ffortsa hops to it in 2019
This topic was continued by ffortsa hops to it twice in 2019.
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My parents were once caught without heat in an ice storm on Long Island. Aside from dragging the mattress in front of the fireplace (my mother was VERY happy with the resulting activities), Dad took the opportunity to explore the ice photographically. New Year's Day was 59 degrees here this year, but winter is still coming.
Hi, I'm Judy. Maybe we haven't met. In 2018, I actually read 85 books! I astonished myself. This year, I will still aim at 75, and if I exceed that again, that will be fine.
As is true for most of us 75ers, I have too many unread books on my shelves, in my Kindle library, in my mind to read. I belong to two book groups, neither of which is actually CALLED a book group, so that slows down my browsing a bit. Still, that should only account for 24 titles a year. Lots of room for more.
Only fair to give the little frog her lily pads, don't you think?
1. @The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey
2. @Killer Pancake by Diane Mott Davidson
3. ✔♬An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks
4. @Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
5. ✔The Romance Reader by Pearl Abraham
6. ✔♬Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
7. Rumpole and the Angel of Death by John Mortimer
8. @The Tail of the Tip-Off by Rita Mae Brown
9. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
10. @Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
11. @A Sea of Troubles by Donna Leon
12. @Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt
13. ♬Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
14. @At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien
15. @Seventy Seven Clocks by Christopher Fowler
16. ✔@White Teeth by Zadie Smith
17. @The Drowned Boy by Karin Fossum
18. @Apprentice in Death by J. D. Robb
19. The Glass Bees by Ernst Junger
20. Vertigo 42 by Martha Grime
21. @What Maisie Knew by Henry James
22. @Wilful Behavior by Donna Leon
23. The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin by Georges Simenon
24. @Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov
25. @Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
26. The Woman Who Wouldn't Die by Colin Cotterill
27. City of Jackals by Parker Bilal
28. @These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore
29. @White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
30. @Summer by Edith Wharton
31. @↩Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
32. @First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
33. @Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones
34. @The Sniper's Wife by Archer Mayor
35. @Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jone
36. @Cat's Eyewitness by Rita Mae Brown
37. @Whisker of Evil by Rita Mae Brown*
38. @Catch as Cat Can by Rita Mae Brown*
39. @Madame Maigret's Friend by Georges Simenon
40. @Lone Star Noir edited bu Bobby Byrd and Johnny Byrd
41. @Six and a Half Deadly Sins by Colin Cotterill
42. @Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny
43. @The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
44. @A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
45. @Baghdad Noir edited by Samuel Shimon
and a ticker for off the shelf, while I'm at it.
I'm hoping our turtle Harold will prove stalwart in herding these books out.
Icons denote ebooks, library books, off the shelf, etc. modified from Bianca's list
✔ off the shelf
I was dismal at following threads last year, so no promises this time. I'm going to try changing my technique a bit, looking at the group list instead of starring lots of folks I then don't have time to follow. If it doesn't work, back to the old ways. Or some combination. I know I'm already behind!
As some of you may know, I have a little mania about the New Yorker. I receive them, so I should read them, but I no longer go away on summer weekends to catch up, and now I'm just finishing up my 2009 collection. Why, you might ask? Oh, maybe for sentences like this one, from 9/14/2009, discussing the plaza Mayor Bloomberg made of Times Square:
"The new plaza, in the past few months, has been a hot, smelly enclosure, filled with people sitting under patio umbrellas comparing their cell-phone screens, which is what humans do instead of picking ticks out of one another's fur."
Long, perfectly balanced, visually crisp, emotionally accurate AND funny. A joy to come upon.
I hope to finish up September this week, and the remainder at like speed. After all, I can skip all the politics - I've lived through it.
Hello Judy!! Dropping by to be-star you! I'll be back on the 75er threads this years. Can't wait to see you again! p.s., Only retired a couple days and I'm exhausted already!
Happy New Year, Judy. Happy New Thread! I hope you have a great year of reading.
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, Judy, this year.
Hi Judy! I'm starring your thread and sending you best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!
>4 ffortsa: >i>"The new plaza, in the past few months, has been a hot, smelly enclosure, filled with people sitting under patio umbrellas comparing their cell-phone screens, which is what humans do instead of picking ticks out of one another's fur."
God, Judy, I laughed right out loud regarding instead of picking ticks out of one another's fur.
Happy New Year To You and Jim1
>Is this an image your father took? If so, what a very good photographer is was.
>19 Whisper1: Yes, that's one of a few that he took that day. He loved doing nature photography. I hope to feature some of his photos on my threads this year.
1. The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey
Jim is a great rereader, and he had reread this recently and was puzzled by it, so I joined in.
I read this many years ago, along with Tey's other Alan Grant books, and remember loving it. But this reread showed all the faults. Stereotypes and prejudices abound, Grant overtly dismisses many cues, fails to reinterview interested parties, and misreads many clues. I knew way before the end who was really pertinent to the murder, and only couldn't put my finder on the doer because the person in question was so 'disguised' as harmless.
If I'd read this today for the first time, I wouldn't have bothered with the following books, and missed The Daughter of Time, which I remember quite fondly. But I don't think it worthwhile to reread the series unless I'm caught in a snowstorm with only old mysteries on the shelf.
>24 qebo: Oh, so nice to see you here! Happy New Year and all that. Are you keeping a thread these days?
Love in a Cold Climate is up next on the fiction side, although you never know, a mystery might creep in. I need to read it by a week from Wednesday. In the meantime, I have started These Truths: A History of the United States, and couldn't help giggling through all those parallel pairs of words Lepore wields in the introduction.
>27 qebo: So far These Truths is a very accommodating read, and we're scheduled over 4 months, so it's probably doable. I have't checked page numbers on part I yet, but I assume about 260 pages per monthly section. Take a peek at the thread - it's probably all enumerated there.
>28 ffortsa: Yeah, I was just looking at it. I'm hesitant to take on another book obligation. Also aspiring to read what I have on hand and rediscovered while decluttering over the holidays. I know, haha, let's see how long that lasts...
That’s a beautiful photograph by your father. I look forward to seeing more.
Here I am visiting for the first time too – happy new year and best wishes for a wonderful year.
>4 ffortsa: I finally abandoned all pretense of reading the New Yorker and will let my subscription lapse. It’s just too much. 2009? You’re a better woman than I am to persevere like that. *smile*
>23 ffortsa: I still remember who the murderer was and why even though I haven’t read it for decades. If it’s a favorite author and a reread shows the faults I tend to be forgiving, but if it’s a ‘new’ author from a period in time when the prejudices and stereotypes were more acceptable, I won’t continue with that author. As I always tell my husband, “I reserve the right to be unpredictable.”
>26 ffortsa: I’m on page 59 and loving this book. I must say, though, that I’ve read several history books that expand upon or debunk the crap we were taught in school (Nathaniel Philbrick, Joseph Ellis, David McCullough, Russell Shorto, Sarah Vowell) and some of this isn’t completely new to me although the bits about the justification of slavery by John Locke and others is completely new, abhorrent, and fascinating in a sick sort of way.
2. Killer Pancake by Diane Mott Davidson
Yet another of these food-filled mysteries.
Two of the shelves on our gorgeous bookshelf units have warped, and I dreaded calling Crate and Barrel to ask for them replaced. But the customer service couldn't have been nicer. They don't have individual replacement shelves, so they are sending me an entire unit! ( I hope to be able to swap one of the straight shelves from the old unit with the slightly less warped shelf on the second unit.)
Now all we have to do is take down all the books (HELP!) and schedule the delivery. Maybe we can dispose of a few volumes before we load up the shelves again.
It's so nice when you find a company with good customer service!! Good luck with the book removal.
>33 ffortsa: - If I wasn't going out of town, I'd show up at your door and help with the books! Nothing I enjoy more... :)
>35 katiekrug: what a pity. You could certainly reach higher than I can. We will probably call in someone from Taskrabbit as we did the last time once we have a date. Then we can take our time putting the books back. I suspect some of mine from years ago will end up on the too-small-type-font pile during that process. Where are you off to?
3. An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks
I've been working my way through this audio book for some time now. Much of the material first appeared in The New Yorker, I think, but the separate essays seemed fuller as I listened. Sacks is especially interested in autism and Asperger's, and the last essays on meeting with Temple Grandin are wonderful for not only his insights but her own. As a scientist above all, she applies her knowledge of the human brain in general and hers in particular to theorize about how she has come to be different from the people around her. I found it very absorbing
>34 RebaRelishesReading: Judy, How lovely to know that there is a company that provides such wonderful customer service. When my son-in-law went to Tufts for his mechanical engineering degree, he and my daughter lived near Concord. We made frequent visits as the place is filled with so much history and American literature. Cambridge has a marvelous Crate and Barrel store, and my daughter and I spent a lot of time at that store.
The displays were lovely. I wish we had a local Crate and Barrel. Browsing through the store cannot compare to an online purchase. I wish you luck in your endeavor of moving the books. That is surely a lot of work!
>33 ffortsa: Yay for excellent customer service!! Good luck with moving books around.
>41 SuziQoregon: Thanks. Just hired a TaskRabbit for a few hours to pack up all the books for me. We did that the last time, when we replaced the old bookcases, and that worked really well.
Finally reading an issue of The New Yorker from September 28, 2009, I came across a review of books about the Dreyfus Affair, and about the case itself. At the end, Adam Gopnik writes
"The urge to protect the nation from its enemies by going around the corner to get them is natural, but what you get is usually not the enemies, and going around the corner, you bump into something worse. Breaking the law to defend the nation ends up breaking the nation."
4. Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
for discussion on Wednesday - more after that.
>43 ffortsa: I've always loved Gopnik's writing. He sure nailed it in that quote.
Happy Friday, Judy. It is so nice to seeing you visiting the threads. I hope the books are treating you well. I have been on quite a roll, since Jan 1st.
You should think of joining a local bird club and get out on an organized walk. It is great be out on nature, even in an urban setting.
>37 ffortsa: Adding that one to the BlackHole! Thanks for the recommendation, Judy.
>47 alcottacre: It's really interesting, Stasia, and his reading is very gentle and easy to listen to. He had a real open curiosity about his patients and other exemplars of his interests.
Jim and I and a friend went to see 'Choir Boy' last night at Manhattan Theatre Club. Middling story of an all-black boys' prep school and the very musically talented, gay chorister and his relationships, good and bad, with other students. It's written by the same playwright who scripted the movie 'Moonlight', and growing up gay and black seems to be his major theme. Good acappela music from the cast with significant choreography, but not a new or surprising story.
This NYTimes review is kinder than my opinion, which is more in line with the WNYC review we heard this morning.
