Sally Lou's 2018 ROOTs
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I'm planning to aim for 36 books this year. Last year I originally set my goal at 36, then changed it to 25 but ended up reading 37 since I had another goal of 12 children's books. This year I do not plan to read many children's books (I have very few unread ones). However, I'm planning to read at least 16 books by/about men (which are on my TBR shelves) since in the recent past, I've been emphasizing writing by women.
34 ROOTs read as of October 7th.
1. Prairie Fires: the American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser
2. Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
3. Dark Horses and Black Beauties by Melissa Holbrook Pierson.
4. Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller.
5. The Class of '65: A Student, a Divided Town, and the Long Road to Forgiveness by Jim Auchmutey
6. Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, and David L. Weaver-Zercher .
7. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee -- finished reading Jan. 24th
8. Silent no more : victim 1's fight for justice against Jerry Sandusky by Aaron Fisher and Michael Gillum with Dawn Daniels -- finished reading Jan. 28th
9. Molly Brown from Hannibal, Missouri: Her Life in the Gilded Age by Ken and Lisa Marks -- finished reading Feb. 2nd.
10. A Journey to Elsewhere: Poetry through the Seasons of Life by Leonard Tuchyner -- read Feb. 3rd.
11. Rest in Pieces by Rita Mae Brown (and her cat Sneaky Pie Brown) -- finished reading Feb. 5th.
12. Murder at Monticello by Rita Mae Brown (and her cat Sneaky Pie Brown) -- finished reading Feb. 9th.
13. Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini -- finished reading Feb. 15th.
14. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline -- finished rereading on Feb. 19th.
15. War Poems selected and edited by John Hollander -- finished reading Feb. 25th.
16. We Were Eight Years in Power: an American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates -- finished reading Mar. 11th.
17. The Poetry of John Greenleaf Whittier: a Reader's Edition (touchstone does not work) -- edited by William Jolliff -- finished reading Mar. 12th.
18. Ladies for Liberty by John Blundell -- finished reading Apr. 9th.
19. Gotz von Berlichingen by Goethe, translated by Charles E. Passage -- finished Apr. 29th.
20. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. -- finished May 7th.
21. Murder in Lexington: VMI, Honor and Justice in Antebellum Virginia by Daniel S. Morrow -- finished reading June 10th.
22. Eleanor and Hick: the Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn -- finished reading June 22nd.
23. Sister of Silence by Daleen Berry -- finished reading June 25th.
24. Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart -- finished reading July 2nd.
25. Haworth Harvest: the Lives of the Brontës by N. Brysson Morrison, a gift from my father in July 1969 -- finished reading July 8th.
26. Playing with Dynamite: a Memoir by Sharon Harrigan -- finished reading July 9th.
27. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath -- finished reading July 20th.
28. The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather -- finished reading Aug. 16th.
29. Quakers Are Funny by Chuck Fager -- finished reading Aug. 30th.
30. The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed -- finished reading Sept. 3rd.
31. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott -- finished reading Sept. 14th.
32. The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper -- finished reading Sept. 18th.
33. She Who Holds the Sky: Matilda Joslyn Gage by Sally Roesch Wagner -- read Sept. 24th.
34. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem -- finished reading Oct. 7th.
password = husband's birth year
I'm also expecting to read more long books (over 500 pages than usual). I normally prefer to read shorter books. I think that I will track these longer books.
1. Prairie Fires: the American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser (515 pages of text plus endnotes (some of which I read) plus index
2. Life after Life by Kate Atkinson (529 p. of text)
3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (530 p.) -- finished May 7th.
4. Germany: Memories of a Nation by Neil MacGregor (553 p. of text -- finished reading May 14th -- not a ROOT though.
5. Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund (522 p. of text) - finished reading Aug. 14th -- but not a ROOT
6. The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed (662 p. of text) -- finished reading Sept. 3rd.
7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (629 p.) -- finished reading Sept. 14th
7 long books read as of Sept. 14th.
password = father's birth year
First ROOT for 2018: Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser
This could be considered a joint biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, there is so much information about Lane. This detailed study begins with a brief history of Laura's ancestors and ends following Rose's death and the status of the estates of Laura and Rose. The uniqueness of this book is its coverage of Laura's adult life between her childhood and the writing of the Little House books, a discussion of her adult political beliefs, and information about her relationship with her husband, Almanzo Wilder after their marriage. Many other LIW books cover her childhood and her writing of her children's books (including the conflicts between LIW and RWL concerning their writings). I was not surprised that this book paints a very unfavorable portrait of Rose Wilder Lane since Ms. Fraser has an article in Pioneer Girl Perspectives which portrayed her dishonesty. However, I think this book gives a very balanced account of the lives and views of both women.
