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Wrapping Up My 3000 in 30 Project

My vacation, and hence my challenge to read 3000 pages in 30 days, ended on Monday. Sadly, I didn’t quite reach my goal — I only read 2308 pages between December 20 and January 18. Still, that’s nothing to be ashamed of and I did get to read some pretty fabulous books.

The books I finished included Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, Dracula is Dead by Sheilah Kast and Jim Rosapepe, The Bind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, Dream Girl and Dream Life by Lauren Mechling, and Memoir: A History by Ben Yagoda.

I haven’t written many of these reviews yet, but I wanted to give you a taste of what’s to come. Here are some of my favorite parts of these books:

blind assassinBest Mystery: Hands down, The Blind Assassin. Atwood did this amazing job of setting up a story with multiple possibilities that didn’t get resolved until the very end. I’d love to sit down and map out the structure of this book or something because it was sweet.

Best Ties to Current Events: Mountains Beyond Mountains. Most of the book takes places at a public health clinic in Haiti where Dr. Paul Farmer revolutionized public health systems in that country. Knowing more about the country through the books makes news about the earthquake that much more sad.

Best Thought-Provoking Questions on Genres: Memoir: A History was awesome because it helped me think about the connections between memoir, nonfiction, and fiction, in ways I haven’t before. I can’t wait to use the book as a basis for some discussion posts about the power of fiction and nonfiction.

Best Use of Literary Allusion: I like the title of Dracula is Dead for it’s double meaning — that the old visions of Romania and what it means to be Romanian are changing, much like the “real Dracula” and the Dracula of legend are also going away as democracy helps change the country.

dream lifeBest Heart-Fluttering Love Story: The high school romance in Dream Life was one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Mechling built the two characters perfectly, and the conflict that kept them apart didn’t feel contrived at all. It was simply sweet, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Best Flawed Narrator: I loved Anne Lamott before, but I love her even more after reading Traveling Mercies. She was unflinchingly honest about her struggles with faith and herself in the book that even if I didn’t relate to a particular experience I could still see what it meant to her. Plus, she’s just plain funny in a way I can only wish to be.

Clearly, I had an awesome time reading over break, whether or not I was able to meet my ambitious goal to read 3000 pages. I can’t wait to write the fill reviews for all these books!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jeanne January 22, 2010, 3:08 pm

    Because I had read Mountains Beyond Mountains, the first thing I did when I heard about the earthquake was to look up Paul Farmer’s organization online; it is accepting donations.

    • Kim January 24, 2010, 2:54 pm

      Jeanne: Thanks, that’s good to know. The book shows how much good work they do with very little money and very low administrative costs — something I find really impressive.

  • Kathy January 22, 2010, 4:07 pm

    Wow! I think you did fabulous!

    • Kim January 24, 2010, 2:55 pm

      Kathy: Thanks!

  • softdrink January 22, 2010, 4:49 pm

    Well done! (Also…thanks for doing the WG wrap up post!)

    I just started Dracula is Dead last night. So far, so good. 😀

    • Kim January 24, 2010, 2:55 pm

      softdrink: I hope you like Dracula is Dead — I liked parts, but wasn’t as impressed with others. It’ll probably get a 2.5 or 3 star rating when I sit down to think about it.

  • Andi January 22, 2010, 5:58 pm

    A valiant effort! And I’m intrigued by several of these books. Most notably: Dracula is Dead and Memoir: A History. I’m teaching a creative writing class this term, so I’m on fire for creative nonfiction at the moment.

    • Kim January 24, 2010, 2:58 pm

      Andi: Memoir: A History was fascinating! I’m not sure how well it would work for a creative nonfiction class necessarily, but it was good. I have some of my reviews sorted by genre, and most on the Literary Journalism page might be good for a creative writing class. I’d love to know what you end up choosing!

  • Lisa January 22, 2010, 6:37 pm

    Dream Life is getting such great reviews. I’ve been trying to find books to get my almost 15yo to start enjoying books and this one has been recommended by several people.

    • Kim January 24, 2010, 3:00 pm

      Lisa: I’d definitely recommend it for a 15-year-old, it’s fun without having stuff in it that might be questionable.

  • Teresa January 22, 2010, 7:06 pm

    It’s nice to see someone else loves Blind Assassin. That seems to be the Atwood everyone complains about, but it may very well be my favorite. The structure is so elaborate, but it’s never confusing. It’s on my reread list.

    And I just love Anne Lamott. She’s one of a handful a writers I would love to hang out with.

    • Kim January 24, 2010, 3:02 pm

      Teresa: I have no idea how anyone could not like The Blind Assassin, it was sooo good. I loved the structure; like you said, it’s elaborate without being confusing, and she does such a good job keeping the mystery alive until the very end.

      And yes to hanging with Anne Lamott, she seems like such a fun person.

  • charley January 22, 2010, 11:33 pm

    My sister gave me Traveling Mercies a few years back, and I struggled with it. Perhaps enough time has passed that I should give Lamott another try.

    • Kim January 24, 2010, 3:03 pm

      charley: I’m not sure it’s for everyone; Lamott is pretty neurotic, and if you don’t find her neuroticism sort of charming the book would be hard to read. I personally love it, but that could just be me.

  • Vasilly January 23, 2010, 12:20 am

    You did great!I’m so glad you enjoyed Traveling Mercies. I think people either love it or hate it because Lamott is so honest.

    • Kim January 24, 2010, 3:04 pm

      Vasilly: Yeah, exactly. You either find her fun and silly and someone you relate to, or she seems a little nutty and annoying. I love her though 🙂

  • Kay January 24, 2010, 1:40 am

    I think you did amazing! I read The Blind Assassin some years ago and really enjoyed it.

    • Kim January 24, 2010, 3:06 pm

      Kay: It’s a book I’m certainly going to re-read in the future. It reminded me how much I love Margaret Atwood.

  • Callista January 24, 2010, 11:20 am

    Congratulations! You should definitely be proud of yourself. Wow. I wish I had read that much over the holidays!

    • Kim January 24, 2010, 3:07 pm

      Callista: I was excited I got that much done — the holidays were busier than I expected, but that seems to happen to everyone.

  • Care January 24, 2010, 1:07 pm

    Wonderful! btw, I picked up the paperback of Fear and Loathing the other day…

    • Kim January 24, 2010, 3:07 pm

      Care: Thanks for reminding me about that! I added it to an order to textbooks I did this morning so it’ll be here in a few weeks.

  • Maguire January 27, 2010, 4:33 pm

    Frankly I don’t couldn’t read that much in 30 days, I think my head would spin, so you really did quite wonderfully. Congratulations!

    There is a smart interview series of professional women in the field of online journalism that may be up your alley. http://www.ourblook.com/Table/Gender-Studies-and-Media/
    The Fall 2009 Gender and Mass Media class from the University of Iowa conducted the interviews to learn more about the future of journalism and role of women within the field.

    • Kim January 31, 2010, 10:38 am

      Macguire: Thanks for the link to that study — I took a look briefly and it looks fascinating.