Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Music to Accompany Lauren Beukes' near-future South Africa

Part of my Around the World Challenge is an endless hunt for the perfect music to accompany a book. If a book is historical or blatantly references music, it is easy.  In reading Moxyland, I knew I wanted to be listening to something frenzied and tech-heavy, and came across a genre of music in South Africa called Drum and Bass.  It is largely dominated by a band called Counterstrike, and this is EXACTLY what I had in my head.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Postmortal by Drew Magary

The PostmortalThe Postmortal by Drew Magary
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up because it was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award, and it jumped into my arms at the public library.

I like the premise of the story, and the overarching storytelling technique. The premise is that an American scientist discovered the cure for aging, and the main narrator in the story had the cure. Most of the book chapters are accounts from his e-mail or the news during the time, and a few break and go into plain narrative.

This isn't just an idea book though. The author takes the idea and really follows it through, decades later, to see what would truly happen to a world society that had the potential not to age. There are changes in religion, the family unit, war, and government control. Somehow it all feels like it goes on too long (I started consistently looking for how many pages I had left around 240), but I'm not sure what to cut. Maybe the love story. Maybe the final career. Maybe the bizarre ending. Maybe some of the side tidbits that are thrown in just to show one detail of the issues with never aging (interesting, but not as critical to the central story). It isn't bad, but all these side trips keep the book from being as riveting as I think it could have been.

Moxyland by Lauren Beukes

MoxylandMoxyland by Lauren Beukes
Around the world: 4 of 52 countries (South Africa)
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Publisher summary:
You think you know what’s going on? You think you know who’s really in power? You have No. Fucking. Idea. Moxyland is an ultra-smart thriller about technological progress, and the freedoms it removes. In the near future, four hip young things live in a world where your online identity is at least as important as your physical one. Getting disconnected is a punishment worse than imprisonment, but someone’s got to stand up to government inc., whatever the cost.
This might be one instance where an audiobook has the potential to lead a reader (listener) into confusion more than reading the print might do. Moxyland is read by Nico Evers-Swindell, best known for his portrayal of Prince William in the made-for-tv movie William & Kate. While he does a good job with the voices and South African accents, the intertwining stories are hard to keep up with, particularly with the way the reader is dumped right into the center of everything already going on.

That's how living in a totalitarian, nearly-post-Apartheid South Africa can be sometimes. The four main characters in Moxyland don't seem to have a grasp of the big picture either, and can hardly keep up with navigating the landscape where your cellphone can punish you, viruses can be used as crowd control, and your body can be turned into an irrevocable product advertisement.  There isn't much that is easily discernible as being distinctly South African, except the threads of apartheid that have forever changed the political and interpersonal climate, little turns of phrase like ending a sentence with "good as," and the names.  I had read so many Booker nominees and other books set in South Africa, that I really wanted a different experience for this country's pick.  Mission accomplished, except it was probably closer to other books I read a lot of, because of the themes.

This has tastes of William Gibson and Cory Doctorow, and the realism is helped by the ten years Beukes spent as a journalist, where she started thinking "What would happen if...?" The world she has created is scary, but not difficult to imagine. After all, some of us are already living it.

Part of this review was cross-posted on SFFAudio.com.

Monday, January 23, 2012

You've Got to Read This

You've Got to Read This: Contemporary American Writers Introduce Stories that Held Them in AweYou've Got to Read This: Contemporary American Writers Introduce Stories that Held Them in Awe by Ron Hansen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been reading this throughout the past month with my reading buddy Mikki in GoodReads.  It is SO HARD to talk about this anthology. For the most part, these stories were fantastic, some because of the visuals and beautiful writing, some because of the completely disturbing twists or ends, some because of the well-written raw characters.

My absolutely favorite story has to be "Reflection" by Angela Carter. The concept of a mirrored world with a knitter in between, constantly joining the opposite parts to keep the universe running smoothly - genius. The language is what elevates it - "the odor of her violence," "vegetable slowness," and my favorite - "the proud, sad air of the king of a rainy country." I can't wait to dig into the volume I have at home with her collected stories.

