Top Ten Tuesday adapted from

Top Ten Books for People Who Like X

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from

Oooh, I haven’t participated in Top Ten Tuesday in a while, and even though it’s technically Thursday, this one looks like too much fun to pass up. This week’s theme is Top Ten Books for People Who like ______. I’ve been unpacking my books, and I’ve been thinking about the connections among my different reads. My husband made the remark today that we have a lot of good books, and we really shouldn’t need to go to the bookstore in a while given how many great books we have. He’s right.

  1. If you like the [amazon asin=0545162076&text=Harry Potter] books, you should try Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series: [amazon asin=0142001805&text=The Eyre Affair], [amazon asin=0142004030&text=Lost in a Good Book], [amazon asin=0143034359&text=The Well of Lost Plots], [amazon asin=014303541X&text=Something Rotten], [amazon asin=0143113569&text=Thursday Next: First Among Sequels], [amazon asin=0143120514&text=One of Our Thursdays is Missing], and joining the ranks in October, [amazon asin=067002502X&text=The Woman Who Died A Lot]. Jasper Fforde’s series is hilarious bookish fun, and even has a few references to the Harry Potter series.
  2. If you like Emily Brontë’s classic [amazon asin=0143105434&text=Wuthering Heights], you will enjoy Sharyn McCrumb’s historical fiction retelling of the infamous Tom Dooley case, [amazon asin=0312558171&text=The Ballad of Tom Dooley]. McCrumb herself has described the novel as Wuthering Heights in the Appalachians, and it’s true. The story’s characters greatly resemble their counterparts in Wuthering Heights in many ways. I loved it.
  3. If you liked [amazon asin=143918271X&text=A Moveable Feast] or [amazon asin=0743297334&text=The Sun Also Rises] by Ernest Hemingway, try Paula McLain’s excellent novel [amazon asin=0345521307&text=The Paris Wife] for Hadley’s side of the story. One of the best books I read last year. Highly recommended.
  4. If you liked [amazon asin=0143106155&text=Jane Eyre] by Charlotte Brontë, you will enjoy an updated retelling of the story, [amazon asin=0062064223&text=The Flight of Gemma Hardy] by Margot Livesey. I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would.
  5. If you liked Diana Gabaldon’s [amazon asin=0440423201&text=Outlander] series, try Jennifer Donnelly’s Tea Rose series, beginning with [amazon asin=0312378025&text=The Tea Rose]. [amazon asin=1401307469&text=The Winter Rose] and [amazon asin=1401307477&text=The Wild Rose] round out the series, but the first one is the best one.
  6. If you liked [amazon asin=161382310X&text=Moby Dick], or even if you only sort of liked it because it got bogged down in cetology, but you liked the good parts, you will love [amazon asin=0061767654&text=Ahab’s Wife]. Oh.My.Gosh. One of my favorite books ever. Sena Jeter Naslund’s novel introduces the amazing persona of Una, wife of Captain Ahab, from one line in which Ahab mentions her in Moby Dick, and she’s one of the most incredible fictional people you’ll ever meet. I love her. She is one of my fictional best friends.
  7. If you liked [amazon asin=0316038377&text=Twilight], but you wished you could read about grown-ups, and you wanted less purple prose and better writing, try Deborah Harkness’s [amazon asin=0143119680&text=A Discovery of Witches], the first book in the All Souls Trilogy. The second book, [amazon asin=0670023485&text=Shadow of Night], comes out in about a week. You will like Matthew much better than Edward. Trust me.
  8. If you liked [amazon asin=0143105426&text=Pride and Prejudice] and [amazon asin=0486295559&text=Persuasion] by Jane Austen, and you are a little unsure of all those Austen sequels, try out Syrie James’s fictionalized what-if? novel [amazon asin=0061341428&text=The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen] that wonders aloud whether or not Aunt Jane had a real romance that inspired her great books.
  9. If you liked Suzanne Collins’s thrilling [amazon asin=0545265355&text=Hunger Games series], you will enjoy Veronica Roth’s [amazon asin=0062024035&text=Divergent] and its sequel [amazon asin=0062024043&text=Insurgent]. Not sure when the next book in the trilogy comes out, but I can’t wait. Her books are amazing. They will remind you of The Hunger Games without feeling anything at all like a ripoff.
  10. If you liked [amazon asin=0486415864&text=Great Expectations] and [amazon asin=1612930999&text=The Turn of the Screw], you will love John Harwood’s [amazon asin=B000I5YUJE&text=The Ghost Writer]. The book makes several allusions to both novels, but it also contains four complete short stories within the text of the novel (written by the protagonist’s grandmother), and it’s set in a creepy house with a secret.

