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What Are We Reading, Page 7

This is a continuation of the topic What Are We Reading, Page 6.

This topic was continued by What Are We Reading, Page 8.


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Apr 25, 7:44pm Top

I've just started listening to Sisters in Law, and I am finding it to be just really delightful. Thank you to Citizenjoyce who recommended this dual biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor. The contrast between these two women make the book more thoughtful and interesting than if it was just about one of them alone. It was brilliant to think of doing it this way.

Apr 26, 12:18am Top

I'm glad you like it. Even I, who know nothing about the law, found it fascinating.

Edited: Apr 27, 12:31am Top

I finished The Almost Sisters and loved the characters, the story, the twists, and the feminism (a male character is a nurse). What I didn't love, what I never love, is the environment: church-centered, bless your heart Southern small-town intrusive. I become less southern leaning every day, and I don't see the charm in the atmosphere. I would really have loved it if it had been set in the west or even the east.
I read The Mother of All Questions: Further Reports from the Feminist Revolutions by Rebecca Solnit which is a series of essays about feminism. She discusses art in 100 books a woman shouldn't read and shows how, in respected books by male authors, women are shown to be burdens, sex objects or empty evil characters with no heart - this is also the way they're frequently treated by male stand up comics. Of course she finds Tosh's humor vile (wouldn't it be funny if 5 men raped her right now, ha, ha) but oops, she bought the outward feminism of Louis C. K. and Aziz Ansari before she found out, like the rest of us, that their actions didn't mimic their words. This is a good, illuminating look at feminist issues that most of us can't believe are not yet resolved.
I've just started The Female Persuasion: A Novel by Meg Wolitzer which I just found out has been chosen to the first Barnes and Noble book club pick. If you can read it before Wednesday, mosey on over to your local Barnes and Noble and join the discussion. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/h/book-club

Edited: Apr 27, 9:33am Top

>3 Citizenjoyce:. I'm glad that you loved most of The Almost Sisters. Not great literature, of course, but I thought it was an extremely fun read. I don't know whether it would have worked in any other setting than the South. I liked the characters stubborn persistence to stay and become the change in the home that they love, rather than boycott the south, which might have been the more obvious choice. The Warmth of Other Suns made me question whether this isn't the most effective approach in the long run, although it must be incredibly difficult to "set a watchman" to guard your values (ala Harper Lee) when you are steeped in that environment. I completely agree about the church-centered intrusive society depicted, however. Not for me!

I've already got The Mother of All Questions and The Female Persuasion on my wishlist, although it may be a while before I find them. I enjoyed The Interestings, and I hope that her new one is as good.

I've just started The Leavers. I've found some other Bellwether Prize winners to be too preachy (not unlike some of Barbara Kingsolver's books themselves), but this one seems to have been well received.

Edited: Apr 27, 3:23pm Top

>4 vwinsloe: I’ve just requested The Leavers. Recently I read a book of essays by Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonder and decided I need to stick to her novels. Some people found the book about the butterflies to be too preachy, I didn’t. I loved the way everything came together, but these essays just made me feel like a terrible person. She writes 8 hours a day eats only from the garden she tends with her family or from locally grown food, no TV, and she reads voraciously. If she has time to do it, I should too, but it would be hell for me. Ah the guilt, I’m going to stick to the novels.

Apr 28, 8:14am Top

>5 Citizenjoyce:. Have you read Animal Vegetable Miracle? That was non-fiction; a memoir of sorts, and it was a very good read. It was about her family's year living as locavores in Virginia, and it was quite humorous, including some notable failures.

In the preachy department, I was thinking particularly of her coyote novel, which I think was Prodigal Summer, and that was more lecture than story. I liked Flight Behavior. She is at her best when she shows the kernels of truth in competing views, such as in The Poisonwood Bible. In the butterfly book, the best parts of it were not about the butterflies, but rather about the people living in modest circumstances in a rural area, perplexed about being lectured at about environmentalism and conservation.

Apr 28, 10:02am Top

Reading Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard - an exploration of ways in which women's voices have been and are still being silenced in the public arena.

Apr 28, 3:12pm Top

>7 SChant: Evidently the. Silencing is still happening. I just read about her being edited out of the US PBS broadcast of Civilizations.
>6 vwinsloe: I let myself be derailed by what a reviewer says is her “vein of smugness and self-righteousnes” and forgot about the very pertinent things she had to say about biodiversity, patriotism, art and so much else. I guess my buttons are easily pushed. I’ll look into some of her other non fiction.

Apr 29, 4:04am Top

>8 Citizenjoyce: That is astonishing! I just read the news article and am horrified - Mary Beard is the only reason I watched the programme in the first place!

May 2, 3:10am Top

Reading Testament of a Generation: the journalism of Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby. I've enjoyed Holtby's fiction and Brittain's other "Testament" works so hoping for good things from this.

May 2, 10:59am Top

I'm listening to the audiobook of Shanghai Girls by Lisa See -- so far, it's well-written and seems to be well-researched. Trigger warning: very intense rape scenes.

In print, I'm reading Jane Austen, Secret Radical by Helena Kelly. Haven't gotten too far yet, was turned off a bit by the opening, which talked about a day in Austen's life from her POV as though we actually had her thoughts and feelings. Now it's moved on to more of a straight literary criticism, which is what I was expecting (and prefer).

Edited: May 2, 1:52pm Top

>11 sweetiegherkin:. For some reason, Lisa See's books seem to be particularly good listening. I don't know whether they all have the same reader, but they are really easy to get into and follow on audiobook. I've listened to most of them, I think, and have found them to be very satisfying. I think Dreams of Joy is the sequel, and that was excellent, too.

I am reading The Power and will let you all know where I come out on the debate about the final plot developments.

May 3, 8:00am Top

>12 vwinsloe: The reader for this one is Janet Song and she has a very pleasant voice. I've heard Dreams of Joy is good as well, but I figured I'd get through this one and make my final conclusions about it before deciding whether or not to check out that title as well.

Edited: May 8, 9:18am Top

I finished The Power and I agree with SChant about the turn that it took. However, I also I agree somewhat with Citizenjoyce because I don't think that women are inherently violent, generally speaking. I am from the generation who was thrilled by the story "Baby X" when it came out in Ms. Magazine. That story speculated about the parents of a baby not revealing the baby's sex, and how the baby was not influenced by the expectations of family, friends and society and grew up "free." We all wanted to believe that women were inherently the same as men in those days, because as shown by the civil rights cases, in our minds, "different" could never be "equal." And, if we weren't equal, then we were perceived as "less than." But my awakening came in the nineties, when a friend's sister was a professor in early childhood development, and I was warned that I was not going to like the results of her work. Studies done on babies and very small children, as free from societal influences as possible, showed that most female children were different than most male children in important ways, significantly in aggression.

So I think that while whoever has "the power" is bound to abuse it, if most women are truly less aggressive than men, then it shouldn't be as widespread. That being said, The Power is a cautionary tale. As women gain power, who are their behavioral role models? (While reading the book, I kept seeing the face of that grinning woman soldier who participated in torture at Abu Ghraib.) Who are they trying to impress? I know that I have had both male and female bosses, and the female bosses were most emphatically not mentors or supporters for the female employees. Most of the men weren't either (and some were despicable), but the best bosses that I have had were men who were so self-confident that they could be mentors and supporters of the women who they supervised. When women have power, I hope that they can learn from leaders like Nelson Mandela who aren't filled with revenge, and who understand what they still need to learn about being in power. I hope that they will be thoughtful and careful about how they use their power. Most women are "different," but also "equal" and not necessarily "better."

I just started Barkskins and am enjoying being soothed by the familiar rhythms of Annie Proulx's splendid prose.

