12.31.2012

Books read in 2012

Total as of December 31: 137
My comments on the books read this year are collected here.

Notes:
1. The revised total reflects that fact that the five volumes of Hugh Howey's Wool saga are more appropriately considered a single work.

2. The list of books read, which had previously been more or less chronological, has been sorted: Plays, Classics (a debatable category, I know), Poetry, General fiction, YA fiction, Non-fiction, and Graphic works (comprising both fiction and non-fiction and non-fiction). If you really dig chronology, though, you can find the old list here.

3. As I mentioned throughout the year, my one reading goal was to read at least 52 non-fiction works. I read 50 (three of which were graphic works).

4. While all of the books listed under Plays, Classics, Poetry, and Graphic works were compelling, my favorites in the remaining categories -- General fiction, YA fiction, and Non-fiction -- have been moved to the top of their lists and separated from the remaining titles with a bar.

~ Plays (19)  ~
Coriolanus (William Shakespeare; play)
Timon of Athens (William Shakespeare; play)
The Taming of the Shrew (William Shakespeare; play)
Othello (William Shakespeare; play)
Henry V (William Shakespeare; play)
Hamlet (William Shakespeare; play)
Three Sisters (Anton Chekhov; play)
The Iceman Cometh (Eugene O'Neill; play)
The Misanthrope (Molière; play)
No Exit (Jean-Paul Sartre; play)
Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett; play)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Tom Stoppard; play)
Electra (Sophocles; play)
Oedipus Rex (Sophocles; play)
Our Town (Thornton Wilder; play)
The Crucible (Arthur Miller; play)
Black Watch (Gregory Burke; play)
Metamorphoses (Mary Zimmerman; play)
Equivocation (Bill Cain; play)

~ Poetry (1)  ~
Nox (Anne Carson; poetry)

~ Classics (11)  ~
The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien; fiction)
Dracula (Bram Stoker; fiction)
Watership Down (Richard Adams; fiction)
Animal Farm (George Orwell; fiction)
The Island of Dr. Moreau (H.G. Wells; fiction)
Frankenstein (Mary Shelley; fiction)
Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury; fiction)
First Love (Ivan Turgenev; fiction)
Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson; fiction)
The Scarlet Pimpernel (Baroness Emmuska Orczy; fiction)
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Agatha Christie; fiction)

~ General fiction (25)  ~
Tell the Wolves I'm Home (Carla Rifka Brunt; fiction)
The Age of Miracles (Karen Thompson Walker; fiction)
Things We Didn't See Coming (Steven Amsterdam; fiction)
A Thousand Cuts (Simon Lelic; fiction)
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (Jan-Philipp Sendker; fiction)
Sister (Rosamund Lupton; fiction)
The Middlesteins (Jami Attenberg; fiction)
 ___________________________________

The Devil All the Time (Donald Ray Pollock; fiction)
The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller; fiction)
Defending Jacob (William Landay; fiction)
The English Teacher (Lily King; fiction)
The Group (Mary McCarthy; fiction)
The Playdate (Alice Millar; fiction)
What Alice Forgot (Liane Moriarty; fiction)
The Silver Linings Playbook (Matthew Quick; fiction)
Gone, Girl (Gillian Flynn; fiction)
The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady (Elizabeth Stuckey-French; fiction)
Amped (Daniel H. Wilson; fiction)
The Lifeboat (Charlotte Rogan; fiction)
Bedbugs (Ben H. Winters; fiction)
Stay Close (Harlan Coben; fiction)
Never Knowing (Chevy Stevens; fiction)
Fly Away Home (Jennifer Weiner; fiction)
Pariah (Bob Fingerman; fiction)
Wool [complete] (Hugh Howey; fiction)

~ YA fiction (23)  ~
Feed (MT Anderson; fiction)
The Fault in Our Stars (John Green; YA fiction)
Going Bovine (Libba Bray; YA fiction)
UnWholly (Neal Shusterman; YA fiction)
I Am the Cheese (Robert Cormier; YA fiction)
Adventure Unleashed (______ __. _________; unpublished fiction)
___________________________________

