Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Off The Shelf Challenge: August Recommendations and Progress Report

We were preparing for the arrival of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac this past weekend - putting outside furniture in the garage, buying bottled water, checking on batteries, etc. And, of course, one of my biggest priorities - the book light. I don't care if the power goes out, if the wind howls, if the rain lashes against the windows, as long as I can read, I'm okay. Fortunately, our area received little damage, and I put my book light away unused. Oh, but I still read!

I'm almost halfway to my goal in the Off the Shelf Challenge! How is your summer reading going? Anything you'd like to recommend? Read either of the standouts below? Please share your thoughts in the comments. Happy Reading!

August - 
Challenge Books Read:  3
Non Challenge Books Read:  4

Year to Date - 
Challenge Books Read:  23
Non Challenge Books Read:  24
Total Books Read:  47

Standouts in August include:

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison - have you ever read a book that just blew you away, that made you want to weep because you're pretty damn sure you are never going to be able to write something that good, ever? Yeah, well, for me this is that book. It's a dark, disturbing story about a girl named Bone and her family, all of whom still haunt me weeks after I turned the final page. Here's just one example of the sharp, stunning writing:

Greenville, South Carolina, in 1955 was the most beautiful place in the world. Black walnut trees dropped their green-black fuzzy bulbs on Aunt Ruth's matted lawn, past where their knotty roots rose up out of the ground like the elbows and knees of dirty children suntanned dark and covered with scars.

The Secret River by Kate Grenville - this is historical fiction at its best. In 1806, London, William Thornhill is about to be hanged when luck intervenes, and he and his small family are instead sent to New South Wales (Australia.) Although his life has been spared, he must now learn what to do with it, how to survive, in this rough and rugged place. When Thornhill decides owning land is the answer, he doesn't give the Aboriginal people a second thought. He will pay any price for what he wants but the cost, in the end, will be extremely high and everyone involved, including the reader, will be left wondering if it was all worth it.


  1. Glad you escaped damage. Hate it when the power goes out after a hurricane. It's really hot and humid and there's nothing to do.
    When Nancy Thompson's book, The Mistaken, comes out in October, I recommend picking it up!

  2. Alex - thanks! We've been through a handful of those times when we've had no a/c - not fun! Made a note of that book. :)

  3. that carolina book sounds scary good! inspires me to write better descriptions!

    great reading! way to go!

  4. Tara - you know what drives me nuts? I had BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA sitting on my TBR shelf forever! Ugh! I could've read it ages ago!

  5. Both of those sound really good.

    Glad you were affected by the hurricane.

  6. Annalisa - from what I understand THE SECRET RIVER has a sequel - you know I'm going to have to get my hands on that one of these days. :)

  7. As I wrote in an earlier comment, August got away from me entirely what with family visiting and other things. I only read a few books sadly (although one of them was incredible-- Feynman's Rainbow). I think this challenge would be a great way to make sure I make time for my favorite activity. I'm going to check out the challenge and definitely going to read "Bastard Out of Carolina." Glad you weren't affected by the hurricane as well!

  8. Izzy - definitely check it out. There are different levels, too, so you can aim higher than 50 if you want. But I have a feeling you'll be pretty busy next year... :)