Sunday, January 03, 2010

Sunday Salon: Christmas Loot, First and Last Books of the Year & A Blogging Break

Now that 2010 is here, life is will soon be falling back into its regular routine. The last couple of days I have been busy reading all the detailed wrap up posts for 2009. It's one of my favorite times of year in the blogging community. I especially enjoy reading everyone's lists of their favorite books read in the year. There is always quite a variety and the occasional book I forgot to add to my wish list when the blogger first reviewed it.

I was remiss in telling you about the books I found wrapped and waiting for me on Christmas morning. It somehow got lost in the end of the year frenzy. Santa (Anjin) must have taken a peek at my wish list. He gave me:
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett
Columbine by Dave Cullen
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
Drood by Dan Simmons
I also received several bookstore gift cards, which you can bet will be put to good use. In fact, the one from my brother-in-law is already spent:
John Green's An Abundance of Katherines (Raidergirl from An Adventure in Reading is to blame for this one as I got it based on her high praise)
Wally Lamb's Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story (a little late for the Christmas holiday, I know, but it was marked down considerably and I do adore Wally Lamb)
Anjin also received a few books in his stocking this year (which I will no doubt be reading as well):
U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck
I was cleaning out a basket of reference books (medical phone numbers, the car manual, etc) and discovered a book I had misplaced the year before last (I'd wondered where it went!). My post card, just a little over half way through, is still in it, marking the place I stopped. Fortunately, it is one of those essay/memoir type books that does not leave the reader hanging at the end of the chapter. I considered trying to finish it before 2010 began, but it wasn't meant to be. I hope to pick up where I left with that one in the near future.

I did at least finally finish reading Jhumpa Lahiri's The Interpreter of Maladies, capping off 2009. I enjoyed many of the stories, some more than others. Jhumpa Lahiri is a gifted writer and is able to get across the emotions of her characters without being obvious. I jotted down notes on each story and will be posting them throughout the early part of this year.

Just yesterday I began reading my first book of the year, Philipp Meyer's American Rust, which I'm reading for an upcoming book tour. I was happy to see that it made many of your lists of favorite books read this past year. Set in an old steel town in Pennsylvania that's fallen on hard times, the novel follows two young men, friends, whose lives are irrevocably changed by an act of violence. The writing is harsh and beautiful. I am looking forward to reading more of it today.

What was the last book you finished in 2009?
What book did you start 2010 off with?

It has become my tradition to take a brief blogging break at the beginning of the year. It's a bit of a relief after that year end rush to get everything done. I am looking forward to a year filled with good books and discussions.

Enjoy the start of the New Year and Happy Reading!

Is it any wonder why changing the sheets is not so easy to do at my house?

© 2009, Wendy Runyon of Musings oft 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. Love that last pic, Wendy! Have a good break! Santa has been good to you and Anjin. :D

  2. I have both Columbine and Physick on my Kindle, and hope to get to them this year. And Drood! What a chunkster! Scares me! Love the picture of your babies! Have a great break! We'll miss you!

  3. Wendy
    Two of my cats do that two. I kept having to move them off my bed so I could put my clean sheets on. One of the cats likes to play whee as we call it with the covers. It is quite annoying sometimes. :)

  4. Ahh, the pressure!

    I looked at that Wally Lamb book every time I was at Indigo before Christmas.
    Great haul of books. I give my husband books for Christmas, if it looks like a book I'd like to read too!

  5. I ended the year reading Battle Royale and I'm still reading it. Ugh! I sure hope I finish it today.

    It looks like your cats had a party on your bed!

    Happy New Year!

  6. Of the 4 books that you received from Anjin -- I have read one (Columbine) and have the other 3 waiting on the shelves! We must have similar reading tastes :)

    While I am not formally planning a blogging break, I know that with the start of a new semester at school, I will be forced to spend more time on lesson plans, which will result in less blogging time. I am a little sad, but also a bit excited about the future.

    Enjoy a great reading day - and I hope the blogging break helps to rejuvenate you after a hectic holiday season.

