Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007 Reading Year in Review

Number of books read: 117
*updates in red*

Total pages read: 32,506
Average book length: 278 pages

Longest book read in 2007: God is an Englishman by R.F. Delderfield - 687 pages

Shortest book read in 2007: Ghost Eye by Marion Dane Bauer - 82 pages

Fiction reads: 86
Favorite fiction: Argh! So hard! I loved the following:
Lottery by Patricia Wood
The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Non-fiction reads: 31
Favorite non-fiction: Oh, wow, don't make it easy on yourself, Bookfool.
Ill Met by Moonlight by W. Stanley Moss
Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Modern Medical Breakthroughs by Morton A. Myers, M.D.
To Hell and Back by Audie Murphy
First Light by Geoffrey Wellum
The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer

Number of authors new to me: 94

Biggest smile-inducers:
The Sound of Waves by Mishima (very romantic)
The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost (hahahaha, oh, hahahaha)
The Official Guide to Christmas in the South, of If You Can't Fry it, Spraypaint it Gold by David C. Barnette (so fun I read half of it aloud to my poor husband)
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Lesley Castle by Jane Austen
Monkey Love by Brenda Scott Royce
The Last Days of Summer (I laughed, I cried) by Steve Kluger
The Secret Lives of People in Love (ditto) by Simon Van Booy
Lottery (double ditto and sorry - just remembered I didn't put this one on the smile-inducer list; it was an emotional ride and I could not put it down till I finished) by Patricia Wood
The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke

Tear-jerkers:
The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy
Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger
Lottery by Patricia Wood
-----all three of these were so wonderful that words elude me; actually, that might be kind of normal, but who knows with my life going all roller-coastery (yes, that's a word, Mr. Spell Checker)

Nightmare-inducing (literally):
The Grizzly Maze by Nick Jans
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

Most awesome writing:
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy

Most surprising books:
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (I expected a futuristic story, but found it an amazing peek into the past)
To Hell and Back by Audie Murphy (the courage of Audie Murphy and his humility astounded me)
Ill Met by Moonlight by W. Stanley Moss (absolutely gripping; I found that I actually held my breath, at some points)
Firehouse by David Halberstam (most folks can't get the kind of answers that Halberstam managed out of a close-knit group like firefighters )
Lost in the Amazon by Stephen & Marlo Kilpatrick (I didn't expect it to be so well-written or so gripping)
Colleen's vampire novels (I thought I'd hate them, but I like Colleen, so I had to try . . . and it turned out they're terrific)
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (oh, wow, so romantic)

Biggest wastes of time:
In the Cut by Susannah Moore (just sordid; I wanted to burn it)
Pressed Pennies by Steven Manchester (trite story, bad writing)
Hurricane by Karen Harper (lousy writing, huge plot holes, terrible dialogue)
February Flowers by Fan Wu (uck)
Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers (hopelessly depressing)
The Poseidon Adventure by Paul Gallico (totally pissed me off)

Best edge-of-seat thriller:
Ill Met by Moonlight - a non-fiction WWII story about the kidnapping of a German general from Crete

Authors I read more than once:
Colleen Gleason (2)
Sarah Dessen (2)
Stevi Mittman (2)
Haven Kimmel (2)
Debbie Macomber (2)
Laurie Halse Anderson (2)

Authors I wish would hurry up and write more:
Patricia Wood
Simon Van Booy
Hugh Laurie (still waiting, Hugh - come on, hurry up)

Books read which were written by authors I know personally or have met:
The Rest Falls Away and Rises the Night by Colleen Gleason (who was one of the first visitors to my blog)
The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy (met after I read the book)
Truth or Dare by Melanie Atkins (friend from the writers' group I keep swearing I'm going to return to)
Two books by Stevi Mittman (had a nice chat going with her, for a while)
Lost in the Amazon by Stephen Kirkpatrick (took a photography course from him)
Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair (introduced her at a writers' conference and kept in touch for a time)

You should definitely read my friends' books. They're such nice people. So is Patricia Wood, whom I could have met (but I blew it by not contacting her before she left for San Francisco). Yep, you should hurry up and read her book.

