Wednesday, December 02, 2009

November Reading Round Up

The Indian clerk : a novel / David Leavitt.
Based on the true story of the strange and ultimately tragic relationship between an esteemed British mathematician and an unknown - and unschooled - mathematical genius. ~from the blurb
Okay, I will state right up that the bits covering the math theories got skimmed by me because they went right over my head.  But I did enjoy the fictionalisation of this relationship.  I felt the portrayal of the various characters were entirely genuine and typical of the time.  The tensions between them kept me agog.

Where memories lie / Deborah Crombie.
Detective Inspector Gemma James and her partner, Duncan Kincaid, must navigate the shadowy and secretive world of London's monied society to discover a jewelry piece's connection to a murderer and a pair of refugees from Nazi Germany.~ from the blurb.
This was great - very much enjoyed the crime story, back story and development of the main character's relationship through the chapters.  Will be looking for more of her work.

Home : a memoir of my early years / Julie Andrews.
Since her first appearance on screen in Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews has played a series of memorable roles that have endeared her to generations. But she has never told the story of her life before fame. Until now. ~ from the blurb.
Ms Andrews tells her story with honesty, dignity and gentle humor.  I hope she continues with further books because I'd like to read them.  Well worth the read.  Interestingly, I made an attempt at Christopher Plummer's autobiography and gave up - he writes in a unique way that I just couldn't stick at.  Might try again when I've got less going on.

The law of dreams : a novel / Peter Behrens.
The Law of Dreams tells the story of a young man's passage from innocence to experience during the Irish Famine of 1847. He embarks on an epic journey through Ireland and Britain and across the Atlantic to 'the Boston states'. ~from the blurb
Some of the events in this story I found harrowing but this was a terrible time in Irish history so the author is no doubt pulling on historical truth.  Some interesting relationships develop through the book and it has a slightly unexpected ending.  Not a bad read.

October's Book of the Month: Dewey : the small-town library-cat who touched the world / Vicki Myron, with Bret Witter.

Well, I finally got my copy to read!  November's book is still coming (I'm 400 out of 647 - think I might have to succumb and pay to read the BestSeller copy).

Summary from the blurb
How much of an impact can an animal have? How many lives can one cat touch? How is it possible for an abandoned kitten to transform a small library, save a classic American town, and eventually become famous around the world? You can't even begin to answer those questions until you hear the charming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa. Dewey's story starts in the worst possible way. Only a few weeks old, on the coldest night of the year, he was stuffed into the returned book slot at the Spencer Public Library. He was found the next morning by library director, Vicki Myron, a single mother who had survived the loss of her family farm, a breast cancer scare, and an alcoholic husband. Dewey won her heart, and the hearts of the staff, by pulling himself up and hobbling on frostbitten feet to nudge each of them in a gesture of thanks and love. For the next nineteen years, he never stopped charming the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility, (for a cat) and, above all, his sixth sense about who needed him most. As his fame grew from town to town, then state to state, and finally, amazingly, worldwide, Dewey became more than just a friend; he became a source of pride for an extraordinary Heartland farming town pulling its way slowly back from the greatest crisis in its long history.

I enjoyed reading about the cat and what he got up to in the library. Libraries (and bookshops) have a long traditional relationship with cats, including some from New Zealand.

I did feel the author was a bit heavy handed with the anthropomorphism and imbuing Dewey with feelings/emotions that perhaps were a bit OTT. But still, it's clear he filled an important role in her life in particular as she seemed to have more than her fair share of Bad Things Happening. Not sure I'd really recommend it, except perhaps to cat lovers like my mum. :-)

Message to Book Circle Members, Current and Potential

We've got 2 more months to go before we finish our 12 months of books. There are a couple of things to consider as we get near the end of the cycle.

1. Do you want to continue?
       I'd be keen.

2. What books would you like to put forward for consideration?
        Have a think about it and be ready to send me some suggestions that we can put up for voting.

If you have been watching and would like to join the book circle, then feel free to email me.  There is no cost to join.

I'd like to make a suggestion though.  I haven't made any hard and fast rules for this Blogosphere Book Circle because I didn't want to make it a chore or huge obligation.  However, I do have a list of "members" in my side bar so if you're going to be part of the book circle, I think it's fair to ask you to commit to reading at least half of the books on the list.  (That would be 6 if we do another 12 months from Feb 2010).  I don't mind which 6.

