From my bookshelf has a chat with J.F. Englert, author of A Dog about Town and A Dog among Diplomats up on their blog.

You can pop on over and read their excellent interview and also have a chance at receiving a copy of both books.

quan lin So here’s the real reason I decided I wanted to resurrect this blog. I read about the four-legged friends reading challenge over at The Written World and decided that I wanted to join in. Of course, that meant that I would need someplace to post my reviews, so I decided to get back into the blogging game.

Anyway, Kailana suggested that since the challenge is being held in honor of her recently passed away dog Sandy, that we should talk about a pet we were participating in honor of.

That cute little pooch up there is my dog Quan Lin who just passed away this April. She was 12 years old and while I was very sad about her passing, she was very sick and we were considering whether it was time to put her down and it was somewhat of a relief to know that she passed on her own terms.

She was a great dog and while she lived at home with my parents in Colorado, I looked forward to getting to see her over my breaks from school. It’s still weird to think that when I go home for the holidays she won’t be waiting for me. She was a very friendly dog who loved to meet new people, so long as they didn’t ring the doorbell first. I used to joke that she’d gladly let a burglar into the house as she seemed to go into a guard dog mode only when the doorbell was rung. Of course, she was a little thing ( a shih tzu) so she wasn’t very intimidating even then. Her favorite snacks were carrots, spaghetti, and ham bones. She was horribly spoiled and begged from the table all the time and I hate to say we encouraged it because we found her “meerkat” beg to be quite adorable.

As for the books I’ll be reading, here’s my choices:

Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lillian Jackson Braun
Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
Plague Dogs by Richard Adams
On God and Dogs by Sephen H. Webb

If anyone else is participating in the challenge and is still looking to round out their list, I’d also suggest Hard Times by Charles Dickens and The Places in Between by Rory Stewart. The dog character in Hard Times isn’t a huge part of the novel, but has a pretty pivotal role and I found her to actually be one of the most memorable characters and while The Places in Between is actually about Stewart’s decision to walk across Afghanistan he adopts a canine companion along the way.

So it’s been a while, has it? I’ve been toying with the idea of going back to this blog, but my decision was tempered by the abysmally slow pace of my reading lately. However, a certain fuzzy friends challenge tempted me and I need somewhere to post my reviews. I’m also hoping that having a place to talk about my reading might tempt me back into reading a book a week.

Anyway, if you’re new here you might want to check out my recently updated preface.

So it goes.

In case you haven’t heard, Kurt Vonnegut died last night at the age of 84.

He will be missed.

Booking through Thursday asks:

Have you ever missed an important appointment because you have become so engrossed in a book you forgot the time or were up so late reading that you didn’t wake up in time? Been late to work because you couldn’t resist the temptation and left the house too late?

I actually can’t think of a particular time that this has happened to me. I’m a big on the go reader. I bring my books with to read right up until the time of appointments and classes. Also, I have the privelege of getting to read at work. (I attend the front desk of a residence hall on my campus.) What happens more often than not is that I lose sleep because I can’t put a book down. Sometimes I’ll read into the wee hours of the morning (and then hate myself for it the next day.) But please, someone reccomend a book that will suck me in so deeply I’m late and miss appointments! I sure wouldn’t mind.

Now, it’s not going to come to a surprise to most of you that television lives in complete opposition to reading. Every hour of TV watched is an hour we could have spent reading, but I never had much of a problem with this. I watched one, maybe two, television shows a week and that was about it. But now everything’s changed.

I decided to switch from my awfully unreliable wireless internet to cable internet and at the same time finally got my apartment set up for cable and in the process decided to throw in DVR service, because it was eight dollars and it seemed to me the only way I was going to make paying for cable worthwhile. And I’ve barely touched a book since.

I’ve developed an addiction to the History channel and have about 15 hours of various programs and specials waiting for me. I can record the practice re-runs that play at seven in the morning and movies from the 10 different Starz and Encore channels I get. I feel like I’ve moved onto the couch.

Anyway, hopefully the novelty will wear off soon and I can get back to reading and wiriting about it here.

For a book that made the Booker shortlist in 2005, Saturday was excruciating to read. Now, I don’t pay a lot of attention to bookers and PEN awards. Maybe I’ll give a Pulitzer or a Nobel a second glance. Maybe. But Saturday literally got drenched in praise. It had praise dripping out of its ears. The New York Times called it one of the most important pieces of post-9/11 fiction. It certainly wants to be, but I think Jonathan Safran Foer got a lot closer.

Maybe my problem is that I’ve never read any of McEwan’s other books, but from my perspective it felt like someone trying to modernize Mrs. Dalloway and throw in some “thoughtful” commentaries on terrorism and the state of the world. Reading it felt to me like the longest Saturday ever. Despite the blurbs, nothing meaningful really happens in this novel. There is more medical jargon than a copy of Gray’s Anatomy and the central, supposedly life changing action, is completely unbelievable. Furthermore, the commentaries on terrorism have almost nothing to do with what’s going on in the character’s lives. Every twenty or so pages another reference pops up apropos of nothing.

Plus, I don’t think I’m a fan of McEwan’s style. It seemed overly descriptive and sentimental to me. Like this passage:

“They are alive for love, but only briefly. The end comes in a sudden fall, so concentrated in its pleasure that it’s excruciating, like nerve end being peeled and stripped clean.”

Gag me with a spoon. All the book critics may disagree, but I give it a 2.