Authors I wish I knew (or could at least spend a dinner or two interrogating):
David Halberstam (deceased)
J. Maarten Troost (whose attitude is so close to mine that it's frightening)
Charles Dickens (good old Chuck)
Brenda Scott Royce (I have a feeling she's a fun chick)
Patricia Wood, of course . . . and her mentor

Coming soon, I hope: A review of Getting Stoned with Savages, which I'm hacking away at, slowly.

Fill-in thought:
This week would rank high on
the interesting scale, low on fun. Except, I've gotten a tiny bit of joy at Penn Square Mall. I'll take it.

Favorite moments in the past week:
Son's phone call to tell me he got his first paycheck in the real world (he was giddy).
When Nurse Leland said, "I was almost worried, for a while, but I think she's on the mend." (about my mother)
When Dr. Parker #2 (my mother had 2 doctors Parker dropping by, this weekend) said, "You're not going to croak, today."

Reading goals for 2008:
1. Read from my shelves.
2. Purchase no more than 1 book per month (yeah, I've already altered that one, two days in).
3. Stop reading if a book doesn't grab me (there were too many I should have ditched, this year).
4. Don't participate in challenges, except for the Year of Reading Dangerously and any self-challenges I might deem worthy of creating for myself.
5. Read more than 125 books.

Hawaii pic of the day:

Cool. Not sure I want to try surfing, but it was fun to watch.

Gotta run. Hope 2008 is turning out to be a good year for y'all, so far.

Bookfool, on the verge of going completely crackers (but I haven't made it, just yet)

47 comments:

  1. I like your lists! Lots of fun. And good luck with those resolutions; I've cut myself off from bookstores AND bookmooch until I finish all the books waiting on my shelves....we'll see how that goes!

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  2. Wow, what a great achievement.
    A book
    I received for Christmas was called THE GO GIVER by authors Bob Burg and John David Mann. It was such a great read I had to add it to my 2007 reads. I literally could NOT put it down shortly after Christmas. My goal was to read it by the end of 2007 which I did and I'm very proud of myself being so busy. But i guess you're with me when you say I just couldn't put it down!
    All the best in '08 - Chrissy

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  3. Eva,

    Thank you! And, thanks for the luck. I was going to do "no books at all," but then I realized that I always break really strict resolutions and decided, "Okay, one per month. Just one." It gives me a little hope. If I were to read all the books I own, it would probably take me at least a decade. So, I have good reason to quit buying.

    Chrissy,

    Thank you! I'll have to look that book up, thanks. Yep, I know that can't-put-down feeling intimately. :)

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  4. I enjoyed reading through your end of the year review, Nancy. It's been quite a year for you--full of ups and downs. I hope that this new year will be much better than the last one turned out to be. You're such an inspiration to me and I truly do wish you all the best.

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  5. Wendy,

    It certainly has been a roller-coaster year. On New Year's Day, I reflected upon the fact that last year I posed our kitty, Sunshine, with a cut-out that said "2007" on New Year's. I would never have dreamed she'd be gone by July. There was so much good, though, too - especially my son's graduation and the fact that he was able to go straight to work for a terrific employer.

    Many thanks. I wish you a wonderful year, also. An inspiration? Really? Gosh, thanks!

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  6. Wow! I only read 97, so I take off my hat to you!!! I am so happy to hear things are going okay with your Mom. Having been there, and staying with my Dad a thousand miles from home, I sure can understand what you are going through. You are a hero!! All the best in 2008!!

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  7. Our reading goals for this year are very similar. I'm off to Borders in the morning to buy my first book for the year and am excited out of all proportion :-) (Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, I like the sound of the one you read too).
    Have seen the Steven Kluger book in the remainder bins quite often, next time I'll pick it up.
    Happy new year to you too!

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  8. Wow! You sure read a lot in one year. My numbers pale in comparison.

    I'll have to give Last Days of Summer another try. I read a few chapters several years ago, but it didn't grab me, so I shoved it back on a shelf for a later attempt.

