Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top Ten Books on My Fall To-Read List

Hello from Northern Virginia! Thankfully, we weren't affected by Irene other than a few trees being knocked over.

These week's Top Ten Tuesday is about the top books on my to-read list. Be sure to check out The Broke and The Bookish where this meme is hosted.

You all know I love my Kindle. However, I still have 3 shelves of books, many of which I haven't read yet. It's time I showed my paperbacks a little more love.

1. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield -This is the October pick for one of the book clubs I attend.

2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez -I've heard such great things about this book. I can't wait to start it!

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak -This is another book I've heard nothing but good things about.

4. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon -I love the artwork on the cover. The plot also sounds very interesting.

5. Everything Beautiful Began After  by Simon Van Booy -I picked this book up at the Borders closing sale. I love the texture of the pages; that's one thing the Kindle can never imitate. 

6. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford -I've been wanting to read this for a couple years, and I finally found a copy at a used bookstore. 

7. The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley - I absolutely loved The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, the first of the Flavia de Luce mysteries. I absolutely adore Flavia, and I can't wait to see her again in this book.

Now for the non-fiction picks:

8. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi - I won this on a blog giveaway a while back. I really like the concept behind this memoir, and I'm looking forward to gaining perspective on the many things that we take for granted in this country.

9. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell -I've read The Tipping Point, and I really enjoyed Gladwell's writing. I'm working my way through the rest of his books.

10. The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb - No, this book has nothing to do with the movie with Natalie Portman. This is a book about the disproportionate impact of highly improbable events. 

Guess what? I didn't pay full price for any of these! Some were from garage sales, some from used bookstores. One of them I bought new from Barnes & Noble online for close to 40% off. That's usually how I choose between paperbacks and Kindle eBooks -whatever's the cheapest! 

Are any of these on your to-read lists? I hope you have new additions to your list after reading this post!

Love and (a book) light,


Saturday, August 27, 2011

What Makes Us Human?

As some of you may already know, I am a member of several book clubs in real life. On of them is called People, Places, and Perspectives. The books tend to be non-fiction and cover a variety of topics. While I love novels, a good non-fiction book can give me the insight and new perspective that I need from time to time.

The book we discussed was The Most Human Human by Brian Christian. It is based on Christian's experience as a confederate for the Turing test that occurs every year. In a Turing test, a judge sits before a screen and chats with someone for 5 minutes. They then give their best guess as to whether they were chatting with a computer or a human. Pretty cool, right?

Every year, The Most Human Computer prize is awarded to the programmers of the computer that fooled the most judges. Another prize that is given is The Most Human Human, awarded to the human (referred to as the "confederate") that convinced the most judges that they were indeed human.

What is it that separates us from computers? What parts of our dialogue, conversations, and thinking separate us from everything else? For centuries, we have prided ourselves as the only beings that could think, separating ourselves from all other animals. But now that computers can think and make calculations, what separates us from them?

This book was a great read, and the dynamic discussion made it even better. Good food, good company, and a good book -isn't that all we really want out of life? Ok, maybe not all of us.

I really learned a lot from this book. He covered a lot of different topics that I had no idea would tie into the subject, like early philosophy, chess, etc. Some parts are very technical, but skimming them won't hurt. I wouldn't recommend this to someone who has not read much non-fiction because it can be heavy at times. If philosophy and science is your thing, this would be a great read for you.

If you decide to pick it up, let me know what you think! Also, I'm always taking book recommendations, so if you know of a similar book, tell me about it.

Love and (a book) light,


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Throwback Thursday -The Boxcar Children

Yes! I love Thursdays for many reasons, one being that tomorrow is Friday and another being Throwback Thursdays! This is a weekly feature I created here on my blog so I can share my bookish childhood with you.

This weekend, we went to the children's book sale at our local library. I originally went there to shop for my nephew, but we ended up getting stuff for ourselves (to be featured on a future Throwback Thursday). Among the many nostalgia-inducing books, I found a favorite series of mine -The Boxcar Children. The series is about four orphaned children that want to stay together at all costs. They happen on an abandoned boxcar and turn it into their home. They have many adventures together, and the ending is truly a happy one. For all you parents out there, I definitely recommend this to your kids.

