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Ffortsa limps into another year

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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1ffortsa
Edited: May 4, 2:36pm Top

Hi, I'm Judy, and at the moment I am limping along with a brace on my leg but lots of books on the shelf. I've been a member of this fine group since July of 2009 and time really flies with all the good books and good friends I've encountered here.

My overall ticker:




The Ticker Factory didn't have any mountains, so this centipede will have to do my walking for me.




Books read so far:
1.↩ Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
2. ✗ Brussels Noir
3. @ 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
4. The Lewis Man by Peter May
5. The Old Buzzard Had It Coming by Donis Casey
6. ✔Tender (Pitt Poetry Series} by Toi Derricotte
7. ✔How To Be Alone by Jonathan Franzen
8. ✔Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
9. @The Deepest Grave by Harry Bingham
10✔@Best American Mystery Stories 2015
11. @From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
12. Involuntary Witness by Gianrico Carofiglio
13. ✔Ironweed by William Kennedy
14. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
15. Valentino and Sagittarius by Natalia Ginzburg
16. @Glass Houses by Louise Penny
17. ✔Why Do Men Have Nipples? by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg
18. ↩Death in a Strange Country by Donna Leon
19. ✔Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences by Kitty Burns Florey
20. @Treasure Hunt by Andrea Camilleri
21. ♬Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell
22. ✔Krik?Krak! by Edwidge Danticat
23. @Ratking by Michael Dibdin
24. Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs
25. ✔Woe is I by Patricia T. O'Conner
26. A Season for the Dead by David Hewson
27. @Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
28. @The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordechai Richler

Icons denote ebooks, library books, off the shelf, etc. modified from Bianca's list
♬ audiobook
✔ off the shelf
@ e-book
✿ TIOLI
↩ reread
✗ dnf

2ffortsa
Edited: Dec 27, 2017, 2:47pm Top

I have no particular plans for reading this year, but I do belong to three face-to-face reading groups, so some of the selections are made for me. Only one of them sets up a schedule of titles in advance; the others are chosen as we go.

For my newest reading group, the semester list is:

February: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
March: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
April: A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman
April: Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett
May: The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKensie

Both of my other groups are discussing Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin the first week of January, but I've already finished the book and counted it in 2017's list. One of those groups will be reading Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe for February.

That should leave some time to read from my huge TBR, and also reread some of the books I've enjoyed in the past. Where TBR and rereads coordinate with challenges, I hope to follow along.
And there is one group read I've put my name in for in January - I think it was Nicholas Nickleby. I'd better keep my eye on the Wiki!

3michigantrumpet
Dec 27, 2017, 3:13pm Top

Hey there, Judy!

Looks like you've got some solid plans for reading in 2018. A big fan of A Gentleman in Moscow. You know that party game: What character(s) from literature would you most like to have at a dinner party? Count Rostov has quickly moved onto my list.

Am interested in your eventual thoughts on Lincoln in the Bardo. Lots of glowing reviews out there. But for the folks that don't like it, they REALLY don't like it. Still
considering giving it a chance. Have heard this one is at its best in audio form.

Didn't know about the hobbled forelock. Hope you are up-and-at-'em soon.

4ffortsa
Dec 27, 2017, 3:25pm Top

>3 michigantrumpet: Hi there! and thanks for the sympathy. I managed to tear my plantar fascii - probably while at the physical therapist's place. Sigh. Maybe I'll read more this winter.

>2 ffortsa: as an addendum to my plans, I looked at my 'to read' list in LT. Some of the books don't really apply (I don't really READ cookbooks - in fact, they are there just in case I ever decide to cook.) Still, the list is at 706 and that doesn't count all the Kindle books I haven't read yet and haven't entered either. I'm going to add a TBR ticker. Clearly, visual cues are required.

5drneutron
Dec 27, 2017, 4:37pm Top

Welcome back! I really need to get to A Gentleman in Moscow...

6EBT1002
Dec 27, 2017, 4:37pm Top

7Ameise1
Dec 27, 2017, 7:03pm Top

Happy reading 2018, Judy. Sending lots of healing vibes. Dropped off a .

8katiekrug
Dec 27, 2017, 9:54pm Top

Hi Judy! Happy new reading year.

A friend and I are planning to join your book group on January 4 - Suzanne made me PROMISE - so I look forward to seeing you soon!

9libraryperilous
Dec 28, 2017, 11:36am Top

Hi, Judy, happy 2018 readings! I hope your leg heals soon.

You know how sometimes you love a book so much and reread it, but you're envious of people who get to read it for the first time? A Gentleman in Moscow is one of those for me. I hope you love it!

re: Lincoln in the Bardo, I attempted it, but I quit because it felt so much like a try-hard concept. I didn't even stick around long enough to find out if Saunders' misogyny made an appearance.

10Berly
Dec 28, 2017, 1:51pm Top

Gimpy though you may be, you deserve a star or 3!!

11thornton37814
Dec 28, 2017, 3:04pm Top

Hope your year is filled with good reads!

12Chatterbox
Dec 29, 2017, 2:33pm Top

Ouch ouch ouch ouch. My ankle sends your leg sympathy. I'm waiting for Jan 1 and my new health insurance card to see what's wrong with the damn thing at this end.

My appetite for more Defoe was whetted by our reading of Robinson Crusoe at the book circle in 2016, so I'll be curious to hear what you make of Moll Flanders. Also will be interested in your thoughts re the Saunders novel. I really find myself wavering -- did I respond mostly to the tremendously innovative style and approach? Was there something substantively new and different there? The fact that it intrigues me so much should tell me something, but my high rating still has the feel of something provisional. It's experimental in form, and I happened to really enjoy the experiment, but beyond that? Did I get far enough beyond that? I'm going to have to give it time to settle and then go back for a re-read, I think. A Horse Walks Into a Bar is on my list for 2018, too.

13ffortsa
Edited: Dec 30, 2017, 3:02pm Top

Hello everyone! I see we are all getting a jump on the new year. Thanks for the sympathy and healing vibes. I'll take it all. Jim is being extra helpful, the sweetie.

>8 katiekrug: Having you in the group will be lots of fun. There will be wine. See you Thursday!

14SuziQoregon
Dec 30, 2017, 3:58pm Top

Dropping off a star and wishing you healing and happy reading in 2018

15ffortsa
Dec 30, 2017, 7:59pm Top

Going through the 2017 threads has once again taught me that it is impossible to keep up. Too many comments to read, too many lovely, funny, interesting people to keep up with. I'll try something else this year, maybe just dipping my toes in each day without trying to read from where I left off on each thread. Please don't feel ignored if I don't keep up.

I'll probably check back this weekend to round out the year - then it's on to 2018.

16FAMeulstee
Dec 31, 2017, 11:54am Top

Happy reading in 2018, Judy, sending healing vibes for your ankle.

17The_Hibernator
Dec 31, 2017, 12:22pm Top



Happy New Year! I wish you to read many good books in 2018.

18cameling
Dec 31, 2017, 4:08pm Top

Happy new year, Judy. Starred you. We're planning to spend a couple of weeks in your 'hood' later in the year. I'll let you know when our dates are a bit more firmed up and hopefully you and Jim will both be in town while we're there. I'm thinking of timing it around the Brooklyn BF. :-)

19ffortsa
Dec 31, 2017, 4:54pm Top

Oh, we should be here in September for the BFF. Will we see you in Williamstown in the summer?

20Ameise1
Dec 31, 2017, 5:04pm Top


view from Zürich's landmark mountain Üetliberg

21PaulCranswick
Jan 1, 3:58am Top



Happy New Year
Happy New Group here
This place is full of friends
I hope it never ends
It brew of erudition and good cheer.

22karenmarie
Jan 1, 7:23am Top

Hi Judy!

Lincoln in the Bardo and A Gentleman in Moscow were two of my top reads in 2017, so I hope you enjoy them.

You did express interest in Nicholas Nickleby, and if you want to participate, the thread is here. Several people wanted it in January, so off we go! Nicholas Nickleby Group Read

23ffortsa
Jan 1, 11:51am Top

Thanks, Karen. I thought I'd announced myself there already, but not the case. So thanks for the heads-up. My volume is in my storage locker, one of a set of 30 Dickens from somewhere around 1940, given to my mother as a rather peculiar engagement gift. Money would have been so much more useful, and predictably, she HATED Dickens! But they are all mine now.

24cameling
Jan 1, 11:52am Top

>19 ffortsa: The Swensen Eight must surely gather for our annual summer meetup or surely the world will implode.

25ffortsa
Jan 1, 11:54am Top

>24 cameling: My fears exactly!

26Whisper1
Jan 1, 12:20pm Top

Hi Judy! I hope 2018 is a wonderful year for you. I look forward to stopping by to see what you are reading. I note that one of your book clubs is scheduled to read Lincoln in the Bardo. I'll be anxious to learn of your thoughts about this one. I read it and still don't know how to feel about it.

27_Zoe_
Jan 1, 12:53pm Top

Happy new year! I hope you make a quick recovery.

28Berly
Jan 1, 1:02pm Top



Happy 2018!!

29jnwelch
Jan 1, 2:27pm Top

Happy 2018, Judy! I'm looking forward to our having more fun times on LT this year.

30SuziQoregon
Jan 1, 3:45pm Top



Here's to good books, good conversation and good friends!

31LauraBrook
Jan 2, 11:58am Top

Hi Judy! Happy New Year, and hope your reading is nothing short of fantastic in 2018. :)

32banjo123
Jan 2, 8:59pm Top

Happy New year! I hope your leg is better soon, and lots of good reading in 2018!

33magicians_nephew
Edited: Jan 3, 9:11am Top

Second Star to the right and Straight on until morning!

34LizzieD
Edited: Jan 25, 6:20pm Top

From my leg to yours: "Let's be nice to the poor old dears!" Well, at least I'm a poor old dear with my sciatic nerve screaming from a 73 year old, osteoporosic back.
Mark me down as a *Gentleman* lover. *Bardo* for me was memorable but not wonderful. I don't think people will be reading it in 15 years.
Anyway, cheers to you for the new year! Take care of yourself and thanks to Jim for being who he is!

35magicians_nephew
Edited: Jan 3, 12:22pm Top

>24 cameling: the Swenson Eight? sounds like a rowing squad.



Picturing Caro in the bows with a megaphone shouting "Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!" to John Edd Rich and Me.

36BLBera
Jan 3, 2:14pm Top

Hi Judy - Happy New Year. I hope your foot/leg is getting better.

37arubabookwoman
Jan 3, 3:25pm Top

Hi Judy--I hope your foot heals quickly--it's very hard to get around in NY without a good pair of feet.

Our 4th child will be moving to NYC at the end of the month to start a new job. Now 4 of the 5 are living in NY. Our plan now is to retire to the east coast somewhere in a couple of years (unfortunately not NY--too expensive). Right now trips are planned for Memorial Day Week and Labor Day Week.

38ffortsa
Jan 3, 6:55pm Top

>37 arubabookwoman: How nice! I imagine with four offspring in New York, you won't have much time available, but I would suggest, if you could manage it, a meetup. Suzanne (Chatterbox) is often in town and might give you some info on Providence, where she now lives. Katie (KatieKrug) has moved to a near-in suburb in New Jersey, the name of which escapes me now, but she is always up for a meeting. And there are others in the area. Let me now when you're in town, and if you can wangle the time.

>35 magicians_nephew: Hey, what about me? Humph.

39ffortsa
Edited: Jan 4, 2:23pm Top

So, I know it's redundant, but I need to organize January.

Due Feb. 6 - Moll Flanders, for my downtown reading group, to be acquired

Due Feb. 8 - A Gentleman in Moscow, for my new titles reading group, to be acquired

Due some time in February, for my uptown group, an unknown title.

LT Group read of Nicholas Nickleby if I can slip it in, in storage.

And of course, I'm reading something entirely different, Brussels Noir, just because it was right here on the shelf. It might even have been an ER title. Hm.
eta: Yep. And I just won Prague Noir as well!

eta: I forgot about the Donna Leon reread - Death at La Fenice

40ELiz_M
Jan 4, 7:59am Top

>38 ffortsa: ~waves hand~ me too, me too!

41ffortsa
Jan 4, 8:56am Top

>40 ELiz_M: you are definitely on the invitation list!

And happy New Year, of course!

42ffortsa
Jan 4, 6:57pm Top

Today's project: look at everyone's starting thread, just to find out who we all are. why? Don't know. I just wanted to do it.

We were supposed to have a book circle meeting uptown today, but the snow gods willed otherwise. Normally I LOVE the snow, but with an open-toed walking brace, I didn't think it was the best idea to try the subway stairs. Others seem to have had similar reasons to stay warm and dry. Maybe we'll try again later in the month.

So now, I can read!

43Oregonreader
Jan 4, 11:31pm Top

Judy, Happy New Year to you and I hope you are healing well. It looks like you have a great reading agenda for 2018.

>3 michigantrumpet: I'm another one who loved *The Gentleman* and Count Rostov has a permanent invitation!

