rosalita jumps a little higher in 2018: Verse 1
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Well, hello there! I’m Julia and this is where I will chronicle my year in books and other wordy things. I’m 53, I work in higher education, and I live in Iowa. I read books of all sorts (fiction, nonfiction, mystery, history, science fiction/fantasy), maybe fewer than in the past but hopefully better. (Better does not mean Serious, or Literary, or any such thing. It just means, you know, Better.)
And because I do a lot of reading outside of books, I’ll be tempting you once again with Clickbait!, my possibly-too-cute way to refer to links and comments to various internetty items of interest that I find interesting, amusing, or thought-provoking. Maybe you will, too! None of the non-book reading will count toward my 75-book total, of course.
About those stars:
My system for assigning star ratings to books has evolved over the years, but this chart comes the closest to describing what I consider when I rate a book.
This book may not be perfect, but it was perfect for me.
Not quite perfect, but I will actively recommend this book to friends.
A really great book with minor flaws, still highly recommended.
Better than average but some flaws. Recommended.
Entertaining but probably forgettable, not worth re-reading. Recommended only for fans of the genre or author.
Readable but something about the story, characters or writing was not up to standards. Not recommended.
Finished but did not like, and would not recommend.
Some redeeming qualities made me finish it, but nothing to recommend.
Nearly no redeeming qualities. Really rather bad.
Could not finish, possibly destroyed by fire (unless it's a library book)
2017 in Review
I made the decision at the start of the year to only count new reads in my yearly total, and that turned out to be 77. I've read more in the past but that's OK. Every year has its own rhythm. Since I track reading dates in my catalog, I can see that the total number of books read in 2017, including re-reads, is 103. The consensus in an unscientific poll on my last thread of 2017 showed overwhelming support for counting them all in one list, so that's what I'll do this year.
I only rated three books as :
The Children by David Halberstam (nonfiction, history)
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (fantasy)
Calamity Town by Ellery Queen (fiction, mystery)
The list of books is a bit longer:
The Green Mile by Stephen King
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
The Western Star by Craig Johnson
The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Trespasser by Tana French
The Fireman by Joe Hill
Of the 77 books I read for the first time, 38 were written by men; 37 by women, and 2 were written by a mixed male-female collaboration.
And that's about the extent of the stats I track!
Life’s Full of Challenges
I have had years when I plunged headfirst into a bucketload of challenges, only to get overwhelmed and abandon most or all of them by summer. And I have had years when I have merrily read purely at random, only to have a sense of having under-achieved at the end of the year. Is it possible to strike a happy balance between the two? Let’s find out!
In 2018, the only challenge I am committing to is Suzanne’s Nonfiction Reading Challenge. I may also dip in and out of the various nationality-based author challenges, as the spirit moves me. For now that’s enough, but if I get a wild notion to participate occasionally in other challenges, I’ll list those here as well.
January: Prizewinning Books (planned)
I started this one on New Year's Eve so it will be my first book of 2018. I liked but did not love Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad, mostly because that sort of non-linear storytelling is not really my cup of tea. But the writing was good and I've heard this one is a more straightforward narrative. I'm only a couple of chapters in but it's already caught my attention.
Thanks, Jim! You must be prowling the group looking for new threads — I'm honored to have you as my first visitor in the new year. It's a good omen, I think. 😊
Yeah, I’m watching a Harry Potter movie with the family while we wait for midnight - so prowling to keep myself awake. 😀
Excellent! Only 1 hour left for you. I'm not sure I'll last the 2 hours until 2018 gets to Iowa but we'll see!
Hi Julia! I have dropped my star and I look forward to seeing what you'll be reading this year. I have my eye on Manhattan Beach so I'll be curious to see what you think of it when you've finished it.
Hi, Carrie! So far, so good with the Egan. It's bitterly cold here: -14 degrees F right now, with wind chill of -33 F, and the high temp tomorrow isn't expected to get above 0, so I expect to do a lot of reading!
I'm north of you in Northern Minnesota but it's only -13 with a "feels like" of -37. Glad to be staying in and reading. Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce is the next one on my stack.
>11 kmartin802: Brrr, Kathy! That's plenty cold, isn't it? I'd rather have cold than lots of snow, but this sort of extended extreme cold snap is tough to take. Saps all my energy and makes me want to nap all the time.
Compared to what you all are enduring, we're sweltering here at 19F! We may be above freezing Wednesday, then not again until Saturday. I do not like the cold, but it would be worse with snow so I'm counting my blessings.
Oh, 19 degrees above zero sounds heavenly! I keep telling myself, "Every day is longer than yesterday and spring is right around the corner." A little harder to make myself believe in this weather, but it's true. (Well, except the "just around the corner" bit.)
Starred and ready for 2018. Happy reading!
(-7 here. Think I'll sleep late.)
Good plan, Steve! That's about all below-freezing weather is good for, really. Sleeping and reading.
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.
Happy reading in 2018, Julia, nice that the re-reads also get a place here ;-)
Dropping off my star, Julia. And hoping that the New Year is full of happy. I am so thrilled that the Clickbait! will be returning.
Happy New Year, Julia! And happy first thread of 2018!
So, what did you decide about whether to count rereads in 2018?
