Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Salon: Next Up on the TBR Pile

My immediate TBR pile has not fallen over yet, although it has come awfully close a few times. I am in between books at the moment. On occasion I actually know what I will be reading next while other times I am daunted by all my choices and have a difficult time deciding. Fortunately, this is one of those times when I know exactly what I am in the mood for.

How do you choose your next read? Do you ever had a hard time deciding?

My fall issue of Mystery Scene is looking well-read right now. There are quite a few new crime fiction novels out that sound appealing. And I am looking forward to diving into World Literature Today soon, which includes a feature about imprisoned writers.

On the book front, I am eager to start reading The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia. The novel is set in 1592 Prague. I also have been eying Joe Sacco's Palestine, which is a graphic novel. The author/artist is a journalist who spent a couple of months on the West Bank and shares his experiences there in his book.

I plan to begin Mark Bowden's Guests of the Ayatollah, The Iran Hostage Crisis: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam today. The author impressed me with his nonfiction book Black Hawk Down about the 1993 U.S. military operation in Mogadishu, Somalia, a book I initially thought I wouldn't like but ended up loving. It was quite compelling. Ever since, I have wanted to read more by Bowden. When My Friend Amy announced the 50 Books for our Times Project, I figured now was as good a time as any. Guests of the Ayatollah is a bit of a chunkster, and so I decided I might as well read it alongside a fiction book.

Speaking of chunksters, this past week I finished reading my third selection for the Chunkster Challenge, hosted by Dana. Another challenge completed. I chose the Do These Books Make my Butt Look Big? option and committed to reading 3 books that were 450 or more pages long. Each of the books I chose for the challenge were quite different, including a Gothic classic, a nonfiction book and a fantasy novel.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins - 635 pgs
Chemical Cowboys by Lisa Sweetingham - 464 pgs
Lion of Senet by Jennifer Fallon (review pending) - 558 pgs

Tackling big fat books can be challenging all on its own. While many of my favorite books fall into the chunkster category, I confess that sometimes I pass the big book over for the shorter book. That's why challenges like the Chunkster Challenge can be such good motivation for breaking that habit. Many thanks to Dana for hosting the challenge!

How do you feel about reading chunksters?

I have not been good at resisting temptation lately, I'm afraid. Several books have made their way into my house in recent weeks. Most of the blame lays at your feet. If you didn't tempt me with such irresistible reading material I might have money to spare for those much needed new shoes.

Books I Bought:
The Caveman's Valentine
by George Dawe Green
A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris
The Séance by John Harwood
The Evolution of Shadows by Jason Quinn Malott
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Kiss of the Spider Woman & Two Other Plays by Manuel Puig
Palestine by Joe Sacco
The Sky Isn't Visible From Here by Felicia Sullivan

Book Won in Giveaway:
The Way Home by George Pelecanos (Many thanks to Laura from I'm Booking It!)

What new books have come your way lately?

Kailana from The Written World and Marg from Reading Adventures are hosting the 4th annual Virtual Advent Tour. It's an opportunity for bloggers to write about a special holiday memory or tradition, share a favorite recipe or discuss a favorite holiday book or movie--whatever you want really. It doesn't matter whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Winter Solstice or another holiday. Stop by the website to sign-up for a day. The event runs from December 1st through the 24th. I had such fun when I participated in 2007 and look forward to being a part of the event this year.

© 2009, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.
If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Thank you so much for posting about the Virtual Advent Tour! We really appreciate your support! You are our first signup for this year.

  2. Thanks for posting about the Virtual Advent! I am looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with this year!

  3. I love chunksters! If the story is good, I want to remain in that world for as long as possible. The Woman in White remains one of my favorite chunksters! One reason I love David Weber's sci fi/space operas is because they are so long AND are in series.

  4. Wendy, how have you been? I've been thinking about you and hope you are all doing well over there on that side of the country! Sigh. Chunksters? Bad as it sounds, if given a choice, I will grab the smaller book, just because I feel I need to crank out the reviews. Bad Sandy! I probably need to do more to motivate myself to read these books. And I never know what I am going to read next. I am fickle. I change my mind three times a day.

  5. I always have trouble deciding what to read next because I have so many books I'm dying to read. It's a great problem to have, though.

