Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Sunday Salon: My Ever-Growing TBR List (2012 Update)

In 2011 I added 42 books to my TBR list and marked off 24—exactly the same number as in 2010. I've adjusted my 2011 list for 2012 by marking off those books I read last year.

If you've reviewed any of these books on your blog, feel free to post a comment with the link and I'll add it to my list.
*Indicates books added in 2012

*An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor
Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg.
Aprons on a Clothesline by T. DePree
Arctic Dreams
by Barry Lopez
*The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy (read and reviewed here 1/12)
Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead: The Frank Meeink Story as Told by Jody M. Roy, Ph.D. (reviewed at Musings of a Bookish Kitty)
Barefoot in Baghdad by Manal M. Omar (reviewed at Bookworm's Dinner)
Before the Storm by Diane Chamberlain
*The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
Behind the Burqa by Sulima and Hala (reviewed by Semicolon)
*Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
Blood Hollow by W. Krueger
Blood of Flowers
by A. Amirrezvani
Blood Work
by M Connelly
Book of a Thousand Days by S. Hale (reviewed on Semicolon and Maw Books)
Book of Lost Things by J. Connelly
Bootletter’s Daughter by M. Maron
Born on a Blue Day by D. Tammet (reviewed on Sam’s Book Blog)
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Capote
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin (read and reviewed 3/12)
*The Bungalow by Sarah Jio (read and reviewed 11/12)
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (Read and reviewed 6/12)
Carved in Bone by Jefferson Bass (read Feb. 2012)
*City of Thieves by David Benioff
Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eye Ward
Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry
Commoner by J.B. Schwarz
Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
A Country Doctor’s Casebook by R. MacDonald
The Dawning of the Day: A Jerusalem Tale by Haim Sabato
*Deadline by Randy Alcorn
Dear Enemy by Jack Cavanagh
Death’s Acre by William M. Bass
Departed, The by K. Mackel
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (read and reviewed 4/12)
Digging to America by Anne Tyler
Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by D. Gregory
Dough: A Memoir by Mort Zachter (reviewed by Lisa at 5 Minutes for Books)
*The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen (Reviewed at S. Krishna's Books)
*The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns
Executioner's Song by Mailer
*Expecting Adam by Martha Beck
Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad by Waris Darie (reviewed at Maw Books)
Far to Go by Alison Pick (Reviewed by Kristina at The Book Keeper)
Family Nobody Wanted by Doss
Fatal Vision by J. McGinnis
Father, Mother, God: My Journey Out of Christian Science by Lucia Greenhouse
First Wife by Emily Barr (recommended by Fleur Fisher)
Flowers by D. Gilb
Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (read and reviewed 5/12)
Fortune Cookie Chronicles by J. Lee
Franklin and Lucy by Joseph Persico
Gentle Rain by Deborah Smith (reviewed by Leah at Good Reads)
Ghost Map
by S. Jackson
Ghost Writer, The by J. Harwood
*Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
*The Girl in the Italian Bakery by Kenneth Tingle
The Girls by Lori Lansens
Giving Up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel
Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton
God Is the Gospel by J. Piper
Gods and Kings series
by Lynn Austin
*Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
Hava: The Story of Eve by Tosca Lee (added 1/09; reviewed by My Friend Amy)
by R. Alcorn
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent (reviewed by Gautami at Reading Room)
High House, The
by James Stoddard
by John Hershey
Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan C. Bartoletti (reviewed by Natasha at Maw Books)
Hot Zone by R. Preston (reviewed by Semicolon)
How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen (mentioned by The Magic Lasso)
*How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway (read and reviewed 5/12)
Human Cargo by C. Moorehead
Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan (reviewed at These Words)
I Am Scout by Charles J. Shields (reviewed by Becky)
In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason
*Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength by Laurie Helgoe
*Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh 
*The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (read and reviewed 8/12)
Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas
by E. Southwark
Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me
by Ian Morgan Cron (reviewed at Rachel Held Evans)
Keeping the House
by E. Baker
Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones (reviewed by Bookeywookey)
Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger (reviewed at Thoughts of Joy)
Last Storyteller by D. Noble
Leave it to Claire
by T. Bateman
Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan (reviewed by Literary Feline)
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova (read and reviewed 7/12)
Left To Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza (reviewed at Maw Books and Just a Reading Fool)
Liar’s Diary by P. Francis (reviewed by Semicolon)
Life Among Savages
by Shirley Jackson (reviewed at Dwell in Possibility)
Life Is So Good
by R. Glaubman
Little Altars Everywhere
by R. Wells
Living End
by L. Samson
Look Me in the Eye
by John Elder Robison
A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka (reviewed at The Lost Entwife)
Lost Children of Wilder by N. Bernstein
*Love Anthony by Lisa Genova
Loving Frank by N. Horan
Mad Girls in Love by M. West
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (read and reviewed 11/12)
Man without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
Many Sleepless Nights
by Lee Gutkind
Mariner's Compass
by E. Fowler
*The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
Mercy Falls by WK Krueger
Minding the South
by J. Reed
by A. Brennert
Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway (Reviewed at The Bluestocking Society)
*The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton (read and reviewed 2/13)
*Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin
Murder in the Name of Honor by Rana Husseini (Reviewed at Reading Through Life)
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (Reviewed by Reading to Know)
Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
The Ninth Wife by Amy Stolls
Noah's Compass
by Anne Tyler
Not without My Daughter
by B. Mahmoody
Notes from a Small Island
by Bill Bryson
Only True Genius in the Family by Jennie Nash (read and reviewed here 1/12)
Other Boleyn Girl, The by P Gregory
Other Voices, Other Rooms
by Truman Capote
Papua New Guinea: Notes from a Spinning Planet
by M. Carlson (reviewed by Clean Reads)
Perfect Example by John Porcellino (reviewed at The Hidden Side of the Leaf)
Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin (reviewed at Reader Buzz)
*Prairie Tale by Melissa Gilbert
Promise Not To Tell by Jennifer McMahon (reviewed at Missy's Book Nook)
Proof of Heaven by Mary Curran Hackett
Property by Valerie Martin (reviewed by The Magic Lasso)
Quaker Summer
by Lisa Samson
Quilter’s Apprentice
by J. Chiaverini
*The Quilt Walk by Sandra Dallas
Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson
Reading Lolita in Tehran by
Azar Nafisi
*The Rebel Wife by Taylor Polites (read and reviewed 11/12)
Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson (Reviewed at Reading to Know)
*The Reservoir by John Milliken Thompson
Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen
Rises the Night
by C. Gleason
River Wife, The by James Agee
Room by Emma Donoghue (read and reviewed here 1/12)
Ruined by Reading: A Life in Books by Lynne Schwartz (reviewed on Shelf Life)
by Shactman
*Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens
Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall
Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins (reviewed by Just a Reading Fool)
Same Kind of Different As Me
by Ron Hall and Denver Moore (recommended by Stray Thoughts)
Saving Levi Left to Die
by Lisa Bently
Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins (Reviewed by Word Lily)
*The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.
A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay (read and reviewed 2/12)
Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian (Reviewed at In the Pages)
Sentimental, Heartbroken Rednecks by Greg Bottoms (Reviewed by Sage)
Seven Loves by Trueblood
She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel
*The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
* Slaves, Women & Homosexuals by William J. Webb
*The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.
* So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell
The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy (reviewed at Polishing Mud Balls)
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf (reviewed at Maw Books)
Some Girls by Jillian Lauren (reviewed by Book Club Classics)
Song of the Cuckoo Bird by Amulya Malladi
Song Yet Sung
by James McBride
Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan
Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture by Donna Partow
State of Wonder
by Ann Patchett
by William Weld
by John Williams (suggested by JoAnn at Every Day Matters)
The Story of a Beautiful Girl
by Rachel Simon
The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump by Sandra Hempel
Summer Crossing by Truman Capote (reviewed by CaribousMom)
by M. Cabon
Sweet Potato Queen
by J. Browne
Teahouse Fire, The
by Ellis Avery
Stones Cry Out
by M Szymusiak
Testament of Youth
by Vera Brittain (recommended at Musings)
There Are No Children Here
by A. Kotlowitz
Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself
by Alan Alda
Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher (reviewed at Gautami's Reading Room)
This Boy's Life
by Tobias Wolff
Thousand Years of Good Prayers
by Yiyun Li
The Threadbare Heart
by Jenny Nash (reviewed at Maw Books)
Three Cups of Tea
by G. Mortenson
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres
Time Between by Mary Duenas
To My Senses by A. Weis (reviewed by J. Kaye)
Tomorrow, the River by D. Gray
Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur
by D. Hari (reviewed by CaribousMom and Maw Books)
Trauma and Ghost Town by P. McGrath
*True Sisters by Sandra Dallas (read and reviewed 10/12)
Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera
*Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Uprising by Margaret Haddix (reviewed by Semicolon)
Undress me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman (reviewed by Book Zombie)
Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
*The Violets of March by Sarah Jio (read and reviewed 10/12)
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
Well and the Mine, The by Gin Phillips (reviewed by Semicolon)
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
*What Alice Forgot by Liane Mortiarty. 
What I Though I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen
What Is What by D. Eggers (reviewed at Maw Books)
What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
What Peace There May Be by Susanna Brarlow
What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn (Reviewed at Big A, Little A)
When I Lay My Isaac Down by C. Kent
*When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
*When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewalt
Wherever you Go by Joan Leegant (reviewed by Bibliophiliac)
Whistling in the Dark by L. Kagen
Who Killed My Daughter by Lois Duncan (Reviewed at Nonfiction Lover)
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
Winter Seeking by V. Wright
Winter Walk
by L. Cox
Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (recommended at Rebecca Reads)
Women of the Silk by G. Tsuriyama
Year of Living Biblically
by AJ Jacobs (reviewed by Andi Lit)
*Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes  
You Don't Sweat Much for a Fat Girl by Celia Rivenbark
(read and reviewed April 2012)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review: An Atlas of Impossible Longing

