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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Reading Itineraries

While visiting Book Lust , I was reminded of the way we move from one book to another and started thinking about it.

All readers talk about the surprising places one book can take them. I read Brief Gaudy Hour (one of Mother's Book of the Month choices - a novel about Anne Boyleyn) when I was in maybe the 5th or 6th grade. It led to many, many books about the Tudor family and about the time period-- both fiction and non-fiction, including Sir Walter Scott's Kenilworth (which led to many more of Scott's novels and a digressive path toward Vikings as well). Of course, other side trips along the way covered Elizabeth, Mary (Elizabeth's sister and Protestant Burner), Lady Jane Grey (tears for this poor, brief queen), Mary (Elizabeth's cousin and Queen of Scotland) and more. Most recently, mystery series by Fiona Buckley, Kathy Lynn Emerson, Karen Harper, Simon Hawke, and Edward Marston and the excellent non-fiction, The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser.

I love Book Lust's idea of charting the paths reading can lead a reader down; branching out and out and taking you in directions that can't necessarily be predicted. Any good book can take you to other books by the same author, to books on the same subject, and to any interesting detail that you notice in the book.

What are some of the books that have taken you on unexpected journeys? If you decide to creat a book itinerary, please leave me a comment. I'd love to see some of the journeys you've taken.



The paintings of Anne Boleyn come from The Anne Boleyn Gallery.

Finished Black Swan Green - my favorite book this year!

19 comments:

  1. I can think of two such journeys that have happened in the last few years. One started with reading Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress which led to Red Scarf Girl, then Wild Swans. All this is going to lead to reading the chinese mystery writers you've suggested.

    The other started with reading Phillippa Gregory's The Queen's Fool. Of course, that led to the other 3 novels about royalty by Gregory. Also, to the mystery series by Kathy Lynn Emerson that takes place during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

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  2. I liked Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress as well. And today I got Wild Swans. Our itineraries may not follow the same path, but we are stopping at some of the same places. :)

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  3. Black Swan Green was very good, I agree. I just finished "The Falls" by Joyce Carol Oats. EXCELLENT.

    The Trenton Times has had two stories this past week about how locals are upset with JCO for "Landfill", a short story loosely based on the disappearance of a freshman last year at The College of New Jersey who ended up in a landfill.

    She certainly is dark, but I've never been able to put a story of hers down.

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  4. Hey, Mary - I'll have to check out the JCO short story. The Trenton Times articles probably increased interest in the story.

    How is the quilting coming? Miss your blog and being able to check on your latest work.

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  5. I don't think my journey of reading has any rhyme or reason.. When I'm finished with one, I'll just grab whatever looks the best to me at the time from my stack of unread books.

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  6. I do an uberlist every year (a combination to-do and resolutions list) at New Year's and I think I will add tracking my book journey's to that list. My book reading is sort of planned out for the rest of this year but Jan. will be a clean slate and this sounds like a wonderful idea!

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  7. My reading is fairly erratic, picking up whatever catches my eye. However, last month I read nothing but classics. And now that I've just finished The Book Thief, I want to read more books set during WWII in spite of the heartbreaking stories I'm sure I'll uncover. Booklogged mentioned Wild Swans. I read that a few years ago and thought it was fascinating.

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  8. I don't know that I've ever had a "set" itinerary of reading. It just sort of evolves. I did try to come up with a list for 2006 and have read some of the books from it, but mostly have veered off in other directions. One direction that I've noticed I've followed somewhat this year actually started in 2005 - that of reading books that are about or take place during WWI. It started with A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry. Then this year I've read Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden and Deafening by Frances Itani. I started Unknown Soldiers: The Story of the Missing of World War I by Neil Hanson (non-fiction). I recently bought By A Slow River by Philippe Claudel. Haven't read it yet - it is about happenings in a village during that time period. So maybe I have an itinerary after all.

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  9. Scifi - The itinerary is not necessarily pre-set. I see it more as taking a certain book and seeing where that book led. To more books by the same author? To more books on the same subject?

    Carl - I want to see your Uberlist!

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  10. Les - my reading is a combination of erratic (seeing a book and wanting it or hearing about a book) and organized (the TBR list).

    I want to read The Book Thief, too, and have read a good bit of fiction and non-fiction concerning WWII. Loved Leon Uris' novels (especially Mila 18 about the Warsaw Ghetto...which led to several other books about that specific subject). Recently, I loved Mary Doria Russell's Thread of Grace about the war in Italy. Reviewed it in my July Reading post.

    Ex Libris - yes, often the "itinerary" (as I see it) is when you look back and see how one book led to another. It starts off spontaneously, then becomes deliberate. All of the books you mentioned sound good - fiction or non-fiction or both?

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  11. I really don't have a plan. It's just that sometimes reading a book leads you to another, on an unplanned journey. At some point I realize the common thread. A book that may not have been intriguing before becomes so because of recent reads.

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  12. I very often get on these related reading jags, and most recently I had a spate of Booker-nominated reads. I didn't get all the way through the longlist, or the shortlist for that matter!, but did read some very good books. A lot of what I read is for review, so I can't get much flow going with that, but I am on the hunt for a really good gothic right now. It's possible I'm headed for a gothic jag but I can't really guarantee anything...

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  13. Booklogged - yes, sometimes I'm not even aware that I've picked up on a theme. Sometimes, too, I get home with 8 books that seem to have been chosen randomly, but 3 or more will have something in common.

    Lisa - the Booker long and short lists are a good predetermined itinerary. Then if one sparks an interest in a subject, event, geographical location, etc., an incidental journey begins. The RIP Challenge was a predetermined journey into the gothic for me.

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  14. After reading McCullough's "John Adams", I found myself reading biographies on Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. That led to several other biographies which I've really enjoyed. Also, if I find an author I really like, I will try to read all his books. Otherwise, I just get what's interesting. Since blogging, I'm more organized and have the "LISTS". My A to Z list is keeping me from wandering off which is a mixed blessing.

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  15. I love biographies, and the time period produced such remarkable characters. Bet this was a fascinating itinerary, Framed. I like having a list, but I'm not really that good about using it.

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  16. Here is the link to where I posted about the Uberlist...I will do so again come the end of the year:

    http://www.stainlesssteeldroppings.com/?p=309

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  17. Oh, Carl, you meant UBERLIST! I especially enjoyed the updates you made in the comment section. :)

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  18. Jenclair, I enjoyed Thread of Grace and plan to read it again sometime soon. Have you read The Sparrow (also by Ms. Russell)? I loved it! Off to read your review...

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  19. Les - I took a quick detour to your blog and will be back to visit again soon. The Sparrow is definitely on my list of TBR and probably everything that she has written or will write.

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