We just returned from seeing The Favourite, and recommend it highly. The triumvirate of Olivia Coleman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were brilliant - how will the Academy choose among them??
>43 ffortsa: I'm a Gopnik fan and what a great quote.
Have fun shifting books.
5. The Romance Reader by Pearl Abraham
I picked this to read next because it was the first fiction (alphabetical by author's last name) on my physical bookshelves, and I've owned it a long time without reading it. It's a coming of age story set in a very particular Chassidic family in a very particular Chassidic sect, modern day, and the narrator is the oldest girl of seven children. Her father is determined to have his own synagogue and congregation, and the family subsists on the sales of a book on the Kabbalah that he writes and sells through travel and through the mail. What Rachel wants is to be free to choose her own life, and she bucks against the rules over and over again, reading English language books, learning to be a life-guard and wear a swim-suit, eat what is forbidden, and so forth.
The story covers her late teenage years, and I was interested to find out how the author handles the obligatory early wedding with minimal courtship. SPOILER
6. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman reads this retelling of the Norse myths in a most entertaining style, lending them more of a folksy air than Wagner, for instance! It was great company on the treadmill this week.
All the books from the living room are now packed up - the replacement shelves come on Thursday.
Before I had everything boxed up, I was mulling what I should de-accession when I returned them to the shelves. So I pulled out an old copy of James Baldwin's Another Country, printed in 1968, cover detached, somewhat foxed and crumbly and printed in small, small type - a good example of something that could be replaced by an ebook. And then I thought, is this the one where so-and-so thinks such-and-such about her husband, and this happens and that happens ? ? - and two days later the book is still on my desk, although I will, I promise, move it along.
Not that such a thing happens to anyone else, right?
How exciting about your replacement shelves!
I proudly took all the Harry Hole mysteries by Jo Nesbo off my shelves the other day and took them to the Library to donate to the Friends. My friend Rhoda was there so I told her that I gave up on the series and was donating them. She asked if I'd read The Redbreast, to which I replied no. She said I had to at least read that one, so it came back home with me. It's hard, even with the best of intentions.
>56 karenmarie: Yep, it's certainly hard. What makes it harder is that the delivery folks insisted on coming at 8AM when I told them (multiple times) that they could not get into the building until 9AM at the earliest. Then when the controversy escalated, they left before I could get the dispensation necessary. Now I have to wait another week. Grump.
We plan to switch the straight shelves on one of the bookcases with the warped one or two on the other, so that I can put half the books back over the weekend. At that point I will TRY to get some of them out. The mysteries are in the bedroom, and I really need to check with the library to see that they have the ebooks, and for those that are easily accessible that way, give the paper versions away. I may ship some of them to the military, as one of my emails asks for mysteries. Otherwise, they go to the library or the downstairs swap shelves.
Of course, doing the laundry today, I found a book of Rumpole short stories, which I am now treating myself to. They are fun (and we see more of SWMBO). The book will not stay here long, however!
Update to >44 ffortsa:, we had our discussion of Love in a Cold Climate last night, and it really lasted a long time. Those of us who had read The Pursuit of Love all decided that was the better book, but LiaCC is a fun follow-on. You get a good look at the British upper class between the wars, and all the ways it nurses eccentricities as women pursue husbands, lovers, and prestige, and men sometimes pursue the same. That ties in very well with Mitford's own upbringing and family. Look up the Mitford sisters on Wikipedia to see how odd and eccentric they all were.
I've given up following everyone from the group page - just too much to watch for. So some of you have stars now. I assume I'll add more as more people and conversations catch my eye on the general list. See you there!
It is hard to follow every thread, I agree Judy. How lovely that you are getting new bookshelves, but too bad about the difficulties you are having with them. Best wishes with all of the work.
I finally read The Daughter of Time last year for the first time. I liked it a lot, but based on your comments, I probably won't read further in the series--too many other good books, too little time.
My d-I-l who works for the same company you used to work for has transferred to their Tampa office, though she still travels to NY once a month or so. So now we only have 3 kids and their families in the NYC area. My son who moved to Tampa has kept his NYC job and is telecommuting, so he's back in NYC frequently.
>59 arubabookwoman: I'd forgotten that connection to my former company. There are a lot of nice folks in the Tampa office. I hope she has a good time there.
7. Rumpole and the Angel of Death by John Mortimer
A delightful romp through 6 short stories of the inimitable Rumpole, in one case actually narrated by Hilda, of SWMBO fame. The nice thing about Mortimer's stories is that he leaves the reader enough information to entirely believe the discoveries at the end, except in one story that I found a little hard to believe. Interesting, as it is the only one that takes place outside of England.
>54 ffortsa: We listened to Norse Mythology too. I love listening to him read his books. He's a wonderful verbal storyteller.
>62 BLBera: I'll have to look into Mothering Sunday if it sparks a good discussion. We are always looking for books that will provoke interesting comment.
The replacement bookshelves were NOT delivered on Thursday, because the drivers insisted on coming before 9AM and weren't allowed in, as I had told them would happen. We will reschedule. In the meantime, we swapped the warped shelves on one of the two units for the remaining level ones on the other (six long shelves on each), so I have one unwarped setup and have been putting my books back up. I have SO MANY UNREAD BOOKS! What have I been doing, just collecting?? And don't I recall there's a Japanese word for that?
Two of the books so far are on their way out. Both my copy of The Art of Love and Other Love Books of Ovid and my copy of Great Short Works of Leo Tolstoy have split their spines. And the print is pretty small and the pages pretty beige. Out, I'm afraid. I did read some of the Tolstoy, but not the Ovid. So some day I may hit the library or get them on Kindle. Right now, there's plenty to read.
It's your birthday, right, Judy? Happy Birthday! I hope you treat yourself to a book or two.
>68 jnwelch: and >69 Berly: Thanks for noticing. My sister cracked me up. She confirmed the current year and the year I was born in, and then very cautiously said she had done the arithmetic. Silly girl. She knows how old I am. And it ends in a zero this year!
It never ceases to amaze me how my own personal time flies. Most days I don't feel any older than I felt at 35. (Fatter, yes, older, no.) Some days, on the other hand...
Mother Nature decided to celebrate my special day by dropping to 7 degrees by the time I woke up. I was having people in for brunch, but sent minions out in the icy blasts for the last few things. I have very kind minions. It was a nice brunch, and the first time I've had people in for literally decades. The day before I was a total panicked wreck, but everyone seemed happy and some brought amazing goodies. I may do it again in another 10 years.
Catching up on threads this morning and I see I missed your birthday. Hope it was great!
8. The Tail of the Tip-Off by Rita Mae Brown
The first total dud of the series for me. Much too much animal talk, and not a clever enough mystery. Thumbs definitely down.
Happy Belated Birthday from me, too, Judy!
>64 ffortsa: I have SO MANY UNREAD BOOKS! What have I been doing, just collecting?? The Japanese word is tsundoku, and I feel the same way about my unread books.
I just gave a stack of business analysis and project management books to the library, and of course didn't keep a list, so I deleted some books from my registry but not sure the deletes matched. I should have taken a picture of the spines. I think I kept all the data modeling books, since that's my main interest if I ever get back to it. Sigh. Nothing to do with what we norimally talk about here, of course.
I've been listening to Sapiens while walking and exercising. Harari has a very snarky opinion about the merits and demerits of the change from hunter/gatherer to agricultural society, coming down pretty firmly on the desirable nature of the former. I can see his point, but it's a not a choice we could make now even if we wanted to (although there are parts of the world where this society still exists). Listening to him go ON about it while watching a trail video on the treadmill was - well, no doubt it would have been more fun to actually be on that trail. but it's winter here, you know? And I can stop whenever I want. I wonder how much of the snark is the reader's.
And I've been trying to read Manhattan Beach before a Mystery book group meeting I've been invited to on Tuesday evening. but my eyes are not cooperating. My copy is from the library, and while the print is generous enough, I think the beige-ish paper is not helping. I'm not quite half-way through. I'm also not as excited about it as I had expected to be, given the author's other work. I'll get as far as I can by the meeting time. It's a bit of an odd choice for a mystery book group.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is up for the first Tuesday in February, supplied by Paperbackswap, and a compendium volume of Flann O'Brien is waiting for pickup from the library for the uptown group February 25, when we are to discuss At Swim-Two-Birds. I've never read O'Brien, but I like the title.
Oh, and I've put my Audible membership on a three-month hold - although it more likely should be six months or a year. I've got so much already waiting to be listened to, and the credits don't pile up forever. If I haven't caught up a bit by the end of March, I'll spend my remaining credits and end my membership. I mean, it's not like they won't take me back later, is it?
9. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
I finished this last night for a discussion this evening. More on it later.
I received yet another call from the organization hired to deliver our new shelves. The caller told me that the only unit they had was damaged. So I called Crate and Barrel, and the woman in the store said there were 17 units in the warehouse! I don't know if the deliverer had simply picked up one and didn't know about the others, or if I'm being punished for turning away the first delivery because of building rules. New tentative date is Friday.
i really love Crate and Barrel, and their willingness to replace the bookshelves is wonderful. But their delivery contract needs to be revisited.
Ack!! Hope your shelf delivery woes end soon. That must be very frustrating.
>81 ffortsa: I was wondering if your shelves had ever arrived. Sorry to hear that they have not.
A very busy schedule this week turned into barely any schedule at all, and for the most part, I can't even blame the weather.
Monday, I had planned to go to a meeting about local area initiatives, only to realize I had spoken to these people the week before at a different event. No harm, I stayed home.
Tuesday, my bookshelves were supposed to be delivered, and as I've said above, that was cancelled. Then I received word that my bridge game had been rescheduled for noon, except that turned out to be an error, and I wasn't going to wait two hours for the normal session. Grump. I did go to a new book group on Tuesday evening, didn't think much of it.
Wednesday, my schedule held, in spite of the cold. When I met my cousin at the Guggenheim Museum at 3:15, we started looking at the exhibit (more on that later on) and stopped for lunch in the cafe on the third floor just in time to witness a whiteout snow squall over Central Park. that was great. The art exhibit, not so much.
Thursday, today, I have a doctor's appointment which so far has not been cancelled, but I did cancel my hairdresser's appointment because my stylist decided to stay home because of the cold. (I know, Chicagoland folks are laughing at this.)
Friday I'm supposed to have brunch with a friend, but those bookshelves are again supposed to be delivered, no time yet specified. I'm also supposed to do a BJ's run with a neighbor, go to an alumni event in the evening, and maybe skip that for an event at the Rubin museum closer to home. All or none of these things may happen!
