjoyed. I have read more than half way now and it didn't take me long so I will probably try to finish up tonight.


message 12: by Vanessa (last edited Sep 02, 2010 12:40PM) (new)

Vanessa | 330 comments I am about 200 pages into Polar Star, the sequel to Gorky Park. I read the first book long ago and then lost touch with the author's activities but he has been writing books about the protagonist, Renko, that follow the break-up of the Soviet Union. This book takes place several years after the first one and his unpopularity with the Party over that case has bounced him from Moscow detective to an assembly line fish cleaner on a Bering Sea factory ship. Then a female crew member's body gets pulled up in the drag net and his old career comes to the attention of the Captain and he is drafted to investigate.

I'm also reading AJ Jacobs The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the Worldwhich lends itself to episodic reading.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Vanessa wrote: "I am about 200 pages into Polar Star, the sequel to Gorky Park. I read the first book long ago and then lost touch with the author's activities but he has been writing books about the..."

I have enjoyed all of AJ Jacobs' books; they are fun and manage to sneak in some education along the way.


message 14: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 330 comments Yes, AJ Jacobs writes in a style that not many writers can pull off. The smart but snarky but not too snarky style (I feel sure this must have a more academic and elegantly obscure designation but I don't know it.) I've already learned that abalones have 5 anuses and like the author, I'm not sure how I can make this info come in handy.


message 15: by Flora (new)

Flora Smith (bookwormflo) Just finished Dead and Alive and loved it. I haven't decided whats gonna be next.


message 16: by Lil (new)

Lil | 216 comments Last week I finished A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry and definitely appreciated and enjoyed it, but I must say I wasn't prepared for all the harsh reality of what it must have been like for lower caste Indians to be living during those times (Emergency under Indira Gandhi, late 70's). It is extremely well written and I definitely came to care for the characters. I got about 300 pages in and thought I might have to stop...wondering if things would turn up for these people. I'm glad I persisted, but there were still lots of horrible things to come.

Then, read I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron , a collection of essays by Nora Ephron. Quick, light and enjoyable. Also, another off my very own bookshelf! Though, to be perfectly honest, this book hadn't quite made it to the bookshelf since still living in it's box from the last library book sale about 5 months ago. 5 months hardly counts round these parts.

Had a good friend come to visit over the weekend and she recommended Graceling (The Seven Kingdoms, #1) by Kristin Cashore . Got it from the library and read it in one ecstatic gulp! I neglected basic grooming and the feeding of my unborn child to keep reading! I haven't felt that absorbed in anything in a while.

Resting today (yes, resting from all that strenuous reading...but am home on real bed rest so it's legit!). Now, picking off another from the bookshelf. I think it will be Peace Like a River. This one will really count since I think it's been following me around for six or seven years. Then, The Hunger Games is awaiting me at the library...


message 17: by Djdee (new)

Djdee | 14 comments I am ccurrently reading "Where Did I Leave My Glasses" The What,When,and Why of Normal Memory Loss by Martha Weinman Lear.An enjoyable read, with both humor and imformation.I am also reading "The Mitfords" Letters Between Six Sisters edited by Carlotte Mosley.Ann mentioned a book by Nancy Mitford and it piqued my interest so I looked her up.I enjoy books in this format and memoirs as well.It is a very large book.I am 79 pages in and enjoying so far.


message 18: by Kirsty (new)

Kirsty (kirstybooks) | 116 comments I finished Mockingjay and have to say that I was a little let down. I think there was so much hype surrounding this final book that it was always going to be difficult for it to live up to expectations. I did really enjoy it, but it just wasn't as good as the first two books. That said, the trilogy as a whole blew me away and I have to give big thanks to Ann and Michael for introducing me to it!! I don't think it's a book I would have come across on my own... I'm so glad I found the BOTNS podcast!


message 19: by Peg (new)

Peg | 73 comments After reading the very atmospheric Lotus Eaters, I needed a change of pace. Ivan Doig's Work Song Work Song by Ivan Doig was just the ticket. Delightfully entertaining story about 1919 Butte Montana - miners vs mining company and all the colorful characters involved.


message 20: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 330 comments I am wading thru my short list right now but I am anxious to get to Lotus Eaters, Peg.


message 21: by Callie (new)

Callie (calliekl) | 646 comments Just finished Book 4 from the Outlander series on my new Nook, Drums of Autumn. I won't summarize, because I don't want to give anything away. All I will say is that I almost stopped reading the series after book 2... which would have been a huge mistake. I can't stop turning the pages once I've started. I was going to read Hunger Games next, but I think I'm going to have to keep going with Outlander... damn you Gabaldon!


message 22: by Shona (new)

Shona (anovelobsession) | 178 comments I am STILL reading Anna Karenina, the never ending book. It's not that I am not enjoying it - I really am, but it's just taking forever. I have about 300 pages left so I'm going to make finishing it my goal for the three day weekend.
Of course I'm reading other books while I'm at it, which probably explains why it's taking so long - I'm also reading Dark Places.


message 23: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 48 comments Kirsty wrote: "I want to become more active in this group as I love the podcast and blog so I guess here is a good place to start!

