Archive for the ‘reading’ Category

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Top Five Books of 2013

For the last two years running (2012 and 2011), LT staff members have each compiled a list of their top five reads for the year.

For 2013, we wanted everyone to get in on the fun, so we compiled a list that all of LibraryThing can add to. We’d like to see not just the most read books of 2013, but the best of the best. What were your five favorite reads of 2013?

» List: Top Five Books of 2013 — Add your own.


Continuing this grand tradition, here’s the wordier breakdown of the staff’s favorites, including some honorable (and dishonorable) mentions:

Tim

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler Mike’s suggestion. Wonderful atmosphere.

Eifelheim by Michael Flynn Unexpected story of aliens landing in 14c. Germany, and of misunderstanding and understanding.

Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking by Philippe Coudray First book my son read cover-to-cover.

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis I don’t believe I had read it before. Told it was a dud, but I loved it.

The Circle by Dave Eggers Not the greatest novel qua novel, but it’ll stick with me. And it was enormously validating to have some of my fears put out there.

Tim’s dishonorable mentions for 2013:
Wool by Hugh Howey: I love good science fiction, but most of it is crap. Hot or not, it’s crap…
The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle: Bad “classic” science fiction. Didn’t finish.
Children of God by Mary Doria Russell: I adored The Sparrow. The sequel is a big disappointment. It’s a “negative sequel.” Like the Matrix sequels, it makes the original worse.
The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham: Bad “classic” science fiction.


Abby

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Where’d You Go, Bernadette* by Maria Semple

*Abby would like it noted that she blames The Circle by Dave Eggers for making her put other books on hold, which might have actually been the best this year.


Kate

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar by Kelly Oxford

Kate’s dishonorable mentions for 2013:
There Was an Old Woman by Hallie Ephron
The Never List by Koethi Zan
Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason
You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt: A 1980s Cold War bildungsroman, complete with spies and mistaken identities?! I was supposed to love this book. I did not love this book.


Chris H.

Rough Passage to London: A Sea Captain’s Tale by Robin Lloyd

The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin

The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands by Nicholas Capp

Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman

The Inventor and the Tycoon: A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of Moving Pictures by Edward Ball


Mike

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

The Crown Tower by Michael J. Sullivan

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

Low Town by Daniel Polansky


Seth

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

The Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner


Chris C.

Building Machine Learning Systems with Python by Willi Richert

A Wizard, a True Star: Todd Rundgren in the Studio by Paul Myers

Machine Learning for Hackers by Drew Conway

Frank: The Voice by James Caplan

Make: Electronics: Learning Through Discovery by Charles Platt


KJ

The Rathbones by Janice Clark

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt

Cypherpunks by Julian Assange

The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

KJ’s honorable mentions for 2013:
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Open City by Teju Cole


Loranne

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
This one’s a re-read for me (for sci-fi book club), but it’s also one of my all-time favorites, so it’s going on the list.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Definitely my most anticipated book of the year, and it did not disappoint. Allie Brosh is a hilarious, insightful genius.

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
This one didn’t change my reading life the way his first novel, The Gone-Away World did, but it’s also excellent.

Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood
I binged on the whole trilogy in about a month, but this was my favorite by far.

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
I absolutely loved The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game, but didn’t think this one quite measured up. Still very good, though.

Loranne’s dishonorable mentions for 2013:
The Circle by Dave Eggers: I really enjoyed doing One LibraryThing, One Book, but when I finally finished this one, I wanted to throw it against a wall. I just did not like it. At all.
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany: Another selection for sci-fi book club. I just couldn’t get into this one. I didn’t even make it to the halfway point. Kept waiting for things to get interesting/start making sense, and they never did.


Matt

Tutte le poesie by Eugenio Montale

Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves

The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol by Nikolai Gogol

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner

The Origin and Goal of History by Karl Jaspers

Matt’s honorable mentions for 2013:
Locomotrix: Selected Poetry and Prose of Amelia Rosselli by Amelia Rosselli
The Professional Chef’s Book of Charcuterie by Tina G. Mueller
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

More?

Tell us about your favorites for 2013 on Talk, or add your own Top Five to our list!

Labels: holiday, lists, reading, recommendations

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Join the 75 Books Challenge for 2013!

Looking for a fun way to get more involved with LibraryThing? Join the 75 Books Challenge for 2013, one of the site’s most active (and entertaining) groups. Members take a stab at reading 75 books over the course of the year (although, as the group description notes, “It turns out we care less about the numbers than we do about the exchange of book info and the community of readers”). Your mileage will vary.

