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Lobby 2. Welcome The Reading Room Reading Challenges, 2011 topic #48
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Subject: "Chanpheng's 2011 reading and favorite books of the year" Previous topic | Next topic
Mesg #48 "Chanpheng's 2011 reading and favorite books of the year"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Wed Jan-05-11 08:35 AM
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Sun Jan-01-12 07:10 AMby chanpheng

I read 63 books this year. Read a bunch of other technical books but they don't count.

My favorite books were:
1. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
2. Among Others by Jo Walton
3. IQ84 by Haruki Murakami
4. The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes
5. Old Filth by Jane Gardam
6. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
7. How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu
8. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson
9. Buddha by Karen Armstrong
10. The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son by Ian Brown

  

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Replies to this topic
1. Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa, chanpheng, Jan 05th 2011, #1
2. The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee, chanpheng, Jan 05th 2011, #2
#3 War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, chanpheng, Feb 08th 2011, #3
#4 What I Talk about When I Talk About Running by Haruk..., chanpheng, Feb 08th 2011, #4
#5 Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks, chanpheng, Feb 08th 2011, #5
#6 You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem, chanpheng, Feb 08th 2011, #6
7. Spook Country by William Gibson, chanpheng, Feb 09th 2011, #7
8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, chanpheng, Feb 09th 2011, #8
9. Cosmos by Carl Sagan, chanpheng, Apr 29th 2011, #9
10. Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey , chanpheng, May 01st 2011, #10
11. To Live Again by Robert Silverberg, chanpheng, May 01st 2011, #11
12. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris, chanpheng, May 01st 2011, #12
13. Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht, chanpheng, Jun 04th 2011, #13
14. Medicine in Translation: Journeys with my Patients ..., chanpheng, Jun 04th 2011, #14
15. The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer ..., chanpheng, Jun 04th 2011, #15
16. Hotel of the Saints by Ursula Hegi, chanpheng, Jan 01st 2012, #16
17. Buddha Da: A Novel by Anne Donovan, chanpheng, Jan 01st 2012, #17
18. Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer, chanpheng, Jan 01st 2012, #18
19. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, chanpheng, Jan 01st 2012, #19
20. How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu, chanpheng, Jan 01st 2012, #20
The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Journey to Understand H..., chanpheng, Jan 01st 2012, #21
22. Birds of America by Lorrie Moore, chanpheng, Jan 01st 2012, #22
23. Moxyland by Lauren Beukes, chanpheng, Jan 01st 2012, #23

Mesg #49 "1. Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Wed Jan-05-11 08:40 AM
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In response to Reply # 0

A strange and brutal book about the lives shattered by Rafeal Trujillo reign in the Dominican Republic. Urania Cabral returns 'home' after 35 years in the US, having cut herself off from her family. The book weaves around her story, the stories of Trujillo's assassins, Urania's father and a predictable secret which is revealed at the end, in an unpredictable fashion.

It's a very chilling book about one dictatorship, like so many dictatorships in the world.

  

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Mesg #50 "2. The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Wed Jan-05-11 08:49 AM
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In response to Reply # 0

I seem to be on a brutal book streak. This book revolves around the Korean War. On the Amazon page for the book, Lee writes about learning about what happened to his father during the war and the kernel of the book emerged from one heart-breaking incident during the family's migration from North to South.

Lee writes that his book "is not so much a war novel as it is a story concerned with the effects of mass conflict on the human psyche and spirit, the private odysseys that those who have experienced conflict must endure."

  

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Mesg #167 "#3 War Horse by Michael Morpurgo"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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677 posts
Date Tue Feb-08-11 09:58 PM
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In response to Reply # 0

This is a World War I story, from the perspective of a young farm horse who would have been happy to stay on the farm with the boy who loves him. He is conscripted - sold - and ends up among the mud and trenches of the war.

There are some very moving scenes in the book. The horse's perspective is not contrived; in fact, it's a POV from outside the understanding of what war is about.