I'm currently reading Mockingjay... I'm making slow progress as I'm so tired at ..."


I just finished Mockingjay and I loved every second of it. I was disappointed with Catching Fire, therefore I was nervous about how the final book would turn out. I think it's the first final book in a series that I wasn't angry with when I put it down. It was a nice change of pace. Does anyone know if they're making movies of these books?


message 24: by Kate (new)

Kate | 269 comments I finished Stitches earlier this week, but am getting around to posting now. While not a novel, this memoir was the first "graphic" anything that I had ever picked up and it was because of the podcast from a year ago (#43) and Michael's fervent championing of most things graphic. I loved, loved this book! Thanks Michael and Ann. I may have to add more graphic novels to my TBR pile.


message 25: by Kathy (new)

Kathy I finished The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag last week and thoroughly enjoyed it: it's not quite as delicious as the first book in the Flavia De Luce series, but the plot is easier to follow and the author introduces at least one character who's bound to play a big part in volumes to come. Can't wait! In the meantime, I'm working on Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, The Thieves of Manhattan, a nonfiction book about 1920s forensic science, and "summer" re-reads of a few favorite mysteries.


message 26: by Gail (new)

Gail (booksmama) For some reason, all of my library holds came in at once. Just finished Anne Perry's "The Sheen on the Silk"; she's such a great writer. In the middle of "Super Sad True Love Story", and am enjoying it more than I expected to. Waiting on the counter: "Mockingjay", " Juliet", and "The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise". Also a lovely medieval murder mystery.


message 27: by Linda (new)

Linda | 2751 comments Mod
Gail wrote: "For some reason, all of my library holds came in at once...."

It's called The Library Holds corollary of Murphy's Law.


message 28: by Jason (new)

Jason (jasonct) | 69 comments I'm listening to Wolf Hall - quite enjoying it so far.


message 29: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa | 330 comments I finished Polar Star, the sequel to Gorky Park, and loved it. I already have the next book on reserve-and have a crush on Arkady Renko to rival Ann's on Jack Reacher.

I'm now reading Winesburg, Ohio for my book club. I'm not really in the mood for this type of book at the moment so I'm trying not to judge it unfairly. The writing style feels overly intrusive and flowery to me so far. But one reviewer said it influenced Steinbeck's Cannery Row which is one of my most beloved favorites of all time so I'm plowing on with good intentions.


message 30: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarah_ilott) | 8 comments After perservering through Moby Dick, I wanted a change of pace and style and have just started
The Girl Who Played With Fire. I am hooked all ready.

People keep mentioning Mockingjay, could anyone tell me the name of the first book?


message 31: by Shona (new)

Shona (anovelobsession) | 178 comments Sarah wrote: "After perservering through Moby Dick, I wanted a change of pace and style and have just started
The Girl Who Played With Fire. I am hooked all ready.

People keep mentioning Mockingjay, could a..."


Sarah,
The 1st book in the trilogy Suzanne Collin's trilogy is Hunger Games, followed by Catching Fire and then the final, of course, is Mockingjay.
I can attest to the fact that everyone is my house is hooked on the story.


message 32: by Esther (new)

Esther (eshchory) I have just started Angel's Game. The writing is delicious.


message 33: by Eric (new)

Eric | 1175 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "People keep mentioning Mockingjay, could anyone tell me the name of the first book?"

Some say it was the Gutenberg Bible, but other sources say it was an Asian book. Hope this helps.


message 34: by Esther (new)

Esther (eshchory) Eric wrote: "Sarah wrote: "People keep mentioning Mockingjay, could anyone tell me the name of the first book?"

Some say it was the Gutenberg Bible, but other sources say it was an Asian book. Hope this helps."

LOL


message 35: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (lrc123) | 7 comments I'm currently reading Friday Night Bites. Very enjoyable and fun so far. And i appreciate the fact that you don't have to read the first book in order to understand what's going on in this one. Stupid library doesn't have book one. And i finished Definitely Dead a few days ago. And of course the usual Harlequin Blaze novels, i always seem to have at least one or two of those on my nightstand. But my current focus is Friday Night Bites.


message 36: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 05, 2010 09:10AM) (new)

I'm still picking my way through Orsinian Tales: Stories (short story collection by Ursula K. LeGuin.) At first, I thought I was going to be able to whip through the book and be entertained; but really, each story has such gravitas, that I can really only read one a day at most and, it might take me a couple of days to fully digest each parable.

