Sunday, July 5, 2009

TSS - Midpoint Musing

Good morning! After seeing several mid-year posts last week, I was inspired to compose one of my own. The result, which I'm hoping will prove interesting to others, held a few pleasant surprises.

My totals:
24 books read
18 short stories (plus two collections)
a few assorted essays
1 play

Favorites so far:
Therese Raquin by Emile Zola - reviewed here
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout - my review and my book club's reaction
The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield - reviewed here
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett - thoughts here
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri - thoughts here

Favorite audiobook:
The Help by Kathryn Stockett - my thoughts

Favorite Short Stories:
"When Everyone Was Pregnant" by John Updike - my short story Monday post
"The Dress" by Louise Erdrich - short story Monday post
"The Swimmer" by John Cheever - short story Monday post

Behind the numbers:

First, this is an excellent showing for me. I've never read more than 55 books a year and, for the past several years, have been averaging in the thirties.

Even more important is the fact that I've never enjoyed reading so much as I have these past six months. I attribute this, primarily, to blogging. Lakeside Musing was created in late October, I posted my first review (The Painted Veil) in November and, very tentatively, entered into this wonderful community.

This leads to the most interesting stat of all. Fourteen of the 24 books read prior to July 1 were the direct result of book blogger recommendations and reviews! So, here is the perfect opportunity to offer my sincere thanks to my new blogging friends. I have come to rely heavily on your thoughts and opinions when choosing what to read next, and it has very definitely increased the quality, and sheer pleasure, of my reading. Thank you all!

What next:

For summer, the focus is on fun! I'm currently reading The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim for Molly's Summer Vacation reading challenge. This visit to Italy has been so enjoyable, that I'll probably stay on and read One Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena De Blasi next.

The Everything Austen Challenge will occupy some of my summer, too. I'm looking forward to rereading Pride and Prejudice and, possibly, an Austen spin-off too. Any 'heavier' reading will have to wait until fall!

Where will your reading take you this week?


  1. We are all very lucky you joined the blogoshpere last October. Isn't it great the way the blogging community informs all of our reading choices/paths?

    Glad Olive Kittredge made your favorites list. Love that book as a reflection of both form (short story series) and quest for American identity in character and literature.

    Today I am reading all over the place looking for a little closure on too many unfinished books. Please visit me to enter my Buy a Friend a Book week giveaway? Happy reading!

  2. It looks like you're doing great with your reading this year! I'm so glad blogging has enriched your book life, because we're glad you're here!


  3. I second Frances. You have led me to some wonderful reads and some that are on my tbr list that I can't wait to get to. I agree with you about blogging making reading even more enjoyable. And good for you that you are exceeding your usual number of books read. Happy summer reading:)

  4. I am reading many more books than I did before blogging too. I think it is because the quality of the books has increased thanks to the recommendations of wonderful bloggers like you!

    Keep up the good work!

  5. I also feel so up-to-date and informed due to the wonderful blogging community. Although my list has grown impossibily long due to so many great recommendations!

  6. *Hugs* JoAnn! Congrats on the 55 books and thanks for being a wonderful part of the book blogging community!

    I'm certainly reading heavy right now (Proust and BolaƱo), but interspersing with other, lighter reads. Happy Sunday! :D

  7. I'm going to be finishing up Nightingale Wood and then something should be on its way to me via the library. If Kristina is ready for another book then we may choose a Persephone to read together. All of this talk about Jane Austen has me thinking about reading Persuasion...see what happens! Great post JoAnne!

  8. I loved The Swimmer too! In fact, I just love Cheever. I'll have to check out the other two short stories you mentioned.

    Blogging is great like that, isn't it? It definitely makes reading even more fun :)

  9. Joanne - Congratulations on all your reading. The blogging community is really wonderful. I started blogging about the same time you did and was made to feel welcome and included within days. Like you, I love sharing thoughts about books and reading the reviews of people I've gotten to know. It has added tremendously to my To Be Read pile!

    I loved Interpreter of Maladies and must add Unaccustomed Earth to my list. Have great week!

  10. Therese Raquin is quite enjoyable. Have you read Germinal? Or any of his twenty novel cycle?

    If you liked Zola's work then I would recommend trying Honore de Balzac another French grandmaster in realism.

  11. i thought Olive Kitteridge and Unaccustomed Earth were excellent.

  12. Since blogging my reading selection has been heavily influenced by my blogging buddies...I am so thankful for you and them because I've read some great literature this year!! Great numbers and books that you've read this year Joann...keep it up!!

