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Jackie's 5th year of ROOTing

This topic was continued by Jackie's 5th year of ROOTing part 2.

2018 ROOT (READ OUR OWN TOMES)

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1Jackie_K
Edited: Apr 22, 12:06pm Top

Hello! I'm Jackie, back for my 5th consecutive year of ROOTing at LT. This group has revolutionised my approach to my ever-more-daunting TBR pile, and I have loved both the increased reading *and* all the brilliant friends I have met here (sadly none in real life yet). So, along with participating in the 2018 Category Challenge, I am here again looking forward to some great reads in 2018.

I am English but have lived in Scotland since 2005 so it's definitely home now! I am 48 (eek), married to Pete and mum of a gorgeous 4 year old daughter (I try not to use her name online, but refer to her elsewhere online as A, which is the first letter of her name, so I'll probably do that here too). I am trying to establish a freelance business this year, and am hopeful that if the freelancing takes off then I can fit it more easily with A's school hours (how have I got a nearly school-age child already? Argh). If it doesn't then I am keeping my hand in with my old job (health visiting) doing a few shifts a month, so I can always go back to that if I have to (though I hope not to have to!).

I will continue to use my Jar of Fate, which has massively increased the amount that I am reading - for those not in the know, the Jar of Fate is a pot with all my TBR titles written on a colour-coded slip of paper, which I pull out to decide my next read, rather than trying to decide myself what to read next. I am also participating in one of the CAT challenges in the 2018 Category challenge group (ColourCAT), and hopefully also in the 75ers non-fiction challenge (although I won't be joining that group other than for that challenge, as maintaining threads in two groups is enough for me), so that will also decide a few of my reads as well as the random ones from the Jar of Fate.

For my target this year, I intend to aim for 48 ROOTs (4 per month), which I managed to exceed by a few last year (my most successful reading year ever!). I am also going to actively read some more library books - I want to support my local library in this era of local authority funding cuts, and whilst I already get lots of books out for my daughter I figure one more punter regularly taking books out won't hurt their case for continued support. I plan on reading one library book a month, in addition to the 48 ROOTs from my TBR. This will represent a definite challenge for me - I'm close to 60 total ROOTs read in 2017, plus 4 library books, so it is doable but not inevitable.

I will also continue to monitor my acquisitions. I think since starting to do this 2 or 3 years ago it has really helped me to curb the book-buying excesses a little bit, and also made me much more aware about only buying things I'm pretty confident I will enjoy. Last year I intended a ratio of 1:1.5 ROOTs:acquisitions, which I more or less stuck to till August, but then the buying urge took hold and it ended up closer to 1:2 by the end of the year, same as the year before. Hopefully in 2018 I will be stronger! Ultimately I'd love to be buying no more than I'm reading, in order to start making a dent in Mt TBR rather than just growing it some more, but have to be realistic that the urge to buy is really very strong still! Hopefully though being more discerning about the quality of books I go for will help, and reduce the dross. I also aimed to spend no more than £150 on books in the year, which I went over a bit (around £170), so I'll aim for £150 again this year. I'll also, as before, be on the hunt for the bargain as much as possible, and aim to spend no more on average than £2 per book.

At the start of 2018 my total number of TBRs is 395* (*updated after Christmas from 383 - thanks Santa!!) (*updated again 13.1.18 when I counted the actual number of unread No 1 Ladies Detective Agency books I have - I was working on the assumption it was 5, but it's actually 7). I really don't want to go over 400, so will have to really be strict with myself with acquisitions. I'll keep a total TBR ticker too, so I can see if Mt TBR is higher or lower at the end of the year than it was at the start.

Note to self so I don't have to look everywhere - code for inserting a picture (surrounded by less than and greater than signs): img src="URL" width=200 length=150

Without further ado, here's a picture of the Jar of Fate:



Ticker 1: ROOTs read in 2018




Ticker 2: Acquisitions 2018




Ticker 3: Total TBRs outstanding (starting point on 1st Jan: 395 books)


2connie53
Dec 23, 2017, 12:06pm Top

Hi Jackie! Ohh I love the idea of a TBR Ticker counting down and up!

I might steal that idea and add one on the first of January when I can count my TBR for real. I don't think I will read another book after I finished my current one.

3Jackie_K
Dec 23, 2017, 12:18pm Top

>2 connie53: I will adjust the total on January 1st, so I know where I am, Connie. It took me till now to actually count them, and although I knew it was somewhere between 300-400, I really don't want to go over 400 if I can help it (and once I've spent my Christmas money and opened gifts I'm going to be really really close!), so I think the ticker will help me to get my head round it a bit better, and make me think harder about whether I really really want to buy that new book or not. I hope!

4connie53
Dec 23, 2017, 12:21pm Top

>3 Jackie_K: That makes sense. It worked for me this year.

5Jackie_K
Edited: May 10, 9:17am Top

Oops, I totally forgot to add a few posts for my lists. So here goes:

ROOTs read 2018 1st thread

1. Paul Murton - The Hebrides. Finished 1.1.18. 4.5/5.
2. Barbara Demick - Nothing to Envy. Finished 3.1.18. 4.5/5.
3. Jasper Fforde - The Eyre Affair. Finished 9.1.18. 4/5.
4. Kim Edwards - The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Abandoned 11.1.18. 3/5.
5. Nicole Faires - Food Confidential. Finished 14.1.18. 4/5.
6. Deb Wilenski & Caroline Wendling - Fantastical Guides for the Wildly Curious: Ways into Hinchingbrooke Country Park. Finished 25.1.18. 4.5/5.
7. Brian Anderson - It Came from the Diaper Pail. Abandoned 29.1.18.
8. Nick Hunt - Walking the Woods and the Water. Finished 1.2.18. 4.5/5.
9. Darden Asbury Pyron - Liberace: An American Boy. Finished 22.2.18. 3.5/5.
10. Tzvetan Todorov, tr. Andrew Brown - The Fear of Barbarians. Finished 27.2.18. 4/5.
11. Linda Herrera - Revolution in the Age of Social Media: The Egyptian Popular Insurrection and the Internet. Finished 2.3.18. 4/5.
12. Helen Morales - Pilgrimage to Dollywood: a Country Music Road Trip through Tennessee. Finished 3.3.18. 4/5.
13. Rebecca West - Black Lamb & Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia. Finished 5.3.18. 3/5.
14. Heather Rogers - Green Gone Wrong. Finished 9.3.18. 4.5/5.
15. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. Finished 11.3.18. 4/5.
16. Barbara Kingsolver - The Poisonwood Bible. Abandoned 12.3.18. 3/5.
17. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - We Should All Be Feminists. Finished 16.3.18. 4/5.
18. Various - Where Freedom Starts: Sex Power Violence #MeToo. Finished 17.3.18. 4/5.
19. Michael Kohn - Dateline Mongolia. Finished 24.3.18. 4/5.
20. Dave Walker - Peculiar Goings On. Finished 27.3.18. 4/5.
21. Margaret Silf - Sacred Spaces: Stations on a Celtic Way. Finished 31.3.18. 3.5/5.
22. Dominic Selwood - Spies, Sadists and Sorcerers: The History you weren't taught at school. Finished 1.4.18. 3.5/5.
23. Simon Kitson tr. Catherine Tihanyi - The Hunt for Nazi Spies: Fighting Espionage in Vichy France. Finished 10.4.18. 3.5/5.
24. ed Susan Gal & Gail Kligman - Reproducing Gender: Politics, Publics, and Everyday Life After Socialism. Finished 13.4.18. 4/5.
25. Kelly J. Baker - Sexism Ed: Essays on Gender and Labor in Academia. Finished 15.4.18. 5/5.
26. Wen Stephenson - What We're Fighting for Now is Each Other: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Climate Justice. Finished 17.4.18. 4/5.
27. Ella Frances Sanders - Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World. Finished 18.4.18. 4.5/5.
28. Joshua Blu Buhs - Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend. Finished 26.4.18. 4.5/5.
29. Sue Hubbell - A Book of Bees. Finished 3.5.18. 4.5/5.
30. Madeleine L'Engle - Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage. Finished 10.5.18. 5/5.

6Jackie_K
Edited: May 7, 4:07pm Top

Non-ROOTs (library books) read 2018

1. David Torrance - Nicola Sturgeon: A Political Life. Finished 5.2.18. 3.5/5.
2. Lynn M Brewster - Suffrage in Stirling: The Struggle for Women's Votes. Finished 18.2.18. 4/5.
3. Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin & Irvine Welsh - One City. Finished 30.3.18. 4/5.
4. Chris Leslie - Disappearing Glasgow: A Photographic Journey. Finished 21.4.18. 4.5/5.
5. Sue Reid Sexton - Writing on the Road: Campervan Love and the Joy of Solitude. Finished 7.5.18. 3/5.

7Jackie_K
Edited: May 12, 1:53pm Top

Acquisitions 2018 1st thread

1. Peter Frankopan - The Silk Roads. From kobo (£2.63). Acquired 8.1.18.
2. Jasper Fforde - Something Rotten. From kobo (£1.99). Acquired 8.1.18.
3. Tina Fey - Bossypants. From Cancer Research charity shop (£1.25). Acquired 16.1.18.
4. Nick Griffiths - Who Goes There? (50th anniversary edition). From kobo, via bookbub (£1.99). Acquired 22.1.18.
5. Peter Wohlleben - The Hidden Life of Trees. From kobo (£3.99). Acquired 23.1.18.
6. Sarah Millican - How to be Champion. From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 24.1.18.
7. Peter Mayle - A Year in Provence. From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 1.2.18.
8. Frank Kusy - Off the Beaten Track: My Crazy Year in Asia. From kobo, via bookbub (free). Acquired 2.2.18.
9. Matthew Walker - Why We Sleep. From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 6.2.18.
10. Svetlana Alexievich - The Unwomanly Face of War. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 15.2.18.
11. Various - Where Freedom Starts: Sex Power Violence #MeToo. From Verso (free). Acquired 17.2.18.
12. Ed. Rachel Rosen & Katherine Twamley - Feminism & the Politics of Childhood: Friends of Foes? (no touchstone). From UCL Press (free). Acquired 1.3.18.
13. Tim Peake - Ask an Astronaut. From kobo (£1.99). Acquired 1.3.18.
14. Peggy Shinner - You Feel So Mortal: Essays on the Body. From UoC Press (free). Acquired 2.3.18.
15. Sue Hubbell - A Book of Bees. From kobo, via bookbub (£1.99). Acquired 2.3.18.
16. Clover Stroud - The Wild Other. From kobo sale (£0.99). Acquired 10.3.18.
17. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. From kobo sale (£0.99). Acquired 10.3.18.
18. Tessa Dunlop - The Bletchley Girls. From kobo sale (£0.99). Acquired 10.3.18.
19. Victoria Whitworth - Swimming With Seals. From kobo sale (£1.99). Acquired 10.3.18.
20. Joan Didion - The Year of Magical Thinking. From kobo, via bookbub (£1.49). Acquired 13.3.18.
21. Michael Kohn - Dateline Mongolia. From LT (Early Reviewers) (free). Acquired 16.3.18.
22. Darach O'Seaghdha - Motherfocloir: Dispatches from a Not So Dead Language. From kobo (£1.99). Acquired 17.3.18.
23. Stephen Rea - Finn McCool's Football Club. From kobo, via bookbub (£1.99). Acquired 17.3.18.
24. Matthew Small - The Wall Between Us (?no touchstone). From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 24.3.18. (***note to self: all books up to and including this one in the Jar of Fate***)
25. Kelly J Baker - Sexism Ed: Essays on Gender and Labor in Academia. From LTER (free). Acquired 3.4.18.
26. Tara Westover - Educated. From kobo (via bookbub) (£1.99). Acquired 4.4.18.
27. Ellen Lewin - Lesbian Mothers: Accounts of Gender in American Culture. From kobo (free). Acquired 9.4.18.
28. Naoki Higashida - The Reason I Jump: one boy's voice from the silence of autism. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 14.4.18.
29. Sam Kean - Caesar's Last Breath. From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 14.4.18.
30. Ella Frances Sanders - Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World. From amazon (£1.98 + £5 voucher). Acquired 18.4.18.
31. Jasper Fforde - The Well of Lost Plots. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 22.4.18.
32. The Unmumsy Mum/Sarah Turner - The Unmumsy Mum Diary. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 24.4.18.
33. Alan Johnson - The Long and Winding Road. From kobo (£0.99). Acquired 3.5.18.
34. Yanis Varoufakis - Talking to my Daughter about the Economy: A Brief History of Capitalism. From kobo, via bookbub (£1.99). Acquired 4.5.18.
35. Matthew d'Ancona - Post-Truth. From kobo, via bookbub (£0.99). Acquired 12.5.18.

8Jackie_K
Edited: May 12, 1:53pm Top

Tally of amount spent etc 2018

8.1.18 - 2 books (0 free, 2 paid-for). Total spent £4.62. 2 ebooks, 0 paper books.
16.1.18 - 3 books (0 free, 3 paid-for). Total spent £5.87. 2 ebooks, 1 paper book.
22.1.18 - 4 books (0 free, 4 paid-for). Total spent £7.86. 3 ebooks, 1 paper book.
23.1.18 - 5 books (0 free, 5 paid-for). Total spent £11.85. 4 ebooks, 1 paper book.
24.1.18 - 6 books (0 free, 6 paid-for). Total spent £12.84. 5 ebooks, 1 paper book.
1.2.18 - 7 books (0 free, 7 paid-for). Total spent £13.83. 6 ebooks, 1 paper book.
2.2.18 - 8 books (1 free, 7 paid-for). Total spent £13.83. 7 ebooks, 1 paper book.
6.2.18 - 9 books (1 free, 8 paid-for). Total spent £14.82. 8 ebooks, 1 paper book.
15.2.18 - 10 books (1 free, 9 paid-for). Total spent £15.81. 9 ebooks, 1 paper book.
17.2.18 - 11 books (2 free, 9 paid-for). Total spent £15.81. 10 ebooks, 1 paper book.
1.3.18 - 13 books (3 free, 10 paid-for). Total spent £17.80. 12 ebooks, 1 paper book.
2.3.18 - 15 books (4 free, 11 paid-for). Total spent £19.79. 14 ebooks, 1 paper book.
10.3.18 - 19 books (4 free, 15 paid-for). Total spent £24.75. 18 ebooks, 1 paper book.
13.3.18 - 20 books (4 free, 16 paid-for). Total spent £26.24. 19 ebooks, 1 paper book.
16.3.18 - 21 books (5 free, 16 paid-for). Total spent £26.24. 19 ebooks, 2 paper books.
17.3.18 - 23 books (5 free, 18 paid-for). Total spent £30.22. 21 ebooks, 2 paper books.
24.3.18 - 24 books (5 free, 19 paid-for). Total spent £31.21. 22 ebooks, 2 paper books.
3.4.18 - 25 books (6 free, 19 paid-for). Total spent £31.21. 23 ebooks, 2 paper books.
4.4.18 - 26 books (6 free, 20 paid-for). Total spent £33.20. 24 ebooks, 2 paper books.
9.4.18 - 27 books (7 free, 20 paid-for). Total spent £33.20. 25 ebooks, 2 paper books.
14.4.18 - 29 books (7 free, 22 paid-for). Total spent £35.18. 27 ebooks, 2 paper books.
18.4.18 - 30 books (7 free, 23 paid-for). Total spent £37.16. 27 ebooks, 3 paper books.
22.4.18 - 31 books (7 free, 24 paid-for). Total spent £38.15. 28 ebooks, 3 paper books.
24.4.18 - 32 books (7 free, 25 paid-for). Total spent £39.14. 29 ebooks, 3 paper books.
3.5.18 - 33 books (7 free, 26 paid-for). Total spent £40.13. 30 ebooks, 3 paper books.
4.5.18 - 34 books (7 free, 27 paid-for). Total spent £42.12. 31 ebooks, 3 paper books.
12.5.18 - 35 books (7 free, 28 paid-for). Total spent £43.11. 32 ebooks, 3 paper books.

9rabbitprincess
Dec 23, 2017, 1:05pm Top

Welcome back, Jackie! Hoping in the new year to get some serious trip planning done ;)

Have a great reading year!

10tess_schoolmarm
Dec 23, 2017, 1:47pm Top

Hi Jackie! Glad you are here!

11majkia
Dec 23, 2017, 2:56pm Top

::shivers:: jar of fate....

12Jackie_K
Dec 23, 2017, 3:11pm Top

>11 majkia: Heh - it's actually been brilliant in getting me to read books that I'd probably not have picked up otherwise!

Thanks to everyone so far for greetings: >2 connie53: >9 rabbitprincess: >10 tess_schoolmarm: >11 majkia: I'm glad to be back, and glad you're all here!

13Familyhistorian
Dec 25, 2017, 1:27am Top

Good luck with your plans for 2018, Jackie. Have fun with your ROOTing.

14cyderry
Dec 26, 2017, 6:57pm Top

Welcome back!

I know how hard it is to stop myself from buying that book that looks so good, but I finally managed IN 2017 to read at least half of the books that came in new! so of the 120 read, 50 were acquisitions (48 ROOTS) and the rest had been in my possession at the end of 2016. But that dfoes mean I have 46 new ROOTs.

15Jackie_K
Dec 27, 2017, 1:43pm Top

>14 cyderry: That's very impressive! I did read some of my new acquisitions, but not that many. I'm going to try and be stronger about buying the new ones in the first place (let's see how that works out, shall we? Ahem).

16avanders
Dec 29, 2017, 3:55pm Top

Hi! Good luck w/ your 2018 goals!
I'll be stopping in to say hi when I can :)

17detailmuse
Dec 29, 2017, 4:07pm Top

Welcome back to you and the Jar of Fate! ack glad to be reminded -- I was going to look into the 75ers non-fiction challenge.

18floremolla
Dec 30, 2017, 10:35am Top

Hi Jackie! That's an impressively full Jar of Fate - hope it throws up all the good ones for 2018!

19connie53
Jan 1, 3:19am Top



Happy New Year, Jackie!

20karenmarie
Jan 1, 10:59am Top

Hi Jackie! I'm looking forward to another of ROOTing with you.

I love the picture of the Jar of Fate.

21LauraBrook
Jan 1, 1:39pm Top

Welcome back, and happy ROOTing! I envy your organizational skills. And that you live in Scotland. :)

22FAMeulstee
Jan 1, 3:33pm Top

Happy reading in 2018, Jackie!

23novawalsh
Jan 1, 3:37pm Top

The jar of fate is such a fun idea! Good luck reading and happy new year to you. I'll see you here and over on the category challenge as well. Happy reading!

24Jackie_K
Jan 3, 8:37am Top

Happy New Year everyone, from the outer Hebrides! No wifi in our house or mobile signal (in Stornoway today so a quick connection with civilisation and signal!). We've not blown away and are pretty snug, but I won't be able to catch up with threads till next week. I've already finished one ROOT and expect at least one more before we go home.

Hope you had a good new year and Brits that Storm Eleanor hasn't caused too much chaos!

25MissWatson
Jan 4, 10:17am Top

Hi Jackie, it's great to see you're here again. Happy reading!

26floremolla
Jan 7, 5:26pm Top

Welcome back from your holiday - hope you had a relaxing/fab time and managed to pull a ROOT or two. :)

27Jackie_K
Jan 8, 4:50am Top

Thank you everyone for the new year wishes. Donna, I certainly did manage to pull a couple of ROOTs!

ROOT #1 (finished 1.1.18) (how long is it going to take me to stop typing 17 then having to change it to 18?)



Paul Murton's The Hebrides was a 2017 Christmas present from my daughter (she clearly has very good taste! ;) ). It was an ideal read for the start of our Hebridean holiday, so I started it on the first day (30th Dec) and finished it on New Year's Day. I thought it would be more of an in-depth look at the islands than in Murton's Grand Tour TV series, but in fact it appears to be pretty much lifted from the scripts from the series (I haven't seen all the series, but there were a few that I recognised where the book featured the same people I remembered him featuring on the programme). That's not a criticism, as I like the series a lot, it's a very gentle view, and this was a very gentle read! He covers both well-known and smaller more obscure islands, and generally each one has a few pages with some lovely photos, a bit of history and observations about the place. I loved it. 4.5/5.

28Jackie_K
Jan 8, 5:03am Top

ROOT #2 (finished 3.1.18).



Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy is a book I've had on the shelves for two or three years, I picked it up as January's non-fiction challenge theme in the 75 group is Prizewinners, and this book won the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2010. A couple of very rainy days confining us to the house rather than exploring Hebridean beaches and landscapes meant that I was able to race through it in a couple of days. It is an excellent expose, based on interviews with North Korean defectors, of life in North Korea in the time of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, including covering the famine in the late 1990s. It follows six people in some detail, looking at their lives from childhood through to making the decision to defect and then a bit about how they got on once getting out (mainly to China and South Korea). In the Epilogue the author talks about how Kim Jong-Il appears to be grooming his youngest son to take over, and wondering how that's going to turn out... (I'd be really interested in a companion volume which looks at life in Kim Jong-Un's NK). In many places this is harrowing, but also fascinating looking at how giving all for the regime makes sense in the wider context. I found the various points at which people start questioning what they've always known and thinking about defecting very interesting, as well as the various strategies people used to ensure they weren't detected. We've all seen the scenes of people howling and crying when the leader dies, and it was really interesting when she talked with people about how they behaved and the logic behind it when Kim Il-Sung died and they all had to be seen visiting the statues and displaying public grief.