  6. I'm the same way that you are when it comes to what I'm going to read next. Sometimes I know exactly what I'm in the mood for and other times I just can't decided. Too many good choices isn't a problem though :) Enjoy your Sunday!

  7. I finished 2 chunksters this month...Kristin Lavransdatter and The Woman in White. And I'm sttarting Moby Dick. Ye gads!

    I tend to get in trouble when it's time to start a new book and I can't decide what to read. I end up starting too many books (looking for that one that's just right), then I can't settle into one book.

  8. Well, if I can finish Wally Lamb's latest book today, I'll have completed the Chunkster about stretching out to the last minute! I actually like reading chunksters.

    I checked out the Mystery, the subscription rate seems a bit steep. Is it worth the $$$???

    Re: choosing my next read...lately it has been easy since I have so many commitments. Next year I am going to try to bring a little more spontaneity back into my reading. We'll see...

    Have a great week, Wendy!

  9. I have a terrible time deciding what to read next! I struggled all day yesterday before starting 2 new books. I'm going to blog about that phenomenon today since I think many of us have that problem. I'll link to your blog when I do since you posed the question first!

  10. I choose buying books over shoes all the time, too!

    I like Chunksters if they're really good - but if a book doesn't grab me and I see that huge number of pages, I get discouraged.

    Yesterday I got Undercover by Beth Kephart and The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs in the mail - I bought them with a gift card my sister sent for my birthday. :)

    Hope you have a great week!

  11. Before I saw your post, I wrote about my own hard time I had deciding what to read! Makes me feel better about not being the only one. I will admit that I often choose the smaller books myself over chunksters, but I do love to read a good chunkster. It's a hard choice.

  12. I really enjoyed Guests of the Ayatollah when I read it! It's got a great, fast pface for nonfic. :)

  13. I always go with instinct when it comes to what to read next. Doesn't always work but most of the time it's spot on.

    Thanks for the push about the Advent Tour. I just signed up and am looking forward to it!

    The Ayatollah book sounds interesting. I'll be looking for your review down the road.


  14. Thanks for the alert about the Virtual Advent tour

  15. I'm all caught up with my immediate commitments so I am reading Her Fearful Symmetry and liking it so far. I feel as if I need to read something else at the same time though. I am so used to juggling 2-3 books at a time that I find myself a tad antsy and distracted over it.

  16. Marg & Kelly - I'm looking forward to being a part of the tour and seeing what everyone else comes up with. :-) Thanks for hosting the event again this year!

    Jenclair - I really like chunksters too--it usually just takes me starting one to get me to remember that. :-) The Woman in White is such a good book. I look forward to reading more by Collins.

    Sandy - Thank you, Sandy. I'm hanging in there. I'm hoping to make more of an appearance online this week. My back's giving me trouble again though, so we'll see.

    I know what you mean about choosing the shorter books because you want to have reviews to post. I find that to be one of my issues as well.

    Kathy - I agree. I'd rather be drowning in choices than stuck in the desert with nothing at all to read.

    Samantha - You are right, having so many good choices in reading material is a good thing. At least I'll always have something to read. :-)

    Jill (Softdrink) - Are you a part of the reading discussion group that is reading Moby Dick? I think that will be a good way to read it. Good luck!

    My problem is often that there are so many books that sound appealing to me all at one time--I can't decide which one to pick up.

    Wendy - I hope you are able to finish Lamb's book today. Many of my all-time favorite books are chunksters. Your post today plays right into this whole issue, doesn't it? About going for the fast and easy over the book that will take a bit more time.

    Having those reading commitments definitely do help to narrow down my options. Like you, I hope to bring in more spontaneity back into my reading next year as well. My forgoing all challenges should help some.

    Mystery Scene is expensive, unfortunately. I think it's worth it though. I've subscribed to it for several years now and haven't grown tired of it.

    I hope you have a great week too!

  17. Kathleen - Sometimes I really agonize over which book to read next. I've resorted to having my husband pick books for me in the past when I just can't make up my mind--or I'll draw a title out of a hat or some such random method.

    Carrie (B&M) - I really don't like shoe shopping. I need to find another pair for work though. I keep putting it off.

    It is easy to discouraged when you aren't enjoying a book, especially a really long one.

    Your new books sound like they will be good! Gotta love gift cards. :-)

    I hope you have a great week too!

    Meghan - I just got back from reading your post. :-) Seems like the topic is on several of our minds today.

