2011 Lit Log

I truly loved recording the books I read last year. The little excerpts I wrote during and after each one reminded me of the great things about each book that I had forgotten so many dozens of books later. It also allowed me to fully realize that I had, in fact, absorbed that much. What felt like only a dozen books was, in fact, fifty-three and I had the proof in that list. That experience has inspired me to continue recording. If you are here, I hope that you find a book here that you would like to read for yourself. Listings in gray are romance novels that I need to clean out the heavy realism build-up, they are being portrayed in gray so that you may skip over them easily and not waste your time.

It’s important to note that my blurbs beside each book is usually very vague, I apologize for that. I don’t like to be spoiled about things myself, so I try not to spoil others. Typically I only list my feelings about the book and any parts that made an impression on me.

50 books read so far this year.

1. The Caves of Steel – Isaac Asimov

This book has been a long favorite of Roxy’s and fate has given it the chance to be my first book of the new year. Asimov has been a huge influence in science-fiction for almost as long as the genre has existed, and made a huge impression on me with the short story ‘Robot Dreams’ in one of his compilation books.

While this book shows it’s age in many regards, there are still so many moments when the book’s clairvoyance about the future is astounding. It’s difficult to say that this book could not still possibly happen, in the core sense. It’s setting is a profound one that echoes worries about our society even today. I definitely recommend it for it’s moral and a close look at human nature.

2. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

This series has been pretty popular as of late, and a number of people whose opinions I value have really enjoyed the series. I read the first book and thought it was good, but I’m told the second is really the best one in the series. While I didn’t count the first book as an impressive book, I do hope that the entirety of the series will make more of an impression on me.

This book was amazing in comparison to the first book. However, as well done as it was, the violence and cruelty was too much for me. As this story came to a close, I questioned if I could handle the final installment and went ahead and looked it up. I am very glad I did, because I was sick to the my stomach at the outcomes. Miss Collins did a good job and she got her point across, but I’m afraid I just don’t have the stomach to finish.

3. The Gerson Therapy – Charlotte Gerson, et al.

I’ve heard so much about Max Gerson in all of the nutrition book and documentaries that I’ve been getting into the last year and a half, that I thought it proper to go ahead and read a book on just that. I also have a book written by Max Gerson himself on hold, but I’ll start with his daughter’s book on their successful therapy in the meantime.

This book is a bit on the superfluous side much of the time, it repeats itself a lot. However, that doesn’t mean that the information therein is not important. I do wish I could restrict myself to the guidelines in this book, but I’m not sure my palate will ever accept it. I’m sure I will, eventually, try. And I may even retain certain aspects of it’s therapy. However, like all things that can save us, to employ this way of living is extremely difficult to enact in our day and age. It is not surprising that those doomed and dying are the ones going through it, because many of us would not without such a heavy threat over our heads. I would like to, to heal myself completely, but I’m not sure I have the stones to fulfill it.

4. Food Not Lawns – H.C.Flores

I picked up this book at the library because upon thumbing through it I saw something of interest that turned out to be something I think I might try on my lawn this winter. I’ve heard of the concept of sheet mulching, but not knowing what it was called, I was unable to research it further. Now I am armed with information and might try to save my front yard in this manner, and should it work out well, I’ll continue with the rest.

As for the rest of the book, it’s certainly packed with information. I’m not so sure how I feel about the author’s activist speeches, nor do I agree with everything that they purport as being necessary changes. But overall, the intention is a good one, and the information is certainly food for thought.

5. The Complete Compost Gardening Guide – Barbara Pleasant, et al.

With new goals to reduce my waste, I figured that brushing up on my knowledge of composting would be a good start. I want to put forth a most sincere effort to increase what I compost and reduce what I throw away.

This was a good refresher, but I also learned a couple of things I didn’t before, such as ‘grow boxes’, which is sort of a combination between composting and growing food. Using the compost as a growing medium and food source. This system could be carried out in specific places where you intend to leave the compost afterward. Certainly worth a try!

6. Inner Gardening – Diane Dreher

I am always striving to find an inner peace and happiness. This book promised to combine that proccess with my existing love for gardening.

I ended up disappointed with this book. It didn’t really have many insights for me and did not read the way I needed a spirituality book to read. I am glad, though, to have been given the concept of people going through seasons just as much as plants and nature do. While that idea is not new to me, she put it in a way that made me consider what seasons should mean to me and my well being. Otherwise, I didn’t really get anything out of this one. I do hope that there is a book out there that marries these two subjects in a deeper and more fulfilling way. I should probably look into taoism books or taoism gardening, that is the most likely place I will find such a coupling.

