ffortsa retires to read in 2017 - second reading chair
This is a continuation of the topic ffortsa retires to read in 2017.
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Ah, I had such lofty goals last year! My shelves are as full as ever, and my two face-to-face book clubs totter on taking up my time. But that's ok with me. I got to 66 books - 67 if I count The Shipping News, which I finished listening to this morning.
I retired last May, but it didn't increase my reading time by much. I had a lovely summer vacation, topped by a trip to Alaska, a rather busy autumn and end of year, and here I am, ready for another round.
So what do I plan? Aside from the aforementioned f2f groups, I hope to participate at least part-time in some of the challenges (British, Canadian, American, Non-Fiction, etc.) as well as some of the group reads. I'm still working on catching up with my vast New Yorker collection, too. I'm all the way up to March of 2009.
And I hope to keep up with a few more of my fellow LTers this year - I lost track of so many of you in 2016! Of course, I'm already behind on that plan.
My ticker, as always, will be
(although at the rate I'm going, maybe I should have switched to the snail!)
1. The Five Books of Moses translated by Robert Alter - Genesis
2. @Erewhon - Samuel Butler
3. Love Songs From a Shallow Grave - Colin Cotterill.
4. @The Bible: A Biography - Karen Armstrong
5. The Dance of the Seagull - Andrea Camilleri
6. @The Last Coyote - Michael Connelly
7. ♬Sad Cypress - Agatha Christie
8. Better Than Before - Gretchen Rubin
9. ✔NIghtwood - Djuna Barnes
10. @Trunk Music - Michael Connelly
11. ♬October Light - John Gardner
12. The Ghost Runner - Parker Bilal
13. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd - Alan Bradley
14. @Buried (Twisted Cedar Mysteries) - C. J. Carmichael
15. @Talking To the Dead - Harry Bingham
16. Written in Stone - Ellery Adams
17. The Master Butchers Singing Club - Louise Erdrich
18. The Redeemer - Jo Nesbo
19. ♬Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right - Hochschild
20. @Sophie's Choice - William Styron
21. The Garden of the Finzi-Contini - Giorgio Bassani
22. @The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths - Harry Bingham
23. ♬Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
24. @Fatal Remedies - Donna Leon
25. @Secrets From the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again - Traci Mann, Ph.D.
26. @Last Night at the Lobster - Stewart O'Nan
27. Arrow of God - Chinua Achebe
28. @Blackhouse - Peter May
29. @Slash and Burn - Colin Cotterill
30. The Mistletoe Murder and other stories - P. D. James
31. ♬Hillbilly Elegy - J.D. Vance
32. @The Water Room: A Peculiar Crimes Mystery - Christopher Fowler
33. @Justine by Lawrence Durrell
34. @$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America
35. Orlando - Virginia Woolf
36. @This Thing of Darkness - Harry Bingham
I'm carrying over the icons from last year to denote ebooks, library books, off the shelf, etc. which Bianca kindly provided.
✔ off the shelf
✨ shared TIOLI
✗ slow read
Here's to another fine year of reading for us all!
Happy new one, Judy! Hope you got out today to enjoy the gorgeous weather. Have I mentioned I'm not really missing Texas? ;-)
Congrats on your shiny new thread, Judy and wishing you a wonderful start into the new week.
Happy new thread!
ETA: In belated response from your last thread, I have a wrist Fitbit—the basic Flex.
Happy New Thread, Judy.
Ellen has convinced me to try The Master Butchers Singing Club. You liked it, yes?
>9 jnwelch: I think I may have quibbled a bit when I reread it last month, but that may have reflected my f2f reading group discussion. It's very good.
20. Sophie's Choice - William Styron
I missed reading this when it was published, although there was a lot of talk about it then. This read was for my Tuesday f2f reading group, and I'm very interested what they have to say. Some of this book feels very dated, and the point of view was sometimes a problem for me. But the elliptical shape of the narrative interests me, and maybe we'll leave some time to talk about that after we bash Stingo.
>15 EBT1002: Hi, Ellen! Sort of sorry you won't be closer to us in the future, but I can certainly see the reasons to stay where you are. Great feedback, though.
We had a rather meager showing for Sophie's Choice at our downtown reading group last night. We've had some fall-off in attendance recently, and we don't know if it's the books that were selected or just a normal cycle. Investigation is certainly in order. Discussion was not as interesting as I usually find it, and I think that was because some of our more outspoken regulars were missing. Ah well.
Our uptown group read The Garden of the Finzi-Contini, which I will list shortly, and then we watched the film. I didn't find much of interest in either medium.
Next up for the book group readins: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Bradbury, and Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe. So two more books that are new to me. That's all good.
21. The Garden of the Finzi-Contini by Giorgio Bassani
Bassani's novel chronicles the life of the Jewish population in Ferrara in the years leading up to WWII, and how the 'racial laws' affected them. The focus is on the exceptionally rich family of the Finzi-Contini, secluded on their garden estate behind stone walls, and their involvement with a few select young men in the town. Central to the story is a friendship and attempted romance between the narrator and the daughter Micol Finzi-Contini.
The looming disaster of the war hangs over this story without ever becoming present, which denies the story any sort of expected climax. I read the Quigley translation, and I have no way of evaluating it against the Italian but I didn't feel particularly drawn into the story.
My book circle also viewed the De Sica film that was derived from the novel, and there De Sica makes the decision to show the beginnings of the deportation. 183 Jews were deported from Ferrara; few if any returned.
Hi Judy, and happy new thread.
I somehow unstarred your previous thread, but here I am again, all caught up.
22. The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths - Harry Bingham
Another winner! Wow, what an engrossing story, in which Fiona, of course, gets herself into trouble for all the right reasons and all but loses herself in the process. Excellent details, characters, and plot, and from my knowledge of the IT world, entirely possible. Why didn't I think of that?
My basic arithmetic tells me I'm on track to make 75 if I read 1 book every 4 1/2 days. That's better than I've been doing, but a reasonable pace. Fiona gobbled up all my reading energy today, especially as I seem to have acquired Jim's nasty cold (I NEVER get colds - if he weren't so sick still I'd make him miserable all over again). And the worst is, when I get sick like this I get bored, and I was already bored, what I was always afraid of about retirement. (I know, sounds like a first world problem, as so many have been saying, but still...)
