Friday, September 21, 2007

Just When I Thought I Was Catching Up

Just when I start to think that I'm making a little headway on the huge number of unread books I have accumulated, I step back for a minute to take stock and find that I'm still losing ground. This stack shows the books that have entered my life just since the beginning of September, twelve of them in total. As of this morning, I've completed ten books in September and I'm in the process of reading five others...still behind by two at this point. It's hopeless.

I must be one of the last people on Earth to read Case Histories, but I found a nice, cheap copy at Half-Price Books the other day and decided to finally add it to my TBR list.

As some of you might remember, I'm a huge fan of the writing of Joyce Carol Oates and have over 80 of her books on my shelf. I already had an ARC of The Barrens but found this band new hardcover at a great price and jumped on it.

The Monsters of Templeton arrived in the mail just a couple of days ago, an unexpected ARC that really looks interesting. I read the first three chapters last night and I'm hooked on the story already. This one won't be published until early 2008 and is set in Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the author's hometown.

I've never read Kathy Reichs but a neighbor gave me a copy of Bones to Ashes as a thank you for some house-watching that I did for him. It looks interesting and I'm curious to see what her writing is like.

I picked up The Landsman from Barnes & Noble the other day because it's another Civil War novel and because I couldn't believe the price on the thing. This particular store only had two copies on the shelf, both marked down to 50% off, plus and extra 10% off for members. I was also carrying around a coupon that gave me another 15% off on any item of my choice and I charged it on my Barnes & Noble credit card, getting another 5% off the price. I couldn't resist parlaying all those discounts together to buy a brand new hardcover for less than paperback price.

I've been hearing a lot about The God of Animals (mostly good) for a while and found this first edition copy on the bargain table at another Barnes & Noble location.

I read Ellen Foster a while back and I always enjoy reading Kaye Gibbons, so when I spotted this new copy of The Life All around Me by Ellen Foster I grabbed it. I think I paid all of $2 for it.

I had never heard of The Dogs of Babel before I spotted a copy for $1 but the premise sounds interesting so I bought it. It's the story of a man who becomes obsessed with teaching his dog to speak because it was the only witness to his wife's death. Now, you have to admit that's a different idea for a novel.

The Life of Pi has become a modern classic, and it didn't take very long. Now I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I haven't read it and have very little idea of what it's about. This copy will let me fix that.

What's So Great about America is not what it sounds like from the title. Notice that there is no question mark after the title. It's a statement, and this author proceeds to tell his readers exactly what is so great about this country. Every time that I go to a bookstore it depresses me to see all the negative books about this country and our government, so I bought this one as an antidote to all of those others.

David Baldacci is another of those authors whom I haven't read despite seeing his name everywhere that I look. I seem to remember that he was a favorite of Clinton's and that the President was pictured one time carrying a copy of a Baldacci book to the White House helicopter. I thought I would give him a try with this mass market copy of The Collectors because it's a book-oriented thriller.

Harry Turtledove has been a favorite of mine for several years because I'm a big fan of alternate history novels. I spotted this paperback copy of The Disunited States of America and bought it to see what Turtledove has been up to since I last read him. It's a book aimed at the Young Adult audience, so I may have made a mistake.

Good grief, it's even worse than I thought. I just spotted two others that I added to the list in September and placed in another stack. The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin is another Rebus mystery, a series I'm just now starting to read, so this was a natural when I spotted it on the bargain table at Barnes & Noble.

And, lastly, I received in the mail an ARC of Richard Russo's The Bridge of Sighs thanks to the kindness of a fellow book blogger who decided to share it with me. I'm looking forward to getting to it in October because it looks great.

So I've fallen behind by four more books, not two as I thought a few minutes ago. I suppose I shouldn't be too concerned because that's a bit better than I usually do. Having too many books is just never a problem.


  1. You're not the only one who hasn't read Case Histories. It's sitting on the shelf at my house, completely unread. I really enjoyed Life of Pi and hope you do too. Also, do you have any recommendations for Harry Turtledove books? I've heard about him but never read any of his stuff.

  2. Life of Pi was really an amazing book; I still remember it vividly after so many years (I first read it for a lit class back before I started writing about books) and that's saying something, considering how horrible my memory is. I hope you like it!

  3. My copy of The Monsters of Templeton just arrived yesterday. Can't wait to start it. Good to hear that it starts off strong - my hook was the setting, as I have fond affection for that part of the country.

  4. I'd put Case Histories and The Naming of the Dead at the top of the pile. I enjoyed both ( why my opinion matters is up for grabs ).

    One Good Turn by Atkinson was another good read as well as Behind the Scenes at the Museum.

    I went about halfway back through the Rankin series before I overloaded.

  5. Ha, ha, ha! I've 3 books just finished that need to be reviewed and a stack of TBR and a list a mile long! There is way to get ahead; I can't keep from adding to the stacks and to the lists.

  6. My husband thoroughly enjoys Harry Turtledove's books. I think the only one of his that I ever read was The Guns of the South (alternate history of the Civil War; so well done that it is required reading in some college history courses.)

