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Snash's Reading for 2018

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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1snash
Jan 1, 2:11pm Top

65 or so is more likely what I'll manage.

2FAMeulstee
Jan 1, 2:34pm Top

Happy reading in 2018, Sharon, what ever numbers you read!

3richardderus
Jan 1, 2:40pm Top

Hi Sharon! Happy to see you here.

4drneutron
Jan 1, 6:56pm Top

Welcome back, Sharon!

5thornton37814
Jan 2, 12:00am Top

Hope 2018 is filled with good reads!

6PaulCranswick
Jan 2, 12:55am Top



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

7The_Hibernator
Jan 2, 10:19am Top



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

8snash
Edited: Yesterday, 9:13am Top

Here's the list of 2018 books read:

1) An Academic Question by Barbara Pym
2) Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
3) Lincoln's Smile and Other Enigmas by Alan Trachtenberg
4) The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell
5) Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
6) NW: A Novel by Zadie Smith
7) Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
8) Love etc by Julian Barnes
9) Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson
10) Fearless and Free by Sara Richardson
11) Saving Talk Therapy by Enrico Gnaulati
12) Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
13) The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck
14) A Misalliance by Anita Brookner
15) Open City by Teju Cole
16) Brotherly Love by Pete Dexter
17) Berlin Stories by Robert Walser
18) On Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks
19) A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons
20) The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
21) Howard's End by E.M. Forster
22) Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy
23) Dinner in Camelot by Joseph A. Esposito
24) Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story by Oliver LaFarge
25) Everything You Know by Zoe Heller
26) Henry and Clara by Thomas Mallon
27) The Time of Our Lives by Elliot Schubert
28) Plainsong by Kent Haruf
29) Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min
30) The Tree of Life by Hugh Nissenson
31) Tales Out of School by Benjamin Taylor
32) Dance Night by Dawn Powell
33) Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
34) Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
35) Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance
36) Fellow Travelers by Thomas Mallon
37) Nomadland by Jessica Bruder
38) The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout
39) The Life Before Us by Romain Gary
40) Alexandrian Summer by Yitzhak Gormezano Goren
41) Amsterdam: A Novel by Ian McEwan
42) A Lazy Eye: Stories by Mary Morrissy
43) Hamlet's Dresser by Bob Smith
44) Nutshell by Ian McEwan
45) Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
46) The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Boy
47) Early Autumn: A Story of a Lady by Louis Bromfield
48) Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Andersen
49) Along the Edge of America by Peter Jenkins
50) The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
51) Gods, Voices and the Bicameral Mind by Marcel Kuijsten
52) Our Woman in Havana by Sarah Rainsford
53) The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott
54) The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmira Khadra
55) Educated by Tara Westover
56) Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
57) When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
58) The Inner Life of Empires by Emma Rothschild
59) Fair Play by Tove Jansson
60) Life among the Lutherans by Garrison Keillor
61) Desert Queen by Janet Wallach
62) The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
63) The Cliff Walk by Don Snyder
64) Rules of Engagement by Anita Brookner

9snash
Edited: Jan 9, 8:23pm Top

An Academic Question mildly humorous account of academic life in a small English university. 3 star

10snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:07pm Top

Boy, Snow, Bird was wonderfully written with intriguing characters. Some shifts in emotional response may have been quicker than believable but its a minor complaint about a fascinating book about race and passing as white, amongst other things. 4.5 star

11snash
Jan 17, 1:30pm Top

Lincoln's Smile and Other Enigmas was an examination in the style of literary criticism of photography and literature as it searches for American culture, particularly American city culture. The literature and collections of photography examined were created between 1830 and 1950. 3 star

12snash
Edited: Feb 6, 7:42am Top

Whatever The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet might lack in believable plot and characters (which is only a little), it makes up for in atmosphere, historical accuracy, and intrigue. 4 stars

13snash
Edited: Feb 6, 7:42am Top

Everything I Never Told You was an excellent portrayal of an uncommunicative family from the view point of each of its five members. Very believable and well done. 4 stars

14richardderus
Jan 31, 3:23pm Top

>10 snash: That's been on my TBR forEVer, Sharon, so I'll move it up.