44ffortsa
Jan 5, 9:51pm Top

One grumpy note and I'm off. I have spent the ENTIRE AFTERNOON struggling with my computer, trying to

1. see my recently downloaded audiobooks on iTunes, then
2. install the newest version of iTunes, then
3. talk to Apple about why it wouldn't install, which the technician couldn't help me with because he 'didn't know anything about PCs', then
4. talk to Microsoft, for a long time, only to conclude that it was an Apple problem, then
5. decide to back up my files before taking the machine in to Staples, only to find that I'd forgotten my password to my backup drive so I had to
6. erase my backup drive and reinstall the software and then
7. back up all my files.

While all this was happening, I downloaded the audio to my old Kindle Touch, which still has audio, I hope (haven't checked yet). I could probably download it to my tablet as well. And since I'm not walking while listening these days (another grump), either option should be ok. For now.

At least Jim and I cooked a very nice dinner that even looked like the dinner pictured in the recipe.

Maybe I'll have a brainstorm overnight and not have to take my machine to Staples or Microsoft after all. Grump grump grump.

45karenmarie
Jan 6, 9:26am Top

Hi Judy!

Technology woes - one step forward, two steps back. Technology woes across vendors are infinitely worse and I am sorry you're going through them.

At least you had a nice dinner, as you said!

46RebaRelishesReading
Jan 6, 12:49pm Top

There is almost nothing that irritates me more than computer trouble!! Fortunately, there is an Apple store just a mile from home so I can (fairly) easily take my troubles there for help but still...I just hate it.

47katiekrug
Jan 6, 3:35pm Top

I hope today has been an improvement over yesterday!

48ffortsa
Edited: Jan 8, 1:24pm Top

Today was quite nice. I studiously ignored the computer. Jim and I braved the cold to see the mummies at the Museum of Natural History, where we have a membership but rarely go. The Egyptian mummies didnt hold many surprises for me, except for the large number of animals sent along for the ride or as favored by the gods. The Peruvian mummies were a bit more interesting, and quite different.

For a while, it was freezing in our apartment when wegot home.

And i finally started Moll Flanders.

Eta well, I left that hanging! Sunday we saw the NTLive production of 'Young Marx' with Rory Kinnear, I picked up Death at La Fenice at the library, and this morning the temperature is above 20! Woohoo!

49qebo
Jan 7, 9:43am Top

>44 ffortsa: struggling with my computer... 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Oh fun. Start with one simple thing...

50SuziQoregon
Jan 7, 12:02pm Top

>44 ffortsa: What a frustrating day. I find that most things involving iTunes end up being frustrating.

Good to hear yestreday was a better day.

51ffortsa
Jan 8, 1:25pm Top

1. Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon

This was a reread for the Two Guidos challenge, and a very welcome visit to a mystery I had totally forgotten. I think the series gets better, deeper as it progresses, but this is a good first.

52libraryperilous
Jan 8, 3:24pm Top

>44 ffortsa: I don't think food that looks like the photo is a thing that ever will happen to me. Congrats on your Kodak moment!

53EBT1002
Jan 8, 5:27pm Top

I should investigate the Two Guidos challenge. I've read a handful of Donna Leons but I haven't read the other author at all.

54ffortsa
Jan 8, 6:03pm Top

>53 EBT1002: Me either. I finally had to order a used copy, because my library only has his work in the non-circulating collection. I suppose I could have gone to the main library to read it, but I'd rather be comfy.

55ffortsa
Jan 9, 6:37pm Top

Ah, the honeymoons get shorter and shorter. I've been dumped from my newest book discussion group, the one reading new books. Evidently I was not compatible with the members in charge of vetting newbies, probably because I expressed my opinions avidly while most of them sat like lumps or made, shall we say, more obvious remarks. I do tend to get my two cents in.

No matter. I can read the books myself and save the scheduling. The mentor who wrote the email sounded a bit rueful and told me she mentors other groups that might have openings, but I think I'm busy enough.

In the meantime I'm reading another Akashic publication, Brussels Noir, and I can't say it's encouraging me to visit the city. The stories are sometimes dystopian, sometimes fantastical, many of them deeply involved in getting drunk. I'm about half-way through now. Maybe the themes will broaden. But the feeling of Europe under siege is very strong.

Definitely a slow reading start to the year, but I have a trip scheduled for San Antonio later in the week (anyone in the 75ers in that area?), and between the airport, the flight, and my sister's tendency to read more than I do, I'll have time to read on.

56qebo
Jan 9, 6:43pm Top

>55 ffortsa: Oh dear. What opinions did you express?

57katiekrug
Jan 9, 9:53pm Top

>55 ffortsa: - Um, ew. That is just not well done at all. What was this group and who died and put them in charge?

58BLBera
Jan 9, 10:19pm Top

Sorry about the computer woes, Judy.

How is the foot?

That is terrible about the book group. I mean, don't people go to discuss?

59jnwelch
Jan 10, 8:35am Top

Agreed - I've never heard of that with a book group. I could see someone being dumped for never reading the book, I guess, but not for reading and contributing like you did. Crazy.

60_Zoe_
Jan 10, 8:39am Top

>55 ffortsa: That's ridiculous! But it sounds like the group wasn't worth your time anyway.

61ffortsa
Jan 10, 9:59am Top

Thanks for the support, y'all. According to further correspondence with the leader, who is a professor at NYU, I seem to have been too much of an intellect for some of them. Some people don't want to dig too deeply into a work of fiction. I think this happened with Here I Am with all its biblical references, father-son overlaps, etc.

Well, too bad. I'm thinking of asking this prof which branch of City University to put my audit money down for, since real college courses tend to be more rigorous - or at least I hope so. In the meantime, I've got plenty to do.

I postponed my trip to San Antonio until February, after listening to my sister's post-flu cough and exhaustion. Instead of staying at her place, I'll be joining her at a knitting retreat in the country. Sounds great to me - and no cats to sneeze at.

And, I'm about to DNF the Brussels Noir book. Too much dystopia for me. Anyone want to read about the nightmares of the city? The book is available.

62rosalita
Jan 10, 10:03am Top

>55 ffortsa: Ooof, it certainly sounds like you're better off not wasting your time with that bunch. It sounds like it might be one of those groups for people who want to say they are in a book club but don't want to actually think about books. They don't deserve you!

63jnwelch
Jan 10, 1:13pm Top

Hear, hear!

64RebaRelishesReading
Jan 10, 1:30pm Top

A book group that "vets" -- really?!? Don't think I'd want to be involved with them.

65karenmarie
Jan 12, 8:34am Top

Wow, dumped by a book club for being too intellectual. It's flattering, in a left-handed compliment sort of way.

66ffortsa
Jan 12, 10:18am Top

>65 karenmarie: Yep, it was. Then I got all excited about Berly's class on Octavia Butler, more in depth than a book club would be, and I began to look around NYC. Aside from the audit option at the various City colleges, there's a new organization I wasn't aware of, named Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, that was started about 4 years ago to provide inexpensive classes taught by accredited academics on an ad hoc basis at various venues. Good for the academics, as they get paid, and good for the students, as they pay not so very much. Who knew? I plan to investigate.

67ffortsa
Edited: Jan 12, 10:45am Top

Thanks to mdoris on Ellen's thread for the link to a really interesting Andrew Wyeth documentary here

I watched it yesterday afternoon. After that, Jim and I went to a talk at the New York Historical Society on Presidential Powers - somewhat less than interesting, as everyone seemed to want to know how to get rid of 45, and I was more interested in the history of the office. Oh well.

68SuziQoregon
Jan 12, 2:49pm Top

Sounds like you're better off without that book group. I once quit a book group after the leader told me my opinion was wrong.

That knitting retreat with your sister sounds awesome.

69ffortsa
Edited: Jan 14, 9:46pm Top

I'm deep into Moll Flanders, but I've been reading threads more than books this weekend. Hm, friends or books? I just received Prague Noir as an ER book, so maybe I should actually read something.

Almost finished with the playbills, less than 20 of Jim's fill-ins to go. I might buy a copy of the playbill of 'Private Lives' with Maggie Smith and John Standing, from about 1976, as I can't find my copy. The best of several productions I've seen, hands down. And just look at her!



70karenmarie
Jan 15, 7:57am Top

Hi Judy!

Gorgeous photo of Dame Maggie.

71ffortsa
Jan 16, 12:42pm Top

2. Brussels Noir

As I said above, this is a DNF for me. I may go back to it sometime later, but other, less nasty books are calling. As it's an ER, I'll post a review anyway.

72ffortsa
Jan 18, 10:32am Top

3. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

I'm sort of allergic to self-help books. But once in a while I indulge in one that purports to show me a way of taking control of the way I spend my time. This one isn't bad.

Vanderkam wrote this after establishing a blog about using your time effectively, and of course it starts with the kind of exercise that brings out my hives: List 100 things you want to do with your time. I immediately resist, although it would undoubtedly make me think of all those things I think I want to do but don't explore. The second exercise is more useful to me - keep a time log. It's the kind of no-brainer my brain tends to avoid, but it can be amazingly useful. For instance, do I really want to spend the first hour and a half of my day surfing Facebook and playing Words With Friends before I even brush my teeth? Maybe it's not the most helpful way to energize my morning.

The book itself is in some ways an exhortation to use your time mindfully, even if you have a tough job or a houseful of kids. It doesn't directly address the vast time field of the newly retired, but I can adapt the message. I think.

73ffortsa
Jan 18, 10:37am Top

Short report from my trip to the orthopedist. First, I like this guy a lot. He talked about how the devils Krishna kills and eats go directly to heaven because they've accomplished their mission. I'm not exactly sure of how this relates to what he said he wouldn't ever do (cut the ligament, as used to be best practice), or what he said I should do (wean myself slowly from the walking brace and then start physical therapy again), but he is delightful. The weaning should take two weeks, and I see him again in five weeks. Any unexpected problems, and I go back earlier. Sounds ok to me. If all works well, that should set me up to start my longish walks again by April.

74karenmarie
Jan 18, 10:59am Top

Your doctor sounds wonderful, Judy. Always excepting the devils Krishna kills and eats..... I hope you can get back to longish walks by April at the latest.

75RebaRelishesReading
Jan 18, 1:11pm Top

Best of luck with the weaning!! I'm sending hope that in two weeks you'll be able to walk comfortably without the brace.

76SuziQoregon
Jan 18, 2:31pm Top

Glad you like your orthopedist. Good luck with weaning from the brace.

77EBT1002
Jan 19, 4:47pm Top

>73 ffortsa: He sounds like an awesome guy. He perhaps stretches the metaphors a bit but I like that he is attentive to current thinking about best practice and is confident about you getting back to your long walks. Patience is hard to have in the face of recovery but it helps to have the sense that recovery is truly in the cards!

>69 ffortsa: That young Maggie Smith! Wonderful!

78ffortsa
Jan 20, 11:34am Top

4. The Lewis Man by Peter May

This book leaped of the shelves of the library yesterday, right into my arms. I was eager to read the next in the Lewis trilogy, but it was not quite what I expected.

It picks up more or less where the first book left off, as Fin quits his job in the police force, completes his divorce and returns to the Isle of Lewis. Then the body of a man is found in the peat bog, and not an ancient man. The local police now have a 50 year old murder to solve, and of course it will involve Fin.

Coincidentally, a crisis emerges in Marchaili's family. Her father has dementia, and care is hard to come by. Most of the book is written inside his memories, which provide us with more of the island history May introduced us to in the first novel.
But his memories are far too coherent for a man in his condition, and that estranged me a bit from the story, as did the wealth of description May applies to all of the events.

And, alas, most of the discoveries in the second half of the book are telegraphed well in advance. I think I read this too fast, looking for a more typical mystery, which doesn't appear until the very end.

There isn't a cliff-hanger of a thriller sort, but enough open questions about people and relationships to make me want to read the final book of the trilogy. I just won't be looking so much for a typical mystery.

79RebaRelishesReading
Jan 20, 11:39am Top

We watched the TV series when it was on and enjoyed it but I didn't know it was based on a book series. I might have to look into that, although I will miss the Shetland Island scenery.

80Berly
Jan 20, 11:46am Top

Judy! Trying to catch up around this place--ha! Glad you're healing well--good luck on the wean. If your bookclub couldn't keep up with you and kissed you goodbye, then they have saved you the trouble of figuring our how to find a better group and feeling guilty! Amazing. Their loss. I can't believe you are reaching the end of the Playbill project! That has taken a looooong time to complete. Dame Maggie looks wonderful in that one. Happy Saturday.

81cameling
Jan 20, 11:47am Top

Judy, maybe your doctor means the devils have been making a fine party zone for themselves in your foot and Krishna has, through his disguise as a brace, been killing them off gradually. I'm stumped as to where heaven could be for devils, but hey, as long as they aren't plaguing you and your foot ... I say let them have their paradise somewhere, right? Good luck with the weaning process and I look forward to seeing you trip the light fantastic the next time we meet.

82ffortsa
Jan 20, 12:05pm Top

>79 RebaRelishesReading: I'd forgotten there was a TV series. I'll have to look for it on Netflix or Amazon or wherever.

>80 Berly: Yes, I can't believe it either. I have about 5 of Jim's left to do. However, he says he has two more sacks of them in his studio in Queens, and he's bringing them in, probably tonight. They will be before our time together, but maybe some of them are shows I've seen and lost the playbills of, so it will be interesting. Then I will file them all, alphabetical order, in his groaning shoe boxes and he will put them all in a sensible place. At least out of the living room.

