littlegeek is finally giving this a try 2018
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Hello, LTers! Many of you probably remember me, I used to be a regular around here. I have been mostly lurking since this place turned into a compendium of individual reading diaries. I liked it better when we all responded together to topics. I find digging through individual threads confusing.
However, I miss the people here and facebook is a bad place to record reading and book thoughts. So, I have officially caved and I'm trying the individual reading thread thing.
For the past 2 years I have applied filters to my reading: 2016 was authors of color only, and I liked it so much that 2017 was only one white person per 3 books, and only one white man per 3 women. I have to say, paying attention to experiences and ways of seeing the world other than either lilywhite fantasy/scifi or "literary" fiction has expanded my consciousness and I recommend it highly. I discovered lots of great books and authors I otherwise would probably have ignored.
I am not motivated to restrict my reading this year, I just want to wander where my heart dictates, although I do believe my tastes have been permanently changed. At the moment I am working my way through the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante; I'm in the middle of the 2nd one, The Story of a New Name. Man, things get way more serious for our girls once they become women.
It does get scattered, but there are plenty of tidbits to keep it interesting.
>2 suitable1: If you have any suggestions on keeping it all straight, by all means...
>3 littlegeek: I have some favorites, and I've been know to skim a lot.
>4 suitable1: I have always been a proud skimmer. You can always go back if the conversation references something you missed.
One does wonder about the Green Dragon members who never post. What do they do all day? Enquiring minds.
Happy new year! I'd love to hear about your years of reading authors of color. I've been doing some of that myself, but not in anywhere near so committed a way. Can you point me to anything, or share some favorites?
>7 hfglen: Thanks!
>8 Jim53: Some of my favorite new authors of color are: Nnedi Okorafor, N.K. Jemisin, Victor LaValle, Cixin Liu, Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Some great books I read during my POC years: The Leavers, The Buried Giant (Ishiguro was always a fave), An Unneccessary Woman, The Wangs vs. The World, Exit West, Sleeping on Jupiter, Behold the Dreamers, The Grace of Kings, Another Brooklyn, Bless Me, Ultima, Homegoing, The Underground Railroad (Whitehead another previous fave), The Turner House, Americanah, The House of the Spirits, Things Fall Apart, The Known World, The Death of Artemio Cruz, Native Son, Bluebird, Bluebird, White Tears.
I also read some books by other perennial favorite authors like Walter Mosley, Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, Salman Rushdie, James Baldwin, Zadie Smith, and Ishmael Reed.
>9 littlegeek: Thank you! I've read a few of those, but many are new to me, so consider them your first successful book bullets of the year ;-)
>1 littlegeek: I’ve only been here a little over a year myself, but I’m happy to see a new (to me, anyway) face amongst the reading journal threads. :)
>3 littlegeek: Based on my lengthy experience of two whole New Years in this forum, this seems to be the time of the year when it’s the most chaotic and hard to follow. Everybody’s wrapping up last year’s threads, starting new threads, and doing more general chit-chat. It’s fun, but a little overwhelming. I think it will calm down after a while and you’ll find it easier to keep it all straight. By late last year, it had gotten downright quiet. Plus, after you’ve been following the threads for a while, you get a better feel for whose reading tastes correspond most closely to your own.
>13 Sakerfalcon: Happy New Year! It's good to have another thread to follow. I do miss some of the old threads and conversations we used to have in the GD, but I suppose it's inevitable that things will change and evolve over time as people come and go. Following individual reading diaries is fun, but very bad for my wallet as they seem to be an effective book bullet delivery mechanism!
>1 littlegeek: I look forward to seeing more about what you are reading!
>12 YouKneeK: gave good advice. Things really do settle down after the first month of the year, but they never go entirely quiet, which I like since I depend on the pub for my fun and interesting social interactions. :D As for how to manage the digging, I suppose each person has their own method. There have been years when I hit the "ignore" button on certain threads which I had no reading tastes in common, however, I haven't done that lately because then you miss the tidbits about life with people you like to hear from. So now I use the "skim" method. When people use touchstones for the title of the book they are talking about, I can choose not to read about it, or skim it. I usually don't read about it if it is a book I know I want to read and I skim if I don't know it to see if I might be interested. The hard part is going back to a conversation which took place about a book I didn't read until months later, but that is what starred threads help with. Most of the silly rabbit trails, or even serious conversations happen within the reading threads.
We still start other general topic threads, but activity seems a bit sporadic on them. Feel free to start one though, you never know!
I used to find all the individual reading threads overwhelming, but I gradually got used to it, and now read all of them. I do love the general group discussions too.
I finished The Story of a New Name and I am very much enjoying this series. The two main characters and the ebbs and flows of their relationship are fascinating. It's annoying but also, I think, a strength of the book that it is only told from one side, and from the less interesting person (or so she would have it). It gives the impression of a mystery, forever wondering what is really going on in the mind and heart of Lila.
The one thing I'm not loving is trying to keep track of the many secondary and tertiary characters. I tend to get them mixed up, especially as they all have 3 different names. It's like a Russian novel that way. It would help if they were more developed, I guess, but they are just foils for the two women.
The best thing about this book is the unemotional, matter-of-fact way it presents the constant and debilitating sexism that women (still) go through every day. It doesn't scream "FEMINIST NOVEL" but it surely is.
Now I'm reading the next in the series Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay. Also, a draft of a novel by a friend of mine. I love being a beta reader!