Harrowing but very readable, and even though time has moved on and Kim Jong-Il is no longer leading the country, I suspect this is still a really important book for understanding today's North Korea. Highly recommended. 4.5/5.

29detailmuse
Jan 8, 9:09am Top

>28 Jackie_K: onto the wishlist! I'm interested in how people break the dysfunctions of dire childhoods to have better adult lives (vs those who repeat the patterns), and political defection is such a strong example of that. Plus NK being a critical current issue. Thanks for a great review.

30Jackie_K
Edited: Jan 8, 11:29am Top

Because I have a bit of spare time (and am procrastinating from more important things!), it's time for my 2017 stats! Enjoy, stats nerds! :)

ROOTs read: 58 (my revised target was 48)

Of which:

Fiction: 12 (20.7%)
Non-fiction: 46 (79.3%)

Female author: 38
Male author: 29
(NB some books were joint authors so I included all the authors, hence the number of male and female authors not adding up to 58)

Ebooks: 29 (50%)
Physical books: 29 (50%)

4, 4.5 and 5 star reads: 41 (70.7% - very pleased with that!)

Books of the year:

Amy Liptrot The Outrun
James Rebanks The Shepherd's Life: A Tale of the Lake District
Marie Colvin On the Front Line: The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin

Acquisitions: 110 (whoops)

Ratio of ROOTs:acquisitions: 1:1.9 (my aim was 1:1.5, which I managed until August and then fell off the wagon)

Fiction: 30 (27.27%)
Non-fiction: 80 (72.73%)

Female author: 49
Male author: 72
(again, some joint authors all of whom I tried to count, so the numbers don't add up to 110. Must try to do better at buying female authors in 2018)

Source:
Barter Books: 5
Amazon: 3 (plus 5 Christmas gift books from here - counted in gifts below)
Kobo: 52 (plus 10 Christmas gift books from here - counted in gifts below)
Project Gutenberg: 3
Library sale: 1
Verso: 7
University of Chicago press: 3
Iona Community: 1
online friend: 1
Hexham book festival website: 1
Google notifications: 1
Birthday present: 7
Christmas present: 16
Greenbelt festival: 2
LT Early Reviewer: 1
Policy Press: 1
Waterstones (online & shop): 3
Haymarket books: 2

Amount spent: £175.04 (my target was £150)

Ebooks: 81 (73.64%)
Physical books: 29 (26.36%)

31Jackie_K
Jan 8, 9:16am Top

>29 detailmuse: thank you! It's a really good read, and following the same people over time really personalised the situation in a way that made a lot of sense.

32connie53
Jan 8, 10:59am Top

Nice stats, Jackie!

33MissWatson
Jan 8, 11:01am Top

23 books as presents, out of 110? That seems a very good ratio to me!

34Jackie_K
Edited: Jan 8, 2:34pm Top

>32 connie53: Thank you! I had fun :)
>33 MissWatson: Yes, although it includes both 2016 and 2017 Christmases (I got an amazon voucher for 2016 Christmas, which I didn't spend until January, and then my parents gave me money a couple of weeks ago which I spent just before Christmas, so in effect there are two Christmas' worth of presents there!)

35detailmuse
Jan 8, 2:20pm Top

Fun stats, interested in the predominance of nonfiction (me too)

>33 MissWatson:, >34 Jackie_K: I noticed that same "presents" total, but my thought was amazement that people would choose so many books for you, were they good matches, etc.?! But I see YOU chose the books using vouchers/money. Whew, much safer method :)

36floremolla
Jan 8, 2:27pm Top

Great stats, Jackie! You grasped the nettle of acquisitions (while I left them out of my stats altogether, it was just too dispiriting) and kept tabs on your spend. I'll try to do better this year.

The Paul Murton book looks a lovely book to receive as a gift. I have Nothing to Envy on my Kindle - my husband chose and read it - so will add it to my TBR based on your glowing review!

37Jackie_K
Jan 8, 3:11pm Top

>35 detailmuse: Heh, yes I either chose them myself, or pointed people to my wishlist, so there were only two or three that I hadn't previously chosen or pointed out to people! Much safer that way :)

>36 floremolla: I'm trying to do better with acquisitions this year - I started the year with 393 TBRs, and I really really really don't want to go over 400, which means I'm going to have to cut the acquiring right back. Not that that stopped me buying 2 today, but as I've read 2 I'm not (yet) worried!

The Murton book is a lovely gift, although if you want to know about any of the individual islands in any depth then it's probably not the best, and you'd be better off buying a book about the individual place. But as an overview of the whole Hebrides it was really nice (much like the programme. And after your comment on my last year's thread, I found myself reading it in his accent!!!).

38readingtangent
Jan 8, 4:17pm Top

Welcome back, Jackie, and good luck with your ROOTs and acquisitions this year. I like the idea of a ticker tracking where the TBR pile stands! I should really do that, although I might find it demoralizing. Last year I wound up negative seven, which isn't much at all. Oh, well. :)

39Jackie_K
Jan 8, 4:51pm Top

>38 readingtangent: It's the first year I've done this particular ticker, so I'm not sure yet what sort of effect it will have on me! What I hope is that seeing the number so near to 400 will act as a motivator to not acquire so many. I'll let you know at the end of the year how that went! Currently it's back exactly where I started at the start of January, as I've read 2 and bought 2.

40karenmarie
Jan 8, 4:54pm Top

Hi Jackie!

I liked your stats and am impressed at the amount of nonfiction you read.

41Familyhistorian
Jan 8, 6:26pm Top

Sounds like you made the best of your Hebredian holiday even though the weather was not very cooperative. Good to see you back.

42Jackie_K
Jan 10, 5:45am Top



ROOT #3 in January was The Eyre Affair, the first in the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, which I chose for January's RandomCAT, which is about BBs. This series is one which friends on another online forum I'm on have raved about for years, so when kobo offered this as a cheapie a year or two ago I got it to see what the fuss was about, although I've only now (thanks to the category prompt) got round to it. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I'm not a fiction fan, generally, and this is nothing at all like I would usually read, but it was really fun. Thursday Next is a literary detective, employed by SpecOps in England in 1985, where literature and reality intermingle, as do past and present (as demonstrated by Thursday's time-travelling father), England and Russia are still at war in the Crimea (Thursday is a veteran of this war), Wales is a renegade independent republic, reconstituted dodos are popular pets, and Jane Eyre ends with Jane going to India with St John Rivers, leaving Rochester to mope back at home. Evil criminal mastermind Acheron Hades steals the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit, steals a minor character from it and murders him, causing him to disappear from the original (and so all subsequent copies). Acheron then turns his attention to another original manuscript, with more ambitious plans for ruination. Will Jane Eyre be returned safe to Thornfield before Acheron eliminates her forever, and will her fate forever be in India with St John? Will Thursday and her fellow LiteraTecs catch Acheron and save the day? What is the role of the shadowy Goliath Corporation, who appear to have the government and police force under their control? Will Thursday get her man? And why does Edward Rochester keep appearing in Thursday's real life?

This was Fforde's first novel (there are now 7 in the series, and he has written other series too), and he was compared favourably to the likes of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. On the strength of this I can see why - from the first chapter it reminded me of reading Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, with the same fast pace and clever silliness whilst playing around with conventional reality expectations. There's also a lot of very corny literary word play, but none of it felt forced, and I laughed out loud towards the end at a very brief hommage to Lord of the Rings. I'm pretty sure there will be lots of literary references I missed though, but it didn't matter. I've got a couple of others in the series and will look out for the rest, I'd definitely like to read them all eventually.

Interestingly last night I read on Amberfly's thread that she had given up on the exact same book as she didn't like it at all! I can definitely see that it could be a bit of a Marmite book. I think for me, sometimes what I need is something where you just know from the start to suspend all disbelief and roll with it, which is easier with this sort of book than with fiction that purports to be realistic and accurate - I am still ploughing my way through another fiction book which I started in early December, because I'm a bit wound up with the initial premise and so am just not getting into it. I am going to finish it (it's a RL book group book that I didn't finish the first time round), but already know it's not a keeper.

Anyway - 4 stars for The Eyre Affair!

43Caramellunacy
Jan 10, 8:13am Top

I remember really enjoying The Eyre Affair when I read it ages ago - the literary in-jokes and wordplay were right up my alley (I particularly liked the Richard III "Rocky Horror"-style performance), but didn't get particularly attached to Thursday or the other characters, so had to take them in somewhat small doses.

44Jackie_K
Jan 10, 8:39am Top

>43 Caramellunacy: Yes that was funny - "When is the winter of our discontent?" etc. I know what you mean - I'm not going to rush to read all 7 in a row, I think that would be a bit much in one go, but when I pull the next one out of the Jar of Fate I will be happy with that.

45Caramellunacy
Jan 10, 11:10am Top

>44 Jackie_K: Definitely...I may be due a re-read myself now :)

46Jackie_K
Jan 10, 12:02pm Top

Sorry, I missed a couple of posts there:

>40 karenmarie: I've been more into reading non-fiction for some years now, Karen - it just suits my personality better, I think. Having said that, I'm also more into *buying* fiction than reading it, so trying to redress the balance slightly this year!

>41 Familyhistorian: Thank you Meg, it's good to be back! IT was a relaxing holiday, although the journey to and from was less so as it was a long drive (and on the way there it was only me driving as Pete wasn't well so not safe to drive. Thankfully he'd recovered by the time it was time to come home!). Next time we go there though I've told him we're going in the summer, as we've only ever been there at the start of January. I want to experience Harris with sunshine!

47Jackie_K
Edited: Jan 11, 12:43pm Top

ROOT # 4 (DNF)



Having written above only yesterday that I was going to finish the book I've been reading since early December, today I've officially decided to finally abandon it. I've given it 3 stars anyway, as the writing is such that had I finished it I'm very very sure I would have given it 3 stars, but this is my second attempt at this book and I realised that the reason I have now stalled twice with it is that I'm just not that invested in any of the characters. Anyway, for what it's worth, it was Kim Edwards' The Memory Keeper's Daughter, the basic premise of which is that in the 1960s a rural doctor delivers his wife's twins during a storm, they clearly didn't know till the birth that they were having twins. The first child, a boy, is healthy, but the second is born and it is clear that she has Downs Syndrome. The doctor makes the decision to tell his wife that the girl died at birth, and gives her to the nurse who assisted at the delivery to take her to a residential home. The nurse does so, but is so appalled at the home that she leaves with the baby and starts a new life with her. That's pretty much where I stopped at the book both times - it follows the various characters, doctor and his wife (who is suffering with undiagnosed postnatal depression, and never stops grieving her 'dead' daughter), nurse, and latterly the children as they grow older. The premise of the book is fine (ish - I just got cross with the doctor's decision, so I think it lost me from there), the writing is well-done and not at all mawkish, but it just didn't make me want to find out what was going to happen. Now that's happened twice, I feel better about abandoning it, it's clearly just not the book for me. Unlike most books that I abandon, though, I think this is more a case of 'me, not the book' (most of the others it's definitely the other way round!). Onto the Barter Books pile it goes. 3/5.

48connie53
Edited: Jan 11, 2:21pm Top

I can see why you could not read on in this book, Jackie. I would get cross with the doctor too. But I'm still interested in these book and I got a translation (ebook) so I think I will give it a try sometime.

49floremolla
Jan 11, 2:26pm Top

>47 Jackie_K: I’ve got this on my shelf too - didn’t buy it so someone must have left it. I didn’t like the premise either and thought it would be too sad - I’ll avoid it till my mood is more upbeat!

50Jackie_K
Jan 11, 3:12pm Top

>48 connie53: >49 floremolla: I've got a feeling Tess read it last year and liked it (sorry Tess if it wasn't you - I remember a good review and thinking "that was that book I didn't finish"!). It was well written and the characters were very believable - normally if I abandon a book it's either terribly written, or the characters are all horrible, or it's just too violent, but this was none of those things. I think maybe December and January are just the wrong months to be reading a book full of very sad people (I've still got The Poisonwood Bible to go back to, but I'm definitely not in the mood for that while it's so cold and dark outside!).

51floremolla
Jan 11, 5:02pm Top

>50 Jackie_K: there may be something in that!

52detailmuse
Jan 11, 5:02pm Top

>47 Jackie_K: I've talked myself out of reading that one so many times! It always interested me, then I'd read a review like yours and decide no. haha, memories -- I looked just now at its page here and the "LibraryThing Recommendations" are all the same hot books of that time.

I finally finished The Poisonwood Bible on my third try -- in an LT group reading it. In case you'd find the discussion helpful:
https://www.librarything.com/groups/poisonwoodbiblefall2

53connie53
Jan 12, 2:07am Top

>50 Jackie_K: The Poisonwood Bible is in my TBR too!

54tess_schoolmarm
Edited: Jan 12, 4:15pm Top

>50 Jackie_K: I did give it a 4, but if I re-read it I'd probably go down to a 3.5! 4's and 5's I'd read again, but I don't think I would read it again, although I didn't think it was "bad."

55Jackie_K
Jan 12, 4:48pm Top

>52 detailmuse: Thank you! A group discussion or tandem read or something might be the way for me to get through The Poisonwood Bible. I do want to try it again, just not when it's cold and miserable outside and world news is so depressing!

>54 tess_schoolmarm: I didn't think it was "bad" either Tess - in fact the opposite, I thought the writing was really pretty good. There was just something about it which just didn't do it for me and I didn't connect with it.

Anyway - onward! I'm now (I think) 37% of the way through Black Lamb and Grey Falcon so persevering with that, have started another non-fiction book which I think I'm going to like (so far it agrees with me, lol). And I'm also just about to start a book by a guy who retraced Patrick Leigh Fermor's 1930s journey through Europe (the three volumes of which I read at the end of last year) a few years ago. I'm really looking forward to that one.

56Familyhistorian
Jan 13, 12:22am Top

>42 Jackie_K: I've had The Eyre Affair on the shelf for a while now. It's not that I don't want to read it but that I think that I should read Jane Eyre first so that I can appreciate the literary allusions more. From your review it sounds as though you read Jane Eyre, Jackie, and you say that you don't read much fiction. Maybe my education was just neglected. I did enjoy Fforde's The Big Over Easy but that was based on nursery rhymes, those I knew.

57Jackie_K
Jan 13, 5:26am Top

>56 Familyhistorian: That's right Meg, in fact I read Jane Eyre fairly recently (within the last year and a half), having not read it for around 30 years before that. I think it helped that it was fairly fresh in my mind - I wouldn't have remembered the details otherwise from my only other reading of the book as it was so long ago, so I think it would be good to read Jane Eyre first (as an example, I had no memory on my re-read of the Rivers cousins). I'm sure if I read more fiction I would have picked up more references - there were a few points in The Eyre Affair where I suspected there was a nod to a book but I didn't know which one, but it didn't massively affect my enjoyment - I enjoyed the literary allusions I did get!

58Jackie_K
Jan 13, 12:57pm Top

I've just had to update my total TBR ticker, as I finally managed to get close enough to the fiction shelves to count the number of unread No 1 Ladies Detective Agency books I have. I had worked on the assumption that I had 5 (as I couldn't remember exactly) when I worked out the total TBR, but it turns out I actually have 7 (well 8, but there was one duplicate which will be off to Barter Books too next time we go that way). So it was a bit dispiriting seeing the number go up again on my ticker, but at least I'm still just the right side of 400 TBRs.

I must say, I know it's very early days still, but so far I'm finding that particular ticker really motivating me to read more than I acquire, as I really don't want to go over 400 TBRs. Isn't it interesting how psychology works?

59connie53
Jan 13, 1:32pm Top

>58 Jackie_K: I studied your TBR ticker and now I'm going to change mine to look like yours. More efficient, I think.

60Robertgreaves
Jan 13, 8:19pm Top

Looking forward to seeing what you read in 2018, Jackie.

61Jackie_K
Edited: Jan 14, 2:22pm Top

ROOT #5



ROOT # 5 for January is Nicole Faires' "Food Confidential: The Corporate Takeover of Food Security and the Family Farm, and What to Do About It". This is the blurb from amazon:

Fight the power and protect your family from the corporate interests that control our food chain.

When author and homesteader Nicole Faires decided to retrofit an old school bus and tour America’s small farms with her husband and two small children, she expected to learn a lot, be inspired, and have some fun. But what she found disturbed her. Mismanaged small farms; clueless urbanites setting up shop to “get back to the land”; a mindless devotion to organic farming; and, ultimately, the discovery of just how dependent we are on corporations for our food.

She began to understand how dangerous and fragile our food system really is. Climate change. Farmers retiring or going out of business. Corporations controlling our food distribution system while being protected from the consequences when they endanger our health. Skyrocketing food prices. Outsourced food production. With this admittedly bleak assessment of the current state of affairs, Nicole and her family decided to abandon the bus trip and instead start a farm. “I couldn’t tell people the solutions to our food crisis while I was traipsing around America taking photos. I had to live it,” Nicole says. And so the seeds for Food Confidential were sown.

Our basic right to healthy food is at risk.

What can we do? Written in an astute, engaging style, armed with examples from her own homesteading lifestyle, small farmer Nicole Faires’s Food Confidential gives you the tools to fight the intangible battles, as well as the practical ones.


I enjoyed reading this. I think I would have liked a bit more detail/evidence for some of her scientific assertions, but generally this accords with my thoughts, which is about the importance of buying fresh and local, growing where you can, and resisting the growing corporatisation of our food networks. It had practical suggestions too, and I'm sure I'll come back to this, as well as look out for her other books. 4/5.

62Jackie_K
Edited: Jan 14, 2:21pm Top

>59 connie53: I think using the Debt Reduction ticker makes sense as that is closer to how I feel about my TBRs! When I finish a ROOT, it's like paying in to a savings account to reduce the debt :) I am wondering though (in case I have a month where I have a splurge on book-buying which takes me over my original total at the start of January) whether it deals in minus numbers! I'll find out soon enough, I guess!

>60 Robertgreaves: Thank you Robert, good to see you here in the 2018 group!

63detailmuse
Jan 14, 2:26pm Top

>61 Jackie_K: Agree with concerns about today's food supply! If you get interested in reading more, my favorite on the topic is Michael Pollan's 2006 The Omnivore's Dilemma -- informative and beautifully written.

64Jackie_K
Jan 14, 2:27pm Top

>63 detailmuse: Ooh thank you - I'll add that to the wishlist now!

65MissWatson
Jan 15, 5:42am Top

>62 Jackie_K: Oh, debt reduction! Great idea for tracking the TBR. I wasn't happy with my camel walking backwards.

66Jackie_K
Edited: Jan 15, 10:18am Top

>65 MissWatson: I think because I'm so used to tracking from left to right it just makes so much more sense. It's certainly doing it for me in terms of motivating me not to buy All The Books Right Now.

In other news, folks who read my 2017 thread might remember that towards the end of last year I read Extreme Rambling. Walking Israel's Separation Barrier, For Fun by comedian and activist Mark Thomas (a great read, highly recommended. I also saw his stand-up show based on this a few years ago, and have also seen another of his stand-up shows, he's one of my favourite comedians). I've just read this article in the Guardian from last week, which shows how he's maintained his involvement with Palestine since: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2018/jan/12/mark-thomas-west-bank-comedy-club-jenin-showtime-from-the-frontline

67karenmarie
Jan 15, 2:21pm Top

Hi Jackie!

I tried to read The Memory Keeper's Daughter for RL book club in 2007 and abandoned it. I seem to recall that the characters just didn't interest me.

>62 Jackie_K: and etc. I just looked at your tickers and admire you for limiting your acquisitions to 48 for the year. Good luck!

68Jackie_K
Jan 15, 2:52pm Top

>67 karenmarie: It was a RL book club book for me too, around the same sort of time. I abandoned it then too, for similar reasons (I did get a few chapters further the first time round though before abandoning it).

Re acquisitions, it's early days yet! My major motivator is not going over 400 TBRs, and given I started the year at 395, I thought I'd try and limit acquisitions to a maximum of the number I plan to read. So far I'm doing better than that (5 ROOTs/2 acquisitions), but there are 50 more weeks in the year for me to go horrifically astray...

69tess_schoolmarm
Jan 15, 5:50pm Top

I'm the lone eagle here, I liked The Memory Keeper's Daughter, in fact it had me in tears!

70floremolla
Jan 15, 6:11pm Top

>66 Jackie_K: interesting that his project revealed that people are just people, and not necessarily defined by their political context.

71Jackie_K
Jan 16, 6:31am Top

>69 tess_schoolmarm: I can't help thinking it might have made me cry too, Tess, if I'd got further into the book. I just couldn't get that far!

>70 floremolla: Yes. I really liked how much women enjoyed both participating and being in the audience. And I loved his observation about regional stereotypes too.