Bonus: If you like Victorian novels period, and you want to read a love letter to the Victorian novel, or if you like Daphne Du Maurier’s [amazon asin=0380730405&text=Rebecca], try Diane Setterfield’s [amazon asin=0743298039&text=The Thirteenth Tale].

Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments. Just because my husband says we have a load of good books doesn’t mean I’m not always looking for more.

Sunday Salon: Easter 2012

I hope everyone is having a good Easter. We have a ham in the oven. The kids received books in their Easter baskets. Dylan got [amazon_link id=”0394823370″ target=”_blank” ]The Lorax[/amazon_link], and Maggie got [amazon_link id=”0439023521″ target=”_blank” ]The Hunger Games[/amazon_link] (that is probably kind of weird, but she has been wanting to read it). I received a gift surprise of the entire [amazon_link id=”0545162076″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter series[/amazon_link] in e-book format, and I decided that since I wanted to reread them anyway this year, might as well start, particularly as I was not really getting into [amazon_link id=”006197806X” target=”_blank” ]Pandemonium[/amazon_link]. I also picked up [amazon_link id=”0143118749″ target=”_blank” ]For All the Tea in China[/amazon_link], which looks like a great read.

If you’ve read and finished Pandemonium, tell me: should I keep reading it? The more I think about it’s prequel, [amazon_link id=”B00526ZKYS” target=”_blank” ]Delirium[/amazon_link], the less I like it. I’m not sure I want to invest any more in the trilogy if I am not going to like it. I think I must be missing something because plenty of folks seem to love these books. Of course, plenty of people seem to be enjoying [amazon_link id=”0345803485″ target=”_blank” ]Fifty Shades of Grey[/amazon_link], and I know enough about myself to know I’d hate that series, so it’s not like I swim with the crowd as a matter of course.

Speaking of rereading, The Guardian has a nice piece about what authors themselves like to reread.

So what are you reading this fine Easter Sunday?

The Sunday Salon

Booking Through Thursday: Anticipation

This week’s Booking Through Thursday prompt asks:

What’s the last book you were really EXCITED to read?

And, were you excited about it in advance? Or did the excitement bloom while you were reading it?

Are there any books you’re excited about right NOW?

I think the last book I was really excited to read was probably [amazon_link id=”0439023513″ target=”_blank” ]Mockingjay[/amazon_link] by Suzanne Collins (review), which I read last September (almost a year ago!). I had just finished the first two [amazon_link id=”0545265355″ target=”_blank” ]Hunger Games[/amazon_link] books, and I just couldn’t stop turning the pages. I suppose the last time I enjoyed a book so much might have been [amazon_link id=”0545139708″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows[/amazon_link]. I didn’t really have enough time to be excited about it in advance because by the time I became intrigued enough by Hunger Games to read it, the third novel had already been published. I bought it at the Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, and I remember carrying it around that day at the Decatur Book Festival, anticipating cracking it open when I went home later.

I am excited about some books coming out or in my to-read list. I really want to read [amazon_link id=”0312558171″ target=”_blank” ]The Ballad of Tom Dooley[/amazon_link] by Sharyn McCrumb. I’m also looking forward to the R.I.P. Challenge, when I plan to read Ransom Riggs’s [amazon_link id=”1594744769″ target=”_blank” ]Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children[/amazon_link]. I am excited for Katherine Howe’s next book (I read and reviewed [amazon_link id=”1401341330″ target=”_blank”]The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane[/amazon_link]). I follow her on Twitter, so I know she’s editing it right now. I’m also excited for the sequel to Deborah Harkness’s [amazon_link id=”0670022411″ target=”_blank” ]A Discovery of Witches[/amazon_link] (review). I’m also looking forward to [amazon_link id=”031262168X” target=”_blank” ]The Witch’s Daughter[/amazon_link] by Paula Brackston. It’s not a book, but I’m mad with anticipation over the unveiling of Pottermore. I managed to get a beta registration, and I’m waiting on tenterhooks for my welcome email saying I can officially get in the site.

