Markon is Home in 2018
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Hi, I’m Ardene, and this is my first year on Club Read. It happens that many of my favorite books in 2017 were nonfiction, but in terms of volume I read a lot more fiction, especially mystery, science fiction and fantasy.
My favorites in 2017
The starlit wood (fantasy story collection)
Words without music (memoir: Philip Glass)
Walls: resisting the Third Reich (nonfiction)
Artist Play Word of the Year: Home
I’m part of a group of women who meet regularly to have fun and encourage each other’s creativity. This year we chose a word in the fall of 2017, and my word is home. At the end of the calendar year, I’m also thinking about the word threshold – the border between the inside and the outside, the old and the new. I also sing with a threshold choir.
Oh, and my spiritual community is searching for a new home, and my dad is in the process of selling his half of the farm that my mother grew up on (though thankfully he's selling to my cousin, so I can still visit if I want.)
So home - where it is and what it means - is on my mind.
Books read in 1st quarter 2018
1. Emergence by C. J. Cherryh (science fiction) (ebook) ****
2. Glass Houses by Louise Penny (mystery) (eaudiobook) *** 3/4
3. Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman (& The Cold Eye in 2017) (fantasy)
4. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (eaudiobook) **** 1/2
5. The Open Door by Latifa Zeyyat, translated by Marilyn Booth *** 3/4
6. Clarkesworld magazine, January 2018 edition (ebook) ***
7. Binti**** & Binti: Home***3/4 by Nnedi Okorafor (ebooks)
8. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (eaudiobook) ****
9. My friend Madame Zora by Jane Duncan ***1/2
10. In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle ***
11. The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017, series editor John Joseph Adams, volume editor Charles Yu ***
12. The Muse by Jessie Burton *****
13. Song of the Lion by Anne Hillerman ***
14. Semiosis b Sue Burke ***3/4
15. The End of all things by John Scalzi ***1/2
16. The Power by Naomi Alderman ****
I re-listend to a couple of Maisie Dobbs novels, but didn't record them.
17. My friends the MacLeans by Jane Duncan ****
18. Lake Silence by Anne Bishop ***.75
19. The Line Becomes a River by Franciso Cantu****
20. The Western Star by Craig Johnson****
Books I didn't finish
Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick (non fiction)
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (non fiction)
Jade City by Fonda Lee (fantasy) (science fiction)
Prussian Blue by Phillip Kerr (mystery)
The overneath by Peter Beagle
Dark Matter: reading the bones edited by Sherree R. Thomas
Books read in 2nd quarter 2018
22. Down the river unto the Sea by Walter Mosley
23. My friend Sashie by Jane Duncan
Books I didn't finish
The future is history
Sadness is a white bird
Born to run
I hope I may achieve a Bingo this year, but am not choosing books to fit the categories.
#3 - Originally in a different language: The Open Door by Latifa Zayyat (Arabic)
#4 - New to you author: Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures
#7 - Published in 2018: Emergence by C. J. Cherryh
#13 - Alpha Category - Z!: My friend Madam Zora
#17 - Something in the sky in the title: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
#20 - Beautiful Cover: The Muse by Jessie Burton
#21 - Memoir or autobiograph: The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu
#24 - Story involves travel: Binti & Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
Planning thread with cards
Directions for using cards can be found here
Bingo Card wiki
Link to 1001+ books to read before you die on LT
Cats & kits
February: Female Cop/Sleuth/Detective: Song of the Lion by Anne Hillerman
March: Global Mysteries
April: Classic and Golden Age Mysteries
May: Mysteries involving Transit
June: True Crime
July: Police Procedurals
August: Historical Mysteries
September: Noir and Hard-Boiled Mysteries
November: Cozy Mysteries
December: Futuristic/Fantastical Mysteries
January: read a book bullet
February: "Urban Fantasy"
March: "Off World"
April: "Time Travel"
May: "Rise Up" hosted by
Rise up as in revolution, movements/groups/individuals undermining authority
July: "Cyberpunk or Techno SFF"
August: "Makes You Laugh"
September: Myths, Legends, & Fairy Tales
October: "Historical and Alt-historical"
December: "This is how it ends"
Jan: V, M Z: My friend Madam Zora
Feb : P, J
Mar: F, I
Apr: Y, U
May: Q, K
Jun: G, R
Jul: S, A
Aug: O, D
Sep: B, E
Oct: N, L
Nov: T, H
Dec: C, W
Yearlong: X, Z
Passing by to wish you a wonderful new year and to add a star to this thread. I look forward to your comments on the books you read.
