Wednesday, May 28, 2008

trying a book meme

The original list was created, but here's what LibraryThing was showing as the top 100 "unread" books as of 7:45am edt today. 23 May 2008:

For my part, I have tried to italicize the ones I have read, whether for schoolor for personal reading.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (236/9195)
Anna Karenina (211/9152)
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Crime and Punishment (176/10899)
Wuthering Heights (162/12388)
Catch-22 (158/11121)
The Silmarillion (155/8980)
Don Quixote (152/6835)
The Odyssey (136/11183)
The Brothers Karamazov (136/7309)
Ulysses (135/6385)
War and Peace (132/6123)
Madame Bovary (132/6396)
A Tale of Two Cities (124/7600)
Jane Eyre (124/14044)
The Name of the Rose (120/7876)
cMoby Dick (119/7879)
Emma (117/9347)
The Iliad (117/8902)
Vanity Fair (115/3885)
Love in the Time of Cholera (114/7312)
The Blind Assassin (110/4938)
Pride and Prejudice (108/18747)
The Historian: A Novel (108/6596)
The Canterbury Tales (108/6298)
The Kite Runner (106/13964)
Great Expectations (106/8790)
Life of Pi (105/12940)
The Time Traveler's Wife (105/11628)
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (104/7638)
Atlas Shrugged (102/6103)
Foucault's Pendulum (101/5730)
Dracula (100/7076)
The Grapes of Wrath (99/7967)
Frankenstein (97/9327)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (97/6549)
Mrs. Dalloway (97/5684)
Sense and Sensibility (96/8798)
Middlemarch (96/4239)
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books (96/4491)
The Count of Monte Cristo (95/5295)
The Sound and The Fury (94/5141)
Memoirs of a Geisha (94/11834)
Brave New World (93/12677)
Quicksilver (92/4107)
American Gods (92/10560)
Middlesex (91/9084)
The Poisonwood Bible (91/7609)
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (90/9089)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (89/7338)
Dune (89/9416)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (89/6766)
The Satanic Verses (88/3305)
Mansfield Park (88/5483)
Gulliver's Travels (88/4967)
The Three Musketeers (87/4221)
The Inferno (84/5988)
The Corrections (84/5146)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (83/6091)
The Fountainhead (83/5925)
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (83/4825)
Oliver Twist (83/4488)
To the Lighthouse (83/4711)
A Clockwork Orange (83/6890)
Robinson Crusoe (82/4528)
Persuasion (82/6634)
The Scarlet Letter (82/7927)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (82/6014)
The Once and Future King (81/4375)
Anansi Boys (81/6665)
Atonement (80/7193)
The God of Small Things (80/5615)
A Short History of Nearly Everything (79/6433)
Cryptonomicon (78/6203)
Dubliners (78/5643)
Oryx and Crake (78/4069)
Angela's Ashes (77/6498)
Beloved (77/5651)
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (76/3914)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (75/2570)
In Cold Blood (75/5603)
Lady Chatterley's Lover (73/3246)
A Confederacy of Dunces (73/6186)
Les Misérables (73/4799)
The Amber Spyglass (72/6819)
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (72/6483)
Watership Down (72/6362)
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (72/6470)
The Aeneid (71/5154)
A Farewell to Arms (71/5219)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (71/5658)
Treasure Island (69/4736)
David Copperfield (69/4408)
Sons and Lovers (69/2617)
Possession (67/4211)
The Book Thief (67/3743)
The history of Tom Jones (67/2171)
The Road (67/5323)
Tender is the Night (66/3204)
The War of the Worlds (66/3131)

The numbers in parenthesis are first, the number of times the book has been tagged "unread," and second, the number of times the book appears in the LibraryThing catalog. The weighted list -- the one that ranks the books by percentage of copies tagged "unread" -- is reasonably different, in ranking if not content. The number one "unread" book on the weighted list is The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (which should be bolded, because I have read it).

Most LibraryThing members do not use the "unread" tag -- only 4,555 members out of 416,142 total, or one percent. I doubt that that one percent is a representative sample, either -- there must be correlations between the types of people who would take the time to tag their books "unread" and the books they would inventory on LibraryThing.

