Kristel's 75 in 2017, third edition
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This is a continuation of my thread for 2017. Kristel's 75 in 2017, 2nd thread
62. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe,
Published in 1852 by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin is an antislavery book. It is a story written in supplements like Dicken's wrote his stories and the stories of various characters revolve around Uncle Tom, a longsuffering, godly man. It was the best selling novel of the 19th century, second to the Bible. The characters can be called stereotypes and this book gets much criticism in this day and age. I read this after reading The Underground Railroad and am glad to have done so. What I liked in the story is that the author not only shows the evil of slavery in south she also shows the bigotry of the Northern people in their treatment of blacks. It is unfortunate to only criticize the book for its stereotypes and fail to acknowledge the impact of the book during the time in which it was written.
62. City of God by E. L. Doctorow
City of God by E. L. Doctorow is a story told by the narrator Everett who is writing a story about Pem, an Episcopalian priest. In the telling of the story there is a lot of short little essays or philosophical musings and often it is hard to know who is the current voice. The story looks at human relationships with God, each other and with themselves. The story starts out with a missing cross that shows up at a synagogue called the Synagogue of Evolutionary Judaism. Pem finds he no longer can believe in much of what he had, removes himself from the clergy and begins to explore Judaism. Mostly he believes in something that really makes no sense but amounts to a Christless Christianity and therefore Judaism is a better fit. He also happens to be in love with the rabbi, Sarah. So there is a lot of jumping around, we get quite a bit of a holocaust story. There is also a bit of Vietnam. There is a bit about film verses literature. While I enjoyed some of this book it really was an effort to read. Rating 3.14
63. Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Possibly the first existential novel (novella). The unnamed writer, 40 years old, tells us he is writing to no one but argues that man must choose (free will) and will choose not to live by logic and in fact will choose against logic. The second part, gives us the background of the writer and how he ended up underground. Then the very end, we learn that even this has been edited and we the reader do not know what is the truth. Rating 3.43.
65. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
The story is told on many levels. On surface it is a story of an affair and the love triangle. We have Bendrix the narrator, author, Sarah the wife/lover and Henry the husband. It is also about search for meaning and God as well as a story of being a writer. This story according to the narrator is the story of hate. The narrator is unable to trust and is full of insecurities and I question whether he ever knew love. He knew desire, jealousy and insecurity leading to meanness but he never loved. He never was able to care about anything but himself. Then there is the element of theological debate of the existence of God. I did not know that Graham Greene is considered the Catholic writer but found out when doing research about this novel after reading it. Sarah faces an existential crisis. One of the characters quote, Augustine's dictum that time "came out of the future which didn't exist yet, into the present that had no duration, and went into the past which had ceased to exist." which I really like. There is redemption and existential meaning in the book. The author struggled with his own affair and this book may very well reflect his own experiences and thoughts.
65. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Read this in one day (audio version). This is George Saunder's first novel. It is about the death of Abraham Lincoln's son Willie. I just read Team of Rivals and so reading this one now worked out well. The story is set in 1862 and gives us the current political and social climate but also has relevancy for now both in it's contrasts and similarities. The word bardo stands for Tibetan purgatory like state and the events of the book take place at the son's tomb where Lincoln comes in his grief. There are a variety of characters in this book, mostly ghosts of real life and fiction. Besides a story of grief it is also a story of history. What was occurring at the time of the presidency and that is given to us quotes from printed books, journalism, etc to give the details of what is happening, how people were thinking, etc. The work is not a traditional novel and therefore it has achieved something to add to the world of literature and the novel. The novel was based on the fact that it was "reported back at the time" that Lincoln would visit the crypt where his son's body lay to hold it. From the authors interview about the book, "the structure was not preplanned but was the result of quick solution to the structural problem". The ghosts are really a huge part of the book. Each with their own voice, giving the book it's 19th century feel. Saunders stated that he did not try for historical accuracy, just close enough. The audio has a large number of narrators that give voice to the ghosts.
From the interview with Saunders; this book was finished when Trump started running for president. Saunders states, "So it's almost like none of Trumpism got into this book directly. But if I had to compose a response to Trumpism, it would be this book. To me, all my political ideas are in the book." The author did research Lincoln's attitudes toward slavery and his changing ideas. The book is "before the emancipation proclamation". Lincoln, like a lot of northerners were promoting repatriation to Africa which was not popular with African Americans. So the conclusion is that Lincoln was a sad, kind guy and Trump is an angry, aggressive man. (From interview 1/10/17). Rating 3.71
67. The Artamonov Business by Maxim Gorky
Russian novel, saga of the Artamonov family set in the time period of the end of serfdom to the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution.
69. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Fun space opera with interesting characters, more about relationships than series science fiction.
70. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
Great travelogue (written in the sixties) by one of my favorite authors. Rating 3.75 stars
71. Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie. Story of mother daughter relationship, grief/loss, arts and politics. Was a slow read. Rating 3 stars.
72. The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. A light read. Not the best but certainly an okay read. Rating 2.75 stars
73. Soulless by Gail Carriger, Rating 2.88. Story was fun (steampunk) but too much sexual content.
75. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, second time that I've read this. Got more this time and can see another reading someday. Rating, 4.75.
76. The Roots of Heaven Romain Gary. Excellent book set in Africa after WWII and colonialism coming to an end in Africa.
77. What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era by Peggy Noonan.
Memoir of a speech writer to Ronald Reagan administration. Rating 3.13
78. Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes. This a great story that I wished was nonfiction. Rating 4.62
79. Vacationland by Sarah Stonich. Rating 3.125. connected short stories, great array of characters set in place (northeastern Minnesota).
80. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
Winner of the Booker, 2015, audio was well done but this is a very violent. Rating 4.25
81. Feed by M.T. Anderson,
The audio aspect of this book featuring the Feed was a great part of the audio. Rating; 3.37
82. God Help the Child Toni Morrison
Read this as a quick read to get a good start on October Readathon. It was good but not up to Ms Morrison's usual standard. I still enjoyed it.
Rating 3.5 stars
83. The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
Nonfiction/essay, written in 1903. This author was very interesting. He was the first black man to earn a doctorate in the U.S. He challenges Booker T. Washington of selling the blacks short and campaigned for education here in the US and overseas.
84. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood Rating 4.75
covers the time period from just before WWI to just after WWII and actually into 1999. It is the story of two sisters. Iris is the sister who is telling the story in her old age and she is such a perfectly developed "old" person. I just loved her as the senior Iris, not so much as the young Iris. The story is not only historical, a story about sisters, it is also a mystery and a bit of science fiction.
85. The Fifth Season by N.K.Jemisin Rating 4.00
this book kept popping up in my horizon (like an obelisk) until I finally bought it. This is a first book in The Broken Earth Series) and I found it to be entertaining. Racism, ecology, strong female characters, sexual diversity, this book covers a lot, a book that starts with the END, status quo is unacceptable.
86. Transit by Rachel Cusk, Read this book because it is on the Giller short list. Why I am not sure. The Giller is a Canadian Award and this author is living in England and the story takes place in London. I also did not realize that this is book 2, the first was Outline. It is a story of a woman, divorced, mother of two who is in transition. There are some beautiful quote-worthy lines in this book. The title of the book pretty much sums up the themes found in the book.
October Books Read
Best book of the month was Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood.
87. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
I enjoyed this YA novel written by Elizabeth Wein and my appreciation increased when the author explained her research and decision making in writing this book. I listened to the audio version narrated by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell. The story is set in WWII and is a story of two young women and their friendship, one a aviator and the other an espionage agent. The setting is France and the French Resistance and England.
88. Beartown by Fredrik Backman. I read this for f2f bookclub and this is the first book by the author that I read. A story of a small town. A story of hockey and the people who play and live hockey. It is a story of coming of age. A story of moral decisions. An overall enjoyable read.
89. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis J.D.Vance
I think this book has gotten some less than favorable reviews but I found this book a memoir I could really relate too. This is me. I may not be an Appalachian hillbilly but my origin is the same economic status and really explains to me why I never feel like I fit comfortably with my current economic status. The author is no one special but he has pulled himself up from his humble origins and is a graduate of Yale and a lawyer. He writes this book mostly as memoir but there is some great statistics and facts also included. I listened to this book and it was read by the author who did a great job.
90. The Obelisk Gate Second book in The Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin. Audio. The first book of the series The Fifth Season was a world building or world ending book with it's first sentence. "This is the way the world ends, for the last time." This second book continues with Essun who has not found her daughter yet but who has found a former acquaintance, Alabaster Tenring, who has a request of Essun. Nassun, Essun's daughter also has a large part in this second book. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
N. K. Jemisin is an author of speculative fiction. In 2016, she became the first black person to win the Best Novel Hugo for The Fifth Season. In 2017, she won Hugo Best Novel again, for The Obelisk Gate.