May 10, 7:26am Top

>14 vwinsloe: I know that I have had both male and female bosses, and the female bosses were most emphatically not mentors or supporters for the female employees. Most of the men weren't either (and some were despicable), but the best bosses that I have had were men who were so self-confident that they could be mentors and supporters of the women who they supervised.

My worst boss was a woman who was on a power trip and treated us all terribly, to the point that at least half the staff quit within a year of her being there. But my boss now, who is also a woman, is the best one I've had yet. Perhaps it helps that before her promotion, she had the job I currently hold, so she knows exactly what it entails. Then again, everyone in our department likes her, so part of it is definitely just that she's a good manager who keeps everyone up-to-date on what's going on, provides guidance on what needs doing, and is willing to be flexible with everyone's scheduling needs. Of my past male bosses, a couple were fine but not necessarily mentoring, and one was kind of out there and tiptoed pretty close to the sexual harassment line (still hated him less than the one female boss though).

May 17, 4:43am Top

Started Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. I'm finding it difficult to get past the deliberately archaic writing style and breaking the 4th wall but will persevere as it's got good reviews. As an antidote I'm also reading a classic 1960's thriller The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes, which so far is excellent.

Edited: May 23, 1:54pm Top

I finished Barkskins and enjoyed it, although perhaps not quite as much as Proulx's shorter novels which seemed to pack more of an emotional punch.

I started listening to The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane which is fascinating so far. It involves an ethnic Chinese minority living in a remote rural tea growing area. >13 sweetiegherkin: It is read by two people, neither of whom is Janet Song. I've only heard the first one so far, and she is very good.

May 25, 11:16am Top

I found Too Like the Lightning unreadable and gave up after 100 or so pages, but Dorothy B. Hughes' The Expendable Man was an absolute gem. Published in 1963 it gives an interesting twist on the noir genre and sharply highlights prejudices and preconceptions of the era. Highly recommended.

Edited: Jun 3, 1:05pm Top

>17 vwinsloe: I just finished listening to The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane and enjoyed it. Learning about pu'reh was quite interesting.

Edited: Jun 6, 11:30am Top

>19 Yells:. I finally finished listening to The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane this morning. I really liked this one, and gave it 4 stars, which I usually reserve for more "serious" literature. I found myself thinking that as the characters discussed the Chinese concept of "balance," the author also incorporated "balance" into the crafting of this novel. Just when I thought that the book was getting "too" anything (too much sappy romance, for example) the story would veer off in another direction, balancing among adoption, culture, history, and tea making. I really enjoyed learning about the Akha ethnic Chinese tribal minority. So much so that I was moved to do a little further research online (those headdresses!) which is always a sign of an engaging read for me. While the end was ultimately predictable, and maybe even trite, it does not make me recommend it less.

I've started reading To the Bright Edge of the World and was drawn in right away. I am seeing some vague overlap in subject matter with Barkskins that I read not too long ago, and I hope that this one does not suffer by comparison. Does that happen to anyone else? Every once in a while I read several books in a row that have overlapping tropes, and I begin to get a little bored with it. Once it was stories about the sea, for example. Maybe it is because the books came out during the same time period and publishers were capitalizing on some theme? Who knows.

Edited: Jun 6, 5:19pm Top

>20 vwinsloe: I. Just read To the Bright Edge of the World and loved it. Both parts of the story were fascinating, but the left behind wife really got to me. Oh, the social constraints! What a woman, and I’m wondering if such a feminist husband could really have existed at that time. I guess there are always those who see clearly, they’re just often few in number. I think that’s what made me so mad at Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. How could she take Atticus Finch, a man who saw clearly in To Kill A Mockingbird, and make him blind? Unless her editor was the one who made him into the man we all love.

Jun 7, 10:52am Top

>21 Citizenjoyce:. Glad to know that you enjoyed it. I am about 1/3 of the way in, and am liking it so far. Of course, I love the fact that Sophie is a birder; that makes her very relatable to me! I will let you know what I think when I am done.

Edited: Jun 10, 1:48pm Top

I just finished Manhattan Beach which I was completely loving until the rosy, rosy end. Now I’m sorry I read it.

Jun 11, 11:18am Top

>23 Citizenjoyce:. I found the ending to be anticlimactic. For me, it turned what could have been a "great book" into just a "good read."

Edited: Jun 11, 2:45pm Top

>24 vwinsloe: Unfortunately yes. Right now I’m reading The Invasion of the Tearling, the second book in the series. I read Queen of the Tearling 3 years ago but don’t remember a thing about it except that I gave it 4 stars. I find this is one of those few second in a series books that can stand on its own and am enjoying it very much. In light of the Christian Right, the religious authorities are coming off very believable and it’s quite reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale. Now I’m worried that Erika Johansen is going to disappoint me like Jennifer Egan did and slap on a thoughtless ending. But since there’s one more book to come, I guess I’m probably safe for now.
I recently read The Jane Austen Project - Jane Austen and time travel the combo can’t be beat, and the ending didn’t disappoint.

Edited: Jun 12, 9:20am Top

>25 Citizenjoyce:. I put the Tearling Series on my wishlist. I've never heard of it.

I finished To the Bright Edge of the World and enjoyed it enormously. >21 Citizenjoyce:. As to your question regarding whether such a feminist husband could have existed at the time, I think that there are always unconventional people here and there, and they seem to exist with more frequency in off the grid places where tolerance is required to have any social interaction. Additionally, Eowyn Ivey drew her characters such that their traumatic past experiences shaped them in extraordinary ways.

For something completely different, I just started The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

Edited: Jun 12, 3:38pm Top

>26 vwinsloe: I tend to think of men in off the grid places as rugged he men, and very sexist though I know that must be wrong because that sort of place brings out very strong women. I guess it’s just that conventional relationships aren’t constantly reinforced so the person has leeway to discover their true feelings.
I read The Long Way to A Small Angry PLanet last year. I remember that I loved the characters and the relationships, but I can’t remember how it ended. Ach! Now all I can do is wonder about a particular circumstance. Maybe I should get the book again from the library and just read the ending.

Jun 12, 4:20pm Top

>25 Citizenjoyce: I would caution you to not be overly optimistic with the last of the Tearling books. I was profoundly disappointed. I can't compare the third Tearling book to Jennifer Egan's work since I've never read her stuff. I can say I felt...cheated...by Johansen's choice.

Jun 12, 4:53pm Top

>28 lesmel: Arrrgh! Why, why does that have to happen? I just finished the second and loved it. I think I’ll leave it there.

Jun 12, 8:40pm Top

>29 Citizenjoyce: I feel like Johansen wrote herself into a corner & ran out of time. It's great until the last 1/3 when I got this "holy crap, what have I done" vibe. I could forgive her if the choice felt purposeful.

Jun 12, 11:30pm Top

>30 lesmel: I'm not a writer, so I don't know how hard that would be, but I see it often enough as a reader, and I hate it. I would imagine the writers have seen it often enough and hate it too, then kind of throw up their hands and give in. Some writers block out their books before they write them so they know where they're going. That's very efficient but anathema to a certain kind of personality that resists planning. I plan the books I'm going to read every month, and I don't really like to plan anything else. I'd probably be one of those "holy crap" authors.

Jun 19, 5:22am Top

Started Women, race and Class by Angela Davis. I know I read it when it first came out (the eighties?) but can't remember a thing about it - hence the re-read.

