Sunday, January 9, 2011

TBR Update and Two Book Group Selections

Well, we're into the second week of the New Year, and I've already fallen off the TBR wagon -- I came home from vacation with three library books to read for my real-life library discussion groups!  Maybe I should say that I haven't even gotten on the TBR wagon yet, because I had already committed to these.  I really could not bear to schlep three hard-cover library books in my carry-on luggage, and I wouldn't have had time for them anyway. Besides, when I first committed, book group selections were the exception.  Yes.  That is my story, and I'm sticking to it.

And now I must admit to another small transgression -- the no-buying book-ban for three months.  Sigh.  I was not going to purchase any new books for three months, until April 1.  However (hangs head in shame) I did put in a purchase for some new Persephones on January 1, so I guess I've broken that rule already.  But I do think I have a pretty good excuse -- I got some Christmas money that I really wanted to spend on Persephones, and I seriously didn't have time to purchase the books safely before January 1.  I was a little squeamish about making an online purchase at a public computer at my hotel, and I had so little time with family I didn't want to be rude and start shopping on my sister's computer.  So I was delayed slightly.  Internet security is a good excuse, isn't it?  Oh, I hope I can forgive myself.  I will extend my book-buying ban until April 2 as punishment.  I promise.

As far as the library book-checkout ban goes -- I only checked out three books, and all of them were allowed according to my previous rules:  one of them, Eleanor and Franklin: An Extraordinary Marriage, had been on hold before the ban started (of three total) and two were book group selections.  One is a play, A Raisin in the Sun, and the other is a reread, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

So -- I reviewed my first book group selection, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, in yesterday's post, so I'm quickly going to mention the other two.  The first one was Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey.  Yes, a Western!  My first authentic Western, for my classics book group.  But I just could not get through it.  I read about 84 pages and I really had no desire to go on.  I know book groups are about expanding your horizons, getting out of your comfort zone, etc., but I got really bored with the endless descriptions of canyons.  It seemed extremely predictable, and I felt like I'd expanded my horizons enough for one week with Oscar Wao.  So that was one abandoned book I can cross off my to-read list forever.  I felt a little bad because I was the one who suggested it, but life is too short.

Instead, I did pick up the selection for my other book group selection, The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. Yes, three book group meetings in one week!  That's just the way it turned out because of the schedule.  Usually it's one the first week of the month and two the second.  I don't always read the selection for our Jane Austen book club, but I was cranky one day and needed something easy to read during lunch.  I had actually read this book several years ago when it first came out, and was disappointed.  I did like it much better on the second reading.  I don't know what I was expecting the first time around, but I got so much more out of it this time.  It's not a straight sequel or retelling of a Jane Austen novel, and I really liked that.

The book club has six members and six monthly meetings, and the novel is really six intertwining stories which are loosely related to a Jane Austen novel.  It took me a little time to figure out the connections, and I liked that.  I think the author did a good job of not making it a literal reinterpretation.  Plus there was a lot of background and quotes about Jane Austen, which I also enjoyed.  Our group is supposed to watch the movie adaptation next month, but I'm not as interested in that because I've heard there were a lot of changes from the novel -- plus some of the actors are much too young which changes the whole dynamic of the book, and I find that irritating.

So -- on to the TBR challenge now that I've crossed the book club selections off the month's reading list. I've already started Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber, which I've owned since 2004.  It's starting out slowly but I'll give it time.


  1. I really don't think that's cheating at all - especially since you're spending Christmas money! One of the things on my buy-ban was that gift cards and gift money absolutely didn't count! :)

  2. Oh yeah, gift cards shouldn't count! Or gift money! It sounds like you really read out of your comfort zone with a couple of books lately. I need to do that more often.

  3. Too funny-I once banned checking out books until I finished what was on my shelves and then decided that it would only hurt the library with decreased checkouts.

  4. Esme, I hadn't thought of that! I sometimes comfort myself with the thought that my checkouts are improving the circulation statistics at my branch. I'll have to make up for it by checking out movies and cds and books for the kids.

  5. I totally second Esme re: seeing my library checkouts as helping circulation stats! I suppose I have enough owned TBR to give up the library if I had to (like when I moved), but I'd never do it voluntarily. ;)

  6. Eva, it's really just an experiment -- I've realized I could go an entire year without checking out any books and still have plenty to read. I know I'll still check out books, but if I can make a dent in the TBR pile I'll have accomplished something.

  7. I also liked how Fowler did not replicate Austen's plot in her characters' lives but went for more thematic connections.

    I actually prefer the movie over the book (which I listened to on audio), but I did see the movie first. Yes, they make the characters younger and make some major plot additions & changes, but the film is still a great celebration of books and the cast is great.

  8. oh! and did you see the Persephone email for today?! buy 3 and get one (of a choice of 3) free?!?! I'm so tempted but I'm going to pass.


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