Wednesday, October 7, 2009

'So Many Books, Not Enough Time!'

‘So many books, not enough time!’ I’m sure I share this feeling with thousands of avid readers out there. Just as fast as I remove a book from my ‘to read’ list, three books are added. Reluctantly, I’ve accepted the fact that I will never reach the end of my list. And with the hundreds of thousands of books published each year, there is absolutely no way possible I can read all of them. With this acceptance comes my ability to slow down, relax and completely enjoy the experience of every book I read.

Reading is my passion, which is why I stay up late at night, and why I carry a book everywhere I go, hoping for a quiet moment to open it. Most importantly, it is why I started this blog. Lately, I’ve read some amazing books, many thanks to the followers and fans of ‘Avid Readers Unite’. Connecting with people, who share your passion, truly intensifies your experience.

I’ve decided to share a fraction of my ‘to read’ list with you and invite you to share a fraction of yours. Here goes:

The Pact by Jodi Picoult
The Shack by William Young
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
Ahab’s Wife by Sena Naslund
Escape by Carolyn Jessop
Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Sold by Patricia McCormick
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
Mama Dearest by E. Lynn Harris
The Scarpetta Factor by Patricia Cornwell

As a reminder, Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert will be discussed this month on our Facebook fan page. And, the Nov. book selection has not yet been chosen; I want to hear from you! Happy Reading!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Time is running out!

Only 5 more days til the beginning of Banned Books Week. By now, you should have chosen your banned or challenged book in hopes of completing it by 3 Oct. This awareness campaign celebrates the freedom of choice and focuses on the need to make every book publicly available so that we can develop our own opinions. It has been a tradition since 1982! Let's continue to support it and bring awareness to the power of literature. I am finishing up 'Blood Done Sign My Name' and will probably only have time for one more before the celebration ends; I've decided to read 'Uncle Tom's Cabin'. Let us know what you've chosen.

Happy Reading...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Only 13 More Days Left..

13 more days til Banned Books Week! Whose taking the banned books challenge! In recognition of this celebration, thus far I've read 'The Kite Runner', 'A Thousand Splendid Suns', 'The Catcher in the Rye' and 'Push'. The next banned book on my list is 'Blood Done Sign My Name' by Timothy Tyson. Other banned book choices include: 'The Color Purple', Native Son, Uncle Tom's Cabin, 'Harry Potter' (the entire series), 'Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret', and 'Of Mice and Men'. What banned book are you reading?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


'Push' by Sapphire had to be one of the most challenging books I've ever read. I have to warn you, this book is not for everyone. Narrated by Precious, a young girl who is sexally abused by her mother and father, the book's descriptions and language are so raw and vivid, I could hardly get through it.

By the age of twelve, Precious has her first baby by her father. This baby, a daughter, is born with Down Syndrome and is immediately given to her grandmother. Although it is no secret that Precious is being molested, the abuse continues and by the age of sixteen, Precious is pregnant again. Unable to read or write, despite making passing grades at school, she is determined more than ever to make changes in her life and be a good mother. Unfortunately, Precious is expelled from school when it becomes apparent that she is pregnant. When the opportunity arises for her to attend an alternative school and work towards a GED, she jump at the chance. It is there she meets Mrs. Rain who teaches her to read and write and guides her in the direction of a new life.

Precious eventally gives birth to a baby boy whom she names Abdul. Torn between taking care of Abdul and continuing her education at the alternative school, she is forced out of her mother's home when her mother finds out she is unable to get welfare due to Precious' confessions to a social worker. She spends the night in a shelter but subsequently gets help from Mrs Rain who gets her a room at a center for new and unwed mothers. Precious begins to see some improvement in her life but escaping her past proves to be impossible when she is tested for HIV after finding out from her mother that her father has died; she is positive but her children are not. With the help of Mrs Rain and friends she met at the alternative school, Precious continues to strive for a better life despite many obstacles in her way.