Now for some tea. Or brandy. Or maybe tea WITH brandy. Hm.
Feel better, Judy! I vote for tea WITH brandy. Kind of a tea toddy.
Yay for another winner! As you know, I love that Fiona Griffiths series.
Hi Judy! I'm sorry you're sick. Before retirement I always wanted to be sick enough to stay home but not too sick to read. Now I just don't want to get sick.
I just finished book 5 of the Fiona Griffiths series, now waiting on a new one. C'mon Harry Bingham, write fast!
I downloaded the first in the Fiona Griffiths series a while back and haven't gotten to it yet. The raves around here are persuasive!
I hope you're having a good weekend, Judy. Recovering quickly would be good....
>21 karenmarie: "Before retirement I always wanted to be sick enough to stay home but not too sick to read." LOL -- I can totally relate to that and I look forward to retirement so I can just enjoy reading all the time!
Take care of yourself Judy - brandy is a good tonic of course whatever your medical condition!
Have a lovely weekend.
>21 karenmarie: LOL My mother sometimes hoped the law would find some reason to toss her in the klink so she would have time to read. I can hear it now! 'But Mrs Astroff, why did you rob the grocery store?" "Your Honor, I need some uninterrupted reading time."
Being sick on my own time, on the WEEKEND, and too tired to do anything but sleep, is boring.
In spite of being sick, I went with Jim to see the NTLive showing of 'Twelfth Night' last night. A very funny production, but a little light on subtlety and depth. Very clear, but I've seen better. Oh well. If you've never seen the play before, it's a good production to start with.
I do need to start reading for my f2f reading groups again. They're on successive nights, AGAIN, which Jim and I dislike. Neither book is on my shelf, alas.
Thanks for all your good wishes. I hope to be ok by midweek.
Judy--Hope you are feeling better ASAP! And my Dad swears that red wine fixes everything. ; ) My RL book groups often meet close together and I wish they were more spread out. What are you reading for them next? I just finished Hillbilly Elegy for Wednesday and then I have America's First Daughter up next.
>25 Berly: I think I am better, still stuffy but otherwise my energy is back, so I count that as done. Stuffiness is eternal.
We almost exclusively read fiction in both of my f2f groups. This month we are reading the second (or third, depending on who's counting) component of Chinua Achebe's trilogy that started with Things Fall Apart - it's called Arrow of God, which makes me shiver a little.
For the other group we're reading Something Wicked This Way Comes, something else to make me shiver. Jim finally got his wish to read something from Bradbury. I like Fahrenheit 451, but this sounds more like a scary story.
Off to play bridge this afternoon. First, coffee.
Usually, my one group reads Fiction, but this is our one NF for the year. The other group seems to be reading a lot of NF and for the most part they have been contemporary ones and I have liked them, but we are due for some F again. I loved SWTWC, so I hope you enjoy it too!
Oh, this is not good. The disadvantage of having a comfortable computer setup is that I never leave. Sigh.
Anyway, yesterday I took pictures of all my shoes. Of course, since I was busy shooting before aiming, I took shots of both shoes of the pair, which made the pictures bigger than necessary, so I spent most of the morning resizing them for printing, so I could tape them to my translucent shoe boxes (supposedly transparent, but really..) and remember all the shoes I have. Since I've been living in two or three pairs and a pair of boots all year, I thought it best to remind myself.
To do this, I bought a photo editor called PhotoPad. It was pretty cheap, and seems handy. Does anyone use it? What is your favorite photo editor? I'm curious, especially if you do anything with your photos besides store them electronically. All advice welcome. Thanks.
I will be curious to see how people manage their photos! I seem to have billions, and many are repetitive, but I can't bring myself to delete. And organizing is beyond me... I tell myself that I will do it in retirement.
I have nothing to offer on the photo front. I'm terrible about organizing them. Right now, most are just sitting on a hard drive...
And I have no idea how to edit photos. I'm quite the troglodyte when it comes to graphics!
>28 ffortsa: At a glance, PhotoPad looks pretty good for most users. Photo editing software can have a pretty steep learning curve.
I use Adobe Lightroom, which is great for organizing your photos - you can import them into the Lightroom catalog and it will move everything into folders that are by year, and underneath that by date taken. I made the mistake when I first started out with it of not letting it do that, but it's really the best way. As for editing, it is great because all editing is always reversible. It doesn't change your original file, and you can then export a new copy with your changes. It's not entirely intuitive, but there are lots of tutorials out there to figure out how to do everything.
I also use a couple of the programs in the Google Nik collection. These are a lot of fun to play with, but they are the opposite of Lightroom in that they will overwrite your original file when you hit "save". So it's better to make a copy to start off with and then play around with filters on that copy.
>31 ursula: What a wealth of info! Thanks. I was afraid I'd have to head for PhotoShop, and even the Elements edition sounds intimidating just now. I'll check out Adobe Lightroom and Google Nik to see if they are any easier than PhotoPad and its attendant add-ons.
>29 banjo123: and >30 katiekrug: Yeah, the first grand pass on my father's slides was a huge undertaking. I tossed about half of them, sent the rest out to be scanned, organizing by event or carousel tags, along with ones I'd taken. Since then I've found some more slides (help!), but the big deal now are the albums and old photos. It takes merciless triage, and sometimes I remember that few if any of the people in my family are interested anymore. Not many descendants to laugh at the old folks when young. But some of the photos are objectively beautiful, and I do want to save those and perhaps set them up in electronic picture frame files or reprint for the walls.
Categorizing, of course, is an agony, much worse than organizing books.
Today so far has been fun but exhausting. Three of us from the League of Women Voters went to see our State Senator, Liz Krueger, to talk about early voting and other election reforms in NY state, and she gave us 40 minutes of her time! Amazing. A very good discussion. One of the women on our team is a bit compulsive, so the last minute review of our presentation was a bit exhausting to me (where do I find all these people?), but the discussion with Krueger was worth it.