May 23, 2008 in Books, Metablog | Permalink | Comments (4) | T

Friday, May 23, 2008


Writing a list that long gets old pretty quick, so I fizzled out and who can read it. The news is Trudi gets better in tiny increments and I understand if there is a recovery it will be slow but may be possible. I am very encouraged by Jill Bolte Taylor but I can't remember the last step to making a link. damn.

Monday, May 19, 2008

200 things about me

1. oldest of 6
2. went to about 15 elementaries, I have lost count
3. still learned to read
4. read voraciously
5. still read, but elder vision changes the voracious part
6. forgot to say amen at the benediction at high school graduation, left everyone standing until I realized I needed to trot back up to the podium and release them
7. adored living within a mile of 6 matching cousins
8. churched myself in my late childhood and teen years still don't have "The Answers"
9. smashed my front teeth on the monkey bars in third grade, didn't get them repaired until after I graduated from high school
10. lived in California from first grade through fifth grade, that is why I hit
11. 6 feet tall--sunshine vitamin D
12. my sunshine vitamin D brother hit 6'7" that's not really about me is it.
13. my fifth grade teacher read The Jungle Book to us and Wind in the Willows
14. I read them over and over throughout my childhood and teen years
15. She also taught us watercolor and encouraged my love of art
16. I didn't get my bead for coloring in campfire girls because I colored outside the lines, and now
17. I am an art teacher
18. I am 7 years older than my baby brother and I was holding him in my lap when he was new and he gave a great kick and flew off my lap onto his head on the floor.
19. I saw that same brother in flames when he was two when he and my little sister were playing with a cigarette lighter before anyone in the house was up
20. I had to be an adult and a parent to realize that my 4 year old sister was not to blame, sorry Kathy, sometimes it takes a while to learn.
21. we lived in an apartment on stilts on the beach in California where people came galloping down on palominos
22. we went out to the beach to watch the grunions running, silver masses of tiny fish in the moonlight burned in my brain, waves full
23. we would ride around on the weekends and go to open houses for the California dream
24. one week orange groves,next week houses, or so it seemed
25. The air was so bad in the mid fifties that my throat and chest would hurt from the smog
26. there was a horrible heatwave when we lived in Inglewood, we laid out in the yard at night and watched the tv in the back door and vomited in the bushes from the heat
27. my parents would sing and dance and kiss in the kitchen
28. I would stand on a box and wash dishes after all the kids were asleep and Mom and Dad would eat steaks and watch tv
29. carnations in California have a fabulous odor that is tamed out of them now
30. I was nearsighted so I ate two bags of raw carrots to make my eyes better
31. I threw up orange slaw and lost a day
32. I overheard Mom's friends say she wasn't pregnant she just liked those tops
33. I witnessed the castration of the landlord's daughter's horse
34. I petted the landlord's highly trained lion killing hound dog
35. I babysat for JoAnn's kids when I was 8 and they had to break in their kitchen window because I was sound asleep on the couch
36. JoAnn took me to get my first glasses at a clinic because my dad thought poor vision was a government plot to get him to spend money
37. I may have been the only kid in the family to get glasses regularly, every few years, as they wore out
38. most everyone else needed them, but there was no JoAnn to get them started
39. and no clinic
40. JoAnn taught me to knit when I was 10
41. I knit one slipper and by the time I was finished I had grown out of it and swore off knitting for 50 years
42. then I took a class and the rest is hatstory
43. I drew and drew and doodled my way through school
44. I had good grades with little effort
45. that changed in college, country girl with no study skills
46. Ant T's good friend told me when she met me she thought I was beautiful, commanding, smart, and talented,
47. A far cry from the tall, skinny, ugly girl I thought I was