>16 littlegeek: I really need to start reading Elena Ferrante. I have the first novel and have heard so much praise for her from people here and in RL. Your comments make me think I should try and fit her in this year.
I've been super busy lately and there is the Australian Open taking up most of my evenings but I managed to finish Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay and I continue to enjoy this series. This one really lays heavily on the class distinctions for a while (a major theme) and then slows down as Lenu gets bogged down in a boring marriage and motherhood. The end of this one is as soap-opera-y as it gets, but as usual, there is so much depth that I just didn't care.
Some of the reviews of this series are "it's just a melodrama, why do people like it so much?" and I can only wonder how in the world people miss the deep dives into the hearts and souls of these women, the critique of social and economic class divisions, the feminism. I think people just skim books to say they "read" them sometimes, without trying to get the underlying themes.
I'm also half way through my friend's novel, and it's so good!! She is such a polished writer. It's nice to read a draft that comes across as an actual novel and not a mish-mash, which is what you usually get with unpublished work.
Have moved straight on to the final novel in the series The Story of the Lost Child.
Welcome back, my friend!!! I'm sure I missed out on most of your book posts on Facebook, sadly. It's always hit and miss in there. I'm very pleased by the idea of getting to pick your brain in here again.
Finished the final Neapolitan novel, The Story of the Lost Child. These four novels take the reader on quite a journey, yet it is all so familiar. I was sad to put this one down, cried a little. This is a book you read for the details, for the small but potent insights, for the deep and complex characters. Much of it hit very close to home. I'd have to say this is the best work devoted to the inner lives of women I've read since Kristin Lavransdatter.
It was quite a backdrop to the #MeToo movement going on in the "real" world at the same time.
After all that all-too-realism, I need some fantasy so I'm reading Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor. I read the first in this series when I was on our annual camping vacation so I'm having flashbacks to reading beside the pool watching the dragonflies....
Finished Binti: The Night Masquerade. I'm so impressed by the vivid imagination of Okorafor. Her books aren't all that sophisticated in regard to plot or character, but the imagery and world building are top notch!
Now reading The Lathe of Heaven and I get why they call this her Phillip K. Dick book.
>25 littlegeek: My reaction to The Lathe of Heaven was a little mixed. I really liked the premise and the ideas, but I wasn’t crazy for the execution. I enjoyed her Earthsea series much more, but I haven’t read any of her other work yet. I do have a few others on my list that I’ll get to eventually. Have you read much of her other work?
>28 littlegeek: These are two of the books on my list, so I’m glad to hear you liked them so much!
Finished The Lathe of Heaven. Enjoyed it, didn't find it as deep or satisfying as some of her other books. Mostly a riff on the ego and the damage it can do when it's out of balance.
Next, I have been hit by the barrage and so began reading A Gentleman in Moscow. I am 2% in and already thoroughly charmed.
>34 clamairy: Loving it so far. Charming is still the word I would use. I love the use of language, it's written like a 19th century novel, which is pretty much where the Count's head is at, anyway.
I finished Gentleman last night! Charming is a good word for it. It was pretty amazing!
One thing I am really loving about Gentleman is how delightfully understated the writing is. In this world of unrelenting social media hyperbole, it is such a refreshing change.
Finished Gentleman over the long weekend. I cried. What a great book, what a great ending. Very satisfying reading experience. Thank you for the bullet, GD!!
Now reading Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I like it so far, but it's kind of sad, too. Immigrant stories so often are.
Haha, so 3 months go by and I haven't posted here. I'm going to go one post at a time and fill in what books I've been reading lately, starting where I left off with Pachinko.
I learned a lot about the relationship between Japan and Korea, which I had no idea was quite so fraught. I enjoyed the well-drawn characters. I felt like the earlier part of the book were given more time to breathe, the later generations were sort of tossed off. I think the author felt rushed to finish or something.
Would recommend definitely.
Next I did a reread of A Wizard of Earthsea. I forgot how wonderful this book is. What I love about this book is that the hero isn't the Chosen One, just a person who tackles the challenges life brings him. I get a little tired of "chosen one" fantasy tropes.
Next up was Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders. I liked it ok. It was just a tad too "cute" for my taste, but well done.
Next I read The Animators, another Tournament of Books book. I enjoyed reading it, but was troubled by the ending. Spoiler:
After that I read The Dreamblood Duology by N.K. Jemisin. Man, I love her writing. One of the best fantasy authors out there, for my money.
After that it was the new Christopher Moore, Noir. (which isn't touchstoning for me for some reason). I love Chris Moore books, this one had less supernatural stuff than many of his books, but still very fun.
Then it was An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. It certainly did not go in the direction I was thinking it would. I liked the Rashomon-style structure, seeing the situations from different character's perspectives. Sometimes I really hated the dumb things the characters did, but they seemed very human.
Then I read The Power by Naomi Alderman. Ugh I wish I could say I liked it but ugh. The premise (women suddenly have a physical advantage over men) was interesting and it could have been so good, but the execution was so poor. She just didn't approach it with any nuance at all, and by the end it was just a super hero movie and not in a good way. SKIP
Then I read most of Artemis by Andy Weir, which was ok, not great. The hard science part of how we might manage to live on the moon was cool, but it sort of degenerated into a basic heist thing, which I found less compelling. I think I stopped reading at about 80% because I didn't care anymore where it was going.
>54 littlegeek: I started this a couple of weeks ago, but had to set it aside because a bunch of loans landed in my Kindle. I'm not feeling all that compelled to go back.
Glad you've found some good things in your reading over the last few months.