Happy New Year, Julia! I will be interested in seeing what you think of the Egan book even though I have still not read Goon Squad yet :)
>31 LauraBrook: >32 Berly: Thank you, Laura and Kim (again). :-)
>33 Storeetllr: I kind of hid the announcement in my 2017 review post up there at the top, Mary, but I've decided to count everything together in one list. That seemed to be the consensus advice.
>34 alcottacre: I will let you know, Stasia!
>35 scaifea: Thank you, Amber. And the same back at ya.
>36 jnwelch: The same to you and Debbi, Joe!
The Year in Reading meme
Describe yourself: Uncommon Type
Describe how you feel: Hounded
Describe where you currently live: Calamity Town
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Garden of Lamentations
Your favorite form of transportation: Strangers on a Train
Your best friend is: Rose Under Fire
You and your friends are: The Good Girls Revolt
What’s the weather like: Glaciers
You fear: The Children
What is the best advice you have to give: Mourn Not Your Dead
Thought for the day: All Shall Be Well
How you would like to die: A Finer End
Your soul’s present condition: Uprooted
The Deborah Crombie titles are always great for that meme. I used one this year, too.
Happy 2018, Julia. I look forward to more book recommendations from you and perhaps a meet up this year.
>47 BLBera: I don't know about MLK Weekend this year, Beth, especially if it's still -15F, but we will definitely make a meet-up plan once we all thaw out!
How Rubber Bands Are Made — It's only January 2, so I don't want to stretch anyone's brains too much with the first Clickbait of 2018, for fear that you all might snap at me. (OK, I'm done with the rubber-band puns.) I found this video weirdly compelling, and I hope you like it, too. If not, we'll bounce back with something new tomorrow. (Oops, guess I wasn't done after all.) (via Insider.com)
Um, Julia, the linky thing doesn't work - it just goes back to the top of your thread.
Well, for pity's sake, as my Aunt Clara would say. So that's what happens when you put a double set of quote marks around the URL in a link! Try it again, Madame Mamie, and thanks for the heads-up!
Well, who knew there was so much work involved? And of course all this talk of rubber bands has me humming that rubberband man song in my head.
And don't worry about Katie, she'll snap out of it.
>50 rosalita: COOL. I LOVE those sorts of videos. So interesting. I was always the kid in school who actually loved factory field trips for the actual factory stuff and generally was the only one really paying attention and loving it. So, thanks! Excellent choice for the first clickbait of the year!
>57 katiekrug: Whoa! That was an unexpected result. I hope you weren't picturing doing this to my and Mamie's heads, Katie? If you were, you need to get a grip, young lady.
>58 scaifea: I used to watch the "how-it's-made" shows on the Food Network for hours back in the day, Amber. The only factory tour I've ever done was the Waterford Crystal factory in Ireland, and I got nudged along because I just wanted to stand and watch one guy make a glass from start to finish, which apparently wasn't on the agenda.
I just thought it would be a fun activity for you rubber band pun aficionados to do together. With all appropriate safety gear, of course.
Oh, I see! So the two people placing the rubber bands are Mamie and I, and the watermelon is you? That does seem like fun!
Oh, Julia... *smh*
Make like an acute angle and don't be obtuse.
Heh. I am *such* a wit.
Heh heh heh. Only January 2 and I've already managed to irritate KAK. It's a good thing I live so far away!
I think we'd better, before she figures out that slingshots use rubber bands! At least you're closer to her so she'll hit you first. :-P
Hi Julia, just dropping my star off my dear and look forward to visiting you often dear friend.
I wasn't really irritated. Just playing straight man to
:) How could I ever be irritated by you and Mamie?!!?
And no, that's not a challenge.
>73 Crazymamie: You bet, but we probably need to ake-tay atie-Kay out of our ans-play.
>75 Familyhistorian: We really did gang up on her, didn't we, Meg? It's only because we love her so much.
>80 Storeetllr: Mamie and Katie are the funny ones, Mary. I just put up the video and made a couple of little puns, and they ran with it.
Oh, I will be back, don't you worry. I don't want to miss any future shenanigans.
How to Solve The New York Times Crossword Puzzle — I've talked before on my thread about my semi-obsession with the NYT crossword. Right now I've got a 59-day streak of completing the puzzle, and before that I had a 61-day streak until a brief illness made me miss a day.
But I wasn't always so steadfast; for a long time (years) I only attempted the Monday-Wednesday puzzles because I thought the latter-week ones were too hard. If that's how you feel, or you have never done the crossword but want to, the Times has put out this nifty guide. There are lots of great tips for putting your brain in "solve" mode. It might be a placebo effect, but I do feel more mentally agile and alert since I started doing the puzzle regularly. And at my age, that's not to be taken lightly! (via The New York Times)
Nice article! I'm a NY Times solver too - my current streak is 2 weeks. It definitely keeps my brain agile, and sitting down on a Saturday morning with a cuppa coffee and the puzzle is most definitely a de-stresser. 😁
>92 drneutron: It's my weekday morning ritual to work on the puzzle on my iPad while eating breakfast. Sometimes on Thursday and Friday I have to stop to get ready for work, and then I finish it on my lunch break. No matter what happens at work, at least I know I will accomplish one thing every day. :-)
>91 rosalita: - This may be my favorite Clickbait! so far. I love crossword puzzles, but generally the big, themed Sunday ones in the NYT and WaPo. I think I'm now inspired to commit to the daily NYT one :)
Hi Julia! Happy new thread, happy new year!
