Archive for September, 2009

2010 Resolution – The Pulitzer Winners

September 26th, 2009

I alluded to this in my last post, the question of how to approach next year. I don’t think there is any doubt that I will continue. As much as this has driven me crazy this year, I think of next year, of not doing it again, and watching the days tick by one after another and not being able to check books off week after week…it would probably drive me more crazy. Checking the books off, as much as I want to tell myself that it’s not important, has been really important. Fifty-Two. 52. LII. I’ve been thinking about that number for the last 268 days. I could easily replace it with a new obsession, but I’m oh-so-cozy with this one.

The problem I’m having is that I can’t just simply “do it again”. There hasn’t been any method, organization, meaningful purpose. Sure, I’ve read a lot of books. That was the goal. That was the only goal. I don’t feel like reading another 52 books in itself is going to be that important. There has to be something in addition. Not more books, that isn’t the answer. The answer lies in what I’m doing to enhance the reading. How am I enhancing, or getting the most of, the book-a-week experience.

My book choices have been all over the place. There is no rhyme or reason to what, or why I’m reading these books other than that magic number. That is the flaw, if there is one. The question that I’m trying to answer is, “What’s in it for you?” How can my reading goals benefit anyone besides myself?

So I’m looking for structure and process. That may sound silly, but if you look at my posts for this year there really isn’t any order. I don’t even stick to the same method of updating. For the last two updates I’ve added large photographs of the covers because I like book covers and I figured that is one thing that might appeal to you as readers, visitors, interested followers. I’m not reviewing these books, Amazon and the masses will always do far better at telling you whether a book is good or not. I don’t burden myself with the need to persuade. My interests aren’t other people’s interests and I have no desire to indoctrinate (half-truth). But I do enjoy sharing my progress publicly and humbly admit to falling prey to vanity.

“One of the troubles about vanity is that it grows with what it feeds on. The more you are talked about, the more you will wish to be talked about.”

Bertrand Russell

eek. So true.

So…next year. I’m thinking of reading only Pulitzer Award winning fiction. Surely there are stories behind these books that aren’t common knowledge (at least common knowledge in the blogosphere). So I could then write something interesting about the background of the book and the award. On a side note, there wouldn’t be any wondering if I had chosen a good book, would there? The blog could take a “Pulitzer Winner a Week” approach and research the hell out of these books, these authors, these award juries. That would interest me. Not only would I be very well-read, but I would also become somewhat of a Pulitzer amateur historian. And I’m giggling because yea, that sounds fun, and oh what a big friggen nerd I’ve become to make it so.

So that’s the question I need help with. The question of “what else?”. In addition to the primary goal of this project, what else is there? There are a few things currently that enhance at least my experience that I’m starting to pay attention to.

First, I’m getting more and more interested in writing. Second, I’m learning a crap-load of new words (crap-load not being one of them), and I’m casually collecting them on the Words I Didn’t Know section. Ok, so that’s about it. Just a couple of things.

I need ideas, people.

And That Old Cape Magic is coming along nicely.

Book Thoughts , ,

Richard Russo For Book #41

September 23rd, 2009

The only other book I’ve read of his is Empire Falls, which was obviously really good and earned him the Pulitzer in 2002. I downloaded a sample of That Old Cape Magic on the Kindle which is a really great feature. Previewing books before you buy them? Incredible. Oh wait, the library has been doing that for centuries.

I’ve been thinking about 2010 already. I’ve actually been thinking about next year for a couple months now, wondering if I’ll continue or not, wondering about another 52 and if that’s a good idea, that sort of thing. I have some thoughts but I’m still refining them. I’m thinking of taking a more thematic approach to reading. Only Pulitzers, or only Nobel winning authors, things of that sort. I don’t know exactly what I’ll do, if anything, but it’s on my mind. It’s not like TV is going to have a big turnaround next year and get more attention from me.

Book #39, NurtureShock is officially a drag. I’ll continue it, but I’m going to double-up until it’s completed so it may take me a few weeks. As long as I’m reading something else while I trudge through it, I’ll be ok to finish up on time.

Book Updates

Fishing Begets Steinbeck, Book #40

September 22nd, 2009

I was fishing this weekend. I don’t fish. The last time I fished was 22 years ago, and it was the only time. Not surprisingly, I didn’t catch a thing, except for the Steinbeck bug.

