Category Archives: Books

My first book of the year…

So sad… it’s end of August and I just finished my first book of the year.  Last year, regardless of how much I worked, I was still able to make time to read.  Somehow this year, I couldn’t get inspired to read more than the Buffy comics.  Very sad indeed, but my first book back (a David Sedaris) made me LOL from beginning to end.  Ah… I miss reading.  Ready for something hardier now!
On an unrelated note, as I was driving across 520 stuck in traffic, the thought occurred to me that having kids is a great way to avoid traffic.  You get to use the carpool lane!  I was reminded of a time a number of years ago when my then bf & I borrowed one of his nephews so we could use the carpool lane to get across 520.  His parents weren’t headed where we were going, but they needed to cross the bridge too.  Good thing they had two sons — one for each car.  We happily crossed the bridge, passing by all the suckers stuck in non-HOV lane.  After we crossed and headed up I-5 a bit, we pulled over onto the shoulder of the highway, where we opened the door and let the rugrat toddle back to his parents’ car.  We did bring the car to a full stop and let him out on the side furthest from traffic… safety first!

By Reason of Insanity

This is a law/crime suspense thriller.  Very Grishom-esque.  It was quite the page-turner for me.  I kept waiting and waiting for the twist and boy did I get one!  One that I didn’t expect at that.  There were some parts that were predictable and a bit too written for the movies, but there were a couple surprises I didn’t expect.  Probably not a book I would pick up for myself in a bookstore but being a free download on the Kindle, I figured, why not?  =)

My Sister’s Keeper

My first impulse purchase on the Kindle… I can see the wisdom behind the "download the first chapter(s) for free" business model.  The right book just sucks you in and by the end of their free sample, you don’t think twice to just buy it.  =)
This was such a touching story.  It was a little predictable, but very emotional.  It was pretty sad… almost needlessly tragic.  The characters were interesting and well-developed.  What I liked best was that it really makes you think.  Is it right to have a baby for the singular purpose to have "spare parts" for another child?  It feels so cold and calculating.  The mother’s character was so interesting to me.  Here’s a woman doing everything she can to keep one of her daughters alive.  She all but has given up on her son who lives in a mother-in-law apartment and is a serial arsenic developing cancer and alcoholism… and he’s 16.  She concieves a 2nd daughter just to have a built-in donor at her disposal to keep her other daughter who actually does have cancer alive.  On the one hand, her efforts keep this little girl alive 15+ years longer than was ever imagined.  But this comes at the cost of neglecting one child and subjecting the other child to unecessary invasive medical procedures.  What a hard choice… do you let your sick child go and focus on the kids who are healthy and have a standing chance at a long life?  Or do you do everything humanly possible to keep that child alive despite the havoc it’s wrecking on your family?  Tough.  And if you’re in the shoes of the younger daughter, are you more than happy to donate whatever it is your sister needs from you?  Or do you eventually resent being asked to give so much of yourself.  I just pray I’m never in a position to have to make that choice.
I do feel as though it was written to be made into a movie though.  Maybe I’m too cynical, but after having read Wuthering Heights, which is a classic, it felt like there were particular scenes that were a bit jolting as a written story but I could see it working cinematically.  The book is structured as a compilation of short chapters
rotating perspective through each of the main characters.  One of them is a flash back so it gives you the whole backstory.  I felt like I was in an ADD fit flip flopping between characters.  And there were some scenes that felt more cinematic than narrative.   I miss the classics.
All-in-all, I give it a thumbs up.  I’d be willing to read another Picoult book to see if the "cinematic" feeling is just her "style".  But I have to get back to my regular reading list… I think Jane Eyre is next.  I also want to squeeze in a David Sedaris book for some good laughs. 

Wuthering Heights… Kindle – yay or nay?

