Sunday Salon – Welcome to 2011!

A good Sunday and  Happy New Year to you!   I hope 2010 was a good year for you and that 2011 will be even better.   I have spent the week with a nasty cold but it allowed me to finish up my library books and we did make it out to see  True Grit.

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Here are a few quick reviews.

I finished The Magician’s Book by Laura Miller and found it a wonderful read.  Being asked to write about the first book she remembered reading that really had an effect on her, she has to be honest with herself.  That book was The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Miller tells of her disappointment when as an adolescent she discovered the Christian allegory that runs through The Chronicles of Narnia.  These book were her childhood favorites, as they were many others, and she felt betrayed.  Delving into C.S. Lewis’ life allows her to renew her relationship with the books and come to view them in a different way.  Her interviews with other readers about their love of Narnia and their reaction to finding the not so hidden themes gives different  perspectives.  This is a great book for those who loved the Narnia Chronicles, regardless of your beliefs.

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Where the Wild Things Were by William Stolzenburg is about the loss of the earth’s great predators and the repercussions that loss is having around the world.  A great mix of science and narrative, this book covers the history of conservation ecology and the disagreements that have sprung up throughout the last 50 years of that discipline.  It presents research and science in a way that is understandable and entertaining for those who might not be familiar with animal ecology, keystone species and the idea of rewilding.  This is one I couldn’t put down and the great bibliography had me adding tons of books to my nonfiction  TBR list.

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1491:  New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann.  Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel is one of my favorite “popular science” books and 1491 fits right with it.  Having done a lot of reading about the Americas before Columbus these ideas were not new to me.  The archeological and anthropological research is presented in a clear and easily accessible way, but Mann does manage to get sidetracked a bit and there were parts I skimmed.

In most books of world history the focus on the first “civilizations” points to Sumer, Egypt, the Indus valley and eastern China.  This book aims to correct that focus by adding in civilizations in Meso-America and South America that match or pre-date those familiar to most of us.  This is another nonfiction book that has added to my nonfiction TBR list.

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It is finally time to start the TBR Dare.  I promised myself I would make it through this first month but I really have no idea how long that will last.  I am joining in on a couple of  War and Peace read-alongs and starting off Orange January with Small Island.  Both of these have been on my personal TBR stack for some time.  What about you?  Are you joining the Dare?




Filed under Sunday Salon

32 responses to “Sunday Salon – Welcome to 2011!

  1. I’ve joined the dare and have a countdown on my blog. We’ll see how long I make it. Unfortunately I have been in this anti-readiang mood for a couple of days. It’s bad. Like, usually when I go to bed, I curl up with a book. Normal. Y’know? Now, I flip through the channels even watching the nth repeat of a criminal mind episode rather than read. What the hell?!?

    • Anti-reading? How sad. I hope you get over it soon. The only time I’ve had that happen is when I’ve been too sick to focus. I love the TBR widget!

  2. You’ve been reading some excellent non-fiction! I also loved The Magician’s Book and Where The Wild Things Were, and 1491 has been on my radar for a while.

    • I think I’ve run into a string of good nonfiction books. Just lucky, I guess. I have a bunch that I own and need to read so I’m excited about the TBR Dare. Have a lovely week, Ana.

  3. Sorry you have been under the weather. But at least you were well enough to see True Grit. My husband loved it, and I am thinking about reading the book just for fun.

    Loved The Magician’s Book for its breezy erudition. And have also recently accepted the dare. But Gavin, War and Peace is a big, big, big piece off the tbr pile. Surely you have smaller to-be-reads? :)

    • I do have smaller TBR reads and will mingle them with War and Peace. I started it long ago and never finished and now several read-alongs have spurred me on. Now that I have started I find it quite addictive!

      After seeing True Grit I want to read the novel. There is a Western read-along coming up so I may read it for that:) Have a good week, Frances.

  4. I’ve started the year with a case of the nasties too. No fun at all, even if it does mean getting more reading done. Hope you’re feeling better soon.