>50 rosalita: I love how it’s made videos. I hadn’t seen one about rubber bands before, so thank you.
>91 rosalita: My grandmother used to solve a daily crossword puzzle - it was probably in the LA Times not the NY Times - and she had some sort of crossword puzzle dictionary, big and red, but I don't know where it went. I have many happy memories of hanging out in her bedroom with her while she worked on the crossword puzzle.
I just did one of the sample Monday puzzles online and it took me 10 minutes. It would have been faster, but I kept messing up the entries when it would skip squares already filled in :-P
>94 katiekrug: >96 katiekrug: Woo-hoo! You can do it, Katie! And I have those square skipping/not skipping problems when I solve on my computer, but for some reason the iPad app is much more intuitive for me. Still, 10 minutes for a Monday is not bad, especially with computer issues.
>95 karenmarie: I'm glad you liked the rubber band video, Karen. I love how-it's-made videos, too. And what a lovely memory of your grandmother.
>97 alcottacre: So glad you liked the video, Stasia. And yes, you and Kerry are well set in the mental gymnastics department!
Hi Julia Happy New Year! I wasn't as active in 2017 as I would have liked to be. I'm hoping 2018 is better and will provide lots of opportunity to visit here.
I haven't tried a crossword puzzle in years. I'm sure it would take me awhile to get used to working one and remembering all those words one only uses in a crossword. My dad worked the one in the local paper daily until his vision deteriorated to the point he could only read headlines. Maybe I should start with the local paper until I am up-to-speed to tackle the NY Times.
>91 rosalita: Although, I've enjoyed scratching my head through the NYT Crossword Puzzles, I've only completed ONE. Sadly, now that you've posted this nice little how to book, we've switched to the Wall Street Journal, simply, because we got a better price on the subscription.
Nice article though and probably just as useful for the WSJ puzzles
I love the crossword Clickbait!, Julia! I do the Sunday NYT crossword every week - Rae got me a subscription to the Sunday edition for Mother's Day last year, and I love attempting the crossword. The Christmas Eve one was really fun.
>100 thornton37814: I find it really helps to start on a Monday (the easiest day) and work through the week. I'm much better at the Thursday-Friday-Saturday puzzles if I've done Monday-Tuesday. It sort of puts my brain into crossword mode or something. And yes, do your local puzzle! Although you may find that it's the NY Times puzzle, as they are syndicated into many papers. But the puzzle guide link is really for any crossword puzzles, not just the NYT.
>101 Carmenere: Yes, I think the guide is meant as a general crossword guide rather than specific to the NYT. Give the WSJ one a try and let me know what it's like. I'm imagining a puzzle filled with words like "derivatives," "hedge fund," and "market capitalization," but that's probably not quite accurate. :-)
>102 Crazymamie: I like the Sunday puzzle because it's bigger but it's not the hardest one of the week so it's not as intimidating. Was the Christmas Eve one the puzzle where you had to connect the circled letters to make a reindeer outline at the end? I thought at first I wouldn't be able to do that because I solve on my iPad, but I took a screenshot and then marked it up in the Notes app. My reindeer was a little shaky but it did (sort of) look like a reindeer!
Yes! Although whenever I see a rebus I assume there will be others, so I spent a lot of time trying to shoehorn multiple letters into other answers. Especially the "moves the cursor backward" clue, which I tried so hard to make LEFTARROW with a rebus but turned out to be a plain old LEFTKEY. Sneaky!
>105 rosalita: - Julia, when solving on the iPad, how do you get it to force more than one letter into the box?
>107 katiekrug: You click the REBUS button, which lets you type in more than one letter. Then click the REBUS button again to go back to single-letter mode.
Ha! Well, now you do! There's also a "pencil" mode that you can use that puts in the answers in grey instead of black type, if you want to be able to tell which ones you aren't sure of. I always just madly do the whole thing in black/pen, because I'm a wild child. :-D
Yup, the Christmas Eve puzzle was really well done, and I fell into the same rebus trap as you. I was sure there were more...
I love the iPad app for the crosswords - I can work the puzzle in a meeting if I'm not sitting at the table. 😁
The iPad app is great. I wouldn't be nearly so quick to fill in guesses if I had to do it on paper. In the app, no one can tell how many times I had to erase wrong answers. :-)
You do need a separate subscription no matter how you're solving except in the actual newspaper. It's $39.95 a year, but since I have a digital subscription to the NYT, the crossword sub is 50% off, so $19.99.
Edited to add: If you don't subscribe, there are some puzzles that are free: Non-subscribers can still access an array of puzzles:
* The Mini crossword is available daily in our apps
* There are three archive crossword puzzles updated weekly online
* You can play online puzzles KenKen, Sudoku and SET
* You may buy a pack of puzzles (either new puzzles or puzzles curated from our archive) in the apps
Love the way you stretched out the rubber band puns. :)
I used to do crosswords; maybe this will inspire me to start again.
My 11 year old got an actual sling shot for Christmas from my husband's Auntie. Most. Terrifying. Gift. Ever.
