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Beth's Books in 2018 (BLBera) Part 2

This is a continuation of the topic Beth's Books in 2018 (BLBera).

This topic was continued by Beth's Books in 2018 (BLBera) Part 3.

75 Books Challenge for 2018

Join LibraryThing to post.

1BLBera
Jan 31, 10:44pm Top



My name is Beth. I love books – talking about them, writing about them, reading about them.

I teach English at my local community college, so I am always looking for books I can use in my classes. I like to discover new writers.

I tend not to plan my reading, other than for my book club, which meets once a month. We meet in January to plan our year’s reading.

I tend to read more fiction than nonfiction and more women authors than men.

Welcome to my thread. Lurk or stop and say hello.

2BLBera
Edited: Feb 1, 7:15am Top

Valentine for Ernest Mann by Naomi Shahib Nye

You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, “I’ll take two”
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
“I thought they had such beautiful eyes.”
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the off sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

Thanks to Anne for posting this on my previous thread

3BLBera
Jan 31, 10:44pm Top

I read some great books in 2017, starting with my first book of the year, Moonglow; it has been one of the books I recommended most throughout the year. I read more nonfiction than usual in 2017, and those books were among my favorites.
Best of 2017
Fiction


Nonfiction


Honorable Mention
Pax
The Widow Nash
Ban This Book
The Woman Next Door
Born a Crime
The Call
The Essex Serpent
Goodbye, Vitamin

4BLBera
Edited: Mar 8, 9:17am Top

Currently Reading

5BLBera
Edited: Mar 8, 9:19am Top

Read in 2018

January
1. Edited to Death*
2. Books & Islands in Ojibwe Country*
3. Love That Dog* 🎉
4. The Power* 🎉
5. Cranford*
6. Walk Two Moons*
7. Go, Went, Gone 🎉
8. Out in the Open
9. Under Another Sky
10. Eternal Life
11. The Crypt Thief

* Off my shelf

January Reading Report:

Books read: 11
Women: 9
Men: 2
Nonfiction: 2
Fiction: 9
In translation: 2

6BLBera
Edited: Mar 7, 9:53am Top

February
12. The Origin of Others*
13. Halsey Street 🎉
14. Regency Buck*
15. What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky 🎉
16. The Weight of Ink
17. Parable of the Sower* 🎉
18. Here in Berlin
19. The Wedding Date*
20. A Catalog of Birds 🎉
21. The Fire Next Time*
22. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir
23. Citizen: An American Lyric*

* Off my shelf

February Reading Report
Books read: 12
Women: 11
Men: 1
Nonfiction/Essays: 2
Poetry: 1
Fiction: 8
Short story collection: 1

March
24. Call Me Zebra

8LizzieD
Jan 31, 11:05pm Top

Hi, Beth!
I love looking at your best of 2017 and seeing several on my reading list. I'm glad to know you rank them highly. I"ll be interested to see what you have to say about *Weight of Ink*. I'll just volunteer that I was expecting "more", and more never came.

9Berly
Feb 1, 12:04am Top

Hi, Twin!! I'm here for more books and fun. I have read none of your faves in fiction from last year, but have three of them waiting in my shelves and now I am even more excited about them! And I read two of your NF winners and have one waiting for me. : )

10ronincats
Feb 1, 1:34am Top

Happy new thread, Beth!

11streamsong
Feb 1, 2:04am Top

Happy New Thread! Wonderful opening poem!

Just finished Sing Unburied Sing and enjoyed it muchly. Jesmyn Ward definitely took what her life gave her and made poetry.

12BLBera
Feb 1, 7:17am Top

Hi Peggy - So far I am waiting to be wowed by Ink. Thanks for stopping by.

13katiekrug
Feb 1, 8:10am Top

Oh, Halsey Street! That one is on my personal "watch list" - I think I want to read it but haven't decided for sure :) Any good?

14Carmenere
Feb 1, 8:14am Top

Happy new thread, Beth! Nice list of books for your book club!!

15ChelleBearss
Feb 1, 8:22am Top

Happy new thread!
Your last thread got me thinking about The Crypt Thief. It sounded familiar and turns out I read it in 2015, but out of order! Isn't that annoying! I'll have to find the first book and start over.

16foggidawn
Feb 1, 10:10am Top

Happy new thread!

17Crazymamie
Feb 1, 10:14am Top

Morning, Beth! Happy new thread!

18rretzler
Feb 1, 10:50am Top

Happy new thread, Beth!

19EBT1002
Feb 1, 1:36pm Top

Happy New Thread, Beth! I remember some talk around here a while ago about The Weight of Ink. My memory is that I wanted it.

20susanj67
Feb 1, 1:41pm Top

Happy new thread, Beth! Well done on reading so many from your shelf in January. I didn't manage to :-(

21Oberon
Feb 1, 1:52pm Top

>1 BLBera: I like The Snowy Day thread topper!

22BLBera
Feb 1, 2:13pm Top

>9 Berly: You come to the right place, Twin.


I'll watch for your comments on my 2017 favs when you get to them.

23BLBera
Feb 1, 2:17pm Top

>10 ronincats: Thanks Roni

>11 streamsong: Thanks Janet. Anne posted the poem on my last thread, and I wanted to keep it with me. Sing, Unburied, Sing is wonderful, isn't it?

>13 katiekrug: I've just started it, Katie. I'll let you know in another 50 pages or so.

>14 Carmenere: Thanks Lynda. I think we'll have some good discussions. And what is even better, there are quite a few I already have on my shelves. :)

>15 ChelleBearss: Thanks Chelle. I liked The Bookseller, the first in the series, better, but this was still OK.

>16 foggidawn: Thanks Foggi

>17 Crazymamie: Thanks Mamie

>18 rretzler: Thanks Robin

24jolerie
Feb 1, 2:20pm Top

Happy new thread Beth. I'm sure this one will also be filled with excellent reads as per usual. ;)

25BLBera
Feb 1, 2:21pm Top

>19 EBT1002: I'm about halfway through, Ellen, and so far it's OK, but not knock-your-socks-off wonderful. It probably doesn't help though, that I've been reading it in fits and starts on my e-reader at the gym. It's almost 600 pages, too. I hope to get some chunks in this week, and my ideas may change.

>20 susanj67: Thanks Susan. I started off strong, but then was tempted by shiny new library books. I returned two yesterday, and picked up five. :(

So, I've put a hold on my reserves for a while, so I can get back to reading from my shelves.

>21 Oberon: Thanks Erik. Scout loves the book, and it fits February.

26BLBera
Edited: Feb 1, 2:21pm Top

>24 jolerie: You are too nice, Valerie.

I hope I didn't miss anyone.

27vivians
Feb 1, 2:25pm Top

"Not knock-your socks off" is exactly how I would have described The Weight of Ink. Plus way too long. On the other hand, I'm not sorry I read it.

28drneutron
Feb 1, 4:44pm Top

Happy new thread!

29charl08
Feb 1, 5:06pm Top

Five eh Beth? Please don't mention the reservations waiting for me! I've not picked up on The Weight of Ink so look forward to hearing more (even if the book doesn't knock any socks off!)

30BLBera
Feb 1, 5:14pm Top

>27 vivians: Vivian, it's good to hear your opinion of The Weight of Ink. It sounds like the kind of novel I would love, and I heard some raves about it here, so I was expecting GREAT THINGS. So, my expectations may have been too high. Still, I'm only about halfway, so my ideas may change -- or not.

>28 drneutron: Thanks Jim.

>29 charl08: Charlotte, I already had some at home, so I have way more than five library books. Those were just the ones I picked up yesterday. I don't want to say how many I have; I might have a library problem. I'll comment more on The Weight of Ink when I've finished it.

31PaulCranswick
Feb 1, 5:15pm Top

Happy new thread, Beth. xx

32brenzi
Feb 1, 6:42pm Top

Happy new thread Beth!

33karenmarie
Feb 1, 6:47pm Top

Happy new thread, Beth!

I am going to suggest The Power for next year's book club - we have already chosen books for this year. A Gentleman in Moscow is a winner. I haven't heard of any of the others, looks I need to do some research!

34Familyhistorian
Feb 1, 8:28pm Top

Happy new thread, Beth. A library problem is probably better than a bookstore problem.

35LovingLit
Feb 1, 8:36pm Top

Gorgeous new thread! Must be those covers up there, they are just so tempting!!

36BLBera
Feb 1, 10:00pm Top

>31 PaulCranswick:, >32 brenzi: Thanks Paul and Bonnie

>33 karenmarie: I'll let you know how the discussion of The Power goes, Karen.

>34 Familyhistorian:, >35 LovingLit: Thanks Meg and Megan

37Berly
Feb 2, 12:50am Top

It's Friday!!

38BLBera
Feb 2, 8:49am Top

Not only Friday, but SCOUT DAY!

39AMQS
Feb 3, 9:12pm Top

Hi Beth! Hope Scout Day was wonderful:) . Love the poem in >2 BLBera:!

40charl08
Feb 4, 4:52am Top

Aw. Hope the sprinkles were plentiful!

41susanj67
Feb 4, 4:58am Top

>30 BLBera: "I don't want to say how many I have; I might have a library problem."

No! Really?

:-)

I hope Scout Day was fun.

42susanj67
Feb 4, 8:56am Top

Adding: I just saw a report about the Superbowl at the end of the news here (it's on in Minneapolis today, apparently, although the internet says it is only 8am there and there were lots of people milling about in the news report) and holy moly, the SNOW! Stay warm Beth.

43msf59
Edited: Feb 4, 9:17am Top

Happy Sunday, Beth. Very Belated Happy New Thread! I am sure the Twin Cities are hopping like crazy this weekend. I hope you are staying safe at home, with the books. How are those current reads?

Getting a lot of snow?

44BLBera
Feb 4, 10:09am Top

>39 AMQS: Thanks Anne. Weren't you the one who posted this poem? Scout day is always fun. We made heart cookies.

>40 charl08: Of course, Charlotte. There are always sprinkles. Now I am trying to clean them from all the nooks and crannies they find their way to.

>41 susanj67: >42 susanj67: Ha, Susan. At least I am in good company. Scout day is always fun. It seems like the sun wants to come out now, but it is pretty cold. I have to go out and shovel my walk in a bit. First some LT time to warm me. :)

>43 msf59: Hi Mark. Yes, I am staying away from the TC today. I might watch a bit of the Super Bowl. I will talk about my first completed Feb. read in a moment. We got a couple of inches last night. At least it's powder and not the heavy, wet stuff from a week ago.

