It’s Not All Mary Poppins

My Book Binge

Ta-dah! Here is my book binge. What you all do now is publish your lists of books on your blogs, and then let me know in the comments. I will publish the list of bingers tomorrow.

Too Pretty to Die (A Debutante Dropout Mystery)
Susan McBride
A pretty piece of fluff. Mindless way to pass a half-day or so…

You Look Nice Today
Stanley Bing
Tedious account of an office affair gone bad — without even any juicy bits for interest.

Second Glance
Jodi Picoult
Ghosts, ghost-hunters, lost loves and hope. A nice mix, though I found it bogged down around page 80 – 90, once I was through that it moved between past and present, through an intruiging twist, to a hopeful ending.

Bread and Dreams
Jonatha Ceely
What started out with the appearance of historical fiction turned out to be a romance. The surrounding’s and support characters’ only purpose was to further the plot. Unlikely plot event occurred, obstacles were overcome in even more unlikely ways, so that the happy couple could meet their destiny to be together. Meh.

Lament for a Lounge Lizard (A Fiona Silk mystery)
MaryJane Maffini
Maffini takes neither the genre seriously, nor allows her character to take herself too seriously. Thus it’s a fun, tongue-in-cheek read.

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
Xiaolu Guo
The best thing about this book is how the narrator, a young Chinese woman sent to England to learn to speak English, speaks in her developing English voice. In the foreward, we read of her fears:

And how I living in strange country West alone? I never been to west… What I knowing about West? … That not my life. That nothing to do with my life. I not having life in West. I not having home in West. I scared. I no speaking English. I fearing future.

Touching. The primitive English and fractured grammar only add to its poignancy. In the first few chapters, there are intruiging glimpses into the Chinese culture, all the more fascinating given that the narrator assumes her home perspective and experiences, so you have to infer what she’s accustomed to from the things she perceives as odd in Western life.

As the novel progresses, however, one begins to wonder if what you’re seeing is a window into Chinese culture, experience, and mindset, or whether you’re merely getting a window into the world of a rather disturbed young woman.

It’s an interesting book, but ultimately dissatisfying.

Gatsby’s Girl
Caroline Preston
Biography of hypothetical “lost love” of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Well-told. You can never actually like Ginevra, the spoiled rich girl telling the tale, but you feel for her.

Exercises in Style
Raymond Queneau
An eccentric re-telling of a single brief non-event 99 different ways. It’s not a book you read cover-to-cover, because the “plot”, such as it is, is recounted in its entirety, on the first page and in less than 300 words. (Educated guess. I did not count.) The plot is not the point. The point is the variety of ways a simple event can be retold. Part writing exercise, part humour, it’s a dryly entertaining way to pass a few minutes. A good book to keep in your bag for those times when you have a few moments to kill.

Schott’s Orginal Miscellany
Ben Schott
I was given this book ages ago, and I’m not sure I’ve read every page, but it deserves mention simply because I do dip into it at semi-regular intervals. It’s a collection of facts. Quirky, trivial, interesting bits and pieces of this and that. Containing everything from the Ten Commandments to Boatswain’s Calls, and all manner of miscellanea in between, it’s a great book to annoy one’s spouse throug constant interruptions to his reading. “Hey, love! Did you know that the chemical notation for testosterone is C19H28O2??” (Imagine those numbers as teeny subscripts. I don’t know how to make WordPress do that…)

Lion’s Honey: The Myth of Samson
David Grossman

Round Robin
Jennifer Chiaverini

Sex and Other Changes
David Nobb

David Nobb (could that be his real name?) manages the astounding feat of (respectfully) tackling the serious subject of sex change — with humour. Husband and wife, Nicolas and Alison, become wife and husband, Nicola and Alan. How their marriage, their friendships, their children, their jobs, their sex lives, weather this enormous change is real story of the book. And for all that, it’s an entertaining read. Who knew it was possible?

The Young Mrs. Meigs
Elizabeth Corbett

Fun read about a feisy 80-year-old, with enough true-to-life human passions and the slightest tinge of tragedy to make it less than total fluff. The portrayal of an elderly woman is firm and unsentimental; Mrs. Meigs is a delightful old woman.

The marriage she encourages her granddaughter into is bound to fail, of course: “Married life with Tip O’Neil wouldn’t be a bed of roses. Bot that streak in Cecile which had threatened lately to turn into hardness would ome out as strength now that she was married to the man she loved. ‘She married the man she loved!’ That wasn’t the same thing as saying, ‘She lived happy ever after.’ But it put a woman straight with life.”