7. Not Buying It – Judith Levine

I remember when this woman was on talk shows, talking about doing without buying everything but necessities. I know it wasn’t quite as strict as that, from what I’ve heard from others who’ve read it, but I saw it and picked it up. It coincides with my own recent awareness of buying/keeping/wasting too much, so let’s see if I learn anything from her.

I really enjoyed this book! It’s very humorous, I love her writing style. It’s a struggle, of course, to discover what is important to save for oneself. What counts as over-spending, what counts as ridiculous, what’s the difference between abstaining from this or abstaining from that, what’s the impact? These are all very pertinent questions for me right now, so I’m glad to be reading it. Toward the end the narrative got a little politically heavy, as it was the year that the Bush vs Kerry election happened, but I really enjoyed reading her experiences.

8. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – Ann Brashares

I’m not expecting too much from this book, honestly, but I thought: why not? I did like the second movie, but that was probably because they were all becoming adults by then. Whereas, in the first movie, and the first book, they are very young. We’ll see.

Amazingly, I really enjoyed this book. Was it because it was so amazing? No, probably not, but the narrator was so very good at reading it out that I really, really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to more, oddly enough.

I was also impressed by a plot feature in which one of the girls lost her virginity and it was not a happy thing. Like reality, sometimes you think these major events will be perfect, but often times they are difficult to recover from. While this is not the experience everyone has, I’m glad a young adult book has a different outcome so that the teenagers that read it can consider the fact that it might not be the very best idea to rush into.

9. Mischief – Amanda Quick

This one was all right. There was a great deal too much repeating of certain words and phrases. Despite that, there were a number of ‘smile to yourself’ moments too, despite myself. I find I’m not very interested in Regency era stuff right now, so I think I would’ve enjoyed this more if I was.

I wish there was more to say about this one. perhaps because it is some of her earlier work, and the aforementioned Regency period, that I cannot really give any review of substance.

Does this mean there are no more Quick books in my future? Absolutely not, I need the fluff and I have enjoyed other books of hers more than I did this one.

10. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams

I read the first book, but never got around to finishing the series. I’ve got all four audio books checked out, so away I go!

So this was certainly all right. There are chuckle moments, but sometimes it’s hard for me to immerse myself in exaggerated fiction. I take may things at face value, so often times things like satire are completely wasted on me. I take the extremes presented as if they were serious; the facts of the words are so depressing, so drastic, that I can’t always follow it into the land of humor. I also suspect that, like many other books (and movies) as of late, that I am just not in the right frame of mind to properly absorb them. The truth is that it was a decent book, but I’m not rushing to get to the others.

11. Contact – Carl Sagan

I started this book late last year but ended up too busy at the end to finish it. I was enjoying it, however, and can’t wait to get through it.

This book could do little to improve the story that they translated into movie format. It is a good book, but it’s messages were aptly expressed in the movie, and in some cases did an even better job. The love story between Ellie and Palmer Joss was extremely understated and preface by a clearer romance between Ellie and a fellow scientist. Characters and scenarios were refined for the movie, and it streamlined the tale to be told. The one thing I wish had been translated is, perhaps, that the search for God extended even to the extraterrestrials that contacted them. That somewhere deep in the code of the universe, as seen through the universal truths of math, was buried a message that God put there to prove to all life that he existed. The proof that so many skeptics ask for is there, the book suggests, we just haven’t advanced far enough to see it yet. It’s something that I’ve recently wrestled with myself, feeling like there are things in science, right in front of us, that seem like they prove without a doubt that there was a plan by someone.

12. Go Green, Live Rich

I’m interested in becoming ever more ‘green’, so I thought I’d give this book a read.

Much of what was suggested were things I was aware of, and I’m sure some of the facts are now different seeing as how the book is a few years old and gas prices were only $2.75 (if only). However, some of his thoughts were very good ones and it all echoes my existing understanding that often-times one much invest up front to save money and not add to the problem.

One thing I did not, in fact, know about, was green investing. Contributing money to research and development of greener technology, et cetera. It was brief in the book, so I don’t know a ton about it, but it’s definitely something to look into when I can finally invest. The idea is to get back what you invested, plus some, since at the rate of awareness and current resources, green technology is guaranteed. Certainly worth a look-see, no?

