Sunday, December 29, 2013

Four Years of Reading

Below is a list of all the books I've read in the last four years, since I started this blog. If it matters, the list is chronological, the ending of each year at the bottom of the list. Many of the books have been mentioned or reviewed on this blog, though some of them have not.

I like looking back to see what I've read! Some of the books have really stuck with me. Others? Not so much.

Read in 2010:
The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers
The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor
Cowboy and Wills by Monica Holloway
Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith
Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger
One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Impatient With Desire by Gabrielle Burton
Imperfect Endings by Zoe Fitzgerald Carter
Tweak by Nic Sheff
Mathilda Savitch by Victor Lodato
I Want to be Left Behind by Brenda Peterson
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson
Broken Glass Park by Alina Bronsky
Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley
The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Tinkers by Paul Harding
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
I'm Sorry You Feel That Way by Diana Joseph
Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
Unfinished Business by Lee Kravitz
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
One Good Dog by Susan Wilson
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp
Through a Dog's Eyes by Jennifer Arnold
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer
The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
The Nimrod Flip Out by Etgar Keret
John Dies at the End by David Wong
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Wave by Susan Casey
The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst
At Home by Bill Bryson
Salamander by Thomas Wharton
Moonlight in Odessa by Janet Skeslien Charles
Mark Twain's Autobiography
The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
Daring to Eat a Peach by Joseph Zeppetello
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
Alberic the Wise by Norton Juster
The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell
The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins

Read in 2011:
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
Incendiary by Chris Cleave
The Absent Traveler by Randall DeVallance
Bloodroot by Amy Greene
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
Chocolate Wars by Deborah Cadbury (yes, THAT Cadbury!)
Annabel by Kathleen Winter
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Delirious by Daniel Palmer
Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward
P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern
Shadow Tag by Louise Erddrich
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simpson
Among the Missing by Dan Chaon
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum
Needful Things by Stephen King
Bossypants by Tina Fey
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
Contented Dementia by Oliver James
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Alone Together by Sherry Turkle
Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Moonlight on Linoleum by Terry Helwig
Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres
Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
The Prank by Adam Black
Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
In the Woods by Tana French
Toast by Nigel Slater
Laura Rider's Masterpiece by Jane Hamilton
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
City of Thieves by David Benioff
Aftertaste by Meredith Mileti
Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay

Read in 2012:
Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller
The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay
Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann
Defending Jacob by William Landay
Man Seeks God by Eric Weiner
The Sensualist by Barbara Hodgson
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (audio)
Primacy by J.E. Fishman
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Drop Dead Healthy by AJ Jacobs
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
In One Person by John Irving
The Anatomist's Apprentice by Tessa Harris
Some Assembly Required by Anne and Sam Lamott (audio)
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
The Plaza by Guillermo Paxton
I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Redshirts by John Scalzi
The Prospect of My Arrival by Dwight Okita
Are You My Mother? by Allison Bechdel
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Alex and Me by Irene Pepperberg
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
Paper Towns by John Green
A Million Heavens by John Brandon
Son by Lois Lowry
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The LIkeness by Tana French
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The Twelve by Justin Cronin
The Death of Sweet Mister By Daniel Woodrell
The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin
Sex, Lies, and Handwriting by Michelle Dresbold
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Read in 2013
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
Thy Neighbor by Norah Vincent
You Want Me to What? by Nancy Lang
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
Anne and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The Green Boat by Mary Pipher
Jujitsu Rabbi and the Godless Blonde by Rebecca Dana
The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers
Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
Calling Dr. Laura By Nicole J. Georges
A Simple Plan by Scott Smith
The Household Guide to Dying by Debra Adelaide
Following Josh by Dave Norman
The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer
Autobiography of Us by Aria Beth Sloss
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Limbus, Inc. by Anne C. Petty
Unsaid by Neil Abramson
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie
Inferno by Dan Brown
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks
The Believers by Zoe Heller
Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman
Under the Dome by Stephen King (audio)
Enon by Paul Harding
The Possibility Dogs by Susannah Charleson
Honolulu by Alan Brennert
Sahara by Michael Palin (audio)
Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (audio)
Little Witch Anna Elizabeth Bennett
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper
Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (audio)
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer
The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan (audio)
Ghost Man by Roger Hobbs
The Ocean at the End of the Lane (audio) written and read by Neil Gaiman
Rodeo in Joliet by Glenn Rockowitz
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Dinner by Herman Koch
Spontaneous Happiness (audio) written and read by Andrew Weil
Stitches by Anne Lamott
The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma
419 by Will Ferguson
Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger
Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield
Unmentionables by Laurie Loewenstein
We Are Water by Wally Lamb
Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (audio)
Why Are You So Sad? by Jason Porter

Which books have stuck with you?