Two Dying Memoirists Wrote Bestsellers About Their Final Days. Then Their Spouses Fell in Love. — When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi’s memoir of his final years as he faced lung cancer at age 37, was published posthumously, in 2016, to critical acclaim and commercial success. The Bright Hour, Nina Riggs’s memoir of her final years as she faced breast cancer at age 39, was published posthumously, in 2017, to critical acclaim and commercial success. The two books were mentioned together in numerous reviews, lists and conversations. Perhaps less inevitable was that the late authors’ spouses would end up together, too. (via The Washington Post)
>121 rosalita: While nothing so dramatic, my brother who lost his wife to cancer just last year married a woman whose husband also had - I think it is the kind of trauma that you can't expect most others to really understand.
>122 quondame: >123 quondame: Welcome to my thread, Susan! I think you are right about the shared experience creating a bond. And in the case of these two, being introduced by one of the dying spouses must have made it seem more natural to connect. I'm sorry for your brother's loss, but I'm glad he's found someone to help him go on.
Debbi was just telling me about how the two spouses connected when Nina told her husband to contact Paul's wife, to help him with the grieving. They apparently were emailing each other for a long time about grief issues. Pretty cool.
My favorite click bait so far is the rubber bands. Who knew? And would I want to work there?
>128 markon: That's a good question, Ardene, about whether you'd want to work there. The stuff looks a bit messy to wrassle around from machine to machine but it would be fun to see it go from raw material to finished product.
A University's List of Words To Revive — This is an interesting set of words you don't hear enough of. I knew and have used some of them, I've heard of but never used others, and some were completely new to me (eucastrophe? Really?). Can you work these into your weekend conversation? (via Inside Higher Ed)
Loving all the clickbait! The rubber band factory was so cool to see but I wouldn't want to work there.
I have never done much with puzzles.
I really need to get to When Breath Becomes Air!
I have no idea what it means, but like the sound of Frangle.
Oooh, "Bilious." I haven't used that in ages and I know just the splenetic, incensive, witherward nidderling to use it for. Thanks for the reminder!
+1 for littoral.
>131 Berly: The word is actually "frangible" — that font is not as readable as I'd like. It means "fragile" or "brittle". It's one of those words I've seen in books but never used, and weirdly it seems like it's always being used to describe soil. Like someone picks up a clod of dirt from a farm field, and it's described as frangible, which I guess means it crumbles easily instead of clumping together? I'm glad to know it can be used for other things besides dirt!
>132 swynn: Bilious is a good one, isn't it, Steve? Littoral's another one I've seen often but never used myself. And I always thought picaresque referred as much to books that involve a journey or a road trip, but that must be some other word. The More You Know ...
Hello, Julia! Um...the dirt here is not frangible. More like clay and hard as a rock at the same time. Weird dirt, I am telling you. Anyway, I digress...I'm off to read today's Clickbait!
>134 Crazymamie: I guess it's all this good Midwest topsoil that's so frangible, Mamie! I know other places have more clay-like soil like yours, and still others where it's really sandy so that water runs right through it and the plants get parched very quickly. I learned all this from my gardener friends, because I do not have a green thumb!
>130 rosalita: Ah, the joys of knowing Greek and Latin. Also, people don't use 'compunction'?! Since when?!
>136 scaifea: Clearly, you hang out with a classy group of people who know compunction and use it often. Which I already knew was true, because you're here! :-)
Personally I use "couth" quite a lot---like Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday: "Ya just not couth!" :D
>139 lyzard: I can just hear you saying that, with what I presume would be the Aussie accent you have (I'm going to guess that like the US and the UK there is more than one Aussie accent?)
Speaking of accents from your neck of the woods, I've been watching the Doctor Blake Mysteries on Netflix lately. I usually have to give up and turn on closed captioning part way through, but I think I'm getting better. :-)
Hi Julia, I'm a little late in placing my star but I am looking forward to following along with your reading and your tempting clickbait posts. Hopefully 2018 will prove to be a great reading year for all of us.
>141 DeltaQueen50: I'm so happy to welcome you here, Judy! I am looking forward to following your challenge progress this year and also,hearing about your new home as you settle in.
I think it's rather that the accent is more or less pronounced...and of course in TV shows and movies it's nearly always exaggerated... :)
(Noting that non-Australians who attempt an Australian accent often come out sounding either Cockney or South African---so don't believe everything you hear!)
Craig McLachlan was a soap-opera heart-throb (and would-be pop-singer) in his younger days! :D
Oh my! Well, that explains it! He does seem to find time to sit down at the piano and noodle about fairly often for a busy police surgeon. ;-)
He's actually done quite a few stage musicals, too: Grease and The Rocky Horror Show (as Frank N. Furter!) that I know of.
Then I will eagerly await the inevitable episode when he begins belting out show tunes. I do love Rocky Horror!
Is that McLachlan?! He needs to start showing off those legs on the TV show!
'Women Are Better Writers Than Men': Novelist John Boyne Sets the Record Straight — It's always nice to read an article written by a man who recognizes the hurdles women writers go through to be considered "serious." Bonus: I picked up a ton of new-to-me authors to check out! (via The Guardian)
>156 rosalita: OMG That's brutal! I have a running argument with an author I know, not about whether men or women are better writers (Octavia Butler was his mentor), but whether women understand men better than men understand women - and this "My female friends, for example, seem to have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in men’s heads most of the time. My male friends, on the other hand, haven’t got a clue what’s going on in women’s." Along with the four roles, one of my frequent complaints.
