Tag Archives: book list

Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang

Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang translated by Bao Pu, Renee Chiang, and Adi Ignatius (Simon & Schuster, May 19, 2009), 336 pages

Zhao Ziyang was China’s premier during the Tiananmen Square protests. He acted to prevent the massacre and was forcibly removed from power — and lived the rest of his life under house arrest — because of his actions. He was also instrumental in choreographing and instituting economic reform in the years leading up to what he calls the July Fourth incident. Zhao grew to believe that continued economic reforms and success required political reforms and further openness from the government, in addition to a free press.

In these secret journals, which he recorded around 2000, he not only recounts these events and his economic and political strategies and actions, he also addresses misconceptions and misinformation and accepts responsibility for his own mistakes. The journals were uncovered after Zhao’s death in 2005.

I haven’t read a book that had the word bourgeois in it so many times in a very long time, certainly not since college. I was struck by the huge challenge attempting reforms and instituting a free market would be where the other leaders don’t speak freely to each other.

I was glad for an excuse to learn more about this period of China’s history. I don’t remember the Tiananmen Square massacre (I was still a child), although I’ve heard them referenced probably ever since they first happened.

For a book about economics and politics, I really enjoyed this book. The writing is not overly academic (I’m guessing the conversational tone is because the book is translated from oral journals.) but rather quite approachable. My love for all things China may have smoothed my path through the book, though.

I would have loved to read more about the (notably absent from this book) cultural and religious elements of the story. I would also have loved to read about leading up to and during/after the Beijing Olympics.

I read this book as part of a collaborative effort on the part of many bloggers to collective read and review all 50 of the books Newsweek listed as Books of our Times. The list as a whole was daunting, so we split it up! Great idea, Amy! All 50 books were claimed pretty quickly, and many of the titles have more than one person reviewing them.

The epilogue argues that the China portrayed in this book is today’s China. Whether that’s the case or not, this book is certainly relevant to us, today. China is growing so quickly, in so many sectors. We must pay attention.

See other reviews of books from the Newsweek list.

Other reviews
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I checked this book out from the library.


My best 2009 reads

I went through and sorted out which books I’ve read (so far) this year that were actually published this year (in the United States, anyway). I was surprised to find that a little over half of the books I’ve read this year were published in 2009, so I had a lot to choose from!

1. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (nonfiction, memoir, international, cause)
2. Saints in Limbo by River Jordan (Christian fiction, magical realism?)
3. Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart (YA literary fiction)
4. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (fiction, international)
5. The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (fiction, mystery)
6. Lost Mission by Athol Dickson (Christian fiction, faith)
7. The Only True Genius in the Family by Jennie Nash (fiction)
8. Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum (nonfiction)
9. Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall (fiction, southern)
10. Faces in the Fire by T.L. Hines (Christian fiction, suspense)

Books I haven’t read yet, but think might make my list: The Help. I’m inching up the wait list at the library, but I don’t know if I’ll get it finished in this calendar year. I’m sure there are others, but this is a big one, and I’m not thinking of other titles.

Books, sources, integrity

In the last week, several bloggers (including Marie at Boston Bibliophile and Trish at Hey Lady!) have posted the sources of their recent reads. I knew I wanted to tag along, but my head was foggy from a cold most of the week, which slowed me down a lot. I’m finally getting to it today.

I’ve also been part of several conversations in the last week (not for the first time, certainly, although in general I’ve been listening more than I’ve been talking on the subject) about what it means to be a person of integrity in blogging. I’ve posted a few thoughts on the topic below.

The last 20 books I reviewed and their sources:
Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart A blog win, from Anna Lefler.
Coral Moon by Brandilyn Collins From the library.
Holy Roller by Julie Lyons Sent by the publisher for blog tour.
A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman From the library.
The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine Won an advance copy on Twitter from @BooksOnTheBrain.
Light from Heaven by Jan Karon From the library.
Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon From the library.
The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow Emailed pitch, I accepted.
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón From Shelf Awareness.
Never the Bride by Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge I saw the authors were giving away review copies on Facebook, and I requested one.
The Wish Maker by Ali Sethi From Shelf Awareness.
Stealing Home by Allison Pittman Sent by the publisher for blog tour.
Saints in Limbo by River Jordan Sent by the publisher for blog tour.
The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir Sent by the publisher for blog tour.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón Requested this book on BookMooch on the recommendation of a friend, ages ago.
Best Intentions by Emily Listfield Author emailed pitch, I accepted.
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh From the library.
Night by Elie Wiesel Was a Christmas more than a year ago.
Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins From the library.
In this Mountain by Jan Karon From the library.