Several times Ms. Fraser discusses photographs, which do not appear in the book itself. Also, her habit of referring to Laura as Wilder instead of Laura when writing about her as an adult was a bit confusing at first since I considered Wilder to be Almanzo; however, I got used to this feature. Ms. Fraser also referred to Rose as Lane and a few other women by their married surnames.
This book was a Christmas gift so was very new, but I'm counting as ROOTs anything in my collection at the end of 2017.
2nd January ROOT and 2nd for year: Life after Life by Kate Atkinson. I had a hard time getting into this novel; I was nearly 1/3 of the way through when I started enjoying it. I do not particularly care for the author's technique of going back and forth in time, and of telling some of the same stories, in practically in same words, more than once. Early in my reading, I found a list of characters in the story on the web, and made a printout of them; this helped me read the book.
>13 sallylou61: in that case you probably won't enjoy A God in Ruins! I quite liked some aspects of Life After Life but ultimately didn't feel satisfied with it - I agree it was repetitive and jumped about too much. Imagine my disappointment when I picked up A God in Ruins a few days ago and found it's just the same! It's about the brother Teddy who goes off to the war to be a bomber pilot - many of the old characters from Fox Corner turn up but by now I've forgotten their histories and the distinguishing features of their personalities, I don't engage with the mainly unlikable new characters, it jumps around all over the place time-wise and what's worse, it insists on telling you in advance what is going to happen to people. I'm two thirds of the way through the 542 pages and want to throw it at a wall....except that I hope against hope there still might be scope for something to actually happen in the last third that will make it all worthwhile ;)
Edited to add that it did pick up in the last third!
>15 floremolla: I'm not sure I would stick with a book that long. I found Life after LIfe too long.
3rd ROOT for January: Dark Horses and Black Beauties by Melissa Holbrook Pierson.
This is a rather disjointed book in which the author talks mainly about girls/women and horses. She relates her own experiences with horses, mentions horses in literature, and describes some appalling conditions under which some horses live and/or die. There is a photograph at the beginning of each chapter, and most of the horses are black and the girls/women have dark hair.
4th ROOT for January: Caroline, Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller.
I really enjoyed reading this novel featuring Caroline (Ma) in the Little House books. This is a story of Little House on the Prairie told from the view of Ma, describing what life would be like for a pioneer woman, and how she would feel. Ms. Miller changed some parts; the Census records show that Carrie Ingalls was actually born in Kansas (Indian Territory) instead of being taken there as a small child. Ms. Miller describes how the long wagon ride would feel to a pregnant woman (over 40 % of the book), and she has Ma giving birth to Carrie in the "Little House," attended to by a female neighbor she did not know. Near the end of the story, there are some love scenes between Caroline and her husband, Charles.
5th ROOT for January: The Class of '65: A Student, a Divided Town, and the Long Road to Forgiveness by Jim Auchmutey
This is a very moving account of the abuse Greg Wittkamper, who lived in Christian commune which advocated pacifism and racial justice, suffered as a student at the Americus High School in rural Georgia (near Plains) during the 1960s (the class of '65 is his high school class), and the growth of some of his classmates who 40 years later apologized and invited him to their 40th reunion, which he attended with positive results. The abuse of the 4 black students who attempted to integrate the school is also told; they were in later classes, and only one of them completed high school there. None have been invited back to any reunions.
I first heard about this book at the Virginia Festival of the Book in 2016; it was featured in the same program as Something Must Be Done about Prince Edward County by Kristen Green. Both were dealing with battles concerning school integration in the U.S. South.
6th ROOT: Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, and David L. Weaver-Zercher
This book is the murder of the 5 Amish girls and the wounding of 5 other girls shot in their schoolhouse by Charles Carl Roberts IV on Oct. 2, 2006, and the forgiveness shown toward the killer's family by the Amish community. Although the authors describe the shooting at the beginning of the book, the emphasis of the book is on the Amish faith and its practice of forgiveness. The Amish community's action of forgiving the Roberts family captured the news; many were favorably impressed by it while others felt that the Amish forgave much too quickly. The authors discuss in detail the culture of the Amish, and the basis of their life around following the teachings of Jesus with particular emphasis on the Sermon on the Mount in which the Lord's Prayer appears. The Amish say the Lord's Prayer at least twice daily, and take the forgiving part very seriously. In order for the Amish to be forgiven by God, they must forgive others. Thus, they were prepared to forgive the killer even before the killing happened. Moreover, Charles Roberts killed himself after shooting the children making the tragedy an event in the past. Still the families grieved heavily and had to actively forgive again and again; they were helped through the support of each other and of their community.