13. The Sugar Solution – Prevention magazine

This book interests me because it’s my problem. I’m tired all the time, it’s impossible to lose weight, I have fertility issues, I’m insulin resistant, etc, etc. The book promises to help with that by showing you to pay attention to your blood sugar levels and eat according the the Glycemic Index of foods. It’s not a completely new concept to me, but I’m willing to read it to see if it’s something I can add to my growing understanding of what my diet should consist of.

This book was very straight forward and it had a lot of good information and even recipes. It’s furthered my understanding of what my diet should be and how it affects me and made be feel, unlike so many other diet guidelines, that you don’t have to be inconvenienced to be healthy, you just have to look at it differently, make some substitutions. You don’t have to starve yourself, even if you want to lose weight. I’m very glad I read this.

14. Night Play – Sherrilyn Kenyon

Even though this book is technically out of order, it was the book going on at the same time as ‘Bad Moon Rising’ from last year’s list and I wanted to fill in the blanks. And I had it on hand.

It was very nice to read a book where a hot man is intensely desirous of a distinctly size 18 woman, though admittedly I didn’t always have the easiest time imagining it. The great thing about it was that the woman had a hard time imagining it too and so there was a connection there. Kenyon’s books are a relieving mix of very creative backstory, culture, etc, and edging on unrealistic at times. I don’t hold eye-rolling moments against books like this, I read them because there are happy endings, Kenyon just also has some really interesting stuff on the sidelines and a great web of character interconnectivity.

15. Alanna: The First Adventure – Tamora Pierce

Back to Miss Pierce for some light-hearted and intelligent young adult fantasy. If you read last year’s list, you know that her Wild Magic books were a strong part of my teenage years and that re-reading them was still quite enjoyable. Wild Magic was the second series Pierce wrote, but before it came Alanna’s story, the girl who wanted to be a knight. Then I can move on to all of Pierce’s series’ afterward and, like Kenyon above, her books tend to be interconnected between character that came previously.

This one started out a little slow, since the character begins as an eleven-year-old, but in this one little book she grows to the age of 14 (pretty impressive feat, writing-wise). I continue to be amazed at Pierce’s insightfulness and characters, and her romances. My only complaint is that she sometimes doesn’t write enough about what’s happening between characters.

16. Seize the Night – Sherrilyn Kenyon

I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this book. Rife with complexity, it was easy to forget that it was a smut book, especially in the latter half of the novel. The first half made me laugh out loud often and that’s pretty rare for me. I got a serious kick out of the whole thing. I was not disappointed in the slightest.

I am definitely going to start reading these books in order, though, because I feel like I miss bits and pieces when other characters pop up that were in previous books. This book was also a continuation of plot in an earlier novel that I have yet to read spoiling me on a number of the events from that novel. Luckily, with these books (and reading them myself), I’m not overly concerned with the spoilers too awful much. She kind of forces them on you sometimes. Such as Night Play earlier. It was written twenty books before another book going on at the same time. Invariably you’re going to know certain plot elements from the other book and can’t be surprised by them.

17. Grave Peril – Jim Butcher

Another Dresden file book, in audiobook format because of the excellent James Marsters. He really helped me get into this alternative world of Dresden’s (having originally loved the television series, which is veeeery different), and I can’t imagine going ahead without him now.

This is touted as the book when things start to pick up, and I can sort of see why that might be the case. It was not, I feel, as good as the previous book, the one about werewolves, but it’s certainly a doorway book into a whole lot of shit going down, so we’ll see how the others go. I disapprove of the fact that the love story had to be gutted, but over all characters are improving a great deal. Bob annoyed me a great deal in the first book but has been getting quite good. Loved Michael, he and Dresden’s interactions were gold. I really enjoyed that the author put Christian characters into his books and made them not only good people, but powerful in their own right and pretty major characters.

18. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice – Laurie R. King

This book got my attention because it is a (so far) 10 book series about Sherlock Holmes and a girl who becomes his wife somewhere along in the series. I’ve read mixed reviews, such as distaste in the immense age difference between Holmes and the girl (40 years), and that they don’t really think she is so very intelligent or even interesting, let alone believably lovable to a classical character such as Holmes. I’m crossing my fingers!

This is one of those books that would have been better served by physically reading rather than audio, but as with many other books I have learned to re-read the character of Holmes in my mind and have found the book it be rather decent. Mary Russell is not unintelligent, Holmes is really kind of fun without trying to be, and I rather like the idea of them together. I like that it’s a slow progression, that it comes over them slowly. That they are partners in solving crime before the concept of love and intimacy comes into play and it doesn’t even happen in this book. I think I will read a few more, but this book is not a bad one at all. It’s merely period and one has to accept that to read it.