My favorite line comes from Labor Day Dinner, by Alice Munro.
"I think maybe we're destroyed already,' Ruth says dreamily."

Other favorite stories - "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid, "The Star Cafe" by Mary Caponegro (a bizarre story for sure but very thought-provoking), and "Goodbye My Brother" by John Cheever because I became so emotionally invested in it, I woke up angry the next day.   It isn't often I'll have such a strong reaction to a story.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Alif the UnseenAlif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alif is the handle for a teenage hacker living in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, one where the flow of information is controlled and monitored by the state. He has made a name for himself (not his actual name, obviously) by helping various groups subvert the system at various times. He becomes an unknowing rival to someone known as The Hand, and as he tries to escape he ends up in a world where jinns exist.

This novel is an entertaining read combining hackers with partially unseen beings, legends with protest, and manages to still present the complexities of this region of the world very realistically - Alif is only half Arab, for instance, and his skin tone alone creates problems in some situations. It was written before the "Arab spring" and will come out in July 2012, so it manages to turn into a very believable world. I might start looking for the Unseen Alley in my own city.

I'd recommended this for fans of YA hacker novels (Ready Player One or Little Brother) in particular, and also readers interested in learning more about the complexities of the Arab world.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson

Gut SymmetriesGut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson
Relation to Orange Prize: longlisted in 1997
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I love her writing as always, this is not my favorite Jeanette Winterson. That honor still belongs to Written on the Body or The Powerbook. It is funny because both of those books have less plot than Gut Symmetries, but I think it is some of the plot in this book that made me enjoy it less.

The story focuses on three people - Alice, a theoretical physicist, who has an affair with Jove, and then also his wife Stella. Each chapter is told from a different perspective, with the title of a tarot card, and some chapters even focus on telling the stories of the parents of the three. I think that and the unfatal cannibalism created an environment where there was too much going on to really capture the intensity of the relationship.

Still, the language is gorgeous. The quotations I've typed up are just more to demonstrate that side of it.

"I know I am a fool, trying to make connections out of scraps but how else is there to proceed? The fragmentariness of life makes coherence suspect but to babble is a different kind of treachery. Perhaps it is a vanity. Am I vain enough to assume you will understand me? No. So I go on puzzling over new joints for words...."

"I know I am a fool, hoping dirt and glory are both a kind of luminous paint; the humiliations and exaltations that light us up... I cannot assume you will understand me. It is just as likely that as I invent what I want to say, you will invent what you want to hear. Some story we must have. Stray words on crumpled paper. A weak signal into the outer space of each other. The probability of separate worlds meeting is very small. The lure of it is immense. We send starships. We fall in love."

Ah, her language! This one made me laugh, because it passes by before you realize what has been said:
"Inevitably it is not only the gastric juices that are stimulated by luxury and fresh air. What could be nicer than preprandial fellatio in a foreign tongue?"

"When we killed what we were to become what we are, what did we do with the bodies? We did what most people do; buried them under the floorboards and got used to the smell. I've lived my life as a serial killer; finish with one part, strangle it and move on to the next. Life in neat little boxes is life in neat little coffins, the dead bodies of the past laid out side by side. I am discovering, now, in the late afternoon of the day, that the dead still speak."

"I do not want to declare love on you... I would love you as a bird loves flight, as meat loves salt, as a dog loves chase, as water finds its own level. Or I would not love you at all."

"The surprise of wings was this love. We did escape gravity. If I flew too close to the sun, forgive me."

"Whatever it is that pulls the pin, that hurls you past the boundaries of your own life into a brief and total beauty, even for a moment, it is enough."

I have another unread Winterson at home that I hope to read this year, and I am eagerly anticipating her autobiography, Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? that is supposed to come out in March.  She is one of my top three favorite authors of all time, and I'd recommend her to anyone!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Frangipani by Celestine Vaite

Frangipani: A NovelFrangipani: A Novel by Célestine Hitiura Vaite
Around the World: 3 countries!
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An enjoyable story of Tahitian culture and the conflict between mothers and daughters. I have the sense it won't stick with me for long, which is why I only gave it three stars, but I didn't have to struggle to get through it.

