Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Gearing Up for ToBX!


Well, the good news is that they released the short list for the ToBX this morning. Yahoo! The bad news is that we are not in good shape! I've only read 5, and you've read 2. I'm starting school, you're starting crafting! What's going to happen?

All right. Let's take a moment to mourn the unbelievable fact that Americanah was not included.

And now a moment of joy that neither of us will ever have to think about Tampa again.

Of the contenders, I've read  At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarc√≥n, The Dinner by Herman Koch, The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

I'm mostly happy because 3 of these were end of the year/winter break reads for me. So I was pretty successful at selecting from the Long List there. The only "wasted" read was The Flamethrowers, because I would have definitely abandoned it, but I was sure it would make it. Oh well.

Of the remaining, I ordered a few using holiday gift cards: The Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid, The Son by Philipp Meyer, and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. My guess is that I'll tackle How to get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia first. I've heard good things about it, and let's face it, it has a killer title.

I know that the library at school has Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, and The Good Lord Bird by James McBride.

That leaves the following *four* that I've never heard of: Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel, Long Division by Kiese Laymon, Hill William by Scott McClanahan, and The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara. This group can go either way, I guess. I usually try to make time for these, because they tend to be outside of my "usual" fare as a reader. Some of these types of ToB selectons have been some of my favorites, others I have hated the most.

I guess we'll see where that leaves me come March. The one I'm willing right away to leave on the road is The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. I just thought Eat, Pray, Love was so annoying. I can't imagine making time for this one. Last year, by the end, I had finished an impressive 17 of 18, but I don't think I'll get that lucky this year.



  1. Yay! It's ToB time!!

    As you have mentioned, I am totally unprepared. Although, I remember thinking last year, "Wow! I've actually read some of these books!" (Previously, I think I had only read one -- Lemon Cake) (Ugh.) So I looked at your post last year to see what number made me feel so confident about jumping into the fray...

    It was two! I had only read two books last year and then I ended up jumping into actually *reading* books for the ToB (vs. previous years of pure observation). *However*... In retrospect, I also feel like I ended up reading a lot of last year's books, but looking back... I only read 9 of them. Ha! (I guess 9 was better than none?)

    Sooo... I'm not sure how my prospects are looking. Even the number "two" is generous -- I'm still not quite done with The Luminaries, although I am burning through Life After Life (which might not even make it) (Somehow...? I thought that one was a shoe-in, honestly.)

    Soooo... I just spent a good chunk of time reading synopses and deciding what actually looks interesting to me. (I won't read anything I'm not interested in) (That Gilbert book, for instance. I never read Eat, Pray, Love but the one on the ToB list seems totally boring.)

    The ones I am most excited about are Long Division because the story sounds great and The Son because the aBook features two of my absolute favorite narrators (Kate Mulgrew and Will Patten). So I'll definitely get to those.

    After those, I have gone ahead and reserved what I can at the library. I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple available on Overdrive (but that means I have to stop All. Other. Reading. and hustle to get them done while I have them!) (Lucy and the chocolate factory over here...)

    In the end, it all really comes down to math. At my usual rate of 50 books/year, that means approximately 4 books/month. Since I read one TBR book every month (and this month I am slogging through Don't Know Much About History) (at one point does one abandon books, Jenny?), that leaves 3/month. I basically have 1.5 months before the Tournament, which means... maybe 5 books before then. Predicted total this year: 7 books for Kelly. We'll see.

  2. Also... I was feeling pretty good about a Horror Book Father vs. Son Play-in Round so I thought I might get lucky there (I have read both NOS4A2 and Doctor Sleep) but... no dice!

  3. I also thought the horror play-in round sounded promising. I downloaded NOS4A2 last week when it was on sale on Amazon for $1.99 (I try *not* to look a the Daily Deal too often, danger! But I was pretty happy on that day). I started reading it---it seems scary! I definitely will finish it at some point. That's a great thing about a Kindle book, it's with you wherever you go! I did try reading it before I went to bed one night, but that's not such a good idea. Too scary! I'll stick to silly romances for bedtime.

    In other TBR news, I'm about 80 pages into Snow, and not loving it. I feel like I'm just not really following it. Oh well, I am far enough in that I will continue. No point abandoning a book 7 days into the year, right?

    1. I love the idea of the horror father/son playoff and now I am super sad that they didn't do it! I haven't read Dr. Sleep yet -- still can't wrap my head around "sequel to The Shining" as anything but unnecessary despite its good reception -- but I was very happy with NOS4A2. It had some problems, but it did everything that I ask for from a horror book, felt like a Neil Gaiman novel as much as a Stephen King, and totally stuck the ending, which is something Daddy King rarely does anymore. I read it in a day and still think fondly of it, which is unusual because usually the books that I gulp up like that fall the fastest in my estimation. My only hesitation is that it would be very hard and maybe unfair to pit it against the genre of literary fiction, but it would be less problematic than doing the same with Eleanor & Park!

  4. After I said that I was "slogging" through Don't Know Much About History I thought, "Crap -- there's my answer. Abandon a book when you feel like you are slogging through it!

    So I came over here to proudly announce that I was abandoning my first book and you say, "No point in abandoning a book 7 days into the year, right?"

    HA. Soooo... what I have decided to do is what I had suggested once before -- read one chapter per month of this book. The "slog" isn't actually the reading (I've learned some stuff!) but the thought of "Good lord -- I have to read 30 pages of this a *day* for the next month?!" is the slog. *Especially* when there are some tasty looking ToB books waiting for me!

    There are 10 chapters in DKMAH, plus 2 Appendices. Perfect! I'll write that thing up in December! I think this might actually help the information settle in better, anyway. This month's chapter was all about the settling of the US. There's a lot to think about there (and I only have 5 more pages in the chapter, so this decision feels freeing, as I have started 2 other new books in the past 2 days...)