45BLBera
Edited: Feb 4, 10:21am Top


12. The Origin of Others is a collection of lectures given by Morrison. The forward, by Ta-Nahisi Coates, mentions that race is central to Morrison's lectures: "Racism matters. To be an Other in this country matters___"

Morrison talks about race in both her books and in the works of others. Her comments on her novel Paradise struck me. In this novel she says, "I was eager to simultaneously de-fang and theatricalize race, signaling, I hoped, how moveable and hopelessly meaningless the construct was. What more, really, do you know about these characters when you do know their race? Anything?" That struck me because we recently read her story "Recitatif" in class. It's about two girls, Roberta and Twyla, who meet in foster care. We know one is black and one is white, but Morrison purposefully does not tell us which is which. Students discussed their ideas about which girl was white and which was black, but one young woman noted that when she stopped thinking about race, she started to notice what was happening in the story -- what Morrison intends, I think. So, these comments make me want to reread Paradise.

The other essay that sticks with me is the last one in the collection, "The Foreigner's Home." In it, she discusses writing about Africa and how white writers perceived Africa as a void, open to their imagination. She calls out a novel, The Radiance of the King by Ghanian writer Camara Laye as an excellent example of a response to the white "creation" of Africa. So, that's another book to add to my list. I would have liked her to comment on all the young African writers because almost every country in Africa seems to be producing exciting writing.

I think people interested in Morrison's work will appreciate this collection. I'm sure, as I reread her work, I'll return to it.

A good start to Black History Month.

I'm still reading the wonderful Halsey Street.

46AMQS
Feb 4, 11:28am Top

>44 BLBera: yes I was- that was an electronic thumbs up:) I love seeing it more widely read!

47banjo123
Feb 4, 11:28am Top

Happy Scout day, Beth!

Your book club choices look great.

48charl08
Feb 4, 11:38am Top

>45 BLBera: That sounds fascinating. Will have a look out for it here. I haven't read much Morrison at all. I have some essays in my future: want to get hold of Le Guin's fnal collection and read Zadie Smith's new ones too.

Making the heart cookies sounds great. My gran's house had plenty of sweet treats whixh I loved. I have pledged a cake for a fundraiser we are doing this week for the local domestic violence shelter. I have bought star shaped little bits to try and cover up my icing inadequacies!

49BLBera
Feb 4, 11:43am Top

>46 AMQS: Thanks for it, Anne. It's a great poem. And just in time, we're starting poetry in my classes.

>47 banjo123: Thanks Rhonda. I am looking forward to our discussions this year.

>48 charl08: It's a short book, Charlotte. I started thinking I would read one lecture at a time, but ended by devouring them in two sittings. Scout told me that her mom said my house is a "sugar house." Sprinkles are great for hiding mistakes -- and kids love them. I need to go sprinkle shopping; I'm almost out of non-Christmas sprinkles, not that Scout cares.

50souloftherose
Feb 4, 12:22pm Top

>37 Berly:, >38 BLBera: Friday and Scout day - huzzah!

>45 BLBera: Those essays sound very thought-provoking Beth.

51ffortsa
Feb 4, 6:18pm Top

Hi, Beth. I wanted to stop by before I had even more catch=up to do. I don't think I've read any Toni Morrison yet - my bad.

I love the poem you posted at the top.

52BLBera
Feb 4, 8:34pm Top

>50 souloftherose: Morrison's lectures were great, Heather. Yes, a Scout day is a good day.

>51 ffortsa: The poem is great, isn't it, Judy? Well, Morrison isn't everyone's cup of tea. Thanks for stopping by. How's the foot?

53Berly
Feb 4, 8:48pm Top

Hi Twin. My son ate all the Nestlé chocolate chip cookies and my hubby volunteered to make some sugar cookies--they were awesome! His were simple round ones; no hearts but I still felt the love. What a guy.

54BLBera
Feb 4, 9:41pm Top

Sounds like a keeper, Twin. Did they have sprinkles?

55EBT1002
Feb 4, 9:44pm Top

>45 BLBera: Well, that makes me want to read The Origin of Others and Paradise!

56BLBera
Feb 4, 10:43pm Top

I think you'd like The Origin of Others -- lots to think about. I need to reread Paradise; I read it in grad school, so it's been a while. :) Glad you got your internet fixed.

57EBT1002
Feb 4, 10:50pm Top

I'm not entirely sure that I ever actually read Paradise, Beth, so....

58BLBera
Feb 4, 10:51pm Top

Funny Scout story:

She was telling knock knock jokes today, but totally doesn't get them

Scout: Knock knock
Me: who's there?
Scout: Interrupting cow
Me: Interrupting cow who
Scout: No (and hysterical laughter)

I remember I was so happy when my kids got over knock knock jokes -- now I get to listen to them with Scout.

We went to the library. She checked out 28 books, with the emphasis on scorpions and sharks. She warned me that I probably should stay away from scorpions. I agree.

59BLBera
Feb 4, 10:53pm Top

>57 EBT1002: It wasn't one of my favorites, Ellen, but I'd like to read it after reading her comments about what she was trying to do. I think I have a copy.

60EBT1002
Feb 4, 10:57pm Top

>58 BLBera: That is yet another great Scout story. It made me chuckle. I remember driving my parents crazy on some road trip or another when I had a book called "101 Elephant Jokes."

61BLBera
Feb 4, 11:00pm Top

Yes, I remember those books. They were terrible, and caused much hilarity between the kids.

62ChelleBearss
Feb 5, 11:29am Top

Glad you had a nice visit with Scout. Unfortunately my 3yo Chloe is very into jokes right now and like Scout does not really get the punch line! My husband taught her a few knock knock jokes and she mixes up the punch line for them all so they don't make sense but she is hilarious! We laugh but after the tenth time she has said the same joke our laughter is a little more forced.

63NanaCC
Edited: Feb 5, 2:07pm Top

All grandchildren love to make you laugh, don’t they. Several years ago, my son-in-law won a father of the year award from one of the organizations that he supports. After he was presented with the award, they called up the kids and my daughter for a picture. He picked up my grandson, who was three at the time, and said ‘who do you love?’ My grandson looked at him, smiled, and said ‘Mum’. Of course everyone laughed, and he made the most of it.

64jolerie
Feb 5, 2:28pm Top

Scout sounds like a hoot!
My eldest went through a phase where he was telling knock knock jokes that made absolutely no sense at all but was hilarious nonetheless.
And wow..28 books! A little one after your very own heart. :D

65BLBera
Feb 5, 4:34pm Top

>62 ChelleBearss: Scout is always fun. I love that she is starting to get humor and think things are funny. I think it's easier to laugh for the grandparents; we only get to enjoy them for brief periods of time.

>63 NanaCC: Yes, they do, Colleen. That is such a great story. I only wish I had more grandkids, but it looks like I just get one.

>64 jolerie: She is funny, Valerie. She does love the library. I brought home a few books to read with her next time she comes. I found some Henry and Mudge books that she hasn't read yet.

66charl08
Feb 5, 4:49pm Top

Scorpions and sharks, eh? Sounds like a great interest developing there. (Exclamation mark deleted :-)

67BLBera
Feb 5, 5:12pm Top

It seems like kids at her age are starting to be interested in the world around them, hence the visit to the library. Charlotte! You are not my student and can use all the exclamation points you wish. :)

Well, off to the Learning Center to see if the basketball players want help with their writing.

68brenzi
Feb 5, 6:16pm Top

Am I to understand that you watch Scout on Fridays Beth? I may have misunderstood that. I watch my two munchkins three days a week and although it can be exhausting I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Makes life worth living😀. Scout sounds delightful.

69AMQS
Feb 5, 6:24pm Top

Oh my nephew loved the interrupting cow joke and told it about 12 times a day. Hard to muster up surprise, though it is a fun thing to watch. How old is she?

Another popular one that takes a long time to get old (for the kid anyway) is:
You: I one the (library book or whatever object or person you choose)
Kid: I two the library book
You: I three the library book
Kid: I four the library book
You: I five the library book
Kid: I six the library book
You: I seven the library book
Kid: I eight the library book
You: YOU ATE THE LIBRARY BOOK??
(uproarious laughter).

70DeltaQueen50
Feb 6, 12:18am Top

Hi Beth, your story of the knock knock joke that Scout was telling brings back great memories of when my granddaughter was much younger. She's thirteen now and quite the young lady. The movers took apart an old recliner to move it and out fell a little pink bracelet that Camille must have lost in the chair. It made me smile to see it as I know she wouldn't be caught dead in it today!

71susanj67
Feb 6, 7:04am Top

I had to google the interrupting cow joke, but I get it now :-) The one I remember from when I was little was from my father: "What's black and white and "red" all over?" A newspaper (that one wouldn't work nowadays, with colour printing). It took me ages to get that :-) Later on he moved to "Which is heavier, a pound of lead or a pound of feathers?" and I remember him having to explain it as of course I said lead :-)

Beth, I hope your kitchen floor is sprinkle-free now :-)

72The_Hibernator
Feb 6, 7:27am Top

Hey! I see Sing, Unburied, Sing was one of your favorites of last year. That was the first PBS Now Read This choice, and I think I'll try it out if I can fit it in this month. :)

73BLBera
Feb 6, 9:07am Top


13. Halsey Street is wonderful and everyone should read it. I'm struggling to write comments to do it justice. If you love character-centered novels, you will love this one.

This is Penelope Grand's story as she searches for her place in the world. She is someone I won't forget for a long time. Maddening, profane, self-destructive, lost -- and captivating -- she is a memorable character. In some ways, this is a coming-of-age story. Even though Penelope is almost thirty, she hasn't found her way. She is estranged from her Dominican mother and reveres her father. She is an art school drop out who makes her living tending bar. When her father falls, she moves back to Bed-Stuy but finds it very different from the neighborhood she grew up in. She rents a room from a white family, one of the flood of new arrivals who are "renewing" the neighborhood. Coster's portrayal of this family is wonderful.

It's hard to believe this is a first novel.

Next: I need to finish The Weight of Ink, which is turning into a slog, and I have a collection of stories that has to go back to the library soon: What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky.

74katiekrug
Feb 6, 9:11am Top

>73 BLBera: - Well, I obviously need to get my hands on that one!

75BLBera
Feb 6, 9:13am Top

>68 brenzi: Bonnie - I do get Scout on Fridays. I was able to arrange my teaching schedule so that I don't teach on Friday. And it will only be another year. Scout will start school a year from this fall. I want to enjoy every minute I can with her. Three days a week does sound exhausting. I agree grandkids do add joy to life!

>69 AMQS: Thanks Anne. I will definitely try out this on Scout this week. I'll let you know what she thinks. Scout is four, or as she would say four and a half. Her half birthday is this week.

>70 DeltaQueen50: How fun to find the bracelet, Judy. I imagine she isn't of an age to appreciate it right now.

