Summer Book Haul Part One-Teach Me to Outgrow My Madness

As I sit here trying to shove new books onto my collapsing shelves, I realize it has been quite some time since I did a book haul update. I’m dividing my entire summer haul over two or possibly three entries. I contemplated no longer doing these types of blogs, but realized that the books I buy say just as much as the ones I read. This week’s installment is dedicated to all the short story collections I purchased over the summer.

SUMMER SHORTS
Photo Credit: Natalie Getter

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro: I couldn’t resist getting this book of five interconnected stories from one of my all-time favorite writers. Seriously if you haven’t read Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, please do so immediately. Music is an important part of the author’s life and described as an “essential character” in this book. I’m quite curious to see how that works.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove and Other Stories by Karen Russell: I’m always on the lookout for intriguing sounding tales from unfamiliar writers. This collection contains stories featuring fantastic elements in the vein of some of my favorite writers like Kelly Link. My excitement is off the charts!

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson: Since reading  We Have Always Lived in the Castle     last year, I’ve been dying to read more Shirley Jackson. I love how she is able to write both spine-tingling horror as well as humorous slice-of-life fiction. Based on the cover blurb, this book puts together some of her best short fiction. This was worth buying just for the classic title story that was my favorite short story from high school.

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang:  I’ve been wanting to read more quality science fiction, and there’s been a lot of buzz online about Ted Chiang. Hopefully, I can get this one soon.

Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness by Kenzaburo Oe: Instead of several short stories, this one is comprised of four novellas. Honestly, I knew nothing about this writer before purchasing this book. Once again, I was attracted to it from the descriptions on the back cover. Perhaps Murakami has a contender in my heart.

The Mother Garden by Robin Romm: I bought this while on vacation at a used thrift store. This looks like a fascinating collection of shorts dealing with themes of loss and grief. The title story alone sounds promising. It’s about someone who decides to create a literal garden of mothers to make up for the loss of her own.

My only problem now is deciding which one I should read! My hope is that I can acquire some ideas through these writers to strengthen my own creative powers. Next week, I will write part two of my summer book haul (with a birthday coming up, maybe my accumulations aren’t over). I’ve made the difficult and painful decision to instill a temporary book buying ban while I catch up.

Have you read or heard about any of these books? Please comment below as I would love to read your thoughts!

 

 

Austen in August: My New Challenge

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I found this great new challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader called “Austen in August.” I realized I haven’t read any Austen this year, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to finally read Emma. They are also hosting a book group for Northanger Abbey. There are also several Jane-inspired books on my shelves that need to be read.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to add a new mini-challenge for the month of August. My plan for the challenge is to complete five books. Here are my specially designed categories:

1. An Austen novel I’ve never read: Emma

2. An old favorite: Northanger Abbey

3. An unfinished work completed by another author: The Watsons

4. An interesting mashup/adaptation of a Jane Austen work: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

5. A nonfiction book about Jane Austen or her time period: Jane Austen and Her Times by G.E. Mitton

I’m planning to add a page to this site outlining the challenges I’m participating in this year. Hopefully, my personal challenge has inspired you to pick up an Austen book and create your own challenge. Click THIS POST to sign up!

Are you involved in any reading challenges? What are some of your favorite Austen classics? Comments are always welcome!

Something Old, Something New: March Book Haul

My latest book haul is a combination of familiar authors and brand new ones. As I turn around and look at my bookshelves, I can see that there is very little space left for anything else. In fact, there is none left. I had to get a little, shall we say “creative” with organizing the books. I’ll have to take a picture of my severe lack of space on a future blog. In the meantime, here are my latest acquisitions:

OLDAUTHORS

  • The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness-My first book review of 2017 was the phenomenal A Monster Calls. I’m curious to read the first adult novel from Patrick Ness.
  • The Fireman by Joe Hill-Years ago, I read both Heart-Shaped Box and Horns from this author.  I’ve heard several positive reviews about this one which is set in a world where people contract a disease that causes them to spontaneously combust!
  • The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami-This is the first collection of short fiction I’ll be reading from one of my all-time favorites!

In addition to these favorite authors, I picked up some intriguing selections to see if I discover any new favorite ones:

NEWAUTHORS

  • The Bees by Laline Paull-I read a review of this one on a reading blog that I follow. As the title suggest, the entire book takes place in the world of bees.
  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides-Sadly, I have yet to read anything by this author that has several titles on the 1001 list. I figured this would be a good starter.
  • The Accidental by Ali Smith-Speaking of authors who have made the 1001 list, here is another one I haven’t checked out yet.
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini-My wife recommended this one, so I’m quite thrilled to check it out. Since I work in the mental health profession, I’m looking forward to reading this one soon.

My short-term reading goals are to start working my way through all my book hauls for the past few months in addition to getting my classic challenge list completed.

Have you read any of the books listed on this post? I would love to hear your thoughts!

So Many Books!

