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Foxen books in 2019

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Edited: Feb 12, 7:07am Top


Wow. I think my last 75 book challenge thread was in 2012-ish? I have fallen off a bit, but this year is going to be a good year for books, I think. 2012-ish I was starting law school; since then I've graduated, passed the bar, and become a librarian (again). Basically, I finally have time to read again. No idea if I will reach 75, but I'm resolving this year to clean up my LT and start tracking my reading again.

Currently reading:
commute reading (e.g. Kindle): ??
Aloud reading: Wool by Hugh Howey & Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North
Actual book reading (we'll see how this goes): Ragnarok by A. S. Byatt

Books read in 2019:

1. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
2. The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin
3. The Sable Quean by Brian Jacques
4. The Farthest Shore by Ursula K LeGuin
5. Tehanu by Ursula K. LeGuin
6. Tales From Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
7. The Other Wind by Ursula K. LeGuin
8. The Daughter of Odren by Ursula K. LeGuin
9. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
10. The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton

Dec 27, 2018, 7:58pm Top

Hiyah, Katie! Welcome back! I’m glad the law school/Bar thing turned out well and that life has settled done some. LeGuin’s a fave of mine - hope you like it!

Dec 31, 2018, 3:34am Top

Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2018, 9:11am Top

Happy reading in 2019, Katie!

Jan 1, 7:12pm Top

Happy new year all!

Jan 1, 9:56pm Top

Hi, Katie. Cats, science fiction, fantasy--I'll be checking out your thread this year!

Jan 2, 4:58am Top

Happy New Year Katie! And happy new thread!

Wishing you and your family the best for 2019.

I'll keep an eye on your fantasy reading.

Jan 2, 6:14am Top

Happy 2019
A year full of books
A year full of friends
A year full of all your wishes realised

I look forward to keeping up with you, Katie, this year.

Jan 2, 11:49am Top

Welcome back!

Jan 2, 8:12pm Top

Thank you all, and happy new years! Glad to see some familiar faces (er, names, I guess) as well as some new ones! Happy reading, all!

Reading was slow/nonexistent over the holiday, but now I'm back to commuting (which, for better or worse, is where most of my reading happens these days).

Thoughts on A Wizard of Earthsea? I know it's a classic, and I'm seeing lots of things that later writers have clearly drawn from (all of how Naming works, Name of the Wind?), but I'm finding it a bit slow going. Mostly I just don't like Sparrowhawk. Hoping he gets over himself sometime soon...

Edited: Jan 4, 1:06am Top

>10 Foxen: I read this last March for the group read in honour of Ursula Le Guin’s passing so I went back to have a look at what I said about the first book of The Earthsea Quartet. It did start slowly for me, but I think Sparrowhawk’s early arrogance is integral to the story.

ETA: you remind me that it’s been sitting on my bedside since then (part of my physical TBR tower) and I ought to read the other three books soon.

Jan 4, 2:45am Top

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Jan 5, 11:42am Top

1st book of 2019 finished! A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin

Thoughts/mini-review: Yes, about two pages after I complained about the protagonist's arrogance, it was addressed in a big way. Humouress, said it well - "integral to the story" is a great way to put it. After that, I really enjoyed it. I like the lyrical tone and portrayal of events in an almost mythological way. I really like the world - every new island with it's own take on life was delightful to explore. For whatever reason, I love island narratives, and island-hopping stories - I can't think of too many other works that do it, but I love the joy of discovery you get in, e.g. Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where each chapter is an introduction to a new, self-contained world. (For the video-game inclined, I highly recommend Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker if you like that vibe, probably my favorite game ever).

I can see why this is a classic, and will probably go right into the rest of the quartet.

Jan 5, 12:52pm Top

>13 Foxen: Have you read the Riddle Master trilogy? I’ve always thought it had a similar feel to Earthsea.

Jan 5, 4:07pm Top

I have not! Added to the reading list. :)

Jan 5, 4:13pm Top

>13 Foxen: I need to re-read the Earthsea books. It has been a good long while since I first read them. Thanks for the reminder, Katie!

Jan 5, 4:28pm Top

Hi Stasia! So pleased to see you're still active in the group! Off to find your thread. :)

Jan 6, 1:53pm Top

>13 Foxen: Glad you ended up enjoying it! There are actually 6 books. The first three were written much earlier and have the same feel. Some 20 years later, Le Guin started questioning some of the assumptions made about both gender and magic and wrote the second trilogy and they have a much different feel as a result. Some people really don't like what she did; others, like me, do appreciate what she is consciously trying to do and can enjoy the story-telling. But I still like the first three best.