Thank you for checking out the blog! There are links to Powell's and Amazon on this page. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog. You can send email to: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. You can also "like" our facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review.

Friday, December 6, 2013

December 2013 (Free!) Book Giveaway

In January of this year, I announced that there would be a book giveaway every month for 2013.

I made it to April. About that time I decided to change jobs, and spent a lot of time preparing - I hadn't written a resume in over ten years!, exploring and I finally made the move in June. I've been working at my new job since then, and adjusting to the change.

Six months to adjust to the change, you ask? Well...yes. That may very well be the subject of another blog. But back to the giveaway!

Here's how great it is. YOU get to choose which book you'd like to receive! The only requirement is that the book you choose has to have been mentioned at some point on this blog (I did receive one entry where the person wanted to receive a book that was not mentioned on the blog. That entry was disqualified.)

To enter the giveaway:
1. Look through the blog and find a book that you'd like to receive.

(Hint: the blog started in January 2010. At the end of each year, or beginning of a year, I list all the books I read that year. Scanning one of the annual lists to find a book you'd like might be quicker than reading through each blog post, as illuminating and fascinating as that might be!)

2. Add a comment here on the blog that includes your name (first name is fine) and the title of the book you've chosen. Entries will not be received through the blog's facebook page.

3. Enter by the end of the day, Sunday December 15, 2013.
That's it!

At that time, I will number the comments and randomly pick a number with a random number generator. I will send a message to the winner as a comment on the blog and that winner will have five days to respond. If that person doesn't respond, I’ll pick another number. Once I have a confirmed winner, I will get their shipping addresses via email or private message and send them the book they've chosen!*

*Note: I do not want you to put your personal contact information in the blog's comment space. This is protect you. However, you will need to enable your preferences so you see additional comments on the blog, or be sure to check back on the blog or the facebook page to see if you've won!

Entries for the giveaway need to be comments to this blog post. If you'd like to send a private message that is not an entry, do so via email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or through a private message through the blog's facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review.

Thanks and good luck!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Two New Books Set in the Past

I read two books recently that brought the past to life, in two very different ways.

Bellman & Black was a rich and haunting book set in the late 1800's in England. Unmentionables brought to life small town America in the early 20th century.

In the beginning of Bellman & Black, William Bellman, a young boy with his friends, has an accident involving a rook. This incident follows him through the rest of his life. Setterfield creates a vivid world for William as he grows up, working hard in order to cover up his grief. He works hard and Bellman and Black is created. Interspersed throughout are passages about rooks, which help create depth and darkness in the atmosphere of the book. A very good read.

I read Bellman & Black on the Nook, and, as sometimes happens on the Nook for me, the ending of the book came sooner than I expected. On the Nook, the book was something like 342 pages long, but as is often the case, the last several pages are acknowledgements and so on, which take up space. In a regular book, I look ahead to see when the book actually ends (careful not to read anything on those last pages!). I don't do this on the Nook, and this somehow lessens my enjoyment of the book, through no fault of the book itself, just the format.

I was lucky enough to win an Early Reviewer copy of Laurie Loewenstein's Unmentionables from In it, we follow Marian, who travels the country in the early 1900's as a Chautauqua speaker, as well as Deuce and his step daughter Helen, two people she meets on her circuit. Marian is speaking about women's undergarments, the unmentionables of the title, urging women to wear less confining undergarments, allowing them to live more freely. This of course is shocking talk in the early 20th century.

I was drawn in by Marian's subject matter, as well as the whole idea of the Chautauqua speaking circuit, with which I was not familiar. Loewenstein brings Emporia, Illinois to life through her portrayal of the characters and the issues they dealt with. I liked following Marian on her travels, Deuce as a small town newspaperman who has to decide whether or not to print difficult information, and Helen, a young woman longing to be part of a big city and work for women's rights.

The book got a little slow for me in the middle, and perhaps a tad too tidy of an ending, but overall I enjoyed it and I felt enriched by the book. Definitely worth a look!


Thank you, librarything, for offering the Early Reviewer book giveaway!

