What Are You Reading the Week of 23 June 2012?
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The 23rd: Joss Whedon
This IS Shaara, not the winner of the Shaara Prize! Thanks Anne (NarratorLady) for pointing out my mistake!
The 24th: Lawrence Block
In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.
The 25th: George Orwell
As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.
The 26th: Colin Wilson
Pearl S. Buck
The 27th: Peter Maas
Pain always produces logic, which is very bad for you.
The 28th: Luigi Pirandello
The 29th: Antoine de Saint-Exupery
For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.
Glad to do it, of course.
I'm putting aside all other reading to get right on The Yard. It's a seven-day liberry book, hence the hurry.
Thank you from me, too, Richard! You always get us off to such an interesting start!
I'm reading The Magician's Wife by Brian Moore, wihch is an interesting historical novel about Napoleon III enlisting the aid of a stage magician to stave off a rebellion in colonial Africa. I'm sure it's quite loosely based on history, but it's still an interesting concept and an interesting book. It is told with the wife as the main protagonist, and I'm finding her story to be a fascinating one as well.
RD- I've been hearing some good buzz on The Yard. Hope it's a winner for you.
Trying to decide between The Towers of Trebizond recommended by Ellie (mirrordrum) and Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West.
Reading Mr. Churchill's Secretary. Really good. Love this time period.
Thanks again for starting us off Richard.
Yes, happy birthday Joss Whedon! You may find this photo interesting from the International Space Station's member gallery: http://www.librarything.com/pic/233397
I am reading Bag of Bones by Stephen King with the Stephen King group on here. Ghost stories in the summer...I feel like a kid again.
>15 Oh! That's a wonderful image! Just love it! Thank you for sharing.
On Nook I'm about 2/3 of the way through Hypatia. She is not portrayed as a saint, she certainly had her failings. For one thing, one of her major gripes with christianity (aside from the fact that its representative in Alexandria, Cyril, was such an ass) was that it was marketed to the lower classes. Her heart was with the upper class, those capable of and worthy of becoming philosophers, she didn't spare much thought for the common worker. I like how the book emphasizes the compromises she makes in order to spread her love of the Greek gods, how much she's willing to give in order to make her religion more popular. Religion, all of them pagan, judaism and christianity are shown to be just ways of maintaining power and manipulating the populace.
I finished the audiobook of Sing You Home which presented differing viewpoints of homosexuality and showed christian individuals to be loving and supportive while those in power were portrayed as self aggrandizing power hungry hypocrites. Now I've started on audio The Old Testament: Great Courses by Amy-Jill Levine. It's very interesting so far. She comes right out and says she doesn't care much for Noah, thinking him stupid, she much prefers the flood hero in Gilgamesh.
On paper I'm still reading Only Begotten Daughter.
Down to the last 100 pages of The Thornbirds. It's been a bit slow the past hundred pages or so. So much so that I started another book (which I only do when bored & need a change), Family Romance by John Lanchester, a memoir about his family, specifically his parents and the secrets they kept, which were uncovered after their deaths. Really good so far.
I'm about at the halfway point in The Pickwick Papers, which, as with most Dickens means I have about 500 pages to go but I'm really enjoying the humor.
Thanks to all the good things I heard here about John Boyne, I went to the library and am just now starting Mutiny: A Novel of the Bounty. I'm barely, barely off the first page, and the description of the gentleman who came to the Porsmouth marketplace every Sunday has me hooked! I feel as if I were being watched by that street urchin as I browse the Friends of the Library booksales! :-) Not that I'm a tall, thin man ..quite the opposite! I'm a short, plump woman, but the description of how the man would look at the books, how he would almost seem to sniff the very ink off the pages, how he would sometimes be loaded down with boxes of books, and other times be lucky to find just one he wanted, all of that resonates so strongly, as I'm sure it would with most of us here. This first page let me know that I'm in for a very pleasant few days!
Thank you to everyone who mentioned this author in last week's thread!
>21 bookwoman247 I know just what you mean! Where has John Boyne been all my life? I started Thief of Time last night and read until my eyes were too tired to go on. What a great character he has created in Matthieu Zela. It's always a good sign when I realize I've got a bit of crush on a character.
