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What Are We Reading, Page 5

This is a continuation of the topic What Are We Reading, Page 5.


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Edited: Nov 2, 2016, 1:15am Top

Time to start a new page.
I've finished the month with some good reads
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg chronicles the treatment the poor in the US since its inception. It seems our "classless" society is no better than most others in its desire to exploit, dehumanize and continually encapsulate those at the bottom of the financial spectrum.
The Trespasser is Tana French's newest brilliant offering. Antoinette Conway, the only woman on the Irish murder squad is a very, very angry woman. She also believes she can trust no one except her male partner who is competent and funny and they're not in love with each other (please may that last.) French explores her anger, the reasons for it and the effects it has on her, her alienation from the rest of the squad and her feelings of betrayal and disillusion. This book is honest, full of twists and illuminating of an ambitious woman's psyche. French just gets better and better.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly is the book behind the new movie and illuminates a part of science history I'd never heard of. There's not much emotional involvement going on here buts lots of new information and even a little explanation of physics and flight.
The Wonder is Emma Donoghue's newest about a nurse (who had been trained by Florence Nightingale) hired to watch over an 11-year-old saint in the making who claims she has not eaten for 4 months. A couple of books ago I think we discussed how Donaghue's writing is a bucket of horrors, but not this time. There's a good exploration of early nursing, women as professionals and people as people. So far I have to say Donaghue can do no wrong.
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh was a finalist for the Book Critics award and on the Booker short list. I'm sure there are lots of people who wouldn't agree with those honors. Eileen is a pretty unlikeable character. She's the caretaker for her alcoholic, ex-cop father who belittles her continually, and she's pretty much invisible to the rest of the world. That might make her sound like a sympathetic character, but here's the rest. She works in a juvenile prison, and she has no sympathy for the boys in jail or for their parents. In fact, she has no sympathy for anyone or any real feeling at all. She does have erotic fantasies about a pretty unappetizing man at the prison, pie in the sky fantasies that have no relation to reality. And she also drinks and doesn't like to shower often - or eat. If you eat your body grows, and she already hates the little amount of body she has, she doesn't want more. So, she's not likable, but she's enjoyably complex .
I loved Great House by Nicole Krauss when I read it some time ago, so I tried The History of Love, and I don't think it's as successful. It's about a rural Jewish man who wrote a masterpiece , The History of Love, a woman who later translates it, the holocaust, New York writers, aging, siblings, thinking you might be the messiah, and staying faithful to your one true love. The aging part is the best.
I did reread The Haunting of Hill House (can't believe I'd forgotten how it ended), then I tried White is for Witching. I think Helen Oyeyemi might be an acquired taste. Maybe if I'd listened to the book I could have let her wandering introduction to the story wash over me until I got hooked into it. However, I read it with my own impatient eyes, and it took just a few pages for me to become annoyed with her style of dropping you into the middle of a mystery and letting you figure your way out.
And now I'm listening to Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself by Julie Barton about a woman going through serious depression. She doesn't have the dog yet, so I don't know how it will work out, but so far she has the depression stuff down right. My only problem with it is that the author reads the book in a soft little voice that fits the mental illness but grates on my soul. I'm trying to overcome it.

Nov 1, 2016, 6:27am Top

Reading Mary Roach's Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. As usual she's not squeamish about delving into the gross, but is still very funny and perceptive.

Nov 1, 2016, 2:28pm Top

>1 Citizenjoyce:

i had trouble with the beginning of white is for witching when i first read it as well. it's a tough (as in confusing, kind of abstract) first few pages but i think is worth the effort. and after you get past that part (which is like a prologue without calling it one, and then the book flashes back in time and gradually catches up to the time period in those pages) i thought it was much easier going, although certainly still unusual.

Nov 2, 2016, 1:16am Top

>3 elisa.saphier: That's good to know. Maybe I'll give it another try some time.

Nov 2, 2016, 9:14am Top

I attempted to listen to The Secret Chord on audiobook, but the antiquated style and unfamiliar names made it very difficult. I've enjoyed everything that I have read or listened to by Geraldine Brooks but when discs 2 & 3 of the library audiobook failed to function, I abandoned it. I'm not sure that I will seek this one out in print since the subject matter- the life and times of the biblical King David- doesn't much interest me.

So I have been listening to Inside of A Dog which at first seemed to have no new information for me, but now has perhaps too much scientific information for me. Ha! Never satisfied, me.

I did begin reading A God in Ruins and continue to be impressed by Kate Atkinson's style. She writes like a jigsaw puzzle comprised of short vignettes comprised of short sentences--- only each is so well phrased and evocative that perhaps a better analogy would be mosaic tiles in a mural. I had never read her before Life After Life, but may read more if I continue to enjoy this one.

Edited: Nov 2, 2016, 1:21pm Top

>5 vwinsloe: which at first seemed to have no new information for me, but now has perhaps too much scientific information for me. Ha! Never satisfied, me.
Ah, readers, we can be so difficult to please sometimes.
I love Geraldine Brooks, but like you didn't care all that much for The Secret Chord. I did listen to the whole thing and found it had points of interest but not much over all appeal. Maybe you have to be quite religious or academically interested in monotheism to be captivated by it.

Nov 2, 2016, 3:15pm Top

>4 Citizenjoyce:

there's a lot going on in the book - she reminds me a bit of jeanette winterson in both the way i feel when i read her stuff ("she's brilliant!" "what a phrase!" "if i knew more i'd like this even more!") and her references to folklore and fairytales.

Nov 2, 2016, 6:38pm Top

>7 elisa.saphier:. Ok, now I feel guilty that I gave up.

Nov 2, 2016, 7:14pm Top

>8 Citizenjoyce: obviously this was my intent. ;) how far did you get?

Edited: Nov 2, 2016, 9:03pm Top

I just barely got into it. I don't know how many pages, but I'm sure it was less than the standard 50.

Edited: Nov 3, 2016, 6:59am Top

I think it's one of those books you have to let wash over you and eventually you get into the rhythm of it. I wish I knew more African folklore though. I think that would enhance my understanding. I feel the same way when I read Nnedi Okorafor.

Nov 3, 2016, 2:55pm Top

>11 sturlington: I liked Who Fears Death very much, but I can't remember if it grabbed me right from the first. Shoot, so many books on my plate, now it looks like I have to try this one again.

Nov 3, 2016, 6:19pm Top

>12 Citizenjoyce:

i found it wholly worthwhile and much easier once i got used to the writing. and i agree with >11 sturlington:, i'm sure there is so much more to it if you know caribbean and nigerian folklore.

Nov 4, 2016, 8:57am Top

>11 sturlington:, >12 Citizenjoyce:, and >13 elisa.saphier:. I liked Who Fears Death, didn't love it, and I think that a westerner might have less appreciation not only because of a lack of knowledge of folklore, but also because it is not such an uplifting revelation to western culture that a woman might do these things. In fact, it seems to me that it is frowned upon now by some to use revenge by a female victim, particularly a rape victim, as the motivation for a protagonist's violence.

