Meredith's Challenge 2.0

52 books, one year. Stay tuned for more details.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

#38 The World of Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

So sorry it's been so long. There was this monster of a collection to get through, Halloween costume planning (can't tell it's a secret, but it's fantastic), house decorating, I Want a Truce-ing and a Weezer concert. Whew! And it's almost the end of the month and I am way behind.
First off: I heart Jeeves! And I totally and completely blame the boy for this. He insisted that we watch the BBC series and then he bought this and didn't read it. I didn't want the poor book to wither away sad and lonely, so I picked it up in a moment of pity and was stuck with it until I finished the darn thing.

Jeeves and Wooster are very funny in small doses, in large doses, even I almost OD'ed on its Britishness. As some people insist, I am a confirmed Anglophile. Wooster's language is hysterical, randomly shortening words to their first letter (a little egg and b. for breakfast?) , the crazy nicknames his friends have, and the crazy way he ends almost every sentence with "what!" Jeeves has a fantastic dry wit and always knows what it going on with everything and everybody. Quite a talent and very helpful in getting Bertie and his friends out of their ridiculous predicaments, which seem never ending. My favorite story was the one narrated by Jeeves, the title escapes me for the mo. I loved knowing what was going on in his head.
I don't know much about Wodehouse, but it definitely seemed to me that he was constantly pointing out how ill-fitting Bertie is for the aristocracy while clearly Jeeves is the one who ought to be in control. He is more diplomatic and clever than a hundred Woosters. Political commentary maybe? This is just the collection of all of the short stories and there are novels too. I can't imagine a whole novel about Wooster making a mess of things and Jeeves cleaning up after him. Any Wodehouse fans around who want to come to PG's defense?

I hope all of you have a fantastic Halloween. Eat lots of candy, be a little crazy and stay safe.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

More Lists!

Here are the top 100 books published since 1923, according to Time. I know I've been doing a lot of this stuff lately, but I can't help it, I'm fascinated by lists. Below are the ones that I've read (or tried to)

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret Judy Blume
Beloved Toni Morrison (yay!)
The Blind Assassin Margaret Atwood (huzzah!)
Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh
The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
The Corrections Jonathan Franzen (boo! hiss!)
The Crying of Lot 49 Thomas Pynchon (ugh)
Gone With the Wind Margaret Mitchell (blech)
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald (darn tootin')
Housekeeping Marilynne Robinson (this is fantastic)
Lord of the Flies William Golding
The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien (does it count if I read half?)
1984 George Orwell
The Painted Bird Jerzy Kosinski (Just thinking about this, makes me shudder, 6 years later)
Possession A.S. Byatt (soon!)
Ragtime E.L. Doctorow
The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner (oh lord, I tried twice)
Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
White Teeth Zadie Smith (really?)

Let me know how you do. I'm also trudging my way through an insanely long collection of short stories, no thanks to the boy. Until I learn all there is to know about Jeeves and Wooster, fare ye well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

#37 The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

I'd heard good things about Bookseller, then there was the controversy about the family's patriarch being angry at Seierstad for portraying the family in a negative light, apparently I now have a thing for books about Afghanistan, which I was debating with myself if it was about Afghanistan or Iran, berating myself for being so ignorant as to not know which the book was about and this is a fantastic run-on sentence, if I do say so myself.

So, I read this and um, I don't know how I feel about it. I think its a fascinating premise, and it's pretty incredible that the author was allowed to move in with the family and shadow its members. I felt bad for everyone, except the family patriarch, the women and men. The women have very little in the way of personal freedom, they can't leave the house without permission, can't go to school, find a job, marry who they wish, spend time how they want with whom they want. Despite, the fact that the Taliban is no longer in power, the women are still afraid of what will happen to them if they don't act the way that is expected of them. And with good reason, the women who act outside of tradition are murdered by their family members. The young men in the family are just as subserviant to the patriarch, they have to do whatever he wants, however he wants, whenever he wants, or face his wrath and possible disowning. Everyone in Bookseller is afraid. I guess it comes with the territory of living in unstable country that has had decades of civil war and multiple political upheavals in a very short amount of time.

I know that this is about real people but I feel like the multiple threads of stories were just too much to follow at once, especially since they don't really come together in the end. I really wanted to know more about Leila, the youngest daughter and I feel like Seierstad really wanted to focus on her too, but kind of dropped the ball along the way. Leila's story is the most compelling, but the reader doesn't find out what really happens to her in the end. The book just ends, with no real conclusion and the afterward doesn't help. I liked The Kite Runner much more in this regard, even though that is mostly fiction I thought it was better constructed and more heartfelt.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Banned Books Week

So, last week was Banned Books week. I missed it! Here is a list of the top 100 banned books from 1990-2000, list taken from the ALA. How many have you read?

Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
Forever by Judy Blume
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Giver by Lois Lowry
It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Sex by Madonna
Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
The Goats by Brock Cole
Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
Blubber by Judy Blume
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
Final Exit by Derek Humphry
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
Deenie by Judy Blume
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
Cujo by Stephen King
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
Fade by Robert Cormier
Guess What? by Mem Fox
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Native Son by Richard Wright
Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Jack by A.M. Homes
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
Carrie by Stephen King
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
Family Secrets by Norma Klein
Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
The Dead Zone by Stephen King
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
Private Parts by Howard Stern
Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
Sex Education by Jenny Davis
The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Only 28! I need to catch up. Also, I think I'm doing something right if my favorite book is in the top 100.

Friday, October 07, 2005


I know this one doesn't count but I just devoured all of Clotilde's blog Chocolate and Zucchini. I added it to my links list and I highly recommend it. Don't read it if you're hungry though. It'll make you want all sorts of Parisian food, that I'm sure will be very difficult if not impossible to find anywhere else. Bon appetit!