Jan 9, 8:08pm Top

Thanks Roni! I'm really looking forward to the whole series (however many there are, haha). Interesting that there's such a different feel to the two sets. I've been enjoying LeGuin's afterwords (in the Kindle edition of the original three... well, two so far), where she reflects on them. Interesting thoughts about race and gender as a fantasy writer in the 60s. I really like her!

Jan 9, 8:17pm Top

Happy New Year!

Jan 10, 7:45am Top

Book 2! The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin

Thoughts/mini-review: No hesitation this time, this was a great book. Getting to know Arha as she got to know her strange world as fascinating. Interesting also to see Ged again from a very different perspective. I thought the contrast between Wizard of Earthsea and Tombs of Atuan was particularly interesting - Ged gets a wide ocean of freedom in which to find himself; Arha gets a desert full of constraints and rituals. The afterword by LeGuin went into her thoughts (decades later) on that, particularly around gender, and was really interesting. I like it as a representation of female strength and power in spite of oppression - Arha is a really interesting character. I also appreciated the representation of her mental state in the last part of the book - it struck me as a quite good picture of what it would actually be like to reject everything you'd previously known and valued, and I'm glad that was explored.

No idea what's coming in the next one, but I am impressed with how versatile the world of Earthsea is!

Jan 10, 7:49am Top

>21 Foxen: Great review, Katie. I admit, I do not remember this book at all. Definitely time for a re-read of the Earthsea books.

I hope you enjoy the next book as much as you did this one.

Jan 10, 7:57am Top

Thanks Stasia!

And welcome, EllaTim!

Edited: Jan 13, 10:53am Top

Book 3) The Sable Quean by Brian Jacques

Thoughts/mini-review: Oh, Redwall. Let me say first that I love Redwall, it's been with me since childhood, and I also appreciate Brian Jacques' willingness to keep writing them more or less indefinitely. That said, this one is... not good. I remember reading somewhere that Jacques said that he would keep writing Redwall books as long as fans wanted to read them. As someone who frequently finishes a book or series and wants more, I've always appreciated that. But. At some point he ran out of stories he actually wanted to tell, and just started writing on "the Redwall formula." We've been reading some of these later books (which I never read as a kid) as read-aloud books while one of us is doing a project, which it's fine for, since we need something light, entertaining, easy to follow and to pick up and put down at any time, and we also enjoy our own snarky live commentary. Plotholes abound, and this generation of Redwallers are really laughably bad at basic security, but there are a few good characters and it's overall a fun read, just don't go in expecting too much.

Jan 13, 12:36pm Top

Hi Katie! Nice to meet you. Congrats on finishing up the law degree and welcome back to another year with the 75ers. Hope you find more reading time this year.

Jan 13, 12:38pm Top

>24 Foxen: I have never read any of the Redwall books. Are there any that you especially recommend, Katie?

Jan 13, 2:49pm Top

Stopping by to say hello Katie and glad to see you're enjoying the Earthsea books. I can feel a reread coming on....

Jan 13, 3:02pm Top

Hi Kim & Stasia!

>26 alcottacre:: Ooh, they're good fun, although they have their quirks. It's kind of ultimate fantasy comfort reading - good and evil are well defined and you know what's going to happen in the end, but the journey getting there is inventive and interesting (with at least one feast and a riddle, as well as the fighting and self-discovery). If you're interested in the series I recommend publication order, which starts you with Redwall and then Mossflower (IMO the best in the series). Or if you just want to try a representative good one, Mariel of Redwall is one of my favorites, and stands well on its own (and its direct sequel The Bellmaker is also pretty good).

Jan 14, 2:16am Top

>28 Foxen: Hmm; so worth starting my ten year old on that? He enjoys reading all levels below and up to slightly above his age level.

Jan 14, 6:59pm Top

>29 humouress: Oh definitely! That's a great age for Redwall!

Jan 16, 9:06pm Top

Finished the next one:

4) The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. LeGuin
Thoughts/mini-review: This one did not strike me quite as hard as the first two. It was still very good - a fitting end to Ged's story, we meet dragons, more exploration of the Archipelago. The only part that really grabbed me, though, was the part with the Children of the Open Sea (shades of (and probably an inspiration for) The Scar, which is one of my all-time favorite books). Having thought about it a bit, I think this one seemed too foregone throughout - it's ostensibly from Arren's point of view, but we know from almost the beginning how it's going to end, and Arren is shepherded through his adventure by Ged, whom we know isn't going to fail him. Arren (while certainly worthy) doesn't go through the same sort of trial and transformation that Ged and Tenar do. Still a beautiful book, though.

