Donna828's Autumn Reading: Ch. 5
This is a continuation of the topic Donna828's Summer Reading: Ch. 4.
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From My Shelf: A Suitable Boy…still plugging along.
Audio: The Weight of Ink
Library: Forest Dark - DNF
My Favorite Books from 2016 in the order I read them:
When Breath Becomes Air
This House of Sky
A Gentleman in Moscow *My only 5-star book for the year*
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Boys in the Boat
One Star......Not worth my time
Two Stars....Finished grudgingly
2.5 Stars......Fair, but not for me
Three Stars..Liked it pretty well but had reservations
3.5 Stars.....Good but not great
Four Stars...Great book; I recommend anything with a 4-star and beyond rating
4.5 Stars.....Excellent - a keeper
Five Stars....Superb - Timeless, a real treasure.
My Favorite Books so far this year:
January: Jimmy Bluefeather - Fiction
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down - NF
February: Nobody's Fool - F; Evicted - NF
March: War and Turpentine -F; West With the Night - NF
April: The Woman Next Door -F
The Stranger in the Woods - NF
May: Seven For A Secret - F
The Lost City of the Monkey God - NF
June: This Is How It Always Is - F
Out of Africa - NF
July: Beartown - F
The Bridge Ladies - NF
August: Days Without End - F
At Home in the World - NF
September: Home Fire - F
10% Happier - NF
60. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. 4.5 stars. comments.
61. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. 3.2 stars. comments.
62. The Western Star by Craig Johnson. 3.6 stars. comments.
54. Hum If You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais. 3.5 stars. comments.
55. 10% Happier by Dan Harris; audio by author. 3.5 stars. comments.
56. Swing Time by Zadie Smith. 3.5 stars. Review
57. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie. 4.6 stars. Review.
58. South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby; audio by Rebecca Gibel. 3.4 stars. comments.
59. The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon. 3.7 stars. comments.
49. At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider. 4.5 stars. comments.
50. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance; audio by the author. 4 stars. comments.
51. Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. 4.2 stars. comments.
52. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman. 4.2 stars. comments.
53. Days Without End by Sebastian Barry; audio by Aidan Kelly. 4.4 stars. comments.
45. Dust Tracks On A Road by Zora Neale Hurston. 3.3 stars. comments.
46. The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve. 3.5 stars. comments.
47. The Bridge Ladies by Betsy Lerner. 4 stars. comments.
48. Beartown by Fredrik Backman. 4.3 stars. comments.
Book No. 57: Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie. Library, 276 pp., 4.6 stars.
"What was this? Not grief. Grief she knew. Grief was the stepsibling they'd grown up with, unwanted and inevitable. Grief the amniotic fluid of their lives. Grief she could look in the eyes while her twin stared over its shoulder and told her of the world that lay beyond." (197)
Aneeka and Parvaiz were as close to being one as two people could be. From their time in the womb to the time when their father left the family to join his Muslim brothers in the jihadist movement, through the deaths of both mother and grandmother, these two shared each other's joys and sorrows. Big sister Isma took care of them and loved them. When her two siblings came of age, she decided it was her time, and she went from London to Amherst for an advanced degree. Her sister Aneeka was doing well as a begnning law student but both sisters worried about Parvaiz. It was not easy being a Muslim in England during the best of times, but now that they were under close scrutiny, his strange behavior was worrisome.
This story of a fractured family could have been taken from today's headlines or it could go back to the ancient writings of Sophocles…or both. It's a timeless story of how young people are easily influenced and can make bad decisions. But should these decisions be permanent or should there be allownces for retribution? Kamila Shamsie held me in her masterful grip as she explored a world where politics and young love clash dragging family members and ethnic groups into the fray. This is not a long book but its emotional wrench will be with me for a long time.
I love your autumn and letters as leaves picture. I'm looking forward to fall.
Your review makes me want to read Home Fire, but it looks like a long wait for the library book.
Best to you and all your lovely family.
>1 Donna828: So your latest thread topper literally sees you turning over a new leaf, Donna!
Have a lovely weekend.
>5 dallenbaugh: Donna, you are first again! Hooray! I am almost halfway through A Suitable Boy. I really love it, but those library books keep interfering. I may have to do some freezes. Home Fire was a winner, although the Booker judges didn't even think it was worthy of the short list. ???
>6 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul. Yes, turning over a new leaf is so me these days. I wish our leaves were more colorful. We are in the midst of some late summer/early fall hot and dry weather which makes for crunchy brown leaves.
Happy New Thread, Donna. Love that autumnal topper.