I cannot honestly say I truly enjoyed the book because it was just so disturbing. Throughout the story, you want so much for Precious to get a break and then the book ends with you really not knowing for certain if Precious eventually gets her GED, a job or her own place, although you want it for her so badly. I was also curious about whether or not her mother was HIV positive. Would love to get other reader's opinion on this book. Let me know what you thought of it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Highly Recommended

If you have not read ‘A Virtuous Women’ by Kaye Gibbons, you are missing out on a great love story. I first read this book in 1998 and it is by far one of my favorites. It is not on the banned books list, but I highly recommend it.

Beautifully written, ‘A Virtuous Women’, is the quiet love story of Ruby Pitt Woodrow, daughter of a rich farmer, and Jack Stokes, a tenant farmer. At first they seem an unlikely match, Ruby, although 20 years younger than Jack, is already widowed. Jack, unattractive and unsuccessful, has never been married; both have had tough lives. Ruby is alienated from her parents due to her brief marriage prior to Jack, which was a disaster. She is working as a maid when she meets Jack. Together they find, if not what they were looking for, a sense of completeness. Early in the book, we know that Ruby dies from lung cancer and Jack is completely lost without her. Short and powerful read; an avid reader could finish it in one sitting. Be sure to have a box of Kleenex nearby, it will definitely move you to tears.

Although I haven’t yet read it, Kaye Gibbons is the author of another book with great reviews and it’s also on my list of books to read—‘Charms for the Easy Life’. Yes, I’m trying to make your ‘to read’ list as long as mine. :~)

The observance of Banned Books Week is a good excuse to pick up the highly acclaimed autobiography of Maya Angelou, ‘I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing’. Not that you need an excuse, this is definitely a must read.

At age three, Maya and her brother are sent to Stamps, AR to live with her grandmother after her parents are divorced. It is there that she experiences the horrors of racism and begins to lose her self-confidence. At age eight, she reunites with her mother in St. Louis but is sexually abused by her mother’s live-in boyfriend. At one point, she runs away and lives on the street and sleeps in cars. Finally, following a pregnancy at seventeen, she began to find her voice and is determined to become a strong woman and mother to her child. This is truly a rag to riches story that will keep you on edge ‘til the end.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange

“Lime Tree Can’t Bear Orange” by Amanda Smith. Yet another book you will not be able to put down! This one is uniquely based in Trinidad and tells the story of 16 y/o Celia who lives with her aunt in Tobago; she grew up with her aunt because her father ran off to England after her mother died from childbirth. Celia always felt like she didn’t belong and to make matters worse, she has to deal with her “fresh” step-uncle, Roman, who “could crawl under a snakes belly on stilts”. Roman eventually rapes her and Celia runs away toward another aunt who lives in Paris of Spain. On her journey, she gets sidetracked by an illness that leads her to working as a nanny for a rich family. There, her life is soon complicated by strong sexual tension with her employer. Poor Celia just cannot seem to get a break. Because of her past abuse, she cannot make the right decisions and the move she made that started off uplifting, quickly turns ugly. A lot of twist and turns throughout the book and a very shocking ending.

‘Lime Tree Can’t Bear Orange’ is currently not on the list of banned or challenged books, but be on the lookout for the published 2009 list, it’s bound to be on it.

Since I’ve already read ‘The Kite Runner’, I’m starting off my banned books challenge with ‘The Catcher in the Rye’. I realize that this is an old classic that many of you have already read. If so, feel free to discuss. Somehow, I missed it but I’m looking forward to catching up. Other must read classics on the list include “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker and “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. Both are great books. Even if you’ve seen the movies, you will not be disappointed.

Only 41 days til Banned Books Week!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A National Celebration!!

Perfect timing for our banned book challenge. September 26-October 3 is 'Banned Books Week'! This event takes place every year during the last week of September and celebrates our freedom to read. Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982. The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities. People challenge books that they say are too sexual or too violent. They object to profanity and slang, and protest against offensive portrayals of racial or religious groups--or positive portrayals of homosexuals.