Participants are invited to start a thread and list/discuss what they’re reading (here’s the full list so far), but the group goes way beyond that, with monthly Take It Or Leave It (TIOLI) challenges, monthly themes, group reads, meetups, and more.

This is the sixth year of the LT 75 Books Challenge, and it gets more and more interesting every time. I’ve joined the fray for the second time this year (you can see my reading thread here): I had a great deal of fun last year, and am excited to be back in the game for 2013!

The activity level is fairly high, but there’s a handy wiki to help you keep things straight, and of course the members of the group are always helpful to new members. Most importantly, it’s a fun way to meet other LibraryThing members and discuss what you’re reading (also, be warned, your wishlist is very likely to grow by leaps and bounds!).

To participate, just jump right in by visiting the group page. And have fun!

Labels: groups, reading

Monday, December 17th, 2012

LT Staff’s Favorite 2012 Reads

I asked everyone on the LT staff to put together a list of their five favorite reads from 2012. Here’s what they came up with:

Tim:

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann.

Why Big Fierce Animals are Rare: An Ecologist’s Perspective by Paul A. Colinvaux.

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl (with my son).


Abby:

The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro.

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeannette Winterson.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

Abby adds “Because picking just 5 is hard, honorable mention to: The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.”


Chris H.:

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham.

The Fourth Part of the World by Toby Lester.

The Icon Handbook by Jon Hicks.

The Art of Urban Sketching by Gabriel Campanario.

The Road to Ubar by Nicholas Clapp.


Jeremy:

Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer by Wesley Stace.

The Passage of Power by Robert Caro.

The Rector and the Rogue by W.A. Swanberg (the new edition edited by Paul Collins).

The Social Conquest of Earth by E.O. Wilson.

The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann.

Honorable mentions here for The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King and PYG: The Memoirs of a Learned Pig by Russell A. Potter. NB: I always post a top ten fiction and a top ten non-fiction list on my blog on December 31, so check in there at the end of the year for the complete list.


Kate:

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Kate gives an honorable mention to Pulphead: Essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan.


Mike:

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks.

In the Woods by Tana French.

The Riyria Revelations (series) by Michael J. Sullivan.

Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook.

Hide and Seek by Ian Rankin.


Seth:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Hunter.

PHP Master: Write Cutting-Edge Code by Davey Shafik.


What were your favorite 2012 reads? Come tell us here.

Labels: holiday, reading

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

End-of-2012 ReadaThing!

Mark your calendars! Coming up soon is the special End-of-2012 ReadaThing! All are welcome, and you don’t have to read for the full week: the goal is to have a few people from around the world reading at any given time during the ReadaThing. You don’t even have a pick a set time if you don’t want to – just dip in and out as your reading schedule permits!

The official start time will be at midnight on Sunday, 23 December UTC: that’s 7 p.m. Saturday in the Eastern US/Canada/LT time zone. This ReadaThing will have a staggered ending at midnight local time on January 1, 2013, to ring in the New Year in true LT style. See the time chart here.

For more information, see the announcement thread; to sign up, head right to the ReadaThing wiki. As we get closer to the date, we’ll add threads where you can post what will you be reading, and during the ReadaThing you can use the “Log Book” thread to document your ReadaThing experience.

For more on ReadaThings, and to participate in planning future events, join the ReadaThing group.

Labels: holiday, readathon, reading

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

ReadaThing Coming up!

Mark your calendars! Coming up soon is a weeklong July/August ReadaThing. All are welcome, and you don’t have to read for the full week: the goal is to have a few people from around the world reading at any given time during the ReadaThing.

The official start time will be at noon on Thursday, July 26 UTC/GMT: that’s 8 a.m. Thursday in the Eastern US/Canada/LT time zone. This ReadaThing will run for a full week. See the time chart here.

For more information, see the announcement thread; to sign up, head right to the ReadaThing wiki. As we get closer to the date, consider posting your reading selection in the “What will you be reading?” thread, and during the ReadaThing you can use the “Log Book” thread to document your ReadaThing experience.

For more on ReadaThings, and to participate in planning future events, join the ReadaThing group.

Labels: readathon, reading

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

ReadaThing Reminder!

Just a quick reminder: the February ReadaThing begins tomorrow! See the earlier blog post for full details, or head right over to the ReadaThing wiki to sign up!

Labels: readathon, reading

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Announcing the February “Dickens of a” ReadaThing!

