50-Books-in-52-weeks challenge – October reads

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I miss the Amazon link thing that Vox had for posting book covers!

By the end of October I’d finished 51 books this year  – this despite not finishing one single book in the month of September!!  You’d think with all that time in airports and planes I would have, but nope, not one.  I did start one though and it was the first one I finished in October:

***   A Killing Smile:  Christopher G. Moore
First book in the Land of Smiles Trilogy

This book is VERY heavy on detail. Published in 1991 Moore gives his characters many, many textures, layers and secrets. The story is set in Patpong, in the underworld of Bangkok and most of the action occurs in a nightclub where businessmen, gangsters, corrupt police and politicians, pimps and tourists interact with each other and the women who sell themselves.

Lawrence Baring is an LA Attorney who finds papers after his wife’s death suggesting that she never stopped loving another man, Tuttle.  Baring is invited to Bangkok by Tuttle, who intends setting him up to lose something valuable just as he, Tuttle, had lost the girl to Baring many years ago. Set amongst the turmoil of this strange Thai society the story is about the conflict between these two characters and the change in their perceptions of each other.

The novel has a lot of descriptive atmosphere, the characters are introspective and philosophical (the book seemed longer than 270 pages!).  There are many twists and turns and quite frankly when I got to the end I wasn’t really sure what the ending was.

This was not really a metro train book as it required more concentration than I like to give while commuting.  I have since finished the second book in the trilogy (November) and found it much easier going but you need the background of this book first.

*** Private:  James Patterson & Maxine Paetro.            A good commuting book – short chapters; short attention span required. Patterson/Paetro (I wonder how much Patterson actually writes himself)  introduces a new character, Jack Morgan.

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***  Still Missing:   Debut novel by Chevy Stevens.  This is written as a series of psychiatric sessions of a woman who is kidnapped, held captive and forced into routines we’d rather not think about.  It took me a while to get into and then it drifted occasionally but it made a good commuting book.  Interesting plot twist near the end.

*** Bitterroot:  A Novel –   James Lee Burke.                   Billy Bob Holland is an ex Texas Ranger who accidentally killed his best friend in Mexico.  Now Billy Bob, full of guilt, sees L.Q. Navarro’s ghost and has conversations with him which affects his ability to form relationships with the living.   Billy Bob visits old friend Doc Voss in Bitterroot, Montana and gets caught up in Doc’s war with local militia bikers and a mining company.  Billy Bob Holland is the type of character who believes in justice but not necessarily within the law.   This book was 480 pages long but it was a quick read.

**** Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson.   Keilson is a German Jew who survived WWII hiding in Holland.   This book is one of two novels Keilson began writing during the war – the other is Death of the Adversary which is on my to-read pile.  After the war Keilson became a psychiatrist and published the first systemic study of the trauma children experienced under Nazi persecution.

This book is about a Dutch couple agreeing to hide a Jewish man who dies whilst they are sheltering him. It is only from the couple’s point of view; we never find out anything about the man, what he is thinking or feeling.  There is really nothing humorous about the story but there is plenty of irony and black absurdest comedy.  It is a short book (144 pages), it’s lean, engaging and well worth reading.

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30 responses

    • I do most of my reading on the train coming home from work; now that the weather is getting colder I will spend more lunchtimes in the office reading too. It will be too cold to ride your Harley soon….. 🙂

  1. Great reviews!! I agree with you about the James Patterson book, “Private.” I miss the days when he actually wrote the books himself. They seem like quick reads now, with lots of space on the pages, and very short chapters.

    That is wonderful that you have read 51 books! Impressive 🙂

    • I think that the text is much bigger too. I think it’s a shame when authors start churning out so many books a year that they use others to do most of the writing. There have been a few that I’ve stopped reading because of that – actually this was the first Patterson book I’ve read in a while and I only did because someone at work lent me the book.

  2. damn, you didn’t read at all on your trip, none in Sept and you still read 51 books already? Holy moly! Of course, I’d have a few more read if I rode public transportation to work, but not that many, still. That was pretty much how I started reading on a regular basis, when I got a job in Philly in 1987 and needed something to kill time on the commute on the bus & train. I just signed up for Goodreads the other day and have been adding all the books I’ve read over the years. Nothing else in my life is in order, but I’ve faithfully written down every book I’ve read since 1987.
    I do miss that amazon linky too!

    • Yeah, riding the trains is a huge advantage to meeting this challenge. If I had to rely on reading just at home I think I’d be struggling. I always read when I hop into bed but sometimes that might only be a few pages and on the weekends I like to read in the mornings before I get up. A few others have mentioned Goodreads – I must look into it. I’m impressed that you’ve recorded your reads since 1987! Wow! I wish I’d been that organised as it would’ve prevented a few of the re-reads I’ve accidentally done in thinking I’d not read a book until I got a quarter or more into it! LOL. This is the first time (since Jan 2010) that I’ve kept a note of books read. Hopefully I’ll continue with the list….