>71 susanj67: Still finding sprinkles in odd places, Susan. My dad also had some of those kinds of jokes.

>72 The_Hibernator: I hope you get to it, Rachel. It is wonderful.

76BLBera
Feb 6, 9:13am Top

It's great Katie. Aren't we supposed to be at work?

77rosalita
Edited: Feb 6, 9:18am Top

>73 BLBera: You got me with that one, Beth! Sounds like just my cup of tea. Onto the library wishlist it goes (since I am on a self-imposed borrowing ban).

78katiekrug
Feb 6, 9:22am Top

>76 BLBera: - We are supposed to be at work. Shame on us.

Halsey Street is just $4.99 for Kindle!

79BLBera
Edited: Feb 6, 10:25am Top

>78 katiekrug: :) I have a late start this morning, and it is -10 degrees F. without wind chill, so I am reluctant to leave my nice, warm house.

If only I had a Kindle! I'll have to check B&N to see if they are on sale there as well. Often they are. It is so great. I'm sorry I finished it. It's one of those that I could pick up and read again.

>77 rosalita: How many days has it been, Julia? I feel your resolve getting weaker...

80vivians
Feb 6, 10:28am Top

Adding Halsey Street - thanks!

81katiekrug
Feb 6, 10:49am Top

>79 BLBera: - It looks like it's an Amazon-published book, Beth.

82BLBera
Feb 6, 2:46pm Top

>80 vivians: I loved it, Vivan. I'll be anxious to see what you think of it.

>81 katiekrug: Yeah, it wasn't available for my Nook. Anyway, I would probably like a hard copy. It might be one I would teach.

83charl08
Feb 7, 2:47am Top

>73 BLBera: Adding this one to the wishlist!
Hope you enjoy What it means when a man falls from the sky as much as I did. I was really impressed.
(No pressure)

84BLBera
Feb 7, 8:36am Top

Charlotte! (Note the !) :)

The first two stories were great. I hope to read more this evening.

85EBT1002
Feb 7, 10:15am Top

Morning Beth! I've added Halsey Street to my wish list. In fact, I put it in my Amazon cart. I have a few items in there and will sort through and make decisions about actual purchases in the next few days. I had told myself I wouldn't order any more books in the month of February (that Olive editions binge kind of got out of control).

86EBT1002
Feb 7, 10:16am Top

And I fear you're going to get me again with What it means when a man falls from the sky. You and Charlotte together....

*sigh*

87EBT1002
Feb 7, 11:16am Top

Ha! I had forgotten! I purchased Halsey Street for my Kindle yesterday. Got it for $4.99, which seemed like a pretty good deal.

88rosalita
Feb 7, 11:35am Top

>79 BLBera: How many days has it been, Julia? I feel your resolve getting weaker...

It's been 1 day, Beth. My resolve is as strong as it was yesterday (so, like jelly).

89BLBera
Feb 7, 4:28pm Top

Ellen - You will love Halsey Street. I have enjoyed the first two stories of What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky. Arimah lives in Minneapolis now.

>88 rosalita: I'm watching you, Julia.

90rretzler
Feb 7, 4:39pm Top

>58 BLBera: Ah, I remember the days of knock knock jokes and other jokes that made absolutely no sense what-so-ever! That also made me think of when the boys were really little 1 or 2 and we would play hide and seek. They would stand against the wall and close their eyes to hide! What fun those days were and lucky you to be able to share them now with a grandchild.

91BLBera
Feb 7, 4:46pm Top

>90 rretzler: I am having a good old time, Robin. I enjoy every minute I get to spend with her.

92DeltaQueen50
Feb 8, 12:00am Top

Beth, you got me with Halsey Street and when Katie mentioned it was on a reduced price for the Kindle I jumped on it. In Canada it was $6.20 - still a good buy.

93NanaCC
Feb 8, 10:32am Top

Halsey Street sounds like a good one. I’m going to look out for it.

94BLBera
Feb 8, 12:44pm Top

>92 DeltaQueen50:, >93 NanaCC: I hope you enjoy it, Judy and Colleen.

95SuziQoregon
Feb 8, 3:19pm Top

I needed a smile so I came here because I knew there would be a Scout story.

And now I've added Halsey Street to my library wishlist.

96LovingLit
Feb 8, 5:20pm Top

>58 BLBera: ha! That knock knock joke is funny!!

Love the 28 books from the library too, impressive :)

97EBT1002
Edited: Feb 8, 11:55pm Top

Wait. Twenty-eight books from the library? That would be a record, would it not?

98EBT1002
Feb 9, 12:44am Top

Did you ever receive that ER book we both "won"?

99BLBera
Feb 9, 1:23am Top

>98 EBT1002: I haven't gotten it, Ellen. You?

100BLBera
Feb 9, 1:24am Top

>95 SuziQoregon: I hope you got the smile, Juli. Halsey Street is great.

>96 LovingLit: My daughter said they've read most of them as well -- in a week!

>97 EBT1002: I'm not sure whether it's a record for them, Ellen.

101charl08
Feb 9, 8:28am Top

Impressive reading stats from Scout, Beth! Hope you're having lots of fun.

102BLBera
Feb 9, 10:31am Top

>101 charl08: Hi Charlotte. Scout is at home sick today. :( I am also not feeling well, sore throat and headache, maybe a touch of the flu? Anyway, a quiet day. I've been thinking of you as I read What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky -- absolutely wonderful! I love the title story. Can't wait what she does next.

103ChelleBearss
Feb 9, 10:43am Top

Sorry to see that you and Scout are not well! Hope you feel better quickly!

104BLBera
Feb 9, 10:58am Top

Thanks Chelle.

105katiekrug
Feb 9, 11:33am Top

Feel better, Beth!

106Crazymamie
Feb 9, 11:38am Top

Beth, sorry to hear that both you and Scout are under the weather. Hoping you both feel much better very soon.

107BLBera
Feb 9, 12:26pm Top

Thanks Katie and Mamie. I did get my flu shot, so am hoping for a light case.

108charl08
Feb 9, 12:30pm Top

Get well soon!

109BLBera
Feb 9, 12:33pm Top


15. What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky is a wonderful collection of stories about girls and women. Most of the stories are set in Nigeria. I loved the stories narrated by girls, especially "War Stories" and "Redemption," which begins: "The day after we met, she sent a missile of shit wrapped in a newspaper like a gift." This wasn't a metaphor either. It clearly defines Mayowa's personality. Yet, this, like many of the stories, show the powerlessness of girls and women in a patriarchal society.

The title story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where mathematical formulas explain everything. That may have been my favorite -- yet I could point to things I loved in each story. This is a great collection; I can't wait to see what Arimah does next.

Recommended.

I'm going to try to finish The Weight of Ink next.

110BLBera
Feb 9, 12:33pm Top

Thanks Charlotte -- and I loved What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky! Wonderful stories. Did you have any favorites?

111jolerie
Feb 9, 4:36pm Top

Feel better soon, Beth. Hopefully a nice and quiet weekend will be just what you need to kick the germs to the curb. :)

112BLBera
Feb 10, 11:53am Top

Thanks Valerie. That's what I hope.

113banjo123
Feb 10, 8:21pm Top

Feel better soon, Beth!
>109 BLBera: On my wishlist now.

114susanj67
Feb 11, 7:49am Top

>102 BLBera: Beth, sorry you're under the weather - I hope you can stay inside in the warm, and that you and Scout are both well for next Friday.

115msf59
Feb 11, 9:31am Top

>109 BLBera: I loved What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky too, Beth.

Happy Sunday! Sorry, to hear you are not feeling well. My wife has a bad cold too. Not a fun way to spend your weekend.

I can't believe how much I am enjoying The Power. She rocks!

116BLBera
Feb 11, 10:21am Top

Thanks Rhonda. You will love What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky,

Thanks Susan. I think this is the sort of thing that hangs around, but I think it's a cold, not the flu. It seems to be mostly in my head at this point. My daughter thought Scout was faking it because she seemed fine on Friday. My daughter stayed home with her. I think she's kind of young to have figured out how to fake being sick, but she is pretty smart. :)

Hi Mark. I thought I remembered your comments on Arimah's book. The Power is great, isn't it? Glad you are enjoying it.

117BLBera
Feb 11, 10:31am Top


16. The Weight of Ink is a book I expected to love, but I didn't. And my thoughts certainly don't match all the five-star reviews it's gotten. I think Kadish tried to do too much with the novel. This book is almost 600 pages long, and there were times I put it down for a few days. Some of the plot threads seemed unnecessary, and I think the book could be a couple hundred pages shorter. This may have suffered in comparison to Halsey Street and What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky.

It's the story of two women, Ester Velasquez and Helen Watt. Ester is a Jew who lives in seventeenth century London, while Helen is a history professor in the early twenty-first century. Both women face challenges because they are women. As she nears retirement, Helen finds a remarkable cache of letters, written by Ester. Women weren't scribes or educated at the time, so this is pretty remarkable. The story moves back and forth between the two times, and we learn more about these women.

Next: Parable of the Sower and back to my Black History month reading.

118charl08
Edited: Feb 11, 11:33am Top

>110 BLBera: I went back to my comments on what it means when a man falls from the sky and they weren't very comprehensive. Poor.
I want my own copy so I can remind myself of how good this book was to read :-)

Looking forward to seeing what else Black History Month brings you.

119Berly
Feb 11, 2:36pm Top

Hi Twin! Loved all the jokes--thanks! I needed that. : )

Glad you are enjoying Parable of the Sower--let's talk when you finish it. Hope you and Scout feel better soon.

120EBT1002
Feb 11, 5:01pm Top

>99 BLBera: Nope, it has not yet arrived.

>109 BLBera: Sounds so good.

121BLBera
Feb 11, 5:47pm Top

>118 charl08: Hi Charlotte - I liked all of the stories in this collection - it is hard to remember all of the stories. I'm reading Octavia Butler right now, and will probably try to get in a Morrison novel and perhaps the Ward collection of essays.

>119 Berly: Scout does tend to lift my spirits, Kim. I'm not sure how long my tolerance for knock-knock jokes will last. I think maybe I need a sick day tomorrow to read Parable of the Sower...

>120 EBT1002: Well, Ellen, I'm glad I am not alone in not receiving the book. I was really looking forward to it, but it looks as if it may be a no show.

You would love the stories in What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky.

122AMQS
Feb 11, 8:53pm Top

Hi Beth, are you on the mend yet?

It's hard to follow up books you've enjoyed as much as Halsey Street and what It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky (both of which got me and are now on my list, btw). Hope you find another you love soon.

123LovingLit
Feb 11, 11:30pm Top

>109 BLBera: The title story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where mathematical formulas explain everything.
Wow, sounds like a good one!