  7. Lots of good books there! The Physick Book and Drood are excellent and is American Rust.

    The last book I read in 2009 was a biography Paul McCartney: A Life. And the book I'm starting 2010 with is The Levee by Malcolm Shuman, an intriguing mystery rather ala Stand By Me (The Body) by Stephen King.

  8. Awww, your furbabies are so beautiful!! I love when they sleep :) It sounds like you got a good haul of books so enjoy your blogging break. We'll be waiting for you to come on back!

  9. I haven't decided whether or not I'm going to read Drood but I hope you enjoy it and all of your new books (and gift cards!).

    Fade Out by Rachel Caine was the last book I finished in 2009 and I started off the new year with The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews.

  10. Oh, I really enjoyed American Rust when I read it! It feels like so long ago now given how many books I've read since then, but it is a book I still remember and appreciate. Enjoy your blogging break!

  11. I have American Rust, Physick and I should be reading them in 2010. The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan is my first book for 2010.
    I still have to do my year end post. I have been sooo lazy with being off schoo. The irony is that l I think I am more focused when I return to work and have more pressure and less time. Go figure.

  12. Hi Wendy, I finished the year with New Moon (yawn;-) and I am starting it with Shiver. Enjoy your break. I plan to be back for the Sunday Salon next week when I have some real reading under my belt.

  13. Aww :-) Your orange kitty looks a bit like the one that followed us home last month :-D And we have a gray tabby like yours, too ;-) They're both Maggie's kitties, so they're adopted sister and brother :-D

    My last book read in 2009 was Neil Gaiman's graphic novel, The Sandman volume 1, which I still have to review. And my first book this year is Of Bees and Mist, which I've got less than 1/4 to go.

    Enjoy your break! I took mine last week ;-)

  14. I've heard a lot of good things about Columbine, but haven't put it on the wish list yet. I suspect it may happen this year, though.

    I'm glad you mentioned American Rust - I'm on that tour too, but I hadn't put my date on my calendar! Looks like I'll be starting that one soon as well.

    My first read of the year is on my Kindle, and was also my last read of 2009: When Everything Changed by Gail Collins, for the Women Unbound Challenge. It's a history of the late-20th-century women's movement, and I'm fascinated.

    Like you, my work break is over and it's back to the office tomorrow. Sigh. Enjoy your blogging break, Wendy, and hope to see you soon!

  15. Happy New Year to you and thanks for stopping by my blog and leave a kind comment! I look forward to a fun 2010 in the book blogging community.

  16. I ended 2009 reading Hilary Mantel's WOLF HALL, and I am starting 2010 reading Hilary Mantel's WOLF HALL. This is a big book, and not just the number of pages. It's a wonderful historical novel about Thomas Cromwell's role in Henry VIII's first divorce. It won the Man Booker Prize. I am loving it, but it isn't a quick read :)

    I also got THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST for Christmas. My sister's mother in law lives in England and snagged a copy for me, since it's not out in the US until May. Can't wait to jump into that one.

  17. It's hard to change our sheets too!

    Let's see...last book of 2009 I read was Coupland's Generation A and first book of 2010 was Elizabeth's Euberg's Lonely Hearts Club.

  18. Looks like you got some great books for Christmas! Enjoy your break! The last book I read for the year was Sweet Love by Stephanie Strohmeyer and the first book for the new year is The Lacuna by Barbara Kingslover. Happy Reading!

  19. It's so frigid here that I think those cats have the right idea!! Enjoy your break, your Christmas goodies, and all the great reading for 2010!

  20. Alice - I nearly didn't post the picture because the shape the bed's in, but I couldn't resist. :-)

    Nicole (Linus's Blanket) - Thank you!

    Sandy - I'm really looking forward to reading all my Christmas books this year. Drood is a bit daunting because of the size, but I'm excited about getting to it.

    Brittanie - They love to play under the sheets when we're trying to make the bed. They pounce and run--it's like a game to them. :-)

    Elizabeth (Raidergirl) - Haha! I read a couple of pages of Green's book in the store as sort of a taste test and instantly liked the writing. I don't think you have anything to worry about. :-)

    That's the way to do it really--give them books that you want to read too. :-)

    Kathy - I hope you are able to finish it today too, Kathy!