I've already posted five banned or challenged books on a previous post. Exercise your First Amendment rights--join us in reading as many banned books as possible by the end of Banned Books Week! I will post more titles periodically. If you find a banned book you're interested in reading that has not yet been posted, please share it with us. Also, let us know if you are having problems locating any of these books.

45 more days until Banned Books Week! Let's get started!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Whose up for the Book Ban Challenge?

While scanning through the list of banned books, I realized that many of my personal favorites have been challenged. If you're up for the challenge, join 'Avid Readers Unite' in reading some of these books. There are so many on the list, it would take forever to read them all. But, I chose a few to get us started:

'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini
'The Catcher in the Rye' by JD Salinger
'The Chocolate War' by Robert Cormier
'Lolita' by Vladimir Nabokov
'Black Boy' by Richard Wright

As a reminder, although not on the book ban list, our book selection for the month of August is 'The Note' by Angela Hunt.

Here's an interesting fact:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was banned in China (1931) for portraying animals and humans on the same level, "Animals should not use human language."

Happy Reading Avid Readers!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Should certain books be banned?

Check out this recent article from 'The Huffington Post' and let me know what you think:

NEW YORK — Not everybody loves "The Kite Runner."
Khaled Hosseini's million-selling novel about friendship and betrayal between two Afghan boys, a book club favorite that became a feature film, was among the releases mostly likely to inspire complaints last year from parents, educators and others, the American Library Association announced Thursday.

"The Kite Runner," which includes a rape scene, has been criticized for offensive language and sexual content. A parent in Champaign, Ill., and a school board official in Morganton, N.C., were among those who challenged "The Kite Runner" last year.

The ALA listed 513 challenges last year, an increase of 93 from 2007, but well below the levels of 700 and higher in the 1990s. The ALA defines a challenge as a "formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness."

For every challenge tallied, about four or five end up unreported, according to the ALA.
For the third year in a row, the most challenged book was "And Tango Makes Three," Justin Richardson's and Peter Parnell's award-winning picture story about two male penguins who become parents. "Tango" was cited for being anti-family, pro-gay and anti-religion.
Also high on the list were Philip Pullman's "Dark Materials" trilogy (complaints for being violent and anti-religious), Cecily von Ziegesar's "Gossip Girls" series (language, sexually explicit), Alvin Schwartz's "Scary Stories" (violence, occultism) and Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (drugs, suicide, nudity, language).

ALA spokeswoman Macey Morales said that books were actually pulled at least 74 times last year. Those removed included Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" (refers to masturbation), Jodi Picoult's "My Sister's Keeper" (sexually explicit) and Mark Bowden's "Black Hawk Down" (profanity).

In the fall, the library association will co-sponsor the 28th annual "Banned Books Week," a nationwide program founded in 1982 that highlights banned and challenged books. Thursday's list was released just days after "Banned Book Weeks" founder Judith Krug died of cancer at age 69.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

'The Kite Runner'

Just finished reading ‘The Kite Runner’. By the time I got to the end of the book, I was so connected and concerned about the characters, I wanted the story to go on and on. A tale of friendship, family, betrayal and redemption set in the midst of the invasion of Afghanistan. The author is really raw and vivid in his descriptions of the Afghan struggles---it will bring the strongest to tears. Can’t stop talking about this book. I wish all of my friends would read it.

Friday, July 31, 2009

What are you reading now?

Most of my books are chosen from recommendations of friends. Avid Readers would like to know what you are currently reading.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Avid Reader

Does anyone remember the first book they ever read? Believe it or not, mine was Maya Angelo's 'I Know Why the Cage Birds Sing'. I've been hooked on reading ever since. Thanks to her for starting me on my path.

