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jfetting's 100 books in 2017

100 Books in 2017 Challenge

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1jfetting
Jan 1, 2:06pm Top

Last year I failed miserably in this challenge (57 books) after several years of 100+, so this year I'm really for real going to read 100 books.

Specific goals:
1) 20% nonfiction
2) 20% books off the 1001 books to read before you die combined list
3) 20% books off my shelf

Wish me luck!

2rainpebble
Jan 1, 3:06pm Top

The best of luck to ye, Dr. Jennifer.
:-)

3Eyejaybee
Jan 1, 3:06pm Top

Good luck! All the best for 2017.

I think i shall steal your goal of reading 20% nonfiction. i am always conscious that I don't read enough non fiction.

4jfetting
Jan 1, 5:29pm Top

I keep adding nonfiction books to my TBR list, and then not reading them. I'm hoping to change that this year.

5bryanoz
Jan 2, 6:34pm Top

Happy 2017 jfetting !

6jfetting
Jan 3, 7:54pm Top

#1 The Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Christopher Hayes ****

Hayes argues that while meritocracy (that the ruling class is composed of the best/brightest/smartest/wisest etc, regardless of class or caste) is a great idea in theory, in practice it results in a hypercompetitive world in which the elites (usually wealthy) rig the system so that the best/brightest/smartest/etc in lower economic brackets do not, in fact, have access to the same education, opportunities, and power as the idiot children of the wealthy (I am paraphrasing). His solution is activism. He does not leave me optimistic. It is a disheartening time.

Published in 2012, Hayes seems to have almost predicted the current political climate in the US and the results of the 2016 election (not specifically Trump, but someone like Trump, and the anger against people like Clinton). To me, the most interesting quote is the following:

"This means that we are cursed with an overclass convinced that it is composed of scrappy underdogs, individuals who are obsessed with the relative disadvantages they may have faced rather than the privilege they enjoyed."

Fact, although I would argue that many, many people in many, many classes are also convinced that they are scrappy underdogs who are obsessed with the relative disadvantages they may have faced, while ignoring their privilege.

7jfetting
Edited: Jan 6, 7:18pm Top

Two short ones in succession:
#2 Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry ***** (and the second NF book!) (and a re-read)

I've read it before, but this time I work in an environment where this stuff actually matters (it matters in a lab, too, but not to the same extent as in an office building). Everyone can work to improve their emotional intelligence, and this book give lots of helpful tips. I would love to buy it for various people, but that would probably not be taken well.

#3 The Prophet by Khalil Gibran *****

Not sure how I've never managed to read this one. I've seen bits of it before (the section on the children is the one with the 'your children are not yours - they are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself' bit). The whole thing is lovely.

8mabith
Jan 6, 4:05pm Top

Excited to follow your reading again! I've also somehow only read excerpts of The Prophet as well. Need to remedy that this year.

9ronincats
Jan 6, 7:47pm Top

I read The Prophet in college--may still have a copy tucked away somewhere, although it's not in my catalog. It was all the rage in the late 60s on college campuses.

I'm really trying to concentrate on my own books this year, after only reading 8 off my own shelves last year while adding 32 unread books ( I did read 52 of the 84 books acquired.). I've set a goal of 50. I read 15 nonfiction last year which is pretty par for the course.

10jfetting
Jan 7, 10:08am Top

I can see how The Prophet was big in the late 60s - it was originally recommended to me by soe lovely former-hippie friends.

I've been really bad in recent years about acquiring books and then reading things from the library. Nothing wrong with libraries, obviously, but I do need to do something about my own books. Even though I've been in Chicago now for a little over 9 months, I still don't have a library card, so I'm actually making a dent in the physical, on-my-shelf TBR pile. Of course, this means I'm not reading the new books that people are talking about.

11jfetting
Jan 7, 6:28pm Top

#4 Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome ***** (off the shelf #2)

This is an absolutely hilarious book. After a couple of chapters I had to go look up when this book was written because the humor is still so fresh and not at all dated. Turns out it is from the 1880s or 1860s or something, which blew my mind. One of the funniest books I have ever read. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

My copy is a lovely Folio Society edition with great cartoon-y illustrations and beautiful, soft, shiny paper. Also highly recommended, if you can get your hands on a copy.

