Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Book Awards Reading Challenge

Yes, another challenge. I’m still narrowing down my list. The books I’ve put in italics are still tentative.

8 / 12

Booker Prize
1997 The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
2000 The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Gold Dagger Award
1993 Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell

National Book Award
1990 Sophie's Choice by William Styron
2003 Three Junes by Julia Glass completed 8.5.07
2006 The Echo Maker by Richard Powers

Pulitzer Prize
2003 Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

PEN/Faulkner Award
2002 Bel Canto by Patchett

1988 The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton

Newbery Award
1994 The Giver by Lois Lowry

Bram Stoker Award
1992 The Blood of the Lamb by Thomas F. Monteleone

World Fantasy Award
1989 Koko by Peter Straub

British Children's Book of the Year
2007 The Boy in the Striped Pajams (John Boyne) completed 3.20.08

  • 3 Irish Book Awards: the Novel of the Year, the People's Choice Book of the Year, and the Children's Book of the Year. It won 2 awards
Nebula Award
1966 Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes) completed 3.8.08

Panorama Literario Award: Chile
1983 The House of the Spirits (Isabel Allende)
  • Best Novel of the Year, Chile 1983

Alternates on my Bookshelf

  • The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
  • Plague’s Progress by Arno Karlen
  • Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  • Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lamb
  • Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
  • Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • The Throat by Peter Straub
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

  • Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson


    Saturday, July 14, 2007

    Book Review: Women of the Silk

    Author—Gail Tsukiyama

    Pages: 278

    Personal Rating: 5/5

    From the back cover:

    In Women of the Silk, a West Coast bestseller in its hardcover publication, Gail Tsukiyama takes her readers back to rural China in 1926, where a group of women forge a sisterhood amidst the reeling machines that reverberate and clamor in a vast silk factory from dawn until dusk. Leading the first strike the village has ever seen, the young women use the strength of their ambition, dreams, and friendship to achieve the freedom they could never have hoped for on their own. Tsukiyama's graceful prose weaves the details of "the silk work" and Chinese village life into a story of miraculous courage and strength.

    I decided to read Women of the Silk with the hope that I would like it as much as Snow Flower & the Secret Fan and Memoirs of a Geisha. Although distinctly different from them, it still gave me a glimpse into the Chinese culture that I have begun to enjoy.

    Women of the Silk revolves around a young girl Pei, who is sent to work in the silk factory to earn money for her family. Her father tells her they are taking a trip and then leaves her as she is taking a “tour” of the building that will become her home. The story follows Pei through the next 20 years of her life. As the events in Pei’s life unfold, it becomes harder and harder to put the book down.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Book Review: Stiff--The Curious Life of Human Cadvers

    Author—Mary Roach

    Pages: 303

    Personal Rating: 4/5

    From the back cover:

    Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

    The first three quarters of this book were much more interesting than the last quarter which I ended up skimming. Roach examines the many ways cadavers are used today. Each chapter is devoted to a different use. Some examples; Chapter 1—A Head Is A Terrible Thing To Waste, Chapter 4—Dead Man Driving, Chapter 5—Beyond The Black Box. She has a dry sense of humor that is present throughout the book. You will alternate between laughing and being grossed out. Roach also addresses how much resistance the people who work with cadavers encounter from the public and government.

    Even though I did not enjoy the last few chapters of this book I’m rating it a 4 out of 5 for its original idea, sense of humor and disgusting descriptions.

    Sunday, July 8, 2007

    Book Review: The Virgin Suicides

    Author: Jeffrey Eugenides

    Pages: 249

    Personal Rating: 4/5

    From the back cover:

    Juxtaposing the most common and most gothic, the humorous and the tragic, Eugenides creates a vivid and compelling portrait of youth and lost innocence. He takes us back to the elm-lined streets of suburbia in the seventies, and introduces us to the men whose lives have forever been changed by their fierce, awkward obsession with five doomed sisters: brainy Therese, fastidious Mary, ascetic Bonnie, libertine Lux, and pale, saintly Cecilia, whose spectacular
    demise inaugurates 'the year of the suicides.'This is the debut novel that caused a sensation and won immediate acclaim from the critics-a tender, wickedly funny take of love and terror, sex and suicide, memory and imagination.
    Virgin Suicides left me with an unsettled feeling in my stomach but I did enjoy it. However much you can enjoy a novel about five teenage girls committing suicide. Eugenide’s descriptions during the novel were compared to the strangest objects and events. The smell of their house was like drilled teeth. The imagery he created was outstanding.

