Thursday, June 30, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Size Matters

This week's Booking Through Thursday topic is about personal library size. This could get pretty embarrassing, but here goes:
  1. What’s the largest your personal library has ever been? What’s the greatest number of books you’ve ever owned at one time? (Estimates are fine.)

    I suppose our library is just about as big right now as it's ever been. My husband and I are both book people and acquisitive types, so we don't weed out the collection as often as we should. There are books in every room of our apartment, except for the bathrooms (gotta draw the line someplace), and we've got books in boxes, packed away in a couple of storage rooms. I have no idea exactly how many books we own; I've got over 2000 listed in my Library Thing account, but that doesn't include all my husband's lit crit books, Loeb classical editions, and most of the history books in our library. So, altogether, I'd say we own somewhere between 2500-3000 books.

  2. Is your collection NOW the biggest it’s ever been? Or have you down-sized?

    See answer to the question above. Actually, we are in the process of downsizing; or at least thinking about it. In the past year, we've donated books to our local library and to an annual book sale at my husband's workplace (unfortunately, we keep buying new books to replace the ones we weed out). We have piles of books we really would like to find new homes for, but realize that in reality we'll probably end up simply throwing a lot of them out. (Sob!)

  3. What’s the fewest number of books you’ve ever owned (not counting your pre-reading years)?

    Hmmm. Hard to answer this one. I suppose my book collection was at its tiniest when I was about ten years old, right after my father died. My mother and I moved in with her parents and there just wasn't room for all my toys and books to move with us. I had to choose a few of my most precious possessions to hang onto, and the rest were given away to "less fortunate" kids. At the time, of course, I couldn't imagine any kid less fortunate than I was. But I survived -- and started rebuilding my library very quickly. Occasionally my mother would have one of her clearing-out fits and pressure me to winnow out the books I no longer wanted. The problem with that is that I wanted all of them! It's a problem I'm still living with today. (Hello, my name is Joy and I'm a bookaholic.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: Shut Your Eyes Tight

This week my teaser lines come from the new John Verdon thriller, Shut Your Eyes Tight. I just started the book, but I read Verdon's first Dave Gurney thriller, Think of a Number last year and really enjoyed it, so I have great hopes for this one. So far, it's passed the 50-page test with flying colors. This snippet is from page 12 of the ARC, and has retired police detective Gurney thinking about Jack Hardwick, another cop he worked with on a few cases, some years ago (please note that these lines are from an uncorrected proof of the novel, so they might differ in the finished edition):
If he were to be completely honest about it, Gurney would have to admit that he and Hardwick did have, in at least one respect, a unique relationship. Ten years earlier, working in jurisdictions a hundred miles apart on different aspects of the same murder case, they had discovered separate halves of the victim's severed body. That sort of serendipity in detection can forge a strong, if bizarre, bond.
Well, sure it can. Not to mention nightmares and post traumatic stress syndrome. I guess Gilbert and Sullivan were right when they said a policeman's lot is not a happy one.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday's List: Best Read

It's been a while since I took a look at the Best Read Books list, published every week by the Friday Reads group (see their Facebook page). Here's their list of the most popular books for last week (June 17th) -- just the top twenty books, although the list actually runs to over fifty.
  1. STATE OF WONDER by Ann Patchett
  2. BEST KEPT SECRET by Amy Hatvany
  3. HOURGLASS by Myra McEntire
  4. THE BLIND ASSASSIN by Margaret Atwood
  5. A CLASH OF KINGS by George R R Martin
  6. BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray
  7. MAINE. J. Courtney Sullivan
  8. THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
  9. THE BORROWER by Rebecca Makkai
  10. THE HAPPINESS HYPOTHESIS by Jonathan Haidt
  11. THE WEIRD SISTERS by Eleanor Brown
  12. BOSSYPANTS by Tina Fey
  13. CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese
  14. IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma
  15. IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS by Erik Larson
  16. ROOM by Emma Donoghue
  17. THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusak
  18. THE END OF EVERYTHING by Megan Abbott
  19. THE MAP OF TIME by Felix Palma
  20. THE PARIS WIFE by Paula McLain
Once again, I'm not very up-to-date here: I've only read one of the books on the list -- Eleanor Brown's Weird Sisters (see my review). But I see several titles that are already on my TBR list, and a couple more that are definitely strong candidates.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Soundtrack

This week's BTT question: What, if any, kind of music do you listen to when you’re reading? (Given a choice, of course!)

