Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sunday Salon: April in Review, Book Binge, and Weekly Geeks #2

This past week I had my first DNF (Did Not Finish) of the year. I finished reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and quite enjoyed it, but I gave up and put her book of poetry, Ariel, back on the shelf. Hopefully I'll try again some other time, but we'll see.

I stopped by the library early in the week and there I found T.S. Eliot's book of cat poems, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. What fun! Reading these poems helped me feel a little bit better about abondoning Ariel. I also found Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote at the library. It's the "official" selection for My Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge but when I made up my list I wasn't sure if I'd read it or something else. Luckily the library had it so that's what I'm reading now. I haven't got too far into it yet, and only managed a few pages today because we were out most of the day, but it's already living up to its billing as a Southern Gothic story.

As usual, I don't know how the month flies by so fast. Here it is May already so I've decided to do my usual monthly wrap up here in the Salon today. Hope no one minds. In April I read 5 books, and 2 of them were very short so that number is a bit deceptive but I enjoyed all of them and that's what counts.

Books completed:
(clicking on the title will take you to my review)
13. Tuck Everlasting - Natalie Babbitt
14. Black Rain - Masuji Ibuse
15. A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
16. Once Upon a Time in the North - Philip Pullman
17. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

Favourite of the month: Hmmm, that's hard because I rated 3 of them the same, and the other 2 weren't far behind. So let's do it this way...
Best kid's book I never read as a kid: Tuck Everlasting
Most fun to read: Once Upon a Time in the North
Most educational: Black Rain

Books in: 15
Books out: 4
I certainly made up for not buying any books in March by having a bit of a book binge in April! Of the 15 books that made their way into my house last month, I've already read 2 of them. That's rare since I usually buy the books because I Must Have Them Right Now, but then they sit on the shelves unread for months or years. Sound familiar? I did give away 4 books for BAFAB Week so that helped a little. So by my math, that means I actually only acquired 9 books in April. ;)

Two new books have already arrived here this week but they arrived after the 1st so they'll go in May's count. One was an ARC of Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan. (Thanks Iliana!) The other I bought today at the bookstore, a very reasonably priced copy of After Dark by Haruki Murakami. I also picked up a free copy of The Best Books Ever Written, put out by Penguin Classics. It's bound as a book but it's sample chapters from the following: Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte; The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins; The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde; The Country of the Blind and Other Stories, H.G. Wells, The Woman Who Rode Away, D.H. Lawrence; Lust, Caution, Eileen Chang; On the Road, Jack Kerouac; Rabbit, Run, John Updike; A Science Fiction Omnibus, Brian Aldiss (ed.); Silent Spring, Rachel Carson; Herzog, Saul Bellow; The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, Andy Warhol; The Great Railway Bazaar, Paul Theroux; The Assistant, Robert Walser; Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Interesting choices. I've only read the 4 in bold. If you've read any of the others, I'd love to hear what you thought of them. It does seem a very masculine selection, and it's only excerpts, but it was free! Need I say more?

Reading Challenges- Progress Report:
(see sidebar for all current challenges and reading projects)
Once Upon a Time II Challenge - 3 down, 2 to go (by June 20th)
Book Awards Challenge - 6 down, 6 to go (by June 30th)
My Year of Reading Dangerously- 4 down, 8 to go
What's in a Name Challenge - 3 done, 3 to go
Austen Mini-Challenge - 1 done, 1 to go
Orbis Terrarum Challenge - 0 done, 9 to go

Plus I joined 2 new challenges that started on May 1st:
Non-Fiction Five Challenge (5 books by the end of September)
tl;dr (Herding Cats) Challenge (3 books by the end of November)

Long-term Reading Projects:
Reading Japan Project - 1 book read in April which makes 5 read so far this year. My list of Japan-related books read (by Japanese and non-Japanese authors) here.
The Orange Prize Project - none yet this year, my list of previously read titles here.

book bingeReading plans for May:
Well, speaking of book binges, I've decided to join this one. It seems a bit like I'm cheating since the rules are simply to keep track of each and every book you read. Then at the end of the month, blog the list of books read during the month. I already do this every month, but oh well. Why not? I'm such a joiner! (click on the button for more info). As for more specific reading plans, I really really need to get reading more Book Award winners as that challenge is ending soon. Wish me luck.

Last but not least (sorry this has turned into a very long post), this week's Weekly Geeks challenge. It's actually more of an idea that we can adopt or not as we choose. The idea, borrowed from Darla at Books and Other Thoughts, is to add links to reviews of the same book by other bloggers in your own review post. Personally I think this is a great idea. It's always nice to read more than one review of a book, to have more than one opinion to go on. I have done this occasionally on my own when I remembered reading a specific review by a certain blogger but only very occasionally. (I'm usually too lazy busy to go searching for the reviews). So I'd like to adopt the policy here as well. If you've reviewed any of the books I've written about here, send me an email or leave a comment with the link to your review and I'll add them to the appropriate posts. I really like Literary Feline's disclaimer so I hope she doesn't mind that I've copied it here.
Disclaimer: I am more than willing (and think it would be quite helpful to readers) to post links to reviews with differing and similar opinions to my own, however, I will not post links to reviews that I deem to be offensive.
The queen of organisation has to be Natasha at Maw Books. The Book Bloggers Book Reviews database that she's compiling is impressive. Do check it out if you haven't already.
And finally I think that's it for today. If you've read to the end, thanks for not dozing off. Also, I'm very behind on my blog visiting but I'll be by. Have a great week!