I really liked the Dreamblood duology, and I think the Broken earth trilogy is even better.
A wizard of Earthsea is one of my all-time favourite books.
I agree with you about The power, I ended up disliking all the different plot threads in the end.
So many people are praising Sing unburied sing that I may have to give it a try myself.
Wishing you much more happy reading in the months ahead!
>41 littlegeek: If you don't like the idea of The Chosen One saving the world, civilisation and everything, but prefer the idea of someone else stepping up and doing the job, have you encountered Un Lun Dun by China Miéville?
>46 littlegeek: That duology was my introduction to Jemisin and I was really impressed. I also really liked her Broken Earth trilogy when I read it earlier this year.
>53 littlegeek: I’m sorry to read The Power wasn’t executed very well. I have that on my list, but I’ll probably borrow it rather than buy it. I’m not sure when I’ll get to it since I haven’t scheduled it, but I tend to randomly grab standalones and fit them in when I have time, whereas I usually plan series out a little more.
Finished Sing, Unburied, Sing and now I have no idea what to read. I did just pick up a Kindle bargain today, The Devil in Silver by one of my new favorite authors, Victor LaValle so maybe that. SUS was soooo good that it will make it hard to move on.
While I'm here: I recently downloaded the Libby app from Overdrive. It solves almost all the problems I had with the old app. I'm thinking I will be checking out more library books now. My usual thing with library books is just to look for available titles. I've never put myself on a waiting list for newer books through the library. What are other people's experience with library wait lists? I hate the idea that someone else's timeline is forcing me to read something I'm not in the mood for.
>63 littlegeek: It's mostly positive, but can sometimes be a mixed bag. I've waited so long for some things that I barely remembered requesting them by the time they showed up. And occasionally 2 or 3 books show up at the same time, despite having been requested months apart. On the plus side it forces me out of my normal reading rhythm, and that is often actually a good thing. Try it for a while. I always forget that when I get one book I can suspend any or all of my other holds for a week (or longer) without losing my place in line. You don't have to remember to go back in and 'un-suspend' it, which is a huge perk.
>64 clamairy: Oh, I did not know about suspending a hold, that sounds like a good thing.
Do they just show up? Because I usually have my wifi turned off to save the battery. I imagine that a book could show up and be gone before I'd even noticed.
>63 littlegeek: I use Overdrive on occasion. Sometimes I use the waiting list, but only if it’s a standalone book because then I can fit into my schedule more easily whenever it shows up. I don’t use it for books in a series because I prefer to read a series all at once, so I want more control over when I start it. I mostly just use it for things I’m not too anxious to read and don’t want to read at a set time. I also rarely put myself on the list for more than one thing at a time. Occasionally two, but never more than that. If there are multiple books I’m considering, I sign up for whichever one I think I’ll get the quickest.
I also usually won’t bother unless it’s a short waiting list. I don’t think many people return a book early if they finish it before the due date, so even just a few people on the waiting list can mean a really long waiting time. My lending period is 3 weeks. If there are 5 people ahead of me and it takes everybody an average of 5 days to read the book, theoretically I could be on the waiting list for as few as 25 days. In reality, it’s more likely to be close to 105 days (3 weeks * 5 people). I think I’ve only once ever stuck it out on a waiting list longer than a month, so I usually won’t even bother to sign up if there are more than a couple people ahead of me per copy.
It really seems to work well for a lot of people though, who are more flexible with their reading than I am.
>65 littlegeek: I receive an e-mail notifying me when they send me the book. It does show up on my Kindle automatically when WiFi is on.
ETA: Actually, after I get the e-mail, I think I have to log in and specifically select to download it. It's been a while since I've used it.
>66 YouKneeK: The last book I borrowed was 7 days, I thought the lending period was set by the demand for the book. How do you get 3 weeks?
>66 YouKneeK: It probably varies by library system, but 7 days seems awfully short. I think there was a setting on my profile that allowed me to edit the lending period, but I think it was 3 weeks by default and I just left it that way.
>68 littlegeek: & >69 YouKneeK: It's under Account & Settings. I have the longest period set for everything. I remember to return stuff when I've finished a loan before the due date* roughly half of the time. They don't make it convenient. You have to sign into Amazon and go to your devices & content.
*Doesn't happen that often.
>70 clamairy: I think returning borrowed e-books probably seems easier to me just because I’m on my desktop computer so much, and I keep a few frequently-used things open all the time which includes Amazon (and LibraryThing, of course!), so it’s just a few clicks away for me.
I do usually wait until a day or two after I finish a book before I return it though, just in case I want to look anything up in response to online discussions. I know I could technically keep it even after returning it if I turned off wifi, but I have weird ethical issues.
>70 clamairy: That's not weird... just maybe not common. 😊 It doesn't bother me because I know I'm not keeping the book from the next person in line. I would feel otherwise if it were a physical copy.
>72 clamairy: That part is weird, I still don't understand why anyone should ever have to wait for an electronic book. Is it a licensing thing?
>70 clamairy: I figured it out, you can choose when you borrow the book. I missed it the first time I used Libby. Which is way, way easier to use than the old app, I never could get used to it.
I really do like using the library for audio books because they are so very expensive. I will do it more now that they have a decent app.
>73 littlegeek: Yes, it is an artificial construct. There is no other physical reason why anyone should have to wait. The other difficult thing for me to understand is the price some publisher's charge libraries for an e-book. It is often much, much higher than the consumer price.
