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#3 Banjo's 2017 Book-life Continues

This is a continuation of the topic Thread # 2 May the Books be With you!.

75 Books Challenge for 2017

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1banjo123
Sep 4, 2017, 7:21pm Top

2banjo123
Edited: Dec 25, 2017, 3:11pm Top

3banjo123
Edited: Sep 4, 2017, 7:25pm Top

Happy September, reading friends! I wanted to start this thread with Mandela, in honor of my daughter's study abroad in South Africa, and Mandela's general awesomeness. And I have always loved this quote. Banjo, jr had it on the t-shirt for her high school academic club,

But then I found the Wollstonecraft quote, and needed it as well.

4banjo123
Sep 4, 2017, 7:28pm Top

2017 books read!

1. Kindred by Octavia Butler
2. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
3. The Mortifications by Derek Palacio
4. The Double by Jose Saramago
5. The Poet's Dog by Patricia MacLachlan
6. The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn
7. North Water by Ian McGuire
8. The Peculiar Life of the Lonely Postman
9, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
10, Dark Money by Jane Mayer
11. Objects in Mirror by Kate Carroll de Gutes

12. The Good WIfe by Stewart O'Nan 2/11
13. Therese and Isabelle by Violette leDuc 2/19
14. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
15. Elephant Company by Vicki Croke.
16. The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux
17. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

18. A Little life by Hanya Yanagihara
19. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou 3/14
20. Words Will Break Concrete: The Passion of Pussy Riot by Masha Gessen
21. Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera
22. The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
23. War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans
24. Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostovo
25. All The Birds In the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

26. My Life With Bob by Pamela Paul
27. March Book One by John Lewis
28. Hallelujah: The Welcome Table by Maja Angelou
29. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
30. Ammonite by Nicola Griffith
31. Commonwealth by Ann Pratchett
32. The City in Which I Love You by Li-Young Lee
33. Counting Coup by Larry Colton
34. The Sympathizer

35. Like A Straw Bird It Follows Me by Ghassan Zaqtan
36. The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan 5/5
37. In The Darkroom by Susan Faludi 5/13
38. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston 5/13
39. To Steal a Kingdom
40. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
41 A House without Windows by Nadia Hashimi
42. Charity and Sylvia but Rachel Hope Cleves
43 One Kick by Chelsea Cain.

44. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
45. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
46. Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
47. Crossing Open Ground by Barry Lopez
48. The New Boy by Tracy Chevalier
49. The Lone Ranger and Tonto fistfight in Heaven
50, Refuge: An Unnatural History by Terry Tempest Williams
51. Death of a RIver Guide by Richard Flanagan6/24
52 At the Existentialist Cafe

53 Mockingbird: I can Explain by Chelsea Cain
54 Just Kids by Patty Smith
55. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
56. Bittersweet by Nevada Barr
57. The Best We Could
58. An American Childhood by Annie Dillard
59. LaRose by Louise Erdich
60. You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
61. Born a Crime

62. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
63. A Tale for A TIme Being by Ruth Ozeki
64. People Who Knock on the Door by Patricia Highsmith
65. The One Device by Brian Merchant
66. The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
67. Spheres of Disturbance by Amy Schutzer

6banjo123
Edited: Dec 24, 2017, 8:44pm Top

Currently Reading:
The Parking Lot Attendant

7banjo123
Sep 4, 2017, 7:30pm Top

Next, my categories of reading:

The 2016 New York Times best 10 books. (Now all completed, as of 6/25/17)

The Vegetarian by Han Kang read in 2016
Evicted by Matthew Desmond read in 2016
The Return but Hisham Matar read in 2016
Dark Money by Jane Mayer--READ
War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans--- READ
North Water by Ian McGuire Read!
Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead--READ
The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan READ
At the existentialist cafe by Sarah Bakewell READ
In the Darkroom by SUsan Faludi READ

8banjo123
Edited: Nov 8, 2017, 4:54pm Top

The American Author's Challenge. This year I am going to try to be a completist in Mark's AAC.

January- Octavia Butler: Kindred
February- Stewart O' Nan The Good Wife
March- William Styron The Confessions of Nat Turner
April- Poetry Month the City in Which I Love You by Li-Young Lee
May- Zora Neale Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God
June- Sherman Alexie The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven
July- James McBride The Good Lord Bird
August- Patricia Highsmith People Who Knock on the Door by Patricia Highsmith
September- Short Story Month Fortune Smiles by Adams Johnson
October- Ann Patchett The Magician's Assistant
November- Russell Banks The Sweet Hereafter
December- Ernest Hemingway

9banjo123
Edited: Nov 22, 2017, 1:58pm Top

And I will also try to be a Completist in the Non-Fiction Challenge:

January: Prize Winners Fun Home by Alison Bechdel The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn
February: Voyages of Exploration The Old Patagonian Express
March: Heroes and Villains I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
April: Hobbies, Pastimes and Passions {My Life with BOB; Hallelujah: The Welcome Table Counting Coup
May: History To Steal A Kingdom; Charity and Sylvia
June: The Natural World Crossing Open Ground Refuge, An Unnatural History
July: Creators and Creativity Just Kids by Patti Smith
August: I’ve Always Been Curious About….The Hour of the Land by Terry Tempest Williams
September: Gods, Demons and Spirits Zealot by Reza Aslan
October: The World We Live In: Current Affair What Happened by Hillary Clinton
November: Science and Technology
December: Out of Your Comfort Zone

10banjo123
Sep 4, 2017, 7:32pm Top

Other LT Challenges and reads, which I will try to participate in, though not to be a completist, include:

The Re-Read Challenge Fun Home, I know Why the Caged Bird Sings The Lone Ranger and Tonto
The British Author Challenge
The Canadian Challenge The Heart Goes Last A Tale for a Time Being
The Reading Globally Challenges War and Turpentine
Obama Challenge The Fire Next Time Fates and Furies

11banjo123
Edited: Oct 2, 2017, 1:08am Top

My Book-Groups:

I belong to two, a Lesbian Book Group, which has been good for increasing the diversity of my reading, although not always great for the quality; and a regular book group, that mostly reads literary fiction. Books read for these groups :
Fun Home
The Double by Jose Saramago
Therese and Isabelle by Violette Leduc
Elephant company

I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou
Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera
Ammonite by Nicola Griffith
The Sympathizer

Charity and Sylvia
the Nightingale

Bittersweet by Nevada Barr
LaRose by Louise Erdich

Spheres of Disturbance
Heir to the Glimmering World by Cynthia Ozick
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

12banjo123
Edited: Nov 17, 2017, 4:05pm Top

Early Reviewers:

I enjoy participating in the Early Reviewers program, and end up with a book most months.

The Mortifications by Derek Palacio
The Peculair Life of the Lonely Postman
My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul
New Boy by Tracy Chevalier
The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
Riot Days by Maroa Alyokhina
Walden

13banjo123
Edited: Nov 20, 2017, 12:48am Top

I am planning to do the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: COMPLETED!

Read a book about sports. Counting Coup
Read a debut novel. The Mortifications
Read a book about books. My Life with Bob
Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South
American author. Of Love and Other Demons by Garcia Marquez
Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative. the MortificationsThe City in Which I Love You The Sympathizer
Read an all-ages comic. March Book One
Read a book published between 1900 and 1950. -- Homage to Catalonia
Read a travel memoir. The Old Patagonian Express
Read a book you’ve read before. Fun Home I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location. Objects in the Mirror by
Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location. The Double by Jose Saramago
Read a fantasy novel. Kindredall the birds in the sky
Read a nonfiction book about technology. The One Device
Read a book about war. Elephant Company War and Turpentine
Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+. Juliet Takes A Breath
Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country. Fun HomeTherese and Isabelle I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Read a classic by an author of color. The Fire Next TIme by James Baldwin, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
Read a superhero comic with a female lead. Mockingbird: I can explain
Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey . The Mortifications
Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel. Bittersweet by Nevada Barr
Read a book published by a micropress. Objects in the Mirror
Read a collection of stories by a woman. Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. Like A Straw Bird it Follows Me
Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. Kindred, Underground Railroad

14banjo123
Sep 4, 2017, 7:35pm Top

I am challenging myself to read ALL of the books in my "read very soon" pile. Some of these will also go with other challenges... here they are:

Underground Railroad by Colson Whiteheasd-- READ
Words Will Break Cement: the Passion of Pussy Riot by Masha Gessen --READ
The Good Wife by Stewart O'Nan READ
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi READ
The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova --READ
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen READ
To Steal a Kingdom; Probing Hawaiian History by Michael Daougherty READ
Death of a River Guide by Richard Flanagan READ
Just Kids by Patti Smith READ
An American Childhood by Annie Dillard READ

THe Mirrored World by Debra Dean
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
How to be Both by Ali Smith
Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
The Tender Bar by JR Moehringer
Shipping News by Annie Prouix

15banjo123
Edited: Sep 4, 2017, 7:47pm Top

So we are back from our Chicago trip, which was great. We had a chance to go to the Art Institute; see friends, and the wedding was lovely. It was a very unique wedding--half Pentecostal and half Jewish. They combined the traditions and were able to both break a wineglass AND jump over the broom. They are very happy and perfect for each other.

Mrs. Banjo and I were also able to meet up with Mark, for beers and book talk. A great way to end our trip!

Back in Portland, it's hot, and smoky. There is actually an advisory not to go outdoors. (advise we already ignored, for a walk in the park and lunch at the foodcarts.) Here is picture of myself and Chica the dog this morning.



Otherwise, trying to do a little relaxing, and a little housework. I have several books to review, so will try to do that a little later, after some laundry and dusting.

16Berly
Sep 4, 2017, 9:27pm Top

I know! Can it cool down and be less smoky? I am ready for summer to be over! Congrats on the new thread. Glad you had fun at the wedding. Sounds like a fun blending of traditions.

17banjo123
Sep 5, 2017, 12:03am Top

Right, Kim. I can handle the heat (now that we have air conditioning) but the smoke is really getting to me. I can't imagine how tough it must be for those nearer the fires.