And on Saturday, I have a lunch date and my poetry group, where we are reading The Iliad. Depending on the weather, of course.
Maybe we'll go to the movies on the weekend. That, at least, is entirely within our scheduling.
And to top off all of it, it seems our router is dying a slow death, as all our wifi devices are strangling.
On the other hand, I started Ice Princess on Tuesday, and it's quite good. Thanks to those who recommended it. (Who were those masked readers??) I'll probably finish it tonight and go on to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie for Tuesday's discussion.
On the good side, my cousin Francine and I went to the Guggenheim yesterday to see the Hilma af Klint retrospective, which takes up the full spiral ramp of the building. af Klint was an early explorer of abstraction, fueled by her involvement with the Theosophical Society and Rudolph Steiner, but she didn't show her work to any but a few select people who she felt wouldn't disparage it by being closed-minded or apt to dismiss women in the arts.
here's a link to the museum video
af Klint was years ahead of Kandinsky and Mondrian, but her reluctance to show leaves us in doubt as to how much influence she had over these artists.
The media was ecstatic, or so it seems from the blurbs. I was less so, but her later work, and throughout the exhibit her smaller work, was very interesting to me. The three large pieces you can see side by side in the video are particularly striking, as is a large gold medallion-shape just a little beyond them, remarkably textured.
And I liked many of her paintings that worked with horizon lines and reverse colors.
Thanks for mentioning Hilma af Klint, I never heard of her before.
The linkt to the museum video links back to the top of this thread, so I looked her up in Wikipedia. I will keep her in mind.
Judy! Somehow I didn't have your 2019 thread starred. I am here to rectify this oversight.
I have had Sapiens on my kindle for a while. It sounds like you are finding it to be engaging. And snarky. Heh.
I hope your bookshelves arrive!
I went downtown in the freezy cold yesterday to see an osteopath who might be able to help with my shoulder pain. Very nice guy, very communicative, which I appreciate in medical professionals. This won't be the first time I try to address my musculo-skeletal issues, which are not at all life threatening but definitely quality of life annoying. Still on schedule for my first violin lesson in 30 years on March 1.
10. Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
I had some quibbles with this Scandi crime. I thought the police supervisor was too one-note of a foil, and the various mystery points too obvious. But it was a good read, and I'll look out for more of Lackberg's books, as the main characters and setting are very well drawn.
This makes 10 for January (I finished it yesterday afternoon). Ten a month seems doable these days.
Hilma af Klint - what an interesting artist, Judy. Thanks for the link to the museum video. I can see why she's gotten that ecstatic reaction in the media - that's quite a body of work. How wild that she envisioned a spiral museum like the Guggenheim for exhibiting it.
Jim has resusitated our router, thank goodness. I suspect the router and/or my computer need to be upgraded, but at least I won't be throwing either of them out the window for now.
I think I'll head for the gym to do some treadmilling. It's not bad out, but I don't feel like walking outside with the traffic and OTHER pedestrians.
Good luck with the shoulder and violin, Judy. I want to start piano lessons again.
Ice Princess sounds good.
>86 ffortsa: Fascinating! Thank you for sharing the link to the video. I find it interesting that she didn’t want her work displayed until 20 years after her death and that she had a very specific way that her work should be displayed.
Yay for the router resuscitation and violin lesson next month.
And, congrats on 10 books read in January.
>94 karenmarie: I'm glad you enjoyed the link.
Now Jim has found even more resuscitation to the router. It looks like we were using the 2.4 band setting on our devices, and ignoring the 5 band setting on the router. In addition (or maybe because this happened), someone seems to have reset the password on the 5 band, and it certainly wasn't us. So maybe we have a thief on top of everything else. Sigh. At least we know how to make things better.
>93 BLBera: Hi Beth. So far, the osteopathy treatment seems to have made some difference, but I'll have to see how it progresses. I also got a mouse platform that attaches to my chair arm, so I don't have to extend my arm to use the mouse, and I'm sure that's helping too.
Good luck restarting the piano. It's been so long since I've played the violin that I know it will be a frustrating few months (at least) before my fingers can do what my brain remembers, but it should eventually come back. I'm hopeful.
My cousin Francine has been a long-time supporter of refugee communities, and is planning a trip with a friend of hers to the U.S./Mexico border to lend her help and expertise. She has started a GoFundMe page to help them get there. If you are so inclined, please go take a look and maybe give her something toward the trip.
"On March 3rd, my friend Allison Spitz and I will begin a week of volunteer work at the US/Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico. As you may know, I have spent many years volunteering to improve the lives of immigrants, the homeless, and other members of at-risk populations. As an attorney specializing in immigration services, Allison has spent her entire adult life helping people legally immigrate to the US.
Allison and I are appalled by the crises at the border and the way migrants have been treated in their efforts to seek immigration relief in the US. Abuses such as child separation are continuing, children are being stripped of their rights and shipped to tent cities in Florida and sent to other harsh detention centers. We both feel that we cannot sit idly by when we have skills which can help those in need.
We will be working with an amazing organization, Al Otro Lado Border Rights Project, and are requesting donations to help pay for our expenses. If you wish to donate, please go to our GoFundMe page. All donations will be received with great appreciation and gratitude."
>96 katiekrug: The shelves finally arrived on Friday, and there was some drama in putting the unit together, as one of the new shelves was already warped. Sigh. We'll be ok for a while, but I think a shelf replacement by a cabinetmaker is expensively in our future. It would need to be some sort of laminate over warp-proof insides, and I just hope we can get the same shelf length as we have now. Although, the supports are independent of the shelves and if we have to make the whole thing a little shorter it would still work.
Putting the books up on the second unit was interesting. My books take up more room than Jim's do, because a) I have more unread books and b) he still has lots of books in his studio in Forest Hills. And I wanted to swap some 'topics' (like biography) from the bedroom shelves to the living room. Finally done, and I'm even more shamefaced than before, seeing all the books to be read. I'm thinking of really paring down the theater books, as I don't read them and they take up a lot of space. Some poor actor can certainly make use of them.
>94 karenmarie: The router thing continues to be odd. We have a two-speed router, and someone seems to be using our faster wifi signal. The password is different and nothing we would ever use! Jim said he would figure out how to use the admin function to return this speed to our control, but so far we are sort of stuck. Interesting, isn't it?
I'm glad your shelves have come and that you've got your book reorganized. Having done that last spring I have fresh memory to sympathize with. Really annoying about the warped shelf. Won't the manufacturer or retailer replace that (I think you said they're from Crate and Barrel and I've always thought they were reliable). Anyway, congratulations on new shelves and good luck with the router.
>100 RebaRelishesReading: Crate and Barrel did replace the bookshelf unit. That's what we were waiting for. But it's obvious that these long, very long, solid wood shelves are going to warp eventually. I don't feel I can ask Crate and Barrel to continually replace them as the years go by. So I might pursue an alternate solution that looks similar but doesn't have this inevitable defect.
As for reorganizing the books, it was the dust as much as the decisions that got to me. We love open shelves, and we pay the price in dust accumulation. I think I have to take it upon myself to dust between housekeeper dates. Just a Swiffer on an extension should help a lot. And I should use my air filter more regularly. This apartment seems to generate dust!
Glad your shelves are in, although sorry that one was already warped. Perhaps those theater books do need a new home...
Wow, someone stealing your 5 band setting? Good luck to Jim on getting it back. My daughter complained about the wifi at her apartment building a couple of years ago. When I was there I wanted to use wifi and saw that she had 5G she didn't even know about, so she connected to that and it works beautifully.
>101 ffortsa: We have open bookshelves too and I hear ya' sister. Where in the world does that much dust come from in the middle of a city?!?
>99 ffortsa: warped how? If it is bowing, well arches are very strong and if you place the shelf so it is "frowning" it should be fine. :D
If you can bear to do it, and remember, try turning your router off when you are not using it -- make it too unreliable and maybe the thief will go elsewhere.
>101 ffortsa: Oh, I think the city is the worst dust offender. I live on a very main drag (14th street runs from the East River to the harbor on the other side, two way traffic) and trucks and buses are using it constantly. There's a plan, under dispute, to block much of the traffic, adding buses which the community is pushing to be of the electric variety, for air and noise improvement. I don't know if that plan will be kept, as it disrupts traffic on other adjacent streets which really can't handle the extra weight. And, I have the kind of heat that is generated by a fan pulling air over heating coils, so the indoor air is very dry, even with a humidifier going, and the dust must blow around.
On the other hand, I'm a pretty lousy housekeeper!
>104 ELiz_M: Actually, the shelves exhibited all sorts of curves. One had raised up over its front support like a sneer. Another proved to be bowed up front to back! Two others were starting that sneer. In addition, the shelves have a design of edges back and sides which means they cannot be turned over if they sag or bow. Beautiful but impractical.
As we are home a lot (and Jim will be retiring soon, so he will be home even more), turning off the router isn't really practical. But we will certainly change admin password and band passwords. It's not so much that someone is piggybacking, it's that we weren't able to connect to the 5G band. We'll get all that fixed soon. And it may save me the cost of a new computer, as I was about to toss this one out (hey, computer, are you listening in?).
Curses, as they say. Jim and I are scheduled for pleasant occupations this evening and tomorrow evening, and then I discover that Marilynne Robinson is delivering a two-part lecture on "Liberalism and American Tradition", free, at the New York Public Library on these two evenings. And here I thought retirement would be free of time constraints!
>107 ffortsa: retirement free of time constraints -- lol!!
>105 ffortsa: true there's traffic in the city but there is so much less exposed soil than in the suburbs or country so where does it come from to begin with? Living on the 7th floor we don't even get flies up this high but the dust can find us without difficulty.
>109 PaulCranswick: Yeah, but Jim and I run the book group on Tuesday night, and we were to discuss The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - and it was a great discussion. Then tonight, Katie K. gave us tickets to a concert at Lincoln Center, and I wasn't going to dis the gift, so I'm heading up there in a few minutes. Such is life.
>110 ffortsa: You make me laugh--so sorry you have such time constraints to deal with!!
Hope your shelves remain unwarped and dust-free for as long as possible. And may you reclaim your 5-speed internet soon. Do change those passwords.
>111 katiekrug: Definitely worth it, although I don't know what I missed at the library. A very interesting concert. I'll tell you about it tomorrow, if you're interested.
Sorry about the drama with the bookshelves, glad Crate & Barrel made good on their product.
And dust with bookshelves: I was surprised and a bit chagrined at how much dust I discovered as I was packing for the move this past summer. I guess that is a good thing about moving or buying new shelves: they force us into a deeper cleaning than usual.
Happy Friday when it gets here, Judy!
