Beth's 75 for 2012 - Part 2
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35. The Frozen Thames*
36. Cutting for Stone*
37. Kill My Darling
38. The Forgotten Waltz
39. Running the Rift
40. The Heretic's Daughter*
41. Elegy for Eddie
42. Rez Life
43. Twenty-Five Books That Shaped America*
44. Blood in the Water
45. The Time in Between
46. Beautiful Souls
47. Olive Kitteridge*
49. County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital
50. Old Filth*
51. The Making of a Marchioness*
52. The Man in the Wooden Hat*
53. City of Shadows*
54. A Natural Woman
56. Twenty Days with Julian & Little Bunny by Papa*
57. No Mark Upon Her
58. A Wedding in Haiti*
59. America Pacifica
60. Cat's Claw
61. Midnight in Peking
63. The Queen's Man
66. The Wordy Shipmates*
67. Anatomy of Murder*
68. Go Down, Moses*
70. The Uncommon Reader*
*From my shelf
1. Writing Jane Austen*
2. Death Comes to Pemberley
3. Antiques to Die For
4. The Gilded Shroud*
5. The House at Sea's End
6. Laughing Without an Accent*
7. The Klipfish Code
8. Explosive Eighteen*
9. Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen*
11. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
12. The Girl in a Blue Beret
13. The Stranger's Child
14. Blizzard of Glass
15. The Rope
16. The Lost City of Z
17. How It All Began
18. The Feast of the Goat*
19. A Visit from the Goon Squad*
20. What Angels Fear
22. When Gods Die*
23. April Lady*
24. Restless in the Grave
25. Guardian Angel*
26. Death in the Andes*
27. The Magic Line
28. The Flight of Gemma Hardy
29. The Daughter of Time*
30. The Various Haunts of Men*
31. Bangkok 8*
32. No One Is Here Except All of Us
33. The Woman at the Light*
34. Hangman Blind
*From my shelf
35. The Frozen Thames, "a meditation on ice" as described by Helen Humphreys, is a gem of a book. She takes us from the Twelfth to the Twentieth century in a series of vignettes that show us moments on the frozen Thames. Beautifully written, at the end, I was sad to think we will never see the Thames as Humphreys has shown it to us. Recommended.
Still, making my way through Foster's Twenty-Five Books.
My Antonia is one of the few that he includes that is written by a woman. He discusses the brilliant narrative framework and credits Cather with showing the role of women in homesteading.
The Great Gatsby Foster finds to be surprisingly current and perhaps a truer picture of America than one would wish it to be.
The Sun Also Rises changed fiction in America without question --whether or not one admires Hemingway. Foster dwelt on the style, which is deceptively simple.
The Weary Blues is one of the few poets included. He credits Hughes with a complete view of African American life and also notes that Hughes wrote brilliantly about music.
The Maltese Falcon, according to Foster, transformed the mystery novel from pulp fiction to an art form. Hammett also gave us an "American" detective.
I'm still reading Cutting for Stone. It started slowly for me; about halfway through, I started to see why people love this book.
Hi Beth - new thread! That's an impressive list of books so far. Have a lovely weekend!
Anne: Humphreys is worth reading. The Frozen Thames is delightful. I'm almost done with Cutting for Stone and do love it. It took me a while, but about halfway through, I started to see what people love about it.
Deborah: Coventry was great, too. Humphreys is excellent. As I told Anne, I did end up loving Cutting for Stone.
Kerri: Thanks. Back at you. Yours is one of the lists I look at for inspiration.
Hi Joanne: I also liked Coventry and I think I read The Lost Garden years ago. I loved the art in The Frozen Thames; it is a great book to own.
36. Cutting for Stone. I finally finished it. I did love it in the end. I liked the story well enough, and then, about halfway through, I started to understand why people love this book. The turning point, for me, was the chapter "Abu Kassem's Slippers." That story showed me how a small mission hospital in Ethiopia can be connected to something larger.
A lot of reviews have been written on this, so I will just comment briefly. I thought the narrator, Marion Stone, was a fully realized character. We were with him all the way in his coming-of-age story. I also thought this was a love story about medicine. It gave all of the Stone men their only lifelong relationship. I found that very interesting.
Now, I have a huge stack of library books that will be due soon, and my book group meets in a couple of weeks, so my upcoming reading will include: The Heretic's Daughter, The Forgotten Waltz and a couple of mysteries to lighten things up a bit.
The Orange longlist also calls to me: Island of Wings, There But for The, and Gillespie and I, ...
That's a good list to choose from, Beth. I definitely want to read Island of Wings and Gillespie and I. I borrowed There But for The from the library and read a couple of pages but I could tell it was the kind of book that would need some patience on my part, and I just didn't have it in me at the time! But everyone I know who has read it has raved about it, so one day.....
Have a great weekend - not too much grading to do, I hope!
So glad you ended up loving Cutting for Stone, Beth. You had me worried there with your impressions of te first half. I just found out that is going to be one of my book group's summer books. I may do a reread if I can find a decent copy at the upcoming book sale.
Katie: Well, we'll see how There But for The goes. I also really want to read Half Blood Blues. But, I think no matter what I choose from the list, I'm in for a good read.
Kerri: I'd heard a lot about Cutting for Stone, too. Sometimes when one hears a lot of hype, it raises expectations. That may have been what happened with me. I did love it in the end.
Donna: Happy Easter to you, too.
Glad to hear that you enjoyed Cutting for Stone. I just loved it - a big luscious read that connected up to many things. I've had Half-Blood Blues on my TBR shelf for over 7 months, and so far it's just not calling to me. I'm not sure why. sigh.
Hi Deb. I have been busy with school, so not much reading this week. I'm reading The Forgotten Waltz and Running the Rift, both of which I am enjoying.
Great article in the NYTimes about keeping a reading journal:
Great article is right Beth. She got started on her diary a lot earlier in life than I did. I didn't start journaling until around 2000 so prior to that I have to rely on my memory which isn't really that good anymore. I could sympathize with her not remembering the main character's name in Of Human Bondage just six months after she read it.
I'll be starting my sixth book from the Orange long list probably on Monday. And on Tuesday the shortlist will be announced.
Happy New Thread, Beth! I loved Cutting for Stone before the half-way point, but there were many pages there when I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. I'll have to come back for the NYT article, but I have it "favorited." The only long list Orange I've read is Gillespie and I. I enjoyed it, but I doubt that it will move on. I'm off to read Lord of Misrule now, which I might finish before Tuesday....we'll see.
Great article, Beth! I wish I had started tracking my reading a long time ago. Oh well! I can remember much of it and now that I am on LT I think that my tastes have changed for the better.
Bonnie: I started a book journal when I was 13. Twenty years later, all of the notebooks were in a box that was lost in a move. I still mourn the loss. And I don't remember names of characters very well unless I just put down the book. You are really moving on the Orange list. I've just read three.
Peggy: Thanks for stopping by. You will love the article -- it speaks to readers. I've only read State of Wonder, The Night Circus and I just finished The Forgotten Waltz. There are a number I want to read on the list, so I will keep at it throughout the year. You'll have to let me know what you think of Lord of Misrule; horse stories don't really interest me.
Hi Deb: I think of all my LT buddies when I read the article. You're right about tastes changing. Every spring, I go through my shelves and give away books I haven't read and that don't interest me anymore.
37. Kill My Darling is the newest in the Bill Slider series. Harrod-Eagles writes with her usual blend of humor and humanity. Slider's boss is here with his usual mix of malapropisms -- "leave no stone unthrown" and "the early bird gets the moss" are a couple of gems from this book. H-E's playful use of language is one of the things I love about this series.
The characters are also well drawn; each of Slider's crew has his or her own traits, and they have changed. Glamorous Norma is now a mother and McClaren has suddenly taken an interest in his appearance. I like this series and will continue to check in on it.
38. The Forgotten Waltz is beautifully written. Enright makes it look easy with her deceptively simple prose. This is the story of an affair, told in first person by Gina Moynihan. We get a clear sense of the affair from the details Gina provides -- the names of the hotels, the dimensions of the rooms. A house that backs on the sea with its section of the fence removed "sits like a missing tooth in the row of new homes." Recommended.
I'm still working through Twenty-Five Books. Foster calls The Grapes of Wrath "the most significant novel of the twentieth century." He points out that it isn't the most artistic or even Steinbeck's best. My favorite quote about The Grapes of Wrath though comes in the discussion of how often it was banned: "Any book that can outrage so many people can't be all bad."
Amen to that.
Next, The Heretic's Daughter for my book group next week.
Thanks for the article, Beth. I should make an effort to keep more of a regular reading journal rather than jotting down my thoughts on miscellaneous scraps of paper and random spiral notebooks. I have a feeling though that my Bob would end up including grocery lists and phone messages in addition to book notes. At least that's how it usually turns out.
I have The Forgotten Waltz checked out from the library but have not been compelled to read it, maybe because I did not love The Gathering (although as I recall the writing was fabulous). You may have convinced me to move it ahead in the queue. My favorite Oranges of the ones I've read are Song of Achilles, The Night Circus, and Painter of Silence.
I like the article about keeping a reading journal, too. I have a Bob-like list and then a separate journal in which I (very) occasionally write down thoughts or favorite quotes from the books I'm reading.
Hi Beth! I'm swamped too. May 2nd cannot come soon enough. Good luck with the rest of your semester!
CarlyM: Thanks for stopping by. I find that writing a little something helps me to remember the books better.
Kerri: My semester ends on May 10 -- and then a week of grading. Good luck to you, too.
Dee: The Frozen Thames would be a great gift. It is such a beautiful little book. Enright does such a wonderful job of portraying everyday life; one problem I have is that the things she writes about are so often depressing.
Hi Beth. The Frozen Thames sounds really interesting - thanks for the recommendation. Also glad to read your thoughts on The Forgotten Waltz. I know there's no way that I'll be able to get to all the Orange titles I'd like to before the winner is announced but that doesn't stop me wanting to read them all!
Beth, that is so sad about the loss of your reading journals. Most of my thoughts are written on LT these days but I continue to keep a list of books read...just in case. Love that quote about The Grapes of Wrath!
Hi Heather. The Frozen Thames is such an original, lovely little book. I didn't want it to end. The Forgotten Waltz is full of lovely writing. I liked it better than The Gathering. I know what you mean about wanting to read Orange books; there were so many that caught my eye on this year's list. So far, I've only read three.
Hi Donna. I loved the quote about The Grapes of Wrath, too. Foster is very engaging. In the section on Go Down Moses, he gives the French credit for recognizing Faulkner's genius. I haven't read that book. It's one of few, and I would like to read it soon.