>70 clamairy: I do the same thing by turning off wi-fi and returning the e-book right away. That allows the next person in line to get the book that much quicker while I can read the same title without the pressure of an artificial due date. There are a couple of drawbacks to this... The biggest one being dictionary and wiki lookups are often not accessible - but I keep my mobile phone handy to look things up while reading so... not that big a deal. Certainly no worse than reading a print book and finding myself pressing a word & waiting in vain for a popup window... :-0
>73 littlegeek: Yep, the licensing thing includes rules about the # of concurrent users and/or the # of times an e-book may be loaned before the license has to be renewed.
The concurrent users part of the license is what I was referring to with my “weird ethical issues”. However much I may dislike the licensing rules, I still follow them, and that's utterly bizarre to most people. :)
Finished Euphoria, and enjoyed it while I was reading it. I was an anthropology major way back when I attended college and it was long enough ago that I didn't notice anything too wrong with the science. What annoyed me, quite a bit, was that the author chose
The Last Night at the Lobster was very lovely little novella about the little people. Lots of detail about running a chain restaurant that I actually found interesting. Sweet.
I'm now reading The Devil in Silver by one of my new favorite authors, Victor LaValle. He knows how to get me all creeped out.
:pokes head in: Oh hi! I have been woefully absent in the land of Talk myself, even on my reading thread, but I absolutely remember you and am excited to see what you read. This is my first year of "no more straight cisgender white men," and I'll be purging most of them from my physical library before I move this summer/fall, as well. I'm heavily focused on queer authors, authors of color, autistic authors, and anyone who sits at any intersection of the three. It's GREAT. :)
(and agreed re: fb. That's part of why Litsy has quickly become my most used social media platform, far and away. It's not curated by stupid algorithms I can't control like fb and insta, and better for longer-form conversation than twitter.)
Yes, do it! I'm kgriffith there too :) (or you can find me if you use the "find fb friends" option)
Finished The Devil in Silver. I really love Victor LaValle. His plots are kind of twisty and sprawling, his characters flawed but relatable. This one was set in a psychiatric hospital, but of course with a monster. I loved every page.
I'm now listening to Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, and reading Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart, a "true novelization" of one of the first female sheriffs in the US. It's delightful, and there are sequels!
Hi, LG! I’ve been tracking my reading over in the 75’ers group for a few years now, but thought I’d drop by the Dragon and say hello!
I finished Girl Waits with Gun and enjoyed it very much. I'm glad there are further adventures, I'll be reading those when I'm in the mood for some light hearted mystery.
Now reading The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It was $1.99 last night on Kindle, and since I also want to read Circe I figured it was time. Enjoying it so far.
I downloaded the Litsy app, but I haven't felt like getting up on yet another platform. I guess I'm getting old, as it seems like I'm always several apps behind on where all the cool kids are and it hardly seems worth it to keep up.
Maybe it's time for a social media vacation for me.
>85 littlegeek: I am, thanks, and you? I catch a glimpse of you on Facebook every now and then.
>87 foggidawn: I am well. Dreaming of retirement, although that's still a ways off. I don't post as much on facebook as I used to, but I do lurk. I actually like pictures of people's kids and pets.
>86 littlegeek: The thing I like about this group is that it’s where all the cool adults are. :)
I haven’t tried Litsy, but I don’t do much social stuff on mobile devices, so I think it probably wouldn’t be a good fit for me. I’ll occasionally read new posts on my phone or tablet, but I almost never reply until I’m at a computer. I abuse the stars on LT by using them to flag threads I want to remember to reply to when I’m at a computer, instead of using them to follow threads, since I read all the threads anyway.
I’d be interested to read what you think if you do put some time into it. I’ve occasionally considered trying it out, and I may do so someday, but right now I’m not very motivated to invest the time.
BTW, I also finished listening to Girl in Translation. Pretty conventional story, but I really did enjoy the early chapters dealing with the sweatshop and the neighborhood in Chinatown. I got a little tired of hearing how brilliant Kimberly was, and the later chapters with the high school romance didn't really land for me. Still worth the time and I did finish.
I need something to listen to at work now. I'll be on Libby tonight hunting for something good.
>88 littlegeek: My parents are in the process of retiring, and I’m just trying not to think of how far away that is for me! (Though I do enjoy my current job very much.) And I also lurk on Facebook far more than I post, since I too enjoy pictures of people’s kids and pets. I just don’t always enjoy sifting through the other stuff...
>91 clamairy: *waves back*
>86 littlegeek: I enjoyed Girl waits with Gun, especially that the author discovered the story while sifting through old newspaper articles.
Litsy. I'm trying to like it. Mostly I don't remember it's there. I'm wondering if I would like it more if I was only following folks I know. Or if I used it sort of like a digital reading diary with photos. I wonder if there is an app like that?
Catching up: I listened to The Princess Bride as a palate cleanser, and because I love it and it was available on Libby. Rob Reiner is a surprisingly poor reader, but I know the book practically by heart, so I still enjoyed it. Now listening to The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham, read by Clare Danes. Now, she is a great reader. I may end up actually reading this book, because it is so beautifully written. I find that beautiful prose is better read than listened to.
Finished The Song of Achilles and it was so lovely. The siege of Troy as a gay love story, and quite a touching one. Highly recommended.
I guess I'm on a mythology trip because I'm now reading Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology. My heritage is mostly Scandinavian but I've never been particularly drawn to Norse myths. Maybe this will get me more in touch with my ancestors.