Happy reading!

15snash
Edited: Jan 31, 6:07pm Top

>14 richardderus: I think you'll like it but look forward to hearing what you think of it.

16snash
Feb 6, 7:40am Top

NW: A Novel is the story of two friends from a poor ethnically diverse London neighborhood told in a disjointed manner. Scenes are clearly recreated but the characters and plot seemed disjointed. 3 stars

17snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:15pm Top

Commonwealth is the story of six siblings from a blended family and how they made out despite having been neglected. 4 stars

18snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:16pm Top

Love etc explores a love triangle from each person's point of view as well as from the viewpoint of some auxiliary people. Full of interesting observations and analogies, often humorous, but in the end the reader realizes none of the narratives are necessarily believable. 4 stars

19snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:17pm Top

Negroland: A Memoir was an excellent examination of the conflicts, confusions, and mine fields wrought by attitudes about race, gender, and class in America, told via memoir. The author was born upper class black in the late 40's. 4 stars

20snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:17pm Top

Fearless and Free was an account relying on diaries and letters of Francine Forrester-Brown, an intrepid lady who spent 20 years with her husband in Guatemala and then after his death surviving as a single woman from 1905 to the 1930's. It provides glimpses into life in the Guatemalan jungle, and the difficulties of eking out a living as a single woman. It also paints a picture of a indomitable, curious, and lively woman. 4 stars

21snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:18pm Top

The first half of Saving Talk Therapy was a description of the damaging forces that are shunting the treatment of mental health into quick fixes that do nothing. The second half was a description of the type of therapy necessary to create and promote mental health for the sake of the individual and the society. It is very well done. 4.5 stars

22richardderus
Mar 3, 11:35am Top

>21 snash: I wonder, Sharon, if the current climate of rage and hate isn't (in a sick, awful way) exactly the prescription for getting this idea actually *heard* at last?

23snash
Mar 3, 6:04pm Top

>22 richardderus: Wouldn't that be nice, however, I'm rather pessimistic. People seem so anxious to fix everything with a pill or some other quick trick and view the world in black and white. The one review of this book that was there when I wrote mine gave it one star and ranted and raved about how foolhardy and unscientific talk therapy is.

24snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:19pm Top

Wise Blood was the story of a man chasing his demons preaching the Church Without Christ. The plot seemed scattered, some motivations unclear and characters lost, but the descriptive writing was astounding, making up for any weaknesses. 3.5 stars

25snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:20pm Top

The End of Days is the story of several generations of a family, told with various possible endings throughout. Since the family has Jewish roots and lives in Austria-Hungary during the 1900's, the story plays out against the major events of the 20th Century. The writing captures in inner agonies and thoughts of the human condition excellently. 4 stars

26snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:20pm Top

A Misalliance This is very much a psychological study of a recent divorcee as she tries to come to grips with her own limitations. 4 stars

27snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:21pm Top

Brotherly Love is the story of two cousins brought up in mafia-like trade unions with violence and death which they then perpetuate into their short adulthoods. Interesting as a character study and for its Philadelphia setting. 4 stars

28snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:22pm Top

Open City This is a book of musings, thoughts, many philosophical made by an African-European man living in NYC. It had a rhythm and enough interesting thoughts and analogies to keep me reading but then again, it never went anywhere. 3.5 stars

29snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:23pm Top

Berlin Stories is a series of short essays about Berlin in the first decade of the 20th century and some of its people, sometimes with praise and other times satire. The writing is clever, full of surprising but clear images. Reading one after the other, however, they tend to loose their punch and feel repetitious; better read in spurts. 3.5 stars

30snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:23pm Top

On Green Dolphin Street is the story of the wife of an English diplomat who falls in love with an American reporter which takes place in 1960. Excellent character studies and description of the times and places. 4 stars