I just finished Wuthering Heights, the first book I read on my Kindle!!  I really enjoyed it.  What I liked most was how complex Heathcliff’s character was and how Bronte successfully makes you feel a wide range of conflicting feelings about him.  I want despise him, but then I also feel sorry for him.  I’m appalled by how cruel and downright mean he is but at the same time admire his devotion, passion and genuine love for Catherine.  Even though the book had an overall sadness and almost depressing tone, it’s also strangely uplifting.  It’s about redemption, growth, forgiveness and love.  Blah blah blah, more importantly… here’s what I think of the Kindle…
So… I have to admit, I actually like the Kindle a lot more than I thought I would.  But, as with everything, there are pros and cons:
  • Form factor – I like that it’s easy to hold, turn the page, stuff into a purse, etc.
  • Whispernet – books miraculously zipped to your Kindle at the push of a button (ok, it’s not a miracle, it’s just the wireless network, but hey it’s still pretty damn cool)
  • Free books – there are SOO many classics that are free!  Every now and then, I just go online and look for my staples… Shakespeare, Kafka, Greek & Roman mythology, Jane Austen, King Author, Grimm’s (and other) fairy tales, etc.  Yeah, I have a weird idea of ‘staple’ books, but strangely enough I find comfort in knowing they’re not only on my bookshelf but also on my Kindle.  Not just that, periodically, other more popular and modern books will become free.
  • Samples – all the books have a free sample you can download a sample and try it out before buying


  • It’s too easy to buy a butt load of books.  I have 36 books on my Kindle and I have read all of 1.  Actually, I have more than 36 since I buy collections, which typically have a compilation of books so it’s probably more like 50 books.  I’m not only a slow reader, I barely can find time to read.  I could barely keep up w/ the 3-6 books I would buy every few months let alone the 3-6 books I buy every couple weeks now!
  • They’re UI for purchasing sucks… Amazon definitely doesn’t make it obvious how much you’re spending on books (when you’re buying from the Kindle).  Also, it doesn’t make sense to me that you can find the same book at such different prices… $10 vs. free.  In the print version, it makes sense since there’s different print quality – binding, paper, etc.  But in the digital version, it’s all the same.  Shouldn’t the prices be all the same?  I prefer to do all my shopping online, which puts a little kink in the coolness of the wireless instant download, but I’m still pretty sure that feature will come in handy.
  • I miss bookstores.  I went to Border’s today and realized for the first time just how much I miss that experience.  Judging books by their cover, reading the first page, etc.  It’s great!  Bookstores used to be my weakness.  I could never walk into one without buying something and more often than not, I always end up buying 3-4 books.  Now I peruse the books and try to make a mental note to see if I can find it on Kindle later… how unsatisfying.  I also have to admit that I did have my Kindle on me and resisted all urge to whip it out and look up the books then and there (I know myself well enough to know my ‘mental notes’ don’t last long enough to make it into a post-it note). 

Overall, I’d have to say "yay" to the Kindle.  I love it!  Now I get to decide lucky book number two on the Kindle!


Twilight… the next teen classic or teen harlequin romance novel

I inhaled the Twilight series.  It helped that I started the first one when I was sick one weekend, so I finished that in a sitting.  I borrowed the second one a week or so later and finished it over the course of a week or so and then I finished the third and fourth books over 4 days — reading the last one 12 hours straight. 
I had pretty mixed feelings about the books though.  There’s definitely entertainment value that kept me take in the words on the page as if I was given a pitcher of water after hiking a week in the desert.  At the same time though, I found the storyline so simple, borrowed and cliche.  The whole time I thought to myself, is this what a Harlequin romance novel is like?  I almost felt like a vegetarian who was eating steak and potatoes for dinner… it tastes good going down but then leaves you feeling heavy and slightly sick afterwards.  And the sickness is b/c your system isn’t used to the change in diet but also from the guilt of breaking your own principles and worse yet… it’s so good, you want more and wonder if you can fundamentally still call yourself a vegetarian.  Ok, that’s a bit dramatic…
Here’s what I liked about the series (BEWARE OF SPOILERS):
  • The vampire and werewolf lore had a very interesting twist. 
    • The existance of wolves only as a result to providing a natural predator to the vampire — this is Buffy-esque
    • The vampire in the sun — a surprisingly refreshing deviation from the typical vampire myths
    • The extra "powers" each vampire had and how they carry over from your human nature to your vampire nature.  Made sence Bella’s protective nature of the people around her would translate to the special power she got as a vampire.
  • The progression of the storyline – it was well-planned and well-paced.  I heard some complaints about Book 2 (and I have quite a few of my own), but the overarching storyline across the four books was good.  Things built up and unfolded in a nice manner.  Any longer and it would have just felt drawn out — any shorter and you wouldn’t really be able to appreciate the characters’ growth
  • I have to admit, I was hooked on Edward — the oh so perfect vampire/man.  Stephanie Meyer clearly has a finger on the pulse of what women want in a man, in a relationship.  One of the driving forces that kept my eyes ripping through the pages was Edwards complete and utter dreaminess — the perfect, gallant, gentleman who’s strong, powerful, smart and gorgeous but sensitive, respectful and romantic.  He’s your confidante, protector, mentor, best friend an lover all in one.
  • It’s very relatable.  As much as I hate the fact that Bella epitomizes the weak victim that needs saving and excusing instead of the strong heroine (Buffy) who’s taking names and kicking ass, her flaws, her mistakes, her insecurities… those are all things everybody feels.  On principle, I felt the books don’t give young women a strong female role model but at least by the end of the series, Bella is prety bad ass.  And in retrospect, I think this is why these books are such a strong pull… even the imperfect person, the bumbling clutz, ugly duckling can have their happy ending.