Mr. Monster (Dan Wells; fiction)
I Don't Want to Kill You (Dan Wells; fiction)
Happy Endings Are All Alike (Sandra Scoppettone; YA fiction)
Are You in the House Alone? (Richard Peck; YA fiction)
Daughters of Eve (Lois Duncan; YA fiction)
The Wave (Todd Strasser; YA fiction)
The Hole (Guy Burt; fiction)
Shapeshifters: Tales from Ovid's Metamorphoses (Adrian Mitchell; poetry, prose, myth)
The Tale of Paradise Lost: Based on the Poem by John Milton (Nancy Willard; fiction)
When You Were Mine (Rebecca Serle; YA fiction)
Shelter (Harlan Coben; YA fiction)
Falling for Hamlet (Michelle Ray; YA fiction)
Tiger Eyes (Judy Blume; YA fiction)
The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins; fiction)
Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher; YA fiction)
The Project (Brian Falkner; YA fiction)
Epic Fail (Claire LaZebnik; YA fiction)

~ Non-fiction (47)  ~
Counterfeit Kids: Why They Can't Think and How to Save Them (Rod Baird; non-fiction)
One for the Books (Joe Queenan; non-fiction)
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything (Joshua Foer; non-fiction)
The Autobiography of an Execution (David R. Dow; non-fiction)
The Memory Palace (Mira Bartók; memoir)
The Fiddler in the Subway (Gene Weingarten; non-fiction, journalism/essays)
The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg; non-fiction)
Hamlet: Poem Unlimited (Harold Bloom; non-fiction)
My Ideal Bookshelf (Thessaly La Force, editor, Jane Mount, illustrator; non-fiction) ___________________________________

Say This, NOT That to Your Professor (Ellen Bremen; non-fiction)
The End of Your Life Book Club (Will Schwalbe; non-fiction)
The Birding Life: A Passion for Birds at Home and Afield (Larry Sheehan; non-fiction)
January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her (Michael Schofield; non-fiction)
The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (Nicholas Carr; non-fiction)
Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl (Stacey O'Brien; non-fiction)
The Essential Voter's Guide (TIME; non-fiction)
Teaching Hamlet and Henry IV, Part I (Peggy O'Brien; non-fiction)
Drawn In (Julia Rothman; non-fiction)
No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at age 16 (Alexandra Swann; memoir)
The Fat Flush Plan (Ann Louise Gittleman; health)
Are You Liberal? Conservative? Or Confused? (Richard J. Maybury; non-fiction)
The Year of Learning Dangerously (Quinn Cummings; memoir)
The Paleo Diet (Loren Cordain; non-fiction)
The Primal Blueprint (Mark Sisson; non-fiction)
How to Retire Overseas (Kathleen Peddicord; non-fiction)
Where to Retire (John Howells; non-fiction)
The Outsourced Self (Arlie Russell Hochschild; non-fiction)
Get Out of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall? (Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D.; non-fiction)
Brain Power: Improve Your Mind as You Age (Michael J. Gelb and Kelly Howell; non-fiction)
The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need (Andrew Tobias; non-fiction)
Lament for a Son (Nicholas Wolterstorff; non-fiction)
Roy Lichtenstein, 1923-1997 (Janis Hendrickson; non-fiction)
Neptune Noir: Unauthorized Investigations into Veronica Mars (Rob Thomas, editor; non-fiction)
Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (Pamela Druckerman; non-fiction)
Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading (Lizzie Skurnik; non-fiction)
Bossypants (Tina Fey; non-fiction)
Retirement without Borders (Barry Golson; non-fiction)
The World's Top Retirement Havens (ed. Margaret J. Goldstein; non-fiction)
Let's Go: Peru, Ecuador & Bolivia (ed. Michelle R. Bowman; non-fiction)
iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us (Larry D. Rosen; non-fiction, psychology/technology)
The Difference (Jean Chatzky; non-fiction, personal finance)
The Pen Commandments (Steven Frank; non-fiction, writing)
Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books (Leah Price; non-fiction)
Immortal Bird (Doron Weber; memoir)
Stop Acting Rich... And Start Living Like a Real Millionaire (Thomas J. Stanley; non-fiction; personal finance)
Like Shaking Hands with God (Kurt Vonnegut, Lee Stringer; non-fiction)
Artist's Journal Workshop (Cathy Johnson; non-fiction, art)

~ Graphic works, both fiction and non-fiction (11)  ~
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me (Ellen Forney; graphic memoir)
Are You My Mother? (Alison Bechdel; graphic memoir)
The Zen of Steve Jobs (Caleb Melby; graphic non-fiction)
American Born Chinese (Gene Luen Yang; graphic novel)
Sweet Tooth Vol. 5: Unnatural Habitat (Jeff Lemire; graphic fiction)
Sweet Tooth Vol. 4: Endangered Species (Jeff Lemire; graphic fiction)
Sweet Tooth Vol. 3: Animal Armies (Jeff Lemire; graphic fiction)
Sweet Tooth Vol. 2: In Captivity (Jeff Lemire; graphic fiction)
Sweet Tooth Vol. 1: Out of the Woods (Jeff Lemire; graphic fiction)
Kill Shakespeare: Volume 1 (Conor McCreery; graphic fiction)
The Night Bookmobile (Audrey Niffenegger; graphic novel)

Reading life review

Number of books since last review: 4
Number of books read in 2012: 137
Complete list here.