I do keep track of my reading on LT, but I also jot down thoughts as I read. My house will never be paperless.
Poet Todd Boss spoke at our college last night. He grew up on a Wisconsin farm, and many of his poems speak to his experiences there. Some of my students went to hear him, and said to me afterward in surprised voices, "That was really fun." We don't get many authors coming to our small community college, so I was happy to be able to connect my students with a poet during National Poetry Month.
Then I went home to finish The Heretic's Daughter for my book group's meeting today. More later.
#30 - Hi Beth! I'm not familiar with Todd Boss, but it's wonderful that your students were enthusiastic about the experience. Good stuff.
Hi Kerri: Todd Boss grew up on a ranch in Wisconsin, and most of his poetry from Yellowrocket reflect his background. He has lovely images, and I also like the humor I see in his poems. He was an engaging speaker -- and I have two signed copies of his books.
40. The Heretic's Daughter was my book group selection for this month. We had the most people that we've had in a while, and everyone was enthusiastic about this novel. I'll try to summarize the conversation.
Kathleen Kent is a descendant of Martha Carrier, one of the women hanged during the Salem Witch Trials. Some of the things we discussed include how good Kent was at putting us in the place and time. Details of daily life, diet, etc. were obviously painstakingly researched. It was the best kind of historical novels.
We also thought the choice of narrator, Carrier's daughter Sarah, was inspired. Carrier herself was a well developed character.
We all asked ourselves what we would do in a similar situation. Would we stand up for what we know is right, or would we lie to save ourselves? We also talked about the place in our national psyche that the Witch Trials have. They are a part of us. Several people pointed out that perhaps they are so present is because the mob mentality is part of human nature. We certainly have had witch hunts since then: the Japanese during WWII and Arabs after 911.
It was a great conversation. Kent has written a prequel that many of us are anxious to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction.
I see that I haven't commented on Running the Rift -- a great book about a young Rwandan runner before, during and after the genocide. Also recommended.
Now, I am starting a library book, Rez Life that I have been wanting to get too. I heard Treuer on NPR, and have been anxiously waiting for his book. It is a memoir about growing up on the Leech Lake reservation.
Never mid re: above. Apparently, I own a copy of the Kathleen Kent. Oops....
Katie: Kent does a good job. I wasn't that convinced I wanted to read about the Salem Witch Trials, but it was well done. Of course you have it :)
I guess I'd better stop by your thread to see what you are up to...
I've had The Heretic's Daughter on my shelf for some time Beth. You've made me wonder why I haven't read it yet. If that question can be answered, it will have to be by someone else. Why do I get so many books out of the library when I have about 400 unread books on my shelves? Because the book I want to read, I don't own I guess LOL.
Hi Judy: I had The Heretic's Daughter for a while and wasn't motivated to read it. But I'm glad I did. Running the Rift was wonderful. Jean Patrick Nkuba's story really put a personal face on the genocide. Now I'd like to read the memoir by the UN peacekeeper who was there -- I don't remember the title.
Bonnie: I am embarrassed by the number of unread books in my library -- one of the reasons I haven't been working too hard to finish cataloguing. But I have to be in the right mood to read something... I liked The Heretic's Daughter more than I expected to.
Stopping by to say hi! I would not be embarrassed by how many unread books that you have in your library. At least you are spoilt for choice!:) I must admit I try hard not to get to may TBR in my place. Every now and then I do a pruning - I decide that if I have not read the book in say - 2 years, the likelihood that I will read it very small. I donate my books to my public library.
Hi Deborah: Happy World Book Day. I try to go through my books, usually in the spring, and get rid of the ones I will never read, but there are always many more that I think, "Someday..." I must admit, even though I have a lot of unread books, I have been doing better this year at getting to them. Still, it is a bit embarassing -- although maybe not on LT so much.
I hope you're feeling better.
So enjoyed catching up on your thread, actually threads, and the stimulating chat.
Sorry about your missing reading journals. Keeping a reading journal would be a luxury I know I can't afford, but I will say that LibraryThing is a kind of reading journal for me....the best I can pull off for now. I bought a friend a reading journal for a gift and I know she is faithful with it and often calls me after she has written in it about a book that especially affected her.
I am reading Death Comes to Pemberley upon your recommendation and if feels like visiting an old and dear friend. I had forgot the hold I placed on it at the library some time ago, and luckily it came in just as I finished my previous book.
Hi Michelle. Thanks for the kind words. I have been neglecting LT lately -- computer issues and end of semester at school. I keep a paper journal for my books -- just put a few notes on LT.
I'm glad you like Death Comes to Pemberley; I thought James did a good job with it. It sounds like Austen would if she were to write about a murder.
Hi Kerri: Thanks for stopping by. I am ready for a break from school -- as you must be. Students and profs all seem exhausted right now.
Stopping by to say hi! I've been busy too. My son just graduated from University this month and I must say that he was very glad to have that behind him! It's a grueling time! I'm so happy for him that he has landed a job in his field back in January. He is off to Hawaii for a bit of a break just now.
Hi Deborah. Thanks for stopping by. How exciting that your son is now, not only a college grad, but a job holder. What did he graduate in? Is he your youngest?
I'm finishing Rez Life, which is great -- one of the best reads of the year so far. More later.
Beth, you make me look forward to The Forgotten Waltz more than I was. I didn't finish The Gathering even though I have good intentions of going back to it. I thought that Lord of Misrule was fabulous. such a shame that it didn't make the short list! I'll confess to a love of horse stories left over from my pre-pubescent years, but *LofM* is so much more about the people than about the horses. I wasn't immediately smitten with it, but eventually I couldn't put it down, and I dreamed about it - a sure sign that a book has taken hold.
And nobody here should be embarrassed about the unread books in your library. If I can live with mine, you're all completely O.K. I have to ask though: are people who collect frogs or snowmen or stamps or whatever embarrassed when they have a bunch? If not, why should we who collect books be embarrassed? (So there.)
Hi Peggy: Thanks for stopping by. I'll have to rethink Lord of Misrule; I've heard so many great things about it. Generally, I'm not interested in horse stories.
I appreciate the support of all my fellow book lovers. My daughter gives me a hard times about my stacks, and I often remind her that it's not like I'm hoard empty pizza boxes... And I do plan to read them, really.
41. Elegy for Eddie is the newest in the Maisie Dobbs series. I like this series because it moves through time; it's not stuck in the same year. The first book takes place right after WWI. In Elegy for Eddie, it's 1932, and people are starting to get worried about a guy called Hitler. Maisie doesn't even want to think about the possibility of another war. Great character and great series. Recommended.
42. Rez Life is great -- 4.5 stars. Anyone interested in Indian life should read this. Treuer describes the book as "a hybrid. It has elements of journalism, history and memoir...It is meant to capture some of the history and some of the truth of reservation life -- which is not any one thing but many things depending on where you're looking and to whom you're talking."
While Treuer tells some of his own story, he also talks to others and gets theirs -- some funny (he points out that Ojibwe are very funny people) and some tragic. He also weaves history into the story, making this hard to put down. Treuer is a member of the Leech Lake Ojibwe, so most of the book discusses reservations in Minnesota, so he's talking about people and places close to home. I remember many of the events he discusses from local news, so this may be more meaningful for Minnesota residents. However, his discussion of the legalities of treaties, hunting and fishing rights, activism, family life, identity, language and casinos is detailed and fascinating. (Only a few casinos actually make a lot of money.)
I learned a lot from this book. It was hard to put down. Near the end, Treuer was talking about the loss of language. The average age of Ojibwe speakers is 55, and he thinks it would be terrible to lose the language. He says: "I think what I am trying to say is that we will lose beauty -- the beauty of the particular, the beauty of the past and the intricacies of a language tailored for our space in the world. That Native American cultures are imperiled is important and not just to Indians. It is important to everyone, or should be. When we lose cultures, we lose American plurality -- the productive and lovely discomfort that true difference brings."
What a wonderful way to put it. I will revisit this book and probably give it to people interested in our history.
Hi Beth, I was going through my "auxiliary" library upstairs to make room for some *ahem* new acquisitions, and came across The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. It's a children's book (which I need to give to my granddaughters) that has a glossary of Ojibwe words in it. She is proud of her heritage and doing her bit to keep the language in use. I love her stories of Native Americans and think Rez Life would be a good "fix" for me until she comes out with a new book. Yet another book I would never have heard about if it weren't for LT. Thank you!
Hi Donna: I've been very behind on threads lately. Congrats on finishing IJ. Your comments are tempting me -- we'll see...
I love Erdrich but haven't read her children's books. It sounds like I should check out The Birchbark House. I think Erdrich said she meant this as a Native "Little House." She must be due out for a new book. Erdrich owns a bookstore in Minneapolis, which I have never visited.
Treuer has written some novels, too, which I want to check out. I know my son read The Hiawatha for a class and really liked it. I'm sure that's around here somewhere.
#48 - Great review of Rez Life. I'm going to see if Audible has it. Have a lovely Sunday, Beth!
Hi Stasia. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you're enjoying every second of spring break.
Thanks Kerri. If available on audio, I wonder if Treuer reads it. FYI -- I heard him discussing the book on NPR, so if you want to get a sense of the book, you can search out the interview.
Started the Time in Between, which is a whopping 600 pages, but it sounds good. A historical novel set in Spain at the beginning of the 20th century. We'll see. It's really heavy, hard to hold up as I read in bed.
I also started a nonfiction book called Beautiful Souls, which looks at people who go against the majority to do what is right.
Hi Beth! I couldn't find an audiobook version of Rez Life, so perhaps I'll read the print version one of these days.
600 pages - that's one heavy book! That's one of the nice things about e-readers - they're great for reading books with gigantic page counts. It would have been great to have one when I was an undergrad carrying the Norton Shakespeare around!
Yes, our son that just graduated from university is our youngest son. He graduated with a degree in Computer Science , with his area of specialty being software development - or something like that.
Rez Life sounds very interesting. I've read a number of books on that subject, but there is a new one to explore.
Kerri: I didn't think I would like my e-reader as much as I do -- especially for thick books. I guess I'll think of it as exercise for my wrists. So, are you officially done for the summer? I imagine you have big reading plans. I'll have to visit your thread to see what you are up to.
Hi Deborah: How exciting that your youngest has reached this milestone. I know one memoir that you read is on my read-soon list. I can't remember the title right now. Treuer does focus on Minnesota, which made it especially meaningful for me, but I think you might like this. I learned a lot.