Although the verso of the title page gives a 2007 copyright date and no other date prominently appears, the edition I read was published in 2010 or later. It contains an afterword written in 2010 plus an interview with Terri Roberts, Charles' mother, dated that year.
>23 sallylou61: Sounds like a great book. I live very near a huge Amish community and was raised as a Quaker myself. This goes on my wish list.
>24 tess_schoolmarm: I know there are a lot of Amish living in Ohio. I'm also a Quaker, and have a long-time interest in the Amish. My father was an anthropologist whose special area of interest was the Amish and other plain people.
7th ROOT: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I had a hard time getting into this novel about 4 generations of a Korean family living in Japan during the 20th century, but found it hard to put down once I read approximately 70 pages. I'm disappointed in the way 2 central characters, Mozasu and especially his son Solomon turned out in the end.
8th ROOT: Silent no more : victim 1's fight for justice against Jerry Sandusky by Aaron Fisher and Michael Gillum with Dawn Daniels -- finished reading Jan. 28th
I'm not writing much now because last Tuesday night I feel and injured my right elbow. My arm is in a splint and sling; any typing I do is left-handed; I'm right-handed. Tomorrow I hope to find out whether it is broken; there was too much fluid in my elbow to tell on the Xrays taken Tuesday evening.
>27 sallylou61: Oh, painful! Get better soon and here's to it not being broken.
>27 sallylou61: Oh yikes - get well soon, and I really hope it's not broken! Take care.
>28 connie53:, >29 Jackie_K:, >30 floremolla:, >31 tess_schoolmarm: Thanks to all of you. Good news. The orthopedic doctor examined me today after my heavy splint was removed, and thinks I'm healing well. He wants me to pretty much try my normal activities, and return in a month for a follow-up visit. The main activities to avoid include any kind of weight lifting (i.e. weight machines and also using noodles in the water for strength exercises). I need to use my judgement, and stop doing anything that hurts. I have found that although I can use a knife to cut my food or spread butter, etc., it really hurts to put anything in my mouth. Thus, I'm still eating left-handed, which is normal for me since I like to keep my right hand free for using a knife.
>27 sallylou61: . Write-up for 8th ROOT:
Silent no more : victim 1's fight for justice against Jerry Sandusky by Aaron Fisher and Michael Gillum with Dawn Daniels, was published in 2012 after Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts of child sexual abuse. Aaron was the first victim to come forward and tell about what Sandusky had done to him. The book --- written by 18-year-old Aaron, his therapist, Michael Gillum, and his mother, 36-year-old Dawn Daniels --- describes the ordeal which they all went through to get Sandusky recognized as a serial pedophile and convicted for child sexual abuse. Aaron was 10 1/2 (around 2004 or 05) when he first attended the Second Mile Camp for disadvantaged kids run by Sandusky. The abuse started the second summer when Aaron went to camp; after that Sandusky often took Aaron to special events such as football games for which they stayed in hotels in the same bed. Sandusky also took Aaron to the basement of his house, where he abused him; Mrs. Sandusky stayed out of the basement. (Aaron came from a broken family; he lived with his mother and two siblings in public housing in the small town of Lock Haven, PA; his mother cared greatly for her children and did not realize that abuse was occurring.) Aaron did not tell anyone about the abuse until November 2008; he saw Mr. Gillum the day that school officials decided that he might have been abused. Mr. Gillum immediately realized that Aaron had been badly abused, and worked with him constantly to heal and to get Sandusky convicted; the therapist believed that there were probably other victims of Sandusky. The wheels of "justice" went very slowly; the case was being handled by the Pennsylvania attorney general's office since the abuse had happened in several Pennsylvania counties (plus outside the state -- Maryland). Sandusky was a former football coach under Paterno and a very powerful and well-liked man himself. Bringing him to justice involved confronting Penn State University community. The Pennsylvania staff (prosecutors, police, etc.) kept changing; the attorney general was running for governor in 2010. Promises were made and broken. Aaron as an unnamed victim had to testify to three grand juries (beginning in 2009). A large part of the problem seemed to be that officials were trying to find additional victims feeling they needed more than one to convict Sandusky, who was not arrested until November 2011. At the trial in June 2012 in Bellefonte -- approximately 10 miles from Penn State -- 10 numbered, unnamed victims testified against Sandusky in the trial which ended in his conviction. With the conviction, Aaron felt as if he was no longer a victim; he was Aaron.
