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Sunday Salon: the Red Queen Effect

November 20, 2011

The Sunday

Running as fast as you can, just to stay in place? Sounds like as good a definition of blogging as I’ve ever heard! ;) However, I didn’t finish that many books this week (a combination of long books and still not being quite back to my normal reading level), so I decided to use this Sunday Salon to catch up on some of my backlog. In this case, my backlog from April. I know! I read a ton of books that month but barely blogged, with predictable results. But better late than never!

Before I talk about the books, I’ve also finally caught up on my LibraryThing wish list. Well, caught up isn’t quite the right word, since in my fantasy world all of the books I’ve ever mentioned wanting to read on the blog will one day be catalogued on LT, but I did get through most of my ridiculously large bookmark folder. You see, whenever I read a blog post/other site that mentions books I want to read, I would just add it to a certain folder in my bookmarks, on the assumption that when I’d gotten a few links I’d add them all to LT in a group. But somehow, I just kept adding bookmarks and never going through them, until it got to the point that the very size of the folder left me paralysed. So this week I girded my loins, turned on some entertaining TV (including the new series Once Upon a Time: I am a fan), and dealt with them. It’s lovely to see them all added (my wish list is now over one thousand, whereas before it was a bit less than five hundred, which tells you how many books I catalogued), and while they’re not completely tagged, they’re at least sorted into fiction and nonfiction! And I’ve switched to Chrome as my browser just so I can use the LibraryThing ‘add book’ installation; hopefully, that will help avoid another giant wish list pile-up in the future! Now I just have to see about re-entering the books I actually own. I did a big cull a couple of months ago, and when I tried to update my collection I somehow managed to delete it instead. I tried out GoodReads to see if it might be more Eva-friendly, but the site keeps crashing on me. So LibraryThing it is!

And now, let’s turn back the calendar to April…

Books I Loved and Found Every Page a Delight

Read The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones if…you love twisty plots or stories set in boarding school or stories about sisters.

Read The Body Hunters by Sonia Shah if…you have a penchant for whip smart investigative journalism or are curious about what the pharmaceutical industry is up to these days or love the film The Constant Gardener.

Books I Would Have Loved, Except for One or Two Little Quibbles or Books I Really, Really Liked

Read Grief Lessons by Euripides, trans. by Anne Carson if…you’re looking for some compelling drama or a page-turning ‘old classic.’

Read The Conjure Woman by Charles Waddell Chesnutt if…you’re interested in obscure classics or nineteenth century African American literature or folk tales.

Read My Imaginary Illness by Chloe Atkins if…you are struggling with a weird medical problem that doctors can’t seem to help and need some affirmation or are just curious about the darker side of healthcare.

Read The Carbon Age by Eric Roston if…you enjoy popular science and are always looking for a good popular chemistry book!

Books I Definitely Liked, Although They Didn’t Blow Me Away or Books that had Great Points Counterbalanced by Not-Great Ones

Read The Colored Girl Beautiful by E. Azalia Hackley if…you’re like me and have a deep curiousity for older beauty manuals or want a peek into the expectations of middle class African American women at the turn of the century.

Read In the Land of God and Man by Silvana Paternostro if…you’re curious about a Latina feminist book and are prepared for the irony that much of the book focuses on men.

Read Charlotte’s Inheritance by Mary Elizabeth Braddon if…you’re in the mood for some Victorian gothic drama and don’t mind a book with a distinct potboiler feel.

Read Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood if…you enjoy lighthearted mysteries or stories featuring strong women or are looking for genre fiction set outside the US/UK (Australia, in this case).

Books That Aren’t For Me but I Could Still See Some Good Points

Read Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey if…you like fantasy YA, especially with an international setting, and don’t mind a story that feels a bit like ‘colour the numbers’ (Best guy friend with non-mainstream sexuality? check Cute Asian girl who’s really good at everything but still nice? check Clumsy heroine with secret paranormal power? check) but has some interesting, Maori-inspired ideas.

Read A Strange Disappearance by Anna Katharine Green if…you’re curious about more obscure classic mystery authors and are in the mood for a potboiler (this isn’t nearly as good as The Leavenworth Case).

Read Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon if…you loved Manhood for Amateurs and want to be disappointed or are willing to read mainly mediocre essays to get to the few stars.