# 23: One of the characters in Mutiny: A Novel of the Bounty is named Mr. Zela. I don't think he's a main character, but he is certainly a catalyst for the story. I just find it interesting. I wonder if it is meant to be the same character, or Boyne is fond of the last name Zela and used it more than once. I guess I could see myself with a bit of a crush on Mr. Zela also. He's very intelligent, kind and aristocratic without being a bit of a snob. He's the one who was browsing the books.
I've been playing and watching a lot of golf lately, so I decided to read Billy Boy by Bud Shrake, which has been on my TBR pile for about a decade now.
#21/23/24 It's a wonderful feeling to introduce a favourite author to others and find they love him too. I wondered the same thing about Mr Zela. Not to give too much away if you haven't yet read Thief of Time but he is a character who travels the world through the ages so it's quite possible he is the same person cropping up in other books (I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure he pops up again as a minor character in one of the other novels too) - I think it's a lovely touch. You've all now prompted me to get on with the two novels I own but haven't yet read, The Absolutist and The Congress of Rough Riders. I think one of them will be going in my holiday suitcase.
Finished up Gillespie and I by Jane Harris. What a great book! I wish, I wish, I wish we could talk about it here, I'm so curious to hear what others that have read it think. Anyway....before I give anything away, let's move on to my next book, The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. I enjoyed her last two so am expecting good things from this one, as well.
>30 Isn't that **maddening**, NovaLee? Can't say a single word in public because there's nothing that isn't going to be a spoiler!!
I really liked Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I know I'll see the movie, but from the previews it looks like it's going to be more action oriented than the book which I imagine will detract from the great story.
#31 enaid..I was waiting for a mention of Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, it is classed as Young Adult, as a very mature adult I read the novel and it will always stay with me, especially the "out with" and "the fury".
Just finished The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet and started Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.
>30 NovaLee: didn't you want to go back to the beginning and reread it to see what you might have missed? That's how I felt when I read it. What a book!
Finished reading Quiet: the Power of Introverts earlier today and absolutely loved it - highly recommended!
Started reading Heaven Lake (actually reading a book I own!), and it seems OK. But I'm wishy-washy on it, and on Sisters Brothers, and I'm not sure if I'm just hitting a bad streak, fiction-wise, or if I'm just not in the right head-space right now. I just might be stopping by the library for a peek at this Boyne you're all speaking so highly of...
#30 I also thoroughly enjoyed The Distant Hours - Morton is a real 'go-to' author when I get the sudden urge for something Gothic.
#31/38 I agree with hazeljune on that one. I've no doubt plenty of young teens would enjoy The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas but it's more than suitable for adults too. Though I was hugely impressed it wasn't my favourite of Boyne's books - possibly because it was so short and I prefer the ones I can really get my teeth into but it's still an excellent book.
42> Quiet: the Power of Introverts is on my TBR pile (the short-list part of the pile) so I'm really glad you liked it. Susan Cain recently gave a Ted Talk on the topic which you I liked (you can watch it here). Being an introvert herself, she spent a year preparing and giving speeches culminating in the Ted Talk. She wrote in the NY Times about her Year Of Speaking Dangerously.
33 + 41 > "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrgh" is right. Sooo *maddening.* :) I want everyone I know to read this book just so I can talk about it. Brenzi....yes, I did want to go back to reread it - Harris did a brilliant job. Loved it.
43 > I agree, Morton does do a good job with all things Gothic and at only 50 pages in, I'm already hooked. It's gonna be another good "book week." :)
Panpsychism in the West (Bradford Books) by David Skrbina
Science Delusion by Rupert Sheldrake
Who Built the Moon? by Christopher Knight
#31, Boy in the Striped Pajamas is NOT a children's book. It's about a concentration camp and what happens to the Commandants family. Very sad book.
>46 NovaLee While waiting for the library to get in another John Boyne, I started Gillespie and I by Jane Harris. I loved her previous book, The Observations. It's great so far- it reminds me of Zoe Heller's What Was She Thinking Notes on a Scandal, in the way that Harriet obviously has a few quirks but seems completely unaware of it. For some reason, I just love that in a novel.
