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My Read-a-Thon Pile

October 10, 2009

I don’t want to take a picture until I actually have all of the books in one glorious stack! (Some are waiting for pick-up at library, others I’m not going to include in this list but I’m hoping they’ll arrive at the library in time.) But I still want to talk about the books I’ve been stockpiling for the read-a-thon, and so I’m going to steal sincerely flatter Debi’s awesome tradition of sharing the first lines.

I try to keep read-a-thon books below 300 pages, although as you’ll see there are some exceptions for books that sound interesting anyway! I also like to keep a lot of nonfiction and fiction, because I alternate them on the day of. I’m not going to include all of the cover images here, but since most of these books are from the library, you’ll be able to see them in my Library Loot posts if you’re that curious! :) Also, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m thinking about breaking into the stash early since I’m in a bit of a reading slump. So it’s a good thing I have a ridiculous amount of books in the pile, huh?

Let’s start with nonfiction:

  • Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind by Philip Done (325 pgs): I’m working on my elementary school teacher certification, so obviously this book by a third-grade teacher is right up my alley! One of my fave teachers ever happened to be my third-grade teacher too-Mrs. Hogue. That woman was incredible, and if when I teach I can have even 10% of her creativity and rapport with the kids, I’ll be happy. First line: “On my desk at school there is a treasure chest.”
  • The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule (224 pgs): even though I don’t yet have a family, I’m always drawn to cool parenting books (and then harass my sister about what I’ve read, lol). And I love creativity! First line: “At the heart of every mindful and loving family lie the seeds of endless creativity.”
  • Better by Atul Gawande (228 pgs): I loved this surgeon’s first collection of essays (Complications), so I definitely want to read his follow-up! He reminds me of a surgeon version of Oliver Sacks, and from me that’s the highest praise I can give to an nonfiction writer. First line: “One ordinary December day, I took a tour of my hospital with Deborah Yokoe, an infectious disease specialist, and Susan Marino, a microbioligist.”
  • Death and the Maidens: Fanny Wollstonecraft and the Shelly Circle by Janet Todd (336 pgs): so Ana reviewed a book about Mary Shelley that she didn’t find super-satisfactory, and it made me search my libary catalogue for similarly themed books, and I found this one! First line: “For many years I have been haunted by the figure of Mary Wollstonecraft’s eldest daughter, Fanny – the child who travelled with her mother through Norway, Sweden and Denmark and who featured so vibrantly in Mary Wollstonecraft’s final works.”
  • Trading in Memories by Barbara Hodgson (154 pgs): this is from the big list of recommended read-a-thon books I compiled last summer. It’s like a travelogue-slash-scavenger hunt, since Hodgson loves tracking down unique souvenirs from her trips. Travel? Shopping? I’m there! First line: “In 1985, the maximum customs allowance permitted to Canadians returning from outside the country was three hundred dollars.”
  • Book by Book by Michael Dirda (192 pgs): I actually won this in the last read-a-thon from a mini-challenge (along with Books by Larry McCurty). The first time I read Dirda, I didn’t like him at all (his writing style comes off as rather…superior), but I’ve come around to enjoying him, simply because of his deep and broad knowledge of books. This is the first read-a-thon I’ll be doing when I don’t have one of Hornby’s excellent collection of book columns with me (I’ve read them all), so this will be its ‘replacement’. First line: “Much of Book by Book has been gleaned from a small notebook into which I have copied striking quotations and passages from my reading.”
  • The Cat Who Went to Paris by Peter Gethers (208 pgs): another one from my originally compiled list, and one I had in my stack for the second read-a-thon, although I didn’t get to it! An account of living in Paris and getting used to having a cat in your life-sounds like fun, right? First line: “This is a book about an extraordinary cat.”
  • The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede: (256 pgs) this story about a bunch of people who got stranded in a small Canadian town after the US closed its airspace on September 11 sounds like international relations lite, which is a genre I love and hate all at once. ;) First line: “”Where are you going?””
  • Miss Leavitt’s Stars by George Johnson (176 pgs): I love books about science, and this is about one of the first women astronomers. Women’s rights! Stars! Of course I want it in my pile. First line: “The village was hidden at the bottom of a deep chasm with sides so steep and slick that no one had ever climbed them.”
  • Expat: Women’s True Tales of Life Abroad ed. by Christina Henry de Tessan (288 pgs): this is all because of Bybee’s review. That, and I plan to be a woman expat. First line: “January 1997. My husband, Dave, and I were deliriously happy-giddy with the reality that we were officially unemployed, homeless and about to blow our life savings by boarding Taesa flight 572 (Oakland-Zacatecas-Morelia) with one-way tickets, one two-year-old, three suitcases, a bag of books, a laptop, a pink teddy bear, a diaper bag and three saxophones.”
  • My Mother’s Wedding Dress: the Life and Afterlife of Clothes by Justine Picardie (256 pgs): I love clothes, and books about clothes and fashion are my popcorn reads. can’t share the first line yet, because this one’s waiting for me at the library and there’s no ‘look inside’ option on Amazon.