19. In the Hand of the Goddess – Tamora Pierce

On to the next installment in Alanna’s quartet! While the first book needed to get to her a little older to get really interesting, this one’s already in the thick of that and beyond. This book shows a lot of promise and I can’t wait to get to the others.

The end is a little anti-climatic, but I enjoyed it over all. As with the first, you are taken through three years of her life. She is now to go out into the world to have full-fledged adventures. The love triangle became very prominent and I was surprised at the intimacy that came out in the text. It makes perfect sense, but it was still surprising to see it. It was not in detail, but it is clear that the pair are lovers, especially when I know she doesn’t end up with that one. I am continually impressed with Pierce’s unorthodox elements. As I mentioned last year, she had a young woman end up in a romance with a man twice her age. In this one there are scenes of nude, intimate conversations. These are exceptionally good things and one of the major reasons why I love this author. On to the next book soon, I hope!

Sandry’s Book – Tamora Pierce

There is such thing as a story that is too young for a reader or viewer. I first really experienced this sensation when I watched the movie ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’. There is a point at which you cannot connect with the issues kids find riveting. This book was borderline. In the text there are, as with all Pierce books, great insights that crop up, but it was much more on the level of an 8 year old than I would have liked. I chose to read this because it was in audio format for my driving and because it is not connected to any of the Tortall books, like Alanna and Wild Magic are. It was very short and the characters showed promise, but I’m not sure how fulfilling this series will be, exactly. We’ll have to see. I think this must’ve been very early on in Pierce’s career, when publishers didn’t think kids and teenagers could handle more complex, in-depth, and lengthy books.

I am not in a rush to finish this series, just as with the Hitchhiker’s series and, I’m sure, many others.

21. Zorro – Isabel Allende

Reccomended by Roxy, I’m giving it a go. Figured it would be wise to try something a little more literary than what I’ve been doing recently. I’m getting thin on the ground when it comes to audiobooks, most of my other choices are young adult or even child-like.

This book surprised me a lot. While I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite read, it was written by a talented woman. It is one of the rare fiction books I have read in which there is very little dialogue, everything is gotten across in narrative. it was both fun and obviously unreal the way that de la Vega’s life wove together the tastes and talents that would coalesce into the famous figure of Zorro. I was surprised that there was so little of the final form of Zorro, but at the end the narrator says she was telling the story of how the legend of Zorro came to be (somehow I missed her saying that at the beginning, I guess.) It was well done, but a teensy bit lengthy (which even the narrator agrees, so of course we forgive her in our heart of hearts). I would definitely recommend anyone whoever liked Zorro to give it a read, but I would also recommend you not be a die-hard fan of the man or you may just get a little uppity at this version of things. Overall, brava.

22. Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand

Reading Seabiscuit last year was incredible and I’m looking forward to Hillenbrand’s new one. I do not lay on top of her a pressure for it to be just as good as the other, but I do expect a good book. it doesn’t hurt that I seem to have a thing with stories set during WWII, apparently (I have read many the last year and look forward to some others I haven’t gotten to yet.) There’s something very fascinating about reading so much about that time period, I get to see all sorts of perspectives and feel like I’ve learned so much about that chunk of history. A very important one, too, I feel.

This was a good book, like I expected. It was not quite as gripping as her former book, and being about WWII prisoners of war through much of the book, it was a hard read. Despite all of the grimacing through hard-to-believe cruelty and inhumanity, I was glad to know about it. Being from a generation that has never had to go through anything remotely like the old wars, I think it’s important for us to be aware of not only what has come before, but what war can do to people, how precious life and peace and forgiveness is, and prepare ourselves for these realities should we ever have to face them for ourselves.

23. The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett

Touted as one of the greatest detective novels of all time, I couldn’t resist picking this little book up. I saw the film years ago and I find references to it in various con man stories, so I thought it would be wise to read the original. So far so good! While Hammett does repeat himself a lot (huge redundancies), he gets across a really great feel. You also have no doubt at all about what’s being described, he does a great job with that. Besides, it’s hard not to love the fact that right off he describes the main character as a ‘blond Satan’ after a more detailed description, summing up his looks beautifully. I must confess, despite seeing the movie, et al, I have no idea what’s going to happen! (That is probably because I can remember very little about the movie, though, so let me not pump up that angle too much.)