Hi Dee. Thanks for your kind words. I suppose I could paste my comments on Rez Life -- I usually don't think of my comments as a review...
Beautiful Souls has started out strong. Press talks about four people in the book. The first one is a Swiss police officer who disobeyed the law during WWII to let Jews come into the country. He was caught and fired in disgrace. The discussion of why this pretty ordinary guy would do this was fascinating. One of the possibilities Press explores is that when you are face-to-face with people, in this case refugees, it is harder to uphold unjust laws. And Grüninger did meet a lot of refugees face to face. There is a lot more discussion, which I am finding fascinating. I'll comment more as I continue reading.
Hi Beth, I'm looking forward to seeing what you think of The Time In Between as I have it on my wishlist.
Hi Beth - I'm trying to catch up with everyone after being away. I hope you like The Time In Between as I have a copy on my TBR shelves!
>50: Tut tut, Beth. You must visit Birchbark Books. It's my favorite Minneapolis attraction!
Taken from my profile pictures. This is the childrens' book section. There is also a great collection of Native American and nature books. Some nice gift items, too. I'll meet you there next time I'm in your area.
Judy: The Time in Between is a slow start, but I am going to stick with it a while longer. Part of it may be that I am so busy with end of school stuff right now that it's hard to find extended time for a long read.
Katie: I'll have to stop by and welcome you back. Did you pick up any books on your travels? I've been good lately, but I'm thinking I have to reward myself when I hand in my grades....
Donna: Deal. Let me know when you will be in the area and I will be there. I love the picture. I don't really know why I haven't stopped in...
I don't usually post personal comments, but I am going to explode; last evening I had an unexpected visit from my daughter's boyfriend. Daniel came to ask my permission to marry Vanessa! I am thrilled. He is planning to ask her next, not this, weekend, so I have to keep quite until then. Since I know Vanessa thinks of this a my "nerdy" hobby, I figure this is a safe place to explode. Hooray, and about time. He showed me the ring, which is beautiful; I can't wait to see it on her hand.
Oh, Beth, that is very exciting! Congratulations to you and your daughter (when she finds out ;) ). I might have made a few purchases while I was away...
#63 - That's lovely! You clearly have a good relationship with your future son-in-law, and that's always a good thing.
Hi Katie: Thanks for listing the books:) Sounds like a good haul. You've liked some Mark Mills, right? What is your favorite. I know you didn't like one that you read recently... I thought I would try him out.
Kerri: Yes, it is exciting news -- and I can't be excited for another week or so. I may have to avoid her because I am so afraid I'm going to give something away -- even though it's not really a surprise. She just doesn't when he's planning to ask. I couldn't ask for a nicer man for my girl.
Well, back to work. I visited threads, etc., even though I didn't post on all of them, so I am caught up and can get back to reading and (sigh) mostly grading.
Ohhh how very exciting, Beth! How lovely that your future son - in law asked for your daughter's hand in marriage! Lovely!My youngest son has been dating his girlfriend for nearly 4 years now -and I think that they have plans to get married -but when is the question!!! William tells me he wants to stay living at home for a couple more years til he can afford to purchase a place. I've no idea how young people can date so long!!!!!!I'd be exploding too!
Very exciting and lovely about your son-in-law to be! Something fun to think about as well as grading papers!
Deborah and Dee: Yes, I am excited. I wish he were asking her this weekend, so I could be officially excited.
43. Well, I finally finished Twenty-Five Books. I recommend it. Foster's style is relaxed and not pedantic and not just for English teachers. And what's more fun that reading a book about books. I've already commented on many of the books he chose, so I'll leave it at that except for his comments on Love Medicine. He says that Erdrich's novel shows "the need for continual renewal of the American canon." Her novel really did change the way we think about novels.
I do disagree with some of his choices that are very focused on white male authors. At least two big omissions I think are Emily Dickinson and Julia Alvarez. We could have fun debating some of his choices.
I think Donna asked me if reading this made me want to reread any of these books. I have read most of them. One I haven't read and plan to this summer is Go Down, Moses and two I would like to reread are John Dos Passos' USA trilogy and Song of Solomon.
44. Blood in the Water is Jane Haddam's latest book in the Gregor Demarkian series. I needed a lighthearted break, and Haddam's books always make me laugh. I love her quirky characters and strong sense of place. Her style is distinctive; she starts every novel with a series of vignettes told from that person's point of view. What we find out later is that some of these people are liars and murderers. This style makes it really hard to figure out whodunit, but that doesn't bother me. Also, she focuses each novel on a current event. Blood in the Water takes an irreverent look at gated communities. So there's always this interesting mix of humor and social commentary.
While I enjoyed Blood in the Water, it wasn't one of the strongest books in the series. Guarded recommendation. If you haven't read any of her books, start elsewhere.
Summer reading. Kerri and Anne have ambitious lists, and I started to think about what I would like to read or reread. This is what popped into my head:
Go Down, Moses
White Teeth - reread - I'm using it in a class in the fall
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks reread - it's our school's common book, so I'll be using it in my classes
Going After Cacciato
The Cello Suites
Song of Solomon reread
USA trilogy reread
Old Filth DONE
The Man in the Wooden Hat DONE
Behind the Scenes at the Museum
The Wordy Shipmates DONE
The Bingo Palace reread
Gillespie and I
A View of the Harbour
Half of a Yellow Sun
The Space Between Us
Every Man in this Village Is a Liar
County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital DONE
We'll see how much of this list I actually get through.
Now, back to The Time in Between and Beautiful Souls.
Congratulations, Beth! Your future SIL sounds like a keeper. It's good to know that chivalry and downright good manners is alive and well in Minnesota.
I like the idea of a summer reading list. Maybe I'll just borrow yours. You've mentioned some good books, many of which I haven't read yet. Go Down Moses reminds me that I must get back to Faulkner.
#69 - Great list, Beth! I hope you enjoy Behind the Scenes at the Museum - that's my favorite Kate Atkinson. I love it!
Also, your list reminds me of the importance of rereading. I don't feel that I do enough of that, but should probably set aside time to reread some of my favorites each year.
Donna: Feel free to borrow -- you might actually nudge me into reading more of them. I'm already remembering some others I wish I had added... I do want to read more Faulkner; I have loved everything I've read. The Sound and the Fury is one of my all-time favorites.
Kerri: I love Atkinson. Behind the Scenes at the Museum and Emotionally Weird are two books of hers I haven't read yet. I'm looking forward to at least one of them this summer.
Katie: Maybe we can read some of these together. Old Filth is my book group May selection, so I know for sure I will get to that. I have started it, and it is great so far.
Well, I can only avoid grading for so long. Thanks for stopping by, and please feel free to distract me often.
I'll stop by threads later when I need a break.
What a great list, Beth!
Neverwhere, Old Filth, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, A View of the Harbour, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks are on my "read soon" list too.
Half of a Yellow Sun and Every Man in this Village is a Liar are recent reads I particularly enjoyed.
Congratulations on your daughter's exciting news (or impending news)!
Oh how wonderful, Beth! I can't wait to hear more about it. He sounds like a gem.
I love your description of Rez Life. I studied linguistics in college, and was excited about many projects going on to support native languages. This book sounds like it would be right up my alley.
Hi Annes! 74: You also have a great list. I want to reread In the Name of the Rose.
Anne 75: He talked about an Ojibwe language immersion school -- in Wisconsin, I think. So far, the kids in the school are testing off the charts. I was interested because my daughter teaches first grade in a Spanish immersion school -- they sound like great programs for kids. I thought Treuer had a great mix of memoir and history. Nonfiction at its best. I also want to look for his novels. Did I put one of those on my list? Aargh! Too many books, too little time.
I'm so happy for them. We've had a couple of tough years, and they stayed together. He is a sweet young man, and Vanessa says he lets her have her way most of the time -- high on her list of priorities.
I don't usually post personal comments, but I am going to explode
I know exactly how you felt because that was me in the fall of 2010 when my now son-in-law asked my hubby and I if he could marry our daughter. It just took my breath away just as I'm sure it did for you. They got married last October and this week they bought the house of their dreams. Congratulations to you and your daughter. Let the fun begin as you plan a wedding. Yikes!
The one book on your list that you need to be sure to read ASAP is Every Man in This Village is a Liar. IMO of course:)
Thanks Bonnie. I remember your discussing the wedding plans. I have no idea what they are thinking about; in the past Vanessa has always wanted something small. We'll see.
I have wanted to read Every Man in this Village Is a Liar for a while. Too many books!! I just want to get started with my summer reading, and I still have all those pesky papers to grade. I am so jealous of all you retirees.
I am making my way through The Time in Between and Beautiful Souls. Both library books that are due soon with no chance to renew because both have holds. So, my reading has to focus on those right now.
So happy you have read the new Maisie Dobbs and liked it! I love how the characters and the years progress as well. It is on my "developing" list of summer reading.
So happy to see the good news about your daughter...I wish the couple all the best!
Thanks Michelle. I am excited about the news -- it will be interesting to see what they are thinking about as to the wedding.
Maisie Dobbs is one of the only series I keep up with. I always wonder what will happen next in her life.
Hi Beth, great news about your daughter and future son-in-law. I can imagine how hard it must be to keep this to yourself.
Looks like you have a very busy reading summer planned. I actually had The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in my hands on Saturday but decided against buying it, but instead will plan on getting it from the library. Hope to read it before the year ends.
45. The Time in Between was a disappointment for me. I expected more from what turns out to be mostly a coming-of-age story. From the description and setting, I expected more history and a vivid sense of place. While we do get a glimpse of post Civil War Spain, this is mainly Sira Quiroga's story. Maybe my expectations were too high.
I also wonder how much of my reservations are due to the translation. In the beginning the prose was over the top dramatic, making me crazy. Then it settled down, and I began to think that the author was showing us the immaturity of the young Sira Quiroga in the beginning -- by definition many teens are drama queens. However, toward the end of the novel, once again passages like this one appeared: "In spite of living surrounded by fabrics as dazzling as the ones being worn that night by the women around me, the pace of the previous months hadn't exactly been a leisurely ride, but instead a succession of days and nights in which my two occupations sucked away like leeches the integrity of a time that was every more rarefied, " or "...I'd spent nights lying wide awake, through hours of infinite anxiety. And now they wanted me to leave my father, too, the only presence who brought a speck of light into the dark passage of my days." In Spanish, these phrases are fine; but in English --aargh! I suspect a lot of my problems with the style are due to the translation.