18banjo123
Sep 5, 2017, 12:08am Top

Spheres of Disturbance by Amy Schutzer

Read for my lesbian book group. It's OK, but no big thrill. The story revolves a woman who is dying of cancer, and wants to choose the day of her death; and her daughter, who is having a hard time accepting the inevitable. It's a story told from multiple viewpoints, including that of a pot-bellied pig named Charlotta.

The pig was my favorite character, and I really felt that Schutzer described the thought process of the pig very accurately. But I felt that the plethora of other points of view diluted the main story, and brought in unnecessary plot elements.

19banjo123
Sep 5, 2017, 12:28am Top

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

I received this through the Early Reviewers; and it ended up being a very readable book which made me think. The book is about a family, living in upper-class New England; whose equilibrium is rocked when the father, a well-regarded teacher, is accused of sexual abuse of students. The book takes us through the year or so after the arrest, through the viewpoints of his wife, his high-school age daughter, and his grown son. All are surprised by the accusation, and grapple with the issues of what to believe and what kind of loyalty is owed.

It raises the question: if you find out new information about someone that you love, does that change who they are, and how does it change your relationship. All three are devastated by the accusation, and subsequent social ostracism, but deal with it very differently. The son, was the most interesting character to me. He is gay, and his first boyfriend was his track coach. The side plot on this issue was very well done, I thought.

The one thing we never get is the story from the father's side. This is frustrating, but I think a good choice, because it puts us in the same difficult position that his family is in.

20banjo123
Sep 5, 2017, 12:33am Top

The Hour of the Land by Terry Tempest Williams

This book is lovely, and thought provoking. I didn't feel it was as strong as Refuge, but still a very insightful personal exploration. And a strong call for better environmental protections, and protection of our National Parks.

She really gets at the fact that the division between nature and human is a false division. Here is a favorite quote:
“Desert strategies are useful: In times of drought, pull your resources inward; when water is scarce, find moisture in seeds; to stay strong and supple, send a taproot down deep; run when required, hide when necessary; when hot go underground; do not fear darkness, it's where one comes alive.”

21banjo123
Edited: Sep 5, 2017, 12:52am Top

Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

Everyone of the stories is this collection is quirky, unique and disturbing. There are little bits of hope sprinkled throughout, but mostly things are grim. (Probably best to read this book when you have some emotional reserves, and aren't going to fall into despair at the state of humanity.)

So, I was going to read this slowly, and spread the stories out over the month. But every time my eyes fell on the first sentence, I had to keep reading until the end. It's genius.

22msf59
Sep 5, 2017, 7:11am Top

Happy New Thread, Rhonda! Love the toppers. And hooray for TTW and Fortune Smiles!

23drneutron
Sep 5, 2017, 2:10pm Top

Happy new thread!

24lkernagh
Sep 5, 2017, 4:18pm Top

Happy new thread, Rhonda. Sounds like your trip to Chicago was fabulous. As for the smoke and heat, I can do without either. Victoria hasn't suffered too much from the haze but it blew in last night and I am finding it strange to have to use the desk lamp in the middle of the day, it is so dark outside.

>15 banjo123: - Excellent picture of you and Chica!

25PaulCranswick
Sep 5, 2017, 4:47pm Top

>1 banjo123: Great topper, Rhonda. Mr. Mandela was a one-off how he managed to overcome those thirty or so years of incarceration and still love his fellow man is a constant reminder of how we should all strive to be better and impose mercy and forgiveness over being vindictive and keeping hatred and selfishness in our hearts.

Happy new thread. xx

26BLBera
Sep 5, 2017, 5:13pm Top

Happy new thread, Rhonda. Love the quotes.

I loved The Hour of Land and have added the Whittall to my WL; Fortune Smiles was already there. I'll wait for a time I'm in a happy place.

Your Chicago trip sounds like fun. I hope your weather improves soon; you've had a weird summer, weather wise.

27banjo123
Edited: Sep 5, 2017, 8:38pm Top

>22 msf59: Thanks, Mark! Adam Johnson is something.

>23 drneutron: Thanks for stopping by Jim.

>24 lkernagh: Thanks Lori! Chica is such a sweet dog.

>25 PaulCranswick: You are right, Paul, Mandela was amazing. I read his autobiography a few years ago and was awed by his determination and his belief in education.) It really struck me all the effort he went to to get an educations, since not much was available to Blacks then (and even less later under the Bantu education act. It gave me pause to think about how little many students here value their right to an education.
Banjo, jr texted this morning that the University of Capetown may close down tomorrow, due to student strike. I am sure the students have some good reasons to strike, but it seems a shame to interrupt their education like that.

>26 BLBera: Chicago was tons of fun, Beth! And yes, this summer is the weirdest. But I am excited now for next summer, as I read on Kim's thread that you will be in town for a meet-up!

28FAMeulstee
Sep 6, 2017, 7:41am Top

Happy new thread, Rhonda!
Mandela was a very special and amazing man. I wish there were more like him.

Nice picture of you and Chica :-)

29banjo123
Sep 8, 2017, 12:17am Top

Thanks, Anita! Mandela was quite a guy.

30EBT1002
Sep 8, 2017, 12:55am Top

>1 banjo123: I LOVE that quote!

I hope you are doing alright with the terrible smoke and ash in the Portland area, Rhonda. Such a tragedy these fires are. My heart breaks for the humans affected but also for all the animals.....

Fires, floods.... I'm an atheist but it can make you ponder.....

Your Chicago trip sounds great. I went to grad school about 2 hours south of Chicago and I used to visit the Art Institute at least a couple times every year. I have fond memories....

Hoping for rain for our whole region ~~ and hugs for Chica who looks right smart on your against-orders adventure to the park and the food trucks (hard to resist....).

31banjo123
Sep 9, 2017, 5:45pm Top

Hi Ellen! Mandela was pretty cool, no? The smoke has been very bothersome, I was stir crazy with staying inside, and really felt it in my eyes and lungs. It's so much better now that the winds have shifted, but I feel bad for the people in Central Oregon.

Here in the Banjo household, we are feeling badly for Chica today. She had a big dental surgery yesterday, and her mouth is sore. Eventually she should feel better, but for now she is a bit woe-be-gone. We also feel for Banjo, Jr in Capetown. She was sick, finally went to the doctor and turned out to have a sinus infection. They gave her all sorts of medicine, which she is taking, and told her to rest, which she did not do as well as she should. Hopefully she is better now, she is off this weekend at a homestay in a nearby township. It sounds interesting, but maybe not if you are completely congested.

In general, Banjo Jr is having a great time and loves South Africa. And we have been able to stay in pretty close contact through What'sAp and skype.

We have a quiet weekend now, which is nice. I have some books to report on.

32banjo123
Sep 9, 2017, 6:03pm Top

Zealot by Reza Aslan

I wanted to read this book about the historical Jesus because Aslan is coming to the Literary Arts series, and also it fit in for the non-fiction read this month. It's a pretty easy non-fiction read, and short if you don't count the foot-notes. (which, full disclosure, I skipped. Aslan has a readable style for non-fiction, but...

My problem with the book is that first he tells us that we know almost nothing about the historical Jesus, then he proceeds to tell us what Jesus was like. He describes Jesus as a Zealot, belonging to a strain of Nationalistic Jews, opposed to Roman rule and the corruption of a religious elite.

This is an interesting picture, seems overly speculative. Previously Aslan explained that all we know about Jesus is that he did live, he was Jewish, and from Nazareth. (The Gospels are not very reliable as historical sources, because they were all written decades after the fact, and there is very little mention of Jesus in other contemporary writings.)

33banjo123
Sep 9, 2017, 6:12pm Top

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

I really liked this very readable Nigerian novel about childlessness and polygamy in a modern marriage. There is a lot of drama and plot-twists, so I found this to be quite a page-turner. I liked the way Adebayo connected her heroine, Yejida's emotionally deprived childhood to her passivity in her own marriage. She so much wanted family and belonging, that it was hard for her to be objective about what was happening. And her husband Akin was definitely a very recognizable jerk.

But I am going to knock the rating down a bit for the book being overly melodramatic, and for the ending, which was just too much.

34BLBera
Sep 9, 2017, 8:22pm Top

Great comments, Rhonda. I think I'll skip the Aslan, but Stay with Me is definitely on the list. I think Ellen also liked it.

35EBT1002
Sep 10, 2017, 1:55am Top

>33 banjo123: The ending lost a half-star or so from me, too, Rhonda. I didn't buy it even though I still quite liked the novel.

36banjo123
Sep 10, 2017, 5:12pm Top

>34 BLBera: Beth, I think Stay With Me will be right up your alley.

>35 EBT1002: Definitely, Ellen, but overall a good read and I look forwrd to her next book. I may have over-rated... I think I tend to do that, but it's hard to be objective with the ratings.

37msf59
Sep 10, 2017, 6:32pm Top

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. It was just a week ago and we were just jabbering away together. Good times.

Glad you enjoyed Stay With Me. That one is on the list.

38banjo123
Sep 10, 2017, 8:28pm Top

>37 msf59: Just a week ago, and so much fun! Now whenever I log into LT, Mrs. B asks me what you are reading, and if you have been drinking any good beer lately.

39msf59
Sep 10, 2017, 9:32pm Top

Tell Wendy I am reading Swing Time and a George Saunders collection. Grins...

40Berly
Sep 15, 2017, 12:45am Top

>32 banjo123: I usually wait until after the guest lecturer comes for Literary Arts and after that less then stellar review, I definitely will wait and see!! Hope Banjo Jr is feeling healthier.

41vancouverdeb
Edited: Sep 15, 2017, 7:12pm Top

I confess I really loved Stay With Me. I gave it an entire 5 stars, and that is the only book so far that I have given 5 stars too. But hey, we are all different in what we enjoy and how we decide to rate. We are finally rid of our smoke here, I hope you are too?

42PaulCranswick
Sep 15, 2017, 10:53pm Top

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, Rhonda. xx

43banjo123
Sep 16, 2017, 2:48pm Top

>39 msf59:. Good to know, Mark! I am reading Lincoln in the Bardo. Wow! IT is different than anything else I have ever read.

