Top Ten Tuesday: Fall 2020 TBR

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

September 22: Books On My Fall 2020 TBR (or spring if you live in the southern hemisphere)

  1. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke– Despite my mixed feelings about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I’m really looking forward to Clarke’s sophomore novel. It’s significantly shorter than her first, and it sounds like a perfect quarantine read. It was actually written in response to Clark’s own bout with illness.

2. Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman– I mean, it’s a prequel to Practical Magic and Rules of Magic. Yes, please!

3. The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett– This is a prequel to Pillars of the Earth, and I suppose all of Follett’s Kingsbridge novels. But I’m still behind on reading the third in the trilogy A Column of Fire. I suppose I should get to that, before I read the prequel. Or, are there “rules” about the order, since it’s a prequel?

4. Majesty by Katharine McGee- American Royals was a total guilty pleasure, and it turned out to be just what I needed when I read it. Hopefully the sequel will be the same.

5. Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow– I love the connection between magic/witchcraft and women’s suffrage. Perfect for an election year, when it’s more important than ever that we all vote!

6. One by One by Ruth Ware– I feel like Ruth Ware’s novels have gotten better as time goes on. I loved her most recent ones: The Death of Mrs. Westaway and Turn of the Key. I’m really eager to see if her newest lives up to that quality.

7. Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade– I love the idea of this. An actor, unhappy with how his character has been written, takes refuge in the word of fan fiction. When he agrees to a publicity date with a fan, he realizes that she’s also his fandom friend in fanfic world. I think that this draws parallels between the love an artist has for his/her work and the love a fan has for something. I’m interested to see how it plays out.

8. Mad & Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency by Bea Koch– I love the idea of delving into the women of this period who are often left out of regency novels, and even much of written history. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jane Austen, but the regency wasn’t all about white women! This books looks at women of color and LGBTQ women, who have been too often overlooked by history.

9. Before She Was Helen by Caroline B. Cooney– I loved Cooney’s YA novels when I was younger, so I was excited to see that she had a new book for adult readers out soon. I also like that this book focuses on a protagonist in her 70’s. So many books focus on 25-35 year olds exclusively!

10. A Wild Winter Swan by Gregory Maguire– I’ve had mixed success with Maguire as an author, but I’m eager to see what he does with one of my favorite fairy tales, The Wild Swans set in 1960s NYC.

Top Ten Tueday: Anticipated Releases for the 2nd Half of 2020

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

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June 30: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020

These are obviously in addition to my most anticipated releases for the rest of the summer. 

81d81zgib6l._ac_uy218_1.Majesty: American Royals II by Katharine McGee: September 1, 2020. I just finished American Royals. It was a soap opera that imagined an America if George Washington had been king instead of president, and his descendants had inherited the throne. It was totally trashy but sort of the mindless thing I needed at the moment. This is the sequel. I’m sure in the coming months there will be a time that I need another mindless, trashy soap opera.

 

81d6gx6rjrl._ac_uy218_2.One By One by Ruth Ware: September 8, 2020. Though I find her work rather hit or miss (loved The Death of Mrs. Westaway, didn’t like The Lying Game, liked In A Dark Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10), I do enjoy Ware’s writing enough to be eager to read her new book.

 

 

 

a1uwt8ehugl._ac_uy218_3. The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett: September 15, 2020. Though I suppose I should finish the Kingsbridge  trilogy  (I still need to read Column of Fire) before I read the prequel

 

 

 

 

81fhfpzakal._ac_uy218_4. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke: September 15, 2020. In spite of some of my issues with Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I’m really eager to read more  from Susanna Clarke.

 

 

 

91flh6gam7l._ac_uy218_5. Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman: October 6, 2020. Since I loved Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic, I’m eager to read the next prequel.

 

 

 

91wiogj29kl._ac_uy218_6.The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow: October 13, 2020: I’ve actually never read anything by this author but the premise of this really intrigues me, so I’ll give it a try.

 

 

 

71fofu2w2gl._ac_uy218_7. Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz– November 10, 2020 I’ve been liking Horowitz’s rather innovative whodunnits, so I’m eager for a new one.