>81 cameling: Kim, how nice to see you here. I've been huffing and puffing to keep up with your thread - can't imagine how you keep up with your life! More energy than three of me. And yes, the book group's discomfort with me saved me from my discomfort with them. Intellectual manques, I guess.

A word about wireless printers with scan capability. For some reason, the connection between the printer and the computer over our wifi isn't particularly stable, and the scanning action on the flatbed is extraordinarily long. My advice if you have a lot of scanning to do, don't do it on a flatbed without a feeder. I read half the May book while waiting for the scan to finish so I could turn the page and scan again. I'm not sure it would be so slow with pictures - at least not that I recall - but I'm scanning as PDF. Now why did I do that? Hm.

83BLBera
Jan 20, 12:25pm Top

Good news that your foot is on the mend, Judy. Take it slow. Good luck.

84ffortsa
Jan 20, 12:48pm Top

>83 BLBera: Thanks, Beth

85ffortsa
Jan 22, 2:41pm Top

I watched 'I Am Not Your Negro' a couple of days ago, and yesterday Jim and I watched 'Mudbound'.

They hurt. This country should never have been this way, and in many ways it still is. And here I am in my liberal city, comfy and safe in my high-rise apartment and my retirement income. I can't feel smug. I keep wondering what I can do for, with the people caught in the problems of race, economics, education, the people of color and the people of Appalachia and the western rural lands and the struggling people in New York, how I can do more than vote and donate money. How I can work to help make something happen.

As a woman, I don't discount the current need for emphasis on issues of fairness and respect for women, of course. But there is so much more going wrong. Still.

86magicians_nephew
Edited: Jan 22, 5:56pm Top

>81 cameling: Don't forget that the Greek Orthodox Church considers Judas Iscariot a Saint because he carried out his part in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

But do you remember Gandalf's words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring.

87_Zoe_
Jan 22, 6:23pm Top

>85 ffortsa: With the desire to make a difference, and the time that comes with retirement, I'm sure you'll manage to make an impact! I thought you were doing various sorts of volunteer work already?

If you're looking for something immediate and hands-on, have you ever volunteered with New York Cares? I particularly liked their education-related programs in the Bronx or Harlem. Helping individuals may not solve the systemic issues, but it certainly makes a difference to those few people.

88karenmarie
Jan 23, 7:12am Top

Hi Judy!

>78 ffortsa: Good review. Such a good series, although I've only read the first two. The third one's just sitting there waiting for me to open it.

>82 ffortsa: Yesterday my printer lost the wifi connection and I pushed a wrong button.... but I called Brother, which has fantastic customer service, and they got me reconnected right away. No service contracts, no $$, just helpful and thorough customer service. I do a lot of scanning of book covers for LT, so scanning is important to me too.

89ffortsa
Jan 23, 12:32pm Top

>86 magicians_nephew: I had thought of that, that demons are there to perform a necessary service.

>87 _Zoe_: I've checked with NYCares now and then, and I might pick up something there. At the minimum dealing with their projects might allow me some supervisory experience, which I am sorely lacking (although I didn't have to write those performance evaluations!)

>88 karenmarie: Good to know that about Brother. Our all-in-one printer is an HP, and I suspect the wifi in our network is a little unstable, and that's why I keep losing connection. But, I only have 1 more Playbill in this batch! And I'm going to scan it right now!
(Jim says he has one more sack of old Playbills for me to look at, and he might have one or two I'm missing from years ago. And I did purchase that Playbill for Private Lives - it was only $6 and I'll try to resell it after I scan it.)

90ffortsa
Jan 23, 12:38pm Top

5. The Old Buzzard Had It Coming by Donis Casey

Has anyone read this series? It's another that jumped off the shelves at the library, in a new edition from Poisoned Pen. Set in the 1910s in Oklahoma, it is as much a chronicle of the work of settled homesteaders as a mystery story. Alafair Tucker, a pioneer mother with nine living children, an adoring husband, and a reasonably prosperous farm, just can't sit back when a puzzle presents itself, especially if it involves one of her offspring. I was as entranced by the portrayal of farm life as I was by the mystery - maybe more so, since I suspected part of the answer early on.

This is the first in a series of 9 books, and I'll surely look for the next one.

Note that having grown up in the suburbs and lived in a city, I have no idea how closely this book portrays farm life in 1910, but it feels real, right down to the endless cooking the women do. I don't think the language is too contrived, either, but I'm not from Oklahoma.

91ffortsa
Edited: Jan 25, 1:37pm Top

Ok, the Great Playbill Scan is just about over. Jim might have one or two playbills left, in his last cache, that are eligible for scanning (as in, I saw them but don't have the Playbill), and I actually bought a copy of that Private Lives one on eBay, but all the rest are done. 926. I wasn't far off my estimate. And of course, the viewing continues.

Now that my completeness is temporarily satisfied, I can read more. Moll Flanders is easy to pick up and put down once you get the feel for the structure. It's essentially picaresque, so as long as you take a break between episodes, there's not much worry about restarting. We're to have the discussion next Tuesday, so I'll easily finish before then.

6. Tender (Pitt Poetry Series) by Toi Derricotte.

I picked up this slim book of poetry sitting on my shelf, something light to carry. Very spare, clear pieces, some terribly painful. They feel very autobiographical, and if so, she is brave to open herself like that. Even if they aren't, they have happened to somebody. Themes of mixed-race, domestic violence, the difficulty of reconciliation, the isolation of difference - the book itself is light but the poems are hard to carry around. I'll have to keep reading it.

Here are two of her shorter poems. Most of her others are more discursive, describing events or people or episodes of her life. But I liked these very much.

Peripheral

Maybe it's a bat's wings
at the corner of your eye, right
where the eyeball swivels
into its pocket. But when
the brown of your eye turns
where you thought the white saw,
there's only air and gold light,
reality - as your mother defined it -
milk/no milk. Not for years
did you learn the word "longing"
and only then did you see the bat-
just the fringe of its wings
beating, its back in a heavy
black cloak.

Bird

The secret is
not to be afraid,to
pour the salt, letting your wrist
be free - there is almost
never too much; it sits on top of the skin like a
little crystal casket. Under it the bird might
imagine another life, one in which it is grateful
for pleasing, can smell
itself cooking - the taste
of carrots, onions, potatoes stewed
in its own juice - and forget
the dreams of blood
coursing out of its throat like a river.

92_Zoe_
Jan 25, 4:46pm Top

>89 ffortsa: It's both the main strength and the main weakness of NYCares that it's set up for one-off volunteering; it's easy to find something to do on any particular day when you want to volunteer, but not so easy to make the most of your skills and abilities. That might be different if you decided to lead projects, though.

Before leaving NYC, I actually did go through their (one-session, IIRC) leadership training process with the intention of leading educational activities, but being a team leader at a school then required fingerprinting, and the portable fingerprinting equipment that they had available wasn't able to handle the eczema on my hands. I've never had a problem with real fingerprinting equipment at airports. So then I gave up in a huff about time wasted, although if I'd actually had more than a couple of months left in the city I would have just gone to the permanent location for fingerprinting.

So, this has strayed from the constructive to a general grumble, but I've had some good volunteering experiences with them as well.

93cameling
Jan 25, 6:19pm Top

Just popping in to check on you and your foot ....

94ffortsa
Jan 31, 9:24am Top

>93 cameling: Foot is getting better, thanks. I'm still in the brace part-time, but yesterday almost all in my best sneakers, so making progress.

No progress on the reading front, however, partly because I discovered that I hadn't registered a lot of ebooks on my LT library. Somehow, my internal sense of order demands I fix that. Yesterday and the day before I added 90 titles and I'm only partway through the H part of the alphabet! Amazon doesn't make it easy - the alphabetical search doesn't hold its place if you switch over to look for the ASIN of the title, so you have to position from the top again. And there doesn't seem to be a way to download the content list from Amazon either. Boo.

And, I lost my driver's license. So now, another task on the list, to replace it. See why I need some order in my life?

95karenmarie
Feb 1, 6:13am Top

Hi Judy!

I'm glad to hear that your foot is getting better.

Aack. I've got books on my Kindle that aren't in my catalog. I tend to put them there when I read them, but should really just add them all in anyway. Soon.....

Not findable? How hard is it in NYC to get a driver's license replaced?

96The_Hibernator
Feb 1, 3:08pm Top

Lost license! Ugh! What a pain.

97ffortsa
Edited: Feb 1, 5:14pm Top

>95 karenmarie: and >96 The_Hibernator: Actually, it's pretty easy to get a replacement license in NYC. I did it yesterday, and there was minimal wait time and a kiosk where it was all done by computer. I got my temporary replacement immediately, and the real one will come in two weeks. Someone has figured this out!

>95 karenmarie: regarding e-books, yeah, I generally put them in LT when I read them. But I've learned a few things from my logging these last few days.

1. buying cheap ebooks is like eating popcorn at the movies - the action becomes automatic. It's just so easy to say, oh, that might be interesting, and it's only $1.99, or $0.99, or $2.99. I don't even have to enter my credit card number.

2. out of sight is out of mind If I had four ebooks to read, that would be ok. But I have HUNDREDS of ebooks to read. And unless I look for them, I don't see them.

3. security is buying books 'in advance' instead of waiting for them from the library, or buying them when I want them. See #1 as well.

4. There is a subset of self-help I can't resist - how to be more organized. Oops.

5. For someone who rarely cooks, I have a awful lot of e-cookbooks

--------------------------------------------------​--------------------------------------------------​

My stats are incomplete, but here are some interesting (to me) numbers:

- I have purchased 523 Kindle books in all, including 216 I entered into LT this week. I can't yet count what ebooks I borrowed from the library in the past and didn't mark as 'e', so there might be more ebooks to count - but at least I will have read them

- I have 913 books (physical and e) marked 'to read'. NINE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN. Can anyone say 'hoarder'?

- I have 90 books on my wishlist here (and more on a spreadsheet). Future hoarder?

So as of NOW, NO MORE BOOK PURCHASES UNTIL I READ SOME OF WHAT I'VE GOT.

Anyone taking bets?

98katiekrug
Feb 1, 5:57pm Top

So not taking that bet!

My physical and Kindle TBR currently stands at 4149.

Sigh. I'm hopeless.

99jessibud2
Feb 1, 7:00pm Top

>97 ffortsa: - Delurking to say that I am impressed that you are brave enough to tally them up. I am not that brave. I am, in fact, very afraid to find out the numbers of my own on-the-shelves/ TBR/ etc. And I don't even do ebooks or any other electronic device reading (except for audiobooks in the car but those come from the library).

Nope, don't want to know.....

100ffortsa
Feb 2, 10:42am Top

>98 katiekrug: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On the other hand, good to know I'm not alone. (I found another bookshelf of unregistered books in the bedroom.)

101katiekrug
Feb 2, 10:53am Top

Well, if you ever want to borrow a book, let me know ;-)

102jnwelch
Feb 2, 3:29pm Top

You're not alone. I love those daily deals.

103ffortsa
Feb 2, 3:52pm Top

So now that I've confessed --

I'd like some suggestions on how to use tags, or rather, what to use them for. What have any of you found to be most useful? I have this mass of 'non-fiction', for instance, which covers more than a multitude of different types of books. And 'fiction' isn't to selective either - I'm debating if I should kill the 'short story' collection and merge it into fiction and just use a tag for short stories instead.

I'm actually quite pleased I've caught up on the ebook catalog, as well as capturing a few of those strays on the (supposed) next-up bookcase, which , since it doesn't point directly at me, I conveniently ignore. But clearly, I have to read with a little more intention. Maybe that should be the theme for the year: intention.

104ffortsa
Feb 2, 4:04pm Top

Progress on other fronts: I was able to give away my old bookshelves, standards and brackets to a guy whose wife wants them for a shrine for her mother(!). Okay with me. They are out of the apartment and not destined for a trash heap.

Jim's last collection of playbills has been sorted, and I have about 15 more to scan for my idiotically complete file of plays seen.

The house is clean, the clothes (most of them) are laundered, the orthopedist was seen and I will start P.T. on this fragile foot probably next week, and the sun is shining (well, I didn't have much to do with that). I did miss the blood moon, but that was because there was no way I was going to go over to the west side in the freezing cold predawn to try to catch a glimpse. Anyone get a good look?

105RebaRelishesReading
Feb 2, 5:33pm Top

OK Judy and Katie -- you officially made me gasp!! Sounds like you are really getting things organized, though, Judy.

I saw the lunar eclipse. I was lucky because it was in the right part of the sky to see from our balcony and the clouds that had been lurking in the evening left and the sky was totally clear. I also saw the super moon in the early evening right after it come up. Both memorable sights.

106katiekrug
Feb 2, 6:03pm Top

>103 ffortsa: - I use tags for every book. First "Fiction" or "Nonfiction" or "Poetry" and then I mostly do subgenres and then tags for theme or topic or location. Depends how much I know about a book as I'm adding it. I am very good about adding books as I acquire them - that's how I know I have 4149 TBR - well, actually 4151 now as I bought two today :)

Anyway, so a Tags entry might look something like this: Fiction, historical, 19th c., America, Civil War, South, Georgia

or

Nonfiction, memoir, celebrity, childhood

That sort of thing. I like to use tags because it helps me then search my library when I do certain types of challenges :)

107karenmarie
Feb 2, 7:13pm Top

Hi Judy!