    I have Alas, Babylon in my stack for Carl's Sci-Fi Experience. I'm excited about finally reading it!

    I keep hearing good things about Garden Spells, The Sex Lives of Cannibals and The Secret Lives of People in Love. And Colleen's vampire series. Sigh. I'll have to snag these pretty soon. Oh, and I have the Joe Hill book. Just haven't gotten around to it yet.

    My hubby's reading the new Halberstam book about the Korean War. He says it's very, very good. I think he's read just about everything by Halberstam. I keep wanting to read The Fifties...

    Fun news about your son's call. Hope your mom continues to improve.

    Great list!

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  9. I like your pages read stat- hmmm, might have to incorporate that into my record keeping. Only one book per month!??--Eek!

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  10. Wow. I don't even know how I'd start tracking down that much information on my 2007 reads. Good memory!

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  11. Joemamma,

    Thank you! I was actually down from last year, but it's been quite a year and I'm very happy with my final count.

    We're in the dull part, right now, thank goodness. My mother was struggling to breathe, all weekend, and it took a while for the doctors to figure out it's a heart failure issue and get her the med to removed that fluid. Boring is good.

    I wish you the best in 2008, as well! Sorry you had to go through this, yourself. It's exhausting, but I'm glad I'm here. :)

    LC,

    I'm avoiding the bookstore, although I can't find my calendar, so I may have to run over there to grab another. Ack! Must keep track of finished books. I have time, though. I still haven't completed the book I'm reading.

    I *almost* bought Jonathan Strange, last time I was here. I decided to wait, though, and every copy is gone. Well, that's one book that won't tempt me. Last Days of Summer is surprising. I hope you like it as much as I did. :)

    Les,

    Don't worry about numbers; it's quality that counts. I read some great books in 2007, but I need to work harder at ditching the ones that don't grab me. You're really good at not finishing if something doesn't suck you right in and I think that's good.

    I actually had a little bit of trouble getting into Last Days of Summer, but the style is unusual. Once you get accustomed to his voice and those little extras he throws in (bits from the newspaper, etc.), it's terrific - definitely worth a second try.

    I didn't know Carl was hosting another challenge. Okay, nenenene, I'm not listening. I'm plugging my ears . . . er, eyes.

    All of those are good books - Joe Hill's was rather unique. Halberstam has his dry moments, but I like his writing and I think we could all learn a lot from him. I'm anxious to read both his first book on Vietnam and the one about the Korean War.

    Thank you!!!

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  12. Tara,

    I've been tracking the number and titles for quite a few years - originally, my intent was to avoid duplicate purchases, but it's sort of grown. I write down the title, author, number of books finished (in a little circle beside each book completed) and number of pages in a monthly calendar. I think it sort of forced me to look at what I'm reading and how quickly I finish - my numbers have gone up every year since I got my kiddo out of elementary . . . till this year. :)

    Heather,

    I don't memorize them! Heavens, no. My mind's like a steel sieve. I keep most of my info in the calendar (see what I wrote to Tara) and then I have a little database for things like whether the author was new to me, fiction or NF and my ratings (which I ignored, actually - I went with what stuck with me on the favorites). I admit to still having a few accounting genes in my blood. I like spreadsheets. LOL

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  13. Sounds like you had a great reading year! I'm really looking forward to Secret Lives of People in Love. Good luck meeting your reading goal - that's a lot of books :)

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  14. Awesome! I'm going to copy and paste your whole list into my TBR file.

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  15. Iliana,

    I had a pretty good year, yep, thanks. Not as good as 2006, but I'm happy. I read some terrific books. Hope you love Simon's book as much as I did/do.

    I like setting my reading goals high, can you tell? It doesn't bother me too much if I don't make them, though. I'm just happy with what I can get to. Not having little kids means I read about twice as much as I used to and that alone thrills me. :)

    Tristi,

    Gosh, thanks. I'll take that as a compliment. :)

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  16. Iliana,

    I had a pretty good year, yep, thanks. Not as good as 2006, but I'm happy. I read some terrific books. Hope you love Simon's book as much as I did/do.

