Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pages From the Past: My 2004 Reading Journal


Over the past several months I've been sharing highlights from my old reading journal. I hope these posts have been as enjoyable for you as the memories are for me. Opening my journal to 2004, it was quickly obvious that I spent much of that year reading classics.


My Favorite Books Read in 2004

The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton
Undine Spragg is one of the most unforgettable characters in all of literature.


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 
I've read and loved all of Hosseini's novels. Hope he's working on another.


The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Quite possibly the longest book I've ever read - 1462 pages. Also one of the most exciting. 


The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
My most surprising read of 2004, I never expected to love this book. 


The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Still an all-time favorite. Oprah made me read it.


The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
(The Forsyte Chronicles #1-3)
I read these nearly 900 pages during a week-long snowstorm. Would love to reread and complete the chronicles in 2016.


Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
If you ever decided to tackle historic epic, be sure to read the Nunnally translation.



Notable Nonfiction 

84,Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
I've read this little gem multiple times, but always a library copy. Maybe I should treat myself...


How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen
Anna Quindlen has been a favorite for decades. I especially love her nonfiction.



Favorite Audiobooks 

by Erik Larson, narrated by Scott Brick 
Larson is an "audio author" for me. I plan to listen to Dead Wake  next year.


by Alexander McCall Smith, narrated by Lisette Lecat
I listened to several titles in this cozy mystery series. The narration is excellent.


Have you read any of these books? What were you reading in 2004?
Previous Pages From the Past posts can be found here.

30 comments:

  1. 84 Charing Cross Road is one of my favorites of all time. I haven't read it in far too long so I think it's time to go pick up my copy. You should definitely treat yourself. It's a good book to pick up when you're not feeling well or in a bit of a slump. I loved The Good Earth and have been wanting to read Portrait of a Lady and Erik Larsson's books. He's tackled such interesting subjects that I find I want to read them all.

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    1. Katherine - Completely agree with you about 84, Charing Cross Road. I really need a copy of my own! Did you know The Good Earth is part of a trilogy? I'd like to reread it and then continue with the next two. Sons (book 2) is already on my shelf.

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  2. I've read and loved many of these as well . . . but there are a few on here I haven't read, which means I need to add them to my "to read" list. Devil in the White City is one of the best non-fiction books I've ever read. I'm glad you like the audiobooks. I hadn't listened to any of his on audio yet and my Dad was just asking me about non-fiction audiobooks. I was thinking about getting some of Larsen's for him for his next birthday! The Custom of the Country literary had me crying at parts because of the Undine treated her children. It's not Wharton's best known novel, but it's certainly one of her best.

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    1. Laura - I really enjoyed the narration of Devil in the White City and was happy to find that Scott Brick also reads Dead Wake. Hope I can get to it before too much longer! I'm always surprised The Custom of the Country isn't more widely read...it's definitely one of Wharton's best!

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  3. Let's see. Undine, yes, thanks to you. Portait, yes, but in high school, and I don't remember liking it so I've never re-read it (but I will). 84 CCR, yes. And I'm intrigued by The Devil, after reading a terrible book this summer that was set there, so I'll listen on your recommendation. I love these posts!

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    1. Audrey - Pretty sure I would have disliked The Portrait of a Lady at 16 or 17, too! Have been considering a "rereading high school" project... so many of the books I read back then were surely under appreciated ;-)

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  4. I enjoy Larson's book on audio too--I read/listened to Dead Wake last month and really liked it. Looking forward to the movie version of Devil in the White City, if only to see the Chicago World's Fair!

    I really would like to reread 84 CHaring Cross road--loved it and the movie version, and it's due for a reread.

    I wish I liked Henry James--I love the premise of his stories, I just can't read sentences.

    Custom of the Country is going on my TBR list challenge for 2016--Wharton is just so darned good. I finally read Roman Fever before my trip to Italy and loved, loved, loved that short story.

    Happy Holidays!

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    1. JaneGS - I plan to listen to Dead Wake early next year. Might even be a candidate for our drive to FL... pretty sure my husband would enjoy it, too.

      I had to gradually work my way into Henry James. Daisy Miller was a good place to start and Washington Square was pretty straight-forward, too. Had to get into the rhythm of his prose for Portrait, but then couldn't put it down. I've read Turn of the Screw a couple times, but find that one difficult. Am truly afraid of his later works (Golden Bowl, especially) when his sentences get so convoluted. A few of us are planning to read What Maisie Knew in February if you want to give him another chance!

      Wharton's Bunner Sisters is my most recent Classics Club spin book. Found out after the fact that it's a novella, barely 100 pages. I'll start that after Christmas.