I think it's disappointing to have the links to members who aren't active.  I know life interferes with good intentions and I'm not making some judgement about folks who haven't participated - but if you say you're coming to play and then don't ... well, it makes me want to go and sit in a corner and sulk. ;-)  I hope that isn't too draconian to put people off.

I'm curious to know the following (and this is where I would really like the poll function of Wordpress).
If you follow these reading round ups, do you go out and read any that have been reviewed?  Let me know in the comments.


  1. Hi Penny:)

    Those are fair comments you make there, Penny. Not draconian at all IMO.

    While not an excuse, in explanation, I think I managed to read more than half the books on the list this year. Where I fell down was getting around to reviewing them on my blog. Think I only did two reviews in total.

    I think my choice to have my blog posts passworded had a lot to do with this.

    A solution to this for next year could be to set up a new blog specifically for book reviews. I'm a voracious reader, so it could have the dual purpose of a record of my other reads for myself.

    Or, I was wondering about the group function on Facebook. Do you think that could be an option for us?

    Once I'm back from our mini break I'll get back to you re. some potential reading suggestions for next year.

    Re. your round up for this month - thanks for the heads up on the Julie Andrews autobiography. As a child I was a huge fan of hers and still have a soft spot for her today :) Doubt I'll ever get to meet her, so read her personal story will be the next best thing :)

  2. Hi Penny
    I totally failed at the book circle.
    Started out good and even lent you a book BUT lost it at the end of the year.
    I didn't even get round to reading dewey last month and I recommended it.
    I supplicate myself and will flagellate myself with a paperback when I get home!
    Also James has been reading me to sleep most nights so I haven't done any of my own reading in AGES!

  3. I would love to have a go again. It has been good for me to be pushed out of my reading comfort zone. I am #200 on the list for the Dragon Tattoo book but I am hoping to borrow it from a friend. Must see if the Dec book is in....

  4. Hello Penny,
    all fair comments- as Sandra says. And I've fallen down with the blogging part. I have read about half the books as well. I would love, love to be involved again next year as I have read stuff that I never would have read. In fact - still getting over finishing Beautiful Boy last week- and I will blog about that.
    In a pathetic attempt at excuses- it has been a rough year for me. For the first year ever I haven't read all the books for my in-person bookgroup as well.
    Anyway- would love to continue!
    thanks Kate

  5. Hi Penny. I'd love to continue. I read all the books this year and blogged about all except the last one (which I am still reading). Go me! I have been disapoointed that lots of people didn't blog about the books - I know life gets in the way but I like your idea about having to commit to blog at least for half of them - maybe every second month.

    I liked the mix this year of fiction and non-fiction. I will have a think about some titiles and get back to you. (And I really appreciate you organising us all!)

  6. Hi Penny,

    I'm a lurker on your blog but my favourite posts of yours to read are your reading round up posts.

    I read myslef to sleep each night so I would love to be part of your reading group.

    BTW I have read a couple of the books you have reviewed & only because you reviewed them otherwise they wouldn't have been read.

  7. PS In response to your 'do you read the reading roundup reviews' question - yes sometimes I add a book you review that sounds like me to my reservations list at the library. I do the same when I read book reviews in the paper or magazines. Love your reviews and am always flabbergasted at how many books you chomp through each month.

  8. In answer to your reading round up question - I often save your posts in Bloglines so I can refer to them. Just wish I had more reading time.

    About the book circle - was wondering if we could dig up one of those "top 100 books" lists (or similar and see if there is anything on there that might work. As I said before - I am very keen for another year if you are :)

  9. Sorry - I managed to read one book mainly because I couldn't get the others even though I tried. The public library and I have agreed to disagree on a certain issue so I can't get books from them. So that counted me out.

    Anyway, I'd be fascinated to read the first book from your reading roundup - the Maths one.

  10. i'd love to play again. and i just started the girl with the dragon tatoo today:)

    i got behind this summer and still haven't blogged about beautiful boy, but i will soon.

    i enjoy your reading round ups, but they put me to shame! honestly, the book group books are about the only books i've read all year...but i love having an "assignment." i like to read but don't always know what to check out.