Nov 4, 2016, 9:16am Top

>14 vwinsloe: One of the reasons I liked Who Fears Death was because of the anger of the protagonist. I found it unexpected and challenging. Here's what I wrote about it: "But Onyesonwu's anger--women's anger--often makes us uncomfortable, and we are unused to seeing it as the focus of literature. That, and many other things, can make this a difficult book to read. Onyesonwu turns her critical eye on everyone around her. No one is an innocent in this world."

Nov 4, 2016, 9:36am Top

>15 sturlington:. Yes, those who did like it, liked it for that reason. But for others, women's "anger motivated by revenge" has been done so often that at best it shows a lack of imagination. It may even, perhaps, cast aspersion on those victims who do not fight back or seek revenge.

Of course, there is no satisfying everyone. The violence of female protagonists motivated by something other than revenge for rape is sometimes criticized as no more than a male hero in drag.

It would be an interesting research project to study the similarity and differences in motivation of various violent female protagonists around the world from Who Fears Death to Lizabeth Salander (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) to Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) to Yelena (Poison Study).

Nov 4, 2016, 10:02am Top

>16 vwinsloe: What I found unexpected is that Who Fears Death is unapologetic about the anger. Women are supposed to be punished for their anger, even if it can be justified by what has happened to them.

Nov 4, 2016, 10:43am Top

>17 sturlington:. I'll have to think about that. I don't think that the other fictional women that I am thinking about were apologetic about their anger either. In the case of Katniss Everdeen, dismayed by violence, her own as much as others, but apologetic? No.

But you may have helped me figure out why I didn't love Who Fears Death. The acceptance, even glorification, of violence. For me, anger is one thing. Violence, quite another.

Edited: Nov 4, 2016, 11:23am Top

I haven't read the other two books you cite, but I wouldn't put Katniss in the same category. Katniss's anger isn't really connected to her gender and it seems more straightforward, more heroic. I think there's a lot more nuance in Who Fears Death. And therefore more complex reactions to it. I didn't love the book, but I've definitely thought about it a lot.

Would write more on this but I'm on my tablet, which isn't exactly conducive. Good discussion, though.

Edited: Nov 4, 2016, 11:30am Top

>19 sturlington:, Yes, thanks. I am tempted to go back to read Who Fears Death again, but it is more likely that I will go on to read Binti which won the 2015 Hugo in the novella category.

Nov 4, 2016, 12:30pm Top

>20 vwinsloe: Since reading Who Fears Death, I've gone on to read The Book of Phoenix and Binti. I found The Book of Phoenix problematic. I liked Binti better, but I wish she hadn't confined it to novella length. I thought there was a lot to delve into there. In some ways, it reminded me of Octavia Butler's Lilith's Brood series.

Nov 4, 2016, 2:52pm Top

>21 sturlington:. Thanks. If I am not mistaken, Binti is the first of a series, so this could be just the beginning.

Nov 6, 2016, 1:01am Top

I've requested Binti from the library. I'd love to read more by Okorafor.

Nov 10, 2016, 10:12am Top

I finished A God in Ruins and was slightly disappointed. My expectations were undoubtedly too high after reading Life After Life which I found profoundly affecting.

I'm just starting Mermaid in Chelsea Creek. It is hard to concentrate on anything right now so I hope that I can focus on a little YA fantasy.

Nov 10, 2016, 2:26pm Top

I loved Mermaid in Chelsea Creek and it seems an appropriate read right now. It won't cheer you up, but it might keep you fighting.
I'm going to start White Is For Witching again today. We'll see how it goes.

Nov 14, 2016, 12:06am Top

I'm half way through White is For Witching. I'm not in love. There are some good sentences, but Miranda really gets on my nerves. She doesn't eat food but craves chalk and plastic, she wears very high, very thin heels even on the ice and she has that ethereal, vague dead look at all times. Not my kind of character, but I shall persevere.

Nov 15, 2016, 5:00am Top

I've raced through Naomi Alderman's The Power. This book took me back to some of the 70's feminist SF that I loved.It has the sharp humour of Joanna Russ - The Female Man, The Adventures of Alyx - and the bitter anger of Suzy McKee Charnas's Holdfast Chronicles, but with a more nuanced sense that power corrupts whoever it's wielded by. I enjoyed this immensely and will certainly pick up her earlier works.

Edited: Nov 15, 2016, 10:23am Top

>27 SChant:. That sounds great. I've added Naomi Alderman's book to my wishlist.

>25 Citizenjoyce:. I loved Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, too, right up until its extremely abrupt end. I know that there is a sequel, but LT identifies it as part of a trilogy. Did you read the sequel, and, if so, does it appear that there will be a third book published? If there is a third book, I think that I will wait until it comes out before reading the second book, unless the second book provides a lot more closure than the first did.

Nov 15, 2016, 11:51pm Top

>28 vwinsloe: I'm on hold for Girl at the Bottom of the Sea right now. The problem with reading sequels as they are written is that you can forget so much in between. It's been 2 years since I read Mermaid in Chelsea Creek and, while I remember kind of the gist of it, I'm sure I would like the sequel much better if it were fresh in my mind. The problem with waiting for the third part is that it hasn't been written yet, so you're going to have the same problem if you wait for it.

Nov 16, 2016, 5:46am Top

>29 Citizenjoyce:. Yes, I think that I will wait. Thanks.

Dec 15, 2016, 11:14am Top

Only read one Girlybook in a while- The Fortune Hunter which is not at all in my usual wheelhouse, but it is horsey (lifelong equestrian here) and was a nice escape. I guess I'd classify it as a historical romance novel?

But now I've just started My Brilliant Friend. I hope that I enjoy it as much as most others seem to!

Dec 15, 2016, 12:27pm Top

Currently reading Jenny Uglow's biography of Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories and liking it except that it can be a little hard to follow the large cast of intermarried Unitarians. Thinking of getting back to a Gaskell reread (along with the two novels I've yet to read, Ruth and Wives and Daughters).

Dec 27, 2016, 2:26pm Top

Well, I've certainly been hard to please lately. I finished My Brilliant Friend and thought that it was just okay. For all of its celebrated authenticity, most of it wouldn't pass a literary version of the Bechdel test. To be fair, it was about pubescent girls, and so I guess it could be expected that they would be preoccupied with the opposite sex, particularly just post WWII. But not really what I am interested in reading about.

Now I'm in the middle of Uprooted which is quite enjoyable, if a little too YA.

But where is everybody? Are folks simply not posting or not reading or have they gone elsewhere? Is it me?? ;>)

Dec 27, 2016, 3:05pm Top

Let me look over what I've read this month and get back to you.

Dec 27, 2016, 3:38pm Top

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon Excellent. Maybe not quite as compelling as Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirshman but still it gives you a good look at RBG and why she has to live forever (or at least 10 more years - to be safe)
The Mothers: A Novel by Brit Bennett a look at abortion from many different sides. Not as completely pro as I"d like, but still more balanced than the usual.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor good feminist science fiction
Forty Autumns by Nina Willner a look at life under a dictatorship, this time East Germany, maybe foreshadowing life to come in the good ol' USA once it's made great again.
The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen a good novel about aged sisters looking back on their lives
Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case That Changed Sexual Harassment Law by Clara Bingham Wonderful, wonderful. I can't praise it enough or the courage it took the women, and Lois Jenson in particular to fight corporate misogyny. The movie it was made into, North Country, toned down the abuse and greatly shortened the battle this woman fought - 10 years. Who of us would have the strength to endure what she did for us all?
Sweet Lamb of Heaven: A Novel by Lydia Millet an interesting novel about a conservative politician and the stalking of his disillusioned, escaping wife.
Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris another story of an abused wife, think Sleeping With The Enemy.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson a novel about the aftermath of a young girl's rape
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt I reread it for my RL book club and came away with an even greater appreciation of the characterizations. Almost everyone in the book club hated it. Maybe I'm in the wrong book club.