12ronincats
Jan 7, 9:43pm Top

I strongly suggest you go find a copy of To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis and read it before Three Men in a Boat fades from memory!!!

13jfetting
Jan 8, 10:04am Top

Added to the wishlist. So it's a time travel book? Does someone time travel and meet up with Jerome et al?

Also, thank you for enabling me to go acquire a new book (even if it is through the library)!

14ronincats
Jan 8, 12:31pm Top

>13 jfetting: Do you really want me to answer that question? ;-)

15mabith
Jan 8, 11:12pm Top

Seconding reading To Say Nothing of the Dog soon. I also loved Three Men in a Boat, and Willis is the best.

16jfetting
Jan 9, 8:35pm Top

>14 ronincats: Probably not!

17jfetting
Jan 16, 6:01pm Top

#5 In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin ***

Nonfiction book #3 was a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping for more about the landscape and the geology and the fossils; instead, it was a series of vignettes about various sheep farmers and former Nazis, combined with some stories about Darwin and Butch Cassidy (separate, not together). While Chatwin was significantly less cranky than Paul Theroux, he was also less entertaining than Theroux. I'm not sure if I was in the wrong mood, or if this genre is just not for me.

I picked this up b/c I've seen many, many beautiful photos from people who have gone hiking in Patagonia, and I badly want to go there myself, but it didn't work for me.

18Eyejaybee
Jan 16, 6:17pm Top

>11 jfetting: I really enjoyed Three Men on the Bummel, too, which sees the same group travelling around Europe. As with Three Men in a Boat, the humour still works just as well today.

19jfetting
Jan 19, 8:04am Top

I'll add that to the TBR pile too. Thanks!

#6 March, book one by John Lewis *****

I've never read a graphic novel-type book before. I've always dismissed them as comic books, and not worth my time (although I would say things like "Oh, I should read Maus" every once in awhile). But I was wrong - it's a much better style than I'd expected. It works really well for a memoir, especially of a life as eventful and full of action and historical events as John Lewis's. He is a national treasure, and the book is great.

20jfetting
Jan 20, 7:18pm Top

#7 March, book two by John Lewis and #8 March: book three by John Lewis both *****

This trilogy was wonderful. I have a newfound respect for the graphic novel. It's a great genre for this story, and makes the events Lewis described come alive. Which makes this a pretty emotional book, given the number of times he or other people are beaten until they black out. The whole trilogy is told alternating between Lewis's life and Obama's Inauguration Day, and I cried multiple times. Especially reading it today.

21ronincats
Jan 20, 8:13pm Top

>19 jfetting:, >20 jfetting: I have heard so many wonderful things about this trilogy. I'm also not into graphic novels, but I will make an exception for this.

22jfetting
Jan 22, 10:19am Top

#9 Tooth and Nail by Ian Rankin ****

This was a dark one, but still a great read. Inspector Rebus gets sent to London to help find a serial killer; Rankin throws in a lot of hints that made me think I knew who the murderer was, but that turned out to be misleading. I enjoyed it very much.

23jfetting
Jan 22, 10:24am Top

#10 Evening by Susan Minot **1/2 (off the shelf #3)

Meh. A wealthy, dying woman continually flashes back on her deathbed to a weekend she spent at a wedding in Maine. Despite her 3 husbands and her giant piles of money, she has apparently been unable to get over an engaged dude she banged that weekend. Epic true love.

24LheaJLove
Jan 26, 10:21pm Top

Whew! I love the books you read. I might have to grab a couple for myself...

25wookiebender
Feb 2, 10:23pm Top

Oh, I'm glad that John Lewis's March got your thumbs up. Will have to check it out, I heard all about it earlier this year. (Tumultuous and nerve wracking times!)

Also, I did love Three Men in a Boat and To Say Nothing of the Dog.