>113 ffortsa: Okay!
First, here is the url for the program notes, which were quite extensive.
Spring Festival Overture by Li Huanzhi
According to the program, this is rather a warhorse of Chinese classical music, the first movement of a larger, 4 movement suite. I expected to hear more identifiable Eastern melodies. Instead I was reminded of the overture to 'Carmen' with the noisy, crashing brass at the end. But it was fun to listen to.
Fire Ritual - a Musical Ritual for Victims of War by Tan Dun
Solo violinist Bomsori Kim
This was the centerpiece of the concert, quite unusual. For one thing, the solo violinist started at the back of the audience (just to our right!) with a long repeated D above middle C (for those of you who know what that is), which she kept playing as she walked slowly up the aisle, looking around as if she were in a strange place. Eventually she got to the stage, and members of the orchestra joined her in a very spiky, abrupt sort of music. THEN, in a sort of antiphonal way, players positioned on either side of the audience began to play when the orchestra on stage was quiet. There were a bassoonist and a flutist on my left, and I think a string instrumentalist on my far right, and probably a few others scattered around. The conductor faced the audience a good portion of the time, connecting with these placed players. And even he had a non-conducting role, suddenly saying words or making sounds from the podium. The piece employed a lot of Asian percussion - sticks, bells, drums, etc.
I found it hard to listen to and hard not to listen to, which only means it was strikingly unfamiliar to me. The crowd loved it.
Queen of the Night's Aria from The Magic Flute by Mozart
Soprano So Young Park
A little nibble of Mozart to reward us for listening to the prior 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the soprano, at least to my ears, didn't quite hit those amazingly high notes for which the aria is known, although her voice is lovely.
The program does have the translation of the aria, which I didn't realize was so hostile - the Queen abandons and disowns her daughter and plans vengeance. Yikes.
Shin Airang traditional song
Soprano So Young Park
A very pleasant traditional Korean folk song.
Suite from The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky
A very accomplished performance of this piece. But I can't tell you much, because I was so tired that just before the lullaby which is the 4th of the five movements, I fell asleep.
Train Toccata by Liu Yuan
I woke up in plenty of time to hear this delightful short piece, in which train whistles and train rhythms are portrayed by the orchestral sound. It reminded me very much of some American composers whose work reflects the Great Plains, quite aside from the train motif.
And then it was time to go home.
Two good mysteries in a row!
11. A Sea of Troubles by Donna Leon
I've read a number of the Donna Leon mysteries, and sometimes their sour view of bureaucratic folly and outright corruption in Venice can be a real downer. I picked this title up because I discovered a gap in my sequential reading (horrors), and at first the aforementioned downer put me off. But I was curious to see that some of the subsidiary characters began to be involved more actively, especially the beautiful and extremely cagey Signorina Elletra. So I kept on, and so glad I did. This turned out to be one of the least convoluted, most exciting, and most satisfying Brunetti mysteries I've come across. Strongly recommended, but remember to get past the first few chapters.
12. Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt
I owe this read to Juli(SuziQOregon), who mentioned a later book in the series on her thread. So I went back and found the first one at the library. Wow. A wise-acre defense attorney in Paterson, N.J. with wife trouble is asked by his father to take on an appeal for a man on death row, a man the father himself prosecuted seven years before. The son reluctantly agrees, and discovers a lot more about his father, his inheritance, and the rich people of his area than he had known before. Lively, driving, full of wit, silliness, seriousness, and a great noir feel even though it feels pretty sunny in New Jersey.
>117 ffortsa: - Oh my! You got so much more out of that concert than I would have, Judy! I'm sorry to have not been able to go, but as I turned out to be feeling awful, it worked out for the best.
>119 katiekrug: And considering you were ailing, you would have slept more too! I was really impressed with myself that I knew that violinist was playing a D, because I hadn't read the program at that time. Her hand position helped too, of course, for an old violinist like me.
And, I'm starting violin lessons again on March 1! Wish me luck.
My family and friends know that I am more scared of losing my marbles than losing other parts of me. (appendix? Glad to get rid of it.) Now I've read a story in New Scientist that states that the bacteria found in Alzeimer's patients' brains is the same one that causes gingivitis! Some researchers are considering that gum disease might be a causal link and they have various lab studies that point in that direction. For some reason, that scares me silly. Also inspires me to take better care of my teeth and gums.
On the other hand, my mother was a fanatic about her teeth, and it didn't prevent her final condition at all. I hope they figure this out before I'm gaga.
>117 ffortsa: Love your thoughts on the concert and hurray for taking violin lessons soon!
>121 ffortsa: I am not seeing any lost marbles on your part thus far, but keep those teeth clean just in case! I am making light of this, but I understand your fear. My mom and grandmother both suffered from Alzheimers and I do not want to go that way. I think I need more toothpaste.
>123 karenmarie: Thanks, Karen.
I've managed to drop my mouse one too many times and now the scroll doesn't work. I have another one, and Staples is right around the corner. Just another little errand.
And I finished assembling my tax material, which now gets sent to my accountant in Florida. He used to be up here, and now conducts all his business by mail and fax. So far it's worked out great for all concerned.
I've started At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien. Ay. I need to learn about Irish mythology and folk tales, I need to approximately pronounce all the Irish names, or at least mumble them. I don't know what I was expecting, but this metafiction is astounding and disconcerting. I hope I understand half of it.
13. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
I listened to this book, and one of the problems of doing that is that it is harder for me to leaf back, run through the table of contents, and get my overall thoughts together. The reviews already posted are pretty good, especially the longer ones, and contentious enough to represent a diversity of opinion.
Personally, I found the book both fascinating and eye-brow-raising. Harari has some very clear opinions of such things as the transition from hunter-gatherer to agrarian society (bad based on values of freedom and happiness), the effects of monotheism (less tolerant by nature than polytheism, leading to much slaughter - well, yes), empire, especially the European empires, and the driving force of capitalism. His views of our modern world are particularly scornful, and his predictions - or fantasies - of our future are a bit hair-raising.
But he asks some very good questions. Are we happier now than we were one hundred, five hundred, a thousand or fifty thousand years ago? Will we be able to see the destruction of our environment in time to limit the damage? Can we live happily without the traditional comforts of family and tribal identity?
Some of the reviews refer (vaguely) to errors. He does repeat himself, especially at the beginning of chapters, which made sense once I realized that the book was produced in part from lectures he gives at university. He is sometimes amazingly snarky.
The reader is British, which can enhance the snarkiness, but is very good, and easy to listen to.
I have stopped awarding stars much, but as a 'popular' history of homo sapiens through history, I would award this 4 stars, considering the scope, the clear narrative personality, and the quality of the audio. Whether you will agree with him or not, this book raises questions worth thinking about.
>126 karenmarie: Thanks for the comment on my review.
Funny, I find just the opposite about listening. I've listened to several non-fiction and it works pretty well for me. Kindle too, since non-fiction books tend to be on the larger side. But even fiction is easier to read on Kindle these days. Old eyes.
14. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien
This was a tough one. Touted as the great Irish post-modern novel, it is an exuberant exploration and mockery of various kinds of Irish writing. I'm not acquainted with Irish folk stories and mythology, and I found myself hitting Wikipedia a lot for the various characters O'Brien employs.
Strangely, I suspect this novel is better at second reading, when the reader knows the arc of the story within the story and can enjoy the ride a little more. On first reading, the long lists were a bit off-putting, and the 'hero', if we can say there is one, is not appealing or devilish enough.
Those who relish the story within a story structure, Irish tales, and character rebellion will definitely enjoy this book. I found it more work than enjoyment.
In an attempt to catch up with modern society (!), I'm watching Game of Thrones, from the beginning. Really good. I have no idea why I didn't watch it before, but that happens a lot - a series gets great buzz and I decide I don't want to see it. Oh well. There's always reading.
I'm backed up as usual on the threads, even though I'm following only a select few (sorry everyone else - just can't do it). But scanning a few this morning, I've gotten so many book bullets I look like swiss cheese. Sigh.
I've got to start White Teeth for a reading group meet-up the first Tuesday in March, and I have just barely started part 2 of These Truths. Binge-watching Game of Thrones can really screw up a person's reading.
>129 ffortsa: LOL, welcome in the world of Game of Thrones, Judy!
I did read the books before watching the series. We have season 6 and 7 waiting for some time now, and decided to wait for the last season on DVD before catching up.
We're all caught up on Game of Thrones, Judy. it's very addictive, isn't it? I keep meaning to read the books, have even borrowed the ones I gave to my daughter as presents, but so far I haven't felt the urge. Have fun!
My reading has been non-existent, but other cultural stuff has called me. On Friday I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to catch a couple of exhibits before they evaporated. The first was a very small exhibit of representations of Medusa, griffins, and sirens. It was very interesting to see the progression of Medusa from a totally animalistic evil face to a more beautiful one, used to ward off evil!
The jewelry exhibit was much larger - I had no idea so many different cultures found gold the most valuable and decorative metal. Most of my pictures are a bit fuzzy, but here are two.
This one seems worthy of RBG
And this one astonished me by the fine detail of the golden cloud.
The exhibition is well-photographed and annotated here
Wow, interesting art. I agree that RBG should have that necklace and that cloud is amazing.
15. Seventy Seven Clocks by Christopher Fowler
I was hungry for a mystery story, and this was the next one in the series. What a hoot. An attack on a pre-Raphaelite painting and set of bizarre murders within one historic upper-class family have Bryant and May completely befuddled. The family is aggravatingly eccentric, and the investigation is complicated by an independently eccentric young woman who keeps to the time-honored tradition of keeping evidence from the police. So far, almost standard, but when the light begins to dawn on our police duo, it definitely looks like the headlights of an oncoming train. The solution is delightfully inventive, and a total condemnation of capitalism and colonialism to boot. Wild ride.
A sneaky way to get rid of books: I gave my unread edition of White Teeth to a friend who participates in our downtown book group, because Jim had acquired the Kindle version and could share with me. Better for my eyes, and painless!
The book is to be discussed on Tuesday, and I'm about 30% through. In the meantime, I started Ferocious Alphabets by Denis Donoghue, which may have been a gift from Jim. I didn't realize it was about literary criticism and critics - a nice balance with the novel. But it's not very well bound. I opened the book and the first four or six pages just fell out. Grump.
16. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
A bit of a chunkster, to be discussed at tonight's meetup.
eta: The opinions were very mixed, except for one person who loathed it for every imaginable reason. Many people were upset about the treatment of twin boys separated by their father, in an attempt to control their lives. Others found the book good but clearly written before 9/11, when attitudes about immigrants changed.
