Tag Archives: Weekly Geeks

My best 2009 reads

I went through and sorted out which books I’ve read (so far) this year that were actually published this year (in the United States, anyway). I was surprised to find that a little over half of the books I’ve read this year were published in 2009, so I had a lot to choose from!

1. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (nonfiction, memoir, international, cause)
2. Saints in Limbo by River Jordan (Christian fiction, magical realism?)
3. Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart (YA literary fiction)
4. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (fiction, international)
5. The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (fiction, mystery)
6. Lost Mission by Athol Dickson (Christian fiction, faith)
7. The Only True Genius in the Family by Jennie Nash (fiction)
8. Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum (nonfiction)
9. Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall (fiction, southern)
10. Faces in the Fire by T.L. Hines (Christian fiction, suspense)

Books I haven’t read yet, but think might make my list: The Help. I’m inching up the wait list at the library, but I don’t know if I’ll get it finished in this calendar year. I’m sure there are others, but this is a big one, and I’m not thinking of other titles.

Weekly Geeks: World traveler

wg1This week’s Weekly Geeks question is about globe trotting through our reading (What fun!). I love reading about Asia, but I’m longing to add some west African countries to my have-read list as well. I’ve had a few books set in Cameroon on my wish list for more than a year now (I visited Cameroon … wow, it’s been a decade ago now). I also enjoy books set in Ireland and England, and all of Scandinavia.

The map showcasing the countries I’ve visited in my reading:

countries visited by reading
create your own visited country map

At first glance, when I saw my map, I thought it looked OK. Obviously I’d like to see more of it filled in, but I’m still working on it. But then I saw the statistics associated with it: 39 countries (17 percent). Yikes. Not good at all.

I did make an effort to think back through all I’ve read and attempt to be thorough, but I’m sure I’ve missed some — places I have read about but forgot to mark.

What countries have you visited in your reading?

WG: Memorial Day/summer kickoff

wg1This week’s Weekly Geeks questions (and there are quite a few) are:

  1. With Memorial Day in the U.S. this coming Monday, I thought it would be appropriate to focus on the military. Either share your favorite book on war or movie on war and why. Provide a clip from the movie if you’d like or a passage from the book that shows us why you it’s your favorite book or movie. Or do both. OR choose your own military theme, for example, if you have a relative or friend in the military and you would like to send them a video or a message of thanks, do that on your blog. OR do all three. The book and movie also don’t have to be “patriotic” necessarily. For example, one of my favorite fictional books on war is Johnny, Get Your Gun by Dalton Trumbo.
  2. Again with Memorial Day Weekend here in the U.S. starting traditionally on Friday evening, it also is unofficially the start of summer. You’ve probably been asked this in other meme groups in which you participate, but do your reading habits change over the summer? Do you choose lighter fare? What do you enjoy to take to the beach, for example? What is the ultimate summer book? OR what are your favorite travel guides — official or unofficial guides? Again, an example, I think of Holidays In Hell by P.J. O’Rourke, of places I’d rather not vacation. Along those lines, where do you vacation? Any places you recommend or even don’t recommend?

I think I consume more war movies than war books. Good war movies: Blackhawk Down. Hotel Rwanda. The Devil Came on Horseback. (Maybe I just don’t mentally classify the books I’ve read the same way, though.)

I like these war movies because they tell truth. They’re not fun or easy to watch, but I believe the message is important.

Oh! Just thought of some more, this time not set in Africa: Schindler’s List, The Pianist, Life is Beautiful. As these depict a different aspect of war, they have a different truth to convey.

Summer reading
My reading habits don’t really change with the seasons. I’m not in school, and I don’t have children, so my life is not impacted much by the school calendar. That also means I don’t get the whole summer off. We sometimes take vacation time for nontraditional time away from work.

Next month we’re traveling to Florida for a family reunion. Seeing the people and all will be well and good (my in-laws), but I’m not looking forward to the climate at all. I am very fair skinned. Even with heavy-duty sunscreen, I burn quickly in intense sun. I’ve been known to burn in 10 minutes here in Northwest Arkansas, so being further south doesn’t help that. Plus, so much of Florida is swamp-land, and my husband is allergic to mold. The last time we visited, he was on allergy meds and miserable the whole time. Oh, and when we visited then, it was February, but it was still plenty warm for me. 🙂 That’s pretty much the extent of our vacation this year, other than the vacation days we spent in January for my brother’s wedding. [Surely this Florida thing won’t be quite as bad as I’ve depicted it here; I like to keep my expectations low so I’m not disappointed.]