Good luck with your 2017 reading, but looks like you're off to a great start. :)

26jfetting
Edited: Feb 5, 5:43pm Top

#11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16
Griffin and Sabine, Sabine's Notebook, The Golden Mean, The Gryphon, Alexandria, The Morning Star all ****
Morning Star = book off the shelf #4

I have been quite sick lately, on day 14 of one of the worst colds I have ever had. I haven't had much attention for reading, so today (feeling a bit better) I made my way through some of these old favorites. All but The Morning Star are re-reads. I'm not entirely certain what on earth is going on with these, especially the last 3, but I enjoy the pretty pictures and the interactive nature of the series (just love reading other people's mail!). I wish people sent me beautiful postcards from all over the world, and letters on homemade paper.

27pamelad
Feb 5, 5:54pm Top

>23 jfetting: Great review! Thanks for the warning.

28jfetting
Feb 5, 6:40pm Top

>27 pamelad: you're welcome!

#17 Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl ***** (re-read)

If you haven't read it, you should.

29nrmay
Edited: Feb 5, 7:07pm Top

Good news! You can have beautiful postcards from all over the world.

Check out www.postcrossing.com

I've been sending and receiving postcards and little messages of friendship for over a year now.

Another LT member turned me on to it.

30jfetting
Feb 5, 7:15pm Top

>29 nrmay: REALLY?!?!?! This is the best news.

31jfetting
Feb 5, 7:37pm Top

>29 nrmay: I've just signed up. I'm so excited to know that this exists!!

32nrmay
Feb 6, 1:38pm Top

I'm so happy you decided to try postcrossing!
You can see my profile. I'm nrmay on that site too.

Since Christmas of 2015 I've received 246 cards from all over. I've exchanged notes and letters; received invitations to visit; and sent and received stamps, coins, momentos and books. I even met one of my postcrossing friends. She's an artist in Oakland CA.

I sent a card to Switzerland today!

33mabith
Feb 6, 5:35pm Top

Postcrossing is lots of fun. I haven't done it for a while since I have enough regular overseas postcard pals that I really didn't have the money for Postcrossing, or not more than one or so a month which seemed pointless.

re Griffin & Sabine, I don't recommend the new volume which takes place after The Golden Mean and before The Gryphon. It covers Griffin and Sabine getting to Alexandria and just felt sort of unnecessary (plus you're in a new country for a week and manage to get overseas mail there? I know it's a fantasy series, but it is basically set in our reality...). So much tactile pleasure in those books though.

34wookiebender
Feb 7, 10:54pm Top

Friends of mine named their cats Griffin and Sabine. :)

Postcrossing looks fun, I was quite an avid Bookcrosser (http://www.bookcrossing.com/) when I had the time.

35jfetting
Feb 14, 8:28pm Top

#18 Morning Star by Pierce Brown *.5

This trilogy started out relatively well and then turned into torture porn. I skimmed/hate read this book, and seriously considered googling the outcome so that I could stop reading about beatings.

36ronincats
Feb 14, 11:14pm Top

>35 jfetting: You are making me glad that I resisted getting started on this series, as torture porn is something I simply cannot abide!

37jfetting
Feb 15, 7:17pm Top

>36 ronincats: Torture porn may be a bit of an exaggeration, but they are extremely violent and have very little plot.

38wookiebender
Feb 15, 10:21pm Top

I do love the description "hate read", although I feel your pain. (Why do we insist on finishing books that are horrible? Unless we have to for study, we really should be nicer to ourselves.)

39ronincats
Feb 16, 11:09pm Top

>37 jfetting: Somehow, you just aren't selling me on these books, Jenn.

40pamelad
Feb 26, 2:54am Top

>28 jfetting: Took your advice and read Man's Search for Meaning. Thank you.

41jfetting
Feb 27, 8:51pm Top

>40 pamelad: It's pretty amazing, right?

42jfetting
Mar 5, 9:33pm Top

#19 Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman *****

I love his short stories. These are great - the collection may actually be as good as Fragile Things, and that is saying something.

43pamelad
Mar 11, 1:30am Top

>41 jfetting: Yes it is. I've lent it to a friend, and foresee recommending it to all and sundry.

44jfetting
Edited: Mar 14, 7:24pm Top

#20 Victoria: A Life by A.N. Wilson **** (nonfiction #5)

I've been watching Victoria on PBS lately, and quite enjoying it, but you can never tell what is historically accurate and what is completely made up. So I read this enormous biography. She lived a long time and there are a corresponding number of pages. Previously I had read and enjoyed Wilson's After the Victorians, and this biography was also very good. Apparently V & A were actually very much in love (awwww) although they fought a lot, and she was a pretty terrible mother.

