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Sunday Salon: December Shortlist

November 30, 2008

The Sunday Salon.comFirst off, I hope all of y’all who celebrate such things had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that everyone had a great week, whether or not it (and you) were stuffed with turkey and cranberries. I spent some very nice time at home with my family, and managed to get caught up on my blogging, read a few books, actually relax, and browse not one but two bookstores WITHOUT buying anything for myself. Hooray, willpower!

Making a short-list for my reading in November really helped: when I finished a book, I wasn’t confronted with my giant TBR stack; instead I just turned to the small pile on my dresser and picked the next one. It also helped to treat it like a short-term reading goal – I was pretty ambitious in picking the number and length of books – towards the upper end of what I’ve (ever) been able to accomplish in a month. But I got all of them read (or listened to), except for the one I abandoned after being unable to get into it after repeated tries (Shield of Three Lions). Plus, it had enough flexibility that I was able to fit in my LibraryThing Early Reviewer book, which hadn’t been announced yet when I initially made my list.

So, I’m going to do it again for December. This one is going to be a little different, since I’m actually going to list my re-reads. Although I list books that I re-read on my Reading List and on my pretty, pretty Reading Calendar, I don’t count them towards the number of books I finish in a year. My goal was 150 new books this year, and I hit that goal yesterday, so in December I’m going to give myself a bit of license to re-read stuff I’ve been wanting to revisit. But I’ll knock at least a few books off the ol’ TBR stack before Christmas, not to worry. :)

Hitler and Mars Bars by Dianne Ascroft. Ms. Ascroft was kind enough to send me a copy of her book all the way from Ireland, so I’ll be reading and reviewing this in the next few days, and she’ll be stopping by on a blog tour. Exciting!

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I feel like I’m the last person on the planet to read this one, but there are still people waiting for it at the library, so it’ll get read and reviewed sometime soon.

The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly. A nice big fatty fat historical romance for this month – maybe I should make it a point to have one 700+ page book each month. Although, I got this book’s equally long quasi-sequel, The Winter Rose, from Early Reviewers last December, and it took me less than three days to read, so maybe this one’s 700-odd pages isn’t going to be a big deal either.

Buried Treasure: Travels Through the Jewel Box by Victoria Finlay. Her Colors: A Natural History of the Palette was one of the most interesting non-fiction books I’ve ever read, and I have no knowledge of (or particular interest in) art techniques or art history… but I still couldn’t put it down. Hopefully this one is equally interesting.

The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay. It’s been a few months since I’ve read any of Kay’s books, and he’s one of my favorite fantasy writers. All of his books that I’ve read so far have just been incredibly lyrical and beautiful and well-crafted, and I’ve got two left before I’ve read his entire fiction bibliography.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. This was one of the suggestions made on my LT Secret Santa profile last year, although my Santa didn’t pick it for me. I was recently able to mooch a copy, so onto the list it goes.

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman. The first of the re-reads. I re-read The Golden Compass last year before the movie, but for some reason didn’t keep going and re-read the series. Time to remedy that.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. Must re-read; movie in January. MOVIE IN JANUARY! EEEEeeeEEE!!! Ahem. Sorry about that.

The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore. I haven’t read this one for ages, but I guess I do need some holiday-appropriate reading, and really, what says “Christmas spirit” quite like zombies? Nothing, that’s what. “First we feast, then IKEA.” Hee!

I’ll likely read more than just those – I just got assigned Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley by the Go Review That Book! group over at LibraryThing; I’ve got my eye on The Blackest Bird by Joel Rose at the library; plus they’ve got to buy the newly-released 11th volume of Fables eventually. I’m also not picking any audiobooks for the shortlist this time around, although I’m sure I’ll finish one or two. There’s nothing that’s really calling out to me particularly loudly, but I think I’m probably going to go either for Emma or another Cormac McCarthy book (maybe All the Pretty Horses?) once I finish my current short story collection.

What about you, readers? What’s on your December shortlist?

23 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2008 6:38 am

    December reading? Well I need to finish The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson and The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke both of which are towards completing the Mythopoeic Awards Challenge, although I’m hoping to finish The Ropemaker today hopefully.

    That leaves me with one more for the challenge, and I think I’m going to go for A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett, simply because it has been sat on my shelves for a couple of years now.