For the purposes of this Around the World challenge, I really do appreciate when a novel can also describe the setting or the culture in a succinct and memorable way. All the bits and pieces about the connection to the flora, the feminine wisdom passed down, and the use of some of the less universal customs made me feel like I was learning something. The best example was the idea of marriage. In the Tahiti of Frangipani, very few couples are marrying, as traditional wisdom says you should have a child with a man to see what kind of person he really is before you'd ever consider marrying him.

Here is a great example of a description of Tahiti, which just happens to fall during a moment Materena talks to her unborn daughter:
"Materena talks about Tahiti to give her unborn baby girl a general idea of her soon-to-be home.  That place is the scorching sun at midday, the heavy and still humidity before the rain...Materena describes to her the sweet smell of flowers as they are opening up early in the morning, the aroma of coffee brewing in the kitchens, and fresh bread being baked at the baker nearby. She talks about the bright colors everywhere you look; the red and orange hibiscus edges....."
The book traces the theme of mothers and daughters throughout.  Older women often give Materena advice (sometimes requested) on how to raise Leilani.  Some examples just from the pages where she is giving birth:
"Girls hurt their mother from the day they come into the world..."
"It's more painful to push girls into the world because they don't want to be born. They resist. They know what they're in for in this world of miseries."
This was a book I enjoyed but probably wouldn't read again.

Tahitian baked good/dessert: Po'e
Recommended album: Tahiti, Belle Epoque - Tahitian Favorites

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Around the World Challenge - My Collection

This past week, I got the last book in the mail that I had ordered/swapped for the Around the World Challenge.  At least, the last one I had planned for.  I already have more than 52 countries, and way more than 52 books.  They demanded a photo shoot.  I spread them out on the guest room bed and waited for daylight.  Not quite all are represented since I didn't have as many mobile devices on hand as I had eBooks, but if you are curious this is the actual full list.

Oh yeah, that's my dog Bailey in the corner.  He is almost more excited about the new books coming through the door, particularly the books that have been in several homes, because of their sniff potential.

Then this happened.

Yep, he's definitely mine.

As for me, I've finally left Ireland and have started reading Frangipani, which is set in Tahiti.  I've officially survived the busiest week I hope I have in a long time, and am excited to have more time to read again!

Around the World Giveaway Winner

At the beginning of the month, I gave Reading Envy readers an opportunity to win a free book and a custom-blended tea to celebrate the start of the Around the World Challenge. 

I took advantage of a random number generator on random.org....

That makes the winner Sam from Tiny Library!  I'll contact her for her contact information.  Congratulations Sam!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Information by James Gleick

The Information: A History, a Theory, a FloodThe Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have a soft spot for mathematics. The more complicated and obtuse it gets, the more I like it. It is probably best I didn't figure this out earlier in life, because I might have pursued it and gone crazy. So I enjoy reading about it from time to time.

In The Information, Gleick speaks to the interplay between mathematical progress with science, culture, information theory, and really the development of society. It is an incredible overview of topics ranging from logic to communication to memes. It is DENSE. I spread my reading over a few weeks, a chapter here, a chapter there. When the information started going over my head, I gleefully skimmed it until I could sink back in. The formulas meant very little but then he put musical fragments into it with no explanation, and at least I understood those.

The chapter that first captured me detailed the history of the OED. I loved the logic chapter, talking about Boole and his contributions, someone very important to library theory and I never really knew anything about where all of that came from. It was the last chapter, as well as the epilogue, where Gleick steps beyond his thorough research to offer a few opinions on the direction of information and information overload, that I think the book really shines, or at least, where it was most interesting/useful to me.

I don't know enough to speak to the accuracy of this book, but I feel like I learned a lot, as well as adding a bunch of other books to read to my list that he cites. I will also be ordering it for the academic library where I work, and using it in a presentation I'm giving in February! Win/win/win.

"When information is cheap, attention becomes expensive. For the same reason, mechanisms of search - engines, in cyberspace - find needles in haystacks. By now we've learned that it is not enough for information to exist."

"Too much information, and so much of it lost. An unindexed Internet site is in the same limbo as a misshelved library book. This is why the successful and powerful business enterprises of the information economy are built on filtering and searching."