photo credit: Lori Greig

Booking Through Thursday: Current Reading

Lost in Literature

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks readers what they’re currently reading and what they think of it. I posted a reading update just a few days ago, and nothing has really changed since my update. I’m still reading The Heretic’s Daughter, The House of Seven Gables, and Great Expectations. I haven’t started Jamaica Inn on audio yet.

However, I will say that while I find The Heretic’s Daughter interesting in its historical detail, and even a good and fair account of the Salem witch trials (at least the part of the book which I’ve read), it’s not grabbing me, and I am not itching to pick it up. I think it’s suffering unfairly from my just having finished The Hunger Games trilogy. That kind of action and edge-of-your-seat reading is rare—after all, the novels have rightly become a publishing phenomenon for that reason. I think I always knew The House of Seven Gables would be a slower read for me, and it’s not suffering from any discrepancy regarding my expectations.

What I’m more interested in talking about is the fact that I’m reading three or four books at the same time. I didn’t used to be the kind of person who could do that, or I suppose I should say I didn’t *think* I could, so I didn’t attempt it. However, I have discovered the ability to juggle several books at once in the last couple of years. It depends on the way I read. I usually have one book going in DailyLit, which is very slow going with just a five-minute portion of the book each day; however, I have managed to read five books in the last couple of years in this way, and I think at least three of them, I never would have finished had I tried to read them any other way. I usually try to have an audio book going, too. Aside from that, I’ve discovered I can read two other books either in print or on my Kindle. But four seems to be my max, and I can only read four if two are in some format aside from print/e-book.

It turns out NPR’s Talk of the Nation recently ran a story about folks who read more than one book at a time. The story calls them polyreaders. Interestingly, the story mentions that some folks frown on reading more than one book at a time. I found that curious because I have never met anyone who frowned on the practice. Have you? It seems a strange thing to be disdainful about!

What do you do? Do you read one book at a time or several at once? Why?

photo credit: truds09

Hunger Games Withdrawal

Why are books always better than movies?

What am I going to do now? I finished Mockingjay, and I don’t have another Hunger Games series book to snatch up and gulp down. The folks over at Forever Young Adult have a name for this serious condition. They call it TEABS—The End of an Awesome Book Syndrome. I have a bad case of it. In fact, I think it’s why I was grumpy for absolutely no discernible reason yesterday. After all, I had the day off. I should have been pretty happy. Instead I was surly and snappish. One of my Goodreads buddies suggested it was because I didn’t have another Hunger Games book to read, and I thought, “He’s absolutely right.” Oh, I picked up The House of the Seven Gables again and began The Heretic’s Daughter. It won’t be the same. I might even love those books in their way, who knows. But they will probably always be like the rebound boyfriend—who knows how it could have worked out if you hadn’t tried to go out with him after the guy you thought was The One broke up with you. It’s a strange feeling, being on the other side of having read a fantastic series, left only with the feeling that there won’t be any more. I felt the same way (only worse) when I had finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I have grad school to throw my effort into, and in fact, I had better take that seriously or I’ll be in some trouble. I need to do some work on my portfolio.

Jonah Lehrer speculates on “The Future of Reading” in Wired. So do we read differently on e-readers? I know I highlight and annotate more because I am not worried about mucking up the book with my scribbling. Aside from my Kindle books, the only books I highlight and annotate are textbooks and professional reading. And there is something to be said for feeling free to talk back to my books. An annotation I added last night in The House of the Seven Gables was a simple observation that Nathaniel Hawthorne sure likes to break the fourth wall. I also highlighted a particularly good barb about the Puritans in The Heretic’s Daughter that I’ll probably share with students when we study The Crucible. And did you know you can access your highlights and annotations online? You have to log in, which keeps your notes secure, but still, how cool is that? On the other hand, I will never decide I don’t want to hold a real book in my hand. It was nice reading The Hunger Games series like that. You knew I was going to bring it back around to that, didn’t you. I should probably stop blogging and get to work on my portfolio. Throwing myself into my work—isn’t that the classic way to get over that lost relationship? Whatever works.

