19. Appalachian Trail Guide to North Carolina-Georgia, Thirteenth Edition – Jack Coriell and Nancy Shofner, editors
A very detailed guide of part of the Appalachian Trail. I was the only person I met who carried these, but I found them to be extremely helpful. I highly recommend them to hikers.
20. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH [reread] – Robert C. O’Brien
I was actually thinking about this book, which I last read in elementary school, while I was hiking, and was over-joyed to find it at a friend's house. Really, it's a great book, and the ending (Justin!) was just as sad as I remembered it.
21. Appalachian Trail Guide to Tennessee-North Carolina, Thirteenth Edition – V. Collins Chew, editor
Another section guide. Also good.
22. A Clash of Kings: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2 [reread] – George R.R. Martin
Re-reading these books has led me to some theories about certain characters and their importance in the story line. I'm excited to keep reading, but I'm being cock-blocked by everyone and his grandmother currently reading the books as well. There must be 50 holds on these books at the library.
23. Appalachian Trail Guide to Southwest Virginia, Fifth Edition – Tom Dillon, editor
This guide is not as good as I could have asked for. I was mostly put out by the fact that part of the Trail went over the worst terrain I had seen so far, but there was no mention of that in the guide book!
24. The Story of Forgetting – Stefan Merrill Block
I picked this up because it was $3.00 in a local grocery store. It's a book about Alzheimer's, specifically, a genetic early-onset version. The main characters in the book are a young teenager, whose mother starts showing symptoms in her early thirties, and an old man who lives alone. You're not supposed to know who the old man is and how he's related to the other characters, but it's pretty obvious by the 20th page or so.
This is the first book by the author, and it shows. Not so terrible that I couldn't finish, but not so good that I would keep an eye out for future books. Some people might like it, but I wouldn't recommend it.
25. Appalachian Trail Guide to Central Virginia, Second Edition – Irma Graf, editor
This guide was o.k., but I found some of the descriptions and distances to be off. The signs on the trail and my other guide book both had different mileages than this book, and I have no idea who was right.
26. Hatter Fox - Marilyn Harris
A "love story" about a young American Indian girl and a white doctor. The girl, Hatter Fox, is a reject from society, a victim of racism and genocide, who can't conform, and the doctor is set on saving her from herself.
I found it strange that this book is billed as a love story, since the characters hate and distrust each other for all but the last ten pages. Then there's a non sequitur love declaration that left me cold. I didn't believe it in the least, because the author did nothing to set it up. The doc is a selfish jerk right up to the very end and his behavior is disingenuous.
27. Around the World in Eighty Days - Jules Verne
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. I figured it would be boring, but I was genuinely engaged and concerned about the outcome. I was cheering for Phileas Fogg the whole time, which, considering the fact that he has almost no personality, is a testament to the writing.
28. The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother - Amy Chua
The author writes about her parenting style and the resulting relationships with her two daughters. She is a proponent of being a "Chinese mother," a style that she obviously associates with being Chinese, but which means to be pushy, demanding, critical, and focused on excellence. She raised her daughters like show animals, which worked well for a time, until her youngest started to rebel.
This was a fascinating book. I've been thinking about parenting styles for a while, wondering if it's good for the parents to push their kids. I've certainly felt that my parents should have pushed me more. The flip side of that, of course, is that I don't get along at all with my pushy, critical mother, and Chua's description of her fights with her daughter Lulu are pretty much exactly like my childhood. Except that I was never an award-winning violinist.
29. Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows [reread] - J.K. Rowling
I started re-reading this after watching part one of the Deadly Hallows and finished it right before watching part two. It didn't disappoint as much on a second reading.
30. The Emperor's Children - Claire Messud
This book is about three friends living in New York in 2000-2001, turning thirty and wondering how their lives ended up the way they did.
It got rave reviews, which is why I picked it up, but I was so happy to put it down at the end. I hated the author's style. I'm not a huge fan of that run-on-sentences, big-words-no-one-uses (pullulate? Really?), and-not-nearly-enough-punctuation style. The dialogue was pretentious as hell. Who talks like that? It was like every line had to be a Line, and so people were just talking over and around each other, just talking to be talking. No one was likable and I felt relieved to by shut of them. Ugh.
31. O, Pioneers! - Willa Cather
A story about, well, pioneers, in Nebraska. The main character is Alexandra Bergson, a scrappy Swedish immigrant who takes over the farm when her father dies.
It always strikes me that Cather's love is the land. When you read her, that's what you truly have the relationship with in the books. She's a poet, and makes me long for places I know I would never like in reality. I really enjoy reading her writing.
32. Lucky - Alice Sebold
This is about the author's rape when she was 18. The first 20-30 pages give a squirm-inducing, extremely detailed account of the rape itself. The rest of the book is about what came after: how she was treated, how she reacted, and how the rapist got caught.
It's intense, but I recommend it.
33. Stumbling on Happiness - Daniel Gilbert
The author is a professor of psychology at Harvard, and the book is about our brains and happiness: how our brains perceive happiness, why it's evolutionarily essential for us to be happy, and how our brains keep us on an even keel.
It's very accessible and the author is very funny. I enjoyed reading it and learned a lot about psychology that I didn't know before.
34. Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
A dystopian novel from the point-of-view of the last Homo sapiens, who calls himself "Snowman." As far as he knows, he is alone with a variety of genetically altered animals and a new race of people, also created in a lab. The story of how he got there is told through flashbacks.
I was bored for the first third of the book, but got more invested as the flashbacks got closer to the present and the catastrophe that left Snowman alone. There were various foreshadowings that piqued my interest and started me reading as fast as I could to find out what happened. I'm not usually one for end-of-the-world-through-scientific-meddling scenarios (unless we're talking zombies), but I liked that Atwood wrote this from the perspective of one of the oligarchs. It occurred to me that a lot of dystopian novels are very much about the People, and not so much about the Mad Scientist.