31snash
Edited: Apr 9, 12:06pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

32snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:24pm Top

A Virtuous Woman is a story of two people who got together because they each needed help and then developed a deep love. The story's told from each of their points of view as and after she died. An excellent little gem. 4 stars

33snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:25pm Top

The Sixth Extinction was a very readable account of the history of man's understanding of paleontology and previous extinctions followed by the various threats precipitating the present glut of extinctions. 4 stars

34snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:26pm Top

Howard's End seems a study of the various classes and mind sets of England, the rich and poor, the artistic and the businessman. It's not clear in the end whether they've come to any better understanding of each other. 4 stars

35snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:26pm Top

Everything Beautiful Began After was a story about the suffering and tragedy which gives the perspective and maturity to fully appreciate life. The plot was a bit overblown but the descriptions were often elegant. 3.5 stars

36snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:27pm Top

Dinner in Camelot was an intriguing, well researched, and thorough description of a dinner given by Kennedy for Nobel prize winners and other intelligencia. Attitudes expressed often seemed naive although that did represent the times and in summarizing the dinner's impact, the author did put things into better perspective. My primary complaint was too much repetition. I also found the descriptions of room decor uninteresting. 3.5 stars

37snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:27pm Top

Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story is a fascinating immersion in Navajo culture along with the conflict caused by contact with Americans. 4 stars

38snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:28pm Top

Everything You Know was the story of despicable character who accidentally killed his wife, spent time in jail before bumbling on. Reading the diary of his daughter who committed suicide, inspired him to try to redeem himself. The snarky brilliant descriptions of people are great, although the characters are mostly either despicable or pathetic. 3.5 stars

39snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:29pm Top

Henry and Clara told the story of the couple who were with Lincoln at the theater when he was killed. An interesting account of how this and the war devastated them. 4 stars

40snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:29pm Top

While The Time of Our Lives did have a hint of self satisfaction and self righteousness, much of the book was humorous and entertaining although not exactly insightful or deep. I enjoyed the memoir pieces a bit more than the fiction. 3.5 stars

41snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:30pm Top

Plainsong is an immersing tale of a community of people in a small town in Eastern Colorado, a school teacher, his two sons, his estranged wife, a pregnant 17 year old and two old bachelor brothers. It is superbly portrayed with the language conjuring up lonely wind swept plains. 5 stars

42snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:30pm Top

Becoming Madame Mao presents Madame Mao as a willful power-hungry actress. The depiction of her obsessions and how they led her to her despicable actions wes interesting. As her life got more political, with plots and counter plots, keeping track of what was going on and all the people became difficult. 3 stars

43snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:31pm Top

The Tree of Life is an unique novel in that it's written as a journal, set in Ohio in 1811 and 1812 during the War of 1812. Excellent portrayal of everyday life from the mundane to the horrific. 4 stars

44snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:31pm Top

Tales Out of School was an immersive fun tale with plenty of philosophical insight along the way. Poetically written. 4 stars

45snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:42pm Top

Dance Night is a story of two young people in a small factory town and their dreams of moving to the city and making it big. It portrays the nature of a small town, both its comforting and its stifling nature. 3 stars

46snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:33pm Top

Lincoln in the Bardo is an odd book. A one star early on, completely confusing, then still confusing but intriguing, and by the end up to 4 stars and a sense that as I ruminate on it, it might go up to 5. The author uses a very unique style and contrived universe to address the essential issues of the meaning of life and death. 4 stars

47snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:33pm Top

Our Souls at Night is a lovely simple story of two elderly people who decide to share their lives to relieve their loneliness. 4 stars

48snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:33pm Top

Hillbilly Elegy is a memoir of life amongst hillbillies in Kentucky and Ohio. The author escaped the financial and career limitations but is still struggling with the emotional scars. A revealing book. Although the authors makes various stabs at how to overcome their problems, it's clear no simple answer exists. 4 stars

49snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:34pm Top

Fellow Travelers is the story of a homosexual relationship, between two quite troubled, not terribly likable men set against the political scene of the McCarthy era. As historical fiction, I often got lost in all the names, plots, and counter--plots. 3 stars

50snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:35pm Top

Nomadland is an expose of the multitudes of people, most older, who have left homes they can't afford and taken to a nomadic life moving from one temporary job to the next. It is depressing in that so many are living such difficult lives and uplifting in that many are not only managing but thriving.
4 stars

51snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:35pm Top

The Sociopath Next Door presents the sociopath in its various guises with some hints as to how to recognize them which is its value. Other than that it's moralistic and simplistic. 2.5 stars

52snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:35pm Top

the Life Before Us was a wonderful, slightly macabre, comedic, social commentary tale of a muslim orphan and a dying Jewish retired prostitute, complete with a bizarre cast of characters living on the fringe of society. 5 stars

53snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:38pm Top

Alexandrian Summer is the story of two families summering in Alexandria in 1951 when it was a vibrant cosmopolitan city; tales of sexual hypocrisies, horse racing, and obsessions. 3.5 stars

54snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:38pm Top

Amsterdam: A Novel was a tightly woven novel. Two selfish decisions by former lovers of the same woman, a newspaper editor and a composer, spiral into a double murder. 4 stars

55snash
Edited: Aug 2, 6:39pm Top

A Lazy Eye: Stories was series of stories about people on the fringes, in sad lonely lives, trying desperately for some attention often in destructive ways; A generally sad book but excellently written. 3.5 stars

56snash
Edited: Aug 8, 10:41am Top

Hamlet's Dresser is a memoir with a combination of tales of a horrendous childhood, the backstage workings of Shakespearean plays, and observations with great empathy of old people. Sounds rather an odd combination but it all makes sense in the context of his life. 5 stars

57snash
Aug 12, 8:39am Top

Nutshell was told from the point of view of a fetus. He described the plotting of his mother and uncle to murder his father to get the family house. Along the way he made comment on the state of the world as well. None of the characters were particularly likable. 3 stars

58snash
Edited: Aug 17, 11:18am Top

Charming Billy is the story of an extended family centered around the funeral of charming Billy, an alcoholic obsessed with his lost early love. About the disappointments of life, memories, redemption, and love. 4 stars

59snash
Edited: Aug 21, 6:52am Top

The Illusion of Separateness is a story of interrelated people told from their various points of view and at different times. The writing was good but I found the story disjointed and that it ended abruptly. 3 stars

60snash
Edited: Aug 29, 5:17pm Top

Early Autumn: A Story of a Lady used a tale of an old Puritan family to illustrate the conflict between a righteous and a sensuous life. 3.5 stars

61snash
Aug 29, 5:18pm Top

Fever 1793 was A YA historical novel about the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. A good representation of the nearly apocalyptic scene and the struggles of dealing with the threat of death of oneself and loved ones. 3.5 stars

62thornton37814
Aug 30, 9:27pm Top

>61 snash: I read that one at some point, rating it a little higher than you did.

63snash
Sep 5, 7:45pm Top

Along the Edge of America is a travel memoir of a boat trip along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline. Sometimes the author spent more time on his own mental state than I cared about, but the scenery and character sketches of those he met along the way were great. 4 stars

64snash
Sep 13, 6:58am Top

The Stone Diaries was the recounting of a life from her own viewpoint, augmented by the viewpoint of family members and friends. Daisy's mother died in childbirth and she was raised by a neighbor who took her in. While living a relatively full life she was plagued by a sense of aloneness and longing for her mother. 4 stars

65snash
Edited: Sep 24, 6:23pm Top

Gods, Voices and the Bicameral Mind. Having read the original book by Julian Jaynes, this series of essays was a very good refresher in that each essay summarized Jayne's theories in their own words. It also provided an update on research and information gathered since 1977. There were only a couple of essays that were more obtuse than I cared to plow through. 4 stars