  7. I love Kathy Reichs and I loved The Life of Pi. I wasn't too thrilled about Case Histories, and The Dogs of Babel is kind of weird. Anyway - I look forward to hearing your thoughts on them as you move through the stack.

  8. I'm sure we're all running the risk of overselling you on Life of Pi, but I loved it too.

  9. I haven't read Life of Pi either Sam but I do have a copy here from the library. My son will be reading it and then I will(hopefully) be reading it.

    I look forward to your thoughts on it.

  10. It's a never ending battle, isn't it?

    I plan on reading The Life of Pi in '08.

  11. Matt - as for Turtledove, his series are very different and it depends on what mood you're in. One series starts with WWII history and carries on until Earth is invaded by aliens. From that point, the various countries involved in the war find themselves having to rethink the war so that they can recombine forces to survive the invasion. If you're a scifi fan, this is a good series. It's called: The WorldWar Saga.

    He also has a more "historical" series that starts with the South winning the Civil War and carries on to more current history. There are several in that series, too. It starts with "How Few Remain."

  12. Renay, thanks for the vote of confidence for "Life of Pi." I'm looking forward to it.

    Mella - I read a couple more chapters today and still find it to be an intriguing book. Lots of characters are making it a bit difficult to follow completely, but she includes family trees at the end of several chapters that help a lot to keep the reader straight.

  13. Elizabeth - thanks for your input. I'm not far into the Rebus series because I'm trying to set myself up to be able to read them in order as much as I can. I'm looking forward to really getting into that character. I've seen some of the British DVDs based on the books and really like them...and Rebus.

    Jenclair - I don't suppose that any of us ever really catch up anymore...too much good info out there and we do a damned fine job of spreading it around. :-)

  14. Jill, I like that Turtledove novel but found it really weird the way that he brought modern weapons to Lee's army...and why it happened. It's quite a fun book to read.

    Susan - thanks for the input. "Life of Pi" seems to be the clear winner so far.

    John - wow, another "Life of Pi" vote. That one is quickly moving to the top...but others always seem to come from nowhere to claim my attention, especially non-renewable library books that FINALLY show up.

  15. Amy - let me know what both of you think of the book. Any mention of that one always draws lots of positive response.

    3M - Good luck on keeping up with your own TBR. I'm going to try for 2007 for "Life of Pi." I'll be disappointed in myself if I don't get it done.

  16. I'm interested in hearing about "The Landsman" when you finish it.

  17. Here's a tip for you, Sam - 9 out of 10 of those 50% off books, like "The Landsman," will be bargain books in a month. For instance, "God of Animals" was 50% off last month, and you just got it off the bargain table.

    Of course, if you wait, you always run the risk of the book selling out before it gets to bargain, or the book you want being the one out of ten that goes back on the shelf.

    Sounds like you made some good choices and got some great deals. I'm interested to know how you like "God of Animals" - I've been considering getting a copy.

  18. I'm looking forward to that one, too, Bybee. It really does look interesting. Unfortunately, my TBR list is considerably longer than the stack pictured and even though I finished a book last night, I started one today that's not mentioned in this thread...and ARC of Gerald Seymour's Rat Run. It's a modern day thriller and I'm off to a quick start on it.

  19. Thanks for the tip, Annie. I'll keep that in mind because with all of my various discounts added together that's just about the price that I ended up paying for the book.

    What is strange is the difference I see between the two Barnes & Noble stores that I shop in...Landsman was full price in the other store and there were several copies available. Where I purchased it, both copies were marked at 50% off.

    Also, the store up in The Woodlands always has a larger selection of bargain books, including some great titles that I never see at the Champion's Forest store. The CF store is always a little more chaotic and I leave disappointed from it many more times than I do from the other store. They are only about 18 miles apart and its sometimes hard to believe that they are part of the same chain.

  20. It all depends on how good the bargain lead at the store is. If they do their job well, the books get discounted properly, the section's organized, etc. If the lead sucks, they don't check the emails notifying them of price changes, they don't set up the proper displays, and things aren't as good. (I'm a daggone good bargain lead. :) ) My guess is The Landsman would have rung up 50% off at the other store, but if people buy based on the price, they won't know to do so without the stickers - bad management there it sounds like.

    The size and customer base of the store makes a difference, too - bigger stores get more bargain books. If fiction sells more in one and cookbooks sell more in the other, there will be more fiction books automatically received at the first than the second. Although, the bargain lead/manager also has the option of ordering certain bargain titles for their stock.

  21. That's really interesting information, Annie. Thanks for your insights.

  22. Thanks for mentioning What's So Great About America - my husband (a Turtledove fan!) is a patriotic American forced by his wife to live in Canada and he finds that he gets American negativity from both sides of the border and it wears on him. This might be a good antidote, I'll have to look for it.

  23. TLB, I hope that your husband enjoys the book. Some will probably find it to be too much "rah, rah, rah" to suit them, but I'm like your husband in that I need to hear it every once in a while...especially since so many seem to take so much pleasure in trashing this country.