"Infinite possibility is good, not bad. Meaningless disorder is to be challenged, not feared. Language maps a boundless world of objects and sensations and combinations onto a finite space. The world changes, always mixing the static with the ephemeral.... Everyone's language is different. We can be overwhelmed or we can be emboldened."

"We want the Demon, you see,' wrote Stanislaw Lem, 'to extract from the dance of atoms only information that is genuine, like mathematical theorems, fashion magazines, blueprints, historical chronicles, or a recipe for ion crumpets, or how to clean and iron a suit of asbestos, and poetry too, and scientific advice, and almanacs, and calendars, and secret documents, and everything that ever appeared in any newspaper in the Universe, and telephone books of the future.'"

"As ever, it is the choice that informs us... Selecting the genuine takes work; then forgetting takes even more work."

"The library will endure; it is the universe... We walk the corridors, searching the shelves and rearranging them, looking for lines of meaning amid leagues of cacophony and incoherence, reading the history of the past and of the future, collecting our thoughts and collecting the thoughts of others, and every so often glimpsing mirrors, in which we may recognize creatures of the information."

Dubliners by James Joyce

I'm still in Ireland!  My unexpected layover has detained me longer than I expected.  Actually, it is more that I intended to bake something, still hadn't, and realized I had Dubliners on my iPad (it can be downloaded free from the Kindle store).  I've read James Joyce before, as any long-time reader of this blog knows (I blogged my excruciating and amazing journey through Ulysses).  But since the first book I read for Ireland was a new-to-me author, I didn't mind breaking my own rule!

DublinersDubliners by James Joyce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Around the World Tally: Book 3 of 52.  Country 2.  This could get complicated.

Compared to Ulysses, which took me months to read with critical aids, the short stories of James Joyce are easy to understand and enjoyable on multiple levels. He wrote them while he was quite young, and I noticed several references to characters thinking about how they hoped they accomplished a certain thing in their lives by age 31 or 33 (Joyce was in his 20s).

The stories go by theme, although I have seen some scholars indicate that only the last story has the death theme, and other scholars like Bob Williams use childhood -> adolescence -> maturity -> public life. Regardless of the labels, I enjoyed how the stories seemed to move into each other.

One of the things I love about Joyce, and it shows up in these stories, particularly in The Dead, is his balance of activity with inner dialogue. I noticed that in many of the stories, the actual action is happening "off stage" and you still learn about it, but largely through the lens of understanding the characters have. This is such a masterful technique!

My favorites were Araby (the boy is so painfully out of place), The Boarding House (oh the manipulation!), A Mother (oh mothers), and of course, The Dead. If I had read these stories first, and finished with The Dead, I would have known for sure I was a Joyce fan. Unfortunately for me, I read A Portrait first, before I was ready, and it took me years to come back to him. I'm so glad I did, and this was a nice second helping after Ulysses.

One theme I'm curious about is the idea of Irish identity. It seemed to be a major concern for some of the secondary characters - traveling in Ireland, learning Irish, and I imagine this must have been a big issue in the culture of the time. It gets briefly discussed by Daedalus and his friends in Ulysses, but it seemed more pointed here.

A few quotations I liked:

"Real adventures, I reflected, do not happen to people who remain at home; they must be sought abroad." (from An Encounter, and according to my Kindle, is a frequently highlighted bit)

"He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a predicate in the past tense." (from A Little Cloud... it made me laugh because it makes me think of Facebook)

"I know all about the honour of God, Mary Jane, but I think it's not at all honourable for the pope to turn out the women out of the choirs that have slaved there all their lives and put little whipper-snappers of boys over their heads." (from The Dead, and I had no idea this had happened.  It must have been controversial!)

"Under cover of her silence he pressed her arm closely to his side; and, as they stood at the hotel door, he felt that they had escaped from their lives and duties, escaped from home and friends and run away together with wild and radiant hearts to a new adventure." (from The Dead)

"One by one, they were all becoming shades.  Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age." (from The Dead)

"His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead." (from The Dead, and what a beautiful ending sentence!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle

A Greyhound of a GirlA Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle
Around the World in 52 Books: Book 2 of 52!
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sentimental story of a girl whose best friend has just moved away, and her grandmother is dying. One day she meets her dead great-grandmother walking down the street, and through the end the story of four generations is told. It isn't just the stories of the four women, but how their landscapes changed over time.