48. I just heard that in our long late night conversation about the hanging on to dear life of my sister-in-law-- I wish I'd felt that
49. she said I had that and that is why my kids are so fabulous, they knew it if I didn't, hmmmm.
50. she gave credit to their dad, too
51. grasshoppers and poinsettias were bigger in California
52. My PaPaw stayed with us for a few months when he had very bad emphysema and then lung cancer
53. He helped me wash dishes and taught me how to wash silverware
54. We would line up in the school cafeteria in Paramount and get our polio shots--I was not a good shot getter
55. jump ahead 50 years--I am having a completely new experience this weekend, moderating a panel at a lit fest in Chicago! Wow! I'm impressed
56. I learned to ride a bike on the landlord's daughter's bike and didn't have a bike of my own until I was married with a child
57. I would ride that sleeping baby to his doctors appointment with his head bobbing in the baby seat.
58. years later I once took the twin girls to a doc's appointment with one in a baby seat and the other in a backpack, I wonder why she didn't fall out over my head
59. back to childhood--we left the land of dreams and came back to Indiana in a car packed to the level of the back seat and the trunk full of mostly Dad's mechanic's tools.
60. by then there were 5 of us one a yearling and another on the way.
61. we never heard of fast food and survived on boiled potatoes and boiled eggs
62. somewhere in the great southwest there was an infestation of locusts or grasshoppers and the road was alive with millions of them covering everything.
63. I remember when someone came to buy what we were leaving behind and the offer was so low that even I, a 10 year-old was outraged and said so, in tears
64. I had to leave my book behind, a real hard back book "Lightfoot the Deer"
65. we had to leave our Christmas decorations
66. Mom had to leave her books
67. we had to leave Toby our parakeet behind
68. the neighbors who came in to take what was left, left the bird to die
69. as we got closer and closer to the Midwest, the world got greener and greener
70. the trees got closer and closer to the road
71. I thought we were in Chicago for some reason, but I just realized it must have been St. Louis, Chicago doesn't make any sense
72. we left so much behind, but I arrived at my favorite and lifelong friend's my cousins in an actual outfit,the newest thing, pedal pushers and a blouse with sailboats on it and a great California tan and white hair, soon to turn brown
73. we had what seemed like a long adventurous summer staying at my cousins
74. it was really two weeks
75. we 5 oldest slept in the barn loft and Neal the dog kept away the beasties in the night
76. that didn't seem the least bit scary
77. this started years of summer swimming all day every day in the creek in the summer
78 we all learned to swim there, some nearly drowned there and all without the watchful eye of adults
79. I got to be a total outsider for 6 years in a country school where you had to have several generations behind you to fit in
80. I don't go to class reunions
81. I have stayed in the city where I graduated from college and met my husband here
82. I don't think I can make it to 200 even parsing it down this small
83. I have three magnificent independent, successful, children
84. I earned a degree in studio art
85. elementary education
86. added art ed to that about 5 years ago
87. now I teach middle school art
88. A high school art teacher told me my students are really producing and I beam
89. this year I am counting the days until the end of school
90. my cousin Rose and I have both said our ashes should be thrown in the swimmin' hole
91. I watch too much tv or at least it is on
92. we did live one year in Florida
93. hated it
94. I had a CT scan last week and it sounded like my efficient washing machine just now
95. I have been listening to the Jill Bolte Taylor interviews on Oprah and friend
96. I am feeling more hopeful for my sister-in-law's recovery
97. I am anxious for dh to get there so he can feel better about this whole thing
98. I have a piece hanging temporarily at the Community Theater
99. I have 4 grandchildren, one I get to see a lot
100 I am grasping at straws here, this is worth a hundred points, I like middle schoolers