>97 ffortsa: No, I won't take the bet. *smile* New books are too exciting. I am in the ROOTs challenge group. My overall goal is 105 books this year, 42 of which must have been on my shelves at least 6 months before I start them. Last year I barely met my goal of 40 out of 100.

>103 ffortsa: Tags. I love tags.

First tag is where the book is located in the house. Room, shelf, Row. So S14 is Sunroom, first shelf, 4th row down. I must admit that I have 51 of 4556 that are tagged 'misshelved'. 1.1% isn't too bad.

Second tag was for my plan to add husband's and daughter's books. I haven't, so every book has 'kph'.
Third tag is fiction, nonfiction or reference (cookbooks, Bibles, etc.).

Then some say romance or mystery or American history, or memoir or series character or.... whatever. There are up to 4 or 5 here.

Last is always status - read, dnr (do not read), tbr, abandoned, started.

I don't use collections and love how easy tags are to change on the fly. The location tags also help me do periodic inventories by shelf (I know, I know..... obsessive.)

I'm between your 913 and Katie's 4149 at 1796. However, there are perhaps a hundred on my Kindle that I haven't added yet.

108ffortsa
Feb 3, 9:50am Top


>107 karenmarie: it's really interesting that you don't use the collections and prefer tags. I must think about that.

My physical books are organized alphabetically by author within type - poetry, mystery, fiction, etc. Once in a while I move them around, so location tags aren't for me. I'm impressed that you do that. I guess I tried to sort within type with the e-book collections, but the non fiction is too varied for a single category. Tags would definitely help there.

109ffortsa
Feb 3, 9:55am Top

>106 katiekrug: yes, that looks like a good scheme, especially for non fiction. Another project!

we are thinking of going to the Danticat talk in April, but I should really read at least one of her books beforehand. I think I have Claire of the Sea Light on the shelf. What would you recommend?

110katiekrug
Feb 3, 9:58am Top

I've only read Breath Eyes Memory but I absolutely loved it. I see I only gave it 4 stars, which seems low to me. Anyway, that's a good one. I'll be reading her memoir, Brother I'm Dying and maybe another fiction work. Richard recommended Krik? Krak! which is on my shelf, but I also have Claire of the Sea Light and two others...

111jnwelch
Feb 3, 10:55am Top

I loved Breath, Eyes, Memory, too. I thought Claire of the Sea Light was really good, as was Create Dangerously. I want to read more of hers. My wife and I both liked her YA book Untwine, too.

112karenmarie
Feb 3, 11:06am Top

Happy Saturday, Judy!

>108 ffortsa: I started grouping my books with tags before they had collections and didn't want to change over to any new-fangled method. *smile* I also group my books by where they'll fit on shelves and hate seeing a series with some hardcover, some trade paperback, and some mass market all mixed in together. I also don't have to shift books from shelf to shelf because I've added a new one to an already full shelf to keep the series or alphabetical nature of a shelf's integrity intact, with a ripple effect for many shelves. It works for me, but most people here tend to group by genre and/or author. It's obviously whatever works for you. But I must say that I can find any book (except the 'misshelved' ones) quickly.

113ffortsa
Feb 3, 12:22pm Top

>110 katiekrug: Well, what do you know? I seem to have found a hard-cover edition of Krik? Krak! downstairs in the book swap shelves some time ago. I think it might even be a first edition. Hoo Hah. And it looks short, so I'll be able to get to it in time.

114LizzieD
Edited: Feb 20, 10:20pm Top

I'm impressed with all your organization. I, on the other hand, am almost completely random. Like Karen I tag location (but then I move a book and don't get back to record that here), don't tag anything "fiction" since that's mostly what I own but do tag by genre and for non-fiction by category. The last tag is "read" - and I see that I maintain a reading pace of about 1/3 read to the piles bought. I always wanted a library; I have one. I won't live long enough to read them all. I can live with that.
Enjoy the weekend. May the PT be easy and effective!

115ffortsa
Feb 3, 8:54pm Top

>114 LizzieD: Thanks! I must say sometimes I think I'm just moving the deck chairs on the deck of a sinking ship, and I'd be better off actually READING all these books. In the meantime, I'm safe from the World Wide Book Famine, as you are.

I finished a book of essays last night that I'll talk about later on. My read-aloud group read the first book of Fagles' translation of the Iliad this afternoon, and we just saw the fifth episode of the Burns documentary on the Vietnam War. Moll Flanders is due on Tuesday. I'm toddling off to bed.

116ffortsa
Feb 4, 6:04pm Top

I received my copy of ...and the earth did not devour him for the March tutored read. My only thought so far - I should have bought two copies, so I could read them side by side, Spanish and English.

117arubabookwoman
Feb 4, 6:08pm Top

I use tags very similarly to Katie--broadly divided into Fiction/Nonfiction, and then as many subcategories as I want. (I also note if it's a Kindle book, or an Audible book). My most useful tag is TBR for unread books. When I want to see my choices for reading I just have to search "TBR," and a list of all my unread books comes up. And if I want to find a book on World War II, or a Swedish crime novel, I can search those tags.

I also use collections. I have a Collection for books read each year, and a Collection for books purchased in each year (since I've been on LT) that are still unread. So, I have Collections which can be seen on my Home page: Unread Bought 2017, Unread Bought 2016 etc., and Read 2017, Read 2016 etc. Whenever I finish a book, its very easy to delete it from the Unread Collection and put it in the Read Collection.

I guess this sounds obsessive, but it really takes no time at all since I've pretty much doing it from the beginning. And once you set up a Collection, it's very easy to add books to it.

118ffortsa
Edited: Feb 5, 5:53pm Top

7. How To Be Alone by Jonathan Franzen

I've had this book of essays and articles on my shelf for some time, and picked it up when a book funk was looming. Franzen presents 15 essays of varying length and on a wide variety of topics, some very personal, some more the type you might encounter in a magazine like the one in the Sunday New York Times or the New Yorker.

The personal ones are often quite affecting, in particular the first, "My Father's Brain", which concerns the difficulty he and his family had dealing with his father's mental deterioration, especially in light of his parents' difficult marriage, and the last, where he is forced to 'go home again' years later for a televised interview and finds it torture.

"Imperial Bedroom" is Franzen's take on the conventional cry that our privacy is evaporating. Almost perversely, he notes that most of us live in ever MORE private spaces - large suburban houses where no one has to share a room or bathroom, or condominium apartments where you might not know your neighbors, quite unlike what he calls the near-panopticon of small town life a century ago. Conversely, we are unable to keep other people's private lives out of our public space. "A genuine public space is a place where every citizen is welcome to be present and where the purely private is excluded or restricted." Anyone who can't help overhearing a personal, sometimes very personal, cellphone conversation on the street, but or train can relate.

"Why Bother" is the most well-known of these works, retitled from an infamous Harper's essay. In it, Franzen details his slide into depression while trying to write his third book, while he and his wife were separating and the country was preparing for war in 1991, and in the years that followed. His despair at the reading habits (or lack thereof) of Americans , the solitary nature of his profession, and the idea that fiction should deal with 'mystery', "how human beings avoid or confront the meaning of existence" and 'manners', "the nuts and bolts of how human beings behave" was being somehow scuttled, produced a perfectly understandable (to me) inability to write his third novel. But beyond blaming all the ills of our age for the ills of our age, he talks about who reads and who writes. He cites Shirley Brice Heath, a linguistic anthropologist and English Professor, to discover that the people who read 'works of substance' are either people whose (usually upper class) parents did the same, and long for others who share their passion, or people who were, from an early age, social isolates, who use books to build their longed-for imaginary community.

Well, I guess that sounds like a lot of us. Franzen goes on at some length about how he was able to absorb this, how he realized that he didn't have to save the world with his writing, how he got support from Don DeLillo - and how he finished his third novel, The Corrections, which I found difficult and ultimately totally human. It's a really interesting essay.

What else? Essays on the beleaguered Chicago Post Office, the amoral tobacco industry, the architecture that creates city life, the development of ultra-maximum security prisons, the deliberate difficulties of William Gaddis's writings, sex, and the essay that gives the book its title, wherein he argues that television and other popular entertainment have left us without the ability to be alone that reading teaches us to master.

All of which is to say that I devoured this book of essays, it cured my book funk, I marked up all sorts of passages (which I never do), and I hope someone else loves it too.

8. ✔Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

Reading group selection for tomorrow night. More anon.

119kidzdoc
Feb 6, 7:59am Top

Great review of How to Be Alone, Judy. I said that I would never read anything else by Franzen, but I may have to reconsider that position.

120ffortsa
Edited: Feb 6, 9:48am Top

>119 kidzdoc: Thanks.

Which of his books turned you against him?

I must say that some of these essays are a little bit dated, but more of them just show how little has changed. The one on prisons is especially painful, as I'm sure things are just the same now.

I hope you're on the mend from the flu. It's a nasty bug this year.

121rosalita
Feb 6, 12:55pm Top

Hi, Judy! I have finally catalogued all my Kobo ebooks, but Amazon makes the Kindle data so difficult to work with that I have been dragging my feet on those. I did finally figure out that right-clicking and opening the title in a new tab at least let me keep my place in the list.

As for tags, I use a scheme similar to Katie. I tag for the following categories, in this order:
* Genre: (fiction/nonfiction/poetry). Some books get more than one — fiction, mystery; nonfiction, history
* Time (when the book is set, not when it was published: These are nesting tags from large to small (for example, 20th century, 1960s, 1963 might be a set of tags for one book)
* Place: Again, nesting tags from large to small (Europe, United Kingdom, Scotland, Glasgow)
* Characters: I usually only use this for series
* Subject:
* Keywords: These are similar but there's a distinction in my mind that I probably can't articulate so anyone else understands it.
* Challenge/Group Read: If applicable.

Not all books gets tags from all categories, of course. And I don't tag for binding, though I do have an Ebooks collection because I want to know which books I won't find on my shelves somewhere. If I ever organize my books better, I might add a location tag.

122ffortsa
Feb 6, 10:47pm Top

>121 rosalita: lots of specifics in your scheme. I can see myself getting ever more specific if I don't watch out.

Thanks for the comment on the Amazon trick. I'll have to practice it so I won't forget the next time I have to do catchup.

123SuziQoregon
Feb 8, 2:07pm Top

>90 ffortsa: OK - you got me. Just requested The Old Buzzard Had it Coming from the library.

124ffortsa
Feb 8, 5:49pm Top

>123 SuziQoregon: I'd love to know what you think of it.

125ffortsa
Feb 8, 6:16pm Top

I'm back to my efforts at creating order, and getting rid of things. I had a stack of New Yorkers from 2009 ready to notate on my magazine thread, and of course I was moved to dip into them again. What rewards!

I reread and captured copies of two articles; one on Donald Barthelme by Louis Menand that makes me want to read that author a little more alertly; the other on David Foster Wallace by D.T. Max that does the same job. If you're interested, you can Google them using the reviewer's name, the author's name and 'New Yorker'. They should pop right up.

One more critical essay to go in this group, on Cavafy. More later.

126karenmarie
Feb 10, 5:14am Top

Hi Judy!

Just a quick hello. Good luck on your on-going effort of organizing/getting rid of things.

127ffortsa
Feb 10, 5:42pm Top

>126 karenmarie: Thanks, Karen. I'm down to about 4 playbills (of course Jim found another in his studio today, but didn't bring it here). And much of the paper on the desk is taken care of. I rearranged the closets a little today, and should be clear of most paper after I deliver my 1099s to my accountant. (Uh oh - Jim just said he found a box of vinyl records in his studio. I haven't gotten rid of mine yet, either.)

We have an amazing amount of electronic stuff, some outdated, some not, that we need to go through together. Maybe the two of us can go over them tomorrow.

And I was watching the Olympics as well, so the time was spent pleasantly. No reading, though.

128karenmarie
Edited: Feb 11, 8:25am Top

Hi Judy!

Sounds like a productive day. We watched some of the opening ceremonies last night - they were rebroadcast on the 4K Olympics channel and we have a 4K TV and satellite receiver. Absolutely stunning clarity and amazing colors.

I really need to start cleaning out things - closets and outdated electronics, old paperwork and linens we don't need (like 6 sets of twin sheets and 4 mattress pads when we don't have the twin brass beds set up in this house for example). I'll just check in periodically here to get inspiration. *smile*

129ffortsa
Feb 13, 10:22am Top

Regarding Moll Flanders: I am sometimes afraid that we will have nothing to say to each other at these readers discussion groups. Hah! We talked for over an hour and a half. How much was to be considered 'true', considering that it was supposedly a memoir of a repentant woman? How could she say so little about her children? Did she exploit her sexuality or just make the best of the society? She confessed to liking the thrill of theft even after she no longer needed more money, trimmed her stories to her circumstances and her audience, barely mentioned the hardships of crossing the Atlantic (I wonder if Defoe ever did?), learned to make and manage money, and in general navigated a society that was not kind to women without status and means. Was Defoe as tuned in to the hardships of women as this book suggests? Or was he more interested in writing a sly, picaresque adventure with the allure of a female protagonist? Did we believe the 'woman's voice'?