This is YA in focus, a quick read, and has lovely lilting words that make you realize you are in Ireland! I'd love to hear an audio version.  Like this little one - "You'd a lovely way of falling."

For the Around the World in 52 Books reading challenge, I'd planned to read a different book by Roddy Doyle - his Booker-prize winning Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.  Then one day I was browsing through the newest books posted to NetGalley, and requested it the minute I saw it.  I get the sense it isn't his usual style exactly, so I'll look forward to eventually reading the book I originally intended to use to visit Ireland.  Maybe I'll go back there before the year is out!  I also downloaded Dubliners to my iPad.

(For you NetGalley users out there, are you seeing a trend of missing pages?  There were several pages that were blank, usually the first in a chapter.  Is this to cut down on theft?  The file is already DRM.  I got access to a cookbook that I couldn't even review because the main recipe for macarons was omitted (pgs 22-25), and the rest of the recipe variations in the book asked the baker to start with that base recipe.  I didn't have that experience in the past, and just wondered if I should expect more of this.)

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

The Tiger's WifeThe Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first book I read for my Around the World challenge, and what a way to start. The reason I have both Yugoslavia and Croatia listed is that the locations are intentionally unnamed or made up throughout the novel. Obreht does this on purpose to disassociate story from place, since so much of the turmoil in that area of the world is caused by family name endings and minor differences.

The story is about two generations of doctors in a family - the grandfather and the granddaughter, and as the story starts, the grandfather has just passed away. Combined throughout is the story of his childhood, as well as hers, both living through strained peace and chaotic conflict.

Every once in a while, Obreht will step back and set the scenery for the reader. I saw one review that thought this was a misstep, but to me it was a reminder that while this is written in the present day, these places are not the same as what I as the reader know. Each place has so much history - some of the buildings and land ownership date back to medieval times, for instance. In that same spirit, there are two legends that wind throughout the story, that of the tiger's wife, and the deathless man. I loved moving back and forth between the past and present, the story and the reality.

One quotation that stood out:

"In the country's last hour, it was clear to him, as it was to me, that the cease-fire had provided the delusion of normalcy, but never peace. When your fight has purpose - to free you from something, to interfere on the behalf of an innocent - it has a hope of finality.  When the fight is about unraveling - when it is about your name, the places to which your blood is anchored, the attachment of your name to some landmark or event - there is nothing but hate, and teh long, slow progression of people who feed on it and are fed it, meticulously, by the ones who come before them. Then the fight is endless, and comes in waves and waves, but always retains its capacity to surprise those who hope against it."

Baked good that I made to go with the book: Paprenjaci (Croatian Black Pepper Cookies)

Music I listened to while reading: I did hunt down some popular Croatian music, but Natalia (the main character) prefers Paul Simon (Graceland) and Bruce Springsteen (Born in the USA), so I listened to those albums!

ETA: I did do some Croatian listening. For a special treat, check out Croatia's highest placer in the Eurovision contest, Boris Novković.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Orange January - Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Orange Prize association: Long listed in 2005

Case HistoriesCase Histories details three cases (from the GoodReads summary):

Case One: Olivia Land, youngest and most beloved of the Land girls, goes missing in the night and is never seen again. Thirty years later, two of her surviving sisters unearth a shocking clue to Olivia's disappearance among the clutter of their childhood home. . . 

Case Two: Theo delights in his daughter Laura's wit, effortless beauty, and selfless love. But her first day as an associate in his law firm is also the day when Theo's world turns upside down. . . 

Case Three: Michelle looks around one day and finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making. A very needy baby and a very demanding husband make her every waking moment a reminder that somewhere, somehow, she'd made a grave mistake and would spend the rest of her life paying for it--until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape. 

