Saturday, December 27, 2008

Goals, and Books, and Christmas, Oh My!

I must be thinking about The Wizard of Oz which I watched with my daughter for the first time (hers, not mine) last week. It was a bit nightmare inducing.

I am not usually a Saturday poster, but this is the first time I've been alone in days and days. I love my family, but I'm a true introvert so it's nice to be able to finish my own thoughts in my head for a few moments uninterrupted.

I began 2008 with a couple of goals. I must be afraid of failure, since I never mentioned the main one and only do so now since I have accomplished it. I've only kept track of what I've read since 2003 and each year I've finished more books, but the past couple of years I seemed to hit a plateau and was not able to break 80. So, my goal this year, which was also a goal of 2007 which I did not accomplish, was to read 80 books. One of the books was quite short, more of an article, so I felt I must read 81 to keep myself honest. And I have done it! I have finished 83 books, and I may get to 85. I know many of you read much more than this, but I am really thrilled. The other goal involves this list that I wrote late last year. Funny, it looks just the same outside now! I didn't do quite as well with accomplishing this goal. For the fiction list I've read Cranford, A Fine Balance, Shirley Jackson, and I am reading Elizabeth Taylor now. From the nonfiction list I read Fast Food Nation, and part of Maximum City but put it aside. It was really heavy on modern day India's crime and mafia and I just lost interest.

Christmas. All my lovely books have arrived but sadly our camera was left in Iowa so I will share those when it arrives. One bookish and sad thing that happened on Christmas had to do with my niece. She is 15, not really sure what she's interested in, her only idea for earning money is to marry a rich husband and she hates books. HATES THEM. She was so vehement about this, I wonder if it's just to be contrary, 'you all want me to like books but I won't, so there.' It's really quite sad. I looked through her books in her room and she had some good ones. I suggested Twilight -too long. It's not even that maybe I could buy her some books that she'd like, it's that she wouldn't even bother to try them. I even asked her if I read to her if she'd listen, and she said yes. So maybe it's worth it to read to your teenagers - I don't know. I can understand that the books she is required to read in school are boring and uninteresting to her. I just wish she'd read something, comics, magazines, trashy fiction, whatever. Sigh.

This post is sort of wordy already, but I ought to try to review something before I am interrupted!

Many, many thanks are due to Cath for writing this review of Susan Hill's The Various Haunts of Men. Something about it peaked my interest and I bought it almost immediately. The cover says that it is 'A Simon Serrailler Mystery' which I found a little odd since he seems like a secondary character in this book. The Various Haunts of Men is much more novel than it is a mystery, and that I don't mind at all. The story takes place in the small British town of Lafferton. We get to know various residents of Lafferton, about their history and their lives, and oh! someone has disappeared! and we learn more about Lafferton and oh! someone else has disappeared! Perhaps these disappearances are related. Perhaps we should investigate. If you're looking for a page-turning who-done-it complete with gore this isn't it. If you like a character driven novel in which a murder mystery happens to be taking place - this may be the book for you. I have to say that I really, really liked this. I loved Hill's writing, I loved the small town, and what made this book stand out in my mind is that the people I was getting to know - they were the ones who disappeared. Often it seems someone has been murdered (in murder mystery books) and since we don't 'know' them we don't feel affected by it. In this sort of book, we feel the loss of the characters. I did figure out the perpetrator in this book fairly early on, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book. I'd be interested to know if anyone else has read any from this series. As for me, I've already ordered the second one.



Lezlie said...

Congratulations on exceeding your 80 book goal! And that is always sad to hear about people who hate reading. It's such a completely foreign thought to me. And kudos for getting some "me" time. I could use some of that! :-)


J.L. Danger said...

Tara- that is totally awesome! Good job!

Ti said...

Way to go on exceeding your goal. Bet it feels good!

That's too bad about your niece. I was thrilled to pieces today when my 5-year-old wanted to spend her Christmas money on books. She loaded up the basket and I went to the cash wrap with a big smile on my face.

