Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pen Pal Update

So, since I owe almost all of my pen pals a letter at this point (Christmas cards that arrive late from me or with postage due do not count), this is a perfect time, instead of getting to that letter-writing, to post my end-of-year musings on the 2009 Pen Pal Experiment.

  • I wasn't sure how this experiment was going to work, or if it would work at all. I can now see that it has worked beautifully, as far as I am concerned, and that I still consider it to have been my best new idea of 2009. This has not been the best of years for me, and it has been wonderful to engage in the art of letter-writing, to get to know new people, and to correspond with old friends in a new way. I need that during trying times.
  • I've discovered that I'm less-inclined to comment on every single blog post my pen pals write (although I often still do). I didn't think that letter-writing would be that different from blogging and commenting and occasionally emailing people, but it has been. It's far more intimate, and I find it much more satisfying than merely commenting on blog posts.
  • I've learned that I should not have promised to send everyone twelve letters in one year. I don't think a single pen pal received that many letters from me. That's because I also learned that I can't send letters unless I am getting some sort of response. Unlike blogging, which is like writing anything for a general audience, letter-writing is very specific. Each of my pen pals and I address things that are of interest to the two of us that might not be of interest to anyone else, and we also address more personal stuff not appropriate for blogging. We ask each other questions and respond. I can't keep writing if I don't get responses. Also, there is that tiny bit of paranoia that if someone I don't know very well doesn't respond, did I do or say something that offended or hurt him or her, and if I did, does he or she want to hear from me ever again? That basically means that each of my pen pals got however many letters equalled his or her responses to mine.
  • Thanks to Mandarine's brilliance and a discussion with Ms. Musings, I figured out that I could solve the old forgot-what-I-wrote-in-my-last-letter problem by creating drafts and then copies. First, I did this by typing up my letters on the computer, printing them out, and then copying them over by hand onto nice stationery. I would slip the printed version into the envelope with my pen pal's last letter, so it would be handy when their next letter arrived, and I could refer back to it if needed. However, when I discovered I was typing up letters, letting them sit in the computer for 2 weeks, and copying out old news that no longer mattered, I came up with a better solution. Why on earth have photocopiers if they aren't to be used for copying letters? So, now I just photocopy my hand-written letters before sending them.
  • I'm a stationery-aholic. I kept telling myself I would use up old stationery before buying new, but now that I have this great excuse to use stationery, I cannot resist looking at it whenever I happen to be somewhere that sells it. And, well, once I start looking, it doesn't take too long to take the big leap to buying.
  • You know how when you watch old movies, people keep their letters all tied up in nice bundles? I thought this was a terrific idea, so I went down to the Amish bookstore (which is also a craft store. Oh, and which also happens to sell stationery) and bought some ribbon -- a different ribbon for each pen pal. I tie each one's letters up with his/her ribbon and keep them all in a drawer designated for this purpose. One day, when I find what I am looking for, I will buy some sort of pretty storage basket for them.
  • I didn't think to send gifts to any of my pen pals, but two of mine sent me Christmas gifts and one sent me a birthday present. How nice that was! I'm terrible when it comes to sending such gifts on time, but I'm thinking it might be nice to surprise my pen pals occasionally with little gifts.
  • When I am fantasizing, I sometimes wonder: if I ever become a famous author, which of my pen pals will put up these embarrassing letters on ebay for sale? Conclusion? None! My pen pals are all fabulous. I love them all. I'm not kidding. You should be exchanging letters with them.

In 2010, I'd like to add 2 more pen pals, so if you are interested, please leave me a comment, and after the new year, I will draw 2 more names out of the hat.

And now, I am taking some time off blogs and blogging until after the new year, so everyone: Happy, Happy New Year! I hope yours is full of great health, great friends, great books, and great blogs. I'll "see" you in 2010, when I will kick off with my annual list of best and worst reads of July-Dec. 2009 and my 2009 reading statistics.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my blogging friends who celebrate! Mine will be merry as soon as I get over the disappointment that, apparently, most of the Christmas cards I sent out this year (which were late by my standards to begin with, due to the fact that I was sick all week last week) are going to be returned to me with postage due. Either that, or (horrors) delivered with postage due to my friends. How come nobody tells you that if you want to mail a square envelope, even if it weighs no more than a letter-sized envelope, you have to pay 20 cents extra in postage? Well, if that's something you didn't know, it's my little Christmas gift to you. Spread the word to others.

