11/22/63

Today is the final day of the #112263Along, reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63! I had a lot of fun with this one and I hope you did, too. From Goodreads:

If you had the chance to change the course of history, would you? Would the consequences be what you hoped?

Jake Epping, 35, teaches high-school English in Lisbon Falls, Maine, and cries reading the brain-damaged janitor’s story of childhood Halloween massacre by their drunken father. On his deathbed, pal Al divulges a secret portal to 1958 in his diner back pantry, and enlists Jake to prevent the 11/22/1963 Dallas assassination of American President John F. Kennedy. Under the alias George Amberson, our hero joins the cigarette-hazed full-flavored world of Elvis rock’n’roll, Negro discrimination, and freeway gas-guzzlers without seat belts. Will Jake lurk in impoverished immigrant slums beside troubled loner Lee Harvey Oswald, or share small-town friendliness with beautiful high school librarian Sadie Dunhill, the love of his life?

There were a lot of things I really enjoyed about 11/22/63. I thought that Jake was very likable, as was most of the other characters. I’m not an expert on King’s catalog (at least, before this and the Under the Dome readalong earlier this year I hadn’t read King in about 15 years), but it’s clear he is a consummate storyteller. I loved the world-building he did for the late 50s and early 60s—the music, the era-specific technology, and the culture were pretty well fleshed out. While perhaps the racism of the times was glossed over, that is forgivable since 11/22/63 isn’t supposed to be about race relations.

When you come down to it, 11/22/63 is a love story… with elements of alternate history and time travel. The love affair between Jake and Sadie is funny, sweet, and heartbreaking (although I thought the sex scenes were kind of awkward…). Jake also falls in love with small-town Jodie, Texas and its people, quickly becoming a favorite teacher and drama coach at the high school (some teacher clichés are in there, though).

The best way to experience 11/22/63 is to suspend your disbelief, and just go along for the ride. There are time travel rules that are a little weird, and I got major Biff (Back to the Future) vibe with Jake’s money-raising tactics. Also I think overall the book is kind of longer than it needs to be. Parts in the middle dragged a bit, and thinking about 11/22/63 after finishing I feel like this is almost two books squished into one.

I think I liked the JFK plot line the best. I was spellbound by Jake’s reconnaissance on Lee Harvey Oswald and his family, and the events leading up to that fateful November day in Dallas. And then, the ending flipped everything on it’s head and I was gripped once again. I do wish it had ended with the “Final Notes” chapter rather than the last one. Just felt more… authentic?? Is that weird to say about a sci-fi alternate history story? 😉 But I may say that and feel that way because I’m not a reader who needs all loose ends tied up for me—I don’t mind unresolved endings.

Anyway, thanks for joining me on the #112263Along if you did! And if you already read the book, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments. 🙂

Read from October 21 to December 21, 2013.

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Well it turned out that my parents had a long delay and didn’t end up making it to Kansas City this last weekend 😦 so I spent a lot of Saturday reading more of Stephen King’s 11/22/63 for the 112263Along. I only have about 200 pages left to go now—feeling a lot better about finishing before the last day of the readalong (Dec 22)! I’ve also been continuing with Sudden Sea by R. A. Scotti this week—the book group discussion at the library is this coming Friday night, and I have less than 100 pages to go. No problem! I wish I had new books to report for this post, but I feel good about my progress on these two I’ve been working on.

Next week I’m really hopeful that I’ll find time to read while I’m visiting family, but we’ll see. I don’t seem to have much luck or time to myself on those trips (which is fine! I love hanging out with family). I have a few audiobooks lined up to see about listening to on the drive—maybe between me and my husband we can agree on a couple (luckily we have pretty similar tastes!).

What are you reading this week?

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Well, not much new to report this week in my reading. Still working on Stephen King’s 11/22/63 for the 112263Along, and I started Sudden Sea by R. A. Scotti, the December book for the Stranger than Fiction book group at the Kansas City Public Library. The Scotti book is about the 1938 hurricane that devastated the New England coast. It’s a fast-paced read, and reminds me of Erik Larsen’s Isaac’s Storm, which I read earlier this year.