    The cats were having a good time. :-)

    Molly - I'm pretty sure Columbine ended up on my wish list initially because of you. :-)

    The start of the new school term will no doubt have many of you who are teachers busy. I wish you luck and hope everything goes smoothly on the first day back after the break.

  21. Nicola - I'm looking forward to diving into all of them. They sound so good. And I remember how much you liked American Rust. :-)

    The Levee sounds like it will be good. I can't wait to read your review of that one.

    Samantha - Thanks. :-) They know it too. LOL

    Jen (LadyTink) - Thank you. I'm trying to be good and stretch out my spending of the gift cards. We'll see how long it lasts.

    Sounds like you sent the year out in style and brought the New Year in with style as well!

    Meghan - I was a little worried at first that I would find it boring. I don't know where that impression came from--out of no where really. I'm liking it quite a bit so far.

    Wisteria - I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on The Day the Falls Stood Still. I hope to read that one this year as well.

    Isn't it funny the way that works? We have more time while on vacation to get more done, but we don't feel quite up to it until we're back in our regular routines again. And then we don't have as much time to spare. Go figure.

    Kristy - Haha! You liked New Moon that much, eh? I hope you enjoy Shiver better.

    Alisha (Koolaidmom) - I can never resist an opportunity to take a photo of the cats or the dog. The dog's a bit harder because he never stays in place long.

    I can't wait to hear what you think Of Bees and Mist. I've been wanting to read that one too.

  22. Florinda - I'm looking forward to reading Cullen's book and, like you, am aiming to read it this year.

    I look forward to your review of When Everything Changed. I've been following some of the Women Unbound Challenge reviews on other blogs and am quite impressed with the choices out there.

    I hope you have a good week, Florinda.

    Louise - Happy New Year to you too, Louise!

    Karen - Yes, Wolf Hall is a door stopper. I have a copy but haven't had a chance to read it yet. I'm looking forward to it though and am glad you are enjoying it.

    Lenore - Our cats always think it's play time--or time for a nap. LOL Euberg sounds like a good way to start off the year.

    Sheri - Haha! Yes, the next time I may just join them. :-)

    Amused - Thank you! I hope you enjoy the Kingslover book!

    Staci - At least they look comfy. :-) I hope you are staying warm!

  23. You did great this Christmas! Enjoy your reading and have a great 2010!

  24. Enjoy your break, Wendy, and thanks for leaving such wonderful comments throughout 2009.

  25. Gotta love those cats (adorable). Ours like to get under the sheet and blankets when I try to strip the bed or make the bed...LOL

    Hope American Rust is good Wendy, I plan to read it at the end of the month.

    Have a great week.

  26. Enjoy your time off, Wendy! I look forward to your posts this year. :)

  27. Yvonne - Thank you! I am drowning in good books. :-)

    Gavin - Thanks, Gavin. I am so glad to have gotten to know you better this year. Here's to another great year of blogging.

    Diane - Anya is lying next to me in her bed near my desk and I keep leaning over and giving her little nuzzles. They're so cute, especially when they are sleeping.

    So far, American Rust is good. I'll be anxious to read your thoughts on it.

    Carrie - Thanks, Carrie!

  28. I read Columbine earlier this year and it has really stuck with me. I'll be interested to see what you think about it.

  29. A blogging break at the start of the year is a great idea. All the best for 2010!

  30. You've some great books there, Wendy! I can't wait to hear what you'll think of them! :)

    Enjoy your break! We'll be here when you get back! :D

  31. Kathleen - Your reviews was probably one of the ones that helped me decide to read it. I'm looking forward to reading it.

    Beastmomma - It's much needed, let me tell you. I hope you have a great 2010 too.

    Laurel-Rain Snow - I've heard it's good. My husband's reading it right now and enjoying it.

    Melody - Thanks, Melody! I'm excited to read them.

  32. Let's see...the last book I read was Under the Dome. The first book of 2009 is The Things That Keep Us Here but I never did finish Finn so I am still reading that one too.

  33. As for my last and first books, I read American Eve by Paula Uruburu on New Year's Eve and finished it at some point that night, but don't remember if it was before or after midnight, so I'm going to say that it's my first book finished of 2010. The book I read prior to that was Anne Frank: Her Life in Words and Pictures.