124DeltaQueen50
Feb 12, 12:16am Top

Oh dear, you got me again. What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky is going on my list!

125ronincats
Feb 12, 1:25am Top

Hope you are feeling better, Beth.

126rosalita
Edited: Feb 12, 11:57am Top

Hi Beth! Like Roni, I hope you're feeling better. Thanks for the review of The Weight of Ink. I thought you did a great job laying out why it didn't work for you, and I suspect I'd feel the same. I get a bit impatient with overlong books with too many plotlines.

127streamsong
Feb 12, 1:28pm Top

Sorry to hear that you are under the weather. Did you manage work today?

Book Bullet for The Man Who Fell From the Sky. I've added it to my virtual wish list, to be read when I get a few off MT TBR.

128jolerie
Feb 12, 1:32pm Top

Did the weekend help with the recouping? Looking forward to your thoughts on The Parable of the Sower.

129SuziQoregon
Feb 12, 1:59pm Top

Hi Beth: Hope you and Scout are both feeling better. Sorry to hear The Weight of Ink was a disappointment

130BLBera
Feb 12, 2:42pm Top

>122 AMQS: Hi Anne - Thanks, I am feeling better. I'm happy to help you add books to your list -- you are responsible for Scout's healthy shelves.

>123 LovingLit: The story was excellent, Megan, but really, all of the stories in the collection were outstanding.

>124 DeltaQueen50: It's only fair, Judy. I got a fair amount of BB from you. Are you all settled in your new place?

>125 ronincats: Thanks Roni, I am feeling better.

>126 rosalita: Thanks Julia. I read The Weight of Ink in bits over about a month. Maybe if I would have read faster, it would have worked better. I think Kadish tried to do too much -- but there are many five-star reviews, so don't take my word.

>127 streamsong: I did make it to work, Janet Mondays are my busy days, and I did have a Black History Month event to attend, so illness was not an option.

>128 jolerie: It did help, Valerie. Thanks for asking.

>129 SuziQoregon: Hi Juli. We are better. I saw Scout briefly yesterday, and she seemed fine. She was disappointed because Lola, one of her dogs, chewed up her wolf hat.

131rretzler
Edited: Feb 13, 10:36am Top

>109 BLBera: Post-apocalypse, math, what's not to love? BB

Hope you and Scout are both feeling better.

132BLBera
Feb 13, 5:34pm Top

Thanks Robin. I do feel better. It is a pretty great story.

134EBT1002
Feb 13, 11:46pm Top

Hey Beth. I'm also glad you and Scout are feeling better.

I think the Olympics are going to put a crimp in my February reading.

But.... next Wednesday I fly to Tempe, AZ, for a conference. I thought the conference started Wednesday evening (it does) and ended on Friday (it does not). The conference ends late afternoon Thursday and my flight home isn't until mid-day Friday. Can you say "read by the pool"? :-D

135charl08
Feb 14, 7:36am Top

>133 BLBera: Does sound interesting. I think, as the intro points out, the problem isn't with the experts' work, it's usually with the communication of that work to the wider public. I came across an ad for a seminar about kinship in Africa before the arrival of colonial Europeans the other day. The academic is challenging concepts of inheritance, relationships etc as imported, outside perspective on how communities understood themselves. I wish I could go! So fascinating.

136BLBera
Feb 14, 3:04pm Top

I can take or leave the Olympics, Ellen, which is a good thing. Hooray for a day reading by the pool! Lucky you.

Hi Charlotte. The seminar does sound fascinating.

137rretzler
Feb 14, 3:34pm Top

Happy Valentine's Day, Beth.

138BLBera
Feb 14, 9:01pm Top

thanks Robin. I got to spend it with Scout, so I am happy.

139EBT1002
Feb 14, 11:05pm Top

I've never had a no-show ER book before. How disappointing.

140BLBera
Feb 14, 11:36pm Top

I've had a few, but it has been a while. Did you request any this month?

141DeltaQueen50
Feb 14, 11:36pm Top

>130 BLBera: Yes, Beth, we are really loving our new digs. I think we are going to be very happy living here.

142BLBera
Feb 14, 11:37pm Top

Great Judy. I imagine all the books have found their places?

143EBT1002
Feb 14, 11:46pm Top

>140 BLBera: Nope. Did you?

144BLBera
Feb 15, 9:05am Top

>143 EBT1002: I am getting old. I don't remember. I'll have to take another look at them. I got a picture book from the Jan. batch, which hasn't come yet, either. I looked back, and the last time I didn't get one was in 2015. Have fun in Arizona. I hope the conference is worthwhile and that you get some quality reading in. I am loving Parable of the Sower. I think it's going to make the curriculum for my class on dystopian lit.

145rosalita
Feb 15, 10:02am Top

Good morning, Beth! I seem to be having better luck with ER ebooks than regular books these days. I wish I didn't get so frustrated at not receiving the thing that I was promised for free, but it still bugs me. Maybe I just don't like unkept commitments.

I've been meaning to get back to Octavia Butler and read the Parable books. I bet it would be fun to teach!

146AMQS
Feb 15, 1:05pm Top

Hi Beth! >133 BLBera: that does look like an interesting read. Callia is increasingly thinking of majoring in anthropology. She might enjoy this book.

147SuziQoregon
Feb 15, 2:08pm Top

Just popping in to say Hi!

148BLBera
Feb 15, 6:34pm Top

Julia: I found a book waiting for me when I got home tonight, and I was really excited, thinking it was my missing ER, The Parking Lot Attendant, the one Ellen and I have been waiting for. But it was the one I requested for the month after TPLA. It's a kid's picture book, and I plan to have Scout help me with the review. We'll read it tomorrow.

>146 AMQS: Wow, Anne. What kind of anthropology is Callia considering? The book looks interesting, but it might be one where one reads it over a year or so.

>147 SuziQoregon: Hi back, Juli. Happy Friday.

149msf59
Edited: Feb 15, 8:54pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Beth. I loved The Power. I am sure that will be a top read of the year for me. I am currently enjoying The Largesse of the Sea Maiden: Stories & Barkskins. Off to a very good start this year.

Hope you are having a good week.

150alcottacre
Feb 15, 9:00pm Top

>133 BLBera: That one does sound interesting. I will have to look out for it.

151BLBera
Feb 16, 8:57am Top

Hi Mark - Glad you liked The Power. My book club is discussing it today. It sounds like you have some great reads going.

Hi Stasia - Thanks for stopping by. It is great, a good one to add to your black hole.

152Whisper1
Edited: Feb 16, 9:16am Top

Hi Beth. You read some very good books in 2017. I'm tempted to put those I have not read on the TBR pile. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal is a fantastic book. It is one that I tell anyone who will listen to read it!

153karenmarie
Feb 16, 9:30am Top

Hi Beth!

Delurking to say hi and to wish you a great Friday. I want to read The Power but need to finish Plainsong for March's book club discussion first. I hope your book club discussion goes well. How many are in your book club? How do you pick books?

154BLBera
Feb 16, 10:50am Top

>152 Whisper1: Hi Linda - I had a very good reading year in 2017. It was hard to choose the best of list. I agree; Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal was fabulous.

>153 karenmarie: Hi Karen - Happy Friday to you. We have about five to eight people in my group. We meet in January to choose for the year; everyone makes suggestions, and we choose by consensus. It seems to be working. We've been meeting since 2002. There are three or four of us who have been in the group since the beginning, and we've added members over the years. It should be an interesting discussion.

155BLBera
Feb 16, 10:54am Top


17. Parable of the Sower is early dystopian fiction. Published in 1993, Butler envisions a world in which the gap between rich and poor and created an unstable world without order -- police and firefighters have to be bribed to do their jobs, and no one is safe. Water costs more than gasoline, and no one can afford to drive, either. Lauren Olamina lives in a walled community with her family. Her father is a preacher, but Lauren doesn't believe in his god. Earthseed, a religion in which God is change comes to her, and verses from Earthseed are scattered throughout the novel.

Butler has created a scary, believable world. I'm anxious to read the second novel and see that happens to Lauren and her vision.

Next: A library book: Here in Berlin

156NanaCC
Feb 16, 12:39pm Top

>155 BLBera: You are almost tempting me with Parable of the Sower, despite my dislike of most dystopian fiction. I’m not sure why I have trouble with it, but I do. Maybe I’ll give this one a go.

157susanj67
Feb 16, 12:41pm Top

>148 BLBera: Beth, I'm really looking forward to Scout's book review :-)

158vivians
Feb 16, 2:33pm Top

>155 BLBera: The only Butler I've read is Kindred - looks like I'll have to change that!

159BLBera
Feb 16, 5:16pm Top



Scout, who is four, and I read this book together. She really liked Petra; the drawings do a good job of giving personality to a rock. She also really liked it when Petra was imagining that she was a mountain, an island and an egg. However, she said it made her nervous when people were throwing Petra around.

This is a delightful little picture book that shows the power of imagination. I found the pictures to be charming. In some parts, Scout seemed a little lost, so there could perhaps be a few more words of explanation in a couple of places.

160BLBera
Feb 16, 5:19pm Top

>156 NanaCC: Colleen - You might like Parable of the Sower even if you don't like dystopian fiction; actually it doesn't seem that farfetched. If you do pick it up, I'll be interested in your comments.

>157 susanj67: See >159 BLBera:, Susan. I think in some ways, this is for younger kids; there aren't many words in it, but I can understand the spots where Scout was confused.

>158 vivians: I loved Kindred, but it has been a while since I read it, Vivian. It was the only Butler I had read previously. I think Parable of the Sower is as good. I do want to read the second one to find out the end of Lauren's story.

161BLBera
Feb 16, 5:24pm Top

I counted the ER books I've received: 45 in seven years, and The Parking Lot Attendant is only the fourth one that never arrived. So, that's not such a bad record. I also see I have four really old ones to still read and review...

162Copperskye
Feb 16, 9:35pm Top

>159 BLBera: Hi Beth, If the cover is any indication, the illustrations are adorable. Good for Scout not wanting Petra to be thrown about!

The story of a rock reminded me of William Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble about the donkey that gets turned into a rock. I loved that one.

163charl08
Feb 17, 6:35am Top

Love the joint book review, sounds like a good picture book. I read The Star in the Jar with one of the kids I volunteer with on Friday, and she liked the way the stars spelled out words. I want to read more about how children learn additional languages - find it endlessly fascinating.

164susanj67
Feb 17, 6:54am Top

>159 BLBera: Beth, I love the review :-) What a sweet child Scout is, to worry about Petra being thrown around. But, um, isn't she four *and a half*? :-))

165msf59
Feb 17, 7:07am Top

Happy Saturday, Beth. I have wanted to read more Butler, so I am glad to hear you warble about Parable of the Sower. I think I have that one on my Kindle.