Though I've only read a couple of books by trans authors, I suspect they have a thing or two to tell us as well.
>157 quondame: Hi, Susan! Yes, that sentence stood out to me as well. I suspect it has to do with the fact that the goings-on in men's heads has been the dominant cultural view since ... forever, so women couldn't help but be aware of it. Whereas the exposure men have had to a serious woman's thought process has been pretty scarce in literature and pretty much anywhere else. Add in that many men don't seem particularly interested in learning about how women think, and it adds up to a credibility problem when trying to write from the viewpoint of the opposite sex.
>156 rosalita: I saw this article earlier and loved it! Also, I LOVE Boyne, and this makes me appreciate he even more.
>159 scaifea: I'm not sure I've ever read any Boyne but I need to fix that, Amber. Any suggestions for where to start? And I'm glad you liked the article — I've had it bookmarked for eons but only just got around to actually reading it yesterday.
>158 rosalita: I think that's true, but more it's, at least in my case, being raised dependent on the mood of my parents and siblings, I am much more aware of who they are than they are aware of who I am. If you are dependent on the good will of someone or subject to violence at their hands your sanity and even survival requires you to read them well. And women have had to read men for a long long time.
>161 quondame: I hadn't considered that aspect, but I think you've hit on something very true. Depressingly true!
1. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan.
Young Anna Kitteridge is used to tagging along with her dad, Eddie, on his business trips around New York City. It's the midst of the Great Depression, and Eddie works for the boss of the longshoreman's union on the Brooklyn docks. (The reality of his business trips is only slowly revealed to the reader, so I won't spoil it here.) One day he takes 12-year-old Anna on a visit to the Manhattan Beach home of Dexter Styles, and shortly after that he stops taking Anna with him at all.
Fast-forward seven years and the United States has entered World War II, Eddie has vanished, and Anna is a 19-year-old working at the Brooklyn Naval Yard. Bored with her job inspecting machined parts for warships, she sets her sights on learning how to dive. Women have taken many jobs at the Naval Yard — even welding — since the war effort sent most working-age men overseas, but none has yet become a diver. In the midst of finding her way into this new role, Anna also has to deal with a fresh encounter with the mysterious Dexter Styles and the possibility of learning the truth about what happened to her father.
In addition to the time shift, Egan shifts the narrative's viewpoint back and forth among Anna, Eddie, and Dexter. Often in novels that employ this tactic, I find myself uninterested in one or more of the perspectives and impatient to return to the compelling storyline. I felt some of that same impatience here, but not because any of the stories were uninteresting — instead, they all were very interesting and I wasn't ready to let go of one to embrace another. Not all of the characters are good, and their stories don't always end well, but I found myself wanting the best even for the worst of them.
We don't get any story segments told from the point of view of the sea, but it is just as much a character as Anna, Eddie and the other people who populate her world. Consider Egan's description of the first time Anna's disabled sister, Lydia, visits the beach:
Anna leaned her head against her sister's and watched a long wave form, stretching until it achieved translucence, then somersaulting forward and collapsing into creamy suds that eked toward them over the sand, nearly touching the wheels of Lydia's chair. Then another wave gathered, reaching, stretching, a streak of silver dashing along its surface where the weak sunlight touched it. The strange, violent, beautiful sea: this was what she had wanted Lydia to see. It touched every part of the world, a glittering curtain drawn across a mystery.And again, when Eddie looks out on the ocean from the deck of a merchant marine ship:
... an infinite hypnotic expanse that could look like scales, wax, hammered silver, wrinkled flesh. It had structure and layers you couldn't see from land.I've always been drawn to the sea, perhaps because I spent the first eight years of my life living on Long Island, just a block from the ocean, and I thought these passages articulated my feelings beautifully. Another personal connection that won't be of interest to anyone but me is that both my grandfather and my father worked as longshoreman on the Brooklyn docks. The stories they used to tell, though sanitized for younger listeners, fit right in with what Egan depicts.
Beyond the compelling storyline and deft characterization, the historic bits felt very real — the landscape of Brooklyn, the mechanics of deep-sea diving, the life of a merchant mariner at sea were sharply drawn and exquisitely detailed. Some readers might find the details too much, in fact, but I found it kept me nicely grounded in the time period.
>163 rosalita: I just cataloged that one today. It arrived over our Christmas break.
>163 rosalita: - That's an excellent review, Julia. It's already on my list, but I'm even more eager to read it now.
>164 thornton37814: That's a coincidence! Do you think you'll read it?
>165 swynn: Yeah, Naipaul's dead to me at this point. I've heard more than enough about his misogyny, and there are too many great books out there to read by people who aren't asshats.
I liked this one much more than Goon Squad, although that won't necessarily be your experience. They are very different books stylistically, for sure.
>166 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie! I hope you like it.
>164 thornton37814: I won't read it right away. I'll allow others a chance to read it first. I'm already overcommitted for this month in spite of my stellar reading rate the first week.
>168 thornton37814: I totally understand being overbooked for a month of reading! But if you do get to it sometime, I hope you enjoy it.
I've only read his kids' books so far, but they're so nuanced that I fully enjoyed them as an adult (and they all pack a big emotional punch). I'd start with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I have his newest, The Heart's Invisible Furies on my shelves but haven't read it yet. In fact, I have two copies (I had pre-ordered it, and then my public librarian friend gave me her ARC copy because she knew I love him, and it was so thoughtful of her to think of me that I couldn't tell her I already had a copy). You're welcome to one of these if you want - just let me know!
