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Archive for December, 2010

2010 in Books

I read 188 books in 2010. (Well, ok, I haven’t finished that last one yet, but I will later tonight.) The 188 books break down thusly, although there are some overlapping categories:

  • 68 adult fiction, 3 of which were short story collections
  • 62 YA fiction, 1 of which was a short story collection
  • 22 adult non-fiction
  • 20 children’s fiction
  • 11 biographies/memoirs
  • 8 graphic novels
  • 6 picture books
  • 3 true crime
  • 2 children’s non-fiction

And in an on-going effort to not just read Books By and Featuring White People, 44 of the 187 were either written by non-white authors or prominently featured non-white characters. On an interesting side note, I read 119 books in 2009 and 106 books in 2008, which is an increase of 13 titles; the increase from 2009 to 2010 is 68 titles. I guess I read a lot of thin books this year…?

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Happy Holidays!

Have some snow! Consider it my gift to you.

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Shanghai businessman Li Jing is having dinner with his father at a hotel restaurant when the unthinkable happens–there is a massive gas explosion in the kitchen, and the building collapses. When he wakes up in the hospital, where he was taken after a massive shard of glass pierced his skull, Li Jing is diagnosed with bilingual aphasia: he can still comprehend Chinese, but he can no longer speak it; instead he can only speak English, which he learned as a child growing up in Virginia.

American neurologist Rosalyn Neal comes to Shanghai on a fellowship to assist in Li Jing’s rehabilitation; she is struggling with a recent divorce, and comes to Shanghai as much to escape her own past as to assist Li Jing. As the connection between doctor and patient becomes stronger, it is apparent to everyone that their mutual isolation in their inability to speak Chinese is complicating an already complicated situation. And Li Jing’s wife Meiling and son Pang Pang may be the ones who end up paying for it.

As someone who speaks more than one language, this was a fascinating read. I started to wonder how Mr Lush and I would cope if I had a similar accident and could only speak German. Luckily for me, I have several local friends who speak German, as do my parents, but it would still be a strain, as Mr Lush only speaks English.

I also enjoyed that the story was told from the perspective of all the characters. This made it difficult to assign blame: everyone was a real, flawed person, and everyone’s actions (or lack thereof) contributed to the problems they all encountered. The ending is messy, like real life, but it was satisfying.

Ruiyan Xu’s site

Source: borrowed from library

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The Iron Duke

Ten years ago the Iron Duke, Rhys Trahaearn, shattered the Horde’s control over England. In the intervening years, life has slowly begun to return to normal. Until Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth is called away from a ball celebrating the anniversary of the Duke’s victory to investigate the dead man dropped (literally) on his front steps. Figuring out who the man was and how he died leads Mina and the Duke far beyond London’s grimy streets. They must overcome their differences and work together stop the mysterious Black Guard before it’s too late. Can they manage to find happiness while they race to save England?

It’s a mystery! It’s a romance! It’s steampunk! With zombies!

I picked this up because Liz B reviewed it on Tea Cozy and it sounded interesting. I don’t read a lot of romance, and haven’t had much luck with the few blind forays I have made into that genre. This, however, was a most enjoyable read. The plot was complex, the characters were engaging, and the setting was fascinating. There was a fair bit of sex too, but it was neither ridiculous nor overabundant. (The book reminded me a little of the Alexia Tarabotti novels, in that it mashes up romance with steampunk and mystery, although it is nowhere near as silly.)

This appears to be the first book in a new series, and I’m curious to know more about this world…so I guess I’m a romance reader now. And that’s ok.

Meljean Brook’s site

Source: borrowed from library

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Whelp Day

Happy Whelp Day, Lush Puppy! He’s now 4 years old.

Whelp Day treats are delicious, it seems.

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Monsters of Men

This is the third and final book in the Chaos Walking series. You can read my thoughts about The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer here.

*SPOILER WARNING*

Todd and Viola have finally been reunited in the ruins of New Prentisstown, but their momentary relief and happiness at finding each other alive is short lived.  The battle for power between Mayor Prentiss and Mistress Coyle takes on terrifyingly new dimensions as their arena expands: the native Spackle are massing to attack, and the first scout ship from the colonists has arrived.  Brutal and extended warfare appears unavoidable. And somehow, amidst all the violence surrounding them, Todd and Viola have to survive and rise above the chaos and destruction and unspeakable choices to save their world–and themselves.

