Monday, March 14, 2011

Fifty Books: Books #1-7

Reading is essential to the craft of writing but thankfully a component nearly every writer enjoys thoroughly, present party included. In 2008 I read 50 books. In 2009 I read one-hundred books. In 2010 I read. . . ten. As it turns out though you can read 100 books in one year, you probably shouldn't as it takes the joy out of the reading as you try to meet a random and arbitrary goal. This year I'm back on the fifty book horse [albeit a random but decidedly more doable goal] and excited for all the book reading fun to come. I just wish I could curb the time I spend clicking on links and getting my daily reading in this way as opposed to an actual book- six books at this point in the game is admittedly a little dismal but I am determined to reach my fifty book goal this year.  The books I read will be on the side-bar- and I look forward to reaching this goal!

Any good books you're reading lately?

[my rating explanation: * are out of five possible *****] 

Book #1 The Lonely Polygamist
This book is an example of why a good title can make all the difference since I  I would never have otherwise noticed this book. I'm a sucker for boy meets girl meets girl meets girl story so couldn't resist when I saw this title: a lonely polygamist? A man with multiple wives and exponential amounts of children feels alone. How can it be? Udall does a brilliant job showing us exactly how such a thing is possible with equal parts humor and stark sobering realism. At approximately 600 pages, I think it was needlessly long with parts that simply could have been chopped out as pretty and interesting as they were they did not need to be there to move the plot along. Still, its well-written and since I tend devour everything written by an author I like, I will be keeping my eye out for future books by Udall.***

Book #2: No god but God

I wanted to read this book ever since I saw Aslan on the Daily Show years ago and was pleasantly surprised at his well-written historic account of the origins of Islam and the current issues faced on issues like hadith and hijab. A controversial book, but an important book that should certainly be read. My main gripe is that the second half felt very rushed- the issues he raised should have been more closely examined, perhaps meriting a separate book alltogether, still it was a good easy read. ***


Book #3-5: Hunger Games
This three part series began with a bang. But you can judge how I liked the series with the time it took me to finish each book. Book 1: 24 hours. Book 2: 48 hours. Book 3: two weeks. I could tell you why this series started off beautifully but then began a steady descent to the sea but this reviewer touched upon every issue I had with the series. I must say I loved Peeta, he had the most well rounded character arc but unfortunately the heroine of the tale was not equally sympathetic nor fully developed. 1: **** 2: *** 3: *

Book #6: Outliers
A fascinating study on the people who are outliers in our society, succeeding by leaps and bounds above all others. How does it come to be? Is it really as simple as "pulling up from the bootstraps and making it?" According to Gladwell, no- there is more we must explore to understand success in our society. I love the points he brings up- and societal issues that may need to be addressed. The biggest take home point I got from this book is we need to not only look at those who succeed and why, but those who fail and why. It takes both perspectives to get a true idea of what's at stake. Great book. ***

Book #7: In Other Rooms Other Wonders

Beautiful. That is the one word to describe this series of short-stories all connected to a wealthy feudal lord in the lands of Pakistan. I've read a ton of books from India, most notably Jhumpa Lahiri, and this is the first book I've read where the stories are beautifully rendered and well told. I normally hate short-stories for the way they resolve so ambiguously, and while these are not stories that end with finality- they leave beautiful and haunting tastes upon ones tongue despite their unrelenting realist twist.


  1. I have never counted the books I read in one year, but I'm never without a book going. My mom was a big reader and her kids followed in her footsteps. We read more than watched TV when growing up. I usually fall asleep with a book in my hands.

    My current book is A Moveable Feast by Hemingway.

    I hope you make your goal! I know what you mean about clicking on links though. That can get addicting and must be minimized to fit books in. :)

  2. Catherine, you should try counting- it can be fun to measure how much one reads even if you don't set a limit or a goal. I have been wanting to dive into Hemingway- I have NEVER read a book by him :( Thanks for the reminder! :)

  3. Aisha ~ I came back here to tell you this...I'm really glad I saw your post. It is because of you that I pulled out all my books I have read this year so far and also compiled my library history to add in those books as well. I added in the short story volumes I am reading sporadically and since they are thick, will probably do so over the whole year. I will put this on my blog site soon.

    I got A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition from the library, without noticing what I had put on hold after checking the library online. The original was somewhat different. The restored edition was edited by Hemingway's grandson and includes a forward by Hemingway's sole surviving son and "presents the original manuscript as the author prepared it to be published." I'm really enjoying it. It's a time travel to a different era!

    This was actually a great way to get to know Hemingway again (after not reading him for many years) because this was compiled at the end of his life (late 50s/early 60s) and it covers the period of years he lived in Paris in the 1920s. :)

  4. I'm always on the look-out for some good're inspiring me to search out my goodreads password and to start my list again. Certainly, I have a pile that I need to get started on since I have a bad habit of collecting books that I desperately want to read but then never finding (or making) the time to read them. Carpe diem, right?

  5. Aisha dear!
    Congratulations on seven years. My goal this year- start blogging, again. Baby number two changes everything, though. It's just so hard to find time and even more difficult not beating yourself up over loss of productivity and creativity.
    I'm presently reading No god but God and agree that Aslan is a brilliant writer. I like his style- almost a historic fiction spin. Either way, he's easy to read and very well researched. His book gets me excited about reading more about the subject.
    I also read In Other Rooms and think your one word summary- "beautiful" is perfect. I still cary the characters with me- a good sign of a good book.
    I'm also reading Nadine Gordimer's collection, "Jump".
    Leigh Ann