Jun 22, 12:35am Top

Happy Birthday tomorrow to Olivia Butler. It takes a stout heart to read her, and I have to admit, the more she wrote the more difficult her work became for me, but this quote sums up why she wrote as she did:
I just knew there were stories I wanted to tell.
And by the way, I wanted to point out that Kindred is not science fiction. You'll note there's no science in it. It's a kind of grim fantasy.
Once you grow past Mommy and Daddy coming running when you're hurt, you're really on your own. You're alone, and there's no one to help

Jun 22, 2:16am Top

>33 Citizenjoyce: I think you mean Octavia Butler? Personally I think Fledgling is the best vampire story every written.

Currently reading Megan Marshall's Margaret Fuller: A New American Life. I just finished Fuller's Woman in the Nineteenth Century (Norton Critical Editions) but found it very poorly organized and with too much Graeco-Oriental mythologizing. Marshall's biography is much better, in fact 4**** so far, placing Fuller within the context of her own times and holding her own with contemporaries like, particularly, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Jun 22, 4:32am Top

>34 CurrerBell: I too thought the bio of Margaret Fuller was very good. I also enjoyed Marshall's The Peabody sisters which I read earlier this year.

Jun 22, 8:07am Top

>34 CurrerBell: I have Fledgling sitting on my my TBR pile. I guess it is time to move it up.

>35 Sakerfalcon:. Aaarg! Still haven't started The Peabody Sisters. If only I could get it on audiobook.

I just finished Good Harbor. This is the third book that I have read by Anita Diamant and I have enjoyed them all. This one is about a friendship between women in midlife. A comfort read, for sure.

Jun 22, 9:46am Top

And Butler is today's Google Doodle.

Jun 22, 10:16am Top

Edited: Jun 22, 4:26pm Top

>34 CurrerBell: brain fart. Thanks for the correction.
>36 vwinsloe: I’ve loved everything by Diamant that I have read. I know you read Boston Girl a few months ago, and I read it last month. I loved it even more than A Tree Grows in Brooklyn which I also read last month. Both with harsh mothers, though the Boston one, alas, hated her daughter. The Brooklyn charming alcoholic father character was a big strike against it for me. Having had one of those and knowing how completely charming and completely destructive they can be, I can no longer have any interest in them. Right now I’m reading Molly’s Game about a woman who runs high stakes poker games. It’s good at the beginning when she is struggling, but now that she’s advanced to sharing her life only with the richest of the rich, it’s starting to bore. Struggles out of poverty are inspiring, struggles to grab onto another million dollars are kind of meaningless. Both situations require hard work, but at a point I wonder why you should work so hard just for money that you don’t need. Do $1000 Louboutin shoes feel better than moccasins? I’m pretty sure they don’t. It’s all about prestige. Give me those hard working mamas any day.

Jun 23, 8:13am Top

>39 Citizenjoyce:. I completely agree about Boston Girl and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Of course, ATGIB is dated, and, I hope that alcoholism is no longer romanticized in today's fiction as much as it used to be.

I have The Last Days of Dogtown in my TBR pile and will get to it eventually.

Jun 23, 3:12pm Top

>40 vwinsloe: It’s mighty good, as is everything she writes.

Edited: Jun 23, 5:20pm Top

>41 Citizenjoyce:. Thanks, I'll take care that it doesn't get culled.

Jun 24, 3:48am Top

Just started All That Remains: a life in death by forensic anthropologist Sue Black. Some of the details are a bit gruesome but she's very interesting and thoughtful about death and what bodies can tell us about their life.

Jun 25, 1:47pm Top

>43 SChant: That looks like just the kind of book I like, but it's not in my library system.

Jun 26, 5:17am Top

>44 Citizenjoyce: I definitely recommend you try to find a copy. It does have a lot about the mechanics of forensic science, but it's also a finely crafted and compassionate discourse on death and life which occasionally brings a tear to this cynical old eye.

Jun 26, 5:10pm Top

>45 SChant: $20 for a used copy at Amazon. I'll wait and see if one turns up.

Edited: Jun 27, 1:28pm Top

>34 CurrerBell:. I started Fledgling this morning, and will let you know if I think it deserves the title of the best vampire story ever written. I have also heard people claim that Sunshine is the best, but I haven't gotten to that one yet either.

Jun 27, 10:50am Top

>47 vwinsloe: I've never heard of Sunshine, so you're one up on me! :) (Maybe I should have said that Fledgling's the best vampire story I've ever read.)

Edited: Jun 27, 1:41pm Top

I’ve requested Fledgling, I thought I’d read everything by Octavia Butler. I hope I can take it.

Edited: Jun 28, 4:03am Top

About to start Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self-Portraits by Frances Borzello. It starts with the few known drawings by nuns in illuminated manuscripts and goes through to almost present day. Worth the price for the illustrations alone.

Jun 28, 9:08am Top

Does anybody here follow Now Read This- the PBS News Hour/New York Times Book Review online book club? The July read is Pachinko which is sitting in my TBR pile. I was thinking of following along. Anyone else?

Edited: Jun 29, 7:17am Top

>47 vwinsloe:, >48 CurrerBell:, >49 Citizenjoyce: I'm reading Lilith's brood at present - I started it without realising that my timing coincided with Butler's birthday! I've read Dawn before and thought it was excellent so am looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

Jun 29, 9:27am Top

>52 Sakerfalcon:. I just acquired Lillith's Brood as well. I read Dawn so long ago that I will have to reread it. I remember that I liked it, but I got distracted by my teetering TBR pile and never got around to finding the rest of the trilogy.

Edited: Jun 29, 3:04pm Top

>52 Sakerfalcon: Lilith’s Brood was my introduction to Butler. I loved it so much I wanted to read everything by her. After that, though, she really began to hurt my heart. The basis of all the evil she sees in the world is in that trilogy, but I don’t know why I didn’t find it as overwhelming as the rest of her work. I think she took it easy on the reader at first, trying to ease us into reality.
>51 vwinsloe: I read Pachinko fairly recently and loved it far more than the brief description of the story made me think I would. I should check out the book club.

Edited: Jun 29, 3:13pm Top

Here’s a confession of what a low brow I am. A few days ago I finished Varieties of Exile published in the US as Montreal Stories. It has an LT rating of 4.4, so I thought I’d love it. After reading the first story, I was sure I would, but it was all downhill from there. There were only 3 or 4 stories in the whole seemingly interminable book that I liked, I barely stayed awake for the rest. I kept thinking of Jane Austen’s wonderful ability to accurately depict the society of her day and wondering why I found Mavis Gallant’s similar talent crushingly mundane. She’s very understated. She describes everyday but enormous situations in such a blasé style that no one grabbed my interest. So, anyone who’s read her, please tell me what I’ve missed, because I can’t imagine anything short of intractable insomnia that would make me dig into one of her story collections again.

Jul 2, 2:40pm Top

>48 CurrerBell:,>49 Citizenjoyce:, >54 Citizenjoyce: I finished Fledgling and I found it a very disquieting and uncomfortable read. I don't need my protagonists to be perfect, nor my villains 100% evil, but I had a hard time rooting for any of these characters. I'm not sure what Butler was aiming at with this one, other than a recognition that relationships are founded on utility and the best we can do is to strive to act ethically within those relationships.

I'm starting Pachinko on the commute home. It will be my first time with the "Now Read This" book club

(https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/09/books/now-read-this.html and https://www.pbs.org/newshour/features/now-read-this/#pachinko) and I'll see how it goes.

Jul 2, 6:04pm Top

>56 vwinsloe: Oh dear, that sounds like the Butler I have come to dread.
I hope you find Pachinko as enjoyable and informative as I did.

Jul 3, 8:57am Top

>57 Citizenjoyce:, so far so good on Pachinko. And joining the Now Read This book club already paid off when a reader posted a link to a website that publishes literary maps. https://www.thebooktrail.com/book-trails/pachinko/ There are about 1,000 pages of maps on the site for all kinds of books from nonfiction to science fiction. I am going to find that a big help because I have difficulty visualizing the relationship between locations.