>170 scaifea: Thanks for the Boyne tips, Amber. If you're sure you want to give up one of your copies of The Heart's Invisible Furies, I'd love to read it! I just took a look at the LT page for the book and it looks like something that's right in my wheelhouse. Now we'll have to have a meet-up this spring so you don't have to mail it!
With 'Electric Dreams' Philip K. Dick Gets the TV Anthology Treatment — I know there are some fellow PKD fans who visit here (howdy, Mamie!) who might join me in being excited to check out this new Amazon Prime offering. All 10 episodes will be available starting Friday. (via The New York Times)
>171 rosalita: I'm happy to send the book along, but that doesn't mean I don't want a spring meet-up!
>172 rosalita: Heck yes! Plus, Timothy Spall? I am so there.
But how will you resolve your interest in the show with your (justified) distaste for giving money to Amazon?
>176 swynn: It's a conundrum, Steve. But I'm chagrined to say that I already pay for Amazon Prime, so watching this won't result in Amazon making any more money from me, at least.
Hi Julia - I've been enjoying your clickbaits. I sent the links to >130 rosalita: and >156 rosalita: to some of my male colleagues, prompting a call down the hall that I must not have any work to do.
I haven't read Boyne either, but will definitely put him on the list.
Thanks - I had a good laugh over the women are better writers article.
>50 rosalita: lol, love the rubber band puns and ensuing hilarity. I'm just going to go back and read posts 50-90 again to brighten up my day.
>180 Crazymamie: Right?! I knew you would be excited, Mamie.
>181 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! I'm glad you enjoy them. I really like being able to share some of the offbeat stuff I stumble on with other people. Otherwise, I just end up muttering to myself, "That was really interesting. I should tell someone about this." Which isn't nearly as much fun. Clearly, your male colleagues are just jealous that you are so well-connected!
>182 LovingLit: That whole section of the thread had a life of its own there for a while, Megan! I'm glad you're able to enjoy it after the fact. :-)
>182 LovingLit: I am actually in bed too, Like Mr Bean. Although I don't have my teddy :) I have my nephew staying, and his presence is calming my two down so there is (miraculously) no morning fighting to referee! I am lapping up the me time by LTing in bed. What luxury!
>180 Crazymamie: I knew you would be as excited as I am, Mamie!
>181 BLBera: I'm glad the clickbait has been hitting the sweet spot with you, Beth. Your male colleagues sound a bit fuddy-duddy. :-)
>182 LovingLit: I'm glad you were able to enjoy it after the fact, Megan. Come back anytime you need a dose of the giggles!
>186 Crazymamie: I can 'splain everything, Lucy!
Drinking is SO 1950s, Mamie. I prefer my stimulants in 21st century forms. Ahem.
I thought I had posted but then I came back down to the bottom of the thread and saw Megan's post was the last one and thought, "Oh, it must not have posted," because that does happen sometimes, so I re-wrote it, and posted it. And all the while never noticed it was already there!
>184 LovingLit: Wow, time alone to layabout in bed? I can almost hear you purring from here, Megan!
>176 swynn: Ah. Well then you're right to get all you can out of it. (I too pay the beast.)
I especially liked the Boyne article, Julia, because we argue about women v. men writers all the time. This proves that I am right. :)
>192 swynn: At least I'm in good company, Steve.
>193 BLBera: I'm glad to provide you with some ammunition in your debate, Beth, although I'm sure you were already winning. As you say, you have the truth on your side. :-)
>194 ronincats: it looks promising, doesn't it, Roni? I hope it's as good as it seems it could be.
And again with the double posting! At least I caught this one. LT seems to have some early-year hiccups these days.
>187 rosalita: Ha! Too funny. And drinking is so yesterday? And just what is your 21st century drug of choice?
Curb How Facebook, Google and Amazon Use Your Personal Data In a Quick Privacy Clean-up — This is a straightforward article with practical steps you can take to protect your privacy online. One of its suggestions is to use a search engine like DuckDuckGo that doesn't keep track of what you search. That's what I have set all my browsers to, and it does seem to help a bit. The best advice is at the end — don't put all your online eggs in one basket. (via USA Today)
>201 rosalita: Interesting. As usual. Yes, I am definitely winning the argument.
2. Like Love by Ed McBain.
It's spring, when a policeman's fancy turns to ... well, investigating crime. Like every other season, I guess. Anyway, we open with Steve Carella leaning out a window, trying to convince a young woman not to jump to her death. He fails. Not long after, he and Cotton Hawes are called in to investigate an apparent double suicide, a couple found in bed with a suicide note ("we can't go on, etc.") in an apartment filled with gas. It seems nearly as straightforward as that jumper in the opening chapter, so why are Carella and Hawes reluctant to close the file and call it suicide? It's that old cop intuition, and of course it turns out to be right because otherwise there wouldn't be a book.
The plot's interesting but not quite as compelling as some earlier entries in the series. We do get some personal time with the squad at the 87th Precinct: Cotton's flirtation with his girlfriend is becoming serious and Bert Kling continues to mourn his murdered girlfriend. I was disappointed not to get even a cameo appearance from Carella's wife Teddy, who is delightful. Maybe in the next one.
