Thursday, February 01, 2007

January Reading Extravaganza

Well, it's almost IMPOSSIBLE to believe, but January 2007 has been and gone. Honestly, I do not have any idea where the time went. Seems like just last night I was celebrating New Year's Eve with my girls and now...I'm getting ready for Valentine's Day.

As you may or may not know, I am busily working on reading 100 books this year. Kind of, but not really, a resolution. So, at the end of each month, I'll post a little something about the books I've been reading and my tally for the month and the year. January will be easiest. :-)

This month I read:

1 & 2. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie also by LIW. I am reading these as research for my own book, which no longer has a title. I'm trying to get some idea of what kind of dialogue/language might have been used back then, and several people who have read "The Book" thought of the Little House series while reading them. I used to own the entire collection as a child, but don't know where they've gotten to and never read them, so I used a Christmas gift card to buy the 5 book set. They are WONDERFUL! Of course today, we would be shocked at the terms and characterizations for "native Americans" and other non-PC things that LIW wrote, but that was the vernacular of the time. The stories are charming, funny, and in some cases rather nerve-wracking (although I knew they would survive, I was a bit nervous when the Ingalls family contract malaria--what a page turner!). I am hoping to get my hands on book 3 (yes, Melissa, I'd love to borrow it next time I see you!) soon to continue reading the series.

3. The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini. My sister brought this book home from Florida and ranted and raved about it. I thought it was "cute" although not something I couldn't put down and pick back up if so desired. It is the story of a young woman named Sarah, who moves to a small Pennsylvania town due to her husband's job. She can't find work (gee, this is sounding awfully familiar), but eventually secures a job helping an elderly lady clean her family home for sale. The woman is a master quilter, and agrees to teach Sarah to quilt as part of her compensation. Sarah meets up with a group of quilters who have formed a quilting bee in town, and this sets up what will become an additional 7 or so books in the series, presumably one about each member of the bee. Anyway, the old lady has a secret, harboring back to WWII, and Sarah is determined to help Mrs. Compson shed her past and embrace her future. The book is written VERY simply, but if all you're after is a good, cute, quick read, then this may be the book for you. It's not going to win any major literature prizes, but judging from Chiaverini's website, she's got a nice little niche she enjoys and people are enjoying this book quite a bit. I'm looking forward to book two for the simple reason that I won't have to think too hard to read it.

4. The Innocent Man by John Grisham. I blogged a brief entry about this before, but will come back to it, as it was a New Year's read. Grisham's first foray into the world of true crime/non-fiction writing is a stunner. Literally, we could not stop reading it. The book is the story of a mentally ill young man in Oklahoma who is accused and convicted of a murder he did not commit. There is no doubt from the first that he and his friend are innocent, but due to inept defense lawyers, crooked prosecutors and investigators, and a skewed system of justice, two men are convicted of the murder and sent to prison. Ron Williamson awaits the death penalty in a penal system that makes his schizophrenia worsen, while Dennis Fritz serves his life sentence actively trying to learn the law and get an attorney to take his case. Enter the Innocence Project. Until I read this book, while I was leaning away from supporting the death penalty, I couldn't say firmly that I was opposed to it. This book really tipped the scales (pardon the pun) for me. An excellent read.

5. Hanna's Daughters by Marianne Fredriksson. Our book club selection of the month. We will be meeting to discuss this one on Feb. 5 (Monday), so I don't want to say too, too much about it, since the girls deserve my comments first! But, suffice it to say, the first 25 pages are deathly slow, then it picks up during "Part One" and about half of "Part Two" and then falls apart again. I suppose I was meant to cry and be shocked and outraged and also feel joy for the women in the book, but it was a struggle a lot of the time to stay awake. Perhaps if I were Swedish, I would have enjoyed it more. I don't know...

6. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. This was this month's selection for the book club, and it was a WONDERFUL book, even if I had to read the Oxford English Dictionary at the same time. Loosely based on a true story, YOW is the tale of a small village in England in which the plague breaks out. The town's minister convinces the majority of its residents to stay put in the village and not risk infecting and spreading the contagion to those outside the confines of the village. What follows is the town turning in on itself, madness and mayhem reigning. The story is told through the eyes of Anna, the minister's 19 year old servant girl, a widow whose two young sons are among the first felled by the plague. The writing is vivid, colorful, and full of words that I didn't know. Yes, I could figure many out by context, but what's the fun in that? So I created my own glossary--and there's a glossary for the book on line. If you decide to read it and want to have a copy of my glossary, let me know, and I'll send it to you. A great read, I'm looking forward to reading March in...well, March.

So, I think that's it for January, and it's not looking real good for 100 books this year, but I'm going to keep plugging along. On my "to be read" shelf are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (yes, still trying to get into it), Anybody Out There? by Marion Keyes, and I'm in the midst of an AMAZING book called Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, which is like a novel comprised of beautiful poetry.

Till next time, I'll see you in the stacks!

1 pearl(s) of wisdom:

Barbara's Journey Toward Justice said...

A Book Recommendation-I see you like The Innocent Man, here is what they call the companion book. Journey Toward Justice by Dennis Fritz. Journey Toward Justice is a testimony to the Triumph of the human Spirit and is a Memoir. Dennis Fritz was wrongfully convicted of murder after a swift trail. The only thing that saved him from the Death Penalty was a lone vote from a juror. Dennis Fritz was the other Innocent man mentioned in John Grisham's Book The Innocent Man. The Innocent Man by John Grisham is all about Ronnie Williamson, Dennis fritz's co-defendant Ronnie Williamson was sentenced to the Death Penalty. Both were exonerated after spending 12 years in prison. The real killer was one of the Prosecution's Key Witness. . John Grisham's The Innocent Man tells half the story. Dennis Fritz's Story needs to be heard. Look for his book in book stores or at Toward Justice by Dennis Fritz, Publisher Seven Locks Press 2006. ..
Read about how he wrote hundreds of letters and appellate briefs in his own defense and immersed himself in an intense study of law. He was a school teacher and a ordinary man whose wife was brutally murdered in 1975 by a 17 year old neighbor and was raising his young daughter alone before he was accused.
Read about how he saw miracles and heard God Say "Trust Me". He never blamed the Lord and soley relied on his faith in God to make it through. He waited for God's time and never gave up. Please share this story.