Saturday, February 27, 2010

How Many Books Are You Reading 2010? February Update

Time! I wish I had more of it.

Being a full-time student, a part-time cleaning lady, a mother, a wife, a writer, and a runner, I have to steal five minutes here and there to get a chance to read. Or multi-task: cook and read, eat and read.

I didn't always enjoy reading, especially fiction. The first few novels took some effort getting through, but in the last five years or so, reading fiction has increasingly turned into a daily activity. It has become something I crave, a drug of which I need a small daily dose.

My reading goal for 2010 is 15 books. So far, I've only been able to finish one. I read half of book number two. You can read my January Update (link below) about how much it dragged. But now I am really close to finishing book number three: "White Fang" by Jack London.

Since I started reading "White Fang", it has climbed higher and higher on my personal list of favorite books. What makes it such a good read is the depth of the characters and the plot. The story comes alive by creative metaphors, vivid descriptions, and Jack London's ability to display human and animal behavior in shades, blends and layers that jump off the pages. But best of all, I have enjoyed the balance between all the elements is the story. It is romantic, sensitive, heartbreaking, and raw-naturalistic story telling with an undertone of irony and humor.

It was hard to pick a favorite passage, but here is one that I think exemplifies Jack London's superior way of describing characters:

"Backward, from the apex, his head slanted down to his neck; and forward, it slanted uncompromisingly to meet a low and remarkably wide forehead. Beginning here, as though regretting her parsimony, Nature had spread his features with a lavish hand. His eyes were large, and between them was the distance of two eyes. His face, in relation to the rest of him, was prodigious. In order to discover the necessary area, Nature had given him an enormous jaw. It was wide and heavy, and protruded outward and down until it seemed to rest on his chest. Possibly this appearance was due to weariness of the slender neck, unable properly to support so great a burden.
This jaw gave the impression of ferocious determination. But something lacked. Perhaps it was from excess. Perhaps the jaw was too large. At any rate, it was a lie. Beauty Smith was known far and wide as the weakest of weak-kneed and snivelling cowards. To complete his description, his teeth were large and yellow, while the eye-teeth, larger than their fellows, showed under his lean lips like fangs. His eyes were yellow and muddy, as though Nature had run short on pigments and squeezed together the dregs of all her tubes. It was the same with his hair, sparse and irregular of growth, muddy-yellow and dirty-yellow, rising on his head and sprouting out of his face in unexpected tufts and bunches, in appearances like clumped and wind-blown grain."

Previous posts:
How Many Books Are You Reading 2010?
How Many Books Are You Reading 2010? January Update


  1. Ann, I just read this year's Newbery When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. It was very good, a quick read (I read it this afternoon) and I think Matilda would enjoy it.

  2. I just realized my prior comment had nothing to do with Jack London, but it was about a book! I believe London was a newspaper man; most real newspaper men of that era were excellent writers. You really do need Spring break, your life is toooo hectic.

  3. I'm not sure. He was a good-looking guy and made lots of money on his writing. Liked politics and was a popular speaker. A socialist!