166ChelleBearss
Feb 17, 7:51am Top

>159 BLBera: That looks like one Chloe would like in a couple years!

167Carmenere
Feb 17, 8:24am Top

Happy Saturday, Beth! Hope you dodged that not feeling good feeling. *sigh* You are reading some enticing books, my friend. I've wish listed Parable of the Sower, The Man Who Fell From the Sky and Halsey Street .
Oh, the joy of borrowing 28 books from the library and having the time set aside to read them with Scout! Enjoy!!!

168BLBera
Feb 17, 9:27am Top

I responded to everyone, and my post disappeared! Aargh!

>162 Copperskye: Hi Joanne - The illustrations are very cute. Scout is tender hearted. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble! I thought as I was reading that Petra was reminding me of something. I'll have to read that one to Scout. I think my daughter might have a copy. Otherwise, a trip to the library is indicated.

>163 charl08: Hi Charlotte - I added Star in the Jar to my Scout WL. I agree that language acquisition is fascinating.

>164 susanj67: Yes Susan, you are right. Hmm. For a while she was asking when she would be four and a half, but she hasn't mentioned it recently. I'll have to ask her about it next time I see her. She is very sweet; she doesn't like to see characters hurt. We were watching an episode of "Spirit" yesterday, and a bad guy stole Spirit. She was busy chewing her fingernails as we watched to see if Lucky would get him back.

169BLBera
Feb 17, 9:29am Top

>165 msf59: Hi Mark. Long weekend? I think you would like Parable of the Sower. I want to read the companion book.

>166 ChelleBearss: It is very cute, Chelle.

>167 Carmenere: Hi Lynda. Thanks, we are all feeling better around here. Fingers crossed. I am having a good start to 2018 reading. You're not doing too badly yourself. Have a great weekend.

170katiekrug
Feb 17, 10:23am Top

Happy Saturday, Beth!

How was your book group discussion of The Power? I am halfway through it, and liking it a lot.

171BLBera
Feb 17, 1:25pm Top

I knew there was something I was forgetting, Katie. It was a small group; only two others had read it, and they didn't like the violence, so it wasn't much of a discussion. The person who was there who hadn't read the book was inspired to read it, so I suspect the discussion will carry over a bit to next month. This book should be a GREAT discussion one, and both Kim and I haven't had luck with it. Sigh. Good luck with yours. I'll watch for your report.

172streamsong
Feb 17, 1:54pm Top

>130 BLBera: Poor Scout. I would be quite upset to have my wolf hat eaten, too, no matter how beloved the eater.

I enjoyed Parable of the Sower when I read it during Mark's challenge last year. I've been meaning to read Parable of the Talents ever since. Thanks for the nudge!

173charl08
Feb 17, 2:26pm Top

>171 BLBera: What a shame! I would have thought it would spark some interesting debates about power & corruption, at least.

174BLBera
Feb 17, 9:49pm Top

>172 streamsong: Her dad found another one for her online, Janet. So, she's happy again. Lola was in hot water for a while, though. I think Kim said the second one wasn't as good, but I'll probably give it a try as soon as I get my hands on one.

>173 charl08: We are just having bad luck with discussions with this one, Charlotte.

175BLBera
Feb 17, 9:55pm Top


18. Here in Berlin is an album filled with snapshots of people from Berlin. An unnamed visitor goes to Berlin for stories. As the days go by, people in a nursing home and the parks tell her about their pasts. Most of the stories reveal how much the war is still part of life in Berlin: " Berlin longs to define itself but eh future, yet it remains in hostage to its past." She finds that despite the varieties of war experiences that people had, the past lingers and defines them -- from old Nazis to younger immigrants.

García gives us a collection of memories through her short monologues. What is remarkable is how she has managed to give distinct voices to each of the speakers. Fascinating and hard to put down.

Next: A little lighter fare: The Wedding Date

176EBT1002
Feb 17, 11:38pm Top

>175 BLBera: Oh, I have that one on my shelf. I bought it in hardcover which is rather rare. Now I want to get to it sooner rather than later.... (about that lottery....)

177EBT1002
Feb 17, 11:39pm Top

And I'll be interested in how The Wedding Date lands on you!

178LovingLit
Feb 18, 1:59am Top

>117 BLBera: it's tough to keep on with a book that is 600p+.... they have to be good to keep going on one that long!

>175 BLBera: I love the *look* of that one!

179BLBera
Feb 18, 10:51am Top

>176 EBT1002: You'll love it, Ellen. And it's a pretty quick read although I think it's one I could go back to again and again. I'm about 100 pages into The Wedding Date; it's a quick read, but I'm not loving it so far. It might suffer in comparison with some of my other recent reads. Still the interracial dating and worrying about her body are good issues to bring up. We'll see.

>178 LovingLit: I would have loved THe Weight of Ink more if some of the side plots were gone, and it was more focused on the women, Megan. An editor would have helped.

Here in Berlin is a good one.

180BLBera
Feb 18, 11:06am Top

Scout story:

I sent Valentine's Day cards to my SIL, daughter and Scout. My SIL always teases my daughter because I usually stick a gift card in, and in his family they didn't do cards for things like VD. Anyway, I sent him a boy's card and it had mazes and stickers in it. I wrote a note, saying that perhaps Scout could help him with it. Anyway, he opened it and Scout saw her name on the card and accused her dad of opening her card.

181banjo123
Feb 18, 2:41pm Top

>180 BLBera: Wow! Scout is so smart!

182AMQS
Feb 18, 2:44pm Top

>180 BLBera: Great Scout story!

>148 BLBera: It's still pretty early, but she's interested in medical anthropology.

183BLBera
Feb 18, 3:20pm Top

>181 banjo123: She is a smart cookie, Rhonda. Says the proud grandma.

>182 AMQS: Thanks Anne. I'm not sure what medical anthropology entails. What interests her about it? She would probably need a doctorate if she goes into something like that, correct?

184BLBera
Feb 18, 3:31pm Top

So, we tried to have an African American Lit Read In to celebrate Black History Month. Here's a photo of me with a couple of students reading toward the end of the week. The young man reading was reading an excerpt from Malcolm X's autobiography.

185Familyhistorian
Feb 18, 6:33pm Top

>184 BLBera: Just tried, Beth. Looks like it is happening there. You got me with How to Think Like an Anthropologist.

186msf59
Feb 18, 6:40pm Top

>184 BLBera: Love the photo! I have always been a fan of the Malcolm X autobiography.

Happy Sunday, Beth. I have had a relaxing day. I have been reading Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions. I am really enjoying it and I think you would too.

187BLBera
Edited: Feb 18, 6:48pm Top

>185 Familyhistorian: Well, I would have liked to see more students. I gave all who read certificates, and the young man reading in the picture was so excited that he asked where he could get it laminated. Some of our students haven't gotten a lot of validation in school, or anywhere else, but I can't control the home stuff.

>186 msf59: Because tomorrow is a free day, I've been doing some school work, had tea with a friend, etc. It's been pretty quiet.

188PaulCranswick
Feb 18, 9:46pm Top

Your reading is flying well this year, Beth as is your posting.

Wish I was doing better with both. xx

189susanj67
Feb 19, 4:34am Top

>184 BLBera: Lovely photo, Beth, and a good idea for Black History Month. I liked the Scout story too :-)

190BLBera
Feb 19, 8:52am Top

Hi Paul. Thanks. You're not doing so bad. What thread are you on already?

Thanks Susan. It's fun trying to get students to read. It's fun to see them excited about recognition when they do.

191BLBera
Feb 19, 9:16am Top


19. The Wedding Date is a romance. Drew Nichols and Alexa Monroe meet in an elevator that is stuck, and the action goes from there, following a pretty predictable plot trajectory. They are attracted, there are misunderstandings, they get back together, etc. Things I liked: Alexa is a dedicated, successful professional who isn't just waiting around for a man to save her. I also liked the fact that Alexa is black and Drew is white, and there was some attention to the attendant racism. I wish the author would have done more with that issue, but then, of course, it would have been a different book.

I think I realized the reason that generally romances don't work for me. I found Drew to be an unlikeable, manipulative jerk. Generally, the men in romances are not people I would every be interested in.

So, it was OK. The plot kept moving, and it was a nice break from dystopia. Others will like this more than I did, and that's OK.

Next: A collection of essays and poem by Claudia Rankine Citizen and James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time. Novel to be decided. I've got quite a few library books sitting around.

192BLBera
Edited: Feb 19, 3:36pm Top

Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric is breathtaking, hard to put down. She begins the book with a set of untitled prose poems, stories of everyday encounters with racism:

"When you arrive in your driveway and turn off the car, you remain behind the wheel another ten minutes. You fear the night is being locked in and coded on a cellular level and want time to function as a power wash. Sitting there staring at the closed garage door you are reminded that a friend once told you there exists the medical term -- John Henryism -- for people exposed to stresses stemming from racism. They achieve themselves to death trying to dodge the buildup of erasure."

Then, there is a fabulous essay about Serena Williams and what she has been exposed to over the years. She says of Serena's explosion about the foot fault call at the 2009 US Open: "Perhaps this is how racism feels no matter the context -- randomly the rules everyone else gets to play by no longer apply to you, and to call this out by calling out 'I swear to God!' is to be called insane, crass, crazy. Bad sportsmanship."

Fabulous!

Thanks to Rhonda for calling my attention to Rankine -- lucky you to get to hear her speak.

193SuziQoregon
Feb 19, 3:06pm Top

Sorry there wasn't much discussion at your book group.

Totally get why Scout thought it was her card.

194Berly
Feb 19, 3:16pm Top

>184 BLBera: Hi Twin!! Thanks for all the good wishes on my thread--so appreciated. Love the photo and what you do to promote reading. : )

Ha! You beat me. I still have to write my reviews of Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. I am sad that you didn't have a great discussion of The Power either: What gives? It should be an awesome book to talk about!

Love the Scout story, as per usual. Hugs.

195charl08
Feb 19, 4:31pm Top

I like the photo too Beth. So nice that the certificate mattered, as well.

I should pick up more by Rankine. Such powerful writing.

196EBT1002
Feb 19, 5:23pm Top

Great Scout story. Smart kiddo she is.

>184 BLBera: What I love is the other guy who is cracking up. It looks like it was a fun read-in.

>191 BLBera: I think I liked The Wedding Date a tiny bit more than you did although we had pretty similar reactions. As you know from the conversation on my thread, I've adjusted my snobbish perspective on romance novels, per se, but it still won't be my go-to genre.

Citizen: An American Lyric looks like it's going to hit me....

