40 Books In 2008: 8 Months to Go

April 29th

Sandy totebag

Book bag for a swimmer friend. This has me thinking. A. I need a new tote for my summer travels that must hold lots of books. B. I need to start putting aside trusty used paperbacks I can leave behind as I go.

My goal of reading 40 books this year is going pretty well. January was a banner month. February was brief and a great time to be outside riding my bike, not on the couch lazing about. March I got hung up reading a book I really didn’t enjoy, only to then spend $7 on the movie that I didn’t like either. Go figure.
There have been some great reads this year; I am a little in love with William Powers and wish Anne Lamott was my friend. There have been some silly ones too. I’ve been tutoring a friend who is in high school and reading a fair number of books I wouldn’t have otherwise enjoyed — like those Traveling Pants.

1. Whispering in the Giant’s Ear
2. A Thousand Splendid Suns
3. Lipstick Jihad
4. The Island
5. A Year of Pleasures
6. Blue Clay People
7. Traveling Mercies
8. Grace Eventually
9. Bird by Bird
10. The Other Boleyn Girl
11. Glass Castle
12-14: The Traveling Pants series, 1-3 (tutoring)
15. Wuthering Heights (repeat, tutoring)
16. Animal Dreams (repeat, tutoring)
17. Atonement

Next up: What is the What, Three Cups of Tea, Plan B. I know I’m a goof ball for being so excited by the growing stack of books on my nightstand, but someday I’m going to be a busy parent and am going to look back at my twenties and think, “I am so glad I read those then!”

What are you reading? Is there a book you’ve read in 2008 that you can’t wait to share with others? I’d love to hear about it. In 2007 that book for me was The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint. In 2006 it was Winterdance.


Posted in
Goals, Good to Great, Journal, Media
Follow the comments.

36 Responses

  1. I’m afraid my reading time has suffered due to knitting/podcast listening. I do have a couple good books waiting here for me- the life stories of Beatrix Potter and Corrie ten Boom. Oh, and Jane Austen, also my mom brought me “The Poisonwood Bible” and said I have to read it. I guess I need to get with it!

  2. Well, I enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl (skipped the movie, though), but so far my literary love of 2008 is Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. It’s got history, a mystery, a little romance, plus a crazy monster, a group of running guys, and a mixed-up heroine who I loved almost immediately. I’m interested to see what else shows up in the comments here…

  3. Hmm.. Well I saw the movies The Other Boleyn Girl and Atonement but haven’t read the books. I’m not sure I want to read Atonement but I would like to read The Other Boleyn girl. I’ve read a little of the history of the real Anne Boleyn and I think it’s fascinating. So far my “wow” read of 2008 is Come Back, by Claire and Mia Fontaine. It’s a true account by a mother and daughter of the daughters struggles with drug addiction and how their relationship evolved through this.. stretching from sexual abuse of the daughter as a child (by her father) to her teens and extreme drug use. Then her time in rehab… It was a pretty powerful read. In 2007 it was “My Sisters Keeper” by Jodi Picoult.

  4. Such a huge fan of Anne Lamott, although, I must say I like her books on faith more than Bird By Bird.

  5. My goal for 2008 is 50 books, but I’m really far away from it right now…..I hope to be a faster reader in the future. Till today no one of my readings will be eligible as “the best”, I still have hope…..

  6. By far the most favorite book I’ve read this year is Lucky by Alice Sebold. It was a really moving, amazing book. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d be happy to send it to you.

  7. I’m currently reading The Golden Compass. After enjoying the movie, I wanted to read the series. And I love it. It’s been a lot of fun. Unfortunately, this year, my love for reading has taken a backseat to my knitting.

  8. Oh I LOVE to read! Sala’s Gift: My Mother’s Holocaust Story by Ann Kirschner was an excellent read. Did you ever read the Kite Runner, that one was good too.

  9. You REALLY hated that book, huh? I totally enjoyed it.

  10. I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about Dave Eggers’ book. I passionately disliked _A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius_. It was _What is the What_ that got me interested in reading Eggers’ work, so I thought I would start from the beginning… ugh. I hope What is the What is better.

  11. i have read three cups of tea, and can’t believe you haven’t read it yet!! you are going to l.o.v.e it!!!