Mark your calendars! Coming up is a weeklong February ReadaThing, and with the bicentennial of Charles Dickens‘ birth on February 7 occurring right in the middle, we thought it would be fun to include a voluntary “Dickens of a ReadaThing” option this time. All are welcome: you don’t have to read Dickens if you don’t want to, and of course you don’t have to read for the full week: the goal is to have a few people from around the world reading at any given time during the ReadaThing.

The official start time will be at 1 p.m. on Friday, February 3rd in New Zealand: midnight GMT and 7 p.m. Thursday, February 2nd, in the Eastern US/Canada time zone. This ReadaThing will run for a full week!

For more information, see the announcement thread; to sign up, head right to the ReadaThing wiki. As we get closer to the date, consider posting your reading selection in the “What will you be reading?” thread, and during the ReadaThing you can use the “Log Book” thread to document your ReadaThing experience.

For more on ReadaThings, and to participate in planning future events, join the ReadaThing group.

Edward Pettit is spending the entire year reading books by and about Dickens, and charting his course at Reading Charles Dickens, so I asked him to weigh in on his experiences and offer some suggestions of Dickens-related books LibraryThing members might want to consider reading:

“For the Charles Dickens Bicentennial in 2012, I’ve decided to become a Charles Dickens Ambassador. First, I’m finishing a reading project I began on Sept 15, 2011 to read all of Dickens’ published work in just one year. Having read only a few of Dickens’ novels over the years (including A Christmas Carol a dozen times), I had always hoped to get to the rest of them, but never seemed to find the time, so what better time than the Dickens Bicentennial. And as reading is such a solitary activity, I thought I’d invite everyone along for the ride, so you can read (and comment) about my Dickens endeavours online.

Second, you can also join me at The Free Library of Philadelphia for events every month of the year as the FLP opens its amazing Dickens collection to the world in several exhibitions. We’re hosting literary salons, speakers, performers. We’ll follow Dickens’ foosteps on his visit to Philadelphia in 1842. We’ll even have some Drinking with Dickens events in local bars to imbibe the many Victorian beverages featured in the novels.

To further my duties as a Charles Dickens Ambassador, I also carry around a bag full of Dickens novels, which I freely give to anyone who asks for a copy. So join me in 2012. Become a CD Ambassador. Spread the joy of reading Dickens.

If I could recommend a starter Dickens work, it would be A Christmas Carol. It doesn’t need to be Christmas time to read this extraordinary tale of ghosts and transformation. I am moved by it every time I read it (and my kids are still scared to death of Marley’s ghost).

Or you could try The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, Dickens’ first novel (and first serial). This book is a pleasure to read with vibrant characters, especially Mr Pickwick and his manservant Sam Weller. The novel is not just funny, but there’s also a kind of innate joy and goodwill that rises out of its pages. I never wanted to leave this Pickwickian world.”

Ed (EdwardGPettit on LT) will be around during the ReadaThing as well, so look for more suggestions and recommendations from him as we get closer to the ReadaThing dates.

I’m already looking forward to this ReadaThing: I haven’t picked what I’ll be reading yet, but it’ll probably be some Dickens (maybe American Notes), along with whatever else I happen to be reading that week.

Reminder: For more information on the ReadaThing or to sign up, see the announcement thread. Have fun, and happy reading!

Labels: readathon, reading

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Try the 2012 75 Books Challenge!

If you’re looking for a fun way to get more involved with LibraryThing, you might consider joining the 75 Books Challenge for 2012, one of the site’s most active (and entertaining) groups. Members take a stab at reading 75 books in 2012 (although, as the group description notes, “It turns out we care less about the numbers than we do about the exchange of book info and the community of readers”). Your mileage will vary.

Participants are invited to start a thread and list/discuss what they’re reading (here’s the full list so far), but the group goes way beyond that, with monthly Take It Or Leave It (TIOLI) challenges, monthly themes (like Journeying January, group reads (like the SteinbeckaThon or Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa), meetups (D.C. and New York City meetups are planned for the spring, and a group met in Denver just this weekend).

The 75 Books Challenge has been going on for a few years now (I think this may be the fifth year), and it gets more and more interesting every time. I’ve joined the fray for the first time this year (you can see my reading thread here), and I’m already finding it lots of fun … not to mention the fact that my wishlist continues to grow as I see what others are reading!

The activity level is fairly high, but there’s a handy wiki to help you keep things straight, and of course the members of the group are always helpful to new members. Most importantly, it’s a fun

To participate, just jump right in by visiting the group page. And have fun!