Jul 3, 2:46pm Top

>58 vwinsloe: I logged on just to see the questions. It's going to be an interesting discussion.

Jul 9, 10:39am Top

I've just started reading After Mrs Hamilton and would be interested if anyone has already read it and what they thought.

Jul 9, 3:43pm Top

>60 Charmella1: Nope, I haven’t read it but it looks good, 4.33 stars. Alas, it’s not in my library system or I’d join you.

Edited: Jul 10, 1:37pm Top

I finished Pachinko, and can't stop thinking about it. Good thing I joined the book club! A few things that stood out for me:

-How the immigrant experience is very much the same in the USA, including the so-called ethnic ladder of succession in organized crime.

-How certain Koreans were able to pass for Japanese and integrate into their society calls back the African Americans who passed for white during the Jim Crow era.

-The duty of a father to financially support his illegitimate children in contrast with the mother in Pachinko refusing financial assistance because of perceived strings attached. This raises a lot of moral questions for me, and gives a good example of where terminating the pregnancy would be the best option, where possible.

Excellent book, and I am looking forward to continuing the discussion.

Jul 10, 3:22pm Top

>62 vwinsloe: Now I wish I’d reread it. It is so timely in regards to immigration and how people a few hundred miles from each other can be seen as almost separate species.
Reproduction always involves strings. I think that’s why so many people are against it. They like the control those strings provide.

Edited: Jul 10, 3:56pm Top

So far After Mrs Hamilton is shaping up pretty well - decent, mature and complex characters and confusing relationships. I'll report more fully when finished.

Jul 16, 10:06am Top

I've just started a couple.

The Soul of An Octopus was recommended by a critical mass of co-workers, so I have finally started listening to it on audiobook.

I also picked up The Blazing World from the middle of the TBR pile. I kind of remember it being acclaimed when it first came out, but it has not been received as well on LT if you believe the 3.5 star aggregate. I almost put it back in the pile, but became interested again when I read the back cover which called it "post-feminist." What on earth does that mean? I see that it came out in 2013. Could five years have made that much difference?

In any event, I am carrying on with both of these, but please let me know whether I should abort. I have plenty of others to choose from.

Edited: Jul 16, 5:35pm Top

>65 vwinsloe: I loved, loved The Soul of An Octopus. It amazes me that these solitary yet determinedly social creatures exist. It’s well worth finishing. As for The Blazing World, I note that I read it in 2015 and gave it 4.5 stars but didn’t review it. Reading the reviews of others brings up only the faintest of memories. So what does that say - a remarkable book that melts cotton fluff in the brain or a brain that is melting? I don’t know.
I’ve finished some recently.
The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis is a novel centered around women living at the Barbizon Hotel in New York in the 1950s but from the perspective of a modern woman. It’s a wonderful mystery and social commentary and, though the main character repeatedly states she is not interested in Sylvia Plath who lived there briefly, I couldn’t help but start The Bell Jar which I’m liking very much so far.
Finally with The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane I think Lisa See has written a novel as good as Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I loved everything about it. Her women are so strong even when confused. They don’t just sit around hoping someone will save them.
And speaking of strong women, in Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats Kristen Iversen interweaves the story of environmental contamination with the account of the destruction of her family. It’s a very effective way of discussing both the destruction that can be done and the methods of covering it up.
We Ate Wonder Bread is the first thing I’ve read by the cartoonist Nicole Hollander in years. Like Alison Bechdel she chronicles her upbringing in cartoons but using much more narrative. It’s not nearly as good or profound as Fun Home, but well worth the read.
And for a big change I read Storm In A Teacup: the Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski. I had never heard of her before, but it seems she may be Britain’s answer to Michio Kanu. She explains physics in what should be very easy to understand language, but I still got only part of it. However, what I got made me feel proud to have expanded my brain a centimeter or so.
I also stupidly reread a book of Harlan Ellison’s stories. Every time I reread one of the great males of classic science fiction I am dismayed that I loved them, they are so routinely casually misogynistic. Ellison takes it a step farther and glories in rape fantasies. Then to make it even worse, I listened to the audiobook which he himself narrated. Never again, no more classic male science fiction writers. I’ve thought about rereading Dune, but I loved it so much, I hate to think he was as bad as the others and I’d be again terribly disappointed.

Edited: Jul 16, 4:01pm Top

I'm going to try The Dollhouse next as it sounds like exactly my kind of thing and I love Sylvia Plath.

Jul 16, 4:08pm Top

Have had to recommend The Dollhouse to my library as it was so expensive!

Jul 16, 5:34pm Top

>68 Charmella1: I used to buy so many books but not anymore. Almost everything I read comes from the library. My system has almost everything I could want and is very good at responding to suggestions.

Edited: Jul 17, 12:45pm Top

>66 Citizenjoyce:. I am carrying on with both The Soul of an Octopus and The Blazing World, thank you. The Blazing World is a bit challenging in construction and content, but I have a feeling that it will pay off in the end.

I was never a fan of Harlan Ellison. I very much enjoyed his screenplays for television and movies, but when I tried to actually read his books, I was not enthused. Dune was my favorite book for many years, and I don't know how many times I reread it. I think that it has held up from a feminist point of view (the Bene Gesserit!) I stopped rereading it when I realized that what I had taken years ago for enormous creativity was actually cultural appropriation. Sigh.

Happy to hear that you enjoyed The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane as much as I did. I will check out the others that you mentioned.

Jul 17, 3:29pm Top

>70 vwinsloe: Cultural appropriation? Oh dear. I'm on a long hold for it again. We'll see if I read it when it comes.

Jul 17, 3:41pm Top

>71 Citizenjoyce:. Well, it could have just been my lack of worldliness. Back in the 1970s, I thought that all of that muhajadeen and jihad talk was made up out of whole cloth. Now I realize it was middle eastern culture and Arabic that he had borrowed for his novel, along with oil (mélange) as the product at the center of the universe. But I really thought that he invented those things, and was disappointed to learn otherwise.

Edited: Jul 17, 4:23pm Top

Have posted a review of after Mrs hamilton now - I enjoyed it and would efinitely recommend it as a thoughtful account if a bit over complicated in terms of intersecting histories.

Jul 18, 1:51pm Top

Exciting Newsflash from Virago Press-
A surprising new literature prize has dropped into the literary calendar: The Alternative Nobel is taking the place of the postponed 2018 Nobel prize for literature, which is currently battling against an ongoing sex scandal.

We are thrilled to see Donna Tartt, Margaret Atwood, Marilynne Robinson and JKR among the Alternative Nobel's 46 finalists. This longlist will be whittled down to four finalists, with three of the shortlisted authors being selected through a public vote.

Plus, the New Academy is enforcing a gender quota on the shortlist stage, stipulating an even split, two men, two women.

Support your favourite authors by casting your vote here: http://fal.cn/yDze

Jul 25, 3:53pm Top

I am in the middle of Death in a Mudflat, N. A. Granger's fourth book in this murder mystery series. Reading it is a wonderful way to decompress!