24. The Second Summer of the Sisterhood – Ann Brashares

This book was short. I mean, really short. As with the first, the book was narrated exceptionally well by the actress. This book was definitely the source of most of the dilemmas exhibited in the second movie, so I kind of wonder what the last book will be like, seeing as how that book was written solely because of the movie. Anyway, nothing very spectacular about this one.

25. The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag – Alan Bradley

I enjoyed the first one so very much that I was pleased when the second one came out on audio and arrived on hold for me at the library. The narrator’s voice is stunningly perfect for Flavia de Luce. I hope this one is just as entertaining as the first.

Unfortunately, while not a bad book, this novel was wholly unremarkable. Hopefully the third will be better again.

26. A Little Bit Wicked – Kristin Chenoweth

I love Kristin Chenoweth. I’ve loved her from ‘Wicked’ to ‘Pushing Dasies’ and onward. This auto-biography of her life just confirms all the things about her that is easy to glean from her roles: fun, sweet, and lovable.

There are no big epiphanies in this book and this is mostly because Miss Chenoweth knows herself from stem to stern. As she says toward the end of the book, one day she will be a matron of the theater and when that happens there will be some epic biography she can write about her life. For now, this books is sort of a condensed version of what’s happened to date. I learned a lot about her, but there’s no doubt after reading that book that there is much more to know about her.

27. Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean – Richard Logan PhD, et al.

When I read that this is the story about a little girl who was stranded alone in the ocean after her family was murdered and was protected by a pod of whales, I was like: oh my God, can that be real? So I’m here to find out.

Okay, this book wasn’t at all what I thought it was going to be. It focused much more on the unsolved mystery of her family’s death on the boat and the chartered boat captain that appears to have murdered them. It’s also about how Terri Jo moved past the unspoken elephant in her life and became a happy, proud, and strong individual. I found myself oddly creeped out in the middle of this book (it reminded me of the show ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ which always creeped me out as a kid, this was expedited by the narrator’s voice sounding eerily like the host of said show). It’s an interesting real story, but I’m not a better person for knowing it.

28. America’s Queen: The Life of Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis – Sarah Bradford

There’s little doubt in the minds of anyone who knew about Jackie O, that the woman was amazing. The fact is, though, that I don’t really know much about her. When I saw the title of this book, I wanted to read it (which I found out was a term created by Frank Sinatra about Jackie) because if any woman was ever to be crowned a queen of America, Jackie O is definitely her.

The more biographies I read, the more I come to understand just how little I really know about the world at large. I never knew just how awful the lives of the Kennedys were, from infidelity to the Kennedy curse and beyond. I was glad to learn that the part of Jackie’s life that was the best, were her final years, out of the limelight. I come away from this book infinitely wiser, but as stunned as I was after ‘Unbroken’. I can’t imagine what will come next.

29. The Book of my Life – Teresa of Ávila

I put a hold on this book thinking it was the life of Mother Theresa, but it’s actually about another famous religious lady who made great strides in the world in the 1500s, St. Teresa. This is not exactly the sort of subject I would normal delve into, but I think it’s healthy to learn about things you aren’t normally drawn to.

OKay. News flash about me: I am not Catholic material. It was very hard to get through this book. I am glad that I know more, it certainly made me do a little thinking, but there is nothing about her teachings that I agree with. I do not equate God with suffering, I do not think one should suffer to be devoid of sin, I do not think you should beg God to forsake you in order to become pure, etc, etc. I won’t go into it. Let’s leave it at ‘Catholocism definitely isn’t for me.’

30. Inventing a Nation – Gore Vidal

So now it’s time for some long-range history with this biography by Gore Vidal. I had put this on my list back when I scoured the library for audio biographies, but after ‘America’s Queen’ I became even more interesting, as Gore Vidal was a friend of the Kennedys and was quoted several times about them during the course of the course. I hope he’s an interesting author.

So Gore Vidal’s kind of funny. There’s this edge of personal expression in the explanation of events early in America’s history that are sort of a dry irony or sarcasm. It’s too bad that it bounces all over, and for someone like me who doesn’t really know a ton about the time period, it’s hard for me to keep straight the order of events. He’ll jump from 1776, to 1803, to 1783, and so on. Sometimes it correlates to a point he’s trying to make, but often it’s a tangent that took so long I’ve forgotten where we were before. It’s got some good stuff in it, including what an old friend of mine used to call ‘white rabbits’. Gems on no true historical value, but are fun to know. Like: apparently the French secret service searched Benjamin Franklin’s rooms while he was staying in Paris and reported that he had the whitest underwear they had ever seen.