  1. I am not a big Eliot fan, but I did love Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. It really is a lot of fun :) And I really enjoyed Other Voices, Other Rooms. I'm glad you like it so far.

    Out of that best books ever written list, I've read Dorian Gray and Love in the Time of Cholera, and also On the Road (it's a love it or hate it book, I think...I'm one of those who loved it) and part of The Country of the Blind and Other Stories (I read the title story, which was wonderful, and another two or three for a course...I really should return to it and read the whole thing).

  2. I read 'T.S.Elliot's poem book years ago really enjoyed it.

  3. I used to read 'Old Possum' to the children I taught who absolutely loved them. Of course, MacCavity was their favourite.

  4. Hi Nat :D

    I just put mine up, I am also reading OTHER VOICES OTHER ROOMS by Truman Capote for the month of May of "My Year Of Reading Dangerously", also found it at the library.

    I did only get 3 books in this month but am 1/2 way into a 478 pg book started in April.

    And I joined "Book Binge" for incentive :P

    I wish you a very nice week

  5. I'm jealous-my library didn't have any Capote! (Well, except for In Cold Blood) So I mooched Summer Crossing. I hope it'll get here in time!

  6. Here are my reviews for Weekly Geeks! Twilight (, Maisie Dobbs (, and Love in the Time of Cholera (

  7. I've always wanted to read Tuck Everlasting, but never have. Maybe this summer. We're in about the same place with the Book Awards Challenge; I have five more to go by June 30. It's a good thing school gets out June 5!

  8. Nymeth- I'm sure being 'cat people' helps but Eliot's poems were such fun!
    I've heard that about 'On the Road' that you'll either love it or hate it. I've never felt any desire to read it but who knows. I've never read anything by H.G. Wells but maybe I should give this one a try. Thanks.

    zetor- The copy I read had illustrations which also added to the fun.

    Table Talk- LOL. I think Macavity is my favourite too! :)

    Madeleine- It's my first "official" selection for the Year of Reading Dangerously challenge. It'll be fun to compare thoughts on it. Glad you joined in Book Binge too. :)

    Eva- The selection of English books at the library is fairly small so it's just by chance when I find something. It does make browsing kind of fun though. Hope your copy of 'Summer Crossing' arrives in time. And I'll add your reviews to mine. Thanks for the links.

    Bellezza- I think you'd like it. It's not too long either so easy to fit in sometime. Bet you can't wait for summer holidays to begin! :)

  9. Cat poems! Those sound fun. It seems like book binging has been going around, hasn't it?

    I'm so glad you are joining in the Book Binge for this month! I'm hoping to squeeze as much reading as I can in to make up for this past month.

    Of the books you've listed I have read Jane Eyre and The Picture of Dorian Gray, both of which you've read.

    I don't mind you using my disclaimer. I wondered if it might be a bit much because I haven't come across any reviews that I would consider offensive, but you never know.

    Have a great week, Tanabata!

  10. Hello! I've found three books we read. Here's the links:

    Fahrenheit 451
    The Road


  11. I haven't gone too far back in your archives, but one book review we do have in common is A Great and Terrible Beauty. My review is at:

  12. Literary Feline- The cat poems were very fun. I hope I can fit in some extra reading this month for Book Binge. I've made some good progress on 'Other Voices, Other Rooms' so that's a good start.
    I've never come across any offensive reviews either but like you said, you never know. Anyway, thanks. :)

    Melody- Thanks for the links, I'll go add them to the reviews now. :)

    Marg- Thanks. Off to add your link. :)

  13. So glad you got the book. That was kind of fast actually! :)
    I hope you'll enjoy it and of course you'll have to tell us about it.
    I've only taken a quick peek through Natasha's database (so impressive!) but will have to go back for more.

  14. Iliana- Thanks again for sending it. I have so many books vying for my attention these days but I hope to get to it soon-ish. And of course I'll let you know what I think of it. :)

  15. I love T.S. Eliot, and those are such fun poems (though I find the musical a bore). Have you read the Wasteland, though? I much prefer it.

    I'm going to have to see if my library has Other Voices, Other Rooms. I have enjoyed his short stories, but that's all I've read by him. I'm intrigued!

  16. medbie- Thanks for stopping by. I've actually never read anything else by T.S. Eliot. I will have to read the Wasteland one of these days though.


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