One last note and I am leaving. If you all had told me I would find more pleasure in my book blog than my education blog, and that I would post more frequently, despite the fact that anything I write over there gets comments now, whereas comments are somewhat scarce around here, I would have told you you were crazy. This poor blog has limped along for years. It didn’t even find a focus until I’d been writing for at least four years. That’s kind of crazy. I’m so happy to feel like a part of the book bloggers’ table in the cafeteria. Even if I don’t quite feel like the cool book bloggers with the black turtlenecks—the ones who have friends who are French foreign exchange students.

photo credit: Massimo Barbieri

Catching Fire

Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)This review might be a bit spoilery if you haven’t read the first book in this series because it’s difficult to talk about events in this book without revealing the end of the first.

Suzanne Collins’s second book in The Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire, picks up the story of Katniss Everdeen after she and fellow District 12 resident have become popular winners of the 74th Hunger Games. Katniss and Peeta must tour the districts, where they are greeted with signs of unrest—and Katniss seems to have become an unwitting rallying point for rebels. President Snow, loathsome leader of Panem, blames these new problems on Katniss’s defiance of the Capitol at the Games when she threatened to kill herself rather than kill Peeta. For the 75th Hunger Games, the 3rd Quarter Quell, President Snow has something special in mind. The pool of competitors will be drawn from each district’s former winners. And Katniss is the only female winner from District 12. She will have to go back into the arena, and this time, she will be facing her most dangerous competitors: people who have managed through shrewdness and strength to win the Hunger Games in the past. How can she hope to survive her second turn in the arena? And if she can’t, how can she at least protect Peeta?

I had heard some readers say this book was not as good as the first, but I have to admit I didn’t see it. Others had complained that the first half was somewhat slow, but I managed to turn the pages as quickly as I had with The Hunger Games. It was intriguing to me to see how Katniss handled being a victor, seeing her life change. I also found the changes in her district interesting. Katniss is not the kind of girl to sit idly by and do nothing if anyone she cares about is being hurt. Because the real news about what is going on in Panem is kept from the districts, it’s only by accident—seeing a news program meant for District 12’s mayor and running into some escapees from District 8 in the woods while she is hunting—that Katniss realizes her act of defiance in the Hunger Games has turned her into a symbol for rebellion. On her district tour, she witnesses some of the unrest for herself. Seeing Katniss compete in the arena this time, with new threats devised by the Gamemakers, had me turning the pages well past 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. One of my students said in class on Friday that the end of this volume of the trilogy was “epic,” and I would agree. So much happens so fast at the end, and as we readers are following events from Katniss’s confused perspective, it’s difficult to figure out what is going on. I was also right about some speculation I had while reading The Hunger Games, but it’s a pretty spoilery if you haven’t read the first book or even the second.

I told my dad the other day that I had just read the new Harry Potter after I’d finished The Hunger Games. I really don’t think these books will reach that level of popularity, and maybe won’t reach even the level of the Twilight series, which is a shame because despite their darkness, I think they’re better. What I meant was I had found a new book that had me turning the pages in the exact same way as the Harry Potter series. Virtually everyone I know is reading these books or has just finished them.

Suzanne Collins is on a twelve-city book tour to promote Mockingjay, but she isn’t venturing into the South. Unfortunately, she has strained her hand and will not be signing books on her tour. I have wondered a couple of times as I read what Collins makes of the books’ popularity. I purchased my copy of Mockingjay at the Little Shop of Stories yesterday while we were at the Decatur Book Festival. Now I just have to resist reading it for a little while as I try to get to work on my portfolio for graduate school.

