Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Bingo Challenge 1: Read a Book Based on a True Story

As I mentioned in my Reading Bingo post, I am amused by the idea of using a random factor to push me out of well-worn reading habits.

I'm going to go for blacking out the entire Book Bingo board (now hanging on my fridge).

The first opportunity arose this weekend when I finished my fiction and was looking around desultorily for something else. And then I remembered. Book Bingo to the rescue!

1. A Book Based on a True Story —

What? No! I hate that sort of book!

The random factor is not so beautiful when it is pushing me out of my comfort zone, is it? Dash it all!

I looked through my "to read" list and actually found a candidate: Rabble In Arms by Kenneth Roberts. It is historical fiction about the Revolutionary War and although I love Roberts' books I haven't read this one.
Rabble in Arms was hailed by one critic as the greatest historical novel written about America upon its publication in 1933. Love, treachery, ambition, and idealism motivate an unforgettable cast of characters in a magnificent novel renowned not only for the beauty and horror of its story but also for its historical accuracy.
Roberts is second only to Samuel Shellabarger in my opinion. Both pack so much accurate history into their books it is surprising. And both tell compelling stories so that the history slips down like "a spoonful of sugar." Shellabarger's fictional style is more graceful than Roberts and Roberts stuck strictly to American history while Shellabarger roamed Europe (and Mexico in one book).

I also realized that Charles Dickens wrote one book of historical fiction, Barnaby Rudge, about the Gordon Riots (whatever they were).  Love Dickens and am very slowly working through his novels. I have an as yet unchosen Dickens novel on my 2014 challenge list also.

In the end, though, I'm going with Rabble In Arms. It's been far too long since I read any Kenneth Roberts. Luckily the library has 3 copies so one should be here soon.

 — Rabble In Arms

2. A Best Seller —



Maybe the real challenge is for me not to react that way every time a square pushes me out of my comfort zone. Which is two for two now, I'll just add.

If there is something I loathe it is a Bestseller List. I so rarely see anything on there that I'm interested in. Although I see that, had I begun this challenge a mere month earlier, I'd have been able to sweep up two entries ... The Rosie Project and The Martian. The Rosie Project was force on me by mother (who did know best) and The Martian was being mentioned everywhere I turned at the time my most recent Audible credit popped up, so I listened.

I was tempted to cheat. Hey, Great Expectations is a best seller, right? One for the ages. But that's cheating. I knew what they meant. After three times through the New York Times Bestseller List (fiction, nonfiction, hardcover), finding a few candidates ... I ran into another problem.

I am unwilling to spend hard cash on this challenge. The library has ridiculous numbers of people ahead of me for the few books I was interested in reading [such as David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell (94)].

Finally, I saw something that had escaped me ... a picture book! And one with only 2 people ahead of me in the hold line.

Plus there's a blog which I can begin reading now. Because like The Rosie Project and The Martian, this looks like a bestseller I can enjoy.

— Humans of New York it is!

3. A Published This Year —

Well, well, well, Book Bingo Challenge. We meet again.

And this time you will not make me look to the Heavens, howling, "Noooooooo!"

Because I just began a book that's not even coming out until next month. Yeah, you heard me. Next month.

Is that "This Year" enough for ya?

Book Bingo Challenge, meet Jesus: A Pilgrimage by James Martin S.J.

Which I'm enjoying very much, by the way. Very much indeed.

4. A Book With a Mystery —

Now this is an easy one. I'd finished an audio book and was wanting to get back to my favorite back-up audio, something featuring Sherlock Holmes read by Derek Jacobi.

In this case, the audiobook I turned to is the last collection of Holmes short stories: The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes.

Nothing could be more splendid than the way Jacobi characterizes Holmes, lightly and with a touch of playfulness ... almost like a seriously minded Bertie Wooster. It lightens up the Holmes-Watson relationship quite a bit and makes these a sheer delight. I'm on the third or fourth story and they do seem to be more of a mixed bag than the usual lot, but Jacobi's narration makes me simply enjoy the ride no matter where it takes us.

5. A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old —

Rumpole on Trial Rumpole on Trial by John Mortimer

The bingo challenge gave me another that is familiar ground.

However, I let the decision wait for a few day. Then rearranging and cleaning out books I came across my collection of Rumpole books. I hadn't picked them up for some time, being familiar with the solutions to most of the mysteries.

When dipping into them I remembered the other reason for reading these delightful short stories. John Mortimer's style and Rumpole's personality are so engaging that it really doesn't matter if one knows the solution. These stories transport you to a different time with a rumpled knight in shining armor who just wants to get on with doing the one thing he may be able to control ... his job in getting various villains (and sometimes an innocent person) off of their legal charges.

What a joy it was to pick up this book at bedtime and dip into it before dropping off to sleep.

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