I am almost halfway through Home Fire. It has been very good.
Donna--love your topper! And great review of Home Fire. Gotta get that one...!
Oh I love your topper! What fabulous colours! So glad that you too enjoyed Home Fire. I loved it! So engaging and as you say, This story of a fractured family could have been taken from today's headlines or it could go back to the ancient writings of Sophocles…or both Apparently touchstones are down. sigh. Thumbed your review. The book needs more boosting and readers!
>4 Donna828: Great review! I've been seeing this book on a lot of threads lately
Happy new thread, Donna. Great comments on Home Fire. There's a lot of love for it around here. I hope to get to it this year.
It's great you were able to open your thread with such an enjoyable read.
Happy new thread, Donna! I saw on Joanne's thread that your son is moving to Brighton - wow! That seems like a big change. Good luck to them!
Happy new thread. Nice review of Home Fire. I'd heard of it but knew little about it. Now I'll have to give it serious consideration.
I love your thread topper. I'm anxious for it to be fall - perfect visual.
Hope you're having a great day.
I have no new books to report, but I see the visitors' posts piling up here. I love having company! I hope everyone is having a good week end. I plan to start The Confusion of Languages today...one of the last books on my Summer Reading List. It still feels like summer here. I am getting tired of temps in the 90s...
>8 msf59: At least my thread has an autumn feel to it, Mark. I know you are sharing the hot temperatures. I hope we both get relief soon and that mild fall weather prevails for the next few months. Thumbs Up for Home Fire!
>9 Berly: Thanks, Kim. Home Fire is a good one!
>10 jnwelch: Thank you, Joe. Have you read Home Fire yet? There's plenty of room on the bandwagon for you!
>11 vancouverdeb: Thanks for the thumb, Deborah. I am doing my best to promote Home Fire. I think your Lone Ranger Mark will be warbling about it soon.
>12 ChelleBearss: Take the hint, Chelsea, and get the book. Thanks for checking in.
>13 Crazymamie: I love fall, Mamie, and hope our crunchy brown leaves soon become the red, orange, and gold colors I am craving. Do pecan trees have colorful leaves in the fall?
>14 BLBera: I have no doubt that Home Fire will stir your soul, Beth. This year is going by too quickly for me. I need to get my reading mojo back.
>15 thornton37814: Thanks, Lori! I need to pay you a return visit to see what you've been reading. I am so behind on threads.
>16 FAMeulstee: Anita, I am so grateful our books are patient. I hope you love A Gentleman in Moscow as much as I did. Thank you for visiting.
>17 drneutron: Thanks, Jim!
>18 AMQS: Brighton will be a big change for me, too. I can't wait to see them settled in their new house. I loved their Littleton location but they needed more space. I will still make the drive into Denver for meetups, though. I hope to see you soon, Anne, and hear more about your family and travels.
>19 RebaRelishesReading: I didn't want to give too much information in my review, Reba. In a nutshell, it's a timely tearjerker! I look forward to reading more books by Kamila Shamsie. Fortunately, I own a copy of Burnt Shadows which I hope to get to soon.
>20 karenmarie: Karen, I am having a restful day after a day filled with bridge yesterday. For a lark, my bridge partner and I decided to play with the big kids (I.e., seasoned players) in a national tournament we qualified for in some kind of crazy fluke. We came in last which is what we expected! At least I know I can survive eight hours of mental torture. Lol. Happy week end to you!
Happy New Thread, Donna - what a wonderful and appropriate topper!
Sadie is driving to school??? Wow!
The bridge tourney sounds fun: woot to you for giving it a fling.
Happy New Thread, Donna. Just caught this from the end of your last thread: Sadie is driving to school now?! My goodness. I have a dear friend who says, We don't grow old, we get pushed from behind. I get this.
>25 Donna828: Hi Janet, glad you like the topper. It feels a bit more like autumn here today. I hope yesterday's rain helps the brown leaf situation, although leaf color probably has more to do with temps and changes in the amount of daylight. I can't believe I have a granddaughter who is driving either. She can only drive to school and/or work until she is 16. I can't say much cuz I started driving in Texas at age 14! Bridge gives me a good brain workout in a different way from reading. I need more synapse action!
>26 streamsong: Thanks, Roni!
>27 ronincats: I wish kids didn't grow up quite so fast, Nancy. I like the idea of being pushed from behind rather than plain ol' getting old. I'm all for a new generation taking over if they will take care of me in my old age! All I need are books, chocolate, coffee, and someone to cook and clean for me. Lol.
Book No. 58: South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby, narrated by Rebecca Gibel, Hoopla, 368 pp. 3.4 stars.
