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Reading Contest Results and Notes

My great plan for doing book reports on Thursdays was just a tiny bit ill-conceived; starting right before the summer contest ended was not entirely smart. I present the summer results: T.R. read six books for 2,073 pages and I read twenty books for 9,219 pages. I win, since I refuse to give a large enough multiplier to give T. the victory.

T.R. read A Dance with Dragons before I did, because I was still rereading the rest of the series when it arrived. He loved it. And he wants the next one soon. I told him not to hold his breath. I’ve already posted what I thought of the series.

The rest of his reading was rereading Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series. Both T. and I love those books for the great characters and engaging plots. They get my two thumbs up rating (deserving of a place on my shelf and appealing as a gift).

I read more mysteries. James Patterson’s I, Alex Cross was fine, but went into the giveaway pile. I continue to read the collected works of Elizabeth George because they are awesome and everyone should read them; this time I finished A Place of Hiding and With No One As Witness. I am rationing what few books I have left to go in hopes that she will come out with a new one before I finish the last.

In kid/YA books, I read Fire, which I already blogged about. While I was in Norway, I got Norwegian Folk Tales and Troll. The former book appealed to my love of folk and fairy tales. I am a sucker for them every time, especially when they are well illustrated. The latter was useful mostly for the illustrations. It was designed, I believe, for tourists (thus no link, since Amazon doesn't seem to have it), so the text is excerpts from folk tales that tease rather than satisfy. However, I like the pictures.

In keeping with the Norwegian theme, I also read Kon Tiki just before T. and I left on our trip. I already wrote about it, so I will just say I liked it.

In other non-fiction news, I read Prayers for Bobby by Leroy Aarons. Syd got a signed copy of the book because he received the Bobby Griffith memorial scholarship. It’s a very sad story about a kid who was not accepted by his family when he came out as gay and who eventually killed himself. There is redemption, however, in that losing Bobby made his mom realize she’d done the wrong thing; she has since spent a big chunk of her life advocating for other GLBTQ kids (I know there are now some letters after Q, but I don’t remember what they are; I still promise to treat the folks who identify with those unknown letters with respect.) (Over the weekend, I saw Our Idiot Brother, which contained the very wise and funny line, “Just because you’re straight doesn’t mean you’re homophobic.”) (Parentheses are fun.). We also met the family and enjoyed spending a little time with them.

I like reading about math, as long as I don’t have to DO any. It tickles my brain. Ian Stewart’s book Taming the Infinite is a brief survey of the history of math. The anecdotes about the mathematicians fascinated (one had this moral: Don’t reveal your new discovery in a boat full of mathematical cultists lest you be thrown overboard.). The actual equation parts could have used slightly more explanation for me, but that might not be true of everyone.

The amazing Anneli loaned me Minerva’s Stepchild, a difficult and fascinating book about a girl whose family loses everything and has to figure out how to deal with poverty. Dysfunctional parents make Helen’s (our protagonist) life miserable. Astonishingly brutal and well written, Helen’s memoir stuck in my head for a long time.

I have already written about the portions of On the Road that I read before giving up and about The Lost Symbol. Neither one made the cut.

Syd cleaned out his bookshelf, so I have a whole pile of things from him to read. For some reason, he felt able to part with Sandman III: Dream Country. I love Neil Gaiman’s work, period, so I was thrilled to have it. Two thumbs up. I also got The Scarlet Pimpernel from Syd. It doesn’t rank with my favorite swashbuckling books, but I liked it anyway and will keep it. One thumb up, since I wouldn’t give it as a gift while The Three Musketeers and other Dumas books exist.

Finally, a long time ago I stole Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book fair and square from my mom’s shelf, but never got around to reading it until now. Two thumbs up for vigorous American writing and imaginative storytelling. As in all collections, some of the entries are stronger than others, but overall it’s a worthwhile bit of reading.

Fall is next!

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