45jfetting
Mar 14, 7:28pm Top

#21 A Death in Sweden by Kevin Wignall ***

This was a free Kindle First book that actually did not suck. It wasn't great, but "secret assassin in Europe" is really one of my favorite genres, and even inferior ones keep me occupied.

#22 The Trespasser by Tana French ****

I originally thought I was going to give this one 3 stars, since the narrator really annoyed me at first, but she grew on me. The mystery wasn't really that mysterious, but I enjoyed how Antoinette and Steve solved the crime. I basically read it in one sitting, which should tell you something.

46jfetting
Mar 19, 3:05pm Top

#23 The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes **.5 (nonfiction #6)

On one hand,
1) he's probably right - sugar is going to kill us
2) he makes the really good point that currently, there is a lot of unnecessary and incorrect moral shaming around overweight/obesity. After all, if a calorie is just a calories, and generating a calorie deficit is all that is needed to lose weight, then obviously everyone who is overweight/obese is lazy and/or gluttonous. But the fact is that calories aren't all equal, and people who are overweight/obese AREN'T morally lacking and it isn't helpful to treat them as such. BC for many people, there is a lot more to weight loss than eat less and exercise more. Sad but true.
3) I did not know that cigarettes had sugar in them

On the other hand:
1) Taubes rants against the government and the sugar industry and scientists who mistake correlation for causation when it comes to dietary fat and obesity/diabetes/etc, and then goes and mistakes correlation for causation when it comes to sugar and obesity/diabetes/etc
2) He also throws around a lot of meaningless stats - 5 people had diabetes in 1800, say, and then the number skyrockets to eleventy billion in 1900, without providing any perspective (what % of the population, Gary. Not raw numbers)
3) This book is mind-bendingly, eyeball-meltingly boring, and WAY TOO LONG
4) After I finished, I went out and bought a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal

#24 Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger *** (nonfiction #7)

This one could have been much longer. I wanted more examples of how people band together in groups/tribes/military units, and how modern life has broken these types of bonds for many of us.

#25 To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis *****

Ronincats and mabith were absolutely right - this book is fantastic and I loved it. I was hoping it would be a "someone goes back in time and meets Montmorency and Jerome et al on the boat", and it wasn't really (although there is one memorable scene...), but it had the same delightful feel as Three Men in a Boat, plus it was hilarious, plus there was time travel. Thanks for the recommendation, you two. I loved it.

47jfetting
Mar 19, 5:54pm Top

#26 Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann **** (1001 book #1)

I read this one slowly because I enjoyed it and because it required a little more concentration than may average before-bedtime reading. It's a sort-of retelling of the Faust story, set in pre-WWI, WWI, and 1920s Germany (but written by the entertaining and unreliable narrator during WWII). The narrator is telling the story of his brilliant composer friend, who made a pact w/ the Devil, and comparing his story to that of Germany during the Hitler years.

Recommended.

48japaul22
Mar 20, 10:09am Top

>47 jfetting: I somehow lost your thread this year, but now I've found it! I felt the same about The Trespasser, still great Tana French, but it didn't grab me right away. Not my favorite of hers, but still awesome.

I want to read another Thomas Mann book sometime (although reading Proust is putting a dent in my desire to read anything challenging besides it). All I've read so far is Buddenbrooks (loved it) which I understand is his most straight-ahead novel. Where would you go next for Mann?

Also, I'm jealous that you're back in Chicago! We're tied here for the next 20 years. :-(

49mabith
Mar 20, 5:40pm Top

1 - Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the best sugar cereal there is, so I fully support that choice (my hippie parents' restrictions on what we could eat at home are partly responsible for my sister and I being absolutely junk food/candy fiends).

Glad you enjoyed To Say Nothing of the Dog! I enjoyed it myself, though so many of the references to writers are Edwardian with their peak being in the inter-war period which kept jolting me out of the Victorian setting.

Glad to see your thoughts on Tribe. I've been eyeing it recently but would want more of what you mention.

