Friday, November 4, 2011

Jenny's Book 11: Traffic


I've decided to go with the last non-fiction book on my list for November. I read a gazillion novels every year. Knocking these non-fiction titles off the TBR piles feels great. And, of course, it enables me to buy new ones that sound interesting.

I remember buying this when it came out after reading a fantastic review of it in the New York Times. As you know, I've struggled with Road Rage in the past...but now that I drive around with a little person, I've been much better. I think it helps, too, that I'm not driving in Bay Area traffic. Chicago traffic is godawful going out to the suburbs, but I don't have to deal with those highways all that often. Most of my driving in on Lakeshore Drive. It's just so beautiful. Who can be angry looking at that every day?

I actually read 50 or 60 pages of this book before putting it down, but I've started rereading from the beginning. I'm exciting to get back at this one.

End of the Year Reading Goals
In other news: I have finished 50 *new* books so far this year, so I'm going to set a goal of reading 60 by the end of the year. It's a big jump, to complete 10 in the last 2 months, but I usually knock a few out over the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. It seems doable. Ideally, I'd like to read all 14 on my TBR list, I joined a real book club in my neighborhood, and I have an online bookclub. It could happen!

I'm already starting to think about what 14 books I'll put on my TBR list for next year. Trust me, there are *plenty* to go around. And for some crazy reason, I keep buying more. Also, sometime next month the "long list" for the Tournament of Books will be announced. I feel fairly certain that I'll have read at least a few Tournament books before it even starts next March. Both The Tiger's Wife and The Marriage Plot seem like Tournament shoe-ins. We'll see.

Speaking of The Marriage Plot
How far along are you? I'm about halfway through--Although what does that mean when you're reading the audiobook? Can you tell how far you are? Are you using Audible? I'd love to talk about it with you, but I don't want to spoil anything. Why don't you tell me where you are and then we can chat it up.

I can say this without spoiling anything. Although I'm pretty sure I read The Virgin Suicides at some point, I don't remember it. I haven't read Middlesex (This might have to go on the TBR list, because every.single.person. that has read it has sung its praises). So far, I am quite enjoying The Marriage Plot. Hard not to like a book about people who love reading. Eugenides' writing style is crisp, clean, and highly quoteable. I'm not sure how I feel about the characters---are we getting old? Because they seem so young. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll stop here.

How's your progress with The Book of Vice? And what's your November selection going to be?


  1. Yes, you HAVE to read Middlesex! One of my very favorite books.

  2. I have no idea how many books I've read this year... do audiobooks count? ;)

    I agree with you that it's been good to check off non-fiction books from the TBR pile. I always buy ones that sound "interesting" but then... when it comes time to *choose* one to read, I find the fiction way more enticing. Funny how putting something on a list -- even of one's own creation -- makes it seem *mandatory*. Of my 4 remaining books, 3 are non-fiction. Not sure if I'll finish all 14 this year... maybe that can be a stretch goal. Otherwise, the last 2 will just go to 2012.

    Have you read The Night Circus? I just finished listening to it and I didn't want it to end. Love, love, love! Sooooo great!

    I will join the rest of people you know who recommend Middlesex! (And I actually thought it was you who had recommended it to me... funny. Must have been Judy.) Really great book. I don't remember much about it, but I remember really liking it.

    Yes, I use for my audiobooks. They seem to have a monopoly on them, don't they? (Except... no Harry Potter!) I struggled finding any other good source for downloading. The "subscription" thing kind of bugs me, but I have been listening to about one book a month, so it's been working out pretty well so far.

    As for where I am in the book... it shows me how long the book is and how much time I have left, so I can sort of guess where I am. It also shows the chapter numbers and it's divided into two roughly equal parts so I'll know when I am halfway. Note: it will probably take me 10x longer to listen to this book as it will take you to read it. It looks like it's about 15+ hours... how long is the actual book? I have only just started, so I am about an hour in - not far. Bill is working this weekend, so I'll get some good listening hours in on Sunday while cleaning out the basement (whee.)

    I read the reviews *very* carefully and listen to a sample before buying because I think the narrator could easily kill an audiobook for me and it's kind of a commitment (listening to someone for 15 hours = commitment, right?) This one got great reviews, except for one person who said "his female voices came through as gay rather than authentic female which was distracting." (Which is true so far for Madeleine's mother, but not Madeleine herself and, I gotta say, it kind of works for that mom character.)