Other reviewers have loved this book, so I don't want to leave the impression it was horrible. Sira lives during an exciting time, and after the first 100 pages, the plot moves fairly quickly. Still, after finishing it, I would say it was only OK.
#83 - That's some over-the-top prose. I think it would make me crazy too! I'm sorry it was a bit disappointing.
Thanks Kerri: After I wrote this, I started to wonder if it was just me... I had my last class this morning; now I have grading to do, but I finished Beautiful Souls, so I have to choose what I'll read next -- the start of my summer reading.
I really liked Beautiful Souls and would recommend it. I'll comment more later.
Hi Beth - congratulations to you, your daughter and future son-in-law! That's a great reading list in msg #69.
Hi Heather. Thanks. I'll see how many of those books I get to; I don't usually do well with lists -- I get distracted.
46. Beautiful Souls is a study of four people who did the right thing in a tough situation. One is a Swiss border guard who broke the law during WWII to let Jews enter Switzerland; another is a Serb who helped save Croats; the third is a member of the Israeli who refused to serve in occupied territory and the last is a whistleblower who exposed a Ponzi scheme in a brokerage firm.
Press starts by asking why some people will go against the grain to do what is right. How did four, fairly ordinary people manage to do something extraordinary? His exploration of possible answers is fascinating. He does caution that we tend to romanticize -- or Hollywood does -- whistleblowers, for example, when the reality is quite different. Most lose their jobs and careers and quite a few also have lost their homes.
While, there may not be a definitive answer, Press reflects on many possibilities. Recommended.
Judy: The Time in Between isn't horrible -- and the other reviews I looked at were enthusiastic, so... I did think though it started slowly, and became much more interesting after she went to Morocco. Beautiful Souls does give one a lot to think about; I love books like that.
Joanne: Thanks for stopping by. Yes, this weekend is the question, so I can be openly excited... It will be a great Mother's Day gift.
I've heard many good things abut Behind the Scenes at the Museum; I will probably start that one soon. As soon as I get my pesky grading done. It's funny how work interferes with reading.
47. Olive Kitteridge is a wonderful portrait of a complex woman. Strout's writing sets the stage beautifully. The series of connected stories show Olive throughout her life. Some of the stories are told from her point of view, while in others she is merely mentioned. Each story is a piece of the puzzle that is Olive. Recommended.
48. Kaleidoscope by Gail Bowen is the latest in her Joanne Kilbourn series. The book opens as Joanne retires from her teaching post at university. She looks forward to her leisure time. Then, while she and her family are spending a weekend at the lake, they get a call telling them that there has been an explosion at their home; all normalcy departs.
I don't want to give too much away; this was skillfully plotted, but the mystery often takes the back seat as we accompany Joanne as she gets groceries and chops vegetables to make dinner. There aren't many mystery series in which the family's and protagonist's daily lives are so integral to the story. I like it; I always feel like reading one of Bowen's books is like visiting a friend.
Hi Beth - Kaleidoscope sounds good (I think your touchstone may be wrong up there). I've been trying to figure out where to go with my mystery/thriller reading/listening and this sounds like a series for the wishlist. I've been ordering a bunch of mysteries from the library (most are on hold), and I can hardly keep track!
Kerri: The touchstone doesn't seem to want to work for Kaleidoscope -- I read the one by Gail Bowen. Sometimes I've had a hard time finding hers; she's a Canadian writer, and the library has some of the series.
So many mysteries are in series form now and if I kept up with all of them, that would be all I read. So I dip into the ones I like, and usually I am a couple of books behind.
The series covers several years of her life, and things change quite a bit.
What are you reading now? I'll have to stop over at your thread. Yesterday, I sat in my office from 8-4, grading. I wanted to finish, but I hit a wall and have only about 6 papers left to grade! I don't know what to read next -- I'm so excited to have more time. My book group is reading Old Filth, so I'm reading that first...
#93 - Six more left sounds like you're almost done! Yay!
I'm listening to a mystery called The Flatey Enigma, which takes place in a remote Icelandic location in the 1960s and revolves around a 14th century manuscript. After a slow start, I'm enjoying it quite a bit. I might finish it today, while cleaning house. The print book I'm reading is The Roots of the Olive Tree and it's quite good as well. I hope to finish that today, so I can start on A View of the Harbour.
I look forward to your reaction to Old Filth and can't wait to read another Jane Gardam novel after reading God on the Rocks earlier this year.
Hi Beth - Just stopping by and trying to catch up after a crazy week. I will probably still read The Time In Between at some point but it certainly isn't at the top of my list at this point. And I really must get to Olive Kitteridge- it's one I know I will like so I'm not sure why it's languished so long!
Hi Beth - Oh, I also loved Olive Kitteridge! She was such a great character. Glad you liked it, too.
Hi Bonnie: Yes, I had a lovely mother's day. My mom and dad came for brunch and Vanessa and Daniel also came, with her flashing her diamond. It sounds like they are thinking big -- almost inevitable, Daniel's mother is one of 14 kids and the cousins are close. I hope you also had a happy mother's day.
I don't understand why you don't want to start another series :) I know about teetering; I pulled a book off the "read soon" pile this morning and precipitated an avalanche.
Joanne: I hope your mother's day was happy. Yes, Olive Kitteridge was wonderful. I'll have to stop by your thread to see what you are reading.
Happy belated Mother's Day!
"Beautiful Souls does give one a lot to think about; I love books like that"
True for me as well and nicely stated!
Michelle: Happy Mother's Day to you. Beautiful Souls is one of those small books with big ideas.
Sounds like you had a lovely Mother's Day, Beth. You'll always remember when your daughter and (future) son-in-law got engaged! Are they taking dates yet or just enjoying the process?
Hi Judy: Yes, it was a great Mother's Day. I hope yours was happy as well. They are talking about next summer -- no date yet.
49. County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital is the coming-of-age story of Dr. David Ansell. Ansell does his internship at County Hospital and ends up staying for 17 years. This is not for the weak stomach; the conditions at the hospital are truly those of a Third World hospital. Ansell's mantra throughout the book is that health care is a right, but the poor and people of color in the US are woefully underserved and that we need to reform health care. After reading this, it would be hard to argue against him. As he says, "The idea of fairness in health care brought my friends and me to Cook County Hospital n 1978. It was a goal we were not yet close to achieving." Recommended for those interested in this issue.
♥LOVE♥ in the air and no more papers and Mother's Day, and the summer book list, and Old Filth! You have it going on, Beth!!!
It's great to read a lot of good news all at once!
Peggy: Thanks for stopping by. Yes, lots of good news. I just finished Old Filth -- number 50 for the year. It is a wonderful book. It is the story of a "Raj orphan." A Raj orphan is a child of British parents born in the East and sent to England to school at a young age. Gardam acknowledges her debt to Kipling's autobiography; he was one of these "orphans."
The separation caused all sorts of problems for the kids. Old Filth is Eddie Feathers and this story is about his search for home. As he looks back on a long life, he says, "All my life...I have been left, or dumped, or separated by death, from everyone I loved or who cared for me. I want to know why."
Despite his lifelong search for a home, though, he does the best he can. This is not only a wonderful portrait of a man, but of a time in the British Empire that is gone. Recommended.
Hi Beth, I remember ages ago, reading one of Rosamunde Pilcher's books about a young girl who was similarly sent back to England from India for school at a young age. It was heartbreaking and affected her for her whole lifetime. It is such an interesting pattern, the upper class of that period sending their children away so young and in this case, at such a distance. I am adding your Old Filth to my library.
#105 Good to see another fan of Old Filth Beth. It's still on my wishlist but I don't think I've seen a bad review of this book.
Michelle: Old Filth is so great that I immediately started The Man in the Wooden Hat, which is the story from Filth's wife's point of view.
Heather: I wondered why it took me so long to read it; I haven't heard anything bad about this book, either.
Kerri: Thanks for recommending County: Life, Death.... It was worthwhile; maybe all legislators should get copies :) Old Filth is great; Gardam is such a good writer; she captures people and place beautifully.
51. The Making of a Marchioness. I knew Frances Hodgson Burnett from her children's books, but she wrote Marchioness before The Secret Garden. It originally appeared as a serial in a ladies' magazine. It was originally two books. The first one ended with Emily Fox-Seton's engagement to Lord Walderhurst. The second one is about their marriage.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book; I'd just finished grading and I wanted some light reading. However, while this is a fun read, there is actually a very realistic view of life for women in the late Victorian era. The protagonist Emily Fox-Seton is a single woman in her thirties who basically makes her living by doing errands. She is from a good family, but there is no money, so she has had to make her own way.
Burnett shows us a number of women in different situations and provides Lady Maria Bayne to comment on society (and perhaps portray Burnett's point of view?). So, while this is technically a romance, read between the lines, it provides some interesting commentary on marriage:
"It was nice if a girl liked the man who married her, but if he was a well-behaved, agreeable person, of good means, it was natural that she would end by liking him sufficiently , and to be provided for comfortably or luxuriously for life, and not left upon one's own hands, or one's parents', was a think to be thankful for in any case. It was such a relief to everybody to know that a girl was 'settled,' and especially it was such a relief to the girl herself. Even novels and plays were no longer fairy stories of entrancing young men and captivating young women who fell in love with each other in the first chapter and after increasingly picturesque incidents were married in the last one in the absolute surety of being blissfully happy forevermore."
Certainly, Burnett's skepticism about "happily every after" comes through. Interesting book.
Love novels that explore women's roles in society, especially at this time when it was limited. It seems that she got her message out while remaining socially acceptable, now that is talent and it must have been so in every day life.
Who know she wrote for adults, not me. Thanks for informing!
Anne: Yes, we are all excited. It will be interesting to see when and how they decide to do this.
I highly recommend Olive Kitteridge and anything by Jane Gardam. I'm reading The Man in the Wooden Hat right now; it's a companion piece to Old Filth; it tells the story from his wife's perspective. Also very good.
Michelle: Yes, Burnett was ahead of her time. Marchioness was originally published in 1901 -- maybe her views had to do with her two unhappy marriages?
52. The Man in the Wooden Hat is a companion piece to Old Filth; read together we get a complete view of Filth's and Betty's lives. We learn more about both Betty and Filth in this story. I'm glad I read them together -- both are wonderful novels. Highly recommended.
I started A Natural Woman, Carole King's memoir. So far, I am to her teen years; she discusses how rock and roll really exposed whites to blacks and presaged the Civil Rights movement. She started playing the piano when she was three.