And now for the fiction!

  • Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie (320 pgs): the first novel of Alexie, who I’ve been wanting to read more of ever since a marvelous short story of his. First line: “In the one hundred eleven years since the creation os Spokane Indian Reservation in 1881, not one person, Indian or otherwise, had ever arrived there by accident.”
  • North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley (384 pgs): there have been so many marvelous reviews of this YA novel! (And it was on that list of recs I compiled.) First line: “Not to brag or anything, but if you saw me from behind, you’d probably think I was perfect.”
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (320 pgs): this will be a reread for me; so for it’s the only Gaiman I haven’t read at least twice! So I’ll be breaking out my copy soon. :D First line: “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (160 pgs): another reread. I loved it when I first read it last year (so much so that I fully intend to be Merrikat for Halloween one of these years…and if I ever adopt a girl cat, I’ll probably name her that), and all of the reviews of it around the blogosphere have me itching to pick it back up! I’m just sad that my copy doesn’t have one of the cool new covers. First line: “My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood.”
  • Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger (224 pgs): this is a YA novel about a guy who falls in love with a lesbian. It’s gotten lots of good reviews (and now that I check my original read-a-thon recs list, it’s there!). First line: “I suppose there are people who grow up with no wish to escape, but they aren’t people I know.”
  • Disquiet by Julia Leigh (120 pgs): I know I read about this one on a blog recently, but I’m not sure which one. I think it was a Library Loot post! It’s about a woman on the run from her abusive husband with two precocious children and a creepy chateau in France. Can we say Gothic, anyone? First line: “They stood before the great gateway, all around an empty and open countryside, ugly countryside, flat mud-loughed fields.”
  • Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (144 pgs): a graphic novel about a mixed-race high school student that’s garnered nothing but praise in the book blogosphere! First line: “I am: Kimberely Keiko Cameron (aka Skim)”
  • Lord Hornblower by C.S. Forester (336 pgs): I love the Hornblower books, and this is next in the (published order) of the series! I scored 3 of them at last year’s library book sale. :) First line: “The chapel stall of carved oak on which Sir Horatio Hornblower was sitting was most uncomfortable, and the sermon which the Dean of Westminster was preaching was deadly dull.”
  • Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (128 pgs): I love Marquez, so I thought it’d be fun to have him in the pile! First line (more than bit reminiscent of Marquez’ most famous first line): “On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to wait for the boat the bishop was coming on.”
  • My Heartbeat by Garrett Freyman-Weyr (160 pgs): one from my GLBT challenge reading pool, this is a YA book about a girl who idolises her older brother and his best friend, but can’t help asking them if they’re boyfriends. First line: “It’s after midnight when I hear James leave.”
  • Hush by Jacqueline Woodson (192 pgs): Woodson is one my of new fave YA authors! She also tends to write very slim books, so it made sense to include her. First line: “There is a song that goes All that you have is your soul.”
  • I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti (208 pgs): this is the next on my Orbis Terrarum challenge list, and since it’s slim and scary, it seemed perfect read-a-thon material! First line: “I was just about to overtake Salvatore when I heard my sister scream.”
  • Fables, Vol. 3-8 & 1,001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham: I totally stocked up on the graphic novels series Fables! I really enjoyed the first one (the second, Animal Farm, was more violent and disturbed me a bit), and I can’t wait to read more!
  • Paper Towns by John Green (320 pgs): I really enjoyed his first novel, Looking for Alaska, and I’ve been hesitant to try his other ones in case they don’t live up to it. ;) But I’ve finally decided that’s just silly! First line: “The longest day of my life began tardily.”
  • Baby of the Family by Tina McElroy Ansa (265 pgs): this is from my R.I.P. reading pool; it’s about the youngest daughter in a 50s middle-class family who can see ghosts. First line:”A hush swallowed the hot little room as the mother shuddered one last time, pushed down hard, and bore her third child, her baby girl, into the world.”
  • Where are the Children? by Mary Higgins Clark (272 pgs): another R.I.P. book about disappeared children: even the title creeps me out! First line: “Ray came down the stairs pulling the knot closed on his tie.”