Edited: Dec 27, 2016, 7:14pm Top

Thanks, Citizenjoyce. You have clearly been too busy reading to post. I've made note of some of these titles that you mentioned as I think that the books will appeal to me

And, yes, any book club that doesn't appreciate The Goldfinch is obviously so wrong!

Dec 27, 2016, 4:34pm Top

>36 vwinsloe: What surprised me was that they read the whole thing, or at least most of them did. Wow, almost 800 pages of a book you don't like is too much for me.

Dec 27, 2016, 4:40pm Top

And I forgot to include Girl at the Bottom of the Sea by Michelle Tea. How I wish I'd taken the time to reread Mermaid in Chelsea Creek first. I'd forgotten so much. This is a middle of a trilogy kind of book. It takes you from Chelsea to the ocean to develop her powers. The last one, I imagine, will take her back to Chelsea with all her new abilities. You're definitely going to have to reread the first one if you wait until next year to complete the trilogy.

Edited: Dec 27, 2016, 7:13pm Top

>37 Citizenjoyce:. Ha! I hear you. But maybe it was that "trainwreck" phenomenon. They didn't like what they were seeing, but they couldn't tear their eyes away.

>38 Citizenjoyce:. Yes, I am going to wait. I lent the first book to a friend, so when I get it back I will reread it in advance of the other two books.

I forgot to mention that I am listening to Dear Life. I somehow had never read anything by Alice Munro and thought I should. I haven't loved the first two stories, but the second one, about a TB sanatorium in Canada during WWII, was interesting enough to keep me going. "Amundsen," it was called.

Edited: Dec 27, 2016, 7:30pm Top

I've never read Alice Munro. One of these days.

Dec 28, 2016, 4:05am Top

I'm reading Iris Murdoch's collected letters at the moment, which definitely count although she does talk about boys a lot ...

Dec 28, 2016, 5:47am Top

>41 LyzzyBee:. I've got to read Iris Murdoch at some point, too. Any suggestions?

Dec 28, 2016, 9:16am Top

>42 vwinsloe: For the novels? I'd start with "The Bell", that's the one I always recommend. But it depends what other authors and kinds of books you like ...

Edited: Dec 28, 2016, 11:02am Top

>43 LyzzyBee:. Thanks, LyzzyBee! It is hard to say what I uniformly like, so I'll put that one on my list. I just looked at the book description, and I'm intrigued.

Dec 28, 2016, 12:20pm Top

>44 vwinsloe: Cool. Another good one to start with is The Sea, The Sea, as it won the Booker Prize which gives it a mark of quality. Do let me know how you get on!

Dec 28, 2016, 12:48pm Top

>45 LyzzyBee:. Thanks again. I have a haphazard book acquisition process, but I am sure to run into one or the other before long.

Dec 29, 2016, 10:38am Top

I recently discovered an empowering female author and would like to recommend her latest book, Cottage Cheese Thighs. I think it will inspire women to treat themselves and each other better.

Dec 29, 2016, 10:44am Top

>47 KimBeMe:. Great title!!

Dec 29, 2016, 10:55am Top

She put her actual cottage cheese thighs on the cover. It's a great reminder to love yourself and not stress over imperfections.

Dec 30, 2016, 9:55am Top

>45 LyzzyBee:. I found The Sea, the Sea in the little free library at my workplace and scooped it up.

Dec 30, 2016, 12:20pm Top

>50 vwinsloe: Hooray! I look forward to hearing what you think of it!

Dec 31, 2016, 3:12am Top

Have you ever read a book that you love right up until the end? I just finished The Guineveres: A Novel by Sarah Domet, and I'm just stunned. I guess I shouldn't say anymore in case anyone is tempted to read it except to advise that you don't.

Dec 31, 2016, 5:17am Top

>52 Citizenjoyce: But I just bought it a week or so ago. {grrr} I'm a sucker for boarding school stories.

Jan 1, 4:58am Top

>53 CurrerBell: Oh, oh. Are you Catholic? If so, you'll like it. If not, well, you can just skip the last chapter. If you do read it, let us know. I know my buttons that get pushed are not the same as others.

Edited: Jan 1, 6:11am Top

>54 Citizenjoyce: "Cradle Catholic," now Presbyterian. {heh-heh} So we'll have to see. Cuz Frost in May of course is one of my faves. (Oh, and my favorite villain is Miss Scatcherd, but I can't consider Jane Eyre a "boarding school novel" just for the sake of chapters 5 through 9 or 10.)

Edited: Jan 1, 2:10pm Top

>55 CurrerBell: I'll have to check out Frost In May. My library system doesn't have it, but it's inexpensive on Amazon.

Jan 1, 3:02pm Top

>56 Citizenjoyce: As some may be aware, Antonia White's four novels were adapted as a BBC miniseries in 1982. Sadly, it seems to be one of those "lost" films that's never going to be released on DVD and is probably gathering "vinegar smell" in some archive somewhere.

But there was a feature article on the production in Radio Times which I found somewhere or other some years ago, probably on eBay. Here are the pages, but check them out promptly because I don't promise how long I'll keep them online:


(Skimming the article in a quick reread, I see that Daniel Day-Lewis played Archie.)

Jan 2, 12:27am Top

>57 CurrerBell: Thanks. I'd never heard of it.

Jan 2, 2:19pm Top

I've been reading some of the books I got for Christmas: a couple of middle-grade graphic novels which were both lovely - Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier, and Awkward by Svetland Chmakova. Both would be great reads for girls. Now I'm tackling the new biography of Angela Carter, one of my favourite writers, which I have been looking forward to since it was published. I suspect this may prompt a reread of some of her books.
And I'm about to start Deerbrook for the Virago chronological read project, and All passion spent for the same group's monthly author read (Vita Sackville-West). January is going to be a busy reading month!

Jan 3, 3:48am Top

I'm going to be reading All Passion Spent as soon as I've finished Living On Paper as I have APS in the Virago Omnibus, which is a large hardback.

Jan 3, 5:04am Top

Started a re-read of Doris Lessing's Children of Violence series with Martha Quest.

Edited: Jan 3, 4:25pm Top

>59 Sakerfalcon: That's the danger of reading biographies. I've almost finished Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin, and now I'm forced to seek out her stuff I haven't read, which is most of it. I wanted We Have Always Lived In The Castle, but it's out now, instead I just got The Lottery and Other Stories because I haven't read any of her other stories. Apparently she was very misunderstood, and rather promoted herself as being all one thing or the other: Witch vs zany housewife and mother. It was difficult for people to understand that she could have written both The Haunting of Hill House and Life Among the Savages. The two most important adults in her life, her mother and her husband, were both severely critical of her. Her husband saw her as his cash cow who insisted on wasting her time doing other things, like writing letters to friends, instead of tying herself to her work typewriter and making them money. Her mother saw her as pretty much a failure as a traditional woman. She would have been happier without either of them, but her writing certainly did suffer from her suffering until the end.