    Eva - I am glad to hear you enjoyed Guests of the Ayatollah, Eva. I think you're the first person I know who has read it. I figured it would read pretty fast if it was anything like Black Hawk Down.

    CJ - My problem my instinct often has me wanting to read five books at once. I really only do well with one at a time, two at the most. I'm going to try three this week and see how I do--I figure with the third book being a graphic novel, it'll be easier.

    I look forward to seeing you on the Advent Tour route. I've got a couple ideas bouncing around in my head for it.

    Guests of the Ayatollah seems like a fitting read right about now with the current political climate.

    Kerrie - You're welcome. :-) It should be lots of fun!

    Ti - I am glad you are enjoying Her Fearful Symmetry, Ti. You're the opposite of me. I feel like I'm taking on too much when I read more than one book at a time. LOL

  18. My goal of 130 books is going to come down to the wire this year. Beacuse of the goal I have avoided some big books I really want to read. I'm definitely setting my goal a little lower next year so that I can get to the big fat ones I love!

  19. I sometimes think the most fun part of reading is going through all of the magazines, making lists, finding those books you've been looking for at a great price, surprises in the mail, and then sitting down amongst all of the bounty trying to figure out what to read next!!

  20. Choosing a book doesn't seem too hard for me at the moment, as I have a bit of a system. I check out the bookshops every couple of weeks, and then reserve the ones I want from the library.

    By the time they get to me I am always surprised with the choices, and much cheaper than buying.

    Chunksters I don't mind as long as they don't ramble. I don't really want ones like Paulina Simons who spends 100 pages taling about one bus ride, or 200 pages of the second book, rehashing the first novel in the series. Get to the point!!

  21. Lately I've been feeling like I need to put the brakes on bringing new books into the house. I'm starting to feel overwhelmed by my options when I don't have a review obligation with a due date pending. Right now I'm trying to read three books at once, and not enjoying it very much, so that's probably not the solution for me. I'm hoping that the reading challenges I'm signed up for will help with that a little. I did buy a couple of books today, though - even if I feel like I SHOULD back off the book acquisitions, I probably won't really do it :-).

    I don't object to chunksters on principle - sometimes a 275-page book feels longer than a 600-page one. However, they sometimes don't travel very easily, so that means I may two-time them...and that slows me down with both books!

    Glad to see you back today, Wendy - hope you'll be around a bit more this week :-)!

  22. Stacy - 130 is a lot of books! You can do it! Setting high goals does affect our reading choices, that's for sure.

    Staci - I do enjoy making wish lists as I read the magazines too. :-) Book shopping is my favorite kind of shopping, especially when I find a good bargain.

    Poppy - I confess I don't mind a rambling chunkster now and then--it just depends on what the author is rambling about. I haven't read the author you mention so am not familiar with her work.

    Your system for choosing your next book sounds like a good one. There's a little spontaneity mixed in since you don't know which books will be in.

    Florinda - I really should slow down on my book acquisitions too. I was doing well for awhile there, but then suddenly this month it's been a bit more difficult to avoid the temptation.

    I think it is funny that we both decided to break away from our one book at a time habit to read three books at the same time. Not sure how successful I'll be.

    I'm glad to be back and look forward to getting back into the swing of things.

  23. Most of the time, I let my reading mood decide the book for me. ;) And it doesn't help whenever I stare at my TBR pile for too long, LOL.

    I've to admit I'm a little intimidated by chunksters, but I've a few in my pile that need to be read so I need to overcome those feeling! :P

  24. I love reading Mystery News! I also browse through it and then go back and make up yet another list of books to look for and read some day...

  25. I used to love chunksters when I was younger - especially in those long summer vacation months. Nowadays, I'm such a slow reader, I tend to steer away from books with lots of pages, and look for quick reads most of the time. But the Chunkster Challenge was fun, wasn't it?

  26. I also tend to go for the shorter books first. Having said that though, I did read The Woman in White for Carl's R.I.P. challenge and I loved it. There were a few slower moments but even those were just wonderful to read. I hope you'll enjoy it, Wendy!

  27. Melody - I tend to be a mood reader too, unfortunately my mood is often open to multiple books. :-) You're right though--the longer I stare at my TBR books, the harder the decision becomes.

    I hope you will enjoy your chunksters!