For awhile, I was longing for the end of An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy. Please understand: I began reading it in the car on my way to my uncle's funeral. I read it in bits and pieces in the hotel room and on the way back to Tennessee. I fell asleep, exhausted from the trip, after only reading a page or two each night. And then, midway through, I realized that I needed to re-read the novel I was teaching for British Literature (A Christmas Carol) and quickly read Emma Donoghue's Room, which was due at the library.

So the first half went kind of slow. It probably has much more to do with my state of mind and circumstances than with the book itself. But it took me a long, long time to get into the book. I thought the author's approach was difficult to navigate. I couldn't figure out what was going on and where it was happening. There were lots of characters. Just when I figured out who was who, the next section started. By the final section, I had all the characters figured out, and most of them had died or moved on anyway.

The novel starts in India with the patriarch of the family, who chooses country life to that of the big city, and ends with the story of his granddaughter and the orphan boy with whom she was raised. I loved their stories; the preceding ones, not so much. Roy is a wonderful writer. Her images are full and palpable. The smells and sights of India are beautifully captured. I just couldn't quite connect with the characters in the first two sections. Things happened very slowly and then too quickly. But the third section felt just right.

Other novels set in India —or India and America— that I've reviewed here are:
Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman
Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Of the six, Cutting for Stone is my absolute favorite, followed by The Secret Daughter and Unaccustomed Earth (although this collection of stories centers on the struggles of Bengali immigrants and their children in America).

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Review: Room

It's the one on everyone's Top 10 lists from 2011: Room by Emma Donoghue. I put it on our list of possibilities for book club for 2012, and I got a unanimous "NO WAY!" from my friends. Who wants to read a book about a kidnapped woman and her son, who are living in an 11X11 room and visited nightly by "Old Nick"?

It sounds horribly creepy, I must admit. But I read it anyway. If everyone is loving this, there must be a reason! So. I could not put the book down. It as absolutely riveting. The story is narrated by Jack, the five-year-old boy who was born in Room. His mother has been a captive for 7 years, since she was kidnapped as a college student. Jack is perfectly happy in Room; it's the only world he has ever known. In fact, he thinks it is the world. But for Ma, it is exactly what it is: a prison.

Ma knows that, for Jack's sake, things have to change. And that's all I will say about the plot.

Was the book disturbing? Absolutely, particularly in the second half. We don't see much of Old Nick, so don't let that part scare you off. But the thought of a woman and her child being captive for 7 years in the midst of a busy neighborhood, in a time in our world when sex trafficking is at an all-time high—that is terrifying.

But I am glad I read it. I think it was good that this was knocked off our book club's list. All of my friends except one would have tossed it out quickly; we tend to be a squeamish bunch. We like happy books, and Room is not one of them. Redeeming, yes; but happy, no.

But if you don't meet Jack and Ma, you're missing on two wonderful, strong, courageous characters and an unforgettable, powerful, yes—positively gripping story.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Review: The Only True Genius in the Family

I love the title of this book because sometimes I feel like my family is filled with geniuses, and I have often wondered, if we were ranked, where I would fall on the scale. Isn't that strange? My fourth brother said that if he were ever to write a book it would be called Between James, which would be about life sandwiched between two geniuses: my father James and my brother James.

This is the basic premise of Jennie Nash's The Only True Genius in the Family: what does it mean to be a genius? Claire has lived under the shadow of her photographer-father's famous genius for her whole life. When he dies, her daughter—who he considered a genius as well— is given the job of taking his photographs and making a retrospective of his life. As the estate is settled, Claire spirals into depression, losing her own creative vision. She is a food photographer who seems to lack the fire of creativity that burn in her father and daughter.

According to her father, genius skips a generation. Claire feels terribly slighted and jealous of her daughter. She yearns to be named a genius, to even see some evidence that her father thought her talented. By talking with various people in his life and searching through his negatives, she eventually comes to terms with her relationship with her family and her daughter and also comes to some self-realization.

Claire sounds a little whiny and self-absorbed from my description, but I really felt for her. As a child she was cast aside by her father, left to be raised by her brokenhearted mom while her dad pursued his art. As a mother, she is again cast aside by her daughter as she seeks her art. And yet Claire feels certain that she, too, has a piece of genius that needs to be recognized. I really enjoyed this book, even though I can't fathom the kind of money that Claire and her family have. They're always flying places and live in a beach house in southern California. But it was a great vacation read.

Linked up with Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books