Jan 4, 6:37am Top

>62 Citizenjoyce: I am so looking forward to the Shirley Jackson bio. It sounds as though you recommend it? I'm thankful that in the past few years Penguin have reprinted almost all her work in the UK; previously very little of it was available, which would have been hugely frustrating.

Jan 4, 3:46pm Top

I very much recommend it. I was searching for other stuff about her on the internet and found a site designed to help with homework. It said that Shirley Jackson was a horror writer but that she considered her primary goal in life to be a good wife and mother. I'm sure that would help in some classes in some areas of the country, but it's far, far from the mark. She was a very complex person which made for delightfully complex writing. It's hard to read a biography of most artists without thinking "if only." I wish she could have had more supportive people in her life, but she sure did a lot with what happiness and torment she had.

Jan 7, 2:51pm Top

Lots of my reading in the next few months will be from lists of the best books of 2016. Today Will Be Different is on many of those lists so even though I thought I wouldn't like it, I gave it a try. I shouldn't have bothered. Rich ditzy woman tries to save her marriage. Ugh. I disliked it on so many levels starting with her statement that all women, not just the ditzy character, don't like sex after they have children because their bodies are squishy, but they do it in order to hang on to their security providing husbands. An old trope that some people find amusing. I don't. I should have stopped there but made it through the whole thing.

Jan 7, 2:51pm Top

These are the lists I'm reading from:
Yahoo, found you early.
Challenge #3: Read a book from a list of best of or notable books of 2016, name the list
Here are some lists I found:
ABC: http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/gma-anchors-2016-book-picks-read-holiday-books/s...
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Books-of-the-Year-So-Far/b?ie=UTF8&node=3003015011
Association of New Zealand Book sellers: http://www.booksellers.co.nz/members/listener-top-100-books/nz-listener-top-100-...
The Atlantic (staffers read in 2016): https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/12/the-best-books-we-read-in-2016/511517/
The Awl: https://theawl.com/books-of-the-year-and-how-to-read-them-c2f3ab17d8d3#.l0noezm2j
Barnes and Noble NYTimes best sellers:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/b/the-new-york-times-bestsellers/_/N-1p3n
Bill Gates: http://time.com/4590348/bill-gates-best-books-of-2016/
Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-bloomberg-book-list/
Buzzfeed: https://www.buzzfeed.com/isaacfitzgerald/the-best-nonfiction-books-of-2016?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Books%201228&utm_content=Books%201228+CID_ef473c1800654822f4be32e8eb6f4b4c&utm_source=BuzzFeed%20Newsletters&utm_term=.ih8b2G3GE#.vcMxgzKzwHREF="http://host.com/web-address.html">
The Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/2016/1219/15-best-fiction-titles-of-2016/Swing-Ti...
The Economist: http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21711295-best-books-2016-are-about-...
Financial Times Best Books History: https://www.ft.com/content/6c126eae-b81e-11e6-ba85-95d1533d9a62
Elle: http://www.elle.com/culture/books/g28967/best-books-2016/
Financial Times
Best fiction: https://www.ft.com/content/ad99928c-b821-11e6-ba85-95d1533d9a62
best science books: https://www.ft.com/content/c2736eba-b81e-11e6-ba85-95d1533d9a62
The Guardian, best fiction: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/30/best-fiction-2016-paul-beatty-zadie-smith
Part 1: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/26/best-books-of-2016-part-one
Part 2: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/27/best-books-of-2016-part-two
History Today: http://time.com/4593602/best-history-books-2016/
Kirkus fiction: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/issue/best-of-2016/section/fiction/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=_cat%3Akirkusreviews.com&utm_campaign=DSA
Kirkus Nonfiction: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/issue/best-of-2016/section/nonfiction/
Military Times: http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/military-times-best-books-of-2016
Minnesota Public Radio: http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/12/07/books-best-fiction-of-the-year
NPR: http://apps.npr.org/best-books-2016/
NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/books/review/best-books.html?_r=0
NY Times best poetry: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/22/books/review/the-best-poetry-of-2016.html
NY Times: Best Books Read: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/21/books/review/whats-the-best-book-new-or-old-yo...
Powells Best Fiction: http://www.powells.com/post/lists/best-fiction-of-2016
Publisher’s Weekly: http://best-books.publishersweekly.com/pw/best-books/2016/top-10#book/book-1
Quartz: http://qz.com/869960/the-best-books-of-2016-list-you-get-when-you-combine-36-bes...
Reason: http://reason.com/archives/2016/12/22/the-best-of-2016/
Refinery: http://www.refinery29.com/2016/02/102382/best-books-2016#slide-1
Seattle Times: http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2016/12/05/best-books-2016-lisst/
Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Debuts of 2016 https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/12/27/top-ten-tuesday-top-ten-favorite-debuts-of-2016/
USA Todayt best selling: http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/best-selling/
Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/entertainment/2016-best-books/

Jan 7, 7:55pm Top

>65 Citizenjoyce:. Well, that's a shame. I got a good laugh out of her previous book Where'd You Go Bernadette?

And >66 Citizenjoyce:. Thanks for the lists. Like I need more books on my TBR pile! lol

Jan 7, 8:16pm Top

None of us needs a bigger TBR pile, yet it seems to keep growing.
I also liked Where'd You Go Bernadette?, so it was a double disappointment.

Jan 18, 8:55am Top

I'm having a non-fiction phase at the moment so am about to start Storm in a Teacup by bubble-physicist Helen Czerski, Jurassic Mary about the first paleontologist Mary Anning, and and old one I missed the first time round Eve Was Framed, a critique of the British legal system's treatment of women (it's from the '90's but I bet nothing much has changed!)

Jan 18, 6:48pm Top

>69 SChant: Both of those sound great.
For some reason I've been reading more books by guys lately, the latest: Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia by Peter Pomerantsev is great and the perfect companion to Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich. Best not to underestimate the determination of the Russian (Putin) government to control everything.
I've recently finished the little YA The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, a healthy look at witches, magic, tyranny and those who are different. Right now I'm reading, and am being amazed by, Shrill by Lindy West. She's one of those admirable people who can identify and articulate a problem that I can only see as a problem but not express why it is so bad. She takes on fat shaming and rape culture in a way that should have everyone nodding their heads in wondrous agreement then takes on the trolls who want to see her raped, mutilated and murdered for voicing her opinion. And she has reasonably expressed view of abortion. Highly recommended.

Jan 19, 5:40pm Top

Thanks >70 Citizenjoyce:. I made a note of Shrill. Looks good.

I was looking for a read to suitably mark tomorrow's inauguration. So I selected Mudbound from the teetering TBR pile. Seemed appropriate from what I can tell.

Jan 19, 7:53pm Top

>71 vwinsloe: It's a good book and seems quite appropriate.

Jan 20, 6:05am Top

>72 Citizenjoyce:. Thanks. That's what I'll be reading today. Tomorrow I march!

Jan 20, 10:20pm Top

Good for you. I guess you can't post here how it went, but please pm me.

