Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 reading roundup

This is the fourth year I've been keeping track of the books I read or listened to. I primarily use Librarything (here's my profile page) but I also use Goodreads (see my profile) because some of my friends use it and in some ways it's more user friendly than Librarything. This year I  read 65 books, which is about 20 books less than I read in 2007 and 2008 and about 10 less than last year.One reason for this is that I couldn't connect my mp3 player to my car radio so I listened to fewer audiobooks this year, in fact, the least amount so far.

Here is the list of the books I read in 2010 in the order I read them:

1.    Now You See Him by Eli Gottlieb
2.    Brooklyn: A Novel by Colm Toibin
3.    The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte
4.    Prince of Fire by Daniel Silva
5.    Blue Diary by Alice Hoffman
6.    It Only Takes a Moment by Mary Jane Clark
7.    Self Storage: A Novel by Gayle Brandeis
8.    Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo
9.    City of Bones by Michael Connelly
10. South of Broad by Pat Conroy
11. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
12. Plainsong by Kent Haruf
13. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
14. The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason
15. Run by Ann Patchett
17. The View from Garden City by Carolyn Baugh
18. A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
19. Between the Tides by Patti Callahan Henry
20. The Myth of You and Me: A Novel by Leah Stewart
21. Night Listener by Armistead Maupin
22. Chang and Eng by Darin Strauss
23. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
24. U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton
25. She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
26. Ribbons For Their Hair by Estelle Chasen
27. The Song Is You: A Novel by Arthur Phillips
29. Driftwood Summer by Patti Callahan Henry
30. Death in a Strange Country by Donna Leon
31. The Fugitive Wife: A Novel by Peter C. Brown
32. The Confessor by Daniel Silva
33. Hour Game by David Baldacci
34. How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper
35. The Eight: A Novel by Katherine Neville
36. Welcome to the Great Mysterious by Lorna Landvik
37. The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
38. In the Woods by Tana French
39. Bloodroot by Amy Greene
41. Back Spin by Harlan Coben
42. The Last Child by John Hart
43. The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antalek
44. The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
46. Angels Flight by Michael Connelly
47. The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw
48. Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton
49. The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha
50. The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva
51. Innocent by Scott Turow
53. Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane
55. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
56. 61 Hours by Lee Child
57. Gone by Jonathan Kellerman
58. The Seduction of Water by Carol Goodman
59. The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
60. The Lake Shore Limited by Sue Miller
62. Worth Dying For by Lee Child
63. Deception by Jonathan Kellerman
65. The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory

Some of my favorite reads this year were Nobody's Fool (partly because I kept imagining Paul Newman as the leading character since he played him in the movie which I haven't seen), The Help, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest ( a great finale for the Millenium Trilogy and as I was warned by CK, I was sorry that there weren't more books to read when I finished this), Year of Wonders, How to Talk to a Widower, The Eight,  The Last Child, Child 44 (hard to get into but once you do, well worth it), and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (fascinating).

My favorite line from a book came from The Myth of You and Me: A happy ending isn't really the end. It's just the place where you choose to stop telling the story.

Most awaited book: South of Broad by Pat Conroy, who I absolutely love. His book, Beach Music, is my all time favorite book and one of only two books I've ever reread (intentionally that is). Every few years I feel like I want to read it again. If you haven't read it, you should. South of Broad is Conroy's first novel in 14 years, since Beach Music. I guess with the expectations I had going it's not surprising that I was disappointed with it. It just didn't hold a candle to Beach Music (or Prince of Tides, also by Conroy). 

Least understood book: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake which got great reviews was totally lost on me. I still don't understand what the deal is with the brother. If anyone read it and can help me figure it out, drop me a line.

Book I was most surprised not to hate: I resisted reading Eat, Pray, Love for a long time because I just knew I would hate it. But the book got so much hype that I was too curious to pass it up. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed it. It's a bit whiny at first but it picks up.

2010 saw the birth of the Book Sisters, a group that includes four women here in Israel and one in the states who I've either reconnected with or gotten to know and the four of us here get together periodically (but not often enough) to chat, complain, and kvell as well as swap books. At least seven of my books came from them this year (I wasn't keeping track but I think I will from now on), not including The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest which CK graciously gave me as a library school graduation gift (and thanks too to SK who shlepped it home from London).