 

 

 

81h9usxhkl._ac_uy218_8. The  Midnight Library by Matt Haig– This is just another book where I really like the premise: a book for the life you lived and  one for the life you could have lived.

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Longest Books

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For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday

October 9: Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

In most cases, these are based on the edition that I read/own.

51v43macoil-_ac_us218_1. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (1534 pages)- I read this one in college. I enjoyed the class where I read this, and I don’t remember it being quite this long, but we read a different edition, so it’s possible it was slightly adapted.

 

 

 

51autt1ny5l-_ac_us218_2. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1488 pages)- In my high school French class we read an adaptation of this (like, a major adaptation. The book we read had about 120 pages. It was really more of a synopsis written in French!) and I read the whole brick (er… book) in college. I definitely think it’s a beautiful book but I could have done with less exploration of the sewer system in 19th century Paris.

 

51j4urrkj3l-_ac_us218_3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1296 pages)- This was another college read. My professor called Tolstoy a “great writer who could have used a great editor.” I think that sums up my stance on it!

 

 

 

51qrndx-oxl-_ac_us218_4. Shogun by James Clavell (1152 pages) I read this in high school and really enjoyed it. It was an interesting depiction of a European encountering an entirely different kind of life in feudal Japan. From what I understand now, this had some issues with historical accuracy, but it was still enjoyable.

 

 

51aradik9al-_ac_us218_5. Sarum by Edward Rutherford (1059 pages) I remember reading this book as a teenager. I liked parts of it and disliked other parts. I know it was about Stonehenge (and England in general) and it told different stories set there over different time periods. But I couldn’t tell you anything about any of those stories.

 

 

519tffz6szl-_ac_us218_6. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke  (1024 pages) I definitely wanted to like this book more than I did. I loved the idea of a fictional “study” of magic in 19th century England. I liked the story of the rivalry between two magicians. But ultimately, this felt like a chore to read.

 

 

419c5syx7xl-_ac_us218_7. The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon (1008 pages) The Outlander series is made up of long books, but the fifth is definitely the longest. Or maybe it felt longer because it wasn’t as fast moving as some of the other books in the series. A lot of character development happens here, but it’s primarily a transitional book. It serves to bring the characters relationships to where they need to be for book six.

 

51polcsfrl-_ac_us218_8. Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor (986 pages) I remember a few scenes from this book vividly but a lot of it I remember as a sort of montage. I read it in college, I think. Amber was a compelling character and the book definitely left me wondering what would become of her in the future.

 

 

51vxh2jgv8l-_ac_us218_9. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (960 pages) I think of Scarlett O’Hara as sort of Amber’s (see above) literary sister. Both are determined, glamorous, selfish, and scandalous. Both books also tell long stories that ultimately leave the reader in a place where we’re still wondering what will happen next to the characters. I suppose it’s a feat to write a book that’s nearly 1000 pages long, and leave readers wanting more!

 

51an8oy5w4l-_ac_us218_10. Hawaii by James Michener (937 pages) This book tells the story of several families over the course of Hawaii’s history. I remember some of the later portions but the earlier ones don’t come to mind at all. It’s been a long time since I read this though.

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Didn’t Like But Am Glad I Read

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

May 15: Books I Disliked/Hated but Am Really Glad I Read (maybe just for bragging rights)

51j4urrkj3l-_ac_us218_1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy– I read this my freshman year of college. I wanted to like it, but after 1000 pages of characters and battles that I didn’t care about, I couldn’t. I just felt no emotional investment in anything that happened in it.  I’m glad I read it though, even if only to say that I did!

 

 

51juyqutpyl-_ac_us218_2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy– I read this book several years after reading War and Peace, and I didn’t like it much better. I did have some interest in the Anna/Vronsky story as well as the Kitty/Levin story, but reading a few hundred pages about Russian agriculture was enough to kill that interest. One of my professors in college said that “Tolstoy was a great writer who needed a great  editor.” Perhaps I’d enjoy him more as a writer if he’d had one.

 

4113v6q36il-_ac_us218_3. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer– The first time I read this I enjoyed it somewhat. Then I started to think about some of the troubling aspects of the central relationship. Then I read the sequels and things headed downhill at an increasing speed… But I’m glad I read it because it’s spawned so many imitations and prompted some interesting conversations.