(Ebook off the shelf)
Jack is back, stumbling into trouble in some podunk Wisconsin town. I'm not very far into it, but I'm already annoyed by all the sentence fragments. Has Lee Child always written like this? I don't remember being this irritated by it in earlier installments of this rock 'em sock 'em series. I don't want to be irritated. I want to be entertained!
Reacher put his left fist on the table. The size of a supermarket chicken. Long thick fingers with knuckles like walnuts. Old nicks and scars healed white against his summer tan.
>205 rosalita: Yeah. I can't figure out if I've always just read over it without noticing (seems hard to believe) or if it's particularly bad in this book. I'll keep going and hope once the action really gets going that Child decides to use all the parts of speech — nouns, verbs, subject, predicate all in one sentence!
>205 rosalita: I've only read the first two, and haven't noticed it, but maybe the explosions are distracting me. When I get around to #3, I'll report.
>209 swynn: I wonder if it's something that has gotten worse gradually, as the books' popularity has increased and the level of close editing has decreased.
I'm a bit surprised at how much I enjoy Grace and Frankie, a Netflix original series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as women who find themselves reluctantly thrown together when their husbands leave them — for each other. The husbands are played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston. I watched the first episode a while ago and thought it was just OK, but recently during our Arctic freeze I picked it up again and found that it improves greatly after that first setup episode. Fonda and Tomlin are fantastic, of course, and the show has some great things to say about the challenges faced by aging women. Plus, they live together in a beach house in La Jolla, Calif., and the scenery shots are gorgeous.
Is anyone else watching this? What do you think?
>213 rosalita: I love this show. I am anxiously awaiting the next season.
>214 luvamystery65: It's really good! I actually laugh out loud sometimes, which is really rare. I am almost finished with the third season, so I'll be ready when the new season is released next week.
>215 rosalita: I love all those actors, and my mom likes it. It's on my list, but lately I really haven't been interested in even turning on the TV.
>216 BLBera: I can understand that, Beth. For me it's a matter of just opening up the Netflix app on my iPad, but I still find myself not always in the mood to bother. Easier to just read a book! I think you'd like it though, if you ever do feel like watching.
>213 rosalita: Love the show! No clinkers in that cast--even the "kids" are great.
I will get to it because it does sound like one I would like. Now that school is started, I do have days when I'm too exhausted to read, so it's good to know I have something ready to watch. And "Longmire." I'm only on the second season with that.
>213 rosalita: Hmmm.... I watched the first episode sometime ago (whenever it was first offered) and I thought it was kinda awful. Disappointed because I liked the cast and the premise seemed good. I’ll give it another chance now - thanks!
>213 rosalita: I get the feeling I would like Jane Fonda a lot more (in general) if she didn't look so much like she was trying to look so much younger than she is, if you know what I mean.
>218 klobrien2: Agreed, Karen!
>219 BLBera: I know what you mean, Beth. It's nice to have something that doesn't require a lot of thinking when you've been thinking and talking all day long.
>220 Copperskye: Yeah, the first episode was not great, Joanne. It was a couple of months before I decided to try it again, and it finally clicked. The whole first season it seems they are trying to establish the characters and their back stories, and it can be a little uneven because of that, I think.
>221 LovingLit: She does look fabulous for her age, Megan! I don't know what kind of work she's had done on her face but it doesn't look as "frozen" as some folks who have face lifts. Plus, in one episode she lifted her leg and stuck her foot in the sink to rinse the sand off and I thought, "Crap, I couldn't do that at 30, let alone 70!" :-)
Art Hound: Meet the Adorable Puppy That's Helping the MFA Boston Protect and Preserve Its Collection — Look at that face! That is Riley, a 12-week-old Weimaraner puppy who is being trained to sniff out insects and other bugs that infest the Boston Museum of Fine Arts' collections. If you want to see Riley in action, check out this Boston Globe video. It's the perfect way to end the work week. (via ArtNet News)
>223 rosalita: Never have I ever seen a gooder boy. He definitely deserves some ear-scritches.
>223 rosalita: Oh, I wonder if Riley has any relatives loooking for a home. He's gorgeous.
>226 rosalita: CBP has used them for years: https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/protecting-agriculture/agriculture-canine
Here's a story about one trained by the USDA to detect the Asian Longhorned Beetle:
And a more recent story from APHIS about the use of dogs:
>201 rosalita: Great article. Sigh. Privacy may be a thing of the distant past...
Dogs are so cool and smart. I'd love one, sort of. :)
Hi Julia, thanks for all the clickbait! I loved the John Boyne article and like you I took a list of woman authors from it to follow up on. I was disappointed in Naipaul's comment especially as I have him on my shelves. :( But I also a couple of John Boyne's as well Mutiny and Next of Kin and I am looking forward to reading him.
>231 nittnut: Complete privacy is probably impossible in an online life, Jenn, but I'm happy to know how to minimize the data mining companies do on me. Even if sometimes it feels like shoveling smoke against the tide!
>232 drneutron: Dogs are so cool, Jim!
>233 DeltaQueen50: Howdy, Judy! The Boyne article was good, wasn't it? I'm glad you're enjoying the clickbait. :-)
>223 rosalita: We've been talking about purchasing a "bug oven" to control potential bedbug infestations. I'm going to suggest a dog as an alternative. Soo much more versatile. And cuddly.