Next on my list to read is:

Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange by Amanda Smith

Celia’s mother died in childbirth while her father, she believes, lives in Southampton,England. Raised by her Aunt Tassi in Black Rock, Tobago, Celia is well cared for until the attentions of Uncle Roman become frightening and dangerous. Out of self-preservation, Celia must make an escape to the neighboring island of Trinidad and then flee to England to find her father and ultimately herself. But during her escape, she falls gravely ill. In Port of Spain, she is nursed back to health by William, a caring gardener, and his mother, who help Celia further by finding her a job with a local doctor’s family. What feels like newfound independence soon becomes a tangled and overwhelming web of secrets when Celia finds herself passionately involved with Dr. Rodriguez, the master of the house. Written with great beauty and economy, Lime Tree Can’t Bear Orange is the story of one woman’s search for love and identity by talented Caribbean newcomer, Amanda Smyth.

More Good Reads

I picked up Khaled Hosseini's first novel, 'The Kite Runner', before boarding my flight from Vegas today. His second novel, 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' was so good, I wanted to give this one a try. I read it throughout the entire flight and I'm already half way through it. I am not disappointed; this book is just as powerful.

'A Thousand Splendid Suns' is actually a follow-up to the Kite Runner. However, the books are so well written, you don't have to read them in order. If you're looking for a really good read, I highly recommend these books.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Few of my Favorites

If you haven't read these books, you must. .

'For One More Day' by Mitch Albom
'Angela's Ashes' by Frank McCourt
'Cane River' by Lalita Tademy
'A Virtuous Woman' by Kaye Gibson
'Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas' by James Patterson

Has anyone read any of them? Let's discuss!

Post a few of your favorite books here.

August Selection

Ok, here's the suggestions we've had for the August Selection; I've added a short discription for each. Please post your choice.

'The Note' by Angela Elwell Hunt

When PanWorld flight 848 crashes into Tampa Bay killing all 261 people on board, journalist Peyton MacGruder is assigned to the story. Her discovery of a remnant of the tragedy-a simple note: "T - I love you. All is forgiven. Dad."-changes her world forever. A powerful story of love and forgiveness.

‘Still Alice’ by Lisa Genova

Alice Howland, a Harvard professor of linguistics has trouble remembering a few things. But she doesn’t worry that there is something seriously wrong with her. After all, her husband, John, keeps forgetting where he put his keys, but that assurance is shattered the day Alice forgets how to get home after her morning jog. She stands in the middle of Harvard Square and has no idea which street she needs to take to find her house. That experience scares her enough that she goes to see a neurologist, who, after a series of tests, diagnoses Alice with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Husseini

A tale about the frailty of character of strong men and innate strength of frail women. The novel explores the lives of two Afghan women who belong to totally different backgrounds but are forced to share the same unhappy household. It narrates their tragedies, their unwavering endurances and sacrifices in the face of cruelty and hardships. The backdrop is, once again, the war torn Afghanistan mutilated by forces from within and without. The two women face rejection from their families and their brutal husband, suffer from domestic violence and yet find love, companionship and consolation from each other.

‘Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man’ by Steve Harvey

Steve Harvey, the host of the nationally syndicated Steve Harvey Morning Show, can't count the number of impressive women he's met over the years, whether it's through the "Strawberry Letters" segment of his program or while on tour for his comedy shows. These are women who can run a small business, keep a household with three kids in tiptop shape, and chair a church group all at the same time. Yet when it comes to relationships, they can't figure out what makes men tick. Why? According to Steve it's because they're asking other women for advice when no one but another man can tell them how to find and keep a man.

‘Daughter of Fortune’ by Isabel Allende

A sweeping portrait of an unconventional woman carving her own destiny in an era defined by violence, passion, and adventure. An orphan raised in Valparaiso, Chile, by a Victorian spinster and her rigid brother, young, vivacious Eliza Sommers follows her lover to California during the Gold Rush of 1849—a danger-filled quest that will become a momentous journey of transformation. In this rough-and-tumble world of panhandlers and prostitutes, immigrants and aristocrats, Eliza will discover a new life of freedom, independence, and a love greater than any ever dreamed.