Defoe shows us the society of the time, the narrow path between servant and master class in the late 17th century in an urbanizing country as well as a new world. The book is filled with incident - in fact, when Moll has achieved, however temporarily, a quiet life, we hear nothing about it except how it ends. Moll ('not my real name') tells us at the beginning that she ends up ok back in London, secure, married, content, repentant of her sinful life. So the traditional suspense is absent - it was all about how it happened. But it was fun to read, watching her journey and learning about the times.

130RebaRelishesReading
Feb 13, 12:00pm Top

I've seen the movie but never read the book. From your comments, I'm not sure I will.

131ffortsa
Feb 13, 6:00pm Top

>130 RebaRelishesReading: certainly not required!

132ffortsa
Feb 13, 6:03pm Top

9. The Deepest Grave by Harry Bingham

When in a reading funk, what better cure than Fiona Griffiths? This time, she is dealing with a boss who dislikes her, a dead archaeologist, and some wonderful ancient history. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, so all I can say is read it yourself.

133ffortsa
Edited: Feb 14, 6:15pm Top

I was planning to visit my sister in January, but she caught the flu! And pretty badly. So I postponed my visit, and instead will join her in a knitting retreat this coming weekend. I'm not much of a knitter, but her friends are great and I can maybe make Jim a hat. I have a few projects to bring down, but I'm an amateur compared to the other participants. Hats, scarves, afghan squares - that's about it for me. Maybe I'll learn something!

Sis lives in San Antonio, btw. Any of us in the area? Not that I'll have time for a meetup this time, but maybe we could plan for the future.

eta: books I'm taking along: Mrs. Bridge ebook and audio, The Left Hand of Darkness if I can get it from the library in time, Involuntary Witness in paper, and whatever is on my Kindle.

I don't know if there is wifi at the retreat, so I may not be checking in here. On the other hand, if there is, I might actually catch up on a few more threads. It will probably be rainy, which scotches my fantasy of a weekend in the country, walking in the sunshine among the birdies and the flowers.

134Oregonreader
Feb 14, 7:55pm Top

Hi Judy, I've been away so long I feel like I should introduce myself! I am inspired by your attempts at organization. Whatever order I began with on my shelves is long gone. I've been thinking of hiring my granddaughter to come up with a system and do the work.

Good luck with the PT.

135EBT1002
Feb 15, 12:27am Top

Hi Judy!

I also wish you good luck with the PT. And I hope you have a great time at your knitting retreat with your sister this weekend. I've tried knitting a couple of times and it was just not my thing. I don't have the patience. My Tennessee aunt and cousins knit and some of the things they create are stunning!

I'm looking forward to seeing you again next month!

136EBT1002
Feb 15, 12:28am Top

Oh, and I hope Fiona cured the reading funk!

137ffortsa
Feb 15, 5:21pm Top

10. Best American Mystery Stories 2015

138EBT1002
Feb 20, 11:57am Top

139ffortsa
Feb 20, 5:06pm Top

11. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

A stow-away on my Kindle, I read it after the knitting retreat, and was sorry it wasn't longer. Claudia and Jamie are the cleverest of kids, and I much admired their resilience and inventiveness.

140qebo
Feb 20, 8:25pm Top

>139 ffortsa: I last read that book, oh, approaching 50 years ago. Glad it holds up.

141ffortsa
Feb 20, 10:07pm Top

>140 qebo: Katherine, how nice to hear from you. It's one of the many children's books I didn't read, as I seemed to skip from Dr. Seuss directly to Erle Stanley Gardner!

142LizzieD
Feb 20, 10:48pm Top

>125 ffortsa: Thanks for the hint about the NYer articles, Judy. I read the couple on DFW. The Max bio is on my list to read this year no matter what!
Also thanks for the (thumbed) review of the Franzen essays. I'm tempted.
I used to wake up thinking, "Oh good! Another day that I can knit!!" That's not the case these days. I started a sweater, but at 4 rows done, I can't quite persuade myself that it's exactly what I want to do. Hope your retreat gave you some new ideas.

143ffortsa
Feb 21, 10:34am Top

>142 LizzieD: I've never been much of a knitter, but I wanted to make Jim a hat. Brought the yarn, had really ancient plastic needles that my sister more or less cursed. She lent me a needle from her set of circular cables with interchangeable points, which was lovely, but I ripped the start of the hat three times and gave up. When my set of needles come, I'll start again, and probably work a few rows 'flat' to avoid twisting.

In the meantime, I had great fun untangling some really horrid tangles, one of my sister's, the biggest, in bright pink sock yarn, and one from someone else's sock yarn. Others volunteered to help, so I got to know people the best possible way, be working together.

For some reason (too many people? too much oxygen in the country?), I am completely wiped out. Both my standing activities for the week were cancelled, lucky me, so I'm on track for recovery.

I seem to have not saved my entry here on the books on my short list.

-- For February, I need to read Involuntary Witness for Two Guidos.

-- Then for the first week in March, I need to read Ironweed and The Left Hand of Darkness. Mrs. Bridge mentioned earlier, has been rescheduled because the essay in the Times Book Review caused such a sensation that no copies are to be had (except for Amazon) for two weeks.

-- And in March, I'll be reading ...y no se lo trago la tierra, for Majleavy's tutored read, mostly in English, as my Spanish is extremely rusty and was never that good to start with!

144EBT1002
Feb 22, 1:15am Top

Hmm, it is time to start making some March plans, isn't it?

145ffortsa
Edited: Feb 22, 3:29pm Top

12. Involuntary Witness by Gianrico Carofiglio

This book is very much about a man trying to come to his senses after a fracture in his life. It is my impression that most of the first half of the book is almost exclusively about the lawyer Guido. When the central trial actually begins, the work seems to revive him and lead him to an ethical framework, as yet not described, that we can hope to see in the following entries in the series.

And with that last sentence, I feel like the character's style has affected my own!

There were times when the story took on tones of Perry Mason; the courtroom speeches, especially Guido's summation, are very wordy, but I think they would work pretty well spoken out loud; reading them was a bit of a chore. This reminds me that Carofiglio is associated with the theater, and may have that kind of presentation in mind.

And of course the troubles of immigrant communities entering previously homogeneous (or presumed homogeneous) societies is very much in tune with what is happening in Europe as well as the U.S.

I hope to like this Guido more in subsequent books, if I can find them.

146Ameise1
Feb 22, 4:11pm Top

I've read three Carofiglio and I like them very much.

147ffortsa
Feb 22, 6:58pm Top

>146 Ameise1: Thanks for the encouragement. I'll have to search around for the second one.

148ffortsa
Edited: Feb 26, 5:38pm Top

This weekend was not conducive to reading. We saw two plays, ate two brunches, and I heard one concert as well.

The plays were:
'In the Body of the World' by and with Eve Ensler. While Ensler is a daring and creative artist, this piece fell flat for me. Her own life figures prominently, along with some truly wonderful work she has facilitated in the Republic of the Congo, but it didn't come together.

'The Band's Visit' by David Yazbek and Itamar Moses. A ceremonial Egyptian police band on its way to an Arab cultural center in Israel end up by accident in a very different town. Given the tensions between ethnic groups, I expected more confrontation in this piece. Instead, the musical finds the similarities and intimacy possible among people in a small place, helping each other, confiding in each other, and making beautiful music. Part of the cast was clearly selected for their instrumental capabilities, but every portrayal felt real and individual. Very satisfying.

The music: We buy series tickets to Peoples' Symphony Concerts, an organization established over 100 years ago to provide affordable classical concerts to New Yorkers who might not be able to pay the price of Carnegie hall. Top drawer performers come to play for what I presume is scale, since tickets even now are only $14. I finally snagged reserved seats in the balcony of the high school auditorium where the concerts take place, an old building itself with excellent acoustics.

This concert featured the young cellist Narak Hakhnazaryan, whom I had not heard of before. What do I know - It turns out that Hakhnazaryan won the Tchaikovsky competition in 2011, and is already very well known. The first half of the concert was not particularly ear-catching, but the second half - wow. The cellist played a series of short and sometimes lesser known pieces from Armenia, Georgia, Spain, France and Russia that were astounding and exciting. Some were familiar - Massenet's Meditation from 'Thais', and Albenez's Asturias. Others I'd never heard. They were all originally written for violin, and transposed for cello. They, and he, and his accompanist Noreen Polera, were spectacular!

I will definitely keep track of him.

The brunches were good too.

No reading to speak of. I did put my tax info together today for my accountant. These things must get done.

On to Ironweed.

149ffortsa
Feb 27, 10:55am Top

Oh, I won an ER book! Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li. Yippee!

150katiekrug
Feb 27, 11:23am Top

I started to read that Li book last year before I saw her speak at NYPL. I never did finish it - it was just not my type of thing, but I had a friend who also read it and loved it.

151RebaRelishesReading
Feb 27, 1:30pm Top

Wow, $14 tickets for excellent music!! Are those concerts available to visitors too or do they sell out to locals?

152SuziQoregon
Feb 27, 2:38pm Top

I reread From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler several years ago. Loved it almost as much as I did when I was a kid.

While not conducive to reading your weekend sounds like it was wonderful!

153EBT1002
Feb 28, 1:50pm Top

>148 ffortsa: Well, for a weekend short of reading, it sounds chock full of other delights!

Looking forward to Sunday....

154ffortsa
Feb 28, 7:38pm Top

>151 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, there are almost always seats available at the time of the concert. The $14 ones are for general admission in the orchestra part of the auditorium. Jim and I have reserved seats in the balcony, but all that means is that we don't have to wait on line to get in. And sometimes we have extras, so be sure to get in touch if you plan to be in town (even if you don't want to hear a concert!). The concerts are all on Saturday nights, and there are 12 in all, starting in October and running until May on a variably spaced schedule.

Peoples' Symphony also runs a Sunday afternoon series at Town Hall, for a bit more money. I haven't been, since 12 concerts are generally all I can fit in!

155ffortsa
Feb 28, 7:48pm Top

>152 SuziQoregon: Each of the events was worth seeing (well, maybe not the Ensler), but all of them in one weekend - well, we need to take smaller bites of this Big Apple. It's hard to resist, and sometimes our subscriptions hit the same weekends. When Jim retires, I assume he will run around in the evenings trying to take as many bites as he can, and then we will settle down to a reasonable schedule.

Friends of ours who live near Lincoln Center asked us how we selected what we saw, because they have been having the same trouble. There is so much available!

>153 EBT1002: we are too!

156RebaRelishesReading
Mar 1, 12:25pm Top

>154 ffortsa: Sounds like a really wonderful resource. Unfortunately we don't have any plans to be in NYC. We'll be at Chautauqua this summer (of course) but that's over 400 miles away. We will be going to D.C. for a week for a conference for Hubby (so sort of in the area) but we won't have time for anything other than straight there, straight back. However, maybe another year and, if so, we'll definitely get in touch.

157jnwelch
Mar 1, 4:25pm Top

Hi, Judy. Good to hear about The Bands' Visit. We've been thinking about making time for that one.

158karenmarie
Mar 5, 8:52am Top

Hi Judy! Just catching up a bit.

I didn't go from Dr. Seuss to ESG, but I was reading the Perry Mason books by the time I was 11.

I hope you have a wonderful week.

159vivians
Mar 5, 9:33am Top

Hi Judy - it was nice to see you and Jim in Phila - next time we have to finagle a round table to make conversation easier! Hope you had an easy trip back and see you again in NY!

160qebo
Mar 5, 9:36am Top

>159 vivians: round table
Hah, yes, I was just commenting on Katie's thread, because this is the second time we've been at opposite ends of the table.

161katiekrug
Mar 5, 10:03am Top

How was the Oscars party?

162Berly
Mar 5, 12:00pm Top

Hi Judy--I think I lost you here for a while. Apologies. So glad you have almost finished the Playbill Project--that has got to feel great!! Now onwards in the neatening quest. I use lots and lots of tags, but don't list location because they are constantly shifting when I add a book alphabetically. I just know the first bookcase downstairs is TBR; all the middle is read by author, F or NF doesn't matter, and the last bookcase is kids books and memoirs by authors. Wishing you lots of luck with the foot PT. So very jealous of the meetup!! You are so lucky to have made so many of them. : ) Big hugs.

163ffortsa
Mar 5, 5:21pm Top

>158 karenmarie: Well, I may have exaggerated a little.

I was talking to my brother this weekend and the subject of Nathaniel Bowditch came up - some book on navigation was in the back seat of his car. So I told him that I had read a biography of Bowditch when I was a teenager. He was totally incredulous. But I had and I still remember it!

>159 vivians: and >160 qebo: Round would be nice. Also something like a Mad Hatter party where everyone has to change seats between courses. That way, if one of you and I were sitting directly across the circle, we'd eventually edge nearer. Of course, we could do that with a straight table too. Maybe what we need is a buffet dinner!