Let's see, time to catch up...Norse Mythology was entertaining in that Neil Gaiman way, but I might listen to the audiobook one of these days. His voice is so compelling. As for the myths, man those Norse gods were petty and mean.
I was on vacation for a week or so and I read 4.5 of the Earthsea books. I had read the first 3 way back in the day and it was fun to return. I really loved Tehanu the best, tho. Well, The Tombs of Atuan, also. I guess I just love Tenar.
I will eventually finish the cycle, just got bogged down in the short stories in Tales of Earthsea. For some reason, I just like novels better.
Last night I restarted Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. I had begun it a while back but found it required more concentration than I had at the time. It is a bit difficult to parse, but I like the ideas.
OK so I finished Too Like the Lightning. It does have some fun ideas and world building, but it's really, really hard to understand wtf is going on, who is speaking, etc. about half the time. I know the author is a historian, but I would have guessed a tort attorney for the level of clarity. It's baffle 'em with bullshit, especially in those interminable conversations with every leader of the world (complete with sexposition!) wherein it's pretty much impossible to tell who is who, which character is speaking and WTF they are talking about. The big MacGuffin is the theft of some kind of top ten list, and I could not figure out why in the world it was so damn important, which probably made it even harder to figure out what was going on.
There were interesting characters and situations not directly involving the world leaders, but I don't care enough to continue with the story. Where was the editor? There are probably two different good novels in here if someone had reined this author in, but it's too much trouble for me to make the effort.
Not sure what to read next, but I just stumbled upon this list of funny novels written by women and I will probably read something from that.
>101 littlegeek: Oh, that's too bad. The reviews here on LT are all over the place, with many echoing your sentiment. Ah, well. I might still give it a shot at some point.
:waves: I think we talked about Achilles on fb? At any rate, I'm glad you enjoyed it; it's one of my favorites. The audio is also truly one of the best I've ever listened to, I can't recommend it highly enough. And I love Litsy, but you already know that ;)
Oh, btw, I finished Orlando and it was so fun. I really enjoyed the way the language would get even more flowery and poof! it's suddenly the next century. Recommend.
Now I'm reading Excellent Women by Barbara Pym. Haha, it's right in my "English people being very English" wheelhouse, also subtly hilarious. I might have to read every book on that list.
Still listening to The Female Persuasion but finding it a slog. None of the characters are very interesting at all, including the Gloria Steinem-esq one. And the plot moves at a glacial pace with nothing much of interest going on. I might have to bail.
Finished Excellent Women and it was a hoot, in a very understated English way.
Now reading The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, which has been on my TBR for a long time and popped up on Libby. It's much more dour and sad than I was anticipating (although I knew it was dystopian post-apocalyptic). It all makes sense when you realize the author is an adventure writer.
Finally bailed on The Female Persuasion. I mean, ok, fine, it's well written but I just can't be bothered to care about these characters. I'm sure lots of people will like it, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I'm not one of them.
I enjoyed The Dog Stars once I got used to the writing style. Fill us in when you're done.
>110 clamairy: Yes, the writing style is a bit of getting used to. This book is often compared to Station Eleven and other than the post-apocalyptic setting and the use of an airport as shelter, it's NOTHING alike at all. This one is very macho, it's very concerned with the details of survival, which Station Eleven didn't really care about much. I wouldn't say I'm "enjoying" it so much as appreciating it, if that makes sense.
I guess I'm in a macho mood because for my audiobook I chose a reread of the first Aubrey/Maturin book, Master and Commander. Oh, how I love Patrick O'Brian, what wonderful books these are. The reader, Simon Vance, is also wonderful. (I've listened to some Trollope that he read, he's great.)
>111 MrsLee: I think you'd love it.
Ok I finished The Dog Stars and I'm sorry to say I did not like it. Ranty, spoilery opinion to follow (please ignore if you like):
I really did like when the author abandoned the sentence fragments and described the scenery or how he flew his plane or what guns were in use. But then the sentence fragments would reemerge. I don't think they added anything and certainly detracted, at least for me.
But I basically hated the rest of it. I reject the notion that if the "thin veneer of civilization" is removed, people will naturally become roving packs of killing machines. In order to survive, I'm pretty sure people would need to band together to share resources and skills, not shoot every single person they encounter on sight. I was hoping that this lonely, messed up person would, in the end, realize that he needs other people for something other than a personal assassin or a fuck buddy, and would go off looking for society. But no.
His only friend, the dog, dies and he goes off looking for a woman to replace him, and finds her almost immediately. HE REPLACED HIS DOG WITH A WOMAN. There is even a touching scene of how she now sleeps outside with him, just like the dog did. (Also, sleeping outside, in DENVER? What was up with that?)
I was really hoping that at the end he would turn West and go looking for other people. But he actually WENT BACK TO THE HOMICIDAL MANIAC who we are now supposed to look upon as a quirky, lovable sidekick. Seriously, was I supposed to be touched by his thinking of living outside at an airfield with a homicidal maniac as "home?" Was I supposed to understand that maybe it was better to stay there with his dogwife and his two gun nut friends rather than look for society because the rumor was they were "Arabs?"
Ugh, ok, I'm done. Whatever.
Oh, I am now reading The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. There's a lot of great fiction coming out of Nigeria lately.
>113 littlegeek: I read The Dog Stars for the Novel Idea event at my library. I was then supposed to design a quilt. I so didn’t enjoy the book. There was no way I was getting a quilt idea out of it. The writing style drove me crazy and the story wasn’t good enough to overcome it.