I truly think sometimes it just comes down to finding the right book. Maybe novels are not her thing. Maybe a graphic novel or short stories would be better for her. Whenever there is someone around me that does not like to read, I always feel it is my mission to figure them out so I know how you feel.

Eva said...

Merry Christmas and congrats on meeting your big goal!!!

Too bad about your niece (those are some interesting career plans, lmao)-maybe books on cd if she's willing to listen to them? I can't believe she won't read magazines w/ all of the fashion ones out there!

I really want to read some Susan Hill soon. :D

Andi said...

Congrats on meeting that goal! I've hit 71 so far this year, and that's way more than usual. Maybe I'll shoot for 80 next year! :)

Sarah said...

Good on you for achieving your goal and reading more than 80 books.

My teenage brother is also a reluctant reader, although I haven't given up hope of changing this. I bought him Slam by Nicholas Hornby for Christmas, which might change his mind.

I've been meaning to try Susan Hill, as I like a good cahracter-based mystery story ala Reginald Hill or P D James.

Melissa said...

Tara, reading 80+ books is an awesome accomplishment! I've only read 28, which is the most I've read since my twins were born 7 years ago. Next year will be much different! :)

Too bad about your niece. That would upset me, too. Maybe she will be a reader in a few years ... ?

Tara said...

Lezlie, thank you! It is a foreign thought to me, too, to dislike reading. I cannot imagine!

J.Danger, thank you!

Ti, thanks ! I'm so glad my daughter loves reading - and grateful too. What a good idea you have for my niece! If anyone is reading this, I'd love suggestions for graphic novels for teenage girls!

Eva, Merry Christmas to you, and thank you! About the career plans - I know!! I wondered when she was younger what she would wind up doing - she's not the easiest kid - and now I'm finding out. She does read some celebrity mags which is better than nothing I guess.

Andi, thanks!

Sarah, thank you! I haven't read the authors you mentioned so will have to check them out. I've never been a big mystery reader and prefer the character-based stories.

Betty and Boos Mommy, thank you! I do hope she will be, I really do.

Chrisbookarama said...


Too bad about your niece though. Maybe it's just a teen thing like you say. Most non-readers I know want to be better readers.

Cath said...

I'm so with you on the *me* time. I'm suffering from that too at the moment. Wednesday will my first free day since Christmas Eve but I have got a couple of freeish weeks coming up in Jan.

It's sad about your neice but, unfortunately, far from rare.

Congrats on reaching your goal of over 80. I always try to get over 70 but have only managed it once and not this year, again.

I'm so pleased you enjoyed The Hill. It was one of my favourite reads of 2008 and I plan to get book 2 from the library next month. I hope it's as good.

Happy New Year to you, Tara!

Nan said...

There are people who simply don't like to or don't want to read. And in my experience, it is rare for a reader to stop or a nonreader to start. There was so much talk about the HP books getting kids to read, but I'm quite sure some kids read them and nothing else. I also think it's hard to find the time for a lot of these kids. Between their myspaces and facebooks and im-ing and texting, and watching tv shows online and getting music, there isn't much free time left for reading. I love all those ads and sayings about reading to your child so that he or she will be a lifelong reader. Well, we read to both our kids, they were both surrounded by all kinds of books, and one is a huge reader and the other very, very rarely reads. Go figure! :<)

Nan said...

Oh, and congrats on your met goal!

bermudaonion said...

Congratulations on reaching your goal. Maybe your niece struggles with her reading?

Tara said...

Chris, thanks! You may be right, and make a very good point, one I hadn't thought of.

Cath,thanks for you comments. I'm so glad you reviewed the Susan Hill book, I also hope the next ones are as good.

Nan, you're right that kids have a million other things to do than read these days, sadly I think. My daughter reads in bed at night, which (naturally!) I think is a great habit to be in, regardless of how busy she is during the day. She's even started waking up in the morning and reading - love that! But you're right, regardless of how people are raised, they're going to be who they're going to be. Thanks for the congrats!

Bermudaonion, thank you, I suspect that she does.