And now, I think, it's time to go make some egg nog!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Talking a Good Game While Losing My Coat

I talk a good game. Ask me about professional book reviewers these days, and I am likely to say, "Oh, what a bunch of whining, egotistical babies, feeling threatened because they are nowhere near as discerning, articulate, thoughtful, and clever (although they try to be. Oh, man, do they try) as the book bloggers I choose to read over most of them." Some might say it's just sour grapes on my part, that I've been pissed off by bad reviews of some of the books I've edited, and although there may be a grain of truth to that, the reality is that the sorts of people who review the sorts of books I edit (librarians and academics, mostly, who do not make their livings reviewing books) are not the same thing as snobby, "oh-so-clever" professional book reviewers, all Dorothy Parker wannabes, who will always want and never be, because they lack her key ingredients: heart and passion.

Besides, more often than not, I have found myself surprised by good reviews of the books I've edited. There have been those manuscripts that I have put into production while holding my nose and praying for copyediting miracles (I'm convinced Jesus must have been an acquisitions editor, not a carpenter, as has been long-believed, since this prayer seems to be granted every time I pray it), because deadlines were looming. I had absolutely no time to go back to the author and get him or her to write to my standards, especially since he or she could not write "My name is Sam" without making it sound like a PhD thesis on the evolution of the name Sam as discovered by ancient scrolls whose discourse bears a striking (albeit, at times, tenuous) resemblance to some ancient etchings in caves, etchings that anthropologists have traced to a little-known culture that might be related to Native Alaskans, those from a particular tribe that immigrated from...(oh, did you fall asleep? I'm sorry). Anyway, somehow, the book manages to be picked up by the only reviewer in the world who finds it fascinating and highly recommends it for all libraries. (Or maybe the copyeditor got rid of all those run-on sentences and managed to persuade the author to add some paragraphs on Sam's sex life. By the time the book is published, I'm too tired to read it through again thoroughly to find out.)

Anyway, maybe sour grapes are my problem. You see, when it comes to professional reviewers, it's not the books I've edited that matter. It's the authors I love who matter. Time-and-again, I've been disappointed to read a bad review of the newest book from Beloved Author. Then, I will read the book myself and wonder what drugs the reviewer was taking the night he wrote about it. In fact, I almost always disagree with the "experts" when it comes to books by my favorite authors.

Let's take a look at some of the contemporary authors I've been reading for years. I started my love affair with John Irving at age fifteen when I read The World According to Garp. That's a great book, but reviewers tend to hold it up as the shining example of John Irving at his best. I, on the other hand, find myself thinking, "Thank God he evolved beyond that book." I'll never forget how the experts disparaged A Prayer for Own Meaney (a book I find far superior to Garp). Yes, it was a weird book (Irving is weird -- not one of his more endearing traits, no, but it's a fact. You need to know that before you decide to write about one of his books and -- cleverly -- note it. It's common knowledge. No review of an Irving book should include the words "weird" or "grotesque" unless they are used to explain Irving to someone who might be a first-time reader). A Prayer for Own Meaney, however, made me laugh out loud far more than any of his other books ever has, and that ought to count for something. Reviewers don't seem to admire much those books that evoke the most emotion: make us cry or laugh out loud, and a book immediately lowers itself in the esteem of so many professional reviewers. What is a book for, though, if not to elicit emotion? Those who can do so (especially make us belly laugh, which is so difficult to do), ought to be commended (I mean, as long as they are not resorting to maudlin or trite techniques).

Speaking of laughing, let's take a look at David Sedaris. Why do all the critics so adore Dress My Family in Corduroy and Denim? Granted, there is no such thing as a bad Sedaris collection. However, when I started reading When You Are Engulfed in Flames, a far superior collection that proves Sedaris is perfecting his craft instead of coasting downhill the way so many 21st-century writers do, to which Dress just can't hold a candle, I was filled with the desire to take When up to the offices of The New York Times and blind Michiko Kakutani with a spotlight shone on its pages (of course, if I blind her, then she will never be able to see how wrong she was to assert that Dress is superior to When).