    Kristie - It's such a great magazine. I love reading through it. It always makes my wish list longer.

    Joy - I tend to be a slow reader too (at least compared to many of my fellow book bloggers) and I'm sure that's partly why I don't read more chunksters. I usually end up loving 'em when I do though and so it keeps me coming back now and then.

    Iliana - The Woman in White is such a good book. I read it earlier this year for the Chunkster Challenge.

  28. You bought books! I'm so jealous... ;)

  29. My goodness you bought a good pile of books there and there are a few there I want to read as well. I've been going a little crazy with the eReader and buying books for it. I must slow down and now! Now I'll have books piling up in there as well. I need to some serious reorganizing of my bookshelves.

    You know I love chunksters. There's just something about getting involved in one and it's characters and knowing that they will be with you for a while that is really appealing. I have been reading more shorter books lately though as it seems that more and more that's what's being written now.

    Oh yeh, I still haven't mailed your book. I will be this week. Sorry it's taken me so long. Hope you have a great week.

  30. I usually don't have my next book picked out. I can sometimes be a moody reader and the book must fit at the time. Usually I will pull 2-3 books and see which one catches my interest first.

  31. "Do these books make my butt look big" ... LOL! I love it. I finally acquired the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace (in hardback no less). It is GORGEOUS and very heavy. Perhaps I shall carry it on my walks with me as a weight; that would help me lose weight and then my butt would not look big! Yes, I am at work suffering the mid-afternoon sillies. Don't mind me.

    So, your TBR tower hasn't tipped over in any of our earthquakes? Mine neither, though I did watch them sway last time the earth moved. I really shouldn't stack my books very high living in So Cal!

  32. Dar - I kind of went overboard with the book buying, but it sure was fun. At least e-books can't crowd you out of your house. ;-) I imagine that can get expensive after awhile too though.

    It is nice to immerse oneself in a fat book, that's for sure.

    No rush on the book. It's not like I'm hurting for reading material right now. :-) I just appreciate your willingness to share!

    Melissa - I understand book moods well. :-) I've been known to change my mind at the last minute.

    Terri - The titles for the various challenge levels are quite funny. :-) I have that copy of War and Peace. I really need ot read it one of these days. I started it, but ended up setting it aside. I wasn't quite ready for it at the time. I like the idea of carrying it with us on our walks! It would make a great weight. LOL

    The earthquakes haven't yet tipped my books over--someday one strong enough just might though. Better shorten my piles!

  33. I completely failed the chunkster challenge, simply because I do pass over the big ones.

    I did the advent tour last year and completely forgot about it. It was really fun to participate in.

  34. Congrats on finishing the chunkster challenge!

    I've been craving chunksters this year, so I've read quite a lot of them. I did resolve to read more at the beginning of the year, but I never expected I'd turn rabid for them. I read mostly chunksters throughout the summer months, and I've got my eye on a couple more for the end of November/beginning of December.

  35. I know am way late to response, but I just want to say that I hope the books are enjoyable as much as when you brought these books! I'm mood readers too, and sometime it get harder to chose so I walk away for bit and than come back to it.

    I'm trying to decided if I want to join Marg's Xmas 2009 Virtual Advent Tour, or not. I did it last year and I was sorta wacking brain to what to share with everyone teehee.

  36. You should sign up Julia! **grin**

    I have no idea what I will post about yet either!

  37. I'm afraid that deadlines are forcing the hand in my selection lately. However, I did purchase Wolf Hall, the new John Irving book and the new Sarah Waters book
    which are all screaming to me. READ ME NEXT!!!!!!!

    I see you also bought Wolf Hall. .....It really looks sooooo good.

  38. Lisa - I have to remind myself sometimes that exactly what I need is to slow down and enjoy a longer novel. I rarely regret it. Just getting to that point though is the challenge for me.

    Memory - Thanks! That's wonderful that you've been on a bit of a chunkster binge this year. :-)

    Julia - Thank you! I am really looking forward to each of the books. If only there were more hours in the day to fit in more reading!

    I still haven't quite settled on what I want to talk about for the Advent Tour. I read a funny post related to the American Thanksgiving this morning and am thinking that might be a funny way to go. I won't say what it was though in case I do use it. LOL

    Wisteria - Wolf Hall does look like it will be good. I doubt I'll get it in this year, but maybe next. :-)


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