Reading List for 2012: Doorstoppers

I still have a ton of book reviews to write and post! .-.

In an attempt to improve my stamina when it comes to reading long novels, I’ve decided to focus on reading one doorstopper every month. That doesn’t mean I won’t be reading other books but sufficed to say, these twelve are my focus. To make this project more interesting I will also try to write journal-like commentary every 100 pages or so. I was inspired by what Angus of Book Rhapsody is doing when he reads large tomes. It’ll be interesting to note the difference in writing reactions as they happen versus my usual modus, which is to procrastinateruminate on a book after it is finished and encapsulating my thoughts in 500 or so words. The list is mostly set since I own most of these, but they are not listed in chronological order.

1. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel (653 pages) – Diary entries: 1st, 2nd, 3rd
2. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie (647 pages) – Diary entries: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
3. The Pillars of Earth, Ken Follett (976 pages – Not purchased yet)
4. The Tree of Smoke, Denis Johnson (613 pages)
5. The Tale of Genji, Murasaki Shikibu (1182 pages)
6. The War at the End of the World, Mario Vargas Llosa (750 pages)
7. The Mandarins, Simone de Beauvoir (736 pages)
8. Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes (1072 pages)
9. Life Mask, Emma Donoghue (650 pages)
10. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky (974 pages)
11. Drood by Dan Simmons (771 pages)
12. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (613 pages – haven’t purchased yet)

I’ll be typing up my thoughts on Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall either tonight or tomorrow.

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Murder on the Orient Express

When Agatha Christie brings her A game, I get why she is considered the grand doyenne of Golden Age Mystery. There’s a tone of great assurance in her stories, no sense of hurry as the crime and cast of characters are paraded in front of the readers. Detective Hercule Poirot, one of her two iconic detectives, is unruffled at all times, a seemingly buffoonish old man with the uncanny ability to make suspects buckle under scrutiny. Although her works courted controversy in her time, Christie never used gore or on-page violence. There were, after all, Post-Victorian sensibilities to consider.

Murder on the Orient Express creates the template for a very particular puzzle: the alibi conundrum. Poirot is on board the famed Orient Express for a trans-continental trip when a heavy snowstorm leaves the train stranded in the middle of the Balkans. The grave inconvenience takes on a more grisly dimension when an American millionaire named Ratchett is discovered stabbed to death in his cabin.

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The Window at the White Cat (cozy mystery)

Literary detectives are different from you and me, those haughty geniuses with photographic memory who navigate a crime scene with laser-like precision. Because they are masters of detection, we the audience are often left scrambling in the dust, unable to make sense of the mystery until the genius detective deigns to explain everything to us. So it’s quite refreshing when I encounter a mystery where the problem-solver is as clueless as the average reader. In fact, Atty. Jack Knox in Mary Roberts Rinehart’s The Window at the White Cat is a true bungler, prone to moments of clumsiness and self-injury.

Like many mysteries, this one starts out with a girl. Knox becomes infatuated with Margery Fleming, the distressed daughter of a missing local politician. Unfortunately for him, she’s already engaged–to a possibly sinister young man. Several things end up missing throughout the story, including a set of pearls and a spinster aunt. The mystery takes a nastier turn when a body turns up at the White Cat, a small club where seedy deals are made by politicians all the time.

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More mysteries than you can shake a stick at

First of all, I want to say hello to the good folks who wandered to this blog via Filipino Book Bloggers. Having a ready-made directory of book blogs by Filipinos warms my small, bibliophilic heart.

When it comes to reading challenges, I think the word I’m looking for is “masochism.” Aside from the A to Z Challenge I’ve already talked about, I’ve also signed up for two mystery-centric challenges. The first one is the Cruisin’ thru the Cozies Reading Challenge over at Socrates’ Book Reviews. Wikipedia characterizes cozies as “a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humourously.” I have long professed a fondness for Dorothy Sayers and I think this is a great opportunity to branch out on the subgenre.

I have chosen the Level 2 of the challenge, so that means I need to finish 7-12 cozies, I’ll be updating this this tentative list as I progress:

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A to Z Reading Challenge Masterlist (2011)

I admit to liking challenges and memes to an unhealthy degree. But this one is going to help me bump up my reading this year, so it’s all good! The A to Z Challenge‘s rules are simple: read one book for every letter of the alphabet, either by Title or Author. I chose authors and have been pretty good at keeping up with my reading this January. I’m in the middle of reading Michael Lewis’s Moneyball and the beginning chapters of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Optimistically, I predict finishing Les Mis in March.

Anyway, I’ll be making short reviews for the books I’ve read like a good girl. Here’s to finishing my thoughts on the Arturo Perez-Reverte book before the start of the weekday.

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