Then I was just in time for an excellent yoga class at my health club, and now I'm just about falling asleep. Got to wake up, though. Jim and I are going to a discussion at the NY Public Library this evening, and meeting Katie and the Wayne for dinner afterwards!
All this activity sometimes gets my back screaming, and I was stretched out on it in front of the bookcase when I noticed a skinny book on the shelf. So I read it.
23. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter - J. D. Salinger
This novella is a mix of fun and impending doom, as Buddy Glass attempts to attend his brother's wedding and gets tangled up with some other extraordinary wedding guests, listening to them criticize his brother, who has not shown up. The portraits of upper class, opinionated New Yorkers in the full throes of the intense fad of psychoanalysis were dead on, and amazingly funny, but Seymour (the brother), in his absence and in Buddy's reminiscence and love, is anything but.
We had a great time last night with you and Jim, Judy. On the way home, we were talking about how nice it is to (a) have great events like that to go to so close to us; and (b) intelligent people to attend them with and discuss them with afterwards!
We feel the same way. Jim was sort of asleep on his feet, otherwise we might still be there.
I do not organize my photos.
Actually, P had her brother here from Palau and her other brother who lives just about a mile from us came over. They were going through a HUGE box of photos that have been taking up space in our not-very-large basement for years. Joel, the brother who lives in Palau, had lived with their parents for about two years, the last two years of MIL's life, taking care of them. One thing he did while he was there was scan all the photos he could find. So many of these went in the trash. It's hard to throw them away (less hard for me as they are not memories of my childhood or my family history) but knowing Joel had scanned them made it easier.
"...I was just in time for an excellent yoga class..." Good for you! I keep saying I'm going to get myself back to yoga. I keep saying it.
Hi Judy! Stopping by for a much belated visit.
I really need to get the first Fiona Griffiths book.
My photos are a mess. At least I have them all backed up on Dropbox so I won't lose them but organizing seems daunting. It would take months for me to get them all tagged appropriately. What I really need to do is start now with tagging so I'm not just making the current problem worse.
23. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
I'm not usually interested in scary books, but this was a very happy listen. The narration was as lyrical as Bradbury's style, and it was quite captivating - I didn't even fall asleep when I was listening to it in the dark in bed!
More on this the first week of June when my f2f reading group discusses it.
I have fond memories of Something Wicked This Way Comes, Judy. I'm glad it worked so well for you.
>40 SuziQoregon: Hm Don't recall the name. I got it from the library, so I'll check to see if the name is listed.
eta: Aha. Stefan Rudnicki. Excellent.
I recently reread a long piece on Ian McEwan from the New Yorker, Feb.23, 2009. I guess I kept the issue around after reading it the first time partly because of this article, although I now can get it on their archives. For those of you who like McEwan, it's a very interesting portrait of him and his closest writer friends. I'm not sure how available the New Yorker archives are to non-subscribers, but I will find out as soon as I get my own access cleared up.
eta: for those who have access online, the link is here
hey, that works!
Before that, I read
24. Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon
The usual Brunetti police procedural, spiced up by actions that Paola takes to thwart sex-tourism. Lively as always.
I didn't get any walking in today, in spite of a bang-up challenge start yesterday. Rainy out all day, and I spent it doing volunteer work, housework, closets, reading. Now, of course, I have cabin fever.
Well, I just spent a very informative and annoying hour with Amazon, first in chat, and then on the phone.
Jim has an Amazon Prime account. He has added me in what I now understand is 'invitee' status. We were under the impression that by adding me, I got all the benefits of Prime that he had paid for. But NOOOOO.
As an invitee, I get
- free two day shipping
- free streaming video
- 30 minute advance on 'lightning deals'
- unlimited storage for photos
- access to the Kindle Owners Lending Library
What I don't get
- ability to borrow books designated as Prime for free
- ability to read selected magazines free
- ability to listen to Audible items for free
The only way I can get Prime status for ebooks and magazines is to buy my own prime membership. Or use Jim's logon.
So, folks, if you are thinking one Prime membership will do for all your Amazon needs, now you know the truth.
25. Secrets From the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again - Traci Mann, Ph.D.
Well, I'd suggest saving your money. Any of us interested in slimming down have read most of this before. Mann outlines all the dishonest studies, all the evil effects of semi-starvation, all the tripe about willpower, and concludes with strategies to keep you at your low-end set point without too much struggle by changing your habits. Yawn. And, by the way, fat people face discrimination in any number of ways. There. I've saved you the read.
Lovely day today, real spring at last. I took a long walk with a couple on the upper West Side whom I have known for decades, but see too seldom. They live near Riverside Park, which borders the Hudson River, and after a little more than a mile we came back down via Broadway, through a street fair selling mostly food (but I did buy a new wallet), and I walked to a subway station and took the train home. I was especially eager to get out today because tomorrow rain is scheduled, which means I can read and go to a movie without feeling guilty about being indoors.
I'll probably finish Arrow of God tomorrow, and have some time to research discussion of it before next week's book circle uptown. And I'll have an entire week without planned reading!
A couple of photos from my walk yesterday. These are from the community flower garden at about 90th Street in Riverside Park.
26. Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan
Peggy was warbling about this on her thread, and when I found it available as an e-book from the library I didn't resist. At first I was put off by all the detail O'Nan puts in, but that's really the point - his protagonist is a man lost in and comforted by detail, routine, checklists. And the details also make the snowstorm that ends the last night at a closing Red Lobster restaurant so real, I almost told my partner not to slip in the slush. So it became at the end a vivid, bittersweet story of real life, with all its small decisions and disappointments.
I am a big fan of Last Night at the Lobster - and most of O'Nan's stuff.... I am glad this novella found another fan!
I'm happy not to have warbled in vain, Judy. Apparently, I love details.
Hope you're completely well. I'm happy to read about your 40 minutes with your state senator. We just traded our older woman (fairly conservative, but open and thoughtful) for a brash young rifle-toting man. So much for us.