> 40 KIm, I don't know if I trust my opinions on this, because religion isn't exactly my thing, but I looked at other reviews and they had similar problems with the book. Hopefully he will be interesting to hear in person

BAnjo Jr is much better, thanks. She is getting ready for a Spring Break trip to some resort type place. FUnny that it is spring there.

> Deb, I think your review steered me to Stay with me and I am very glad I read it, even if it wasn't five star for me.

the air in Portland is much better now, though I think the quality is still a bit funky. Rain is due next week. Hooray!!!

44banjo123
Sep 16, 2017, 2:55pm Top

This weekend we are in Ashland, seeing some plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. last night we saw a awesome production of the Odyssey adapted by Mary Zimmerman.

The smoke actually is worse here than Portland, though not as bad as I expected. So probably no real hiking for us while we are here.

And >42 PaulCranswick: Paul, I missed you before. THanks, it should be a great weekend.

45ffortsa
Sep 16, 2017, 10:33pm Top

>44 banjo123: Mary Zimmerman is one of my favorite directors. I hope she brings more work this way soon.

46msf59
Sep 17, 2017, 8:31am Top

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. Hooray for red-tailed hawks! I hope you are still enjoying Lincoln in the Bardo. I am having a wonderful time with The Heart's Invisible Furies. Expect more warbling.

What has Wendy been reading lately?

47BLBera
Sep 17, 2017, 10:31am Top

Enjoy Ashland, Rhonda. I hope to make it there next summer. Fingers crossed. I hope the fires go out soon.

48banjo123
Edited: Sep 17, 2017, 12:51pm Top

>45 ffortsa:. That's great! I hadn't heard of Zimmerman, but thought this was terrific. Hopefully they will bring it your way

>. hi Mark! so now I get to report on Wendy's reading? SHe just finished heir to the glimmering world which we are reading for book group. And is just starting the song poet. Also she says to tell you she has not forgotten that she is going to send you jump off creek but she hasn't found it yet. I need to organize our books.

>47 BLBera:. Thanks Beth. I just hope it isn't so smoky when you make it back to Oregon.

49banjo123
Sep 17, 2017, 12:50pm Top

our play last night, a musical about August Wilson's poetry, did not work for me. BUt we did have a fabulous dinner beforehand. I will try to post a picture of the paella when I get back to our computer. today is Our last playhenry the 4 part two. Then home

I did finish lincoln in the bardo. It might be 5 stars, but it was so different that I need time to think.

50ffortsa
Sep 17, 2017, 9:54pm Top

>49 banjo123: Henry IV Part 2. Hm. Sort of an in betweener, between the great fun of Part 1 and the great heroism of Henry V. Can't wait to hear about it.

51banjo123
Sep 22, 2017, 12:11am Top

>50 ffortsa: Henry IV Part 2 was pretty good, not great though. Unfortunately we had a understudy for Falstaff, and I think it might've been better with the original. The understudy did a fine job, but it's such a central role. It was in the Thomas, which is the smaller, more intimate theater. We saw Richard II there last year, and it was great, you could see the spit. This year they did both Henry IV's, and I regret that we didn't have time for the first. Set in modern times, and a good companion for The Odyssey with the contrast between love for the earthy and home-like pleasures against the "nobility" of adventures and war. Here is a picture:


52banjo123
Sep 22, 2017, 1:09am Top

I hope everyone has had a good week. We have had a ton of rain, which is great, though a bit disconcerting after so much sun. The air is much better.
I have been busy, work has been stressful. All OK, just intense. So I am glad that tomorrow is Friday! Hoping to get some LT time this weekend, and some reading time.

53charl08
Sep 22, 2017, 2:55am Top

>51 banjo123: I did Henry V at school and it's put me off all the Henrys at the theatre. Those costumes in the photo look very striking though...

Hope that the smoke has cleared.

54ffortsa
Edited: Sep 22, 2017, 3:21pm Top

>51 banjo123: Is that Mistress Quickly in the slinky dress? Whoa!

>53 charl08: Oh, what a pity. School can kill so much Shakespeare by emphasizing the 'classic' instead of the characters. Branagh's film is very faithful to the original and I think very clear and accessible, in case you'd like to give it another try.

55banjo123
Sep 22, 2017, 4:43pm Top

>54 ffortsa: Yes, and Prince Hal with his hands up.

56BLBera
Sep 23, 2017, 2:38pm Top

Have a restful weekend, Rhonda. It looks like an interesting staging of Henry IV - the history plays are the ones I'm least familiar with.

57banjo123
Sep 23, 2017, 5:33pm Top

>53 charl08: Hi Charlotte! I missed you before. The costumes were very entertaining. And the air is much cleaner now, thankfully.

>56 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! I need a restful weekend, being gone all weekend last week, and then straight to an intense workweek, has left me a little frazzled. We have the symphony tonight, and tomorrow book-club. So some nice culture.

I am not very familiar with the history plays either, and I always mean to read the play ahead of time, but seldom do. However, OSF does do a great job of making Shakespeare understandable---I honestly don't know how the actors manage to say those lines, and make it sound like they are just people you could meet in a corner bar.

Next year they have Henry V; also Othello, which I really want to see. And Romeo and Juliet and Love's Labor Lost, and a bunch of modern stuff. Usually we manage to see three plays---that seems to be our limit for attentiveness--unless we manage to get down twice.

58banjo123
Sep 23, 2017, 5:39pm Top

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Per wikipedia, "In some schools of Buddhism, bardo or antarabhāva is an intermediate, transitional, or liminal state between death and rebirth." This novel explores Abraham Lincoln's experiences in the days after his son, Willie, died, through the voices of the dead, who are crowded in the cemetery where Willie is interred. The book intersperses the vices of dead, but not yet departed, souls, with quotations from various historical sources.

It sounds weird, and it is different that anything else I have ever read. It works, however, and is surprisingly fun to read. But I am going for four stars, as I think the book relies overmuch on technique. I liked it while reading it, but it hasn't stuck with me as much as some books do.

59banjo123
Sep 23, 2017, 5:47pm Top

The Family Fang by Kevin WIlson

This book seems to be about family, and about how parents can mess up their kids. Caleb and Camille Fang are performance artists, who used their children, Buster and Annie, in their pieces. These mainly seem to involve causing a scene in a public place, and filming it. As the book begins, Annie and Buster are grown, an actress and aspiring writer, both have difficult establishing their own authentic identities as separate from their parent's performance.

When I read the book, it seemed so-so, interesting and readable, but also not hard to put down. But in retrospect, an insightful take on the process of moving on from one's childhood and family identity.

60PaulCranswick
Sep 23, 2017, 10:36pm Top

>59 banjo123: How parents can mess up their kids? That has been a theme of discussion between Hani and I this weekend! We have been tearing at each other for about a month and I can see that even the ever stoic Belle is starting to lose patience. We have a date to the cinema this early evening so finger's crossed it goes well. xx

61msf59
Edited: Sep 24, 2017, 3:59pm Top

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. I loved The Family Fang. I also enjoyed his story collection.

I just started Sing, Unburied, Sing. High hopes.

62banjo123
Sep 24, 2017, 11:42pm Top

>60 PaulCranswick: Oh, Paul, parenting is hard! But I think that the fact that you and Hani are talking about it and are both committed to making things better for Belle is great. And hopefully a fun movie!
>61 msf59: Yay, Mark! I am eager to read Sing, Unburied, Sing. And Ward will be in Portland for the Arts and LEcture Series.

63banjo123
Sep 24, 2017, 11:53pm Top

Heir to the Glimmering World by Cynthia Ozick

Speaking of messed up parents! The main character loses her mother at a young age, and her dad is a disinterested self-centered jerk. She goes to work for a refugee family, the Misswissers, who have just escaped Nazi Germany. The mother seems mentally ill (but is she?) barely leaves her bed and can't pay attention to her many children. The father spends his time studying the Karaites, an obscure Jewish sect. Add in their benefactor, James, who, as a child, was the model for his father's children's books; "the Bear Boy." The books made a lot of money, but at the expense of James's sense of self.

The story unfolds, with plot twists and last minute surprises. I liked this book, which plays with ideas of the intersection between public and private lives. We read it for book group and, full disclosure. several in the book group didn't like it.

64ffortsa
Sep 25, 2017, 1:01pm Top

>54 ffortsa: oops. Correction. Branagh's film is Henry V, not Henry IV part 2. I've seen the three Henry plays several times, and Henry IV part 2 is not my favorite. But they are much better than the earlier works, Henry VI parts 1, 2 and 3. They are so skippable that I've only seen them condensed into one evening.

65banjo123
Sep 25, 2017, 2:09pm Top

>64 ffortsa: Well, it sounds like OSF did a better-than-average job with the play. & they definitely made if feel relevant to today.

And happy new week to everyone! Monday hit me hard this week; I wish I had another day at home to chill out.

66BLBera
Sep 30, 2017, 1:31pm Top

The Ozick sounds like something I would like, Rhonda. Did you have a good discussion? I could recommend it for my group...

I'm looking forward to the Ward as well, Rhonda.

67PaulCranswick
Sep 30, 2017, 9:21pm Top

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, Rhonda.

68banjo123
Oct 2, 2017, 1:14am Top

>66 BLBera: Beth, I think you would like it, but to be honest, the book group was lukewarm on it and the discussion not too exciting. So, not sure it's the best choice. I think probably Homegoing was our best discussion so far this year.

>67 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul! A good weekend, but too fast.

In book reading news---I finished my 75th book of the year! Woohoo!

It was Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, read for the Lesbian book group. This was a re-read for me, and I did not expect too much, I remember liking it back when it first came out, but thought that it would likely be too cutesy for me today. However, it held my interest pretty well. I will try to write up my thoughts on it sometimes soon.

69Berly
Oct 2, 2017, 1:17am Top

Congrats on the big 75!!!