Rating: ★★★★★

Full disclosure: I borrowed this book from my friend Catherine.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger GamesSixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12 in the aftermath of some indeterminate disaster that has leveled North America, leaving the country of Panem to rise from the ashes. Katniss lives in District 12, an impoverished area dedicated to the production of coal. After her father died, Katniss became the head of the family and learned to hunt in order to keep starvation at bay, for the Capitol is still punishing the districts for a rebellion over 70 years prior to the book’s beginning, and one of their key weapons is starvation. Each year, the twelve remaining districts (District 13 has been destroyed) must provide a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 as tributes to compete in the Hunger Games, yet another device the Capitol uses to keep the districts in line. The Hunger Games gather 24 tributes to fight to the death and for their survival in an arena for the entertainment of the Capitol residents. Tributes’ names are drawn from lots, and Katniss becomes an unwitting contender in the Games. She’ll have to decide if she has what it takes to do what is necessary to survive the Hunger Games and win.

I am fan of dystopian fiction. Some of my favorite books are dystopian novels. Does that mean I’m a horrible person who likes to watch others’ misery? Or is it because it’s often the kind of reading that really makes you think? I’d like to think it’s the latter, but reading The Hunger Games made me wonder. It’s the ultimate in reality shows—a fight to the death. We would like to think we would never watch something like that, but maybe we would. Think about the kinds of things we already do watch on reality shows. And this show bears a striking resemblance to shows currently on TV, minus the death perhaps. What author Suzanne Collins does rather convincingly is take a scenario that seems unrealistic and not only make you believe it, but also help you understand we’re not as far away from it as we’d like to think. The book is a real page-turner, and it will probably suck you in by the end of the first chapter. I picked it up because virtually everyone I know was abuzz about the third book in the trilogy, Mockingjay, which was just released this week. I decided I had to see what the fuss was about, and I totally get it. Collins’s spare style authentically captures Katniss’s voice while still managing to provide descriptive details that make the story alive and realistic. In fact, her writing style reminds me of my daughter Sarah’s. I have three children, one of whom is the exact age of Katniss, so it was difficult reading for me as a mom and as a teacher of teenagers in the age group who competed in the games, but if you think Lord of the Flies, it’s not so hard to understand. Why would the Capitol pick children? Because it hurts more. Because they can. Of course, the most disturbing thing about the Capitol residents, which you realize by the end of the book, is that they are us.

Rating: ★★★★★

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my friend Catherine.

Reading Update: August 29, 2010

Reading a book at the beachI set aside Syrie James’s The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, which I am reading as part of the Everything Austen Challenge, because everyone I know is reading Suzanne Collins’s Mockingjay, and I hadn’t even read The Hunger Games. Well, I’m about 200 pages in now, after borrowing it from a friend, and I have to say it’s real page-turner. I have been trying to talk my daughter into reading it because Collins’s writing style actually reminds me of Sarah’s. I think Sarah would like it. I might finish it today (after all, I read more than the amount of pages I have left yesterday). If so, I’ll post a review later.

I do have a couple of theories that I can’t wait to discover whether or not I’m correct about. District 13, believed to be destroyed by the Capitol, reminds me of the group of readers in Fahrenheit 451, and I am wondering if they’re not really destroyed but secretly carrying on some form of resistance. Don’t tell me! I want to find out. Also, it’s obvious to me that the Romeo and Juliet move that Peeta pulled is no act, whatever Katniss has decided to believe. But I guess I’ll find that out.

I am still reading David Copperfield on DailyLit. The infamous Miss Havisham has just been mentioned for the first time. I picked up Jane Mendelsohn’s American Music at Audible after hearing Mendelsohn interviewed by Valerie Jackson on Between the Lines. The book sounded interesting. After listening for a short time, I think I would have put the second chapter of the book first. It seems a little disjointed. But I haven’t been listening long, so we’ll see. It is short for an audio book. Of course, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of Seven Gables is still on my Kindle, though I haven’t even finished chapter 2 yet. I bought The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent and Juliet by Anne Fortier on the Kindle with my Amazon Associates gift card. Also subscribed to The New Yorker on Kindle. I’ll let you know how it is. It’s my first Kindle magazine subscription.

What are you reading?

photo credit: Simon Cocks