>47 ffortsa: Gorgeous photos!! Spring has finally happened at my house. Loving all the blooms. : )
Thanks, Kim. My father always said 'if you want to take beautiful pictures, go to a beautiful place.' I don't always agree, but these just begged to be photographed.
Thanks to all you 'last night' fans for joining in.
>47 ffortsa: What incredible flowers.
And, I'm glad you liked Something Wicked This Way Comes. In college (way back when), one of the literature professors was enthralled with Ray Bradbury.
I remember that we read a short story, There Will Come Soft Rains. It was/is Bradbury at his best. He is one of my favorite authors.
IMHO, no one can write so succinctly. He says in one sentence what other writers take a page to try to come near his quality.
Happy Summer to you and Jim!
Hi, >56 Ameise1:, >55 Whisper1:, >54 kidzdoc: and thanks for the praise. I had nothing to do with the beauty of the flowers, just the pictures! The beauty was all their own. Right place, right time.
I just spent a little time updating my series next list. The entries are all mysteries, and I'm forgetful about updating them and LT. Armed with a new list, I can request some from the library.
Meanwhile, two new books.
27. Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe
This is part of Achebe's trilogy of indigenous culture vs. colonial intrusion, the first of which is Things Fall Apart. And things continue to fall apart. I may have more to say after tonight's discussion.
28. Blackhouse by Peter May
A new series for me, recommended by (oops - now who did recommend it? Rosalita? Chatterbox? Quite a few have been talking about it.) Strikingly good, with a powerful presentation of the very north of Scotland, the Hebrides, and the people who live there. I was fussing about the backstory taking up so much space, but there's a reason for it, which I won't spoil by telling you. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book.
I bought Blackhouse in Powell's. It sounds like I should read it sooner rather than later. I think Ellen was the one who recommended it.
>60 BLBera: Yes, I think so!
My uptown book circle met Monday to discuss Arrow of God, and the opinions were quite mixed, some of us not able to care much about the characters, some of us more interested. I found the differences between the formal speech of the tribal society and the informal, practical bluntness of the British colonial society interesting, as was the story of a man caught in his determination to believe in the god of his community even when the rules of his religion would fail his believers.
The uptown circle is really rather more uptown than I generally go, and having spent a morning stalling doing anything useful, I was up for some exercise. So I decided to walk. Later I found out my route was just over 5 miles - and I made it with time to spare! I don't think I've walked that far all in one go before, and I was happy to discover no aches or pains the next day. Thank goodness for my new New Balance 860s. I've just bought a backup pair.
Of course, once I got there, I stuffed my face with bread (the rest of the menu wasn't so unfortunate), and the scale didn't budge the next day. But I was glad to have been able to make the trip so easily.
Next book assignments: Justine by Lawrence Durrell, and Orlando by Virginia Woolf. I think I've read both of them, but they are no longer on my shelf. We'll watch the film adaptation of Orlando after we discuss the book - Tilda Swinton, yum.
Yesterday our downtown reading group discussed Something Wicked This Way Comes by Bradbury, and the turnout was a bit disappointing. Add to that about half of the attendees really didn't like the book, and a couple didn't even like Bradbury's language, which I found mesmerizing. Oh well. I thought it a lyrical parable or allegory (not up on my definitions) of good and evil and the choices we make in life and the value of living your life without rushing forward, or longing to go back. Glad I read it.
I have an extra week before the next meetings, because of the 4th of July holiday weekend, so I may squeeze in something else this month as well. So many book await!
I decided I should post something on Facebook so my non-LT friends can see what I'm doing. Today I walked across the Manhattan Bridge and took some pictures of Brooklyn. Take a look! Over there, I'm Judith Astroff.
>48 ffortsa: I loved this book! Your remarks really brought back the feel-good I experienced when reading it.
I don't know where I found out about The Blackhouse either, Judy. It was on my shelf thanks to a RL friend's downsizing, but I wouldn't have read it now if I hadn't heard about it here --- probably Ellen; oh! and Gail. Anyway, I'm waiting impatiently for Lewis Man to arrive, and I expect I'll jump right in.
Curiously enough, I think I found the origin of my great-aunt Ala's first name. It's pronounced Ay-lie, and I now think that it's an Anglicization of Eighleih (?) (Fin's mother's name). Anyway, we're descended from Highland Scots too, Isle of Barra to be specific.
>64 LizzieD: How cool! I have to add the next book in line to my series list. I found myself longing to take a trip to these islands, to see them for myself.
Hi Judy. Just checking in here. : ) Off to take a look at your pictures on FB.
29. Slash and Burn by Colin Cotterill
Siri is ordered north to look for an MIA, and he manages to take his whole crew as well as his wife on what he presumes will be a little holiday. Of course, complications ensue.
I didn't love this Dr. Siri mystery as much as some of the previous ones - a bit too much preparation for me, until the real story began, and not nearly enough Ya Ming and other mysterious happenings. In fact, one of the biggest red herrings looked completely contrived. However, a satisfactory ending, of course, and some funny stuff in between.
>67 ffortsa: I found the supernatural elements in the second of the series a bit off-putting, Judy, and haven't yet got around to any of the others.
Best wishes to you and Jim. xx
30. The Mistletoe Murder and other stories by P. D. James
This is a collection of four short stories, two featuring Dalgliesh, that were written for periodical publications. Short stories are not James's best form, alas. This was moderately entertaining but unmemorable.
I recently obtained an audio of Hillbilly Elegy, and would like to talk about it when I'm done listening. Anyone else listen to it rather than read it in print? Anyone do both? I'm interested in a comparison on that point at least.
Jim and I are taking a little trip this weekend, so I'll undoubtedly fall even farther behind on threads. Ah well.
You couldn't be further behind on threads than I am, Judy. :-)
Where are you going this weekend? May we anticipate photos when you return?
>71 karenmarie: Thanks, Karen. It was an interesting weekend. Hope yours was good, and I'm sure it was, since you are back home.
>72 cameling: Caro, I'm sure you're right about at least a few threads (for instance, Mark's and Joe's and Mamie's and Amber's and...) I have one picture I may post later, but the weekend wasn't that visually lovely.
