Sunday, February 25, 2007

A List

OK, so I haven't posted here in a long time. What have I been doing? Well, spending time with my kids for starters. Also knitting. Now that I think about it, since Christmas my count is something like four hats, two and half scarves, one super long scarf that is almost finished, and half a sweater. Yes, the Yarn Harlot has changed my life; and thank you, Vivian, very much for helping the process along.

Mainly, however, I have been reading. I discovered that I can knit and read, but I cannot knit and type, nor can I read one thing while typing something else. I've been trying to keep up with my periodical reading (the newspaper, the New Yorker, Sunset, and Nutrition Action) while starting to look into books that the kids might like and doing book club reading with a little extra on the side. Right now I'm about a week behind on the newspaper, there's a pile of half-read New Yorkers that I get to when I can, but my list of books I have read is approximately as follows (again, this is since Christmas):

For Children

Cornelia Funke



I like Cornelia Funke a lot. A friend recommended her books, and even went so far as to give me a spare copy of Inkblood. These are long, complicated books that even my prudish self acknowledges to be completely appropriate for any child who can read them. Scary yes, but never excessively violent. And very well written, or maybe I should say well translated, since they were all originally in German. I also like the fact that these books are set more or less in Italy and/or Europe, rather than America. I'm not sure why I like that, since there's no real local color or history, I just do. Ziad loves this author, and has read Dragonrider twice at least.

Terry Pratchett

The Bromeliad Trilogy:

Nomes from outer Space! This series is great! As noted ad nauseum on the book cover, there is a lot in here that can be seen as comment on human beliefs and philosophy. So there could be a lot of material for some very interesting discussion. The stories stand on their own, however, so you can also just enjoy their interesting characters and lively plots. Ziad and Maya haven't read them yet. They're busy with other things, but I want to remember to check these out from the library again if they run out of reading material.

Gail Carson Levine

The Fairy's Mistake
Cinderellis and the Glass Hill
For Biddle's Sake

This is a series that is definitely grounded in the traditional fairy tales. She has every recurring motif down cold. Sometimes I wonder if the humor is as good for someone who has not, like me, read practically all of the Andrew Lang anthologies and plenty of other folk/fairy lore to boot. Maya likes, them, though, so that's a good recommendation. I thought that Ella Enchanted, by the same author, had way too much romance in it to be good for children under ten or eleven, but these small gems, while maintaining the happily ever after marriage, do it perfectly innocently.

Jeanne DuPau

City of Ember
People of Sparks

These books are written by a technical writer from Menlo Park. They are inventive and interesting, set in a post-apolocyptic Bay Area (as becomes clear towards the end of the second book.)

Lawrence Yep

Tiger's Apprentice
Tiger's Blood

Ziad REALLY loves these. They are partially set in San Francisco, which is very cool for us, they have lots of eccentric characters, and lots of dragons. Lawrence Yep is a very prolific author, and one who I feel comfortable with my children reading, even if I haven't necessarily read each book ahead of time.

Ursula K. LeGuin

A Wizard of Earthsea
The Tombs of Atuan
The Farthest Shore

Who said these were children's books? Why are they in the children's section of the library? A Wizard of Earthsea is very good, although maybe a little over Ziad's head, but the themes of the book get darker and darker as they progress through the series, and Tehanu has so many reflections on life that I can't see as all that interesting or enlightening even for teen readers. I would not really prevent my children from reading these, and Ziad seems to have bogged down in The Tombs of Atuan. I wonder if she's going to continue the series -- Tehanu seems to be indicating a move in the direction of writing more about dragons.

For grownups:

Bill Bryson

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
The Lost Continent
I'm a Stranger Here Myself
A Walk in the Woods
The Sunburned Land
Notes from a Small Island

I have to say that Bill Bryson is a genius at describing himself in ways that make me laugh, but when I look harder at the behavior he describes, I have to wonder whether I would actually like him in person. If he wasn't a well-known writer I admire, that is. Hmmm.

Ernest Hemingway

A Movable Feast

I have not liked other Hemingway I have read, but I love this book. Thanks, Zelda.

Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Gather Together in my Name
Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas
Heart of A Woman

What an amazing woman!

So now you know why I thought, at one point, I could easily read 100 books in a year. (I guess this makes something like 25 in two months.) This pace, however, is one I can't really sustain. It is being brought home to me very forcefully that when I am reading a lot, my ability to be punctual, which was never all that great, goes right out the window. Even if I haven't been reading right before I need to go somewhere. Also the house is not very clean, or very organized, and I never know what we're having for our next meal. We never go hungry, though, and I've had some great conversations with Ziad and Maya about what we're all reading. So for now, we'll keep reading like the bookworms we are, and when it's time for the next obsession, we'll jump into that with both feet, too.


Blogger Zelda said...

Just reading the list of stuff you've read was exhausting. I'm putting it on my list of "Stuff I've Read This Year". I'm in awe. I know my deep and abiding passion for television is really cutting into my reading but I don't see that changing any time soon.

I got the Cinderellis book for Cindereleanor.

5:25 PM  

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