>33 sallylou61: Sounds like a great book about such an American tragedy.
>34 tess_schoolmarm:, >35 floremolla: . I just read in our local newspaper a column by a Michigan State alum about his feeling of betrayal concerning the abuse of young female gymnasts by the Olympic team doctor who was employed by that university. He briefly mentioned Penn State. I thought of the similarities between the two universities, which were granted land grant status the same year, were on a postage stamp in the 1950s, are both in the Big Ten, and have a lot in common.
1st February ROOT and 9th ROOT Overall:
Molly Brown from Hannibal, Missouri: Her Life in the Gilded Age by Ken and Lisa Marks is an overview of the life of Molly Brown. The authors, who are Hannibal residents and curators of the Hannibal History Museum, wanted to show that Molly, who was actually Margaret Tobin Brown, was born and raised in Hannibal. . She did not go to Colorado until she was a teenager. At first the book seemed more a history of Hannibal than a biography of Margaret -- who was not known as Molly until after the Titanic sinking -- since the authors spent so much time describing the town. The book itself is interesting but poorly arranged; it keeps jumping around in time. For over half the book I wondered what a wealthy man like J.J. Brown would see in Margaret, who was raised in poverty. It turns out that J.J. was also from a humble background; together J.J. and Margaret worked hard to make a living in Colorado, and they became rich when J.J. became lucky in mining endeavors. The authors also mention that Margaret worked to help support her family while growing up; they do not describe this until well into the story. I was surprised to learn that Margaret, who lived the life of a very wealthy woman traveling to Europe and having homes in Denver and Newport, RI, was involved in social reforms including women's suffrage, working conditions and pay for miners, child labor, etc. I would have liked to read more about this aspect of her life, especially since the authors mentioned that growing up poor in Hannibal contributed to her social reform and philanthropy efforts.
The book contains numerous photographs of people and buildings. However, maps of some of the places Margaret lived, particularly Hannibal, Leadville (CO), and Denver would have been helpful since the authors often mention street names as if the reader would know where they are.
2nd February ROOT and 10th ROOT overall: A Journey to Elsewhere: Poetry through the Seasons of Life by Leonard Tuchyner.
Mr. Tuchyner's poetry is arranged by seasons -- Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Beyond -- which he interprets as the seasons of life from early childhood through old age and death as seen by a male psychotherapist in his 70s, who has been legally blind for three decades. The language in the poems is beautiful. Many of the poems I enjoyed, and some I really related to although I'm a female. A few poems did not say anything to me, which is not unusual in a poetry collection.
3rd February ROOT and 11th ROOT overall: Rest in Pieces by Rita Mae Brown (and her cat Sneaky Pie Brown). I enjoyed this Mrs. Murphy mystery which is set in Crozet, VA (near my home in Charlottesville) and has many of the same characters as the earlier Wish You Were Here although I felt the first dead body should have shown up earlier in the story.
4th February ROOT and 12th ROOT overall: Murder at Monticello by Rita Mae Brown (and her cat Sneaky Pie Brown) I enjoyed the solving of the modern day murders more than the 1803 murder at Monticello. This book contains a lot of history which I also enjoyed reading.
5th February ROOT and 13th ROOT overall: Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini, a novel about Julia Dent Grant and her slave.
This title does not accurately describe the book, which is much more about Mrs. Grant's relationship with her husband (with whom she was with on many occasions during the Civil War) than with her slave about whom very little is known. The story of the slave is fictional although Julia came from a slave-holding family and General Grant from an abolitionist family; both families opposed their marriage. The relationship between Julia Grant and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln receives attention; Mrs. Lincoln snubbed Mrs. Grant several times during the war.
6th February ROOT and 14th ROOT overall: A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline, a reread which I enjoyed as much if not more than when I read it last spring. It is a fictional account of the life of Christina Olson and of Andrew Wyeth's doing numerous paintings at the Olson farm in Maine, culminating in his painting "Christina's World." The interactions of Christina and her brother Al with whom she lived and Andrew Wyeth are explored; he really seemed to understand her, as demonstrated by the painting which pictures her as a young girl (as she saw herself) instead of a middle aged crippled woman. The cover shows a house in a field; the house, field, and sky are reminiscent of Wyeth's famous painting.