72Jackie_K
Jan 20, 9:02am Top

Hope everyone is having a good weekend and aren't too buried in awful weather! Here in central Scotland today, after 4 days of snow and ice, we appear to be having a sunny but cold day as a sort of respite before the predicted Snowmageddon arrives again tomorrow. I did go out earlier and it was extremely icy, my car doors and mirrors were all frozen shut so it took some defrosting before I could actually go and do what I needed to do. Yesterday I ended up having to drive the wrong way down a one-way residential street, as that was slightly going downhill, as going the right way (slightly uphill) led to so much skidding on the fresh snow that I'd never have got out. That was a bit scary, although as it was an extremely quiet street at least nobody else was around. There's been a lot in the news about how Scotland's gritters and snow-ploughs all have funny names and can be tracked online, I just wish a few more of them had been round our way a bit more!

In reading news, I am poly-reading several books at the moment, so I'm not sure if I'm going to finish any more in January but will probably have a glut of finished books in early February. Poly-reading has so revolutionised my reading - before when I just read one book at a time, if I got a bit bored I'd put the book down and then not pick it (or anything else) up for ages, whereas now I read a chapter or half a chapter in one then turn to another, and it seems to keep them all fresh. I've finally cracked 40% read for Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, and think I've come up with a way to live with some of the things that were initially annoying me about it (mainly that it didn't seem to know if it was a travelogue or a history book). I reckon at this rate I'll have it finished by early March, but that's fine!

Stay warm fellow ROOTers!

73floremolla
Jan 20, 10:43am Top

>72 Jackie_K: we've had at least nine inches of snow since Monday - I keep meaning to measure the perfect white topping on my garden shed as proof. I hope its roof holds up if we get the predicted Snowmaggedon as it's not all that long since it was repaired after gales blew the roofing away last year...weather, eh?!

On the positive side, seeing that there was to be a week of snow, I designated it a personal holiday and have been lounging around reading, ignoring housework, and enjoying the products of my Xmas treats to self, a bread maker and a soup maker. And of course the festive season leftovers such as chocolates, cake and stollen. Monday's predicted thaw will hopefully bring back normality...and curtail any further expansion of the waistline.

Stay warm and stay safe!

74connie53
Jan 20, 11:16am Top

>73 floremolla: personal holiday sounds good, Flora. Snowmaggedon is just tomorrow?

75Jackie_K
Jan 20, 11:40am Top

>73 floremolla: Wow, Donna, 9 inches is impressive! I'd say we've never had more than a couple of inches here, but particularly yesterday and on Tuesday they were so late getting the gritters out that it caused just as much chaos as if there had been much more, because the roads were still so snowy. And the ice has compounded it all. As a silly example, I tried to put our recycling out earlier today, but the bin lids had frozen shut!

>74 connie53: Yes Connie, I think we're due for heavy snow tomorrow (then later heavy rain), and then it will be several degrees warmer on Monday, so hopefully we'll see the end of it soon! A good excuse to stay inside and read!

76karenmarie
Jan 23, 5:50am Top

Hi Jackie!

I hope you're doing well after Snowmageddon. We got 12" of snow last Wednesday and were housebound 'til Saturday (we could have gotten out if we really needed to, but had stocked up on stuff.) It's raining now, so most of it's finally melted.

77Jackie_K
Edited: Jan 23, 6:21am Top

>76 karenmarie: Hi Karen! It's raining heavily here too now, so most of the snow has gone - it's also warmed up by several degrees. Unfortunately whenever we have heavy rain, for some reason our wifi slows right down, so I have spent a frustrating hour trying to download some sound files a client has sent me and here we are at 11.15 and they're only just done. It drives me nuts!

I think everything would absolutely grind to a halt if we ever got 12" here! Even in Scotland, where we're used to not great weather, the infrastructure just isn't set up for that. And further south, if you get a little dusting of snow the whole place comes to a standstill. For a people who are stereotypically known for talking about nothing but the weather, we really don't deal with it very well at all!

78detailmuse
Jan 23, 9:19am Top

Glad everyone is safe. Reading these snowbound stories gives me a comfy feeling like back when school was canceled for snow days.

79karenmarie
Jan 23, 9:25am Top

>77 Jackie_K: Our wifi issues make my husband foam at the mouth. We have a friend, whose house I can see through the trees down our hill, across the stream, and up to his pastures, who easily gets 5 times the bandwidth we do simply because he's on a different feeder line. The one he's on was put in special because an executive who works for Centurylink, our provider, lives on that line. No fair. Sorry that you've got time constraints and are going crazy.

Here in central NC USA they always put down a salt brine on the major roads but alas not the secondary, much less tertiary or private roads. We're on the private road at the end of the line. However, even 12" of snow wasn't nearly as bad as even 1/4" of ice would have been since there would have been more and longer power failures.

80Robertgreaves
Jan 23, 6:49pm Top

>77 Jackie_K: I get that as well. Anything heavier than a shower, and the internet slows right down. I don't understand it. It comes through cables as far as the modem and then wifi. If it was coming from a outside tower it would sort of make sense, but not within the apartment.

81connie53
Jan 26, 12:50pm Top

>79 karenmarie: No wifi issues here. I think the Netherlands has everything under control. The only time wifi goes down is when workmen cut into cables. But then The Netherlands is densely inhabited. I can only speak for my little spot in the map, of course.

82Jackie_K
Edited: Mar 10, 12:16pm Top

ROOT #6



ROOT #6 for January was short and sweet. This is really a booklet rather than a book, and took me less than half an hour to read, but it is jam packed full of marvels. Deb Wilenski and Caroline Wendling's Fantastical Guides for the Wildly Curious: Ways into Hinchingbrooke Country Park (touchstone should appear eventually - they seem to take ages with books where I'm the only person who has it listed) was raved about in one of my favourite books of the last few years, Robert MacFarlane's Landmarks, which is why I got it, and what a gem it is! (and MacFarlane himself provides the foreward). The two authors spent a day a week for a term (Jan -April) with a 1st year primary class in Cambridgeshire (so we're talking children aged 4 and 5), the morning was spent with them exploring the local country park, and then the afternoon was spent in the classroom doing further activities relating to what they had explored in the morning. It looks at the children's ways of seeing and exploring and talking about the landscape, and is just magical. Towards the end of the project they made an 'alternative map' of the park, featuring all the drawings the children had done of the places they had explored. Trees became doors to other worlds, one boy was amazing at picturing underground waterways, other children made stories about the other worlds that could be there - it was really stunning. I think the fact that my A is the same age made it even more magical for me, I could absolutely imagine her throwing herself into an activity like this, and the snippets of children's dialogue sounded exactly like the kind of random conversations and flights of fancy she goes on with her friends. I've never read anything quite like it, but it was gorgeous. 4.5/5.

83Jackie_K
Jan 26, 3:46pm Top

>78 detailmuse: >79 karenmarie: >80 Robertgreaves: >81 connie53: Thank you all! The snow has now completely disappeared, and the worst of the rain too - today was a lovely winter's day, cold and crisp and bright. I think the rain is meant to be back tomorrow though, unfortunately.

Our wifi issue is weird, and I wonder if it's something to do with the wiring before it reaches the house not being well enough insulated. My favourite loss-of-internet story though is that we did once lose both phone (landline) and internet, and eventually it got traced to one of the phone lines passing too close to a nearby tree and getting nibbled by squirrels. Which means that we can, quite truthfully, say that squirrels ate our internet :D

84connie53
Jan 27, 3:54am Top

>83 Jackie_K: LOL. I can see the squirrels taking wifi out, bite by bite.

85detailmuse
Jan 27, 10:44am Top

>82 Jackie_K: delightful review of what sounds like a delightful book! I jumped right over to amazon and even The Book Depository but it's unavailable ... unless I'm up for $600+ for a used copy :0 !

The project reminded me of the kids in the first documentary of the "Up" series. I've loved that series and have parsed the episodes stingily, I think it's time to relish the two I've saved and get ready for the next installment (2019?).

86Jackie_K
Jan 27, 1:52pm Top

>85 detailmuse: Wow, I'm flabbergasted! Amazon marketplace on the UK site is offering a new copy for £6 (+ postage, but that would still only come to the equivalent of just over $10!).

I loved the Up series too. Children really are fascinating. A few years back they started doing an equivalent in the former USSR, that was really interesting.

87Lisa805
Jan 28, 12:07am Top

Hi Jackie! I am just catching up here. It looks like you are off to a great start. I like your term "poly" reading and am glad it works well for you. Although I am not a great reading multitasker, this year I have been trying to have a nonfiction and fiction book going at the same time.

Happy reading this year!

88libraryhermit
Edited: Jan 28, 11:26am Top

I have some ROOT titles that I have had for about 40 years (if you count some of the ones I bought in my teens) or 50 years (if you count some of the ones I bought from the Scholastic Book Club (Canada) while I was in elementary school.) I did a CTRL-F for "oldest" to see if someone already mentioned their oldest ROOT in this thread, but the search came back with no results. Is anyone interested in discussing what their oldest ROOTs are? I suppose this would be an indirect way of revealing one's age. So maybe the idea won't fly. (I am 55, just so you know, born on October 16, 1962, at the height of the Cuban Crisis, apparently.)

89Jackie_K
Jan 28, 10:08am Top

>87 Lisa805: I discovered it 2 or 3 years ago when I decided to read War and Peace in a year. I worked out I needed to read (IIRC) 33 pages a week in order to finish it, as I knew that if I'd just started at page 1 and kept going till page 1750 without picking anything else up I'd never read anything ever again! It worked so well for me I just kept going with usually between 2-5 books on the go at any one point, and haven't looked back! Before that, as I mentioned, if I got bogged down in the book I was reading I'd put it down and not think to pick something else up instead, so would end up going weeks/months without reading anything. It's definitely the system for me!

>88 libraryhermit: I'm not sure that I have any of the books I owned 40 years ago (I'm 48), and I couldn't tell you the oldest book still on my TBR. I bought a lot of books in the 1990s and early 2000s (my 20s-early 30s) which are still unread, so probably one of those.

90Tanya-dogearedcopy
Edited: Jan 28, 10:56am Top

>88 libraryhermit: Eleven years ago, we moved from the East Coast to the West Coast and it was too expensive to move my library as well. Unfortunately, when we arrived in Southern Oregon, the local 15-branch library system shut down for six months (then and perhaps still the largest and longest temporary library shutdown in US history.) The economy was in a downward spiral and I didn't have steady work, so I was unable to purchase books as I didn't have any discretionary funds available. I started taking advantage of book exchanges, Little Free Libraries, asking for books for birthdays and Christmas, etc. So, the oldest books in my TBR stacks are eleven years old though technically, some are re-purchases of titles that I had to leave behind in Maryland. I'm going to guess that there are a couple titles from the 1990s in there, so twenty-some going on thirty-year-old TBRs!

91floremolla
Jan 28, 12:37pm Top

>88 libraryhermit: some ROOTs have been on our shelves since my husband and I moved in together - so 1984, an auspicious year as it turned out :)

92connie53
Jan 28, 1:49pm Top

>88 libraryhermit: I really have no idea. I know I have one book that's from my childhood (I'm almost 65 now) but that's certainly not unread!

93Jackie_K
Jan 28, 1:51pm Top

So far I've been really good this month with my purchases - I'm not going to reach the 2 for 1 goal, probably (2 read before buying 1), although it'd still be great to get there! This month I'm currently 1:1, which is pretty good for me - that possibility of going over 400 TBRs is turning out to be a very good motivator. Today though bookbub offered me A Year in Provence for 99p, it's one of those classics I've never read and would like to at some point. So I've decided (because I'm sneaky) that I will look again on Thursday, and if it is still at that price then I'll get it to include in my February stats rather than mess up my currently impressive January ones (if not then I'll look for it in the library).

(I'm assuming it's on offer as the author, Peter Mayle, sadly died a couple of weeks ago).

94detailmuse
Jan 28, 2:02pm Top

A Year in Provence was my first and, by far, favorite by Mayle. I never re-read but might with this one, it feels like actually being in France.

95Familyhistorian
Jan 29, 4:08pm Top

That's strange that your internet is affected by rain. It's a good thing that doesn't happen here because we have rain for weeks on end - like right now. The oldest ROOT on my shelves are ones that I have inherited so I don't think that they really count. There is one that I recognize as once being mine, however, which would date from sometime in the '50s, so 60+ years old.

96madhatter22
Jan 29, 11:25pm Top

>88 libraryhermit: About 35 years ago when I was in jr. high, I decided on my weekly bookstore visit that I'd buy something 'serious' instead of the usual YA fiction. I bought The Scarlet Letter and Uncle Tom's Cabin and still haven't read either of them.

I just realized while writing this post that I don't have either of those books listed on LT although they're still on my shelves. Is anything else missing? My TBR list is even longer than I thought!! :'(

97tess_schoolmarm
Jan 30, 2:41am Top

>96 madhatter22: I just finished a book today that I had on my self since 1989! And P.S., I loved both The Scarlet Letter and Uncle Tom's Cabin.

98Jackie_K
Edited: Mar 10, 12:17pm Top

ROOT #7 (DNF)



This feels like a bit of a cheat, but bear with me! I had to abandon this book, Brian Anderson's It Came From the Diaper Pail, because despite taking up 25MB of space on my kobo, apart from the front cover page every other page was blank, presumably due to some technical glitch. I have included it as a ROOT as it was one of the books in my nearly 400 total TBRs, and now it isn't, but I haven't put it in my LT catalogue as I have no way of rating it as I haven't got anything at all to go on other than 128 blank pages! Luckily it was a freebie from bookbub last year (I'm not sure I'd have bought it in any case, generally I find cartoons don't work so well on ereaders, but thought as it was free I'd give it a go), so at least I've not lost anything.

99floremolla
Jan 30, 5:14pm Top

>98 Jackie_K: it was taking up space, you took action, and now it isn’t- I’d say it was ROOTed!

100Robertgreaves
Jan 30, 6:15pm Top

>98 Jackie_K: I have had books that failed to download properly on my Kobo, just showing random gibberish. The solution is to delete the book from my device and then download it again. Of course, you might think it's not worth the bother.

101Jackie_K
Jan 31, 7:46am Top

>100 Robertgreaves: Ah, I hadn't realised that gibberish downloads were a thing with kobo, it's never happened to me before, in several years of owning my Glo. I archived the book in my library on the website (as there didn't seem to be an option for deleting it), and when it synced it disappeared from the reader, although I guess I could try downloading it again to see if it works better. Now I just need to find my technological genius hat first, I appear to have put it down somewhere ...

102Rebeki
Jan 31, 8:13am Top

Hi Jackie, and good luck with your ROOTing this year!

The (not so) magic number for my TBR pile is 200. It's been higher than that, but, thanks to joining this group last year, and doing some culling, I started at 195 in 2018 and am determined that the only way is down!

103Jackie_K
Jan 31, 8:32am Top

>102 Rebeki: Consider yourself cheered on, I know that feeling so well!

So I've had a pretty good month, all told. I'm down one on Mt TBR from the start of the month, with 7 books ROOTed and 6 acquired (admittedly two of the ROOTs were abandoned, but still, I'll take the credit where I can!). This month's haul of acquisitions are all from the kobo store, mostly offers, except for one (Bossypants) which was from the charity shop (I gave them three bags of clothes, so felt obliged to at least look at the books as they were dealing with my decluttering!). My average spend per book is £2.14, so slightly over my £2 aim but not enough for me to be worried! The books are:

1. Peter Frankopan - The Silk Roads: A New History of the World.
2. Jasper Fforde - Something Rotten.
3. Tina Fey - Bossypants.
4. Nick Griffiths - Who Goes There? (50th anniversary edition).
5. Peter Wohlleben - The Hidden Life of Trees.
6. Sarah Millican - How to be Champion.

In addition to the positive ROOTs:acquisition ratio, of the ROOTs I read and didn't abandon, all were 4 stars or more, so it's been a really good reading month.

104Lisa805
Edited: Jan 31, 8:49am Top

Looks like you are having a great reading and purchasing year so far, Jackie. Since I live in the US, I had to use one of those currency converter calculators. If correct, your average spending per book is about $3.03. That is quite reasonable, in my estimation.

The Hidden Life of Trees sounds interesting. I noticed recently that my library has the ebook version available, but then it won't count toward my challenge goal here.

105detailmuse
Jan 31, 11:53am Top

>103 Jackie_K: ooh, I'm excited for anyone about to encounter Bossypants! And The Hidden Life of Trees was so delightful on audio that I may acquire it in print.

106floremolla
Jan 31, 12:23pm Top

>103 Jackie_K: oh I know that feeling well when you feel obliged to offset your decluttering by buying something from the charity shop - and of course it's going to be books because who needs more clutter?

Liking the sound of The Hidden Life of Trees too - a potential gift for a friend but I might find it hard to part with.

107Jackie_K
Feb 1, 7:24am Top

>104 Lisa805: I'm not sure if it's a work of genius or utterly 'out there', but even if it's 'out there' it's the kind of 'out there' that sounds right up my street!

>105 detailmuse: Good to know! I'm not actually particularly familiar with Tina Fey as a person/ality, but have heard so many good things about Bossypants from friends who tend to share my humour, so was happy to pick it up at the charity shop!

>106 floremolla: I think I did alright, in leaving them with 3 bags of clothes and coming away with just the 1 book - I make that still a net declutter, in the overall scheme of things!

108Jackie_K
Edited: Feb 1, 12:45pm Top

ROOT #8



My first ROOT for February (probably more accurately my last for January, as I read most of the book in January and only finished up today) was the culmination of my Patrick Leigh Fermor travel kick - Nick Hunt's Walking the Woods and the Water retraces PLF's footsteps through his epic gap year from Holland to Istanbul (Constantinople at the time) eight decades later, tracing the similarities and differences in the places with the passing of time and history. This book does quote PLF extensively, but whilst a respectful homage it is also its own journey, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was particularly interested in the eastern European bit of the journey (and within that particularly the Romanian bit, as that is the country I know best), and I wasn't disappointed. He started the journey just after PLF's death in 2011, but I can't help thinking that PLF would have really enjoyed reading this account. 4.5/5.

Note to self: remember to add this to the February group ticker when the thread's up.

109floremolla
Feb 1, 1:14pm Top

Well done on completing the set, and being quick off the mark for your first February ROOT!

110Jackie_K
Feb 1, 1:22pm Top

>109 floremolla: Thank you Donna! Most of my Feb books have already been started (I have two for various challenges, three if you also count Black Lamb & Grey Falcon which is for a January challenge but at the rate I'm going (finally cracked 50% yesterday!) won't be finished till March, plus two from the Jar of Fate and January's library book which is due back this weekend). I'll be really chuffed if I can get all those out of the way this month.

111readingtangent
Feb 3, 7:25pm Top

>103 Jackie_K: Glad you had a good reading month! You're making great progress.

112Lisa805
Feb 5, 9:56am Top

>105 detailmuse: Thanks for mentioning you enjoyed the audio version of The Hidden Life of Trees. That is an alternative to consider.

>107 Jackie_K: I'm not sure if it's a work of genius or utterly 'out there', but even if it's 'out there' it's the kind of 'out there' that sounds right up my street!

Ha! Now I am really curious!

113Jackie_K
Feb 5, 11:22am Top

>111 readingtangent: Thank you! I'm ahead of my goal at this point, which is always a good place to be, I can maybe relax a bit later in the year if I need to!

>112 Lisa805: Haha, I think I mean that I'm not sure how the mainstream scientific community have taken to his ideas - from what I've read it makes intuitive sense, and the fact that working out in the countryside with trees is his profession means that I am interested in his perspective (as I'm maybe a bit of a closet tree-hugging type myself), but it's maybe being expressed in a less stuffy way than how conventional science communicates. I suspect his take will complement mainstream science, but we'll see - haven't read it yet!

114Lisa805
Edited: Feb 5, 12:05pm Top

>113 Jackie_K: Thanks for the explanation, lol! Well, I'll look forward to your thoughts when you have an opportunity to read it. :-) I'll likely wait for your opinion before I decide whether or not to borrow it through the library.

115Jackie_K
Feb 5, 12:20pm Top

>114 Lisa805: Ah, I wouldn't wait for me - it's going into the Jar of Fate, and so currently only has a 1/395 chance of being pulled out to be read! You might be waiting a long time, or it might be next week (but more likely the former!).

116detailmuse
Feb 5, 2:10pm Top

>113 Jackie_K: et al: working out in the countryside with trees is his profession
Yes that's what appealed to me, too. And what stopped me from rushing to his next, which is about the inner life of animals (not his profession). And if I recall, there's some anthropomorphizing, which would annoy me in a book of stricter science (but didn't here, as I almost can't recall it).

117Jackie_K
Feb 5, 2:55pm Top

>116 detailmuse: Yeah, having bought The Hidden Life of Trees, kobo instantly started recommending The Hidden Life of Animals (is that the right title? The touchstone has it as 'The Inner Life...') and having read the blurb it doesn't really appeal nearly as much. I think you've perfectly articulated the reasons why.

118Lisa805
Edited: Feb 5, 3:21pm Top

>115 Jackie_K: With my current ROOT stack staring me down, it might just take me that long to decide whether or not to place a hold on it. :-) There are so many good books out there I want to read, but the books I buy should have a priority. This year I almost feel guilty adding more books to my library list. I wish I could read faster sometimes. There are likely other readers in this group who feel the same way.