    I like setting my reading goals high, can you tell? It doesn't bother me too much if I don't make them, though. I'm just happy with what I can get to. Not having little kids means I read about twice as much as I used to and that alone thrills me. :)

    Tristi,

    Gosh, thanks. I'll take that as a compliment. :)

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  17. Oooh, nice list! You liked Alas, Babylon that much? I kept wanting to smack what'shisface upside the head. I kept trying to remind myself it was written in the 50's.....but I still didn't care much for it.

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  18. A masterful year in review, I say! Sending big hugs your way.

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  19. Great summary! You beat me by 7 books. :)

    I might have to do something similar. I like your categories - I have a hard time picking for just "best" and "worst."

    Happy New Year!

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  20. Carrie,

    I really liked Alas, Babylon, yes. But, yeah, I wanted to smack him quite a few times. It was the peek into the fifties and the fact that the author made some very accurate disaster predictions that I enjoyed. A lot of what his fictional characters experienced coincided with what we dealt with after Katrina - he did overlook a few things, but I was surprised how well he looked at the big picture of what all could go wrong. The racism and the way he treated women could drive you nuts. I had to look at it as a history lesson of sorts. I also dug out the atlas and got a geography lesson on Florida.

    Oh, yeah - I mentally cast George Clooney in the role of the hero and that helped a bit. ;)

    Andi,

    Why, thank you, m'dear. And a huge thanks for the hugs! Hugs are very, very appreciated. We're not getting any good news, here. Please send prayers, also. We need all the prayers we can get. :)

    Tiny,

    Thank you! I beat a librarian? How cool is that? 110 is great, too. You did fantastic. :)

    I actually just copied my categories from my 2006 summary (may have added or changed one or two - actually, I already don't remember). When I decided to do a summary, last year, I remember thinking that there were things beyond best and worst worth mentioning. I love a book that makes me smile, for example. Actually, I think I missed a couple. I smiled all the way through Lottery; I'll have to add that, when I have a moment. Feel free to use any of my categories, if you like them. I had a lot of fun with my summary.

    Thanks! Happy New Year to you and I wish you a wonderful reading year!

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  21. I love reading your lists, Nancy. You have some very good categories. I have a little something for you over at my place today: http://wordsfromawordsmith.blogspot.com/2008/01/mwah.html

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  22. Very impressive. I don't keep track of books read (and yes, I've bought a few duplicates over the years...), but I'm sure you have me beat by at least two dozen.

    Thanks for including 'Monkey Love' on your "smile-inducers" list! Glad it could have such an effect on you!

    --Brenda Scott Royce

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  23. Ya done good, girl. 117 is nothing to sneeze at, that's for sure.

    I love that gif of the turning pages!

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  24. Amazing list. And I have to de-lurk just to say that I'm loving your Hawaii photos. Almost like a vacation there. :)

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  25. Great ways of dividing and subdividing your reads. I liked that two that appeared on your smile-inducer list also appeared on the tear-jerker list.

    I really must return to reading from the books I already have and from the library; my financial support of Amazon was amazing during this past year. Keeping a record of how much I spend there each month should help. :) I hope.

    But...sometimes the library doesn't have the books I want. What to do?

    I'll be interested in tracking your success in that area.

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  26. Bonnie,

    Thank you! And, thanks for the mwah. :) My computer time is still severely limited, but I'll try to pass that one on, if I can. Glad you enjoyed the lists! I altered a couple of things, I think, but mostly copied last year's summary.

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  27. Brenda,

    Thanks. :) It was Dick Francis' mysteries that nudged me to keep track of my reads. His titles often seemed to have nothing whatsoever to do with the storylines and I couldn't possibly count the number of times I screwed up and started to read the same mystery (new copy) all over, again. Then, fortunately, I got over my mystery phase and kept adding more details about each book.

    I LOVED Monkey Love! It was such an upper. Your second book is on my wish list, which I've tucked away and am trying diligently not to peruse.

