"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."
--Martin Luther

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer TBR List

How is it mid-June already?  How???  Anyway, with the rapid approach of summer, this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic (at The Broke and the Bookish) is Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR List.  I actually read *all* the books on my spring list, as well as some others, and am excited for those lazy, hazy days of summer reading.  Here are the books on my list:

1.  Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome:  It just seems like something to read in the summer, because what's more summer-y than taking a leisurely boat trip?

2.  Summer by Edith Wharton:  I've been on a Wharton kick for the past year or so, and this one seems a natural for summer reading.

3.  Dune by Frank Herbert:  I've had my dad's old copy in my basement for ages, and I really need to finally read it.  Sidenote:  Was anyone else traumatized by the movie as a child?  My dad was not great at paying attention to the recommended ages of movies...

4.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett:  Because I think I'm one of the only people who still hasn't read this one.

5.  Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card:  Because it's on my Kindle and I love time travel/alternative history.

6.  Peter the Great by Robert K. Massie:  Woohoo, historical biographies!

7.  The Remedy:  Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis by Thomas Goetz:  Because my husband has somehow made me interested in epidemiology (but apparently not interested enough that it didn't take me three tries to spell epidemiology).

8.  A Labrador Doctor by Wilfred Grenfell:  Grenfell was a medical missionary who founded hospitals and nursing stations in remote areas in Newfoundland and Labrador.  I've been meaning to read this since we visited Grenfell's house and the museum devoted to his life last year, so maybe on the anniversary of our trip, I'll get around to it.

9.  David Copperfield by Charles Dickens:  Because I love Dickens, and am slowly making my way through all his works.

10.  Landline by Rainbow Rowell:  This one's a maybe since I'm on the hold list at the library for when it arrives, but not sure how long it will take to get to me.

So what's on your to-read list this summer?

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books Read This Year (So Far)

This week on Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), the top is the top 10 books we've read this year.  2014 hasn't been the best year for many reasons, but at least I've read some great books.  Apparently it's easier to fit reading into your day when you have roughly 87 doctor's and ultrasound appointments...  Anyway, here are my top books for the year:

1.  Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen:  I read this in high school and didn't like it as much as Austen's other books, but reading it again recently, I realized just how funny it is.  I didn't appreciate the satirical elements when I was 15.  I will definitely be reading this again one day.

2.  Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell:  I didn't like it as much as North and South, but a great read, with interesting characters and a story that drew me in.

3.  The Giver by Lois Lowry:  Don't know how I missed this growing up, but what a great book!  Given the prevalence of "dystopian" YA fiction, I've appreciated reading some older dystopians as comparison, and The Giver is definitely a must-read.

4.  Kindred by Octavia E. Butler:  I love time travel, and this one was recommended by a good friend.  WOW!  A time travel story involving an African American woman who is unable to keep from slipping between the 1970s and the Antebellum South.  Gripping and well-written.

5.  Someone Knows My Name/The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill:  So apparently, I've read a lot about slavery recently... This book tells the fascinating story of Aminata, a young girl from Africa who is captured and sold into slavery.  Her tenacity and intelligence lead her from the South, to New York, to Nova Scotia, and back to Africa.  A fantastic book.

6.  The Reader by Bernard Schlink:  From slavery to post-WWII Germany, I'm a barrel of laughs today.  This book isn't for everyone, but it's a really thought-provoking read about a teenage and his much-older lover, as well as a metaphor for dealing with the legacy of WWII.

7.  The Secret History by Donna Tartt:  The disturbing tale of a group of undergraduate students and their odd Greek professor, and how their relationship turned from friendship to betrayal. 

8.  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell:  Yep, I did read at least one happier book.  The story of Cath, moving out to go to college and adjusting to her new roommate, the strained turn in her relationship with her twin sister, and her obsession with writing Simon Snow fan fiction.  I loved this book.

9.  Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin:  I mentioned this recently, but Team of Rivals ranks as one of my favourite biographies of all time.  I raced through this because I found Lincoln and his companions so interesting.

10.  Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum:  I've had this on my shelves for a couple of years, and only now picked it up.  This book chronicling the history of the Soviet GULAG system, as well as what life was like within it, is certainly a heavy read, but it is extremely well-researched, thorough, and interesting. 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for your Beach Bag

Gosh, I had to take my car in to get the brakes fixed this morning, and almost forgot it was Tuesday!  This week's topic for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted as always by The Broke and the Bookish) is "Top Ten Books That Should Be In Your Beach Bag" OR "Top Ten Books That WILL Be In Your Beach Bag".  I'll be talking about my summer reading list in a couple of weeks, so instead I'll do books that SHOULD be in your beach bag.  I've said this before, but I don't really do "beach reads".  On my last beach vacation, I lay in the sun reading Bernhard Schlink's The Reader.  Still, I appreciate that people like to read something not so heavy when the sun is shining.  My top qualities for a recommended beach book would be: 1) fast-moving (not something where you read each page twice); 2) fun or funny; 3) not likely to make you weep.  With all that said:

1)  What Alice Forgot by Kate Moriarty:  I actually found this book quite thought-provoking, but Alice's character was hilarious and it was not heavy enough to leave me in a mess, so probably a good beach read.

2)  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen:  I read this on my last vacation too.  It's a bit ridiculous at times, but a fun read.  I mean, there are circus elephants in it, what's not to love?

3)  The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde:  So silly and fun.

4)  Georgiana Darcy's Diary by Anna Elliott:  Obviously this pales in comparison to Austen herself, but it's a light-hearted return to my beloved Pemberley, and it made me smile a lot.

5)  Attachments by Rainbow Rowell:  Beth and Jennifer's emails made me laugh out loud, and this is a quick read for a few days at the beach.

6)  Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella:  At first, I didn't like this book and found Becky annoying, but she did grow on me, and this is a fun, light read for summer.

7)  To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis:  Punting!  Mediums!  Time travel!  A fun read guaranteed to make you laugh at least once.

8)  The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher:  A bit heavier than some of the above, but a real epic, romantic read.

9)  Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen:  A good holiday read because a) it takes place during a holiday; b) the satire is hilarious; c) there's a happy ending (I feel like that's not a spoiler since it's Austen).

10) Austenland by Shannon Hale:  Okay, I'm cheating as I haven't actually read this book (though I saw the movie), but it seems like a great beach read for the ultimate Austen afficionado.