Which is utter nonsense, of course. Poor Cecile will soon be very unhappy with the handsome, charming and irresponsible Tip. Sooner if they have children. It’s clear I’m far less sentimental about the omnipotence of love than Mrs. Meigs.

My Sister’s Keeper
Jodi Picoult
You’ll need a half-dozen boxes of kleenex to get through this one. When baby Kate is discovered to have a fatal health condition, her parents decide to conceive another child … to use as a source of spare parts to prolong Kate’s life. When she is 13, after innumerable surgeries, Anna rebels against this role and takes her parents to court to fight for the right to the integrity of her own body. The struggles of the family as this plays out are by turns poignant, tragic, compelling, enraging, and horrifying. I could deal with all that — that’s what the story requires. However, the story did NOT require the ending, and I doubt I will read another Picoult book because of it, I am so offended. I cannot conceive why it was necessary to throw in that twist at the end. Well, no. It was completely unnecessary. Boooooo!

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Paul Torday
Clever and engaging story of the unlikely project to introduce salmon fishing into the hot and arid world of the Yemen. Though it’s seen mostly through the eyes of the lead scientist on the project, the story is advanced through a wide variety of vantage points, including TV scripts, news accounts, emails, as well as two or three different characters. At times social and political satire, farce and romance, it’s a funny, intelligent read with a wistful ending. I liked it.

Julie and Romeo
Jeanne Ray
A light and touching retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story (betcha didn’t guess that from the title, huh?), it’s not deep, but it is funny and satisfying. Julie Roseman and Romeo Cacciamani are sixty-something owners of rival flower shops. When they meet at a small business owner’s convention, their romance (ahem) blossoms in unfriendly soil. Can love triumph over the amassed forces of a three-generation family feud, a secret buried in history, their outraged children, and a malevolent grandma?

The Jane Austen Book Club
Karen Joy Fowler
Not one story, but many, this book recounts far more than the monthly meetings of a book club reading through the works of Jane Austen. You don’t have to have read a word of Austen to enjoy the book, but if you have (and enjoyed them!), you’ll feel part of the club as you read along. You care about the members of the club, and enough ends are left loose that you’ll think about them after you finish the last page. A good read.

As yet unfinished:
Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World
Samantha Power
Biography of Sergio Vierira de Mello. Not far enough into it (page 62) to say much about it, though I know how it ends…

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May 31, 2008 - Posted by | books

40 Comments »

  1. […] to MaryP at It’s Not All Mary Poppins for hosting the […]

    Pingback by Book Binge is Over « Zayna’s Garden | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  2. Here’s my list of books.

    Comment by Becky | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  3. Here’s My List of Books…

    http://karabookchallenges.blogspot.com/2008/05/2nd-completed-challenge.html

    Comment by Kara | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  4. Here’s my list. (I hope that works since it’s my first time trying to leave a link in comments.)

    BTW, Mary, I completely agree with you about the ending of My Sister’s Keeper. I was infuriated by it and haven’t read another Jodi Picoult book since.

    Comment by Alison | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  5. Well, that didn’t work, apparently. If you click on my name and go to my site, it’s titled “My Book Binge.” Yes, I stole your title. 😉

    Comment by Alison | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  6. This was a blast. Thank you for hosting the challenge. Here’s my list of books.

    Comment by chainletters | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  7. Here’s my list! I enjoyed this. Thanks for hosting! 🙂

    Comment by Amy | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  8. My list is here. I really enjoyed this – thanks!

    Comment by Three-Legged-Cat | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  9. Thanks for hosting. My list can be found at my blog, Page After Page.
    *smiles*
    Kim
    http://pageafterpage-kim.blogspot.com/2008/05/book-binge-complete.html

    Comment by kimmery4 | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  10. Here’s my list for the Book Binge! Thanks again for hosting it!

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  11. My list isn’t nearly as long as yours – May is way busy for me. I’m looking forward to lots more reading in June. Here’s my list (http://owlfan.blogspot.com/2008/05/book-binge-results.html). sorry, I don’t know how to link in the comments.

    Comment by Katherine | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  12. I’ll come back tomorrow with the link to my list, but I liked reading yours!