>115 catzteach: I'm glad I'm not the only one. Most people seem to love it.
Huh, I thought I posted about The Fishermen, but apparently it didn't take. I found it very worthy of a read, but it's very tragic in the classical sense. If you're not in the mood to have your mood deflated, best skip it to another time. It was very well done, weaving many cultural and societal changes into the narrative. Recommended, with that caveat.
After that I finally went back and finished the Earthsea books. I found The Other Wind to be rather slight, but a nice place to hang out. Needed more Ged.
I am now reading The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. Loving it so far.
>117 littlegeek: Sorry you weren't crazy about The Other Wind. I thought the ending was a pretty radical reimagining of how some aspects of the world work, one that I liked. I think Ged would have been in the way of this particular story.
>117 littlegeek: The Other Wind was my least favorite of the Earthsea books. I enjoyed it ok, but the main thing I remember about it a couple years later was that I thought it was too repetitive. Considering that, it's maybe a little ironic that I barely remember anything about the story whereas the others stuck with me better.
My issues with The Other Wind were that it was very repetitive, as YouKneek says. Also,
So she says the same thing a bunch of times and I still didn't really get it.
I did like the imagery, the dreams, the yearnings, etc. Some of it was really beautiful but it didn't make a lick of sense to me.
Finished Rules of Civility and enjoyed it quite a bit. Everyone is right, it's different from A Gentleman in Moscow but it was worth reading for sure.
Now reading Less by Andrew Sean Greer because it was on special at Amazon last night ($3.99 Kindle version). It's funny so far.
That's two white guy writers in a row, but one of them is gay, at least.
>125 kgriffith: LGBTQ+ counts as an underrepresented community in the canon, tho, for sure.
Finished Starless. I really enjoy Jacqueline Carey's world building and pacing. Though a standalone, there are three distinct sections each with a different goal and tone. I enjoyed the first section the best, I think, about the training of the assassin-type figure. The second section is basic palace intrigue kind of thing and the last section is a quest. The characters were engaging and I especially liked Carey's handling of trans and differently-abled characters. Instead of mucking about with pronouns and keeping the gender issues at a distance, we get inside the head of a character who bends gender all over the place simply because of circumstance. It's very well handled and compelling.
One knock is that
Not sure what to read next but I have several books boring a hole in my Kindle.
Finished The Kin of Ata and, hmmmph, well parts of it didn't age well. I have the feeling that if I had read this book 30-40 years ago I would have loved it but reading it now, not so much.
It's very effective at describing metaphorically the ups and downs of a spiritual (mostly Buddhist) path. And I get why it was considered feminist back in 1971, but that part doesn't hold up now. I mean
Anyway, it's worth a read for the spiritual concepts, with the caveat that it's 40 years old and shows it.
>130 littlegeek: I find it interesting to read older books for just that reason. Especially ones which were celebrated for their "progressiveness" or whatever. If you have a grasp on history and what the social climate of that day was, you can see their forward thinking, but comparing it to our times one can say "We've come a long way, baby." I wonder what folks will be saying about our time 100 years from now? Always hoping for a forward progression in how people are treating each other.
On a lighter note, I picked up a Robert B. Parker Spencer novel the other day and got a big kick out of reading the descriptions of how the college kids in the 1970s were dressed. Brought back a lot of memories, and boy oh boy I'm glad we've moved on from those styles. Never my favorite era. Then there was the Laurence Block novel written in the 1990s (yesterday, right?), and all the technology and transport seemed so outdated and primitive. Ah the times they are a changing.
Hope Never Dies was silly but I enjoyed it. Read it on a weekend getaway, it's perfect for that.
After that I read Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong. Sweet and sad, mostly a series of short vignettes about a woman who goes home in her 30s to take care of her dad who has Alzheimers. Surprisingly funny!
I'm now reading nonfiction for a change! Living With a Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich. I completely relate to a rationalist who is grappling with a mystical experience from her youth. I have had plenty of strange experiences, but I still don't know wtf happened there, and I resist naming the unnamable. I do enjoy learning how others like me have dealt with the big questions.
Finished Living With a Wild God this morning. Welp, hmm, that was interesting.
It was much more memoir than spiritual journey, which is fine, however I really didn't much like the young Barbara so spending so much time with her began to get old. The summing up was rather perfunctory - I got to the last page and thought, "that was it?! That's all you got?!" I honestly was surprised when I turned the page and it was the Acknowledgments.
Some of the ideas that floated by were intriguing but the author refused to elaborate. She seems to be focusing on the wrong things; she exposes as many blind spots in her thinking as epiphanies or mature understanding. For instance, we got lots of detail about her adolescent musings and her terribly messed up parents, but when she suddenly abandons solipsism for activism in the mid-60s, there is no mention of how her mother's recent suicide factored in, it just happened spontaneously when her lab partner mentions the Viet Nam war. What?
The description of her mystical experience in her teens was very compelling, and I do think she's right that we need to take these kind of experiences more seriously, but I'm not sure there's much more "there" there than that.
Not sure what to read next.
>134 littlegeek: Ah, I wish we could sit down and have a nice long chat about "stuff." :) I remember being so sure of everything when I was in my twenties and thirties, then in my forties, I began to question. Not necessarily doubt, but question "the way things are." It feels like a good place to be.
>135 MrsLee: Indeed, I know less in my '50s than in my '20s. I would love to hang out with you and discuss stuff. Maybe we should make that happen.