I have today off, by the way. Work tomorrow, then Tempe Wednesday and Thursday, returning Friday.

197BLBera
Feb 19, 7:50pm Top

>193 SuziQoregon: Scout is a smart cookie.

>194 Berly: Hey Twin - I hope you are on the mend. Take care of yourself. I know; The Power should be a great book for discussion. I can't explain it. Hugs back.

>195 charl08: It is so heartwarming to see how much the certificate means to the students. I have just started my first book by Rankine, but already I can tell I will be a big fan.

>196 EBT1002: Ellen! I've been thinking about you as I read Rankine. You would love this book.

Nice work week for you. Still, we'll have spring break in two weeks, so I can't complain.

I think romance is not for me. I do like Heyer, but they are historical, so I don't expect realism, I guess. For contemporary ones, the overpowering men bother me -- as they do in RL. :)

The Read In was fun; I wish we could have gotten more participation. We'll have to brainstorm for next year.

198AMQS
Feb 19, 10:47pm Top

>183 BLBera: I'm only just learning about it myself, but I don't know that it requires a PhD - but most likely further education. It has possibilities in public health, world health, epidemiology, forensics, etc. I can't wait to see where she'll go!

199LizzieD
Feb 19, 11:07pm Top

Hi, Beth!
I love the Scout stories and the pic of you and your students - AND the fact that one of them wanted it laminated.
I'm sorry that I have to agree with you about The Weight of Ink. I was disappointed on several levels. I thought it was supposed to have more depth. *sigh*

And ----
Person 1: Ask me if I'm an orange.
Person 2: Are you an orange?
Person 1: No.

Person 1: How high is a monkey when he flies?
Person 2: I don't know. How high is a monkey when he flies?
Person 1: The higher the fewer.

I confess that I thought these 2 were hysterically funny when I was in high school. They do sound totally 1960s to me.

200mdoris
Feb 20, 4:10pm Top

Hi Beth, Loved looking at your best of 2017 reading list at the beginning of your thread. Loved too the Keats Snowy Day book topper. I sure remember that one from when our kids were little.

201BLBera
Feb 20, 4:28pm Top

>198 AMQS: I looked it up, Anne, and it sounds fascinating. I've always been interested in public health.

>199 LizzieD: Hi Peggy - Thanks for the jokes. I'll have to try them out on Scout. :) Glad you like the stories; she is a pretty entertaining little girl. I think maybe my expectations for The Weight of Ink were too high? She definitely needed an editor.

>200 mdoris: Thanks Mary. Scout loves The Snowy Day. The new video is really cute, as well.

202ChelleBearss
Feb 21, 8:32am Top

I'm also in the Romance is not for me camp. The only one I've read that I've enjoyed is the Outlander series and I believe they are classed as historical romance so not sure if that made a difference.

203jolerie
Feb 21, 11:40am Top

Re: Parable of the Sower, you had me at dystopia. It doesn't take much to convince me..haha
I actually have that one of my teetering list to borrow from the library but definitely need to bump it up.

Scout is obviously as smart and astute as her grandma! :D

204rosalita
Edited: Feb 21, 4:41pm Top

Hi there, Beth! I hope your day is going well. We are discussing Iowa City Meet-up dates on my thread when you have a chance to pop in.

205EBT1002
Feb 21, 10:56pm Top

Okay, I'm taking your word for it and adding Citizen: An American Lyric to the wish list.

I just got off the phone with Prudence and she said it's snowing at home. It's uncommonly chilly here in the desert but it's not snowing! :-D

206BLBera
Feb 22, 8:57am Top

Hi Chelle - Well, it's good to try new things, and the fact that we all like different things makes life more interesting.

Hi Valerie - Do you have a favorite dystopia? Thanks, but I think Scout is in a class by herself. Tomorrow is a Scout day!

Thanks for the reminder, Julia.

Enjoy the warmth. I am so ready for spring. We've had the freezing rain mix stuff recently. Walking outside is like being on a skating rink. You will love Citizen: An American Lyric. I like the prose poems, but the essay on Serena Williams is outstanding.

Well, I suppose I should get some work done.

207jolerie
Edited: Feb 22, 2:13pm Top

Off the top of my head some of my favourites include the Lois Lowry books starting with The Giver, The Handmaid's Tale and The Road.
I checked my catalogue and it looks like there is mountain of books tagged dystopian that I haven't read compared to the ones that I have...haha. I have issues. :D

Have a fun Scout day!

208BLBera
Feb 22, 2:52pm Top

Thanks Valerie: I haven't read The Road; my son really liked that one, but I have read the others. The Handmaid's Tale is one of my all-time favorite books.

209The_Hibernator
Feb 22, 8:31pm Top

>75 BLBera: I put it on reserve on the library. I'm number 757 on the list at the moment, lol.

210thornton37814
Feb 22, 9:09pm Top

>209 The_Hibernator: I hope they have more than one copy!

211BLBera
Feb 22, 9:18pm Top

>209 The_Hibernator: ! How many copies does the library own? That's incredible because it's a wonderful novel.

>210 thornton37814: Hi Lori.

212BLBera
Feb 23, 10:17pm Top


20. A Catalog of Birds is a beautiful, heartbreaking story of a family, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Set in 1970 at the height of the Vietnam War, this is the story of the Flynn family, especially the two youngest members, Billy and Nell. Billy returns from Vietnam badly wounded. His joy in nature is blunted by the extent of his injuries; he has trouble hearing the bird songs he loves and his right hand is so damaged that he can no longer draw. His younger sister Nell adores her brother and shares his love for nature; she does everything she can to bring him back.

Harrington's writing is lovely. She has a keen eye for the natural world: "She closes her yes and catalogues what she hears: water over stones, the creaking wallow of the rowboat. A cardinal, now two. Finch, eastern phoebe, common yellowthroat. The poplar leaves are the most distinct to her ear, but she can sort out the great pines and the swaying hemlocks." The family's struggles take place in a vividly portrayed place, and we see the world on the cusp of change.

Wonderful novel.

213msf59
Feb 23, 10:20pm Top

A Catalog of Birds? I could I resist a title like that? Especially with a solid review backing it up.

Happy Friday, Beth. I hope the work week went well for you.

214BLBera
Feb 23, 10:22pm Top

Mark: As you might imagine, I thought of you frequently as I read this book. Billy and Nell loved the words and birds. Happy Friday to you.

215susanj67
Feb 24, 5:17am Top

Hi Beth! I hope Scout day was fun and you aren't glued to the kitchen floor with icing sugar. >212 BLBera: sounds like an excellent read. My library has one Laura Harrington, so she must be on the UK library-buying radar. Fingers crossed!

216BLBera
Edited: Feb 24, 10:51am Top

We actually went to the park yesterday; I discovered that sliding down snow-filled slides with my down coat is extremely dangerous. We shot down as if we had been shot out of a cannon. When I was telling my daughter, she asked Scout about it, and Scout said, "It was really fun," so I suspect we will do this again. No cookie baking, but we did read a lot of books, The Curious Garden and Babar's Little Girl twice.


217BLBera
Feb 24, 10:47am Top


21. The Fire Next Time consists of two letters written by Baldwin on the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. Baldwin discusses history, current events and possibilities. He writes about a meeting with Elijah Mohammad of the Nation of Islam and explains why he wasn't in agreement with their tenets. Much of his vision can be summed up in his letter to his nephew: "The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear."

His discussion of the inevitability of change reminded me of Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower: "But renewal becomes impossible if one supposes things to be constant that are not -- safety, for example, or money, or power."

Baldwin writes beautifully and was a thoughtful man. I will revisit his writing. I'm sure I didn't appreciate the things I read in high school and college.

218ChelleBearss
Feb 24, 10:49am Top

Glad that you had a wonderful Scout day! The park sounds pretty fun!

219BLBera
Edited: Feb 24, 11:04am Top

Hi Chelle. It was good to get outside. As you know, it's such a production in winter, boots, coats, snow pants, hats, mittens, etc.

Interesting article:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/feb/19/women-better-represented-in-victorian-novels-than-modern-finds-study

220rosalita
Feb 24, 11:17am Top

Good morning, Beth! That article is a good one, and the conclusions are surprisingly complex. I especially liked the analysis of how certain words are "gendered" — women "smile" but men "grin" and so forth.

221foggidawn
Edited: Feb 24, 12:10pm Top

The Curious Garden is such a lovely book! Have you read Mr. Tiger Goes Wild?

222BLBera
Feb 24, 12:53pm Top

>220 rosalita:
Hey Julia: I thought the article was excellent, and it certainly raises questions that I imagine will lead to more research. Great dissertation topics here, if only I were younger.

>221 foggidawn: Yes, we are Brown fans. Recently Scout has been into David Wiesner's books: Tuesday is, in her words, "hilarious." She also likes the Aaron Becker books, which are lovely.

223jolerie
Feb 24, 1:32pm Top

Sounds like you had a fantastic day with Scout. Shooting down the slide covered with snow sounds fun even to me!
I hope you have a relaxing weekend Beth. :)

224charl08
Feb 24, 1:49pm Top

>216 BLBera: Gorgeous book Beth!

225foggidawn
Feb 24, 3:09pm Top

>222 BLBera: Mr. Wuffles! is my favorite Wiesner right now.

226brenzi
Feb 24, 8:53pm Top

Ohhhh I just read The Snowy Day to Mia yesterday. Cole was listening too but mostly trying to grab it out of my hands and put it in his mouth lol. He loves his board books.

A Catalog of Birds sounds wonderful, just as you said.
I read my first James Baldwin last month and hope to read more of his this year.

227ronincats
Feb 24, 9:52pm Top

I stopped by the other day, Beth, and typed out my favorite joke for Scout, but it was the day LT was being wonky and it never posted. I'll try again.

1: What goes "Ha, ha, ha...THUMP!"?
2: I don't know. What goes "Ha, ha, ha...THUMP!"?
1: Someone laughing their head off.

Ta-da!

228Ameise1
Feb 25, 1:52am Top

I finally cought up here. There are some very interesting books. When I looked them up at my library I unfortunately found out that they don't have copies of them. :-(
Happy Sunday, Beth.

229susanj67
Feb 25, 4:08am Top

>216 BLBera: Beth, it does sound as though you will be doing that again :-) I hope no puffa coats were harmed, though.

>227 ronincats: I'm sure Scout will love that one - it made me laugh!