Edited: Aug 2, 7:03pm Top

I've started Sunshine by Robin McKinley after comments earlier. So far so good. It's got that Sookie Stackhouse idea, "what are you?"
Recently finished a couple of Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Little House In the Big Woods and Little House On the Prairie. I can see why they were so popular - they give detailed descriptions of the way pioneer life worked. I've heard criticism that they are racist. Prairie has lots of second-hand racism with someone even saying the only good Indian is a dead Indian, but I thought it subtly shows the horror of the removal of Native Americans from their homes. The dad especially is so in love with the land they've come to with its abundance of game and water, kind of foreshadowing the plight of the Indians who were removed from that land to areas of starvation. The mom says how sad she would be if they had to leave their beautiful home, while the book depicts streams of Indians doing just that. However, the extreme authoritarianism and sexism is almost too much. Whatever dad says goes, the kids are to remain silent at table unless spoken to - children should be seen and not heard, and it is beaten into the children that they are to obey their parents' commands unquestioningly. Laura thought of disobeying, even though she didn't actually do it, and was punished for the thought. Plus, the girls'' dresses are buttoned down the back so that they can't dress themselves. So, interesting reads if you can take the worship of authority.
Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz is a really interesting discussion of choice. She says the need to be right is almost as strong as the need to eat, and then goes on to show how people, even when or especially when they are proven to be wrong will fight fiercely to hold on to their beliefs. End of Timers who are confronted with the fact that the world didn't end as scheduled, cling to their belief that the prediction was right. She shows how, without even discussing it, impossible it is to convince a pro trumper of their errors in spite of overwhelming proof. She also has some interesting things to say about relationships, how when we fall in love we expect to have another person to see the world as we see it and help us live our best lives. Eventually, we have to realize that people see their own realities and then we have to decide if their version of reality fits well with our own.
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald - I'd never read anything by her before. I don't know if her little country idyl with the enormous punch is representative of her writing or not, but I'm willing to give her another try.
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows - Balli Kaur Jaswal - now, I'm not as completely sexually reserved as Rachel Maddow, but I usually don't like a book with much sex in it. This book is about Indian women writing their own erotica, and it's wonderful. Erotica that actually promoted relationship rather than self-centeredness.
Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy by Angela Garbes - for anyone at all interested in bearing and nurturing children - I was a labor and delivery nurse so that includes me in a big way - this book answers questions you probably hadn't even known to ask. How does a placenta work? How is it possible for a woman to have male cells in her body decades after giving birth? How does breastfeeding work, and how is it tailored to the individual child? Five stars and more from me.

Aug 3, 4:27am Top

>76 Citizenjoyce: That's an interesting observation about the girls' dresses that I've missed on my many readings of the books. I seem to remember the girls being taught to help with the chores from quite a young age, and in the later books Laura in particular does a lot of work both indoors and outdoors. That fits strangely with the inability to dress themselves. I really need to move Prairie fires, the recent bio of LIW, up the TBR pile.

I'm reading books by Angela Thirkell for this month's Virago author read. They are light, fluffy social comedies, dated in many ways, yet often showing women living and supporting themselves independently of men.

I'm also reading a Lovecraftian fantasy, Winter tide, which reclaims the mythos from its original sexism and racism. It's a slow, quiet book, but I'm really enjoying it.

Aug 5, 2:37am Top

I just finished Sunshine. It's a pleasant read. Certainly not my favorite vampire story, that would have to go to Let The Right One In. Later this month I'll be reading Fledgling so I'll see if that opinion changes.
Speaking of pleasant reads, the Barnes and Noble Book Club read for this month is Clock Dance by Anne Tyler. I'm not sure why they picked it. It's certainly not literature, but it is pleasantly feminist. If you have nothing to do on August 8 at 7 pm and can finish the book by then you might want to stop by the bookstore and discuss.
Now I'm starting the second in the Galactic Commons series, A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. I hope I like it as much as the first one.

Aug 7, 2:27am Top

I finished A Closed And Common Orbit. Wow. A second book in a series better than the first. Can't wait to get the next one. I've started on Fledgling, aside from the icky pedophilia aspect, I'm liking it very much, but I imagine she's going to get me in the end. I'm also reading Black Boy and wondering if a truly thoughtful black person is just too much for us sheltered white folk, which thought horrifies me.
>77 Sakerfalcon: The mom is always buttoning and buttoning the girls' clothes, or sometimes they dress each other; however, it doesn' mentioned who helps the mom dress. It does mention a few of her pretty dresses, but she works so hard I can't imagine she wears clothes she can't get into and out of herself.

Aug 7, 4:08am Top

>80 Sakerfalcon: I remember from Little town on the prairie that when Laura and Carrie are teenagers they still wear dresses with buttons down the back, because Carrie buttons hers inside out deliberately to stop her hair catching. So they must have chosen to make dresses in that style. It does seem impractical - they must've had to be almost double jointed to do themselves up!

Aug 7, 1:36pm Top

>76 Citizenjoyce: & >78 Citizenjoyce: &>79 Citizenjoyce:

While I loved Let the Right One In, my favorites will probably always be Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat. I think that I prefer my vampires to be adults, perhaps because of the veiled eroticism of Anne Rice's stories and the prohibition in that lore against making child vampires. I haven't gotten to Sunshine yet, so I too will reserve final judgment.

Also, I'm very happy to hear that you liked A Closed and Common Orbit. It's on my shelf, so I will be moving it up the queue.

Edited: Aug 7, 4:09pm Top

>81 vwinsloe: I loved the movie Interview With the Vampire when it came out, but by the time I got around to reading the book Rice had gone on to her christian phase. Perhaps I let that knowledge color my view of the book which I found to be too intentionally profound. I did like its prohibition of turning children. In Fledgling vampires are born, not turned, so a child like vampire is more reasonable, but a grown man having sex with what looks like an 11 year old girl (even though she is actually 53) just can’t get past the nausea barrier. I think a major goal of Butler’s is to discomfort the reader in some way, and this way is a winner.

Edited: Aug 8, 10:39am Top

>82 Citizenjoyce:. Well, you'll be pleased to learn that Anne Rice has left her Christian phase.

Here's an interesting article- https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/anne-rice-the-interview-with-the-vampire-novelist-on-her-daughters-death-living-through-her-own-9829902.html

The article also restates what I knew about her vampire books. She lost her young daughter to leukemia, and her vampire books came out of her grief. With that background, it is interesting to read about the conflict among her characters about the child vampire, Claudia, and the guilt and grief that grew out of her making.

I like Rice a lot, but her best and strongest work is long behind her. I enjoyed her historical novels Cry to Heaven, which is about eunuchs, and The Feast of All Saints, which is about people of color in pre-civil war New Orleans, as much as anything that she has written.

I agree that Butler tries to discomfort the reader, and I'm okay with that where I can figure out the point! So far Kindred has been the stand out read for me.

Aug 8, 3:38pm Top

>83 vwinsloe: I knew Rice had left her christian phase but not about her daughter. That information about Interview makes it more interesting and less annoyingly pontificating. I may check out the two books you mention.

Aug 14, 8:55am Top

I've been listening to a book that I won from Early Reviewers entitled She Caused a Riot: 100 Unknown Women Who Built Cities, Sparked Revolutions, and Massively Crushed It. It's a cooks tour of notable women throughout history, and although I have not had as much time as I wish to listen to it, I'm finding it to be great fun. The author's snarky, profane commentary frequently notes how these exceptional women were probably only exceptions because they were able to sneak or fight their way through the hostile and open sexism and misogyny of their times. I've had a few laughs out loud, and I expect there will be many more,

I've also just started reading White Houses. I love Amy Bloom, and I couldn't wait to read her take on Eleanor Roosevelt and her friend, Hick, in this recently published novel.

Edited: Aug 14, 3:49pm Top

>85 vwinsloe: They both look good and my library system is smart enough to have both on audio. I’ve placed holds. Eleanor Roosevelt is almost enough to make one believe in reincarnation. I don’t see how anyone could become a person like her in one lifetime.

Aug 15, 6:13pm Top

I just finished My Sister's Bones by Nuala Ellwood and can't believe it has 4 stars. This is the sort of book people use as an example of why they don't like "feminist" literature. The main women characters are self-hating, easily fooled and sufffffffeeeerrrrrrring over and over. What a disappointment.
I've just started All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church about a girl who becomes a dancer in Las Vegas. I hope it will be better.