Labels: groups, reading

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

LT Staff’s Favorite 2011 Reads

I asked everyone on the LT staff to put together a list of their favorite reads from 2011. Here’s what they came up with:

Tim:

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. Listened to this twice through in the car with my son. White simply never puts a foot wrong. The book is perfect.

Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch. Engrossing door-stopper survey of Christianity—with a thousand years of Greek and Jewish civilization thrown in for context.

Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis. A highly enjoyable series of vignettes related to the Founders. Ellis lied about his war record, but he’s still worth reading.

What Happened at Vatican II by John W. O’Malley. Excellent overview of the council from a historical, rather than theological angle, demonstrating, against recent chatter, that “something” did indeed happen.

Xenocide by Orson Scott Card. The only Card book I read in 2011, Xenocide isn’t as good as Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, but it’s still hugely enjoyable. The audiobook version is particularly engaging.


Abby:

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin. Yes, I’m one of the people who didn’t get started on A Song of Ice and Fire until the HBO series came out. But then I got to read/devour all five right in a row, without waiting years for them to come out, like the rest of you. Who’s laughing now?

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. I just love Ann Patchett.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Erin Morgenstern writes beautifully, and it’s a treat to enter her fantastical, magical world. (If you liked this, you should probably also read Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and its sequel that came out this year, The Magician King).

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. There’s a reason this book is hitting so many “best of the year” lists. An unexpectedly wonderful, woven together story about baseball, college, love, and life.

Bossypants by Tina Fey. This is a book that will make you look like a crazy person laughing loudly to yourself if you read it in public.


Kate:

I Was Told There’d be Cake: Essays by Sloane Crosley.

The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett.

In the Woods by Tana French.

Bossypants by Tina Fey.

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell.


Chris H.:

The Sugar King of Havana by John Paul Rathbone.

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach.

Colossus by Michael A. Hiltzik.

The Clockwork Universe by Edward Dolnick.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman-Burt.


Brian:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.

Back to Our Future by David Sirota.

Decision Points by George W. Bush.

Parachute Infantry by David Kenyon Webster.


Jeremy:

Liberty’s Exiles by Maya Jasanoff. Even when I read this in May I knew it would be on my Best of 2011 list. It’s an extremely well-written account of the loyalist diaspora, drawing on a massive amount of new archival research. Full review.

The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips. As I wrote in my review, this novel “includes the text of a newly rediscovered Shakespeare play. Or it doesn’t. Either way, it’s a delightful examination of books and forgeries and Shakespeare scholarship, wrapped up in a meta-narrative and tied with a bow.” Full review.

Then Everything Changed by Jeff Greenfield. I absolutely devoured this set of fascinating alt-histories. What if a suicide bomber had killed JFK outside his house in December, 1960, before the electors had cast their ballots? What if RFK hadn’t been shot in June, 1968, just after winning the California primary? What if Gerald Ford had recovered from a crucial gaffe during a 1976 debate, and won reelection? Greenfield delves into some seriously wonderful political arcana. Full review.

Pym by Mat Johnson. A darkly satirical reimagining of Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Full review.

The Story of Charlotte’s Web by Michael Sims. From my review: “If you’ve ever enjoyed White’s masterpiece, or like to know the “story behind the book,” this is a title you should be sure to add to your shelves. It’s a keeper.” Full review.

NB: I always post a top ten fiction and a top ten non-fiction list on my blog on December 31, so check in there at the end of the year for the complete list.


Mike:

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks.

The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett.

The Magician King by Lev Grossman.

What were your favorite 2011 reads? Come tell us here.

Labels: reading

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

ReadaThing Planned for August 6-7

The good folks in the ReadaThing group have planned a 48-hour readathon for Saturday and Sunday, August 6-7*. You can join up here by signing up to read for an hour of your choice, and list what book(s) you’ll read on the participation wiki.

Or, if you’re up for a bigger challenge, Saturday August 6 (local time) is also the official 2011 “Do Nothing But Read” Day, for which you can sign up here. The organizers invite all to join in, so if your schedule allows and you’re in need of a nice long day of reading (and who among us isn’t!?), take the plunge!

* In keeping with the international spirit of LT, this ReadaThing is running from noon Saturday to noon Monday New Zealand time (8 p.m. Friday to 8 p.m. Sunday EDT). So depending on where you are, you could be reading anytime from 5-8 August!

Labels: DNBRD, Do Nothing but Read Day, reading