7th February ROOT and 15th overall: War Poems selected and edited by John Hollander. I had not been planning to read this collection at this time, but in our Wednesday afternoon poetry group we discussed some poems about World War I which whetted my interest. This collection of poems, in the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets series, was disappointing in that the selector provided a brief introduction at the beginning of the volume, but did not say anything about the poets or the poems with the poems themselves. He did provide an index of poets, with birth and death dates, but no other information. Fortunately, with the internet, I could find out more about the poets, especially whether they had actual experience in war and whether or not they died as a result of war. The volume is arranged by time period: Heroic Ages: Ancient through Renaissance, Before and after Napoleon, The American Civil War, Modern Warfare: World War I, World War II and After, and General Observations. One of the poems was about the Vietnam War; there were no poems included about wars after that although the collection was published in 1999. Some of the poems are very well-known including "Defence of Fort McHenry" (which became "The Star Spangled Banner) by Francis Scott Key and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" by Julia Ward Howe. Others were much less familiar. Although most of the poems were originally written in English, some of them, including portions of The Iliad and The Aeneid were translations.
First March ROOT and 16th overall: We Were Eight Years in Power: an American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
This is a collection of selected essays, one for each year, that were published in The Atlantic during the Obama administration. Prior to each essay, Coates includes "Notes" about the year in which he discusses the essay, why or how he wrote it, and critiques it saying what he no longer believes or how well it has stood up in time. Although some of the essays are directly related to Obama's presidency, others discuss important topics such as why blacks should study the Civil War, the question of reparations, and the problem of mass incarceration. In my opinion, the essay "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration" was the least interesting because it was long and the most scholarly with a lot of footnotes; it seemed the least personal of the essays. In the Epilogue, Coates discusses Trump as "the first white president" with his ideology of white supremacy. Throughout the book, Coates pointed out the problem of blacks' being considered inferior to whites -- of the history of white supremacy in the United States. This book particularly resonated with me since I live in Charlottesville, VA, where we had a violent alt-right demonstration last summer.
Second March ROOT and 17th overall: The Poetry of John Greenleaf Whittier: a Reader's Edition (touchstone does not work) -- edited by William Jolliff
This collection is a selection of Whittier's poetry. It is divided into five sections: "Prophet of the Republic" (social reform, especially in relation to slavery), "The Warming Haze of Yesterday" (memories), "Snow-Bound" (a long single poem), "Crafting the Past" (long, narrative poems), and "Tokens of an Inward Journey" (religious poems). The editor provides introductions to the work as a whole, each section, and each poem. In many cases, I found the introductions more interesting than the poems themselves although I liked some of the poetry very much. I was disappointed in the selection of religious poems; I much preferred those published in Selections from the Religious Poems of John Greenleaf Whittier published by the Tract Association of Friends in 1999. I particularly missed "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind," a hymn which appears in hymnals of various religions, for which Whittier wrote the words.
Unfortunately, this paperback book was very poorly bound; although I bought it new several years ago, it feel apart as I was reading it.
1st April Root and 18th overall: Ladies for Liberty by John Blundell.
Ladies for Liberty by Mr. Blundell, a conservative British non-scholar's book of American women making a difference is an odd beast. The author includes a number of women who worked for liberal causes including Abigail Adams (urging her husband John to remember the women when writing for independence), Sarah and Angelina Grimke (abolition of slavery and women's rights), Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul (women's rights with Alice Paul leading the militant group), and Rosa Parks (civil rights). However, many of the women, especially in the twentieth century, are conservatives including libertarians. All the 27 women covered wanted liberty of some kind. Liberty including freedom is the way the women made a difference. At the end of each chapter, Mr. Blundell claims that the woman/women just discussed were extremely influential, and, in my opinion, gives them too much credit for a movement many were in. For example, he ends the chapter on Abigail Adams by stating "As an outspoken advocate of equality for women, she can be considered the founder of the real US women's rights movement." (p. 37).
On several occasions Mr. Blundell had his facts wrong, or stated something in a misleading way. For example, in the chapter on Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mr. Blundell states that by moving to Seneca Falls, NY, "she was now only a few miles away from Lucretia Mott, which (sic.) whom she had kept up a correspondence" (p. 65). It is true that Lucretia Mott was in the Seneca Falls region at the time of the 1848 Seneca Falls women's rights convention; however, Lucretia, who lived most of her adult life in Philadelphia, was visiting her sister then.
