Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sunday Salon: A Look Into the Past & Random Bookish Thoughts

I was sitting at my desk last night, doing a little blog hopping before snuggling under the covers to get in a little bedtime reading when I heard it. One of the most beautiful sounds ever. Rain. Pouring rain bouncing off the pavement, soaking the grass, and dripping from the eaves. Such a heavenly sound. An autumn like sound, if ever there was one. I do hope today is just as wet. Oh, how I love a good rainy day! It is perfect for curling up with a book.

I'm afraid today is not a day for originality. During my Saturday night blog visits, I came across Michelle's Sunday Salon post titled Ratings Retrospective. What an interesting idea! Why not give it a try? Hopefully she won't mind my borrowing her idea.

Michelle went back two years to when she first began keeping a record of her reading and decided to revisit what she read during this time in 2006, reviewing her reading choices, what she thought of the books and what she thinks of them now. I began keeping track of my own reading near the end of 2003, although I did not begin blogging until 2006.

I did not start an actual count of the books I read until November of 2003, although I did list three books in my reading journal that I read in October of that year that I strongly enough to document. Here are those three books along with my journal entries at the time:

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
Very Good
A thriller of sorts set in Boston, Massachusetts. This is a haunting tale of three men whose pasts were permanently tied together one fateful day when one of them was kidnapped as the other two looked on. They find themselves pulled together again when the daughter of one is murdered. As the investigation ensues, the reader is given an intimate look at the lives of these three men and their families. The book was dark and depressing and yet thought provoking; after completing it, I found myself sitting there for several minutes as if the wind had been knocked out of me. The characters were extremely well drawn by the author, each of them complex. Mr. Lehane is a gifted writer and I am eager to read some of his other books.

The Mindhunter by John Douglas
John Douglas was brought to my attention when his talk radio show first aired on the radio. He was a profiler for the FBI for many years, retiring from his position as Director of the Behavioral Investigation Unit. In this nonfiction book, he describes how he came to work for the FBI and describes the nature of the work, providing the reader with a general overview. I found the information interesting and am curious to read some of his other books, with more specific focus on the different crimes or types of crimes he investigated.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
A gentle and yet deep book about a girl’s coming of age in 1964. She accidentally killed her mother when she was four, something she never really was able to forgive herself for. Her father mistreated her and was not much of a dad to her. She was raised by a black woman who just wanted to register to vote. Together, they run away and find themselves in the home of three eccentric sisters who will change their lives forever. The book takes its readers on a journey of love, life and bees. It talks about the power of women, prejudice, faith, bees, forgiveness and love. I cried and laughed as I turned the pages, fully a part of the tale woven by Sue Monk Kidd. This is by far the best book I have read this year. It touched me deep in the heart, inspiring me as a woman and as a daughter.
I remember each of these three books well. I still highly recommend Mystic River and The Secret Life of Bees to this day and feel that the thoughts I recorded then are similar, if not the same, as how I view the books today. I particularly was drawn to my review of Mystic River--about the feeling of having the wind knocked out of me. I had forgotten about that, and yet when I read those words, I suddenly could remember that moment quite vividly.

I also thought it was fitting time wise that The Secret Life of Bees would be among the books I read five years ago last month. I recently saw the movie version of the book. I was surprised at how quickly the book came back to me as I watched the movie.

On another bookish note, Wendi from Wendi's Book Corner, J.C. from The Biblio Brat, and Alice from Hello, My Name is Alice tagged me for a Book Themed 7 Random Things About Me meme and I thought today would be a good time to post my list.
  1. I have over 50 bookmarks of all varying kinds, and yet I still often use scrap paper to hold my place.
  2. I have a difficult time moving on to the next book until I have had a chance to write the review of the book I just finished. At least by way of getting the first draft written.
  3. I have an embarrassing amount of unread books in my house. So embarrassing, that I hate to admit just how many. Even other book lovers look aghast when the discover the truth.
  4. I always read the dedication, acknowledgments, introduction, and end notes of the books I read.
  5. I am not a very expressive person in my daily life, however, when I read, my emotions come easily to the surface.
  6. I get most of my reading done on the weekends and right before bed at night.
  7. I will often reread the book flap or back cover of a book I am about to begin reading just so I know what I'm getting myself into.
I am supposed to tag seven people, but as this particular meme has made it around and around, I will refrain from doing so. Feel free to play along if you so desire!

