My Orange July reading

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Last year, I committed to reading more of the books that have won or been nominated for the Orange Prize. Clearly, when I commit to something, I have a harder time getting to it. Must have something to do with write-it-down-file-it-away, like the Archive button in Google emails. (Next time, I really want to do a challenge, I'll remember not to join it.) But now I have a chance for redemption, for proving that I can stick to a challenge, an awesome challenge, that too. The Magic Lasso is hosting the Orange July project next month. Since the Orange Prize winner was just announced, and I came across several amazing posts on the nominated books, I'm extra eager to read them.

I have quite a good bunch of books that I own at present or received for review, and those are most likely my first priority, before I head with my wallet to the bookstore. I know I won't get to all of them in any probability, but I like to have a list of possibilities and pick from them what I'm in mood for. Here's what I have on my shelves, listed in the order of most-likely-to-read to least-likely. If there's any book in the list that you absolutely loved or any that didn't live much of an impression, let me know. I may do some more tossing up of this list.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives Annabel The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin (Orange Prize, 2011 longlist): This book has been teasing me for the past one year. On the one hand, it has got a fabulous cover. On the other, all that I heard about this book so far have been really intriguing me.

Annabel by Kathleen Winter (Orange Prize, 2011 shortlist): I picked this one a few months back, when this standout cover with its brilliant hues of blue and black caught me. Then, its synopsis turned to be fascinating. One of my online book groups is reading this next month, which has me excited for some awesome discussion.

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey (Orange Prize, 2010 shortlist): I had requested this one on Netgalley at some undetermined time, and soon forgot about it. Then, one of my friends (who never used to read), was swooning over this book. He insisted that I read. Choosing not to tease him about finally picking a book to read (we all need readers, right?), I decided this was something I could read for Orange July.

Jamrach's Menagerie A Mercy Black Water Rising

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch (Orange Prize, 2011 longlist): I was interested in this book even before it got the Orange stamp on it. It's not usually a premise I read - animals and the wild and sea adventures. But I still loved the sound of it. I had planned to read this one in June but I never got to it yet.

A Mercy by Toni Morrison (Orange Prize, 2009 longlist): I found this book in the Bargains section of my local Barnes & Noble. I hadn't known at the time that this was on the Orange Prize longlist. I took it mainly because I had heard aplenty of Toni Morrison's books and I figured this may be a good place to start.

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (Orange Prize, 2010 shortlist): I won this one on Helen's blog last year and never got to it yet, even though it sounded awesome. You know how that goes. I wonder if I knew then that this was on the shortlist last year. Maybe I did. But I was nevertheless very surprised when I rechecked the complete shortlist and found this one on it.

Home The Lacuna A Visit from the Goon Squad

Home by Marilynne Robinson (Orange Prize, 2009 winner): This is another wonderful discovery from a bargain bin in New York. At the time I hadn't heard of this book but I loved the cover and every thing about it seemed to scream literary fiction. Someday I would also love to read her more renowned, Pulitzer prize winning Gilead, which many have recommended to me.

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (Orange Prize, 2010 winner): This is another author that every one has read but me. And I know that my likelihood of reading this one is low, which means I'm still going to remain in the haven't-read-this-author-yet group. My excuse is that it's huge. I will mostly need a readalong for this one.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Orange Prize, 2011 longlist): Unless I do read this one right away, I know that I may never get to it any time soon. I read a couple of chapters and didn't connect with the book at all. It is not terrible but it isn't standing out. Besides, I am no music fan - all those music band references and the effect of song on people are just swimming at the edge of my consciousness. What a pity, because I wanted to check out that powerpoint chapter.


And so, two winners, three books from the shortlists, and four from the longlists later, I have a structure. I only just realized that I have no books from before 2009. I may have to snag some of those later.

Any particular book that I should bump to the top or the bottom?

30 comments:

Englishmajorjunkfood said...

My boss just raved to me about Home so I'm considering reading it. It wasn't on my tbr list before and I would definitely be interested in your thoughts!

Marg Bates said...

I really need to get back to reading for the Orange challenge. I haven't read one for ages!

Caribousmom said...

Ha! You have a lot of the same books I do!!! Looking forward to sharing thoughts on these with you :)

Amy Mckie said...

I would recommend both Baba Segi and Annabel, really enjoyed both books! Happy reading!

Misha said...

Thanks for letting me know about the challenge! I am definitely joining. I even have a page dedicated to Orange Prize on my blog  and a huge pile of books from the Orange list waiting to be read. I really really hope you enjoy Home - this is one of the books which had a HUGE impact on me and till date remains one of the best books I've read. I was kind of disappointed by The White Woman on the Green Bicycle , but I will be looking forward to your take on it. I need to get my hands on A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Lacuna and Jamrach's Menagerie .

hcmurdoch said...

