Monthly Archives: September 2010

My Vacation Reading List

Skippy DiesThis is my last post for a little while. I’m off to London and Paris with my brother and dad tomorrow, and I’m not taking the blog with me. Don’t worry, though, I’ll be back on Reading for Robin a week from Monday… or Tuesday depending on how tired and/or jet lagged I am.

While some people may be curious about the sites I will see and the food I will eat, I know you are all most interested in what books I will be reading. I’d like to say I picked novels that were somehow connected to London and Paris to enrich my experience, but that would be a lie. Instead, I chose a random assortment of books I’ve been wanting to read. They include:

  • Schooled by Anisha Lakhani
  • Happy Birthday or Whatever by Annie Choi
  • Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
  • And a few not-yet-published manuscripts

Ambitious? More like delusional. I could maybe read most of these books if I was chilling by the pool on a cruise for a week. However, since I’ll actually be frolicking around Europe, my guess is I will get to about two of the books, and I’m okay with that. I’d rather take in the sites (and the food).

Still, it’s a nice mix of my own picks plus books on my mom’s list. If any of you are paying attention to what’s happening on here, you may be asking yourself what happened to Beautiful Boy, that book Sam kept talking about but never actually mentioned reading? Okay, so I got a little distracted by Freedom and The Lost Girls. I will read Beautiful Boy, but it didn’t make sense to pack a hardcover for this trip, and instead I stocked my Kindle with e-books. I need all the room I can get in my suitcase for the fancy French clothing souvenirs I’ll be buying.

Have a good week everyone!

Book Club’s Verdict on The Lost Girls

The Lost GirlsLast night was book club, and I upheld my streak of reading every book we’ve discussed. This time bordered on cheating though since I’d had to skim the last 50 or so pages in order to make it on time. I shouldn’t have worried so much – only one or two other members had finished the book too.

Our group’s lack of completion shouldn’t completely be taken as a judgment on the book’s content. The Lost Girls, which follows twentysomethings Jen, Amanda, and Holly as they ditch their old New York City lives to trek across the world, is interesting and entertaining, and it certainly made me want to travel… just with less cockroaches and better bathrooms if possible.

The problem was more the length. It’s not that the members are against reading long books, but it’s tricky when there’s a deadline. Personally, I liked parts of the book but felt it could have been a whole lot shorter. I’m sure living the adventure was exciting, but after 570 pages, the reading about it gets a little repetitive. Find hostel, battle bugs, meet backpackers, sightsee, sleep, rinse and repeat. I want to be friends with Jen, Amanda, and Holly, I want to do (some) of what they did, I just want to get through the story of it a little faster.

They must have done more than a few things right, though, because they are getting a TV show! Or at least a pilot. Jerry Bruckheimer Television has bought the TV rights to The Lost Girls and ABC has committed to a pilot. Did I mention I want to be friends with these girls? So cool!

eBooks on a Plane

TVs on AirplaneI know, I know, the title of this post is lame, but I just had to do it.

For those who don’t know, I’m skipping off to Europe this weekend. And by “skipping” I mean taking about a seven hour transatlantic flight. So, that means, I’ve been busy thinking about what books to read on the plane. I’ve started filling my e-reader and planned to read the equivalent of an entire library, ignoring any thoughts of sleep or friendly chatting.

But could airplanes soon help my reading habits besides just offering plenty of uninterrupted otherwise boring time to read? In a piece that particularly caught my eye thanks to my upcoming travels, Media Bistro’s eBookNewser contemplates e-books coming to airplane screens. Apparently, Virgin America’s “Red,” the in-flight interactive entertainment system, offers a “Read” button. As of now (and since the airline launched in 2007), that button leads you to a “Coming Soon” message, but it does open the door for a lot of possible opportunities. eBookNewser imagines options like offering e-books for free or purchase, accessing to your Amazon or Barnes and Noble account, or viewing sample chapters from publishers. It seems like there’s a lot of reading potential that can be tapped into with those little screens on the back of seats. I’m sure it won’t be long before we see it utilized.

In the meantime, I’m trying to convince myself to leave my hardcovers and paperbacks at home and just rely on my Kindle for this trip. But more on my reading line-up later…

Happy (Belated) Birthday Agatha Christie

And Then There Were NoneLast week was an important birthday. And I don’t just mean my friend Bari’s or my friend Stacy’s. Though, those both happened, so happy birthday girls!

However, September 15th marked the 120th birthday of the Queen of Murder Mystery: Agatha Christie. And I feel terrible that I missed it!

