Want To Read List Cleanup

I have books on my bookshelves that I haven’t read yet but I acquired a long time ago and still need to read. An even bigger list is housed in my Goodreads account though, currently I have 1161 books listed there that I’ve marked “Want To Read” and they go all the way back to 2010! It is fair to say that in the past 11 years my reading interests have probably changed so it is very likely that I will not be actually wanting to read all of those books anymore. In this post I will take ten random books from my Want To Read list from Goodreads and decide if I want to keep them or if I need to remove any of them. I will also be adding one of those (from whatever is left, if anything) to my list of books to read next. Also, I’ve taken inspiration from Tanja’s Bookish Memory check as inspiration for this post. I hope to do this once a month since it’ll be a fun way to get to some of those older books in my list.

Here’s the list of the 10 books I will either keep or remove! Any guesses as to which will go vs not?

The 10 books that I will either remove from my Want To Read list or keep, one of them I’ll read next!
  • The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich: I added this book in 2018 so not TOO long ago… This book is the eighth installment in Erdrich’s multi-generational stories about the long-lasting effects of colonialism on Ojibwe peoples and communities. I’ve so far read Tales of Burning Love (fifth installment) so it’s not necessary to read them in order I don’t think. I love Erdrich’s writing, she does an amazing job capturing emotions and just immersing you into the story. You really feel like you know the characters. This particular novel is centered around  a rare moose skin and cedar drum created by an Ojibwe artisan, we follow the history of this instrument and all the lives it has touched throughout its existence. So that’s an easy keep. NOTE: It was just announced today that she won the Pulitzer prize for her book The Night Watchman!
  • The Heart Does Not Grow Back by Fred Venturini: This book was added in 2015 and I didn’t remember anything about why I would have added right away. So looking at the synopsis this book is about a man who doesn’t seem to have much going for him in his small town in the Midwest. All of a sudden he realizes that he has the ability to grow limbs back (wonder how he realizes that…) and he goes on a hero’s journey to save a woman form her abusive husband. Back in 2015 I was very into horror and gore films so I can see why I would have added this book. Looking at it now I am not as interested in reading this so it will be removed.
  • In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood: I know why I added this right away, Margaret Atwood. I love her writing and I probably didn’t even look at the synopsis before adding this book to my list. Looking at the synopsis now I am still very much interested! So this book is nonfiction and it is an exploration of the science fiction genre, it includes various essays on the subject as well as her reviews on various works of science fiction by authors like Ursula LeGuin, Aldous Huxley, Kazuo Ishiguro, etc. This is one of those books I like to read from time to time that aren’t exactly a story but an analysis of something that will help me understand more about why things are the way they are. Very nerdy, I’ll be keeping this one.
  • People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry: Well, I just added this book the other day! I’ve been venturing more into the romance/contemporary genre in the past couple of years (like one or two books a year hahaha) and this one seemed like fun! Basically two best friends have taken a vacation every year no matter what, but at one point they had a falling out and haven’t seen each other since. One of them wants to try and have another vacation with them to see if they can repair the friendship (and maybe something more can blossom?) So yeah, I’ll definitely keep it!
  • Plague of the Dead by Z.A. Recht: Ha! This is from my zombie obsession days! Back in 2012 I was watching all things zombie but hadn’t ventured into zombie books. This is a book about a virus that spreads and turns people in to zombies, a military strategist pairs up with a journalist to try to combat the plague and well, that’s it! If books were food this would be junk food, not a great nourishing read but maybe fun? The thing that has made me decide to remove it though is that it is part of a 5 book series soooo no time for that! If it ever comes across and I have Nothing else to read I might pick it up. For now I shall remove it.
  • A Person of Interest by Susan Choi: I don’t remember why I would have added this book honestly. It is a mystery thriller which is a genre I don’t really read at all. The book is about Professor Lee, a mathematician, who is all of a sudden in the FBI’s suspect list as a suspected bomber. It seems like the only reason for the suspicion is that Prof Lee is seemingly not affected by the attack. I’m sure that the book might be more complicated than that with twists and turns buuuut I’m not very interested in the genre right now so I’ll remove it.
  • The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan: Ah well… umm yes, the Percy Jackson series! I wanted to read these at some point but then I saw the movies and then I wasn’t interested anymore? In fact, my sister just got the first book of the series because she wants to read them but I’m still not super interested. This is actually the third installment in the series so I’ll be removing all the books from the series except for the first one. That way I can grab the book from my sister whenever and read that one and decide then if I want to continue.
  • She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton: A children’s book! I really do like reading children’s books from time to time and this one just looks wonderful. It features a diverse group of American women who have made a difference in their respective fields. It talks about Harriet Tubman, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, and Sonia Sotomayor, among many others! I would still like to read and have this book so I will keep it.
  • The Glass Cage: Automation and Us by Nicholas Carr: I added this book the same year it came out, a nonfiction book about Silicon Valley, the world of automation mixed with science, philosophy, and ethics. While it is very much still a big topic today and one that I’m still interested in, I wonder if this book will be outdated (seeing how fast technology moves nowadays). I’m inclined to remove it and if I still want to read a book on the topic I’m sure there will be more current books on the subject that I can find.
  • Collected Stories by Gabriel García Márquez: Gabriel García Márquez is a Colombian author and I really want to read his most famous novels “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera” first. This particular book is a collection of 26 of his short stories and it would be awesome to have this in my library at some point but even though it’s not a high priority for me right now, I’ll keep it in the list.