I’m generally not that critical of things that have entertaining value to me.  My friend made the astute observation that I’m like a infant in some ways — very easily entertained and amused.  Not that I don’t enjoy picking apart and analyzing movies and books and whatnot, but I more often than not can just appreciate the escape they provide me from my many other responsibilities.  However, in this one particular case, there were some things that really bugged me.  Some more than others and ultimately not enough for me to put the books down or to consider it anywhere near a waste of time.  Just enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth afterwards.

  • There wasn’t really anything new or deep about the storyline/relationship that was portrayed–nothing that hasn’t already been explored and portrayed in much better ways
    • Typical boy meets girl, breaks her heart, learns he’s made a horrible mistake, makes it up to girl and boy & girl live happily ever after
    • Boy in love w/ girl who doesn’t feel the same
    • Loving someone you’re not meant to (romeo & juliet, tristan & iseult, lancelot & qwenivere, etc.)
    • Typical love triangle
    • Revenge and vendettas
    • Tortured vampire w/ a soul or humanity atypical of their kind
    • Soulmates finding each other
    • True love conquers all (princess bride)
  • The subtext wasn’t so "sub" and ultimately felt like a more entertaining after school special
    • Marriage is binding… forever and ever (we got this on the wolf and vampire side)
    • Marriage before sex
    • Relationships are about open & honest communication and compromise
    • Violence is bad
    • School is good
    • Truth and honesty are good
    • Discrimination and fear are overcome by an open mind and a common cause that binds
    • Protect your soul and ensure your passage into heaven
    • Ugly duckling becomes a swan
    • Recognize your own strengths and what makes you great
    • Modesty is the best policy
    • Love is the desire and willingness to put someone else’s happiness, needs, and desires before your own
    • Undying, unbreakable devotion and loyalty
    • You control your future
  • For all the lessons we learned and the decently good job of portraying positive, healthy relationships, I hated that Bella was so attached to Edward.  She completely lost herself in him and lived entirely for him and was so consumed by him that she did ultimately commit suicide over him.  While it’s realistic that she needed help coming out of that dark period in her life, she never truly did snap out of it on her own.  She never realized her behavior was destructive and juvenile.  It’s like she learned nothing from that.  Same w/ Jake … crazy infatuation/love/desire for another person to the point of becoming a horrible person whether destructive to yourself or someone else.  And what’s worst is that their happiness ultimately was delivered to them in finding that special someone. 

    One of my strongest beliefs when it comes to relationships is that you can’t be happy in a relationship if you don’t know how to be happy by yourself.  I don’t believe that completeness is what your soulmate gives you.  You should be complete on your own and your soulmate makes everything better.  Together you achieve more than you could have individually.  The equation isn’t half + half = one.  It’s one + one = three.  I believe someone can be truly happy without a life long partner… we’re whole on our own and we control our own happiness.

    And surely, there was ample opportunity amongst the three pegs of the triangle to illuminate different paths, different choices, etc.  Edward can have the undying devotion and "this world is nothing w/o you in it so as soon as you croke I’m outta here too" is appropriate for a vampire who has lived 90 years.  I wish Jake would have moved on (and as a side note that the harmony that eventually was created between vampire and wolf wasn’t forced upon them due to a genetic wiring instead of conscious choice like on the vampire side).  Maybe throw himself into truly accepting and embracing his Alpha status and perhaps stumbling upon love perhaps with Leah (which would resolve her special role as the only female wolf — that it’s not that she’s deformed and isn’t meant to propogate the wolf genelogical lineage but rather add to by creating an even stronger lineage w/ another Wolf decendent).  For Bella, it would have been nice to have her snap out of her destructive phase… at least to the point of living a normal life… maybe not quite happy and moved on, but at least functional and healthy.  