Yesterday I finished The Queen's Story about Queen Elizabeth. As boring and yet well-done as you would expect it to be - just like her. Today I read Belly Laughs from front to back in a few hours, and now I'm working on Ex Libris and Commonwealth of Thieves: The Improbable Birth of Australia at the same time.
ok you guys got me! I put in a request for Gone Girl. I'm 361 on the list. There are 5 copies, which means I'm in effect only 72 on the list, right? Each person gets it for 3 weeks, so I should get the book in about 216 weeks. I'll let you know. Many requestors will drop off tho as they get their own copies. Is it weird that I enjoy checking the status of my requests and seeing how much closer the time gets? Hey - I take pleasure in the little things!
>54 Nope, not weird at all. At least I hope not as I tend to do the same thing.... :)
#48 It was, however, written for and aimed at young teenagers, according to the author.
ETA - #51 'Boring yet well-done' - that may be the best description of Elizabeth II I've heard yet :-)
I also heard a great interview on NPR with the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts and she was just great. Made a lot of sense, especially combined with this other great book Imagine: How Creativity Works ... I have to move the Introvert book up to the top of Mount TBR! Having always been a quiet/introverted sort, reader and artist (even attorney), I do think introverts are vastly unappreciated and underutilized in many aspects of commerce, art, etc.
I saw the film version of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and it was oustanding. The theatre was sold out and at the end, that crowd was silent, not one peep. It was very intense and incredibly sad. I do think, however, it is techically a children's book as it focuses on the relationship between the two boys. That part was beautifully done.
I am reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers on recommendation of this thread. It is outstanding, so far. She may be my favorite new NF writer.
Thanks, ty1997, for the link to the Susan Cain Ted talk. What a well spoken introvert she is.
I put Only Begotten Daughter aside for a bit, the snarky attitude was getting to me. Instead I've started Half Blood Blues which was short listed for this year's Orange Prize. It's about black jazz musicians in WWII Germany. So far, so good.
Having finished Behind the Beautiful Forevers about 10 days ago, I find that I'm pretty much incapable of focusing on any fiction where people are screwing up their own lives (think--affairs, alcohol, drugs, etc.) and have started and put on hold two books as a result. Started Still Alice this morning and am hoping for a better reaction to it. Also reading Battle Cry of Freedom, but don't expect to finish it for two months.
# 61 ~ I am having that reaction in real life as well! Still Alice is good though, kind of the opposite maybe, someone doing the absolute best she can with a horrible diagnosis.
Message received today: Congratulations. You've been selected to receive an Early Reviewers copy of Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill from the June 2012 batch.
Woo-hoo! *doing the happy dance*
I just finished Gillespie and I by Jane Harris. I am amazed and speechless; what a good book. A roller coaster ride and utterly fascinating!
Carolyn- Glad you are loving the Boo book! It's one of my top reads of the year. I know it didn't work for some readers but it sure clicked for me.
Maggie- Battle Cry of Freedom might be the best single volume ever written on the Civil War. I need to do a re-read of that one at some point.
I finished the excellent River of Smoke for the Group Read. I think this will go down as one of the great trilogies. I'm also listening to the Cold Dish, which has been highly entertaining.
I finished (and loved) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and am now reading a collection of four of Arthur C. Clarke's books: The City and the Stars, The Deep Range, A Fall of Moondust and Rendezvous with Rama. I have read The City and the Stars back in January so I am skipping that, but the rest is new for me.
Now reading What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman who is a 'new' author to me. So far so good.
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I've just finished the wonderful Mutiny: A Novel of The Bounty by John Boyne. I'll certainly be reading more of his work! He is an amazing storyteller. His narrative voice has a perfect pitch.
I'm just starting The Ghost and the Haunted Mansion by Alice Kimberly. This is part of the Haunted Bookshop mystery series, which is quite a fun little series. The author is a husband and wife team who also write the Coffeehouse mystery series under the name Cleo Coyle.