Out of the 10 books I will be keeping 5/10! As I mentioned I will be adding one of these books to my immediate list of books to read and I will simply pick the oldest book which is…. ha! Collected Stories by Márquez! The one I said wasn’t a high priority is now a high priority! I will be looking for the Spanish edition next so I’ll likely be reading it in July!

What a fun twist at the end there XD

Anyways, this was a great thing to do with my Goodreads Want To Read list because I was getting a bit worried that it’s too big and quite unrealistic, especially since I keep adding books almost every day! If there are any books that I’ve removed but you feel strongly that I should have kept, let me know! And vice versa 😀

How many books do you have in your Goodreads Want To Read (or general Want To Read list)? I certainly didn’t think I had that many but I’m also not surprised that that many would be removed the first time around.

Happy Friday and I hope you have a happy weekend full of wonderful reading!

January Book Bites

Hello everyone!

At the end of each month, I will update you on a few things, which books I read, the ratings for each, link to their reviews (if any), updates on challenges, prominent themes, and the best bites (quotations) for the month. Let’s take a look!

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The month started with a book from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series: Mort. It was a great way to start the month since it’s always fun to read Terry’s work. However, it also became a bit emotional since I kept remembering that Terry is no longer with us…

Mort takes us on an adventure with the anthropomorphic representation of Death and his brand new apprentice, Mort. I simply loved this installment and look forward to reading more of Death & company’s adventures

  • Favorite bite:

“‘WHAT IS IT CALLED WHEN YOU FEEL WARM AND CONTENT AND WISH THINGS WOULD STAY THAT WAY?’
‘I guess you’d call it happiness’ said Harga.” –Mort by Terry Pratchett

  • Perspective rating: 8/10 We get an amazing perspective of life from Death’s point of view. It certainly paints life in a new light!
  • Emotional rating: 8/10 I personally felt close to this book because of Terry and his death not too long ago. The isolation that Death feels also got to me…
  • Bites rating: 7/10 Although it has some really good quotations, I didn’t find myself annotating it all over the place.
  • Overall rating: 7.66/10 A great book overall and a good starting point in the Death books in the Discworld series.

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Then I read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, which was a great book, with excellent writing and a very unique perspective I had not encountered before. We get inside the mind of a patient in a mental hospital in the 1960s as he is under various treatments (drugs, electroshock, etc). You can read more about the book and my comparison to the movie here.

This was the first book I read from my TBR jar and I was very happy with this selection!

  • Favorite bite:

    “All I know is this: nobody’s very big in the first place, and it looks to me like everybody spends their whole life tearing everybody else down” — One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

  • Perspective rating: 9/10 The perspective from a person with mental health issues is priceless. It’s incredibly well written, which makes the experience that much more immersive.
  • Emotional rating: 6/10 I didn’t become too emotionally invested in the story or the characters, but it was heartbreaking to see what did happen to patients back in the 60s that ended up in mental hospitals with no proper regulations.
  • Bites rating: 8/10 I annotated quite a bit and there were quite a few quotations that left me thinking for a while…
  • Overall rating: 7.66/10 Another excellent book that could have used a bit more emotional connection with the rest of the characters and the overall story. Either way, a great book.

IMG_20180131_182300284The third book I read was Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich (you can read a full review here) and it was simply amazing! This was the first book for the #HarpiesReadTheWorld challenge to read a book by a Native American author. This book tells the story of five women who have been married to the same man. These women meet at a crucial point in their lives and start to tell their stories surrounding their husband.