  

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Mesg #168 "#4 What I Talk about When I Talk About Running by Haruk..."
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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677 posts
Date Tue Feb-08-11 10:02 PM
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In response to Reply # 0

I've read and re-read all of Murakami's books, so I guess I can say I'm a fan. In addition to being a disciplined writer, he is a daily runner who then progressed to marathons and triathlons. This book collects essays that Murakami wrote for various magazines about his running and thoughts while running.

The best story is running of a marathon in Greece, along the original route.

I've been trying to fit in more exercise along with everything else I have to do in my life, so this book was inspiring, in a Murakami way.

  

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Mesg #169 "#5 Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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677 posts
Date Tue Feb-08-11 10:07 PM
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A war and a WWII love story mixed in one. I like these kinds of books firmly set in an historical context. Faulks, with his journalist's background, writes cleanly and the facts seem real. The character development is not so clear. An interesting story anyway.

  

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Mesg #170 "#6 You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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677 posts
Date Tue Feb-08-11 10:27 PM
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In response to Reply # 0

This is supposed to be a quirky novel about the art scene and music in LA. The MC starts off as a confused woman who breaks up with her boyfriend who is a member of the same band. She becomes fascinated by a mysterious caller on a 'complaint line' art installation in a LA Gallery. Meanwhile her ex-boyfriend harbors an anti-social kangaroo in his bathroom.

It's funny in places, nothing great.

  

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Mesg #172 "7. Spook Country by William Gibson"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Wed Feb-09-11 01:36 AM
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Wed Feb-09-11 01:36 AMby chanpheng

A former member of a rock band has become a free-lance journalist and is hired to find a computer genius. This man works with artists to develop locative art (which is the main interesting point in the book). Somehow the search becomes dangerous and everyone's running around.

Not Gibson's best book. Though the locative art part is pretty cool.

  

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Mesg #173 "8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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677 posts
Date Wed Feb-09-11 01:39 AM
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Somehow I missed this classic while I was in school. I was amazed by some of the 'modern' twists - a psychological thriller and interesting use of narrative, as the narrator of the book is not the one who observed the scenes, but comes through the housekeeper who both observes and manipulates the people.

  

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Mesg #325 "9. Cosmos by Carl Sagan"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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677 posts
Date Fri Apr-29-11 07:33 PM
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A classic science-for-everyone book. Sagan's words of wonder are timeless. Though the book is 30 years old, I still felt enthralled by Sagan's sweeping view, of life on Earth and what's 'out there'.

  

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Mesg #334 "10. Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey "
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Sun May-01-11 05:58 AM
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I'm not into murder mysteries but this book is intriguing, with the action set in Ghana. An intelligent and ardent female medical student is murdered and a detective from that area is appointed to lead the investigation. The action shows the clash of modern and traditional cultures, in those unexpected but mundane events.

This book begs to be the first of a series so I hope the author is working on it.

  

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Mesg #335 "11. To Live Again by Robert Silverberg"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Sun May-01-11 06:09 AM
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Interesting premise - when one dies, the persona can be transferred into the mind of a living person. Silverberg writes about the cultural, social, political, financial and personal effects of this form of immortality. Chilling and fascinating.

  

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Mesg #336 "12. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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677 posts
Date Sun May-01-11 06:16 AM
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A book about life in the office, told in a strange omnipresent voice-over. People who work together, compete against each other, get tired of each other - all in their cubicles. The narrator takes this rubik's cube, gives it twist and zooms in on another angle.

The focus is often on the boss, who is not present for most of the story - and then her story zooms in extra close and personal.

I liked this book a lot, and the narrative style is very different. Just when it starts to get tiring, then it changes abruptly, and makes the story all the more real, or maybe more allegorical.

  

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Mesg #404 "13. Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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677 posts
Date Sat Jun-04-11 09:13 AM
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Urban Fantasy, set in Northern Ireland during "The Troubles." I don't read much fantasy but I liked how the author blended politics, the grim reality of civil war and a war in a parallel world.