I finished listening to this one last night and wasn't sorry to see it end. It had promise throughout the book until the "Polies" went rogue and chose to overwinter at the South Pole despite being asked to leave by the government. I don't think many of the renegades felt passionate about their protest; it was more like they had gotten comfortable with their fellow quirky pole-friends and didn't want to go home to try and blend in with regular people. I rather enjoyed the science bits but thought the politics of climate change went on too long.
As a side note, it was interesting that the protagonist Cooper was a surviving twin whose brother had committed suicide the year before. It was clear that she went to Antarctica to mourn as the two grew up listening to their father's stories about South Pole exploration. Oh…it was interesting because my previous book Home Fire also used a grieving twin as a plot device. Nothing wrong with that, just a strange coincidence.
>31 brodiew2: Thanks, Brodie! I was expecting more about the expedition with some adventure thrown in with my last book. Instead I got some good character studies and too much politicizing! Oh well, it wasn't a bad book by any means, just not what I was anticipating.
Book No. 59: The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon. 3.7 stars.
"The call to prayer woke me, the world still dark, 4:15 in the morning…the morning prayer is called fajr, which has the same root as explosion, infajar. It starts at the first breath of morning twilight and ends with the dawn exploding light across the sky."
Life in Jordan calls for many adaptations to a different way of life. As a military wife, Cassie knew all about following the rules, but newcomer Margaret preferred to test the waters. At first I was mentally rolling my eyes about choosing a book filled with the gossip and jealousy common among military wives (yes, I used to be one!). However, once we got past all that, the plot thickened as Margaret got bolder about breaking the "rules" and Cassie was not able to stop her. It was an interesting peek into living in a Muslim country and about the different stages of friendship.
So, September is drawing to a close. I managed to read/listen to six books this month. Will I reach my goal of 100? I may have to read a lot of shorter books between now and the end of the year.
I am having a rare Haley Day today. I went to her early soccer game, came home and raked leaves and played outside until we needed a break. She is having some iPad time before lunch. I am excited about her art class at the library at 2:00. I really enjoyed the first one but had to miss last week because of my bridge tournament. I think sculpting is on the art agenda today. She has quite the imagination so seeing what she comes up with is always a treat!
>33 Donna828: I have never failed to reach 100 books since I left university, Donna, but this record is under threat this year.
Have a great Sunday.
I'm so glad to be in good company this year with you and Paul, Donna, in the "not reading as much as usual" camp. I've just notched by 56th book, where I would normally be closing in on 100 by now. Ah well, they've been good books for the most part, and I'm doing other interesting things as well, so I try not to fret about not living up to a self-imposed standard.
Happy Autumn, Donna! I've always loved this time of year.
I don't set number goals for the year any more; not even 75, although this will always be my group. This has been my best reading year in a long time, but who knows what will happen next year? I try to just let it wash over me...sometimes I succeed, other times not at all.
Have a wonderful week.
Good morning, Donna, I hope you're enjoying Eleanor Oliphant as much as I did! I'm also in the slow reading camp this year. I've only reached the 75 book goal twice, and since I just finished my 50th, there's no way I'll reach it this year either. Oh well, I've enjoyed most everything I did read this year! The only reason it bugs me is because I have soooooo many books I want to read!
>34 PaulCranswick: Ah well, you know what "they" say, Paul. Records are meant to be broken. Sunday was a great reading day for me. I read the amazing Eleanor Oliphant…more on that later.
>35 rosalita: Glad to have you in the club, Julia! You stated what I am thinking very well. I would hate to give up a granddaughter for a few more books! lol
>36 bohemima: It's my favorite time of year, Gail. I don't even mind the extra exertion of raking leaves. I hope your week is going well and that you are reading as much or as little as you like.
Book No. 60: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. 4.5 stars.
"Was this how it worked then, successful social integration? Was it really that simple? Wear some lipstick, go to the hairdressers and alternate the clothes you wear? Someone ought to write a book, or at least an explanatory pamphlet, and pass this information on." (173)
I wasn't sure what to think about Eleanor at the beginning of her story, but now I think she is one of the bravest women I know. And yes, I realize she is a fictional character, but she came alive on the pages as she learned how to come out of her shell and embrace life. It was slow going at first because she was so comfortable with the status quo of going to work at the office and getting through the lonely week ends with the help of a few bottles of vodka. Her life changed dramatically when she and a colleague helped an old man who had fallen on the sidewalk and had to be hospitalized. After a dozen or so years of living alone and following the same routine day after day, Eleanor suddenly had a friend from work, Raymond, and the convalescent old man, Sammy, to give some meaning to her life.
