Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Book Lists and a new sport!

Do you like book lists? I do! I like all those book memes people post, I like book trivia quizzes, I like to pursue those "X-number of Books To Read Before You [fill in the blank]." I find I've wandered into the little discussed sport of COMPETITIVE READING! I get e-mails from Oprah's book club, I check out Book Movement, have an account at Good Reads (and an abandoned one at Library Thing). I read what everyone has on their Nightstand this month, make 5 minutes for books and make sure I see what the local library book club is reading. All the while I'm mentally checking off those I've read and constantly adding to my personal "To Read" list of my "Best Books Ever" list. These are sort of like a birder's LIFE LIST.

I'm on track to earn a varsity letter jacket in reading!! I scavenge the net for new and forthcoming titles with the mania of coupon queen or 90s day trader! You have to be fit to endure this life! This is not a sport for sissies! My training regime includes Scrabble, word search puzzles, browsing the dictionary and reading the blog Esoteric Curiosa for it's vocabulary words (well, and the articles, too of course!). I also challenge myself, by forcing myself to read something out of my normal comfort zone, or pick a classic to work on, or something like that. I've been reading Ivanhoe for almost 3 years now, but enjoy it when I do pick it up. Charlotte Mason was right--short bits are remembered better. I'm doing Pilgrim's Progress and now, Les Miserables the same way--little by little.

I'm so into it this sport that I keep a reading log (my "life list," if you will), started B on keeping one (although she rarely, if ever, reads anymore.....) and have a blog to chart my progress thru the Ambleside booklists (I don't track the picture books) called "A Lifelong Learner in Ambleside." I have created several Listmania! lists on Amazon (which are linked in the left sidebar) and which I try to keep up-to-date.

As a librarian I recommend and review books for adult college students. I have just started to write reviews for a librarian's professional journal. I try never to miss an NPR appearance by Nancy Pearl--the Michael Jordan of Librarians. Her sensational Book Crush (children's and young adult books) and Book Lust volumes and blog seriously up the ante in competitive reading and are among the premier resources for competitive reading enthusiasts. (I DO track other book/reader blogs too!)
My current favorite, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading, began like a lot of books today as a blog. Author Nina Sankovitch created a blog to track her year of reading a book a day (approximately). I can't say I'm truly thrilled with the story of her reading (too much is said about the books for my taste), but I am enthralled with the long, wonderful list of books--many international books, too. Americans are totally centered on our own world--we even put ourselves in the middle of the World map, for heaven's sake, spiltting Asia in two to do so! So I'm frantically sending out S.O.S.-calls via Interlibrary Loan to try to find some of the many, many gems on this list.

Unlike many of the more common list, I didn't find a lot on here that I'd already read. Now that IS a good thing--new "training" material for my "sport." Here's MY "already read" list from Sankovich's Year of Magical Reading:

Are You Somebody by Nuala O'Faolain (admittedly, I couldn't get thru this one. Rare for a memoir.)
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin (need to request it again and finish it--couldn't renew it)
Christmas in Plains by Jimmy Carter
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Schaffer & Barrows
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta
The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
Olive Kitterage by Elizabeth Strout (gave up--am I the only one who found this too dull??)
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
The Servants' Quarters by Lynn Freed (another one I need to get back & finish)
Silks by Dick and Felix Francis
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

So? How about you? Think you've got what it takes to be a star on the Varsity Reading Team??
Admit it, it's way more fun than getting brained by a softball.


dstb said...

Hi Lisa,

Earlier this year I started a "Not a Book Club" with some friends. We meet every couple of months to talk about books we read that we liked and think the others might enjoy. So, like you, I am always on the lookout for the next good read.

I was looking at the Readallday blog (BTW I think your link is wrong - should be .org instead of .com) I have also read Guernsey and Things Fall Apart (with the kids for history last year). I laughed when I saw your note about Olive Kitteridge. I stopped reading it too! I picked it up because I spend a lot of time in Maine, but it just didn't do it for me. One of my Not a Book Club friends loved it though.

I did not read Son of Holmes, but did read the second book, Rasputin's Revenge.

Read Falling Angels years ago.

Have not yet read The Picts and the Martyrs, but have read many of Ransome's other books (read alouds to kids).

LOVED The Housekeeper and the Professor.

Had to read Seize the Day in high school. Blah.

Read In the Woods by Tana French. Can't remember what I thought about it though.

I think I am an amateur in this new sport of yours. You have definitely gone pro!

Look forward to more reviews.

Hopewell said...

dstb: I fixed the link--thanks for catching that!

I'll have to find The Housekeeper and the Professor.

Thanks for the nice comments! I'm not PRO yet--merely VARSITY!!!

dstb said...

I will say that the woman from the Readallday blog did not really like The Housekeeper and the Professor. I'll be interested to see what you think.


Anonymous said...

"Olive Kitterage" - I found it incredibly boring and gave up on it after a while, too. :-)