I took pictures, but they weren't great because I still get very anxious when I take photos in public because I'm afraid someone's going to yell at me to stop, so I'm not patient and I rush. :/

Did any of you read The Boxcar Children? Do you recognize any other books in the picture?

Love and (a book) light,


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Book Club Meetup -The Last Child

I meet with a book club in real life (several, really). August's pick was The Last Child by John Hart. I really enjoyed this book, as did the rest of the club. We usually meet at Panera, but this week we decided to mix it up and go to a local Ethiopian restaurant. The first time we went there was to discuss Cutting for Stone, a wonderful book set in Ethiopia. We loved the food so much we decided to go back.
Yebeg Alecha Wot
If you haven't had Ethiopian food, I highly recommend giving it a try! I had the Yebeg Alecha Wot, which is braised lamb. You must have the Injera (also spelled Enjera), a unique type of bread that is porous and spongy. Be sure to ask for the red pepper sauce. I'm usually not one that enjoys spicy food, but this sauce is very flavorful.

The Last Child was a great read, especially if you like mysteries. It really kept me guessing right until the very end.

Do you meet with a book club in real life? Where do you guys usually meet and what is the format?

Love and (a book) light,


Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Blogger Hop -The Longest Book I've Ever Read

Book Blogger Hop is a great way to discover other book blogs and learn more about the bloggers. This meme is hosted by Crazy for Books, so be sure to check her out.
Book Blogger Hop

This week's question is:

“What’s the LONGEST book you've ever read?” 

The longest book I've ever read also happens to be my favorite book. Cutting for Stone comes at a whopping 667 pages for the paperback. Granted, it's not War and Peace or anything, but it's still pretty long. Even after all that, though, I didn't want it to end. It is a wonderfully written story about twin brothers from Ethiopia and their journey through life. 

I'd love to hear which long books you've read and if you recommend them.

Love and (a book) light,


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Throwback Thursday -The First Book I Remember Reading

Welcome to another edition of Throwback Thursday! This is a weekly feature that I created here at The Kindled Scholar so I can share bits of my bookish childhood with you.

This week, I'm talking about the first book I remember reading. I was surrounded by many Dr. Seuss books growing up, but I distinctly remember reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I remember making my parents read it to me over and over again until I could finally read it myself, more from memory than from actually reading. 

For this reason, Dr. Seuss has always been dear to my heart. Imagine how elated I was to learn that the library at the University of California in San Diego where I went to school was named Geisel after Theodore Geisel, Dr. Seuss' given name. It's an amazing and peculiar building, which does its name justice. The building also goes underground, but it's not dark down there. There are these things that look like shards of glass sticking out of the ground which are actually skylights for the lower levels. Cool, huh?

Geisel Library -picture taken from Wikipedia
So there's that -the first book I remember reading. What was yours?

Love and (a book) light,


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ROOM by Emma Donoghue

I've heard lots of mixed reviews about this book, but I for one belong to the camp that really enjoyed it. Reading a book narrated by a 5-year-old, not an ordinary one at that, takes some getting used to. However, there really was no other way to tell this story. Part of what makes this book great is the unique perspective Jack has to offer. I think Donogue should be commended on her ability to communicate to her readers the entirety of a situation while still using the plausible perceptions of a 5-year-old. My background is in psychology, mainly social psychology, which is one of the reasons this book was so interesting to me. It is most definitely a tragic premise, one that is very disturbing yet, unfortunately, very possible in our world.

{There are minor spoilers beyond this point, but nothing you wouldn't get from reading the back of the book (which is not something I usually do, hence the warning.)}

What was most interesting to me was Jack's perception of the outside world. You and I, having lived in relative freedom ever since we can remember, would describe Jack's coming out of ROOM as a "rescue" from a "horrible place." But what happens when that is all you've ever know, and it never crossed your mind that it was bad? We are all creatures of habit. What happens when your habits were confined to a small room for the first 5 years of your life and you were suddenly thrust into a world you never knew existed? I think Donoghue did a great job of envisioning the issues that would arise from such a strange situation and how it would affect a child's emotional, cognitive, and physiological development. While my meager 4 years in college hardly makes me an authority on the subject, I found most of Donoghue's speculations to be consistent with what we know about child development.