I found it a story of immigrants in the lower-middle class of London society, as they navigate through an unfamiliar culture, raise their families, and contend with that tension between immigrant parents and first-generation children. It is also a discussion of control - of family, of science, how the thread of hubris runs through all levels of society in various ways. The writing is easy and funny - I laughed out loud several times. But it also has its slow spots, where I wished the writer would move forward more quickly.
17. The Drowned Boy by Karin Fossum
The next in the Inspector Sejer police procedurals. Grim.
>142 ffortsa: I need to get back to that series. I like the Sejer books a lot; a sort of slightly calmer Wallender.
Change is a terror. For years, maybe decades, I've depended on Wintersilks women's petite long underwear to keep me warm. Practically weightless, they are comfy in the office, more than adequate on the street under sweats or slacks. Having punched some holes in my current pair, I checked for a new pair and discovered the company is now a part of Blair! I'm quaking in fear. Blair is not known for long-lasting, quality fabrics. I can only hope that they will continue the quality that Wintersilks has provided. Have I said change is a terror?
>145 ffortsa: Breathe deep...in and out. Wishing you continued success with the long underwear and no change in quality. Fingers crossed for you!
Totally jealous that you live close to the MMoA--love that place. What a gerat exhibit.
Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!
Well, my reading is sort of in hiatus, for a number of reasons. I don't have any particularly long books due for my f2f reading groups, which is good. In one we are scheduled to discuss What Maisie Knew, and I'll read that on Kindle. I'm waiting for a copy of the other book, due April 1, titled The Glass Bees, which seems to be a sci-fi story from the mid-20th century. No electronic version of that seems to be available.
Then there are my two new habits, first, Game of Thrones (who knew it could be so addictive?) and a return to my violin playing. It's progressing a little better than I had thought it would, although I definitely end up with aches and pains, some of which might be totally expected after decades of layoff, and some of which might be muscle misuse. Time will tell.
And, we have guests in from out of town this week, so my time is not totally freeform. So, no reading! alas.
As part of our host-in-New-York activities, we went to see the Warhol exhibit at the Whitney Museum this afternoon. All I can say is a little Warhol goes a long way with me. I get his intuitive understanding of the then-current and alas-continuing consumerist, iconic, reproduction-filled society, but I'm living in it and have been for many years, and if I don't like it in real life, I'm not really going to have fun seeing it on the walls, y'know?
Our theater season has picked up, With our guests, we saw "The Ferryman", by Jez Butterworth, who also wrote the play "Jerusalem", which we saw a few years ago. This is a London import, but on it's second cast here, so there were quite a few American actors picking up the roles. A family drama, it harks back to the Troubles, and how that can distort families for years after. Everything takes place in the kitchen of a family farmhouse at harvest time, and more than barley is harvested. Wonderful acting by all concerned. A word or two of warning - it is long (3 hours 15 minutes), and the Irish accents are not always easy to comprehend. Our friends got the assisted hearing earphones at intermission and said it made a big difference.
eta: It was ominous that we saw this play the same day letter bombs were discovered in England, and responsibility was claimed by the IRA. Brexit seems to be reviving the animosity. Bad news.
We also saw "The Cake", a 90 minute play about a baker in the south called upon to bake a wedding cake for her young and very dear friend, who is of course marrying another woman. Nice acting - the lead was played by the understudy with great elan - but not a great play.
And last night we heard a local concert, with Richard Stoltzman )clarinet), Sara Shafer (soprano) and Anna Polonsky (piano). I liked the pianist a lot, in both her playing and the way she moved so fluidly at the keyboard. The soprano is making a name for herself, and I suspect Stoltzman was playing as a boost to her exposure. But he sounded a bit off, not playing badly but just not quite there. Most of the music was familiar - A Brahms clarinet sonata, Schubert's 'Shepherd on the Rock', and some lieder. The only treat was a sonata for clarinet and piano by Leonard Bernstein, which was full of his rhythms and tropes.
We're trying to keep the season quieter than previously experienced. Even caviar gets boring after a while. This was a heavy week.
On another topic, I took a look at my profile page and realized I have a lot of books listed as currently reading that I have not been currently reading. I'll circle back to them soon.
I loved White Teeth, Judy. Parts were hilarious.
The Medusa and jewelry exhibits look wonderful. Thanks for sharing the photos.
18. Apprentice in Death by J. D. Robb
I had just enough time to squeeze this in before my more serious reading. There's a sharpshooter taking out seemingly unrelated people with a laser gun, from extraordinary distances. Technical know-how delivers locations, and we know soon enough who we are looking for, so the question is how to find the shooter.
I'll be reading two books for local book groups that meet the first week of April. The first is The Glass Bees by Ernst Junger, which I'm finding interesting but difficult to focus on. The second is What Maisie Knew by Henry James, which is, thankfully, short!
Not much other reading happening. I spent the trip down from Boston unraveling a hat I was knitting because I was knitting it badly. And I'd had enough stimulation during our brief trip that I didn't want any more, even through my headphones.
Speaking of headphones, my tinnitus (self-diagnosed), is getting annoying. I guess I should add an ENT to my list of doctors.
19. The Glass Bees by Ernst Junger
A curious and somewhat difficult book to read. More after the group discussion on Monday.
ETA: Interesting discussion last night about this book, written in 1957. Junger was born in 1895 and lived until 1998 (that's right, 102 years old), quite an achievement for someone who lived while active in two world wars and the devastating flu epidemic in between. The character narrating this book seems to have had a similar experience, although no dates are given.
Down on his luck and recommended for a possibly distasteful job, he goes over on his life from school years, with an attendant bully, through cavalry training, tank warfare, and other experiences, interspersed with philosophical musings and apprehensions. Labelled as defeatist early in his career, he has suffered a steady downward slope of status and meaning in his life, to the point that he cannot support himself and his wife. So when his friend Twinings recommends him to a job with a formidable industrialist, he takes the chance.
The industrialist, Zapparoni, is Junger's futuristic idea, a man of great invention and media control. You might thing of Walt Disney crossed with Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Entertainment under his control is mesmerizing and artificial; his image constantly changes to suit the situation; he is beloved in society. And yet he has invented the tiny robots, the glass bees, that promise so much more power and control.
Junger's view of the possible future is astoundingly prescient, but I was more impressed with the scope of change his narrator describes, the total change in technology and society experienced by, among others, Junger himself.
I don't know how to rate this. It's not really a novel in the sense of plot and character. But it held my interest. I kept thinking of my grandfather, who was a contemporary of Junger's, and who started in the Ukraine as a salt trader hauling sacks of salt off the rail cars by hand, and ended up flying from Brooklyn, N.Y. to Florida in the winters, having seen the complete transformation of his world.
I was in need of a mystery story, and found one, The Thursday Night Killers Book Club by Jill Brock, on my shelf, even signed by the author. I started it. No publisher's name is on it. To avoid grinding my teeth down to the gum-line because of missing commas, I am abandoning it on page 2.
20. Vertigo 42 by Martha Grimes
Ah, that's better. I could have sworn I'd read this book before, but I have no record of it. And it was fun to read even though it felt familiar. Nice and twisty, and Wiggins really comes into his own. And of course, the dog.
Hi Judy, It has been so long since I've read a Richard Jury mystery that I had forgotten about them. I thought Grimes had abandoned that series. So thanks for reminding me. I'll definitely be getting a copy.
21. What Maisie Knew by Henry James
Book group discussion pending Tuesday
ETA: Our book group meeting was small but everyone had points to make and opinions.
Henry James heard about a divorce case in which a young child had become a pawn and decided to write about it from the child's point of view. Thus we see the story through Maisie's experience (not first person, but from her perspective and limited knowledge). The courts have awarded her to each parent for 6 months of the year, and it seems neither really wants her. The use her at every transfer. even at the age of 6, to convey hostile messages to each other, and Maisie learns to play stupid to extricate herself from these furies. Each parent provides a governess (of varying quality), and each says there is no money to send her to a day or boarding school. Poor kid.
Eventually each parent has a new spouse, but the pattern is set. One, Sir Claude, is loving but weak, the other, the once-governess at Maisie's father's house, now Mrs. Beale, has accomplished her goal of marriage and is not so interested anymore in Maisie. Maisie bonds most with Sir Claude, and when the opportunity comes to essentially run away with him, she takes it.
But more confusion reigns. Neither second marriage is happy, Sir Claude has fallen for Mrs. Beale, and these two plus the governess Mrs. Wix arrive in France, trying to sort out what will become of them all. At the end, it is Maisie who determines her own future.
What, after all this mistreatment, can a girl of 10 or 12 know?
>156 Oregonreader: it has been a long time since we have had a new Richard Jury. After creating a most remarkable romance for him, I think she couldn't quite decide what to do next. This in some way is a return to the old tropes, with Wiggins, Dr. Nancy, the old crew in the country, and Macalvie as well. Of course, there's a dog, quite a few of them this time. It was definitely the right book to read after The Glass Bees!
22. Whisker of Evil by Rita Mae Brown
more bubblegum. I think it's beginning to rot my teeth.
I really need to read something. Unfortunately, between Game of Thrones and other distractions, I haven't had the ability or inclination to sit and read. Pitiful, isn't it?
Jim's been sick this whole day too. it's been a beautiful spring day and I was too occupied and too restless to enjoy it. Oh well. There's always tomorrow.
>160 ffortsa: Hope the reading age tickles you very soon Judy and that Jim's throat doesn't tickle him.
Jim is much better, thanks, but now I'm recovering. I recall my father's macabre joke about the flu: some days you're afraid you won't die.
This recovery is definitely not a straight line. I managed to walk around Union Square Park today - that's about three blocks square - buy my essentials - lottery tickets, tiny pumpkin spice muffin - dump the composting stuff that was taking up room in the freezer. Oh, and I bought a replacement lightbulb. Exciting excursions. Now I'm exhausted. I suspect influences from Chicago.
I did get to read one new book, though.
22. Wilful Behavior by Donna Leon
One of Leon's better ones, I think, in which a young student of Paola's is killed after inquiring about clearing her grandfather's record from after WWII. People are indeed wilful in this story: an old lady who can't help loving a truly despicable follower of Mussolini, that same despicable fellow's penchant for collecting art to the loss of those attempting to escape Italy during the war, a notario whose whole family is obsessed with greed - and so forth. The only thought I had aside from enjoyment of this very satisfying mystery is that Brunetti wouldn't have been able to solve any of this without the extraordinary clandestine skills and connections of Signorina Ekatterina.
P.S. The touchstone only works if I leave out the second 'l' in the title. Weird.