If you have not already, please check out my reviews from this past week. I have two open giveaways going, both of which will close on November 7th.
Review of A Jolly Good Fellow by Stephen V. Masse
Review of The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff (including an interview with the author and a giveaway)
Review of Imaginary Friends edited by John Marco and Martin H. Greenberg(including a giveaway)

And be sure and drop by later this week! The author of Murder Takes the Cake, Gayle Kent Trent, will be stopping by tomorrow to discuss her experiences with book signings. I will also be discussing my thoughts on two Charlaine Harris books I read this past month along with the HBO show True Blood, loosely based on the Southern Vampire Series. I will be announcing the winners of my surprise 500 post anniversary giveaway later this week as well.

I promised my husband we could go out for Mexican food for lunch today, but until then, I plan to step outside of my own world for a little while and into Karen White's. There are also those Entertainment Weekly magazines I have fallen behind in reading. Is it safe to admit I read that magazine? A guilty pleasure for sure.

Happy Reading!


  1. I guess we're the early worms this week! :) I truly enjoyed your trip down memory lane and I must agree about Teh Secret Life of Bees. I only read it earlier this year, but LOVED it so much. Although I'm not a big movie person, I am looking forward to that one. Oh and don't worry about EW, I used to be addicted to People! It got so bad I had to stope altogether! lol Enjoy your Sunday and the rain!

  2. Wendy, I love that you revisited some older reviews. I am excited about reading Lehane's The Given Day. Have you read it yet?

    I need to do more of your #2 on the list of seven things. I think I'd feel more able to move on if I'd at least pound out a quick rough draft. I don't know why I put it off. It doesn't even take that long, once I finally do it!


  3. Lisa - I had hoped to sleep in this morning, but it didn't quite work out that way. Thanks, as always, to the animals. :-) The Secret Life of Bees is a fantastic book. I hope you are able to see the movie and enjoy it as well.

    I couldn't believe how backed up I was with my EW subscription! It's such a quick magazine to read that I usually am only one or two issues behind. I've got five sitting here waiting to be read.

    Shana - I haven't The Give Day yet, but it's sitting here in my immediate TBR pile calling my name. I hope to get to it soon.

    I used to be more strict when it came to having the review completely finished before starting a new book, but I usually find a rough draft, is suffice. I'm always so afraid I'll forget what it is I want to say about a book--but sometimes I am not sure what it is I actually want to say until I have time to sit on it for awhile. I'm still trying to find that balance.

  4. Wendy, great post! I don't mind at all. It's fun to look back isn't it? I loved The Secret Lives of Bees as well, though I haven't seen the movie yet. Must get to that soon!

  5. You know after visiting you, I keep adding to my TBR pile. This time too is no exception!


    Darcys, Bingleys, gang wars and a dog too

    SS 2: Ariel by Sylvia Plath

  6. Yum! i love Mexican food! lucky you!

    Yes, The Secret Life of Bees is one of my favorite all-time books. Haven't seen the movie yet.

    Enjoy your rainy day!

  7. I finally got around to reading the Secret Life of Bees last week and absolutely loved it. Next I want to see the movie with my 13 year old daughter.

  8. Michelle - I'm so glad you don't mind my borrowing the idea! It was a good one!

    I think it did help to have distance between the book and movie before seeing it.

    Gautami - LOL Sundays are especially notorious for adding to my wish list. :-)

    Linda - I wish it was lunch time already! The Secret Life of Bees is such a memorable and heartfelt story.

    Yasmin - I hope you enjoy the movie! I'll be curious to know what you think of the movie having just read the book.

  9. The Secret Life of Bees is one of my favorites. I haven't seen the movie yet but I'm looking forward to it.

  10. LOL - I'm an Entertainment Weekly reader, too. I've actually found some great books through their book review section, and since I'm a movie fanatic - and love good TV - I enjoy each issue. I like that it's not as gossipy as People, which I don't read anymore.

  11. Framed - I hope you like the movie when you see it!

    Carrie K. - I have come across some good books too in EW, plus it's fun to see what they thought of a book I've read. I'm a bit of a movie buff and so I also like reading the latest about movies.

  12. Isn't it great when the first real rains of the season start? We're getting a drenching up here too...and it is wonderful! Goodbye Fire Season!

    I've seen the movie Mystic River, but never read the book...I should read it, looks like!

    Have a great day and a fabulous week, Wendy!

  13. I think I might steal your retrospective idea for next week's Sunday Salon!

    I'll count my TBR if you'll count yours! (But I won't count the ones in the basement as I'm too lazy, just the shelves upstairs, which are all I'd read from anyway.)

  14. What a great idea. I love going back to look over what I've read in the past and how I rated it. Unfortunately I lost some of my book journal in a computer crash. All the more reason to 1) back it up 2) keep it on paper!