I'm also reading City of Shadows, a thriller by Ariana Franklin. This is sent in 1920s Berlin and centers around a woman claiming to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Franklin, who wrote the Mistress of the Art of Death series, is great at setting. I'm getting a good sense of a hungry, gray Berlin as Hitler is starting his rise to power.
I recently saw Carole King doing some interviews for televison, promoting the book. I love how she went her own way and didn't follow what the industry wanted her to do. Looking forward to your final thoughts on this one, Beth.
>109: Old Filth has been on the WL since I started it about four years ago. Now I find there is a sequel of sorts. I love it when the same story is told from different points of view (Like Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge). Looks like I'll have to squeeze in The Man in the Wooden Hat next to OF.
I hope you'll include us in on the wedding plans. I'm still trying to envision a family with 14 kids in it. They must have some rollicking family reunions!
Michelle: I haven't seen any publicity, but I am a big Carole King fan. She is very reflective about the early stages of her life. I think I am going to like this. I also like the fact that she wrote it herself -- no ghost writer.
Katie: Read Mistress of the Art of Death -- great series, especially if you like historical fiction. The series has all kinds of insights into Henry II. City of Shadows is sucking me in. I was dusting and found myself surprised I was not in Berlin.
Donna: I read Old Filth and The Man in the Wooden Hat one after the other, and I'm glad I did. They really complement each other -- and they have been compared to Mr. and Mrs. Bridges. Both are wonderful studies of both characters and the end of an era, very elegiac.
As far as the wedding, no date set yet. We are watching to see how this plays out. Daniel wants a huge wedding, which it will be with only first cousins, while Vanessa has never liked to be the center of attention. I am trying to stay on the sidelines -- this is a lose lose situation if I opine. And yes, Daniel says the Flynns are a rowdy bunch.
Hi Beth. Great review of The Making of a Marchioness - I've downloaded a copy to my kindle.
Thanks Heather. It was more than I expected. Hodgson is quite skillful. I'll be interested to hear what you think of it.
Hi Beth - I hope you had a lovely weekend! City of Shadows sounds like a good one. I'll put that on my rapidly-expanding mysteries/thrillers wishlist.
Thanks Kerri. City of Shadows was an excellent historical thriller. Franklin captures perfectly the mood in Berlin in the 1920s -- people driven to despair by inflation, carrying basketfuls of money to the market. The only color is the odd cross in a field of red....
Into the story comes Anna Anderson, an inmate in the asylum. Anna claims to be one of the grand duchesses who survived the massacre of the Russian royal family in Ekaterinburg. Esther Solomonova wants nothing to do with Anna, but her boss, a shady night club owner, wants to promote Anna/Anastasia's claim for a percentage. He coerces Esther, his secretary into helping set up Anna's claim. Someone seems to be trying to kill Anna -- is it really a member of the Cheka?
The story has many twists and turns and a great surprising ending. Franklin, author of the Mistress of the Art of Death series is a good storyteller and a master at historical detail. This is a smart historical thriller. Recommended -- and I am not much of a thriller reader.
Hi Beth, .....and you continue on a wonderful roll with your books. I never knew Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote anything besides The Secret Garden which I adored as a seventh grader. I will look for Marchioness. The Carole King memoir also interests me although I seldom read celebrity memoirs.
Hi Beth, Thanks for your review of The Making of Marchioness. I downloaded a copy to my nook.
So many interesting sounding books! I have Olive Kitteridge on my shelves and don't know why I haven't got around to it yet!
Bonnie: Look who's talking -- I haven't had a 7-star read yet. Burnett actually was quite prolific; my version of the novel had an introduction that was quite informative. The view of marriage is much more cynical than one would expect. A Natural Woman is as much a narrative of the music scene from the 1950s on as King is quite discrete about personal details. She is also quite likeable.
Joanne: I'll be anxious to hear what you think about Marchioness; I was looking for something light, and it had more substance than I expected. I didn't know it was an ebook.
Heather: My favorite recent reads were Old Filth and The Man in the Wooden Hat. Olive Kitteridge is also really good; I'll be anxious to hear what you think of it. All were wonderful character studies.
I'm continuing with A Natural Woman and looking at my pile of library books and my stack of TBR books, wondering what I should read next... I might just have to pick some up and start reading to see what draws me in.
Hi Judy: I hope your weekend was great. City of Shadows was a smart thriller; Franklin was great at historical novels. Carole King's memoir is good; at first she focused more on the music, but the farther I read, the more she talks about choices she made -- she seems very honest, someone I would like to hang out with.
Hi Beth - City of Shadows sounds really good. It's moved up the TBR list :-)
Hi Katie: I think you would like it. Nice twist at the end.
54. A Natural Woman covers Carole King's life from the time she first remembers sitting at a piano at the age of three to the present day. While she mentions her four marriages and relationships, the music is what has been the constant throughout her life. She is honest about her errors in judgment and talks about staying in an abusive relationship. She reveals herself to be a grateful, sincere and likeable person.
She says, in a statement that in many ways sums up her life: "My grandparents left their homes and villages and traveled all those miles believing they would find a better world for their children and grandchildren. More than a century later their courage keeps me going. The 'you can do anything' message from my father and mother buoys me. Because of all these people, my life really was a tapestry, with each thread leading to a range of possibilities including -- knock wood -- a wonderful family, good health, great friends, music, peace, joy, love, curiosity, and adventure."
I don't normally read celebrity bios, but I would recommend this if you like King's music -- or are interested in the music of the twentieth century; her life is a lesson in music history.
I'm a little at reading loose ends right now. I don't know what to pick up next. The stack of library books isn't really calling to me. What to choose...
#130 - Sounds like a good one. On a related note, I always get sucked into music documentaries, regardless of who the subject is. For example, last night, my husband and I watched a sad, yet entertaining, documentary on Fishbone that's called Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone.
That's a great review of Natural Woman, Beth and places it all the more firmly on my wishlist.
I hope you pick a good one for your next read, Beth. Enjoy the long weekend!
Kerri: I have never really been interested in celebrity bios -- even for musicians I really like. That being said, I have Bob Dylan's Chronicles, Keith Richard's Life and Patti Smith's Just Kids all sitting on my shelves...
Judy: Thanks. I did enjoy it; she seems like such a likeable person. The writing was uneven and she spent more time on her early years, but I thought it was fascinating. She's been around for a long time. I didn't know she was such a close friend of James Taylor's. I listened to "Tapestry" as I read, which also was enjoyable. That is such a good "album." Am I dating myself?
Thanks, Michelle. I decided on another memoir A Wedding in Haiti, which I bought to reward myself for getting my grading done. Alvarez is one of my favorite authors, and it sounded like a winner. And in case I need a break from memoirs, I also picked up Toni Morrison's new book Home, so I think I am set for the weekend.
I was in the public library used bookstore today, browsing. I have tried to stay away lately because I have too many books I haven't read, but it had been a while, so I stopped to see if they had any deals I couldn't refuse.
Well, Donna has been immersed in C. S. Lewis, and the fantasy That Hideous Strength sounded good to me -- and it was there. What I didn't know is that it is the last book in a trilogy. All three books, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength were there, and I didn't have the strength to resist, so I might be reading Lewis sooner than I had anticipated....
Beth, you've gotten me interested in A Natural Woman and I love the idea of listening to it with Tapestry in the background. I never thought I was much of a one for celebrity memoirs either but I read both Just Kids and Life last year and I really loved them both. Very different types of memoirs but both well written and genuinely interesting. The Keith Richards one I listened to which made it especially good.
Beth, I don't think you are dating yourself at all - why I remember Tapestry like it was just yesterday! ;)
#135 - Anne, I'm planning on listening to Keith Richards' Life next month, so it was great to hear that you found it so enjoyable.
Anne: I have heard only good things about Life and Just Kids -- maybe I'll get to them this summer. I was amazed when I listened to interviews of Keith Richards -- after all the drugs, it's amazing he has any brains left. By the way, Carole King was never into drugs...
Hi Judy: Thanks for your kind words. It is interesting to listen to King after hearing her talk about composing songs.
I'm reading Home and A Wedding in Haiti right now. Both are starting off strong.
Beth, I envy you reading two books on my WL this weekend. I like both of those authors very much and hope our library gets "my" copies in soon!
The C.S. Lewis trilogy will be quick reads. I'm still looking for the first two so I can have the complete experience!
Donna: I finished Home, and it was very good. I'll comment more below. A Wedding in Haiti is also wonderful. It's a good day to be a reader. I'll have to stop by your thread to see what you are up to.
Kerri: I'd love to listen to Life soon. I also have to get back to audiobooks. I did enjoy them.
55. Home is an exploration of how different people perceive the idea of home. Frank Money, a Korean vet, hated Lotus, Georgia, the town in which he grew up. He thought the army might provide him a home. Now he is on his way back to Lotus to help his sister. Lily has a vision of home that she is denied because her dream home is in the wrong part of town. Lenore feels safe as long as she has money in the bank. Cee, who was born on the road, wonders if she will ever have a home.
Morrison's narrative is more linear than I expect from her, although we do have a brief ghostly appearance. And, as always, she captures a marginalized community beautifully. A community that pulls together and has turned its back on the outside world to survive.
This is more of a novella length, but as usual, Morrison gives us a lot to think about.
56. Twenty Days with Julian & Little Bunny by Papa is a journal entry by Nathaniel Hawthorne, describing his 20 days spent alone with his five-year-old son Julian. He and his son were on their own for three weeks in the summer of 1851. This was originally part of Hawthorne's The American Notebooks. Paul Auster, in his great introduction to this short work, explains that Hawthorne was in the habit of writing notes describing his children's behavior.
Anyone who has spent time with a five year old will appreciate these notes. While on the whole affectionate, he does show exasperation at times, but this improves the journal -- if all were sweetness, it would be cloying.
One of my favorite stories has to do with Julian and a jack-knife: "He continues to pester me with his inquisitions. For instance, just now, while he is whittling with my jack-knife, 'Father, if you had bought all the jack-knives at the shop, what would you do for another, when you broke them all?' 'I would go somewhere else,' say I. But there is no stumping him so. 'If you had bought all the jack-knives in the world, what would you do?' And here my patience gives way, and I entreat him not to trouble me with any more foolish questions. I really think it would do him good to spank him, apropos to this habit."
Setting aside the huge mistake in allowing a five year old to play with a knife, I found this very funny, so typical of conversations with that age. Hawthorne's account is a perfect mix of exasperation and affection. I wonder if Sophia had been there if Julian would have been allowed to play with knives?
I would like to read more of Hawthorne's notebooks; the tone in this account is very different from the dark anguish of his stories and novels.
