Friday, December 31, 2010

Medieval & Chunkster Challenge Wrap-Up

Way back in January and February, I signed up for the Tournament of Reading and the Chunkster challenge. I've since completed both but haven't posted until now--procrastination, I know. For the former, I signed up for the King level, or 9 books, including two from each category (history, historical fiction, literature from the Middle Ages). Along the way, I discovered/rediscovered Margaret Frazer's Dame Frevisse mysteries and Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael mysteries--tons more medieval fun!

History: A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman*
History of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bauer (also my last chunkster)
Wow, this took me a long time! It was definitely enjoyable, just a bit of a slog, partly due to my own distractions. Anyway, I learned a ton about a time period that I realize now I knew very little about. A repeated and global theme seemed to be how loose nomadic tribes grew into nations with a shared history, language, and religion. Also, how those nations used or misused their varied religions for political ends. I have to admit that the Asian and South Asian sections were less interesting to me, perhaps because I found the names hard to keep track of, even within the chapter, let alone across chapters. Maybe I should reread those sections. I'm also curious as to how the author arrived at her definition of medieval as spanning the years from 312-1129.
The Discarded Image by C. S. Lewis (history/literary criticism)

Historical Fiction: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset*
Morality Play by Barry Unsworth*
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
Since I was reading this with a child I tutor, I wasn't quite in the full flow of the narrative. Nevertheless, it was an engaging book, with some predictability. I enjoyed the way the main character changed throughout the novel and I thought Avi did a good job conveying the medieval setting as well.
Company of Liars by Karen Maitland
An intriguing read, confusing at times in terms of genre--not sure if she wanted to be historical fiction or some sort of fantasy/supernatural thing, maybe a bit of both. I ended up feeling like I mostly liked the characters. A bit like Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" because they started gradually dying off. In some ways I'd like to read it again and pick up some more clues and make connections between events but I'm not sure it's a book to reread in terms of holding my interest. Excellent as far as historical detail goes, however.

Medieval Literature: The Book of Margery Kempe*
Dream Visions and Other Poems by Geoffrey Chaucer
I really enjoyed The Parliament of Fowls and The Legends of Good Women. The first was very humorous and the second was a nice defense of womanhood against courtly love and exploiting men. My edition also had critical essays and background sources. The sources were interesting and a few of the essays were but some of them really got on my nerves. Over all, I enjoyed reading the Middle English because it's pretty similar to modern English but different enough that it was like reading a foreign language at times--a fun challenge.

*already reviewed previously

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

100 Books in 2010

I've finished 100 books! It felt like it was going to be close in November when I had 20 more books to go in two months but I did it for a grand total of 34,777 pages, according to Goodreads! Some of my books were a bit of "filler" to get me to the end, probably because I read some big ones at the beginning of the year. The top genres (in order, though some books overlap) were: fiction, series, mystery, medieval, escapist, historical fiction, ya fiction, thriller, and audio.

1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
2. The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne
3. The Wreath by Sigrid Undset
4. The Wife by Sigrid Undset
5. The Book of Margery Kempe
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
7. Little Lady, Big Apple by Hester Browne
8. The Cross by Sigrid Undset
9. Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti
10. The Discarded Image by C. S. Lewis
11. Nothing is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn by Alice Mattison
12. Washington Square by Henry James
13. An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill Mansell
14. Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
15. The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
16. Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
17. Hot Water by P. G. Wodehouse
18. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
19. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
20. East Wind: West Wind by Pearl S. Buck
21. Millie's Fling by Jill Mansell
22. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuchman
23. The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling
24. My Life in France by Julia Child
25. Lives 2 by Plutarch
26. The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer
27. Morality Play by Barry Unsworth
28. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
29. Perfect Timing by Jill Mansell
30. The Heretic's Apprentice by Ellis Peters
31. The Potter's Field by Ellis Peters
32. Dr. Thorne by Anthony Trollope
33. The Summer of the Danes by Ellis Peters
34. Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
35. The Associate by John Grisham
36. Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
37. Scientific Progress Goes "Boink" by Bill Watterson
38. Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie
39. The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
40. Aunt Dimity, Vampire Hunter by Nancy Atherton
41. Zapped by Carol Higgins Clark
42. The Apostate's Tale by Margaret Frazer
43. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
44. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffnegger
45. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowlin
46. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope
47. Three by Flannery O'Connor
48. The Maiden's Tale by Margaret Frazer
49. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
50. A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters
51. Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark
52. The Brethren by John Grisham
53. The Clicking of Cuthbert by P. G. Wodehouse
54. The Girl on the Boat by P. G. Wodehouse
55. The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope
56. The Naming by Alison Croggon
57. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
58. So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger
59. The Reeve's Tale by Margaret Frazer
60. The Riddle by Alison Croggon
61. One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters
62. The Valley of Vision by Arthur G. Bennett
63. Runaway by Alice Munro
64. The Squire's Tale by Margaret Frazer
65. A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
66. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
67. The Unvarnished New Testament by Andy Gaus
68. The Crow by Alison Croggon
69. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
70. Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
71. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland
72. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
73. The Clerk's Tale by Margaret Frazer
74. The History of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bauer
75. The Mating Season by P. G. Wodehouse
76. Summer Lightning by P. G. Wodehouse
77. The Singing by Alison Croggon
78. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
79. How to Really Love Your Angry Child by D. Ross Campbell
80. Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life by Richard Meryman
81. Payment in Blood by Elizabeth George
82. Monk's Hood by Ellis Peters
83. River Teeth by David James Duncan
84. The Bastard's Tale by Margaret Frazer
85. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
86. No Talking by Andrew Clements
87. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
88. Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic
89. The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro
90. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
91. Dream Visions and Other Poems by Geoffrey Chaucer
92. March by Geraldine Brooks
93. Miracles by C. S. Lewis
94. St. Peter's Fair by Ellis Peters
95. Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
96. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
97. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
98. Well-Schooled in Murder by Elizabeth George
99. Country Wives by Rebecca Shaw
100. America for Sale by Jerome R. Corsi

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Shakespeare for 2011

I guess I should officially sign up for the reading challenge I'm hosting for next year, huh? Anyway, I am going to read at the Henry V level which means one play a month for the whole year. I'll be reading a lot of history plays because I'm reading chronologically based on my Riverside Shakespeare. My plan is to read:

1. 1 Henry VI
2. 2 Henry VI
3. 3 Henry VI
4. Richard III
5. The Comedy of Errors
6. Titus Andronicus
7. The Taming of the Shrew
8. The Two Gentlemen of Verona
9. Love's Labor's Lost
10. King John
11. Richard II
12. Romeo and Juliet

That makes 6 histories, 4 comedies, and 2 tragedies. I've read Richard III and both tragedies but none of the comedies, though I've seen the Shrew as well as 10 Things I Hate About You. I hated Titus the first time I read it and didn't want to see the movie version so I'm a little wary of reading it again. I guess I'll either have a greater appreciation of the British royals or hate them all by the end of the year. We'll see.