70banjo123
Oct 2, 2017, 1:22am Top

And, as it is October 1, here are my October reading plans:

I have two ERC's. I still have Walden, which is one of my favorite books, but I think that my life is going too fast for it right now. I may do a review without re-reading, and save the re-read for a more contemplative time. And I also have Riot Days, about Pussy Riot, by one of the members.

For the non-fiction read, I am hoping to read HRC's What Happened.

For the AAC, I think I have read all of Patchett, and was thinking of re-reading The Magician's Assistant

I have to read The Sellout for book group, and the lesbian book group is reading something which I don't remember.

For the rest of my reading, I am hoping to concentrate on Spain and Portugal. I want to reread The Shadow of the Wind; and I have Orwell's homage to Catalonia. Other ideas?

71banjo123
Oct 2, 2017, 1:22am Top

>69 Berly: Thanks, Kim!

72msf59
Oct 2, 2017, 6:57am Top

Hi, Rhonda. Hope you had a good weekend. Glad you are thinking of reading The Magician's Assistant for the AAC. I have been curious about that one.

73RebaRelishesReading
Oct 2, 2017, 7:56am Top

Congratulations on reaching 75, Rhonda!

74ffortsa
Oct 2, 2017, 10:08am Top

Great news on 75! And your book lineup sounds great.

75BLBera
Oct 2, 2017, 2:40pm Top

Congrats on reaching 75, Rhonda. I read a NF about the Moors in Spain that I really liked, but I don't remember the title. I'll try to remember.

76BLBera
Oct 2, 2017, 2:42pm Top

77drneutron
Oct 2, 2017, 3:01pm Top

Congrats!

78banjo123
Oct 3, 2017, 1:35am Top

>72 msf59: Thanks, Mark! I really liked The Magician's Assistant when I read it years ago.

>73 RebaRelishesReading:, >74 ffortsa:, 75 and >77 drneutron: Thank you Reba, Judy, Beth and Jim!

>76 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! I will look for it!

79FAMeulstee
Oct 3, 2017, 8:28am Top

Congratulations on reaching 75, Rhonda!

>70 banjo123: I want to read Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, as it seems more important after last weekend...

80charl08
Oct 6, 2017, 2:56pm Top

I loved Books Burn Badly but it is a bit of a chunkster.

81EBT1002
Oct 8, 2017, 8:22pm Top

Congrats on reaching 75, Rhonda.

Your October reading plans look good. I quite liked Shadow of the Wind and I'm pleased to see so many people reading What Happened even though I seem to have a visceral aversion to reading anything by a living politician. No matter who they are.

I haven't read The Magician's Assistant; my Patchett will be Bel Canto.

Have a great week!

82msf59
Oct 8, 2017, 9:46pm Top

Hooray for 75, Rhonda! Happy Sunday, my friend. I hope you had a nice R & R weekend.

83banjo123
Oct 9, 2017, 12:30am Top

>79 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita! And yes, it does seem like a good time to read Orwell. I must admit that I am a little nervous about traveling to Barcelona, but I imaging it will be fine.

>80 charl08: Books Burn Badly seems like something I would really like. I will look for it.

>81 EBT1002: Thanks Ellen! I have some qualms about living politician books as well, but I think I will chance it.

>82 msf59: Thanks Mark, it's been a great weekend, actually. But busy!

Saturday we went to watch the NWSL semi-finals, (women's soccer) and hooray! the Thorns won, exciting game.

Then we saw the musical adaptation of Fun Home. Have other people seen it? It was terrific. I was a little doubtful about how it would work, to turn a graphic novel about a dysfunctional, funeral home owning family into a musical. with three different actresses playing the protagonist. It worked beautifully. Totally deserved the Tony.

Today we saw an exhibit at our science museum about Pompeii. Really interesting, and so sad.

84BLBera
Oct 10, 2017, 7:31pm Top

I'd love to see Fun Home the musical!

Yes, Books Burn Badly looks like something I would like.

85banjo123
Oct 15, 2017, 6:34pm Top

>84 BLBera: If you get a chance to see Fun Home you should, it was great.

Happy Sunday, everyone! It's been a nice weekend; we spent yesterday at the coast, which was totally beautiful. I am hoping to get caught up here on LT, and do a few constructive things around the house today. Although, the day is going way faster than I planned for it to!

86msf59
Oct 15, 2017, 7:18pm Top

I want to see Fun Home, the musical. Wah!!

Happy Sunday, Rhonda! Hope those current reads are treating you fine. I am really enjoying, both Manhattan Beach & Rules of Civility.

87banjo123
Oct 15, 2017, 7:25pm Top

>86 msf59: Both of your reads are things that I want to get to, Mark! I have had some good reading lately. Now to try to get to a few reviews.

88msf59
Oct 15, 2017, 7:29pm Top

I have also been slacking on my mini-reviews, Rhonda, but I did catch up on a few today. Whew!

89PaulCranswick
Oct 15, 2017, 7:35pm Top

>88 msf59: I am not struggling with reviews; I am struggling to get books finished!

Hope the rest of your Sunday is wonderful, Rhonda. xx

90banjo123
Oct 15, 2017, 7:39pm Top

Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

I read this, and the movie, years ago. I enjoyed it then, but will confess was not looking forward to the reread. I thought it would be too "folksy" and expected not to like it as well. But, we read it for the Lesbian Book Group. Honestly, this is not great literature, but I enjoyed it more than I expected to.

This is the story of a romance between two women, in small town Alabama, during the depression, told through multiple narrators and over many decades. One thing I hadn't remembered was how Flagg also gives us the story of an African American family. She seems honest about the horrors of racism. Sometimes her views on race are cringeworthy, but at other times they seem insightful, as in the thoughts of Jaspar Peavey, thinking back on his work for the railroad:

"Just yesterday, he overheard his grandson Mohammed Abdul Peavey telling his mother that he didn't want to go anywhere with his granddaddy because he was embarrassed by the way he bowed and scraped to white people and the way he acted in church, still singing that coon=shine, ragtime gospel music of his.
It was clear to Jaspar that his time was over now, just like his old friends rusting out in the yards. He wished it could have been different; he had gotten through the only way he had known how. But he had gotten through."

91banjo123
Oct 15, 2017, 7:41pm Top

Hi Mark and Paul! We cross-posted. Hope you are both enjoying Sunday.

92PaulCranswick
Oct 15, 2017, 7:48pm Top

>91 banjo123: it was fair to middleton, Rhonda, but I am now not particularly enamoured of it being Monday morning here!

93banjo123
Oct 15, 2017, 9:01pm Top

>92 PaulCranswick: Monday morning is not a great feeling, is it? It is so funny to be in different days--we have that now with Banjo, jr, she is 9 hours ahead.

94banjo123
Oct 15, 2017, 9:17pm Top

Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina

This was an early reviewer book, by one of the young women who was arrested and jailed as part of the Pussy Riot. Earlier this year, I read Masha Gessen's Words Will Break Cement, about Pussy Riot, and this was a good accompaniment to that book. Alyyokhina tells her story in short, poetic paragraphs. It is surprisingly easy to read, and gives a detailed description of her life in prison. I was reminded that these young women were young, very idealistic, and not really all that well organized. But very brave.

"The first hunger strike is like first love---very confusing. Later you get used to it; but the first time there is only pain, leg crams, nightmares. Still, it's worth it. Otherwise what will I tell you about?"

95banjo123
Oct 16, 2017, 12:38am Top

March Book 2 by John Lewis

The second in this 3 book graphic novel set about John Lewis and his history with SNCC, the freedom riders and the March on Washington. As everyone has said, the second is even better than the first. I am left with so much respect for Lewis, and so eager to get my hands on the third.

96banjo123
Oct 16, 2017, 12:54am Top

In other literary news, we heard a lecture from George Saunders at part of the Portland Arts and Lecture series. He was great: insightful, funny, humble and very political. He gave a background of how he came to write Lincoln in the Bardo. He had had an ides for the topic many years earlier, but didn't think then that he had the skills to carry it off. So it was something he kept thinking about, and kept putting off for fear of not being able to write that book. His description of his writing process was hilarious, lots of talking with the story, and advise from his "internal nun". He was talking about the difference between history and novel, and why Lincoln in the Bardo is not always factually correct, and came up with a phrase I loved. "the novel is a dramatic machine that explodes and breaks someone's heart."

And for current reading, almost done with The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett for the AAC. I had read it before, but, as it turns out, had forgotten the plot entirely, so it's like a new book for me. I love it. I am reading The Sellout; which I don't love, but am starting to like. And I have gotten into Walden finally.

97charl08
Oct 16, 2017, 7:21am Top

>94 banjo123: "...reminded that these young women were young, very idealistic, and not really all that well organized"

Reminds me that I wanted to read more about these young women. Should get to that.

>96 banjo123: What a great quote! Love that. Sounds like a worthwhile event.

98BLBera
Oct 17, 2017, 5:11pm Top

Wow, Rhonda, lots of good reading here. I think each of Lewis' books is better than the previous one. I love how they weave the story of Obama's inauguration in to the story.

Saunders sounds great; one of these days I'll get to Lincoln in the Bardo. I am also a Patchett fan but don't think I've read The Magician's Assistant.

I think I have a copy of the Flagg somewhere, but it sounds like there's no hurry.

Right now I am trying to get to all the library books I have. I'm almost done with Sing, Unburied, Sing, which is magnificent. Lucky you to get to see her.

99banjo123
Oct 18, 2017, 12:12am Top

>97 charl08: Pussy Riot was inspiring, but I will say I did get frustrated with their lack of organization at times. And Saunders was awesome. I think that Kim has a link to an interview with him... The lecture we heard will be on-line eventually.

>98 BLBera: That's great, Beth. I just got March Three out of the library, so plan to read it soon. You would like The Magician's Assistant.

100banjo123
Oct 19, 2017, 1:42am Top

The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett
I read this before but I had completely forgotten the plot, so it was a new book to me and I liked it just as well the second time. The protagonist, Sabine, is a magician's assistant, and has spent the last 20 years in love with Parsifal, the magician. As Parsifal was gay, the love was unrequited, although he was good to Sabine, and married her so that she would have his considerable fortune after he died. (the book was published in 1997, so written at the height of the AIDS crisis). The fortune did not come from the magic act, which didn't pay well, but he also had a successful rug business. Parsifal had always told Sabine he was an orphan with no family, but after his death, she finds out that the truth was otherwise. Most of the book involves her finding out more about his family and history, and this aids in her processing her grief.