#140 - Hi Beth! Home sounds interesting. I've read most of her classic, older works, but need to get caught up with the newer stuff at some point. I do love her.
I never knew that Hawthorne could be charming, much less that he had a son whom he cared for! Thanks, Beth!
Kerri: Home is good, and it is short and more straightforward than some of her works. In some ways, it reminded me of The Bluest Eye.
Peggy: You're absolutely right -- who knew Hawthorne could be so gentle. Paul Auster, in the introduction, said that Hawthorne's and his wife's ideas about raising children were much more in tune with ours than those of the time.
I've been doing a little house rearranging, painting a bedroom and moving books around. I realized how many books I haven't cataloged, so I've been trying to do a few every day. I'm reading America Pacifica, a first novel by an Iowa Writers' Workshop grad. It's a dystopian novel set on an island in the Pacific mostly created by landfill. Most people are poor, while the "first boaters" have all the power and money. In some ways it reminds me of The Hunger Games. The protagonist is a young woman.
When I finish that, I'll probably start Neverwhere; it's our June book club book.
I see I haven't done reviews for 57. No Mark Upon Her, the latest in the Gemma Janes and Duncan Kincaid series. I like this series; good mysteries and well developed characters.
58. A Wedding in Haiti is wonderful. Anyone who has lived in a Third World country will identify with Alvarez's account of travel between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. If you haven't lived or traveled in a Third World country, Alvarez's account will give you a good idea of what it is like. No visa? No problem if you have cash. Alvarez also explores the history of conflict between the two countries and describes the scene when she returns after the earthquake. I love her writing; this book is enlightening. Recommended.
#144 - A Wedding in Haiti sounds great. I think I'll wishlist that and the Gemma Janes and Duncan Kincaid series (if it's not already on a wishlist somewhere - I have so many going in different places). Also, one part of me thinks I should read a Neil Gaiman novel and the other part is not remotely interested in reading a Neil Gaiman novel. Not sure what to do about that. I have American Gods saved on my Audible wishlist. We'll see.
Hi Beth - So are you done with your semester and all the grading and everything? So now you can kick back and relax?!?!
I like the Deborah Crombie mysteries, too. I've only read the first two so far, but (surprise, surprise) I've managed to track down and purchase copies of all the rest except the very newest :)
Look forward to your comments on America Pacifica which I ran across at a Borders closing sale and put on my WL for the library.
Have a good weekend!
Hi Kerri: I loved A Wedding in Haiti. It is also surprisingly funny when she talks about her husband and their marriage. I think Gaiman has a wonderful imagination and is a great storyteller. I've only read a couple, but I loved The Graveyard Book; I'm looking forward to Neverwhere. I'll let you know -- I also have American Gods somewhere. I don't know that I'll get to it anytime soon.
Hi Katie: I'm finished grading about two weeks ago and have been cleaning, painting, etc. Next week I'm going to start to work on fall classes -- if I spend a couple of hours a day, I will be ready and won't have to stress in August. The Crombie series is one of the few that I am actually caught up with. I don't own any of them; our library gets them. I like America Pacifica -- almost finished. Comments tomorrow.
Hi Donna: I have read The Bluest Eye several times and taught it, but Beloved is still my favorite. I want to reread Song of Solomon this summer. I liked A Mercy, but when I finished it, I remembered thinking that I should read it again because in the end, there was more to it than I had first realized. Home was much more straightforward than any of her books that I have read -- the description of the community reminded me of TBE.
Thanks for stopping by all; now I'll mosey over and visit some of your threads.
Bonnie: I don't know how she can ever top Beloved. Still, her work always gives me something to think about. When you get tired of your doorstoppers, A Wedding in Haiti is a beautiful little book. :)
59. America Pacifica, my first June book. Generally, I am not a big fan of dystopian novels. The Hunger Games made me revise my ideas a bit. The problem is that as a genre, there is so much similiarity -- really, how many ways can the world as we know it end? America Pacifica did remind me of THG in some ways -- the protagonist is a young woman, eighteen-year-old Darcy. Set in an island in the Pacific created from landfill, AP was an escape from the ice age engulfing North America. Unfortunately for most of the people on the island, escape did not lead them to a better life.
North poses all kinds of questions -- will people with power inevitably be corrupt (another question raised in THG)? Are people fated to make the same mistakes over and over?
Darcy is more naive than Katniss at the beginning, but after her mother disappears, and she is forced outside her normal life, she grows up fast, so this is also a coming-of-age novel in many ways.
One thing that North does brilliantly is set the stage. I can smell and feel AP -- and a lot of it is pretty disgusting. There was an inexplicable turn at the end that seemed to me to come out of nowhere, but this is her first novel. I will look for her future works. Recommended for those fans of dystopic worlds.
Hi Beth -- I am getting caught up here. I need to go back and take notes, I think, because you've been reading some great books. I just bought The Man in the Wooden Hat today -- getting a head start on birthday shopping for my mother. Hope you're having a great weekend!
I think I'll keep America Pacifica on my list of books to get from the library. Thanks, Beth!
Anne: Thanks for stopping by. Good luck with your summer classes and your travels. The Man in the Wooden Hat is wonderful -- together with Old Filth, it makes a complete portrait of a marriage.
Katie: I think you will like America Pacifica.
I'm trying to get through a stack of library books. I'm finishing Cat's Claw, the latest China Bayles mystery and starting Midnight in Peking. Then I have to get to Neverwhere.
#150 - I was just thinking about how I'm a bit worn out on dystopias and post-apocalyptic novels lately too, but what I think I'm actually sick of is the up-against-an-evil-authoritarian-government theme. It's been done well so many times and eventually it just seems like you're reading the same story over and over again. However, if a novel takes place in a post-apocalyptic or dystopic world and the main storyline or theme doesn't revolve around the evil, authoritarian government, then I think I'm perfectly fine with it.
Neverwhere was a five star fantasy read and my introduction to Neil Gaiman. I hope you enjoy it, Beth.
Hi Kerri: You're absolutely right. The setting in America Pacifica was different, which certainly added interest to the novel.
Joanne: A Wedding in Haiti is wonderful. Alvarez is such a good writer.
Judy: I can't wait to start Neverwhere; I've heard so many good things about it.
Right now I'm reading a library book Midnight in Peking, which is hard to put down. It's about the murder of an English girl in January 1937, as Japanese surround the city.
61. Midnight in Peking is a hard-to-put-down story of a murder in pre-WWII Peking. In January 1937, nineteen-year-old Pamela Werner's mutilated body was found in Peking. Paul French, reading of her murder in another book, decided to investigate. His account is an amazing story of life in Peking before WWII, before everything changes. Excellent narrative nonfiction.
Now, on to Neverwhere.
Hi Beth - I'm glad your latest read was a good one. And enjoy Neverwhere - do you suppose that's where I should start if I ever get around to reading a Neil Gaiman novel?
All of these lists have inspired me to look back -- so here is my list of the top 10 of the first decade of the 21st century:
1. The World to Come
3. The Feast of the Goat
4. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
5. White Teeth
6. Cloud Atlas
7. Desirable Daughters
8. Purple Hibiscus
9. Moral Disorder
10. The Book Thief
Honorable mention to:
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
The God of Small Things
The Great Fire
I could go on; as you all know it is hard to choose.
Your list is tempting me to add to my wishlist! Definitely adding White Teeth, in fact, I had to go check cause I thought it was already there.
Yow! The God of Small Things was 21st century? I must amend my list at once. I LOVED that book!
I'm sorry to say that I haven't read any of the rest of your lists except Cloud Atlast. How can that be? At least I can add it to my favorites and explore them later!
I really, really liked American Gods, my only Gaimon so far.
I love your list Beth and find we share some favorites. I must get to The Feast of the Goat soon.
Judy: I loved White Teeth. I want to read more Zadie Smith this summer because I am going to use White Teeth in class in the fall. So, I am going to reread, too.
Peggy: I had to go back and look at dates for my list, but some of these books are current all-time favorites. They came to mind right away. I didn't include any Louise Erdrich or Toni Morrison because my favorites works of theirs are older. I'm almost halfway through Neverwhere, and while overall I like it, I don't think it's going to be a 5-star read. I'll wait to comment more when I have finished.
Paul: Thanks for stopping by. I haven't read Half of a Yellow Sun; that is on my list for this summer. I loved The World to Come -- right now it is one of my all-time favorites. I'll have to stop by your thread to take a look at your list.
Bonnie: I noticed that there was crossover between our lists. Feast of the Goat is still one of my favorite reads this year, and maybe goes on my "best of" list. The books from your list that I haven't read are on my wishlist.
About lists... Of course as enthusiastic readers, we all love lists although I usually grind my teeth at "Great Books" lists because of the underrepresentation of women. I did find a book I like edited by Colm Toibin and Carmen Callil called The Modern Library. It's a list of 200 best books since 1950. One thing I like is that in the introduction when they describe how they came up with the list, they say, "...we were as one in our determination to ignore the distinction between so-called popular fiction and literary fiction (also so-called)." They include Daphne DuMaurier and Georgette Heyer as well as Doris Lessing and Toni Morrison. I think that's what I find so interesting about the list.
They admit that lists such as these are personal, "...but in every choice we've looked for the same quality -- a certain (or sometimes even an uncertain) genius in the work, a certain (always certain) excitement in the reading, and a feeling that you would love to hand this book to someone else to read." This is a fun book to browse through; there are writers I've never heard of, so it will be an adventure to check out some new writers. They also list many prizes at the end. My biggest complaint is that of the 200, only about 70 are women :(
That's a great list, Beth. I have several of your choices on my TBR and your list will push them a bit closer to actually being read.
I was very impressed by The God of Small Things too!
Hi Dee. Lists are fun, aren't they? I know a lot of people who say The God of Small Things is their favorite book ever.
#161 and #166 - Hi Beth - great list! I loved The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, White Teeth, and The God of Small Things as well. I'm actually always surprised by how many people dislike The God of Small Things, as it was one of my favorites from that time period (although maybe it's just my goofy real-life friends and family who don't like it). I know that some are offended by political agendas in literature, but that doesn't bother me at all. It's something I'm fond of, actually. That's the only fiction she's written, right? I've read some of her non-fiction, but that's about it.
Hi Beth--I love your list.
(I have The God of Small Things as published in the 90s but it's one of my favorites too. I was surprised to find very little enthusiasm for it over in the Booker Prize group last year when we compiled lists of our favorite Booker titles.)
Not surprisingly I see some of my other favorites on your list--Oscar Wao, White Teeth, The Book Thief, Elegance of the Hedgehog. (Of course I cheated and came up with a longer list, but still.