>161 katiekrug: Party was good, thanks, although we had a little of our own drama at Secaucus, where we decided to detrain. Did you know that you need to retain your train ticket if you get off at Secaucus, otherwise there's no way out of the station??? Very 'No Exit' for a while there, and probably the wrong decision, as the taxi ride to Hoboken was mucho dinero. (Uber wait was a bit long.) When we finally arrived, the party was fun indeed.

>162 Berly: Oh, don't apologize for losing track of me! I lose track of everyone whose thread moves faster than a snail. That makes it even nicer when meetups occur, as I get to catch up face to face.

I'm recalibrating my position on the extrovert-introvert scale, however. We had a grand time in Philadelphia with the LT crew, but I'm flattened today.

164ffortsa
Edited: Mar 7, 7:20pm Top

13. Ironweed by William Kennedy

Discussion tomorrow night. I will say that I rarely cry over books these days, but this one got a little wet.

eta: It was one of those meetups where few people attended, for various reasons, but all of us there loved this book. We talked about parallels to the story of Odysseus, the presence of the dead in the living, the simultaneity of memory. Reading it while navigating New York was even more heartbreaking, as there are many people on the streets these days, and seeing them after reading about Francis Phelan just brings their plight into focus. Lovely writing, lovely book.

14. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Discussion Wednesday night. No tears, but a very compelling read.'

eta: discussion postponed due to yet another nor'easter currently dropping big fat wet snowflakes all over New York.

165ffortsa
Edited: Mar 5, 8:22pm Top

15. Valentino and Sagittarius by Natalia Ginzburg

Two novellas, each told by one of the daughters of the family in question. In the first, the younger daughter watches as her brother, imagined by his father to do great things, instead wastes his life and the lives of others. In the second, the older daughter watches as her mother's fantasies and self-importance only cause destruction. Ginzburg's steady, observant prose relates the tales without dramatic flourish but with great economy and imparts a certain gentleness to the narrators and to the fates of these two families. Lovely writing.

166ffortsa
Mar 8, 10:47am Top

I received my ER copy of Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life very quickly, compared to some other ERs I've received (and some I've never received). It's a second paperback printing, which rather surprised me, so not exactly 'early reviewer', but never mind. I'm eager to read a book with such a beautiful title.

167rretzler
Mar 8, 1:42pm Top

Judy, making my way very late to your thread. I have to say in >61 ffortsa:, you sound like an ideal book club member, at least to me. I would love to have someone to discuss books with more deeply, but I can't seem to find those who want to discuss with me. I've given up trying to find a book club where I live *sigh* - what's the point of being in a book club if it isn't to discuss books in depth?

>97 ffortsa: Regarding ebooks, your list is very much my reality! Although in some things, I can be extremely organized (mainly non-personal related things), I can be extremely disorganized in personal things - like my books. Several years ago, after realizing that I kept buying books I already had in my library, I knew I needed to get more organized, so I turned to LT, but that still didn't do it for me, I just wasn't very diligent. Then there was an Excel spreadsheet and then the Access database. Finally, in 2016, I found airtable.com, and now I think my books are over-organized - this is of course on a go-forward basis, I'm still using LT for the complete catalog, but I use the airtable database first and then transfer to LT. The only thing that I really have left to conquer is a room full of paper books - for the most part, my ebooks are organized and input. Of course, that doesn't help me actually read the old ones - I tend to be a very visual person, so out of sight, out of mind. I won't even comment on the number of ebooks I have yet to read on my Kindle or the wishlist I have going - I just figure it's too late to change!

168ffortsa
Edited: Mar 9, 10:32pm Top

>167 rretzler: Thanks for stopping by!

Regarding intellectual rigor: I haven't found a class to attend yet, but I plan to do that soon. Of course, I could employ that rigor myself, but I'm out of practice.

Regarding books to be read: I keep saying I'll read off my shelves, and then some bright new object catches my eye and I'm off. As in the following:

16. Glass Houses by Louise Penny

This is Gamache #13, and I suspect I stayed a few books too long. It's not that the story is any more improbable or over the top than the last few, but the style has gotten to me. Long, smooth sentences, lots of repetition, lots of SERIOUS THOUGHTS and SOLEMN, SIGNIFICANT LOOKS, and thoughts of SACRIFICE, in a plot of hooey. The characteristic explosion of action toward the end was a definite relief.

Penny states that she wrote this one as her husband's health was failing and spending time with her favorite characters and settings was a refuge, and I don't doubt it. I wonder if this will be her last.

169karenmarie
Mar 10, 9:42am Top

Hi Judy!

168 I think I've given up on Louise Penny. I agree with you about staying a few books too long; I gave this one 2.5 stars. Her style has gotten to me, too. What bothers me are her sentence fragments and Use. Of. Capital. Letters. And. Full. Stops. To. Make. A. Point.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

170ffortsa
Mar 10, 1:26pm Top

>169 karenmarie: Ah, a kindred spirit! And thanks for stopping by. Your thread has moved with intimating speed, alas, but I'll stop in any day now. I hope all is going well.

171ffortsa
Mar 12, 4:39pm Top

I'm supposed to be reading Mrs. Bridge for the first Tuesday in March, but of course I've been distracted. At the moment I'll dipping into Salt: A World History on my tablet, and At the Existentialist Cafe on my iPod. A sudden hunger for history? Whatever.

172BLBera
Mar 12, 11:09pm Top

Your thread is flying, Judy. How's the foot?

I also got the Yiyun Li ER book. Let's hope it arrives!

173Oregonreader
Mar 12, 11:58pm Top

Hi Judy, I've had a hard time recently, getting around to all the threads I'm interested in. But here I am, enjoying yours.

>167 rretzler: I have been in book groups for many years and I too have been unsuccessful in finding a book group with a real interest in discussion.

174ffortsa
Edited: Mar 13, 1:22pm Top

>172 BLBera: Hi, Beth! The foot is progressing slowly, with occasional setbacks, but I'm hopeful.

I've already gotten the Yiyun book, so I hope you get your copy soon.

>173 Oregonreader: yep, it's a job and a half keeping up with all us chatting people.

>171 ffortsa: I forgot to add Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog, which I've been reading as I stand on my calf stretcher, mainly because I'm facing the bookshelf it was on. A book about the history of diagramming sentences. How nerdy can you get?

eta: AND I'm participating in the ...and the Earth Did Not Devour Him.

175ffortsa
Edited: Mar 14, 10:18pm Top

17. Why Do Men Have Nipples? by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg

I'd forgotten I was drifting through this one. I guess I was never drunk enough to ask most of these questions of anyone. Some answers were ok, some silly, others just non-answers. Don't bother.

18. Death in a Strange Country by Donna Leon

I'd forgotten how good, and also how disheartening, this police procedural is.

176ffortsa
Edited: Mar 15, 12:01pm Top

19. Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences by Kitty Burns Florey

As I wrote above, I picked this book off my shelf of books on writing, grammar, and language because it was where my nose was when doing my calf-stretch exercise. It's a slight, funny book about the art of diagramming sentences, written by a copy editor and author who knows her stuff. Florey's touch is light, and toward the end of the book she shows a more liberal bent in language usage than is first apparent. Along the way, there are notes of interesting side remarks in the wide margins.

I do recall some work diagramming sentences when I was in grade school. And I find my grammatical nomenclature has fallen by the wayside after all these years. So this was a refreshing little jaunt by a woman who shares my occasional aggravations with usage without sounding like a 'Sister Bernadette'.

eta: Hmm. There are quite a number of entries for this book, all clearly the same, and I don't know how to combine them, so I'll leave it as is for now.

177thornton37814
Edited: Mar 15, 9:41pm Top

>176 ffortsa: I read that one several years ago and loved it.

ETA: I combined some and reported a few to Combiners! so someone with more advanced skills than I could combine.

178Berly
Mar 16, 8:08am Top

>176 ffortsa: I should probably get that one--so I can make up for lost education! When I was in 6th grade, I broke my arm. The break was way high up and I couldn't get a cast unless it was a body cast, so I had to grin and bear it with just a sling. Needless to say, I was in a lot of pain and couldn't really concentrate very well. That was exactly when sentence diagramming was taught in school. : P

Hope your foot continues to heal!

I am loving the Donna Leon Guido series, although police procedure is not going as expected. And I have to get back to ...and TEDNDH.

179karenmarie
Edited: Mar 16, 8:40am Top

'Morning, Judy!

>176 ffortsa: I remember diagramming sentences in school, too. I hated it, but it must have been beneficial because I don't sound totally illiterate. I also remember having a terrible time trying to understand when to use commas, semicolons, and colons. It wasn't until I took shorthand in 10th grade where we had to learn proper usage for the Important Business Letters we'd type when we became secretaries (!) that I finally understood.

And now, of course, I'm concerned that the above isn't properly punctuated!

180majleavy
Mar 16, 11:02am Top

>176 ffortsa: Back in Catholic grade school in the '60s, sentence diagramming was a big deal. I attribute to that (plus studying Latin) most of whatever language skills I possess. I've only taught it once - to a really shaky class of 10th graders - and it was awfully useful.

181rosalita
Mar 16, 2:57pm Top

>176 ffortsa: Hi, Judy! I also remember diagramming sentences, and I kind of loved it. Puzzles with words and sentences were much more enjoyable than math story problems! I read Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog a few years ago and remember finding it moderately amusing.

182ffortsa
Mar 16, 7:50pm Top

Wow - quite an exciting topic, I see! I was trying to recall which of my teachers taught me diagramming. Then again, I had the same teacher for both 5th and 6th grades, and that was the likely time. I do recall that my teacher got us to memorize The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and we would stand at the end of the class day and recite it as a group.

Lately, I've been embarrassed to realize I don't know exactly which parts of speech are which. Is 'there' an adverb? A preposition? Something else? I need to read me some basic grammar before it falls out my head completely.

>177 thornton37814: Oh, thanks for attempting the combinations. I didn't know how to start, so I just whined.

>178 Berly: I see you started falling apart early! I would not have opted for the body cast either. Just the thought makes me itchy.

>179 karenmarie: Ah, the secretarial plan. Did you ever use shorthand again?

>180 majleavy: Latin does seem to cement the concepts in most people's heads. I never took Latin, one of the many subjects on my to-do list. When I mentioned this to one of my professors at college, he rejoined with glee that I should take Greek instead. Scary.

>181 rosalita: Yes, moderately amusing, and a good distraction from standing on a slanting board to stretch my calf muscles. I like all sorts of puzzles, but math has gotten away from me over the last few decades, and I edge away from them now. My brother does Sudoku, and my nephew is an absolute whiz at it, but neither will tackle a crossword.

183karenmarie
Mar 17, 8:42am Top

'Morning, Judy!

I used shorthand extensively in college to take notes, reinforcing the lectures by transcribing them. Once I was in the work force I'd make snarky comments about people and the things they said at meetings - nobody else ever knew shorthand. I did it as recently as the Home Owners Association meeting in February and the Friends of the Library Board meeting last week, too, usually commenting on how stupid a suggestion was or how idiotic someone sounded. Not my finest moments but eminently satisfying.

184RebaRelishesReading
Mar 17, 11:57am Top

>182 ffortsa: I'm pretty comfortable with parts of speech but I never can remember the names of the more complex tenses.

185ffortsa
Mar 17, 2:49pm Top

>182 ffortsa: Aha. 'There' is listed as an adverb. Hm. As it's so often used with the verb 'to be', I guess that might make sense, although it does seem to refer to the noun that would follow, as in

There are many things about English that confuse me.

Does it modify 'are' or 'things'?

I should have studied Latin.

186majleavy
Mar 17, 9:54pm Top

If I remember my diagramming, the subject is "things", and the simple predicate is "are"... so "there" indicates the place where those things are, thus modifying "are"? (I teach upper level English, so I'm allowed to have forgotten all the basic stuff, you see.)

187ffortsa
Mar 18, 11:54am Top

>186 majleavy: Sounds reasonable to me.

188ffortsa
Mar 18, 12:02pm Top

Subject: The Theater, One up, one down.

Down first. 'Good For Otto', at the Signature Center, has a do-die-for cast and a to-die-for playwright. Unfortunately the play is already dead. We left at intermission.

Up: We saw 'Hamilton' last night! Even though I was in the back row of the orchestra, peering under the low mezzanine overhang, I found the show dazzling. Jim and I listened to the cast recording before we went (we don't have our 'rap' ears well-exercised), but we didn't need to have done that. The story and the songs, rap and otherwise, are crystal clear. Miranda has done a wonderful job of using the music to reveal character, and to keep the rhythm tight, as many times two actors will share a line - sort of like Shakespeare, you know? I loved the staging (even though I couldn't see the second level of the set too well), the humor, the reality of these characters.

I know tickets everywhere are insanely expensive, but if you can get standing room, or some deal, don't let the cost get in your way.

And I can see how this show can make young people suddenly interested in history, because they can see real people with real struggles, ambitions, tactics, strategy, success and failure, and what better way to relate then and now?

189ffortsa
Edited: Mar 19, 4:26pm Top

20. The Treasure Hunt by Andrea Camilleri

A goodie. Salvo is bored, and someone decides to entertain him with a treasure hunt, or perhaps it's something else? Very funny as usual in the beginning, pretty dark at the end. Not a lot of Livia this time. But a lot of food, as usual. I was impatient with the timeline of action, especially as I knew who the perpetrator was pretty early. Still, a galloping read.