31. I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This: And Other Things I Find Funny – Bob Newhart

I grew up watching Bob Newhart on Nick-at-Nite, especially over at my grandparents’ house. I’ve seen him in more recent years in the cheesey-but-funny ‘The Librarian’ movie series. I think this will be a very interesting read.

This book was rather short and dry, much like Newhart himself, and not really up my alley. I learned a couple perfunctory things about Newhart’s life, but half of the book was script of his one-sided routines that are, unfortunately, not really that funny to me. My humor has evolved to need sharp wit for humor to affect me. Such is my loss.

32. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress – Rhoda Janzen

I’ve heard about the Amish tradition of allowing their youth, coming of age, to go into the world and experience it so that they can come back to the fold (if they choose) knowing that they chose that way of life and didn’t miss out on anything. I’m looking forward to finding out what else she has to say.

OKay, so I should probably read synopses on my biographies more (or maybe I shouldn’t, might be best), but there are no horse-drawn carriages here. I enjoyed the book and the author’s sometimes harsh wit, but I’m not sure it’s a voice everyone can enjoy. I also learned that Mennonites and Amish are not the same thing (as my mother had taught me when I was young). The Amish broke away from the Mennonites ages ago because Amish thought Mennonites were too liberal. Crazy, right? Mennonites are kind of in between the two. They generally live in normal society and can enjoy things like electricity and so on, but like to avoid ‘sinful’ things and do a lot of things from scratch if possible. I know that’s a shamefully short and unarticulated summary, but I think i could fill this entire page with the information she gave, and that wouldn’t really gel well with my short blurbs on everything else.

33. My Life In France – Julia Child

I’ve wanted to get ahold of this book for awhile, but unfortunately it was when everyone else wanted to as well, when the movie Julie/Julia came out. (I read the book ear 2010, if you want to read my thoughts on it there.) I’m really excited about getting this and can’t wait to listen.

There’s really very little here to learn about Julia Child that is not conveyed very well in the movie ‘Julie/Julia’ if not better. I find her a very adorable individual, over all, and do not regret the read.

34. Home – Julie Andrews

More great ladies, please! We all know Julie Andrews and this is the memoir of her youth.

I was truly amazed by the fullness of this story. So very much happened to her in her life. Sometimes I think that full life stories happened before the age of computers, video games, and cell phones. Anyway, her story is so very full that such an immense story only tells about half of her life or less. There is so much more afterwards and we have to wait to find out! Julie Andrews is an amazing woman, but she’s also quite normal. Again, these things seem like obvious statements, but to hear such an elegant woman have beginnings as unsteady as our own can give people like me the illusion that one day I can be a sage, elegant woman too. So sue me.

35. The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero – Kalush & Sloman

I have absolutely no idea what to expect of this book, I know absolutely nothing about Houdini except that he was an innovative and outrageously famous magician. Definitely a learning experience ahead!

There is a definite transformation in the figure of Houdini from beginning to end. In the beginning, he was a young, talented immigrant trying to make money, in this stage he was often disappointing. In the end, he was a kind, appreciative individual who died very young because he was kind and appreciative. Putting off treatment of his ailments for the sake of fans and audience who would be otherwise disappointed, led to his ailment becoming septic and he died at the surprisingly young age of 57. There’s a lot more to the story in between, such as his war against false psychics and friend-turn-enemy Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but read a biography on Houdini. It’s worth knowing about the founding father of mystery and illusion.

36. I Feel bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman – Nora Ephron

I’ve enjoyed several of Nora Ephron’s movies before and wonder if this short little book with have any fun little observations about womanhood.

This book doesn’t really seem to have much of a point, it’s just some musings involving her life, but it had a couple of things that made me sit up and pay attention. One was the concept of making a meal with an extra side dish that is highly unusual (examples were baked crab apples and slices of tomatoe drizzled with honey), which makes me want to do somethign similar if I ever have dinner guests. The other is the following quote:

“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss. “

37. This Is Not the Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness – Laura Munson

This book was extremely hard on me. I kept thinking, the whole time, I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t handle this. A husband telling you he doesn’t love you and he doesn’t think he ever did after twenty some-odd years. His erratic behavior, his mean and thoughtless acts, his clear desire to leave, his desire to find a reason to. Even having finished the book (happy ending and all), I don’t know how she did it. I would have kicked him to the curb long, long before. I don’t need a man that stupid. I know there were kids involved, I know she loved him to the marrow of her bones, and thank GOD it was worth it, but that book (and that whole idea) wrung me the hell out.