    The story is narrated by a man/men. I was never able to determine exactly who it was. I don’t think you were supposed to. It also goes back and forth between the present and the past, sometimes being difficult to tell when it is. Once again, I don’t think you’re supposed to. I did a lot of wondering while I read this book. How could anyone endure as much suffering as those girls? How did their father look the other way? What in the hell was wrong with their mother? It also reminded me of being an teenager and the obsessions and love we so easily develop.

    Even though the topic is unpleasant it was a fascinating read.

    * I never saw the movie so I have no idea how the two compare.

    Friday, July 6, 2007

    Saturday Review of Books Reading Challenge

    I’m going to try another challenge. For me this will make three. Not a lot for others, but a start for me. I’ve never done a challenge before! For this challenge you need to read six of the books that have been linked to reviews at the Saturday Review of Books in the past year. Review them in your blog. Ending date is December 31, 2007.


    Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
    Dai Silje

    Eat, Pray, Love
    Elizabeth Gilbert (completed 10.9.07)

    The Echomaker
    Richard Powers (completed 11.26.07)

    The Book Thief
    Markus Zusak (completed 7. 28.07)

    Ella Minnow Pea: a Novel in Letters
    Mark Dunn

    The Madonna’s of Leningrad
    Debra Dean (completed 8.6.07)

    The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
    Michael Pollan (shelved 8.25.07--finished half)

    Three Junes
    Julia Glass (completed 8.5.07)

    Hosted by Sherry at Saturday Review of Books Reading Challenge

    Something About Me Reading Challenge

    I came across this challenge while browsing book blogs and thought it would be great to try. You are asked to list five books that say something about you. Starting August 1st you will pick books that other people have posted to learn something about them. This is such an intriguing idea.

    It was difficult choosing the five books. There are so many possibilities and ways to represent yourself. I also don’t remember a lot of what I’ve read. I finally decided to list these five books to say something about me.

    Island of the Blue Dolphin—Scott O’Dell. When I would play alone outside I would always pretend that I was alone on an island surviving with what skills I had. I would act out scenes from the book over and over. I also checked this book out from the library over and over.

    The Talisman—Steven King & Peter Straub. I dreamed about this book several times. The idea of having parallel worlds and being able to “flip” between the two fascinated me. His journey fascinated me. I’ve never dreamed about a books before or since.

    Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters—Matt Ridley. As a biology teacher I obviously love science. This book is organized into 23 chapters just like our chromosome are organized in 23 pairs. It puts science into your life in a way a person without a science background can understand. This is something I strive to do everyday with my students.

    Snow Flower & the Secret Fan—Lisa See. In 2004 I traveled to China for several weeks. My husband & I tried to spend a lot of our time off the beaten trail. Here we were able to interact with people in ways most vacationers never will. I learned to appreciate the Chinese culture with all its differences and was surprised to learn how curious they were about foreigners (especially Americans). Snow Flower gave me another glimpse into their culture.

    A Wrinkle In Time—Madeleine L’Engle. Who wouldn’t want to travel through time & space as child? This book sparked my curiosity at a young age. Were tesseracts real? Could this happen? This book reminds me of enjoying “science” at an early age. It also brings back memories like my dad waking me up to watch lunar eclipses.

    I’ve decided to read the following books.

    • The Gallery of Regrettable Food—James Lileks
    • Place Last Seen—Charlotte McGuinn Freeman
    • A Walk in the Woods—Bill Bryson
    • The Echo Maker—Richard Powers
    • So Many Books, So Little Time—Sara Nelson
    Hosted by Lisa at Something About Me Reading Challenge (Breaking the Fourth Wall)
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