Moreover, Mr. Blundell's in his recommendations for reading about the various women missed out on some important books. He failed to mention by title Gerta Lerner's classic The Grimke Sisters from South Carolina published in 1967. He claims that the best book concerning Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane is The Ghost in the Little House by William Holtz, which has been recently discredited by several Laura Ingalls Wilder scholars. Although many of these were published after Blundell's book (2013), Laura Ingalls Wilder: a Writer's Life by Pamela Smith Hill (2007) and Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane: Authorship, Place, Time and Culture by John E. Miller (2008) both preceded it.
>46 detailmuse: . Hope that you find We Were in Power Eight Years as interesting as I did.
>48 connie53: Thanks. We had an enjoyable trip to see exhibits by the various Wyeths in the Brandywine River Museum, and an exhibition of Henriette Wyeth (Andrew's sister who is not so well known) and her husband Peter Hurd in the James A. Michener Art Museum. These museums are in southeastern Pennsylvania. Then we had a very cold few days at Cape May, a beach in New Jersey. It was pleasant to get away from home.
Review for Ladies for Liberty is now in >47 sallylou61:
2nd ROOT in April and 19th overall: Gotz von Berlichingen by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, translated by Charles E. Passage. This play gave a good picture of medieval life, of fighting among various German areas, of treachery, of changing sides, etc. It is a very early work by Goethe and includes many characters from different walks of life.
1st ROOT for May and 20th overall: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I found this to be a very disappointing read; it was much much much too long, and Marie-Laure and Werner, two important characters from different sides of the war, do not meet until near the end of the book. Moreover, the book keeps jumping around in time, which gets confusing.
>51 sallylou61: You and I are practically alone in our disappointment in this one. So little content and so much repetition, I was bored and disinterested. I was distraught to discover it's the same writer as one I'd SO been looking forward to in my TBRs, Memory Wall, and have since been afraid to start that one!
>51 sallylou61: >52 detailmuse: This was one of the first audiobooks I listened to and I rated it 4* then - but in retrospect I find myself agreeing with you. It was a novel that was obviously aiming for the heartstrings - and clearly I was at that time in the right frame of mind for a bit of melodrama - but compared with other novels with war-time settings I've read since, there was little substance, it was all about emotional investment in the characters. Nothing wrong with that per se, but for me it's just not in the same league as novels like Fugitive Pieces or Austerlitz and I've revised my rating to reflect that. Hmm, I might have to have a comprehensive review of all my ratings now.....
>52 detailmuse:, >53 floremolla: I'm glad to find that I'm not alone in being disappointed in All the Light We Cannot See which has been so highly praised by others. I found The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, another long World War II novel, much more appealing and exciting. I think that part of the problem for with All the Light, besides its repetition, was that I could not get that interested in radios.
>55 connie53: You might enjoy the book. Detailmouse and floremolla and I are definitely in the minority. Just looking at the rating for All the Light We Cannot See in LibraryThing, 2340 people (out of 2819) rated the book as a 4 or better (with 1200 rating it a 5). That's 83% (as of this morning) which gave it a very positive rating.
First ROOT for June and 21st overall: Murder in Lexington: VMI, Honor and Justice in Antebellum Virginia by Daniel S. Morrow.
This is an account of life in Lexington in the 1850s and the value placed on honor. It also shows the rivalry among the three higher learning institutions for men in that town at that time: VMI, Judge John White Brockenbrough's Law School (which later became the Washington and Lee University School of Law), and, to a much lesser extent, Washington College (which later became Washington and Lee University). Honor meant fighting among the men if they felt they were dishonored. Charles Burks Christian, a law school student, felt snubbed by a beautiful young lady and decided her cousin, VMI Cadet Thomas Blackburn was responsible. Christian met Blackburn as the latter was escorting another young woman to church and asked him to come with him. The two men got into a scuffle, and Christian - who was armed with two guns and a knife - stabbed the unarmed Blackburn to death. Much of the book centers on the first trial of Christian, which resulted in a hung jury. The account of the trial becomes laborious. In a later trial in another community, Christian was found not guilty. At both trials Christian had numerous lawyers, 6 and 8 respectively, and members of both juries included friends or relatives of the defendant. Throughout the book the author repeatedly states the pedigrees of many of the characters in the story, showing their high status.