Half the time, I am convinced that reviewers don't really read the books. How can they? Think how many books they are sent on any given day. Consider deadlines. Consider editors breathing down their necks (only because the marketing and sales folks are breathing down their necks, not because editors, as a rule, tend to be neck-breathing, impatient monsters). Maybe it's unfair to compare them to my book blogging friends, people who are reading books at their leisure. Many book bloggers I've read talk about marking up their books and/or taking notes. They take the time to make connections (sometimes very personal connections that shed fascinating insights on the work). I would far rather read a book blogger's take on a favorite author's newest work than a professional reviewer's take.

But then (and here is where I lose that good game I was talking. I bet the coat off my back in this game, and well, here I am, freezing to death) the "Holiday Books" edition of the The New York Time's Book Review section arrives, as it did the week before last in this house. There I sit, poring over its pages, reliving the year, adding titles to my TBR tome, ignoring the husband whining about how he'd like to have a look. I ask him please to lend me his coat and I'll be done with it in a few hours (or maybe it's days...).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Killing Two Birds with One Stone: First TBR Challenge Book and Mystery Book Club Discussion Book

Rinehart, Mary Roberts. The Yellow Room. New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1945.

(Yet again, I present you with a picture of an edition I did not read, because I suppose there is a picture somewhere of the edition I read, but I'll be damned if I can find it -- especially when I've been fighting a nasty virus all week and am even more extraordinarily impatient than usual. This should serve as a warning to you that I was anything but patient with this book).

Okay, so I am beginning to wonder if I shouldn't just shun all mysteries that present me with the letter "M" in some way as a clue. After all, this is the second mystery we've read this year for the Connecticut mystery book club featuring the letter "M" as a clue that had me frustrated (when I wasn't yawning), not caring in the least "whodunit," long before I was anywhere near getting an answer to that question.

And this one had such promise. Not only had my mother recommended it to me (granted, she probably hasn't read it since 1945, but still...), but I was also very happy to discover that it was set in Maine. I generally like these tales that take place in coastal Maine, tales that highlight the differences between the locals and the "summer people." Such books tend to be some of the best for exploring the American class system (those and books about Charleston, SC).

The promises were not kept, and I was bored almost from the beginning of this book, which moved more slowly than a paddle boat across Bar Harbor (and was just about as arduous to maneuver). No one could accuse this one of being a page-turner. I found myself taken back to that forgettable Ngaio Marsh we read with all the wearying investigation that led nowhere. This book should have taken me no time to read. Instead, it seemed to have some sort of "two-pages-forward-one-page-back" spell cast on it, as I read and read and read and wondered if I'd ever reach the end.

I found Carol, our heroine, who had lost her fiance to the war in Europe, and who I had hoped would be more interesting when I met her on the train from New York to Newport, RI with her disagreeable mother, to be wimpy and tiresome. She was the sort of woman you meet at a party and instantly forget. What Jerry Dane, her male counterpart, and our detective, found in her, I'll never know. I suppose she was meant to be attractive, but don't most smart men become bored with mere good looks after a while? It seemed he had to explain absolutely everything to her. Wouldn't that get kind of old?

One thing that amused me was the passage that described Carol's appearance. Litlove recently wrote a brilliant post on chick lit, and although this novel does not fall into that contemporary category, rather than Litlove's description being a parody, this one seemed like a parody of the technique authors use to give the reader a portrait of a heroine. Quite obviously, this technique is old and worn. I'd say it's about ready for the Goodwill. (Then again, maybe it's being sold at some trendy boutique for $250, and twenty-somethings everywhere are drooling over its fashionably "distressed" look and wishing they could afford it.)

There she lit a cigarette and surveyed herself in the mirror. What she saw was an attractive face, rather smudged at the moment, a pair of candid gray eyes, heavily lashed, and a wide humorous mouth which had somehow lost its gaiety. (p. 7)
(The editor in me wants to change that "which" to a "that," something that probably wouldn't bother me at all had I come away from this book waxing poetic.)

Anyway, Carol arrives at her family's summer home in Maine only to discover that there is a body in the linen closet (of all places). This discovery could have made her a more interesting character, but, unfortunately, it doesn't. It just highlights what a tiresome person she is. I think even Rinehart got a little tired of her, because she featured so prominently in the beginning of the book, and then she just sort of began to make token appearances to serve as Jerry Dane's love interest.