    Enjoy your blogging break!

  34. That looks like sheet day at our house!
    Look forward to seeing what you think about American Rust. I've been on the fence about adding it to my reading list.

  35. Ti - I'm glad Under the Dome turned out to be good. Enjoy your reading this year, Ti!

    Alyce - The Anne Frank book sounds like it would be good.

    Stacy - It must be an inherent trait in the cats! LOL

  36. What an adorably sweet picture, Wendy!! It sounds as though you received lots of goodies! I LOVED Drood!! I can't wait to hear what you think of it!

    Enjoy your blogging break - it feels good to take a bit of time off and is so refreshing! I hope you have the most wonderful of years in 2010!! Take care!

  37. April - Thank you, April. I'm really looking forward to Drood. I have a good feeling about that book. :-) I hope you have a great 2010 too!

  38. Hi Wendy!

    Your furballs fit right in with the stuffed animals!

    I'm reading U is for Undertow right now and thoroughly enjoying it! I haven't read an alphabet mystery since M so it's really fun to revisit Kinsey and all her antics.

    Glad to see American Rust arrived safely!

    Have a nice bloggy break (I'm still on mine!) and a wonderful 2010!

  39. I hope you enjoy your blogging break Wendy! I bet you'll have fun with your new books and maybe going out to do a bit of shopping with those cards? :)

  40. Welcome back!
    I'll be curious to hear what you think about "The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane." I was really disappointed in it, to be honest. Ah well... there are other wonderful books out there.

  41. Just wanted to wish you a 2010 filled with love and peace and joy and contentment. (And of course, wonderful books!) I know I don't comment much, but you truly bring a smile to face every time I visit!

  42. The last book I read in 2009 was An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris, the first one I finished in 2010 was The Year of Living Biblically by uh, AJ something. One day I might actually write reviews of them!

  43. I have Drood on my TBR pile! Hoping to get to it this January. Love your gift certificates (I have some too), it's so much fun planning what books to buy with them! Book I ended the year with: hmm, I was reading Death on the Strand by Susanna Gregory, still trying to finish it (i keep falling asleep during it!) and The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke, which I finished today and reviewed! So that would the book I started the year with too. :-D

    Happy New year, Wendy! I've been going through everyone's lists too, adding some new ones to look for this year. It's fun!

  44. Wendy, enjoy your break- you deserve it! Looks like you have some great reading to keep you occupied!

  45. I love that picture Wendy! Hope you have a nice break and are able to relax!

  46. Looks like you got some great books over the holidays! The Man Who Loved Books Too Much has been on my wishlist forever! I hope you enjoy it.

    I ended 2009 with Vampire Haiku and began 2010 with Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy!

    I hope you have a relaxing break!

  47. Lisa MM - They do, don't they? LOL

    My husband's about half way through Grafton's book and says he's enjoying it too.

    I hope you have a great year too.

    Iliana - Thank you. It's nice to get away from the computer for a little while. :-)

    Clea - I'm sorry to hear you were disappointed with Howe's book. I have read mixed reviews of it, but I couldn't resist the subject matter.

    Debi - Thank you, Debi! I hope you have a great New Year.

    Lisa (Books. Life. Lists. - I hope to get to AJ Jacobs book this year. I'm looking forward to that one!

    Susan - You'll get to Drood before me then. :-) I plan to at some point this year, but not quite yet.

    I hope you have a happy New Year too!

    Marie - Thanks! I hope to fit in some reading in between work and a couple of pressing family obligations I've got going on. Fingers crossed!

    Kristie - I like it too--even with the messy bed. LOL

    Serena - I'm looking forward to reading The Man Who Loved Books Too Much. :-)

  48. I will be interested to find out your take on Columbine. I understand the tale wasn't as simple as the "bullied students gone mad" narrative in the media. A few years back, there was a book on the Charles Whitman sniper killings called "A Sniper in the Tower" that provided similar insight.

    I finished the year with a slight -- very slight -- western tale, "The Sundown Chaser" by Dusty Richards. This was the rare book I think would actually be better as a movie, where the Montana trail setting and the wry characters could be brought to life.