New Format Explanation: I’ve arranged my one-sentence thoughts into rough groups by how much I loved/didn’t love the book. You’ll notice that there are five groups, presented in descending order from most to least loved; remember that these represent a judgement of my reading experience, rather than the actual book (for a bit more detail, see my books read page). The first three (loved through liked) are all categories I would definitely recommend, more or less enthusiastically; the final two (didn’t really like and wish I’d abandoned), I’d (usually) still recommend but to those with different tastes than myself. I hope the new structure is helpful for anyone who wasn’t always sure how I felt about a title based on my one-sentence recommendation! :)

18 Comments leave one →
  1. November 20, 2011 7:22 am

    I always feel so culturally deprived (ahem…but in a good way :) ) when I come to your blog and see all the books I don’t recognize. I wonder what I’m missing out on. :)

  2. November 20, 2011 9:30 am

    I’ve been wanting to read The Leavenworth Case every since you blogged about previously…too bad her other book wasn’t as good :) The Time of the Ghost sounds lovely and is one that I would definitely want to check out. Hope you have a great week Eva!

  3. November 20, 2011 4:10 pm

    I’m glad you’re a fan of Once Upon a Time. I haven’t watched Grimm, but from what I have heard, I am watching the better series. :) I will say that as I am watching, I want it to be Fables (the graphic novel series), but it isn’t. I have a hard time separating the two, since they are very similar (and personally, I still like the Fables storyline better).

    I haven’t heard of any of these titles! I will have to read the Diana Wynne Jones title eventually!

    • November 22, 2011 4:17 pm

      I find them different enough to keep them separate, but I haven’t read Fables in ages and while I like the storyline I don’t like the artwork at all, so that’s probably a factor. ;)

  4. November 20, 2011 6:28 pm

    The LibraryThing extension for Chrome is one of my very favorite things in the world :-).

  5. November 20, 2011 10:19 pm

    When I logged onto the LibraryThing late this week, all the most recent news items on my home page were of books you’d added to your wishlist. So, of course, I snooped to see what you’d added and I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume! Glad to hear you’ve caught up on the backlog. I keep hearing that I need to read Diana Wynne Jones but haven’t known where to start – this once sounds like just the book for me!

    • November 22, 2011 4:19 pm

      Eek! I’m so sorry Claire!

      I don’t think Time of the Ghost is a universally loved DWJ, so you might want to try either Fire & Hemlock or Howl’s Moving Castle or The First Volume of the Chronicles of Chrestomanci (esp. The Lives of Christopher Chant, the second novel) first. Or just plan to give DWJ another try if you don’t love Ghost like I did! ;)

    • November 23, 2011 6:36 am

      Oh, yeah, Claire, don’t start with this one. It’s a difficult one. It took me ten years to come around to its charms, and I love Diana Wynne Jones more than almost any author in the world. Read the ones Eva suggested instead. It will be better.

  6. November 21, 2011 9:21 am

    LOVE the ‘rough groups’/categories of books. Have a Happy Thanksgiving Week! :)

    • November 22, 2011 4:19 pm

      Thank you Care! Have a happy Thanksgiving Week yourself. :)

  7. Zoya permalink
    November 21, 2011 10:00 am

    Eva – Good to know that you are a fan of Once Upon a Time too :)My only concern is that this doesn’t turn out to be a long winded one with no ending anywhere like some of the other series. And here’s to hoping that ABC keeps up the momentum. NBC’s Grimm is based off the Grimm’s fairy tales but only more scarier I suppose. Anyways your Sunday Salon has helped me make up my TBR list for 2012 and so far it has 60 books..enough to keep me going. Hope I find most of them at the NPL.

  8. November 21, 2011 2:32 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one with a ridiculous backlog. I had tendinitis in my arm that made typing very difficult for most of the summer and I’m still catching up on reviews for books that weren’t ARCs. I haven’t read any of the books you’ve listed here, but I love your organization system.

  9. November 21, 2011 7:10 pm

    This post reminds me that I want to read more Diana Wynne Jones. I’ve only read a couple but I found them an absolute delight. (Also – I’m loving Once Upon a Time, too!)

  10. November 21, 2011 8:42 pm

    Your wishlist is fantastic and I could look through it for days. I have some of those still I believe and must check my pile of books to weed out and give away and see if I have any I could pass along!

  11. November 22, 2011 4:20 pm

    Thanks for all of the comments everyone! I’m so glad my new format is working for my readers, and that I’m contributing to some of your TBR/wish lists. ;)

  12. November 23, 2011 8:34 am

    I need to decide on Librarything or Goodreads. LOL, your comment on IN the Land of Gods and Men is funny.

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