Thursday, June 30, 2005

Pants Pants Pants

Okay, clearly this book is a winner. Although, for the record, I think the names are going downhill. I mean, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants is a good name for a book. The Second Summer of the Sisterhood is kind of weak, but at least it has alliteration on its side. But Girls in Pants is just shorthand for Another One of those Books about Those Girls You Like to Read About. I'm sure it'll be a wonderful book, but still.

I don't think I've met anyone who hasn't liked that book--a random girl in the elevator at work spent a long ride and a walk to the sidewalk gushing (with hand gestures). E Ben, who is a MAN, liked it. Mike liked the parts he read over my shoulder. Sensational!

I think, in the first book, I liked Bridget best. I liked that she was such a together, confident person, but that she didn't fully grasp what was going on inside herself. I thought it was a very complete depiction of someone who's skimming along successfully on the surface of life, but who doesn't even know what to do with the depths. Carmen was most like me, though. All temper and no self-control. There were so many moments, in all the stories, that just hit you with their perfect description of exactly what you've felt at one time or another.

Thanks so much for writing, Rachel! Becky's told me that I should talk about books with you, since it's 90% of what I want to talk about. It's nice to find someone who's interested in this Quest to Read Everything.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


After many laborious weeks, I have finished reading Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. It was a long book. There was a lot of information in it. He assimilates it very thoroughly--despite its scholarly air, he simplifies his means of arguing by repeating connections he's made over and over again. This gets a little repetitious (yes, Mr. Diamond, I understand that the east-west axis of Eurasia made it easier to spread agricultural advancements quickly across the continent), but on the other hand, I would never have been able to read it if he'd gone with underkill instead of over.

I'm now full of cocktail party tidbits that I suspect I'm going to be boring people about for months to come. Almost all crops native to the Americas are actually native to South America. One of the reasons Europe and Asia developed so quickly compared to other continents was simply that they had a lot of good crops and animals to start with, when it came to farming. If you can't farm, you can't increase your population as fast, and you can't feed yourselves fast enough to have leisure times to develop things like microchips. For example, one factoid I liked was this: a nomadic hunter-gatherer can only have one baby ever 4 years--basically, you can't have a new baby till the old one can walk, otherwise you're not mobile enough. So even if you have enough food for everyone, you still can't increase your population as fast.

Anyway, it was a really interesting book. Well designed, too--because of the repetition I mentioned before, even if you put it down for a while, you can come back to it later and details or conclusions that slipped your mind will be reiterated. This is why I was able to take over a month to read it and yet still retain a lot.

Besides this, I've been reading a LOT of young adult material. I'm running low on steam for it, actually. Now that I've finished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in time for the movie that will be out in about six months, I can get back to other things. Oh, except that my turn with Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood just came up at the library. I swear that's it, though--after that, I'm reading only serious adult tomes for at least a month.

Well, maybe not serious. I'm eyeing Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Little Embarassing

I really feel like, between the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and rereading all my Susan Isaacs once a year, I've missed out on a lot of important things. See the following, for example.

And in case you don't scroll all the way down, commentary first.

1) I suspect that One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch was banned in communist Russia. A very different standard.

2) Speaking of standards, whatever nutjob banned Little House on the Prairie probably has hypersensitivity problems. How do you walk down the street if you're that easily offended?

3) I have already added a few of these to my list, and I'm proud to say that some were already on it.

4) At first I was embarassed by the number of titles that I not only haven't read, but haven't heard of. But now I'm a little skeptical about this list. I mean, I would expect that The Happy Hooker has been banned lots of times--possibly more often than James and the Giant Peach, because, while more libraries are trying to include the latter, astronomically more people would have complaints about the former.

And I think the advice to read more is not necessarily solid. Some of these are wonderful books, but there are plenty of good non-banned books out there.

So that's my two cents. I have to mark up the list, which may take a while.

Here's a list of the top 110 banned books. Bold the ones you've read. Italicize the ones you've read part of. Read more. Convince others to read some.

#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Das Kapital by Karl Marx
#37 Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#58 Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Emile Jean by Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Emile Zola
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Trade Off

So Melissa showers me with new things to read (The Innkeeper's Song, by Peter Beagle, which I was too young to appreciate last time). I need to move faster through what I'm reading now, though, to get to it.

I'll DEFINITELY need to undergo a Personal Library Renaissance this time. No more BPL books (except book club books and reserves that I've been waiting for, assuming they ever come in) until I've read a certain percentage of the books I own and have borrowed from others. Right now all my reading is borrowed--GG&S is from Elizabeth (because she beat me to it at the book fair), Alias Grace from Lynne (who hopefully is reading The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and enjoying it) and The Ruby in the Smoke from Katie, who will have to read Philip Pullman's Golden Compass series soon.

I also need to read the Chronicles of Narnia. I've only ever read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but I've become fond of C.S. Lewis in my dotage, and the movie's coming out. Once again, my reading comes in waves--before it was books about finding God and parenting, and now it's YA fiction (mostly fantasy). I also really want to read When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro, which Becky was kind enough to say I could keep if I wanted. I'm too greedy, because I really really do want.

I'm looking forward to finishing GG&S and Alias Grace, because I'd like to be able to look at both of those rather vast books more objectively, and maybe write about them here. Instead of about trips to the library and, basically, biblioporn.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Impressed with Myself

Wow, so I'm almost out of library books. I had seven items out so assumed I had a lot, but I'm returning three of them, one's an audiobook that I'm going to rip to MP3 and listen to at my leisure, and the other three are either minor or done. So I'm...purged. Clean. I can go where I want, do...whatever I want. Horrible, horrible freedom.

Well, Guns, Germs and Steel is going to take a while. Sara, Sara's father and I all seem to have the problem that that book takes forever to read. I'm on page 255 (which I remember because I creep along page by page), and I'm so proud! It's enjoyable, though. Then there are the Alice Munro books I borrowed from Brenda, and the one last book Melissa lent me. Yeah, and Katie just let me have the Philip Pullman--okay, it's a lot. A lot of it is Young Adult, though, so I suspect I'll breeze through some of it.

And then I'll come back and read a bunch of adolescent girl nonfiction, which seems to be my current thing (Stick Figure, Queen Bees and Wannabes, maybe reread Reviving Ophelia). I'll tell you, I'm going to be woefully underprepared for parenting a boy.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Book House

A crazy person after my own somewhat obsessed heart., I have to admit--he's nuttier than I am.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


If I keep my wits about me and my eyes shut in the bookstore, I'm going to have the list back down in the 30s. When it's there, I feel less like I'm trying to beat it back and get somewhere, and more like I have a menu to choose from when it's time to make a book selection. Of course, this depends on the fact that about eight of the 46 books on my list are currently either actively being read or on deck.

The Name on the White House Floor and Other Anxieties of Our Times. Judith Martin before Miss Manners. Collected essays--"our times" being the early 70s. This was a lot of fun--I recommend it.

Which, by the way--add to my top ten list: Miss Manners Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. I'm not kidding anyone--I'm going to get a copy of the new updated version very very soon.