Patchett tends to a positive view of the world, and people, and this book is no exception. There is a lot of trauma in the past; but most of the people in the book are kind and try to help each other.

And also, one of the characters in the book is a rabbit, named Rabbit!

101banjo123
Oct 20, 2017, 12:49am Top

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

We read this for book group. Beatty IS a good writer, I found it read smoothly, and was very funny in parts. My favorite part was the bus ride for Hominy's birthday. Marpessa was my favorite character. However, overall, I was not very satisfied with the book. The plot seemed gimmicky, and I thought it might have been better suited to a short story.

I look forward to the discussion, as I know one of the book club members REALLY liked the book. So there will be different viewpoints, always interesting.

102BLBera
Oct 20, 2017, 11:33am Top

I like Patchett and will look for this one.

The Sellout does sound like a good book club book. I'll have to ask them to consider it. How do you choose your books?

103banjo123
Oct 20, 2017, 7:14pm Top

>102 BLBera: For this book club, we rotate houses. Each month, the hosts present 2-4 books for consideration, and we vote on which one to read for the next month. The rules, all of which are consistently broken, are that we read fiction, not stuff that is really hard to read, and aim for about 300 pages or less.

I like this method, because different people get to choose. For a while, we were all bringing books and voting, and that was too much of a free-for-all.

I will let you all know how the discussion goes.

104banjo123
Oct 21, 2017, 7:45pm Top

Happy weekend everyone! It's a rainy day here in Portland. This morning we volunteered at the book sort, which was fun. Now I am puttering around the house. I have started a new project, of organizing my books. I had hopes of weeding some out, and thus making room on the shelves. It does not look like that is going to be possible!

105charl08
Oct 22, 2017, 2:57am Top

>100 banjo123: I've read this (I went through a phase of trying to read her back catalogue) but remember very little about it beyond enjoying it. Think I need to reread.

>103 banjo123: "The rules, all of which are consistently broken..." Love this.

>104 banjo123: Sounds like the best kind of volunteering. I am hoping to be volunteering on a library project soon (others are in charge, so no idea on the start date) and am so hoping it doesn't clash with other, less book related, commitments.

106Berly
Oct 22, 2017, 3:57am Top

Hi Rhonda--Glad you enjoyed Saunders as much as I did!! He was very entertaining and I loved hearing about his creative process.

>100 banjo123: I haven't read that Patchett yet, and I think I would probably enjoy it more than I did Commonwealth. I have really like her other ones, so I am up for another one.

I spent this rainy Saturday catching up on house cleaning and laundry and I am happy to say I am winning the battle! A little more to do tomorrow and then the girls and I are getting pedicures. Yay!

Happy Sunday.

107msf59
Oct 22, 2017, 8:52am Top

>96 banjo123: I am so glad you made the Saunders event. What a treat that must have been. There are several of his story collections, I have bookmarked to read. He is a one of a kind.

It looks like I have to add The Magician's Assistant to the list too. I am just about done with Commonwealth and it is excellent.

Hope you are having a fine weekend.

108BLBera
Oct 22, 2017, 11:32am Top

We've had a rainy weekend as well, Rhonda. I never get as much housework done as I hope, but I am making headway on grading. Have a wonderful Sunday. Good luck with the book sorting, always a fun activity, even though I am never successful at getting rid of too many.

109banjo123
Oct 23, 2017, 11:48am Top

>105 charl08: Book volunteering is really fun! This organization provides school supplies to teachers, and we get huge boxes of books. (literally tons) that we sort out be grade level. So basically, it's a morning of digging though books. And we get to take them home, if they aren't appropriate for the kids.

>106 Berly: H Kim! Saunders was great. I am not as sure about Reza Aslan, who is the next speaker. But we will see. And hooray for pedicures! I was thinking about getting one, but ran out of time.

>107 msf59: Thanks, Mark. I think I am just a Patchett fan. I haven't read anything by her I didn't like.

>108 BLBera: Thank you, Beth. I have several hundred books now piled on the floor in categories. And it turns out that I have more than a hundred in the to-be-read pile. Next step: alphabetization.

We had book group last night, and it turned out that 5 or 8 really loved The Sellout. Two disliked it to much to finish it. I was the only one in the middle. So I would say, if you are interested in the book, it would be worth reading. Our next book is Fun Home. I read it recently enough that I won't reread; so more time for my other challenges.

110charl08
Oct 23, 2017, 3:29pm Top

I wish I lived closer, that book sorting sounds like great fun.

Surprised to read how many of your book group were positive about Beatty's book - my impression was that not many liked it at all!

Good luck with your 100 books in the pile.

111banjo123
Oct 28, 2017, 2:30pm Top

>110 charl08: I love book sorting! And it feels good to know that we are helping get books into the hands of children.
There are so many books to read!! We went to Powell's last night, and I was tempted to add several other books to the pile, but I didn't. Except, I picked up a copy of Hillary Clinton's book; which I am reading for the non-fiction challenge.

And happy weekend, all! It is a beautiful weekend here, and we have not too much planned this weekend. So hoping to catch up a little here, and in some of the many piles of real life things to do.

I do have a couple of mini-reviews to do.

112banjo123
Oct 28, 2017, 2:38pm Top

Among Others by Jo Walton

I read this Nebula winning fantasy book for Paul's British Author's Challenge. I had seen this book a couple of years ago, and it seemed intriguing. It is a good book; the fantasy element (Faeries) is present, but secondary to the main story line. Mor is a teenager learning to deal with a traumatic past, the death of her twin sister, and her own disability. She deals with regular teen things; school, friends, boys and a new relationship with her father, who she had not previously known. Her main solace is reading, especially science fiction. In a large part, this book is a paean to classic science fiction.

113banjo123
Oct 28, 2017, 2:43pm Top

March Book 3 by John Lewis

I really love this graphic trilogy about the civil rights movement, and John Lewis's autobiography. And the third volume was the best.
I have so much respect for Lewis, and his commitment to non-violent action.

114jnwelch
Oct 29, 2017, 12:41pm Top

>112 banjo123: Hi, Rhonda. I enjoyed Among Others, too. I've been reading sci-fi all my life, so her paean to classic science fiction really added to the fun.

115banjo123
Oct 29, 2017, 6:33pm Top

>114 jnwelch: I read a lot of sci-fi in my youth, though not much now, so I enjoyed that also. Definitely a fun book. I loved the part when she decided not to die because she was in the middle of a book Babel=17, I think, and wanted to know how it ended!

116EBT1002
Oct 29, 2017, 6:48pm Top

Hi Rhonda. I have also read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe twice. I have this delightful memory of reading it the first time when I was in graduate school. I read it straight through without even stopping for lunch. When I reread it a couple of years ago, I still quite enjoyed it.

I have yet to read the third in the John Lewis trilogy; I thought I would read it this month and I just never got to it. I agree that it is unequivocally worth reading!

>100 banjo123: "...one of the characters in the book is a rabbit, named Rabbit!"
Hmm, that is tempting, what with my tattoo and all....

I loved Bel Canto and am super glad Mark's AAC got me to finally read it.

We are watching the Seahawks and mostly just getting frustrated.

117BLBera
Oct 29, 2017, 9:33pm Top

I am another fan of Among Others although I thought I would have perhaps enjoyed it even more if I had understood all of the SF references. Still, I did love it. I have never been much of a SF reader.

I also loved the March books and Book 3 was my favorite.

Have a great week, Rhonda. I hope you are enjoying great fall weather.

118banjo123
Oct 29, 2017, 11:48pm Top

>116 EBT1002: Congrats on the Seahawks win, Ellen! And maybe you should have a special challenge for reading books with Rabbits in them.

>117 BLBera: Thanks, Beth, the weather here has been stellar. Among Others was such a unique read... glad to know you don't have to be into SciFi for it to work.

119Berly
Nov 1, 2017, 12:14am Top



Happy Halloween!!

120banjo123
Nov 3, 2017, 12:33am Top

Thanks, Kim! Halloween was fun!

I have one more book finished to report on. And I have lots of planned reading for November, but we will see how much I actually get done. I have The Sweet Hereafter for the AAC; and will pick up something sciencey for the Nonfiction read. I am reading The WInd Up Bird on audiotape. Still finishing Clinton's book, What Happened and Walden. Other than this, I would like to concentrate on Spanish/Portueguese literature, in advance of our trip.

121banjo123
Nov 3, 2017, 12:57am Top

Out in the Open by Jesus Carrasco

I read this in my quest to prepare for my trip to Spain by reading more Spanish authors. It was at the library, apparently quite a popular book in Spain. Hopefully this book will NOT be useful in my travels, as it's mostly about suffering. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic landscape, a dreadful drought that has left the landscape very harsh, and for the most part the people match the landscape. The main character is a young boy. We never learn his name, he is just the boy; I think as a reminder of how dehumanizing the whole situation is. The boy is on the run from abuse and betrayal in his village. He meets an elderly goatherd. The goatherd doesn't talk much, but turns out to be the one kind person around, and he takes the boy under his wing. This takes courage, because the boy is being chased by evil characters from his village.

The story seems allegorical, on the one hand, but on the other hand, the descriptions are very specific. For example, when Carrasco tells you about the boy's attempts to milk goats, you can really visualize the scene. This is a good translation I think, and I found the book compelling.

122EBT1002
Nov 3, 2017, 7:42pm Top

>118 banjo123: "...maybe you should have a special challenge for reading books with Rabbits in them." Ha. That is a fun idea.

I think I'm going to try to sign up for fewer challenges in 2018. If Mark does the AAC, I may tag along for that (it's becoming a tradition) and I am thinking I will launch a challenge to read one autobiography each month by an African American writer (this motivated by an OLLI class my sister was telling me about here in Asheville). I don't know if folks will join me for that but I'm okay with making the journey on my own.