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  28. Kookie,

    Why, thank you, dear. I've been sneezing all day, but it must not have anything to do with books. :)

    I had to go back to last year's reading list to copy that book image. It must be public domain - I used to go to free image websites, all the time. Feel free to snag it.

    Melissa,

    Thank you and thank you! I'm glad you delurked. I have an entire blog dedicated to my vacation in Alaska - you'd probably enjoy that one, too. I think it's:

    http://alaskatoes.blogspot.com/

    Jenclair,

    Thanks. I think a book that makes it onto both the smile and tear-jerker lists must be a pretty good book, just for the mere fact that it's engaged the reader enough to generate some real emotion, don't you?

    My library is terrible, hence the fact that we have to endure book avalanches. I got in the habit of buying books about 20 years ago and haven't quit. If you must buy and need to stick to a budget, I highly recommend keeping an eye out for specific titles at Book Closeouts and joining a swap site (like Paperback Swap). I no longer buy from Amazon because I always go for the free shipping option and in recent years they've begun to put the free-ship orders at the back of the order fulfillment queue. It irritates me no end to be told that something is "In stock, available to ship in 24 hours" and checking out on that assumption, only to receive a message saying the order will be shipped in 3 weeks.

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  29. wow, what a year of reading. happy new year, and happy reading in '08!

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  30. I'm so glad you liked Last Days of Summer. That one was a complete fluke for me - bought it based on title and cover alone.

    Getting Stoned w/Savages I thought was rather lame compared to Sex Lives... See what you think. Like he needed money to pay for his family to do nothing in the S. Pacific, and this is what he came up with.

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  31. I am so amazed that you read 117 books! I could barely finish 51. So, my goal is a humble one of 52 for 2008. Good for you!

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  32. I love your year in review! I think I want to use it next year :) Didn't you just love The Sound of Waves? I don't know why I didn't put that on my top 10 (er...12) list. It was such a beautiful book. I didn't realize you had read that this year. And I've officially added The Secret Lives of People in Love to my Amazon wishlist. I just couldn't hold out anymore after this post!!

    Congrats to your son on getting his first paycheck :) That's just the best feeling. I was giddy too when my first one came.

    And I just love your reading goals for 2008! I have the same goal of reading from the shelves. My goal was no buying at all, but I may adopt yours of "one a month" ;) I just keep thinking of books that I "just have to buy". And as for "no challenges"...yeah right! Maybe next year...

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  33. Wow, I'm surprised at how few books on your lists that I've read or have even heard of!! Sounds like a great year.

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  34. Gentle reader,

    Thanks! Happy New Year to you, too, and I wish you a year full of wonderful reads and happy days. :)

    D.,

    I can't remember why I bought Last Days of Summer, but it was so good that whenever I see a remaindered copy I'm tempted to buy it just to give a copy away. It's the kind of book you want to share. Thanks for recommending it so highly - it was definitely the right book for the moment, when I read it.

    I finished Getting Stoned with Savages and I agree with you. It was missing the fun of the first book and it did seem like he spent a couple of years making the big bucks so he could go off and goof. It's also very hard to wrap my head around the idea of starting a family deliberately in a Third-World nation. I thought that was beyond nutty.

    Bellezza,

    There's sort of an inverse equation that relates number of books read to everyday accomplishments, near as I can tell (the exception is for those who are fast readers, which I am not). You're accomplished and read a bit less. I'm not and I read a bit more. Not sure that's so great, but I always feel like a year is a little bit better when I read more. Hmmm. I think I need to get a job.

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  35. Chris,

    Feel free to snatch anything you like. I just came up on with those categories on a whim, last year.

    Yep, I read The Sound of Waves several months before you did and I loved it. It was so sweet. I'm glad you've added The Secret Lives of People in Love to your wishlist. I have a feeling you'll enjoy it, although you have to read the stories slowly and savor them, IMHO.