I have Cloud Atlas, Purple Hibiscus, Unless, and The Feast of the Goat on the tower of unread books--any more nudges and they might fall right off!
The Modern Library book looks intriguing (no! no!)
Beth - there are lots of books on your list that I haven't heard of before, let alone read. You've also given me another push towards The God of Small Things (Peggy - it was published in 97 because that's when it won the Booker Prize).
I also like your comments about The Modern Library which I have now wishlisted :-)
Hi visitors. First, a mea culpa; The God of Small Things was published earlier. Still it is great -- I'll just have to move it to my 90's list :)
Kerri: I don't think Roy has written other fiction -- maybe she's going to be like Harper Lee -- write one perfect, or nearly perfect, book. I'm with you; I love politics in novels if it is well integrated into the story. And there are so many who do it well: Gordimer, Coetzee, Garcia Marquez, Vargas Llosa, to name a few.
Anne: I got some nudges from your list, too. Matterhorn, Tree of Smoke and 2666, to name a few. And, they are all door stoppers! I'm having fun with the Modern Library book; it's one I can pick up and read about an author I don't know about or dogear a page for an author I want to read. The Balkan Trilogy is one of the entries. I also like that they have Agatha Christie next to Olivia Manning. Toibin didn't include any of his own books, though:)
Heather: The Modern Library book is fun -- reading books about books -- what is more enjoyable? I loved the books from my list, so if you get some ideas or wishlist some books from it, it's only fair; I get books from your thread all the time.
"reading books about books -- what is more enjoyable?" Exactly :-)
Great list, Beth. I think one thing LTers have in common is that we all seem to love lists. Both ours and others. Oh oh, there's that "Goat" book I was supposed to read a few months ago. It's still sitting in the Must Read Soon stack taunting me.
Hi Donna: Along with our lists, we'll always have unread stacks, too. I, too, have some "must read" books that I got from your thread. Soon.
Right now I'm reading a library book, Arcadia. It's told from the point of view of a five-year-old boy, and I'm getting sucked into his world.
63. The Queen's Man is a mystery set in 12th century England. King Richard is on his way home from the Crusades, but where is he? Eleanor is holding the throne, but John, her youngest son is getting restless. Into the story comes Justin de Quincy. On his way to London, he comes across two men being robbed. He chases away the thieves, but is unable to save one of the men. As he lies dying, he tells Justin he is carrying a letter to the Queen and asks Justin to carry it for him. Thus, de Quincy becomes a "queen's man."
This is the first in a series -- I know, as if I needed to start another one. But I like historical mysteries. This is quite well done. I will continue with the series.
I finished Neverwhere and didn't comment on it. Our book group meets on Friday, so I will wait until then. I did like it a lot ... but more later.
Still reading Arcadia, which is very good.
Hi Beth! Arcadia sounds good - just put it on the wish list. I hope you're having a pleasant, relaxing weekend.
Hi Kerri: Arcadia was wonderful. I hope your weekend was great as well. I'll be by to visit threads later.
64. Arcadia is an unexpected treasure. It is the story of Bit Strong, told from his point of view. It begins in Arcadia, a commune. Bit is five years old. The novel progresses through his life, from its beginnings in the commune, to middle age, when he lives in NYC.
Groff is wonderfully descriptive; this book is filled with lovely descriptions, but her chief achievement is giving us characters that we care about. An example: "When he opens the door, Abe's smell rises to Bit from the clothes: that clean sweat of him, the metal of him. The lingering last ghost of his father sideswipes him. He knows it's absurd, but he closes the door to save a little of his father for later."
Lovely book, recommended.
Nice review, Beth! I haven't been sure about this one but you may have swayed me.
Katie: This was a surprise to me; I liked it much more than I anticipated; I even shed a few tears at times -- something that rarely happens. Groff's writing is beautiful and her characters are very real; they're sticking with me. While I enjoyed her style, Bit's story is told from third person and she doesn't use quotation marks, something that I know some people don't like. It certainly didn't bother me, and I found that her writing flowed well.
I hope you're having a great time in Calgary. I'll be interested to hear about the GoT-- I haven't been too interested in that series...but I might be swayed:)
65. Ragnarok by A. S. Byatt is a retelling of the Ragnarok myth of the Norse gods. One of my colleagues at the college says Byatt makes him feel stupid. I can sympathize with this because the breadth of her knowledge is formidable.
I am interested in mythology and I liked this. She frames the retelling through the eyes of a young girl during WWII. The comparison works well -- the battles and capricious nature of the actions of the gods correspond easily to wartime. As always, Byatt's prose is wonderful. That said, there were passages with lists of birds, sea creatures, plants, etc. that went on for pages. While the naming of things gives the book a mythlike aura, it does slow down the reader (or put the reader to sleep).
Recommended for those interested in mythology.
Next up, Go Down, Moses.
66. The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell is a book about ideas. In it Vowell discusses the Puritans' legacy to us. Vowell points out that the original Massachusetts seal showed an Indian with the words, "Come and help us" coming from his mouth. She says that the worldview behind the seal is "the Puritans' most enduring bequest to the future United States."
Vowell focuses on the Massachusetts Bay Puritans, and John Winthorp's diary. She points out that the Puritans were "fanatically literary," one way the US today is NOT like them. They wrote pamphlets, kept diaries and founded Harvard. Vowell also shows how Roger Williams' and Anne Hutchinsons' legacies of dissent have influenced our ideas about separation of church and state and freedom of religion.
I found this fascinating, and Vowell has a great sense of humor. I recommend to people interested in American history and the ideas on which we base our country.
Beth, I always smile when I think about a book about words, language, and ideas written by an author named Vowell. I'm glad you liked it. It's a book I've been curious about.
Hi Katie and Donna: I first heard Vowell on MPR, and she was very funny. Her book is very conversational, and she is passionate about the topic, which makes it more fun to read, I think. I'll look for more of her books. I think she wrote one about Hawaii, which I will have to check out.
I'm reading a historical mystery right now, Anatomy of Murder. I needed a plot, and I like Robertson a lot. Then I'll pick up Go Down, Moses again.
Hmm, I had not heard of Imogen Robertson before - the series looks good! Thanks (I think...) :-)
Katie: She's only written a few; they are set in England at the time of the Revolutionary War; the protagonist is Harriet Westerman, whose husband is a sea captain. She is very independent, and this is explained by the fact that she sailed with her husband. The first book in the series is Instruments of Darkness; Anatomy of Murder is the second.
You're welcome :)
#176 The Queen's Man sounds good Beth.
"This is the first in a series -- I know, as if I needed to start another one." - Yeah, me too!
I have The Sunne in Splendour by the same author in my TBR pile. It's historical fiction although not a mystery. I've heard really good things about this author.
#178 Arcadia also sounds really good - duly wishlisted, thank you!
#181 I've had Ragnarok on my radar since it was published but I've already got a few in that myths and legends series that I need to read first, as well as Byatt's Possession.
Hi Kerri: Possession is one of my all-time favorites. You're in for a great read. Go Down, Moses is great so far; the first "chapter" is very funny.
Hi Heather: I heard about Penman from someone else's thread. I picked up The Sunne in Splendour, too. She also has a trilogy about Eleanor of Acquitaine that I would like to read. Arcadia was a wonderful surprise -- one of my best reads of the year so far. Byatt is one of my favorites and Possession is the best. It is a time commitment though.
I'm going to stop by threads to see what others are reading.
Beth - some great stuff here. As expected I am lapping up all the lists and the discussions about lists - agree with you that the Modern Library come up with some great lists - they do 100 novels from the last century which is also worth looking up. The Sunne in Splendour is one of my absolute favourites and was on my 80's list.
Hope your weekend has been a good one.
Paul - Thanks for stopping by. I hope you had a nice weekend. It was Father's Day here. I'm looking forward to The Sunne in Splendour. I'll have to look for the Modern Library lists; the book I'm referring to is edited by Colm Toibin and is a list of the 200 best books since 1950.
Beth - that also sounds an interesting list. Colm Toibin writes like an angel too so hopefully his judgement matches his penmanship (not his Karen Penmanship).
Hi Paul: Yes, Toibin didn't include any of his own books on the list...
Kerri: I haven't read The Reivers. I am thinking of doing a Faulkner year so I can reread things I haven't read for a while and read the ones I haven't.
Hi Beth, I am really interested in the Robertson series although I don't really need another series. But historical mysteries are different. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. And I heard Sarah Vowell on NPR originally too. I think her books are best listened to since she has just about the most distinctive voice I've ever heard. I read her The Partly Cloudy Patriot and quite liked it. I still haven't read Possession although it sits waiting on my shelf.
Hi Bonnie: I've read the first two Robertson books and both are excellent; I like your philosophy regarding historical mysteries. I'll have to try Vowell in audio; I want to read Unfamiliar Fishes. I'll have to check my library to see if they have it in audio.
Possession is one of the best ever. It's long, but since you are "Mistress of the Door Stops," it shouldn't bother you :)
Hi Joanne: I guess I'm going to have to add all of Vowell to my wishlist -- or at least The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes. By the time I get through these, she'll probably have another out. I'll check to see if my library has audio for any of them. It sounds like a good choice.
I'm reading Go Down, Moses and love it so far. I find it really funny in places, and I don't remember that from other Faulkner novels I've read.
Our library is having its semi-annual used book sale; I think I have to go to show my support for my public library -- that's the only reason of course :)
Thanks for reminding me about Imogen Robertson, Beth. I read Instruments of Darkness when it first came out and enjoyed it but then forgot to look out for subsequent Westerman books.
Edited to adjust touchstones. Apparently there is also a Dr Who novel called Instruments of Darkness. I suppose there would be ;)
Hi Beth - Glad you're enjoying Go Down, Moses. As it turns out, I don't have that one in the house in my gigantic Faulkner pile.
Have fun at the library book sale! I expect to see the list.
Hi Beth - Hope you're having a good week. Just thought I'd let you know I got another gift from Amazon yesterday, and wouldn't you know, Instruments of Darkness was included!
Dee: I just finished the second Robertson book, Anatomy of Murder and it was very good. I have third one here, too and can't wait.
Kerri: Go Down, Moses is wonderful although I have to admit I am a big Faulkner fan. He's not everybody's cup of tea. I made the sacrifice to support my library. List follows.
Katie: Well, I didn't get a gift from Amazon, but I did my part to support my public library. I gave some books a new home.
I brought home the following for a donation of $20.