>73 EBT1002: I'll scoot over and read your comments right away. Vance did narrate it, and I don't think it was a good idea.
And just to catch up, we spent an overnight in Atlantic City courtesy of a timeshare pitch that we knew in advance we would turn down. AC is a combination of hope and reality, with cranes and construction everywhere and closed casinos on the boardwalk. I'd never been before, so it was curiosity that took us there, but we probably won't be back.
I did finish Hillbilly Elegy. We'll be discussing it at one of our f2f book groups the second week of July, so more after that.
Hi Judy--I read HE for my bookclub this month and we had a very good discussion about it. I am sure you will too! Have a great time on your little trip. : )
Good morning, Judy!
I'm glad you had fun in AC. My weekend was busy - Father's Day and my husband likes the attention. Cards, candy (M&Ms and Skittles), homemade chicken pot pie, fresh summer cantaloupe, Not Homemade pie. Home is good.
>76 karenmarie: I'm reading the second mystery story in the Bryant and May series (the name escapes me now, but it has to do with underground tributaries to the Thames in London). Of course, I should be reading Orlando and Justine. Tomorrow. In the meantime, I've been working all day at my computer trying to complete a document for one of my volunteer projects. Sigh.
Is there a Hillbilly Elegy thread somewhere in this group? I thought it was scheduled for May/June, but I haven't seen it.
You know, I could see that it wouldn't be a good idea for Vance to narrate his own memoir. I have enjoyed other memoirs narrated by the author themselves (Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming comes to mind) but I wonder how Vance would do....
ETA: and then I find myself wondering if my feelings about that represent my bias against a southern accent that is, I think, exactly part of what he is writing about....??
>79 EBT1002: I didn't find the accent at all annoying, but the cadence was pretty flat, and I found the style flat as well. It was hard to discern by listening when one paragraph ended and another began sometimes, although the 'main idea' had definitely changed. And I have to say that so much of the book could be read as 'poor me' before he got to the last four or five chapters where he did more self-examination and summing up. Overall, I think it's an eye-opening look at the perpetuation of dysfunctional behavior from one generation to another, involved with and maybe disguised by a conviction of cultural identity. When people are so self-isolating, it's hard to expose them to the ways other people order their lives.
A friend of mine talks about something called sensory integration, which many people accomplish just fine as children, but many also get stuck in, precisely because of the traumas Vance describes. When that happens, the flight-or-fight response can get stuck in the on position, and that's a lot of what Vance shows. Add cultural reinforcement of aggressive behavior, alcohol consumption, low expectations and shrinking economic opportunities, and you get a truly vicious cycle of self-destructive behavior. How can we ameliorate that, in this culture Vance portrays or even our own? Hard question.
>78 _Zoe_: I think you're right, but I don't know if it was set up. I read the book by the six-book schedule and didn't think to look for a thread.
32. The Water Room: A Peculiar Crimes Mystery - Christopher Fowler
A last mystery story before I plunge into my book club reading list. I thought this was the second, but might be the third in this series - I'm not sure whereSeventy-Seven Clocks falls. A good read, and I learned something about London history and geography as well.
>74 ffortsa: No, silly. I read it because it was on the Times list of books we innocent liberals should read to understand the election. There were six. I read Strangers in Their Own Land and that book by George Packer, the name of which escapes me. I have to check on what is next on the list.
eta: Ah, yes, the first one was The Unwinding by Packer. The next one is Listen, Liberal by Thomas Frank.
>83 magicians_nephew: - Have you started cheating on me with another book group?
This made me giggle.
Hi Jim and Judy!
Not much on the reading front, in spite of a quiet day. What I did do is volunteer to try to register people to vote. Alas, not many non-registered citizens in Union Square Park (lots of tourists, though!). But it was a beautiful day to be outside.
I've started Justine. It will take some concentration.
Yeesh to Orlando. I read it and actively disliked it the whole time. Reading it inspired me to get rid of all the Virginia Woolf I had collected except A Room of One's Own and the Quentin Bell biography. I'm sure I'm in the minority of not appreciating her fiction.
I have the Alexandria Quartet on my shelves. Perhaps I can start it this year some time.
I tend to rely on LT's book information, and clicking on any title will identify if it's part of a series and where it is in the series. Clicking on the series/book number itself from that screen will take you to the entire series, including novellas (identified as x.5 in the sequence) and any short story collections. It will also place a green check to the left of the books you have in your catalog. A very nice way to see where you are in a series. The Water Room is 2nd, Seventy-Seven Clocks is 3rd.
>77 ffortsa: Busy lady. I anticipate getting more busy taking over the Treasurer's job of our Friends of the Library. I was away a month, the current Treasurer was away 2 weeks just as I was returning, and the new fiscal year starts July 1.
>83 magicians_nephew: *smile*
>87 ffortsa: Good for you! While in California recently cleaning out Mom's house and getting it on the market, I was asked perhaps 3-4 times if I was registered to vote, always in front of Walmart. I was always appreciative of the effort when telling them I was registered in North Carolina.
Hi Judy - You've done a lot of mystery reading lately. I would like to try the Fowler. I might check out the James because I do like her, even though you mention that the stories aren't as good as the full-length fiction.
Great walking going on here, too!
>89 BLBera: Yes, I've been escaping, although now I have to really spend some time over the Durrell. As for the walking, I must confess to an occasional inflation because of the jiggles when I take a bus. Shhh. Don't tell.
Still not much reading going on here, but I did have a very promising time at my 50th high school reunion. I discovered old friends all over again, and in at least two, probably more cases, these old friends are both nearby and interested in similar things. I hope to recultivate our friendships, not something I've been very good at doing in the past, but will endeavor to improve.
And my friend Ruta is in town to look for an apartment, which means that she will be here to join me in play and work at least half the year. I'm very encouraged.
>91 ffortsa: Good for you, Judy! I hope things go well with both the high school friends and friend Ruta.
>92 karenmarie: Thanks! I've become acutely aware of how much social and volunteer contacts stress me out, but developing a rewarding circle of friends is worth getting a grip on these stresses. More discoveries in my new retirement life.