And my answer: Most of the time, none. Although I'm not really opposed to the idea: I like listening to music and I like reading. I just don't usually think about doing the two at the same time.

But if and when I do combine them, then the music has to be something that will fade nicely into the background. Jazz is usually my first choice, or "light" classical -- but nothing too raucous. Occasionally, I'll even listen to what used to be called "New Age" music while I read. Have to be careful there, though -- some of that "alternative" music puts me right to sleep.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: The Unbelievers

This week my teaser lines come from The Unbelievers by Alastair Sim. Set in Scotland during Queen Victoria's reign, the book follows Inspector Allerdyce and Sergeant McGillivray of the Edinburgh police force as they attempt to solve the murder of the powerful (and rather improbably named) Duke of Dornoch. This snippet is from page 47 and has Allerdyce thinking about his young second wife and their family:
Every day of his seven year marriage to Margaret he'd felt an impermanence, as if she might be torn away from him at any moment. Sometimes he'd almost persuaded himself that this was an irrationality, that she was young and healthy and he had no reason to fear. But now, watching how painfully slowly she was regaining her strength after the baby's birth, he knew it was permanence that was the illusion.
I've only just started this one, so I'm just getting acquainted with the Inspector, but the book certainly seems like the beginning of a series, so far.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday's List: Jury Duty

Yes, jury duty. Don't know that I'll actually be serving on a jury, but next week I'm on call. And that got me thinking about books involving courts and trials and juries. So here's a little list of some of the titles I came up with. I've read most of them, but some are on my list to read someday. A few nonfiction, but mostly novels and plays.
  1. The Eumenides. Aeschylus (Might as well start off with possibly the first literary trial in history.)
  2. Anatomy of a Murder. Robert Traver
  3. A Time to Kill. John Grisham (Haven't read anything by Grisham, but I want to. He's written so many legal thrillers, it's hard to know where to start; so I'm just using the book that started it all.)
  4. The Caine Mutiny. Herman Wouk
  5. Helter Skelter. Vincent Bugliosi (The story of the investigation of the Manson Family murders back in the 1960s and the subsequent trial, by the prosecuting attorney in the case. One of the best true crime tales ever written.)
  6. Inherit the Wind. James Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee
  7. The Merchant of Venice. William Shakespeare
  8. Rumpole of the Bailey. John Mortimer (The first collection of stories or novellas, based on the wonderful British TV show.)
  9. The Stranger. Albert Camus
  10. Strong Poison. Dorothy L. Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey meets Harriet Vane for the first time, when she's on trial for poisoning her former lover. When Lord Peter falls in love with Harriet himself, he has to prove she's not guilty or risk losing her forever! Great stuff.)
  11. Kidnap: The Story of the Lindbergh Case. George Waller
  12. To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee
  13. The Trial. Franz Kafka
  14. Twelve Angry Men. Reginald Rose (This one began life as a TV show, and then morphed into a much-performed play and a couple of movies.)
  15. Witness for the Prosecution. Agatha Christie
Most of these have been filmed or turned into TV shows (or based on TV shows). That makes sense, I suppose, as trials are naturally packed with drama. Of course, I'm hoping any trial I might be involved in will be nice and quiet and (above all) short.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Interactivity

Wow, this week's BTT topic is actually quite a complicated one:
With the advent (and growing popularity) of eBooks, I’m seeing more and more articles about how much “better” they can be, because they have the option to be interactive … videos, music, glossaries … all sorts of little extra goodies to help “enhance” your reading experience, rather like listening to the Director’s commentary on a DVD of your favorite movie.

How do you feel about that possibility? Does it excite you in a cutting-edge kind of way? Or does it chill you to the bone because that’s not what reading is ABOUT?
But my answer is pretty simple. Assuming we're talking about reading for pleasure, I really prefer my reading to be non-interactive. Or, if it's going to be interactive, I want to choose my own form of interactivity. I'm a little dubious about having my reading experience "enhanced" according to someone else's tastes or ideas.

I'm not opposed to e-books and e-readers; in fact, I've read several books online or on my iPad. But when I'm e-reading, I like the experience to be as near to "real" reading as possible. Yes, I am a bookaholic, and love the look, smell and just general aura of real, physical books. Also, when I'm reading, I like to lose myself in the narrative and concentrate on the writing; I don't want videos, embedded music, sound effects, advertising, or author interviews intruding.