Thanks for your Bill Bryson recommendations in my thread. That helps me decide which ones to try or avoid, as I travel vicariously through books.

119Jackie_K
Edited: Feb 6, 11:44am Top

>118 Lisa805: I know what you mean about library book guilt! I decided this year as one of my New Year's Resolutions to include library books in my overall reading goal, as a more conscious effort to support our local library. I get lots of books out for my daughter anyway, but thought if they had another regular punter taking books out it always helps their case in these more straitened times where they have to justify their continued existence (not that my local library is under threat, as far as I know, but I'd sooner support it now than not!). I told Barbara the librarian about my resolution to take a book out a month, and she approved! She remembered when I went in this weekend just gone and got another book out, so I suspect even if I'm tempted to slow down she'll be making me feel guilty for not taking books out now!

And speaking of my library book non-ROOTs, yesterday I finally finished my January choice!



Nicola Sturgeon: A Political Life is the first edition of a biography of our currently serving First Minister, from my current go-to Scottish publisher of choice, Birlinn. This edition takes us up to just before the UK election in May 2015, where the SNP almost swept the board in Scotland, taking 56 of the 59 seats available (presumably the next edition, now published, covers at least that, and maybe also the 2016 Scottish elections where the SNP remain the largest party, and thus Nicola Sturgeon is still First Minister, but just lost their overall majority. It may also cover the Brexit referendum, I'm not sure). The book covers her early political awakening (she joined the SNP as a 16 year old), her initial activism and subsequent rise through the party including being the youngest candidate for the Westminster elections of 1992, when she was just 21, through to eventually being elected as a list MSP in the first Scottish parliament in 1999 and rising up the ranks to become Deputy Leader to Alex Salmond in 2004. Following the SNP's narrow (1 seat) victory as the largest party in the Scottish elections in 2007 she became Deputy First Minister as well as Cabinet Secretary for Health, a position that was strengthened in the SNP's landslide victory in the 2011 Scottish elections and the subsequent Independence Referendum (Indyref) campaign leading up to the referendum in 2014 which was narrowly lost. After that referendum loss Salmond stepped down and Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister, a position she still occupies.

The book, written by a Scottish journalist, draws mainly on already published interviews and media appearances, but he did also speak to a number of her associates. At times it felt a bit nit-picking, as he highlights certain inconsistencies in things that she says, which honestly reminded me of the kind of 'spot the difference' pictures you get in kids books - they certainly weren't, as far as I could tell, particularly earth-shattering or inconsistent. It also, as the author himself asserts in the introduction, is necessarily an incomplete picture, as a full assessment of her political career can't really be made whilst she's still in the middle of it. For me though the main disappointment was that Indyref and the whole campaign leading up to it was only one chapter - I do think that it is so significant, not only in Scotland's contemporary political history and landscape but also in Nicola Sturgeon's career as a politician, that there could have been an awful lot more there. No doubt those books will follow in the fullness of time.

As a person and politician, I can't say that this book particularly changed my view of Nicola Sturgeon - I think that she is a very admirable person, a phenomenally hard worker who really tries to master her brief, a committed social democrat, a voracious reader, a very skilled Tweeter (she does use Twitter herself, I have followed her for a number of years and she really knows how to use it well. Let's just leave it at that), and a very caring and competent politician. I do think (and this book confirmed that, for me) that economics is her weakest area, but even there I think that compared to many of her contemporaries she is considerably more of a safe pair of hands than many.

So, I think this book was a good read for a first attempt at assessing her impact on Scottish politics, but I would expect subsequent biographies in the fullness of time to have considerably more depth. 3.5/5.

Coincidentally, when I went to the library on Saturday to renew this book and to get out my February book, I decided as I had over-run the end of the month to just get a very short book, and the one I picked up was Suffrage in Stirling: The Struggle for Women's Vote. I thought it was a good complement to the book I was just about to finish, about a woman political leader, but hadn't realised that this week (today in fact) marks the 100th anniversary since some women were first allowed the vote in the UK (although it was to be another 10 years before we had universal suffrage). I'm going to leave the final word though to Nicola Sturgeon, who today on her facebook page posted a picture of the Scottish Government offices with this caption:

This was once the site of Calton Jail where many Suffragettes were imprisoned. Today, it is the seat of the Scottish Government and the Suffragette flag is flying high.

Thank you to all the women who fought for our right to vote - and enabled a woman to occupy the office of First Minister.

120floremolla
Feb 6, 12:42pm Top

>119 Jackie_K: great review and a fair assessment of both the work of the biographer and his subject. I think it's probably a good idea to read a biography by someone who is not 'of the party'. In this case it reinforces that there's not much the subject has done 'wrong'.

Great quote!

121Jackie_K
Feb 6, 1:39pm Top

>120 floremolla: yes, I felt overall it was pretty fair and not sycophantic, although as I say it was a bit nit-picky in parts. It does help that I'm broadly sympathetic to the subject!

I'd be kind of interested to read a similar book about Ruth Davidson. I can't stand her politics (and more specifically can't stand her party), but do like her as a person/ality and think she's a very able politician.

122floremolla
Feb 6, 1:57pm Top

>120 floremolla: I agree with you re Ruth Davidson. She is caught between a rock and a hard place with the sometimes conflicting interests of her party between Holyrood and Westminster. There's bound to be a decent biography sooner or later.

123detailmuse
Feb 6, 2:51pm Top

Jackie, you remind me that I want to read a history of women's suffrage leading up to the commemoration in the US (1920). I'm curious, who were the "some women" who got the early suffrage in the UK?

124Jackie_K
Feb 6, 3:43pm Top

>123 detailmuse: Initially, the vote was extended to women over the age of 30 who owned property. I heard on the radio today that at that time only about 60% of men were entitled to vote too (again, it was a social class thing I believe). The powers-that-be realised that if they granted universal suffrage to all men and women over 18, because of the huge number of young men who had already been killed in the war, it would mean that in fact more women than men were entitled to vote, and heavens we couldn't have that, now could we? It was another 10 years before all women and men over the age of 18 were legally entitled to vote in the UK.

125floremolla
Feb 6, 4:59pm Top

>124 Jackie_K: well summarised!

126Jackie_K
Feb 7, 7:53am Top

>125 floremolla: except that having started my next library book, I realise I got one figure wrong - in 1928 the franchise was extended to all aged 21 and over, not 18.

127detailmuse
Feb 7, 1:25pm Top

>124 Jackie_K: Interesting! I need to start poking around now for a reliable and engaging history of it. Wonder if some publishers will be coming out with new releases to commemorate...

128Familyhistorian
Feb 7, 2:24pm Top

>124 Jackie_K: A great synopsis of the extension of the vote, Jackie. This is the centennial of that vote extension, isn't it?

129Jackie_K
Feb 7, 4:07pm Top

>128 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg, yes, yesterday was the centenary of the passing of the Act of Parliament that allowed (some) women the vote for the first time. In 10 years' time we'll be celebrating the centenary of universal suffrage in the UK, but yesterday's centenary marked the start of the road that led there.

130Familyhistorian
Feb 17, 4:47pm Top

>129 Jackie_K: The some women were those over 30, weren't they? Besides the fact that women outnumbered men because of WW1 casualties, there also seems to have been an idea (mostly held by men) that women were too flighty or easily led before they got to a more mature age. I know that my grandfather's generation was of that same mentality. His will left money for my older brother that was released in time for my brother's college education, the money for me was held until I was 30. It would probably have been better used earlier for my own schooling.

131Jackie_K
Edited: Feb 18, 3:01pm Top

>130 Familyhistorian: Yes, that's right. Wow, it's scary how recently those attitudes towards women were still held (probably still are, in many cases).

Non-ROOT completed



Apologies for the wonky photo - I couldn't find an image of this book online so had to take my own photo, but I can't figure out how to make photos in the member gallery portrait instead of landscape.

Anyway, this is my library book read for February, a nice short one, but very informative. It's actually based on the author's final year dissertation (she did a degree in sociology and history at Glasgow University), and is very impressive for an undergraduate dissertation. As most histories of the suffrage movement in the UK are very Manchester or London-focused, this was really informative as it looked at what was happening locally. I was interested to learn that a lot of male politicians in Stirling in the late 19th/early 20th century (at both national and local levels) were supportive of women's suffrage, to greater or lesser degrees, including passing official resolutions of support; I wonder if our local councillors would be so forthright about equivalent controversial issues these days. The women who were involved in the campaign for women's suffrage were primarily middle and upper class women, interestingly fairly evenly divided between Liberal and Conservative party supporters. They also had gained a lot of experience in organising and campaigning through the growing women's and philanthropic movements.

A very interesting and informative 45 pages, and exactly what the local library should be providing. 4/5.

(Edited to add the touchstone, which would be helpful: Suffrage in Stirling: The Struggle for Women's Votes)

132floremolla
Feb 18, 3:44pm Top

>131 Jackie_K: sounds like a good read and just the right length for my non-fiction attention span ;)

Did you upload your image from a mobile device? I've found that images from my iPad/iPhone are rotated on LT - I got round it by rotating the original image on the device four times (so it's back where it started) then saving it, then uploading it. A bit bizarre but it worked.

133Jackie_K
Feb 18, 4:16pm Top

>132 floremolla: Thanks Donna - no it was from my camera, so I uploaded it from my card reader. How strange - to be honest, it's not important enough for me to be too bothered about trying it again, but I'll try and remember that for next time!

I could do with a few more ROOTs that length too, to be honest - I'm currently at a deficit of 3, and only 2 more acquisitions away from reaching my hoping-to-be-avoided figure of 400 TBRs. I'm still ploughing my way through 4 books, but all of them are long so I'm not seeing progress in terms of finished books! I'm hopeful that I'll finish at least two of them by the end of February though, otherwise I might have to cheat the Jar of Fate and fish out a small one to read quickly!

134floremolla
Feb 18, 6:57pm Top

I’m feeling your frustration as I’m polyreading too just now - including two quite short books, but they’re long reads, with dense detail to think about and tbh I have to keep looking up words and classical references for one of them! I probably won’t finish any of the bigger tomes this month. Bah!

135Lisa805
Feb 21, 9:26am Top

>133 Jackie_K: >134 floremolla: That just means you will finish even more books next month and have great March stats! :-)

Your polyreading idea has been working well for me this month, although some are library books. Either gotta read 'em or return 'em.

136Jackie_K
Feb 21, 2:21pm Top

>135 Lisa805: That was what I thought would happen in February! But then I picked out more long books!

The end is in sight with one of them - it's funny how you can feel like you're making no progress at all with a book, however long you spend reading it, and then all of a sudden it finishes really quickly. Like a long journey too, I guess. Hoping to finally finish it in the next couple of days.

137Jackie_K
Feb 22, 6:08am Top

ROOT #9



Darden Asbury Pyron's Liberace: An American Boy is a book I got from the University of Chicago Press free ebook programme a few years ago, when I was getting most of them regardless of subject (I suspect if it had appeared more recently I would have passed on it). I picked it up for this month's Non-Fiction Challenge in the 75ers group (this month's theme is Biography). I have to say, for my complete lack of interest in the subject, this was a surprisingly interesting book, although at 590 pages it was really really long and personally I think could have been a bit shorter without losing any of its effect. Liberace was undoubtedly a very strange and sad as well as talented character, and I think where this book is strongest, in the second half, is where the author really works hard to place Liberace, and the whole phenomenon of his personality and performing persona, within the wider 20th century American context. Clearly that includes things like life for gay men pre- and post-Stonewall, and the advent of AIDS (the illness which Liberace died of), but so much more than that - the post-war boom in syndicated TV shows for example. His over-the-top and flamboyant costumes and props as well as his opulent homes make a lot more sense when you learn of his poor upbringing, and in the context of his conflicted early family life his political and religious conservatism, not to mention the extraordinary lengths he went to to ensure that his homosexuality did not become public knowledge, did have a sort of logic. Overall then this was a very interesting book, and I feel I learnt as much about 20th century America as I did about Liberace. 3.5/5 (although really it's more like 3.75).

138Jackie_K
Feb 22, 11:38am Top

Facebook has just reminded me, by showing me a photo I took exactly 7 years ago, of the origins of the Jar of Fate. It made me smile - it was our real-life book group, every so often we'd offer some suggestions and they would get written on a slip of paper and put in a (miniscule!) box and pulled out randomly so that nobody hogged all the suggestions. I had to smile, the picture has the grand total of 5 slips of paper in it! I don't want to think about how old I will be when my own Jar of Fate has only that many left!!

139detailmuse
Feb 22, 12:28pm Top

>138 Jackie_K: nice memory!

>137 Jackie_K: I'd downloaded this one too, but during a Bluefire Reader update it and one other disappeared :( I was interested in it for the social history and AIDS history but not enough to pursue it again, so it's great to read your review. Liberace had been huge for so long that I remember being shocked when interest bottomed out enough that his Las Vegas museum was closed.

140floremolla
Feb 22, 1:41pm Top

>137 Jackie_K: despite being less PC, those were more innocent- or naive - times in some ways, to broad sections of the audience. As a youngster it never occurred to me to think Liberace's extravagant style, or Larry Graysons camp-ness, or a man dressed as woman, or Morecambe and Wise sharing a bed, were anything other than comedic devices. I can see how fascinating it must be to look behind those vintage scenes now with 21st century goggles!

>137 Jackie_K: hopefully the Jar of Fate will evolve to only contain titles you desperately want to read, in which case you’d want it well-stuffed ;)

141Jackie_K
Feb 22, 1:42pm Top

>139 detailmuse: My previous eReader (a Sony) lost quite a few of the UoC Press books during a Windows update - all of a sudden they wouldn't open and just gave me an error message. It's why I bought my kobo, and this was one of the first books that I put on it. I still have the Sony, but I can only read DRM-free books on it, and for some reason it isn't recognised by ADE, so I can't add anything new to it (I'd happily still use it for, say, Project Gutenberg books, but although it charges up when it's connected I can't get anything on my computer to recognise it as a reading device).

That is a shocker about the museum. This book was published in (I think) 2000, so it was still a big thing then. I wonder what's happened to all the stuff in the museum now?

142Jackie_K
Feb 22, 1:47pm Top

>140 floremolla: Oh that is very true! I remember some years ago (I must have been in my late 20s or early 30s) watching a repeated episode of Are You Being Served? when visiting my parents for the weekend. We used to watch it as a family all the time in the 70s, when I was just a little girl. And watching it as an adult, I honestly didn't know where to put myself - the innuendo was so crude and obvious, and I couldn't believe that my parents hadn't 'got' it, and had thought it was acceptable for two under 10 year olds to watch!

143Robertgreaves
Feb 22, 8:40pm Top

>140 floremolla: >142 Jackie_K: I remember one of the teachers at school in 1974 or 1975 remarking that Morecambe and Wise were the last comedians who could possibly get away with skits where they were sharing a bed. Until then I hadn't thought anything of it, despite eagerly looking for anything gay on TV.

144lilisin
Feb 23, 12:13am Top

>142 Jackie_K:

But isn't that exactly the point? Knowing you wouldn't understand the adult themes they allowed you to watch for the story of the show. So no harm done. There are many kids cartoons (Animaniacs, for example) that have a lot of sexual innuendos for the adults watching the show with their children but that children wouldn't notice and just be entranced by the plot and animation.

145floremolla
Feb 23, 4:35am Top

>143 Robertgreaves: I love the innocence of M&W skits with their little nods to rudeness - like making breakfast to the tune of The Stripper (cue suggestive moves with a string of sausages) has me in stitches every time!

>144 lilisin: good point, but I honestly think even some parents weren't clued up on innuendo back then! Must ask my mother...

146detailmuse
Feb 23, 12:47pm Top

>141 Jackie_K: It closed more recently than I remembered -- 2010. Apparently some memorabilia is on display at a smaller nearby site; some goes on tour; and most is housed in a Las Vegas house formerly occupied (owned?) by ... Michael Jackson!

147Jackie_K
Feb 23, 1:03pm Top

>143 Robertgreaves: >145 floremolla: Despite the innuendo there was always something very innocent about Morecombe & Wise, wasn't there?
>144 lilisin: You're probably right, although I wouldn't be surprised if my parents didn't get all the innuendo! (I'm also pretty sure they found me under a gooseberry bush...!).
>145 floremolla: I'm not sure I dare ask my mother!!!
>146 detailmuse: Interesting. There was a picture at the back of the book of Liberace at some do or other with Michael Jackson, but there was no mention of it at all in the book other than that. I can imagine they'd have got on well, somehow.

148lilisin
Feb 26, 12:28am Top

>145 floremolla:, >147 Jackie_K:

That could very well be the case as well!
My parents were watching a tv show and had to ask me what "69" meant. I decided to not answer that one.

149connie53
Feb 26, 1:47am Top

150Jackie_K
Feb 26, 5:01am Top

>148 lilisin: LOL, I would have skirted round that one as well!

Years ago I went on holiday to Namibia, and was in a shop looking for a small gift for my parents. I found a tea towel with beautiful African designs, and nearly bought it, but just before I got to the till I looked a bit more closely, and realised that woven throughout the abstract designs was basically a very graphic depiction of some sort of fertility rite, which left precisely nothing to the imagination! Thank goodness I noticed it then, because if I'd given it to them I think it would have finished us all off!

151detailmuse
Feb 26, 8:37am Top

>148 lilisin:, >150 Jackie_K: so funny! Jackie your towel reminds me of the soup bowls in "The Bird Cage"!

My mom has passed, but I could have told her what "69" meant. In fact, I think she would have considered the moniker to be clever!

152Jackie_K
Edited: Feb 27, 2:59pm Top

ROOT #10



Tzvetan Todorov's The Fear of Barbarians: Beyond the Clash of Civilizations (translated from the French by Andrew Brown) was another University of Chicago Press free ebook, it was offered last year just after the Trump administration's initial executive order banning citizens from certain Muslim countries from entering the US. The book was actually written mostly in the mid 2000s and published in 2010, but this was a timely re-release.

This is an academic book, and not only that but an academic philosophy book, and philosophy is the academic discipline which I think I find usually most baffling of all. However, I managed to follow this and largely agree with where he was coming from. He looks at definitions of barbarian and civilisation, and looks at different events (certain French legislation, plus the murders of an anti-Islamic Dutch film-maker, the controversy over the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed printed in a Danish newspaper, and Pope Benedict's speech which ended up inflaming Islamic sensibilities, as well as also touching on American responses to 9/11) and considers how such actions relate to the projects of barbarity and civilisation. He also considers the issue of European identity and the European Union. An afterword written in 2010, after the publication of the CIA manual on torture, considers both that and President Obama's ongoing military engagement in Afghanistan (and is critical of both).

The translation was very good, it didn't read at all clunkily like some translations can. I'm just very pleased that I could (more or less) follow the discussion. 4/5.

(now I really do need something a bit lighter!)

153detailmuse
Feb 28, 9:05am Top

>152 Jackie_K: haha I agree, reading philosophy often feels like a breeze of words blowing past my brain! When it's written well, though (or, more probably, when I'm reading well) the ideas can be awe-inspiring. Good work on digesting some important ideas!

154karenmarie
Feb 28, 9:19am Top

Hi Jackie!

>137 Jackie_K: Excellent review!

All this discussion of sexual innuendo reminds me that my parents, at my request, bought me the soundtrack from the musical Hair in 1969. We listened to it on Christmas on the family stereo downstairs and although Mom Dad, and I understood quite a bit of the ...er... dirty bits... nobody said a thing. That was how my family operated - "Least said, soonest mended." Sometimes it was a good idea, sometimes not.

>152 Jackie_K: Another good review.

What has the Jar of Fate given you?

155floremolla
Feb 28, 10:23am Top

>152 Jackie_K: well done on a challenging read! you've reminded me that I have a little philosophy primer that I must read soon as the subject seems to permeate my fictional reads and I'm a philosophical philistine.

Looks like you're on track with your ROOTing too, at the end of month two.

Are you having a snow day today? The main road here was at a standstill this morning after thick snow overnight and all schools and nurseries are closed. It's still falling lightly and drifting off the roofs. So, another day of cocooning just when I was starting to think of spring cleaning. Oh well ;)

156Jackie_K
Edited: Mar 3, 2:14pm Top

>153 detailmuse: Thank you, I'm glad it's not just me!

>154 karenmarie: My family are the same, except that I think quite a lot of the innuendo would pass them by (either that, or I am in denial!).

I have some good books on the go at the moment. The Jar of Fate has given me Reproducing Gender about reproductive politics in Eastern Europe (which I had read bits of and also cited in my PhD, but always meant to get round to reading all the rest of it as well), and also some fiction: Whatever Happened to Billy Shears? (not the kind of book I'd normally buy, but I know the author). I'm also reading 3 books for various challenges (the ColourCAT in the Category Challenge group, and the 75ers Non-Fiction Challenge), have a book I'm reading a few pages a day of for Lent reading, and a library book of Edinburgh-based short stories. Most of the books (apart from the first one) aren't long, so I'll hopefully get through most of them in March.

>155 floremolla: Luckily I had such a good month in January that I'm still slightly ahead of target although I only read 3 ROOTs in February.