Aug 16, 12:43pm Top

I'm reading Guard Your Daughters which is simply marvellous, I could sit down and read and read and READ it (except I can't right now).

Aug 16, 3:58pm Top

>88 LyzzyBee: shoot, not in my library system.

Aug 17, 1:46am Top

>89 Citizenjoyce: Oh no! It's a Persephone and it's the most charming book.

Aug 17, 3:50am Top

>90 LyzzyBee: I'm pretty lucky at getting new books through my library system but, alas, they weed out the old ones that don't circulate enough. Maybe that's what happened with Guard Your Daughters.

Edited: Aug 17, 8:53am Top

I finished White Houses and was blown away by Amy Bloom's writing as usual. Her books are slender; there is no unnecessary verbiage, no bloat or padding. Yet, you could not call her prose sparse. It is succinctly packed with meaning and nuance but takes no effort to decipher. If I have a complaint, it is that some of her sentences are so arresting that they take the reader out of the action. If I could write, I would want to write like Amy Bloom.

I needed something completely different so I have started A Closed and Common Orbit.

Aug 17, 11:16pm Top

>92 vwinsloe: Wow, it sounds great. I have White Houses on hold.

Edited: Aug 20, 11:48am Top

I was very pleased to see that The Stone Sky won the 2018 Hugo Award for best novel. I think Jemisin is the first author to win 3 consecutive times- and for all three books in the same series!

I am currently reading A Closed and Common Orbit which is the second book in a trilogy, and this is the third time in my recent reading that I am finding the second book in a series to be better than the first. The Obelisk Gate was the second time that I noted that phenomenon. Is it a new paradigm? I like it, but I wonder whether trilogies lose readers after a first book that is too expositional or spends a lot of time on setting up the scene and the characters. Middle books are well known for doing that, and since people are aware of it, they still read the third book.

I don't know how, but Jemisin seemed to pull off the right balance of action and exposition in each book of The Broken Earth trilogy. Good for her; I hope that she gains many more readers!

Edited to add: Her acceptance speech is EVERYTHING. Right here:


Aug 20, 1:57pm Top

>94 vwinsloe: Wow, what a speech! As a privileged white person who is continually blindsided by how little I know about race, I had no idea editors had tried to get her to tone down her anger. You know, it seems some people go totally off the rails in their books, I'm thinking of Wally Lamb for one because they lack editing. It's as if their editors let them throw whatever they want into their books because they acknowledge or over acknowledge their talent. And then you get someone like Jemisin whom they try to overedit. Well, she did, as she said, show us all. I was very surprised to find there wasn't even a wait list for The Stone Sky. I'll be reading it in the next few weeks.

Aug 20, 3:37pm Top

>95 Citizenjoyce:. Enjoy! I understand she has a book of short stories coming out in November entitled, How Long 'Til Black Future Month? How's that for a title!

Aug 20, 4:09pm Top

>96 vwinsloe: What a woman!

Aug 22, 1:46am Top

And then I found this, women are taking over science fiction:

Aug 22, 8:57am Top

>99 Citizenjoyce:. And it makes total sense, doesn't it? Thanks.

Aug 22, 10:58am Top

I am reading Geek Feminist Revolution and she talks about being a female science fiction author today. According to her, slightly more than half of SF authors are women but there is still a lot of backlash against women writing in a field that has been perceived as male. It's sad when talented people aren't free to write what they like because of stupid stereotypes and societal expectations.

Aug 22, 1:07pm Top

>101 Yells: Poor puppies, it's hard when you can't feel comfortable in your all boys club anymore.

Aug 24, 1:16pm Top

Coming from the LoA this fall, The Future Is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, and available for 25% off its retail price, with free shipping. Additionally, by entering the promotional code ADVANCE20 in the shopping cart, you receive an additional 20% discount off the already discounted price, giving a final price (as I figure it) of $16.76.

Also, free shipping on purchases through the LoA website. Historically, purchases through the LoA website were also free of sales tax, but I don't know if that's still true in view of the recent Supreme Court decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc.

I don't know when the ADVANCE20 promotion ends.

Aug 24, 1:23pm Top

>103 CurrerBell:. I'm in! Thanks for the heads up.

Aug 24, 1:26pm Top

>103 CurrerBell: The source of the 20% off promotion:
Use coupon code ADVANCE20 to save 20% off your entire order. You can include in your order any of our Fall titles, which will be shipped to you as soon as they arrive from the printer — weeks before they are available from booksellers. Simply enter code ADVANCE20 in your shopping cart; the 20% discount is in addition to the discount each title already has on the LOA website. Plus, you’ll receive free shipping anywhere in the U.S.

You can use this coupon more than once, and you are welcome to share it with friends. Order online today or call our toll-free number at 800-964-5778.
I'm not an LoA subscriber (I have too many of their series already) but I do get their email offers, which you don't have to be a subscriber to use.

There's also a Madeleine L'Engle two-volume set in the fall LoA publications. I might get the "Polly O'Keefe Quartet" volume, but I've already got another omnibus of the "Wrinkle in Time Quartet" and I'm not that big a L'Engle fan to start pigging out on collectibles. (Sci fi? I'd pig out for Octavia Butler and a few others, but not L'Engle.)

Edited: Aug 24, 4:20pm Top

>105 CurrerBell: Thanks, and I agree about L’Engle.

Aug 26, 5:36am Top

Started Rise Up Women! by Diana Atkinson - a vast and detailed tome about the lives and work of the Suffragettes, with some excellent photographs:
and Black Hole Blues by Janna Levin - a rather confusingly written work supposedly about the discovery of gravitational waves, but so far it's more about the people than the science.

Edited: Sep 10, 5:24pm Top

I finished The Stone Sky and have to say it was my least favorite of the trilogy. The parts that were good were very good, the metaphorical story about racism and worth, but the rest I found unnecessarily cryptic. All that stone stuff didn’t do it for me. It would make a very visually powerful movie, but I didn’t understand most of it. And I still don’t relate to the ongoing war against the earth. You’re at war with the planet you live on - nope. So sad that it didn’t end in a way I could relate to.
I also finished Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling by Amy Chozick, it’s pretty representative of New York Times coverage of Hillary before the election, jumping on every insignificant fault of hers, assuming the worst about every action, then the author has the nerve to cry when trump was elected and bemoan the fact that she thinks Hillary doesn’t trust her. Well, now they got the guy who’s fun to write about, who creates an actual crisis daily. Yahoo.
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins is a dystopic novel set in the western USA during a post apocalyptic water crisis. It’s an interesting look at cults. It seems cults have been a theme with much of my reading lately.
I did finish one I liked very much, Gather the Daughters: A Novel by Jennie Melamed is a story about what would happen if the Quiverfull movement was able to obtain their own isolated country and run it as they wished except that each couple could have only 2 children. Mighty powerful, I thought.

Edited: Sep 11, 2:26pm Top

>108 Citizenjoyce: Sorry to hear that you didn't love The Stone Sky as much as I did. I loved it for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the sheer audacity of its originality. I think that Jemison took a lot of risks (the anger and unlikeability of her protagonist for one example) and not all of them paid off for everyone. I read the ongoing war with the Earth as a loose metaphor for climate change. The tuners were enslaved as part of a scientific program to create and/or harness energy (coal? oil? fracking?), and the means of their justifiable rebellion resulted in an extreme reaction by the Earth which the government only partially controlled through its continued oppression of the orogenes. So, yeah, we ARE kind of having an ongoing war with the earth.