I used to be a huge Agatha Christie fan. Apparently, I’m not alone since I’ve learned that more than 2 billion of her books have been sold and they are published in more than 45 languages worldwide. Christie’s And Then There Were None (also published as Ten Little Indians) was probably one of my first “favorite” books. I loved the twist ending, which I can’t really remember anymore. Shortly thereafter my mom had to take me to the library to get more and more Christie books. I was especially into the Hercule Poirot stories and very likely read them all.

So thank you Agatha Christie for getting me sucked into murder mysteries. I apologize for missing the birthday, but fortunately it seems Google remembered. Their homepage in the UK featured this cute doodle:

Agatha Christie Google Doodle

I Take It Back: Oprah and Freedom

Freedom by Jonathan FranzenRemember the other day when I was talking about how David Sheff and Beautiful Boy were all Oprah-y and Jonathan Franzen and Freedom were not?

Sorry, Reading for Robin readers, I spoke too soon.

Two weeks after that post, I very much take it back. In fact, Jonathan Franzen has one-upped David Sheff when it comes to Oprah-ness. While Sheff discussed his book in an episode with his son, Franzen’s book was chosen for Oprah’s book club.

You may recall that I mentioned that Oprah picked Franzen’s earlier book, The Corrections, only to have him make some negative comments and her to pull the book from the book club. Well, it seems all has been forgiven and forgotten.

In the announcement she made on the show (it went a little like this “FREEEEEDOOOOM”), I believe Oprah used the words “masterpiece” and “the best novel you will ever read.” A pretty good endorsement, I’d say.

(Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios)

Two More For The To-Be-Read Pile

I read a lot of blogs and Twitter accounts related to the book world. This is great for staying up to date on the publishing industry, but not so great for making progress on my to-be-read lists.

As if my mom’s list wasn’t enough to keep me busy reading, I keep finding myself get excited about other books I hear about and want to read them soon too. I love reading my mom’s list and she made great choices, but I’m certain she would be adding to it as new enticing books came up just like I am. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I shared with you my own reading list and since then it’s grown!

I just got a copy of Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies and I’m really looking forward to reading it. I’ve heard so many good things! But the book that I’m most excited to read these days is called Room by Emma Donoghue. It’s received rave reviews and been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize. Here’s the description:

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

As someone who was slightly obsessed with the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping story, I’m fascinated by this type of novel. The fact that it’s told entirely from the perspective of a child makes it all the more interesting to me. And look how great this book trailer is:



Of course, I’m not sure exactly when I’ll get to this book (my upcoming flight to Europe is my go-to for all my supposed reading plans, but it’s not an unlimited number of hours and I do need to sleep!). And, as I’ve said for a while now, I should probably get back to my mom’s pick Beautiful Boy one of these days. Good thing there are no reading deadlines. Oh wait, except for my book club one. Getting on that…now.

Someone Else’s Quote Worth Quoting

New York CitySo I used to do a feature on the blog more regularly called “A Quote Worth Quoting” that opened with a paragraph that went a little something like this:

I’m not a person who underlines phrases that speak to me in books. I’m not one who even thinks that phrases speak to me in books. But during this project, I’m going to try and be that kind of person. I think it will add something to the discussions about the books and maybe even give you all a little insight into who I am.

I’ve sort of let it go by the wayside recently, but it’s back today. However, I’m cheating a little. I mentioned the other day that I am reading my book club book The Lost Girls on my friend Maggie’s Kindle. Well, that gives me the advantage of seeing all the parts she’s bookmarked and highlighted already. Fortunately, she is the kind of person who underlines passages and take notes on parts that interest her.

Not far into the book I stumbled upon one her highlights. I liked seeing what caught her eye, and as I read that particular section, it caught my eye too. That’s why we’re friends I guess. So, now that she did the picking of the quote for me, I will share it with you all:

“For the past four years, I’d considered New York my home. So in a way, home for me wasn’t a specific address. The reason New York felt so right was that it was like a hundred countries squeezed into a single island. It was a land where Wall Street brokers bumped up against Mexican busboys on the subway; the scent of falafel mixed with dim sum in the East Village; and horse-drawn carriages shared the road with racing bikes in Central Park. I’d fallen in love with the energy in Manhattan. And then I’d fallen out of love with it. And then I’d fallen all over again. new York was like an addictive relationship–when it was good, it was really, really good. But when it was bad, it made me feel like I was on sensory overload, threatening to pull me under until I lost myself.”

Of course in a book about traveling the world, I am drawn to a passage about New York. Most people who have lived here can identify with the love-hate relationship with the city described. New York can be completely frustrating at times (particularly times when it’s raining and you need to get somewhere and there is not a single cab to be found), but I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else at the moment.

(A special thanks to Maggie for making writing this post so easy! You knew something like this might happen when you lent me the Kindle…)