Clicking on the underlined book titles will take you to Powell's page for each book. Clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon's page for each book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog.

You can subscribe to the blog right on this page, and you can "like" us on our facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review. You can also send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Comments are welcome! Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Recommendations Strike a Chord

As I'm sure is true with all of you, there are people with whom I share similar tastes in books, people who, when they recommend a book, I listen closely.

(This is in contrast to people with whom I do NOT share a taste in books. A customer at the bookstore comes to mind. She came in and told me, "I just love Stephanie Meyer's writing!" I knew that this customer and I would not have much in common, reading-wise.)

But back to the people with whom I do tend to share similar taste in books. These are the people I ask what they are reading because I am curious about what they are reading, but also, and maybe even more so, because I am looking for a good read for myself!

A friend of mine recently wrote a blog recommendation of Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes. Here is her most excellent review:
It's okay, you can go read her review now. I'll wait.

Isn't that a great review? I absolutely wanted to read Me Before You when I read her review.

This is a person I worked closely with for years at the bookstore. I know that her reading tastes and mine align pretty closely. Rarely has she recommended a book that I've read and haven't liked.

Me Before You was no exception. I will say, however, that I perhaps did not love it quite as much as she did. I know it takes a lot (a LOT) for me to cry - or to laugh out loud - when I read. There was some crying when I read this one. And the characters (especially Louisa) will stay with me for a while. I really liked this book. I just don't think this book impacted me quite as much as it did my friend.

It got me thinking again how unique each of our interests in books are, which books strike us at certain times, which books absolutely resonate with us...and which may not, even if they resonate with someone else.

I read Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan a few years after it came out. I didn't see the end coming (spoiler alert!) - and I know I should have, but I didn't know Marley was going to die. I cried. I sobbed. I couldn't stop crying.

Was Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog the best written book I've ever read? No. But it struck something in me. At the time I was caring for my mother who had had a stroke and had very brittle diabetes. She was dying. When I was a kid, we had a dog, such a good dog, who had to be put down when he got ill. My dad had died a few years before I read this. Reading Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog brought up feelings for me about all of these losses in my life.

There are books that resonate in us, that strike a chord, allowing us to tap into certain emotions.

In addition, there are other books that I have absolutely loved that I've recommended that I know others have read and they have not loved them as much as I did.

This may be true about Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. I read it on our recent vacation and loved loved it. For me it brilliantly captured some of life contradictions and presented some life questions - can bad things result in good things, for example. The Goldfinch also captured the importance of art. And beauty. And it was a great read. Ah, I loved it.

Therapist is reading The Goldfinch right now and I realize that it may not affect her as much as it affected me. Which is fine. I love finding out how books affect people.


"Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself.... You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms."

Angela Carter

Which books have affected you deeply?

Clicking on the underlined book titles will take you to Powell's web page for each book. Clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon's page for each book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog.

You can send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com. You can also like us on our facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Vacation Reading Recap

Even though we didn't read all of the books we took on vacation, we still got a lot of great reading in!

I started with Will Ferguson's 419, a novel about Nigerian scams. I would be interested to know how Ferguson came to write this book, as his other books are humorous memoir travelogues and this is quite a bit darker. A U.S. man dies in a car wreck. To the authorities, the wreck doesn't seem to be an accident. But why would this man be involved in foul play? Or try to kill himself? The man's son and daughter, Warren and Laura, discover how deeply their father was involved in a scam originating in Nigeria. Well done. Great read.

Then I read Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes. A friend had read and loved loved loved this book, recommending it highly. I really enjoyed this as well, reading about Lou (Louisa) as she finds out who she is...and who she isn' she stumbles into a caregiving position for Will Traynor, a young man who became a paraplegic in an accident. Warning - there might be crying. But it's good crying.

My favorite was Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. I'm glad we took it on the Nook, as it's a hefty volume, coming in at over 700 pages. In it, we go with Theo Decker as he spends an afternoon at a museum with his mother. That afternoon changes Theo's life. Tartt captures the importance of art and beauty, and also raises questions about life and good and evil. That makes it sound lofty and inaccessible, and it is neither. Great story, great read. I loved this.

The Newlyweds (Vintage Contemporaries) by Nell Freudenberger We got this at Powell's, the decision to buy influenced by blurb by Ann Patchett, one of our favorite authors. Amina, a woman from Bangladesh (a "Deshi"), comes to the U.S. to marry George, who was born and raised in Rochester, New York. While George and Amina communicated extensively via email, and George visited Amina in Dhaka before Amina made the move to Rochester, there are still things they don't know about each other by the time they get married. Well drawn characters kept me reading and Amina and George discover more about each other and themselves.