I didn't know anything about the Quiverfull movement, and your post prompted me to looked up. I also looked up Gather the Daughters: A Novel which seems to have gotten more than one vehemently negative review. But since I strongly believe in taking reviews from whence they come, I putting it on my wish list. ;)

I am currently being disappointed by Ann Leckie's Provenance. It's okay, but I'm halfway through, and it seems to be almost a children's book. I hope that it redeems itself in the end.

Edited: Sep 11, 3:06pm Top

>109 vwinsloe: I do see the war against earth as a metaphor for climate change, but everyone in the book sees this as a good thing. Characters are allowed to change, which Jemisin ably allows, but still that part of the book didn’t resonate with me. I can see that one of the reasons she won the Hugo was that her writing is so poetic, but I found the style off putting. I guess I’m don’t appreciate poetry as much as I should.
Hm, I should seek out that vehemently negative review. I imagine it’s about wallowing in victimization, but I guess I shouldn’t speculate.
I’m sorry about Provenance. Here’s hoping it improves.

Edited: Sep 11, 3:29pm Top

I just read some interesting reviews of Gather The Daughters which I’m glad I didn’t read before I finished the book. They’re the reason I think you should never read reviews first. I like to have books unfold as the author intended. But I did read there’s going to be a sexual. That will be interesting.

Sep 11, 3:30pm Top

>111 Citizenjoyce:. A sequel? Freudian slip? lol

Sep 11, 6:02pm Top

Sep 13, 9:16am Top

I finished Provenance which ended as it began as rather thin gruel.

I just started a book that has been recommended to me many times entitled The Pearl That Broke Its Shell. I am tempering my expectations since I think that my feelings about Provenance may have been influenced by expectations that were overly high.

Edited: Sep 13, 6:23pm Top

>114 vwinsloe: Oh, I even have The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, now just to find time to read it.

Sep 14, 7:37am Top

>114 vwinsloe: I'm sorry to hear that Provenance was disappointing. I will lower my expectations.

I'm reading Null states, the second volume in a political SF/thriller trilogy. It's very good, as was the first book. Also reading Reluctant voyagers, a very hard-to-describe SF novel by Elisabeth Vonarberg. And I just finished an enjoyable light novel for adults by Noel Streatfeild, It pays to be good, with a wonderfully ghastly anti-heroine.

Edited: Sep 14, 2:02pm Top

>116 Sakerfalcon: hmm I do like reading about politics but not about intrigue. I’ve placed Infomocacy on hold with good expectations.

Sep 17, 8:04pm Top

Finished The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford for my book club yesterday and am now on the companion novel Love in a Cold Climate. Enjoying Mitford's writing style -- this is the first time I'm reading any of her works.

Sep 18, 2:22pm Top

>118 sweetiegherkin: I’ve never read anything by Mitford. I’ve heard of their political scandals which made me want to look into them, but I haven’t done it. What do you think of her writing?

Sep 18, 4:28pm Top

>119 Citizenjoyce: I'm curious about the family's life and have been for some while but, same as you, have not gotten around to doing more research.

The Pursuit of Love made for a good book club discussion. It's only about 200 pages long but we discussed it for nearly 2 hours, even with just a small group. I think on the whole, everyone liked it.

I'm not quite sure how to describe Mitford's writing. On the one hand, it feels accessible and almost simple, but then on the other hand, she often drops references to literature, art, etc. that are rather intellectual. The books seem to be more about character than plot, yet there are big plot movements (births, death, marriages, divorces, etc.) that seem to slip in there within a sentence or two. It's hard to argue that 'nothing happens,' but plot is not the most central thing.

For myself, I found it interesting to read these two books set in the period between the two World Wars, but written slightly after the second one. There's both a sense of nostalgia and a sense of foreboding that imbues everything. I would recommend if you enjoy period dramas.

Sep 18, 4:33pm Top

>119 Citizenjoyce: Oh, also, while the two books could technically standalone, they are definitely interconnected. I think it helps to read The Pursuit of Love before Love in a Cold Climate. The same character narrates both books -- she seems like a David Copperfield kind of character to me; everything happens around her and she's sort of a non-entity almost.

Sep 18, 7:09pm Top

Thanks, I’ll look into getting a copy.

Sep 18, 7:11pm Top

Oh dear, no audiobook, I’d have to read it with my eyes. Oh The laziness, would it let me?

Sep 19, 6:00am Top

Finished the excellent The Hard Way Up - the autobiography of working-class suffragette and socialist Hannah Mitchell. Now reading The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, a readable discussion of past and current extinction events, and N. K. Jemison's second of The Broken Earth trilogy The Obelisk Gate which I'm finding a bit confusing as it jumps about a lot.

Edited: Sep 20, 2:30pm Top

I found The Pearl That Broke Its Shell to be a satisfying read. Although I was aware of the horrors that many women face in Afghanistan, this novel provided some context that increased my understanding.

I just started Educated which another book that was featured in the Now Read This PBS/New York Times book club. I didn't read it at the time, so I will have to go back now after I'm finished to see what was said about it.

Sep 19, 5:05pm Top

>123 Citizenjoyce: Oh bummer. I love audiobooks too, but read this one in print because I actually owned a copy I picked up years ago and never got around to until the book group choice pushed me to do so. Perhaps another title by or about the Mitford family is available on audio.

Sep 30, 5:54am Top

Started The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley. I anticipated a modern fantasy as it's billed as a re-telling of Beowulf from Grendel's mother's POV and was a little disappointed that it seems to be a suburban psychological drama instead. However, having gotten over that, I'm really enjoying it.

Oct 1, 5:19am Top

I've recently read two "angry women" dystopian type books, Red clocks and Gather the daughters. The first was a lot better than the second, though both were hard to put down. Red clocks felt disturbingly plausible: a Personhood amendment is passed in the US which (obviously) makes abortion illegal but also IVF (because the egg can't consent to being relocated). Another law, Every Child Needs 2, is about to come into force which will prevent adoptions by single people. We follow the perspectives of four women in different situations as they navigate through the nightmare that society has become for women.
Gather the daughters is set in a patriarchal cult that lives on a remote island, cut off from the "Wastelands" which have apparently been destroyed in a apocalyptic disaster. Our narrators are teenage girls who have grown up in this society, obedient to their fathers in every way, knowing that as soon as they reach puberty they will be married and expected to bear children. As all the information about the Wastelands comes from the few men who are permitted to leave the island in search of supplies, it seems clear that the rest of the world hasn't actually been destroyed, and the island has been set up as a retreat for a cult that was set up to allow fathers to commit incest with their daughters. I found the ending rather rushed and unsatisfactory, while also have to suspend disbelief at several points in the story. Both books are thought-provoking reads and very timely.

Oct 1, 11:25am Top

>128 Sakerfalcon:, Citizenjoyce (>108 Citizenjoyce:) also liked Gather the Daughters, so I definitely look forward to reading it.

I had not heard about Red Clocks so I am putting that on my wishlist as well.

I finished reading Educated which was a very powerful memoir demonstrating the dangers of homeschooling. More so for girls, I think, as it is ignorance that so often allows girls to be taken advantage of and abused.

I also finished My Real Children which compared favorably to The Post-Birthday World. It was a lovely read, but seemed somewhat anti-climactic at the end.

For something completely different, I'm reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine which is the sort of book that generally earns a "meh" from me, but I am finding the character and her way of expressing herself to be mildly amusing.

Edited: Oct 1, 1:39pm Top

I got myself on the waitlist for Educated, I’m #158, so i’ll Be enjoying it next year. Only #2 for Red Clocks so at least I’ll remember where the recommend came from.