I may take a break from Earthsea before starting the next, as I've been warned that they're different. Or not. Depends what I feel like on tomorrow's commute. :)

Jan 20, 7:06am Top

Well, I did keep going with Earthsea. Glad I did, too, since the next one follows on pretty directly.

Also started reading Wool by Hugh Howey as our next read-aloud book. Really enjoying it so far!

5) Tehanu by Ursula K. LeGuin
Thoughts/mini-review: It's definitely starting to be a different type of book. I think what LeGuin is really good at is human emotion, and this book really shows it. The whole thing is about coming to terms with loss, and pain, and evil, and LeGuin is really fantastic at showing that process. It doesn't make for a page-turning adventure, but that's ok. It was nice to see the characters experience the consequences of adventure instead of just riding off into "happily ever after." Also good to see Tenar again, and although he only put in a brief appearance, I like Arren even more now. Gender politics is gender politics, and I'm not going to go into that, but I appreciate that LeGuin addresses it face-on, and understand her characters and their motivations. Really intrigued to see what changes are coming to Earthsea and watch Therru find her place in it.

Jan 20, 7:42am Top

Happy Sunday, Katie

Jan 20, 8:28am Top

Good morning!

Jan 30, 8:18pm Top

Been out sick for a few days, then had a houseguest, then taught three classes. Finally back to something more like normal.

Reading accomplished in the mean time:

6. Tales From Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
7. The Other Wind by Ursula K. LeGuin
8. The Daughter of Odren by Ursula K. LeGuin

Finished Earthsea! I'm not sure I have anything particularly profound to say about it. I enjoyed all of it. Particularly the stories - Otter and Irian were both great, and the Daughter of Odren story was also a fun dive into the Earthsea world. I do really like how LeGuin explores characters once they're no longer glorious. It's interesting, but it's still also somewhat unsatisfactory, but in a way that makes sense.


I picked up Spinning Silver for my next commute read. Enjoying it so far!

Feb 6, 4:52pm Top

9. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Thoughts/mini-review: Holy moly this was good! I had no knowledge of the plot going in except that it involved fairy tales, and it grabbed me right away. All of the characters were interesting and well thought out, and I loved the way the reader's perception of the characters is changed over the course of the book as we come to understand them. I really liked the narrative style - I thought the first-person with multiple narrators created some great reveals, and really let Novik explore the idea that everyone is the center of their own story. The plot was also great and engaging throughout. I was a bit worried that it would fall flat at the end, but it didn't - everything felt balanced and resolved at the end, which is impressive considering how wildly things went awry for or characters and how divergent their "happily ever after" scenarios started out as. I read this for about three days non-stop, and I've kept thinking about it ever since.

Feb 6, 9:03pm Top

You have certainly been reading some high quality stuff this year, Katie!! All classics (cause Spinning Silver will be one, I'm sure).

Feb 7, 6:55am Top

Thanks Roni! Hopefully the trend continues!

Feb 7, 7:19am Top

>28 Foxen: Thanks, Katie. I know my local library has at least Redwall - not sure how much of the rest of the series is there - but I will be on the lookout for it next time I am in.

Spinning Silver is coming up for me shortly too. I am hoping that I enjoy it as much as the other inhabitants of the 75ers have!

Feb 9, 12:36am Top

I will read Redwall this year as it falls in with the British Isles Author Challenge.

Edited: Feb 12, 7:06am Top

>39 alcottacre: & >40 PaulCranswick: Ooh, excellent! I hope you both enjoy it!

Feb 12, 7:10am Top

10. The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton
Thoughts/mini-review: Well. That was... something. I figured out the "what" but not the "why" early on (and, in fact, the middle kind of drags as they continue to reveal the "what" at length) - but the "why" really keeps you guessing until the end. In fact, possibly 'til after the end, because I'm still not sure I get it. Not sure what to make of this one.

Feb 12, 12:27pm Top

>36 Foxen: This is next in the library pile to start, and after seeing so many positive reviews of it here I'm very excited!!

Feb 12, 8:19pm Top

>43 fredanria: I hope you enjoy it! I just started Uprooted because I couldn't get enough. :)

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

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