Monday, February 7, 2011

Jenny's Book 3: Amsterdam


Choosing the next book is difficult, and I'll tell you the truth about how I selected Amsterdam for my third choice. I lined up the books, and then picked the way any self-respecting middle schooler would: by seeing which one was shortest. Amsterdam is a lightweight, weighing in at only 187 pages.

Normally, this isn't the way I choose books. But in the particular case, I'm gearing up for my favorite reading event of the year, The Morning News Tournament of Books. I discovered the Tournament of Books back in 2009. I think I discovered it mid-way through the competition that year, and I only read 2 books out of the 16. Last year, I did much better. I read 6 of the 16 before the Tournament ended. I read the winner, Wolf Hall, later that summer. This year, I'm hoping to read even more of the titles. The Tournament starts on March 7th and will run for a couple of weeks.

The bottom line: I want a short read because I've got a lot of books already in the queue, and that queue is time sensitive. If I can finish Amsterdam in February, it clears the decks for my Tournament of Books reading.

Here's the Tournament of Books list and my progress so far:

1) Room by Emma Donoghue
2) A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
3) The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
4) Bloodroot by Amy Green

I actually read the first 3 over the Christmas break while we were in Houston. I loved Room. I though Goon Squad was a solid effort, although it left me wanting more. I hated Finkler, and only read it because it was the Booker Prize winner. As you may remember, reading the winners of the Pulitzer, Booker, and National Book Awards has been my New Year's Resolution for the past few years. Bloodroot was fabulous. It is set in the Appalachians in Tennessee, and it is not my usual type of reading at all. It's books like this that make me love the Tournament of Books. It jolts me out of my usual reading patterns.

Available in my school library:
5) Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
6) Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
7) Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

Trying to save a few bucks here. I'm hoping to borrow and read these.

I've bought them and just need to read them:
8) Nox by Anne Carson
9) Model Home by Eric Puchner
10) Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne
11) Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky

I bought Nox because it just looks super cool. I went to the actual Barnes and Noble with a gift card on Saturday and picked up Kapitoil and Model Home. They didn't have any of the other titles in stock.

I'll order you once I figure out how to use the stupid B&N gift cards online:
12) The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
13) Savages by Don Winslow
14) Next by James Hynes

I have about $40 in Barnes and Noble gift cards left. I'm feeling sort of pissy about this. I entered the gift cards to my B&N account, thinking that it would work like Amazon and "save" them to apply to future purchases. But I'm worried this may not be true. They might only save them for use towards eBooks. If that's the case, I'll download the Nook app and read them on my phone. But let's just say there's a reason I'm an Amazon shopper. I'm not so impressed with the B&N site right now.

No, Thank You. I don't think I'm going to be reading you.
15) Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
16) So Much for That by Lionel Shriver

I checked Lord of Misrule out of my school library. It won the National Book Award, so I felt obligated to read it because of my New Year's Resolution. Problem is this book sucks. I read about a quarter of it and I'm rejecting it. You know what, you want me to read your books, use effing quotation marks. Oh, and horses are boring.

I've got a Lionel Shriver book in my TBR pile, so I'm leaving this one on the road. So much for that, you know?


PS One more reason for reading Amsterdam this month. I applied for a travel grant from school for Darrell and I to go to Amsterdam this summer to see the Anne Frank house. They'll announce the recipients at the end of the month. Maybe it's good karma to read Amsterdam since I'm hoping to go to Amsterdam?


  1. I've read Atonement by Ewan McEwan. I remember almost nothing about it (that is my way, as you know) but I remember it being very good and powerful.

    The Tournament of Books looks awesome. I am not a fast enough reader to join you in this endeavor, but I'll cheer you on. I've read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and I look forward to your thoughts on it. It was a book that I actually had to discuss with Bill when I read it (even though he had not read it) because of... well... we'll talk when you get there.

    I also bought Nox because it looks really flipping cool. I hope it's as cool as it looks.

    I love your ranking of some books: "No, Thank You. I don't think I'm going to be reading you." Hilarious. Also, your comment "Problem is this book sucks." Hee hee. Some books just do.

    In recent years, there was a book everyone went *ga ga* over, but I just could not stand it... The Corrections, I think. Blech. I always feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone when I *hate* a book that everyone else is raving over. But I really could not get through that mess.

  2. Jen- Any book that you think is great you can pass along to this gal!