Edited: Oct 1, 1:48pm Top

I just finished a book by a new author to me, Sun Storm by Asa Larsson. I like Scandi mysteries, I like to read about the food. Lots of sandwiches in this one, even for breakfast. So this one is about the psychological torment of a woman when she was a child so that when she grows up she is very disfunctional. But the thing that got me is that to prove the bad guy really is a bad guy, he killed her dog. I hate a book in which the dog is killed, but I wonder about the need to prove just how evil a child/woman abuser is by having him kill a dog. I gave it 1/2 star. People need to wise up about the expediency of killing pets. It does nothing to help the plot, and if the reader is so jaded that s/he can’t see the villainy in the rest of what the bad guy does, s/he’s not worth killing the dog to open her/his eyes.

Oct 1, 2:16pm Top

>131 Citizenjoyce:. I agree with that sentiment in general, but there is a known link between domestic violence and animal abuse. Katherine Clark, a member of Congress from my state has repeatedly introduced legislation to protect pets and to allow victims to take their pets into shelters. Multiple studies have shown that domestic abusers often seek to manipulate or intimidate their victims by threatening or harming their pets, but, according to the ASPCA, only a tiny percentage of domestic violence shelters across the country accept pets. Now, I haven't read Sun Storm, but I wonder whether the pet mistreatment chronicled in novels about domestic violence and abuse is actually just an adherence to the undeniably horrific facts in many cases of this kind.

Oct 1, 3:28pm Top

>132 vwinsloe: It probably is, he’s a serial pet abuser as he conducts his psychological torture, but I have my limits.

Oct 1, 3:31pm Top

>133 Citizenjoyce:. OK. Not for me!

Edited: Oct 4, 4:39pm Top

I just finished Beartown by Fredrik Backman and think, even though it was written by a man in Sweden and came out last year, it might be the most important book to read in the USA right now. It’s about hockey, but more importantly about the rape of a young (15 same age as Dr. Blasey Ford) girl by a popular high school jock. It should be required reading for the Judiciary Committee. He says (and it’s still hard for me to believe that a man wrote this) that rape lasts minutes for the perpetrator but a lifetime for the victim. Some men do get it.

Oct 4, 6:18pm Top

>135 Citizenjoyce:. Do any of them read? If they do, I doubt that they read fiction, because fiction increases empathy, and they apparently have none of that whatsoever.

Maybe the next generation. I am telling every young mother I know to encourage their sons to read stories by and about women and girls. All girls who read grow up empathizing with boy protagonists, but because of the toxic masculinity in our culture, boys are not encouraged to read books by and about girls. This is changing somewhat (yay Hunger Games) but it cannot be overemphasized.

Oct 4, 6:34pm Top

>136 vwinsloe: You’re so right.

Oct 5, 5:51am Top

>135 Citizenjoyce: I've read a couple of Backman's lighter books, but must add this one to my wishlist.

Oct 5, 1:49pm Top

>138 Sakerfalcon: I read My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry for my real life book club and was one of the few who hated it. I couldn’t give any credence to any of the other characters because of the gimmick of writing the 8 year old main character like she was 35. Had I known this was the same man who wrote Beartown I probably wouldn’t have read it. I’m thankful for my ignorance.

Oct 8, 5:04am Top

Beartown was only £1.99 for kindle, so I've downloaded it and will read it soon. I haven't read My grandmother ... but will avoid it based on your comment. I read the sort-of sequel about Britt-Marie and really enjoyed that.

Oct 8, 2:09pm Top

>140 Sakerfalcon: Everyone else in my book club loved My Grandmother, so don’t take my word for it. Maybe it just undeservedly hit a wrong nerve with me.

Oct 8, 7:15pm Top

Currently I'm listening to Agatha Christie's The Moving Finger, but it seems rather anti-woman TBH. I just finished up The Brothers Vonnegut by Ginger Strand, who seemed to do rather thorough research and wrote a very readable book, even with the rather heavy science in it.

Oct 8, 7:47pm Top

>142 sweetiegherkin: I didn’t know Kurt had a brother much less a scientific one. I’ll have to check that out.

Oct 8, 9:49pm Top

>142 sweetiegherkin: Same here. I learned a lot in the book. It's clear how much Kurt's brother influenced his life and his writing.

Oct 9, 8:54am Top

I'm reading the delightful Word by Word which is a sort of memoir by a "definer" at Merriam-Webster.

Edited: Oct 9, 3:41pm Top

>145 vwinsloe: a definer. Whoever knew there was such a thing? Now I have to check it out.

Oct 9, 3:59pm Top

>146 Citizenjoyce:. I know, right? What do you want to be when you grow up? "A definer!" lol

Oct 9, 6:16pm Top

>145 vwinsloe:, 146 Ooo, yeah, I agree, that sounds interesting!

Oct 10, 2:14am Top

I've just started reading Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss. I thought I heard of it here, but I can't find mention of it. The book is about the push to get the 19th Amendment ratified by a final 36th state, Tennessee. How did a southern state become the one to ratify this amendment? This is kind of a comfort read for me. I'm feeling nearly hopeless about the state of our government right now, I need to know we have faced corruption, misogyny, racism and religious oppression and come through it before, so maybe we can do it again.

Oct 10, 9:20am Top

>149 Citizenjoyce:. I repeatedly see backlash to modern celebration of the suffragettes as privileged white women who consciously threw the concerns of African-American women aside in order to obtain the vote. Depending on whether Woman's Hour gets into that, it may not be such a comfort read as you may hope.

Oct 10, 2:54pm Top

It starts out saying that the talk about women’s suffrage is inseparable from talk about race so I’m expecting lots of that. But in the end, all women got the right to vote (which was one of the largest concerns of the anti-suffragettes).

Oct 10, 3:40pm Top

>151 Citizenjoyce:. Yes, the right to vote. Unfortunately, a right that most black women were unable to exercise until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

I am glad that the book mentions it right off though; it sounds like it will be a more complete history than much of what we've read in the past. I just looked it up and see that the book was published this year. Let me know what you think when you finish!

Oct 10, 6:31pm Top

>153 vwinsloe: That’s such a good article. We know boys will like books about girls, white kids will like books about black kids if they just read them. I wonder if J. K. Rowling would be richer than the queen, though, if she wrote Hermione Granger and the Philosopher’s Stone. My niece has all boys. Maybe I should get some of those princess books for them. The princess in the black cape looks like she’d be a winner.

Oct 10, 10:07pm Top

>154 Citizenjoyce: Just in the past few weeks I've had a couple of different boys come in the library refusing the first book recommendations I gave because they didn't want to read books with a girl on the cover. Sigh.

The Princess in Black books are pretty popular though. Raina Telegemeier's graphic novels are so wildly popular that both boys and girls do read them.

Oct 11, 8:49am Top

>155 sweetiegherkin:. I know what the grandchildren (both boys) are getting for Christmas! Thank you.

Oct 11, 2:07pm Top

Amazon is running a one-day $1.99 special for the Kindle edition of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.

Oct 11, 3:44pm Top

>157 Citizenjoyce: So my Facebook friend, Mary Doria Russell, told me! ;>)

Oct 11, 6:54pm Top

>156 vwinsloe: Oh, I am glad. Smile and Sisters seem to be the most popular ones. I preferred Sisters myself, but they were both good.

Oct 12, 4:06am Top

>159 sweetiegherkin: I think I'll get Smile. The one boy has some pretty intense orthodontia; however I think he's also quite popular, but what do adults know. He may identify, he may not.
>158 vwinsloe: Yup, that's where I got it.

Oct 12, 8:52am Top

>159 sweetiegherkin:. Sisters, it is. They are getting one (a sister) earlier in December!

Oct 16, 6:20pm Top

>160 Citizenjoyce:, 161 Nice! Sisters is my favorite one; my little brother (aged 11) says Smile is his favorite because it helped him get ready for getting his braces on :)

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