    So now I have to decide what my "second" book of the year will be, which will actually be my "first" book and due by the end of January (and which will make my numbering weird... perhaps I should re-number DKMAH as "12.14" in my original post.) (Am I that persnickety? Yes, yes I probably am.)

  5. (Yeah. I totally did the renumbering thing. I couldn't deal with reading book 4.14 in March. I really am that anal retentive. But you know, if I can't be myself here on the blog that I share with my lifelong best friend, where can I be?)

  6. How's it going for you and the ToBX reading? This week, I finished The Luminaries (Boy, do I look forward to that book discussion... I have questions.) and The Dinner (Well executed, but I will be holding up every book in the ToB to Americanah to determine if I think it's a better book. The Dinner is not.)

    I am halfway through Life After Life and the jury is still out for me on how I am liking it. The bizarre structure is right up my alley, but I think I need a little more going on in the plot... (does it pick up?) and I have just begun Long Division, which is a very different book than I thought it would be, based on the description I had read. Not that it's a bad thing... it just required some expectation adjusting.

    My next aBook will be The Son (which I am excited about) and I was able to get three pBooks from the library: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (it's short, so I will definitely get to that), At Night We Walk in Circles (I'm interested in this, but have read mixed reviews), and The People in the Trees (I only grabbed this because it was available... I suspect it might test my "Abandon with abandon!" plan for 2014, although I cannot pinpoint why...)

    After those, I'll be moving into two territories:
    1. I may not get to any more (finishing these would put me at 9, which is 2 more than my prediction of 7), and
    2. I'm going to have to buy books, because my library either doesn't have them or I'm #400 in line on Overdrive.

    Sooo... if you have any recommendations from the rest, I'll happily take them. :)

    (I am still considering trying out the aBook of The Goldfinch, despite my aversion to this narrator [he's the one who screwed up who said the line at the end of The Marriage Plot!] [But... is the narrator to blame for that or the director? I honestly don't know.] but it gets great reviews and I do love a long aBook... oh dilemmas.)

  7. Kelly,

    An update. I'll drop The Goldfinch and The Tuner of Silences into the mail this week. I'll want them back eventually, but keep them until you're finished.

    At this point, I've read 9 of the 17, which isn't bad! But some of the really long ones I haven't even started. Next up is The Good Lord Bird. This week I'll get The Son and A Tale for the Time Being from Barnes & Noble, so that's what's next.

    What about you?

  8. I was making good progress, but got waylaid this week by a cold. Such a bummer that I can't focus on reading when I am sick -- all this downtime but can't use it for good!

    Sooo... I've finished 6 books and I am in progress on 3: The Son, Life After Life (it's really picked up!), and The Lowland. I'm almost finished with the first two and have just started the last one. So I'm on track to finish 9 this week.

    After that, I have The People in the Trees and At Night We Walk in Circles checked out of the library, so I guess I'll try those out.

    With the two you're sending, that leaves me 4 more to figure out if I'm interested enough to spend money on them if I finish the others before March. A Tale for the Time Being actually looks like a good aBook, so that may be next in the queue for me after I'm done with The Son.

    Hill William is a verrry fast read -- if you're planning to read it, I'm sure you can knock that out in a couple of hours.

  9. Mm. Maybe I'll download that one since it looks like they might cancel school tomorrow. The Polar Vortex is really helping me knock these books out.

  10. All right. The brackets went up last week, which kind of helps with the final planning/shuffling, right? How's your reading going?

    I'm further along that I thought I would get: I've finished 10, I've got 3 more in progress that I should be able to finish (one of them is *still* Life After Life... don't know why, but I just haven't warmed up to that book. I don't dislike it, but it hasn't hooked me... too high on the expectations, maybe?)

    That leaves 4, but I'm not going to read that Gilbert one (plants! Ugh!) and I don't think Woke up Lonely is going to make it against LAL. Of course... I could be wrong. I was just reminiscing about how surprised we were last year when How Should a Person Be? beat Bring Up the Bodies (that book title *still* gets sung to the tune of "Roll out the Barrel" in my head, mind you) soooo... anything might happen in the Tournament of Books!

    So that would leave The People in the Trees (child molestation? I may have to skip that) and The Tuner of Silences. We'll see if I get to those.

    Any particular favorites? I gotta go with Long Division (I want to read that again and am really looking forward to the discussion) and A Tale for the Time Being. And, of course, Eleanor & Park but I am already cringing at the beating that book is going to take in this thing. :(

    Anything you'd like to kill the Powers that ToB for for suggesting you should read it as part of this exercise in madness? I'd have to say Hill William is up there. Also, I'd like the time I spent on The Son back (ironically, one that I mentioned above that I was really looking forward to!)

    Do you do predictions? Care to share yours?

  11. Well, I've read 11 and really hope to finish A Tale For the Time Being this weekend. I've got a ton of crap to do before Thursday, so that's going to take center stage for a while. Honestly, then it's grade report writing, so even finishing A Tale for the Time Being might be aspirational. But I really like it, so I'm motivated to finish it.

    I agree that Woke Up Lonely will likely lose, but you never know! Of the remaining, I guess I'm most interested in reading The Son, I typically like sweeping epics, so that sounds promising. Anything else I get to will be after the end of my class on March 13th, Veronica Mars, and then it will be almost Spring Break. I might have to just see what advances. I always get a few in that I didn't expect to during the Tourney. I'd say the one I most want to read, but I don't see it happening is The Luminaries. Maybe on Spring Break?

    I want to order the T-Shirt. Because awesome.