Borderliners by Peter Hoeg
Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr
Ms. Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum
The Millstone by Margaret Drabble
Your Blue-Eyed Boy by Helen Dunmore
The Truth of the Matter by Robb Forman Dew
Spook by Mary Roach
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
All Other Nights by Dara Horn
Tripmaster Monkey by Maxine Hong Kingston
Mapping the Edge by Sarah Dunant
The Hills at Home by Nancy Clark
The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies
The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin
Very nice haul, Beth. I also have the Dunmore, Spark, Dunant and Clark books on the TBR shelves. Great minds and all....
Hi Katie: What can I say? I wonder if we'll get to these anytime soon... Now that my TBR pile is about 800.
Beth, I'm glad you are a supporter of your local library. It was kind of you to take in those book orphans! I adored Fifth Business, the first book in The Deptford Trilogy. Yet another series I've left floundering!
There are too many good books on that list to believe so I'll just say you have a well-read community Beth. Oh oh oh I just noticed one of my desert isle books, Stones for Ibarra. Put that one on the fast track.
Hi Donna: I've been wanting to read some Davies, so this gives me incentive to get started.
Bonnie: I know. I was amazed at the books I found. Most of them were on my wishlist, too. I'll push up Stones for Ibarra, but I think I might be on Faulkner for a while. I love Go Down, Moses and might continue with another book.
One of my colleagues at the college says Byatt makes him feel stupid.
Put me in that camp! I've only read The Children's Book, but I think I felt woefully undereducated. I have had Possession on my must read list for almost two years, and I WILL READ IT this year. I'm glad to hear it's one of your favorites.
Inspired, I think, by your recommendation I just read How it All Began and agree it was wonderful. It's the only thing I've read so far by Penelope Lively but I will be looking for more.
What a great haul Beth - love Drabble, even though she is Byatt's sister and Byatt is a bit more pompous. Enjoy the weekend.
Hi Anne - I almost always feel undereducated when I read Byatt - but in a good way. If you liked The Children's Book, you will like Possession, I think. It is unbelievable how she not only invents a poet, but also his works. She is a smart, talented lady.
I'm glad you liked How It All Began; it is still one of my favorites of the year. I've liked all of the Lively that I've read. She often explores the idea of fate and the role it plays in our lives.
Hi Paul -- I was happy with the haul. I love Byatt. I haven't read as much Drabble, but I have liked what I read of hers.
Still reading, enjoying, savoring Go Down, Moses. Passages like: ..."the dusk-filled single room where all those six months were now crammed and crowded into one instant of time until there was no space left for air to breathe, crammed and crowded about the hearth where the fire which was to have lasted to the end of them..." take my breath away. This is a book I will revisit.
Great book haul, I've read and enjoyed several on the list.
How It All Began is calling me but I don't have a copy and am trying to ignore the call until I've read some more of the Livelys which I do have copies of!
Hi Dee - So what Lively is calling your name? I also have several on my shelves. I am happy with my haul. Most of the books were on my wishlist.
I do hope you enjoy God on the Rocks. I didn't say in the review but it took a few chapters for me to become engaged. That might have been because I started reading it in an out-patient waiting room at hospital and wasn't feeling particularly relaxed!
Great book haul Beth. I'm embarrassed to admit that the only Penelope Lively book I've read is The Ghost of Thomas Kempe which I thought was really good when I was younger. Actually, that's not quite true because I think I got Moon Tiger out of the library when I was 10/11 by mistake - I recognised her name but hadn't realised that she wrote books that weren't aimed at children too! I should really try some more of her books,
Hi Dee: I've loved all the Gardam I've read so far, and God on the Rocks sounds like another winner. I am going to look for Bilgewater too.
Hi Heather - It's never too late to start with a new author; I've just learned about Elizabeth Taylor on LT and plan to read at least one of her books this year.
68. Go Down, Moses is a novel of connected stories. Basically, this novel is the coming-of-age of Isaac, or Ike, McCaslin. This book is wonderful -- it made me ask myself why I don't spend more time with Faulkner. His style with his famously long, involved sentences may not appeal to everyone, but I find his language and description of place beautiful.
While race plays at least a small part in all of Faulkner's novels, it is in the forefront here. Faulkner complicates the issue; all of his characters are more than just their race.
"Was" is about Ike's uncle and father and is very funny. "Delta "Autumn" shows Ike toward the end of his life and is very elegiac. There's also a strong environmental message in this story -- way ahead of its time. Recommended.
I started The Lady in Gold but had to set it aside after about 50 pages. This is the story of Gustav Klimt's portrait of Adele Block-Bauer. It seemed to me that the author was taking liberties as far as what people were thinking. I started to wonder what else she was inventing.
For example: As Adele goes to sit for her portrait, "her reputation was the last thing on her mind, " or "...Adele looked eagerly onto the Schwarzenbergplatz," or "...Klimt's dark eyes caressing her form as his pencil traced the lines of her hair, her face, her lips, the curves of her body. When he looked up, his bold stare met her eyes." I looked at the end notes, and there is no mention of a diary or any documentation to support these thoughts. When I'm reading nonfiction, it bugs me to see invented dialogue or guesses at what people were thinking. So, I'll pass on this.
I started a library book, a mystery, Plunder.
69. Plunder a mystery with great characters and setting. Set on the Gulf Coast in Louisiana just after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Faye Longchamp and her husband have been asked to examine and document archeological settings that might be damaged by the oil. They find themselves in the middle of a murder mystery. Fun read. I'd read more of this series.
I picked up The Uncommon Reader, which is a charming surprise. I'm loving it -- as I'm sure every reader does.
You are right, Beth. It would be practically impossible not to be charmed by The Uncommon Reader!
70. The Uncommon Reader is a charming celebration of the power of books. When the Queen becomes obsessed with books, all kinds of things happen, most of them very funny. Some great quotes about reading and books:
"What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do." -- something we can all identify with.
"Books are not about passing the time. They're about other lives. Other worlds."
Wonderful little book.
I haven't decided what to read next. I have quite a stack of library books. I know I'm going to start Our Mutual Friend in July -- and I'm going to our family reunion next week, so I have to decide what else to take.
Lots of reading being done over here, Beth! I have read one work of Faulkner's (for a political philosophy calss in college - go figure) and cannot for the life of me remember which one it was. But I remember enjoying it, so I really should pick up something else by him.
I'm also a fan of The Uncommon Reader - I just love the ending :)
Hi Katie: I can't imagine that any reader would dislike The Uncommon Reader. It's such a fun, imaginative book -- yes the ending was great.
I'm trying to decide if I want to jump right into another Faulkner or wait until I get back from vacation.
Hi Anne - Welcome back to the States. I just visited your thread and saw the great videos. What a great opportunity for the kids. I loved Arcadia and plan to look for Groff's other book, which also sounds interesting.
You've read some great young adult books.
The more I read about The Uncommon Reader, the more I wonder why it's been on my shelf for so long.
>229. Dee, you will be absolutely charmed by The Uncommon Reader and that's just about guaranteed. I don't know of a single person who wasn't.
I'm tempted to join the GR of Our Mutual Friend Beth but I'm just finishing up The Pickwick Papers now and I may need a break from another long Dickens book. Don't get me wrong---I'm enjoying PP but am looking forward to some shorter reads so I may just star the thread to look at when I read OMF later this year.
Hi visitors! Heather: I figured the only way I would actually pick up Dickens would be to commit to reading it with the group. I've heard wonderful things about OMF.
Kerri - Never cut down on the book gushing. It's great to know people are enthusiastic about books. I guess you survived your conference? Did you get any reading done?
Dee - I think you will like The Uncommon Reader -- and you can probably read it in an afternoon. It's a wonderful little book. I, too, wondered why I had let it sit for so long on the top of the pile.
Bonnie - I don't think I could tackle two Dickens in a row, either. I'm glad you're enjoying The Pickwick Papers.
I just got a stack of books from the library. I'm reading girlchild right now. It's a winner; I wouldn't be surprised to see it on prize lists. Back to reading.
girlchild looks v. good! Can't wait to hear what you have to say about it.
Katie: girlchild is great. The narrator, Rory Dawn Hendrix, reminds me of the narrator for Salvage the Bones. Rory lives with her mother in a trailer park outside Reno. While, this is the story of poverty and abuse, Rory also has hope. She has a book to guide her, "The Girl Scout Handbook." Even though her mother is dyslexic, she struggled through Jack Kerouac's books. Rory takes refuge in her school work and reading and "earning" badges:
"The only place I feel like myself and the only person who treats me normal is Mrs. Reddick, the librarian. In her library I can sit and let all the words leap and run and I don't have to pretend it's harder than it is to have them make sense, like I do at home."
Rory also adds files from her mother's "County" file, from V. White. Original voice and lovely heartbreaking book.
Off tomorrow on vacation with no laptop. I'm going to start Our Mutual Friend. Back in a week.
Beth, I hope you have a wonderful vacation! How nice to unplug for awhile. Someplace fun? Enjoy!
Hi Beth - Have a wonderful vacation! And thanks for giving me permission to book gush : )
Hi Beth, while you are off having fun with Our Mutual Friend, I am able to get caught up with your summer reading. I see it's almost time for you to come home and report on your vacation reads, although OMF is a jealous companion!
Back to the real world. I was at the Outer Banks for a family reunion. Lots of catching up, food, and beach fun (with 50 SPF for me). It was hot and I didn't have a lot of time for reading. I had hoped to finish Our Mutual Friend but only got halfway through. I had forgotten how funny Dickens can be. More on this later.
I took my Nook and finished a couple of mysteries that were OK. The Solitary House is set in Victorian England and borrows characters from Bleak House. While very atmospheric, I think it suffered in comparison to the real Dickens I was reading. It was OK.
I also read 212. It was a free Nook book, and it, too, was OK. Certainly well plotted.
Anne (AMQS): It is nice to unplug -- and surprisingly difficult. There were people with laptops, but I resisted the urge to check email, etc.
DC Anne - I'll visit your thread to see what you think of OMF.
Thanks Katie. It was very relaxing, and the youngsters had a great time at the beach. For future family reunions, I think water is key to a tranquil time.
Thanks Heather. It was wonderful to get away.
Kerri - I'll be stopping by your thread to see what you're gushing about now :)
Thanks Joanne and Bonnie. We actually had a book discussion one afternoon.
Donna: At first the tiny print in my copy of OMF was challenging, but I'm used to it now.
Dee - I had a wonderful time. More later. I guess it's time to start a new thread, so please follow me.
This topic was continued by Beth's 75 for 2012 - Part 3.
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