    I'm now reading "Carter Beats the Devil" by David Glen Gold. Amazing so far -- historical, magical, mystery tale.

  49. I've been coveting "The Man Who Loved Books Too Much" for months, so have fun with that one! I've also heard that "An Abundance of Katherines" is really good so I can't wait to hear what you think of it.

    The last book I read in 2009 was "The Outlander" by Gil Adamson, which I loved. I haven't finished a book in 2010 yet, but I'm working on it. ;) Happy reading!

  50. I also got the MAN WHO LOVED BOOKS TOO MUCH. Can't wait to hear what you think of it!

    Life by Candlelight

  51. Hi Wendy,

    Happy New-Year and may only good things come your way in 2010

    2009 has been a difficult year for me, things I needed to take care of,and my brother passed last week, very sad.

    Hoping to rejoin my blog friends this year


  52. Happy New Year, Wendy!

    I love the photo of you kitties - is there anything more peaceful than sleeping cats? And they provide the purrfect excuse to not change the sheets!

  53. I was sad that the holidays were over and the usual work/school routines were back in place. Sigh.

    Enjoy all your new books! Happy new year!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  54. You'll be missed if you taken a longer break, but I hope you enjoy that break time and get a good reading done! :)

  55. Wow, you got some great stuff! I read Columbine and it was incredible. It was very in depth and well researched. I also love Wally Lamb, and I have The Man Who Loved Books Too Much out from the library now. Hope you enjoy them!

    Your cats are ADORABLE! I am a total cat person. I have 3 of them. I love orange cats, but none of mine are orange. :( lol

  56. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on Columbine. My library has it on audio, but for some reason I think I want to read it instead. I am a Colorado native and can remember watching this tragedy unfold with my college roommates, so of whom where from the area and trying to check on friends. Such a sad situation!

  57. I had to laugh at your picture of the cats because Buddy is just the same. He lays on the bed and gets all comfy before I can even think about pulling the sheets off and he's none too happy when I do change it. lol.

    Hope you're having a good break.

  58. You did good at Christmas! I wouldn't be able to move those adorable kitties, either!

  59. I hope you're enjoying your blogging break (aside from posting about a million challenge posts--and I'm not done yet!), I have taken a bit of a hiatus too. Love the cats preventing any unneccesary changing of the sheets. ;-)

  60. I adore the photograph. What a good life!

  61. Frances Hunter - I am looking forward to hearing what Cullen came up with in his research for Columbine.

    It is pretty rare when a book would be better as a movie, I agree. Perhaps someone will make a movie of "The Sundown Chaser". Montana's such a beautiful state.

    J.S. Peyton - The little bit I read of Green's book in the store was really good so I've got high hopes for that one.

    I'm eager to read Gil Adamson's book. I'm glad you liked it.

    Amy (Life by Candlelight) - It sounds like the perfect book for a booklover. :-)

    Sylvie - Happy New Year to you too. I look forward to seeing you around the blogosphere. :-)

    Ingrid - Happy New Year to you too, Ingrid. Aren't the kitties adorable?

    I just got back from the vet and found out Anya has anemia. I'm waiting now for the full blood panel to find out what may be causing it. I really hope it's something easy to treat for her sake and ours.

    Anna - I wasn't too keen on jumping back into work either. It's been really busy since the start of the new year too! I'm happy to have a job though--that's what I keep telling myself. :-)

  62. Julia - I haven't gotten much reading done, but I've enjoyed the break. It's been good for me. :-)

    Steph - I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed Columbine. I can't wait to read it. I can't imagine life without cats. :-)

    Melissa - Some books are probably better to read--although I'm sure there are others that come across better on audio. :-)

    The whole incident at Columbine was so tragic.

    Dar - Is it any wonder sometimes the bed goes unmade? It's their way of telling me to relax and have fun, I think. LOL

    Lisa - I hate disturbing them when they look so comfortable.

    Kristen - It's been a nice break, albeit busy. I'm looking forward to coming back next week.

    Nan - I wouldn't mind trading places with one of the cats for a day. :-)


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