The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady (Elizabeth Stuckey-French) Fiction. Because it was purchased with two of my favorite reads from this year -- Sister (Rosamund Lupton; fiction) and The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (Jan-Philipp Sendker; fiction) -- I had high hopes for this... and was disappointed.

The Middlesteins (Jami Attenberg) Fiction. It was the setting (Chicago) that first interested me, but the quirky family dynamic and dark humor kept me turning the pages (well, electronically -- read this one on the Kindle).

Say This, NOT That to Your Professor (Ellen Bremen) Non-fiction. Read in order to recommend to the Misses as both plan to dual enroll in either Fall 2013 or Spring 2014. Clear, practical, recommended.

The End of Your Life Book Club (Will Schwalbe) Non-fiction. Reviews here and here.

12.23.2012

Few people visited the Milwaukee Zoo on the Saturday before Christmas.

Although we were among the only humans stirring, we had a wonderful time!

12.21.2012

"You can't dream big enough!"

 We met legendary broadcaster Orion "The Big O" Samuelson at a recent book-signing.

12.19.2012

The year in adventures

Over our long (and well deserved, if I do say so myself) winter break, we plan to see Les Miserables and The Hobbit in (GULP!) a movie theater. We're also counting on another Milwaukee County Zoo visit and Starved Rock State Park birding hike. Otherwise, though, our break will be centered on home, comprising conversation, food, books, games, swim practices, walks, and family film nights.

But although we're concluding 2012 on a rather quiet note, the rest of the year provided us with ample doses of adventure.
THEATER
The Feast: an intimate Tempest at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater
A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater
South Pacific at the Cadillac Palace Theatre
Short Shakespeare! The Taming of the Shrew at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Being Shakespeare from the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at the Broadway Playhouse
Timon of Athens at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater
The Iceman Cometh at the Goodman Theatre
Crowns at the Goodman Theatre
Three Sisters at the Steppenwolf Theatre
Sunday in the Park with George at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Hamlet at the Writers' Theatre
Equivocation at the Victory Gardens Theater
Black Watch from the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at the Broadway Armory
Metamorphoses at the Lookingglass Theatre
Les Miserables at the Cadillac Palace Theatre
A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre
The School for Lies at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater


CHICAGO SYMPHONY CENTER
■ Joshua Bell
■ Leif Ove Andsnes
■ Yo-Yo Ma 
■ Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma


LYRIC OPERA
The Magic Flute 
Elektra


MUSEUMS, ZOOS, AND THE LIKE
■ The Field Museum (multiple visits)
The Art Institute  of Chicago (multiple visits)
Morton Aboretum
Brookfield Zoo (multiple visits)
Lincoln Park Conservatory
Lincoln Park Zoo 
Volkening Heritage Farm
■ The Vera Meineke Nature Center at Spring Valley
Milwaukee County Zoo
Museum of Science and Industry
Volo Auto Museum
Cantigny: The First Division Museum and the Robert R. McCormick Museum
 
OTHER
Job "shadow" (marine mammal training) at Oceans of Fun
■ Bristol Renaissance Faire
■ Yankees v. White Sox

■ "Wild Encounter" (marine mammal training) at the Brookfield Zoo

What a year!

12.15.2012

Reading life review

Number of books since last review: 5
Number of books read in 2012: 133 *
Complete list here.

Counterfeit Kids: Why They Can't Think and How to Save Them (Ron Baird) Non-fiction. After reading Joanne Jacobs' entry on Baird -- "Helicopter-ed kids in the classroom" -- I downloaded Counterfeit Kids to the Kindle. Throughout, I nodded and even periodically spluttered, "Amen! Sing it, brother!" You can check out the preface and a sample chapter here. Recommended.

The Misanthrope (Molière) Play. Read with the Misses in anticipation of The School for Lies at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien) Fiction. A re-read for both me and Mr. M-mv, this time with the Misses in anticipation of the movie.