Yes, snow day here too - all Stirling schools and nurseries are closed. My husband took a snow day too (he'd normally work from home on a Wednesday) and we went for a walk and attempted to build a snowman (the snow was too powdery to really stick to itself, so it ended up as more of a snowblob, but it did have a carrot nose). Same tomorrow, but I think my husband will still need to work, so I'm hoping that the library is open so that I can take A out for an hour or two to give him some peace. I don't think the snow is any worse (in terms of amount) than any other recent snowfall, but the impact on the main roads for some reason has been awful, and people have really struggled to get to work. I hope you enjoy your cocooning!

I keep a somewhat neglected photo blog which doesn't get updated very often, but I did take a picture of our lovely snow today: https://www.blipfoto.com/entry/2415522672357149221 (that's my husband and daughter in the bottom right of the picture).

157Jackie_K
Feb 28, 4:16pm Top

My February acquisitions haven't been too excessive - 5 new books, and 3 ROOTs read. Year to date I've read 10 and acquired 11, and Mt TBR is currently at 396.

I also didn't spend too much this month - two of my new books were free, and the others were all 99p each. Here's the haul (all ebooks):

* Peter Mayle - A Year in Provence
* Frank Kusy - Off the Beaten Track: My Crazy Year in Asia
* Matthew Walker - Why We Sleep.
* Svetlana Alexievich - The Unwomanly Face of War
* Various - Where Freedom Starts: Sex Power Violence #MeToo (no touchstone) (a Verso report)

158floremolla
Feb 28, 6:34pm Top

>156 Jackie_K: Nice photo! I haven't used blipfoto in years, must have a look. Enjoy your snow day tomorrow. :)

>157 Jackie_K: good (cheap) haul!

159rabbitprincess
Feb 28, 7:27pm Top

I think there was a mix-up at the weather post office and you got our snow... looks lovely but I imagine it must be a pain for places that don't deal with it often!

160Jackie_K
Mar 1, 5:26am Top

>158 floremolla: I've used blipfoto on and off for years, and really like it. But although I try to take a daily photo of my daughter, I don't want her to be online so much till she can make the decision herself, so don't put those photos on it, and I don't take that many other interesting daily photos! I don't mind photos like yesterday's, when you can't really see it's her.

>159 rabbitprincess: Yes, that's exactly it! We're just not set up for this much snow at all, even though my Canadian and Alaskan friends see our snow and laugh. Overnight we've had even more, it has drifted up to above the bottom of both front and back doors, so nobody's going anywhere today and I've had to cancel work for the rest of the week. Even if my daughter's nursery is open tomorrow (unlikely, I imagine - they get deeper snow where they are than we have here), I'd have to dig the car out of its drift and then dig a way through the snow on the road up to the main road that's been gritted and cleared.

We did put a tub of bird nuts out on top of one of our bushes yesterday for the poor birds, who probably don't know what's hit them (we had to take our bird feeder down a few years ago as the neighbour's cat discovered it and had a bit of a feeding frenzy himself :( ), but this morning it's nowhere to be seen - also buried in a pile of snow. There's still more coming down now.

The motorway near here, the M80, was gridlocked from yesterday afternoon, and I think a lot of people had a very uncomfortable night waiting to be rescued. As for me, I'm staying put!

161floremolla
Mar 1, 7:58am Top

>160 Jackie_K: oh, I guess you didn't make it to the library! You're right in the red warning zone.

I'm so glad I never had to deal with social media while raising children. My daughter (27) just said to me recently that she was glad it wasn't in her life when she was young and at least as an adult she has control over how and what she portrays of herself. I think if you can delay kids' exposure to it as much as possible it's a Good Thing!

162detailmuse
Mar 1, 9:10am Top

>156 Jackie_K: beautiful pic!! Be safe and enjoy the snow day.

163Jackie_K
Edited: Mar 3, 4:38pm Top

>160 Jackie_K: Yes - I'm pretty sure the library is closed, but even if it was open we haven't left the house! My husband did go out the back to take some rubbish to the bins, and the snow fell in over the top of his wellies! I'm going to have to brave a trip out to our nearby Lidl tomorrow for milk, hopefully it will have gone down a bit by then. Brrrr!

>162 detailmuse: Thank you! I live round the corner from where the picture was taken. I looked at it this morning and thought, that's hardly any snow at all! Compared to today, I mean!

164Robertgreaves
Mar 1, 6:42pm Top

>160 Jackie_K: One of the women at work left last year to accompany her husband who'd been posted to Germany. Let's just say that after the excitement at seeing snow for the first time, it's proved quite a shock to the system for someone who'd never been outside Indonesia before.

165Jackie_K
Edited: Mar 2, 9:24am Top

>164 Robertgreaves: I remember running a postnatal group in Glasgow some years ago and one of the mums that came was an asylum seeker from southern Africa. One week when it had been snowing all week she came in and was just like "what even is this stuff?" And then when the other mums were telling her about how people pick it up, roll it into balls and throw it at each other the look on her face was priceless! She shook her head, and was obviously thinking the world really has gone mad.

I braved a walk to our local Lidl this morning (cheap German supermarket, which luckily for us is just round the corner). It was like Lord of the Flies in there! I don't think I've ever seen it so busy, even at Christmas. They didn't have much milk left, and no bread had been delivered so only the bread that they bake in-store was available (but I have to say, the sourdough loaf I bought was really lovely).

In other news, over the last 2 days I've picked up 3 new acquisitions, so Mt TBR is now at the even more ominous figure of 399! (two of the three were freebies though) (not that that makes it better, really, does it?). (Edited to add: aargh and now bookbub has another lovely on offer!)

166Jackie_K
Mar 2, 1:53pm Top

ROOT #11



I succumbed to temptation and bought the bookbub lovely book, but luckily also managed to finish my first March ROOT, so the TBR total remains precariously at 399! (we won't think about the 4 books in my kobo cart. The sale's on till the 14th, so hopefully I'll finish a couple of other books before I need to buy them!).

Linda Herrera's Revolution in the Age of Social Media: The Egyptian Popular Insurrection and the Internet was a very interesting look at the lead-up to the revolution in January 2011 which eventually toppled President Mubarak, and the aftermath of the disappointing next few years, and the role that the internet and so-called cyberdissidents played. It also looks at how both foreign (particularly the US State Dept) and in-country actors influenced what was going on and how the internet was used to mobilise popular dissent. Although this is relating to events of several years ago, with the focus now on 'fake news' and alleged Russian interference in elections and referenda in other countries, the discussion is just as relevant now. 4/5.

167Jackie_K
Edited: Mar 3, 2:18pm Top

ROOT #12



ROOT #2 for March (#12 for the year) is Helen Morales' Pilgrimage to Dollywood: a Country Music Road Trip through Tennessee, yet another former University of Chicago Press free monthly ebook. Morales is an English academic, transposed to a university in California, who also happens to be a Dolly Parton fan. She decides to undertake this 'pilgrimage' in order both to understand the Dolly phenomenon better, and also to get more of a sense of America itself and her place in it (as she was still feeling quite uprooted and an outsider at this point). Due to floods the year she intended to do it, she wasn't able to combine the Dolly Parade with the rest of the pilgrimage, so the book starts with her seeing the Dolly Parade (featuring the lady herself) in March, and then returning a couple of months later with her partner and 9 year old daughter to do the rest of the journey, starting at Graceland in Memphis, taking in Loretta Lynn's museum, Nashville (including the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Parthenon, which she was particularly taken with), and then on to places more closely associated with Dolly Parton herself, culminating with a day at the Dollywood theme park. I'm not a country music fan at all, although I don't mind a bit of Dolly every so often, but that didn't matter as I found this an entertaining look at the country music phenomenon (specifically the country music memorabilia/experience aspect), and I enjoyed her reflections more generally. Not a particularly life-changing book for me, but it was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. 4/5.

168detailmuse
Mar 3, 4:57pm Top

Dolly has been getting some overdue kudos for decades of quiet giving -- specifically, books to pre-schoolers (just reached 100-million given) and aid to victims of floods and wildfires.

I'm able to read UofC Press freebies only on my iPhone (not Kindle), so rarely download them. I have been eyeing this month's, though (You Feel So Mortal), and at least got the link so I can download later...

169Robertgreaves
Mar 3, 7:36pm Top

>168 detailmuse: I saw that. Wonderful woman.

I found downloading the UofC freebies very much a hit and miss affair. Most would download to my laptop but then refuse to sideload to my Kobo, so in the end I gave up.

170Jackie_K
Edited: Mar 4, 4:31am Top

>168 detailmuse: Yes, her book-giving programme is brilliant. I've got a lot of time for her. I've already downloaded You Feel so Mortal, it's the first one this year I wanted to download (I only downloaded 3 of last year's) and look forward to reading it - eventually!

>169 Robertgreaves: That's strange. I wonder if you need to reinstall Digital Editions to get them to load onto your kobo? I've not had any problems with them, although (as mentioned upthread, I think, or maybe on detailmuse's thread) a Windows update did once confuse my Sony ereader so much that I was suddenly unable to open several of the UoC books on it anymore.

171floremolla
Mar 4, 5:26am Top

>167 Jackie_K: I've got a lot of time for a generous self-effacing woman who hasn't forgotten her roots and who can laugh at herself. The book-giving qualifies her for sainthood imo!

172Jackie_K
Edited: Mar 5, 4:25pm Top

ROOT #13



(apologies for the essay - I need to get this out of my system!) With a massive sense of achievement, I have finally finished the epic chunkster that is Rebecca West's Black Lamb & Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia (around 1200 pages in the print version - thank goodness I was reading an ebook copy, my poor wrists would have given out a long time ago otherwise!). The book is based on a 6 week trip that she took with her husband in 1937; it took me the best part of 37 hours to read, over 3 months (this was meant to be my January ColourCAT read). I am now mentally exhausted!

I found this a really frustrating, and at times infuriating book. She does what I normally really like in a travel book, which is drop in bits of history relating to the particular place being visited, but whereas someone like Patrick Leigh Fermor got the balance really well, and I never lost my sense of the place he was visiting at the time and the history enhanced the travelogue, here the travel aspect is often utterly swamped by the history. I felt throughout my read that what this book really really needed was a good (and ruthless!) editor, because it was just Way Too Long. Although in parts her descriptive writing of the places they visit is really beautiful (I really really want to visit the Dalmatian islands, Macedonia and Montenegro now), in other parts I had no sense whatsoever of what the place was like, because of the volumes of history attached to that place. That is especially true of Sarajevo (vast reams on the decades leading up to the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and what happened to every little bit player afterwards) and Belgrade (pretty much a centuries-long overview of the Serbian monarchy), where there was almost no description of the place, but reams and reams about the history. When I was about half way through it suddenly occurred to me that if the book had been subtitled "A Journey Through Yugoslavia and its History" it would have bothered me much less, because I would have had more idea what to expect before I started, and after that I was less wound up by it (although I still think a good chunk of it could have been edited out).

Another really frustrating thing about it was that the author, for all her support of the suffragettes (she was a supporter of Emmeline, though not Christabel, Pankhurst) there was an awful lot of gender essentialism/weaker sex stuff which I got a bit cross with, along with some most definite ethnic and national prejudices (she was not a fan of the Turks or the Germans), and a handful of instances of 'of its time' use of racist language (specifically the n-word). There was also a lot of unnecessary speculation about individual people they came across - for example during a church service she would describe one particular person in the congregation and speculate about the weight of history that was weighing down on this random woman's thoughts and personality, even though they didn't exchange so much as a glance, and she was just as likely spending half of the service thinking about what to make for dinner. There were huge bits of that sort of thing that just needed some ruthless editing.

Throughout nearly all of the journey they were accompanied by a man called Constantine (a pseudonym), a well-educated poet and Jewish Serb nationalist who was now employed by the Yugoslav authorities. Constantine was such an over-bearing presence that I found him really quite stifling at times, as he just knew everything about everything, although at other times he was utterly charming. About a third of the way through the book, the party is joined by Constantine's awful German wife Gerda, who as well as being openly anti-Slav and anti-Semitic (both of which caused obvious tensions with her husband) was also strongly dismissive of everything and everyone she met, including the author and her husband, to the point of shocking rudeness, and if Constantine's presence had been stifling at times, Gerda's was just constantly toxic and oppressive. After what in reality was 2 weeks, but reading felt like 2 years, she fell out with everyone sufficiently to get back on a train to Belgrade in a huff, and I think my sigh of relief was barely less heartfelt than the author's.

The book ends with a (long, obviously) Epilogue which starts off with their last day in Yugoslavia before heading back to Budapest, but then quickly moves on to sum up all the history again, and brings it up to date (the book was published in 1941, so obviously the menace that was sometimes hinted at during the 1937 trip was fully out in the open by then). I don't know what it is about Epilogues, but I felt similarly about this one to the one in War and Peace, which I similarly skimmed. It was an exhausting end to an exhausting book.

So why did I persevere with it? Because, despite all my annoyance and frustration with it, and my longing for large chunks of it to be cut out, every so often she would drop in a turn of phrase so perfect that it was just sublime. In particular, I absolutely loved her take on Orthodox Christianity (as opposed to Protestantism and Catholicism), and felt that she had really captured the essence of Orthodoxy in her description of its basic premise and theology. Some of her descriptions of places, when they weren't swamped with the weight of history, were beautifully evocative, and I felt like I was there. There was enough of that (plus my bloody-mindedness that I wasn't going to let it defeat me!) to keep me going, and at the end I am really glad I read it. But I'm also really glad I finished it! 3/5.

173floremolla
Edited: Mar 5, 8:20pm Top

>172 Jackie_K: First class review of an epic! It's a pity about the bias towards historical detail when you weren't expecting it, but sounds like you actually got a lot out of it.

I wonder why it wasn't more closely edited? Maybe there was added value in great length!

Anyway, jolly well done!

174Jackie_K
Mar 6, 3:19pm Top

>173 floremolla: I think that it was very much a product of its time - it was published in 1941, and also she was already a very established (and rich) author, not to mention very 'establishment' (she later became a Dame), so I think that she would have been a pretty formidable person to edit! One of the other LT reviews of the book makes the point that in 1941 when publishers were basically belt-tightening to the extreme, it is really notable that this book in all its vastness was published at all, so clearly they thought that a) there was value in it, and b) that they would recoup the investment.

As an aside, towards the end of the book I looked her up on wikipedia, and the entry for her is fascinating. It led me to the page on the book, as I wanted to find out who Constantine was - a very interesting half hour spent!

175detailmuse
Mar 7, 9:25am Top

>172 Jackie_K: What a fine review and accomplishment! I'm encouraged by how much you appreciated the quality of her writing. I've wanted to get to The Return of the Soldier before the centenary of WWI passes ... I note it's a novella so hopefully no issues with over-long writing!

176Jackie_K
Mar 7, 11:52am Top

>175 detailmuse: Haha, hopefully it won't take you 3 months to read!

177Jackie_K
Edited: Mar 9, 4:15pm Top

ROOT #14



Heather Rogers' Green Gone Wrong: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Eco-Capitalism was a fantastically researched and at times very depressing look at the state of environmentalism today. She looks at issues like organic farming, eco-travel, eco-housing, and carbon offsetting, and how these are undermined by the realities of capitalist markets and regulation. At the end she looks at potential solutions, although all will rely on much wider agreement that a) there's a problem and b) we can work together to do something about it, something I'm not going to hold my breath about, sadly. She looked at projects in the USA, Paraguay, India, Borneo, UK and Germany amongst others, so it was definitely a global overview. A fantastic, but very sobering read. 4.5/5.

178Jackie_K
Mar 10, 7:41am Top

And... Mt TBR has just hit the magic 400.

The four books I've just bought (in the kobo sale, so I paid less than a fiver for the lot) have been in my basket a while, I deliberately waited till I'd finished enough ROOTs that the total wouldn't go over 400. I did try putting them on my wishlist, but when I checked out the reviews on amazon they all looked so good I just wanted them right now, especially at that price! I have put several others that have come my way via recommendations or bookbub on the wishlist rather than indulging even more. There will be other sales (hopefully not too soon!!).

I should get at least two of my current reads finished this month, and I'm going to read one of my new ones (it's pretty short) as it fits this month's RandomCAT theme. So hopefully I won't be too much in the red (I'm currently 14 read and 19 acquired, I'd like to get those numbers a bit closer together by the end of the month!).

179floremolla
Mar 10, 9:58am Top

>178 Jackie_K: oh dear! my numbers are going in the wrong direction too, I've just had another charity shop haul and haven't even added it to my thread yet - I'm in denial.

On the plus side you seem to be clocking up the ROOTS at a good rate this year! Maybe you could massage the figures a little.....ahem, I mean, manage the numbers, by removing some old freebies that could be picked up free again in the future if you really really wanted to read them? Or do you really really want to read all of Mt TBR?

180Jackie_K
Mar 10, 10:07am Top

>179 floremolla: Oh there's nothing quite like the feeling of a good book haul though, is there? (that's what I felt this morning when I clicked on 'buy'). Especially if they were bargainous, which a charity shop haul is more likely to be.

I really really want to read all of Mt TBR. I feel much happier about abandoning a book if I'm not enjoying it than I used to, but I want to at least start them all! Even the freebies I'm only picking up now if I know it's something I really want to read, and they tend to be only free or low-cost for short periods of time. I do have a handful of freebies from my enthusiastic new eReader phase where I was a bit less discerning, but I'm over that now!

181floremolla
Mar 10, 1:08pm Top

>180 Jackie_K: good for you! I'm of the same mind - there's nothing from my TBR pile I'm prepared to give up before I've tried to read it. I just need to not go in the charity shops. :(

182connie53
Mar 11, 4:59am Top

Hi Jackie, I've been neglecting (just laziness from my part) threads for a week or more and now I'm reading up on all the missed posts.

>156 Jackie_K: Love the picture! Really romantic!

183Jackie_K
Mar 11, 5:40am Top

>181 floremolla: That's easier said than done though, isn't it? Could you donate any books to them that you know you've finished with? To kind of offset the acquisitions a bit? ;)

>182 connie53: Hello Connie! Thank you, it did look lovely the first couple of days of snow. This week, not so much, with dirty piles of snow taking forever to melt! It's pretty much gone now though, just a few stubborn blobs of snow remaining.

ROOT #15



So I read the shortest of yesterday's acquisitions in the small hours of this morning when I was wide awake for no reason - it was just a half hour read, so I knew that I could at least quickly get my TBR total back below 400! Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions is an extended letter to a friend who had just had a baby girl and had asked the author for suggestions on how to raise her as a feminist (actually it's just as relevant for parents of baby boys too). There's nothing new here to anyone who follows debates on feminism, but it was good to have the suggestions all in one place. I particularly liked her take on equal parenting - not equal time or tasks, necessarily, because everybody's circumstances are different, but she talked about knowing it was equal from the absence of resentment. 4/5.

184MissWatson
Mar 11, 8:28am Top

>179 floremolla: I know, I know. I spent an hour browsing at the bookstore telling myself no, no, no, and still walked away with a new one. Must enter it at some point, but can't face up to my weakness yet.

185floremolla
Mar 11, 7:31pm Top

>183 Jackie_K: I have about a dozen - if my daughter doesn't want them I'll donate them. Our local pharmacy has a book corner where you can donate or 'buy' with a small donation to MacMillan Nurses. Last time I donated a pile I had to buy one back when I realised belatedly it wasn't mine to donate - I'd borrowed it. Oops.

>184 MissWatson: lol, at least you only acquired one. I got six. One was a lovely illustrated book about Brueghel - I didn't notice it was in Italian. I'll look at the pictures and then donate it back...just pretend it never happened.

186Jackie_K
Mar 12, 6:59am Top

>184 MissWatson: I'm the same. I can usually avoid temptation in the regular bookshop (unless they have good offers!), although I will often add things to my wishlist there. But my weakness is Barter Books, a big second hand bookshop in the north of England. Luckily we don't live near enough to go very often (just a couple of times a year as we use it as a stop on our journeys down south). The books aren't necessarily cheap, but it's the whole experience (lovely cafe, browsing the books, brilliant environment - it's a converted train station).

>185 floremolla: Oh dear to the Brueghel book! At least that's one less on the growing Mt TBR!

187Jackie_K
Edited: Mar 12, 12:55pm Top

ROOT #16 (DNF)



Another cheat, really, but I decided that this book, Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible, is for the Barter Books pile. I started it last year and abandoned it after several chapters because I really wasn't in the mood for horrible white colonial Christian men making everybody miserable, but always thought I'd try again when I felt up to it. Well, I've decided that I'm not going to be up to it for the foreseeable future, and I'd be better off trying to get some credit for books that I'd actually enjoy reading. If I change my mind there's always the library. Meantime, my reading pile just got a bit smaller, and I don't have it staring at me making me feel bad! :D

It's not at all that this is badly written (it's absolutely not - Kingsolver is a great author and I loved the other book of hers that I read, years ago - Pigs in Heaven). It's just that all the characters in this book are so unsympathetic and their lives seem to be such non-stop misery, and I honestly can't face it or imagine that I'd ever be in the mood for it. I'm giving it 3 stars anyway, as the writing is really good (and I do feel guilty abandoning it!).