By the numbers:
A blog win, 1
From the library, 7
Sent by the publisher for blog tour, 4
Won on Twitter, 1
Someone emailed a pitch to me, I accepted, 2
From Shelf Awareness, 2
I requested from publisher/author, 1
In my collection, 2

To break that down:
45 percent were review copies
35 percent were from the library
10 percent were books I won
10 percent were books already in my collection

I’ve been blogging here for more than two years and this set of 20 books contains very nearly the first reviews of books about which I’ve had contact with the publishers. I already do disclose whether a book is a review copy or not in my reviews, at the least through my category usage. These labels appear at the very top of my posts, quite visible.

I don’t feel that this small sample is entirely representative of me and my blog. It is what it is, a sample.

It’s good and useful to disclose the sources of the books I read and review (I review every book I finish). I make a point of saying in my review policy that where I got the book does not impact what I say about it; “I do not guarantee a positive review. My reviews are honest; I also strive to be kind and gentle, as well as fair and balanced, in my reviews.”

I don’t think it’s an ethical problem to get the review book free; journalists and professional reviewers have received free review copies as far back as I know — they’ve received these books and reviewed them generally without specifically disclosing that the book was provided at no cost (although it was generally known, I think) — without calling into question their personal integrity. Review copies are not and should not be regarded as compensation.

I won’t always disclose the source of my books in as much detail as I have in this post. That said, I will continue to disclose the source of my books. I don’t have anything to hide.

In related news, I’ve signed the Blog with Integrity pledge. This isn’t anything big; I hope you already find me honest and respectful, a person of integrity, regardless of the badge. Blogging, as all things in life, should be done with personal integrity. If you see/read of me doing something suspect, please email me.

Sticky books

I saw this on Facebook, and thought I might attempt it later. Then, while I was traveling last week, it was the Booking Through Thursday question. Either way, I’m late to the party, but I decided to still join in the fun.

Sticky books are those that will always stick with you. One is supposed to list the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

1. Bible
2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
3. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
4. C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy
5. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
6. The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker (Black, Red, White)
7. True Grit by Deborah Meroff
8. Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
9. Time Quintet by Madeline L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time‘s the first one.)
10. Kristin Lavransdatter (the whole thing) by Sigrid Undset
11. Dakota by Kathleen Norris
12. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott
13. Green Rose of Furley by Helen Corse Barney
14. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe
15. Lying Awake by Mark Salzman

I don’t have these in any particular order, but I did create my list in less than 15 minutes. If I had to create this list next week instead, the answers may very well be different. Do we have any sticky books in common? Are any of the books on this list unfamiliar to you? What are your sticky books?

Newbery Medal winners

Since I’ve talked about Newbery winners a bit recently, I thought maybe it was time to post this book list here.

The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year. It is named for the eighteenth-century English bookseller John Newbery.

From the American Library Association:
Newbery Medal Winners, 1922-2009

I’ve bolded the ones I remember reading and italicized those I hope to read soonish; starred* the ones I own. I was inspired to look up this list while preparing for Nymeth’s Try Something New mini-challenge (which is part of Dewey’s Book Challenge, which I hoped to take part in but have since bowed out of, but the mini-challenge is open to all comers), in which I’m paired up with Sarah.

2009: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Dave McKean
2008: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz
2007: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, illus. by Matt Phelan
2006: Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
2005: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
2004: The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo
2003: Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
2002: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
2001: A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
2000: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
1999: Holes by Louis Sachar
1998: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
1997: The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
1996: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
1995: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
1994: The Giver by Lois Lowry
1993: Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
1992: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
1991: Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
1990: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
1989: Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman
1988: Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman
1987: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
1986: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
1985: The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
1984: Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
1983: Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt
1982: A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard
1981: Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
1980: A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-1832 by Joan W. Blos
1979: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
1978: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
1977: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
1976: The Grey King by Susan Cooper
1975: M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton
1974: The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
1973: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
1972: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
1971: Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
1970: Sounder by William H. Armstrong
1969: The High King by Lloyd Alexander
1968: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
1967: Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt
1966: I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
1965: Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska
1964: It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville
1963: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
1962: The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
1961: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
1960: Onion John by Joseph Krumgold
1959: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
1958: Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith
1957: Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen
1956: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
1955: The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong
1954: …And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold
1953: Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark
1952: Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
1951: Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
1950: The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
1949: *King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
1948: The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois
1947: Miss Hickory by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
1946: Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
1945: Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
1944: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
1943: Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
1942: The Matchlock Gun by Walter Edmonds
1941: Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry
1940: Daniel Boone by James Daugherty
1939: Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright
1938: The White Stag by Kate Seredy
1937: Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer
1936: *Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
1935: Dobry by Monica Shannon
1934: *Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women by Cornelia Meigs
1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Lewis
1932: Waterless Mountain by Laura Adams Armer
1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth
1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field
1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly
1928: Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji
1927: Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James
1926: Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman
1925: Tales from Silver Lands by Charles Finger
1924: The Dark Frigate by Charles Hawes
1923: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
1922: The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon

I haven’t read much young adult or children’s lit since graduating from the children’s section of the library in my pre-teens, but Dewey was committed to the Newbery Project. While I’m not ready to commit to the whole list, I like the idea of slowly advancing my knowledge of books that make this list.

Pulitzer books

I’ve heard of people (not too many, though) who have purchased every Pulizter-winning book with the intent of reading them all. I’m intrigued by this, but I’m not ready to make that commitment. Here’s the list (which I swiped from Book Junkie:

The usual rules apply. Bold for those I’ve read. Italic for those I really want to read. Strikethrough for what I hated or quit reading

* 2007: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
* 2006: March by Geraldine Brooks
* 2005: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
* 2004: The Known World by Edward P. Jones
* 2003: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
* 2002: Empire Falls by Richard Russo
* 2001: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
* 2000: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
* 1999: The Hours by Michael Cunningham
* 1998: American Pastoral by Philip Roth
* 1997: Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser
* 1996: Independence Day by Richard Ford
* 1995: The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
* 1994: The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
* 1993: A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler
* 1992: A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
* 1991: Rabbit At Rest by John Updike
* 1990: The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos
* 1989: Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler; I liked Saint Maybe better.
* 1988: Beloved by Toni Morrison
* 1987: A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
* 1986: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
* 1985: Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie
* 1984: Ironweed by William Kennedy
* 1983: The Color Purple by Alice Walker
* 1982: Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike
* 1981: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
* 1980: The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer
* 1979: The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
* 1978: Elbow Room by James Alan McPherson
* 1977: no award given
* 1976: Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow
* 1975: The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
* 1974: no award given
The fiction jury had unanimously recommended the 1974 award to Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, but the Pulitzer board, which has sole discretion for awarding the prize, made no award.
* 1973: The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
* 1972: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
* 1971: no award given
* 1970: The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford by Jean Stafford
* 1969: House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday
* 1968: The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
* 1967: The Fixer by Bernard Malamud
* 1966: The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Katherine Anne Porter
* 1965: The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau
* 1964: no award given
* 1963: The Reivers by William Faulkner
* 1962: The Edge of Sadness by Edwin O’Connor
* 1961: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
* 1960: Advise and Consent by Allen Drury
* 1959: The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters by Robert Lewis Taylor
* 1958: A Death in the Family by James Agee
* 1957: no award given
* 1956: Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor
* 1955: A Fable by William Faulkner
* 1954: no award given
* 1953: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
* 1952: The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
* 1951: The Town by Conrad Richter
* 1950: The Way West by A. B. Guthrie, Jr.
* 1949: Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens
* 1948: Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener
* 1947: All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
* 1946: no award given
* 1945: A Bell for Adano by John Hersey
* 1944: Journey in the Dark by Martin Flavin
* 1943: Dragon’s Teeth by Upton Sinclair
* 1942: In This Our Life by Ellen Glasgow
* 1941: no award given
* 1940: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
* 1939: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
* 1938: The Late George Apley by John Phillips Marquand
* 1937: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
* 1936: Honey in the Horn by Harold L. Davis
* 1935: Now in November by Josephine Winslow Johnson
* 1934: Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller
* 1933: The Store by Thomas Sigismund Stribling
* 1932: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
* 1931: Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes
* 1930: Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge
* 1929: Scarlet Sister Mary by Julia Peterkin
* 1928: The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
* 1927: Early Autumn by Louis Bromfield
* 1926: Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis (declined prize)
* 1925: So Big! by Edna Ferber
* 1924: The Able McLaughlins by Margaret Wilson
* 1923: One of Ours by Willa Cather
* 1922: Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington
* 1921: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
* 1920: no award given
* 1919: The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington
* 1918: His Family by Ernest Poole

OK, so I haven’t read many on this list. That’s fine, though, since I haven’t tasked myself with reading everything on it! Maybe someday. Which ones have you read? Do you recommend them? Despise them?