    I’ve also accepted the TBR Dare and am hoping to make it to April 1. I have over 200 unread books in the house, so surely I should be able to manage.

    • I really have no idea how many unread books are hidden around this house, I should put them all in one place and find out. I would love to make it through ’til April but there are many lovely titles on hold at the library! The cold is better now, thanks:)

  5. Happy New Year! My mom and I went to see True Grit on New Year’s Eve and loved it. The young actress was just amazing.

  6. I can’t convince C.J. to go see True Grit with me. I suspect we’ll end up watching The King’s English instead. I have been reviewing my TBR shelf today. Looks like there’s enough there that’s so old it’s new again. I should be able to make it to April.

    • Oh, I also want to see The King’s English. You should take yourself to see True Grit, even if C.J. doesn’t want to go. It is definitely worth seeing on the big screen.

      I may try and make it through April. Do TBR books from the library count?

  7. I was never really into the Narnia books but after seeing reviews of The Magician’s Book all over lately I’m now quite interested in reading it and possibly rereading the C.S. Lewis books again after many years.

  8. Seems like everyone has got this winter bug, I’m cooped up with a cold.
    I’m in the tbr dare too, I’m aiming for 25 books off the moutain. And, I’m also tackling War and Peace, I’m in a read-a-long on goodreads which should mean I finish the book at the end of March. I’ve read part one and I was surprised at how easy it was. Looking forward to the next part now.

    • 25 books sounds like quite a sizable chunk of the TBR pile. I’m curious about the Goodreads War and Peace read-along. Has it already started?

  9. happy new year gavin ,I m loooking forward to finally reading war and peace ,and in answer it is winston in pic ,all the best stu

  10. How was True Grit? I recently read a review of the book so now I want to read it and watch it! I hope you’re feeling much better. I’m thinking about doing the challenge but probably in March when I don’t have many review books to read. Have a great week!

    • True Grit was great and now I want to read the novel:) The cold has definitely gotten better and March sound wonderful for a Morrison Challenge. Have a great week yourself!

  11. We never made it to True Grit today… maybe next weekend. Glad the TBR Dare has begun. I’ll start with Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. Have a great week!

    • True Grit is wonderful, I hope you get out to see it next weekend. I’ve started Small Island for the TBR dare but Major Pettigrew is on my stack. Your comment came through just fine so I think WP is okay now:)

  12. Having recently finished Guns, Germs and Steel, and having previously enjoyed Collapse, I’d love to hear about some of your other favourite “popular science” books. (You can send them in an email if your list of faves is long.) I’m new to this kind of reading…

    • Oh, wow. I read about a half dozen “science” books a year, mostly anthropology and natural sciences. Try “Cold: Adventures in Frozen Places” by Bill Streever and “Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species” by Sean B. Carroll. Another on I loved was “The Snow Geese: A Story of Home” by William Fiennes. That last one is a memoir, but I found it just wonderful. Hope these intrigue you!

      • Thanks, Gavin. I’ve heard of the Fiennes memoir and do think I’d enjoy it; the others I haven’t registered before, but they both look interesting, so I’ll be sussing out copies. Maybe reading about adventurers will make me more adventurous in this subject area!

  13. Yes, I’m joining the dare, because I want all of the TBR books read by the end of the year! Happy new year, Gavin!

  14. Eva

    Glad you liked Magician’s Book! :D I’m putting 1491 on my TBR list: I really enjoyed The Last Days of the Incas.

    • I really enjoyed The Magician’s Book. I think you said you were hesitant because of the title and I felt the same way until I read your review! I hope you like 1491. There were parts that I found just fascinating. Happy blogiversary!

  15. I always like looking for “themes” like the Christian elements in Narnia; I could see how it might turn some people off though.

    And I was considering the TBR Dare but already screwed it up so I’ll guess I’ll nix that.

  16. The Magician’s Book sounds wonderful. I think one of my favourite books as a child which has informed my reading habits as an adult is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe too. So I must read this! And I just got my copy of War and Peace yesterday although I won’t be able to start it until I’m back from my trip home:)

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