(running total - Mt TBR is now at 398)

188detailmuse
Mar 13, 9:57am Top

>187 Jackie_K: Seriously, Congratulations on abandoning what didn't fit!! I rated it 4* but that's after three starts and some sloggy reading until I got to the one or two parts ("Books") that were very good. I wouldn't have finished without a group read. I'm planning to ROOT Pigs in Heaven for next month's Aries authors.

189Jackie_K
Mar 13, 12:26pm Top

>188 detailmuse: I read Pigs in Heaven in my mid-20s (so 20+ years ago now) and honestly, I can't remember a single thing about the book itself (which I borrowed from a friend, so I don't even have a copy I could try and flick through to remind myself), but what I do very strongly remember is enjoying it all the way through, and then when I finished having that really satisfying "now that was a really good book" feeling. I'm sure other people here know that feeling too!

190Jackie_K
Edited: Mar 17, 5:04am Top

ROOT #17



Another short one (and confession: I bypassed the Jar of Fate and just picked this because I knew it was short! Although I did want to read it anyway). Having recently finished Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Dear Ijeawele, I pretty much knew what to expect with We Should All Be Feminists. This is based on her TED talk, and like Dear Ijeawele there probably isn't anything new for people who are following, viewing and participating in current debates with a feminist lens, but it's good to have as a concise overview. 4/5.

191karenmarie
Mar 17, 8:58am Top

Hi Jackie!

Long time no visit. Good reviews and ... wow. Bypassing the Jar of Fate? Major. Good for you.

192Jackie_K
Edited: Mar 19, 12:56pm Top

>191 karenmarie: Hi Karen! Hope you're having a good weekend. Haha, yes, bypassing the Jar of Fate doesn't happen very often, and to be honest I've done it twice this month already because my TBR total was threatening to go over 400 and I'm trying really hard to not let it. By reading that short book, and the one I've just finished (see below), I can now buy the two books currently sitting in my kobo shopping basket!

ROOT #18



Where Freedom Starts: Sex Power Violence #MeToo is the latest free report from Verso that I picked up last month, and wanted to read while it was still current. As with most other Verso reports, it is an anthology of writing (largely previously published) about the issue at hand, in this case the #MeToo 'moment'. I really liked this one, particularly the fact that it overwhelmingly dealt with the experience and perspectives of women of colour, whose voices have often been overlooked - even the actual slogan itself was coined by a black woman, Tarana Burke (who is featured in this anthology) in 2006 so that women of colour could report and organise in response to the gender-based violence and harassment they face, yet it was only when it was taken up by a white actress that it gained wider attention. A couple of the pieces made me a bit uncomfortable (rightly so, given the subject matter), but all were excellent. 4/5.

(Note to self: need to add -2 to the total TBR ticker when the tickers stop being weird. Current TBR total is 400 again).

193karenmarie
Mar 18, 10:54am Top

I read a few short books at the end of last year to meet my 100-book-goal for the year and am not ashamed. Books is books!

194Jackie_K
Mar 18, 12:21pm Top

>193 karenmarie: That is very true, Karen! Although as I noted today on the March ROOTs thread, it sometimes feels strange that a giant chunkster (like Black Lamb & Grey Falcon, which took me 3 months to read) counts for the same as books (like the two Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie books I just finished) which take me just a half hour to finish!

195connie53
Mar 18, 3:10pm Top

>194 Jackie_K: I think so too, Jackie. I don't know if we, as a group, could make up rules for that. But is would make the math more difficult for Chèli. And you would have to commit to number of pages or something like that. So maybe not such a great idea ;-) . But I agree with your observation though.

196Jackie_K
Mar 18, 5:04pm Top

>195 connie53: I don't know that a rule change would be very practical, Connie - and as Karen says, above, books is books! I was knackered after my last chunkster, but really appreciative of the two short ones! So I guess it all just evens out in the long run, as long as you read a mixture of lengths.

I have just checked my profile, and it says that I have 10 books on the go at present! Actually one I stopped reading last year (and intend to pick it up again, maybe even this month, but I haven't yet) and two are library books (only one of which I've started), one is the next Jar of Fate book but I haven't yet started it, and two are actually for April challenges and I just couldn't wait, but although I've started them I'm not really prioritising them till I've finished others that I'm further along with. I think 10 would be too many, even for me! It does mean though that there's a book for whatever mood I might be in at the time!

197Robertgreaves
Mar 18, 8:04pm Top

>195 connie53: Isn't it up to each of us to make our own rules? If someone wants to count a book with more than say 750 or 1000 pages as two books, that's up to them. So long as they move their ticker forward two spaces, it shouldn't make any difference to Chèli.

For example, if an ebook omnibus edition of 3 or 4 novels does not exist as a physical book, then I count them separately.

198FAMeulstee
Mar 19, 6:14am Top

>196 Jackie_K: Indeed books are books, Jackie, and I count them all :-)
I do keep track of the pages I read, to be able to compare with other years.
A given amount of pages can represent a wide range in books; looking at my statistics 1500 pages can be anything between 1 to 20 books.

199karenmarie
Mar 19, 9:05am Top

I have three separate goals this year - 105 books, 42 ROOTs, and 34,000 pages. I also just counted a physical book - a Spenser omnibus by Robert B. Parker - as three separate books. I agree with Robert that everybody should have their own rules.

200Jackie_K
Mar 19, 12:46pm Top

I don't normally count pages, but when I read War & Peace a few years ago I did because it helped me to see progress better (I created a ticker - the "War & Peace-o-meter" - just for that one book). And although I moan sometimes about reading a chunkster, as I say I do also benefit from the short ones when I'm near to a goal, so I can't really complain!

I'm currently reading an ER book, the first one I've requested for a while, and I'm really enjoying it! (not always the case with ER books, I've found!).

201karenmarie
Mar 21, 8:24am Top

ER books are hit and miss with me, too, Jackie. I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying your newest one.

202LoraShouse
Mar 22, 1:53am Top

Hehe - Jar of Fate. A great idea, but I can't see me finding all my books at once to make one.

203avanders
Mar 22, 11:43am Top

Hello!! Just dropping by. It has just been TOO long. But I'm happy to see you're doing so well with your ROOTing! Life for me has been a bit crazy these past couple months, but maybe in the couple months to come, it'll calm down ;)

204Jackie_K
Mar 24, 8:53am Top

>201 karenmarie: Just finished it (see below) - I'd recommend this one, overall!
>202 LoraShouse: I did it when I was having a big old sort out, so I'm pretty sure I've got them all, although there have been a couple of times where I've pulled out a book from the Jar and then not been able to find it. Maybe it's time for another sort-out! Since I started it though, I just add books in as I get them, so it's not too onerous.
>203 avanders: Welcome back Aletheia!

ROOT #19



I received Michael Kohn's Dateline Mongolia from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme - thank you to the author and publisher.

I knew very little about Mongolia, but love good travel writing, and this turned out to be a great introduction to a fascinating country. The author got a job as a reporter/editor with an English language newspaper in the Mongolian capital in the late 1990s, and this is his account of the three years he spent there. He coincided with a lot of pretty momentous political and religious transitions, and as well as writing about that he also covers how Mongolia was starting to negotiate the transition from Communist single-party rule to a fledgling democracy and multi-party state. He didn't just stay in the capital, but also travelled round the country, so we see amazing festivals, join a hunt with eagles, and catch a fascinating glimpse of nomad and herding life. Colourful characters add to the mix, and overall I thoroughly enjoyed this 'immersed expat' take on Mongolia. This 2nd edition includes an Epilogue which details some of the changes in the country after the author left in 2000 (largely increased economic prosperity and its impact on the more traditional ways of life) which was interesting.

I would have given this 4.5 stars rather than 4, but there were quite a lot of missing words (usually things like 'in' or 'with') which got increasingly annoying, as well as a few typos which really should have been spotted, especially as this is a 2nd edition. However, that is a pretty minor quibble, and I would definitely recommend this book, I really enjoyed reading it. 4/5.

205Lisa805
Mar 26, 3:47pm Top

>200 Jackie_K: An (InsertBookName)-o-meter is a great idea. Very creative! Long tomes are tough, as sometimes it is hard to stay motivated.

206floremolla
Mar 26, 6:25pm Top

>204 Jackie_K: great review, I like the sound of that but the missing words would annoy me too much. Although I always cite Seven Years in Tibet as being badly written and/or translated but still a five star story!

207Jackie_K
Edited: Mar 27, 3:07pm Top

>205 Lisa805: Yes, Lisa, I agree, and War and Peace was especially long and tough! (my version had 1750 pages! It took me the best part of a year to read.)
>206 floremolla: Thank you Donna! I'd say there were probably between 1-5 missing words per chapter, so it's not like it was every page, but it was often enough to notice. I've read much worse, in terms of annoying typos and layout, and the book was good enough that it more than held its own despite the proofreading shortcomings.

ROOT #20



Another shameless bypassing of the Jar of Fate to fit another short book in to increase my March numbers (in my defence, it's been a very acquisitive month. Although I guess that's not a very impressive defence! But I heard today I'd won another ER book, so needed to read something before it arrives so that Mt TBR doesn't go over 400). Peculiar Goings On is a book by my lovely friend Dave Walker, it has been great to see him take the plunge into freelance cartooning over the past several years and make a real success of it. Dave was (maybe still is, I'm not sure) the cartoonist for the Church Times, and a big bulk of his cartoons are about church life (with a specific Church of England slant), gently highlighting the mildly ridiculous and silly aspects of church culture. This is his 3rd or 4th book of church cartoons (he has more recently diversified into cartoons about cycling, which are also doing really well).

I loved this, it is so very reflective of his gentle and wry sense of humour, which is never unkind but always perceptive. I mean this as a massive compliment, but I think this is an ideal book for the downstairs loo of the churchgoer of a certain age. 4/5.

208floremolla
Mar 27, 7:14pm Top

>207 Jackie_K: lol, I don't know what made me chuckle more, your excuse for bypassing the JOF or your recommending your friend's book as ideal for the downstairs loo :))

209Lisa805
Edited: Mar 27, 10:58pm Top

>207 Jackie_K: Oh my goodness. That made me laugh! Cheers to good bathroom reading material (especially) for those of a certain age, lol!

210Robertgreaves
Mar 27, 9:48pm Top

>207 Jackie_K: I've seen his cartoons various people posted to FB every so often and always enjoyed them. I didn't know he'd produced a book.

211detailmuse
Mar 29, 12:38pm Top

Jackie, congrats on 20 Roots in the first quarter!

212Jackie_K
Mar 29, 12:55pm Top

>208 floremolla: >209 Lisa805: The thing is, you'll have all known exactly what I meant! (and before anyone thinks I'm poking fun, I'm of that certain age myself!).
>210 Robertgreaves: He's done several books now, Robert, this is the 3rd or 4th in the 'Guide to the Church' series, and he's also recently produced a book of cycling cartoons which is going down well in the cycling fraternity. He is also a genuinely lovely guy, and very funny in person.
>211 detailmuse: Thank you! It will hopefully be 21 by the end of the month, as I should finish my Lent book on Saturday. I can't believe that I'm on course for a year end total of over 80 books, I'm sure I'll slow down later in the year (of course at current rates I'm on course for nearly 100 acquisitions as well - I really hope I slow down later in the year for them!).

213Jackie_K
Mar 30, 8:13am Top

Non-ROOT completed



March's library book was a rare (for me) foray into fiction - a selection of short stories based in Edinburgh, written in aid of the OneCity Trust. One City features stories by Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin and Irvine Welsh, and also an introduction by JK Rowling, so we are talking Scottish literary royalty here. The stories were all very different, but I enjoyed them all, even Irvine Welsh's one, which I approached with some trepidation as I'm such a literary wimp - I don't do fictional gore at all, but the gore in this one was just so very funny. It's quite an old book (the author blurb describes Alexander McCall Smith as the author of six No 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, for example, and it also says the fourth Harry Potter film will be released soon) but the stories didn't feel dated at all. 4/5.

I'm not deliberately only getting Scottish books out for my library challenge (a book a month all year), it's just how it's worked out, and my April book (which I've already checked out) is also Scottish (photography of Glasgow). Maybe I'll go a bit further afield in the summer...

214Jackie_K
Mar 31, 5:03am Top

ROOT #21



Margaret Silf's Sacred Spaces: Stations on a Celtic Way was the book I chose to read for Lent this year. It is divided into seven chapters, and looks at different types of spaces (eg boundaries, bridges, wells) which were sacred in Celtic spirituality, and includes some meditations and thoughts about these, drawing on Christian stories but accessible to anyone regardless of how they feel about Christianity. The last few years I have read either books specifically written as Lent studies, or something that was reasonably 'meaty'. This book, although probably fairly reflective of my own sense of spirituality, disappointed me a little bit - I have read another book by the author, a set of more explicitly Christian Ignatian reflections, which I really liked, but for much of the time I was reading this book I felt like it was a bit wishy-washy and I wished I'd chosen something a bit more substantial. I did like the end though, and it was probably as much of a case of me not being so much in the mood for it right now than anything else. I did like how it was laid out, and the photos were gorgeous (lots of Celtic crosses, stone circles, waterfalls etc). 3.5/5.

215Jackie_K
Mar 31, 11:59am Top

Well we're at the last day of the month and no more acquisitions today, so here's my March haul of acquisitions (all either free or below my £2 per book limit, so I'm really pleased with that (thanks primarily to kobo sales and bookbub). All non-fiction this month, and all ebooks apart from Dateline Mongolia which was a paperback from LTER, and which I reviewed in post >204 Jackie_K: above):

1. Ed. Rachel Rosen & Katherine Twamley - Feminism and the Politics of Childhood: Friends or Foes? (no touchstone).
2. Tim Peake - Ask an Astronaut.
3. Peggy Shinner - You Feel So Mortal: Essays on the Body.
4. Sue Hubbell - A Book of Bees.
5. Clover Stroud - The Wild Other.
6. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.
7. Tessa Dunlop - The Bletchley Girls.
8. Victoria Whitworth - Swimming With Seals.
9. Joan Didion - The Year of Magical Thinking.
10. Michael Kohn - Dateline Mongolia.
11. Darach O'Seaghdha - Motherfocloir: Dispatches from a Not So Dead Language.
12. Stephen Rea - Finn McCool's Football Club.
13. Matthew Small - The Wall Between Us (no touchstone).

Wordplay of the month definitely goes to no.11 in the list - it's about the Irish language, apparently 'focloir' is the Irish for 'dictionary', and is pronounced pretty similarly to an Anglo-Saxon word often following 'mother'.

I had a good reading month this month - 11 ROOTs (admittedly one I'd been reading since December, two were really short and only took about half an hour each, and one was abandoned, but still pretty good going overall!). It means that I have only acquired 3 more than I've read this year (21 read, 24 acquired), and Mt TBR currently stands at 398. What I've decided is that I'd like it to be below 395 (which is where it stood at the start of the year) by the beginning of June, so that I can have birthday books without guilt! I'd also like to finish the year with fewer TBRs than I started it with - I think that might be harder to achieve, because I can never resist just taking a peek at the sales!

I'm looking forward to my April reading. The Non-Fiction challenge for April is history, I'm actually about to finish one book for that challenge in the next day or two then have another lined up for after that. I've also got a book on environmentalism/climate change for ColourCAT, and then a couple of academic books and a couple of fiction books from the Jar of Fate. Must admit that I keep putting off the fiction (I have started both and am a good way into them both, but I keep needing a non-fiction fix), but I will try really hard to get them done in April.

216floremolla
Apr 1, 3:39am Top

You have had a good reading month! :)

Hope you have a lovely Easter with your family, Jackie!

217Henrik_Madsen
Apr 1, 9:09am Top

What a great reading month. Adding a few books to the pile only seems just considering the effort!

218karenmarie
Apr 1, 9:19am Top

Hi Jackie! Happy Easter to you and your family.

Congratulations on a good reading month.

219Jackie_K
Apr 1, 10:11am Top

>216 floremolla: >217 Henrik_Madsen: >218 karenmarie: Thank you all very much, I am delighted with my progress in March (and with my acquisitions, but I should be quieter about that!). Happy Easter to you all, and to all the visitors to my thread.

Easter has been lovely so far. I went out last night to a work leaving do and didn't get back till late, absolutely stuffed with food, I could hardly move! This morning A didn't wake up and come in to our room till 9 which was considerate of her!! We went to the local church for the Easter morning service, and this afternoon we have opened some Easter gifts (from the grandparents - A is now happily painting with her Easter egg decorating kit, and has some Easter masks to make later). And some chocolate may just have been eaten (I always give it up for Lent, so always really enjoy Easter Sunday!). I've also managed to get some washing out in the fresh air - it won't dry as it's too cold and overcast, but will at least smell fresher than if we'd just dried it indoors. That always makes me feel better too - there's just something about the smell of clothes that have been hanging outside that makes me happy. I don't know if it's a past association - one of my all time favourite photos from childhood is a picture of my sister and me playing peekaboo with the sheets hanging up on the washing line (I'd hazard a guess we were about 2 and 3 at the time).

220Jackie_K
Edited: Apr 3, 7:55am Top

ROOT #22



My first April ROOT is a book I took as a BB from (I think) someone in the Category Challenge a couple of years ago, Dominic Selwood's Spies, Sadists and Sorcerers: The history you weren't taught in school. I chose it because April's non-fiction challenge in the 75 group is history, and made a start on it last month and then found it quicker than I expected! I hadn't realised it is based on the author's newspaper columns, so each chapter was a pretty quick read, and provides just an overview. He takes various events in (mainly English) history, and looks at what we know (or assume we know) and what has been overlooked. Overall I found this very entertaining and easy to read, although I would have liked some more depth, and as it is a series of standalone newspaper columns there was some repetition in the book. It has though given me a couple of characters from the Second World War who I'd love to find more out about - Juan Pujol Garcia (a Spanish spy who fooled Hitler into thinking he was a Nazi intelligence officer and fed loads of false information about the build-up to D-Day which led to the Germans being underprepared and mainly expecting an invasion further round the coast) who ended up being decorated by both sides, and Noor Inayat Khan, a British Muslim woman who worked as an underground radio operator in Nazi-occupied Paris, who was ultimately captured by the Gestapo and shot in Dachau concentration camp. 3.5/5.

(note to self: don't add to any tickers till Cheli puts up the April thread. Total TBRs 397)

221Jackie_K
Apr 5, 6:32am Top

I'm making some good progress on several of my books, so will hopefully have 3 or 4 read this month, at least (including another good ER, can't believe I've got two really good ones in a row! Luckily none of the April ones appealed to me so I have time to catch up!). However, the TBR total is looking ominous again (399!). Bookbub keeps offering me books that are already on my wishlist for not much money (I got another one yesterday, my 3rd wishlist book of the year under £2). I'm so doomed.

222majkia
Apr 5, 7:18am Top

Hope your April reading is as fulfilling as your earlier books have been!

223floremolla
Apr 5, 4:18pm Top

>221 Jackie_K: the 339 versus 400 TBR is proving an effective barrier isn't it? It's a pity you couldn't shed some and make space (virtual space, since they're mainly ebooks!) to accommodate some wishlist bargains.

224Jackie_K
Apr 5, 4:37pm Top

>222 majkia: Thank you Jean!

>223 floremolla: It really is a great incentive! I'm trying really hard to make space by reading more ROOTs - so, for example, unless it's a book that I really want (eg already on my wishlist, like the book I got yesterday) then I'm actively not buying it until I've read one or more ROOTs, even if it's a total bargain (this time last year I would have just bought all the bargains). I do have two books sitting in my kobo basket at the moment (both under £2), but I spotted one of them in the library earlier today, so I think I'm going to take it out of my basket and go the library route, then if I love it and want my own copy at least it won't be a ROOT as I'll have already read it. I still want to get the total back to 395 or below by June so I can have guilt-free birthday presents, so that's a good longer-term incentive. I'm finding it a much better motivational tool than the ROOTs:acquisition ratio I used the last few years.

225detailmuse
Apr 6, 12:37pm Top

haha If this thread was a novel, Bookbub would seem to be developing into an unsympathetic dealer! Great resistance!

226Jackie_K
Apr 7, 12:58pm Top

>225 detailmuse: Yes, bookbub really is a bit of an enabler, but I am (mostly) resisting (should I worry about the heavies coming round to strongarm me into buying more books, I wonder?!). I was looking through my kobo and found quite a few books I'd bought via bookbub over the past 2 or 3 years which I possibly wouldn't buy now. And I'm also finding that it is starting to offer me books that I've already bought with them previously - I guess books go through cycles of being on special offer. I'd say there are probably 10 or 12 books so far this year that I might have bought before this year, but have resisted so far. I'm definitely hardening up! :D

227Jackie_K
Apr 9, 11:03am Top

Hi everyone - hope you've all stopped twitching from LT's extended downtime! I don't want to think about the amount of time over the weekend I refreshed the page hoping it would come back soon! I even had to do more reading! (shock horror)

It did leave me with a question though, which many folk here can answer. I have a GoodReads account which I don't really use - I only signed up because I got a review copy of a book which asked for a review to be placed on amazon and GoodReads. So that's the only book sitting there on my account. I was wondering, and asked friends on facebook who are on GR, what it is about it that they like, and they all said about cataloguing, challenges, reviewing, seeing what other people are reading - basically all the things I like about LT! I don't see the point of being on two sites to do the same thing (I spend far too much time here and elsewhere online as it is!). Of my fb friends who are on both sites, one said he preferred LT to GR, and one said that she only uses LT for cataloguing and GR for reviews and interaction. Certainly quite a few of my fb friends post their GoodReads reviews to facebook, so I know it's popular. So I was wondering - for those of you here who are also on GoodReads, what do you use GR for that's different to LT? The main thing I can see could be better on GR is linking with friends to see what they're reading, as the LT friends feature is pretty basic. But other than that?