  12. Smart girl – because it does happen. Now that I’m a parent, all I can manage are re-reading children’s classics. I can’t tell you the last GROWN UP book I’ve read.

    When I was in my 20’s, living in India, with nothing to do BUT read books and write letters home, I read all of the Tim Robbins books. The way his mind works – crazy!

  13. Okay, I meant Tom Robbins.

  14. My sister just gave me Eat, Love, Pray which I’ve seen people comment on everywhere. That was her book to share. I haven’t read it yet. My summer goal is to re-read some Hemingway and maybe Pride and Prejudice.

  15. Three Cups of Tea is sooooo good! You’ll love it.

  16. I’m still so glad you loved winterdance. My fave. And I do hope you like what is thw what. I imagine you will.

  17. I read the first Traveling Pants a few years ago and loved it! I’m reading In Lucia’s Eyes now. Let me know how Three Cups of Tea is-heard mixed reviews. My list includes quite a few books. I can send you my reading list if you want. I’m impressed at how many you’ve read so far. You’re doing better than me!

  18. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of Atonement. I liked the movie better than the book, but also appreciate the book’s depth. [About The Other Boleyn Girl – at book sales/stores I keep picking it up, wondering if I want to read it, then leaving it on the shelf. Ehhh.]

    I love to read, spend oodles of time reading, and keep changing my favorites. So far this year nothing has compared to The Historian. When I think about what books have stayed with me from last year, these come to mind: Eat, Pray, Love; The Book Thief; and The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show. For nonfiction, Blink and Freakonomics were great reads and very thought-provoking.

    Happy Reading!

  19. I’ve been reading Sue Grafton’s alphabet series. I’m on Q. While they are pretty good, Janet Evanovich’s number series are HILARIOUS! You should try the first one and see how you like it.

  20. Yeah, I picked up The Other Boleyn Girl (which I had really been looking forward to reading), couldn’t get into it, and just returned it to the library instead of trying to plow through. Life’s too short sometimes. I would like to get around to Three Cups of Tea, though, so thank you for the reminder!

  21. Ok, here’s mine: Hated Eat, Pray, Love (retitled it “Whine, whine, whine”). Hated Other Bolelyn Girl.

    Books I have loved recently are:

    Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinkski–maybe one of the best, most compelling books I’ve ever read–definitely in my top 10

    The Devil in the White City by Erick Larson–about the Chicago World’s Fair, incredibly interesting

    Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett–about the building a cathedral in the 1600s, and what life was like back in the real olden days

    Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg–one of the truest books about female friendships–a fictionalized account of something that really happened to Beth Berg

    Drinking, A Love Story by Carolyn Knapp. She describes her many, many years as a functioning alcoholic. You can’t be an alcoholic if you drink only the finest wines, right? You can’t be an alcoholic if you still make it to work every day? Knapp will make you question your thoughts about your own drinking habits and the habits of those around you.

    Necessary Madness by Jenn Crowell. Crowell’s debut is the beautifully written story of a young woman whose husband dies of leukemia and how she starts older. It’s brilliant.

    You’re Not You by Michele Wildgen. Bec, a college student carrying on an affair with a married professor, takes on a job as a caregiver to a woman suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig‚Äôs disease). She takes on the job with trepidation, having no experience as a caregiver and no idea of the responsibilities which will be expected of her. Expecting an elderly patient, she finds instead a lovely young woman, Kate, with a caring husband, Evan. Together they are trying to maintain a sense of normalcy and dignity for Kate despite her deterioration as a result of the disease. Evan tenderly applies Kate‚Äôs make-up before leaving for work and teaches Bec to do the same. They entertain and Kate, whose nutritional needs are met through cans of Ensure poured into a feeding tube, utilizes her skill as a chef and hostess to walk Bec through the process and prepare a lovely evening vicariously through Bec.

    As time goes by and Kate’s condition and needs change along with her relationship with Evan, Bec and the other caregivers who are eventually brought in, Bec examines her affair with her professor an her feelings toward Kate.

    You’re Note You provides a balance of dignified respect for the ALS sufferer and an unblinking look at the realities of the illness, or any other illness which robs its sufferers of their ability to manage their own lives and keep their own secrets. The intricacies of relationships within the family and with caregivers are beautifully and believably drawn.