On the last half of the last flight back home, I started Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield. Set in about the late 1800's, it follows William Bellman from childhood, when he and some friends encounter a rook, and then as William grows into adulthood and runs the local mill. I am still reading this and am really enjoying it. I'll have to report more on it when I finish.


Clicking on the underlined book titles will take you to Powell's page for each book. Clicking on the book covers will take you to Amazon's web page for each book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pre-vacation Reading

Therapist and I are going on vacation at the end of this month, and we are (of course) taking quite a few books. Keep an eye out for a blog post about what we'll be taking to read on the trip!

While there has been planning for vacation reading, there has also been pre-vacation reading. I'm reading books I don't want to take on our trip, mostly because of weight, which means hardcovers or audio books. (And yes, I know I can digitally take audio books on vacation, but I really don't prefer those when I want to just read.)

Ghostman by Roger Hobbs
This is the first novel by Portland, Oregon native Hobbs, and is a delicious debut. Five years after being involved in a bank robbery gone bad, the Ghostman is called in for a casino heist. I really enjoyed this crime thriller.

Rodeo in Joliet: A Cancer Memoir by Glenn Roskowitz
Reviewed in 2010 by Therapist (read the - excellent - full review here:, Rodeo in Joliet: A Cancer Memoir is Glenn Roskowitz's memoir chronicling his journey with cancer. Glenn is not the most likable person, cancer or not, but his memoir is honest and real. Worth a look.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Weird black and white photographs are sprinkled throughout the book and inform the story. Before I read the book the photographs were both intriguing and off-putting, maybe even a little creepy. I enjoyed the story and loved how Riggs used the photographs as part of the story, making them more engaging and less creepy. Keep an eye out for the second in the series of Miss Peregrine in 2014!

The Dinner by Herman Koch
Translated from the Dutch and set in Amsterdam, The Dinner is told by Paul, who attends dinner with his wife Claire. When I first saw that this book was about a dinner, I thought of the movie, My Dinner With Andre. The only similarities between this book and that movie is that there is a dinner. Reading The Dinner evoked a similar feeling I got from reading We Need to Talk about Kevin (P.S.). In this book, Paul makes observations about their dinner companions, and gradually life complications emerge as the dinner progresses. Dark, compelling and oh so excellent.
This book will be out in paperback on October 29. The Dinner would be a great book for a book group!

Spontaneous Happiness: A New Path to Emotional Well-Being by Andrew Weil (audio, read by the author)
I enjoyed listening to Weil read his book, and I will take away a few ideas for raising my own emotional setpoint. One of the ideas, which my friend Jacki has been using even as she's been battling cancer is the Three Positives ( My Three Positives for today are:
1) The sun is shining. Again. The sun and the fall colors are spectacular.
2) One of my co-workers made me laugh really hard last night. I'm still happy about that.
3) I get to pick up my bike from the shop today. It's getting a tune-up after sitting in the garage for, um, a long time. I'm going to go for a little bike ride (see #1).

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma
After the dedication, and after the page with two literary quotations, and after the table of contents, there is a page that says "If you believe that you are the author of this book, please contact Haslett and Grouse Publishers at your first convenience." That was the hook that got me interested in this book. Even though I've just started reading this, I am enjoying it. A young man talks about becoming a writer, starting in Terminal B of an airport, where he spent his days waiting for his mother who was a flight attendant.


Clicking on the underlined book title will take you to Powell's web page for each book. Clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon's page for each book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog. You can also like us on our facebook page, Not The New York Times Book Review. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Remembering My Dad Through Books

My dad died in 2002. My brother and I still have items from our parents, some of which we will keep as keepsakes and heirlooms, some of which we will let my kids have, and some of which we will not keep.

There were three books that belonged to my dad when he was a kid in the 1920's and 30's. About a year ago, my brother found them in a box of our parent's things and gave them to me. Knowing they were old and rather fragile, I took pictures, then I put each of the books in a separate ziploc bag.


(I like my dad's kidscrawl signature. I also like the list of books that was in the back of one of the books...DON COYOTE is a fun title, as is SEM'S MOROCCAN LOVE.)

I'd put the books behind some other things in our own bookcase, and last week we found them again. They were moldy, the mold smell strong without even opening the plastic bags.