And I'm catching up on Game of Thrones. Just finished the 5th season, so three more to go before the last, which starts airing soon. I admit to a certain amount of complication fatigue, or maybe violence fatigue. Had I not a date with Jim and his friend Ann to watch the last season together, I might have drifted away. It's like the middle of a very exciting book where everyone has to get realigned and the backstories sag a bit. Oh well.
I started to read A Gentlewoman's Guide to Murder, but it didn't work for me. A rare DNF.
I doubt anyone but me goes over to read my log of New Yorker articles from 2009, but October 12 of that year had such interesting articles I'm copying my comments here. I hope someone else finds them interesting.
Our Local Correspondents: The Secret Cycle by Nick Paumgarten
Martin Armstrong is one of those odd, focused people who see patterns other people miss - or he imagines them, take your pick. He noticed, for instance, that "a recurrence of major turning points in the economy and in world affairs that followed a distinct and unwavering 8.6-year rhythm. Six cycles of 8.6 years added up to a long-wave cycle of 51.6 years, which separated such phenomena as Black Friday and the commodity panic of 1920, and the Second and Third Punic Wars." He further noticed that 8.6 years was exactly 3,141 days, or pi times 1000. He became a financial consultant and very rich. He called the Nikkei high in December 1989, and the collapse of the ruble that wrecked Long Term Capital Management. He attracted the interest of the CIA, in a good way.
And then it didn't work, at least for Armstrong. He was charged with defrauding Japanese investors of nearly a billion dollars, and ended up in jail.
His cycles, however, marched on, at least in hindsight, when 2/23/2007 was seen as the day the credit spread was at its tightest, meaning the easiest credit, or the top of the credit bubble.
Paumgarten segues into a history of cyclomaniacs, including obsessions with Fibonacci sequences and what is now called the Elliot Wave Theory. By the time he gets back to Armstrong, he has been held in jail for contempt for seven years before trial, until he finally agreed to plead to one count of fraud, and then ended up in a New Jersey prison. He's still working on his theory. It's not pi per se. It's energy, waves of energy. It started with the Big Bang.
Letter from California: Call Me - Why Hollywood fears Nikki Finke
I know nothing about Nikki Finke. But it appears she is a major force of serious and sometimes damaging gossip and insider business information in Hollywood. And she does it all on the phone, never leaves her home, distributes it all via blog. Mesmerizing.
The Critics: Not So Fast by Jill Lepore
This review of "The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting It Wrong", starts out with Frederick Winslow Taylor and his made-up observations and statistics, which have ruled industry forever, it seems. But the most fascinating part of the story of management and efficiency studies is about the Gilbreths. This is the couple who raised a dozen biological offspring and were memorialized in Cheaper By the Dozen, but the real fascination is how much of efficiency studies is the work of Lillian Gilbreth (who supported, edited, and wrote much of her husband Frank's work), and who, when scheduled to give a lecture at M.I.T., "got five children ready for school, nursed her four-month-old, handed the two toddlers over the the housekeeper, and caught a ten-o'clock train". When asked to stay late after the lecture, "she told her host that she had eight children to get home to." So I guess she said no. But Lillian couldn't cook or clean or do laundry. Note the housekeeper. That didn't stop her from engineering model kitchens, which her housekeeper refused to use.
Lepore notes that rather than allowing more of what Lillian Gilbreth called 'happiness time', the results of management and efficiency have added cell phones, extended hours, and agita to our lives. "Eating dinner standing up while nursing a baby, making a phone call to the office, and supervising a third grader's homework is not, I don't think, the hope of democracy."
I almost forgot. We had tickets for "Network" tonight with Brian Cranston, and although we were both sort of post-sick worn-out, we went. Terrific show. Of course it follows the movie, and stays in period, so some of the references are out of date, but not the theme, and certainly not the money. Technically wonderful.
see a review here
23. The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin by Georges Simenon
Not one of Simenon's better Maigret mysteries. It takes half the story for Maigret to identify himself, and then Simenon stuffs him with all the revelations that explain the story. Sigh. Well, it was an impromptu trip to the library that fetched this fish up, and I read it in about an hour. No great loss.
On the same trip, I found half a shelf of Cotterill volumes in new bindings, and snagged The Woman Who Wouldn't Die, next on my list. So the trip was definitely worth it.
For my f2f groups, two short books are due in May. Pnin by Nabokov has been crumbling on my shelf for years, and I doubt this 35 cent Avon edition will withstand the act of reading. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis should be on the shelf, but alas, is nowhere to be found.
24. Game of Mirrors by Andrea Camilleri
A fetching young woman moves into the house down the beach from Montalbano. Her husband is away, and she clearly wants a relationship with our hero. Meanwhile, bombs are going off in front of empty warehouses, hurting no one. A message? To whom? Everyone is lying, of course, and it isn't until Montalbano turns the mirrors around that the picture makes sense.
>167 ffortsa: Interesting comments about the article by Jill Lepore. Lillian Gilbreth’s life sounds exhausting but fascinating (after a quick perusal of the Wikipedia article). I do find it interesting that one of her children is named Lillian M Gilbreth Jr. - not something one sees frequently.
>169 ffortsa: I’ve never read any of the Maigret books, but just received a copy of When I Was Old, Simenon’s ‘autobiographical notebooks, in which he recorded his observations, eperiences, anxieties and “all the silly ideas that pass through my head”, are one of the most candid self-portraits of a writer ever put on paper.’
Hi Judy. Just swinging through to see what you're up to. Sorry to hear that you and Jim have been so slow to recover from the crud, but your theater adventures are wonderful to read about. We have our last show at the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle in June and after that I'm going to think about building a couple of trips per year over to the city to see something on the live stage. Rather than season tickets, I'll be watching for single shows that are of interest. We'll see how it goes.
I've never read any of the Maigret books but noticed that a whole collection of them, newly re-published, were on the shelves at the U Bookstore when I was in Seattle last week. He seems to be very popular at present.
Interesting comments about the review by Lepore! Lillian Gilbreth is new to me but I agree that the efficiency "movement" (?) has not necessarily done us much good....
Thanks for stopping by! I've been a little slothful, as you can see by the gap in dates, although I do zoom by your threads and others a little more frequently than I post here. I haven't been reading much, but that's because of temptations like the one today, where the weather was ideal for walking and I strolled down the west side of Manhattan. 13,000 steps! It was a glorious walk.
I've just started Pnin. Had to throw out the old paperback I had, as it crumbled as soon as I touched it. So I got a Kindle edition, which should be a little more stable.
Friday night, Jim and I saw "What the Constitution Means to Me", a (mainly) one-woman play wherein the Constitution is compared to the treatment women have received in this country over the years. Heidi Schreck, who wrote and stars in this 90 minute performance, is an extremely engaging performer who makes great connections with the audience. I don't know how much of her stories are 'written' and how much they are her own and her family's, but they feel real, and her pointed examination of the Constitution is a series of telling examples of why we need an Equal Rights Amendment to codify women's status as full citizens and participants in this society. It would be easy to tour, so I hope it comes to a venue near you.
Agree about the Schreck play, Judy. It was very engaging and thought-provoking. I saw it the day after Kavanaugh's confirmation to SCOTUS, which did not go unremarked upon, as you can imagine.
Hi, Judy! I think The Dancer At The Gai-Moulin was mostly intended as a sort of joke: it's set in Simenon's home town in Belgium - where Maigret seems to end up with unlikely frequently - and is based on his own rather disreputable teenage behaviour (though not to the characters' degree of criminality, I hope!). Anyway, it makes more sense that way than as a mystery. :)
>177 lyzard: Hi. A very interesting remark. It certainly wasn't the usual psychological mystery!
It's too beautiful today to stay inside, so I'll have to get out and take a walk soon. I might even try to ride one of the Citibikes part of the way. And of course I'll take my reading along. Blissful to read outside.
eta: 5 miles, over 12,000 steps, and not much reading because it looks like Pnin is going to be embarrassed by his author and I really don't like that.
24. Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov
eta: I ended up liking this book about a gentle, displaced Russian trying to find some roots in the U.S. Of course, Nabokov is never just about storytelling, and this is also a sendup of university life and politics, a somewhat affectionate look at the ex-Russian community of intellectuals that found their way to the U.S., and the fragility of connection. Nabokov's language, as always, is wonderful.
25. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
eta: Strangely enough, Lucky Jim is also a sendup of academic life, this time featuring a young man misplaced in that milieu. I found it funnier than Pnin, and more optimistic. It took me a while to stop sneering at the callow youth and listen to his internal mologue as he tried to figure out what he wanted and what was expected of him. Not entirely misogynistic either, although Amis can get that way.
Well, I'm now neck-deep in three non-fiction books. How did that happen? They are
These Truths by Jill Lepore - almost finished
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg (listening)
Fooled By Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
They all share some degree of snark - Lepore is most mild, Isenberg and Taleb are head to head.
I think I need to find a nice mystery to balance things out.
26. The Woman Who Wouldn't Die by Colin Cotterill
Mystery found! Dr. Siri is intrigued by a report of a woman come back from the dead, in full contact with the spirits that stayed on their side, and when asked to investigate, he takes the opportunity. Meanwhile, someone is looking for Madame Daeng, a farang who might or might not be her former lover. All the usual suspects abound, and we learn a lot about Daeng's past as she reveals it to Dr. Siri. In the end, the mystery of the woman who wouldn't die is revealed, and the dead are satisfied.
27. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and in Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
I think I picked this up from our building's swap shelves. It's an advance uncorrected proof, and wow does it need corrections. I hope a copy editor and/or the author got hold of this in galley and fixed the grammar, typos, etc. and made sure the charts showed up!
Taleb, of course, wrote The Black Swan to describe the same theme of randomness, or the impact of the improbable, and he makes his living trading derivatives with just that in mind. This book is almost a screed against what he sees as the refusal of economists and traders to see the folly of their quest for patterns, even in the face of financial disaster. It's a little like getting into an Uber with someone determined to convert you to his religion. I felt at once mesmerized and battered.
Of course, it is true that people don't understand statistics, and don't see how their biases and emotions make it hard to understand true risk. Taleb is searching for a scientific appreciation of risk to balance those biases and emotions. Going back to the image of a black swan, he explains that just because no European had seen a black swan did not make the statement 'All swans are white' true. Understanding that rules must be refutable goes hand in hand with his emphasis on randomness, on clarity between correlation and causation, sorely lacking today.
I read it fast, which is probably not the ideal approach. We learn a lot about Taleb, at least what he wants us to learn, from his own perspective, and a lot about how snarky, insulting, and uncompromising he can be when randomness is discounted. Some of it is even fun.
