29. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert ****
30. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood ****1/2
31. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields ****1/2
32. Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates ****
33. Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos ****
34. The Color Purple by Alice Walker ****
35. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult ****
36. Phantastes by George MacDonald ****

Pages read in May: 2466
Pages read in 2007: 10,109

Are you interested in the Book Awards Reading Challenge? The rules for this challenge are as follows:

1. Read any 12 award-winning books from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008. Please look on the sidebar for eligible books from the Pulitzer, Booker, etc. prize lists. Also feel free to pick non-fiction books or other prize winners not listed.

2. Books may be cross-posted with other challenges.

3. You may post your challenge books just on your blog, or you may also contribute to the BAC blog by giving your email address in a comment to this post. I will email you an invitation to be a contributor. Please write your email address in a manner similar to the following: janedoe AT hotmail DOT com. You must be a blogger member in order to contribute.

4. There will be prizes.

1st prize: 5 credits or in-stock books from paperbackswap.com
2nd prize: 3 credits or in-stock books from paperbackswap.com
3rd prize: 1 credit or in-stock books from paperbackswap.com

Everyone who completes 12 books for the challenge will be entered once into the drawing. For every book over 12 completed, you will receive one more chance for the prize. For example, if you complete 14 books, you will receive 3 chances.

5. Anyone may participate, but to be eligible for the prize, you must sign up by November 1, 2007. To participate in the BAC blog, you must sign up before January 1, 2008.

6. This is NOT required, but if you would like to discuss prize-winning books with others, you are encouraged to join any or all of the follow yahoo book groups:


7. Have fun reading!

I only have a partial list so far, but the titles were easy to come up with because of The Newbery Challenge and the reading groups listed above.

I'll probably have at least the first 12 titles below finished before the end of 2007. I'd like to complete 18-24 books for the challenge. My list so far:

1. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (Booker 2000)
2. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (Booker 1997)
3. The Sea by John Banville (Booker 2005)
4. A Death in the Family by James Agee (Pulitzer 1958)
5. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (Newbery 2007)
6. The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli (Newbery 1950)
7. I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino (Newbery 1966)
8. Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska (Newbery 1965)
9. The White Stag by Kate Seredy (Newbery 1938)
10. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Pulitzer)

Award winners I read in the first half of 2007 (not counted for the challenge):
Angle of Repose **** (Pulitzer)
Atonement ***1/2 (NBCC)
To Kill a Mockingbird ***** (Pulitzer)
The Echo Maker **** (NBA)
The Road ****1/2 (Pulitzer)
Everyman * (PEN/Faulkner)
The Giver ****1/2 (Newbery)
March ***1/2 (Pulitzer)
The Inheritance of Loss ***1/2 (Booker/NBCC)
The Handmaid's Tale ****1/2 (Governor General)
The Stone Diaries ****1/2 (Pulitzer/NBCC/Governor General)
Amos Fortune, Free Man **** (Newbery)
The Color Purple **** (Pulitzer)

Everyone has been doing the 8 Random Things About Me, and I thought I would play along. I guess it's not random, though, because all of these happened the summer of 1990.

1. I was in the Middle East when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

2. I've been horseback riding at the foot of the pyramids.

3. I've been in King Tut's tomb.

4. I was baptized in The Red Sea.

5. I saw a dead human body floating in the Nile.

6. My wallet was miraculously returned to me hours later by a taxi driver in Cairo when I left it in the cab.

7. I knew enough limited Arabic to direct taxi cabs to my destination without telling them my destination (so they wouldn't go the long way).

8. I climbed what some people believe to be Mt. Sinai.

I just had to join this challenge, too! This is only the 16th! challenge I'm currently participating in.

I have decided to read 4 books that have won the Man Booker Prize. My choices are:

1. The Bone People by Keri Hulme (for BookAwards reading group)
2. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (for BookAwards reading group)
3. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (for BookAwards reading group)
4. The Sea by John Banville (personal TBR list)


5. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel (personal TBR list)
6. Possession by A.S. Byatt (personal TBR list)

I have 230+ book credits at PBS!! As of today, I am #2 on the 7 day AND the 30 day swapper chart. I have been a very busy girl. I mailed almost all of them before the postal rates changed. I won't be mailing much out from here on out until I get settled in the Omaha area.

Remember to comment with your PBS i.d. if you haven't already. I'll be getting a "few" books after I move! I'd like to get them from people I "know."