  15. I have way too many unread books, too, but it doesn't stop me from bringing in more.

  16. I am with you on every random thing except #2! That's a good idea, though; it would force me to write reviews immediately!

  17. I don't like to admit how many books are in my TBR either. Hope you had a great Sunday!

  18. I love a rainy day as well. Perfect weather for book reading IMO. Have a great week!

  19. I love rainy days as well.
    I had no idea Mystic River was a book, that movie made me cry.
    Enjoy your reading :)

  20. Thanks for this post, Wendy! I really enjoyed reading it. :) I read The Secret Life of Bees some time ago and find it real refreshing... and I think it's definitely one of the best books written by the author.

    Like you, I collect bookmarks but I've a weird habit as I tend to use the 'not-so-attractive' ones because who knows I might wrinkle them through my reading, haha.

  21. Wendy - I'm so glad to see some rain finally come my way! I do wish it would have stayed longer though. Maybe it will come back. One can hope.

    Lisa - I hope you do! It's fun looking back in time to see what I was reading all those years ago. I wish I'd started keeping track earlier.

    I actually know how many TBR books I have (thanks to LibraryThing). I just choose not to look at the total too often. LOL

    Andi - I try and print out my journal at the end of each year and keep the years in a binder. At least I'll have a paper copy if ever my computer crashes so completely. But you're right, that's a good reminder to back up all the files!

    Kathy - Yeah, me either. Books still find their way through my front and back doors. I can't seem convince my husband that they sprout legs and walk in on their own.

    Sarah - I use my review writing as a debriefing of sorts after I finish a book. With some books it doesn't matter, but with others, I need that closure. Plus I worry that my memory isn't quite what it used to be. :-)

    Yvonne - Some things are better left unspoken. LOL

    Samantha - The sun is out now, I've noticed. At least we got some rain today--and I got in some good reading time. :-)

    Naida - Mystic River is a book that I think was translated well into the movie format. It's a great book. And I really liked the film as well.

  22. Melody - I really liked The Mermaid's Chair too, although I know not many people did.

    I especially love the bookmarks with tassels, but unfortunate so do my cats. LOL

  23. Wow, this post really made me smile. The sound of rain is one of my favourite things (when I'm IN the house) and definitely would curl up with a book too. And lie on my comfy long sofa reading. Hmmm...

    I haven't read all the three books you mentioned. I've heard of Sue Monk Kidd's book. I think I might just go get them soon...

    Sometimes I use those subscription 'cards' enclosed in magazines--some of them have really interesting designs and throwing them away would be a waste, so I use them for this purpose. :)

  24. Alice - No walks in the rain for you? I love to be out in the rain--although not if I'm driving.

    I've used those subscription cards as bookmarks too. If my husband doesn't get to them first, that is. He has a habit of tearing them out as soon as a magazine arrives in the mail and throwing them out.

  25. That is a great idea, looking back on what you read a couple of years ago. I still haven't seen the movie of The Secret Life of Bees, I should do that sometime.

    As for your random bookish things, me too for #1, 3 (H has no idea the real number), 4, 5, 6 (weekends not so much sometimes, definitely at night though), 7! LOL. The only difference, I've found I don't mind moving on to another book before writing the review. Sometimes the distance helps me figure out what I want to say about it.

  26. Nat - The movie is a real tearjerker. If you are me, anyway. :-)

    I find that sometimes I need distance too when writing a review, but I do at least have to jot down my thoughts in a very rough draft or else I find myself procrastinating about picking up another book. I think it's just become such a habit for me. And there's that little bit of fear that I'll forget something.

  27. "I have a difficult time moving on to the next book until I have had a chance to write the review of the book I just finished. At least by way of getting the first draft written."

    Me too! And I'm with you on #7 as well.

    Sometimes when reading old posts of mine I'm surprised to notice the difference between how I remember the book and how I felt at the time. But when I re-read my thoughts, a lot of those feelings and impressions do come back.

  28. when I read Michelle's post yesterday I told her I had thought about doing this at the end of the year last year (and have briefly thought about it this year when I do my yearly recap). I already know that a lot of my ratings have gone up or down since I finished reading the book and had some real time to think about them.

    I've been wanting to read Mystic River for a long time--I'll have to pick up a copy since you still recommend it five years later! Great post, Wendy--and I hope you got your rain (I dislike rain!!).

  29. Nymeth - It can be interesting to see how our impressions of a book has changed over time. :-)

    Trish - My first end of the year blog posts included a recap of my favorite books over the last few years, but that's the closest I've come to revisiting my old reading journals here on my blog. My ratings sometimes vary after time, but usually not to any great degree.


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