    Other than that, I’m fairly open in my plans, at least until Christmas that is!

  2. November 30, 2008 8:22 am

    I haven’t made a list for next month, but if I do it won’t be nearly as long as yours, Nicki. All of those books look so good. Especially the Donnelly book – I’m really looking forward to reading her.

    Love that pretty, pretty calendar, by the way.

  3. November 30, 2008 8:42 am

    You’re not the only person who hasn’t read The Graveyard Book – there’s me too. I must get round to thinking about the books to read in December soon, but as I’m in the middle of a few, I expect there won’t be as many you’ve got lined up.

  4. November 30, 2008 8:57 am

    I’m impressed by your willpower. I’m going to check out the Go Review That Book group on LT – sounds interesting.

  5. November 30, 2008 9:00 am

    I’m going to finish One Hundred Years of Solitude this month. I’m way, way ahead of my goals for the year so I’m going to slow down and set aside my little chocolate bar books and bite into some enormous cakes.

  6. November 30, 2008 9:48 am

    I voted for The Graveyard Book. I have to admit I’m biased, though, not only because it’s one of my favourite reads of the year, but because I’m not familiar with any of the others :P

    I really need to re-read His Dark Materials too. And I’ve actually been missing the characters quite a bit lately.

    This month I want to finish my last two challenges of the year: The Booker and the Mythopoeic Challenges. For the Mythopoeic I just have to re-read Anansi Boys, which will be a joy. For the Booker, two very long (though probably very good) books await me: The Blind Assassin and Schindler’s Ark. I have to confess I’m not exactly in the mood for them, so we’ll see. I’ve been toying with the idea of just dropping that challenge.

    Other than that, I want to do some Christmas-y reading, which will hopefully include some more The Dark is Rising book, and Let it Snow, a collection of 3 YA Christmas novellas (one of which is by John Green – that’s the reason why I ordered the book).

  7. November 30, 2008 10:32 am

    Bart – I listened to The Ladies of Grace Adieu a few years ago, and really enjoyed it, although a few of the stories were kind of hit-or-miss. Also, do you have your post-Christmas reading mapped out?

    Shana – The Winter Rose (the book of Donnelly’s that I read last year – wasn’t anything revelatory, but was a very absorbing, very enjoyable, solid historical romance.

    BooksPlease – Well, I’d say the books you’re currently in the middle of totally count as books on your list to finish in December!

    bermudaonion – Go Review That Book is quite fun, plus there have been quite a few books that I’ve really enjoyed that wouldn’t have moved to the top of my TBR pile quite so quickly if they hadn’t been “assigned.”

    Debbie – Congrats on passing your goals… and on making me exceptionally hungry for chocolate cake!

    Nymeth – Have you read any of Guy Gavriel Kay’s books? If not, I think you’d really enjoy them. I’ve read Schindler’s List, but I agree that it’s not one to force yourself through if you’re really not in the mood for it… although it’s a hard book to be in the mood for. Also, I heard about Let it Snow on John Green’s blog – I’ll be looking forward to hearing if you think the other two novellas are up to snuff! :)

  8. November 30, 2008 12:06 pm

    I voted for the GraveyardBook as well.
    Enjoy your reading :)
    Congrats on finishing the 150! thats great.
    I have The Winter Rose in my TBR, I hear its very good.

  9. November 30, 2008 12:22 pm

    Great list! I’m looking forward to your take on The Last Light of the Sun.

    I’ve tried to make shortlists, but I really stink at it. I keep getting distracted and adding in new titles. I think I’ll get to the following over the next couple of weeks, though:

    New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear
    The Pirates’ Pact by Douglas R. Burgess, Jr.
    The Pirate King by R.A. Salvatore
    The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr
    The Unicorn by Nancy Hathaway

  10. November 30, 2008 12:34 pm

    @Fyrefly: Well I know some of what I’m getting for Christmas ;) and I’ve had a book or two in mind for a while now as well. :)

  11. unfinishedperson permalink
    November 30, 2008 2:09 pm

    Although I voted for the Gaiman book, maybe because I’m reading one by him, I was intrigued by the title of the Hitler and Mars Bars book. Tell me more. :)

    I got the book Shield of Three Lions for The Wife, but she never got to it either. I guess, it’s just as well.