    The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer. A memoir that is beautifully written, Moehringer tells about growing up in Manhassett NY and being brought up by his single mother, his uncle, and all his uncle’s friends who hang out a neighborhood bar. It is also about the love of reading and books, longing for a larger world and reveling in the smallness of the one he inhabits. A woman just joined our book group and grew up in this neighborhood; not only did she visit the bar, but her older sister dated two of the main characters!

    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I loved this book so much that I read it on a plane ride back from Atlanta GA and sat in Logan airport, long after my luggage had arrived, so I could finish it before I went home It was THAT good. Another beautifully written book, this time a mystery, but mostly about love of books and reading.

    Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Quinn wrote this book 10 years or so ago in response to a contest initiated by Ted Turner, to solve or explain the world’s current global environmental crises. The book is framed oddly; the main character is a talking gorilla. Once you get past that, and I did pretty quickly, the content is staggering–Quinn has a fascinating way of explaining why things are the way they are now, and why they are getting worse. His premise is (and I do believe it’s true!) that we are animals who live in the animal kingdom, and that the world was not created FOR us, but we are to inhabit it the way every other creature does–within our means and within the inherent limits of our biome. Humans, however, have chosen to alter the environment to suit our comfort, we stockpile food, irrigate places that are meant to be dry and take out flora and fauna from places that are meant to flourish. We act as if we can live above the laws of nature, and because of that, we (humankind) is like Icarus–we think we are flying, when we are really just headed for a fall. It is one of the most profound books I ever read and I still think about it often and re-read it every now and then. He wrote two follow-ups, but I think Ishmael is the best of the bunch.

    Kelli, hope I haven’t overwhelmed you but I LOVE to read and I think you’d enjoy most of these books.


  22. The 2007 book for me was that one you recommended…White Oleander. Really good. This year, I’ve really been enjoying the classics, I just finished Wuthering Heights which was impressive in writing, mood, and scope and I really loved Jane Eyre. None of the other books I’ve read so far have captured me as much as those.

    Oh! I almost forgot! The other book I read this year that came highly recommended was Water for Elephants. I just finished it and that’s the other book I’d really recommend so far.

  23. I am almost done with Three Cups of Tea – which is a good thing since it is only a 14 day loner from the library (normally they have a month loan policy except for new books with a long wait). As everyone one else has said, you are going to love it. I am finding it a slight bit disjointed, but that is explained in the preface by the writer.

  24. These all look like great books to read, thanks for the suggestions. I am so impressed with the goal you set. Just when do you find the time? I set a goal for this year too and right now I am reading Dr. Oz’s book How to Keep Young and concurrently I am reading Sue Graftons book P is for Peril.

  25. Kelli, You are right on! I am big into The Very Hungry Caterpillar and all things Eric Carl right now LOL! Enjoy reading while you can. Have you tried Devil in the White City, so good. I did read a random chick lit in St. Marten, PS I love you, and it was cute and entertaining and mindless. All you can handle as a parent to a toddler!

  26. I like all Philippa Gregory’s book, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Boleyn Inheritance were the first two I read.

    I’ve just finished March by Geraldine Brooks. It’s the story of Mr March, the father from Little Women. It was difficult to get into and a rather laborious read.

    The Last Witchfinder by James Morrow. A good read about witching hunting, Newton’s Principa Mathematica and a young Benjamin Franklin.

    And I really enjoyed the Travelling Pants series.

  27. I’m excited that you’re reading “Three Cups of Tea”; it was definitely one of my 2 favorites of 07 and I think you’re really going to like it. My other fav was “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith–so wonderful.
    I’m really excited about getting out of school for the summer (more or less, I’m taking a 6 week class) and having time to read for fun..
    I love the Traveling Pants..I’m excited about the 2nd movie coming out this summer..And her book that came out last summer for adults, “The Last Summer of You and Me” was really good, too..

  28. I so love to read, to bad there isn’t a job that requires you to just read your favorite books. Let us know what books you really liked and what ones you didn’t.