There's a nice article here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43187669 about the Duchess of Cornwall and reading to children which you might like. I thought of you when she referred to grandchildren :-)

230BLBera
Feb 25, 9:46am Top


22. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, set in 1940, is told in diary entries and letters. In some ways, it reminds me of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. So, if you liked that one, you'll probably like this one. The characters range in age from eleven to middle aged. One thing they all have in common is that they have always known their place as women. When the vicar shuts down the choir because the men are gone, a group of women decides to carry on with an all-women choir. After this, the women discover that they have abilities and talents they've never used. As one character says, "Maybe we've been told that women can't do things so many times that we've started to believe it." Of course, it leads to many other discoveries.

One thing I loved was how it showed the importance of music: "Music takes us out of ourselves, away from our worries and tragedies, helps us look into a different world, a bigger picture."

In some ways, the story is predictable, but it is an enjoyable read. I know I read a review here that convinced me to give it a try, but I don't remember who wrote it. Anyway, thanks!

231BLBera
Feb 25, 9:52am Top

>223 jolerie: Valerie, you are a lot younger than I am. With Scout on my lap, it was terrifying. For a minute, I thought we would go over the edge.

>224 charl08: It is a lovely book, Charlotte. Especially right now when we are waiting for spring.

>225 foggidawn: Yes to Mr. Wuffles; Scout has a copy of that at her house. I remember looking for it one night because it was her current favorite.

>226 brenzi: Bonnie - Scout and Mia must be about the same age - what kinds of books does Mia like? Has she seen The Snowy Day video. It is very cute. I think you would love A Catalog of Birds, set mostly in your neck of the woods. Harrington evokes place beautifully.

>227 ronincats: I love it, Roni! I can't wait to try it on her.

>228 Ameise1: Hi Barbara. Some of the books are pretty new, so perhaps your library will get copies eventually.

>229 susanj67: No puffy coats were harmed, but Tita, that's me, needs some snow pants. My sweats were soaked. Thanks for the article. I love it.

232msf59
Feb 25, 9:57am Top

Morning, Beth. Happy Sunday. I hope you can relax today with the books. That is my plan.

233BLBera
Feb 25, 10:37am Top

Thanks Mark. I do have some school work and shoveling to do, not necessarily in that order. I will get to books eventually.

234BLBera
Feb 25, 10:39am Top

Scout story:

I live across the street from a park with two playgrounds, one for little people, and one for bigger kids. Scout calls them the little park and the big park. When she was at my house this week, we were in my yard, messing with snow when we heard kids' voices. She immediately threw her shovel down and said, "Let's go to the park." We saw that the voices were coming from the little park, but she said she wanted to go to the big park because, "I don't want to be a friend right now."

235kidzdoc
Edited: Feb 25, 2:38pm Top

>234 BLBera: Ha!

Nice review of The Fire Next Time, Beth. I'm nearly finished reading the Libary of America's James Baldwin: Collected Essays, which includes that book, and once I'm finished I would like to reread the first four essays, Notes of a Native Son, Nobody Knows My Name, The Fire Next Time, and No Name in the Street, later this year.

236AMQS
Feb 25, 3:35pm Top

Love those Scout stories, Beth!

Terrific review of A Catalog of Birds - you got me!

237Donna828
Feb 25, 3:40pm Top

I'm sorry that The Weight of Ink didn't work for you, Beth. I liked it much more than you did. I think it was an audio book for me. I wonder if that made me overlook some of the faults. Oh well.

>184 BLBera: Love the picture. It looks like your students are having fun. Way to go, Beth!

Scout cracks me up! Sometimes being a friend is just too much work I guess! She also might be like Molly and doesn't like to "share" her grandmother!

I'm glad I got caught up before you started a new thread. It is hard to keep up with you these days.

238drneutron
Feb 25, 5:17pm Top

>234 BLBera: I'm with Scout. Sometimes I just don't want to be a friend. That's a great story! 😀

239Crazymamie
Feb 25, 6:15pm Top

>238 drneutron: What Jim said! Scout rocks!

>216 BLBera: I love this image.

>212 BLBera: You hit me with this one - adding it to The List and giving your review my thumb.

As always, catching up with you has made me smile. Hoping that the week is kind to you.

240charl08
Feb 25, 6:20pm Top

Thanks for the Scout story, Beth. She hit the nail on the head there!

241BLBera
Feb 25, 8:33pm Top

>235 kidzdoc: Thanks Darryl. That is a lot of Baldwin. I might dip into some more essays, but I also have a memoir to get to When They Call You a Terrorist.

>236 AMQS: Hi Anne - You will love A Catalog of Birds - it is a wonderful novel.

>237 Donna828: I'm always amazed at our different reactions to books, Donna. I saw that a lot of people really loved The Weight of Ink; perhaps audio would work better. That must have been a lot of hours, though. It is a long book. I can't even keep up, Donna.

>238 drneutron: Hi Jim - She is very good at expressing herself. Her mom works with her to use her words.

>239 Crazymamie: Hey Mamie - Scout does rock. I can't wait to tell her Roni's joke. I wonder if she's heard the expression... I'll report back. The Curious Garden is a lovely book. Everyone should read A Catalog of Birds; it is a lovely book.

>240 charl08: You're welcome, Charlotte. She is a lot of fun. A couple of things she says that we don't correct her because it is so cute: she says peecuz for Because and renember instead of remember. I told Vanessa we should probably start to correct her one of these days.

Well, Monday is my long day. I have class at 8 a.m. and am tutoring in the LC until 7. I'm going to try to get some reading in and early to bed.

242Ameise1
Feb 26, 4:29am Top

Good luck with your long day. My 'neverending' day is Thursday.

243susanj67
Feb 26, 4:37am Top

I love the Scout story, Beth :-)

We have snow! But not enough to shovel.

244Carmenere
Feb 26, 7:04am Top

Hey Beth! I'm finally caught up here. The Winter Olympics stole my reading time so my reading time became my LT time. Soon, March Madness will take reading time bla bla bla! What a vicious cycle ;0)
>184 BLBera: What a great pic!
Keep the Scout stories coming! They are delightful!!

245AMQS
Feb 26, 11:51am Top

Good luck with your long day. It's hard for me when the long day is a Monday. I've had several long days recently with production weeks for Marina's shows. Even if I'm not working, when I leave home at 7:00 am and don't get home until 8:00 pm or as late as 10:30 on show nights it's still a long day! I'm doing double duty a few times this month so I'll really be ready for spring break! When's yours?

246BLBera
Feb 26, 4:05pm Top

>242 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara. It goes fast because the young basketball players are a nice group. Keeping them on task is a little like herding cats.

>243 susanj67: Hooray for snow? It's warming today, so some of the ice is melting, but I think we're expecting more snow midweek. I'm kind of done with it. Glad you like the Scout story. I've got a few...

>244 Carmenere: Thanks Lynda. I really watched very little of the Olympics and could grade or do other things while they were on. I'm glad you like the Scout stories. She is a lot of fun.

>245 AMQS: Thanks Anne. In a way it's nice to get the long day done. The rest of my week feels easy in comparison. And my day is not as long as yours! Good luck with your shows although I know you love them.

My spring break is next week!

247jolerie
Feb 26, 4:39pm Top

Scout is a gem! I love how honest kids are, no sugar coating it! :)

248SuziQoregon
Feb 26, 5:21pm Top

>216 BLBera: Oh I love that image!! Glad you had a good Scout day.

I might have to put A Catalog of Birds on my library list.

249Copperskye
Feb 26, 8:18pm Top

>234 BLBera: That is too cute! I totally “get” Scout!

A Catalog of Birds sounds intriguing. And my library has it! Thanks for the rec, Beth.

250DeltaQueen50
Feb 26, 10:43pm Top

Hi Beth, I am here to catch up and enjoy "Scout" stories. I hope you are writing some of these down as they will be wonderful to share with her when she's much older. I am planning on finally reading James Baldwin at some point this year, and I am looking forward to it.

251EBT1002
Feb 27, 5:48pm Top

I'm adding A Catalogue of Birds to my wish list. I was thinking I had already done that but not so.

And I put Halsey Street on hold at the library. :-)

252BLBera
Feb 27, 7:35pm Top

>247 jolerie: Yes, Scout is pretty wonderful, Valerie. I am loving being a grandma.

>248 SuziQoregon: Thanks Juli. Every Scout day is a good one. You will love A Catalog of Birds.

>249 Copperskye: You will love A Catalog of Birds, Joanne. It is beautiful.

>250 DeltaQueen50: Thanks Judy. I am writing them down. I plan to read more Baldwin as well. I have another collection of his essays that I can dip into from time to time.

>251 EBT1002: Ellen, you will love it. The writing is beautiful. How many holds on Halsey Street; I know you will love that one.

253LovingLit
Feb 27, 8:47pm Top

>184 BLBera: is that a small book or a large man? Hard to tell ;)

Your Scout stories are reminding me of funny things my kids have said! I will have to report them more often, for posterity.

254EBT1002
Feb 28, 10:13am Top

I'm #55 in the queue for one of 15 copies of Halsey Street so the wait shouldn't be too long.

255BLBera
Feb 28, 2:25pm Top

>253 LovingLit: Both, Megan. He's a big guy and the book is tiny. Yes, I love to hear kid stories.

>254 EBT1002: It is one of my favorite reads of the year, so far, Ellen. Certainly my favorite one from the 46 books list so far.

256EBT1002
Feb 28, 6:06pm Top

How many from the list of 46 have you read? If Electric Lit was right, 16 of them should have been released by now.

257BLBera
Feb 28, 6:34pm Top

>256 EBT1002: Hi Ellen - I had to go and look at the list. Duh. I've only read Halsey Street and The Wedding Date. I was thinking What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky was also on the list, but it isn't.

I'm reading Call Me Zebra right now and I have When They Call You a Terrorist and Song of a Captive Bird from the library now. I'm really anxious to get my hands on An American Marriage.

258majestic131
Feb 28, 6:38pm Top

HI EVERYONE! I'm Ellen. I see that there is another Ellen in this talk. You can also call me LENA, my nick name. I am looking forward to reading new books this year. We should take a vote on what books are most recommended. Take a vote on all the books mentioned and everyone vote for each of the books, deciding on their rankings.

259BLBera
Feb 28, 6:44pm Top

Welcome Lena.

260banjo123
Feb 28, 6:45pm Top

Hi Beth! I love the image of puffy coat sledding. When Banjo, jr was little, she used garbage can lids.

>217 BLBera: I think that I will have to ad parable of the Sower to my TBR pile.

261BLBera
Feb 28, 8:49pm Top

Hi Rhonda: I was just thinking of you. I finished Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric. Thanks for bringing her to my attention. I would love to see her speak. The book is amazing.

And yes, Parable of the Sower is amazing. I want to jump right to the sequel, but I have so many other books calling me right now!