  

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Mesg #405 "14. Medicine in Translation: Journeys with my Patients ..."
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Sat Jun-04-11 09:16 AM
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It's not a medical textbook! But a very moving account of a doctor in a New York City hospital, trying to sort our the relationship between disease, person and culture in her patients, most of whom are refugees and migrants who have survived traumatic journeys to get to the US.

  

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Mesg #406 "15. The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer ..."
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Sat Jun-04-11 09:19 AM
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This literary non-fiction work explores the history of cancer and its treatment, world views about cancer, and the stories of the patients that the author has known as an oncologist. It won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize.

  

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Mesg #703 "16. Hotel of the Saints by Ursula Hegi"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Sun Jan-01-12 06:42 AM
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Eleven short stories, set in Europe, Mexico, and the United States, where the characters search for their place in the world.

  

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Mesg #704 "17. Buddha Da: A Novel by Anne Donovan"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Sun Jan-01-12 06:45 AM
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This book is set in Ireland. A construction worker finds himself drawn to a Buddhist temple in the city, and starts to renounce his daily life - and his family. The book deals with Jimmy's search for himself but also, the effects on his family who also grow in their own ways without him. The question is - is he seeking an escape or is he really trying to find enlightenment?

  

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Mesg #705 "18. Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Sun Jan-01-12 06:48 AM
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In response to Reply # 0

A book composed of two novellas - in the first, an art critic named Jeff Atman tours the Venice Biennale and ends up having an passionate affair.

In Varanasi, an unnamed journalist (who may or may not be Jeff) explores himself through the city.

  

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Mesg #706 "19. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Sun Jan-01-12 06:53 AM
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In April 1992, Christopher Johnson McCandless gave away his possessions and hitchhiked around the country and finally to Alaska. He walked into an abandoned hunters camp but could not get out when his food gave out, and died alone in the camp.

While many might think that McCandless was crazy, Krakauer related to his story as he had placed himself in similar dangerous situations. He researched McCandless' travels around the country and how he touched the lives of many people as he tried to simplify his life in a Thoreau-esque manner.

  

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Mesg #707 "20. How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Sun Jan-01-12 06:57 AM
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The immigrant story - Jonas' father, Yosef, fled Ethiopia and later sent for his wife, whom he barely knew. At Yosef's death, Jonas realizes that he doesn't know himself, nor his parents' lives, so he makes his own journey to make sense of who they were, how they had been in the US, and what they had left in Ethiopia.

  

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Mesg #708 "The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Journey to Understand H..."
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Sun Jan-01-12 07:02 AM
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A beautiful and emotionally-wrenching book by a father about his developmentally disabled son. His son, from the first days of his life, disrupted the family's life. Parents had no time for each other, and the older sister was often neglected. In order to try to make sense of the family disruption and pain, Brown researched the disease, met other families with children with the same disorder and talked with researchers.

This book really shows the emotional impact of a child with a serious disability. At times, Brown admits how he wished that their family was not afflicted by this child. But his deepest realization is that his son taught their family about compassion and caring. They learned how he enriched their lives. This book is a wonderful documentary on this process.

  

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Mesg #709 "22. Birds of America by Lorrie Moore"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
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677 posts
Date Sun Jan-01-12 07:06 AM
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In response to Reply # 21

It's hard to describe this book of stories - of people alienated and lonely, trying to drown themselves or trying to think of some way out of their lives.

  

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Mesg #710 "23. Moxyland by Lauren Beukes"
Author chanpheng     Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author Click to view this author's profile Click to add this author to your buddy list
Author Info Member since Dec 06th 2004
677 posts
Date Sun Jan-01-12 07:08 AM
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In response to Reply # 0

A high-tech thriller set in a future South Africa, where loss of internet access is the worst thing that can happen.

  

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