I love your idea of your artist play word. And I found myself looking into the word origin of threshold. Not as clear as I had thought. Welcome to CR. Wishing you a great reading year ahead.
Hello Ardene. I'm looking forward to following your reading this year. I have Nothing to Envy on my shelves, so I'll be interested to see what you think. I should get to it soon.
What is a threshold choir?
>12 markon: I listen to Nothing to Envy and thought it was a fine audiobook (I usually need "lighter", more plot heavy books for audio). I will be curious to see how you like it.
>13 arubabookwoman: Hi Deboarh. I started Nothing to Envy before Chrismas. I need to get back to it, but I've got a couple of gulity pleasures going that are hard to put down.
>14 ELiz_M: Liz, I'm glad you enjoyed listening to Nothing to Envy. I often have trouble listening to non fiction. So far, I'm enjoying the stories of individuals and the way Demick is weaving them together.
>15 Cait86: Cait, I am enjoying Glass Houses. I have to admit I sometimes find the structure frustrating (I get involved and one storyline, and then it switches in time), but it is still a good book.
>13 arubabookwoman: Deborah, a threshold choir is basically a group that sings for people at thresholds/crossing points of their lives. Mostly that means people who are dying. My group visits two hospices regularly, and will also do on call visits in people's homes. We usually sing in small groups (2-4 people, I'm not confident enough to to less than 3.) Our music is all acapella, and is pretty simple, since it's meant to bring comfort and ease. We are not there to entertain, and are fine if someone falls asleep while we're singing. Here's a link to the website for the national organization.
>17 markon: That sounds wonderful Ardene, very peaceful. What are some of the songs you sing--religious, classical, folk, ???
A lot of the music we sing has been written for threshold choirs. We will do familiar spirituals if people request them and we know them. Our group has 10-12 memorized, and my two favorites right now are Deeply Loved and Walking Each Other Home (inspired by a Ram Dass quote.)
Is it a good start to the year when I've purchased 5 books already? I say yes.
Emergence by C. J. Cherryh (ebook)
The golden scales and The burning gates by Parker Bilal (#1 & #4 in the Makana mystery series)
Daughters of Iraq by Revital Shiri-Horowitz (3 generations of a Jewish family who move from Iraq to Israel, MENA buddy read for February)
The open door by Latifa Al-Zayyat (set in Egypt, 1950s, MENA read for January)
and the January issue of Clarkesworld, a British science fiction magazine is here.
C. J. Cherryh has done it again! Emergence was a satisfying read for me. I am happy that we are finally getting some background filled in about Damari's family and her situation, and hope to see more action for her. The storyline on Mospheria was less interesting to me, but is moving the story forward. I'm curious whether we'll see action on the island from the point of view of any of Cajeri's "friends" as the story moves on to the next novel, Resurgence. I'm amazed that I only discovered this author a few years ago, since she's been publishing since the mid-1970s, and is now in her mid-70s.
For anyone with a science fiction bent, this is the 19th novel in the Foreigner series, featuring Ben Cameron, the human pahdi, who represents humans to the Atevi, and repesents the Atevi to humans living on the island of Mospheria. There is good character development, and usually some intense action by the end of each novel, with every three novels representing an overall story arc. The series begins about 200 years after humans have been stranded on the Atevi planet, so humans are initially the foreigners, and the first few arcs involve Bren getting more familiar with Atevi language and behavior as he moves to Shejidan to live as the only human among atevi.
