Reading Rainbow Revisted

Last June 26 I made a vow to try to read 50 books in a year. Shortly after, I also vowed to write about each book I read, at least a little.

I have read 33.

I really thought I would be able to do the 50, but I blame the fact that both my Christmas and summer holidays were cut short by studying for Canadian History. At the same time, I think 33 is still pretty impressive. And I did keep my second promise (oh yeah, the last two books I read were Living Dead in Dallas and Club Dead both by Charlaine Harris from the Sookie Stackhouse series and they were wonderfully addictive.) If you want to know all the books I read and what I thought of them, check out the 50 Books in a Year page.

And now, I’m going to attempt it all over again. This is Reading Rainbow Take Two! 50 books by June 26, 2010. This time I’ll make it. There are no rules, other then they have to be books I haven’t read before.

I’m a big reader, I used to read mainly fantasy and historical fiction, but I’ve since developed a love for any kind of fiction and even the occasional non-fiction. This is the “books” section of my Facebook profile:

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I would highly recommend any of those books, but for now I bring you my Top Ten Books So Far!

perks

10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This book is for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. In fact, this is our generation’s L’étranger (Camus.) A classic from the first day of it’s release, Perks of Being a Wallflower has a habit of defining our generation. Almost everyone I know has read this book and been changed by it. I’ve read it at least four times. It’s about being alone and together, about discovering yourself and others, and it’s about feeling infinite. It’s beautiful.

gods

9.  Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

If you’ve ever read this blog before, you know I love modern retellings of myths. Any myths, but especially Greek myths. The premise of this book is that the Greek gods are still alive, living all together in a house in London. It’s absolutely hilarious and very accurate, even! This is the book I wish I had written.

tarr

8. Lord of Two Lands by Judith Tarr

This is the book that spawned my love for Alex. Yes, Alex as in Alexander the Great. This was the second Judith Tarr book I read, after Throne of Isis. Judith Tarr is, in my opinion, one of the best historical fiction writers out there. I read this book when I was in middle school, and I was definitely too  young for it. I didn’t even figure out Alex was gay until about halfway in. There was a passage about Alexander and Hephaestion that started with “Quiet as they were after love…” and I stared at it for a very long time before I finally realized it. When I reread the book a couple of years later, the older, wiser me was appauled that I had read it at the tender age of 13. It still remains one of my favourite books of all time. I’ve read it three times.

pact

7. The Pact by Jodi Picoult

I have read nearly every Jodi Picoult book that exists. Okay, it’s chick lit. But it’s good chick lit. It’s thoughtful and complex and most of all, it’s moving. Jodi Picoult has a way of getting to me like no one else. The first of her books that I read was My Sister’s Keeper (movie out this weekend, I’ll review it when I see!) I bought it on a whim when I was visiting Fae one summer, it was on sale. I was reading it on the train ride to meet my parents in State College. The train broke down for five hours (ew) but I finished the book. I tried not to cry in public, but it was hard. I chose The Pact, though, instead, because it’s the one that upset me the most. After reading The Pact, I cried for two days straight. For no reason other than the book. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking, and I adore Jodi Picoult for being able to create that kind of intense emotion.

anil

6. Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje

I love Canadian literature. A lot of my favourite authors are Canadian. I think it’s a highly underestimated genre. I read Anil’s Ghost in Grade 12 high school English class, as a study of Can Lit and postmodernism. Anil’s Ghost remains my ultimate example of postmodernism. This book is beautiful. It’s a complex web of scenes and thoughts and styles. A lot of people don’t like it because it’s not at all linear, but that’s the reason I love it so much. It’s like a puzzle.

smith-girl-meets-boy

5. Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith

This is the first on the list from the Canongate Myth Series. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s my favourite collection of books. The publishing company Canongate approached a number of well known authors from various different genres with the idea of writing a book that’s a retelling of a myth. Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad is probably the famous popular, but I’ve read almost all of them and most of them are good. The myth that Ali Smith adapts is Iphis and Ianthe, one of my favourites. I’ll tell it on some Mythology Monday, but I don’t think I can do it as well as Ali Smith does. This book is pure poetry. It’s beautiful, from beginning to end. You fall in love with the characters, with the story.

truth

4. Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett

One of the books I read this year. It overwhelmed me. It’s wonderful. You can read what I wrote about it last month here!

19843. 1984 by George Orwell

I went on a big kick one summer of reading all of the modern classics. I read Of Mice and Men, Great Gatsby, On the Road, etc. And 1984. I have always had a soft spot for dystopia sci-fi, and 1984 was definitely my kind of book. I think above all 1984 is a really important book. Today, and in 2084, 2184, etc. It really changes the way you think about things. It’s one of those books that I find myself randomly thinking about sometimes.

breakfastofchampionsvonnegut

2. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Breakfast of Champions was the book that Kurt Vonnegut wrote for his 50th birthday. And so when my dad turned 50 he told me he wanted a copy. I obliged, and then I read it after him. The first time I read it was when I was 16. I adored it. It was the first Vonnegut book I read, and he’s one of my favourite authors. His style is so unique. Funny and poignant. I read the book a second time when we studied it in my 20th Century Lit class in first year. Let me tell you, analyzing the concept of wide open beavers (with drawings by Vonnegut himself!) makes a three hour class very interesting!

weight

1. Weight by Jeanette Winterson

My favourite of the Canongate Myth series and my favourite book of all time (so far) is Weight. If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you may have caught on to my love of Jeanette Winterson. This book is a retelling of the Atlas and Heracles story, and it’s beautiful. It’s one of those books I read where I thought afterwards “Of course this book exists.” It was so… perfect. I wish I could write like that. Since I’m going to be in the UK in September, I may stalk Jeanette Winterson so that maybe her genius will rub off on me a little…

9 Comments

  • By Kaitlyn, June 26, 2009 @ 10:51 am

    I have a lovely app on my iPhone that might help out with this! It’s called stanza, & is an e-book reader, and though you can buy new books, they have a TON that you can download for free (older public domain books, but lots of recognizable classics that you may not have read yet). That way you always have books with you whenever you have some spare time (assuming you have you iPod touch with you) and therefore maximize your reading time! :D

  • By Eleni, June 26, 2009 @ 11:34 am

    Wow, I’m so impressed. Even if you didn’t make it to 50, that’s still more than respectable. I’d be ashamed to admit how few books I’ve read in the past year. More than one, but it’s pretty pathetic.

    Fantasy’s my favorite! I have yet to branch out much as far as reading for pleasure goes.

  • By Sebastian, June 26, 2009 @ 7:05 pm

    Finally! Another Vonnegut book to read!

    I was given the compiled short stories (Welcome to the Monkey House) when I was in America, back in 2004, by a friend (she was very similar to you, in fact…)

    Anyway, I loved that, and then I found out he wrote a LOT of other stuff. And now I know which novel of his to pick up… fantastic.

  • By Faebala, June 27, 2009 @ 6:05 pm

    My mom still talks about Anil’s Ghost. Because I got it from the library to read it, but never got to, because she took it first. And she still will bring it up about how good it was…. and I still haven’t read it.

  • By Hezabelle, June 27, 2009 @ 6:15 pm

    Seb, it doesn’t surprise me that you’d like Vonnegut! Read Breakfast of Champions, then let me know and I can recommend others!

    Fae, you must read it, it will have to be July’s book for you then.

  • By Chris, June 29, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

    Wow, I have read none of your Top Ten. (English Major, WHAT! Holla.) I have read other books by some of the authors there, but not those specifically….bad me.

  • By India, July 25, 2011 @ 2:30 am

    I have been so blewidreed in the past but now it all makes sense!

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