Just in case you’re curious, here are the books I’m hoping arrive on time: Ask a Mexican by Gustavo Arellano, The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran, The Texicans by Nina Vida, Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender, Toward Another Summer by Janet Frome, and Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork.

Have you read any of these? What’s in your read-a-thon pile?

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34 Comments leave one →
  1. October 10, 2009 5:52 pm

    Oh … Marquez. I LOVE Marquez, but I haven’t read Chronicles. I have it, I think, though. Have made my readathon pile (way more modest than yours) and I’m about to do the post. And of course yay for The Graveyard Book! :D

  2. October 10, 2009 5:56 pm

    I just brought Skim home today! I hope The Graveyard Book comes in time for readathon (I’m in line), and I’ve also ordered My Heartbeat. I’ve been told it’s wonderful and I keep forgetting to add it to my TBR list.

  3. October 10, 2009 6:29 pm

    Read both The Graveyard Book and Paper Towns. Loved them both. I haven’t made my readathon list yet. Soon hopefully.

  4. October 10, 2009 6:31 pm

    I haven’t read a single one of these lovelies EXCEPT for The Graveyard Book (loved it!). It looks like you have some great reading ahead of you, and I look forward to your thoughts on Dirda’s book. I haven’t read much of his stuff, but I dip into his columns and whatnot occasionally.

  5. October 10, 2009 6:44 pm

    Oh, do make time to read Paper Towns! I enjoyed that book at least as much as Looking for Alaska, possibly more.

  6. October 10, 2009 6:47 pm

    YAAAAAY for We Have Always Lived in the Castle!

  7. October 10, 2009 7:02 pm

    Awesome, awesome pile, Eva!!!

    I’ve read a few, including two that will be rereads for you. (I loved We Have Always Lived in a Castle so much that I have The Haunting of Hill House in my pile, but so far no one’s picked it. :( ) You also already know that the Fables will be winners since you’ve already started the series. I’ve got #5-8 in my pile, too. But again no one’s pick it (only listed the sentence from the first one). Since this is like the book I want to read the most, I may have to bribe someone to pick it. It does have a pretty boring first sentence, so I’m doubtful of my chances of getting onto the pile by honest means. ;) Have also read Skim (last read-a-thon) and Where Are the Children? (though it’s probably been over 30 years–my mom and I loved MHC back when I was in high school). I had three science books in my pile, and two of the three have made it to the finals so far (thanks, Eva, for getting one of them in there for me!). Really hoping the other does, too, as it’s essays and I think that would be nice to mix in. Of course, who the hell am I kidding…I only need like two books to last me 24 hours. :( Oops. Sorry for this excessive rambling. I seriously think I need some sleep.

  8. October 10, 2009 7:06 pm

    I haven’t read Looking for Alaska (even though it is staring at me from my bookshelf!) but did listen to Paper Towns last month while at the gym. It was fabulous. Really. Laugh-Out-Loud at times, tragic and beautiful, just wonderfully delicious. It really made it easy for me to hit the gym because that I was the only time I would allow myself to listen to it. Yay!