I didn’t have much time to read lately because I had a gig over the weekend and yesterday was my birthday! It was Handel’s Messiah, classical holiday fare, and I had never played it before. I had a lot of fun though, even if it is kind of an exhausting piece (3 hours! And we didn’t even play the whole thing!). But yeah I had a great birthday—my orchestras’ upcoming concerts got mentioned in the paper, I had a great yoga session, 200+ followers notification from WordPress, great gig, PACKER WIN, cards/online messages/phone calls from family and friends, and a wonderful meal and lovely flowers from my husband.

What are you reading this week?

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I had a fantastic weekend of reading over Thanksgiving! I had my own little readathon, and it kind of kicked me out of a reading slump-funk I had the last couple of months (only two in October, and until this last weekend only two in November, too… not counting continuing 11/22/63 in November).

  • Room … Emma Donoghue (all)
  • Roll Me Up and Smoke Me… Willie Nelson (all)
  • Packers: Green, Gold and Glory … Sports Illustrated (finished)
  • A Prayer for the Dying … Stewart O’Nan (started)

I was able to read more than half of the O’Nan book yesterday, so I’m sure I can finish it at some point today. I’ll have review posts of these four up through the week!

Lastly of course I’m still reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63 for the 112263Along, but it was nice to take a small break from it for a few days (and I’m liking pacing my reading of this one out so I can finish close to the final day of the readalong, December 22). AND I’m planning on starting Sudden Sea by R. A. Scotti this week—our pick for December in my library’s Stranger than Fiction book group.

What are you reading this week?

december reading goals

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving (U.S. readers… and a great last-November-weekend world-wide 🙂 )! I didn’t travel and I had a couple days off work, so I was able to get a lot of reading in over the weekend. Best part…

Yeah baby! My 50th book was Willie Nelson’s Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, part of my own little personal readathon over these four free days I just had. I will put up a post of mini-reviews later this week on the books I finished/read/started.

I don’t usually set formal reading goals each month, but for December, since I know it’ll go fast, there are four books I’d really like to read/finish before the end of the year:

  • 11/22/63 … Stephen King
  • Sudden Sea … R.A. Scotti
  • Driven … Donald Driver
  • MaddAddam … Margaret Atwood

I’ll finish 11/22/63 for our #112263Along before the readalong ends on December 22, and Sudden Sea is our December pick for my library’s Stranger than Fiction book group (about the 1938 hurricane that devastated the New England coast)—we have our discussion on December 20. I chose Donald Driver’s new memoir, Driven, as my win from A.M.B.‘s Literary Blog Hop contest a few weeks ago, and I just love Donald Driver and need something Packers-related that’s inspiring and uplifting (seeing as how they’re performance during games lately is anything but 😦 tears. Still love ’em, though). Lastly, I really want to read the third installment of Atwood’s masterful dystopian series, MaddAddam. I listened to Oryx and Crake on audio over the summer and was hooked, and I think I’d like to experience the whole trilogy before the year is over.

Anyway, if I can read these four books in December, I feel like I’ll have done all right. More reflection on my reading for the year in general will come later on at the end of the month!

What books are you guys are looking forward to reading to close out the year?

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Is it really possible I’m back down to two books at the moment?? I used to be a strict one-book-at-a-time person, and then I started joining readalongs and a book group at my library… but I still wanted to read my other books I had that I was interested in… and I think that’s what happened, how I ended up with way more than one book on my plate at any given time this year. 

Well, as of today I’m back down to two: Packers: Green, Gold and Glory by Sports Illustrated and Stephen King’s 11/22/63 for the 112263Along. I’m halfway through both right now, and I’m sure I will easily finish the Packers book this week—it’s quick reading, short snippets about players and specific games, with lots of archival photography. I really love it! And of course I planned on reaching the halfway point in 11/22/63 on the same date as the anniversary of JFK’s assassination and the middle of our readalong. You can read my halfway post here.

Otherwise… I’m toying with an idea for my four days off later this week for the holiday. I have kept plans and obligations to a minimum, so I think I may be able to squeeze in a few (short) books over the long weekend… my own mini-readathon. Here are the books I have in mind:

  • Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die … Willie Nelson (192 pages)
  • Room … Emma Donoghue (321 pages)
  • The Silent Wife … A.S.A. Harrison (326 pages)
  • The Bean Trees … Barbara Kingsolver (232 pages)

I think I might be able to read these four pretty quickly, even the 300-plus-page ones. I might give it a shot and see how far I can get. Have you read any of these four? Were they quick reads? Worth it?

What are you reading this week? Anyone else going for their own mini-readathon?