Edited to correct spelling
We spent this morning at the New York Historical Society listening to Professor and author H.W. Brands from Texas talk about, among other things, Calhoun, Clay and Webster, and the attempts to hold the fledgling union together almost from the start, all the way up to the Compromise of 1850 and the last successful postponement of the fight for supremacy between the Union and the States. Brands was very good, and it's a part of U.S. history I didn't remember much about, so I was happy to attend. His book is Heirs of the Founders: The Epic Rivalry of Henry Clay, John Calhoun, and Daniel Webster, The Second Generation of American Giants.
Then I walked a while in Central Park, which is growing exuberantly on this exquisite spring day, before taking the 5th Avenue bus back home.
As I mentioned above, I'm listening to White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg, and I'm not sure listening is the best way to deal with this book. In the same vein as These Truths, Isenberg exposes the beginnings of this country as extremely class-conscious, in spite of rhetoric that would make us think otherwise. By the 1830s and 1840s, the distinction was no longer based on color, but also on a perceived lack of value of poor and landless people otherwise classified as 'white'. I'm up to the inclusion of Texas and the development of California, where the hidalgo level of society was accepted as Spanish (European) and everyone else was relegated to a level of society dictated by their degree of mixed blood.
The intensity of this scrutiny is depressing, as is the general tone of the Age of Jackson, so much like our age today. No wonder Trump has a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office - they are much the same in their attitudes toward power, their declared prejudices, and their disregard for those they consider beneath them.
There's a lot more to go, of course. I wish I had the text, for there were a few phrases I would have liked to quote here. I have reached the era of bloodlines, for people as well as horses, and it was explicit. What is wrong with people?
I have a couple of developing habits in my head. First, to do my violin practicing in the mornings, as a matter of habit, so it doesn't hang over other planned or unplanned events. I've done that for a few days now, and it relieves the overhanging pressure. And, I'm getting better. Not reliably in tune yet, but better.
Second, to try to reconnect with friends in the city that I have let drift away. As someone said, well, they let you drift too, but historically this is what I do and consequently I lack interesting company (company here excepted, of course!) So I plan to reach out (don't you hate that phrase?) to people I haven't spoken to or seen for a while. If they don't respond, I haven't lost anything but a little face.
No reading yet today. The day is gorgeous, the violin is played, and I have a book on my iPod, so I'm off.
Hi Judy! White Trash is on my shelves, waiting for the right time.
overhanging pressure Oh, yes. That's what happens to me a lot. I need to start following your example and get those pesky things done that otherwise loom.
A gorgeous day, your violin practice behind you, and a good book to listen to -- sounds like a wonderful day in the city! We are trapped inside while it monsoons (is that a verb?) outside in our temporary city of Taipei. Honestly, ready to go home.
I resonate with the "letting people drift away" phenomenon. When we moved to eastern Washington, I swore that I would stay in touch with friends in Seattle and I have done some of that. It's hard with life being as busy as it is. One thing I do: I collect post cards and I keep post card stamps on hand always and I send a quick card to someone now and then. Sometimes I get on a roll and send several to the same person several times over the course of a few weeks. It creates a lovely sense of connection.
Enjoy your day! Of course, you are exactly 12 hours "behind" me so it's really enjoy your night.
28. These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore
I've commented on this history on the group reading page before, and the last section of the book has not changed my mind about it. It is painful. The mythic history of the United States taught in my public schools did not prepare me for college history courses 50 years ago, and even with considerable learning, I don't feel I was prepared entirely for this history either. The United States is neither exceptional nor based in morality, as much as we would like to believe it. It exhibits all the errors and follies of humankind right from the start, and it doesn't feel these days that it's gotten any better. Presidents and other politicians we may have thought were better than most are shown with all their spots. The intolerable partisanship of current days is an echo of our history from the beginning. Our leaders are no more noble than the people who elect them.
Lepore is especially good at detailing the failings of our political system, over and over again, to provide fair, equal and supportive government to all our population. Many of us have heard of individual instances. This history shows the errors and failures in repetition. It is infuriating, heartbreaking, and discouraging, and thus important to know.
Highly recommended, even if you have to put it down from time to time and utter profanities, as I certainly did.
>191 ffortsa: I must get to that one, Judy, although I'm sure it will be a tough read. I had to smile at your recollection of the high school to college history transition. I had U. S. History from an English professor my freshman year -- what a shock!! Now I sometimes take heart from honest U. S. History and remind myself that we've survived some terrible "leaders" in the past and survived.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
>192 RebaRelishesReading: what Reba Said.
I think we can slip by the notion of "American Exceptionalism" and see the people who govern our country as human and fallible and not always so nice. ("Game of Thrones", anyone?)
The takeaway is that well -- it was always like this and well -- we sort of stumble and wobble and carry on. We're human. I love to quote Madison from "The Federalist Papers"
"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."-
So - we're no angels. But what we have sort of works. And so it goes.
29. White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
Finished this at last. I commented about it in #187 above, but I wasn't even half-way through at that point.
The good news(?) is that Isenberg is passionate about calling it as the evidence sees it, willing to explode any and all myths and heros of our past, right up to the most recent. Her detailed descriptions of how people justified class distinctions, especially against the 'white trash', are harrowing in their folly, and the mistreatment of the poor is heartbreaking.
But I did also detect a bit of private prejudice toward the end, as she describes the 'white trash' emergence in such entertainments as Nascar racing. Elvis, and TV comedies, even as she describes how proper schooling, nutrition and other useful supports are denied the people she otherwise champions.
The last part of her book, so close to our own time, is most chilling, as she exposes the ambivalences and prejudices of even the best of our leaders, and the follies of the worst of them. I"m sure her views would continue with our current governments, state and federal.
It was hard to listen to this book, partly because she repeats stories and quotes in different parts of the book. It would be easier to skip the repetitions on the page than on the recording. But overall, this book smashes a lot of icons that need smashing and suggests a change in perspective when we think about class, cycles of poverty, and prejudice. I think this book exposed at least as much of my white privilege as any book of racial injustice has done, and given some of my family tree, I should not have been so shaken.
The new book club books are Summer by Edith Wharton and The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron. I've made headway with the Wharton, and will have to start the Styron soon as it's a longer book.
I thought I had the Styron on my shelf, but it's not there. Hm. Ah, I have it in my Kindle collection. That raises a thought. If all your books are on electronic devices, how does a visitor know what you read? You know that line about not f**king someone who doesn't have books? (Asterisks added for the sensitive)
I liked Summer when I read it a few years ago, Judy.
And while I am buying more books for my Kindle, and using the library for e-book loans a lot more, I still buy hard copies of authors I love or books that I love but don't already own for some reason. Eventually, my print library will just be favorites, I think...
30. Summer by Edith Wharton
I read this for my June reading group, so there may be more comments after that. That I read it just after finishing Nancy Isenberg's White Trash was interesting. The novel is centered in the exact divide between the people of the town, with their manners and habits, and the people on the mountain, clear emblems of the lowest level of society. Charity Royall, saved from the mountain folk she was born into, grows up in the town, as a foster daughter to the Royalls. By the time she is of age, only Mr. Royall is left. When Charity falls in love with the polished nephew of the town doyen, predictable things ensue.
What interested me most was the tension between Mr. Royall and Charity, mostly the normal one between a parent and teenager, but also between a lonely man and a young woman; the suffocating attention of small town society; and the distinctions of class so well portrayed. Nothing surprised me, but the writing is lovely and full of details of nature and dress and feeling. I anticipated the ending, but not its tenderness.
I got tired of trying to record the New Yorker articles from October 2009, and managed to skip ahead to November of that year, where in the November 9 issue there are several wonderful articles, not the least an essay by Jill Lepore on homicide in America. If you can't find the article in its entirety, I've excerpted quite a lot of it here in the 10th entry Lepore is great at digging into a range of opinion on and with statistics, and also putting in the kinds of details that keep readers glued to the page. She's also a terrific speaker.
>191 ffortsa: You finished it! I'm thinking I'm going to have to fork over a credit on Audible so I can listen to this one instead of returning to reading it on my kindle. After this weekend, I simply MUST begin walking again.
>196 ffortsa: I enjoyed The Confessions of Nat Turner but acknowledge there is some controversy about the author's perspective.
>191 ffortsa: I have put These Truths down for a long time and just got back to it yesterday. I am glad you finished it and that you appreciated it. I was so happy to have you along on this group read. : )
>200 EBT1002: I instigated this dang group read and I am not done yet either!! LOL We can cheer each other on.
Happy LOOOOOOONG weekend.
31. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
I intended to reread this a couple of months ago, but couldn't get into it, then all of a sudden I started it on my Kindle and sailed through. It was just as lovely the second time, and now I can move forward with the next in the series.
Signs of progress on the decision-making front. We just bought a new rug for the bedroom, in record time. The woman at Macy's remembered us from several years ago when we bought our living room rug. This one should come in about three weeks, which is ok, because the floor beneath the old one needs some serious TLC.
And I've discovered that I can get the New Yorker in publication image on my computer or tablet, which means I am (shh!) considering throwing out the paper issues that are clogging up my storage locker. Only 9 1/2 years worth - how much space could that take up? If I had a basement, I wouldn't even consider it until the book bugs took over.
And I got in more than 12,000 steps today. It would register as more, but my Fitbit tends to register steps when I'm on the subway or bus, so I left it home when we went rug-shopping. (Does anyone have a pedometer that can be turned off when riding on bumpy rides? If I overwalk in one direction, I have to check the numbers before I take the subway home.) It was yet another beautiful day to be out in NYC, although too warm for May. Over 80F in MAY. August will be awful.
This week, we enjoyed a mini-meetup with our Boston friends, one of whom, Marianne, is MichiganTrumpet here on LT. Ate and drank a little too well for my scale to ignore, but had heaps of fun. I think Marianne posted the pictures on Facebook. And right after that, Jim and I met with a friend of mine who lives now in Dallas, whose women's choir was singing at Carnegie Hall! We hadn't been there in ages. AND, she treated us to dinner next door at the Russian Tea Room.
This week should be quiet. I hope.
32. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
What a hoot! I normally don't go for paranormal stories, but this is a little like J.D. Robb with dead accessories. Our P.I. is of service to the dead she sees, and has a few more special powers at her disposal, but there's a dark force haunting her specifically - or is it shielding her? When three dead lawyers appeal to her to help solve their murder and the case they were working on, she happily joins in, with consequences. Did I say it was laugh-out-loud funny as well?
>205 karenmarie: Thanks for the comments.
I notice there are two history books with the initial title "White Trash" and I don't know if I read the more popular or better reviewed one or not. So you might want to look them up first, before you settle on which to read.
33.@Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones
Uh-oh. I've been kidnapped by another series.