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My 200th post

was the one before this--it is my baby sister's birthday and my 43 anniversary of graduating FROM high school. How is that possible? The people at the 50 year table were really old at the alumni banquet and that's not me! I missed noting my 100th post and didn't think my topic on the 200th warranted a mention of 200. My baby sis is 48 today and I have been out of high school for 43 years. harrumph. Walk softly carry a big stick--that ankle needs it! For support. Advice to new graduates, wear really good shoes and take care of those knees.

NayNay Didn't Like This Much

I really am at a crossroads where people I have loved and hated and fought with and shared the most important moments with are sick unto death. My charming, cantankerous, loving, hateful, incredibly thoughtful sister-in-law is having a hell of a time trying to survive an open heart surgery repair of an aortic aneurysm, repair of a botched breastbone followed quickly by a massive stroke in the right hemisphere. She has been getting her affairs in order openly and subtly since she found out about the aneurysm. That particular surgery went well, but her carotid artery threw her for a loop. I am sure that last trip home was a quiet farewell, we had recently repaired our most recent personal break because I could not stand not being able to share the intense joy of her having a grandson with her, but I had reentered the relationship with caution. limits.
One of the most remarkable things she ever did, and it is such a Trudi thing to do, was to join me with my sister when my sister's youngest child had been murdered. Trudi had lost her first born to cancer and she rushed to Elaine's side to be with her and it meant so much to my sister, because, though we can lose nieces, they are not our actual children(though we may feel like they are), so Trudi's loss made her sympathy, empathy, and caring more meaningful.

I am spending this day imagining a golden light around Trudi and Elizabeth whatever the answer is.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

If Cremains Offend You, Stop Now

I was retelling this at school the other day, at lunch and my colleagues said I should write it down. I thought I had, but I have looked through my posts and can't find it.
Burying Mom

It had been well over a year since Mom had passed and my youngest brother convinced me that our youngest sister was never going to be ready to let go. Mom's cremains had been sitting in a tastefully innocuous box on a shelf for all that time, looking like an Encyclopedia Britannica, possibly J.or S. I had sometimes thought of doing a little decorative painting, but the reference book look was really OK for a bookshelf. My sister was not happy with our decision but requested some of the cremains to keep for herself, she actually wanted jewelry, but I will leave that up to her. Rick found out that Papa, our grandfather, had a third spot in the country cemetery where my grandparents, aunt and uncle are buried. Mom's idea had been that I sneak out in the middle of the night, dig a hole and put her with her mother, but, being the oldest child and carrying the burden of rule following that oldest children are bound to, I simply had to be legal! Dh was out of town when I decided to give my sister what she wanted so I had to shop for a small box or container that I thought would have appealed to Mom and to Elaine. I found a suitably antiquie looking box with a small volume so I wouldn't have to put in too many ashes.

I had never seen real ashes, just the ones they show in movies, so I was amazed at the density and weight of the box. I worked on my computer station in the living room, a lovely built-in DH designed and built for me. A very very nice space. I apprehensively opened the bag and tried to undo the ziplock that sealed the heavy duty plastic bag inside the box. I finally pulled out the bag from the box and cut an opening in it. (DO not remove the bag!) While I was dipping Tablespoonfuls of Mom's ashes into another baggy for my sister,, the original bag slowly lost it's shape and sank into another form. I didn't think that was a problem. Again I say (Do not remove the bag)Mentally I was thinking that Mom was getting a kick out of this, finding it funny, and I was past the weirdness and into the humor of the situation. I fixed Elaine's baggie and sealed it in a box with sealing wax. That seemed ceremonial to me. Then I tried to put the ashes back into the original box, no deal. Real cremains are dense and uncooperative as Mom herself could be sometimes, no matter how I pushed, urged and tried, I could not return the bag into the box, they would not accept the shape of the box. I went to the kitchen and got two walmart bags and doubled bagged the ashes into those bags, Mom would have loved that, though she would have preferred Aldi's sacks, if they even have sacks. I had to put the original plastic bag into the box and gently and carefully pour the ashes back into the original containers, I got my own cable tie to retie the bag. For some reason I thought I had broken some federal law by putting the hole in the bag and that the cemetery people would find that unacceptable. That was irrational, but you can excuse me for having some irrational thoughts at that time.

I gave the little wooden box to my sister and went alone one sunny day to meet the cemetery managers at the country cemetery where Mom got her wish to rest with her own mother, but legally, she really would have preferred illegally.(Just so you know, my sister wouldn't go) I do recommend waiting a couple of years to bury the cremains, there is a certain beauty and peace then that you don't have in the heat of the loss, for the first time I was able to look at the farmland gently sloping away from the little hill on which they all lie.
My childhood Sunday school teacher put Mom's box in the ground, my knees were too bad, and she, at least 90, just hopped down and did it and hopped right back up. A high school acquaitance and friend of my oldest cousin had dug the hole and remembered me, tht was so strange. I didn't feel anyone knew me from that school.