Archive for December, 2009


First, I will never again commit to reading so many specific books in one year – I like to wander around in my reading. I was fine at the beginning of the year, but by the end was scrambling to fill in holes when I had other things I wanted to read.

Second, I will have to continue to keep up some book challenges. There were books on this list I would have never picked up if I hadn’t been challenged, such as Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury or Let Me Go by Helga Schneider.

Third, I was surprised that Mt. Bookpile couldn’t supply more books. I figured I would have more to fit the different categories. But then, many of the library books were audio books, which I don’t keep at home.

Here is my thoughts on the categories:

Easiest to Finish – New Books Published in 2009 – I probably finished this one at least twice over, if not three times

More Difficult Than I Guessed – Books With the Word “Heart” in the Title – I didn’t have as many of these on Mt. Bookpile as I thought. I also didn’t want them all to be romance novels.

Author Most Represented on List – Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb – What can I say? She’s very prolific and I like her books.

Here are my choices (today – this could change tomorrow) for the best books in each group:

New Books in 2009 – Horizon by Lois McMaster Bujold
Place Name in the Title – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Time Travel – The Little Book by Selden Edwards
Facial Feature – Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury
Written Before 1900 – Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
“Heart” in the Title – Dragonheart by Todd McCaffrey
Author Whose Last Name Starts With “Y” – Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto or China Dolls by Michelle Yu and Blossom Kan
Stand Alone Mysteries – Bone by Bone by Carol O’Connell
Translation – Kallocain by Karen Boye


Most Recommended – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Best Feel Good – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Best Romance – Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson
Best Twist – Promises in Death by J.D. Robb
Least Memorable Book – Truly, Madly Manhattan by Nora Roberts
Longest Book – Hawaii by James Michener (or was it Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott?)
Most Chilling Antagonist – The Good Guy by Dean Koontz
Most Confusing – The City at the End of Time by Greg Bear
Most Interesting Non Fiction – Finding God in Unexpected Places by Philip Yancey
Most Suspenseful – The Shimmer by David Morrell
Most Tedious – The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse
Most Unexpected – Kallocain by Karen Boye
Sexiest – Mouth to Mouth by Erin McCarthy
Shortest Book – How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? or How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
Was on Mt. Bookpile the Longest – Dragonwings by Laurence Yep

How To Make a Librarian’s Christmas

Posted December 29, 2009 By Jandy

As a reader, I always give books to my family for Christmas. I usually receive some,too, and this Christmas was no different.

But this Christmas also appealed to the librarian in me. My brother gave me her:

This is the Library Action Figure – if you press the button on her, she shushes you. She comes with a Reference Desk, computer, book cart, and piles of books. The figure is the stereotypical librarian, so us real librarians can laugh at ourselves. (Thank you Nancy Pearl, real life librarian, for modeling for this!).

Keep a Reading Journal

Posted December 14, 2009 By Jandy

It doesn’t matter how old you are. Keep a reading journal of some sort. My daughter keeps two Excel spread sheets – one for all the books she owns and one for all the books she’s read. Rnadom House sells a lined journal to keep track of books that you have read. I keep a Collectorz database for the ones I own and my website for the ones I’ve read. But the complete list of all my read books only goes back to 1998. I’ve been reading avidly since around 1960.

And that’s the problem. Today I finished a book I know I’ve read before and had forgotten. I probably would have re-read it anyway because it’s been a long time and I liked it both times. But when did I read it? I didn’t remember any details about what would happen, but I knew I’d read it before and nothing surprised me. I was usually one step ahead but not much further (except in one obvious instance that any experienced reader would recognize). More than likely I read Time to Live back in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. It was published in 1966. I don’t believe it’s been republished.

So start a reading journal! If I had kept one all of those years, I would have the complete list rather than a smattering of what I remember reading. I might still get the deja vu about a book, but then I can go back and see when I read it before.

So daughter of mine – my granddaughters are 2 and 4 – you can begin their lists now.

999 Challenge

Posted December 12, 2009 By Jandy


19th Century Wit

Posted December 9, 2009 By Jandy

My book club is reading Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell for December. I hadn’t heard of Ms. Gaskell before this. I’ve since learned a little about her, including the fact that Charles Dickens liked her work and included some of it in his weekly publication Household Words.

I was reading this while I was at the library bookstore last night. I kept chuckling out loud, although I tried to stay quiet. I had two different customers give in and ask what I was reading. I am charmed by Gaskell’s dry, biting, observant wit.

Cranford is about the “Amazonian society” of aristocratic women who run the small English town of Cranford. The men in their lives have died or are off to sea or away on business or whatever. A few are spinsters. These women have their strict societal rules.