190katiekrug
Mar 21, 8:42am Top

Awesome you got to see Hamilton! I am going in August, thanks to a friend's sister who won 8 tickets in a lottery or something....

191jnwelch
Edited: Mar 21, 9:01am Top

>188 ffortsa: 'Good for Otto' must've been really bad for you two to leave at intermission. (We've done that for stinkers, too). We like the Signature Theater, but even the best screw up sometimes.

Isn't Hamilton amazing? I'm so glad you got to see it. Debbi has been playing me the new Lin-Manuel Miranda/Ben Platt mashup "{Something or other} Tonight", which is beautiful. We definitely were glad we listened to the music before we saw Hamilton. Your ears must be quicker than mine; he packs a lot in!

192ffortsa
Mar 23, 3:43pm Top

I haven't been paying much attention here because I've gotten completely captured by Sally Darling reading Mrs. Bridge. It's so bad that I'm afraid to pick up where I left off because I won't move for hours. Just superb.

193ffortsa
Mar 24, 8:27pm Top

On the foot front, I think things are looking good. I marched in the protest today, for about a mile. The fitbit says over 10,000 steps! Not exactly the best way to start, but today was the day. So far, a little achy. I'm sure to stiffen up overnight.

Stretching out afterward, I started another book on the grammar shelf, Woe is I. It was published in 1996, and the language has already moved ahead, of course. Some of O'Conner's pronouncements feel a little dated, but some are still helpful to me, especially when she says she still has to look them up! We have definitely lost ground (or gained it, depending on your perspective) on the singular 'their' phenomenon. Other rules still seem to hold.

I typed the previous paragraph without two spaces after the period. It looks tight, rushed. I may never get used to it, and never do it voluntarily. Good thing I'm not updating my resume. It's said to be a dead giveaway regarding age. Those whippersnappers can be nasty.

194qebo
Mar 24, 9:23pm Top

>193 ffortsa: two spaces after the period
I search and replace on my resume to eliminate the double spaces. I can't actually type that way. Beaten into submission in junior high school. Just hoping to get through another five years before the whippersnappers win.

195Berly
Mar 24, 9:59pm Top

Judy--SO glad your foot did well in the march today. Hope it still feels great tomorrow. : ) As you can see, I still do two spaced after the period. Sigh.

196majleavy
Mar 25, 12:37pm Top

>193 ffortsa:, >194 qebo:, >195 Berly: I have students who do two spaces, though I tend not to turn to them for punctuative guidance, as a rule. I don't think I've ever done it myself, in spite of learning to write during the Kennedy administration.

197ffortsa
Edited: Mar 26, 8:57am Top

>196 majleavy: then you're definitely not a whippersnapper. More like the early avant garde.

I must examine the material I read. The paragraph I typed without that doublespace was definitely harder for me to read, but more sophisticated type spacing than available here might be providing me enough of a clue. Do you find the double space affects your reading speed? You're clearly aware of it when it happens. (Or should that read 'Clearly, you're aware...?. I've been reading grammar books. &;>)

198karenmarie
Mar 27, 9:30am Top

HI Judy!

LT removes doublespaces and makes them single. I automatically type doublespaces (typing in 10th and 11th grades, 1968-1970) and never realized that in the "real" world singlespace now rules.

199ffortsa
Edited: Mar 27, 7:16pm Top

>198 karenmarie: Wow. That makes me wonder how observant I really am! Thanks for the heads-up.

eta: Yep, I types two spaces and one of them disappeared when I posted. Silly me.

200ffortsa
Mar 27, 7:19pm Top

Wow. I received news of not one but TWO early reviewer awards from this last batch: In An Empty Room by Stephen Spotte and The Adventures of Dagobert Trostler, Vienna's Sherlock Holmes by Balduin Groller.

The funny thing is I don't even remember requesting them. But that's ok. A new book is always welcome.

201SandDune
Mar 28, 4:52pm Top

>197 ffortsa: if I'm reviewing something with double spaces I have to resist very hard not to take them all out! I know it's just personal preference ...

202rosalita
Mar 29, 10:09am Top

Hi, Judy! I'm sorry we won't be able to get together while you're in Indianapolis but I wanted to give you a heads-up that I'll be coming to NYC in August. I finally snagged tickets for Springsteen on Broadway! If you and Jim will be around I'd love to see you again.

203ffortsa
Edited: Mar 29, 10:56am Top

>202 rosalita: That will be great. Send us your dates, won't you. I don't want to be out of town when you're here. And I'm sure there will be others who would join us.

The wide open spaces of the Midwest are pretty foreign to me, as if I lived in Lilliput and everyone else was in the giant country. I may list a query on the meetup list, to see who might be in range for a meetup in Indianapolis over the July 4th weekend, but it looks like a long shot.

204rosalita
Mar 29, 10:55am Top

I know Katie is definitely in, and of course I'd love to meet any other LTers who might be available. I haven't booked the train yet, but the tentative plan is to arrive Aug. 8 and leave Aug. 10 (the concert is Aug. 9). Once I've booked and know arrival/departure times, I'll let you know.

205ffortsa
Mar 31, 7:23pm Top

21. Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell

A fascinating book, expertly read for audio. More after our Tuesday book group.

206vivians
Apr 1, 4:42pm Top

Hi Judy! both Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge have been on my TBR list forever! How did you decide which one to read first?

207ffortsa
Apr 2, 10:46am Top

>206 vivians: We simply decided to read them in which they were written. (Can you tell I've been reading grammar books?) And also, the Times had an interesting article on Mrs. Bridge the last weekend of January, which inspired Jim to propose it for our reading group.

208ffortsa
Apr 2, 10:48am Top

>204 rosalita: We'll keep the weekend open then. I don't think we have any plans that far out. I wouldn't mind seeing Springsteen myself, although I'm not familiar with most of his music. I know, idiotic, isn't it? I just don't listen to that much popular music. I even have a CD of his music, but I've never listened to it. Idiotic.

209ffortsa
Edited: Apr 2, 11:25am Top

I'm attending a talk by Edwidge Danticat on Thursday, so I thought I should read one or two of her books, items that have been waiting patiently for some time. I started with Krik? Krak! last night. Claire of the Sea Light is on the shelf, and Breath, Eyes, Memory on the Kindle. I hope to get at least the first two read before Thursday evening.

210katiekrug
Edited: Apr 2, 11:41am Top

>209 ffortsa: - Judy, I just finished Brother, I'm Dying and it was excellent. It's her memoir of her family in Haiti and in the US - given the title of her talk, I thought it would be appropriate.

The talk is actually Friday night, just FYI :)

ETA: I've also read Breath, Eyes, Memory and it's wonderful. I have the other two you mention on my shelf. She is becoming a favorite, I think.

211ffortsa
Apr 2, 10:47pm Top

>210 katiekrug: Oops. Thanks, Katie. My calendar is right, just my head is wrong! See you Friday.

212ffortsa
Edited: Apr 3, 10:06am Top

22. Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

These are painful, beautiful stories of families struggling under the reign of the Tonton Macout. Most are set in Haiti; others take place where exiles have sought safety.

Many of the stories show the strain on families in these terrible times: a woman who lives by prostitution prays that her son won't hear the noise from the corner where he sleeps; people attempt escapes on leaky boats; a daughter visits her mother in prison, where she stands accused of witchcraft even after she dies; a woman unable to hold a pregnancy picks up a dead infant left on the street, and pretends the child is simply quiet. Threats are everywhere, and illogical. These are pictures of a country in the midst of trauma, and families trying not to look, not to be targets themselves.

213ffortsa
Apr 4, 2:50pm Top

So I encountered a few new books this week. Funny how that happens. A neighbor was taking a couple of bags of books from a friend down to our swap shelves, and she asked if I wanted to look through them first. I ended up with
- 2 Shirley Jackson books, which may be too scary for me to read
- a David Eggers, A Hologram for the King, which I'd never heard of
- The Leaning Tower and Other Stories by Katherine Ann Porter
- Rapture by Susan Minot
- Auguries of Innocence by Patti Smith
- The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
- 3 books by Alexander McCall Smith, from his series set in Scotland

In addition, I received David Hewson's A Season for the Dead in the mail from Paperbackswap.
And, waiting for my blankets to finish drying downstairs, I found three more books on the swap shelves:
- Wish I Could Be There by Allan Shawn
- Sunset Park by Paul Auster
- The Complete Talking Heads, by Alan Bennett, all of his monologues for TV.

OMG. What have I done? And where will I put them?

It's a pattern: a collector of future events. For instance, I began to knit, and immediately looked online for people selling or giving away yarn. My storage locker contains at least one box of fabric I bought years ago when I had the intention of sewing. along with 9 years of New Yorkers saved up for when I have time to read them. Thank goodness I don't have a house with an attic or basement to hold even more 'preparation'!

Well, at least I am well buttressed against the World Wide Book Famine.

214ffortsa
Edited: Apr 4, 2:57pm Top

>205 ffortsa: We met to discuss Mrs. Bridge yesterday, and it was a very satisfying conversation. Most of us (numbering about 15) liked the book very much, and we immediately began talking about our mothers or grandmothers, and how the need to conform so pervaded some of these women's lives. This is a portrait of a culture that is not really gone, even now, although the generalization may be fragmented. We all have our cohorts, whether religious, social, geographic, racial, or class, and each cohort has a certain amount of unspoken norms dangerous to transgress. Mrs. Bridge, of course, cannot step out of her cohort. Each time she initiates an individual action, however mild, she pulls back. Poor lady. She has exactly what she wanted, and that's the problem.

The language and style is wonderfully spare, and the reader (or listener, in my case) can look into the episodes of her life through a one-way mirror of crystalline description. Nothing happens except a life, and it's mesmerizing.

215RebaRelishesReading
Apr 4, 6:05pm Top

Hologram for the King is a rather odd book (IMHO) but an OK read. It was made into a movie -- last year I think. Sounds like you made a very nice haul there.

216karenmarie
Apr 7, 10:02am Top

Hi Judy!

>213 ffortsa: There are very few things more exciting to a bibliophile than being given the opportunity to look through bags of books. Yay for you.

217ffortsa
Apr 7, 11:36am Top

>216 karenmarie: Laughing out loud. Yes, even if you swear you are not looking for any new books, they just jump out of the bags and boxes into your lap, don't they? They are still piled on my desk, waiting for a place to call home.

I must get over to your fast-moving thread and see what's going on.

218ffortsa
Apr 7, 11:54am Top

Good deeds never go unpunished. I finally got some volunteer projects started to analyze data for a friend of mine who runs a non-profit. Now it's hurry, hurry, hurry, and 'you're doing it wrong'. Shades of the work I left behind. I'll have to see how this goes.

Foot remains annoying. And other physical problems, none of them life-threatening but also annoying, are showing up. Grump. I think I'll read.

219weird_O
Apr 7, 12:55pm Top

"buttressed against the World Wide Book Famine." O yes. O yes.

Nice phrase: World Wide Book Famine.

I too am buttressed.

220ffortsa
Apr 9, 10:04am Top

>219 weird_O: Bill, I used this phrase a couple of years ago and the response was electric. May we all survive the WWBF.

221ffortsa
Edited: Apr 9, 6:11pm Top

23. Ratking by Michael Dibdin

review to follow. This is not my first Zen, but I went back to the beginning.

I had a hard time getting into this one. Zen was in so much trouble, personally and professionally, and everything in his new assignment seemed to be against him. The whole atmosphere was depressing. Then, he was able to get hold of a string to pull, almost by accident, and the story became much more lively and active.

The book I read previously had more to do with organized crime. This one centers on a rich family, and a kidnapping, which seems to be very common among the rich at this time in Italy. Who has messed up the standard negotiations? Who among the adult children and their nearest has the most to gain, or the most to lose? And who is messing up Zen's attempts to find out?

If I hadn't read a later one already, I might have given up on this one, but now I have the backstory of Zen's troubles, so it was definitely worthwhile.

222ffortsa
Apr 10, 10:42am Top

Up next for me: Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler, A Walk in the Dark by Gianrico Carofiglio. I'm continuing A History of Salt, which is not showing up in the touchstones just now, and Woe is I by Patricia T. O'Connor, The Complete Talking Heads by Alan Bennett.

223karenmarie
Apr 11, 9:01am Top

Hi Judy!

I'm sorry your foot remains annoying. I've lost track - are you still in a boot?

I finally went to my GP the other day because of a 3-month problem with my right foot. He said I'd been doing all the right things but that it was time for an x-ray and possible visit to a specialist. Harrumph. I limped across the hall to the imaging department, waited all of 5 minutes, then was called back. 3 different views, and we'll see what's next. The real problem is that I'll be on my feet most of Thursday - Saturday for the Friends of the Library book sale. I'm Treasurer and in charge of the Square Squad - volunteers who do the credit card cashiering.

224ffortsa
Apr 11, 10:24am Top

>223 karenmarie: ouch. All I can suggest is to wear your most supportive shoes and sit down whenever possible.

I'm out of my boot for a few weeks now, but still wearing the night splint, not a big deal. I was even wearing my preferred sneakers this week, without the expensive orthotic. Progress. There are more things I need to attend to of course.