66snash
Edited: Sep 24, 6:24pm Top

Our Woman in Havana is a look at Cuban life from the mid-50's, prior to Castro, to now although the author only lived there for 3 years starting in 2011, visiting several times after 2014. Her descriptions of Cuba before her arrival are taken from Graham Greene and the reminisces of people she interviewed. The book gives a colorful picture of Cuba which even handedly presents both the good and the bad of country's history. 4 stars

67snash
Edited: Sep 24, 6:23pm Top

I can't say I enjoyed The Ninth Hour but it has more to due with my own prejudices; antagonism towards all religion, catholicism in particular, than with the merits of the book. I kept reading it for the great descriptions of people and places. 3 stars

68snash
Sep 28, 7:29am Top

The Swallows of Kabul was a very grim tale of two couples living in the ruins of Kabul. The violence and lack of communication between people were overwhelming. 3 stars

69snash
Edited: Oct 4, 7:05am Top

Educated was a superb portrayal of the difficulties and struggles of breaking away from ones family no matter how crazy or abusive that family might be. In this case the family was Mormon, survivalist in Idaho and the father, bipolar. 4.5 stars

70snash
Edited: Oct 9, 10:55am Top

Little Fires Everywhere was a story of conflict between the ideal American dream and alternative life styles, between birth mothers and adoptive mothers, between righteousness and reality, between interfering and augmenting others lives. 4 stars

71snash
Edited: Oct 10, 10:53am Top

When the Emperor Was Divine was the story of the Japanese Interment and its aftermath sparsely and eloquently told by the 4 members of a family. 4 stars

72snash
Oct 17, 11:04am Top

The Inner Life of Empires was a frustrating book in that there's a mass of information but the author has trouble organizing it and in her attempt to do so repeats certain themes over and over and also spends too much time talking about the nature of this micro history and difficulties in gathering information. Despite these faults, it does give a picture of the times and the nature of some lives during that time.

73snash
Oct 19, 2:51pm Top

Fair Play was a series of short vignettes about two artist ladies, tersely describing the scenes and in the process making observations about life, work, and love. 3.5 stars

74snash
Edited: Nov 1, 10:53am Top

Life among the Lutherans are Lake Woebegon stories; humorous tales of the Minnesota small town residents and farmers. 4 stars

75snash
Edited: Nov 1, 10:53am Top

In Desert Queen, the author managed to convey an amazingly complex subject in a clear and engaging manner even to someone with no prior knowledge of the subject. Both the person and the early history of Iraq were fascinatingly presented. 4.5 stars

76snash
Nov 6, 11:29am Top

The Uninvited Guests combined an improbable plot with unlikeable characters to made the book a struggle to read and then ghosts were added to the mix. 2 stars

77snash
Nov 10, 2:13pm Top

The Cliff Walk is a memoir describing the loss of his English professorship, two years of joblessness, and finally his transformation into a painter/carpenter. 3 stars

78richardderus
Nov 10, 5:47pm Top

Good November day to you, Sharon, and a note to mention how much I appreciate your ability to be concise and still informative. Well, I say "appreciate" when what I actually mean is closer to "vibrate with jealousy while gnashing my teeth," but the point is still valid.

79snash
Edited: Nov 11, 6:32pm Top

>78 richardderus: thanks Don't gnash your teeth too vigorously, however. I hate to have you hurt yourself. Meanwhile I'll continue to be jealous of your fuller, pithy reviews.

80richardderus
Nov 11, 7:25pm Top

"Pith" as in "Australopithecine," I fear. My windbaggery tends to tire internet audiences.

81snash
Yesterday, 9:15am Top

Rules of Engagement: A Novel is a highly introspective novel wherein the narrator guards her privacy precluding any intimacy. Her approach is contrasted with her childhood friend's open neediness. Neither fare well in adulthood.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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