>235 swynn: Oh yes! You absolutely need a big dog, Steve! I know the UI Library brings in therapy dogs during finals for students to cuddle with and de-stress. Perhaps you could sell it as a dual-purpose pup?
>223 rosalita: He is gorgeous! When we were in Portugal in the summer, we went to visit the old library at the University of Coimbra. They dealt with any insect population by maintaining a little colony of bats:
>237 SandDune: Bats! Imagine that. Not quite as cuddly as a puppy but noble creatures nonetheless. And what a lovely photo — thanks for sharing that, Rhian!
>213 rosalita: I do NOT need another TV show. Not. Well, not really. Maybe....
3. The Midnight Line by Lee Child.
Perpetual drifter Jack Reacher is drifting about the wilds of Wisconsin when he spies a class ring from West Point in the window of a pawnshop. This offends his sensibilities since he knows how hard West Point cadets work to earn that ring, and he cannot imagine any scenario other than strife that would make one of them voluntarily surrender it. It's very small, clearly sized for a woman, with the initials SRS engraved inside the band. Reacher buys the ring and sets out to return it to its owner, whoever she may be. His search leads him from Wisconsin to Rapid City, South Dakota, and on to the empty stretches of Wyoming. Along the way, he manages to get involved with various elements of a drug cartel and fend off numerous hapless goons in a variety of fist fights. As one does. If you enjoy reading about the physical exploits of a man whose hands are variously described as the size of supermarket chickens, dinner plates, and Thanksgiving turkeys, you will like this one. I deducted a half-star for the choppy writing mentioned in >205 rosalita:, which was less noticeable as the action got going. I'm worried that after 22 book-length adventures and a double handful of short stories that Child's shtick is wearing thin on me.
>241 rosalita: If you enjoy reading about the physical exploits of a man whose hands are variously described as the size of supermarket chickens, dinner plates, and Thanksgiving turkeys, you will like this one. LOL! Oh, I love that, Julia. Priceless.
P.S. If you post it on the book page , I will thumb.
>242 jnwelch: Well, I cannot resist the chance to earn another thumb — duly posted. And thanks! I'm glad you liked the line about his hands. Hyperbole when it comes to Reacher's physical prowess just seems to be part of the landscape for Child. Although, I wonder if he was trying to stave off Tom Cruise starring in another movie? I'm not sure Cruise's entire body is the size of a supermarket chicken. ;-)
>243 rosalita: LOL!! You're on a roll, my friend. Who cast an actor for the movie who may not be as big as one of Reacher's hands? *still laughing*
I won a copy of Winter in a book giveaway, so it was time to firm up my vague plans to read this one "someday". I've only read one other book by Ali Smith, There But For The and found it delightfully different than most books I read. I've only read one chapter of this one, but so far I'm having the same experience.
I LOVED Autumn, Julia. I can't wait to hear what you think. It was the first book by Smith that I read, and I am convinced she is genius.
>249 BLBera: What she said.
Morning, Julia! It's snowing, and I am giddy with excitement about it.
>213 rosalita: I also enjoyed Frankie and Grace, but I am a season behind (I think). I didn't think it would be something I would like but I found it quite funny!
>241 rosalita: Glad to see you are still enjoying the series. I agree with >243 rosalita: that maybe he was trying to get rid of Cruise for the rest. He really is a tiny man compared to how Reacher is described!
>251 Crazymamie: Snowing! I can feel your excitement all the way up here in Iowa, Mamie! I'd be happy to send you some double-digit below-zero windchills if you'd like to complete the Midwestern winter experience. :-D
>252 ChelleBearss: Hi Chelle! I've been pleasantly surprised at how many times I have literally laughed out loud watching "Frankie and Grace." Of course, such superb actors can really sell their characters, can't they?
Julia, that is really so very thoughtful of you, but ...um...that won't be necessary.
Really, it's no trouble at all! I hate to see you deprived of the fun of frozen nose hairs.
Hi Julia! Happy Wednesday to you. Way behind, again. Sigh.
Grace and Frankie duly noted. Maybe I can get my husband to watch.
>241 rosalita: Nice review. I gave it 4 stars, because I appreciated the honesty of showing Reacher as flawed in some of his assumptions and reactions. I've got No Middle Name, the collection of short stories that came out last year on my shelves, a Christmas gift courtesy of a cousin.
>255 rosalita: I didn't even know of the frozen nose hair phenomenon (being from southern California) until I went to St. Paul in February one year to visit a friend and experienced the awfulness while walking from the terminal to the car.
BTW, your clickbait about straws last year, which prompted me to buy metal ones, impressed my husband recently. He saw an article about the waste and danger of plastic straws and told me I was ahead of the game. *smile*
>256 karenmarie: Howdy, Karen! I don't think it's possible to NOT be behind on LT in January! Just come by whenever you can; we'll keep a light on for you. :-)
I thought Reacher actually worked better in the short-story format, so I'll be interested to see what you think of No Middle Name.
I'm tickled that you were able to dazzle your husband with your eco savvy! I've been pretty good about using my metal straw, except when I take it out of my bag to wash it and forget to put it back. I may need to do what you did and buy a set on Amazon so I always have one ready to go.
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