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“School Reads”

In light of back-to-school week, Goodreads asks what assigned reading book do you wish you had paid more attention to in school.

Moby Dick: it was too much of a rush to read something that didn’t interest me.
Great Expectations: I wish I read it more earnestly than like fiction.
The Bell Jar: the writing literally drove me crazy

I think as a teenager I lacked the life experiences to appreciate the themes of these monumental works. I took the books for their face value, gauging them just by whether they could keep me engaged. Also I didn’t enjoy the way books were taught in high school, within the constraint of a curriculum. I didn’t like dissecting a book into cold hard facts afterwards for an essay. Sometimes that mad dash to finish assignment ruins the pleasure of reading.

Summer Reading Poll

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It’s summer and many people are taking summer vacation. I usually take my big annual vacation in winter but since I work in an academic institution, the administrative holidays in summer make it possible to sneak away from about a week. Goodreads recently releases a summer reading poll:

1. How many books do you typically bring on vacation?
I bring 3-4 to last me through an one-week vacation. I make sure I have a good read to see me through the flight if I’m going overseas. Next month I’ll be traveling to Europe for two weeks so I’ve already had a good book lined up for the flight. Of course, I can always buy more along the way!

2. What type of books do you read on vacation?
Vacation or not, I usually stick with paperbacks. I’m not ready to make the complete transition to e-books yet—I like to mark my books.

3. How long is your ideal vacation read?
I try to keep it under 400 pages. Wen I’m on vacation I tend to be more outdoor doing things, sightseeing, and hiking. My reading time is inevitably compromised and I need a book with a tight plot that holds my attention.

4. What genres do you read on vacation?
I read about the same thing I read at home: literary fiction, mystery, and history. I’m not a huge fan of fluffy beachy reads but I do prefer book with good plots.

5. Where do you usually read during summer?
Usually by the pool or at the beach. But it looks like I’ll do lots of reading in the garden or on the sidewalk in France.

More Summer Reads

Goodreads has (yet) another summer reading list. This list has something for everyone. Go take a look. I find the books under amateur sleuth and literary bookworm quite appealing.

Reading Salon: Booker Shortlist and Little Giant

The Sunday Salon.com

I have finished the review of The White Tiger but I have set my heart to read all five other books short-listed for this year’s Booker Prize to see how it measures up to the contenders.

Aravind Adiga The White Tiger (Atlantic) Winner
Sebastian Barry The Secret Scripture (Faber and Faber)
Amitav Ghosh Sea of Poppies (John Murray)
Linda Grant The Clothes on Their Backs (Virago)
Philip Hensher The Northern Clemency (Fourth Estate)
Steve Toltz A Fraction of the Whole (Hamish Hamilton)

I have enjoyed The Glass Palace and In an Antique Land so I will begin with Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppins. At the bookstore I purchased a copy of The Secret Scripture, which will be my last book for the Man Booker Reading Challenge. Meanwhile a stream of ARCs will be feeding my bookish appetite. Right off the bat is a novel that features local San Francisco author publicity. The debut novel will be published on Januray 8, 2009.

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker is your typical Ugly Betty type of story, but with more consequence. When Truly Plaice’s mother was pregnant, the town of Aberdeen joined together in betting how recordbreakingly huge the baby boy would ultimately be. The girl who proved to be Truly paid the price of her enormity. Truly Plaise is born a giant. She is all about bumps and bulges, Her father blames her for her mother’s death in childbirth. The preacher’s wife believes she has got the making of Satan in her. The school teacher calls her a little giant. Her education is stalled before it even starts. While her remarkable size makes her the target of constant humiliation and curiosity, her sister Serena Jane is an epitome of feminine perfection. The book does not read like chick lit although the major characters are girls. Forty pages into this novel set in 1950s New England, I’m already in the thrall of this unique book endowed with a mesmerizing folkloric feel. Tiffany Baker’s writing is very lyrical.

By the way, I finally become a member of Goodreads! I have to search for my friends who are on it. Are you on Goodreads? Let’s take a head count.