The book briefly addresses something that had not even occurred to me while reading, but which seemed so obvious once they talked about it. What would your perception of the mother be, and what judgments would you make about her choices? Some of her actions towards the end did not resonate with me, but I thought that she did the best she could with what she had.

I know some people may be hesitant to start a book with such a disturbing and dark concept, but this is ultimately a story of redemption. Delay no further; pick up a copy and report back here, whether you loved it or hated it. If you've already read it, let me know what you though in the comments or post a link to your review.

Love and (a book) light,


Monday, August 15, 2011

While I Blowdry My Hair -and Other Ways to Squeeze in Reading

Presumably, you read my blog because you have some love for reading, right? But with our 9-5 jobs, just how do we make time to read? Tack on my online graduate classes and cooking and cleaning, making time to read almost seems impossible (or at least as elusive as weight loss, if you ask me).

Nevertheless, reading is something I love and therefore something I *must* do. Of course, I read right before bed, but here are some of the wacky ways I steal a few pages each day.

*while I water the plants
*while I blowdry my hair (the Kindle is best for the first two)
*while I'm sauteeing onions
*while I'm waiting for my work computer to boot up
*during TV commercials
*while I eat at the sushi lunch buffet by myself (and as much as I love sushi, I go there just as much for the chance to read)
*on the toilet (don't laugh, I *know* you do it, too!)
*while I'm folding laundry
*during a DIY mani/pedi
*while I brush my teeth
*while I drive (KIDDING!)

So hopefully I've given you some ideas about when to read. Now it's your turn! What other ways can I get more reading done?

Love and (a book) light,


Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: Crazy Titles!

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme that is hosted by Crazy for Books, so go check her out. This meme is a great way to discover other book bloggers an learn more about them through each week's question.
Book Blogger Hop
This week's prompt is:

Let’s talk crazy book titles! Highlight one or two (or as many as you like!) titles in your personal collection that have the most interesting titles!

The first book that came to mind was Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. Despite what the title may suggest, it is most definitely fiction. This book is truly unique in many ways, one of them being that the table of contents is arranged like a class syallabus.

Here are other noteworthy, eye-catching titles that I have read or are on my to-read list:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard Feynman
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
The Secret Life of Pronouns: What our Words Say about Us by James Pennebaker
The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos by Paul Hoffman
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid (you may have to think for a second before you realize why this is unusual)

Which of these titles sounded the most peculiar to you? Do share some unusual book titles that you know of.

Love and (a book) light,


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Throwback Thursday -A Light in the Attic

It's time for Throwback Thursday! Thanks to all of you who shared your bookish childhood memories on last week's special post. If you didn't get a chance to post yours, it's not too late. Click here to see what memories readers shared and to add your own!

This Thursday, we're featuring Shel Silverstein's works. Who doesn't remember those silly rhymes with the equally silly illustrations? Our 3rd grade teacher used to read us a couple of poems after lunch.

I found these 3 books at a yard sale for a buck each! Where the Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, and A Light in the Attic. Do you have a favorite? 

I don't have a copy, but I loved The Giving Tree most of all. A lump in my throat forms at the thought of it. 

Love and (a book) light,


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Books that Deserve More Love

Hello, lovlies.

Let me first say that these books aren't incredibly obscure or anything, but I do feel they deserve more attention than they get. Nevertheless, Please scroll through and see the titles that I wish you would pick up.

1. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant: This is one of the few historical fiction novels I've read, but I absolutely adored it. This is the story of biblical Dinah, Jacob's only daughter. We hardly ever hear of a woman's perspective, especially in an ancient text. This brought out Dinah as more than just a sister to Joseph.

2. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: Flavia de Luce is my kind of heroine. It's like Harry Potter all over again, no? Actually, she's more like a Hermione. She is so clever and anyone that doesn't fall in love with her is an ugly toad. Really though, I'd like to see this book (and series) get more attention than it has.

3. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese: This book is perhaps my favorite of all time. For all the attention and acclaim it has received, it is still underrated in my mind.

4. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl: I would say this book is -different. I can see one's opinions going either way on this one, but if you like to try different things, give this a try. It is truly a unique work.

Some of these are on my Kindle, and some were borrowed from kind fellow booklovers. Here's a shot of the ones I own with a peek at the accent wall in the "study" of our new home. :)

5. I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis: This is a great historical fiction novel about the subject of the most famous painting in the world and who she was to Leonardo da Vinci. Maybe my lack of history savvy is the reason I was so impressed, but I have yet to hear another blogger or friend talk about it.

6. Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior: Amidst all the hype over Freakonomics and Malcom Gladwell's books (both of which I really like, by the way), I'm surprised this book hasn't received the attention the others have. It is a very accessible non-fiction work about, well, how we can't resist irrational behavior. Reading this book will make you think twice about your choices and make more rational decisions.

7. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks: I read this book a few years back, so I don't really remember all the details. However, I do remember being left with feelings of awe for such a intricately woven story. In fact, I'm adding it to my re-read list right this second. I have to add that this novel won the Pulitzer Prize, and while I am thrilled that it has received critical acclaim, I think not enough readers have had the pleasure of reading this book.

8. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See: OK, so a book that is soon to be adapted into a movie can hardly be called underrated, especially one by Lisa See, but hear me out. Until recently, I hadn't really heard many raves about this book. I thought it was beautifully written and had high praise for it, but no one I knew, in real life or in the blogging community, had read it. I'm glad to see that it is finally getting the attention it deserves. I can't wait to see the movie! It's been a while since I've read the book, so I won't be too nitpicky about the details they get wrong like movies often do.

I hope you add at least one of these titles to your To-Read list. Do share some books that YOU think deserve more praise.

Love and (a book) light,


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Throwback Thursday Returns!

Hello lovely readers!

If you've been following my blog, you know that Throwback Thursday was a weekly feature created here at The Kindled Scholar which highlighted bits and pieces of my bookish childhood. I haven't had a Throwback Thursday post in a very long time, but this is its return!

For this edition of Throwback Thursday, I'd like to do something a little different. Instead of me sharing my childhood favorites, I'd like YOU to post a comment with one of yours! Tell me about a favorite book, series, or character from your childhood, or share a favorite bookish memory. Click on the link to left (under Weekly Features) to see all the previous Throwback Thursdays to get some inspiration. Feel free to comment on this post or on one of the previous posts.

Ready? GO!

Love and (a book) light,


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Feature -Our Local Used Bookstore

Though I love the crisp, new paperbacks at Barnes & Noble, there's nothing like walking into a used bookstore. You never know what you'll find between the pages of pre-loved books. There's a used bookstore near our house that we go to at least once every two weeks. It's nearby a beautiful lake and several other shops (and a great sushi take-out place!).

They buy back books for most of the year, so every time we walk in there is a new addition. You can buy paperbacks for half-price and hardbacks for as much as 70% off. They have a great selection, ranging from biographies and history books to literary novels and mysteries. They also have a separate room for collectible classics and children's books.

Do you have a local used bookstore? A bit of research online may help you find a local hidden gold mine!

Love and (a book) light,


Monday, August 1, 2011

It's Monday -What are You Reading? 8/1

This is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Just Finished:

I really enjoyed this book! Keep an eye out for my review. 

Currently Reading:

I'm halfway through Freakonomics, and I really like the variety of the topics. I just started The Help and am liking it so far. 

Up Next:

I am a member of several book clubs that meet in my area, but this will be my first time attending one called People, Places, and Perspectives. This clubs reads a variety of books that give insight to different facets of culture. This month we will be reading The Most Human Human. This book discusses the Turing Test, where people try to decipher through typed messages whether they are talking to a computer or a human being. 

I typically read more than one book at a time. Since I already have a non-fiction book, which novel should I read along with it? I already own several paperbacks that I've yet to get around to. Which one should I start on? Feel free to recommend something that's not listed below.

The Confession by John Grisham
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin
Life of Pi by Yan Martel
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Love and (a book) light,