      Beginning the Trollope Christmas stories this weekend :)

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  5. From your list I've read 84 Charing Cross Road, a wonderful little book, and have read every one in the series which began with The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Absolute tops for 2004 for me would be The Known World by Edward P. Jones. I had the pleasure of meeting EPJ when he came to read at Emory. He has written very few books, but you won't forget him once you have read any one of his books. This is an astounding book by an astounding writer. Very unique. I seem to have read a lot of books in 2004, but among my favorites would be Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (NF); The Epicure's Lament by Kate Christensen (NF); Any Human Heart by William Boyd (F); The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville, a wonderful Australian writer (F); and The Timetraveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (F). My reading seemed to be picking up speed that year as, in all, I read 31 books, while still working full time.
    Ready for the holidays? I know you will have lots of fun with both the girls at home!

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    1. JudyMac - I listened to 6 or 7 No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books and enjoyed them all. I'm listening to mostly classics and nonfiction these days, so should get back into the series in print.

      The Known World was on my wish list for a few years, but I never got to it and eventually lost interest. Thank you for reminding me.

      I enjoyed Reading Lolita in Tehran and The Time Traveler's Wife, and have Kate Grenville and William Boyd on my 'authors to read' list.

      I finished wrapping gifts today! Daughter #1 arrives tomorrow evening, so we can finally decorate the tree. Next week we bake. Happy Holidays!

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    2. I wish I could say I was interested in listening to books, but have never been inclined. Feel the same way about e-books as I don't like looking at screens for long periods of time. Maybe they will fill a need sometime later in my life, but for now I still prefer the real thing. :-) Happy Baking!

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    3. JudyMac - I started listening to audiobooks in 2002, during a period where I spent ridiculous amounts of time in the car. They were my savior and the habit somehow stuck. Now I listen on my walks, while cooking , cleaning, and driving, and sometimes even as I'm falling asleep. As for ebooks, I have a kindle voyage with e-ink which I love, but cannot read a book on my iPad or laptop. The adjustable brightness makes it perfect for reading in bed and the ability to change font size helps the aging eyes ;-)

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  6. This is such an interesting series of posts.

    It is reminding me just how far behind in reading I am. I still want to read some of these books but I have not gotten to them.

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    1. Brian Joseph - These posts are my favorite to write. I love the opportunity to think about the books I loved years ago. But I know what you mean about feeling far behind... they are so many books I want to read and I'm starting to feel like I should be more discerning in my choices. Time is not infinite.

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  7. I haven't read many classics. I have Devil In The White City on my shelf but haven't read it yet.

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    1. Vicki - I've loved classics since high school, and credit it to an excellent teacher! I'm sure The Devil in the White City would be great in print, too.

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  8. Oooh - Devil in the White City is one of my favorites! And I loved The Kite Runner as well. I'm always impressed with all the classics you read!

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    1. Sarah - I had the best English teacher ever in high school and am convinced she instilled a love of classics in me. After so much math & science in college and in my career, being able to spend time on literature again has been a joy!

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  9. I've read Anna Quindlen once or twice, but I didn't realize she wrote nonfiction as well. I will have to look into that!

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    1. Lindsey - I've read all of Quindlen's novels, but think nonfiction is her real talent. She wrote a column for Newsweek for years and her most recent nonfiction (Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake) is an all-time favorite. I think you need to be at least nearing 50 to fully appreciate that one though.

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  10. You know what? For the longest time I never tracked what I read! I just read! I don't really think I started tracking until I joined Goodreads. But...I love reading what other people read...however...in 2004...you and I have no matches! Go Fish!

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    1. Patty - LOL! Thank goodness for goodreads :)

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  11. Most of these books have been on my TBR for ages. Yikes! I should plan on reading them soon. Quindlen's book especially sounds interesting.

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    1. Athira - I'm hoping this will be the year I finally read books from my tbr shelves :)

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  12. It's fun to look back. My reading tastes have changed so much from just a few years ago.

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    1. Ti - It really is! Amazing what a decade can do ;-)

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  13. I love these reflective posts (Kay used to do this, too) and I'd like to see if I can manage to do the same sort of feature in 2016. We'll see...

    As far as the books you've mentioned, I loved The Custom of the Country, which I read many years ago when I was on an Edith Wharton kick. I think I might still have a few unread novels by her. Hmmm... I've read all of Hosseini's books with the exception of his most recent. Not sure why I haven't felt compelled to give it a try. I loved The Good Earth, but haven't read the other two in that trilogy. 84, Charing Crossroad is a favorite and I've read it at least three times. The movie is wonderful, too. Have you seen it? Anthony Hopkins is marvelous!

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    1. Les - Kay is the inspiration behind this series... I love her looking back posts! I haven't seen the movie of 84, Charing Cross Road. Off to check Netflix now. If it's not there, I'm guessing the Sanibel library has it :)

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  14. Haha, if my copy of 84 Charing Street wasn't falling apart I'd send it to you! The only other one I've read is the Detective Society, which I liked but never continued with.

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    1. Aww, Stacy... that's so sweet! The No.1 Ladies series was really good on audio. Guess I was just ready to move on.

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