50jfetting
Edited: Mar 20, 8:10pm Top

>48 japaul22: I am so happy to be back. I enjoyed my time in St. Louis and in Maine, but Chicago is home in a way that they never could be.

Even a less-great Tana French novel is pretty freaking good.

I've only read Buddenbrooks and Doctor Faustus, and want to read more Mann in the future because I think both are pretty great. I'm torn on recommending Faustus to you - on one hand, it's wonderful. On the other hand, you are a professional musician and there is a lot about music in the book that I would have no idea if it is correct or not, and which may drive you nuts. But the narrator is fanastic. I'm thinking of either The Magic Mountain or Death in Venice for my next Mann. One is MUCH shorter than the other.

51jfetting
Mar 20, 8:09pm Top

>49 mabith: My parents were very lenient on the sugar cereal front, and I'm still a junk food fiend. Some things are just delicious, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch is one of those things.

The more I think about Tribe, the more I wish he had expanded it. Still worth a read, but unsatisfying.

Have you read any other Willis? Is the rest of the series as good? I kind of want to read more of her work.

52jfetting
Mar 20, 8:13pm Top

#27 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark ***** (reread)

God, I love this little novel. Miss Brodie and her set are a delight. Because I am also a giant fan of the movie (Young Maggie Smith at her most wonderful), I hear it all in Maggie Smith's voice.

53ronincats
Mar 20, 8:20pm Top

So glad you enjoyed To Say Nothing of the Dog!! Yes, that one memorable scene...
Willis writes in a lot of different ways and even the other time travel books are very different in tone. Perhaps the closest in tone to this one is Bellwether, which does not involve time travel but has the same whimsical tone, as does her newest, Crosstalk.

54citygirl
Mar 22, 1:32pm Top

I commend you for reading and summarizing a book that is "mind-bendingly, eyeball-meltingly boring, and WAY TOO LONG." My two cents: I gave up refined sugar last November (along with some other things) and I'm not tempted to go back because I feel like I no longer have those ups-and-downs with energy (I also gave up caffeine) and I'm no longer my sweet tooth's bitch, which has really helped with my self-esteem. I envy those who are able to eat it in moderation with no ill effects, but, alas, I have accepted that I am not one of them and haven't been since I was 27. Bitter pill to swallow. *sigh*

I also did not know that cigarettes had sugar in them. And I also hate raw numbers in a vacuum, and I'm not even a scientist :-)

55jfetting
Mar 23, 8:54am Top

I keep toying with the idea of giving up refined/added sugars, because I am absolutely my sweet tooth's bitch and now that I am older my metabolism has stopped letting me eat whatever I want with few consequences. I was hoping the Traubes book would inspire me, but it had the opposite effect. I've heard several anecdotes like yours (but oh, no caffeine! how?!?), and maybe someday I'll be able to do it too.

The problem is that I have no willpower - I say one morning "ok, no sweets today!" and then someone at work brings in donuts and my resolve goes out the window.

56mabith
Edited: Mar 23, 5:27pm Top

My house for all of early childhood had NO junk food (candy, chips, soda, etc... except on rare occasions), and really almost no processed food at all, so it went a bit further than sugar cereal, but who knows. We couldn't even put butter or salt on popcorn for the early years (just nutritional yeast). When I hugely cut sugar in my life my desire for salty went into hyperdrive, so I think there can still be a lot of difference in how individuals react to dietary shifts. I don't buy many sweet things beyond sorbet in the summer, and my willpower is great at moderation when there are witnesses, so that works for me mostly. Willpower is variable though, and for most keeping to moderation actually depends on NOT abstaining totally (studies on this come up a lot in popular science books relating to psychology/general brain stuff).

I've read all of Connie Willis' time travel books and Bellwether and have enjoyed all of them. There's still humor in the other time travel titles (just not the driving force), and actually To Say Nothing of the Dog is my least favorite of those. Loved Bellwether, I laughed so much in that.

57citygirl
Edited: Mar 24, 10:37am Top

I do not preach on this subject. It took me a long time to accept that I didn't want certain things in my diet. I went off to a health retreat where they fed you delicious vegan whole foods and presented lectures about how various substances/foods/whatever affect your body and made you go for long walks in the woods. Without that immersive experience I doubt I'd have had the willpower to make a bunch of changes at once. But now it doesn't take a LOT of willpower; it's actually understanding and feeling the effects that keep me on the path.