  9. October 10, 2009 7:15 pm

    Wow, that is an impressive list! I haven’t read any of these, but Paper Towns has a good chance of making it into my Read-a-thon pile, too.

  10. October 10, 2009 7:22 pm

    You’ve got quite the ambitious pile there!! I’m going to honor Debi too…that sounds like a fun way to kick-off this RAT!! Enjoy!

  11. October 10, 2009 7:28 pm

    Ohhh! You have lots of good stuff to read! That’s a hugeeee pile. Enjoy!

  12. October 10, 2009 7:37 pm

    Ooo, Hard Love is a great choice – excellent book! I still have to make my pile. Lots of things are making me grumpy this evening, maybe I should go make said pile and cheer myself up. Yes, I think I will!

  13. October 10, 2009 7:42 pm

    I haven’t completely compiled my list yet, but I know I’ll include: Thirteen Reasons Why; Gentlemen; and Guardian…

  14. October 10, 2009 7:58 pm

    What a list!! Old school Mary Higgins Clark is fun..I know I’ve read that book but I really don’t remember it.

  15. Bea permalink
    October 10, 2009 8:17 pm

    This will be my first read-a-thon! I have García Márquez on my pile, too (The Evil Hour), and I’m hoping to reread Connie Willis’ Bellwether. And Dorothy Parker’s short stories. And a couple of novellas by Elizabeth Gaskell. It’s all so exciting!

  16. October 10, 2009 8:42 pm

    Expat is making the rounds here in Korea — we all can relate. I think you’re really going to enjoy it.

    Hooray for We Have Always Lived In The Castle…For full flavor, I would slightly bend that first sentence rule and do the whole first paragraph…it’s delicious and you really get a feel for Merrikat all at once.

    I’d forgotten that Mary Wollstonecraft had another daughter.

  17. October 11, 2009 1:42 am

    What a great stockpile! I will be really interested to hear what you think about the book by Julia Leigh – I’m keen to read it but the premise sounds a little depressing!

  18. October 11, 2009 5:57 am

    Maree, I love Marquez too! :) I have no intention of reading all of these during the readathon-I just like lots of choices!

    Amanda, good luck getting Graveyard Book!

    Suey, wasn’t Graveyard marvelous?! Glad ot hear you loved Paper Towns!

    Andi, I’ll be curious about the Dirda too.

    Alison, good to know!

    She, isn’t it marvelous?!

    Debi, I didn’t think Haunting of Hill House lived up to We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but I think I’m in the minority! Yay for science books! :D And I loved your rambling comment.

    Christina, that’s quite the endorsement!!

    Melissa, it’s so exciting to make a pile, right?

    Staci, loking forward to seeing your list!

    Jessica, I’m a fan of overpreparing. ;)

    Megan, I think you rec’d it when I made that big list last year!

    Helen, 13 Reasons Why is a great read-a-thon pick!

    Amy, I’ve never read Mary Higgins Clark before-I thought it’d be neat!

    Bea, I hope you end up loving it! Gaskell’s the best. :D

    Bybee, I’m glad you reviewed it! The opening sentence makes me want to tear into it. :D And I LOVE the whoel first paragraph w/ Merrikat.

    Karen, yep-I’m fairly certain the book’s not going to end well!

  19. October 11, 2009 6:35 am

    I *loved* The Day The World Came to Town! It presented a different, even uplifting, account of the events surrounding 9/11….one that I really didn’t see publicized anywhere else. It was a quick,easy read and will be perfect for read-a-thon.

  20. October 11, 2009 8:46 am

    I read Disquiet by Julia Leigh not all that long ago, and I quite enjoyed it (though wished it were just a tad longer)! The writing was extremely evocative, and I think it will serve you well during the read-a-thon since it is such a quick read (and also kind of creepy)! If you’d like to read more on my thoughts (for once I kept them brief!), you can do so here: http://www.stephandtonyinvestigate.com/?p=2361

  21. October 11, 2009 9:04 am

    Wow – what will you pick first? Such a fabulous selection of books. I wish I was joining in.

