REWIND! Had to Have These Books, but They’re STILL Languishing on the Bookshelf…

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Today’s Top Ten Tuesday Topic:
REWIND!!
Top Ten Books I Had to Have…but are STILL Languishing on the Bookshelf
(click here for original post)

  1. The Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson
    I bought the audiobooks when they were first released because my husband & I were both interested in them, and we listen to audiobooks together on road trips.  They are still on the shelf almost a year later…one road trip this year, and not long enough for even one of those books.  Sad.
  2. A Thousand Splendid Sons by Khalid Hosseini
    I bought the audio version of this and The Kite Runner at the same time.  Listened to The Kite Runner and LOVED it, but have not gotten to this yet.
  3. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
    This set has been on my shelf for at least 10 years, and has followed me through several moves.  I purchased it with the conviction that I should read it, because it’s an incredible shame that I never even knew they existed when I was an adolescent.  Still there…still waiting…
  4. Hearts in Atlantis & Insomnia by Stephen King
    I have loved Stephen King since I was in 9th grade, and have devoured 30ish of his books over the years.  For some reason these never made it past the bookshelf, and I eventually got rid of both, though I have since re-purchased Hearts in Atlantis in audio format.  The last several King books I’ve “read” were actually listening experiences, and that is proving to be my preference lately.
  5. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
    Purchased for a book group read, I had grand hopes of finishing it.  I barely got started, and with the distractions of a new baby and home renovations, it was abandoned and is still on the shelf.  I haven’t discarded it, so there is hope that eventually it will make it into the pile of current reads.
  6. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
    I bought this book when it was causing a stir on the book scene, and it sat on the shelf for years.  I finally sold it to the used bookstore, only to repurchase in audio format.  Still there, but I’m hoping to get to it this year.
  7. The Bourne Series by Robert Ludlum
    These sat on my shelf for years until I finally sold them when I was getting ready to move out of state.  They were a recommendation from my brother, and for some reason I never got excited about reading them, even after having seen the movies.  They are still on my TBR list, so hope is still alive that I will read them one day.
  8. Everything Monica McInerney has written
    McInerney is an Australian author, and I stumbled across her books Family Baggage and The Alphabet Sisters through http://www.dearreader.com.  I devoured those books and started looking for more, only to discover that the rest of her books had only been published in Australia.  Thanks to my online book club, I had a contact, and over the next year I exchanged books with her…she sent me the McInerney books I couldn’t get in the States, and I sent her book club selections that were difficult for her to find.  I have read a couple more of them and I love them, but I hate the thought of finishing the and having no more to look forward to, so I space them out.  Silly, I know, but sadly true.
  9. Complete sets of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway
    For some reason, I thought I needed “the complete set” of whatever classic author was on the radar at the moment.  So I bought them…in fact, I bought the book club editions, which have virtually no resale value when one decides to part with them.  I have not parted with them, but I’ve not read them either.  They do, at least, look good on the bookshelf.
  10. The Space Between Us & If Today Be Sweet by Thrity Umrigar
    I have been on an Indian literature kick for the past couple of years.  It’s not a constant pursuit, but when I find Indian novels that look interesting, I can’t resist buying them.  Not only did I purchase these, but I bought The Space Between Us at full price, which is almost unheard of for me.  They are still on the shelf, and I will get to them, but I signed myself up for all these reading challenges this year…

Updates 6-5-12: 

  • My husband and I (finally) listened to the first Larssen book – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – last year on a road trip.  We loved it, and we’ve been saving the other two until we can listen together.
  • I listened to This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald last year.  I recognize how good Fitzgerald always is, but I didn’t love the book.  So four down…
  • Listened to For Whom the Bell Tolls last year – well, half of it – and I thoroughly enjoyed the half I got through.  It is a long and heavy book, and after 9 discs, with 9 still to go, I needed some lighter fare.
  • I got rid of the Stephen King books (both heavy hardback editions), and I have Hearts in Atlantis on my audio shelf.  I doubt I will ever read Insomnia unless I get a renewed interest in all things Stephen King.  I’m still a fan, and I have read enough of his books to know that I’ve (likely) read the majority of his very best work already (The Stand, The Green Mile, The Tommyknockers, It, Salem’s Lot, all of his books from the 70s & 80s).  What I haven’t read (and still want to read) is already on my shelves (Lisey’s Story, Hearts in Atlantis, On Writing, some of his short stories / novellas).
  • I have added to my collect of Monica McInerney books as they have been published in the US, but have not (yet) gotten back to them.  I’m sort of savoring the memory of what I have read so far, and enjoying the anticipation of reading more.

That’s it!  More updates to come at some point…hopefully…unless I get sidetracked with some other wonderful book.  Too many books, and not nearly enough time to read them all.

REVIEW: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

Paperback, 482 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Penguin (Non-Classics) (first published June 16th 2001)
ISBN: 0143117149 (ISBN13: 9780143117148)
original title: The Slap

4.5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis:
Winner of the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap is a riveting page-turner and a powerful, haunting rumination on contemporary middle-class family life. When a man slaps a child who is not his own at a neighborhood barbecue, the act triggers a series of repercussions in the lives of the people who witness the event-causing them to reassess their values, expectations, and desires. For readers of Jonathan Franzen and Tom Perrotta, this is a compelling account of modern society and the way we live today. 

My Thoughts:
I will start with the caveat that I am a big fan of Australian literature, and this book was no exception. I had a lot of mixed reactions to the book – it was very well written, and certainly deserving of literary attention, but definitely controversial. Tsiolkas is Greek by birth, and he spent a lot of time on prejudice & how it plays out in Australia, starkly exposing the prejudices and biases that pervade Australian life. What was intriguing to me is how these prejudices & biases are nearly a mirror of those that we contend with in the US, though the clashing cultures have different backgrounds. The difficulties that arise when cultures interact (and clash) are so similar to what we encounter here in the US that it makes for a story that is easy to relate to and easy to understand.

Tsiolkas did what I believe to be an extraordinary job of writing authentically on controversial subjects without falling into the silly stereotypes of bigots & bigotry. I like that he makes a point to try & reflect human nature and how we contend with cultural, political, spiritual and personal controversy. It would have been very easy for him to hyperbolize these characteristics – and that is a very effective writing tool (the use of the grotesque) – but in this context I believe that the realistic portrayal of daily life in the wake of a very controversial incident shone a light on the good and bad (and sometimes ridiculous) in fairly equal measure.

I loved the book, the setting, the writing style, the insights. Even where I objected to beliefs or actions, I liked that they were presented because they represent life as we know it.