I had to do it. I had no energy. My mind is a lot clearer now and that's my biggest motivator. I hate feeling ineffective.

Alas, it sucks not to be 27 anymore, right? Ah, hamburgers, pizza, whole pints of ice cream, cakes, cheesy pasta, fried fish....booze. Good times.

ETA: And I'll never stop missing Coca-Cola. Coke is a beautiful thing. And I agree >56 mabith: I don't totally abstain from everything. I let myself nibble a little cheese or meat every now and then. But I am actually scared of the white sugar and caffeine.

58jfetting
Mar 27, 8:11pm Top

>57 citygirl: Coke IS a beautiful thing. I get to have 1 per week, and I savor it. Close the office door, drink the coke...ahhhh....

A health retreat with someone else cooking delicious vegan food and making me go for long walks in the woods sounds fantastic.

>56 mabith: I'll have to read Bellwether and the rest, then.

I just got back from a trip to Savannah and I'm really very glad I didn't decide to try to cut back on sugar and other bad things before I went... I'm from Northern Illinois, but Southern food is my weakness.

59jfetting
Mar 27, 8:14pm Top

#28 The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark ****.5

This was almost as good as Miss Brodie. It's set in London between VE day and VJ day, and centers on a sort of boarding house for young, unmarried working girls. The action slowly builds (I think I was about halfway through before I realized that a tragic event was coming up), and then hits you all at once. I loved it.

60japaul22
Mar 27, 8:24pm Top

I must read more Muriel Spark. I listened to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and I liked it, but audiobooks are really just not for me. I suspect if I reread it in paper form I will LOVE it.

61jfetting
Mar 27, 8:29pm Top

It is worth a re-read, and I can especially see how difficult an audiobook would be, especially if the reader was a non-Scot reading in a Scottish accent.

62jfetting
Mar 28, 8:26pm Top

#29 A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles ***.5

I thought this was going to be a spy novel. Instead, it is the story of a man who in 1922 or something (not a spoiler - happens in the first chapter) is sentenced by the USSR to house arrest in a hotel for the rest of his life. The book is very charming, as is Rostov himself, and if I had not been expecting a spy novel at every turn, I probably would have liked it more. My fault, not the book's.

63jfetting
Mar 30, 8:12pm Top

#30 The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead ****

This was really difficult to read. I liked the literal interpretation of the Underground Railroad, and the writing was fantastic. I can see why it won an award. But wow, a tough read. Horrifying in spots.

The main character is a slave named Cora, and I liked her character so much that after a few pages I had to go to the end of the book to find out what happened to her. Ridgeway, the slave catcher, is also a fascinating (and completely unlikeable, unlike Cora) character.

64mabith
Mar 30, 10:21pm Top

The Girls of Slender Means has been on my list for a while and you've bumped it up a few notches.

65jfetting
Apr 1, 4:05pm Top

#31 Lab Girl by Hope Jahren ****.5 (nonfiction #8)

I wasn't expecting to like this book - I have a documented aversion to books about biology/biologists written for non-biologists. However, Jahren grew on me, and if you wanted to learn a lot about i) plants and ii) what being a scientist is like (admittedly, what being an extraordinary scientist - no postdoc! - during the Clinton administration, before W came in and ruined American science for a generation, is like) you could do a lot worse. The monkey story is hilarious. Her description of her bipolar disorder is courageous (science is still very much a suck-it-up-buttercup place when it comes to mental illness, unfortunately). In some ways - and I won't bore you with them - I think that she represents a lot of what is wrong with science today. However, the book is great, especially the parts about plants. Plants are cool.

66mabith
Apr 1, 11:22pm Top

I've been waffling on whether or not to read Lab Girl, but you've tipped me towards yes.

67jfetting
Apr 5, 9:07pm Top

#32 White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg **** (nonfiction #9)

This country has been a terrible place for the poor over the past 400 years. Isenberg focuses on the south - maybe because the white trash/redneck stereotype is so linked to that region - and damn, has this class been dehumanized over the years. This is not the history you learn in school, kids - none of our founding fathers/great statesmen/etc come out looking good.