Jan 29, 6:23pm Top

I just finished In The Darkroom by Susan Faludi. I almost put it down after the first two chapters because the main character, Faludi's dad is so completely narcissistic. I thought at first this book was just about his M-F sexual reassignment (at the age of 76), but it ends up being so much more. This is about a man who rejects one gender for another, who is completely dedicated to the idea of family yet rejects all his actual family members , who was born a Jew yet spent years listening to and loving Christian spiritual music and right wing Christian evangelical preachers and to top it off leaves the US to reestablish himself in Hungary, the most right-wing, antisemitic country in the European Union. He performed actual acts of heroism saving members of his family during the holocaust yet considered himself 100% Hungarian and defended the hard right government, making light of its blatant antisemitism.
She shows how before WWI Jews in Hungary were in perhaps the best position they were anywhere in the world, but after WWI they became scapegoats to the point that the Hungarian government pushed the Germans to persecute Jews even more than they were doing and to deport them more and faster. What is relevant to our political situation is that the hard right politicians who took over modern Hungary were vehemently anti-immigrant, to the extent of building border fences, they placed wording in the constitution affirming that life begins at conception, they blamed Jews for all the country's problems - and the more blatant they were in their oppression of the rights of all, the more popular they became. However, in response to declining world opinion, as a public relations stunt, they declared 2014 the year of Holocaust remembrance and erected a statue commemorating Hungary's occupation by Germany. It ended up being a replica of the archangel Michael being oppressed by Nazis, and when Jews tried to counter by showing broken eye glasses and suitcases of those who were deported to concentration camps, they removed the display.
While I'm at it let me state one interesting bit of antisemitism I learned. I've always heard of blood libel, but I could never figure out why it is that Jews would want to ingest the blood of gentiles. Then I learned that there is a theory of race and sexuality that says that Germans are a very masculine race while Jews are essentially feminine. The most masculine Jewish man could be mistaken for a woman. Being so effeminate, Jews are prone to reproductive weakness, also, since the death of Christ, Jewish men have menstruated. So Jews eat or drink the blood of gentiles or smear it on their and their children's bodies in order to improve their fertility. No idea is too crazy for people to believe if they are inspired enough by hate to do so.
Another interesting bit of information, she does quite a bit of research on M-F transsexualism and found that many of the early transsexuals decided to become females because they thought women have it so easy in the world. They can be completely dependent, other people will do all their hard work for them and everyone will treat them nicely. Does that sound like the world as we know it? Also, evidently among early transsexuals was a distaste for feminists because they thought only a woman who rejected femininity would become a feminist. Youch. Her father, though he had SRS in the 2000s at the age of 76 was a man of those earlier beliefs. He was a complex man of so many contradictory beliefs he portrayed the complex realities of this modern world where people so frequently have deep-seated ideas that don't fit with each other, or with reality.

Feb 9, 9:50am Top

I've got two books by women going right now.

I'm reading Half of a Yellow Sun and love the characters so far.

I'm listening to Rose Under Fire. I didn't realize that is was a sequel to Code Name Verity or I would have gotten to it sooner. The reader of these books is fantastic, and I think that listening has really increased my enjoyment of them.

Feb 9, 3:45pm Top

Reading My Life on the Road, a memoir by Gloria Steinem. Beautifully written! She talks about growing up in a family that spent most of its time traveling, her relationship with her parents and, then I don't know because I haven't finished reading it yet. I am really enjoying it though.

Mar 20, 10:41am Top

I've read a couple of fantasies lately, although I generally find that genre less appealing than science fiction. The Goblin Emperor took me by surprise, and I liked it quite a bit. Other than the imagined world peopled by "elves" and "goblins" and a couple of magic spells, there was little of the usual hallmarks of fantasy about it. It was a well thought out story of palace intrigue with an extremely likeable protagonist who has a strong character and story arc. There is a reason that this book was high up the LT best reads list in 2015 and 2016.

The second fantasy was A Stranger in Olondria that I didn't get on with much at all. I thought that it would be a short, quick read, but it was bogged down by so much insipid landscape description that I ended up skimming the last third of the book. The writing was lovely, but the plot and characters seemed shallow, even though the theme of books as a metaphor for the soul and for memories was one that should have resonated with me. Oh well, I don't have much patience these days.

In between the two, I read Fates and Furies which was better and worse than I expected. The first half, which was told from the point of view of the husband, was boring, overwrought, and hard to get through. I really liked the second half, from the point of view of the wife. I thought that the story and the character were interesting and original, although a little over the top.

I've just started A Little Life which is another favorite from the LT annual best lists. I seem to be moving right along with it, so I expect that I will enjoy it as much as others did.

Mar 20, 12:59pm Top

I've just finished the excellent biography of Shirley Jackson A rather haunted life. This was a detailed study of her life, works and the lives of those around her, giving us a complete portrait of her and her world. It also gives an insight into the conflict for women between work and family, something which is sadly still relevant today. If Jackson and her work interest you, I highly recommend this book.

I've been reading novels by Edith Wharton for this month's Virago author read. Twilight sleep was an amusing satire of 1920s New York among the bored upper classes. Hudson River Bracketed and The gods arrive formed a compelling but flawed "portrait of the artist as a young man", showing the price which a man's genius extracts from those around him. I've now started reading Herminione Lee's biography of Wharton.

And I've just started Americanah, having been to hear Adichie speak last weekend.

Mar 20, 3:00pm Top

I'm reading a lovely novel by Elizabeth Fair, Seaview House, republished by Dean Street Press.

Mar 23, 1:37am Top

>78 vwinsloe: I also generally prefer science fiction to fantasy and am always pleasantly surprised to find a fantasy that works for me. I just read Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen which is a fantasy set in the old west. I love westerns so couldn't resist, and it turned out as good as I'd hoped. Mostly it's about self-discovery and acceptance of complicated creatures with plenty of adventure and strong women characters.
Ugh, "insipid landscape description" It's hard for me to get through such a book, so I think I'll be avoiding A Stranger in Olondria.
I don't think I liked Fates and Furies as much as many. The husband's account soured me for the whole book, though the woman's was much better.
>79 Sakerfalcon: "showing the price which a man's genius extracts from those around him." Always amazing for me to find this.

Mar 24, 2:33pm Top

>81 Citizenjoyce:. I've put Wake of Vultures on my wish list, thanks.

About halfway through A Little Life now and can't help but wonder why all the protagonists are all men. I had the same question about The Goldfinch, and, in an interview, Donna Tartt said that she didn't want readers wondering who was going to marry whom in the end (or something of that ilk.) I wonder whether Hanya Yanagihara has the same concern.

Mar 24, 3:30pm Top

>82 vwinsloe:

wow that feels like such a cop-out. i haven't read either the goldfinch or that interview, but my reflexive reaction to that statement (that she didn't want readers wondering who was going to marry whom in the end) is to then write a book where the readers are thinking about other things because of what you're writing about. makes me even less inclined to read that book. (and a little life, too, which i've been on the fence about, if it has no female characters to speak of.)

Edited: Mar 24, 5:45pm Top

>82 vwinsloe:, >83 elisa.saphier:. I've been on the fence about A little Life since it started getting such good reviews. You're not moving it up my tbr list.
Another one I was on the fence about was Human Acts. I finally gave in and read it. It's a very good exploration of the lives of people who have been tortured. The problem is that the torture is described in minute, repetitive detail. I wish I hadn't read it. In spite of the good analysis of the lives of these people, I don't think it's worth it to be confronted in a graphic way with such horror.
Sometimes that fence is there for a reason.