>121 banjo123: When are you going to Spain? (she asked with some envy)

123FAMeulstee
Nov 4, 2017, 9:21am Top

>121 banjo123: Good review, Rhonda, I have added the Dutch translation to mount TBR.

124banjo123
Nov 4, 2017, 1:58pm Top

>122 EBT1002: Thanks for stopping by, Ellen! We leave for Spain on December 1st, and are going to be 3 weeks in Spain and Portugal. A little apprehensive about Barcelona (where we spend the first week); but it looks like the unrest there is peaceful.

>123 FAMeulstee: I think you might like this, Anita.

125EBT1002
Nov 4, 2017, 2:24pm Top

I'll look forward to hearing about your Spain and Portugal trip, Rhonda!

126BLBera
Nov 5, 2017, 2:18pm Top

I imagine you are getting very excited about your upcoming trip, Rhonda. Safe travels.

Out in the Open looks good. Onto the list it goes.

127PaulCranswick
Nov 5, 2017, 6:33pm Top

>124 banjo123: Spain is wonderful Rhonda, but I have yet to visit Portugal.

Will you go to Ronda, Rhonda?

128msf59
Nov 5, 2017, 6:40pm Top

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. Hope you had a nice weekend and got plenty of reading time in.

Cloudsplitter is hogging most of my reading time, but lucky for me, it has been excellent.

Hooray for a trip to Spain. Sounds lovely.

129Oregonreader
Nov 6, 2017, 12:33am Top

Hi Rhonda, I've been away for a bit and missed all this thread so I'm just skipping to the bottom to say hello and I hope all is well.

130EBT1002
Nov 6, 2017, 8:38pm Top

131banjo123
Nov 8, 2017, 4:49pm Top

>125 EBT1002: Thanks Ellen, we are excited!

>126 BLBera: Can you read in Spanish, Beth? I was wondering how this would read in the original.

>127 PaulCranswick: Paul, I kind of wanted to go to Ronda, but probably not. We are doing Barcelona, probably a day trip to Girona; Sevilla, with maybe a daytrip to Cordoba, Granada for the Alhambra; and then to Lisbon. We didn't want too much running around; and Banjo, jr will have all her suitcases from her study abroad.

>128 msf59: hi Mark! Cloudsplitter has to go on my wish-list, it was too long for me this month. But it looks interesting.

>129 Oregonreader: Great to see you, Jan!

132banjo123
Nov 8, 2017, 4:52pm Top

Reading updates: I have finished What Happened by Hillary Clinton; Walden and The Sweet Hereafter. So I have some reviews to catch up on.

Currently I am reading Orwell's Homage to Catalonia and The Elegant Universe Also listening to The Wind-up Bird Chronicle on audio-tape, which is excellent.

133Berly
Nov 9, 2017, 1:35am Top

Hi there, Rhonda! Your trip sounds stellar and three weeks? Awesome!

Lots of good reading going on here. Glad you are enjoying the audio of WUBC. Love to hear what you thought about Clinton's book.

134banjo123
Nov 12, 2017, 10:52pm Top

Hi Kim! I will try to write some quick reviews tonight! Somehow I haven't managed any LT time this weekend, It's been busy!

I went to Wordstock on Saturday. Fun, but I did spend half my time standing in line. Partly because I really wanted to see Ta-Nehisi Coates. I did manage to get into Coates' event, and he was worth the wait. I also saw Tom Perrota who was interesting, and now I want to read Mrs. Fletcher.

And now it's Sunday, back to work tomorrow, I am a little bit happy about that, because I get to listen to The Wind-Up Bird on the commute. The audio is SO good.... he does the voices, beautifully.

135banjo123
Nov 12, 2017, 11:29pm Top

What Happened? by Hillary Clinton

Well, Clinton isn't a great writer, though her prose is definitely serviceable; and I think she is still a little close to the election to be brilliantly insightful. But I liked reading this book, I learned more about Clinton, more about the election and campaign process. It made me sad, because she would've been a good president, and she would have won if it weren't for things like unfair press coverage, voter suppression, sexist expectations and James Comey. Clinton lays all of this out, but she is also open about her own shortcomings, and she tries to end on a hopeful note.

I enjoyed reading about the Clintons' marriage. She has a very endearing passage where she describes their day to day life. "He is reading this over my shoulder in our kitchen with our dogs underfoot, and in a minute he will reorganize our bookshelves for the millionth time, which means I will not be able to find any of my books, and once I learn the new system, he;ll just redo it again, but I don't mind because he really loves to organize those bookshelves."

136banjo123
Nov 13, 2017, 12:03am Top

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

I received this from Early Reviewers, and it's taken me months to read and review. Walden is a favorite book of mine, always five stars, but it takes a while to read, because I have to stop to think every few pages, sometimes every few paragraphs.

I really enjoy Thoreau's prose, and his thinking. For example:

"One inconvenience I sometimes experienced in so small a house, the difficulty of getting to a sufficient distance from my guest when we began to utter the big thoughts in big words. You want room for your thoughts to get into sailing trim and run a course or two before they make their port. The bullet of your thought must have overcome its lateral and ricochet motion and fallen into its last and steady course before it reaches the ear of the hearer, else it may plough out again through the side of his head. Also our sentences wanted room to unfold and form their columns in the interval.

I was excited to have this copy, because I thought that the introduction and the annotations by McKibben would enhance my reading. The introduction was interesting, and I think it did change the way I read the book. Usually I read the book as a personal manifesto, and thing mostly of how it applies to me individually, With McKibben's introduction, I thought of the book as more of a statement about our national character, and was able to put the book in a different context, for example thinking of the small house movement today as an outgrowth of Thoreau's philosophy. Also, this made me see that Thoreau was brilliant, but also a bit of a crank, which made him more interesting.

The annotations, however, were a disappointment. They were random, and short, and did not really add to my experience.

137banjo123
Edited: Nov 13, 2017, 12:25am Top

The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks

I think people are pretty familiar with this story, from the movie, which I never saw. It takes place in a small town, there is a devastating school bus accident, the story of that accident is told from four different viewpoints. This was my first Russell Banks. He can definitely write--I liked how the four narrators had distinctive voices. But I wasn't bowled over by the book... something about the plot did not work for me.

I may try another book by Bank's later, maybe Cloudsplitter, for the John Brown angle.

138charl08
Nov 13, 2017, 5:24pm Top

>135 banjo123: I love that quote about the books.
Although personally, it would drive me nuts!

I got the book about the Obama administration from an aide's perspective out from the library Who thought this was a good idea. I haven't read it yet (too many books) but my mum has picked it up and is completely charmed by it, she keeps telling me anecdotes. If I'm not careful, some water under the bridge, and I'll think I have read it.

>134 banjo123: How was Mr Coates' reading? Is there a new book on the way?
I would also queue to hear him.

139vancouverdeb
Nov 14, 2017, 8:59am Top

Interesting about The Sellout. I tried half heartedly to read it, but I did not really get into it. My sister mentioned to me that her son purchased it for her , but she could not bring herself to read it Her son follows the Booker Prize and sends her books from the list. Oh that I should be so lucky with my sons! :-) My sons claim that do not read, and one of them is a university graduate. sigh.

140banjo123
Nov 15, 2017, 1:16am Top

>138 charl08: I think Who Thought THis was a Good Idea sounds entertaining!

Coates' talk was great. He was interviewed by Jenna Wortham, and it was worth the wait. Here is a nugget that I liked, when he was asked what white people can do to be allies. He said first to Identify your passion. And then take your passion and aim your efforts towards the issues you care about.

Eventually there will be a podcast, and I will post a link. He mostly talked about Eight Years in Power. I think that he is now working on some part of his Black Panther comic book project.

>139 vancouverdeb: Yes, I had heard a lot of negative on the Sellout; but liked it better than I expected. And, kids! You would think that all LTer's children would be avid readers, but it doesn't seem to work that way.

141charl08
Nov 15, 2017, 9:45am Top

Oh, I had forgotten about the Black Panther books. I must look out for those. I like the advice about passion too. That makes sense. You have to have something to get you past the disappointments and discouragements.

Parents thing makes me laugh - both mine are keen readers, but I seem to be the only one (of three children) who have that gene. Not my siblings don't read - just that they aren't the kind of people to want to stand in a second hand book shop for any er, reasonable, er, amount of time...say half an hour? or more?

142Oberon
Nov 15, 2017, 11:31am Top

>140 banjo123: Interesting that he answered the question of what white people could do. Eight Years in Power leaves you feeling responsible and yet largely powerless - at least if you are a white progressive like myself.

143banjo123
Nov 17, 2017, 4:03pm Top

>141 charl08: What? Less than half an hour at a used bookstore? How distressing.
I am lucky in that Banjo, jr is a reader. Not as big of a reader as I am, but we will see how things are when she is done with school.

>142 Oberon: Erik, I wish that I had a podcast I could link, because I can't do Coates justice from memory. He seems like a super-nice person, and actually had more sympathy than you would expect for white-person-guilt. And Jenna Wortham described him as having a "sunny" disposition, despite his (realistic) views.

144banjo123
Nov 17, 2017, 4:04pm Top


I finished Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I read this for the Book Riot Challenge. Quite the description of Colonial Colombia. I love Garcia Marquez, but this was a bit hard with the descriptions of a love affair between a teenage girl and a man in his 30's.

145banjo123
Nov 17, 2017, 4:12pm Top

My current reading is all top-notch, and I am just hoping to finish all my books before we leave for Spain and my reading is confined to kindle. I am listening to The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami on audio. I love it, it makes me want to drive places. But it is long.
I am reading The Elegant Universe for the non-fiction challenge, and it is good, but I have to stop and think pretty often, so it doesn't go fast. I am almost finished with Orwell's Homage to Catalonia; and on the Spanish theme, A Heart So White by Javier Marias. I picked up the Marias at the library book sale at Wordstock, and it's fascinating so far.

Last night we heard Reza Aslan speak at Arts and Lectures. He was interesting, quite the showman. Some interesting thoughts about why people are drawn to faith.