38. I Am Number Four – Pittacus Lore

Watching the movie I felt like there must have been a lot of information left out.

The writer’s style took some getting used to at first (maybe because I’ve had so many biographies lately and not young adult books). It’s present tense, which isn’t easy to write, and he uses small sentences, which isn’t my style. However, after about ten pages I stopped noticing it so much, so I definitely think it was all me needing to adjust to it. Already a quarter of the way through, it’s explained more than the movie. If you’re expecting a vast difference between movie and book, you’ll be disappointed. Given a choice, I think the book is just a little fuller because it explains things that an un-narrated movie cannot. If you just want the gist of the story? The movie is a fine choice. In fact, the movie has the upside of Timothy Olyphant, who does a brilliant job as Henry.

39. Farewell, My Subaru – Doug Fine

It’s no secret that I’m very interested in eating local and shucking off wasteful or mindless lifestyles. I popped this in right after the Houdini book and immediately found myself chuckling on a regular basis. It’s funky, inventive, and sometimes eye-opening about a man’s struggle to be more self-sufficient without any previous experience at all to go on. I particularly love his escapades with the baby goats and eagerly look forward to the rest.

This is the single most entertaining book I’ve had the pleasure of so far this year. I’m crush that there isn’t more. More, more, more, Mr. Fine. Please! I enjoyed his humor and style so much that I’m definitely going to check out this previous book about living in Alaska!

40. A Lotus Grows in the Mud – Goldie Hawn

This was not a tantalizing read, but I learned a few things about Goldie Hawn, naturally. She narrates beautifully; her voice is conscious and soft. it isn’t a very long book and focuses much more on her early years, such as the beginnings of talent, breaking into the industry, having her children, meeting Kurt, etc. But about the time she does meet Kurt is when the book becomes more vague, not sharing intimate details of courtship, of the raising of her children, and so on. I respect the desire for privacy completely, but I have to admit that it was a bit of a surprise to have it rush to a close like that. For me, the deepest impact for me was the story of her picking up a soldier hitch-hiking home during the Vietnam war, their quick connection, and the sad, soft unknown of whether or not he ever survived when he went back. It was intense and vivid for me.

41. The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redeption, and Pee – Sarah Silverman

I didn’t care for this book. Sarah is engaging as a narrator, but I’ve long been pretty sure than most comedians at large are not my cup of tea. I don’t care for crude or crass humor, and Sarah is one of those comedians. “I’m Fucking Matt Damon” aside, her work has been largely unknown to me and, unfortunately, I don’t think I will be seeking out any more of it. (Although, that song and it’s response song were entertaining to me.) I’m not into poop and pussy jokes. I sympathized with her having to deal with sensitive audience issues flaring up from misinterpretation of her intentions, but over all this was not a book I got anything out of. I can usually find at least one thing a book has done for me, this is one of the rare ones that I cannot.

42. Juice Fasting & Detoxification – Steve Meyerowitz

Ever since watching ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead’, I’ve become more interested in Juicing than my previous attempts to understand it (such as the Gerson Therapy). I’ve long been interested in detoxifying my body, understanding that many of my diet-change failures have resulted in stored toxins dumping into my body, making me crave the bad stuff again. While juice fasting doesn’t make this any easier, it has a time limit. There’s a big difference between ‘for the rest of my life’ and ‘two weeks’ or even ‘two months’. It’s not forever, and maybe with that in mind I can work toward a healthier body, finally. Who knows?

This book has been very helpful and full of information, I highly recommend it to anyone considering a juice fast of any kind. I never realized just how versatile juicing in your diet could actually be. Juicing can be whatever you want it be and this book tells you all the options.

43. Juice Fasting – Dr. Paavo Airola

More research for the upcoming juice fast.

This book looks like it might have ayurvedic roots, which I’m very interested in learning.

So I really didn’t get anything out of this book. The one before it was just so helpful and full of information that this one is sorely lacking in comparison. The only thing I think i gained from this book was a lengthier message about dry brushing and a reference to hot-and-cold showers that was never explained but that I’ll look into some.