So I’m in this pontoon boat and I’ve been fishing for a few hours. And by “fishing” I mean seeing how far I can cast my line and doing that over and over again without regard to the act of fishing as I’d lost my bait about 20 minutes earlier and didn’t really care because it didn’t effect my distance… So I’d been doing that for a while and I started thinking about Monterey and Steinbeck and thinking about reading. At the lake the leaves were changing and it was barely raining and it felt like Fall for the first time this year and Fall in Utah reminds me of every season in Northern California, so there you have the Fishing-Steinbeck connection in rough outline.

I’m only about 50 pages through NurtureShock and at that particular time it wasn’t appealing to put my pole down and dive into a book about caring for children. I was in the outdoors! So I started reading Steinbeck because he writes so well about the California outdoors, and has that Monterey flavor at times, so thus began book #40, Of Mice and Men. A rare doubling-up of books as I’m still on book #39, NurtureShock.

Week #40 ends on October 3.

Book Updates ,

Homer & Langley In Brief Summary

September 16th, 2009

I loved this book. The pace was wonderful. And it so ably shows that even an ol’ geezer like Doctorow can have a mind so young and energetic. There is a part of the book where all the lights go out in this mansion that he and his brother inhabit and Homer, being blind and having memorized the lay of the house, is the only one that can lead everyone out safely. It turns into this long conga line (with a slew of 60’s hippies), that spills out into the Manhattan streets. And the scene is so poignant and telling, and so remarkable in it’s portrayal that I put the book down and let myself be filled with a smile on my face and it reminded me why I’m reading. Words as breezes such as the ones that you watch barrel through the yard and play with a loved one’s golden hair and all is right around you. The scene was short but was so explicit in it’s intention. Explicit but not overdone, not-so-subtly nudging you to see the simplest of pleasures in Homer’s life and thus in your own. Doctorow doesn’t tell you what to feel, but his keen mind and knowing smile are right there in plain sight for all who wish to see something that at first glance isn’t there. The attention you give is given back a hundred fold, as all good books do.

Check out Homer & Langley: A Novel at Amazon.

Book Thoughts

I Drink Your Bookshelf!

September 13th, 2009

One of my favorite Kindle screensaver images. I only have four. Here is a sweet hack to put your own images into your Kindle to be used as your screensaver: Kindle 2 Screensaver Hack .

I drink it right up! Original Image Here for download


E.L. Doctorow’s Homer & Langley

September 13th, 2009

I’m through with The Fountainhead. Finally. This behemoth took me far too long. And I didn’t particularly like it at all. Probably the least enjoyable read so far this year. I will speak no more of it. On to E.L. Doctorow now, and Homer & Langley. Almost halfway through now, so far, so decent.

Book Updates , ,

Bookstore No More

September 11th, 2009

I went to Barnes & Noble today to pick up a new book. This is a rarity and today it became clear why that is so. I have Amazon Prime, so I don’t pay for shipping from Amazon, I have a Kindle also. So when I started browsing books at B&N I found it very hard to rationalize spending $24.99 for a new (or old) hardcover book. How are these stores still in business? I can buy 2 books for my Kindle for roughly $5.00 cheaper than 1 hardcover book at B&N or Borders (in some cases). You are basically a sucker if you are buying books from brick & mortar stores these days.

I used to enjoy the retail bookstore experience. But with the onset of “Web 2.0” it is becoming a much more enjoyable shopping experience at, or through the Kindle store on my Kindle or even my iPhone. There simply isn’t a reason for me go to a bookstore an longer. And that isn’t a sad thing.

I’m still finishing The Fountainhead, probably a couple days away. I finished book #37 before book #36, which makes things wonky, but I’m on track. Today I purchased two books which are a fourth the size of The Fountainhead so I should start and finish those in the next week. The two new books are Homer and Langley, by E.L. Doctorow and NurtureShock, by Po Bronson, both look great.

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You’re Still Reading Fountainhead?

September 6th, 2009

Yes. Yes I am. A MUCH longer book than I had anticipated. Also to complicate matters I started book #37 last week despite not being finished with book #36. So I’m a little behind, but not enough for it to worry me. I should be done with both books by the end of next week.


Book Updates