Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2009: My Year in Reading

I think that I can call this year my most prolific as a reader. I have read 119 books so far, and with two weeks remaining I will be adding a few more to this list. Some of my favorites this year included: The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson, Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella, and City of Thieves by David Benioff.

One of my other reading accomplishments this year has been to read Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. I have about 150 pages left in the last volume, so I believe I will finish it before the end of the year. It is certainly an interesting book, parts of which are just wonderful and yet other sections made me want to throw the book against the wall. I set up a group on Goodreads for others to join me in reading it, and was pleasantly surprised at the number of other people who were brave enough to take this on. Having conquered this book, I hope to eventually take on a few other bulky classics - Ulysses and War and Peace.

I joined a couple of in-person book discussion groups this year which have been wonderful, especially the Classics group organized by Rebecca of Rebecca Reads. Not only do I love to read, but I love to talk about what I'm reading, and so I'm glad to have found some groups that have sparked great conversations.

And of course, I discovered the wonderful world of book blogging and the amazing amount of book/reading sites available on the internet. Goodreads has become one of my favorite websites, and Books on the Nightstand's podcast is not to be missed each week. And then there's Twitter, which has led me to so many new book blogs and books/publishing information. The internet will not be the death of books and reading; for me it has increased my t0-read list exponentially.

I'm still new to my own blog, so I hope that those of you who do read it will be patient as I continue to learn as I go. I'm in the process of setting up a "plan" for what I want to do with it in 2010 -- any suggestions and comments are most welcome.

I'm travelling to visit my family in Winnipeg, Canada over Christmas and will be busy with year-end projects at my "real" (that is, paying) job so let me take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Happy Winter and I hope that 2010 brings us all some great books to read.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Review : Eating Animals

For the past few years I have had vegetarian phases; my reasons for avoiding meat were generally ethical and followed reading such books as Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. However, because I frankly like the taste of meat - and it is a challenge to eat vegetarian when living with a confirmed meat eater - I always drifted back to including it in my diet. Two recent works have drifted me back to meatless eating - the documentary Food, Inc., and the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Both of these showed me factory farming in a light that has made me question what won't business do to make money.

Mr. Foer was inspired to write his book after the birth of his son; he wanted to know where the food he was to be feeding his son came from. His search took him on (clandestine) visits to factory farms and to farms that despite overwhelming odds are trying to raise animals for food in a humane manner.

It is not an easy book to read - and certainly not one to be read while eating anything. Ultimately the book advocates vegetarianism as both a way to prevent animal cruelty and to boycott the factory farming industry (very much linked together), but Foer also describes the conflict that he and other vegetarians have had with meat eating - specifically referring to the Thanksgiving meal and other family/cultural traditions that center around food.

I don't know if "enjoying" is the right word to describe how I felt about reading this book, but it certainly was interesting and gave me a lot to think about regarding how I eat.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

What's in a Name? 3 Challenge: Welcome to the Challenge

What's in a Name? 3 Challenge: Welcome to the Challenge

Challenge #3 for 2010! I have signed up for the What's in a Name Challenge, hosted by Beth F. It sounds like a really fun challenge. I've been looking through my to-read shelves and have found a few books that I will be reading for this challenge:
Book with a place name in the title: April in Paris by Michael Wallner
Book with a food in the title: Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo (creativity is allowed!)

For the other categories - books with a body of water in the title, with a title in the title, with a plant in the title, and with a music term in the title - I will have to do some searching but I have no doubt that I'll be able to find just the right ones.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Social Justice Challenge

I am very excited for the Social Justice Challenge, starting in January. This challenge highlights a different issue each month and the aim is to learn more about these issues and effect change locally and globally.
I find that when I read a novel or non-fiction piece that centers on a topic related to this challenge, I feel that I need to do something to help solve the problem but am at a loss as to what that something is. I hope that this challenge will give me the motivation I need to speak out for those causes I believe in - as well as to learn more about others - and to advocate for the changes that are so desperately needed.