Second ROOT for June and 22nd overall: Eleanor and Hick: the Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn is a joint biography of Eleanor Roosevelt and her lesbian lover, Lorena Hickok, an AP reporter when the two women met. This book tells about the relationship between Eleanor and Hick, but also the contributions of each woman, especially during FDR's administration. It also discusses their relationships with other lovers -- other lesbians for Hick and young men for Eleanor, especially during WWII and after FDR's death. The book also gives a good overview of FDR's administration.
Third ROOT for June and 23 overall: Sister of Silence by Daleen Berry is a story of child abuse and wife abuse -- physical, sexual, and emotional. When she was 13, Daleen was raped by a man. The sexual abuse continued for several years and Daleen was afraid to tell anyone, fearing her family would think she was a bad person. When she was around 16, she became pregnant by her abuser, and felt she should marry him because she would be un-pure for any other man. She still had not told anyone. Daleen had four children by the time she was 21. Finally she got a job as a newspaper reporter in her small rural town. She became a crime reporter and realized that women in her kind of situation were being murdered by their husbands; she finally realized that she was being abused and her children were suffering. Initially she and her husband tried marital therapy, but when Daleen finally told the therapist her history of abuse, she had individual therapy. She decided she was going to leave her husband and take her children. With the help of her therapist, she was admitted as a psychiatric hospital as a nonpaying patient since without medical insurance and being on leave from her job, she had no money. She made splendid progress in the hospital, and came out realizing she wanted to continue being a journalist (and columnist) and a mother. Daleen probably did not seek help earlier because she lived in Appalachia in a climate where women generally stayed with their husbands even if they were being abused. Moreover, her mother had stayed with her father, an abusive alcoholic.
First ROOT for July and 24th (out of 36) overall: Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart. This is the first mystery novel I've read by Ms. Stewart, and, with so many other mystery authors to read, I don't expect to read any more of hers. Although I enjoyed the book by the end, I thought it started out very slowly and at times dragged. As a whole, I found the case very uninteresting. It was interesting to learn more about how difficult it was to have women in police work in the early 20th century before they had the vote though.
Second ROOT for July and 25th (out of 36) overall: Haworth Harvest: the Lives of the Brontës by N. Brysson Morrison, a gift from my father in July 1969. My parents and I visited the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth when I vacationed in Britain with them early in my library career, and I have treasured this book as a memory of our trip. I finally got around to reading it. This is an interesting account of the whole family with special emphasis on their personalities and relationships and the lives and writings of the sisters. Unfortunately, although there is a bibliography, there are no endnotes or timeline of events, which would have been especially helpful since sometimes it was hard to know when an event was happening.
Third ROOT for July and 26th (out of 36 overall): Playing with Dynamite: a Memoir by Sharon Harrigan, a local author. This is a rather unusual memoir because it describes Sharon's search for herself through learning more about her father who died when she was 7 years old. Sharon is a poet, and the memoir jumps around in time and her interactions or lack of them with various family members. Parts of the story just describe her thoughts. Sharon's life with her father included domestic violence, especially to her brother; she and her brother had very different remembrances of their father. Sharon does not really learn about her father until nearly 30 years after his death when she talks to an uncle and aunt who were close to him. That is only a short time after she could talk to her mother about her father and sister, who as an adult had not talked to Sharon for years. When she learns more about her father from her uncle and aunt, she realizes that much of what she thought she knew was not true. Her father had not lost his hand playing with dynamite; he was working when the accident occurred. To Sharon, playing with dynamite was "Digging up the past, exposing family secrets to the world. Writing this book." (p. 224.)
4th ROOT for July and 27th (out of 36) overall: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, which I found very depressing. I got tired of reading about a young woman's desire to commit suicide. Many of the characters I found shallow and depressing. However, the book was probably a good description of the portrayal of depressed young women and their treatment for psychological problems during the late 1950s prior to the women's movement, birth control pills, etc.
>65 connie53: . Thanks, Connie. I am planning to definitely meet my goal. However, I've recently been reading my library books (to avoid purchasing them) plus recently purchased books for adult education classes and workshops.
>66 sallylou61: That's what's getting in the way a lot of times. In my case it are the new books I buy.