    My son is still giddy. Wait till the bills come, though. LOL

    I lasted exactly 5 days and have already bought my January book. Sigh. Now, I can't buy another till February. But, I bought one I've been dying to read for quite a while, so I'm glad I went ahead and bought it: Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair. Don't you love the title? I figured that if I didn't at least allow myself to buy one book per month, I'd eventually lose it and ditch the resolution entirely. So far, so good. One book and only, uh, 25 days to go till I can buy another? LOL

    Trish,

    That happens to me a lot, when I read other folks' lists. LOL Thanks. :)

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  36. So, you must be sitting in Panera (or is it Burger King?) right now. :)

    I keep thinking about getting Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair ever since I first heard about it in one of my online groups. It sounds hilarious.

    Hope your mom is having a good day.

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  37. Les,

    No, actually my sister is taking a turn at the hospital and I'm emailing from my mother's home. I'll probably be back in a hotel and emailing from . . . wherever (Panera or the hotel, depending on where I end up) on Tuesday.

    So far, Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair isn't quite as funny as I expected, but I'm enjoying it. I can't seem to read more than a few pages per day of anything, right now, so the lighter the better. It's very light, so I'm glad I bought it. :)

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  38. If you can snag a copy, you might enjoy I Feel Bad About My Neck. It's light and VERY funny. Made my Top 13 list. :)

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  39. Les,

    Thanks for the suggestion. It'll be a while before I buy any more books, but I have a feeling I'll be needing to read lighter stuff for quite a while. I'll remember that one. :)

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  40. Sounds like you had a pretty good year of reading. I'm looking forward to reading The Secret Lives of People in Love for My Year of Reading Dangerously. And Colleen Gleason's books and Twilight are in my most surprising category too! Good luck with all your reading goals for 2008.
    Congrats to your son on his first paycheck.
    Nat (sending more get well thoughts in your direction)

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  41. Nat,

    I had a pretty decent reading year - should have put about a half-dozen books down rather than finishing them, but I read a lot of terrific books, so I'm happy. :)

    I'm so excited that loads of people are buying The Secret Lives of People in Love for the challenge and just because some of us keep mentioning how wonderful it is. I hope you love it. It's stuck with me in a way that few books manage to do.

    And, thanks! It's very cool to have a son out in the real world, making money. He's a little lonely, though. Too bad he's allergic to cats.

    Thanks for the get-well thoughts. I'm less crackers and my mother is breathing better, so things are looking up. We're hoping she'll get well enough to leave the hospital and go into hospice care.

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  42. Let me send you a freebie of MONKEY STAR as thanks for saying such nice things about MONKEY LOVE on your site. I have some extra author copies, and I know you are trying to control your book spending! Just e-mail me your address, and I'll send one merrily on its way...
    Brenda

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  43. Brenda,

    Ohmygosh, you made me bawl (in a "That's so kind it makes me bubble," way). How totally sweet of you! I'll email you as soon as I figure out where to find you - don't worry, I'm usually pretty good at that, even when I'm a wreck. LOL Thank you, thank you!!! I've been anxious to read your next book, ever since I finished Monkey Love.

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  44. Oh My god! You read the sound of waves - is it not the most lovely of books?

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  45. Nessie,

    You're alive! And, you're still on your head!!! I've been missing you. How are you doing?

    Yes, The Sound of Waves was such a sweet, touching, beautiful story that as soon as I finished it, I marched to the good shelves to make a space. It's a keeper.

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  46. Great post! I am going to do something like that next year, rather than just posting a list of the books I read.

    I love the title of the Christmas in the South one, and will have to remember to pick it up in time for next December.

    And I'm also pleased to see Lesley Castle was a good book. I bought a copy a few years ago (admittedly because my name, spelled correctly, was in the title), but never got around to reading it.

    And 125 books?! Wow, you go girl!

    Happy New Year to you and yours!

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  47. Lesley,

    It's really fun summarizing by categories, like that, instead of just listing books. I highly recommend doing so. :)

    That Christmas in the South book is very, very short and absolutely hilarious, especially if you live or have lived in the South. Real life can be funnier than fiction.

    How funny that you bought Lesley Castle for the title! The title story is the best, in my opinion. Jane Austen was such a wit. You should read it and then frame your copy. LOL

    Thank you and thank you! I hope 2008 is a terrific year for you and yours!!

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