I've been gone to the American Library Association Conference, and so have not done much reading. I am still working on River of Smoke and really like this one. In the car I started listening to As Simple As Snow by Gregory Galloway. this one is a YA novel from a few years ago, and so far is very intriguing. For my non-fiction, I started How Soccer Explains the World. This one is a study of globalization and how soccer embodies all of the ideals of globalization. Haven't read much of it, but so far it is good. And of course there is still David Copperfield, which is going to take as long to read as did jane Eyre - about a year.
Day 1 of a two-day training course completely fried my brain -- it involved a lot of small-group discussion and just generally interacting with strangers all day, which is exhausting for my introverted self -- so I have to put aside River City, by John Farrow, as my bus book. It is massive, running to 844 pages, and also has bits that I am inclined to skip out of impatience. Instead C.S. Forester will tell me the story of The African Queen.
I forgot to mention to somebody higher up, that I really enjoyed Finding George Orwell in Burma and find myself thinking about it whenever I hear something about Burma in the news. This one is a cross between a travel book and a political statement. Whichever it is, it is well done.
76 - Please keep up posted about the soccer book. It's one of the ones I picked up at the dying Borders sales but have put away for awhile.
I have just finished reading the novel The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper .
#80 I know that you will enjoy Home, I have a copy of the Charley book of Steinbeck's in my TBR collection, I will seek it out!!
I just finished up behind the beautiful forevers by katherine boo and thought it was excellent. I think it's very important to read the Author's Note at the end with that one, because I really did question at times how, with the language barrier in particular, she knew so much about what the folks were thinking/feeling. She explains that, and what she was trying to accomplish with the book, at the end. I almost wonder if that Note should not have been in front instead. In any event, very good, on many levels. If you have any interest in globalization and NFP/NGOs that operate in and around Mumbai, defintely worth reading.
I am now going to start The Snowman by Jo Nesbo on the recommendation of a friend. Mysteries are so not my thing, but will try to remain neutral!
>85 I've got Behind the Beautiful Forevers on my bedside table to read after I finish a couple I've started. Looking forward to it more and more as I hear more about it.
I finished Old Testament: The Teaching Company (Great Courses) and was very impressed though it needed to be at least 3 times longer than these 30 lectures to thoroughly cover the topic. I also finished and reviewed Hypatia by Charles Kingsley and was pretty disappointed. Being a christian minister he showed his obsession with belief, and I think Hypatia was instead devoted to knowledge - a big difference that to me made the book pretty worthless.
Now on Nook I'll start one recommended by Carolyn The Whip as the start of a month of reading westerns, and on audio in honor of Ray Bradbury a long delayed reread of Martian Chronicles which was the first science fiction book I ever read.
>89 Joyce, have you read Hypatia of Alexandria yet? Only 157pp, but a lot less tendentious than the Kingsley christian-centered work.
I hope you don't find The Whip too cheesy, citizenjoyce, it's a bit lighter and more theatrical than my average reading diet (but I think the author was an actress, so makes sense!). It's just ... fun.
Storeetllr ~ There seem to be a lot of dissenters with Behind the Beautiful Forevers but they seem to be almost more about the author herself. I did not find her troublesome. I do think she tried, the best she could, to tell the folks' stories and stay out of the way. She did that very well and it left me sort of wondering about her life, and how she got there, because she said nothing until that tiny bit in the Author's Note.
Well, The Snowman by Jo Nesbo is not for me. I could not stop groaning at the characters ~ so cliche it was painful ~ alcohol-sodden mid-life crises detective, lost relationship the woman of his dreams (good for more moping), the beautiful new, yes, sassy and smart, partner, and egads, another serial killer, of a woman in yes, a troubled marriage. Do we really need this scenario again? Anyway, after the severed body parts on the ski slope, I thought, ya know, Carolyn, life is REALLY short ... and so, back to the library it goes. Just not my cup o' tea, not even in Norway, as it turns out.
But I did pick up The Conference With The Birds by Peter Sis on recommendation of Richard and I loved it immensely. What a beautiful reading experience. I agree Mark, one to find and keep in the shelves for everyone who comes by to enjoy. So lush, thoughtful, beautiful ... just ... wow.