My disappointment doesn't stem from her having doubts and questions, it's about how perfunctorily those questions landed. I think she could have developed her thoughts more completely. There was 7/8 memoir and 1/8 quickly summing up something very deep. She doesn't have to have answers, but I would love to hear more about the questions she still has.
Anyhoo, I am now reading Circe by Madeline Miller. I really enjoy the way this author writes.
John Woman was challenging and intriguing. I really loved it. If you hate ambiguous endings, give it a miss, but I loved every minute. Lots of ruminating on history and how personal experience colors our take on the world. Thumbs up.
I am now reading An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green. It's fun so far.
I gave up on the Hank Green after about 20%. I found it depressing in the same way Twitter is depressing. I get why people like it, but it's not for me.
Now reading The Lake House by Kate Morton. I have been feeling sinusy for the last few days and it's the perfect thing. English mystery with family intrigue.
>140 littlegeek: & >141 YouKneeK: Because of the many adaptations I'd seen or read of The Count of Monte Cristo I used to term it as being the best book I'd never read. After finally getting around to it in 2011 I had to change that appellation to the best book I've ever read. Hopefully you enjoy it as much as I did.
>140 littlegeek: Knowing your tastes I suspect you're going to be pretty happy. Even though I've never read it myself! LOL
>140 littlegeek: I read The Count when I was in my 20s. I really enjoyed it!
Hi everyone! I haven't checked in in a while, the Count is taking me forever to read, but I'm loving every minute. What a grand tale! I'm at about 90%, so it's the home stretch. I'm going to miss it when I'm through!
We've already said "hi" but I wanted to say that I agree with your sentiment up-thread about reading works from outside of the white male enclave.
I enjoyed Nnedi Okorafor's Binti trilogy, even though I was a bit disappointed as regards the ending.
Another great find was Yoon Ha Lee, but then I have a weak spot for fantastical space opera.
TCoMC is one of my favorite books. I've read it twice. It's fab.
it got me hooked on Dumas big time. I've read all the d'Artangan novels (5), the Valois novels (3) and The Black Tulip. Next will be the Marie Antoinette novels...I think there are five.
>146 Busifer: I see what you mean about Binti, but then again
I gotta check out Yoon Ha Lee.
>148 littlegeek: So she was, but the ending was a bit too much none the less. That said I greatly enjoyed the tone, not to mention the perspective.
I’m a bit wary about her other books, though. As I understand they are even more fantasy than Binti, and I need to be in the right mood to be at peace with that.
Yoon Ha Lee... it’s hard for me to say what’s so special: Okorafor draws from an African experience, Lee is in some ways more conventional; American, but of Korean decent and identifying as trans. But he has a vivid imagination, and I find his characters to be un-gendered even when they are identified as male or female.
However, if we talk gender and not non-white non-western culture I think Martha Wells genderless Murderbot a fun romp, too, and its persistence in making note of its’ own genderless-ness and inbuilt asexuality kind of interesting in it’s own way.
>151 Busifer: I really enjoyed Americanah. It's not your average diaspora story. It's not scifi, tho, so be warned. :-)
btw, Lagoon is not YA, like most of her books, and it's pretty funny.
>152 littlegeek: - I know it's not genre, but that's OK :-)
I read non-genre every now and then, but generally try to steer clear of the kind of literature whose only justification is to worry wounded relationships, ie conflicted grandmother-mother-daughter relationships and the like.
>153 Sakerfalcon: - One more vote of confidence - great. I'll definitely get this one.
I did it! I finally finished The Count of Monte Cristo! What a ripping tale. The only problem I had was the Woody Allen behavior of the Count there at the end. I really enjoyed this one, for sure.
Riddled with bullets, next I am going to start the Murderbot series.
>155 littlegeek: Oh, I loved the Murderbot series, I had to binge read it! I recommend getting it from the library, though, because those books sure was very expensive. Like, limited edition major academic text expensive...
>156 Busifer: Well the first book on Kindle is only $3.99 so I'm giving that one a try. If I like it, I will order the rest from the library.
Speaking of which, I'm thinking of not spending any money on books in 2019, only getting them from free sources like the library or Project Gutenberg. Has anyone tried that before?
>157 littlegeek: The paper books were were 200 SEK or US$22 each, at 150 pages per book, and I've read somewhere else that they were as expensive in the US as in Sweden... It's called extortion, I believe.
I still don't regret buying and reading them. But.
Hmmm. I read the first murderbot--that's the one with the AI that watches soaps, right?--and i wasn't all that impressed. Maybe I need to give the next one a try.
>160 Jim53: I think Murderbot’s voice is key. Either you like it, or not. I like it. But then, it should be noted, I have a thing for the ”who and what is (it) to be human” premise. In Star Trek TNG Data was my favourite character, I enjoy Iain M Banks’ Culture, as I enjoyed Ann Leckie’s Ancillary books.
The first Murderbot book does little but set the stage for the rest of the story, and to me the books felt more like a televised mini-series than a book series: as a written story it should had been one 600 page book. But that’s my only real criticism of the suite.
>157 littlegeek: I haven't tried purposely to not buy books, but I have made some real efforts to read the books I have on my shelves. If I had to, I probably have enough reading material for the rest of my life if you count what is on my shelves and on my Kindle. I do buy books on my Kindle for my mother though, and of course I never buy her something I am not interested in (happily our interests coincide enough for that to not be a problem). Anyway, I buy far fewer books than I used to. I use the "wish list" here and on Amazon for books that are recommendations I can't pass up.