    Second Glance is probably one of my least favorite Jodi Picoult novels. I actually liked My Sister’s Keeper pretty well, but you’re right about the ending.

    I’ll have to look for a copy of Gatsby’s Girl. I’ve read a couple of other novels by Caroline Preston, but hadn’t heard about this one before – thanks.

    I read Julie and Romeo a few years ago, and also found it an enjoyable light read. If I recall correctly, I think the author’s daughter is also a novelist – Ann Patchett.

    Comment by Florinda | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  13. Thanks for hosting this! Here is my list of books read in May.

    Comment by wendyrobards | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  14. Here’s my list for the Book Binge! Thanks for hosting it!

    Comment by Alessandra | May 31, 2008 | Reply

  15. This is fun! Here’s mine. 🙂

    Comment by Melody | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  16. Fun! My list is in the website link. 🙂

    Comment by Karin | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  17. Oops, sorry I stuffed up the tags!

    Comment by Kat | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  18. My list is here. Thanks for this challenge! 😀

    Comment by mizb17 | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  19. Here is my list http://cherylsbooknook.blogspot.com/

    Comment by Cheryl | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  20. This was so much fun – thanks for hosting! My wrap-up post is here:
    http://jlshall.blogspot.com/2008/06/book-binge-is-over.html

    Comment by JLS Hall | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  21. My list is in the second half of this post. I had hoped it would be longer, but it is what it is.

    Thanks for hosting this challenge, and I hope you’ll do it again next year!

    Comment by Florinda | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  22. I did it…not nearly so many as you, but it sort of kick started me into summer reading.

    Comment by Bridgett | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  23. I wish I could read that much in a month. I enjoyed hearing your thoughts on A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers. I’m still curious to read it and think I’d be able to relate since I teach ESL. And I absolutely hated the ending of My Sister’s Keeper too. I haven’t read anything by her since.
    Here ‘s my list of books in my usual monthly recap. I didn’t do anything different for Book Binge, hope that’s ok.

    Comment by tanabata | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  24. Mine are up! The direct link is:

    Comment by J. Kaye | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  25. […] go check out Mary P to read her books and see what all the other binge participants have been […]

    Pingback by Book Binge 2008 « One mom’s journey… | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  26. Thanks for hosting the challenge. My month was too busy and I did incredibly little reading. Oh well I’ll just shoot for next year being better.
    Link is here. http://phonemom.wordpress.com/2008/06/01/book-binge-2008-2/

    Comment by Dani | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  27. Here’s my list:

    http://michelle-says.blogspot.com/2008/06/book-binge-results.html

    Thanks for hosting!

    Comment by Michelle | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  28. Not sure if my comment got through?

    http://michelle-says.blogspot.com/2008/06/book-binge-results.html

    Comment by Michelle | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  29. Ooh, I liked Julie + Romeo. I’ve got the follow-up on Mt. TBR.

    Here is my final list, plus some other good talk about books.

    Comment by Susan Helene Gottfried | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  30. Here is my list of books
    http://stephgordon.blogspot.com

    Thanks a lot

    Comment by Steph | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  31. Sorry, I haven’t had time to put up my list yet. Tomorrow.

    Comment by Z | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  32. i’ve got my list posted. thanks for hosting this!

    Comment by alisonwonderland | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  33. My list is up. It’s not much of a list really. I was a lot busier than I thought I would be in May.

    Comment by Mike F. | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  34. I meant to stop by and leave a link to my Book Binge Wrap Up, but somehow I got sidetracked.

    Comment by Literary Feline | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  35. Mary, what you inspired me to read from your list:

    Lament for a Lounge Lizard
    Julie and Romeo
    Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
    The Jane Austen Book Club
    Sex and Other Changes
    Exercises in Style

    Comment by Suzi | June 4, 2008 | Reply

  36. First Among equals
    Mysterious Mr.Quinn
    Curious Incident of dog in the night time
    Tenth Circle
    The Afghan
    Road Less Travelled
    Message in a bottle
    Collection of Sherlock Holmes stories
    Freakonomics
    Sybil
    Eclipse
    Everyone Worth knowing
    Rich Dad Poor Dad
    State of Fear
    Celestine Prophecy
    Jinx
    Digital Fotress
    The Templar Legacy
    Deception Point
    The Secret

    thats 20 i guess i have completed in the time u gave

    Comment by jinx | June 5, 2008 | Reply


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