Being Mrs. Pierce

Life as a wife, hiker, wanna-be chef, book-lover, traveler, and now, mom-to-be

Reading Resolution Update May 25, 2013

Filed under: Reading — skpierce12 @ 8:36 PM

In March I decided to make a belated New Year’s resolution of reading at least one book from 22 different categories/genres of written text in 2013. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being pushed to read a variety of books rather than being stuck in a reading rut. My updated 2013 book list is below, and I’ve included the reviews I’ve posted on Goodreads. I’d love recommendations for my uncompleted categories!

 

1. Theology – TBD

 

2. Pulitzer Prize Winner – TBD

 

3. Mystery – Done! This one I read in honor of my father-in-law:  Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie.

My Goodreads Review:

The mystery genre is one that I have read very little, but after marrying into a family of mystery fans I have become more interested in this category of books. Death on the Nile was recommended to me by my husband as a classic, well-written mystery novel, and he was right.

The book was engaging, suspenseful, and fun to read. I immediately took to detective Hercule Poirot, whose French asides and thoughtful gazes helped make him an intelligent lead character. I was surprised by several of the plot twists, none of which seemed forced or just for show. The setting of Egypt was another highlight of the novel; several of the sites brought back memories of my own travels on the Nile.

 

4. Thriller – TBD

 

5. Trashy Romance – Done! I am going to count Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels–a Love Story as my book for this category. While not explicit, there was a lot of wishful lustin’ going on in that one. I gave it only 2 stars on Goodreads, however, as I found the writing to be rather formulaic and clichéd.

 

6. Carnegie Winner – Done! Well, sort of. I’ve already reread Watership Down by Richard Adams this year, but I am going to try to fit in a Carnegie that is entirely new to me, as well.

My Goodreads Review of Watership Down:
Moving and thoughtful, Watership Down is known as a classic for good reason. Adams’ tale of friendship, bravery, survival, and adventure does not easily leave the reader. In fact, I have very fond memories of reading and cherishing this book as a child. Re-reading it as an adult was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, although I did not fall in love with it again as much as I had expected I would. Despite that, I was still cheering on Hazel-rah and his friends as they faced trial after trial in their attempt to create a home on Watership Down.

 

7. Newbery Winner – Done! I read The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois.  I plan to read several more in this category, though.

My Goodreads Review:
The Twenty-One Balloons features high adventure, fantastic inventions, and the most unique government I’ve ever read about. As an adult, however, I struggled to suspend my disbelief enough to fully enjoy the tale of Professor Sherman’s ballooning experiments and adventures. This is a children’s book that is best read and enjoyed by children.

 

8. A book that has or is being made into a movie – TBD

 

9. A Collection of Poetry – TBD

 

10. A Play – TBD

 

11. A Popular History – Done! I listened to (and loved) the audiobook version of The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson.

My Goodreads Review:
The Devil in the White City is a fascinating look at the people, events, causes, and effects of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. The book is nonfiction, but it reads like a novel. I was riveted to the audiobook version (read by Scott Brick) and found myself utilizing every moment in the car and at home that I could to listen to it.

The two primary figures in the book–Daniel H. Burnham and Dr. Henry H. Holmes–could not be more different. Their parallel stories, however, work well in opposition to one another. Burnham was the architect at the helm of the World’s Fair, and Holmes was the serial killer who used the fair crowd as a mine for victims. Larson flips back and forth between their histories and worlds, which is somehow never jarring (although many of the accounts of Holmes’ actions are truly chilling). Instead, Larson manages to create a layered history of the exposition, growing urbanization, and American culture of the 1890s. Ultimately, The Devil in the White City showcases what the human mind and spirit is capable of achieving–with both magical and tragic results.

 

12. Biography – Done! Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz was one of the first books I read this year. It was a lengthy, but fascinating, read; I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.

 

13. Memoir – Done! I read The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure.

My Goodreads Review:
From around fourth to eighth grade, the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder was one of my two book obsessions (the other was L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series). Hours upon hours I would sit and read about Laura and her family and wish that I somehow could be transported back in time to live on the prairie right along with Laura. As it turns out, Wendy McClure was experiencing many of the same dreams, only hers had a name: “Laura World.”

A few years ago, McClure came across her set of Little House books once again. Upon rereading them, she was inspired to begin a quest to discover “Laura World” for real. She read every Little House-related book she could find; she churned butter in her Chicago apartment; she visited a small family-run farm (and inadvertently ran into a group of “End Times” enthusiasts); she spent a night in a covered wagon; she went to see Little House on the Prairie: The Musical. These adventures—and more—are chronicled in The Wilder Life.

Thanks to my own childhood imaginings, I was highly interested in McClure’s adventures. I enjoyed traveling along with her to the sites around the country that I hope to visit for myself one day. But the true value of the book lies not in her physical travels, but rather in her emotional journey. She eventually learns to accept that “Laura World” cannot be made real, no matter how many batches of home-churned butter she makes or sunbonnets she buys.

The one flaw of the book is McClure’s tendency to jump from moment to moment, thought to thought, with sometimes little to connect them. While I adjusted to her writing style the more I read the book, I found the first few chapters somewhat haphazard.