>21 markon: So you will be speaking Atevi soon. I know that when I was reading Frank Herbert's Dune novels I felt I was learning a new language.
>21 markon: Would you believe that I have yet to start that series, much as I love Cherryh? I do have 4 of them on my tbr shelf, though.
>24 ronincats: Well, I would say that you'll have something to look forward to when it's too cold go go outside, but it doesn't get that cold where you are, does it? You'll find a time when it's the right read.
>12 markon: I read Nothing to Envy a while ago and gave it 4.5*. In addition to the intimate glimpse into a world few Westerners have ever seen, I was very impressed by Demick's attention to accurate reporting and to bias, both within herself and the defectors she interviewed. I like how she focused on a few people, although she interviewed hundreds. It allows the reader to become more emotionally involved than a strict report or news article. I'll look forward to your impressions.
I’m less than satisfied with Louise Penny’s latest, Glass Houses. Why? It’s a combination of things. One is style - I’m getting tired of the technique that goes back and forth between one character or time period and the next. This is not a Penny problem, it’s simply I’d had more than enough when I picked up this book. I also had trouble suspending my sense of disbelief for several plot points -
However, a less than satisfying Penny novel is still good enough to finish. I’m not sure where she’ll take Gamache next, since
I did find the concept of the cobrador and the theme of conscience that runs through this book interesting.
>28 markon: - Yes, all the arrows in Penny's world do seem to point to Three Pines, don't they? I really loved this book, but you're right that they do require some belief suspension.
>29 Cait86: Yes, and I've had to work at it a couple of times, but this one was just too much work for me.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly on audio (better than the movie, which I also enjoyed)
The Open Door by Latifa Al-Zayyat
1996 winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, this is the story of a young middle class girl in the 1950s, during the time Egypt was struggling for independence from Britain. Published in 1960, it was one of the first Egyptian novels to use colloquial Arabic, and was made into a popular Egyptian movie in 1963. My edition was translated by Marilyn Booth.
The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty
The story of Twitty's journey to "document the connection between food history and family history from Africa to America."
>31 markon: I, too, enjoyed the movie version of Hidden Figures and have the book on my shelf. Must get to, but the TBR pile is wobbling. I culled it last night, but still...
The Open Door is my first book bullet of the year. I didn't realize there was a Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature; although I'm not surprised. Mahfouz is the only Egyptian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and the first Arabic author to do so. I read Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy and loved it. I have two more of his books that I hope to get to someday.
>32 labfs39: Lisa, I didn't know about the Naguib Mahfouz medal either until I ran across this title, due to the Middle East North Africa reading group on Goodreads. 1996 was the inaugural year for the prize, and there were two winners that year - Zayyat's novel and The Other Place by Ibrahim abdel Meguid. In addition to a cash prize, each winning novel is translated into English, lucky for you and me.
I haven't read the Cairo trilogy - I'm a bit initimidated by its length.
>33 markon: While the trilogy is long, it is at heart a compelling family drama and follows the lives of the colorful members of one family from English colonialism to Egyptian independence and dictatorship (from WWI-WWII). You could read the first book, Palace Walk on its own and see if you like it. I think it would stand on its own, although once I had read it, I was so hooked, I had to go get the others!
>34 labfs39: Onto the list it goes!
>35 janemarieprice: I sooo need to get back to this!
Had an enjoyable visit with family & celebrated my dad's 90th birthday this past weekend. Since the visit was bookended by an ice storm in Atlanta and two plane flights, I've added several titles to my January reads, with comments hopefully coming by the end of the month.
I'm returning Jade City by Fonda Lee to the library unfinished. There's nothing wrong with it, I just don't want to read a gangster fantasy. It didn't suck me in enough to finish it, just enough to skip to the end and say, yeah, that's what I thought would happen. I found myself irritated at the end because it was clearly set up to be part of a series and didn't seem to finish in and of itself. (Maybe that's because I didn't read the whole thing?)