  3. i had the same comment, about the Vox book link, a week or so ago. didn’t use it much but it was sure nice to have!

    I finished David Brynes’ “Bicycle Diaries” last night. I liked it. Unusual but good.

    • That link was so easy; type in the book name, click on the image and insert. Now I have to find the book on Amazon, save it as an image; find where I saved it; upload it to my media section and then insert. I’m probably doing it the longest way possible LOL.

      I’ll look into Bicycle Diaries. I haven’t read the other book you sent me yet. I have it in a drawer at work to start one lunchtime – as the weather gets colder I’ll be spending my lunch hours in the office.

  4. I never knew Vox had a book link thing. I just use the photo’s URL to post on WP.

    Do you think you’ll keep this reading goal next year? I’ve been in a bit of a reading funk lately. I haven’t read anything that has really grabbed me so my motivation is lacking. And because I’ve reached the 50 book goal I feel like I can slack. 😉

    • Yeah, Vox had a really easy way to find book covers and insert them into the post; here on WP I’ve probably just used the most round about way! LOL. Yes, I feel that I can slacken off a bit too now but I would have to find something else to fill in the time riding the train home. I think that I will continue recording what I am reading – it makes a good record and might prevent me wasting time starting on books that I’ve already read and forgotten.

  5. I miss the Vox linky thing with amazon too. 😦 Though someone told me it’s not that hard to copy and paste the book covers from Amazon onto WP.

    It’s finally curl-up-with-a-book season out here, so I’ll check out your recommendations. I usually prefer something a bit heavier in the cold months, though. Mysteries and thrillers are for the summer, when I’m outside and want a book that doesn’t mind if you lose your place in the plot, lol.

    • I tried copying and pasting into the compose box and it didn’t work – just gave me some funky code or numbers …. probably something I did wrong – I will try it again next month.

      I think two of October’s reads would be considered “heavier” – A Killing Smile and Comedy in a Minor Key. You might also like Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada which I read a few months ago.

      The sort of books that don’t mind if you lose your place in the plot are the ones I like for my train rides. I’m such a big sticky beak, spending so much time looking at, and listening to, the people around me that I often lose the plot! 🙂

  6. Bitterroot sounds intriguing! As well as Killing Smile, sounds dark and eerie. Thanks for those. It’s funny, I can’t read any books most of the time if people are chattering. Although on the subway maybe it turns into white noise.

    • I keep the “heavier” books for night-time reading when it’s quiet. I am such a people watcher (eaves-dropper!) on the trains that I find it difficult to concentrate on the more literary works.

  7. I always have good intentions of reading 50 books a year…..my problem is I try and do it when I go to bed, and after 2 pages I fall asleep….must work on another plan. Thanks for the reviews.

    • I primarily started this as a way of making sure I recorded what I read. I knew that I read a lot over a year but had never counted before and this ensured I would. It will be interesting to see how many I complete in the year. I have the same issue with falling asleep in the middle of a page at night-time – luckily I have train rides each day when I can catch up.

  8. What did I read in the last 52 weeks? Not many. So your number is both a surprise and envy. I am that in-bed reader myself, only to find a book lying on the floor every morning with a few pages progress. LOL
    I think I must try some other way to promote my reading while looking forward to the report of your additional number in the year.

    • Hi Magnifika, I think the challenge was originally started as a way to encourage youngsters to read more but has been adopted by adults who’ve also added 75 and more books(!!) to the challenge! I used to wake up and find my glasses all twisted around my ears – now I ask the manservant that if he finds me asleep to please take the glasses off!

  9. I’ve missed reading about your book reading! Maybe at the beginning of the year I’ll finally try it out myself. At my new blog, there’s a list function that allows you to put in media titles and it adds the Amazon links, and I started one but then got too busy to keep updating it. This would give me a reason to do that weekly.

    I have no idea how many books I’ve read over the past year. More rereads than new ones, though.

    • Hi Merbelle! This has been a good way of recording what I read – I knew that I read quite a lot (an advantage of a daily train commute) but I didn’t know how many until I started writing them down. I’m hoping that I will continue it every year now – at least it should stop me from getting books that I’ve already read; I quite often remember books by their covers and find that as books are reissued/re-released/republished etc they come out with a new cover and it’s only when I’ve read a chapter that I realize it’s a book I’ve already read!

  10. Pingback: 50 books in 52 weeks challenge – December 2010 Books. | Aussieemjay's Blog

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