146Berly
Nov 17, 2017, 4:20pm Top

>135 banjo123: Look at you getting all caught up on your reviews. Love the Clinton quote about rearrange the bookshelves. : )

>145 banjo123: So did I miss much last night or not so much (Reza Aslan)?

147banjo123
Nov 18, 2017, 1:00am Top

>146 Berly: Reza Aslan was entertaining, but I think his presentation was a bit surface-y. It was interesting at the time, but didn't really stick with me. Unlike George Saunders.

148PaulCranswick
Nov 18, 2017, 11:41am Top

Rhonda, time differences permit me to wish you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my dear.

149BLBera
Nov 19, 2017, 10:08am Top

A birthday? Many happy returns, Rhonda.

Great comments on Clinton's book; I will have to read it. I also appreciated your comments on Walden. It seems like maybe that it is due for a reread. I think I would appreciate it more now. The Sweet Hereafter also sounds great, so onto the list it goes.

Your thread is always bad for my WL, Rhonda.

When do you leave? Safe travels. Have a wonderful time.

150banjo123
Nov 20, 2017, 12:52am Top

Thank you Paul and Beth!

We leave December 1st, so less than two weeks. Lots to do between now and then, but I trust it all works out.

I finished Homage to Catalonia, which I realized, completes the Book Riot challenge. Plus, a good book. I will come up with some comments later.

151banjo123
Nov 22, 2017, 2:03pm Top

Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

Hopefully our trip to Spain won't parallel George Orwell's experiences in the Spanish Civil War . This book really covers the nitty-gritty; the discomforts and boredom, as well as the terror; the political infighting of various political factions, as well as the nobility of the anti-fascist cause. A very good book, here is a section:

“The human louse somewhat resembles a tiny lobster, and he lives chiefly in your trousers. Short of burning all your clothes there is no known way of getting rid of him. Down the seams of your trousers he lays his glittering white eggs, like tiny grains of rice, which hatch out and breed families of thier own at horrible speed. I think pacifists might find it helpful to illustrate thier pamphlets with enlarged photographs of lice. Glory of war indeed! In war all solderies are lousy, at the least when it is warm enough. The men that fought at Verdun, at Waterloo, at Flodden, at Senlac, at Thermopylae - every one of them had lice crawling over his testicles.”

152drneutron
Nov 22, 2017, 6:25pm Top

Oh, I missed your birthday! Hope you had a good one, and I hope your trip goes well!

153FAMeulstee
Nov 23, 2017, 6:08am Top

Where is Spain are you going, Rhonda?
>151 banjo123: I have read Hommage to Catalonia last month and was very impressed.

154PaulCranswick
Nov 23, 2017, 7:23am Top

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.

155msf59
Nov 23, 2017, 7:34am Top

Happy Thanksgiving, Rhonda. I hope you have a wonderful holiday with the family. I really want to read Hommage to Catalonia. I also highly recommend Spain in Our Hearts, which deals with the same events.

Did you get the flashdrive okay?

156Berly
Nov 23, 2017, 1:55pm Top

Happy belated birthday!!!

And on this day of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for many things, one of them being my



Thank you for being so wonderful! : )

157BLBera
Nov 24, 2017, 1:12pm Top

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, Rhonda. I imagine you missed Banjo Jr. Your Spain trip is approaching!

158EBT1002
Nov 24, 2017, 2:24pm Top

>135 banjo123: I love that quoted description of Bill reorganizing the shelves and her patient and loving experience of it.

Happy day-after-Thanksgiving! I know your focus these days is on the countdown to December 1. I hope your trip is fantastic (not at all like Orwell's experience) and that there are photos to share. :-)

159banjo123
Nov 24, 2017, 2:24pm Top

Thanks for all the Thanksgiving and Birthday wishes! >152 drneutron:, >154 PaulCranswick:, >155 msf59:. amd >156 Berly:

>153 FAMeulstee: Anita, we are in Barcelona for a week, then Sevilla, with a day in Granada (for the Alhambra) Then a week in Lisbon, with maybe some daytrips. We are very excited about it.

>155 msf59: I also want to read Spain in Our Hearts. Hochchild is such a good NF writer.

>157 BLBera: We did miss Banjo, jr, but did get to talk to her. We are all excited to see her soon, but I think she is mostly sad to have her South African adventure ending.

160banjo123
Nov 26, 2017, 4:55pm Top

Happy Sunday to everyone! We have had a quiet-ish weekend, getting ready for our trip. We leave Friday, and of course there are LOTS of details to get ready, either packing ourselves, or readying the house for a house-sitter. And also the all-important job of loading up kindles. I can't bring myself to pay for e-books... it seems like a bad deal. However, our library allows 15 e-books on loan, so with 15 on my card and another 15 on Mrs. Banjo's; I think we are set.

161banjo123
Nov 26, 2017, 5:10pm Top

A Heart So White by Javier Marias

Another Spanish book, in preparation for my trip. I really liked this book. The back cover describes it as "a sort of anti-detective story of human nature.", which is pretty accurate. The main character, Juan, recently married to Luisa, knows little about his father's past marriages, and he isn't sure he wants to know. The book explores the nature of secrets in personal relationships, marriage, and sexuality.

The writing is top-notch, translated by Margaret Jull Costa. The protagonist riffs on different themes, sometimes it isn't clear how this is going to relate to the whole, but be assured that it always does. Some of the most interesting digressions are on the nature of translation and interpretation. Juan and Luisa are both translators, and that work sets the scene for a story of duplicity and double meanings. One of my favorite parts talks about the difference between translation and interpretation:

"no one can be sure that what the translator translates form his isolated cabin is correct or true and I need hardly say that, on many occasions, it's neither one nor the other, due to ignorance, laziness, distraction or malice on part of the interpreter doing the interpreting, or a bad hangover. That's the accusation leveled at them by translators of (that is, translators of written texts): whilst every invoice and every scrap of nonsense laboured over by the translators in their gloomy offices is relentlessly exposed to malicious revisions, and every error detected, denounced or even fined, no one bothers to check the words that the interpreters launch unthinkingly into the air from their cabins. Interpreters hate translators and translators hate interpreters... "

162banjo123
Nov 26, 2017, 5:27pm Top

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami

Many thanks to Kim and Ellen for hosting the group read! I LOVED this book. I listened to about half on audio--great reading by Rupert Degas--and read the rest, finishing it in a burst of compulsive reading last night. And, wow, Murakami has a strange mind. this book is full of different characters and stories, strange, disturbing and delicious. I won't tell too much about the plot or details, as it was great to read without preconceptions. There are a lot of dream sequences and what might be called magical realism. Though I am not sure that's exactly the right word. There are things that are happening on an inner, spiritual level and also things happening on real-life concrete level. Sometimes those two worlds converge, sometimes they are parallel.

At the core, this is a simple story. It's about two people; Toru Okada and his wife Kumiko; who have been damaged by different kinds of oppressions in their early lives; and seek to build a new life together. Building something from nothing is hard; and Toru has a strange kind of emptiness as a result. Kumiko finds herself moving back into her old world, and Toru struggles to understand and to act.

163BLBera
Nov 26, 2017, 10:00pm Top

Both A Heart So White and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles have made it to my WL, Rhonda. Great comments. Will Banjo Jr. come back with you? How long will you be gone? ENJOY!

164Oberon
Nov 28, 2017, 4:19pm Top

>159 banjo123: Sounds like a fantastic itinerary. Very envious.

165banjo123
Nov 29, 2017, 12:32am Top

>163 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! Banjo, Jr. comes back with us, though on a different plane due to the vagaries of airline ticket pricing. We will be gone 3 weeks, returning on December 22nd

>164 Oberon: Thanks, Erik! It ought to be a good time.

166banjo123
Nov 29, 2017, 12:33am Top

The Elegant Universe by Brian Green.

Green is a good writer, and his analogies are very helpful. I was proud of myself to start with, as I was following along well. I think reading Hawking's A Brief History of Time last year was a big help. However, by Chapter 4, I was over my head. And I read it too fast, because I wanted to finish this month. So I have a little more understanding of string theory now, but it is still pretty vague. I will try a re-read sometime to help firm up the knowledge.

167Berly
Nov 29, 2017, 2:11am Top

>162 banjo123: Yay! A burst of reading to finish TWUBC off. So glad you liked it. I haven't written my review yet, but I like yours. I have more questions that I need to post over on the thread.

Good luck with that last packing details. You are going to have a blast!!!

168charl08
Nov 29, 2017, 7:01am Top

Oh wow! Have a wonderful time. Your itinerary sounds like a lot of fun. Hope the 30 kindle books carry you through (!)

169BLBera
Nov 30, 2017, 9:27am Top

Safe travels, Rhonda.

170banjo123
Nov 30, 2017, 6:44pm Top

Thank you, Kim, Charlotte and Beth! I am just finishing up the to-do things, getting the animals/house ready for their sitters, last minute packing, etc. I am excited, and to be honest a little nervous, about flying, being in a country where I don't speak the language, and the care of our pets and my work while gone. Last night I dreamt that I was in Spain and realized that I had forgotten my passport, but got there without it.

I probably won't be back on library thing, except maybe a little lurking, until we get back. I am planning to more or less screen-free for the duration, with just my smart phone.

So, best wishes and happy December reading to everyone! When I get back, we will all be busy setting up 2018 threads.

171msf59
Nov 30, 2017, 8:20pm Top

WOW! Have a wonderful trip, Rhonda. This sounds perfect. Check in when you can and make sure you have plenty of books along.

Hugs to you and Wendy!!

172scaifea
Dec 1, 2017, 7:42am Top

Safe travels, Rhonda, and have a fabulous time!

173RebaRelishesReading
Dec 2, 2017, 11:36am Top

I'm sure you're going to have a wonderful time. Spain is a great place to travel. Hope all of the logistics go smoothly and we'll see you when you get home.

174PaulCranswick
Dec 10, 2017, 4:05am Top

Viva Espana, Rhonda.

Please update us on your travels, RHonda.