This is one scene that so tickled me last night:

“…I would fain have looked round at the merry chattering people behind me, Miss Pole clutched my arm, and begged me not to turn, for ‘it was not the thing.’ What ‘the thing’ was, I never could find out, but it must have been something eminently dull and tiresome.”

That certainly gave me a good view of the ladies of Cranford.

This book was a miniseries on PBS in 2007. It is being run again on Masterpiece Theater later this month starting December 20th. Since Cranford was chosen back in July, I’m sure whoever nominated the book didn’t expect this scheduling coup. Isn’t it cool when world forces come together (or one saying goes “God works in mysterious ways…”)?

Book Giveaway

Posted December 7, 2009 By Jandy

This was in my email today:

FSB Holiday Giveaway!

We at FSB Associates want to do our share to support books and the publishing industry. In the spirit of the holiday season, and support for, we will be conducting a 3-Day Holiday Giveaway!

For three days only, December 8th, 9th, and 10th, we will be giving away a limited quantity of books to randomly selected winners! The official entry begins at 12pm (eastern) on each day. Here is our schedule of events:

Day 1. Lost Symbol Fans! If you have read and loved Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, enter to win this companion pack! The pack features The Masonic Myth by Jay Kinney and Decoding the Lost Symbol by Simon Cox. We have 3 packs to giveaway!

Day 2. Celebrity Chef Mary Ann Esposito, has 5 signed copies of her latest cookbook to be given away: Ciao Italia: Five Ingredient Favorites. Check out Mary Ann’s tips for holiday cooking here!

Day 3. 3 copies of Quirk Classics’ bestselling literary monster mash-up, Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters signed by co-author Ben Winters! Also included: the Deluxe hardcover edition of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, co-authored by Seth Grahame-Smith! Learn more about the books, and discover the next monster mash-up at

Anyone within the continental US is eligible to enter. Entries made on a specific day after 12pm (eastern time) will only be eligible for that day’s giveaway, so visit often! To enter for your chance to win, simply click here! Spread the word to your friends by forwarding this message.

We would also like to wish each and every one of you a very happy holiday season
FSB Holiday Giveaway!


My daughter is a huge Jane Austen fan. When Pride and Prejudice and Zombies hit the shelves, I immediately picked up a copy for her. So I’ll have to enter the day FSB is raffling Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters.

It’s That Time of Year

Posted December 4, 2009 By Jandy

In December we look back over the year and see what we like or don’t like about it. Since I’ve attended the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books the past couple years, I’m on their email/blog list. Today they posted “25 Favorite Fiction and Poetry of 2009” selected by the LA Times editors. Again, I haven’t read any of them. Knowing my tastes, that isn’t surprising…

Favorites 2009: Fiction and poetry

I think I’ll do that later this month. I’ll choose my favorite group both from my 999 Challenge and from all my reading. I’m certain that The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will be on both lists. I’ll start considering the others.

2009 Hugo Awards

Posted December 3, 2009 By Jandy

From the nominations, here are the Hugo Award Winners this year:

  • Best Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
  • Best Novelette: “Shoggoths in Bloom”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)
  • Best Short Story: “Exhalation”, Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • Best Related Book: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008″, John Scalzi (Subterranean Press)
  • Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter, story; Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, screenplay; Andrew Stanton, director (Pixar/Walt Disney)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Joss Whedon, & Zack Whedon, & Jed Whedon, & Maurissa Tancharoen, writers; Joss Whedon, director (Mutant Enemy)

And the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (presented by Dell Magazines): David Anthony Durham

999 Challenge

Posted December 1, 2009 By Jandy

At the end of October, I pretty much figured I wouldn’t get this challenge finished. Now I believe I have a chance. I added five books in November despite moving and a week’s vacation with little chance to read. I finished another one today, and have one audio book almost done. So that leaves five more to read. One of those five is half way done, and one is for my real life book club. It depends on the timing of the others if I get finished or not. I’m saving The Count of Monte Christo for last.

This month I finished up my time travel list with the sequel by Jack Finney, From Time to Time, which takes Simon from the late 1800’s to 1912. I also read one by Clifford Simak that was written over 50 years ago and is out of print. I don’t know how long it has been sitting on Mt. Bookpile…

I read Mary Higgins Clark’s new novel, Just Take My Heart. I hadn’t read any of her work for a few years, so it was like finding an old friend when I read this. The problem I now have is that her work is just formulaic enough that I can usually predict who is the murderer.

I rounded out the month with Delia Ephron’s Big City Eyes (pass) the Richard Yancey’s The Highly Effective Detective Goes to the Dogs (cute enough).

Of course I also read a few books that weren’t for the challenge. Again, I’m surprised how much I did get read this month. I thought it would be slower…