  • That leads me to what Book 2 (at least the last two thirds) should have been…

    I would not have had Bella saving Edward w/ the Volturi… I would have changed that whole storyline to be that Edward leaving Bella was more centered around trying to protect her from Victoria.  He still breaks up w/ her under the false pretext of not loving her anymore (hoping that makes it easier for her to move on) but really is doing so in hopes of leading Victoria away from Bella and hunting her downhimself.  Perhaps he sacrifices himself to the Volturi legion for their help tracking and destroying Victoria since he sucks at tracking and she has the uncanny power to elude harm.  Maybe the Volturi reneg on the deal — keeping his servitude but refusing to destroy Victoria since she’s got a special power Aros would want in his arsenal too.  So he risks defying the Volturi and barely escapes death (only due to his family’s help) at their hands (all so he can find another way to protect Bella).  Ultimately, it’s still Alice’s cunning and quick thinking with showing Aros that Edward’s sacrifice is all for a human that will become a vampire but only if they let Edward go.  Of course, now Edward needs to return to Bella to continue to protect her from Victoria and now the Volturi too.   The Cullens are sworn to never tell Bella of the looming Volturi threat (and on a more personal note Edward’s sacrifice and continued devotion during his time away from her to allow Bella to move on).   

    Oh… maybe when Edward returned, Bella is dating Jake and seems happy.  Maybe Bella and Jacob start the same — a friend helping a friend in need — but Jake takes the initiative to the next level b/c he loves her and she thinks she loves him the same way but subconsciously is just filling the void Edward left.   Classic rebound syndrome.  Seeing this, Edward sacrifices his own happiness never revealing his true feeling for her because he wants her to keep her own.  So, he’s back but he keeps his distance — watching and protecting her, but otherwise staying away.  They’re both living a lie.  Bella is the first to realize this and breaks it off w/ Jake when she does — choosing to find strength and happiness within herself to fill that void rather than lead Jake on and continue to use him.  

    She still harbors a strong, stubborn sense of hatred and hurt towards Edward.  But then she starts getting these dreams (which i really wish they’d done more w/ as a Vampire power–like premonitions but somehow different than Alice’s)… where she essentially dreams about a battle between Edward and the Volturi and that he dies leaving her devasted.  She finally realizes her subconscious is telling her that she can’t bear to see anything bad happen to Edward even though her conscious self wants a voodoo Edward doll that she can prick torture to avenge her broken heart (oh come on… you know you’ve wished it before yourself).  The dream while its message shakes her into realizing it’s more natural to love Edward than hate him (although at this point she’s refusing to act on it thinking he has moved on — essentially they’re both now doing the same thing), is becoming more vivid, more frequent and ultimately more real.  Scared, she consults Alice and finally confesses she thinks she still loves Edward and now wants to enlist Alice’s help to protect him.

    Alice is frustrated she’s in the middle of an episode of Three’s Company what with all the miscommunication, assumptions and misunderstandings.  Finally, she let’s it slip that these dreams are alarming considering the conflict between the Volturi and Edward and thus she’s forced to reveal the whole story — the reason Edward left (to hunt Victoria and protect Bella) and his sacrifice then and now and how tortured he’s been this whole time without Bella.  Finally, it’s Bella who finds the courage to clear up all the misunderstandings and finally confesses her love to Edward, who is beyond relieved and euphoric to hear she feels the same way he does. 

    That, in a nutshell, should have been the second half of book 2.  Maybe it’s a bit contrived and still doesn’t offer anything new by way of plot lines but hey — that’s not where this book is meant to make its mark, so at the very least, it could have been written to give some variety in the portrayal of love & loss. 

  • Finally, the character development could have been richer and deeper.  I think my plot would have shown some growth in the characters.  It also feels more powerful becacuse the character’s intentions are not just stated or danced around, hinted at but actually acted on, which is more telling of their character.  Edward does come back for Bella but seeing her with Jake gives up his own happiness for hers.  In the original storyline, he just swears up and down he was on his way back anyhow before Bella saved him — why just have him say it; make him do it.  Jake never really makes his move except later in a very sleezy way which really, just makes the reader dislike him when they shouldn’t have to.  Bella explores her options (with Jake) w/o cheating on her boyfriend… fiance.  Again… making the reader dislike her in a way they shouldn’t have to. 