Why do I want to read the rest of Laura Anne Gilman's Devil's West fantasy, and not this one? Setting. I'm intrigued by the Devil's West setting and don't have it figured out. And I think I understand the setting, and to some degree the politics, of The Green Bone Saga. But I don't have a handle on the Devil's West.
The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty (I finished chapter 2 yesterday.)
Future home of the living God by Louise Erdrich (audio)
My friend Madame Zora by Jane Duncan (ebook)
Daughters of Iraq by Revital Shiri-Horowitz
The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017, series editor John Joseph Adams, Volume Editor Charles Yu
Quick comments on several books I’ve read this month.
Fantasy & Science Fiction
Two science fiction compilations - one a Best of 2017 anthology, one the monthly issue of Clarkesworld magazine. Although both had good stories, neither one overwhelmed me with greatness. Favorite stories?
"A world to die for" by Tobias S. Buckell and an interview with Sue Burke that has made me curious to see what she does with intelligent plant life in Semiosis. (Clarkesworld)
I also read the novellas Binti and Binti Home by Nnedi Okorafor. I enjoyed both, and the world-building is excellent, leaving me with just enough to tantalize and make me want to read the next. I did feel like Home didn’t really end or stand alone as a complete story, however. I am curious to understand more of the history of Binti’s planet & people.
And finally, Peter Beagle’s In Calabria, a fable about love and unicorns and courage. This was short, but I read it slowly and savored the characters.struggled to cope with their situations “””
What do I do when I want to read a familiar favorite? I purchase an ebook of one of Jane Duncan’s My Friend series, this time My Friend Madame Zora. I discovered these at my local library in high school, and am quite happy McMillan has republished this out-of-print historical fiction series set in the middle of the 20th century. I do wish they had paid for a copywriter to correct the many errors in the text, but am glad I can now read these again - I like them as well as an adult as I did as a teenager.
I finally got around to reading, er listening to, Kristen Hannah’s Nightingale, and liked it a lot. At the beginning the sisters, Vianne & Isabelle, seemed a bit two dimensional to me, but this changed as the story developed. I liked particularly the development of Vianne’s character over the course of the occupation, as she and the Nazi soldier billeted in her home struggled to find their positions in relationship to each other, and she reflected on her troubled relationship to her sister & father as well. ****
This was my introduction to fiction set in occupied France. To augment, I saw the movie Un sac du billes (A Bag of marbles) yesterday, This Canadian remake is based on a 1973 memoir (according to the introduction yesterday) or an autobiographical novel (per Wikipedia) by the same title. The story of two Jewish brothers, ages 8 & 12 at the beginning of the story, it tells of their search for safety from Paris to various parts of France during World War 2. The movie is in the family friendly
portion of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.
On to my friend Regina's house for supper and another movie, Challah Rising in the Desert.
>40 markon: So many interesting tidbits in your last few posts. I'm off to see if Netflix has either of the movies you mention...
Interesting last books read!
What did you think of the movie Un sac de billes? The book is a classic for children literature here in France, so it seems natural that the movie is family friendly. I read it when I was a kid and was really moved.
>43 chlorine: Clémence, I liked Un sac de billes quite a bit! It was a more complex movie than I expected, and I thought it well done. Apparently the brothers are still living in France - they had a current/recent photo of them at the end of the movie. Interesting to know that it is well-known in France.
>42 labfs39: Lisa, if they don't have the movies now, try again in 6 months to a year. Some of the movies at the festival are just being released this year.
I quite enjoyed Challah Rising in the Desert as well, a documentary about Jewish communities in the southwestern United States. The movie talked about three strands of migration. One of conversos (forced converts to Catholicism from Spain) who came to the New World in the 15th century. I understand documenting this is difficult and controversial because the secret of their being Jews was so well kept. A second strand was 18th century immigrants who were store keepers/dry goods merchants that traveled the Santa Fe trail. The third is scientists who came to Los Alamos in the mid-twentieth century.
