Recent Acquisitions

DSC_0020The first Saturday in an even-numbered month means there’s a used book sale at the public library to check out so the first Sunday in an even-numbered month means it is time to share my recent acquisitions with you all. The organization that runs the used book sale was offering a number of deals and promotions this time, but I zeroed in on the buy one, get one free promotion for fiction.

Once again, I picked up two books I have read before at the sale — The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson and A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. I’ve been itching to read Larsson’s series again, especially after a fourth book in the series to be written by another author is slatted to be published in August. As much as I understand the position of Larsson’s partner of thirty-two years, I think saying I won’t read The Girl in the Spider’s Web — period — would be a lie at this point. I’ll likely wait for the reviews to start trickling in before I deciding yay or nay.

I picked up Martin’s novel, the third in his series, for two reasons: (a) I’m trying to encourage my family to read the books since I’ve been so disappointed (and disgusted, to be honest) with season five of the television season and (b) this book happens to be my favorite of the five he’s published so far. Oh, and did I mention I got it for free?

I purchased three novels by authors whose other works I’ve read and enjoyed in the past — Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate, and Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls — and then two by authors I’ve heard a great amount of acclaim for, Little Bee by Chris Cleave and Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby.

Rounding out my purchases are Madwoman on the Bridge by Su Tong, the first two books in Julianna Baggott’s Pure series, and Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. It wasn’t until I started walking home that I realized I recognized the titles of Wouk’s books because there are television miniseries from the 1980s based on the novels, which are both in my Netflix queue. So now I don’t know if I should start with those giant chunksters in the bottom right of the picture above or get my feet wet with the television series? Or, maybe I’ll start with one of the familiar authors on my list. So many choices!

Recent Acquisitions

It’s my birthday and I’ll buy books if I want to! And, lucky for me, the public library’s used book sale coincided nicely with my birthday so I was able to spend the morning of perusing the tables of books and seeing what I could find that caught my fancy. For fifteen dollars, I came away with eleven books — three hardbacks and eight paperbacks — including three books selected by my book club for the upcoming months.

I was most surprised to find A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin considering the popularity of the series. I’ve already read the book and, admittedly, did not love it, but Martin swears he will finish the next one in the series by 2016 and the television show is going to start diverting from the books in the next series so I’d like to have a copy on hand to help me brush up on what happened.

I was also thrilled to find a copy of Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings given the wait list at my library still numbers in the hundreds for the book. My book club selected Kidd’s novel this past December for our meeting, and I wasn’t able to get my hands on a copy before then. Other book club selections I was able to find at this sale include Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, and South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami.

The three books published by Persephone were birthday presents from my parents and all were written by Dorothy Whipple. I started Because of the Lockwoods on Saturday and am already entranced by Whipple’s writing once more.  (I’ve previously read her novel Someone at a Distance back in November.) I’m looking forward to tucking into The Priory and Whipple’s short story collection, The Closed Door and Other Stories, soon.


Wrap Up: TBR Double Dog Dare

tbr-dare-2014To get straight to the point, I failed the TBR Double Dog Dare. I managed to avoid bringing home any books from the library (with the exception of those I needed for book club) for about six weeks. Yet, in mid-February, an opinion piece in the local paper referenced David Kirby’s Death at SeaWorld, which I then had to read, and in March I came down with such an awful cough and cold that all I wanted to read were graphic novels and memoirs. So I broke the dare and went to the library. Whoops.

Of the thirty-one books I read between January 1 and March 31, ten books were print copies from my physical to-read pile (nearly all of which found new homes via PaperBackSwap upon completion), nine were audiobooks on my iPod loaded back in 2014, and seven were from the library for book club meetings. The rest were from the library for the excuses explained above.

So, yeah, I failed the dare. But looking at the glass half-full — ten books off my shelves and nine off my iPod is great progress in culling down Mt. TBR! In that regard, the TBR  Double Dog Dare was a success. Plus, I have two more print novels and an audiobook in progress that will also help to create more space on my shelves for all the books I’ll buy or receive for my upcoming birthday.

If I can continue with finishing roughly three books in print a month for the rest of the year, I’ll only have seven books in my physical TBR pile left at year’s end. And, if I can’t keep that momentum going, hopefully James Reads Books will choose to host the dare again in 2016.

Ten Favorite Reads From 2014

This has been quite the year for me — finished my last semester of school, graduated with my masters degree, moved across the country (twice!), started working full-time, and settled into life as a adult (whatever that means). I read 63 books in 2013 and thought my goal to read seventy-five books in 2014 would be a stretch. This year certainly felt busier than last year, and I think the fact that I read zero books in February and April and only two in March is a testimony to that.

Yet, here I am on the last day of 2014 with 150 books read! So I guess there is an upside to being hit by a car and unable to do much beside lay on the couch. Although, I would gladly trade away some of my stats for the year to avoid ever reliving that experience.

According to GoodReads, I read 37,678 pages in 2014 ranking this year fifth out of the seven I’ve logged on the site. The numbers might be a bit skewed — this year ranks as third in terms of the number of total books read — because nine of the 150 books I read were comics/graphic novels and 36 were audiobooks.

I didn’t keep a spreadsheets of my stats this year so I can’t break down my reading to the detail I have in the past beyond the basics — 62% fiction versus 38% nonfiction, 63% female authors versus 37% male, 81% library books, and 65% printed books. (For the first time, audiobooks jumped to double digits — a whopping 23%.) Instead, I thought I would offer up ten of the best and most memorable reads of the year. Continue reading

Recent Acquisitions + The TBR Double Dog Dare


I would have missed this month’s used book sale at the public library yesterday if my phone had not chirped loudly enough with a reminder fifteen minutes before the doors opened. Since I cannot resist a book sale and the library is (sort of) on my way to the grocery store, I slipped on my shoes and headed over to browse the shelves.

Less than an hour later, I left the library with six books for a dollar a piece and a bag filled with what was supposed to be groceries. Food for the mind and soul, I say. Add these six to the three books plus a cookbook my mom brought me at Thanksgiving and my recent acquisitions include:

  • Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook
  • The Blind Assassin (Margaret Atwood)
  • Catherine the Great (Robert K. Massie)
  • The Cold Song (Linn Ullmann)
  • Exploring Boston and New England (Fodor’s)
  • Mary Boleyn (Alison Weir)
  • Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins)
  • Prague (Arthur Phillips)
  • The Space Between Us (Thrity Umrigar)
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Haruki Murakami)

tbr-dare-2014I had to do some rearrange of my shelves to find a space for each book in their new home hence why I will be signing up for the TBR Double Dog Dare hosted by James Reads Books. The TBR Double Dog Dare is not a challenge but a dare to read only those books from your TBR pile between January 1 and April 1. And everyone on the playground knows you cannot refuse a double dog dare.

You can still buy books so, lucky me, I won’t have to skip the library book sale in February. You just can’t read new purchases until the TBR Double Dog Dare is over.

My two exceptions are those books chosen by my book club during the TBR Double Dog Dare and audiobooks I’ve borrowed from the library. I am restricting myself to those audiobooks I had loaded onto my iPod before the TBR Double Dog Dare begins on January 1, but I cannot ban them outright otherwise I’ll have nothing to listen to at work.

I’m looking forward to finally reading those books on my TBR shelf. After all, there’s a reason I purchased them in the first place. And I’m sure the public library is looking forward to me returning the forty or so books I have checked out at the end of the month.