The highlight of 2010 occurred last week, when I was gifted with a Kindle by four of my friends in San Jose, organized and delivered by Katie Devorah.  For those of you who don't follow me on Facebook, I've been obsessing about following e-readers since about 2006 and I guess I post about them an awful lot (can you say understatement). Anyway, it is the most awesome and unexpected gift and I want to once again and publicly thank Katie Devorah, Leah, Barbara, and Rachel. You guys rock and I miss you! Now back to the Kindle. I bought one book from Amazon so far and I have three Overdrive library books on it (not really legal and if you want the details e-mail me privately) and I'm not really sure how this is going to change my reading habits. I'm looking forward to getting acquainted with my new toy and will try to keep you updated in 2011. 

On my Amazon wishlist you can see some of the books I'm looking foward to reading in 2011. 

Here's hoping that 2011 is a year filled with good friends and reading adventures! 

Number of books
Audio books
Non fiction

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Home for a year

It's been about a year since we returned to our home in Israel after 3 years in San Jose, California & though I'd like to say that it's great to be back, it's not that simple.

When we left the states we knew that we were both coming home without jobs but neither of us expected that after a year, Arthur would still be unemployed. This has been the most difficult and stressful part of our return,  financially and emotionally. You might think that after all we've been through, we could take a bought of joblessness in stride, carry on, keep our chins up, and any other cliches you can think of.  Unfortunately,  this is very far from reality. Those of you who've had the joy privilege misfortune of living with an unemployed male know that for many men, their entire self worth is tied up in their ability to support their family and be the breadwinner. So being unemployed raises many ugly questions with no easy answers. 

Stages of Unemployment Customizable T-Shirt shirt
Stages of Unemployment Customizable T-Shirt by OfficeGangsta

One of the most difficult aspects of unemployment is the terrible frustration that both Arthur and I feel. He has so much experience and so much to offer and yet the employment agencies and employers make you feel like if you're over 40, your life is over. And I don't know about Arthur but I also feel angry and a bit betrayed by this country that I love so much and chose to make my home. I have never thought that Israel is perfect but I feel like the country has turned its back on us. Maybe it's not a logical way to feel but feelings aren't logical. 

If anyone has any suggestions/offers, please check out Arthur's public profile on Linkedin and feel free to e-mail me via the contacts link above.

So while I can't say that it's great to be back I also can't say it's awful. I am grateful to have a job which although is not in librarianship as I had hoped does include a cast of many fine and entertaining characters. My new mission at work is to convince my boss to buy a coffee machine (working at Yahoo really spoiled me) and though the going is tough I'm convinced that in the end I will successfully badger bully persuade him to ante up.

Maor is doing very well and is enjoying the freedom of once again living on a yishuv. She likes her school (as much as it's possible to like school), her friends, and her dog.

Though I miss my "new" friends in California, I am happy to be back among "old" friends and family in Israel. I am particularly thankful that my beloved aunt, my father's sister, who was more like a grandmother to me, held on until we came home and gave us the opportunity to spend some Shabbatot, chagim, and celebrations together before she was called to gan eden. 

With the approach of Rosh Hashana I can only hope that this upcoming year holds good things for us, our family and friends, and all of Am Yisrael.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

National pride

Ever since Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 earthquake on January 12, 2010, the eyes of the world have been focused on the country and the rescue and relief efforts taking place. 

In Israel, we've been taking pride in the fact that for once, the news reports have not been condemning Israel but praising the performance of the Israeli team in Haiti. Even CNN, who rarely has a kind word for us, has been impressed with the Israeli response in Haiti.

 Interviews with representatives of the Israeli team and reports on the Israeli field hospital can be found on Anderson Cooper's blog  (Israel's medical operation in Haiti) and NBC's nightly news with Brian Williams.

 Of course, not all the press about Israel has been positive and we seem to be our own worst enemies. Israel's very own Haaretz published Akiva Eldar's Israel's compassion in Haiti can't hide our ugly face in Gaza while other critics claim that we're only in it for the public relations - Haiti: An Israeli Public Relations Moment? and יחסי הציבור של המוות

I can accept that PR plays a part in Israel's decision to send aid abroad but I don't think it's the only (or biggest) consideration and I don't think it negates all the good we're doing. I choose to believe Yuli Edelstein, Israel's Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister, who said: "We are doing that because we are Jews, we are Israelis, and because we were brought up with this famous Talmudic perception 'Saving one life is like saving the entire world'."
Here are some links for keeping up with Israel's continuing efforts to assist the people of Haiti:

IDFinHaiti - Twitter updates from IDF and Israeli aid delegation in Haiti 

idfnadesk - IDF Spokesperson's Unit  official YouTube channel

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009 reading roundup

I've been using Librarything for the last few years to keep track of what I read. Here is the list of books I read or listened to in 2009, in the order I finished them.
  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Compulsion by Jonathan Kellerman
  3. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
  4. Another Life: The Final Burke Novel by Andrew Vachss
  5. The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones
  6. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
  7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  8. The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard by Erin McGraw
  9. Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein
  10. Black and White and Dead All Over by John Darnton
  11. Sima's Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger-Ross
  12. Bones by Jonathan Kellerman
  13. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee
  14. Invisible Sisters by Jessica Handler
  15. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
  16. Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby
  17. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
  18. Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
  19. The Reader by Bernard Schlink
  20. Long Lost by Harlan Coben
  21. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
  22. Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
  23. Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure by Rachel Fershleiser
  24. Life Sentence by Laura Lippman
  25. Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave
  26. God in a Cup: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Coffee by Michaele Weissman
  27. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
  28. Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg
  29. Attack of the Theater People by Marc Acito
  30. Keeping Hannah Waiting by Dave Clarke
  31. Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child
  32. Wicked Prey by John Sanford
  33. Songs for the Butcher's Daughter by Peter Manseau
  34. The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner
  35. The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
  36. Shadows Still Remain by Peter De Jonge
  37. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  38. Capture by Robert K. Tanenbaum
  39. The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman
  40. Roadside Crosses: A Kathryn Dance Novel by Jeffrey Deaver
  41. The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
  42. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
  43. Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan
  44. Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug
  45. Dune Road by Jane Green
  46. How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
  47. Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard
  48. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
  49. The Increment by David Ignatius
  50. Plan B: A Novel by Jonathan Tropper
  51. The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva
  52. April & Oliver by Tess Callahan
  53. The English Assassin by Daniel Silva
  54. New World Monkeys by Nancy Mauro
  55. The Sunday Wife by Cassandra King
  56. Dr. Death by Jonathan Kellerman
  57. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
  58. Die Trying by Lee Child
  59. Carved in Bone: A Body Farm Novel by Jefferson Bass
  60. The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva
  61. The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno
  62. The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber
  63. Street Dreams by Faye Kellerman
  64. Q & A by Vikas Swarup
  65. Devil's Waltz by Jonathan Kellerman
  66. Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish
  67. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  68. The Embers by Hyatt Bass
  69. The Poet by Michael Connelly
  70. The Puzzle King by Betsy Carter
  71. The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty
  72. Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos
  73. Flesh and Bone: A Body Farm Novel by Jefferson Bass
  74. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
  75. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
  76. The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington
Of the 76 books I read or listened to in 2009, only four were non-fiction, 18 were audiobooks, and four have been made into movies. You can see how my 2009 stats compare to the two previous years I've been keeping track in the table below.

2007 2008 2009
Number of books 83 81 76
Audio books 11 32 18
Nonfiction 10 13 4
Authors read more than once 11 7 7

Some of my favorites in 2009 were Empire Falls, Songs for the Butcher's Daughter, The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, and the first two books in Stieg Larsson's Millenium series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire. I also enjoyed listening to Sing them Home which was long and took me a while to get into but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed it and The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  And although I read To Kill a Mockingbird years ago, listening to it on audio was a great treat. The Uncommon Reader was a quick and enjoyable listen and Attack of the Theater People was a totally theatrical out there experience which I'm sure I wouldn't have enjoyed if I had only read it and not listened to it. I was most disappointed by The Story of Edgar Sawtelle which got such hype and not only did I not find it enjoyable to listen to, I DESPISED the ending! April & Oliver was another book that got a lot of hype but I found it underwhelming. 

I'm almost done with my first book of 2010 and I have several audio books waiting for me. Some of the books I'm most looking forward to reading or listening to in 2010 are Pat Conroy's new novel, South of Broad, John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River, Sue Grafton's U is for Undertow, and the final book in Stieg Larsson's Millenium series, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest which I received as a graduation gift from my friend, CK, who graciously gave me the book her husband shlepped home from London even though she hadn't read it yet. 

So here's looking forward to many more reading adventures in 2010!