>21 markon: I read the first two Foreigner books back in 2008; I did not realize there were already 19 of them! I am thinking that might be a series I want to dive back into, and I think a reread of the first two is in order, otherwise I have a feeling I will get hopelessly lost.
And I see in post #40 you've also read The Nightingale; that's on my list to read this year as well. It isn't precisely in my normal reading range, but my book group will be discussing it in April (book groups can be wonderful for getting one to read outside one's normal genres). From your description it sounds like a fascinating read!
Saw a moving documentary this morning, Remember Baghdad, about Iraqui Jews in the 20th century. I'm looking forward to reading Daughters of Iraq, and hope to visit the Brennan Museum this week for Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage. (This exhibit will be in Dallas, TX starting in May or view it online.)
This year's first five-star read for me is The Muse by Jessie Burton, ©2016. Two stories are intertwined, one from Spain (Arazuelo) in 1936, one from England (London via Trinidad) in 1967, connected by a painting. Both stories brought to resolution with not all the loose ends and motivations explicated. What drives creativity? How do a person's relationships fuel or destroy their art? What enables some to keep creating and what blocks others?
I greatly enjoyed this audiobook, though it's not without a flaw or two. I savored the voices of Bahini Turpin and Mary Elena Infantino. The story intrigued me and the themes of creativity and identity made the story rich and universal.
>50 markon: I read through the website for Remember Baghdad and was interested in seeing the movie, but it seems as though it's through private screenings only? How did you see it? You might also be interested in reading My father's paradise : a son's search for his Jewish past in Kurdish Iraq. I received it as an Early Reviewer book and previously hadn't known (or thought) about the Iraqi Jews. A fair amount of the book is about the relationship between father and son, so it's not as focused as some of the other things you mention.
>52 labfs39: Lisa, I saw this as part of the Atlanta Jewish Festival. I didn't realize it wasn't available for purchase. I'm guessing they don't have a distribution channel. Looks like people in the UK will be able to buy it later this year.
One of the people in the documentary actually bought a house in Kurdish Iraq. At the Q&A afterwards, the rabbi leading discussion also mentioned that in the 30s/40s when a mufti working with Hitler was stirring up anti-Jewish sentiment in Iraq that in the Kurdish part of the country the muftis teachings weren't well received.
Taking a road trip to Missouri tomorrow and trying to decide what to take to read. My cousin from Texas and I are meeting up near Osage Beach, MO at my brother & sister-in-law's condo for several days. Am looking forward to time when all I have to do is read, walk the dog, talk to my cousin, cook, eat and sleep.
I have several audiobooks and music for the car. What's on my list when I get there? Let's see,
still working on The Cooking Gene
Daughters of Iraq
a re-read of Their eyes were watching God
The future home of the living god
The future is history by Masha Gessen
Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright
The Open Door (Latifa al-Zayyat, 1960) is a novel I hope to read more than once because it's rich enough to deserve reading from a variety of perspectives.
On one hand, it's a coming if age story of Layla as she becomes a young woman during the decade of 1946 - 1956. At the same time, it's the story if Egypt seeking to be a self-governing country, told through the eyes of an adolescent girl seeking her own self-governing. The personal - Layla's life as a woman and a sexual being - and the political - both the Egyptian government and Layla's position in her family and society- are inextricably intertwined. 4.5 stars
I hope you enjoyed your vacation!
The open door seems very interesting. Thanks for the review!
>56 chlorine:, Clémence, I had a great time, it was just too short! Jacki & I hung out and walked Milo and cooked and watched the Olympics. It was just what I needed, some quiet time away.
>57 markon: Glad to hear that it was great! I'm going away for four days in two weeks and highly anticipate it! :)
Both your vacation and your book sound wonderful. Until lately our vacations were a tiring whirlwind, visit this, see that, from morning till evening. Now, I like vacations where the most difficult thing I need to decide is to cook or go out for dinner! I want a nice view, my books, and silence! (For the most part...having visited The House of Seven Gables last year).