(Going to ask this on my category challenge thread too).

228Tanya-dogearedcopy
Edited: Apr 9, 1:40pm Top

>227 Jackie_K: I also have a GR account. In the beginning, I loved the ease of use navigating the site, the ability to scan books (this was before LT offered the same feature), the yearly personal challenge with the splash bar, and the groups I had been in. But I migrated my data over to LT a few years ago because I disliked Amazon's imprint on the site, the increasingly toxic interactions between authors and readers, reader cliques that bully other readers and authors, and the overall zeitgeist of a millennial mindset. The only data I keep over there now is in relation to a Litsy Postal Book Group that I belong to, but even that is pretty dormant for the most part. Most of our interactions are on a Slack channel that we created for our group.

I still find LT's ways rather slow and Byzantine but found a group that I really like (Category Challenge) and I've gotten used to it. That said, I've been frustrated with LT's app, the glacial pace at which LT implements even minor changes and the IT SNAFUs since the acquisition of Litsy.

Before Goodreads and LT, I used to belong to a Yahoo! Literary Circle group. There were some amazing readers/people there, but it became stagnant, discouraging newcomers, abandoning its discussion and challenge formats, and its moderators neglected it. Still, in its heyday, it was dynamic and I miss it for what it was. I bring this up because, when I was involved with the group, I was heavily involved and couldn't go a day without checking in. And the same with GR, LT, and Litsy respectively. Right now I'm beginning to feel the need for something better altogether but I don't know what that would be or what it would look like. I just know it's not something I've already tried (e.g. GR.)

229floremolla
Apr 9, 2:23pm Top

>227 Jackie_K: Ditto the refreshing!

>227 Jackie_K: >228 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I don't have anything to compare LT to. I've never tried GR although I've often looked at reviews and chats about books that interest me. I only have time for one book/reading app!

As an Apple iPhone and iPad user I'm pretty well provided for at LT. The app makes it easy to catalog my books and update my reading status.

I kind of like that LT's not too dynamic and slick. It's like seeing the workings of an old analogue clock as opposed to the flashy options on a digital one (that I would probably never use). I'm not looking for an enhanced experience myself (I spend too much time online as it is) but I'm sure I've noticed a forum for development ideas somewhere on the site. Have you thought about putting forward suggestions?

Anyway, I hope you don't go elsewhere. Stay and help change LT from the inside, that's what they claim to be about!

230Jackie_K
Apr 9, 3:57pm Top

>228 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Thanks for that feedback, Tanya. I think that I'm realising that they're pretty much two imperfect ways of doing basically the same things, and that I'm happy to stick with what I'm comfortable with (ie here). I'll keep my GR account for those books where I think a review there would help the book/author out (or if I get a review copy which requests it), but I'm not feeling a great need to learn a whole new site. I haven't got the LT app (I have an android phone, but haven't downloaded any apps at all and am planning, when it finally gives up, to go back to a grannyphone) so that's not a big incentive either way for me (and also means that I never got into Litsy, which is fine!). It was just because the weekend had no LT, I was searching round for somewhere else where book chat might be possible, but as far as I could tell I couldn't just browse their group forums without joining specific groups. Your feedback about toxic discussions was helpful - I'm of an age where I can't be doing with unnecessary toxicity!

>229 floremolla: I must admit I find low-tech pretty appealing too!

231rabbitprincess
Apr 9, 5:57pm Top

I started out on GR and still use it to keep track of my to-read list, because it's easier to switch editions on that site. Also my mum has a GR account, so we creep each other's bookshelves that way ;)

LT is my main book site; the cataloguing info is excellent (GR doesn't always have the really old stuff, and I can't be bothered to go through the hassle of manually adding books there) and I like the discussion groups I've joined. I also get way better recommendations (automatic and otherwise) from here.

I have fun with Litsy, but it's more a place for random thoughts and sillier, quick posts that I wouldn't bother putting on LT. I don't do any of the swaps or postal book groups; it seems like too much work :P

232Robertgreaves
Apr 9, 9:47pm Top

I don't have a GR account. When GR first started the only way to transfer was to re-enter all my books by hand again and I really couldn't face that. Then when migration did become possible it had been taken over by Amazon and most of the people I knew who had GR accounts kept complaining about how awful it had become and was just a sales channel so I've kept away.

233Tanya-dogearedcopy
Apr 9, 10:03pm Top

>230 Jackie_K: >231 rabbitprincess: The swaps and postal groups are a lot of work, OTOH, you get out of it what you put in! Because the nature of Litsy isn't geared towards groups or forums, it is actually a great way to create reader communities. I joined the original postal group on Litsy, and almost two years later, we remain a pretty tight group, sharing not only book thoughts that we write in the journals but birthdays, crises, fandoms, and just day-to-day stuff. We have our own swaps, giveaways, etc. I don't participate in the Litsy-wide swaps though. I did once, but the one-on-one interaction didn't really do much in terms of community. And now there are so many (too many, if you ask me), and quite a few people are getting burned :-(

What I've been asking for on the FB forum is a way to mute hashtags so I don't see the swaps et al) or; a system where events can be posted like a book so everyone involved in the event can follow that event thread. Sometimes the "noise" of the extraneous stuff can be a bit much!

234connie53
Apr 10, 2:35am Top

Hi Jackie, just trying to catch up on threads and yours was the one with the most unread posts. (35 of them). I hope you don't mind that I just skimmed through them.

On the reading rules from >196 Jackie_K:, >197 Robertgreaves: I know I make my own rules. And I count each separate book in an omnibus as one. But I couldn't split a chunkster into two books. That would feel like cheating on myself.

235Jackie_K
Apr 10, 11:11am Top

>231 rabbitprincess: >232 Robertgreaves: >233 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Thank you all - my mind is made up now thanks to everyone's feedback, I'll just carry on doing what I'm doing and not worry about missing out :)

>234 connie53: I would totally skim 35 unread posts, Connie, don't worry about it! I think you're right - I couldn't split a chunkster into two books either, for counting purposes (even though it might feel like two or more, hence my original moan!). I have (just once, I think), counted two books as one though, as they were ebooks and loads shorter than I'd realised when I'd downloaded them (only about 10 pages each!), so I felt guilty counting them as two ROOTS (they were both by the same author).

ROOT #23



This book, like the last one, was read for this month's Non-Fiction challenge (this month is history). This is yet another of the University of Chicago Press free ebooks, from a few years ago, Simon Kitson's The Hunt for Nazi Spies: Fighting Espionage in Vichy France. As a random aside, the translator is also credited on the front of the book, but it seems a really strange setup - the author is a British academic (lecturing in French), and originally wrote the book in French for a French audience. When it came to be published for an English-speaking audience, it was initially translated back into English by Catherine Tihanyi, who as far as I can make out is French, and her name is included on the front page, although the author subsequently revised the translation prior to publication. It just seems a bit of a strange way of doing it, as all the translators I know are adamant that they only translate into their native language, from the foreign language they know, rather than this way round. Anyway, that's an aside - I've no idea why it happened that way. It certainly didn't read like a translation, so that was good anyway!

As the title suggests, the book is looking at the work of the intelligence service of wartime Vichy France. Although the Vichy government was officially collaborating with the Germans, they maintained an intelligence service and much of this service's activity was focused on rooting out German spies (breaking the terms of the armistice with Germany). Having said that, the service also focused on Allied and Gaullist spies too, and what I think the book was particularly good at was showing the tension and nuances of the Vichy position. Just because it was officially collaborating with Germany it didn't necessarily follow that the Vichy government was sitting back and doing the Germans' work for them (although that was increasingly the case the longer the war went on, it seems to me), and they were keen to continue to ensure French sovereignty, hence targeting German spies. However, just because they were pursuing German spies it didn't necessarily follow that they were all anti-German and pro-Allies - the book shows a lot of evidence that they were really not fans of the Brits at all, and were also working to undermine the British intelligence officers (that's something I'd be interested in reading more about; it's only really touched on briefly here). In the introduction the author makes the point that a number of historians advised against looking at this subject, as the accepted version of events was that Vichy was pro-Nazi and supported collaboration with the Nazi regime, so writing about their efforts to undermine German spies could be viewed as being an apologist for a pro-Nazi government. I think he does a good job here of showing that it just wasn't that simple - there were push-pull forces in all directions, both pro-collaboration and pro-sovereignty, pro-pursuing Nazi spies but also anti-Brit/Allies. Overall this was a good introduction to a subject I knew next to nothing about; the writing was a bit dry but it wasn't ever dull. 3.5/5.

236Jackie_K
Edited: Apr 13, 3:40pm Top

ROOT #24



Susan Gal & Gail Kligman's edited volume, Reproducing Gender: Politics, Publics, and Everyday Life after Socialism brings me exactly half-way to my reading goal for the year. This is a book I've owned for a long time, Gail Kligman is one of my academic heroines, and I cited a couple of chapters from this book in my PhD. I always meant to get back to it and read the whole thing, but have only now managed it. Each chapter represents a piece of research in several central/east European countries looking at gender, reproduction, and politics after the end of communist rule, covering issues such as abortion and reproductive policy, media representation, women in politics, women's movements and organisations. They were all fascinating, although I did feel that a few of the chapters were a little too ambitious and tried to include too much. Other than the two chapters on Romania, which I already knew, I particularly liked the chapters on Hungary and Serbia and found them interesting and well-written. The editors have also written another book which accompanies this volume, expanding on the various issues that they had drawn out from this project, I hope I can get to that sooner rather than later (again, it's one that I have read some of but not managed it all). Reading this book made me nostalgic for my former research. Although this is quite an old book in academic terms (it was published in 2000) it's still relevant. 4/5.

237floremolla
Apr 13, 4:58pm Top

>236 Jackie_K: a worthy subject, and a good one to mark your halfway mark for the year, well done!

238Jackie_K
Edited: Apr 14, 12:15pm Top

>237 floremolla: It was, and I have another similar one next up to start (the one I just finished was for my sexual/repro health/gender category, the next one is for my academic category, but given that my academic study was in sexual/repro health and gender in eastern Europe, they all could have been drawn out of the Jar of Fate for any of those three categories! (ie SRH/gender, eastern Europe, or academic)).

I have a very nice dilemma at the moment. I have a £5 amazon voucher coming my way next week (from having filled in a load of surveys), and I decided that I would choose a book from my wishlist that is between £5-7, so that it technically still falls in my £2 or less goal for spending. I have whittled it down to a shortlist of 9, but honestly - I just want them all! I am definitely only going to get one of them (my TBR total is currently 400, but I should finish my ER book in the next couple of days, by which time I will be close to receiving the voucher, so I shouldn't go over the 400 mark), but I honestly don't know how to choose between them! It's a really nice dilemma to have though :)

The shortlist, for what it's worth (and if I don't decide tonight I will want to come back to this later):

* Double Cross: the True Story of the D-Day Spies - BB after several people on my Category Challenge thread recommended it after I'd read and posted about Spies, Sadists and Sorcerers. Real life unexpected derring-do.
* The Hate U Give - highly recommended by lots of my fb friends, topical too.
* The Life of a Scilly Sergeant - BB from rabbitprincess, also I used to follow his facebook page which was brilliant.
* Common Ground - shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize 2016 - I'm yet to meet a Wainwright nominee I didn't love.
* The Means of Reproduction - topical, political, my academic area of interest. I think this was a BB, but I can't remember who from.
* A Gentleman in Moscow - BB from lots of people, including karenmarie.
* This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor - Doctor turned stand-up comedian, professional interest, highly recommended.
* Being Mortal - BB from loads of people.
* Lost in Translation: an Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words - language nerdiness, beautiful pictures.

How on earth do I choose between them?!

239Lisa805
Apr 14, 9:45pm Top

>238 Jackie_K: A nice book related problem to have, Jackie! I really liked A Gentleman in Moscow. :-)

240Jackie_K
Edited: Apr 15, 7:26am Top

>239 Lisa805: It is indeed! I'm still as undecided now as I was last night though!

ROOT #25



I received this ARC (epub version) through the Library Thing Early Reviewers programme - thank you very much to the author and publisher.

The essays forming this collection were mainly written between 2014-17, primarily on the site Chronicle Vitae, after the author had decided to leave academia and the hunt for tenure (NB she is writing from an American context; however all the essays seem very relevant to me in the UK context). As someone in a very similar position (though by no means as impressive!) as her, I was already pretty pre-disposed favourably towards this book, but she certainly didn't disappoint. The book is in three parts - "It's Personal", introducing the general issues around sexism in academia, "Academic Labors and Their Discontents", primarily focusing on the reality of academic precarity and the reliance on short-term and insecure contracts, and "Sexism, Up Close and Personal", which focuses more on the author's personal experiences. I pretty much nodded my head through the whole book, but the third section (whilst detailing much worse than I ever experienced, and as the author herself admits, she experienced much less than many academic women in the public domain, particularly women of colour) was what raised this to a 5 star read for me. Angry, thoughtful, hopeful, and offering thoughts about how academia (and life in general) doesn't have to be this way.

Nothing in this book will come as any surprise to any woman in academia, especially one who has any kind of public profile. However, putting it all together in one place really crystallises the extent of the issues, and I think this would make a great book to organise thinking about how to not just mend but revolutionise the system. It will also be a great book to show those colleagues and folk in wider society who simply have no idea what it is really like every day for women in academia. A fantastic read. 5/5.

241detailmuse
Apr 15, 10:08am Top

Jackie, your professional areas are reminding me of a good friend, the late Dr. Karen Polonko ... your interests, if not your actual persons, have undoubtedly intersected. The Means of Reproduction BB might be from me -- very good but likely not much new to you. Being Mortal is incredibly important and readable, and I too am interested in The Hate U Give. This Is Going to Hurt sounds fun!

242Jackie_K
Apr 15, 2:05pm Top

>241 detailmuse: Thank you, MJ - I hadn't come across your friend, but googled her and yes I think that we would have had a lot of interests in common. I'm so sorry for your loss, she sounded from the obituaries I read like a lovely person and a fine scholar and teacher.

I have literally just 5 minutes ago had an epiphany about my book-acquiring conundrum in >238 Jackie_K: Every single time I look at the list I just want them all and can't whittle them down to one, so I imagined myself with closed eyes and a pin just aiming at the list and seeing where it landed (except that I wouldn't do that to my computer screen!). And then I thought, hang on just a minute, why don't I put the titles in a box and pull one out? It would be like a Jar of Fate! And now I am actually laughing at myself, because I can't believe that I of all people didn't think of that before. Hee hee :D

243rabbitprincess
Apr 15, 2:23pm Top

>242 Jackie_K: Brilliant! Jar of Fate: The Sequel! ;)

I use a random number generator sometimes to help me decide what book to request next from the library or to read on Serial Reader; it helps that I keep my TBR list and Serial Reader "read later" list in an Excel spreadsheet.

244detailmuse
Apr 15, 2:42pm Top

Thanks Jackie, and >242 Jackie_K:, >243 rabbitprincess: haha!

245Jackie_K
Apr 16, 4:40am Top

In the end I put them all on a slip of paper and got my daughter to pick one out. So, when the voucher finally arrives in my inbox, I will be getting Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World. Good choice! :)

246detailmuse
Apr 16, 11:12am Top

>245 Jackie_K: sounds like a lot of fun, perfect for a reward voucher!

247MissWatson
Apr 17, 3:57am Top

>245 Jackie_K: What an ingenious solution!

248floremolla
Apr 17, 4:37am Top

>245 Jackie_K: great idea to involve your daughter - a valuable lesson that you can't have all you want and sometimes have to choose just one thing!

249Jackie_K
Apr 17, 4:44am Top

>246 detailmuse: >247 MissWatson: >248 floremolla: It worked well. I've been quite disciplined with the Jar of Fate, but did think I might try again if I didn't love the first title I pulled out, that's why I got her to do it! I'm now being very impatient waiting for the voucher to arrive (I ordered it on Friday, and they said 3-5 working days).

250Jackie_K
Apr 17, 8:17am Top

ROOT #26



Wen Stephenson's What We're Fighting for Now is Each Other: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Climate Justice is a rallying call to radical action in the face of catastrophic climate change. Stephenson is a journalist and activist, and this book features interviews with a number of climate justice activists mainly between 2012-2014. It was inspiring, compelling, encouraging and urgent. The author makes clear how the issue of climate change intersects with other social justice issues of the day - poverty, race, class - and how you can't tackle one without the others. I really liked how he talked to grass roots activists, not just big names, and also how he showed how many people of faith were involved in this struggle (it is really easy, particularly from this distance, to see American Christianity as just synonymous with right-wing, conservative, Republican voices who are predominant in the media. This book shows that the picture is much more varied than that, and I am glad). It's also given me a number of authors that I would like to read more of (particularly Bill McKibben, but I'd also like to go back to the older stuff by Wendell Berry), and challenged me to think about what am I doing for the future of the planet and the future of my child and her generation. Turning off unused lights and using Bags for Life isn't going to be enough.

There were some points where I felt the book was a bit rambling and less well focused, but overall this was a fine call to thoughtful action, and to creatively finding ways to speak truth to power and challenge the status quo. 4/5.

251karenmarie
Apr 17, 8:19am Top

Hi Jackie! I haven’t visited in a while because I am Treasurer of our Friends of the Library and we had our semi-annual book sale April 12-14. Lots of prep work beforehand, there the entire sale, and Sunday deposit prep, reporting, and etc.

I’m not being a good ROOTer right now – I acquired …. ah… 87 books at the sale over three days. This doesn't count the 15 books I bought for my daughter. I know! I know! But I was there the whole time, the first two hours as a customer then a worker browsing the shelves to help straighten/ consolidate, and books just sort of chose me. I have made a resolution to stick to my no double-stacking rule and will cull other unread books from the Library if I can’t get them all in with spines visible. I’m afraid that will mean some serious culling…..

>229 floremolla: Late, but my two cents: I don't have anything to compare LT to. I've never tried GR although I've often looked at reviews and chats about books that interest me. I only have time for one book/reading app! Ditto. I looked at Goodreads at one point after being here on LT, but I like the top-down approach here and not feeling I am in the middle of something on the opening page. I’ve always been a deductive-approach person vs an inductive-approach person, and it has filtered into pretty much everything I like and do.

>238 Jackie_K: I was going to go with what’s your lucky or favorite number and then choose the book that corresponds, but the Jar of Fate the Sequel with the unbiased chooser is perfect.

I hope your book arrives soon.

252Jackie_K
Apr 17, 9:58am Top

>251 karenmarie: Oh my goodness, Karen! Part of me is needing to lie down in a dark room at the thought of 87 new acquisitions, and part of me is thinking "that sounds awesome"! I bet you got some crackers in there.

The library sale seems to be much more of a thing in America, I think. I've never really come across it here, although a church I used to go to in Glasgow would have an annual book sale for Christian Aid week which always attracted a massive amount of donations - that's the closest I've seen here to a big voluntary book sale like your FoL sale. In my local library they have a trolley with books that they don't want to display any more for sale for 20p each, but that's all. I did buy one last year (the 3rd volume of the Outlander series - I have the first one on my kobo as I saw it for a low price and thought I'd give it a go as it was cheap, I've not read it yet but figure if I don't like it then I won't be upset that I still have another volume as I only paid 20p for it. And if I do like it, brilliant I got a great volume for 20p!). When I looked at it the other week though there was nothing I fancied at all.

The voucher arrived in my inbox this lunchtime, so I went straight to amazon and the book is supposedly being delivered tomorrow. Happy me :)

253connie53
Apr 18, 1:17am Top

254Jackie_K
Apr 19, 4:46am Top

ROOT #27



ROOT #6 for April, #27 for the year, was the aforementioned Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders. It arrived yesterday, and was so irresistible that I read it all in one go (so I have the added benefit of not adding to my net total of TBRs). The author has taken 50 brilliant words from various languages around the world which don't have an equivalent in English, and has both explained what they mean and beautifully illustrated them. Some of them I had actually heard of before, including my favourite, the Japanese word "Tsundoku", or "leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with unread books", which of course nobody here would relate to at all, would they? ;)

My only slight criticism is that sometimes the writing merged in with the illustration in such a way that it made it a bit hard to read in places, and the font and colours used for the author's comment on the word and its meaning would have been, I imagine, really difficult for someone with dyslexia or Irlen's or similar conditions to read comfortably (white writing on a not sufficiently dark background).

This is only my 3rd paper book of the year - mostly I've acquired ebooks - but is one book where I'd definitely recommend getting the hardback copy, as it's basically an entire sensory experience. Not only the words and illustrations are beautiful, but the feel of the hard cover, the colours of the illustrations, and the smell of the paper were all stunning. 4.5/5.