44. Mother Warriors – Jenny McCarthy

I’ve been interested in reading McCarthy’s books since I heard about her book ‘Belly Laughs’. Even more interested when I learned she ended up with an autistic son and took up the fight. No one ever thinks about ‘perfect’ people having children with problems, or that those ‘perfect’ people will become beacons of wisdom and power in those departments. I like that she has sounded a call to arms.

I felt this book was amazing. McCarthy fights hard for her cause and she is reasonable, not to mention down-to-earth. She’s frank, experienced, and just a smidge vulgar in the right ways. I would enjoy reading more of her books.

45. Chic Sweats – Carmen Webber

The sweatshirt on the cover suggested that there might be more fashionable options for warm hoodies and the like, but unfortunately most of the projects were quite ugly. Maybe on a runway they’re amazing, but for everyday life, not so much. I’m sure there are lots of people who would wear these patterns and I commend you, but I really couldn’t and wouldn’t pull them off.

46. Fashion DIY – Carrie B & Nicole S

This book actually had some really nicely done ideas. Some of them were a little strange, but I got a few great things out of it. I had hoped the projects would be a little more about altering and combining and less about adding trim here and applique there, but it was still a very nice book that I will be attempting to do a project or two from.

47. Made From Scratch – Jenna Woginrich

This was a cute little book. Like many of these types of books these days, it touches bases on a handful of the basics. it shares her experiences with them, but isn’t to be used for instruction. She gives recommendations based on what she likes.

I do appreciate her frankness about some things, or that despite the hard-to-swallow aspects of homesteading and self-sufficiency, that she picks up and carries on. Destroyed bee colonies and having to kill a rabbit she raised when she’s a Buddhist vegetarian are great stories to share so that others striving will not be surprised when they hit pitfalls.

48. The Outlaw Demon Wails – Kim Harrison

This books is actually the 6th in the installment, but I was in need of an audiobook and I had to peruse the wall of audiobooks instead of putting a book on hold ahead of time. While normally the whole vampire-werewolf-witch thing doesn’t usually make me go for a book, even modern-setting ones such as this, I thought that the fact the world is filled with such creatures because a genetically modified tomato plant caused a plague that wiped out a slew of human beings was pretty interesting. In going through the book, it’s clarified that these otherworld beings tended to be immune to the disease, mostly because they aren’t made up of the same gentic code as humans, since they come from a mirror-like realm known as the Ever After. This book was really interesting to me because Miss Harrison’s book had a similar feel to the Dresden novels, but featured a female lead. It was filled with complex twists and turns and had very novel ideas about pixies, gargoyles, demons, witches, etc, sprinkled throughout. Sometimes I wished I had come up with them myself. I love that unlike most authors, she also focused on bringing the sense of smell into her work, I have to applaud her for that alone, if nothing else. So while this book was not a match made in heaven for me, I did enjoy it and it was not filled with the same sense of impending death and doom that the Dresden books usually do. There’s still a sense that people can die—especially her love interests, as indicated from her history in previous books—but when compared to the incredible amounts of other plot going on, it doesn’t seem overdone. I’ll probably pick up more of her books at some point.

49. Family Feasts for $75 a Week – Mary Ostyn

Oh my goodness! Love this woman! When I first heard about Mary over at her blog owlhaven.net, I immediately began scouring her articles on frugality, eating them up as I waited as patiently as I could for her book.

It’s what you’d expect: common sense and experience. It’s a powerful mix, one I find very helpful. The fact is that it’s one thing to think things are a certain way and another is to see it said by someone who’s been doing it a long time. I feel more comfortable about the months to come when I can confidently spend less money to feed myself. Her books is easy to scale up or down, depending on your household, and so are the recipes. And the crazy part is that I planned out two weeks of meals last night without breaking a sweat—I never plan meals! I’m terrible at planning meals! But I did it and I wrote down what I needed to buy, and I’ll tell you… it’s a long list that, miraculously, isn’t going to break the bank. I was floored when I generously guesstimated the cost of each item and saw that the total was incredibly small. I think that with her tactics we’re going to save even more than she suggested. Thank you SO much, Mary!

50. Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using… – The Gardeners and Farmers of Terre Vivante

This is actually a great little book once you sit down and read it. I think that it’s a very important book in the grand scheme of things, because it catalogues a number of food preservation techniques (although not in extreme detail) that are being lost. This book was gathered from people in France where many of this techniques are still used, although probably not for long. Another book for my end-of-the-world stash! Woohoo!

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