These monthly book haul posts are definitely helping me. Seeing how many books I bring home on the average month makes me realize that I need to pick up the pace. In fact, I’m still trying to knock out books from the past few months! Here are the new additions to my library for January:

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Our cat Indy showing off my latest book haul. Photo credit: Natalie Getter
  • The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe-The only thing more enjoyable about reading is reading about someone else’s enjoyment of books. This looks to be a tear-jerker of a memoir so I plan to have several tissues handy.
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens-I lost my copy of this at some point, so I thought I better pick this one back up. I chose this as one of my selections for this year’s Back to the Classics Challenge.
  • Silver by Andrew Motion-Speaking of classics, I had no idea someone had written a sequel to Treasure Island! Will my nerd value increase if I say I’m excited for this find?
  • After Dark by Haruki Murakami-I can never say no to one of my all-time favorite writers.
  • The Stories Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin-This one has been tempting me for a while. I finally grabbed it once it showed up at the used bookstore. I’ve acquired yet another book about a book lover.

In addition to trying to find additional shelf space, I’m diligently working on completing several books to get my numbers off and running for the year. Here’s what I’m currently working on:

  • The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman-It’s been awhile since I read any Gaiman, and I recently picked this up during a past book buy.
  • Play Therapy: The Art of the Relationship by Garry L. Landreth-I’ve been working slowly on this one in my efforts to improve my skills at my paying profession. It’s been a great resource for connecting with children through child-directed play therapy.
  • Letters to a Young Therapist by Mary Pipher-This therapist has some terrific insights. I read this years ago and recently acquired a new copy.
  • So many short stories!-I’ve been slowly making my way through the Bradbury collection I received at Christmas in addition to sampling some short stories in other collections with the grand goal of improving my own craft of the small tale.
  • I’m also planning on hitting some classics, most likely getting Oliver Twist knocked out.

It’s no wonder I’m so exhausted! I think I’ll stop there before I stress myself out. Please enjoy the photo my wife took of our cat Indy with my January books. This will definitely not be his last appearance on this blog.

Book Awards 2016

For my first year as a book blogger, I read a total of 52 books. One of my favorite bloggers, 50ayear, does an annual awards for memorable reads. I thought it would be fun to do one of my own. Without further ado, here are the categories and winners……

 

Best Translated Book

Winner: The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery

This little French classic is one of my all-time favorite reads. Beautifully illustrated, this story never fails to make me cry.

(Honorable Mention: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami)

 

Best Short Story Collection

Winner: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

One of the best fantasy writers out there, this collection of short stories was nothing short of fantastic. Read it just for his tribute to the great Ray Bradbury. There’s even a Doctor Who short story!

(Honorable Mention: The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye: Five Fairy Stories by A.S. Byatt)

Best Book Adapted For Film

Winner: The Martian by Andy Weir

This book was one of last year’s beach reads, and I’m really glad. Weir wrote a great novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Although I’ve not watched the movie yet, I hear it is quite good.

Most Disturbing Read

Winner: The Collector by John Fowles

I have always believed that true horror is at its best when it involves ordinary people in realistic situations. For example, I think Misery as one of the best of Stephen King’s “horror” novels. While The Collector by John Fowles is not considered a work of horror fiction, it is an extremely frightening work that is one of the best first novels by a writer I’ve ever encountered. Considered a classic, I selected this from my 1001 books list. Although the plot has been recycled countless times (in novels such as the one listed above, television, and movies), I found this to be a compelling read due to the strong writing and the interesting philosophical questions it raises. Make no mistake, this is not a “feel good” book. I was left feeling quite emotionally drained long after finishing it.

(Honorable Mention: The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan)

 

Best Nonfiction Book

Winner: A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz

This is a must read for Austen fans. It was great to get a male perspective into her works and how we can still learn a thing or two from Lady Jane.

Honorable Mention: So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson

 

Best Illustrated Book

Winner: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

The illustrations in this book are nothing short of beautiful! I love this tale of the porcelain rabbit as he learns the true meaning of life.

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Honorable Mention: Blankets by Craig Thompson

 

 

Best Newcomer

Winner: Pat Conroy

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I’m really glad my friend Barry recommended Beach Music. It is a beautifully written story with equal doses of humor and tragedy. This is one of my top reads for 2016, and I will definitely revisit this author again. I was sad to learn that 2016 also marked the year of his passing. Your tales will live on.

(Honorable Mention: Jeanette Winterson)

Lifetime Achievement Award

Winner: Kazuo Ishiguro

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It was tough deciding between Ishiguro and my honorable mention. However, I feel I made the right choice considering this is the writer that penned my all-time favorite novel Never Let Me Go. It was such an honor to meet him and get my copy autographed!

(Honorable Mention: Haruki Murakami)

 

Best Book Reread of 2016

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Winner: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

“I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. That’s how it is with us. It’s a shame, Kath, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.”-Never Let Me Go

 

and finally……

 

Best Original Read of 2016

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Winner: Beach Music by Pat Conroy

“No story is a straight line. The geometry of a human life is too imperfect and complex, too distorted by the laughter of time and the bewildering intricacies of fate to admit the straight line into its system of laws.”-Beach Music

 

As you can see, 2016 was a great year of reading. This year is already shaping up to be even better! Bring it on 2017!

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