Eleanor's story of a tragic childhood is revealed slowly as she struggles with her reentry into society in her tender, clumsy way. There are some very funny scenes but the tragic memories had more impact on this reader. I loved her blunt speech and actions and was charmed by her yearnings to be accepted. I highly recommend this debut novel. Thank you to Deborah (VancouverDeb) for bringing Eleanor to my attention. Apparently, film rights have already been sold. Can't wait to see it on the big screen!
Nice review of Eleanor Elephant is Completely Fine. I think I'm going to have to get that one.
Great review, Donna! I will get to this one eventually ... was also hit with Deb's bullet/endorsement: ).
Hi Donna and happy Tuesday to you.
Your 2017 sounds like my 2015 - I only read 65 books that year.
I deliberately skipped your Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine review because I snagged a beautiful hardcover copy at our Friends of the Library last week. I'm in the easily-influenced-so-avoid-reviews camp. I'm anxious to read it, but have two I've already started Rules of Civility for a group read and Missing, Presumed, a police procedural that's started off well.
I have a "free" day today! I will be leaving for Colorado on Wednesday so there is plenty to do before then, but I think I'll give myself a pass today to read and get caught up (Ha!) on LT. It's good to have some visitors. I will start my Sunday visits with you lovely people…right after I get caught up with posting my latest books read here.
>42 RebaRelishesReading: Eleanor Oliphant will be an excellent choice, Reba. I'm glad you liked my comments well enough to consider it.
>43 Crazymamie: Thanks for the chuckle about your green fall color, Mamie. It looks like we may have a lackluster fall around here, too.
>44 lit_chick: "Endorsement" sounds much gentler than book bullet, Nancy. The perfect word for this quiet, contemplative book. Enjoy!
>45 jnwelch: I so agree, Joe. I hope Eleanor Oliphant has some fine successors! I really liked Honeyman's writing style.
>46 karenmarie: Wow! Lucky you getting such a lovely book at he book sale. Ours begins on Wednesday, the day I'm leaving for my Colorado trip. I will be driving by the sale site on my way out of town. I may just have to pop in for a quick peek! I am only making the 3-hour trip to KC that day. I must stop off to see my neglected grands there. Plus, I don't want to make the 12-hour drive in one day as I am leaving my co-pilot at home to take care of our aging dog.
Book No. 61: The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. 3.2 stars.
"His stories were good because he imagined them intensely, so intensely that he came to believe them." (237)
I have to be honest here…I was underwhelmed by this book on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list. I watched the movie after reading the book and enjoyed it much more than the atmospheric character study of Tom Ripley, a self-loathing young man whose "talents" of impersonation and forgery were mainly suited for identity thift. I didn't find anything charismatic or charming about him in the book. He was pathetic in his greed and jealousy of the class of people he loathed. He liked what Dickie Greenleaf had (money and freedom) and thought he deserved the same. "He was alone, and it was a lonely game he was playing."
This was the second book our recently revived book group read and discussed. Our leader tried to make a case for Tom's likability, but I wasn't buying it. I did have a touch of sympathy for him…until he started killing people to satisfy his sense of entitlement. The movie did a better job of portraying Tom as a weak but affable con man who gets carried away with his chance for a new life in Italy.
Book No. 62: The Western Star by Craig Johnson. 3.6 stars.
"He did it, she did it, or they all did it."
This quote was used several times in the book and was a distinct nod to Agatha Christie's technique of having multiple suspects and Murder on the Orient Express. And, thanks to LT, I just now learned that AC had a short story titled "The Adventure of The Western Star". Walt purchased a paperback copy to accompany him on his train trip across Wyoming with a stellar group of Wyoming sheriffs. He was the only deputy on the train and wasn't even sure that this is what he wanted to do with his life. His wife had just given him a forever goodbye and he was in the doldrums but never too sad to solve a mystery and collar the bad guy.
This is the 13th book in the Walt Longmire series and, in my opinion, one of the weakest. I did enjoy the backstory of the young Walt and the introduction to his wife, Martha. It was a dizzy ride, though, between the past and present day Walt with no transitions between the two times. I am still a fan of the series; however, I wish I had waited longer to read this as it ends in the dreaded (to me) cliffhanger. Not a fan of waiting a year or more to find out what happens.
Hi Donna - I'm trying to duck bullets here. I think I will check my library for Confusion of Languages and Eleanor Elephant. Have a lovely week. I hope things cool off for you. I think we're supposed to have one more nice week in the 60s, and then the temp is supposed to lower to the 40s -- just in time for Halloween, of course. Scout's going to be a stegosaurus this year, so at least she'll be bundled up.
