I have graduated! Woohoo!
So, what does this mean for the summer? Well, the 101 in 1001 is temporarily on hold, until I restructure the list and have a chance to make a second attack, but it will return in July or August. In the mean time, though... books! I've attempted to not spend too much time reading during the semester proper, as I had wokr to do, but now I can dive right in.
So what am I looking at for this summer? Let's see...
These are the books that I am currently (actively) reading, as opposed to stalled in the middle for some unknown (probably time-related) reason.
(Ranked in order of interest; that is, I read the high ones more often because they are more interesting.)
1. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl: This book is addictive, in the best way. About a young academic named Blue van Meer caught in the web of a group of students, and their enigmatic ringleader, film studies teacher Hannah Schneider, it is impeccably written - Blue, who narrates it, is the most oddly charming protagonist since Diablo Cody's Juno MacGuff, but in a different way. Whereas Juno was the quirky teenage girl you should've hung out with in high school, Blue is a mature, studied bookaholic who, despite being extremely well-read and socially awkward, is always completely believable as a teenager. It's a fascinating character portrait with a lot of intriguing character mysteries.
Progress: 236/514 pages.
2. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski: This book is brilliant and insane, if not brillantly insane. At once a dense piece of literature, an effective horror story, a poke at academic criticism, and a maze, it follows three stories. The primary one is the text of The Navidson Record, a book about the nonexistent documentary that shares its name. Written by a mysterious old man, it is an academic criticism of a documentary about a family who discover their house is large on the inside than on the outside, and that a closet door leads into a dark, terrifying labyrinth that may have something else inside. The second story is a half-story, not independent of the two but progressed slightly in both, of the book's author, the mysterious blind Zampanò and why he really wrote the book. The last is the story of normal-guy Johnny Truant, whose story takes place in the footnotes; his discovery of the book leads him on a search to piece it together and get it published, haunted by it. An amazing book best-read in the special edition, which includes the mysterious colouring of house among others.
Progress: 148/663 pages.
3. Mao: The Untold Story by Jung Chang and Jon Holliday: After reading Jung Chang's amazing Wild Swans, the biography of three generations of her family (herself, her mother and her grandmother), I kept in mind the note near the end of her intention to biography a driving force in her life: the selfish, manipulative Mao Zedong, whose communist takeover of China is revealing in a stark and unflattering light by a woman who worked and lived under his disastrous rule.
Progress: 22/617 pages.
4. Che Guevara, a Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson: Picked this book up today, having long been curious about the name behind the title. To be honest, despite knowing a miniscule amount of his story, I'm quite fascinated by it. It's interesting that I picked it up without knowing about his connection with the above Mao. In fact, I'm reading about three important figures of this time: Mao Zedong (China), Che Guevara (Latin America) and Emperor 'Shōwa' Hirohito (Japan; see below). Just started by it, but it's drawn me in quickly; I'm intrigued.
Progress: 4/754 pages.
5. The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs: Though I am agnostic/atheistic, I have a great respect for religion (if not the organisations they are 'run' by), especially in the help and comfort they offer many of the faith. Thus, I was intrigued when an author whose previous book (The Know-It-All, about his experiences reading the entire encyclopedia) decided to try living the fundamentalist lifestyle for a while. To be honest, fundamentalists Christians frighten me a little. I'm sure they are lovely people, but some of the beliefs (especially toward homosexuals, some of whom are my close friends) make me uneasy at best, downright vicious at the worst. However, Jacobs' quest is really interesting, as he takes a further look at both nonreligious and religious lifestyles and within, at himself.
These are the books that are technically in progress, but are stalled - ether because I'm currently reading five bloody books, or because I've become a bit bored with them. Some of them I started weeks ago; some, years. Hopefully, this summer, I'll work through them all, either reaching the final page or discarding them, as I occasionally do when a book disappoints me fatally.
(In no real order...)
Orson Scott Card's Children of the Mind (58/370)
Victoria Finlay's Colour (282/438)
Leonard Mosley's Hirohito, Emperor of Japan (20/350)
Kathy Reichs' Cross Bones (80/348)
Michael Cox's The Meaning of Night (74/585)
Jared Diamond's Collapse; How Societies Choose to Succeed or Fail (62/525)
Carol Shields' The Stone Diaries (104/361)
Pamela Douglas' Writing the TV Drama Series (158/243)
George Monboit's Bring on the Apocalypse; Essays on Self-Destruction (116/203)
Richard Cohen's By the Sword (414/484
Dr. Douglas Ubelaker and Henry Scammel's Bones (20/319)
James Hollis' The Eden Project (28/144)
If those weren't enough, there's those other books. The ones I've picked up at Goodwill or Costco or Chapters over the years and never actually started. Most of them are very recent acquisitions, while others have just been waiting quite a while. Again, these will slowly work up to the above lists, and either get finished or dropped as I see fit.
(In no real order...)
Ken Follet's The Pillars of the Earth
Victor Hugo's Les Miserables
Iain Banks' Dead Air
C.S. Godshalk's Kalimantaan
Andre Alexis' Childhood
Junichiro Tanizaki's The Makioka Sisters
Mineko Iwasaki's Geisha, A Life
Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran
Robertson Davies' The Cunning Man
Edward Ruthorfurd's Rebels of Ireland
Steven Taylor's Roma
Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes
Nancy Farmer's The House of Scorpion
Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth
Terry Goodkind's Wizard's First Rule
So, yeah. Lots of reading!