262BLBera
Edited: Feb 28, 9:07pm Top


23. Citizen: An American Lyric is a powerful, bleak, funny work. Consisting of essays, poetry, art and scripts for "Situations" that can be seen on claudiarankine.com, this is an honest view of what it means to be black in America. Rankine's work shows the impossible choices: a body can be invisible, but to be visible can be deadly. As she says in one poem:
because white men can't
police their imagination
black people are dying

The essay about Serena Williams is amazing. While I've followed Serena's career, I wasn't aware of the many injustices Serena and Venus have suffered -- and the picture of Carolina Wozniaki imitating Serena is in such incredible poor taste that I have lost all respect for the Dane.

I've been talking about the power and controlled sense of rage in this book, and two of my colleagues have asked me to lend it to them. I think it's important to read this. And I'd love to see her speak.

Thanks to Rhonda for bringing Rankine to my attention.

263charl08
Mar 1, 5:54pm Top

Hey Beth, thanks for the heads up re the Women's Fiction Prize. I can't believe it's come round again so quickly. I may have just used my birthday voucher for those penguins, too!

264BLBera
Mar 1, 7:17pm Top

:) I may have just beat you to it, Charlotte. I couldn't resist. One week and we'll see the long list. Any predictions? I know I am abysmal at them.

265banjo123
Mar 2, 12:09am Top

>262 BLBera: I am so glad that this worked for you! I am just starting it, looking forward to the Williams chapter.

266Berly
Mar 2, 1:10am Top

Hi, Twin! Love the park Scout story. : ) You have been reading tons. And then the Long List is gonna hit...! Happy Friday.

267BLBera
Mar 2, 12:44pm Top

I'll watch for your comments, Rhonda. I loved it. It was very interesting to watch the situation videos.

Happy Friday, Twin. Yes, I guess we're off to the park in a couple of minutes. I can't wait for the Long List - my favorite one of the year.

268vivians
Mar 2, 2:27pm Top

I don't know too many other people who get excited about longlists.....so great to have the company here on LT!

269NanaCC
Mar 2, 4:13pm Top

>262 BLBera: Citizen sounds like one I should check into.

270brenzi
Mar 2, 9:38pm Top

Oh no. Direct hit. Citizen: An American Lyric. Thanks Beth.

271LizzieD
Mar 2, 11:15pm Top

>241 BLBera: "renember" and "pecuz" --- a cherished memory is hearing my cousin Catharin say to her younger brother, "Frit it, Edbird!" She learned to say both "quit" and "Edward" in due time, and I'm left with a smile.
Is the long list out???? I'm off to find it!
Enjoy your weekend! Grade some fewer papers and have a good time with a good book instead.

272charl08
Mar 3, 4:01am Top

>264 BLBera: None at all! I've learnt my lesson. Looking forward to finding some new books.

273souloftherose
Mar 3, 8:23am Top

>155 BLBera: Really glad to see you enjoyed Parable of the Sower, Beth. Totally agree that Butler created 'a scary, believable world.' with that one.

>230 BLBera: And you hit me with a book bullet for The Chilbury Ladies Choir

274BLBera
Mar 3, 11:28am Top

>268 vivians: I know, Vivian - we are kindred spirits.

>269 NanaCC: Colleen - if you want to check out what she does, take a look at the situations on her website: claudiarankine.com.

>270 brenzi: You are welcome, Bonnie. Turnabout is fair play...

>271 LizzieD: Love the Edbird, Peggy! Long list comes out March 8, I think. Sometime next week, anyway. I'm on spring break so I hope to get some reading done this weekend.

>272 charl08: Really, Charlotte? My problem is that I can never figure out which ones are eligible - at least ONE of my problems. Is Ali Smith's Autumn eligible, or is Winter? I would think one of those should be on the list. Lately, the list has seemed to include some first novels, which is nice.

>273 souloftherose: Thanks Heather. Have you read Parable of the Talents as well? Most of the comments say it's not as good, so I've been hesitant to start it.

275rretzler
Mar 4, 1:55am Top

Hi, Beth. Finally stopping by to catch up.

I've been meaning to read Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents for some time. Just like >203 jolerie: it just takes the mention of dystopia for me to want to read it!

I'm enjoying all of the fun jokes here and it made me think of two books that I really enjoyed when I was little. They have been long out of print, so when my boys were little I searched Ebay and found copies of them. The boys enjoyed them as much as I did, and when they were each in 3rd grade, I took the books to school and shared them with the class. However, they definitely would be enjoyable to a 4 1/2 year old too - I was probably around that age when I first discovered them. If you can ever find them on Ebay or anywhere else, I highly recommend them - they are very silly! Bennet Cerf's Book of Riddles and Bennett Cerf's Book of Laughs



As a matter of fact, all of the "I Can Read It Myself/Beginner" books back in the late 50s and early 60s were fantastic. My mother had saved some of mine and the others I searched Ebay for so we have quite a collection here, which we read and reread many, many times until the boys finally outgrew them.

276souloftherose
Mar 4, 4:37am Top

>274 BLBera: Yes, I read Parable of the Talents fairly soon after Parable of the Sower. I just went back and checked my spreadsheets (such a geek) and I rated Talents slightly higher than Sower.

277msf59
Mar 4, 7:55am Top

Morning, Beth. Happy Sunday! I am about to start An American Marriage. This seems like a Beth book and it has been getting some solid praise. Looking forward to it. I hope you get some R & R in today.

278vivians
Mar 5, 9:30am Top

I wonder if your ears were ringing on Sunday at about noon....we talked about you at the Phila meet-up and said we'd love to meet you!

279katiekrug
Mar 5, 9:30am Top

^^^This is true.^^^

280BLBera
Mar 5, 6:12pm Top

Thanks Robin: I'll keep an eye out for the Cerf books.

Good to know, Heather. I want to read Parable of the Talents soon.

Thanks Mark: I have it on reserve at the library.

>278 vivians: So THAT's what that was, Vivian. :) Thanks. I wish I could have been there. It looks like you had a great time.

>279 katiekrug: Thanks Katie. I'll let you know next time I'm in NYC.

281charl08
Mar 6, 2:08pm Top

>274 BLBera: I've not got a clue Beth, but I'd love Smith to get the nod.

282BLBera
Edited: Mar 7, 6:27pm Top

Tomorrow we'll see, Charlotte. Can't wait. I just know that the book that I just finished, and didn't like, Call Me Zebra, will be on the list.


24. Call Me Zebra is the story of an Iranian girl who escapes into exile with her parents, her mother dying along the way. Her father raised her to be a Hosseini, an autodidact, atheist, anarchist. Literature is the answer to everything. After her father's death, Zebra decides to trace her path of exile backwards and leaves New York for Barcelona, continuing to write in her notebooks, exploring how the Matrix of Literature will answer all her questions and guide her to the next step.

This book abounds with references to Nietzsche, Benjamin, Said, all great thinkers that Zebra uses as oracles, and one would think it would be something I would love. No. I gave this book two and a half stars because I know it will appeal to some readers. Zebra is young and ridiculous in her bombastic proclamations. I found the novel tedious and repetitious. I think I'm too old to appreciate her coming-of-age angst. Instead of insightful, I found her obnoxious.

Some examples:
"...by virtue of containing various architectural traditions, the Casa Amatller offers us a view of the infinite dizzying pluralism of life; it is a material manifestation of both the interconnected fabric of being and also of the nothingness that contains everything."

"No one really occupies a concrete, singular position in space, which is what the question erroneously implies. 'Where do you live?' I huffed mockingly. 'We should really be asking in what places do you tend to lead your multiple lives or what is the geography of your inner world because, as much as we would like to divide life along categorical lines, interior and exterior, we can't, because each of those surfaces is composed of other intersecting surfaces, which means that life, generally speaking, is a confused and blurred experience."

I did enjoy the portrayal of Catalonia.

Next: I think a mystery is in order. I need something that I actually want to pick up.

283SuziQoregon
Mar 7, 2:42pm Top

Just catching up and saying hi.

284charl08
Mar 7, 3:36pm Top

>282 BLBera: Sorry about that one Beth.

Tempted to stay up to see the list, but I have a feeling it doesn't come out until lunchtime!

285BLBera
Mar 7, 6:28pm Top

>283 SuziQoregon: Hi back Juli.

>284 charl08: Well, I guess I was due to take one for the team. And, to be honest, this is one that might appeal to others. Ooh, so I can awaken to it!

286mdoris
Mar 7, 6:41pm Top

HI Beth, Loved the Scout playground story. Straight to the crux of the matter!
Great review of the unliked book >282 BLBera:. Somehow I feel a little guilty when I do the big reject of a book and find it comforting to read someone else's similar experience so....thank you! Me too, I next turned to a mystery.

287thornton37814
Mar 7, 9:56pm Top

>282 BLBera: That was one I looked at for lease books and decided not to order. Your review makes me think I did the right thing. I was afraid it would sit on the shelf for a year without any use.

288LizzieD
Mar 7, 11:19pm Top

Once more, if you want an outstanding mystery and haven't read the Frieda Klein ones by Nicci French, I do entirely recommend Blue Monday.

289BLBera
Edited: Mar 8, 12:29am Top

It's here! Longlist for Women's Prize in Fiction:
H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
🌼 The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
🌼 Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
🌼 The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
🌼 A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
🌼 Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

I've read five.

290charl08
Mar 8, 2:31am Top

Thanks for posting this on my thread Beth! I've not read as many as you, but some there I'm definitely looking forward to reading. I'd rather not have seen Elmet again, after I didn't manage to plough through it for the Booker. Hey ho. My library seems to have (or be ordering) most of them, except for Miss Burma, so far. Will you buy or borrow?

291ChelleBearss
Mar 8, 7:24am Top

Hi Beth! Looks like a great long list! I wish I could say that I've read some already, but no. You are making quite a dent already though!

292BLBera
Mar 8, 9:00am Top

>286 mdoris: Thanks Mary. Scout is the source of a lot of good stories. I am at a point where I have a pretty good idea whether I will like a book, so I end up reading few that I dislike. I miscalculated on this one.

>287 thornton37814: Hi Lori. Yes, I think this book has limited appeal.

>288 LizzieD: Thanks Peggy. I'll add that one to my WL. I actually picked up A Hanging Matter and can hardly put it down. I started this series years ago, and I remembered it fondly. It is very good, but the books are not easy to find. My library has a few, and some are out of print.

293BLBera
Mar 8, 9:02am Top

>290 charl08: You are welcome Charlotte. It was on the website last night; I checked before I went to bed. It's a little surprising. I will read library books for the ones that are available; many are not in my library's collection.

>291 ChelleBearss: It's always fun to see what they've decided on, Chelle. You have a lot of great reading ahead.

This topic was continued by Beth's Books in 2018 (BLBera) Part 3.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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