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

1982, 289 pp.

1983 Pulitzer Prize/1983 NBA

Rating: 4

I read this for the Banned Book Challenge, and I can definitely see why people would be against it. Some of the themes include incest, rape, lesbianism, language, and drug and alcohol use. I'm not saying it should be banned--just that if I had a teenage daughter, for instance, I would want to read and discuss it with her.

All of the above (and more) happen to Celie, the main character in the book. By contrast, Celie tries to protect her sister Nettie, and Nettie ends up going with a missionary family to Africa. We see Celie and Nettie both grow in different ways through what happens to them. They are separated for 30 years but do keep in contact through letters. It is appalling, really, what men can do to women. This type of novel is always hard for me to read, but sometimes I do think it is necessary for me to venture out of my protected little world into the very unprotected world of other women. If only to appreciate and thank God for what I do have and to pray for and help other women whenever I can.

Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos

2004, 364 pp.

Rating: 4

Margaret is an older woman who has lived alone in a mansion for a very long time. She finds out she has cancer and then decides to start taking in boarders. Wanda is her first boarder. Her boyfriend has broken up with her and she needs somewhere else to stay. The women hit it off and slowly reveal their secrets to one another. Margaret starts taking in other boarders and soon a surrogate family is developed.

I really liked this first novel by Kallos--especially the first and and last parts of the book. The middle section I didn't much care for, or I would have rated this a 4.5. Also, there was quite a bit of s * x and language that I didn't like. I did like how Margaret and Wanda not only forge a strong friendship but also start "really living" for the first time after they meet each other. There is much more to this novel that I don't want to give away. I really did like the storyline, but it did seem like there were a few too many coincidences at the end. Overall, a fantastic first effort!

Amos Fortune, Free Man
by Elizabeth Yates

1950, 181 pp.
1951 Newbery Award

Rating: 4

This book tells Amos' story from his capture in Africa to his years of being a slave and finally to his final years as a free black man. Amos was the prince of his tribe in Africa, and it is a shock to him when he is captured for slavery. He is very lucky, though, as his owners treat him very kindly. He serves them well, saves his money, and is able to "buy" his freedom. He also buys his wives' (he was twice a widower) freedom. Amos is a gentle and kind man who respects both God and others. I highly recommend this story to both children and adults.

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

1993, 361 pp.

1995 Pulitzer/1994 NBCC Award

Rating: 4.5

I loved this book. I loved the writing. It isn't a heartwarming book, but it is a thoughtful one. These "diaries" chronicle Daisy Goodwill's life from her birth in 1905 to her death in 199? (we aren't told the exact year). Each chapter of her life is told from her point of view, although in the book (and sometimes even in a single sentence) she switches back and forth between 1st and 3rd person. We learn of her childhood, her marriages and children, loves and losses, work and leisure, and finally her old age and death. The "chapters" made me think of my own life stages so far and the ones that are to come. All of us have a similar beginning and ending, but it's the middle that makes life interesting.

There were many, many beautiful passages in this book. I'll leave you with one as an example of the excellence of Shields' writing:

Something has occurred to her--something transparently simple, something she's always known, it seems, but never articulated. Which is that the moment of death occurs while we're still alive. Life marches right up to the wall of that final darkness, one extreme state of being butting against the other. Not even a breath separates them. Not even a blink of the eye. A person can go on and on tuned in to the daily music of food and work and weather and speech right up to the last minute, so that not a single thing gets lost.

Carol Shields died of cancer in 2003. She was a gifted writer, and I definitely plan on reading more of her works.

The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood

1986, 311 pages

Rating: 4.5

What a thought-provoking book!

Offred (Of Fred) is a woman who had her child and all her money taken away from her by the government. Her money was taken away just because she was female. Her daughter was taken away because her marriage was declared invalid. Why? Because it was the second marriage for her husband. The government has "religious" motivations for these acts. (Something I was a little uncomfortable with because I am a Christian, yet I realize there are always extremists. I took this as a cautionary tale.)

Spoiler alert! (Don't read if you like to be in suspense during a book.)
Things only get worse from there. She is forced to become a handmaid, or surrogate mother, for a man of high position in the government. However, the conception is to occur in the normal way--with the wife present! This was a little shocking to me! Somehow Atwood pulls this off without offending my prudish sensibilities. The life of Offred is certainly not enviable.

