The Sunday Salon - Mid-Year Report Card

The Sunday Salon.comGood Sunday morning everyone. I hope you're enjoying your weekend. On June 30th I read my 50th book of the year – since my 2008 goal is 100, I’m right on target (though I was hoping for a little padding). Here’s a synopsis of the best and the worst and the somewhere in between. (For a complete list of my 2008 reads, see the sidebar at right.)

My picks for the best reads (in no particular order):

  • Chocolat by Joanne Harris
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Gardens of Water by Alan Drew (Early Reviewers copy - my review)
  • In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (non-fiction; my review)
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (graphic novel - my review)
  • Year of Wonders: a Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
  • Interpreter of Maladies (stories) by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Wild Life by Molly Gloss (my review)
  • Small Island by Andrea Levy (my review)
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
  • The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  • The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

Also recommend

  • Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively (my review)
  • The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell (non-fiction; my review)
  • Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
  • Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
  • At Mrs. Lippincote's by Elizabeth Taylor
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire (my review)

Disappointed in:
  • The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich – I love Erdrich's writing and couldn’t wait to dive into this. I thought it was great until the last 50 pages or so and IMO it just fell apart.
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (audio) - overrated. Much of it was about Krakauer.
  • Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson – silly story, not all that well written.
  • The Gathering by Anne Enright – bleak novel, good writing, just not a good read. Much attention to male body parts. This won the Booker Prize – there's no accounting for taste.

Waste of natural resources:

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – I really do not understand the fuss about this book. I’ve been told it’s much better in its original Portuguese.
  • Digging to America by Anne Tyler – I am apparently NOT an Anne Tyler fan. I thought this was dreadful.
  • Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah (Early Review book) – this was an appallingly bad book.

Classics read for the first time:

  • War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  • Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
  • The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
It's been an amazing reading year so far; the second half promises to be every bit as good.



Jill said...

A great wrap-up! I just bought Mudbound and am glad to see you enjoyed it too. I hope to read it after Orange July (I wonder if Mudbound was released in the U.K. Maybe a future winner?).

I love how you end your posts with ###. The PR girl in me smiles and wonders if people know what the ### mean.

Enjoy your Sunday!


Anonymous said...

One of the things I love about readers is how different we all are. There are books that you've loved that I loved as well, but equally there are some there that I loathed. And the same is true of those you disliked. Thanks goodness we're all different.

Seachanges said...

Great list and I have also got some of your best reads on my favourites. I do like Anne Tyler though I agree that Digging to America was a bit thin, in comparison with her other books. Nevertheless, I like her style. Anna Karenina, absolutely great and on my to re-read list for the Russian Challenge!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I just applaud you for finishing War and Peace. That right there would have taken me six months to read. As it is, I'm reading a much shorter (only 522 pages) book in Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe and it's already taken me a month to get 120 pages.

Terri said...

LOL Jill -- mostly I started doing it to create a little space between the last line and the post info.

table talk -- curious what books you felt differently about!

seachanges-- I'm not sure what I'm missing with Tyler, some people love her writing. What is it about her style that you like?

readingfool - it did take me a few months to read War and Peace, but I read other things as well. Not sure that was wise, I got out of the flow and sometimes had a hard time getting back to it. Still, it was a great read.

Wendy said...

Great wrap up, Terri! I actually love Anne Tyler books (although I have not yet read Digging to America...but, as you know, it is on my shelf TBR!)

Literary Feline said...

I was hoping to read 100 books this year but am doubtful now I will make it. I'm okay with that though. It was a wild sort of dream anyway. :-)

You have read some wonderful books so far this year. Many of those you list are ones I hope to read in the future.

Irish said...

Great list...and kudos to making it to the half way point. I am just under the mark. I need to step up if I'm gonna make a hundred by years end.

Keep up the good work! =)

Andi said...

Great job! I loved several of your favorites you mentioned--especially Hugo Cabret!

BooksPlease said...

I'm catching up with reading the Sunday Salon posts! I'd hoped to read 100 books this year too but at the half-way stage I'd only got to 44 - still not too bad.

Like others who've commented I've read and loved some of the books you've read.

I agree about The Alchemist - in my view it's a very slight book, obviously I'm too shallow to appreciate it! But I did like Digging to America, although I've only read a few of Anne Tyler's books most of which I haven't liked much.

I have The Gathering but have hesitated about reading it because it does sound very bleak - I can't say the attention to male body parts is encouraging me to start it!

I loved Anna Karenina and War and Peace.

S. Krishna said...

That is a great list of books to have read in half a year! Congrats!

And yes, the Wimbledon final was COMPLETELY worth not reading for - I literally thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest!! It was such a great match!

Sarah said...

That's quite a list! Like you, I'd highly recommend The Road, Interpreter of Maladies, Half of a Yellow Sun, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and anything by Tolstoy or Atwood.

I was disappointed in Miss Pettigrew lives for a day but enjoyed Digging to America. It's simply written, but I believed in its characters and all their ups and downs.