    What *I* am actually finding distracting is that the narrator is a man, because it seems to be (so far) Madeleine's story. And it's funny that I could get past the fact that the *author* is a man if I was *reading* the book but *hearing* the book, I just sort of feel like, "What does this dude know about chicks?" I wonder how they choose gender for narration... The Night Circus was written by a woman but narrated by a man (I just got the old Secret deodorant slogan in my head there, btw) and that did not bother me, but this is kind of bugging me right now.

    I will probably get used to it soon enough... again, I'm only an hour in and I'm not sure yet where the story is going, so I'm still open. I do love the writing and I agree with you about "highly quotable" ("She became an English major of the purest and dullest reason -- because she loved to read.") which can sort of be a hassle when listening to an audiobook -- I find myself scrambling for a pen to write gems like that one down whereas, in a book, I could just bookmark it. Heh.

    I don't think they seem young because we are getting old. I think they (at least Madeleine) seems young because they are incredibly immature. I'm actually finding that a little bit annoying... does Eugenides have an axe to grind with some vapid English major he used to know in college?

  3. Holy crap -- there is a character limit on comments and I exceeded it. I need to start editing myself. Meanwhile... this is what more I had to say:

    I am working on Book of Vice. Not sure yet what to report... there are some very funny moments, but a lot of it is feeling awfully judgmental, which is uncomfortable. So far, we've covered swinging, eating for pleasure (is there a common word for that? "Gourmandise" feels pretentious), and strip clubs. We've got lying, gambling, consumption, and pornography to go. I'm almost halfway through.

    Still have not chosen November's book. Maybe Double Fold.

  4. K,

    The actual book is about 400 pages. I think the Harry Potter audiobooks really spoiled me---that guy is *so* good, and all of his voices are so believable, that when I hear a bad one, it's hard for me.

    Meanwhile, apparently there are "Best Audiobooks" lists---here's one:

    I haven't started The Night Circus, and to be honest with you, it's not even in the top 10. Maybe I'll get to it over one of the breaks. The buzz is good, and I've had other people recommend it. Good reviews will always catapult a book towards the top of the pile.

    Meanwhile. I'm home alone for the next 14 hours. Woo hoo! Off to watch silly chick flicks, etc. Good times!


  5. I refer to all kinds of reviews/lists/etc. when choosing an audiobook. Seriously -- I spend a *lot* of time reading all about the book and I listen to samples. Audiobooks are [relatively] expensive and a big time investment, so I really do the research before buying. So far, I have not been disappointed. The Marriage Plot is really my first "Hrmmm" one, but I am finally getting into another character in the book and the man's voice fits this next character a bit better.

    My first audiobook was The Help and they had a different narrator for each character's part in the book, which worked *really* well. I haven't listened to any others that have done that, but it was great for that book. And maybe a book like this. I'm sure it increases the cost, but it makes for a better "read."

    As for The Night Circus, it might be better to actually read. I loved the narrator (although it took me awhile to get over Pushing Daisies flashbacks -- I miss that show!) but there were dates and locations given at the beginning of every chapter and I had a hard time remembering what they were. Also, there are a *lot* of characters, so I struggled to remember who everyone was -- it's difficult to "flip back" in an audiobook. ;)

    The more I think about it, though, I'm not sure if it's up your alley. I really loved it -- the characters were great, the story was engrossing, and I *loved* the descriptions of the circus and the costumes, but you might actually find the descriptions annoying... as we've discussed, slowing down to read detailed descriptions isn't really your style. I thought it was a magical story, told magically. But you might be like, "Yeah, yeah... cool tents, pretty dresses... get to the story!" ;) Next time you're in a bookstore, give it a browse and see. It really was one of the most enjoyable books I've read (or "read") in awhile... when it was over, I was sad to be done. Also, I thought the ending was *perfect* which happens less frequently than I think it should!

    Have fun watching chick flicks today... I am going to plug into The Marriage Plot and work on cleaning my basement. Wheee!

  6. Well, I've finished. You want to open up a new post on The Marriage Plot? Wait until you're finished? Let me know...