In the moist Pacific Northwest, keeping mold at bay can be a challenge. We didn't need to invite mold into our home. So I threw them away.

Writing this, I feel a pang of regret. I didn't do any research on how to keep old books (maybe one does not even put old books in plastic bags). I just didn't want anything toxic in our house. It was a reactionary move.

In my defense, these were books I'd never seen when I was growing up. My dad never showed them to us or talked about them with us. I don't know where he kept them. They just ended up in a box with some of their stuff that my brother found several years after he died.

There is a book that my dad DID share with me when I was a teenager. He gave it to me to read and told me it was one of his favorite books. I've read it several times. This book is in a prominent place on our bookshelf. There is a sticker on the inside back cover that said he got the book at The Emporium for 39 cents.


The three books that are no longer with us had his signature, which was pretty great.

However, I have other remembrances of my dad. There are letters my dad wrote and sent when he was about seven years old. He wrote these letters to his brother, who was 13 years older and had left home to go to college. I have loved seeing these letters, giving me glimpses into what my dad was like as a kid.

Should I have thrown away the three books? I don't know. I do know that I have other ways to remember my dad, and that is what is important to me.

Thanks for stopping by the blog! You can "like" us on our facebook page, Not The New York Times Book Review. You can also send us email: 2of3Rs(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Night Film

This book has gotten so much buzz this summer!

I love me a good psychological thriller, so was eager to get at NIGHT FILM. I got a free sample of the book on my Nook Simple Touch, but decided to buy a hardcover copy as there are a lot of graphics interspersed throughout the book, which made reading it on the Simple Touch seem not as inviting.


So the story. Ashley Cordova is found dead. She is the daughter of Stanislas Cordova, director of films so disturbing, most of them can only be viewed in secret, underground locations. Because Cordova's films are so violent and disturbing, and his own life fraught with secrecy and mystery, Scott McGrath, investigative reporter and also a fan of Cordova's films, thinks that there must be something more to Ashley's death than suicide, as was first reported in the media.

As McGrath begins his investigation, he meets two people who may be able to help him. Nora, a barely post-teen waif who is also intrigued by Cordova, and Hopper, a drug dealer who just might know more about Ashley than he lets on.

Their exploration takes them to meet former players in Cordova's films, a former wife, the mental hospital where Ashley spent some time, secret online message boards, and perhaps even to Cordova's huge estate, The Peak, where he has lived and filmed all of his movies, all of which are shrouded in secrecy. What really happened to Ashley?

I was eager to find out. However, I got a little distracted and frustrated from the story by all the italics Pessl used.

Do you remember the movie TOOTSIE with Dustin Hoffman? In it, he plays Michael Dorsey, a frustrated actor. Dorsey teaches an acting class and in it, he told his students to put their own emphasis on words as they read a scene. They might emphasize the word but or and, even though the scriptwriter might have wanted the emphasis on another word.

I thought of this as I was reading NIGHT FILM. I think readers are like actors in this way. Reading a book gives me the opportunity to emphasize what I want to. All the italicized words in this book made me feel as though the emphasis was decided for me, and I didn't like it. Here is a random sampling:

"There was only a busy signal. I tried the number every hour for the next six hours. It remained busy."

"The chime dinged over the loudspeakers for the second time."

"There was a strict dress code - which the person who'd answered my post had failed to mention. The men were in suits and ties. Hopper and I were certainly going to stick out - not to mention the fact that I had chalky rings of saltwater on my pants."

"Six o'clock came and went. There was no word from her. Soon it was seven. Eight. I called her cellphone. No answer. I went to her house and rang the bell."

The italicized words felt random and unnecessary.

Back to the story.

I did want to find out how Ashley died and more about the mystery surrounding Cordova and his films. Pessl created a vivid atmosphere of a secretive film personality and fan world. I liked how she included newspaper articles, photos, interviews, and internet message boards in the story.

While the ending was satisfying to me, there were some plot twists that seemed a bit overdone. Maybe kind of like the italics.

Thanks for reading the blog! Clicking on the book cover will take you to Amazon's web page for NIGHT FILM. Purchasing through this link helps support the blog. Please feel free to comment on the blog itself, or check out our facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review. Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summer Reading...

It hardly seems possible that summer is almost over, even though the calendar says it's September. Kids are back to school and things are starting to look and feel fall-ish outside. In addition, there has been a lot of change for me in the last few months, ending my employment at the bookstore and starting a brand new job. Books have been keeping me is what I've been reading...