And since I'm also a VOB (very old broad), and I've had a lifetime of getting used to my bookish habits, I don't think my opinion is likely to change anytime soon -- I don't have anything against all the new electronic reading gadgetry; but for me, it's always going to be something extra. An interesting (and even attractive) something extra, but definitely not my main choice (as long as I have a choice). And when I do choose to e-read, I don't want a lot of bells and whistles distracting me.

Oh, and I don't usually watch or listen to directors' commentaries, either. I just wanta watch the movie.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is hosted weekly by MizB at Should Be Reading. To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions:

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Friday's List: Back in Time

Do you remember what you were reading around this time of year, ten years ago? How about twenty years ago? I've kept reading lists over the years, but not always by the month or week. And during the '90s, for a lot of reasons, my reading had fallen off alarmingly -- so there are tons of books from that period that I'd still love to read. In fact, I've got a sort of perpetual personal reading challenge going on, to nudge me into doing just that.

So I've been looking at some of the best-seller lists from that period. Here's the New York Times best-selling fiction list for the week of June 9th, 1991:
  1. Loves Music, Loves to Dance, by Mary Higgins Clark
  2. Oh, The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss
  3. As the Crow Flies, by Jeffrey Archer
  4. The Firm, by John Grisham
  5. Heir to the Empire, by Timothy Zahn
  6. "H" is for Homicide, by Sue Grafton
  7. Bright Captivity, by Eugenia Price
  8. Heartbeat, by Danielle Steel
  9. Immortality, by Milan Kundera
  10. The Crown of Columbus, by Michael Dorris and Louise Erdrich
  11. The Seeress of Kell, by David Eddings
  12. Damage, by Josephine Hart
  13. Object Lessons, by Anna Quindlen
  14. The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal, by Lilian Jackson Braun
  15. The Seventh Commandment, by Lawrence Sanders
It's interesting to see how many of those authors are still publishing best-sellers twenty years later. Also interesting that both Josephine Hart and Lilian Jackson Braun died just this month.

Sad to say, I have not read a single one of the books on the list -- not even the Dr. Seuss! I was reading quite a bit of Milan Kundera back then, but managed to miss the book listed here; it's going on my Reading the '90s Challenge list right away!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: Whisker of Evil

This week my teaser lines come from Whisker of Evil, one of the Mrs. Murphy mystery novels written by Rita Mae Brown and co-authored by her pet cat, Sneaky Pie Brown. I've read a few of the earlier books in the series, but this one is No. 12, so it's a little more recent. And these are the book's opening lines:
Barry Monteith was still breathing when Harry found him. His throat had been ripped out.
And we've jumped right into the murder with absolutely no lead-up. So far, I love it!

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Friday's List: Recommended for Your Reading Pleasure

Library Thing has an interesting feature called Member Recommendations which generates a list of recommended books, based on other books in your LT library list. I've never really played with it before, but when I activated it this morning, this is the list it came up with for me:
  1. An Unofficial Rose. Iris Murdoch
  2. A Fine Balance. Rohinton Mistry
  3. Cara De Plata. Ramon del Valle-Inclan
  4. Lady Audley's Secret. M.E. Braddon
  5. A Fraction of the Whole. Steve Toltz
  6. Norwegian Wood. Haruki Murakami
  7. The Virgin Blue. Tracy Chevalier
  8. The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession. Paul Coelho
  9. Trust Me On This. Donald E. Westlake
  10. The Moses Legacy. Adam Palmer
  11. Bereft. Chris Womersley
  12. Lullabies for Little Criminals. Heather O'Neill
  13. Ellen Terry and Bernard Shaw, A Correspondence. Christopher St.John
  14. Summer Crossing. Truman Capote
  15. Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field. Melissa Nathan
Those are just the top fifteen -- the entire list contains a thousand titles, and can be "refreshed" for a thousand more. I hate to admit it, but there are a few titles and authors on the list that I've never even heard of, and a couple that I'm pretty sure I'd never think about reading. But also several that are already on my TBR list. And one (Lady Audley's Secret) that I've actually read -- but I might not have that noted in my list of books.

So with all these recommendations to browse, I suppose I can never complain about not knowing what to read next!