For my listening group which focuses on mysteries as a genre, I'm listening to Social Crimes (by Jane Stanton Hitchcock; narrated by Barbara Rosenblat.) It is about a NYC socialite, who at the beginning of the book, confesses she has committed a murder. I've really only just begun the audio, so I'm still in the set-up stages of the story. It's a little dated by about ten years; but entertaining nonetheless. If I were reading it though, I would have probably finished it by now :-/

My reading pace seems to have slowed lately. Part of it is that I'm forcing myself to read much more carefully and part of it is that I'm having to consume so much more material at work that, when I get home, I find myself just wanting to do something different!


message 37: by Flora (new)

Flora Smith (bookwormflo) Shona wrote: "I am STILL reading Anna Karenina, the never ending book. It's not that I am not enjoying it - I really am, but it's just taking forever. I have about 300 pages left so I'm going to make finishin..."

I read Anna Karenina not long ago and I agree with you that it seems to last forever. And when you think the story should end it goes on for another 100 pages.

I'm just getting started on Wuthering Heights and so far I like it.


message 38: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 279 comments I just finished reading The City and the City by China Mieville. I enjoyed it, but the ending was a bit disappointing. I also finished listening to the audio book of Jim Butcher's Dead Beat. I am on to the next in the series. I also started reading Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk about Kevin. The prose style is beautifully constructed, but I'm not sure I can bear the subject of the book. We'll see.


message 39: by Carol (Bookaria) (last edited Sep 05, 2010 06:48PM) (new)

Carol (Bookaria) (bookaria) A few days ago I finished Mockingjay (3rd book in the Hunger Games trilogy) by Suzanne Collins and I'm still absorbing everything that happened in the book. It wasn't my favorite one of the three but a great read nevertheless.

Yesterday, I started reading Middlesex and so far I like it.


message 40: by Gavin (new)

Gavin (gavin9) I just finished The Devish House by Ian McDonald and have started Kraken by China Mieville.


message 41: by Linda (last edited Sep 06, 2010 11:10AM) (new)

Linda (yinya) | 14 comments I usually read several books at once. At some point, one will grab hold, fight for dominance, and race to the finish ahead of the pack. I never can tell which one it will be.

Right now I'm finishing Olive Kitteridge for my book club, and I'm not enjoying it as much as I expected. I'm also reading a couple other books, but started Franzen's Freedom the other day and it's already taking the lead. I didn't want to like it -- too much hype!! -- but was immediately drawn in. Might be worth a little self-loathing.


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

I've just started, At Mrs. Lippincote's by Elizabeth Taylor. Written in 1945, this book was well received by some of the great authors of the time, some of them, not normally given to favorable reviews of anyone's book, no less a woman. So far, so very good.


message 43: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 80 comments Jessica wrote: "Kirsty wrote: "I want to become more active in this group as I love the podcast and blog so I guess here is a good place to start!

I'm currently reading Mockingjay... I'm making slow progress as I..."


Yes, they are making a movie of the Hunger Games books!


message 44: by Judith (new)

Judith | 3 comments I am reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time in my life. (I'm 48, so that is actually a shocker). The best thing for me about reading it now is that it has been a really long time since I have seen the movie and I have forgotten many details so it is like learning new things about a group of people I know and haven't seen in a while. i am loving every minute!


message 45: by Lisa (last edited Sep 06, 2010 05:22PM) (new)

Lisa Ricciuti | 4 comments I am reading Hunger Games and I am loving it! I never expected to like it this much and I cant wait to start Catching Fire!


message 46: by Dorota (new)

Dorota (readinggirl91) | 7 comments I am about 150 pages into The Passage and after that it is House of Leaves.


message 47: by Melissa W (new)

Melissa W (melissawiebe80) | 199 comments Finished The Red Queen about 30 min. ago. My next reads are going to be The Daring Game(about a girl in the mid-1960s who goes to a boarding school for a year), The Time Traveler's Wife, In the Walled Gardens: A Novel, Candide(its not as sordid as I thought it was going to be; mainly a satire on philosophers, religion, etc.), and am going to start The Passage.


message 48: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 80 comments Judith wrote: "I am reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time in my life. (I'm 48, so that is actually a shocker). The best thing for me about reading it now is that it has been a really long t..."

I can relate, Judith! I'm 45, and I just read it for the first time a couple of years ago for my book group. How did we miss this for so long? Enjoy!

Sue


message 49: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Jackson (suejackson) | 80 comments Lisa wrote: "I am reading Hunger Games and I am loving it! I never expected to like it this much and I cant wait to start Catching Fire!"

Isn't Collins an amazing writer? I just finished the third book, Mockingjay, this weekend - the whole series is thought-provoking and compelling.

Sue


message 50: by Callie (new)

Callie (calliekl) | 646 comments I'm about a third of the way through Catching Fire, and I think these books are brilliant. I so wish i could extend my vacation a couple days and finish the series- I'm having a hard time concentrating on my work!


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