  22. October 11, 2009 9:16 am

    Wow, that’s a lot of books! I would have a hard time picking what to read. Good luck with that!

  23. October 11, 2009 8:11 pm

    I like your list. Marcelo in the Real World is a great book and I hope you receive it from the library in time. I’ve been thinking about re-reading it and The Graveyard Book. I’ve started compiling my list of possible reads. I hope to have it posted sometime this week.

  24. October 12, 2009 12:05 am

    Awesome reading pile Eva. I loved the Heretic Queen. Have you read Nefertiti? If not, I would really suggest reading that one first.

  25. October 13, 2009 2:26 am

    I really liked the Texicans, I hope it arrives soon enough.

  26. October 13, 2009 1:08 pm

    First off, I’m almost finished with the audio book of BETTER and it is so awesome I’m going to look for Complications too. I absolutely love it and I wish I didn’t have the audio so I could give all the great quotes. I picked it up because I recognized teh author and thought it was the book you’d already read!!

    I’ve seen great reviews for The Creative Family and it sounds like something I need because I am so very uncreative my son is probably bored to death. (And yet, he seems happy, so I must be doing something right…)

    I had no idea that Chronicles of a Death Foretold was so short! Maybe I shouldn’t be afraid of it. (I loved 100 Years but it was a challenge to get through. Of course, I read half of it in Spanish. Maybe that was what made it hard?) Do all Marquez’s novels begin with someone about to be executed?

    I’ve heard such great things about Paper Towns. It does sound great.

    I can’t do the read-a-thon but I love this list! Thanks for sharing!

  27. October 13, 2009 4:38 pm

    I picked a lot of books that are either short, light or young adult for my read-a-thon pile. I thought about including some of the review copies I have, but figured I would make it a day of complete relaxation reading.

  28. October 13, 2009 7:47 pm

    Death and the Maidens sounds like a really interesting book — I hope you get to it!

  29. October 14, 2009 3:16 am

    JoAnn, I’m so glad to hear that! :)

    Steph, I usually find myself wishing short books were longer. :) I’m glad you enjoyed it-I’ll go read your review! (And don’t worry about keeping reviews brief-I love ‘em long!)

    Vivienne, I might just close my eyes and read the first book I grab-otherwise I don’t know how to pick! I hope you can join in the next read-a-thon in April. :)

    Kailana, thanks! They all sound so enticing, I don’t know how I’m going to pick eitehr!

    Vasilly, if it doesn’t arrive in time, I’ll just read it later. :) I’m glad to know you loved it enough for a reread!

    Violet, thanks for letting me know I’d mixed them up! I fixed that, so hopefully now I’ll be getting Nefertiti in time. :)

    Katrina, I’m glad to hear you liked it! I’ve never read a western before.

    Rebecca, isn’t he a wonderful essayist?! You cracked me up w/ your comment about you and your son-I’m sure you do lots of fun things with him! The author has a blog-SouleMama that has lots of ideas too! I bet Marquez is much more difficult to read in Spanish!! And Love in the Time of Cholera doesn’t open with an execution. So I guess he varies it up sometimes! :)

    Alyce, that’s great that you’re treating yourself to strings-free reading! Sounds like you have the right approach!

    Kim, I hope I do too. :)

  30. October 17, 2009 7:25 am

    Hornblower is a great choice! And I have Fables 1 and 2 on my list.

  31. October 17, 2009 6:12 pm

    Skim!! I totally forgot about that one and that I wanted to read it for the ‘thon, too! Off to the bookstore hopefully this week to pick it up. :)

    I don’t really have anything else to say except “Read-a-thon, read-a-thon, read-a-thon!!!” :)

  32. Rachel permalink
    October 23, 2009 2:53 pm

    I LOVE John Green. Paper Towns was fantasic but my absolute favorite of his is An Abundance of Katherines. North of Beautiful is also wonderful. I’m so excited for my first Readathon!

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  1. Read-a-Thon Pile, Version Two (in pictures!) « A Striped Armchair
  2. ‘Friday Salon’: the Early Post « A Striped Armchair

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