Mar 25, 9:17am Top

>83 elisa.saphier: Here's a link to the Donna Tartt interview http://www.salon.com/2013/10/22/donna_tartt_the_fun_thing_about_writing_a_book_i...

Tartt did not speak quite as bluntly as I implied, and she was asked leading questions by the interviewer. But still.

I am only half way through A Little Life and don't want to do too much research because of the inevitable spoilers. I just couldn't help but see the similarity between two very big, highly regarded books by women that are almost exclusively about men. When I found A Little Life on a library sales cart, I wasn't even conscious of the fact that the author was a woman. Then I saw that she was, but a couple of hundred pages in, I checked her gender again in disbelief.

I will think about it more when I am done with the book, but I guess the thing that I find myself more aware of now is that "representation matters." We read books written by women here, but I can't help but wonder whether it is even more important to read books about women. Regardless of the author's gender, books about women without "the marriage plot" are important. It is disheartening when talented women authors choose to write about men in order to be taken seriously, or to sell books, or more basically, I suppose, to get published at all.

Edited: Mar 25, 6:30pm Top

>85 vwinsloe: "but I can't help but wonder whether it is even more important to read books about women. Regardless of the author's gender, books about women without "the marriage plot" are important."
Exactly. I just finished The Nix a book by a man about a distressed male teacher/author and his mother. Nearly equal time for each and both genders are fully fleshed out. Now, that's a satisfying read.

Mar 25, 7:23pm Top

>85 vwinsloe: thanks for that. it read not nearly as annoying as i thought it would. you're right, the interviewer was very leading, and really said more about it than tartt did. i still have no interest in reading the goldfinch, though.

and a resounding yes to reading books about women, specifically by women.

Mar 28, 10:12am Top

I enjoyed Redefining Realness My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock. I'd like to read more by transgender women if anyone has recommendations!

Mar 28, 10:18am Top

I've just started reading The tidal zone by Sarah Moss. It is excellent so far.

Mar 28, 10:50am Top

>88 fikustree:

are you looking for ore memoirs like mock's or fiction? there's a good bit being put out now, but still mostly nonfiction, i feel like.

Mar 29, 9:55am Top

Either way!

Mar 29, 10:15am Top

The Road Through the Wall, in prep for reading Ruth Franklin's recent Shirley Jackson biography. Not bad, but there are so many characters in it that they get hard to keep track of; and it's the neighborhood that's the real protagonist, not the characters, which makes it a bit confusing. Worth a reread, though, now that I have a sense of what's going on.

Also, the ending seemed a bit contrived; but again, if I knew the characters better, it might make more sense.

3*** but pending an eventual reread.

Mar 29, 2:57pm Top

>91 fikustree:, >93 Citizenjoyce:

i wouldn't include most of the books on that list (but haven't read most of them so could be wrong) because i was thinking you were looking for more central stories of trans people. (so like tipping the velvet is fantastic, but i wouldn't consider any of the characters to be trans and even if you did, it's not really a part of the story that matters much. if that makes sense.)

i'd second whipping girl, becoming nicole, and would add books by kate bornstein, rachel gold, jennifer finney boylan. plus nevada, a safe girl to love, the collection: stories from the transgender vanguard (not just trans women) as a place to start.

Edited: Mar 30, 6:25am Top

>88 fikustree:. My only contribution is a book of essays by Amy Bloom entitled "Normal." I love her.

Edited to add: the first novel that I am aware of was Southern Discomfort published back in the early eighties. Great characters in that one.

Edited: Mar 29, 8:00pm Top

>88 fikustree: >93 Citizenjoyce: Has anyone yet mentioned Les Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues? (It's been ages since I read it.) Les also wrote a subsequent novel Drag King Dreams, which I've never read but have around somewhere. Les also wrote some non-fiction like Transgender Warriors and Trans Liberation which might be of interest.

In young adult fiction, there's Luna by Julie Ann Peters (not herself trans). Luna is described by Wikipedia as "the first young-adult novel with a transgender character to be released by a mainstream publisher, which occurred in 2004." I've read some of her books, but it's been quite a while and I'm not sure Luna is among them.

ETA: There's also Crossing: A Memoir by Deirdre McCloskey, which I don't at all care for but which I mention because ... well, because I don't care for it. McCloskey is an economics professor at the University of Chicago and Crossing might be seen by some readers as offensive for some of its (unintended but insensitive) expressions of white privilege.

Edited: Mar 30, 8:10am Top

I finished A Little Life and have started investigating the question of why the author did not write about women. I found a few clues in this interview:


“The idea of institutionalised abuse inflicted on lost boys by figures of trust is very much the nightmarish mythology of our times. Was she drawn to the broader story for some of those reasons?

“Not really. I am not that interested in abuse really. But what I am interested in as a writer is the long-term effect it has, particularly in men. I think women grow up almost prepared for it in a way. Boys still don’t and it happens to a great many of them. It takes away their sense of masculinity. And of course they are not equipped or encouraged to talk about it. It causes terrible psychic harm. I look at my friends who have experienced this, and these are people who are therapised and can discuss anything but they cannot go near this.”

“She said earlier, I say, that every woman grows up almost prepared for abuse. Was that her experience?
She doesn’t answer directly. 'What I will say is that every female I know has had some sort of experience which is not necessarily violence, but an awareness of being made to be a sexual being before you are ready to be a sexual being,” she says. “I think everyone is at least keenly aware of the likelihood of that...'”

From a Newsweek article:


"Both of Yanagihara’s novels lack convincing female characters, Life especially. This was intentional. Yanagihara, who neither has a family nor desires one, says she wanted to explore the notion that 'men are offered a much, much smaller emotional vocabulary to work with.' Women’s emotions were more plentiful and familiar, and hence less alluring for a novelist who has no use for well-trod paths; she wanted, instead, to wend through the humid, lightless crawl spaces of the male mind. How does that limited vocabulary deal with the worst psychic shocks? How does one make it out of the attic? 'Are there sorts of damage that are impossible to come back from?'"
I don't know what to think about those quotes, but my immediate reaction is to shake my head and say sarcastically, "Poor men. Boo hoo."

A Little Life is beautifully written; I just question whether there is anything of inherent value to be gained from reading it.

I think I need to read some more Emma Donoghue to contrast.

Mar 30, 12:01pm Top

Thanks y'all for the recommendations. I'm reading bell hook's The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love so I guess I've got gender on my mind.
vwinsloe, this book is very much about what Yanagihara is talking about. Because of patriarchy men are socialized to never express any of their emotions except through anger and violence. She makes some compelling arguments that go really well with both A Little Life and The People in the Trees. They could be read side by side!

Mar 30, 2:34pm Top

>98 fikustree:. Thanks, I'll look at it. I understand that the flip side of feminism is the toxicity of masculine societal norms, but if it was Yanagihara's aim to elucidate that, I don't think that she hit her mark.

Her characters were mostly gay men, who didn't appear to suffer from self-doubt or even discrimination in any way. Even those men who were questioning, did not seem particularly anguished by it. I really don't see how societal expectations of masculinity affected them at all.