<60, Yes, I like to have 1-2 things I want to see, but take the rest at a relaxing pace.
I finished two science fiction books recently.
The best one was The power by Naomi Alderman, set in a world where adolescent girls start developing the skill to intentionally shock (up to kill) people who challenge them. Told in multiple points of view, it depicts the individual stories of several girls and women and one young man as these changes play out globally. I was especially interested in Allie/Mother Eve and Roxy, their friendship, and their differences by the end of the novel. 4 stars
Edited to add:
I was glad to see that Alderman doesn't show this new power of women as a solution to women's problems, or present the women she focuses on as providing unambiguously good ways to channel power.
Did anyone besides me find the framing of the story as fiction a little cheesy? It reminded me of Margaret Atwood's framing of The Handmaid's Tale (which I didn't find cheesy), and then I discovered Atwood mentored Alderman, so I felt like she was copycatting.
I enjoyed the book, but find it hasn't challenged how I think about power or women's place in society.
The end of all things by John Scalzi was also fun. It's a collection of stories set in the "Old Man's War" universe that continues the conflict/struggle to come to terms of the Conclave, the Continental Defense Force, and Earth. 3 1/2 stars.
Jane Crow: the life of Pauli Murray by Rosalind Rosenberg
For those of you who hadn't heard of Pauli Murray until The firebrand and the first lady, I just ran across this biography which is going onto my to read list. Here's a quote from page 1:
In the 1950s, Murray's legal scholarship on race discrimination encouraged Thurgood Marshall to shift course and attack segregation directly as a violation of equal protection in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). In the 1960s, her attacks on the federal government for failing to protect women against gender discrimination persuaded Betty Friedan to join her in founding a National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for women, which Friedan named NOW (National Organization for Women). In the early 1970s, Murray's concept of Jane Crow - the depiction of gender discrimination as analogous to race discrimination - propelled Ruth Bader Ginsburg to her first Supreme Court victory, establishing a woman's constitutional right to equal protection in Reed v. Reed (1971). And in the late 1970s, Murray became the first black female Episcopal priest, in the process extending her critical thinking on race and gender to the realm of theology.
Anyone else been experimenting with litsy? I'm finding it quite easy to use and rather addictive. I have a different handle there, bnp.
I want to post a screen cap of an artist's response to gun violence here, but LTs upload feature only allows me to access my camera, not my gallery. Go figure. To post the same picture to litsy was easy - I just made a screen capture from the artist's web page, uploaded it to a post, and added a tiny url to link to the artist's blog post.
Ahhhh - upload to drive, download to computer hardrive and now I can upload and then post. I think.
I'll be interested to hear from anyone else who is playing with this new to me app.
Want to give a shout out to Carolyn Ives Gilman for her story Umbernight published in Clarkesworld. Funny and suspenseful & made me look up some science facts to better understand what was happening.
I'm also enjoying Bruce Springsteen's autobiography, Born to Run, as an audiobook.
>67 markon: I signed up for a Litsy account back in Dec 2016 and promptly...did nothing with it. Well, not until I got the email announcement that LibraryThing had accquired Litsy, at any rate. So far it seems to be a fun little app.
I've seen some people post cover collages on there, but I don't know how to do that yet. And I really hope that there is some sort of way to clean up a bunch of the data. I've seen a number of errors when I've gone searching for books.
>69 shadrach_anki: I think LTs data/cataloging skills are much better than litsy, but I think LTs app skills, judging by the Android app, leave a lot to be desired. So, not sure what's going to happen down the road. An I want to get the location data embedded in cellphone photos turned off before I start posting a lot of pictures there.
I joined Litsy too, with the same user name as here. I will go over there to mark you for following.
I'm having trouble reading, so not getting through a lot. Listening to rereads of Sue Grafton, Louise Penny, Jacqueline Winspear.
The Miniaturist (audio)
Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser.
Recently abandoned because they were due back at the library:
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