This is a time of year when I as a non-American ponder over what I am thankful for.
I am thankful for this group and its ability to keep me sane during topsy-turvy times.
I am thankful that you are part of this group.
I am thankful for this opportunity to say thank you.
>39 PaulCranswick:, Thanks so much, Paul for the Thanksgiving greetings!
91. The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien,
I've had this book on my shelf for quite sometime. In a way I wished I had read it first before Hobbit and Lord of the Rings but this was good time too as I read it right after. It is published posthumorously by Tolkien's son and that begs the question of whether this really is Tolkien's writings or his son's with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay and the publisher. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it a lot. It is reportedly, Tolkien's world building exercises that led to the foundation for The Hobbit and LOTR. I read this as a chapter a day with other's on Litsy and that made it special.
From wikipedia; The Silmarillion comprises five parts. The first part, Ainulindalë, tells of the creation of Eä, the "world that is". Valaquenta, the second part, gives a description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural powers in Eä. The next section, Quenta Silmarillion, which forms the bulk of the collection, chronicles the history of the events before and during the First Age, including the wars over the Silmarils that gave the book its title. The fourth part, Akallabêth, relates the history of the Downfall of Númenor and its people, which takes place in the Second Age. The final part, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, is a brief account of the circumstances which led to and were presented in The Lord of the Rings.
The five parts were initially separate works, but it was the elder Tolkien's express wish that they be published together. Because J. R. R. Tolkien died before he finished revising the various legends, Christopher gathered material from his father's older writings to fill out the book. In a few cases, this meant that he had to devise completely new material in order to resolve gaps and inconsistencies in the narrative.
92. World's End by T. C. Boyle
Story of generations of Dutch that settled the New York area. A family saga (two families actually) and it goes back and forth from early settlement (1600s to to the 1960-70s). I really enjoyed learning about the Dutch and the early years of the New York area. I thought the author did a great job of putting the history into his characters and addressing issues of conservative verses socialism/communism. Rating: 4.375.
93. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
I found it hard to engage with this book initially but after awhile it drew you in. A bit different that the usual Dickens. A bit of mystery. Social statement about the justice system. Rating 3.625
94. Jackaby by William Ritter
Entertaining book, Sherlock Holm's type character that solves the mystery with a bit of folklore, mythological, religion and the supernatural.
November books read
Favorite for the month: The Obelisk Gate by Jemisin
95. The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens,
I received this from audible and I listen to it yearly since I got it. I like it more each year. Rating 3.875
96. Aesop's Fables by Aesop
short little proverbs usually using animals to tell a morality stories. Some of these proverbs are often spoken but wonder how many know whence they come? Remind me of the Proverbs from the Bible. Rating 3.75
97. The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke, Short stories by the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. The first story, The Ladies of Grace Adieu references those gentlemen and Mr Strange makes an appearance. The story is strongly feminine and Mr Strange does not have a favorable appearance. The stories feature magic and faeries as well as alternate history. My favorite in the collection are Tom Brightwind or How the Fairy Bridge Was Built at Thoresby and John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner. I also liked Mrs Mabb. 4 stars
98. Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall. This book started out having me wondering if I wanted to really read it but it was worth reading. This is a book that is about Adverse Childhood Experiences. Sugar is a young woman, abused by her mother, brother, and all the kids at school. A great coming of age story of resiliency. Audio is well done.
99. What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt.
Loved this one about fragmentation in relationships, are, mental illness and the culture/mood of the 80s and 90s.
101. Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott,
Audio well done but had issues with this one. A series but I will not be reading further into the series. Rating 3.25
102: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, mostly funny story about gods, spiders, brothers and marriage. Audio. Rating 3.75
103. The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen, another audio, 5 hours, so done in a day. Short stories about the Vietnamese immigrant experience. Rating 3.65
104. Wintering by Peter Geye. A winner, local Minnesota award, Minnesota author, set in Northeastern Minnesota boundary waters area. Father/son story, survival. Rating 4.75.
105. The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and other stories by Terry Pratchet written when he was a young person.
106. Man's Fate by André Malraux, translated by Haakon M. Chevalier, 4 stars.
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.