  12. November 30, 2008 6:49 pm

    bookworm – The Winter Rose is definitely a fun read, not perfect, but just a solidly enjoyable historical romance. I hope you like it!

    Memory – The list isn’t set in stone, obviously, since I don’t always know what I’m going to be in the mood for or what new books will turn up in my life… it’s mostly just an attempt to carve out a manageable chunk of my massive TBR pile.

    Bart – Ah, that makes sense. I think because I still haven’t read about half of the books that I got *last* Christmas that it didn’t even occur to me. :)

    unfinishedperson – Shield of Three Lions wasn’t bad, exactly (or at least what I read of it), but I just couldn’t get into it. It’s entirely possible your wife would have a different reaction.

    Hitler and Mars Bars is a story of a German boy being put into foster families in Ireland after WWII. I haven’t actually started it yet, so a more detailed summary will have to wait a few days. :)

  13. November 30, 2008 7:32 pm

    I voted for The Graveyard Book because it is the only one I’ve read from your list and I know for a fact that it is a quick read. There’s nothing like instant gratification!

    I haven’t made a reading list for December, but I have two books for my current challenge on loan from the library (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and The Golden Compass). Other than that, I will just go with whatever I’m in the mood to read. Since I don’t get ARCs, I have time to follow my whims.

  14. November 30, 2008 9:06 pm

    I saw the preview to Inkheart and I was fascinated. I’m going to have to read the book before seeing the movie, though.

    I voted for The Tea Rose because it’s one I’ve actually read myself. :)

  15. November 30, 2008 11:27 pm

    First of all – love your reading calendar! What a brilliant idea.

    I’m reading The Graveyard Book aloud to my kids right now – it’s great so far.

    I was thinking about re-reading Inkheart before the film, but I’m a little worried that if I have the plot too recently in my head, I’ll be ticked off at the changes. I’ve already noticed a couple in the preview.

  16. November 30, 2008 11:41 pm

    The Graveyard Book is in my TBR pile for December, too. And so is Inkheart (this will be my first time reading it!).

  17. December 1, 2008 10:42 am

    Dani – I try to keep my ARCs down to one or two a month, so I can spend the rest of the time reading at will. I hope you enjoy The Golden Compass – it’s one of my favorites!

    Carrie – It’s been so long since I’ve read Inkheart that I need a refresher… although I’m going to have to be resigned to changes in the movie.

    Michele – Great minds, eh? I hope you enjoy ’em both!

  18. December 1, 2008 11:42 am

    I’ve got a few of those in my TBR stacks as well. I have yet to read anything by Guy Gavriel Kay although I’d like to. I think I should make an effort to next year. The Graveyard Book is also staring at me, but I’m trying to finish off a couple of challenges this month. Plus I’ll probably end up reading The Tales of Beetle the Bard right away. Hope you have a good month!

  19. December 1, 2008 4:12 pm

    tanabata – I’ve been (very slowly – maybe two or three chapters a day) re-reading Harry Potter… I’d like to finish before I read Beetle the Bard, but since I’m still plugging through Order of the Phoenix, I probably won’t get it in December. :)

  20. December 1, 2008 4:25 pm

    I’m not sure what you should pick, they all sound good. I have In The Land of Invisible Women along with three of the four books I chose for Fall Into Reading to get done in December. I only have one more book to read for school this semester which is beyond awesome.

  21. December 2, 2008 2:37 pm

    Kim – I love the feeling of the semester being almost done. I’ve passed the point where I’m taking classes, but I’m teaching, and it will be a happy day when I have nothing at all to grade for three whole weeks. :)

  22. December 3, 2008 11:00 pm

    Wow talk about organized, I absolutely LOVE your reading calendar!

    I voted for The Graveyard Book, I really enjoyed it and it’s the only one there that I’ve read :)

    Inkhearts on my TBR for December too, I hadn’t read it before but I saw a sneak peek for the movie and it looks fan-freakin-tastic!

  23. December 5, 2008 12:55 pm

    Joanne – My calendar makes me happy, especially since I can go back to any particular time, and the book covers are immediate cues for what else was going on in my life at the time.

    I shouldn’t be quite so excited about the Inkheart movie, since it’s rare that based-on-the-book movies live up to expectations, but the previews just make it look so good, don’t they?

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