  • Favorite Bite:

“It was like that now, in the space around us — the emotional messages flew so thick and fast I couldn’t read them as the whizzed by and my brain felt pricked, torn by the hooks of question marks and darts of commas.” — Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich

  • Perspective rating: 10/10 One of the main points of this novel is perspective, how do different people see one person and their role in their lives? Who is that person if not the accumulation of the perspectives of everyone who knows them? It’s one that definitely leaves you thinking.
  • Emotional rating: 9/10 This novel takes you on a roller coaster of emotions, from despair, broken hearts, love, passion, lust, and hate. However, it remains impersonal so that the perspective changes aren’t too jarring so that takes the one point away from this rating.
  • Bites rating: 10/10 I’ve written, highlighted, and even drawn on some of the pages in this book! It’s got bites that I can go back to and savor that part of the novel in an instant. Delightful!
  • Overall rating: 9.66/10 Erdrich easily became a new favorite! This book is just the beginning in my journey through her novels and I can’t wait to explore more!

January 22, 2018 at 01:17AM.jpgSong of a Captive Bird by Jazmin Darznik was the fourth book I finished this month and wow! Darznik tells the story of Forugh Farrokhzad, a poet from Iran who became an inspiration for generations to come as she broke barriers set by her society, at the same time as Ken Kesey’s patients were trying to overcome the Big Nurse in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (talk about perspective!). This was the second book I read for the #HarpiesReadTheWorld challenge and the full review is here.

  • Favorite Bite:

“‘More words to sharpen your tongue and keep away any husband who’d have you!’ [Forugh’s mother said].
She was right in her way, because it was my preference for books and for the world inside my head that left me so incapable of accepting the usual and the ordinary.” — Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik

  • Perspective rating: 10/10 Yes! Another perfect perspective rating because Forugh’s life sheds light on a perspective I never imagined that I could know about the life of a woman in Iran as she breaks stereotypes and becomes a successful poet and filmmaker. Not only that but a woman who goes through hardship like nothing I could ever imagine (mental hospital, jail, divorce, affairs, etc).
  • Emotional rating: 10/10 I connected with the main character in ways I can’t even explain, her fears were mine, her worries were mine, the hopes and dreams were my own. I hoped the best for her and, even though she dies young, I was happy that her legacy is strong and lives with many women in Iran and all over the world.
  • Bites rating: 10/10 I was only disappointed that the copy I have is in kindle format so I couldn’t actually highlight and draw hearts and tears all over the margins. (I acquired this copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review). I will definitely be buying it so I can reread it and properly annotate it once it comes out!
  • Overall rating: 10/10! Perfect score for a perfect book in my opinion. I loved everything about this book and I can’t wait to read the final version.

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The last book I read was The Attack by Yasmina Khadra, which was set in Tel Aviv and tells the story of a renowned surgeon whose life gets turned upside down when his wife dies at a suicide bombing attack. The most shocking thing for him is that his wife is the one blamed for being the suicide bomber and so we take the journey with him as he goes to figure out if his wife did commit such an atrocity, or if his wife is just another victim of the attack. A difficult book to read but one that gave me plenty to think about so it is valuable in that sense. This was the third and final book for the #HarpiesReadTheWorld challenge.

Favorite Bite:

“‘One should always look at the sea. It’s a mirror that can’t lie. Among other things, looking at it has taught me to stop looking behind me. Before, every time I looked over my shoulder, I found my old sorrows and my old ghosts, still intact. They were preventing me from regaining my taste for living. Do you understand what I mean? They were spoiling my chances of rising from my ashes'” — The Attack by Yasmina Khadra

Perspective rating: 7/10 While the perspective was very unique, I felt like it was unfair that we din’t get to hear straight from the woman who is the one who is at the center of this story. We got to hear from every man around her, how she affected their lives, but nothing from her at all. I wish we could have heard this story from her own point of view.

Emotional rating: 8/10 While emotions ran high while I read this book, it wasn’t in a good way, I found myself stressed and anxious. So, it is effective in what it is set out to do, to put the reader in a most difficult perspective with many moral questions and introspective meanderings.

Bites rating: 6/10 The thing that I wished with this book was that it was better translated. This book is translated from French and sometimes the language seems forced in order to make it seem more adorned than it needs to be. At times we end up with beautiful language, but that’s at moments when simplicity would have worked best.