  29. 40 books a year? i’m bummed that i’ve only read 40 so far; i usually read between 120-150 each year. but i’m nowhere near as active as you. i’d much rather curl up with a good book than train for a triatholon. i read atonement this year, too. actually liked the movie better than the book, which is a first for me. if you liked Glass Castle, then try the Hypocrisy of Disco. i can send it to you, if you like. Memoirs are some of my favorites.

    See You In A Hundred Years was interesting, about a couple who move to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and do their own version of 1900 house; if you like that sort of thing.

    Highest Tide was great, about a boy in coastal Washington who discovers all these anamolies in their bay and causes a huge scientific inventory to be made of the bay.

    The God of Animals is a coming of age story about a girl growing up in NM or NV whose father owns a stable/farm; her mother is an agoraphobic and the girl is mostly uncared for after her older sister marries a rodeo fellow and leaves home.

    last year i really liked Lullabies for Little Criminals , another coming of age story set in Canada about a neglected girl; her parents are junkies.

    Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski was fascinating. A jouralist investigates why an American anthropologist in Thailand murders a young man who is part of a well-established missionary family.

    If you’ve not read Gretel Erlich, you should. Her The Solace of Open Spaces about time she spent in Montanta or Wyoming, I’ve forgotten at this point, is excellent. She’s observant about human nature and the natural environment.

    Haven Kimmel is another favorite author. Her Used World was nice. I’ll send you that, too, if you like. But read any of her books, they’re all just sort of enchanting; she’s an excellent writer.

    Oh, and Ron Carlson’s Five Skies was good, too. it’s sort of more manly in that there are few, if any female characters, but i loved it just the same.

    Right now I’m reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth, and loving it. Short stories about “gulf that separates expatriate Bengali parents from their American-raised children‚Äîand that separates the children from India.”

  30. okay, who is your amy who also recommended Fieldwork? she and i’ve read a lot of similar books; i like her choices. i’d love to see her year long list for other ideas of what to read.

  31. Reading is my only real addiction. Your goal sounds, to me, a little like an alcoholic working to get drunk 40 times. My problem is that when I start a book I like, I don’t really do anything else until I finish it.

    Here is some of the fiction I’ve read last month that I liked… Secret Life of Bees, The Red Tent, Life of Pi, Gaia Girls (this is a book my daughter read for her book club; it’s environmentalism for kids, but an interesting read for adults too), Wee Free Men (read it and am now re-doing it on Audible with my daughter). I’ve got the Three Cups of Tea downloaded from Audible because the hold list at the library was 115 long. Now I’ll have to add some of your suggestions to my list too. Also want to read The Birth House.

    My favorite book that I think I’ve ever read, though, is Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. That or Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe by Douglas Adams.

    So many books, so little time.

    (PS- Trust me, you’ll need reading even more when you are a parent. It’s a nice escape from the insanity.)

  32. I’m reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s new book Unaccustomed Earth. It’s amazing. I heard her read a chapter at MIT recently. She’s very interesting and a great writer. I know you would love her books.

  33. I want to read Unaccustomed Earth, too, I hear that woman being interviewed EVERYwhere. Glad to hear it’s actually a good book rather than just a really great book tour.

    I didn’t care for the Boleyn book, or, frankly, anything else by the author, but I treasure the rare historical fiction that’s both challenging and a great read, so I’ll keep looking.

    I just finished Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld, and thought it was GREAT, but I’m careful about whom I recommend it to. I’ve seen some reviewers say they didn’t like the main character, which I totally get, but I think the author does an amazing job of picking out all these little trains of thought that teenagers have – the desires, the mistakes, the regrets, the insecurities. Her self-awareness is incredible. It’s now one of my favorite books.

    I recommend the Mezzanine (Nicholson Baker) to everyone. It’s totally short, so if you need to squeeze one in, it’s a quick pick, but its so pleasurable to just wallow in his close observations of the ordinary things around us. I love it, and I’m mad I gave it to a friend.

  34. As you mentioned you may not have as much time when you are a mom, but I can bet that you will find time. I know that I have because reading is so important (plus babies go to bed early).
    2 recommendations:
    The Namesake
    The Alchemist

  35. In my opinion the two must-read books this year are:

    A Woman in Berlin



    Not kidding, try them (if you haven’t already).