Wednesday and Thursday are not scheduled yet(!) so I hope to have some recuperating time. And then Jim is taking next week as a vacation week, so we should be able to fit in some local adventures without time constraints.
And of course, I've got a couple of books to read for the f2f groups the week after.
You might be like me, don't know for sure, but once I didn't have to be around a lot of people every day, I realized how much I enjoy NOT being around a lot of people every day. After 1 1/2 years of retirement the people I socialize with are just friends, not work associates, and the thing we talk about are much more interesting. Plus I like our book club women a lot.
Yay for not scheduled days. Enjoy the recuperation time.
Edited to fix "book club woman" to "book club women".
>80 ffortsa: So interesting. The stuff about sensory integration fascinates me. Our understanding of the impact of early childhood trauma and how it affects actual brain development is still emerging as our ability to see brain images develops.
>94 karenmarie: "...once I didn't have to be around a lot of people every day, I realized how much I enjoy NOT being around a lot of people every day." That makes so much sense. I'm an extrovert who needs alone time every day and my work is very people-intensive. I am looking forward to learning how I navigate the terrain of solitude and social contacts in retirement. For now, I'm enjoying watching you all learn about it! :-)
>96 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. I read through your latest events this morning, and all I can see is I hope you and Hani are breathing easier now that some of it has straightened out. And I hope for future success to at least partly ameliorate this experience.
I just wrote and deleted a long note describing my discomfort while in the lap of luxury at the beach this weekend. Sounded too much like a lugubrious rant. But I was in the lap, and while there I was reading $2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, and the contrast just about killed me. The extremes of wealth and poverty are not hard to find in this country, in each state, even in each city or town. The wealthier your surroundings, the more remote your understanding of the hardships of others. I came home early.
33. Justine by Lawrence Durrell
34. $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America
Touchstones are definitely wonky this afternoon.
$2.00 a Day sounds like a really difficult book to read, but one those of us who are fortunate enough to live in relative luxury should read, would you say, Judy?
>98 ffortsa: Such a great book. I can definitely understand the problem of reading it in certain circumstances, though.
Hi, Judy. I'm back at work for a day, and re-connecting with work buddies, but it does remind me how much I enjoy now not being around a lot of people every day.
Judy, I do want to read it and have it on hold at the library. But it's not a book I'll be bringing for our weekend in Williamstown .
I seem to be developing some worn parts lately, although some of it might be bad habits. Reading more than an hour at a time (sometimes less) is difficult - my eyes get so tired. I suspect too much smartphone reading is the culprit, so I'm trying to cut back, but it's such an ingrained habit now. It's slowing down my reading of Orlando, due for Wednesday evening book circle.
And my right heel has developed a chronic pain, made worse, paradoxically, by sitting. So I'm off to the physical therapist as soon as I can get an appointment, just across Union Square. I'd travel some if I had to, but right across is a breeze.
Tired of this nonsense. I need a renovation.
Yikes, so sorry to hear that the tired eyes are interfering with your reading. I never read books on my smartphone but I know the convenience must be so tempting and perhaps "addictive." And I'm sorry to hear about the heel, too! I broke or bruised my little toe walking through my house the other day (no one had actually moved that cedar chest, I just ran into it!) and it is purple and painful. What a pair, eh?
Have you read Evicted by Matthew Desmond? Not that you need another depressing read about the way the system works against the poor, but it is an excellent read (I listened to it and the narration was also excellent).
>108 Ameise1: and >109 Berly: Thanks for the visit, and the sympathy. It was just that not reading and not walking left me pretty miserable - my two dominant activities!
>110 EBT1002: I read about your little toe yesterday. Nasty. At least it was the little one. Big toe breaks are bad. I assume this will limit your running for a while? another nasty. Hope it calms down soon.
I did get in to see my doc yesterday, and he gave me some good advice and a prescription for physical therapy which I'm starting on Monday. We'll see how that goes.
And I'll have to go back to my eye specialists and ask them if they have any more magic. I don't know if it's the phone eyestrain (I don't read books on it anymore, but Facebook is a time-sink I should avoid), or more floaters - somehow I seem to have more of them. Last time I asked, there was the tiniest evidence of cataract activity in one eye, so maybe that has progressed, but it usually doesn't happen that fast. It seems all my friends are having cataract surgery and lens replacement. Not that I wish for surgery, but if it would solve the problem, that would be lovely.
In any case, I finished Orlando this morning, and I don't recall Woolf ever being so funny before. She does take some lovely shots at D.H. Lawrence and other writers, and the whole fairy tale quality to the story did amuse me. We'll see what my book circle thinks of it tomorrow.
Tonight my downtown f2f group will discuss Justine. That should be interesting. I'll report back as soon as I can.
Hi, Judy! Sorry, for my long absence over here. I did not have you starred. Bad Mark? I hope your summer has been going well. Sorry, to hear about the eye issues. Bummer. Hope they can get it sorted out.
How have the books been treating you?
I hope your tired eyes improve, and the nagging heel. Debbi can't believe I read on my smartphone (too small for her), but I only do it once in a while, when I don't have a Kindle or paper book on hand.
I'm sorry to hear about the health issues. This is going to sound crazy, but have you ever rested your eyes by putting cucumber slices over your closed eyelids? It's very refreshing and a good way to force a little bit of downtime. it's not a cure for what might be an underlying problem, but it sure does feel good!
I had cataract surgery 2 1/2 years ago and the surgeries went beautifully. Lots of eye drops for weeks after! The technology is so good now.
What about reading on a tablet?
>112 msf59:, >113 SandDune:, >114 jnwelch:, >115 karenmarie: Oh thanks for all the kind words and the visits!
Mark, no need to apologize for not stopping by before. I can't keep up with your threads, and always feel I'm missing the action, but once in a while I get to stop in to see whatever is the latest. Book remarks to follow.