In A Little Life, Yanagihara also made some repeatedly disparaging comments about lesbians that made me think that she has some issues of her own. Or maybe I just found that so offensive that I was put off the whole book? I don't know.

Mar 30, 5:35pm Top

I think it's likely that she was at least close to some form of sexual abuse since both books have that as a huge theme.

I think even if you are a gay man you can still struggle with toxic masculinity, maybe even moreso. In Redefining Realness Janet talks about it a lot, being taunted for not having the dominating male characteristics as a child in school, getting shit from her dad for not manning up or being good at sports etc. And then that led to her being sexually abused as a child both by a trusted older boy and later as a sex worker which was similar to the main character in A Little Life (although it's been a while since I read it). It seems like a common thread for LGBTQ little boys, to not live up to the masculine standards and then getting attacked with (mental, physical, emotional, and sexual) abuse for being too girly. The main character in A Little Life can't process what happened to him and he can't react in any way other than violence turned in on himself because he was conditioned from the get go to never show any emotion even when he connects with the perfect good guy both in his partner and in his mentor/father figure.

I'm sorry you didn't like the book! I am so surprised that it was so popular with both it's length and subject matter, it was a tough slog. There are a lot of problematic aspects of the characters with the other three really falling off in the narrative as the story went on. I liked her other book The People in the Trees so much more even though it was just brutal for me to read. In that one she writes from the perspective of someone that highly regards highly regards himself as a scientist but is really this awful evil man and then it's edited by a person that adores him so I think the toxic masculinity idea comes through a little better.

Mar 31, 12:40am Top

>100 fikustree: My requested copy of The People in the Trees just came in. All I knew was that it's about anthropology. A clear view of toxic masculinity - that doesn't sound like something I want to read right now. Thanks for the heads up.

Mar 31, 1:18am Top

I finished Laura Bates' Girl Up this week, which I wish I'd had by me when I was 16. Amazing book. I haven't tweaked my review for this site yet, so hope it's OK linking to my blog post on it https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/book-review-and-competition-time-laura-bates-girl-up/

Mar 31, 5:16am Top

>102 LyzzyBee: This sounds like a book that every teenage girl should read. Great review as usual!

Mar 31, 6:08am Top

>100 fikustree:. I agree with all that you said about gay men and toxic masculinity, I just don't think that was what A Little Life depicted at all. What you say is true about the main character's inability to process his abuse, largely because of what he perceived as his own voluntary complicity. But otherwise, I found it inauthentic.

I really liked the writing though, and that is what kept me going through the 800+ pages. I think that I would read The People in the Trees if it crossed my path, but I won't go looking for it.

Edited: Mar 31, 10:56am Top

>101 Citizenjoyce: >104 vwinsloe: I had a hard time with it but I think it's a fabulous book, give it a chance someday when you are feeling it! I thought it was more interesting than A little life.

Now I'm on to The Dead Ladies Project: Exiles, Expats, and Ex-Countries which I think I should have saved for the next time I'm super depressed.

Mar 31, 12:37pm Top

>102 LyzzyBee: Thank you, it's brilliant and I really want to buy copies and just push them into the hands of all teenage girls!

Apr 2, 3:16pm Top

>102 LyzzyBee: Great review. I'd love to give it to my niece, but she's Mormon, and I don't think it would go over well.
>105 fikustree: I don't like being around or even reading about people who can't control their anger and damagingly aggressive impulses. To me, being able to control your anger is the lowest bar of humanity. If you can't achieve that, then there's not much else I want to learn from you.

Apr 3, 3:00am Top

>107 Citizenjoyce: That's a real shame, because she will need to be going out into the world and encountering this stuff, and the more you're kept innocent, the worse it can be (ask me how I know!). Could you keep a copy at your house for her to refer to?

Apr 3, 3:36am Top

>107 Citizenjoyce: She is, well I don't want to say brainwashed, I'll call it well educated in what is right and proper, and I think the sexual references would offend her. I'm sure she'll go to BYU, and we know their track record on sexual assault, so, yeah, probably I should get a copy for her to refer to when she needs it.

Edited: Apr 8, 1:02am Top

I finished a few books recently, the best of which was The Practice House by Laura McNeal about a Scottish woman who comes to the US with her sister who is converted by Mormon missionaries (I would have liked to hear a little more about that) and goes to dust bowl Kansas to board with a family of farmers and work in a little small town school. I learned once again about the horrors of the dust bowl and also about the things women do to each other when they have few options and the difficulties of just getting through this world. It was interesting and emotionally engaging.
I also read a book I got free on Kindle, A Consummation: Exclusive Author's Cut (bundle) (Sins of Lethe Book 1) by Arden Aoide which was listed as a kind of Handmaid's Tale but is a very, very erotic feminist dystopia. I don't usually read such things, It's quite titillating.
Company of Liars by Karen Maitland is historical fiction about the Middle Ages and the Black Death. 4.5* from me.
The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood another feminist dystopia, but this one is very good about a woman's prison in Australia where women who have sexually transgressed (or been transgressed against) have been sent. The women are all interesting, the men are too, though a little more stereotyped. If you get a chance, this is the one to read.
The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier is about women and racism in 19th century US. I love everything she writes, this is no exception.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers is a clever feminist space opera. There's the usual star wars type group of spacers, interesting planets and interactions, relationships and forced relationships. 4.5* again from me.
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig light fun, pirates and time travel.
Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher her usual snarky, sarcastic, humorous and insightful autobiography. She thinks electroconvulsive therapy was quite helpful for her in spite of the loss of memory. I was strange to hear her talk so much about death.
and lastly The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama by Gwen Ifill. How I miss her, we so need her reporting now. The book is about race relations and also about intergenerational power broking. All in all, it didn't give me a lot of hope. The new generation comes off as less ideological and much more willing to make deals that benefit them personally financially rather than benefitting humanity in general.
So, there, I'm up to date. Right now I'm listening to Courage To Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance by Simone Biles. I didn't realize it was published by Zondervan so there's unfortunately way too much christian religion with not enough gymnastics, but I'll stick with it.
I'm also listening to Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng for my RL book club. I thought I'd already read it, but I was wrong. It's a parental take on the golden rule, which is not always the way to raise your child.

Apr 8, 7:19am Top

>110 Citizenjoyce:. Wow, quite an info dump! As usual, thank you. There are a quite a few that you mentioned that are going directly on to my list of books to be acquired.

Regarding Shockaholic, I have an old friend who has been undergoing ECT for the past couple of years, and he, too, has found it helpful. He is definitely more stable than he has been in years. I hope that it lasts. Strange how a treatment that was so maligned in the past is now being shown to be so effective. Still sounds barbaric, but so do many other treatments, I guess.

I read Everything I Never Told You a few years back. It didn't resonate with me, maybe because I am not a mother. But it seemed somehow meanspirited. My mother liked it; so what do I know!

