Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #37 -- The Most Recent Books I've Read

Thirteen Books


Has Read in 2007

(I Enjoyed 12)

As luck would have it, I just finished the 13th book I've read this year. That inspired me to steal this idea from Thomma Lyn, who did the very same TT on October 4. I’m sure she’s honored, since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

1. Where There’s a Will by Rex Stout. This Nero Wolfe mystery is a joy. I loved it as a whodunit and as a period piece, a stylish valentine to long-ago Manhattan. Oh, and there’s that desperate crush I have on narrator Archie Goodwin. What made this even more charming is I got this particular edition at our local book fair for 25¢. It’s an original paperback from 1940. I love the cover, with the hot pink and bright yellow type against the black background and the illustration of a femme fatale.

2. Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi. Another murder mystery, this one solved once and for all by the passionate former prosecutor. Not at all exploitive, it’s a serious, important work. I must admit I’m not done with it yet. It’s massive – more than 1600 pages. It’s beside my bed and it’s taking months but I’m chipping away at it slowly but surely. Maybe I should rethink when I turn to it, as this isn’t exactly the stuff of sweet dreams, is it?

3. Last Chance Saloon by Marion Keyes. I loved this book. A warm and affectionate story of three long-time friends who move from small-town Ireland to London in search of romance and success. The characters are carefully drawn and believable, and the plot took some unexpected but credible twists. Yes, it’s chick lit. But it’s chick lit of a high order, and at times it really touched me.

4. The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton by Joe Klein. The 1990s feel so long ago. Pre-9/11, the world and the political landscape were completely different than they are today. Klein is careful to place Bill Clinton, his accomplishments and failures, in the proper (and fair) context.

5. Bookends by Jane Green. This novel started strong – introducing us to a group of friends at the beginning of their university careers – but then ran out of gas after they graduated. It’s harmless, but there are so many better books out there I don’t recommend you spend your time on this one.

6. The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown. I observed the Dianaversary by reading this detailed biography. It’s hardly a love letter to the Princess, as it details her infidelities and petty publicity ploys. But as I was finishing it, I still felt great compassion for her. I don’t know if it’s because of Brown’s writing or Diana’s spirit, but I kept hoping that last night in Paris would end differently for her.

7. Spare Change by Robert B. Parker. A Sunny Randall mystery. I have a love/hate relationship with Parker. What he does well – unusual plotlines, spare dialog, and action – he does very, very well. But his attitude toward women can be soooo exasperating, and it’s never more obvious than when he writes a female heroine.

8. Angels by Marion Keyes. Not as stong as Last Chance Saloon, but still warm, funny and entertaining. A Dublin divorcee runs off to Southern California to heal. It’s filled with amusing, astute observations about LA, as well as about love, sex, friendship and forgiveness.

9. High Profile by Robert B. Parker. A Jesse Stone mystery. Everything I wrote about Spare Change (#7) applies here. It isn’t that I didn’t like it, really. It’s just that I found some aspects positively infuriating. I wonder why I stick so stubbornly with Parker when he so often disappoints me.

10. Short and Tall Tales by Lilian Jackson Braun. A brief, completely adorable history of Moose County written in the voice of Braun’s “Cat Who” narrator, James Mackintosh Qwilleran. I am 110% City Mouse, and would never even consider living “400 miles north of everywhere.” But I certainly enjoy visiting this corny, imaginary rural haven.

11. Camelot at Dawn: Jacqueline and John Kennedy in Georgetown, 1954 by Ann Garside. The Senator and his new bride open their home to a magazine photographer. The b/w photos show one of American history’s most famous couples in a more innocent, more unguarded way than we would ever see them again.

12. Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers by Elizabeth Edwards. This book, written before the recurrence of her breast cancer, had a tremendous impact on me. Not really about politics, it’s Mrs. Edwards explaining how the death of her son taught her to open up and reach out to others. Her reminiscences about those horrible days are shockingly, breathtakingly honest. She got through to me and encouraged me to have the strength to be vulnerable. I’m grateful.

13. I Feel Bad about My Neck by Nora Ephron. Nora is the wise, witty and wonderful older sister I always wanted. She writes essays about aging, treating everything from facial hair to love and money with her own brand of gentle, sophisticated humor. I finished it quickly and Nora left me wanting more.

PS -- Do you like the new banner? I got it from Harlekwin.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Ellen B's TT is both spiritual and visual

2. Chelle Y takes us shopping

3. Works for Mom gives us 13 facts that we'll want to work into conversation to impress our friends

4. Nicholas revisits his book shelf and comes up with 13 (more) books with one-word titles

5. Malcolm bravely shares his musical guilty pleasures

6. Susan Helene Gottfried lets us watch Kerri pack for a road trip

7. L-Squared gets inside the heads of some adorable critters

8. Damozel has examples of bureaucratic waste that will make you laugh, cringe and scream

9. No Nonsense Girl had a roller coaster week and she recounts it for us

10. Writing in Faith finds the beauty in street art

11. Lori shares 13 of her favorite songs

12. Harlekwin (creator of my new banner) vents about her 13 pet peeves

13. Janet shares 13 of her recent Halloween photos

14. Claudia's TT is 13 reasons why she's glad that paparazzi don't follow her

15. Wolfie's personality is revealed through 13 tests

16. Hootin' Ani has 13 terrific Halloween recipes

17. PJ lists 13 popular teen TV shows

18. Bloggers quotes from Napoleon Dynamite

19. Carrie Lofty lists 13 unusual titles

20. Sparky Duck takes flight with 13 faeries

21. Joy Is My Goal has a bright and brilliant TT

22. Samantha K brings the game of Clue to life

23. Laura shares her 13 all-time favorite movies

24. Bermudabluez lists her 13 favorite TV shows

25. Go to Denise's Den to see 13 works by her favorite artist, Franz Xaver Winterhalter

26. Vixen tells us 13 reasons why she blogs

27. Mama Pajama recommends some soundtracks for your listening pleasure

28. Karen has a highly admirable TT

29. Nicole's TT is all TT's!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


I'm not sick exactly. I just feel crappy. Scratchy throat, achy, weak … Can't sleep because of the lovely cough I just developed. I turned on the TV and believe I heard that the Banquet Pot Pies I just bought cause salmonella. (But how can that be? Is there anything on earth more benign than a Banquet Pot Pie?)

Then I logged on and discovered that Tina gave me this award for making her smile.

Well, Tina, thank you so much for making me smile when I feel so icky!