Thank God, about a third of the way into the book, just when I was beginning to understand why someone might be attracted to "uppers," Tim Murphy arrived on the scene. Now here was an interesting character, the guy who shows up at the deadly company Christmas party with whom I can stand in the corner, making fun of the whole event. But it was merely a brief interlude. He introduced himself and then hurried off to become a very minor character. However, it was enough to wake me up and keep me going -- waiting for his return.

I guess in order to liven things up a bit, Rinehart decided we needed a red herring or two. Unfortunately, a whole flock of them emerged. We managed to indict almost every member of this Maine summer colony before all was said and done. Another thing I don't like is when mysteries have that many people involved, but not really involved. Why make more than one character suffer superficial gunshot wounds merely to lead the reader off the track?

Finally, finally, finally we reached the end. We discovered Whodunit, and how did I feel? Annoyed! Okay, if you really want to know: pissed! I had pegged an idea early on, which proved to be half right, but the whole truth was way too neat and paved the way for a shamelessly contrived ending. All right, I admit, I'm picky. Give me an ending that leaves me on the gallows, and I'm not happy. Then again, I don't mind hanging out on the clothesline -- a little uncertainty, a little doubt, a few questions to pique my imagination and get me thinking in different directions -- is just fine with me. Everything in an impossibly wrapped package makes me want to rip off the bow and paper and throw it in the fire.

By now, you get the picture, so there's no need to say more than this: I didn't like it and won't be reading any more Rinehart anytime soon. (Then again, maybe I'm just sick and cranky.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Tale of the Ambivalent Adult

Yesterday morning, I was in my half-with-it-before-caffeine state, making coffee, when I heard something heavy thumping around under the kitchen table. I always assume this is Francis the cat, but, nonetheless, I always glance nervously in the direction from which such noises come, half expecting what? A baby dragon that's been living under my kitchen table and is learning to fly? Anything else (mice, for instance), don't make that much noise, and (although I would love it if we did), we don't have too many bigger things (like badgers or gophers) around here that might, somehow, get into the house, especially without our knowing it.

As the other half of me expected when I turned around, there was the tell-tale streak of marmalade fluff that scurried out into the dining room. Nothing the least bit alarming. When Francis isn't asleep in some spot for 12 hours straight, he tends to spend most of his time chasing after imaginary friends (I've never been quite convinced that cat food manufacturers don't put tabs of LSD into the food).

I went back to making coffee only to hear him come scampering back into the kitchen. I turned back around to greet him, which is when I noticed that, unless toothpaste manufacturers had put tabs of acid in my toothpaste, he was actually batting around something that was not imaginary. It didn't look like one of the usual suspects: hair ties or old shoelaces.

No, it looked like a little mouse. Francis batted lazily at it, as if he now couldn't care less about it, and it didn't move. Quite obviously, it was dead. But then I moved closer to discover that it was still making some half-hearted attempts to move. The other half of the mouse's heart must have decided to move into the cushy softness of my own heart, increasing its size.

I am 45 years old. Why does such a scene still make me feel as though I am watching a poor Beatrix Potter character, Mrs. Wee Winkle, say, suffering at the paws of Fierce Francis? Why can I see her poor children, now left back in their nest to wonder what has happened to good old Mama? She's never gone this long, and they have been waiting forever for her to return with those tasty crumbs she promised. They are hoping she also might have found one of those huge, plump raisins she often brings them as treats.

We do not have a cat because we wanted a mouser. In theory, though, I am very glad we have this pet, because I am convinced he helps keep our home from being overrun by mice this time of year when they are all coming in from the fields. In practice, however, every time I am aware that he has killed one, the child in me who used to conduct elaborate funerals for dead bees and spiders (because my parents must have hidden the dead rodents our cats often presented before I could find them and weep over them) wants to go in search of a little box and shovel.

The adult in me finds this ridiculous. She loudly talks over the child, insisting this is the natural order of things. That mouse knew exactly what sorts of risks it was taking, coming into this house where there is a cat in residence. Would we choose to move into an alligator's nest, just because it was warm and the fish in that area were abundant and easy to find? The child in me wants to know if maybe mice parents warn their children all about these huge beasts with claws and fangs that move and pounce at lightning speed. Did they have an old Uncle Harry who still limps because of his half-eaten leg, but who proudly tells the tale of how he managed to escape one of those awful beasts?