175The_Hibernator
Dec 19, 2017, 1:42pm Top

Have a lovely trip, Rhonda!

176EBT1002
Dec 20, 2017, 12:34pm Top

Looking forward to stories and maybe a photo or two.... :-)

177lkernagh
Dec 23, 2017, 7:49pm Top

Hi Rhonda, stopping by to wish you and your loved ones peace, joy and happiness this holiday season and for 2018!

178EBT1002
Dec 23, 2017, 8:15pm Top

For when you return...



Merry Christmas to you and yours, Rhonda!

179RebaRelishesReading
Dec 24, 2017, 10:45am Top

Hope you're having a great time in Spain. Happy holidays and best wishes for 2018.

180The_Hibernator
Dec 24, 2017, 11:05am Top



Happy holidays! I am thankful this holiday season for all the good friends I have made in this group. You are all so supportive. I don't know what I'd do without you!

181ronincats
Dec 24, 2017, 3:15pm Top

It is that time of year again, between Solstice and Christmas, just after Hanukkah, when our thoughts turn to wishing each other well in whatever language or image is meaningful to the recipient. So, whether I wish you Happy Solstice or Merry Christmas, know that what I really wish you, and for you, is this:

182banjo123
Dec 24, 2017, 8:42pm Top

Hello all! We are back from Spain and Portugal. We had a wonderful time, and now are jet-lagged and missing the sunshine, blue skies. Portland is COLD and we just got a dusting of snow. But it is good to be home, with our pets.

I will be back later, with stories, pictures, and a list of books read. But in the meantime, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! And I hope everyone is staying warm and cozy with their loved ones.

183msf59
Dec 24, 2017, 9:20pm Top



Welcome home, Rhonda! We have missed you. Have a lovely holiday with the family.

184PaulCranswick
Dec 24, 2017, 9:27pm Top



Wishing you all good things this holiday season and beyond.

185The_Hibernator
Dec 25, 2017, 9:22am Top

Well, if you're back in Portland, Kim and I were going to try to meet before my flight out tomorrow. You're welcome to join!

186kidzdoc
Dec 25, 2017, 9:42am Top



Merry Christmas from Philadelphia, Rhonda!

187banjo123
Dec 25, 2017, 3:45pm Top

>171 msf59:, >172 scaifea:, !73, >174 PaulCranswick:, >175 The_Hibernator:, >176 EBT1002:! Thanks for the safe travel wishes! Spain and Portugal were awesome, and it was great to spend time as a family. More soon!

>177 lkernagh:, >178 EBT1002:, >179 RebaRelishesReading: >180 The_Hibernator:, >181 ronincats:, >183 msf59:, >184 PaulCranswick:, and >186 kidzdoc: -- Thanks! So far we are having a lovely, low-key holiday. Cinnamon rolls and coffee, presents and card games. All of our pets are super loving. We are supposed to go to my sister's for dinner, but we seem a bit iced in, so not sure about travel.

>185 The_Hibernator:, I would love to meet up, Rachel, but I have to work tomorrow, so that may not work. But if not, you will probably be back to Oregon in the future, it sounds like!

188Berly
Dec 26, 2017, 4:26pm Top

Happy Boxing Day!!

189ffortsa
Dec 27, 2017, 10:22am Top

Glad to hear you enjoyed your vacation. Iberia is one of my vacation goals sometime or other - I'll practice my Spanish in the meantime.

190jnwelch
Dec 29, 2017, 12:50pm Top



Happy Holidays, Rhonda.

We want to get back to beautiful Spain, and would love to visit Portugal.

191banjo123
Dec 30, 2017, 1:26pm Top

Thanks Kim, Judy and Jim! The holidays were nice, low key, and we still have a bit of the vacation buzz.

And speaking of vacation, I owe a little report and some pictures. Onward!

192banjo123
Edited: Dec 30, 2017, 6:25pm Top

Our first week we stayed in Barcelona. We LOVED Barcelona; everything people say about the city is true; it's pretty, clean, interesting. Great food and the people are chill. We stayed in an apartment in the Clot neighborhood, walking distance to Metro and the Sagrada Familia. This was perfect for us, calm and non-touristy, near a pedestrian street, restaurants, bakeries shops. THe Barcelona metro is awesome, we took it all over.



We did a fair amount of sight-seeing; my favorite was Park Guell. This was originally designed as a housing development by Gaudi. Not successful as housing, but later made into a city park, a great example of Gaudi combining natural elements with artistic and fantastical elements.



193banjo123
Edited: Dec 30, 2017, 6:19pm Top

Oh dear, I am again unable to size down pictures. At least it's on my own thread. I will try to fix it later.

Anyway, while talking about Barcelona, I should mention that we went to two football (soccer) games while traveling, and that was fun. I like doing sports when I am traveling, because it tends to be locals, not tourists, and your really get a sense for the people. In Barcelona we went to Camp Nou to watch FC Barcelona play Sporting CP (from Portugal.) Unfortunately for us, the game didn't really matter to FC Barcelona, so they didn't play their best players for the whole game. Messi played for the last bit. Also, since it wasn't an important game, there were a lot of empty seats in the stadium. Sporting had a lot of fans... we noticed them all day, actually, on the metro, and touristing in Barcelona.

I purchased a FC Barcelona scarf as a souvenir, and wore it that day. I was a bit apprehensive to wear it, because it seemed like a lot of men wore Football scarfs around town, but women only wore them to games. (around town they make more elegant fashion statements) However, I was glad I wore the scarf, as it got me more conversations with local people, and also caused people to ask for directions from me, which was amusing.


Barcelona won.

In Portugal, we actually saw Sporting CP again, playing another Portuguese team, Portimonense SC. It's was a fun game. Sporting CP fans are very serious about their team, very loyal and family oriented, with lots of kids at the game. (different than Barcelona, where lots of groups of young men.)

194banjo123
Edited: Dec 30, 2017, 6:13pm Top

While in Barcelona, we did a day trip to Girona. I have to thank Darryl for this, as I had first read about the town on his thread. It was a super fun day, a lovely town with lots of historical sites. We toured the cathedral, the Arab baths, and the Jewish Museum. (which is very well done. )

195banjo123
Dec 30, 2017, 2:04pm Top

Well, I am out of time right now, but not out of vacation. I will be back later with reports on Sevilla, Granada and Lisbon. Also, I haven't given any reports on food and drink, which is seriously remiss.

196charl08
Dec 30, 2017, 2:48pm Top

Beautiful pictures. Looks like a wonderful time. Thank you for sharing them.

197drneutron
Dec 30, 2017, 3:52pm Top

Looks like a great place!

198banjo123
Edited: Dec 30, 2017, 6:37pm Top

Thanks Charlotte and Jim! Barcelona is awesome.

After Barcelona, we stayed in Sevilla, at the hostel there. This was fine, but not as nice a set-up. Also we were right in the tourist center, and it turns out we prefer more neighborhoods. We spent a lot of time getting lost, especially in the old Jewish quarter of Sevilla. However, we did have some awesome food there, and some great sights. My favorite was probably the Alcazar, which is a beautiful place, originally designed by Moorish kings, now the royal family stays there when in Sevilla.



199banjo123
Edited: Dec 30, 2017, 6:44pm Top

We did go overnight to Granada, and saw the Alhambra. The Alhambra was so special, that the trip was worth it even though I lost my wallet to a pick-pocket on that trip. (Partly my fault, I should have been smarter about how I carried it. )



One of the cats at the Alhambra -- so pretty!

200banjo123
Dec 30, 2017, 6:57pm Top

Thanks to Beth for recommending The Ornament of the World; which I read during the trip. It really helped me to know more about the history of the area.

We did also did a day trip to Cordoba and saw the Mezquita there. It was originally a Christian Visigoth temple. Muslim rulers built a great mosque on the site. When Córdoba returned to Christian rule in 1236, the building became Roman Catholic, and a Cathedral was inserted in the middle.

Interestingly, since the early 2000s, Spanish Muslims have lobbied the Roman Catholic Church to allow them to pray in the cathedral. This request has never been granted. So it is interesting walking through the centuries of competing prayers.

201banjo123
Dec 30, 2017, 7:57pm Top

Our final week was in Lisbon. Really a beautiful city, and the people definitely have character. I hope to get back to Portugal, and to see more of the country.
One of the things that we liked about Portugal, is that it's a city that is really aware of it's history, both good (former world power!) and bad (colonialism, the inquisition, dictatorship). There is actually a memorial to the 1506 Jewish massacre. Also, there is a big African presence in the city.

Moorish Castle in Sintra (day trip from Lisbon)



202Oberon
Dec 30, 2017, 11:17pm Top

Fantastic photos. Thanks for posting!

203FAMeulstee
Dec 31, 2017, 7:17am Top

Thanks for sharing your vacation pictures, Rhonda!

204RebaRelishesReading
Dec 31, 2017, 10:33am Top

Thanks for the trip photos and comments. Makes me want to go back to Spain/Portugal.

205banjo123
Jan 1, 1:37pm Top

Thank you Erik, Anita and Reba!

And, yikes! it is 2018. And I haven't even commented on my December reading, which was epic. I think that I will list the books read here, and review on my 2018 thread, once I get it started.

91. Becoming Nicole by Amy Nutt
92. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
93. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
94. Hunger by Roxane Gay
95. You'll Grow Out of It by Jessie Klein
96. Ornament of the World by María Rosa Menocal
97. Books Burn Badly bu Manuel Rivas
98. We Were Eight Years in Power
99. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
100. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
101. Chemistry: A Novel by Weike Wang
102. All the Names by Jose Saramago
103. The Parking Lot Attendant
104. Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

Yes, that's 14 books, making a record total of 104 books read this year. I read a lot when I am stuck on an airplane.

So thanks for being part of my reading journey, and see you in 2018.

206Berly
Jan 1, 1:40pm Top

What an amazing trip!! Thanks for posting and telling all about it.

Congrats on breaking the 100 barrier.



Happy 2018!!

207banjo123
Edited: Jan 1, 1:57pm Top

Thanks, Kim!!!

And now you can find me here in the 2018 group.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2017

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