Every book in this series is better (and more difficult) than the last. Each book broke my heart in new ways, and then patched it back together. I spent the entire final quarter of this book a hopeless mess, crying to the point of feeling ill. I can’t wait to read them all again.

Chaos Walking has won lots of critical acclaim, but is still flying quite far under the general radar, which is a shame. This last book especially deals a lot of the same themes as Mockingjay, but does a much better job of it. I like The Hunger Games fine, but Chaos Walking is by far the superior series. The story is more sophisticated, the characters are more fully developed, and the world-building is more complete.

I’m recommending them to everyone at the library I possibly can.

Source: borrowed from library

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Twitbits

Edward Docx asks Are Stieg Larsson and Dan Brown a match for literary fiction?

As you wish: Publishing and The Princess Bride: What Aspiring Authors Can Learn from Florin

Orignal sketches for Charlotte’s Web sell at auction in October

Only the worst sci-fi/fantasy book covers at Good Show Sir

Need to figure out which book that was? The database of award-winning children’s literature can help!

From 2009, but happy-making nonetheless: A grand gift to the town from the man you can’t see

And finally, what could be better than this?

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The Big Reveal

The NY Times has an interesting article about literary translations: Translation as Literary Ambassador.

And with that as my introduction, I can now spill the beans about the project I was working on this summer that ate up so much of my time: Amish Prayers.

A Collection of Inspiring Prayers
Used by the Amish and Mennonites for Over 300 Years!

The Amish as well as other Anabaptist groups have used the same book of prayers for centuries. Now for the first time a selection of these prayers is readily available in English. This exclusive authentic translation from the original German—with an introduction by Beverly Lewis—will give readers insights into the spiritual foundations of the Plain people. Each prayer is paired with a Scripture passage to draw readers closer to God. This hardcover illustrated gift book is perfect for old and new fans of Amish fiction alike.

Beverly Lewis made the selections, and I translated them. Excuse me for a moment while I burst with pride and accomplishment, sweetened by the knowledge that my German major wasn’t useless, despite the fact that I don’t want to teach! Go me!

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Figment

How cool is this? Web Site for Teenagers With Literary Leanings

Figment.com will be unveiled on Monday as an experiment in online literature, a free platform for young people to read and write fiction, both on their computers and on their cellphones. Users are invited to write novels, short stories and poems, collaborate with other writers and give and receive feedback on the work posted on the site.

The cynic in me says it’s doubtful that The Next Pop Culture Phenomenon Writer will be discovered here, but on the other hand, it’s pretty awesome to have a site aimed at teens dedicated to The Writing Experience.

ETA: As Kurtis points out, this is in the site’s user agreement (emphasis mine):

Unless otherwise provided in the terms and conditions of a Special Promotion, you will retain all of your ownership rights in your Publications. However, unless otherwise provided in the terms and conditions of a Special Promotion, by submitting a Publication to Figment, you grant Figment a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable license to (i) use, copy, distribute and display the Publications in connection with the operation and promotion of the Figment Website and (ii) use, copy, sell, distribute, create derivative works, translate, and otherwise fully exploit the Publications in the form of anthologies in any format, including, without limitation, in hardcover, paperback, and electronic form. Figment will use commercially reasonable efforts to notify you prior to using your Publication as described in clause (ii) of the preceding sentence.

Ugh. Shades of James Frey, anyone?

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Dilemma

So it appears I can talk myself into ridiculously awesome and expensive shoes…if I forgo something else I want. I’ve been saving for a new tattoo; I don’t have quite enough money for that yet, but I do have enough to buy the boots. (They’re not really $500, that was a slight exaggeration for effect.)

The options are:

  • I can get the tattoo in early 2011, save another couple of months for the boots, and hope they’re still available in the size and color I want.

OR

  • I can buy the boots now, and save for another six months or so for the tattoo and consider it a birthday present to myself.

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi internet hivemind, you’re my only hope!

Feel free to elaborate in the comments.

ETA: I closed the poll on 12/4 because I bought the boots. Yay boots!

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