"Of course they do," the adult in me says. "And any mouse who didn't heed those warnings and who decided to go skittering about in some human's house, taunting one of those beasts, deserves whatever he gets."

"But maybe it was trying to be a Big Brave Mouse, like Uncle Harry," the child wails.

"Nonsense," says the adult. "Only a fool would consider that sort of behavior brave, the sort of fool who enjoys playing Russian roulette."

The child glares reproachfully at Francis, who has all but lost interest in his prey, while the adult says, "Good Francis. What a good cat to kill that nasty little mouse, probably carting around Lyme-disease-infested ticks and who would probably have chewed through our phone wires, costing us a fortune in repairs." (Not that she speaks from experience or anything.) While praising him, she goes in search of the dust brush and pan, so she can scoop up the offending creature and take it outside.

The child notices it's still moving a little. They ought to call a vet. It's freezing outside. The poor thing will never survive out there. Maybe they could get an aquarium and nurse it back to life. But the adult, as adults always do, callously takes it outside and puts it on the ground, the child making sure she at least does so gently, while worrying now that some other beast, like an eagle, is going to get it. She has to keep resisting the urge to check on it, to see if it has gotten up and run away after that spectacular "playing dead" performance.

The adult assures her that that mouse was not playing dead. The child consoles herself, then, with the thought that the mouse is now beyond feeling. It is blissfully unconscious and will have no idea if an eagle swoops down and swallows it whole (or whatever eagles do). And besides, who says it was really Mrs. Wee Winkle? Maybe it was a horrible mouse, an evil mouse, one that deserved to die. That's it! The child goes in search of Francis who is busy nonchalantly licking his paws, as if he has no idea what a hero he is,

"What a good, good cat you are," the child strokes him and tells him. "You just saved the whole mouse kingdom from Evil Dick Cheney Mouse."

Ahh, but Francis does know. Do you think that cute little kitty (named after a saint), now curling himself up on the rug, would kill any mouse other than an evil one?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Books for the TBR Challenge

First of all, I have to let you know that there is a difference between my TBR tome, which has countless numbers of unread books written down in both electronic and non-electronic formats (an interesting "tome" indeed) and the shelves in our home, which contain countless numbers of unread books. My goal when I came up with this challenge was not to worry about the books on shelves, just to pore through everything and choose 20 books that I've been meaning to read and have yet to get around to reading. I planned to check those I didn't have out of the library. Nevertheless, it turns out that in browsing my lists and shelves, I ended up with 20 books that we do own. That means I will not be dependent on the library, which is nice (not that there is anything wrong with being dependent on a library).

Anyway, here is my list. I, like Dorr, am choosing these for now with the idea that, if I feel like it, I can make substitutions later. We'll see how it goes. If I manage to get through twenty books and enjoy the process, this might turn out to be a yearly event for me.

1. The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
I actually have two Diane Ackerman's I've been meaning to read forever. The other one is The Moon By Whale Light. I chose this one, for now, because I'm more in the mood for it. That might change, however, so don't be surprised if I end up reading The Moon By Whale Light instead.

2. Brookland by Emily Barton
Should be pretty obvious why this one is on the list, especially for those of you who have been following me for three years and were there when I wrote one of those early posts about how I really do need to read one of her books.

3. The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
Despite the fact I did not like Friends and Relations when I read it, I did promise myself I would give Elizabeth Bowen another go. A long-time friend of mine discovered Bowen this year and has been raving about her, so I decided this would be a good time for that "another go." But that's it. If I don't like this one, sorry, but I'm not trying anymore of hers.

4. A Window Over the Sink by Peg Bracken
I love Peg Bracken whose mid-twentieth-century books have such sensible titles as The I Hate to Cook Book and The I Hate to Housekeep Book (and are full of the sorts of recipes that people in that era ate). I bought this memoir a number of years ago, sure it would be delightful. So sure, I guess, that I decided I didn't need to read it to prove it so. Time for some proof…

5. Passion and Affect by Laurie Colwin
I loved both of Colwin's books about cooking, but I've never read any of her fiction. This one is killing two birds with one stone: not only is it in this challenge, but it is also helping me keep up my goal of reading more short story collections.