Overall rating: 7/10 A good book that could have benefited from a better translation, will probably not look for more books in this subject for a while though…

What a month! An emotional roller coaster through mental hospitals and war torn countries as I followed strong women and men in search of happiness and just a bit of hope.

There is one more book that I drew from my TBR and I Did Not Finish it… After The Attack I just couldn’t handle Sanctuary by William Faulkner, a story about a kidnapping and rape of a woman. The language was violent and quite gross so I decided that I will draw two new books for next month and I’ll put back Sanctuary for another month.

I read 5 books from my TBR and I only bought one new book so now I only have 103 books left to read! XD

How was your reading month? Have you read any of the books listed here? What was your favorite read this month?

 

Book Review — Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich

“My prayer is a tale of burning love”–Sister Leopolda

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I’ve finished Tales of Burning Love, as part of the #HarpiesReadTheWorld challenge, and it was an excellent read! This book has plenty of layers, perspectives, and delightful bites.

Tales of Burning love is the fourth installment of Louise Erdrich‘s “multi-generational epic on the long-lasting effects of colonialism on Ojibwe peoples and communities”, as stated on Goodreads.

The plot of the book is centered around Jack Mauser and his wives. We start the novel with Jack and his first wife, June Morrisey, a relationship that lasts only a day and ends with June’s death. The novel then jumps to a few decades later when Jack is now newly married to Dot Nanapush, his accountant, who has no idea that he has been married before. As the novel goes on we meet Eleanor Schlick, Jack’s second wife, a literature professor and writer, Jack’s third wife Candace Pantamounty, a dentist, and Jack’s fourth wife Marlis Cook, a cunning woman who Jack didn’t quite like at the beginning and for good reasons. The novel jumps back and forth between his wives and what they are doing in the present, and Jack’s life with his new wife. However, the climax of this novel comes when all four wives end up trapped in a snowstorm and are forced to keep each other awake so as to stay alive. In this way we get their points of view on Jack, how they met him, and what kind of a man he was to them.

It’s incredibly interesting how Erdrich manages to have an omniscient narrator and have each character also as an independent narrator as each tells their own story. The personalities of each character really shine through in Erdrich’s writing. For example:

“All I had to do was make myself available because I knew from his look, from his approach, from the way he had walked toward me down the aisle of glass, that he could be interested in me. I knew.” –Eleanor Schlick

“I developed hopes from this. We might bond on the trip. He might fall in love with me for real and ever. I’d melt him, warm him, fill him with cheese sandwiches and heat him up with thermos coffee” — Candice Pantamounty

Jack Mauser is described by each of the women in particular ways, and this made me think of how each of us is seen differently by every person that we meet or know. The perspective of us from each member of our family is different, not to mention the perspectives of the people that we have other meaningful relationships with. Each person sees us in different time frames, in our childhood, as we grow into adolescence and into adulthood. I am so curious as to how different people in my life see me, as well as how the one perspective I have on the people I know is different from others. It’s just mind-blowing!

The title of the book, Tales of Burning Love, is echoed throughout the book with the language that Erdrich uses. She often gives us the imagery of fire or heat, both literal and figurative. There are many instances where the characters are saved or doomed by fire, just as they are by love and desire. The idea that love is fire, it can warm you and protect you, save you, but also burn you and even kill you, is thoroughly explored in this book. In that sense, it is not just romantic love, there’s also the idea of familial love that can be a safety net or a dangerous fire one must keep at bay. She says:

“Love — which the young expect, the middle-aged fear or wrestle with or find unbearable or clutch to death — those content in their age, finally, cherish with pained gratitude”

Although this book talks about love and relationships, I’m not sure that “romantic” would be the best way to describe it. The characters are driven by this love, but it’s not sweet or nice most times, it is driven by lust, by power, by money, and by revenge. Love is complex and dynamic, and this novel explores this theme with beautiful writing and complex characters.

There are a few other themes throughout the book, such as religion and spirituality, gender equality, sexuality, the opportunities that Native American people have in this country, their rights and their culture. If you are interested in any of these topics do read this book because it will give you a very unique point of view.

I leave you with my favorite image from this book, one that I wish I could transport myself to every time I read:

“One night, in a moon drift, the late August air billowing and succulent, in the lush scents of turned dirt and growing plants and ancient skunk musk and the sweet pink rugosa roses, the screen door unlatched, Eleanor read in a pool of lamplight by the citronella candle.”

Final rating: 5/5 stars