    If reader’s dislike of any of these main characters, it should be w/ mixed feelings due to their own personal preferences as opposed to character flaws that make them dispicable and not just forgivable human nature.  This isn’t the kind of book where you’re plotting to have an unredeemable force of evil that the reader is supposed to vehemently hate and enjoy doing so.  We’re supposed to feel torn by these very human characters.  For example, disliking Bella because she chooses Edward over Jake is better if it’s b/c you think wolves are cooler than Vampires or that Jake is sweeter than Edward.  But disliking her because the author made her a weak girl who doesn’t have the self respect or self control not to use another person for her own happiness, string along a friend while selfishly claiming the whole time she’s in love with another guy so much but then eventually cheat on her perfect boyfriend/fiance and still expecting everyone to love herand be around her and be the specific role she want them to be in her life.  Not to mention, treating her friends like cough medicine she can take to feel better when she needs or when her father says she needs but then putting them back on the shelf again until she’s feeling blue.  I mean, come on… how can you really like a character like that?  All the empathy or sympathy that you should be feeling for her gets negated by the bad character development. 

    It’s the whole essentential argument that choices you make with self awareness of their consequences are more meaningful than the same choices made out of ignorance or obliviousness.  It applies equally to good and bad choices.  While wrong, Bella’s bad choices would be more forgivable if she weren’t so damn aware that she was making bad choices and ones that hurt not just herself but others as well.  Doing something that happened to make someone else happy is great, but if you did it out of deliberate mindfulness and care for that other person, that’s more admirable. 

For all the complaints, I still have to admit, it was an enjoyable read.  It’s one of the few books I’ve read that I haven’t bought and I wonder whether I like it enough to buy, which assumes I’d read it again.  I’m not sure I like it enough to read a second time, but I am sure that if I did decide to read it again, I’d probably be equally entertained and frustrated by it. 

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

… the book!  Not my life.  =)
This was a recommendation from a old coworker of mine.  Finished it in 2 days = good book!  The premise of the book is interesting — "reputation economies" and infinite life.  Your worth as a person is based on the respect that you command from others and their worth in turn.  They call it "whuffie" and people can ping each other’s whuffie level to see how low or how high on the totem pole you are.  It’s kind of like google — you’ll come up higher in the list if a lot of people like you and those people are liked by a lot of people as well.  It’s in interesting premise — the ultimate system of "it’s who you know not what you know".  Another interesting twist was the idea of being able to restore yoursel from a back-up and imprint it into a fresh clone of yourself perserved at whatever age you decide.  Kind of nice… never age, just get wiser, wipe out entire years of your life if you decided it wasn’t worth remembering by just restoring to a old back-up.  Also neat was the idea of "squirting" data directly into someone’s head — the ultimate wi-fi world where everything and everyone was connected.  And as the title suggests, the whole thing plays out in Disney World. 
I like the idea of whuffie… especially the ability to ping someone else’s whuffie to see if having their respect would boost your own.  It certainly helps you be more efficient at ass-kissing.  Wouldn’t want to waste your time chumming up to someone who’s got absolutely no pull with anyone.  It’s a neat concept though and I think the idea was that it would keep people more honest, but really it just means your value is completely based on what other people think of you.  Is it too idealistic to believe that’s not the way the world really operates?  Is self-worth is worthless?
Oh well… off to the next book.  I’m going to dive into some P.G. Wodehouse.  I bought the Psmith collection as well as an anthology of Wodehouse’s work.  Looking forward to it.  Although part of me wants to reserve it as a reward for finishing Saving Fish from Drowning (the Amy Tan book I started last year).  Books are both like medicine and ice cream for me… except that I actually read books when I’m sick and I neither take medicine or eat ice cream.  That’s beside the point though — some books are just pure mindless dribble for fun and others are food for the brain… and then there are some that I feel I just need to swallow it down quickly to get it over with so I can move on and eat some ice cream. 

Wild Nights!

… the book!  Not my life.  =)
I FINALLY finished Wild Nights (the only good thing about being home sick).  It was.. eh.  I had such high hopes for this book… searched high and low for it and was so excited to get it as a present from M.  It’s essentially 5 fictional short stories about the last days of famous authors, e.g. Mark Twain.  I only really liked 1 of them and the rest were ok.  They were just too weird.  I’m hoping the rest of my reading list pans out well.  I’m going to try "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" next.  If it’s a slow read, I’m pulling out the big guns and whipping out Twilight. 
iPhones… I can’t tell if I’m jealous or annoyed by the iPhone phenomena.  Every time I see an email w/ "this was sent from an iPhone", I have a reaction.  It’s likely that email was sent by someone who was ignoring the people right in front of them to mindlessly tap tap tap on their iPhone.  Granted, if it’s to answer an email from me, is that really a crime?  Probably not.  I guess that settles it; I’m jealous.  I’ll be anxiously awaiting to get it as a present from someone… anyone.