Rhian, how nice of you to drop by. Yes, I liked Orlando a lot, and it made me laugh, which is not something I associate with Virginia Woolf works. And then we saw the movie with Tilda Swinton. Great evocation of the ice breakup in both the book and the film, I agree. Did the Thames ever really freeze over like that?
Joe, I did read books on my phone at first, to test whether I would want the Kindle at all, but that was some time ago. I'm pretty sure it's the combination of phone reading of Facebook and the like that wears me out, and then if a physical book's typeface isn't particularly easy on the eyes, I'm doomed. I'm reading a paperback mystery right now, and so far so good. And, my optometrist sent me a checkup reminder, so all is in place.
Karenmarie, I'm sure the cucumbers feel delish. As I said to Joe, I'm sure I've gotten into bad habits of reading the news on my phone first thing in the morning, and that can't help. Glad the cataract surgeries worked out for you. I also know a lot of people who've had them, but so far I don't have that diagnosis. A lot of floaters that are annoying and probably make my eyes focus and refocus to get past them, and I don't think there's a remedy for that, alas. But I'll ask, of course.
Now, to the books.
34. Justine by Lawrence Durrell
Our reading group was quite lively discussing this, with some people hating it and some loving it. The sort of expressionist or modern style of the first two thirds, non-linear and recursive, didn't appeal to many of us, and I confess I was beginning to zone out before the linear part of the book took over. Then it was a more suspenseful tale, as the actual outcome of the shooting party was in doubt. Some of the readers loved the language, and I think if I hadn't been in a hurry to read it, and could have read a little each day, it would have been a more absorbing read for me. So it goes on the 'reread someday' list. I also felt that the rest of the quartet would flesh out the story substantially, and that we were left with only the narrator's view of a very complex society.
A number of the group felt that the book was misogynistic, which is always a risk when reading authors writing in the 50s (Think Henry Miller, who was a good friend of Durrell's). I was frustrated by the view given to Justine's character as some sort of absolute seeker, instead of a women who we eventually learned was damaged in a very particular way.
But the book is also about writers and writing. And when I reread it, I would like to try to focus on that, and on the character of Alexandria and the nature of the expat life in a city and country where you and your circle are outsiders even in a cosmopolitan city. Alexandria is so wonderfully described in this book, you can almost smell it and see the narrow streets and the beaches and buildings as if they were photographed for you. It's a city that doesn't exist anymore, of course, as the colonialists and expats of this era have long since been kicked out.
It's good to read on Kindle, so that you can look up the more erudite language Durrell sometimes uses. I did resort to Google for translations of some of the dialog in French. Some people thought his use of language was pretentious, but I feel it reflects his academic and intellectual circle and the language they were comfortable. That he doesn't give us any quarter is beside the point.
35. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
Everyone in our book circle agreed that this was a funny book, not what you would expect from Woolf, but it is after all a gloss on Vita Sackville-West and Woolf's complicated relationship with her. What is impressive: Well, for one, the brilliant evocation of such different times across the four and a half centuries of Orlando's existence. As Karenmarie mentioned, the evocation of a frozen Thames and the celebrations on the ice, and then the breakup and disaster that came after, are beautifully realized. And this continues through the coming times, in England and in Constantinople and in the gypsy camp. Then there are the changing attitudes toward women in society that Orlando lives through and adjusts to. And there are the sly sideswipes and writers past and present, which in some cases were laugh-out-loud funny.
My edition had notes in the back to help readers who don't know the historical references. Sometimes they were a bit overdone, but often helpful.
Sometimes it feels a bit like an adult fairy tale, or a fantasy adventure. Sackville-West's life has something to do with that, but to read this only as a roman-a-clef would do it an injustice. So much daring in Woolf's time and before had to do with breaking conventions that deserved to be broken, it's hardly avoidable to see this as a social commentary as well as a romp.
Whew. Two books in a row that needed my intense attention and didn't get enough of it. But now, I've given myself a treat and am reading Vertigo 42 by Martha Grimes, with all the old characters and the requisite English country houses and of course - the dog! Delightful.
Hi Judy - I hope you resolve the eye issues soon.
Great comments on your book group books. I love Woolf but haven't read Orlando -- I'll have to move it up the list.
I love Martha Grimes; she must be about due for another Jury book, right?
Judy--I hear you are having a meet-up and some theatre? Very jealous; have fun!!
I've had floaters for years. There is surgery to replace the vitreous fluid, but what I read made it seem that the risks outweighed the potential benefits.
Hi Judy... ooh, I have floaters too. Not a ton, but I'll probably develop more as I grow older and I notice them most if I try to read outside. Something about the way the sun hits a bright book page...Hope your eye and heel issues get resolved soon.
I wonder if I should try Orlando. I read Mrs. Dalloway for a college class and was entirely put off, but I've been meaning to try a different book by Woolf now that I'm *not* in class to see if I had a different response.
>117 BLBera: I am always hopeful that more Richard Jury is on the way, but she's written so many, I worry each will be her last.
>118 Berly: ah, someone blew the whistle on us. Yep, MichiganTrumpet has once again convened the annual Berkshires weekend group. Caro will be in attendance, as well as spouses.
>119 karenmarie: floaters are so annoying. I have one particularly opaque one I've had to train my brain to ignore. Thanks for your comment about the reviews!
>120 bell7: Thanks for the kind wishes. Don't let your experience with Mrs. Dalloway keep you from orlando. It's totally different from her other writing.
36. Vertigo 42 by Martha Grimes
My reaction on finishing this was " Waaa. It's over!! I want more." That said, I think Jury wasn't quite as brilliant as usual, and Wiggins more so. Nevertheless, yum!
Peace to you, Judy. I won't bother you with my aging pains. My doc did say at my last visit, "Your back is 72 years old although I know you don't think it is." Bah! Do the exercises and keep on keeping on!
Hmmm. I haven't read a Grimes in years and years. Nor a Woolf, come to think of it. Nor Durrell (one of the books I skipped meals to buy while I was at Chapel Hill).
Wow! Durrell and Woolf--some serious reading. I have TONS of floaters, but my brain mostly knows to ignore. Also, cataracts which will come out one of these days. I have taken to reading large print, when I can get it from the library, but the problem is those books are heavy.