Jim and I and a friend went to see Fiddler on the Roof, the Yiddish version last night. None of us really speak Yiddish, but subtitles were provided and you really didn't need it except for the occasional witticism. It was really, really good, and the performers, many of them from the Folksbiene National Yiddish Theater, were excellent. Steven Skybell plays Tevye with verve, energy and virility that really works with the show.
I'm sure the Times had a review as well, and it has won awards downtown and moved up to Theater42 on 42nd Street, a really nice small theater, a real step up from the simple black box venues on that street. If you get to New York, or if it tours to someplace near you, I strongly recommend it.
Hi Judy - we have a good friend in that production! His name is Bruce Sabath and he plays the butcher, Lazar Wolf. We saw it when it was downtown but might go back to see it again. I'm glad it worked for you.
>208 ffortsa: I was lucky enough to see Herschel Bernardi as Tevye in the early 1980s. A friend of mine and I went. She's the daughter of a friend of Bernardi's from their New York and Hollywood days, and I got to go back stage and speak with him for a few minutes after the show. It was quite exciting.
>210 vivians: Oh no! Your friend wasn't performing that day. His understudy was quite good, so that was ok with us, but I'm sorry we didn't see Mr. Sabath.
34. The Sniper's Wife by Archer Mayor
I had sequestered this ebook on my Kindle with the WiFi connection off, so I could take my time reading it. Mayor generally sets his books in Vermont, of course, but Willie Kunkle takes the action to New York City this time, mostly to places I know pretty well, and it was interesting to see the plot play out down here. Willie, of course, leaves havoc in his wake, and his posse comes down to help. The mystery, while good, is secondary to seeing Willie in action mainly alone, navigating his past as well as the city.
I picked this one up now chiefly because I'm nibbling away at other books without focusing on any one. I need to finish The Confessions of Nat Turner by the 19th, and I've dipped into a survey of western philosophy after listening to a few episodes of the podcast "Open Source", which sparked my interest. Philosophy, especially before the existentialists, usually leaves me cold, but I thought I'd get my bearings. This is obviously not a book I can plow through beginning to end all at once.
And there are some other books that have been dormant on the stack for a while that I should really read or a) return or b) discard. I'm in a general cleanup mood, so maybe some of that will happen.
Random thought today. I was reading an old NYTimes Magazine article on Linn Ulllmann. I have her first novel on my shelf, but haven't read it yet. And I thought it might be mind-expanding to read a series of women's novels and/or short stories not originally written in English. Ullmann and Clarice Lispector come to mind immediately. Isabel Allende, I think. Anyone have a list?
>214 ffortsa: Oooh, I love lists! I am sure someone else will have a better/more comprehensive resource, but these are novels I've read & enjoyed. Most are either from the 1001-Books-to-Read list or an nyrb book:
Solitude by Víctor Català
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
The First Garden by Anne Hébert
The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe*
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
The Door by Magda Szabó
The House with the Blind Glass Windows by Herbjørg Wassmo
The Back Room by Carmen Martín Gaite
S. by Slavenka Drakulic
Claudine's House by Colette
The Twins by Tessa de Loo
Paradise of the Blind by Dương Thu Hương
Transit by Anna Seghers
*ETA: This might be really fun with a narrow focus -- translated mystery/crime novels written by women. Soho Crime and Europa both have international series and I am sure you could find lots more.
>215 ELiz_M: oh, what a good list! I've only read one of the titles, Suite Francaise, a d only one other author, Colette.
And you are right, there are some great Scandinavian mystery writers who are women.
35. Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones
I listened to this one, after I figured out how to get my library copy into Overdrive.
While I found the story just as fun and compelling as the previous ones, I'm not sure the listening choice was right for me. The narrator is terrific, but the wise-cracks and old jokes were more annoying to me out loud than they were on the printed page. Don't know why. I'll certainly continue the series, but probably in Kindle format.
39. Madame Maigret's Friend by Georges Simenon
Found this one at the library, quite by chance. Penguin is reprinting (or has already reprinted) the entire Maigret catalog, and this edition is easy on the eyes. And, of course, entertaining.
>204 ffortsa: I have First Grave on the Right on audio after Kim raved about it. Now with your comments, I'll have to move it up on the list. I walked/ran on the treadmill yesterday and realized that I need something to listen to while I do that. I'll finish listening to the next Walt Longmire and then I will give Darynda Jones a try.
>217 ffortsa: But those are interesting comments about the audio format. Hmmm. Well, I already bought the first one when I was on the verge of losing one of my credits, so I'll still give it a try that way.
40. Lone Star Noir edited bu Bobby Byrd and Johnny Byrd
This is another anthology from Akashic Books, in which the stories are set in a common place. This time it's not a city, it's the state of Texas, mostly east Texas but not at all confined to Dallas or Houston or Austin. And some of them are so good you can feel the grit of dry country between your teeth as you read them. It's divided into three section: Gulf Coast Texas; Back Roads Texas; and Big City Texas. Looking at the table of contents, I began reading it all over again.
I've been offline for a while, keeping my friend Shanni company as she had her hip replaced on July 3. It's utterly amazing how these things work. She was up and walking immediately, of course, and sent home after one overnight, but she lives alone and I didn't feel she should be alone the first few days. Unfortunately, she didn't remember her wifi password - sob. So we watched tv and slept and read. I'll check in with her, of course, but she seemed pretty much able to take care of herself.
Jim is RETIRED! I asked him last night what he planned to do today, and he got this funny look on his face. Just now he's getting his senior metrocard so he can ride the subway for half-price. This will be a real adventure for us, both being at home. There's a lot to do in this town, and I haven't really been pursuing stuff, but now that Jim is available, I'm up for all sorts of stuff.
eta: good deeds never go unpunished. I left my tablet at Shanni's. I think Jim will visit tomorrow and rescue it.
Congrats to Jim! Being retired is quite wonderful, as we both can attest.
Dropping my star! >224 ffortsa: Looks like you will be in for a busy time now that you have someone else to go to stuff with.
41. Six and a Half Deadly Sins by Colin Cotterill
A strangely confusing entry into the Dr. Siri mysteries. Siri, having retired yet again from the position of coroner, and Daeng, whose noodle house had burned down in the last episode, are tempted upcountry by a strange delivery in the mail. The Chinese invade Vietnam while they are there, and Chinese have also been building roads in the northern province of Laos. Phosey is also in the area, investigating two deaths near the Chinese road crew encampment. Confusion abounds, and Yao Ming is not in evidence.
The ending is rather strange. I actually checked to make sure there were more books in the series - maybe I'll figure out what's going on in the next book.
>227 ffortsa: The last book I read in the Dr. Siri series disappointed me somewhat, Judy. A little too psychic for my tastes!
Have a wonderful weekend.
>228 PaulCranswick: Which one was it? I sort of like the psychic touches in this context, although not usually.
42. Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny
Gamache is called upon to be one of three 'liquidators' of a will, and gets ensnared in a family feud going back to World War II.
I'm getting a little more tired of the perfection of Gamache, but I do like the other characters in the books so much I'll probably read the next one, coming out in August.
43. The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron
Read for our uptown book circle, which will meet July 23rd. More afterward.
Jim and I spent this past weekend in Williamstown, Mass. seeing theater with some LTers (Michigan Trumpet and Cameling) and their husbands and another couple. It was a lovely weekend, with a stunning production of "A Raisin in the Sun", which is coming to New York fairly soon. It's always good to see when a director and cast can breathe new life into what some would call an old warhorse. As Jim said, "no one told them this was an old play."
Good food and good company besides. Next time, since Jim has recently retired, we may spend a more liberal amount of time in the area; it's about a 5 hour trip by bus or car, each way.
From FB, it looked like you all were having a wonderful time!
My grandfather and father went to Williams, and my grandfather eventually settled in Williamstown, so I spent some time there in childhood. My father's half brother now lives in the house my grandfather built up on Stratton Road and posts gorgeous photos of the surrounding countryside and the Berkshires.
>233 katiekrug: Williams is building like crazy, it seems. We stayed at the Williams Inn, which is about to close - it's pretty run down now. The new Williams Inn will be on Spring Street on campus. No word yet what the college will do with the real estate freed up, but they own it, so I assume MORE building.
>230 ffortsa: I agree about Gamache, but even more I'm tired of her lazy writing style and editors who haven't guided her better. She has too many sentence fragments and uses too much punctuation instead of her words. I won't buy any of her books from now on since I've started using the library more again this year.
>232 ffortsa: Excellent weekend.
I'm trying to do a little culling, and as usual, the first thing I think about is passing along mystery stories I've read. I have 8 Andrea Camilleri titles - and I can get them from the library now as ebooks, so it makes sense to start here. Anyone interested?
The Potter's Field
Excursion to Tindari
Voice of the Violin
I'd be happy to mail in the US.
>237 ffortsa: That is a great offer, Judy. I like this series on audio, so I will stick with that format. I think I have only read 6 or 7. Need to get back to them.
I am really enjoying Big Sky. Are you a Jackson Brodie fan?
>239 msf59: I read the first Brodie a few years ago, and reread it last month so I could continue with the series. But other books intervened so far. I hear lots of folks enjoyed Big Sky. I'll catch up!
Thanks, Joe and Mark. I worry about some disaster happening (the WWBF, perhaps), where I won't be able to revisit these funny books, but they really need to go. I may check Paperbackswap to see if someone there wants them.
>242 karenmarie: Thanks. I put the Camilleri up on Paberbackswap and promptly dispensed with four of them. One that was requested is not in the good shape I initially thought it was, and I expect the requestor will cancel, but that's ok.
Culling is hard because I don't make a habit of it, and sometimes I don't remember if the book was one I wanted to keep! But our apartment runneth over.
I was visiting a friend in Pennsylvania on Thursday. He and his wife bought a house about three years ago, and it's very nice and spacious. I'm sure I could find room for all the books Jim and I have, but the area wouldn't suit us, alas. I might adapt, but Jim is a devotee of the city, and I'd rather not have to maintain the dreaded automobile.
>244 ffortsa: That's great. I used to work with a chap called Peter Gotobed whose family hailed from Little Snoring!
Have a lovely Sunday.
44. A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles
comments pending discussion on Tuesday
My library branch was closed and I sort of lost track of the two books I had borrowed from another one, but I finally returned them today. I've already listed Madame Maigret's Friend; the other was 45. Baghdad Noir, which I didn't quite finish. I usually get the Akashic series in trade paperback, or sometimes on Kindle, but to keep. I'll have to look for a copy of this one to add to the collection.
Fines were $5 EACH. Yikes. I haven't done that in a very long time.
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