All three cases are linked to Detective Jackson Brodie throughout the book, but his presence isn't dominant within the text like a detective's story would usually be. In fact, he doesn't do his job in front of us all of the time. Clues are sometimes presented and the reader is left to make the necessary assumptions. "Oh, that means that X, and he must have X." He usually has done these things, but he never is described as doing them.  Since the author did not necessarily consider this book to be in the mystery genre (according to an interview with her in the back of the book), the reader should not be surprised that the form of the book does not follow mystery novel conventions such as case details being articulated, or conclusions drawn. 

The action is often happening "off stage," to an extent where I'm wondering what was in the novel I actually read! It actually manages to focus on two of the Land sisters and the conflict between the two of their personalities, and on the huffing puffing overweight retired lawyer, Theo. These are two of the three families who lost family members to murder, so while the cold cases are being investigated by Brodie, that isn't the story as much as the people making up the majority of this novel. It is an interesting angle. Atkinson has gone on to write more Jackson Brodie novels, so this successful volume becomes the first in a series. 

Around the World Giveaway!!

In celebration of the Around the World Challenge, I am hosting my very first Reading Envy giveaway!

  1. A copy of Destination: India, Destiny: Unknown, A Three Week Journey Beyond the Taj and Behind the Symbols
  2. 3 oz custom blended Around the World Tea from Adagio.com
This giveaway is open to all international readers.  If the winner happens to be from the USA, I'll probably throw in some homemade biscotti or something like that.

To enter, all you have to do is comment on this blog before 5 pm EST on Friday, January 6.  Make sure it links back to you so I can contact you for your address if you win!

2012 Challenge - Around the World in 52 Books

You knew it was coming, and 2012 is finally here!  The long months of list making, book swapping, and dreaming are over, and the reading may commence!

The official challenge is 52 books, but I have a feeling I'll do more than that.  Just in the books I've collected, they represent 57 countries, 5 of which have multiple books associated with them.  The official list of what I intend to read is in a Google Doc, but don't worry, I will review them as I go!  I will be taking a group photo as soon as the last few stragglers wander in.

I'm not scheduling too far out, because I want to be able to read based on whim, although I'm going to do a few of the group reads.  I'm also saving all my Caribbean books for the week I'll be on a cruise.  I should be able to knock out a good 5 countries in that week alone.

I will be starting with The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Orange Prize this year.  I bought the last signed copy from the Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg, SC, where she had stopped on her tour.

In case I haven't mentioned it before, I am not the only person doing this challenge.  You can see a lot more by visiting the Tumblr account I set up, which will be where I'll pull all the blog posts people do as well as linking to other sites.  Alternately, you could just visit the group in GoodReads, where all members will be linking to reviews.  It isn't too late to join, if this idea intrigues you.  Making the list is great fun, but the reading will be even better.  I'm already plotting for an Around the USA challenge for 2013....

Here is a visual representation of the countries I will read books from, created on worldmapmaker.com

2012 Challenge - Orange January

Reading a lot of book blogs' end of year posts, it has become clear that there are book bloggers who excel at conquering reading challenges. I might never take on as many as Emma from Words and Peace, but I am intentionally taking on TWO in the new year. One of the two challenges I am taking on in 2012 is Orange January.  Orange January/July is a twice-yearly personal challenge where you commit to read at least one book that has won or been nominated for the Orange Prize.  Jill at The Magic Lasso hosts the challenge, and invites other bloggers to contribute reviews. The link to the challenge links to all the lists - winners, nominees, long lists, short lists, and so on.  The Orange Prize is something I have read a lot of by accident, but never intentionally.


The fun thing about going through the lists was my discovery that quite a few books were novels I was already planning to read for the Around the World in 52 Books challenge.  I simply moved those books to the front of the line, which includes the following:
  • The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
  • Frangipani by Celestine Hitiura Vaite
  • A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This might be enough of a challenge for some people but I have a bunch more Orange titles physically sitting on my to-read shelf crying out for attention.  I might get to a few of the following as well:
  • Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (already halfway red, my bedside table book right now)
  • Brick Lane by Monica Ali
  • American Life by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson
I'm excited to get started! The Tiger's Wife will be the first cover I crack in 2012!