I found this book to be a jolt to my system. Atwood is a gifted writer, and I definitely plan on reading more of her works.

If anyone LOVES their digital camera, and it is easy to use, please let me know. I'm in the market for one and selecting one is difficult. I'd love to hear your recommendations!

I just looked, and today is the first day I got to the top 25 list in the 30 day category--at #25. I'm #8 in the 7 day category, but I have been as high as #5.

If you'd like to help me have fewer book boxes to move, my inventory is here. I have mostly children's books that my kids have grown out of. It's very painful to see some of them go! If you need to join pbs, you can do it here.

Congratulations to Lisa, Laura, Mercy's Maid, Suey, Daphne, and Amy for getting the free credits that I gave away. I also gave Carrie, my sister IRL, some credits.

I'm going to have a lot of credits for books after I move, so if you'd like to comment with your id, I'll put you on my friends list to see if there are any books I want for my new home. Also comment if you have a bookmooch id. Mine is 3m there as well.

Eat, Pray, Love
by Elizabeth Gilbert

2006, 352 pp.

Rating: 4
Caveat! I didn't like the book much. I'm giving it a '4' because of the brilliant writing.

Subtitled One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, Elizabeth Gilbert's book about "finding herself" after a divorce is, well, interesting to say the least. She is frank, candid, brutally honest, and bares all in this travel memoir. I do give her this: she is a brilliant writer and narrator (I listened to the audio CD). The problem was, though, that after finishing the book, I found I really didn't like it much. It is an easy read/listen, with a little 'too much information' sometimes, if you know what I mean. I also didn't agree with almost any of her decisions or with her conclusions about God and spirituality, though I'm sure she's not asking me to, either! Still, I rated it a '4' because I want to recognize her writing talents.

She goes through a messy divorce and travels through the three "I" countries listed above. She learns Italian and eats a lot of pasta in Italy (the Eat in the title), she "finds God" in India (the Pray), and she finds love (the Love in the title) in Indonesia. She makes it all very interesting, that's for sure. I do recommend this book because it is always fascinating to take a peak at other women's lives and their viewpoints, and as I said, the writing is excellent. In some ways, though, books like these always reinforce my own beliefs and viewspoints as well.

The Translator
by Leila Aboulela

1999, 203 pp.

Rating: 4

Sammar, (I believe it was pronounced 'Summer'), is a young widow working as an Arabic translator at a university in Aberdeen, Scotland. She has been grieving for several years over the loss of her husband who was killed in a car accident. She has a little boy but feels she is unable to care for him and leaves him with her mother-in-law in Sudan.

Faith plays an important part in Sammar's life, so when she starts to fall for Rae, her boss, she realizes it could never be. That is, unless he converts to Islam. Their relationship starts off slowly, just by talking on the telephone. I found this to be very real and touching. Many of my best conversations with my husband have been on the phone, and this was the first time (that I could recall, anyway), that I had found it portrayed in such a way in a book. The progression of the relationship and the issues of faith and belief are explored in the rest of the novel.

I really enjoyed Aboulela's writing. It was very tender and poignant. I found it easy to feel Sammar's grief. There were a few things I did dislike about Sammar's character, though. I really cannot imagine leaving a child behind like that for such an extended period of time. A few weeks perhaps, but not a few years! The writing was beautiful. However, in the last few pages of the book there were a few too many sentence fragments for my taste. I don't mind some, but it seemed a little excessive. I would definitely read another book by this author, though.

This is the author's first novel and was first published in the UK in 1999.

I just reached 100 book credits on paperbackswap.com. For those of you that don't know, I'm moving to the Omaha area soon, and some books just had to go. Let me tell you, it's been a very painful process to cull from my library. I'm glad I'll be able to add to it (gradually) when I get settled in, though.

To help me celebrate my 100th credit, I plan on giving away 10 credits to some fellow booklovers. The first 6 people to comment with their PBS ID will get at least one free credit. The very first person to comment will get 3 credits, the next two will receive 2 credits each, and the next three posters will receive one credit each for a total of 10 credits given away.

You MUST give me your paperbackswap ID in the comment to be eligible. If you need to sign up for PBS, you can do it here.

If you're a winner, I'd love to know what you've chosen to get at PBS. It's not required, though!

5 Minutes for Mom is giving away an i-Pod nano and other cool prizes. Check it out!