68citygirl
Apr 6, 10:26am Top

Interesting. Have you read Hillbilly Elegy? I have it on Audible, but I haven't listened yet.

69jfetting
Edited: Apr 10, 7:54pm Top

>68 citygirl: So good of you to ask, citygirl! Because...

#33 Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance *** (nonfiction #10)

So apparently all of the books I put on hold back in November are coming in at the library now. This was billed as The Explanation For Trump all over MSNBC, but enough of the hype has died down since then that I wasn't expecting too much. Which is good, because I wasn't terribly impressed. It was ok, don't get me wrong, I didn't dislike it, but I'm never all that impressed by memoirs written by people in their 30s.

Some of what he wrote really rang true, though. I was raised pretty solidly middle-class, but there are many similarities between Vance's Kentucky family and my extended family in rural Wisconsin. My mom was the first in her family of 9 siblings (Grandpa was a dairy farmer) to go to college, and there is a notable difference in the income/lifestyle/career opportunities/retirement savings/political opinions of the families of the siblings who left (either via higher education or the military) and the families of the siblings who stayed. So I the mindset of his Rust Belt family and neighbors is strikingly familiar; they say a lot of the same things that I hear from some of my uncles.

70citygirl
Apr 11, 9:12am Top

I'm never all that impressed by memoirs written by people in their 30s.

Hee. I expect to find it fascinating when I get around to it. My background is black people from the south. I'm sure I'll have lots o' questions when I finally get around to it.

71jfetting
Apr 16, 7:58pm Top

#34 Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond ***** (nonfiction #11)

This book was incredible. Horrifying and eye-opening and horrifying and fascinating. I can't believe this is happening. This book now joins The New Jim Crow on my list of books I wish I could force everyone to read. I even like Desmond's solution at the end.

You get both sides here (both the tenants' and the landlords'), and it's clear that Desmond is sympathetic to his subjects. I now need to figure out what I can do to help this.

#35 The Vegetarian by Han Kang **

I don't know. The imagery is going to stick with me, but this was not fun to read at all. At least it was quick.

72citygirl
Apr 17, 2:06pm Top

Yeah, The Vegetarian was acclaimed but held no appeal for me, so it never made it to Mount TBR. It sounded horrifying, but not to any worthwhile end. What made you want to read it?

73japaul22
Apr 17, 3:06pm Top

>71 jfetting: I bought The Vegetarian when I was killing time in a Barnes and Noble last year because I'd heard so much buzz about it. But now that I've read a bunch of LT reviews I really don't think I want to read it.

And, yes, Evicted is such an eye-opening book, just like The New Jim Crow was for me.

74jfetting
Apr 17, 9:43pm Top

>72 citygirl: I had no idea what it was about - like japaul22, I'd heard a lot of buzz about it and thought I'd give it a shot. It was pretty terrible, and I don't understand the point of it. I'd recommend skipping it.

>73 japaul22: I had no idea how expensive housing in "bad" neighborhoods can be. Good lord.

75japaul22
Apr 18, 6:04am Top

>74 jfetting: Right?! Silly me, I assumed people lived in bad neighborhoods because it was all they could afford. The whole story is so much more sinister than that.

76jfetting
Apr 20, 9:03pm Top

#36 Irresistible: the rise of addictive technology and the business of keeping us hooked by Adam Alter **** (non-fiction #12)

All of my nonfiction holds at the library are coming in. I'm getting a little tired of them, and I miss fiction that doesn't suck, but this was quite interesting. I feel a little bit better about my inability to put my iPhone down since the apps I'm hooked on (facebook, instagram, twitter - no snapchat because I am an Old) are designed to keep me hooked. Also, interestingly, workaholism is ALSO a behavioral addiction and I'm afraid I'm developing a bit of that too (and Netflix binges - basically the only thing this book describes that I do not relate to is video games - I don't care at all about video games).

So now I'm resolving to put the phone away at least a couple of hours before bedtime - I definitely do not need to check work emails at 10 pm (even if the company is paying for my phone), or Twitter, or whatever. I really do have a problem with insomnia after late-night phone usage.