As you know I enjoyed Black Water Rising. I am a huge Barbara Kingsolver fan, but Lacuna just isn't in the cards for me. I have heard really good things about Baba Segi's wives and it intrigues me. Sounds like a really fun month of reading. I like the idea of a "theme" for a month. We can do anything for  month, right?

softdrink said...

I haven't heard of Jamrach's Menagerie, but it's got a fabulous cover! The only book that I've read is The Lacuna, but I wasn't a fan. Plenty of others have loved it, though.

Ti said...

Annabel is on  my list of "to-reads" as well.

Of the ones you listed, I've read A Mercy (was hard to get into, ended up listening to it on audio and it was beautiful). I tried to read The Lacuna. Could not get into it and abandoned it after several attempts.

zibilee said...

I didn't like The Lacuna at all for a lot of reasons, but the main one was that it just tried to do too much and it was filled with ideas that I found a lot less than interesting. I also wasn't that crazy about Baba Segi's Wives, but it was a fast read for me, and it was sort of intriguing. Home was an amazing read and has inspired me to want to read Gilead, which was sort of a parallel story, and A Visit From the Goon Squad will probably be one of my favorites of the year. Just a really great and inventive book that I loved.

I also am not good at actually completing challenges either, so this year I didn't join any. I even got stuck with a challenge that I made up for myself!

lenasledgeblog.com said...

Great collection of books Aths. I own several of those and never knew they won the Orage Prize or was on the list. A Mercy and the Goon Squad are on my shelf in the TBR pile. Hopefully, I'll get around to reading them before summer is over. Great selection. Good luck at staying on track for your challenge.

Athira / Aths said...

I have been hearing about Home and Gilead, her other book, for a while, so I am excited about trying it.

Athira / Aths said...

I hope you join us! I will be excited to see what you will read.

Athira / Aths said...

Yay! I can't wait to start!

Athira / Aths said...

Thanks so much! Both are high on my wishlist, and I'm hoping to get to both.

Athira / Aths said...

I'm glad to hear that Home had a huge impact on you. I've been hearing about Home and Gilead for a while, so I'll be excited to read it! Also, yay that you are also doing this!!

Athira / Aths said...

Sure we can! *mumbling* So long as there are no distractions. But still, I hope to get to some of these at the least.

Athira / Aths said...

I doubt I will get to Lacuna either - I haven't heard many enthusiastic responses either.

Athira / Aths said...

I can't wait to read Annabel. As for A Mercy, I was kind of hoping to get to it. Thanks for the warning though, maybe I will get the audio as well.

Athira / Aths said...

Ha! That's funny - getting stuck with a challenge you make up. I know how that happens. I want to read Baba Segi's wives - its size and pacing are pretty attractive actually. I didn't realize Gilead and Home are parallel stories - do any one of them have to be read first?

Athira / Aths said...

I was surprised as well that some of these were even on the Orange Prize list. It feels so good to be surprised!

celawerd said...

All sound like interesting books.

Mummazappa said...

Thanks for posting about the challenge, I've decided to read Wolf Hall, which was shortlisted, a good impetus to get reading the copy which has been sitting on my shelf, unread, since it came out!

Wallace said...

I'm laughing because I am the same exact way. Once I know I have to do something, I can't help but drag my feet to do it. On the other hand, if it's just something that I want to do - I do it with relish. What's up with that?! 

Annabel and Home are sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. I've heard Home is a hit or miss, some love it some don't. However, I've heard Annabel is amazing (and, of course, the winner of the GLBTQ section of the Indie Lit Awards last year). 

Samantha 1020 said...

I just requested Black Water Rising from the library so that i can participate in Orange July.  I'm really looking forward to reading it as it sounds good.  Good luck with this challenge and I hope that you get to the chance to read a few of these at least!

Athira / Aths said...

They definitely sound fabulous! 

Athira / Aths said...

I agree! I've been putting off reading some of them, but now is just the best time to get to them!

Athira / Aths said...

I am just so excited to read Annabel! I've waited months for it! Now, an impetus finally!!

Athira / Aths said...

Yay! I'm so glad you are doing this too!! I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Marie said...

Good luck with your Orange reading- I love your list! I haven't read any of these but have a bunch in my TBR pile.Have fun!

Athira / Aths said...

Thanks! I just finished Baba Segi's wives which I found very entertaining! Can't wait to get to the rest of the pile.