Sunday, April 11, 2010

April Reviews!!

Here's the spot to link to all the wonderful books you will read this month. I can't wait to see what you think of them! And if you have a chance, please try to visit your fellow 451-Challenge participants - you might just find something else you HAVE to read. =)

I'm Back!!!

Hello friends. I am SO sorry I've had to neglect things around here for such a long time. Thankfully, I think things are getting back on track, so I can take proper care of my challenge again. I have lots of plans to make things fun, and of course, I can't wait to see what wonderful books you've been reading!

If you are interested in why I've been away, I wrote about it here -

Where I've Been

Here's to life getting (somewhat) back to normal!

February and March Reviews!!!

Since I'm WAY behind, I'm just going to combine two months - and then we will get caught back up in April. I can't wait to see what you've read!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Hello, my friends. I'm writing to apologize for my absence around here of late - it has been an emotional few months at my house, with some wonderful news and some devastating news all mixed together. I AM sorry I have neglected things so badly around here - I hope to be able to catch back up, but can't promise when that will happen, as we are going to be making a number of big adjustments in the weeks ahead. Thanks to everyone for your concern - I hope I can get things back on track soon!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

451 Fridays - Beth from Beth Fish Reads

As promised, another installment of 451 Fridays featuring one of our 451 Challenge participants - enjoy!

451 Fridays

451 Fridays is based on an idea from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In his novel, a group of people (Bradbury calls them Book People) are trying to keep the ideas found in books alive. Instead of actually saving the books, the Book People each "become" a book - memorizing it, word for word, and passing it down to the next generation.

451 Fridays asks what books you feel passionate about. What book do you think is so important that you would be willing to take on the challenge of "becoming"?

I'm thrilled today to welcome Beth, from BethFishReads. I love Beth's blog - she reads and reviews some extremely interesting books. Also, thanks to her "how-to" posts, I've figured out how to make the fun little graphics I use for 451 Fridays and The Nonfiction Files. Thanks, Beth!

What 5 books do you believe are important enough to be saved, and why?

I'm excited about participating in this feature. I wrote this post in the first half March after only one 451 Friday post had been published. I was afraid that I'd be influenced by other people's choices, so I wrote mine up right away!

Greengage Summer by Rumor Godden: I first read this book when I was probably too young to even understand all of it. It's a coming-of-age story of two sisters, aged sixteen and thirteen, that that takes place in the French countryside. It has elements of romance and mystery and learning the truth about the world.

Lord of the Rings: I first read this trilogy when I was in 6th or 7th grade. The world, the legends, the languages, and the characters were utterly engrossing. There is so much fantasy available now with Harry Potter, Inkworld, and so on. But in the mid-1960s, C. S. Lewis and Tolkien were all almost all I knew.

Pride and Prejudice: I wouldn't want to be in a world without this novel. No matter how many times I read it or see different movie versions, it never fails to delight me.

A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul: Here's one I first read in when I was in graduate school. I just looked up the publication date (1979), so I must have read it pretty soon after it was published. It was the first Naipaul novel I read. It tells about life in Africa at the end of the colonial period. We follow one man's struggle to cope with a changing world; we feel his hope, despair, gain, and loss. The feel of the book is almost dreamlike, and it has stuck with me for 30 years.

Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright: I read this Utopia story in the late 1970s. I found out a few years later that it had an almost cult following. Who wouldn't want to live in Islandia, far from the stresses and numbing life of the industrialized world? Wright comes in just behind Tolkien in creating a full world, complete with laws, language, geography, and a complex society.

Of those 5, which book would you choose to "become"?

Okay, so which book do I want to be? I'm ruling out Lord of the Rings and Islandia by length alone (for those who don't know, Islandia is almost 1000 pages). As for the other three? I think I'll pick Greengage Summer. Here are some samples:

"On and off, all that hot French August, we made ourselves ill from eating the greengages. Joss and I felt guilty; we were still at the age when we thought being greedy was a childish fault and this gave our guilt a tinge of hopelessness because, up to then, we had believed that as we grew older our faults would disappear, and none of them did." (first lines)

"To wake for the first time in a new place can be like another birth." (p. 31)

"[I] was going to make myself speak to him when I saw he had not noticed me; he was watching Joss. When people are watching they forget to pretend and there was something in Paul's face that made me afraid; it was wild, like a wild animal that does not think of itself or any other animal but only what it wants." (pp. 169-170)

(originally posted on As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves on 5/15/09)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January Reviews!!

Hello, 451 friends! It's time to start reading and reviewing those books! Remember that EACH REVIEW you link here will be an entry into our grand prize drawing for a $25 gift card to the online bookseller of your choice.

And if you have a chance, make sure to visit some of your fellow 451 participants' reviews - you might just discover a new book you have to read! *grin*

451 Fridays - Kristen from WeBeReading

The grand idea for this challenge came from a weekly feature I've been hosting on my main blog, As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves. Here's how the seed of 451 Fridays was born:

"As a side note, my mom (the brilliant english teacher) has her class participate in a very interesting activity to go along with reading this novel (Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury). Inspired by the Book People, she asks her students to list 5 books they believe are important enough that they should be saved, and the one novel from that list they are passionate enough about that they would be willing to "become" that book. It's an interesting question, which I'm going to ask of myself."