2009 Reading List

Here’s what I’m considering for my 2009 reading list:
    • Stumbling on Happiness (*)
    • The Tapestries (*)
    • Bartimaeus Trilogy (3) (*)
    • Wild Nights (*)
    • Twilight Series (4)
    • Catfish and Mandala
    • Dear First Lady: Letters to the White House
    • Seeing Vietnam
    • Catcher in the Rye
    • Picture Perfect
    • Harry Potter Series (7)

I also want to read more Kurt Vonnegut, Haruki Murakami, Tom Stoppard, Franz Kafka, and P.G. Wodehouse.  I also want to read some poetry.  I don’t typically read poems, so it’ll be nice to branch out a bit.

More suggestions are welcomed!

And another two bite the dust

I finished "Perfume Dreams" and "The Last Lecture" this weekend.  "The Last Lecture" was a real page-turner.  It’s a short book but a very captivating read.  I started and finished it in a day – it was that good.  I have to admit, I did cry.  I never took Randy Pausch’s class at CMU, but I knew a lot of kids who did.  One of his classes was a requirement for non-CS majors in my graduate program.  I was not so fortunate to fall into that group — curse my CS degree!  =)  One of the themes of Randy’s book was the cognitive dissonnance of his looking and feeling perfectly healthy but internally having a body ridden with terminal cancer.  His whole book was also a cognitive dissonnance for the reader — it was sad knowing that Randy passed away and these were words he meant to leave behind for his kids, for the students whose lives he’s impacted, for all the other students he would never get to teach.  At the same time, it was inspiring and uplifting.  He led a shorter life than seems fair, but at the same time led a fuller and happier life that I’m sure most would be envious of.  I highly recommend this book — a great read!
"Perfume Dreams" was ok… not great.  I don’t think I get as much from books on the challenges of adapting and adjusting to a new culture while trying to retain a connection to your native culture.  I live it every day, so I guess there isn’t anything eye-opening in Andrew Lam’s words.  Among the other books I’ve read on the Vietnamese-American experience, it was closer to the top.  Not overly sappy or depressing but still moving all the same.
On to the rest of the list…
  • Leave it to Psmith (*)
  • Stumbling on Happiness (*)
  • The Tapestries (*)
  • Bartimaeus Trilogy  (*)
  • Wild Nights
  • Twilight
  • Catfish and Mandala
  • Dear First Lady: Letters to the White House
  • Seeing Vietnam
  • The Last Lecture – CHECK!
  • Perfume Dreams (*) – CHECK!
  • Everything is Illuminated  (*) – CHECK!
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife  (*) – CHECK!
  • Monkey Bridge (*) – CHECK!
  • Kiln People  (*)  – CHECK!
  • Crossed off another two

    It’s nice when you can finish a 500 page book in a day.  If only every book I picked up was as much of a page turner as "The Time Traveler’s Wife".  I love and dread that feeling when you realize that there aren’t enough pages left in the book for things to end the way you want.  It’s like this sense of inevitableness that you have no choice but to accept.  I could put the book down, walk away and postpone the end but my eyes are transfixed and my hands won’t let go of the pages.  This is why I love to read!
    So, here’s my reading list.  I guess I’ll try to read the books I own before moving on to buying more.  I happen to have a lot books by Vietnamese writers on my list.  This year is the first time I’ve read books by Vietnamese authors and so far I’m depressed by them all.  I’m really hopeful my friend’s book gets published.  He just finished his first book — a much more witty, smart humurous manuscript about his year living in Viet Nam.  I hope it makes my reading list some day.  In the meanwhile, I’ll make due with the books I have.  If I can finish the 5 books I own on my list below by the end of the year, I think it’ll be an all-time reading record for me!  Hope they’re all page-turners; otherwise, it’ll be shear will power to get me across the finish line.
  • Perfume Dreams (*)
  • Leave it to Psmith (*)
  • Stumbling on Happiness (*)
  • The Tapestries (*)
  • Bartimaeus Trilogy  (*)
  • Wild Nights
  • Twilight
  • Catfish and Mandala
  • The Last Lecture
  • Dear First Lady: Letters to the White House
  • Seeing Vietnam
  • Everything is Illuminated  (*) – CHECK!
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife  (*) – CHECK!
  • Monkey Bridge (*) – CHECK!
  • Kiln People  (*)  – CHECK!