Still, the book is a strong one. I highly recommend it to anyone who has read and loved the Little House on the Prairie books, or to anyone with a lingering childhood book obsession.

 

14. Comedy – Done! I (mostly) laughed through Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.

My Goodreads Review:
Me Talk Pretty One Day sat unread on my bookshelf for a number of years. Now that I have read it, I wish I had opened it up sooner. David Sedaris’ collection of humorous essays hits many high (and utterly hilarious) notes.

A few of the essays in the first part of the book focus on Sedaris’ drug-abuse years, and these were the essays that were my least favorite by far. I would even go so far as to say that I disliked them. Instead of being entertaining, they were instead immeasurably sad.

Yet as Sedaris sobers up, moves to Chicago and then New York, and embarks upon a string of odd jobs under a string of odd bosses, the tone of the book shifts to more comedic ground. I particularly enjoyed “Today’s Special,” which lambasts the ridiculous culinary concoctions that New York chefs roll out in restaurants across the city.

Sedaris had me steadily laughing out loud throughout the second half of the book, Deux. These essays largely take place when Sedaris lived in France. As a former student of the French language and a lover of France, I relished his witty commentary on Paris, Americans traveling in France (“Picka Pocketoni” is among my favorite essays from the book), and the inexplicable gender assignment of most French nouns.

Overall, Me Talk Pretty One Day is a very solid, amusing read.

 

15. British Classic – Done! My husband, sister-in-law, and I discovered recently that none of us had ever read Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. To remedy this sad state, we all read the novel this month, and today we came together for a book club discussion on the book.

My Goodreads Review:
Despite being a longtime Jane Austen fan, I had never read Northanger Abbey until this week. The novel did not surpass my love of Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice (my two favorite Austen books), but I thoroughly enjoyed its humor and character development.

The heroine of Northanger Abbey is Catherine Morland, a seventeen-year-old young lady of neither wealth nor poverty. At the start of the novel, she travels to Bath with the Allens, a childless couple from her neighborhood. Before long, she falls in with the Thorpe and Tilney families, and a series of events occurs in which Catherine is exposed to human frailty in its many forms. Catherine is trusting, naive, impressionable, and open-hearted, so she is slow to see others as they truly are. Yet those character traits lead, in the end, to happiness for her.

I particularly enjoyed Catherine as a character; her youthfulness lent a light and spirited aspect to the first half of the novel, and her eventual grasp of the machinations of others led to a well-earned, more mature version of herself. The setting of Bath was also of interest to me, as I had the pleasure of traveling there a few years back.

One of the reasons I had never dived in to Northanger Abbey before now was because of its rumored Gothic nature. As it turns out, that played but a small part of the novel, and it was used largely as a way to demonstrate Catherine’s youthful, easily-impressionable nature. In the end, I was simply amused by a young girl’s tendency to view the world with heightened emotions and flights of fancy.

 

16. Author-I’ve-Long-Wanted-to-Read-but-Never-Have: Barbara Kingsolver – Done! I recently read–and loved–Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. I’m still wanting to read one of her fiction works this year, so I’ve earmarked The Poisonwood Bible for my summer reading wish list.

My Goodreads Review:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle held me captive from beginning to end. The majority of what Barbara Kingsolver wrote in the book was not brand-new information to me (some notable exceptions: the turkey mating ritual and the step-by-step instructions for canning), yet it was as if I was learning it all again. I became invested in her family’s year-long journey to eat local, non-processed, mostly homegrown food. Most importantly, I felt inspired by what Kingsolver wrote. Global warming and potential food shortages are going to affect our world–my world–in the course of my lifetime, but I am not powerless. I can make changes in my life, and I want to make those changes. I want a backyard garden, a coop of chickens, and homemade mozzarella in my fridge. Kingsolver, through her book, showed me just how possible all of that can be.

 

17. Young Adult Lit – TBD

 

18. The New Testament in Modern English

 

19. SciFi or Fantasy – TBD

 

20. Graphic Novel – Done! Bake Sale by Sara Varon was a sweet read.

My Goodreads Review:
Bake Sale is the children’s story, told in graphic form, of Cupcake and his best friend Eggplant. Despite his dessert form, Cupcake leads a fairly normal life: he owns a bakery, struggles with work-life balance, and dreams of meeting his idol, Turkish Delight. When Eggplant invites Cupcake along on a trip to Turkey, Cupcake begins a series of bake sales to raise the funds. Real life intrudes, however, when Eggplant loses his job and can no longer afford the trip himself. The two friends then have some decisions to make.

The strength of the book is its simple reality. The characters do not get to have their cake and eat it too, but they have a reliable and giving best friend, which is truly what counts in life, after all. Varon’s pastel-colored illustrations enhance this theme by reinforcing the novel’s deceptively simple storyline.

 

21. Current Bestseller – TBD

 

22. Historical Fiction – TBD

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One Response to “Reading Resolution Update”

  1. Loveta Pierce Says:

    Does Amish romance fit in anywhere? lol.


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