Good luck with your resolve! Mark and I also are trying to not buy things which are not consumable. We are not being militant about it, but also not following every whim to purchase.
My children are calling me a hippie now because I have gone on a sort of ban of commercial products. Make my own toothpowder, shampoo, furniture polish, etc. I am tired of being told by advertising moguls that I NEED stuff. :) I'm not militant about that, either. If it is too complicated, or requires too many ingredients to make a product I use, I will buy it instead. I have found that I don't need nearly as many products as I am told I do though.
>162 MrsLee: Okay, I want your recipe for shampoo! :o) My hair changes with the weather, so I have a bunch I mainly use in the Summer, and another batch of products for Winter.
>157 littlegeek: Well, I think it would be impossible to ban all book purchases for myself, however I suspect it's going to be much easier to cut back to the barest minimum now that I've moved. The selection of ebooks available through my new library is mind-boggling.
I really have to give The Count a go one of these years.
>163 clamairy: I am not wholly sold on my recipe yet, and I mix it up a little for best results. One container is made with 1 c. water + 1 T. baking soda (I double that), some drops of essential oils you like, about 15-20. Then I rinse with a solution of equal parts ACV and water. I use that for about 3 weeks, and I don't always use the vinegar rinse, just go by feel. Then I use the other shampoo I make which is 1 c. Dr. Bronnner soap to 1c. water, and 20 drops essential oil.
It takes about a month to get your hair and scalp used to it, but my hairdresser complemented me on the heath of my hair last visit. Search DIY shampoo for other recipes. As I say, I only go for the simplest. :)
>164 MrsLee: Thank you! No conditioner? I'm thinking the baking soda acts a bit like a water softening agent. I might do some googling after the holidays.
I made some home-made Goo-Gone the other day; I think it is 1 T. cooking oil to 1 T. baking soda. This morning I used it on my stove and surrounding walls. AMAZING! I had given up trying to get the gunk off, only cleaned the dirt off the gunk now and then to lighten the tone. :P This stuff took it right off, and everything is sparkling clean now!
Sorry littlegeek, I'll quit preaching the DIY on your thread now, but I had to share that little happy moment from my morning. :)
>166 MrsLee: Do not apologize for the DIY, I feel privileged I won't need to go searching for your recipes!
As for Murderbot, I had a hard time getting into it. It just seems to be missing something. It's the kind of thing I usually like, tho, so maybe I should try it again at a different time.
In anticipation of my year without book buying, I went through my Kindle and deleted every book I've finished, and downloaded every book I either DNF or forgot about. There are now 20 unread books on my Kindle! That's roughly 4 months worth!
I started reading The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig. I have no idea who recommended it and I know nothing about it, which is unusual and I kind of love it.
Holding my thumbs for Murderbot to win you over. If not, there’s plenty of other books out there :-)
>168 Busifer: Sometimes it's just the timing. I will definitely give it another try.
>167 littlegeek: Ivan Doig is a special author. I won't say I love everything he has written, but most of them, yes. Do you remember Esta? He was one of her favorite authors.
>170 MrsLee: Esta! That's where the rec came from. So far it's very sweet, simple story. Lovely prose. It's working out to be a good palate cleanser from the Count.
I loved The Bartender's Tale, in fact, that may be my favorite, because it is very different, and not quite sweet. Possibly bittersweet?
Still working my way through the Doig slowly. I am enjoying it tho, just feeling more like knitting than reading lately. I really get, well, "depressed" is too strong a word, more like "bothered" right around the winter solstice. I need more photons to function properly. Knitting is a comfort.
I've also been watching a lot of tv. Last night I finished off the new HBO adaptation of My Brilliant Friend. I think they did a great job! The casting is particularly good. I started off the year reading the novels and now have finished it off watching the tv show. I recommend the show highly, but please read the book first. The inner world of Lenu is worth experiencing without prepackaged pictures in your head. The young actresses who play her are great, but she's such an introvert, and an intellectual, a LOT is going on in her head that just can't be portrayed on screen.
Finished The Whistling Season. Simple story, tenderly told. Not setting the world on fire, but a nice place to hang for a while.
I am now reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. This has been on my Kindle for ages and after the recent purge I found it again. What was I waiting for? It's fun, a true "book lover's book."
It occurs to me I have violated my rule for the year of not so many white male writers, but I guess I have moved on to 2019 early. (Not a bad idea in general, IMHO.) My only restriction in 2019 will be not to buy any books. I'm only going to borrow or read public domain. That includes reading off the leftover TBR on the Kindle, as well. Seems appropriate since it's the first year in forever that there are actual new public domain works.
I'm at work for a half day, but afterwards I'm going to spruce up the house and bake some more cookies. We're having friends over tomorrow for a mellow hang and then Chinese food.
Merry Xmas to all who celebrate!
Finished Shadow of the Wind. I really enjoyed it. It's one of those books with a special library and how the books in it interact with "reality," etc. I'm a sucker for those.
Now reading Deathless by Catherynne Valente. It's another one of those "been on my Kindle forever and I somehow forgot that I was going to go back and finish it" books. It's very frightening in an almost too-real way for a fantasy novel. I like the way the author blends real world events with traditional fantasy stories.
>180 littlegeek: I look forward to reading what you think of Deathless. I have that on my Kindle also. My first experience with her work was In the Night Garden and its sequel In the Cities of Coin and Spice. I was pretty impressed with those, so I ought to cycle back around to her soon. Maybe in 2019.
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