I've avoided all volunteering that requires standing, but I have gotten involved with some projects for a friend of mine. Sigh. They feel too much like work!

Good luck at the library event, and thanks for asking about me.

225Oregonreader
Apr 11, 11:24pm Top

Judy, I'm just stopping my lurking to say hi. There are lots of good books on your thread

226ffortsa
Apr 13, 9:46pm Top

24. Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs

Not my cup of tea.

227ffortsa
Edited: Apr 14, 6:10pm Top

I started the next book in the 'two Guidos' reading adventure, titled A Walk In the Dark by Gianrico Carofiglio, but had to put it down for a while. So many mysteries are now focused on violence against women, and this is no exception. I have no idea where this one will go, but the start is upsetting enough. Maybe later.

228RebaRelishesReading
Apr 14, 12:32pm Top

>226 ffortsa: Just took a sip of my morning cuppa as I read that -- nearly lost it LOL

229banjo123
Apr 14, 1:10pm Top

I think I am OK against the WWBF, but only by one and a half bookcases. Maybe I should stock up some more?

230thornton37814
Apr 14, 6:03pm Top

>226 ffortsa: Sorry you didn't like it. I really enjoy the series. I don't like some of the more recent installments quite as much as I did some of its predecessors in the series, but it's still a nice escape to a favorite city.

231ffortsa
Edited: Apr 14, 6:12pm Top

>230 thornton37814: I appreciated the recommendation, but this first book, at least, seemed overwritten, with endlessly repeated descriptions, as if we would forget hair color or need to know the clothing brand. Maybe the later ones are more crisp?

232thornton37814
Apr 14, 7:04pm Top

>231 ffortsa: Maybe it was part of her effort to build the characters. It's been such a long time since I read the first book. For example, clothing brands would be important to Delaine.

233ffortsa
Apr 15, 4:11pm Top

25. Woe is I by Patricia T. O'Conner

As I may have mentioned, I was doing some calf-stretching as part of my physical therapy routine, holding on to the bookshelf for balance, and there were all my grammar books (yeah, I said 'all'). So I began to read them as my right calf slowly let go. This is the first; it has made an interesting impact on my writing, which had gotten just a little to casual. O'Conner is fun and definitely not stuffy about those rules, like prepositions at the end of the sentence, that have gone by the boards these days.

And it's a book already on the shelf!

234Familyhistorian
Apr 17, 10:28pm Top

I dropped a star eons ago but just now got caught up with your thread, Judy. Lots of good reading going on here. Did you retire recently? If so we are in the same boat as I retired at the end of last September.

235ffortsa
Apr 18, 4:39pm Top

>234 Familyhistorian: I retired almost 2 years ago, but I still feel a bit disorganized. After so many years of organization by job, having all this free time is a little odd. And then, as you might have read, I hurt my foot, which is surprisingly disabling (or maybe not - I never thought about it before) and that limited my outdoor activity.

But I'm getting better and the weather is improving, rather fitfully. So maybe this is the year I get my rhythm back. How are you doing?

236ffortsa
Apr 18, 5:04pm Top

I am wiped out. Last night I had severe insomnia, which seems to be caused by me forgetting to take the meds I've been taking for, oh, a decade or more. There they all were in their little Tuesday night box this morning. Sigh. And I tutored today, which is always a great experience but a real energy drain.

I have not been reading much. After looking at the calendar, I did start Breathing Lessons, and will take it down to Florida with me tomorrow, where we are going for a quick family visit. But I've been crazy to get other things done: scanning and shredding old documents I'll probably never need again, for instance; laundry (a necessity of course, but part of my do-everything-at-once mindset - not like I'm beating the clothes on the rocks, anyway). I prepared for and attended a meeting of a non-profit I'm volunteering with, and I have more work to do for them, but it will have to wait until Monday. And my physical therapy. Now I'm just exhausted. I'll pack tonight, and sleep. How did I ever work five days a week?

237Familyhistorian
Apr 20, 1:17am Top

>235 ffortsa: In some ways I seemed to get more done before I retired. I fit in part time course work and volunteering around a full time job. Now that I have more time I feel more pressure to get things done. I think part of it is that I want to do so much and haven't figured out that there is a limit to what I can get done yet.

Sorry to hear about your foot. I hope you can get back to more outdoor activity. That is another thing that takes up time. I used to fit my walking in during my breaks at work so that I got most of it in before I was free for the day. Now I also have to make time to fit in walking and tend to do it all in one block which also takes time out of the day.

238ffortsa
Apr 20, 5:27pm Top

>237 Familyhistorian: I hope to get to the point where I can add some classes to my schedule. There's so much to learn! And NYC colleges provide very inexpensive audit fees for individual campuses. I'm sure I could find something to interest me.

What are you studying?

239Berly
Apr 20, 6:25pm Top

Hope you got some sleep!! How's Floida treating you? Did you get any reading done on the way down?

240ffortsa
Apr 20, 7:09pm Top

>239 Berly: Florida is hot and the company is, let's just say, not ideal (except for Jim, of course). But I have read the first in a new-to-me mystery series,
26. A Season for the Dead by David Hewson,
which was terrific, and let me hide from my surroundings a bit. I forget who recommended this series, set in Rome, featuring Detective Nic Costa, young, dashing, struggling with his sense of justice as a case involving a serial killer, the Vatican, and assorted characters gets stranger and stranger. Great read. I just downloaded the next in the series.

241Berly
Apr 20, 7:12pm Top

Well then, hurray for mystery series!! Hang in there.

242libraryperilous
Apr 21, 1:36pm Top

>72 ffortsa: I went to high school with the author. My impression of her books matches my memories of her from high school. That said, I do think this title sounds interesting and something people could adapt. But it also seems very geared toward white people with money and a large network of helpers.

I've enjoyed catching up on your thread. I hope your PT goes well.

>240 ffortsa: Ooh, this one sounds good.

243FAMeulstee
Apr 25, 5:27am Top

>240 ffortsa: Glad you enjoyed your first Nic Costa. I started the series two years ago and flew right through them all :-)

244ffortsa
Edited: May 4, 2:47pm Top

27. Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler

Discussion tomorrow evening. Some of this novel was aggravating.

eta: The group was pretty divided about this novel. Some found it tedious, others very true to life. I had a lot of trouble with Maggie, the main character, as she tries (with great hope and naivete) to shape everyone else's lives. Aside from that personal irritant, I enjoyed the book, especially toward the end, when her normally uncommunicative but loving husband reveals, silently, the burden and disappointment he carries.

Children who disappoint, lives that disappoint, families whose circumstances trap you in exactly the dead end you dreamed of escaping - it is the very normality of this pain that make the story so real. I'm suddenly reminded of Becket's 'Happy Day', in which a woman is progressively buried in a huge hill, and keeps proclaiming that each day is a happy day. Is that how most people end up feeling about their lives? I hope not.

There is some hope at the end. Maggie and Ira's daughter, who barely figures in the book because she has withdrawn herself from the family disaster, sets off for college. She might escape. Ira and Maggie, with no children to argue over, seem to rekindle their own relationship.
There may be satisfaction in the small things at the end.

245SuziQoregon
May 3, 5:07pm Top

Catching up on your thread after way too long -

Yay for Hamilton! We saw it here about a week after you saw it there. I desperately want to see it again somewhere.

The Montalbano series - we listened to The Snack Thief on our road trip this past weekend. He was extra grumpy in that one.

Good to hear your foot seems to be improving.

>214 ffortsa: "Well, at least I am well buttressed against the World Wide Book Famine."

Yep - me too!

>226 ffortsa: snork! I read a few of that series but quickly tired of it.

246ffortsa
May 4, 2:54pm Top

28. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler

Of course there is the movie, introducing Richard Dryfuss. I recalled scenes from it, but the novel is much more than the movie. Duddy is desperate to get ahead, to get noticed, to get approved of, and he hustles with such determination that at times I felt exhausted by his juggling act. While we watch him, we see the small, tight community of Montreal Jews after WWII, where everyone knows everyone and the local heroes are not always admirable. Duddy's hunger to be somebody and his ties to his family drive the story.

Richler doesn't leave out humor. Some of the episodes are screamingly funny. But this is not a satire; it's a portrait of a boy, a community, and a specific time. Excellent.

247ffortsa
May 4, 3:06pm Top

I've been listening to the audio 'At the Existentialist Cafe' off and on for a while now. So it was a great thrill to find I'd reached the end of the audio - UNTIL I realized there was another whole download to go. It had stopped in a rather odd place, but I was a bit disappointed. The narrator, Antonia Beamish, is terrific; sometimes I actually think I understand some of the philosophical points she reads. Ah well, what's another 7 hours?

I'm also reading the next in the Nic Costa series, The Villa of Mysteries. It disappears from my tablet at 7:03 PM, so I'm hustling through it. However, no one else is waiting for it, so I might be able to check it out again.

248PaulCranswick
May 6, 6:06am Top

>247 ffortsa: Hope you got that one finished in time, Judy.

Have a lovely Sunday. xx

249ffortsa
Edited: May 8, 10:44pm Top

>248 PaulCranswick: I was about to be trapped without an ending, Paul, but I was able to borrow the book immediately again (e-books don't come with renewal rights, but no one was waiting). And it was a goodie.

29. The Villa of Mysteries by David Hewson

In spite of knowing that the series continues, I found my heart pounding in several places in this police procedural (ha - what a genre name), worrying about the protagonist. Nic Costa is wondering if he really wants to come back to police work, or crawl back into the bottle he's so painfully climbed out of. His new partner is flawed but experienced, and is keeping watch on him. Then a girl goes missing, some very odd pictures and rituals begin to surface, along with a body in a peat bog, and some nasty criminals are of course involved. I should have spotted the real culprits much sooner, but it was so intricate and fast-paced, I decided to give myself a break. Recommended to all fans of the genre, especially fans of the genre set in Rome.

250Ameise1
May 9, 1:46am Top

>249 ffortsa: It's a gorgeous series. Happy Wednesday, Judy.

251Berly
May 10, 1:27am Top

Nope. Happy Thursday!! : )

252ffortsa
May 10, 9:17am Top

>250 Ameise1: and >251 Berly: Thanks to both of you, whatever the day!

I've been having a bit of a technical crisis. My lovely little scanner developed a hiccup and Epson replaced it (I love warranties, don't you?). But when the new one came, I couldn't make the computer talk to it. A frustrating hour with Epson tech support only pushed up my blood pressure. Last night, Jim said "Why don't we re-download all the software and try from the beginning?" Smart guy. My scanning saga continues. Whew.

As for reading, I'm still at the existentialist cafe, but I need to start Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea for a book group the first week in June. It's also the book for my midmonth book group, so I should have time to read lots of other stuff.

In the meantime, my group read of the Iliad continues. I brought both the Fagles and the Lombardo translations on Saturday, but I may have to stop that; whenever I read an excerpt in contrast from the Lombardo, someone asks why we aren't reading that translation. I'm fomenting revolution.

I need to ratchet up my 'clear the decks' efforts. Too much distraction in my apartment. At least I've stopped spending hours a day on Facebook. Much more fun to be here.

253rosalita
May 10, 4:36pm Top

Hi Judy! So glad you got your scanner snafu resolved. There's nothing more frustrating than dealing with tech support when you come to realize you may know more about the product than they do. Or maybe I'm just projecting my work frustrations onto your story!

254EBT1002
May 11, 1:19am Top

>252 ffortsa: Oh, I loved The Sea, the Sea.

I read Breathing Lessons eons ago and I loved it. Truly... eons ago. Okay, maybe just a couple of decades, but still.... I wonder how it would land on me now.

"At least I've stopped spending hours a day on Facebook..." I have managed to almost completely sever my relationship with FB. It feels so much better and I appreciate having that time for other things. In my new job I will need to be social media conversant in order to follow what is happening with our students (mostly Twitter and SnapChat -- I'm not wholly embracing this part of the job). Ugh.

I'm in Pullman spending this week getting oriented to my new job at my new university. So far, so good. This will be an adjustment; I think I'm going to miss the Seattle restaurant scene more than I anticipated, but I think I'll love the 7-minute commute and the beautiful surrounding territory, known as The Palouse.

Hugs for you and Jim.

255ffortsa
Edited: May 11, 9:26am Top

>254 EBT1002: I understand the trade-off! I often yearn for a quiet place with a yard and a place to grow something, sit outside, watch the birds - but I've gotten entirely spoiled by the easy accessibility of everything in my part of Manhattan. It's usually the thought of having to drive everywhere that kills those exurban dreams. I must look up the Palouse and get an idea of what you will be enjoying.

And I'm glad to hear you loved the Murdoch. Sometimes Jim worries that the titles chosen for the book group will not be well received. I hope this one will prove a positive experience for our two groups.

Still struggling to stay off FB, but I'm improving. And since I usually read it on my phone, my eyes are grateful.

>253 rosalita: Yes, tech frustrations are the worst for me. I keep thinking a) these devices are here to help me and b) I'm supposed to be able to figure this out. The farther I get from my big computer experience, the stupider I feel. SO glad this scanner is working. And, I got all my tax data scanned and shredded yesterday. The only paper I want to own is between the covers of books!

Hey, I get to start a new thread! Come on over!

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