I answered that question myself here, and since then I've been thrilled to host a fascinating group of relatives, friends, bloggers, and authors, each of whom has created insightful and personally meaningful lists of books which they would hope to save in a future without books.

Several of those participants have also signed up for the 451 Challenge, and I thought it would be fun revisit their lists of books. First up is Kristen - enjoy!

451 Fridays

451 Fridays is based on an idea from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In his novel, a group of people (Bradbury calls them Book People) are trying to keep the ideas found in books alive. Instead of actually saving the books, the Book People each "become" a book - memorizing it, word for word, and passing it down to the next generation.

451 Fridays asks what books you feel passionate about. What book do you think is so important that you would be willing to take on the challenge of "becoming"?

This week, I'm thrilled to welcome Kristen to 451 Fridays. Kristen blogs at WeBeReading, and is the fabulous host of Poe Fridays, which I love. Also, it was her birthday not TOO long ago - you should all stop by and wish her a Happy Belated. =) Kristen, thanks for playing along with me today.

What 5 books do you believe are important enough to be saved, and why?

Alright ... here is my list at this time in my life ...

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte because it really shows the best of human nature with Mr. Rochester caring for the wife he was tricked into marrying and Jane Eyre loving Mr. Rochester regardless of his reduced state. Mr. Rochester is also a man who is able to see past fortunes to people's true selves. This was also one of the first times a woman was able to reveal herself as a successful author, throwing off the pseudonym of Currer Bell.

2. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand because it has the best and the worst of people to remind us what man is and what man could be. It gives value to individual thought and originality. It might be a bit melodramatic and the politics and economics are questionable but the basic concept -- that all men should strive to be self-reliant and self-sufficient -- is sound.

3. The Double Helix by James D. Watson because it's science made accessible and exciting. There will always be advancement in science if men and women with imagination enter the field.

4. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde because it's hilarious and smart and it has a happy ending. It shows the best of love, both sweet and earnest, and that you can never be too young or old for love.

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is about the quest for humanity and companionship and it's an example of some of the baser emotions.

Of those 5, which book would you choose to "become"?

I think that I would "become" Frankenstein.

Do you have any favorite quotes from the book, so we know why you love it so much?

This book consists of some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read. I have chosen a few passages that are good examples of the depth of the writing but this book really needs to be read in its entirety.

I feel exquisite pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood, before misfortune had tainted my mind, and changed its bright visions of extensive usefulness into gloomy and narrow reflections upon self. Besides, in drawing the picture of my early days, I also record those events which led, by insensible steps, to my after tale of misery: for when I would account to myself for the birth of that passion, which afterwards ruled my destiny, I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble and almost forgotten sources; but, swelling as it proceeded, it became the torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys. -- Victor Frankenstein, Chapter 2

Thus not the tenderness of friendship, nor the beauty of earth, nor of heaven, could redeem my soul from woe: the very accents of love were ineffectual. I was encompassed by a cloud which no beneficial influence could penetrate. The wounded deer dragging its fainting limbs to some untrodden brake, there to gaze upon the arrow which had pierced it, and to die--was but a type of me. -- Victor Frankenstein, Chapter 9

The abrupt sides of vast mountains were before me; the icy wall of the glacier overhung me; a few shattered pines were scattered around; and the solemn silence of this glorious presence-chamber of imperial Nature was broken only by the brawling waves, or the fall of some vast fragment, the thunder sound of the avalanche, or the cracking reverberated along the mountains of the accumulated ice, which, through the silent working of immutable laws, was ever and anon rent and torn, as if it had been but a plaything in their hands. These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving. They elevated me from all littleness of feeling; and although they did not remove my grief, they subdued and tranquillised it. In some degree, also, they diverted my mind from the thoughts over which it had brooded for the last month. I retired to rest at night; my slumbers, as it were, waited on and ministered to by the assemblance of grand shapes which I had contemplated during the day. They congregated round me; the unstained snowy mountain-top, the glittering pinnacle, the pine woods, and ragged bare ravine; the eagle, soaring amidst the clouds--they all gathered round me, and bade me be at peace. --Victor Frankenstein, Chapter 10

"How can I move thee? Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a favourable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy goodness and compassion? Believe me, Frankenstein: I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity: but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow-creatures, who owe me nothing? they spurn and hate me. The desert mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuge. I have wandered here many days; the caves of ice, which I only do not fear, are a dwelling to me, and the only one which man does not grudge. These bleak skies I hail, for they are kinder to me than your fellow-beings. If the multitude of mankind knew of my existence, they would do as you do, and arm themselves for my destruction. Shall I not then hate them who abhor me? I will keep no terms with my enemies. I am miserable, and they shall share my wretchedness. Yet it is in your power to recompense me, and deliver them from an evil which it only remains for you to make so great that not only you and your family, but thousands of others, shall be swallowed up in the whirlwinds of its rage. Let your compassion be moved, and do not disdain me."--The Monster, Chapter 10

(originally posted on As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves on 5/1/09)