The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller) Fiction. This book, a re-imagining of the Achilles narrative as a love story, will not appeal to everyone, but I though it was both moving and compelling. Reviews (mixed) here, here, here, and here.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl (Stacey O'Brien) Non-fiction. The Misses and I were working on this book more than two years ago but ended up setting it aside, apparently. A recent discussion about wildlife rehabilitation led us to remember O'Brien's memoir, and then we wondered, "Hey! How did that end?" We simply restarted, which is just as well since the first two-thirds of the book are better than the last third. By the time she began struggling with her own crippling health issues and Wesley's advanced age and inevitable death, she was -- as expected -- not the same person she was at the beginning of the narrative, but her story ceases to be as engaging -- or perhaps, more fairly, as easy to relate to -- at the conclusion as it was at the outset.

In progress:

With the exception of Moby-Dick, the following books may be completed by the end of the year.

The End of Your Life Book Club (Will Schwalbe) Non-fiction.  This will likely be the next book completed.

 ■ The Uncoupling (Meg Wolitzer) Fiction.  I admired her The Ten-Year Nap (related entry here), but this is a bit of a slog. We'll see.

Here Comes Trouble (Michael Moore) Memoir. (Still) listening to this compelling, author-narrated memoir when I ride my bike, which is mounted on a trainer in the garage for the winter.

Physics for Future Presidents (Richard A. Muller) Non-fiction. With Miss M-mv(ii).

Shine (Lauren Myracle) YA fiction.

Quiet (Susan Cain) Non-fiction. 

Kill Shakespeare, Vol. 2 (Conor McCreery) Graphic fiction.  

Moby-Dick (Herman Melville) Fiction. Completed Chapter 17 of 135. As I've mentioned, the Misses and I are doing the Moby-Dick Big Read

* The revised (effective December 13) total to date reflects that fact that the five volumes of Hugh Howey's Wool saga are more appropriately considered a single work.

12.06.2012

The Girls Rule! School: A progress report

The Girls Rule! School operates year-round, our academic year begins in August, and our studies generally sort themselves into three terms: August through December, January through April, and May through July. Rather than taking an extended break, we enjoy "relaxed" periods of study that usually coincide with the winter holidays, the conclusion of winter swim season, and the conclusion of summer swim season. ("Relaxed" here means, minimally, math-music-literature, but also includes wrapping up aspects of independent study projects, working on neglected art pursuits, and taking additional field trips, particularly those related to birding or nature study.)

With the first term of the 2012-2013 academic year drawing to a close, then, I find myself reviewing our progress, including adequate work with Destinos (Spanish); an term-long history unit focusing on the U.S. Constitution, political philosophy, and the presidential campaign and election; and excellent work in math, logic, and science.

Here are some other highlights:

LITERATURE
Shakespeare studies: 
Hamlet
Henry V

Plays (other than Shakespeare's works):
Three Sisters (Anton Chekhov)
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Tom Stoppard)
Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett)
No Exit (Jean-Paul Sartre)
Oedipus Rex (Sophocles)
Elektra (Sophocles)
The Misanthrope (Molière)

Novels:
Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
The Island of Dr. Moreau (H.G. Wells)
Animal Farm (George Orwell)
Watership Down (Richard Adams)
Dracula (Bram Stoker)
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Agatha Christie)
The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

Poetry:
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools
Poetry Out Loud

Noteworthy non-fiction:
Are You Liberal? Conservative? Or Confused? (Richard J. Maybury)
Physics for Future Presidents (Richard A. Muller) [Miss M-mv(ii)]
Essential Animal Behavior (Graham Scott) [Miss M-mv(i)]

FIELD TRIPS AND OTHER ADVENTURES
Theater:

Crowns at the Goodman Theatre
Three Sisters at the Steppenwolf Theatre
Sunday in the Park with George at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Hamlet at the Writers' Theatre
Equivocation at the Victory Gardens Theater
Black Watch at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Broadway Armory)
Metamorphoses at the Lookingglass Theatre
Les Miserables at the Cadillac Palace Theatre
A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theatre
The School for Lies at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Music:
■ Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma at Chicago Symphony Orchestra


Opera:
Elektra at the Lyric

Museums:
Volo Auto Museum
The Art Institute  of Chicago
Cantigny: The First Division Museum and the Robert R. McCormick Museum
■ The Field Museum

Other:
■ Yankees v. White Sox
■ "Wild Encounter" (marine mammal training) at the Brookfield Zoo
■ The Vera Meineke Nature Center at Spring Valley
■ Miss M-mv(i)'s first violin recital
Five swim meets: three rec team and two USA Swimming
■ Weekly volunteer gig coaching young swimmers
■ Miss M-mv(i)'s first paid job (lifeguard)
■ Weekly piano (both Misses), violin (Miss M-mv(i)), and guitar (Miss M-mv(ii)) lessons and daily practice