First ROOT for August and 28th (out of 36) overall. I finally finished reading The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather, a book which I did not start reading until this summer after I had had cataract surgery in my second since the print in my copy is so small. I somewhat enjoyed this story of Thea Kronborg and her struggles to become an opera star. She was from a poor family, and worked hard to earn money for piano and singing lessons; she also had some teachers (mentors) and benefactors who helped her at crucial times. The story is one of the struggle to become an artist. The story is also a modern one since Thea at times was caught between pursuing her career and getting married. I thought that the story dragged at times, and did not care for the Epilogue; I would have preferred if the book had ended with the last chapter which stated "Here we must leave Thea Kronborg. From this time on the story of her life is the story of her achievement. ... This story attempts to deal only with the simple and concrete beginnings which color and accent an artist's work ..." (p. 324).
Second ROOT for August and 29th (out of 36) overall: Quakers Are Funny by Chuck Fager. This book contains accounts of funny happenings, jokes, and poems about Quakers -- both old items including ones I heard in my childhood, and things happening in the 1980s when the book was published. Maybe I just don't care for funny books, but this did not appeal to me.
I purchased this book from the author at a conference in 1996.
First ROOT for September and 30th (out of 36) overall: I just finished reading a long-time TBR book, The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed, which I received for Christmas in 2008, the year it was published. I received the incentive to read it when I heard that a book club I used to belong to was reading it. Although this book is very long and got quite repetitious, it was interesting to read about the whole Hemings family and to learn more about the inter-relationships (including day to day living) of the Wayles/Jefferson/Randolph families with the Hemings family. One also learns a lot about why Thomas Jefferson probably did the things he did concerning this situation.
(I read approximately 2/3 of this book with over 600 pages of text last month, but was unable to finish it by the end of August.)
Second ROOT for September and 31st (out of 36) overall: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
Although I had watched at least two versions of the movie, I had never read the book. Little Women was originally published in two volumes; Ms. Alcott was asked by her publisher to write a second volume and marry off all the March sisters. Apparently Ms. Alcott, who herself never married, did not want to do this, but wrote it since she needed the money. Now both parts are published together. I did not enjoy the second part nearly as much as the first; it seemed rather forced to me, and relatively little of it is in the movies. The whole book tends to be didactic, talking about morals, especially applied to wealth or the lack of it.
Third ROOT for September and 32nd (out of 36 overall): The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper.
After reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, I decided to read a book about her youngest sister, May: The Other Alcott, a fictional biography by Elise Hooper. This story stuck pretty much to the biography of May's life although a few fictional characters were added, and some events were not described in the correct order. (I personally prefer nonfictional biography to fiction although I enjoyed this account.) The book emphasizes the difficulties women in the nineteenth century had in being recognized as serious authors and artists. Ms. Hooper explores the tension between Louisa and May (who did not like the way she was portrayed as Amy in Little Women).
Fourth ROOT for September and 33rd (out of 36 overall): She Who Holds the Sky: Matilda Joslyn Gage by Sally Roesch Wagner.
This pamphlet is not a biography of Gage; it's more a discussion of her ideas and her efforts on behalf of women and other people lacking freedom such as the American Indians. Her motto is on her tombstone: "There is a word sweeter than mother, home or heaven. That word is liberty" (p. 66). Mrs. Gage was prominent in the early years of 19th century women's suffrage movement; initially she was as involved as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and they worked together. However, by the late 1870s, Mrs. Gage became convinced that religion was at the root of the belief that women were inferior to men and should not have the vote. Much of the pamphlet describes dissension in the suffrage movement, especially among Mrs. Gage, Mrs. Stanton, and Miss Anthony. Mrs. Gage died before either of the other two women; much of the "official" record of the early movement was Miss Anthony's version of it, and she wrote Mrs. Gage out of the history. This pamphlet is an attempt to write Mrs. Gage back into it.
Although this is a pamphlet, I'm counting it, especially since 5 of my ROOTs are over 500 pages -- long for me. Also, I've had this pamphlet since before I joined LT.
First ROOT for October, and 34th (out of 36) overall: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem.
Ms. Steinem wrote this memoir/autobiography in an interesting way; most of the book is topical, instead of being chronological. In this arrangement, Ms. Steinem jumps around a lot in time. She emphasizes the importance of listening to others, whether they are fellow feminists, students at an university where she is about to speak, or taxi drivers from whom she has learned many things including what people are thinking about a particular topic. She discusses such things as helping organize the 1977 National Women's Conference in Houston, including spending two years organizing state conferences preceding the national one. That conference was a major event in her life -- of such importance that she divides her life as before and after it.
>74 connie53: . Hi Connie. Thanks for stopping by. I hope to substantially exceed my target this year.
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