6. The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany
A friend of mine has been pushing this book on me practically since the year we met, which was 2001, and Ms. Musings has recommended it to me, too. I finally found a copy at our library book sale last year, which was my first step towards reading it, but I keep choosing others over it, for some reason.

7. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
I know, I know. Can you believe I haven't read it yet? And now everyone is raving about her newest one…

8. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
I have yet to read a blog post that does not rave about this book. I picked it up at the 2009 library book sale, so it's a relatively recent purchase. It does sound like it's going to be brilliant, so I hope my expectations aren't so high that it can't deliver.

9. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
You can't attend seminary vicariously and not be aware of this book. People raved about this one while Bob was at Union. I think the first blog post I read about it was Dorr's. Bob read it in the fall of 2008, and I've been promising him ever since that I'd read it.

10. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
I am quite sure that this one has been in the TBR tome since before I even began to write the tome's first chapter. I think it was in the prequel. Anyway, that should be explanation enough as to why it's in the challenge.

11. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
I love Anne Lamott. It's been a while since I read anything by her. So this one is on the list as a "guaranteed to like" choice.

12. The Giant O'Brien by Hilary Mantel
Yet another author I've been promising a "second chance," because the first one was pretty disastrous. So many bloggers rave about her, though, that I can't help feel I must have missed something. We'll see. This one is short, so if it's really dreadful, I'll practically be done with it by the time I hit page 30 and might find myself finishing it, regardless.

13. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
McEwan had already had his two chances (Enduring Love, which was okay enough, despite its slapped-together ending, to lead me to Atonement, which I pretty much hated, although he did manage to drag me in enough that I wanted to find out what happened and so finished it). I'd decided he'd get no more of my time. I'd written him off as one of those "darlings of the literati" who shouldn't be. Then Hobs read this one, wrote about it, and I changed my tune. So, I'm giving McEwan one more go, but that's it. Really.

14. Cakes and Ale by Somerset Maugham
This might be a re-read. I went through a Maugham phase in my late teens, and I can't remember what I have and haven't read. I love Maugham. I have no doubt I will love this one (especially since it comes highly recommended by Litlove as a comfort read). I think a dreary day in February, when it should be snowing and is raining instead, after making a pot of tea and some brownies (or maybe it should just be ale and cake, although I prefer sherry with my cake, if we're choosing something alcoholic) might be perfect for this one. Okay, I've just made myself want to race off to the Amish bakery for some cake and to the liquor store for some sherry.

15. Still Life by Louise Penny
This one is in the most recent chapter of the TBR tome. I found out about Louise Penny from Susan over at You Can Never Have Too Many Books and decided I need to give her a read.

16. The Yellow Room by Mary Roberts Rinehart
I took this one from my parents' collections a number of years ago. It's the one on this list that I know I will absolutely read, because after deciding it ought to be a part of the challenge, I was asked to choose the next book for the CT mystery book discussion and chose this one.

17. American Pastoral by Philip Roth
I've never read any Roth. My friend Bob piqued my interest more than any reviewers have ever been able to pique it when it comes to reading him, so I put this one on my list, then bought it, but have yet to read it.

18. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Because, although I'm not as ga-ga over him as some, I do like Harry Potter, and really, I ought to get through the series sometime before he turns 50, oughtn't I? A lot of people I know say this is their favorite, so I'm looking forward to it.

19. In the Beauty of the Lilies by John Updike
2009 was supposed to be my year of John Updike (another author I'd never read and also highly recommended by the likes of the-friend-not-husband Bob and Hobs). I read exactly one book of poetry and one short story. However, I did buy three of his books. This is the one that is most striking my fancy at the moment, but again, might be exchanged for either Roger's Version or Marry Me.

20. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
This is another one Hobs (boy, he seems to have a lot of influence over me) raved about, so it tentatively went into the TBR tome. Then Ms. Musings also raved about it, and it made it permanently into the TBR tome. Bob bought it for me last Christmas. Really, it's about time I read it.

There you have it. I have anal-retentively arranged this list alphabetically by author's last name. However, I can tell you that the reader in me is saying, "Screw the anal-retentive nature. I am going to read these in any order I please, as the mood strikes me."

I hope others of you are planning on sharing your lists today (or this week, or whenever). Oh, and yes, yesterday, my last day of getting to purchase books before these are all read, I visited One World Classics and purchased three books (I'll let you know what they are if I ever read them).