THE POSSIBILITY DOGS by Susannah Charles
Charleson's second book, chronicling her exploration of working with rescue dogs to see if they can become service dogs. Filled with portraits of amazing dogs and their handlers as well as her own journey with Jake Piper (the dog on the cover!), this is a wonderful book. (see the full blog post here:

UNDER THE DOME (audio) by Stephen King
My new job is a bit further away from home than my last one, so I've been exploring audiobooks for my commute. Listening to UNDER THE DOME was fun. Stephen King is so good at developing many story threads and keeping the reader interested in all of the characters. I didn't totally love the ending (i.e. the why of the dome), but did love listening to the townspeople of Chester's Mill struggle with living - and dying - Under the Dome.

WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? Maria Semple (audio)
Another audiobook for my drives to and from work. I'd picked up this book several times when I worked at the bookstore and almost bought it. It didn't totally grab me, though, so I didn't. Bee, a precocious teenager, tells most of the story, starting with her presenting one wish to her parents - for the family to take a trip to Antarctica! Bernadette is Bee's mother, who isn't quite sure she can handle a trek to far off southern lands. Kathleen Wilhoite reads the audio version and does a great job. Enjoyable!

LITTLE WITCH by Anna Elizabeth Bennett
I'd loved this book as a child and recently tried to find a copy. It was a delight to discover that a 60th Anniversary edition of this book was being released! I, of course, ordered one. Alas, in rereading it I discovered that this book didn't quite hold up for me. I'd read it many times as a child and remember thoroughly loving it then. Is this one of those books that should have remained wonderful in my memory? Perhaps.

This was stunning. A father tells a tale to his children before bed one night. The next day he gives up one of his children through economic necessity. What happens to that child? What happens to the child that was kept? What happens to the father? Beautifully written and evocative.

Heller wrote the deliciously evil WHAT WAS SHE THINKING? NOTES ON A SCANDAL. This, another by her, chronicles a family in post 9/11 New York. I didn't like it nearly as well, but did enjoy the clever dialogue and well-rounded portrayals of members of the Litvinoff family.

Recently read and reviewed on this blog (, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would.

Sedaris is back with more insightful and humorous essays about life. My Sedaris faves are WHEN YOU ARE ENGULFED IN FLAMES and ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY, but I always love reading a new addition to the Sedaris canon.

Ruth (main character Ruth) is a frustrated writer living in British Columbia. Washing up on shore comes some things from Japan. Alternating between Ruth's narration and the Japanese teenager, owner of the things that washed up on shore, this is original and well-done.

I may have read this too quickly. A short novel, this is one to be savoured. There is magic here.

WONDER by R.J. Palacio
August is a child with a severe cranial deformities. He's just a regular kid on the inside. His struggles are mostly dealing with others who encounter his outside and are less than kind. Even though this is billed as a "children's book", I enjoyed reading Auggie's story. Absolutely worth reading.

SAHARA by Michael Palin (audio)
I love Michael Palin and have since Monty Python. After Python, Palin moved into travel and writing and filming travelogues of his journeys. Listening to Palin read about his travels was delicious, though I found that I missed having photos or visuals of his journey with this audio version.

Along the lines of THE PARIS WIFE and THE AVIATOR'S WIFE, this chronicles the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I greatly appreciate just the title of this book in that it is not defining Zelda's life solely by her relationship to her famous husband. (I have feelings about this! See this blog post: Zelda had quite a life, and I enjoyed reading this novel about her.

NIGHT FILM by Marisha Pessl
There will be a longer blog post about this book. I don't want to say too much, as I'm not quite finished with it. But the book starts out that Ashley Cordova, daughter of Stanislas Cordova, director of deeply disturbing films, is dead. Pessl builds tension and intrigue as Scott McGrath investigates Ashley's death. Was it suicide? Or something more sinister?

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee (audio, read by Sissy Spacek)
I read (and loved) TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD years ago. This audio version, read by Sissy Spacek, had been recommended to me many times by co-workers and bookstore customers. Listening to it I can see why. Spacek's voice is a perfect complement to this amazing novel.


What have you been reading this summer? Feel free to post here or on our facebook page, NOT The New York Times Book Review! Clicking on the book covers will take you to Amazon's web page for each book. Purchasing through these links helps support the blog. Thanks for stopping by!