Weekly Geeks: New ‘official’ policy

deweys-weekly-geeks27This week’s Weekly Geeks assignment is one I remember reading about on Dewey’s blog, but it was before I’d joined in the fun. I have started doing it, at least mentally, sometime in the interim, though. The assignment?

  1. Write a post encouraging readers to look through your archives (if you have your reviews in a particular place on your blog, point them there), and find the books that they have also written reviews. Tell them to leave a link to their review on your review post. For example, I’ve written a review for Gods Behaving Badly and Jane Doe leaves a link to her review of Gods Behaving Badly in the comments section of my review.
  2. Edit your reviews to include those links in the body of the review post.
  3. Visit other Weekly Geeks and go through their reviews. Leave links for them.
  4. Leave a note somewhere on your blog to let people know this is your new policy.
  5. Write a post later this week letting us know how your project is going!

OK, so. What are you waiting for? Have a look through my past reviews (I did recently create a page with all of them on it), and when you find books you’ve reviewed also, leave me a link — on my review of that book — and I’ll add your review to the post itself.

And now I’ll quote Nymeth:

    And I suppose that now is a good time to bring this up: please please please don’t be shy about leaving links. The reason why I’m saying this is because I can feel reluctant about it myself. I worry that I’ll look like a spammer, even though rationally I know there is no reason to…. In any case, your links will always be welcomed.

WG: Historical eras

deweys-weekly-geeks27This week’s Weekly Geek’s challenge comes from Ali, who graciously gives us choices of what to tackle:

Is there a particular era that you love reading about? Tell us about it — give us a book list, if you’d like. Include pictures or some fun facts from that time period, maybe link to a website that focuses on that time. Educate us.

Do you have a favorite book that really pulled you back in time, or perhaps gave you a special interest in that period? Include a link to a review of it on another book blog if you can find one (doesn’t have to be a Weekly Geek participant).

A member of your book group, Ashley, mentions that she almost never reads historical fiction because it can be so boring. It’s your turn to pick the book for next month and you feel it’s your duty to prove her wrong. What book do you pick?

If you’re in agreement with Ashley on this one (or even if you’re not): Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to browse through this week’s WG posts, and by the end of the week, pick a book from one of the posts to read. Report on which book you picked, linking to the Weekly Geeks post where you found it.

This hasn’t been a lifelong thing, but for the past 6+ months, I’ve been really fascinated by the Great Depression era. It may have started before that, but it wasn’t until this time frame when I realized I was being drawn to literature of this time or set in this time.

I think we need to be studying this literature, now in particular. I don’t talk about politics — certainly not economics! — on this blog, and I don’t want to start now. But I think we should be informed by our history so we can learn from it. Even fashion has taken a cue from the Depression era. And I do love learning from literature. 🙂

Books I’ve read (some of these are more closely tied to the Depression than others, but they’re all set at least partly during it):
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (read this in high school)
Maisie Dobbs (1) by Jacqueline Winspear — this series is set primarily in London.
• Maisie Dobbs (2), Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
• Maisie Dobbs (3) by Jacqueline Winspear (review pending)
A Quiet Flame by Philip Kerr is set partly in Berlin in the early 1930s.
Ironweed by William Kennedy is set in 1938 in Albany, New York.
Mr. Ives’ Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos is set partly in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.
The Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy L. Sayers are set in the 1920s and 1930s, primarily in England. This series, however, isn’t strictly historical fiction according to Ali’s definition, since it was written in the time period it’s set in. Still, for my purposes, it counts.

Books I want to read:
The Bones of Plenty by Lois Hudson (set in the northern U.S. plains)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
• The rest of the Maisie Dobbs series
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson

Any books I’m missing? Thoughts?

Writing quotes, day 7

Since this is the last day I’ll be posting a quote a day, I thought I’d give you a bonus — 2 for 1 today! I just purchased this book (after umpteen recommendations!), but I haven’t read it yet.

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.

— Stephen King, On Writing

The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.

— Stephen King, On Writing

This is Weekly Geeks day 7 of a week of a-quote-a-day. Here’s my quote from day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5, and day 6.

Do you have any great and/or inspiring quotes about writing to share?

Writing: difficult

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

— Thomas Mann

Sometimes I agree with this, and other times I vehemently disagree. What do you think?

This is Weekly Geeks day 6 of a quote-a-day. Here’s my quote from day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, and day 5. Only one day left!

Do you have any great and/or inspiring quotes about writing to share with me?

Originality in art: Truthtelling

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life, and you will save it.

— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

This is Weekly Geeks day 5 of a quote-a-day. Here’s my quote from day 1, day 2, day 3 and day 4. Two days left!

Do you have any great and/or inspiring quotes about writing to share with me?