I had the same reaction to The Snowman. I did finish the book, but I just got tired of the alcohol-sodden mid-life crises detective. I think I am supposed to feel sorry for him, but just couldn't. If that weren't enough, all the blood and gore got to me. When The Leopard came out I didn't even look twice at it.
I am deep into River of Smoke and really liking it. I think I like it better than the first one in this trilogy - Sea of Poppies. This is an author who has me intrigued and so I want to read more of his books so I went to the library and came back with Glass Palace. This one appears to be about Burma so will give me more information to go along with my earlier reading of Finding George Orwell in Burma. I haven't started reading it yet, but will.
>92 Oh Carolyn I am so so pleased that you liked The Conference of the Birds! I still flip through it just to experience the surprise of some of the images. Glorious artwork, for my taste, that tells its own story.
Yay! Someone else who can talk people into picking up the book!
I already have too, Richard. But some of them insist on "downloading a page" on their e-readers and I go, eeek, no, get it from the library (or BN or whatever)! Anyone who can "feel" it tend to love it a bit more, I think. So far, anyway.
Okay, found a GOOD one, just started Pure by Andrew Miller and wow, great fun so far. The reviews here are kind of lackluster and I'm not yet sure why that is the case. Although it is a novel set in Pre-Revolutionary France, it has a similar creepy, nightmares without being bloody-gore, kinda feel like Shadows of the Wind. It really puts me there, and I love when a novel does that.
I have to check out River of Smoke. I liked Sea of Poppies well enough, but I just had this feeling the author could even do better with those characters, who were all pretty great.
Carolyn- I started with Redbreast and it was a perfect place to begin. I then read the next book and it was also pretty good. Maybe this character has run out of gas. I also have the snowman waiting in the stacks.
Glad you loved "The Conference of Birds". It is a keeper all the way.
I also just finished River of Smoke and it was excellent.
Finished Family Romance this morning. An excellent memoir of one man's family, namely his mother's life of secrets & lies.
Thanks for your suggestion, Richard. Unfortunately my library system doesn't carry Maria Dzielska. I did see copies of Hypatia on BN for from $20 to $60. I'll keep looking for a used copy. I was hoping for so much more from Kingsley.
Carolyn, I did notice that the author of The Whip is an actress. Since it'll be my gym book light and interesting will be just fine.
I am really enjoying On The Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin, this novel won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1982. This wonderful writer sadly died at the age of 48.
#92/94/98 Far too many authors seem to think that givng their protagonist a string of neuroses and addictions makes that character interesting. Presumably they've never met anyone like that in real life because there is no better guarantee of stultifying boredom than to get engaged in conversation with an addict. Having a few flaws is vital for an interesting character but it certainly isn't the case that the more flaws they have the more interesting they become - quite the opposite.
I just finished What the Dead Know (somewhat meh and predictable, though I've read a lot worse. I'm not sure I ever found out what it is they know but I can't say I cared very much by the end). I think my next read is going to be The Hearing Trumpet which I heard being recommended to Noel Fielding on a TV show and thought well, if it's good enough for Noel then it's good enough for me. I hadn't heard of the author before but have now done a bit of research and found she was a truly fascinating - and multi-talented - woman and I'm looking forward to this one - not least because of its joyfully crazy illustrations.
#102, hazeljune, Bruce Chatwin was a fascinating man -- you should read more about him and by him. He's a bit of a mystery -- there is controversy about some of his work, but he is always interesting, whether writing fiction or non-fiction (or some combination thereof). The closer you come to thinking you understand him, the less you seem to understand, and the more elusive he seems to be. Or, perhaps, he simply liked being an enigma and purposely created a mysterious path for us to follow. Whichever it is, I enjoy reading about his life. I wish he hadn't died so young -- I'll always wonder what other adventures he might have taken us on. I liked his novel, Utz, too, and the travel writings, and there is a book of his photographs from his travels. I just read an essay about his book The Songlines the other day:
#104,mollygrace, thanks for the site, it looks to be very interesting. I am sure that you would also enjoy On The Black Hill .
#105 hazeljune -- I've read On the Black Hill -- but it's been awhile -- maybe time to put it back in the tbr stack for a reread. I'm glad you liked it, too.
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