  13. I've never seen your blog before so I'm really glad you commented over at mine (The Zen Leaf). What fantastic stats, especially about getting recommendations from others. I loved The Painted Veil and can't wait to read Zola and Lahiri. :)

  14. Frances - Thank you! Glad to hear you're a fan of Olive Kitteridge, too. I already entered your giveaway..and am keeping my fingers crossed.

    Lezlie - Blogging has been as great experience so far. You guys are great...thanks for all the inspiration!

    BookPsmith - Awww, thanks. I have gotten quite a few recommendations from you, too!

    Jackie - Thank you. Before blogging, I sometimes had trouble deciding what to read next. If that is a problem now, it's only because there are so many excellent choices!

    Stacybuckeye - I can certainly relate to that - lol!

  15. Claire - You ARE reading heavy now!! Thank you for all the great reviews and recommendations - I just love to visit your blog!

    Darlene - There has been a lot of Jane Austen talk lately, hasn't there? Go ahead...pick up Persuasion ;-)

    Nymeth - Cheever is one of my new 'discoveries' this year. The Swimmer was just captivating! I went on to read The Wapshot Chronicle, and hope to get to The Wapshot Scandal later in the year. His collected stories are on my wish list.

    Gavin - Thanks...this whole blogging community has been so friendly! Lahiri is such a good writer. I recently started Interpreter of Maladies and, so far, like the title story best.

  16. It seems I've "known" you longer than 8 months ...

    What a nice essay to show where so many of your book choices originated, that book bloggers influence readers.

  17. damnedconjuror - Therese Raquin was my first Zola, and I've been looking for suggestions of what to read next (he wrote so many books!). Would Germinal be a good one to follow up with? Balzac is on my list of authors to read, too.

    Diane - I'm glad you enjoyed them, too.

    Staci - I'm very thankful for all my blogging buddies, guys are great!

    Dawn - It does seem like longer- lol! I've really appreciated all your great reviews and features, and think of you whenever I cook pork tenderloins with a plum glaze!

    Amanda - Thanks for coming by! The Painted Veil ended up being one of my favorites last year. I hope you enjoy Lahiri and Zola when you get to them.

  18. Germinal would be a good place to start, it's usually seen as his masterpiece.

    Also try Guy de Maupassant, he was a short-story writer. He's definitely worth a look.

  19. damnedconjuror - Germinal has been added to my amazon wish list! Thanks for reminding me of Guy de Maupassant. I've been reading more short stories lately.

  20. You have had a very good reading year so far! We share some common favorites, like Oliver Kitteridge and The Uncommon Reader. I do have The Help on my radar, although I'll wait for the trade paperback to release. I think the most wonderful thing about this community is the broadening of my reading taste.

  21. Matt - I absolutely agree...there have been so many books I wouldn't have tried if my blogging friends had not been so encouraging. I noticed our similar lists, too, and keep a close watch on books you are recommending ;-)

  22. I just loved reading this! A nearby library has an original copy of The Homemaker, and unbelievable-to-me, they let patrons borrow it. I took it out a couple years back but didn't get to read it. I plan to borrow it again next year. The library is in Vermont, where DCF lived, and the state actually has an annual award in her honor. More here if you are interested, JoAnn:

    And I simply cannot live much longer without reading the Alan Bennett book! I'll go read your post on The Swimmer. I just listened to a collection of Cheever stories last year, and this was one of them. I recall seeing the movie a long time ago. I get a lot of suggestions from bloggers, too - mostly the old, and often British authors.

  23. Our reading habits and taste are eerily similar. I think I'd read about 26 books by the end of June. Your favorites also contain some of my favorites (not necessarily from the beginning of this year) -- Olive Kitteridge, Therese Raquin, and the Uncommon Reader. I have The Help waiting in the wings.

  24. Nan,
    It's so good to 'see' you! Thanks for the link to the DCF award. I recognize several great books among the winners. It's amazing that the library is loaning out an original copy of The Homemaker! I just loved that book. The Uncommon Reader has been on several other mid-year favorite lists, so I doubt you'll be disappointed with it. I'll have to check Netflix for The Swimmer...didn't know it was a movie.

    I thought we had similar taste in books, but had no idea it went quite that far - lol! It's probably safe to say you'll love The Help ;-)

  25. I'm keeping my eye on your reading list as well. :)

  26. Matt - ...and I keep a close eye on what you're reading, too!


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