255floremolla
Apr 19, 5:48am Top

>254 Jackie_K: well done on not adding to the TBR pile. I like how Tsundoku sounds like tsunami - visions of being swept away by a wave of unread books...

I shall add this to my wishlist - sounds good and I can think of several friends who would enjoy it as a gift.

256Jackie_K
Apr 19, 6:27am Top

>255 floremolla: Yes, as I was reading it I was thinking "ooh, X would love this". And then "ooh, so would Y". Etc etc. It would be another good 'downstairs small room' book, but much more beautiful than the average loo read!

Haha, a tsunami of unread books. Imagine such a thing! ;)

257detailmuse
Apr 19, 8:48am Top

>254 Jackie_K: What a fun experience, from voucher to book! Onto the wishlist.

>255 floremolla: excellent - tsunami!

258Jackie_K
Edited: Apr 21, 5:03pm Top

Non-ROOT completed



April's library book, Chris Leslie's Disappearing Glasgow: A Photographic Journey is a beautiful, gritty book detailing the last days of six of Glasgow's notorious housing schemes. Atmospheric photos, interspersed with commentary from academics, architects and writers, and each one is introduced by the author including interviews with past and more recent residents. I used to work with families in similar blocks in different parts of Glasgow (not these particular ones) and recognised so much. This is an important collection detailing a past and an urban landscape which is fast disappearing. Unsentimental, but thoughtful, respectful and never mawkish. I loved it. 4.5/5.

In other news, I've just discovered that kobo has the other 4 of the Thursday Next series that I don't have at 99p each. And I've only got wiggle room to get 2 of them, if I don't want to crack the 400 TBR total. Can I finish 2 more ROOTs before the prices go up again, I wonder? :)

259detailmuse
Apr 21, 5:28pm Top

>258 Jackie_K: Wow, I am enormously interested in and devastated by architecture/society/etc in decline -- for example in urban areas like Detroit, Michigan, or closed psychiatric facilities or shopping malls in cities everywhere. I suspect I would love Disappearing Glasgow, I recently acquired a similar volume, High-Risers, about Chicago's Cabrini Green housing complex.

260connie53
Apr 22, 2:23am Top

>254 Jackie_K: Now I'm curious! Were there any Dutch words in it?

261Jackie_K
Apr 22, 5:56am Top

>259 detailmuse: I think you would like Disappearing Glasgow if you could get hold of it. The schemes in the book have all been demolished now. One of the people who contributed a written piece to the book was talking about how Glasgow has form in demolishing/dismantling its past rather than preserving it (eg previously a lot of the industrial heritage was demolished to make way for the high-rises, which are now themselves being demolished). It was really interesting, and managed to convey so much.

>260 connie53: Yes, there were a couple of Dutch words (I didn't want to highlight any words of languages spoken by folk here in case the translation turned out to be wrong, lol). They were: Gezellig and Struisvogelpolitiek.

In terms of my dilemma at the end of post >258 Jackie_K:, I've decided for now to just get one of the books. I already have nos 1, 2 and 4 in the series (there are 7 in total) so I am getting #3 today so that if I want to have a read-through I can at least continue to do it in order. Depending on reading progress (and other tempting special offers!) I may get some of the others soon if they are still on offer. Otherwise, I'm sure they'll be offered at a low price again at some point.

262connie53
Apr 22, 8:04am Top

Gezellig. That's when it's cosy, friendly and just fine. It can be a room or a party or people.

Struisvogelpolitiek: that's when politicians just ignore a problem like an ostrich sticks it's head in the sand and thinks: If I can't see a problem, the problem does not exists.

Nice.

263rabbitprincess
Apr 22, 8:29am Top

>262 connie53: There's a restaurant in my city called Gezellig! I imagine your definition is the vibe they are going for :)

264karenmarie
Apr 22, 8:38am Top

Hi Jackie!

>253 connie53: I know, I know, but.... *happy dance* - I finally got them all cataloged and they all fit onto shelves, without double stacking, in the Library. I will cull some this year.

>261 Jackie_K: Good resolution - getting #3 for now. The older I get the more I 'need' to read a series in order.

265MissWatson
Apr 22, 10:12am Top

>261 Jackie_K: >262 connie53: Interesting. We have Struisvogelpolitik in German, too, where it is Vogel-Strauß-Politik.

266connie53
Apr 22, 2:11pm Top

>263 rabbitprincess: I think you are right, RP

267Jackie_K
Edited: Apr 22, 3:53pm Top

>262 connie53: Oh good, so at least I know the Dutch translations are correct! :D

>263 rabbitprincess: I like the sound of that. I wonder if they (as I suspect the author of the book) decided to go for Gezellig rather than the Danish hygge, as hygge is a bit over-done these days!

>264 karenmarie: I'm the same with series, usually - I don't know if it's age, I've always been the same! It makes me twitch if I read out of order (which actually I am going to do for one of my new Jar of Fate books, where I have books 1 and 4 in the series, and am going to read #4 - but I think from reading around about them that they are more stand-alone than a lot of series, so I think I'll be OK. The series is Madeleine L'Engle's Crosswicks Journals).

>265 MissWatson: The book probably features more German words than any other language (I guess that's not a surprise!), so I guess that's why she decided to go for the Dutch in this case, with virtually the same word in both languages.

268Jackie_K
Apr 26, 4:28pm Top

ROOT #28



This is another of my old free University of Chicago Press ebooks, which I picked up to start in time for May's ColourCAT (which is blue) but ended up enjoying so much I raced through it and finished it before May has even started! Joshua Blu Buhs (wonderful name, and why I chose it for this CAT) Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend is a book which outlines the various 'wildman' legends (Yeti in the Himalayas, Sasquatch in Canada and Bigfoot in the USA) and the hunts to prove or disprove them throughout the 20th century, including all the main players, and places them in the American cultural context of the time - particularly the rise of consumerism and mass-media, along with class insecurities and questioning of academic/scientific authority. I wasn't expecting to be so drawn into this, but it was actually fascinating, and I saw so many parallels with today. In particular, chapter 7 which looks at why white working-class American men in particular were so drawn to the Bigfoot myth really reminded me of articles I've read in the last year and a half trying to explain why white working-class American men were so drawn to vote for Trump; and other chapters where he talks about how evidence of extremely dubious provenance is elevated to the realms of truth - so many parallels with today's 'fake news', although this was mostly pre-internet. Later on he talks about how and why the Bigfoot believers doubted so-called experts - the scientists and academics - and were able to convince themselves that they in fact were the ones who were truly in touch with the truth, and that really reminded me of Michael Gove's "I think people are tired of experts" prior to the Brexit vote.

One thing I noticed more and more as I read through the book was that the author seemed to use the terms 'Bigfoot' and 'Sasquatch' interchangeably, and I was never really sure why. It didn't particularly detract, but was a detail which I would have liked a bit of clarity on.

Overall a surprisingly enjoyable and fascinating account which I'm really glad I read. 4.5/5.

269floremolla
Apr 26, 4:45pm Top

Interesting - I've recently been fascinated by conspiracy theories regarding the Skripal nerve agent attacks - it's just so intriguing. I guess it's in man's nature to fill in the gaps ourselves when we don't get the full facts and the more disenfranchised we are, the more we get sucked into alternative explanations :)

270Jackie_K
Edited: Apr 26, 4:50pm Top

>269 floremolla: Yes that's very true, and I think in the current climate people are ripe for alternatives, however implausible or outlandish they may be. 'Twas ever thus, it appears.

271Jackie_K
Apr 30, 12:33pm Top

It's the end of another good month for me - I read 7 ROOTs (and one non-ROOT), and acquired 8 new books (two of which I read this month). Two of my new books were freebies, and all were under my £2 limit.

Here's April's haul:

1. Kelly J Baker - Sexism Ed: Essays on Gender and Labor in Academia.
2. Tara Westover - Educated.
3. Ellen Lewin - Lesbian Mothers: Accounts of Gender in American Culture.
4. Naoki Higashida - The Reason I Jump: one boy's voice from the silence of autism.
5. Sam Kean - Caesar's Last Breath.
6. Ella Frances Sanders - Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World.
7. Jasper Fforde - The Well of Lost Plots.
8. The Unmumsy Mum/Sarah Turner - The Unmumsy Mum Diary.

I've got some good books on the go for May already, plus a couple for challenges that I'm really looking forward to starting. So hopefully May will be as good a month as April, and I can reign in the acquisitions a bit. I'm currently 4 TBRs over my Jan 1st total, and it's sitting at 399 (was 395 at the start of the year). Can I hit my target of back to 395 by June? Watch this space!

In other news, this weekend just gone I spent a very enjoyable time on a creative writing course. I have had the germ of an idea for a children's book (sort of creative non-fiction-ish) for the past year, and I ended up with a (very rough, but workable) first draft of that, which I'm pleased with, plus confirmation that it's a good idea that I should try pursuing with agents to see if I could take it further. It also got me thinking about other things I could write, and where I could pitch them. It was really interesting to me that the fictional writing prompts we were given just didn't do it for me at all, but when she left me to get on with my more non-fiction-ish idea I raced away with it. Definitely reflecting my reading habits there!

272connie53
Apr 30, 1:57pm Top

>271 Jackie_K: That writing course sounds lovely. I hope you will pursue the dream of writing a book. You go, girl!

273floremolla
Apr 30, 7:09pm Top

>271 Jackie_K: good work on the stats, Jackie - good luck with getting down to 395!

Well done finding your own voice on the writing course. Sounds an intriguing concept. Maybe if I'd been introduced to non-fiction at an early age I wouldn't be nearly phobic about it in adulthood, so good luck with it!

274Familyhistorian
May 1, 1:25am Top

That sounds like a very positive experience in your creative writing course, Jackie. A great way to start, now make sure you follow through.

275sibyx
May 1, 9:22am Top

Oh no! I wrote a whole message and then lost it somehow.

Let me think -- I love your Jar of Fate. Also that you are writing.

Re Sasquatch and Bigfoot -- I think they are interchangeable with slightly different origins as names, but both originating up in the Pacific Northwest.

276detailmuse
May 1, 4:03pm Top

>271 Jackie_K: ooh I'm more interested in getting to Educated (though I haven't allowed myself to acquire it yet!) than just about any other book right now. Was your acquisition through bookbub?

Well done on the book draft! I keep meaning to tell you that I looked at a book of Scottish poetry in my possibilities for last month, Fiere by Jackie Kay ... and wondered if Jackie_K is a published poet...?

277Jackie_K
May 1, 4:15pm Top

>276 detailmuse: Oh you have absolutely made my day, but no I'm not Jackie Kay! (I can't stop giggling at the thought, and suspect floremolla will find this amusing too!). Here's Jackie Kay's wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Kay She is a really great poet, in fact is Scotland's current Makar (which is the Scottish equivalent of the UK's Poet Laureate) - she is one of the few poets I can read and not feel completely thick.

Educated was indeed a bookbub purchase - it was on my wishlist anyway, but at £1.99 I couldn't not buy it there and then!

278karenmarie
May 1, 4:25pm Top

Hi Jackie!

Congrats on your excellent reading month and book draft.

279Lisa805
May 1, 4:31pm Top

Hi Jackie! Just a general comment, as I am just catching up reading some updates for April. Best of luck with your writing class. That sounds like a wonderful opportunity to use your self-expression and creativity!

I need to mentally file away the words Gezellig and Struisvogelpolitiek, plus their definitions. Hygge is awesome too, but the subject definitely became a little too popular during 2017.

280floremolla
May 1, 8:02pm Top

>277 Jackie_K: yes, that gave me a wee chuckle but I can see how the thought would occur!

281Jackie_K
May 2, 1:54pm Top

>272 connie53: >273 floremolla: >274 Familyhistorian: >275 sibyx: >276 detailmuse: >278 karenmarie: >279 Lisa805: Thank you for the encouragement and pleasure in me writing again! I have missed it. I have no idea if the book will be any good really (I guess I'll find out when I start pitching it to agents), but I'm enjoying being creative again. Although it's a really short book with just a couple of sentences each page, I'm way out of my comfort zone as I'm really just used to academic writing. Hopefully it won't take as long as my thesis did! :D

>276 detailmuse: >280 floremolla: I can see how the thought could occur as well, although it hadn't to me until you pointed it out! It reminded me of a guy I know called Chris Taylor, who way back in the early/mid-2000s used the user name of ChrisT on the internet (for the same reason I am JackieK - lack of imagination!), and he had all sorts of abuse from complete strangers telling him he was using the Lord's name in vain!

282Lisa805
Edited: May 2, 3:30pm Top

>281 Jackie_K: Oh my, I feel so badly for your friend, Chris! As if he could help that his last name started with a T.

Otherwise, maybe you could write a book of poetry for creative writing. Or maybe you really are Jackie Kay are desperately trying to maintain your incognito cover. (Little joke! Really.) I suspect if you were posting incognito that you'd choose a less revealing name, lol.

After reading your comments about writing, I understand how different it must feel to attempt fiction versus the usual academic writing. Maybe with practice it will eventually become second nature though, so in the meantime try to enjoy the process. Thinking back, fictional writing seemed so natural when I was young but I think school kinda extinguished that creative drive or maybe I just lost some of my vivid imagination along the way.

283detailmuse
May 3, 10:17am Top

>277 Jackie_K: haha just because 4 or 5 of her demographics maybe don't match yours? hmm plus you mentioned a poet friend... :)

284Jackie_K
May 3, 12:00pm Top

>282 Lisa805: It's sad how for so many people school suppresses rather than encourages creativity. I know I pretty much stopped reading for pleasure, never mind writing, when I was studying, from nurse training onwards (so the end of my 20s), other than book group books, until I joined this group in 2014.

>283 detailmuse: Hee hee! The poet I know is actually my brother-in-law - here's his most recent book: https://templarpoetry.com/products/the-dumbo-octopus Much as I like Jackie Kay, I don't move in such exalted company! :D

ROOT #29



My first ROOT for May, number 29 for the year, was lovely, exactly my kind of book (and, if I'm honest, exactly the kind of book I'd love to write!). Sue Hubbell's A Book of Bees explains the beekeeping year, from the perspective of the author who is a beekeeper in the Ozark mountains of Missouri (at least, she was when she wrote this). The book is split into four seasons, and she talks about the patterns of behaviour of the bees and the various tasks she needs to do at that particular time of the year, as well as being peppered with advice for people interested in starting out in beekeeping. Over the years she has really become attuned to what works best for them in that location, and this showed a lot of respect for these amazing creatures. A beautiful book. 4.5/5.

285floremolla
May 3, 7:33pm Top

>284 Jackie_K: lovely subject - there's something life-affirming about bees, maybe because they're redolent of warm summer days, as well as being vital to our ecosystems.

286Jackie_K
Edited: May 4, 7:05am Top

>285 floremolla: Yes indeed! We've had a couple of early, and very disoriented, bees in our front garden in the last month. We put out a bit of honey and water nearby for them, to try and perk them up to have the energy to fly back to the hive, but I'm not sure we were successful, as it was still pretty cold. It does give us the chance to teach A a bit about what bees do and that they're so important.

In my wild dreaming about my perfect life, there are definitely a couple of hives in there too :)

287detailmuse
May 4, 12:16pm Top

>284 Jackie_K: His collection sounds playful in form and it looks like a lovely publisher!

I would love A Book of Bees for its armchair-beekeeping.

288Lisa805
May 5, 9:59pm Top

>284 Jackie_K: That is a lovely book to begin the month of May. I don't know if I'd want to attempt beekeeping but I love watching bees buzz around our rosemary plants. :-)

289Jackie_K
May 6, 8:49am Top

>287 detailmuse: I very much enjoyed my few days of armchair beekeeping too! Lots of joy, no stings - perfect! I'd love to have a go at the real thing, although this has convinced me that I would need to spend some time with someone who already knew what they were doing to show me the ropes.

>288 Lisa805: It was lovely, and very seasonal (I chose it for the May RandomCAT challenge, which is 'Spring is all Around''). I love seeing bees out and about too, and try and help out the early ones who emerge before it's properly warm.

290Jackie_K
May 7, 4:22pm Top

Non-ROOT completed



Sue Reid Sexton's Writing on the Road: Campervan Love and the Joy of Solitude was this month's library book, and yet another Scottish book (it really wasn't my plan when I pledged a book a month from the library to be so Scottish-focused, but here we are!). The Glasgow-based author, who has published a couple of bestselling fiction books, writes about campervanning in Scotland, her writing process, and the inner life, and I'll be honest, I had high hopes for this, but I ended up disappointed. In the end, I think the book just promised more than it delivered, at least for me. It is structured in two halves, 'outer' and 'inner' (I suspect inspired by the Glasgow subway system), with the first half concentrating more on the practicalities of campervanning and travel, whilst the second half concentrates more on the process of creativity, the author's need for solitude and how she seeks it out and achieves it (or not), although the two halves are pretty porous so bits of all of those things appear throughout, along with mention of the breakdown of her marriage and the impact of that on her writing and self-awareness, and bits and bobs about Buddhism and mindfulness. On paper it is exactly the sort of book I like - lots of different strands interweaving, travel, Scotland, writing, self-reflection - but it just felt too muddled and unfocused for me, with a major case of anecdote-itis, and it ended up just not doing it for me.

I'm swithering between a rating of 2.5 and 3 stars. I'm giving it 3 for now, but might revise that.

291floremolla
Edited: May 7, 6:30pm Top

>290 Jackie_K: oh, too bad, it had potential - in fact it's surprising the author couldn't make that work with the ingredients she had! And you ended with some swithering, which is a Scottish prerogative anything we're not sure about ;)

292Jackie_K
Edited: May 10, 9:20am Top

>291 floremolla: Well indeed, the idea was great and she had lots of good material to work with, I was really disappointed!

ROOT #30



My 2nd ROOT for May, 30th for the year, is Madeleine L'Engle's Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage. Despite L'Engle being super-famous and prolific, this is in fact the first book of hers I've ever read, and oh my goodness it was wonderful. As the title suggests, it is the story of her marriage (40 years married to the actor Hugh Franklin), with a lot of focus on his final devastating illness. She goes backwards and forwards in time to an extent (so we know from pretty early on how it all ends), but this never detracts from the overall narrative, which is of a life, and marriage, well-lived. She is very open about the role of her Christian faith, but is never preachy, it's just something else that makes perfect sense in their lives. She is also very open about the indignities Hugh suffers during his cancer treatment, and pays tribute to the medical and nursing staff who went above and beyond for him (and made me proud of my profession). I thought I was going to hold it together, but I cried my way through the last two chapters. This is a beautiful book, and a well-deserved 5*.

293detailmuse
May 11, 10:33am Top

>292 Jackie_K: Sounds so meaningful. I've only read her A Wrinkle in Time. Then LT rained on me with, LibraryThing thinks you probably won't like Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage (prediction confidence: very high)

I only click the button for fun ... but when has LT ever given me very high confidence in a not-like?!

294Jackie_K
May 11, 11:26am Top

>293 detailmuse: Oh that's really funny! I don't think I've ever clicked on that button (I'm such a Luddite). I wonder why they think you won't like it?

295Jackie_K
May 11, 2:19pm Top

>293 detailmuse: So I just tried it. First of all LT said it was recommending A Wrinkle in Time based on a number of other books in my library (all of which I have starred at 3* or above). Then I tried the button, and lo and behold, LibraryThing thinks you probably won't like A Wrinkle in Time (prediction confidence: very high). I wonder if there's a(nother) glitch in the system somewhere?

296detailmuse
May 11, 4:06pm Top

It's been a long time since that button was introduced, but I remember that it is not in any way based on star-ratings. It's based on how similar my (your) library is to other libraries that have the book. So I guess my prediction does make sense, given that the comparison libraries are likely heavy with sci-fi/fantasy and mine is not ... and that probably overwhelms the memoir tag, which is big in my library but maybe not in others'.

haha So glad you tried the button!!

297Jackie_K
May 12, 9:07am Top

OK, I think that makes sense. So most people who would have A Wrinkle in Time in their library would be heavy on sci-fi/fantasy (which is almost non-existent in my library) and fiction (which I'm not short of, but I'm definitely skewing in favour of non-fic), so the chances of me having a similar library to people who love it is not very high. Interesting. The algorithms aren't yet ready to take over, apparently - they're not clever enough (yet).

298Miss_Moneypenny
May 12, 8:54pm Top

>292 Jackie_K: Oh no, a BB! I love L'Engle's Time quartet but haven't read any of her nonfiction. This is definitely going on my list!

299Jackie_K
May 13, 6:17am Top

>298 Miss_Moneypenny: I hope you enjoy it if you get to it! I'm keen to read the other 3 books in the 'Crosswicks Journals' series (this one was #4). I've got the first one already - will wait for bookbub to offer me the others at a lower price, that's how I got these two. Normally I read series in order, but I think these all cover different issues so all work as stand-alones.

I'm always a bit nervous about people taking BBs from me - in case they don't like it as much! I feel reasonably confident with this one though :)

300Jackie_K
May 13, 6:49am Top

Come and join me over on my new thread!

This topic was continued by Jackie's 5th year of ROOTing part 2.

Group: 2018 ROOT (READ OUR OWN TOMES)

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