Apr 8, 4:00pm Top

>111 vwinsloe: Fisher mentions having seen One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, as I did, and Kesey's take on ECT. It's that sort of idea that has guided mine in relation to ECT; however, she makes depression sound rather unpleasant too (not as bad as many books I've read, she is a humorist after all), so, you have to balance one against the other, in her case ECT comes out way ahead.
Hm, meanspirited. I don't see it that way. It does show these people who think they are being good parents as completely self-involved so unable to see their daughter as a person separate from themselves, or their other children at all. Humans are such defective creatures. How'd we come out on top?

Apr 9, 6:02am Top

>112 Citizenjoyce: I guess I inferred that Everything I Never Told You was sort of a rebuttal to Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the controversial book by an Asian woman that had been so much in the news. These days parents seem to be fair game for public criticism, and it seems as though they cannot do anything right no matter what they do.

I just started listening to Negroland: A Memoir and am finding it interesting so far.

Edited: Apr 9, 5:05pm Top

>113 vwinsloe: I haven't read the Tiger Mother book, but from what I've heard of it, Ng's book does seem to be a rebuttal. I hadn't thought of that.

Apr 14, 10:20am Top

Just started The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley. It's about the last few decades of the Norwegian colony on Greenland founded by Eric The Red. A couple of years ago I read Collapse: How societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond which included an analysis of these events so it will be interesting to see a fictional account.

Edited: Apr 14, 3:44pm Top

>115 SChant: I love Jared Diamond and I love Jane Smiley, but 608 pages, and my library doesn't have it on audio. I'm so spoiled by listening to long books, I don't think I have the energy or concentration to read one with my eyes now.

Edited: Apr 16, 2:25am Top

Speaking of reading with one's eyes, I just read some of J. K. Rowling's short stories. The little collection, Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists has a story and analysis of Dolores Umbrage. Of course I always thought she was an unlikeable character, but Rowlings really hates her. She thinks, as far as evil is concerned, she is the equal of Voldemort. This seemed such a surprise to me, but then when I think of some of the sweetly lying politicians I've seen like Phyllis Schlafly or Jeffrey Lord I understand. Their apparent likableness makes their maliciousness more effective than it would have been if shown at face value and decimates our faith in our ability to judge character correctly. I've read that there's a religion around Harry Potter, and I can see why. Rowlings has so much to say about so many things in a way that people relate to without consciously realizing its importance.

Apr 15, 4:08am Top

>116 Citizenjoyce: Yes, it's not a "light" read :)

Apr 21, 4:51am Top

Just started Hidden Figures about black women mathematicians working for NASA in the 1950's and '60's. The film was an entertaining but light "feelgood" movie; I was hoping for a bit more depth from the book, but so far the style is very similar.

Edited: Apr 21, 4:18pm Top

I just finished Cinder and found it delightful. Given that it is a few years old, it has a somewhat prescient take on immigration, particularly of refugees. I don't own any of the rest of The Lunar Chronicles series. Has anyone read any of them? Are they as good?

I am listening to Negroland: A Memoir narrated by Robin Miles, whom I immediately recognized from her narration of The Warmth of Other Suns. She is a brilliant reader, and I intend to seek out more of her work. This memoir about the upper strata of African-American society in the USA is fascinating. I am extremely encouraged by the proliferation black voices relating their experiences in a way that is accessible to all those who are willing to listen. While many may not want to hear what they have to say, the increased understanding of readers will undoubtedly convey the authors' voices into the larger social consciousness.

Apr 21, 4:38pm Top

>120 vwinsloe: I read Cinder and loved it, but I thought that each successive book was worse.
>119 SChant: I found Hidden Figures to be not nearly the "feel good" story the movie was and much more reliably historical.
I just finished Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and found it to be fascinating. I loved Seinfeld when it was on but how no idea how influential it was. That Larry David, I swear, could anyone be more of a pessimist?
I also read Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond by Sonia Shah. Of course, it's frightening, but also reassuring in the ways diseases cannot be passed on. Judging by the way Aaron Burr and company handled the water system in New York, it's amazing the city still exists. It also seems that you can be safe from getting ebola if you can just avoid touching dead people. And keeping pigs in close contact with fowl is a very dangerous idea.

Apr 23, 9:07am Top

>121 Citizenjoyce:. Good to know. Thanks. So many books, so little time.

Apr 26, 9:04am Top

>123 Citizenjoyce: Thanks for sharing. Jackson was such an interesting person.

I've read The tidal zone by Sarah Moss, which was an excellent read and a look at how vulnerable we are even when we think life is most secure.

Over in the Virago group it's Elizabeth von Arnim month and I've read Christopher and Columbus - a not terribly funny comic novel - Vera - a chilling look at the power imbalance in a marriage between an older man and a naïve girl - and Mr Skeffington - a poignant look at aging from the point of view of a woman who has always relied on her looks. I'm currently enjoying Fraulein Schmidt and Mr Anstruther, which tells of the up and down relationship between the titular characters.

Edited: Apr 27, 4:05am Top

>124 Sakerfalcon: The only thing I've read by Elizabeth von Arnim is The Enchanted April. I loved it, and I loved the movie made of it. How do the others compare?

Apr 27, 6:00am Top

>125 Citizenjoyce: I've found her books to be different enough from each other that I've had no difficulty reading so many by her this month. Vera is extremely powerful and very dark, so totally the opposite of April. I thought Christopher and Columbus was weak, with flat characters and a plot that really only needed 2/3 of the pages in this long book. It's supposed to be a satire on anti-German sentiment during WWI, but for me it failed. Mr Skeffington portrays a woman who, while she doesn't see other women as rivals, still values male attention over female friendship - although the loss of her looks causes her to question the life she has led and the values it was based on. So again, very different from EA, but a thoughtful read. Fraulein Schmidt has a very charming and strong-minded heroine, who narrates the novel through her letters to Anstruther. She loves her father, is loyal to her friends and refuses to say or do what people expect from her, if that is not what she wants. She is probably the character out of all the above books who is as likeable as the women in EA.

And I've just started The caravaners, which is the story of a German couple who go on holiday to England, narrated by the stiff, patriarchal husband who is horrified when his wife shows signs of not being as meek and submissive as he thought. This is a humorous novel which pokes fun at all the narrator holds dear.

Apr 28, 2:37am Top

The Caravaners sounds good.
I just finished Sport of Kings which was nominated for a Booker prize probably because it's a pretty good book written by a woman with feminists leanings, but - women are the heart of the book and most of the action centers around men. C. E. Morgan could easily have been any man writing an overly long novel.

May 8, 4:53am Top

Reading Remember, Remember: The Selected Stories of Winifred Holtby. I enjoy her novels and non-fiction so am looking forward to the short works.

May 19, 4:20am Top

Reading The Eye of the Heron, and oldie by Ursula Le Guin.

May 19, 3:04pm Top

I finished When She Woke and We Should All Be Feminists both of which were balms for the anxiety caused by watching the news these days.

I've started Scribbling the Cat. I am a fan of African memoirs and loved the others that I read by Fuller.

Edited: May 21, 3:04am Top

I just began, and abandoned, How To Win At Feminism by Reductress. I think Reductress is a magazine or an online magazine. Anyway, I spent very little time with them. So very cutsey.
>131I gave Scribbling the Cat 5 stars, love her.
>130 SChant: I keep planning to read more Ursula Le Guin and then not doing it. One of these days. I have Rocannon's World on queue to reread the whole Hainish cycle because I've only read 2 of the books.

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