I do think that a kindle could work, if you got something like the paperwhite with no glare.
Hi Judy! I hope you have a wonderful weekend.
>124 banjo123: I like my Paperwhite Kindle and use it for particularly heavy books more and more, even if I have the paper book. But I still only read about 5-10% of books on the Kindle.
Back from a stirring and exhausting meetup in the Berkshires with Marianne (MichiganTrumpet), Caro, their spouses and a couple we knew before LT days. Good food, good plays at Williamstown Theater Festival, great museum visiting (I eventually had complete overload, but the special exhibits at the Clark and wonderful), and terrific discussions. Breakfast for eight was such a delight as the ideas flew around the table.
Now for books. We are reading Candide and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting for August, and we are very grateful the two groups don't meet in the same week this time. That's always a trial, finishing two books with enough attention to discuss them on successive days. As the first is very short and the last isn't due until the end of the month, I'm indulging my mystery appetite with the fourth Fiona Griffiths. That, plus my volunteer obligations and my physical therapy (starting today) and a guest arriving on Wednesday, should fill the week quite nicely. I'll have to run away some other time.
BTW Judy the "Great Freeze" described in Orlando is historically accurate
I finally got myself to the Brooklyn Museum today (only 6 months after I became a member, after all) to see an exhibit focused on Georgia O'Keeffe - and it strikes me that 'focused' is the right word. Many of the items were photographs of her by her husband Alfred Stieglitz, and other portraitists and photographers drawn to her elegant style and iconic face. Cecil Beaton, Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol and especially Yousuf Karsh are all represented. She was very much in control of her image and persona, so much so that I was shocked toward the end of the exhibit to see a shot of her smiling!
Some of her paintings are featured along side the photographs, and the show includes many of her clothes, the early ones all made by her, mostly by hand. She had the figure to suit the long, simplified lines she adopted, of course. I was sorry to hear that although she lived to 99, her last years were marred by macular degeneration, a cruel disease for such a visual person.
you can see some of the show here
My Kindle died! What an affront!
Fully charged and all, it just won't turn on, alas. It's a Kindle Touch (so not exactly young), and I'm wondering if it's worth trying to fix it, or to research the newer models. There's an Amazon store up on 59th Street that must have the various models to hold and try out. Sigh. Not saying I wouldn't enjoy a lighter or snazzier version, but...
In the meantime I am progressing through This Thing of Darkness on my tablet, and Fiona is as damaged, determined and brilliant as ever.
I would invest in a new one. I love my Paperwhite, and a friend just got the Oasis and loves it...
>131 katiekrug: Yeah, I just have to have that visceral comparison, as well as the comparison of features. I may brave the heat and walk over to Best Buy today in case they have the various models on the floor.
In the meantime, nothing puts me in a good mood more than a three-hour read of a good mystery. And my eyes didn't even complain as I read on the tablet, which of course is backlit. The book, you ask?
36. This Thing of Darkness by Harry Bingham
I'm madly in love with Harry Bingham. Fiona Griffiths is so flawed, struggles so hard, is such a survivor. And this is a story 'ripped from the headlines' of the electronic age, so to speak. It is wonderful how Fiona pulls the strands of different reported crimes into a coherent web, and Bingham is nice enough for us slow folks to have her explain it all to her managers toward the end of the book, and it doesn't feel old at all. The writing really lets the reader feel the physical surrounding, and in this book that's especially important. And of course, Fiona is desperately trying to be normal, not to go rogue, and she almost makes it.
I almost forgot to record that I've been to physical therapy and learned all sorts of things about my feet. My 'toe yoga' exercise involves standing and lifting my big toes but not my other toes, then reversing and lifting my other four toes. Seems easy, right? Except my right foot, the one that's hurting, has a really hard time translating my intentions into action. It's one of the mysteries of the brain, how we tell our body parts to do things, and this body part is a little deaf. I found myself saying 'come on, lift!'. So far it does most of the time, but without the dependability of the left foot, and the reverse action is especially hard. Who knew?
It's a miracle!
I looked at the various new kinds of Kindles and was dismayed to see they don't include support for audio books. So after great travail, I found a help number for Amazon, and called it, and a very patient woman on the other end walked me through what amounted to a reset of the Kindle software and I'm BACK IN BUSINESS! YAY!
With all thanks to those who like the Paperwhite and Voyager and Oasis, I'm glad to have my Kindle functioning again. If they ever restore full audio support, I might buy a snazzy new one, but for now, I'm in heaven.
Oops. I may have found the original trouble. The on/off button doesn't work. Can't turn it off. Which is why I probably couldn't turn it on in the first place. Sigh. But a button should be fixable.
I'm glad you're back in business, Judy!
It's difficult to find the Amazon customer service number on their website, but I've had to call a couple of times and they've always been very helpful.
Good luck with the on/off button.
>135 karenmarie: They were very helpful, right up until the time they said they couldn't help. Sigh. I'll keep looking in NYC, and see if anyone will tackle the switch. I may also see what I can find on eBay in the way of a similar Kindle, with 3G and WiFi. I really don't want the Fire - I'm looking for something lighter, and I already have a Samsung tablet anyway. So we'll see.
So sorry you are having problems with Amazon and your Kindle, Judy. The Fire is not great for reading because of the glare off the screen, much like most tablets. I've a few tablets, but still use my Kindle for reading when I travel. I hope you find a new solution.
>137 cameling: Thanks. Amazon definitely does not have its act together when someone complains about their service. That said, I've found a video on Youtube that shows how to open up the kindle and sort of prime the inner button, if it's stuck. I don't know if I'm brave enough to do that. But I am still looking for a repair place here in NYC. And there are some Touch offers on eBay for not much money.
HI Judy--How's the Kindle doing?
Interesting to hear about your toe exercises. For years I worked on spreading my toes for yoga and increased balance. Now that I am doing TKD, it's the reverse. I am supposed to keep them in tight so they don't get snagged during kicking and when I kick it is supposed to be with foot pointed but toes pulled back and up, but together. Struggling!!!
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