77citygirl
Edited: Apr 21, 12:53pm Top

Good luck. I know it can be hard, but you probably won't miss it as much as you think you will. What did it say about binge-watching? I do a lot of that.

78swimmergirl1
Apr 28, 2:34pm Top

I think I need to read that book! These devices are additions - can't go anywhere without either my iphone or my ipad.

79jfetting
May 16, 8:40pm Top

>77 citygirl: The bit about bingewatching focused on the cliffhanger endings of many shows, and how netflix just starts the next episode within seconds after the previous one starting. You can sit there for hours.

>78 swimmergirl1: When I accidentally leave my phone at home, I get anxious. I'm hooked.

80jfetting
May 16, 8:41pm Top

#37 The Sellout by Paul Beatty ****.5

I don't approve of US authors being eligible for the Booker, but if we have to win that, I'm glad it was this book by Beatty. It's thought-provoking and hilarious and I couldn't put it down.

81citygirl
Edited: May 17, 11:11am Top

Was that a recent development? US authors eligible for the Booker? A few weeks ago I saw that an American book had won and kind of dismissed it as nonsensical.
I do NOT approve.
Booker books are wonderful b/c they're in the language we speak but they are not about us!!!! They're British and Irish and Australian and Canadian and NOT AMERICAN.

WHY? Oh, the humanity....

ETA: I hope this isn't any effect of making American great again. Frankly, I'm tired of us and I think we should just go sit in a corner quietly for awhile.

82jfetting
May 17, 8:59pm Top

>81 citygirl: Very recent - just in the last year or two. I think we have PLENTY of book awards for us (Pulitzer, the other ones, etc.) - NO NEED to steal the rest of the English-speaking world's awards.

And I agree 100% with your ETA - I think the whole world is tired of us.

83jfetting
May 21, 8:17pm Top

#38 Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin ***** (nonfiction #13)

Damn, he's good. These essays are insightful and profound but also really readable - it's like having a very one-sided conversation with a very, very interesting speaker.

It is horrifying how little has changed in the decades since Baldwin wrote this.

Note: the touchstones are completely insane. Baldwin was in no way a Harry Potter novel. I tried to fix it and have no idea if I succeeded.

#39 The Gunslinger by Stephen King **** (re-re-re-read)

Refreshing my memories of Roland's adventures, and hoping to finish the whole series (finally) before the movie comes out, because there is no way I'm not seeing that. I haven't re-read this one since King revised it after finishing the series; the changes are noticeable but not offensive.

#40 The Godfather by Mario Puzo ***** (1001 book #2)

So The Godfather is one of my favorite movies; my Dad and I have had a father-daughter tradition (which probably began when I was around 8 or 9) of watching at least the first one together, and usually also the second, once a year. We love these movies. If you haven't read the book, you'll be pleased to know that both movies follow it very closely (some of the best lines are not in the book, though - Dad and I like "leave the gun, take the cannoli" the best) and it is great.

84citygirl
May 22, 3:50pm Top

The Godfather is a good book, but I will caution you against reading any more Puzo. I don't know when exactly he started writing dreck, but I think you can safely stop there.

85jfetting
May 23, 10:07am Top

>84 citygirl: Good to know - I'll stick to the one. Thanks for the warning!

86jfetting
Yesterday, 7:57pm Top

#41 The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King *** (re-re-re-read)

Not my favorite, but still a good and fast read. Roland gets himself some companions, and sees our world.

#42 The Waste Lands by Stephen King **** (re-re-re-read)

I really like the character Jake and his interactions with Roland, so this is one of my favorites in the series (bearing in mind that I've only read the first 5, I think. Maybe 4).

#43 Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman *****

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before that in my opinion, Gaiman is one of those rare writers who can do it all well - short stories, novels, children's books, and now myths. This is great fun, told with quite a bit of the Gaiman humor. My only experience with the Norse myths thus far had been the Thor and Avengers movies, so these are pretty much all new to me. I like Loki the best.

87citygirl
Today, 2:04pm Top

I didn't know Gaiman had written a Norse mythology. Ima check that out.

Group: 100 Books in 2017 Challenge

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