 

519tffz6szl-_ac_us218_4. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke– I actually didn’t “dislike” this book. I love the idea of writing a novel as an academic study of magic. I liked a lot of the humor in this and thought it was very clever. The problem is that I wasn’t able to invest anywhere emotionally. I didn’t particularly care about either character. That made the undeniably clever writing fall flat. I’m glad I read it for the elements that I did like, but I wish I’d enjoyed it more.

 

41ntp6atgkl-_ac_us218_5. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson– This is a book that I really wanted to like. I thought I would like it prior to reading it. Actually, I did enjoy the first 1/3. But then it started getting very repetitive. Every time I felt like we were making some progress, we’d be sent back to the beginning again. Yes, I understand that was the premise. But for me, it worked better as a premise than in practice. I’m still glad I read it because it’s allowed me to participate in some really interesting discussions, with people who did like it as well as people who didn’t.

51-obg7xgml-_ac_us218_6. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand– I actually don’t remember too much about the actual plot, but philosophically it didn’t appeal to me at all. It could have been subtitled “why it’s really a good thing to be selfish.” Here’s the thing; I don’t believe that it is good. I know a lot of people find the book inspiring and think that it encourages them to take personal responsibility to lift themselves up by the bootstraps, and all that. But in order to do that, you need boots, to begin with. I’m glad I read it because it shows another point of view and a way of perceiving the world that’s different from my own. But I didn’t enjoy it or agree with it.

51gkxhz8wgl-_ac_us218_7. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson– Here’s the thing. It’s not all small stuff. Some stuff is big and important. Stressing about it won’t necessarily help anything, but sometimes it’s a part of being involved in the world around you. As you may be able to tell, I have a tendency to stress. A lot. Which is why I read this book.  I don’t want to say it wasn’t worthwhile because it did put some things in perspective, I did notice a few things that weren’t worth the time and attention I was giving them and it helped me notice some bad habits that make my life a bit harder. But, for me, stress is a byproduct of caring. I don’t want to stop caring about the important things.

51pgysvdoel-_ac_us218_8. Blood Meridian: or The Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy– I read this in a college class called “Innovative Contemporary Fiction.” It stood out as the only book in the class that I really disliked. Maybe part of my distaste for it stems from the fact that I’m not a fan of the western genre in general. McCarthy is an undeniably talented writer, but the book featured a lot of repetitive violence that is essentially pointless. We don’t care about the people on whom the violence is inflicted, nor is there any emotional connection to those inflicting it, so essentially it’s rendered meaningless. I appreciated the accomplishment of McCarthy’s prose, and for that reason, I’m glad I read it in an academic setting because we were able to really delve into that. But it’s not a book I liked.

41fcz0g6yal-_ac_us218_9. Just Kids by Patti Smith– I first discovered Patti Smith as a writer rather than a musician, which I think is how many readers know her initially. I read her book M Train, which I felt was beautiful, sad, and triumphant, in a quiet, thoughtful way. I was really eager to read her National Book Award-winning bestseller, Just Kids.  Maybe the hype made it too hard for the book to live up to it. Maybe, because I read M Train, a memoir of Smith’s middle-aged years onward, going back to her youth in this book felt regressive. I don’t know. I did like parts of it, such as the depiction of the downtown NYC art scene in the late 1960’s, but on the whole, it didn’t resonate with me. I’m glad that I did read it because it allowed me to put the Smith depicted in M Train in a more complete context, but I wouldn’t call it a “must read.”

41ttg75bcil-_ac_us160_10. The Bhagavad Gita– The Bhagavad Gita is a 700 verse scripture that is part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. It consists of a dialogue between the Prince Arjuna and his guide Lord Krishna. It’s influenced thinkers ranging from Gandhi to Thoreau, to Emerson, Jung, and Oppenheimer. I read it as part of my Freshman Seminar in college. I didn’t enjoy reading it. I found it rather repetitive and cumbersome. But so many of my classes in college focused on literature from the Western canon. It was nice to have a class that had a more broad lens.