>50 Donna828: I must get to that series at some stage, Donna.
We are neck and neck this year on books read.
Hi Donna, sounds like you're headed our way - safe travels!
I've heard so many great things about Eleanor Oliphant- need to get a copy!
>48 Donna828: I have seen two film versions, but I have never read the book I appreciate your review and will pass on the book. Both films were well done.
>51 BLBera: Hi Beth, I duck (or try to anyway) bullets on your thread all the time. How cool that Scout will be a stegosaurus. I love seeing the little guys and gals in their costumes. Molly is going to be Wonder Woman, not sure about Haley, probably some kind of princess so she can wear lots of make-up.
>52 msf59: Mark, I think Eleanor Oliphant would be great in audio form. Yes, the book is on fire…and for a very good reason. Send us some of your rain, please. It has been a dry late summer and early autumn here.
>53 PaulCranswick: And the race is on, Paul. Two tortoises plodding along… Maybe next year will be a better reading year for both of us. I've enjoyed the Longmire series. Even the slow ones are pretty darn good.
>54 AMQS: Yes Anne, I am leaving tomorrow for Kansas City and will complete the longer leg of my trip to CO on Thursday. I haven't tried to arrange a meetup because I have no idea what kind of time I will have. My trip is all about helping Mike and Rebecca move into their 'new' house. I suspect that much of my job will be entertaining Hope. I can certainly handle that! If by chance, I have some free time this coming week end, I will give you a call to see if we can meet on the fly. I will be staying in the University Park area until we all relocate to the Brighton house on Tuesday. Since I will be halfway home then (haha), I would probably like to meet up while I'm still closer to you and Joanne. We have so much to catch up on.
>55 brodiew2: Brodie, I hate to turn someone off on a book, but it did seem much slower and darker than the latest movie adaptation. I didn't see the first one. Do you recommend it over Matt Damon and his posse?
>56 jnwelch: Hi Joe, the background information in The Western Star made it a worthwhile read. I will just have to work on my patience until the cliffhanger is resolved. I'm not too worried with Walt and crew on the case. I think Eleanor will make my Top Ten this year. Such a good debut.
Book No. 63: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. 3.8 stars.
Introduction to my favorite story, "The Mead of Poets":
Do you wonder where poetry comes from? Where we get the songs we sing and the tales we tell? Do you ever ask yourself how it is that some people can dream great, wise, beautiful dreams and pass those dreams on as poetry to the world, to be sung and retold as long as the sun rises and sets, as long as the moon will wax and wane? Have you ever wondered why some people make beautiful songs and poems and tales, and some of us do not? (127)
I was attracted by Thor's hammer on the cover and decided to pick up this book at the library on a whim to learn more about my Norwegian heritage. I knew the names and basic stories of some of the gods but that's about it. This was a good introduction to the deceit and treachery of Odin, Loki, and Thor written in a simple but entertaining style. I was expecting some Gaiman touches but he pretty much sticks to retelling some of the more popular myths. It was a good refresher course but left me wanting more. Not such a bad thing...
Well, I am off tomorrow on my road trip to Colorado. I am looking forward to 12 hours in the car with nothing to do but admire the scenery and listen to audiobooks. I will finish the excellent Weight of Ink that I have been enjoying the past two weeks and will catch up with the adventures of Miles Vorkosigan in the next installment of The Vorkosigan Saga. The weather looks great according to the long-range forecast. This will be a working trip as I do my part to get my oldest son's family settled into their new house on the plains. It is near the airport which will be good for his Turo business of renting his own vehicles. They found a property where they can park their "fleet" of 5 (or maybe 6 by now) in the machine shop that will be converted to a heated garage. I think I will be flying from now on as it will be convenient to stay with them in their big house and get the family rate on one of his SUVs. I'm not taking my laptop but am a pro at using the iPad for pictures and keeping up with my peeps so I will be in touch as I have time.
Safe travels, Donna! You all picked a great week for the move - the weather will be perfect!
Wishing you a wonderful and safe trip and lots of fun with your grand daughter Hope.
Happy New Thread and safe travels to Colorado! Have a wonderful time!
I loved your review of Eleanor Oliphant. I've added it to the never-ending rec by LT'ers list that I keep on my home page.
I listened to Gaiman read Norse Mythology. Gaiman reading Gaiman is always a treat. He's becoming one of my favorite narrators. I actually ended up listening to it twice - first because the characters and stories were pretty new to me and second because it was so wonderfully done. And, or course, it was short enough to do that.
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