Success! This is my proudest “30 before 30” accomplishment so far. I initially thought reading 13 books in 13 weeks would be a breeze, but it was quite the commitment, make that a 4,284 page commitment!
Luckily I had a vacation on my side where I was able to knock out a whopping five books. In all, I read an average 50 pages a day for three months. Here is my reading list with a thought or note about each book.
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
A great story with deep character studies. If Tom’s writing style was less engaging, I would have considered this a slow read. However, it kept my attention and I might even call it brilliant. I really enjoyed this book!
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey is the most hilarious human on the planet. I accidentally deleted my half-read copy of Bossypants from my Kindle on vacation and I think the entire hotel heard my angry she-roar. Alas, I had to finish it when I got home. This book had me rolling with giggles and there are so many great quotes. One of my favorites: “By the way, when Oprah Winfrey is suggesting you may have overextended yourself, you need to examine your fucking life.” Oh, I heart Tina Fey.
The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death by Laurie Notaro
Meh. Either I’m getting old, or Laurie Notaro is just not as funny as she used to be.
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
While aspects of the characters exist in all of us, the train wreck of self-indulgence was a little hard to take for nearly 600 pages, or 24 hours, since I got the audiobook for free on Audible. The first half was pretty good but then it went on and on and became unbelievable … and then I got to the point where I didn’t even care if it was believable because I just wanted it to be over. I wasted a day of my life on the book (granted it was spread out over a month during my commute, but still).
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Now if there was ever an exceptional audiobook, this is it! A truly enjoyable listen and a great, mesmerizing story.
A classic that manages to still feel contemporary. This is easily now one of my favorite books and I’m going to take another trip down Steinbeck lane.
Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson
I finished reading the “Three Cups of Tea” follow up just a few weeks before the news broke on Mortenson’s fraudulent ways. I was crushed and spent way too many hours reading news stories and Jon Krakauer’s “Three Cups of Deceit.” While Mortenson has obviously been less than honest, I would still consider his work to be a huge success if you take into account the international awareness he has generated for education and humanitarian efforts in the Middle East. Such a sad tale.
A jolly good read with classic “the Oatmeal” humor.
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
I went to a reading/talk by Joshua Ferris at Bumbershoot a few years back but hadn’t actually read his book. While it’s an interesting story and look at a moment in time (the dot-com era), it just seems weird given the current financial crisis, recession and sweeping layoffs. A fine read, but a little depressing.
Hurray, hurray for Malcolm Gladwell and my favorite genre of armchair economics.
I finally read “The Alchemist” and, indeed, it is magical. I really enjoyed the simple but inspiring tale, but rather than attempt a review, I’ll share some of my favorite quotes:
“Don’t be impatient … Eat when it’s time to eat. And move along when it’s time to move along.”
“There is only one way to learn,” the alchemist answered. “It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.”
“… when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
“Don’t say that again. Life might be listening, and give you less the next time.”
“Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.”
Four books down, nine to go.
Five weeks have passed since I began my 13 books in 13 weeks goal. And my progress? Just three books. Yep, that’s it. Yikes! However, they are some of the longest books on my list. “The Help” is 464 pages, “Stones into Schools” is 448 pages and “Freedom” is 576 pages. I found the books to be amazing, inspirational and rambling, respectively. Now it’s time to pick up the pace!
When I told Comma Mister of my plans to read 52 books in 52 weeks, he laughed and said, “why don’t you try something more manageable first, like 13 books in 13 weeks?”
So now that I’ve been talked down from my ledge of reading misery, here is my list. I plan to read 13 of the following books between Feb. 7 and May 7. I tried to create a good mix genres, along with a few classics and books that have been on my wishlist for many a year. I’m also mixing things up by getting most from the library, buying a few, reading some on my Kindle and even listening to books on Audible.
And remember, kids, reading is fun! (Where are those BookIt buttons when you need them?)
Water for Elephants: A Novel
by Sara Gruen
An Object of Beauty: A Novel
by Steve Martin
Outliers: The Story of Success
by Malcolm Gladwell
The White Tiger: A Novel
by Aravind Adiga
by Hermann Hesse
by Kathryn Stockett
The Winter of Our Discontent
by John Steinbeck
by John Steinbeck
by Paulo Coelho
Little Bee: A Novel
by Chris Cleave
Then We Came to the End: A Novel
by Joshua Ferris
Room: A Novel
by Emma Donoghue
Freedom: A Novel
by Jonathan Franzen
The Imperfectionists: A Novel
by Tom Rachman
I’ve had issues with reading recently… in that, I haven’t been. I suppose you can blame it on the summer and my time outdoors. I promise that when the weather turns sour, I’ll get back to the library and hit it hard. (Yes, another reason I’m planning my “13 books in 13 weeks” for a time of year when the sun sets at 4 p.m. and it rains 20 out of 30 days.)
Well, my lack of actual reading hasn’t kept me from the written, er, printed word. I visited the Portland Letterpress Printers’ fair last weekend. It was full of great letterpress cards and posters, and there also were a few tables with castaway press pieces. I picked up this awesome piece that says “Consolidated Pearl.” I imagined all kinds of turn of the century shipping or warehousing companies, or even a Portland company with Pearl District ties. After much Googling, I could only find one reference: the Consolidated Pearl Button Company listed in the 1906 copartnership and corporation directory for the Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. Not too likely, but I have a thing for buttons, so I’ll take the association.
The piece has currently taken up residence on my mantel but I hope to find it a more permanent home when I tackle my home office project (#7 on my 30 before 30 list). I can see it happily sharing a space with my growing family of ampersands.
My favorite pieces at the fair were from these shops: