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Papa Jim (jim53) reads in 2019

The Green Dragon

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Jan 16, 6:24pm Top

Happy new year, everyone! I'm inspired by others' efforts to be more planful about my reading this year, rather than just repeatedly grabbing the last thing that I heard about. I have a number of books on the shelf that I intended to read last year; I suspect I will read them this year only if I make a point of it. Keep the bullets coming, by all means, but I might react to some of them more slowly this year.

The first input into my plan is the list for our community's book club, which features these titles:
January: The Orphan Master's Son
February: Things Fall Apart
March: Eleanor and Hick
April:Shadow Land
May: A Gentleman in Moscow
June: Behind Closed Doors

The second input is a list of books I own but haven't gotten to:
The Poisonwood Bible
Graveyard Clay
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
and maybe a few more. I don't know if I can manage one of these a month; we'll see. Some of them are quite long.

I want to continue with the slight increase in reading F&SF that began last year, including the next volumes by Jemisin and Scalzi. I suspect I'll also see lots of ideas in this area in many of your journals. And I expect to read a bit more nonfiction this year, especially some works that reflect my interests in race, social justice, and spiritual growth.

More soon!

Jan 16, 8:21pm Top

We had a lovely visit with my sister and her husband in St. Augustine FL last week. I discovered a cool thing that airport bookshops are doing: you can buy a book and save the receipt, and return the book for a refund of half the price. I did not intend to find out about this practice; I planned to continue reading Sing, Unburied, Sing while travelling. I brought it in the car for our trip, and left it there :( So I needed a book for the flight. I bought Robert Crais's The Wanted, because he's been reliably pretty enjoyable and I didn't see anything that looked better. It was OK, but nothing exciting. The solution came out pretty suddenly at the end and there weren't many clues to follow. We did get the trademark Elvis Cole/Joe Pike humor, but the story wasn't as rich as some of his others that I've read. So there wasn't any question about returning it on the way home.

Jan 16, 8:48pm Top

Happy new year and happy reading!

Jan 16, 9:00pm Top

Glad to see you're continuing in your reading. I'm actually intrigued by your planned selections and will look forward to hearing your feedback.

Jan 16, 10:44pm Top

Good luck with your reading plan, and all the best for the new year!

Jan 16, 11:29pm Top

Happy New Year and all the best with your reading.

Jan 17, 7:23am Top

>1 Jim53: Happy reading for 2019! :)

Jan 17, 8:25am Top

Hippo Gnu Ear!

Jan 18, 1:09pm Top

Those are some good selections! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Jan 18, 3:27pm Top

Happy new year! Looking forward to your thoughts on what you read, and any other stray thought as well :-)

Jan 19, 11:22am Top

I just finished The Orphan Master's Son, which is a bit of a mind-blower. Johnson looks at what it means to live in a land whose reality is managed/dictated by propaganda, and what this means for concepts such as identity and freedom, not to mention how to relate to others. The going is not easy; we see torture and other violence, as well as emotional pain and confusion. The contrasts drawn between life in North Korea and the US are interesting: one Korean wonders what it's like to live in a land where you have to find your own work, earn money to buy food, and search for a spouse, rather than the security of having all these things provided by the state. The Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, is an important character. The style is mostly pretty dry, which fits with the personality of our protagonist and the stories he relates. One exception is the enthusiastic style of sections that consist of propaganda delivered by ubiquitous loudspeakers. Elements of the story reminded me of Waiting for Godot, The Plague, Shutter Island, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and The Book of the Short Sun. Is it the man who matters, or the stories about him?

Edited: Jan 22, 1:13pm Top

When I was in high school, I visited a bookshop in Georgetown, a row house with three stories. As I recall, there were shelves all along the winding staircases, which made navigating the steps interesting. On one of those shelves I found, and paid sixty cents for The Unicorn Girl, a cute fantasy by Michael Kurland, which I still own and have re-read several times over the years. I later picked up The Butterfly Kid, by Kurland's co-star Chester Anderson, which was entertaining in a hippy-dippy, Greenwich Village sort of way. Recently I found a copy of their collaboration, Ten Years to Doomsday, and I read it at bedtime since my current books weren't suitable. It was quite a disappointment. It owed a large debt to the original Foundation trilogy, going so far as to mention an Encyclopedia Galactica. The writing was perhaps even worse than Asimov's, and there was just one named female character, whose role in the story was insignificant. At least it did a pretty good job of helping me to drop off for a few nights.

My more recent bedtime book is The Consuming Fire, John Scalzi's sequel to The Collapsing Empire. He sure starts off with a lot of 'splainin'. I was warned that it's not as engaging as the first volume, but I'm hoping he'll return to its style of narration soon.

Jan 21, 8:07am Top

>12 Jim53: Re: Scalzi - He do return to form, but it takes some time for him to get there. Just keep going, and it will start to roll again.

Jan 21, 8:42am Top

>12 Jim53: Did you read any other titles in McCaffery's Acorna series? Having never read any of those, I'm interested in whether you found others in the series to be satisfying.

Jan 21, 7:08pm Top

>1 Jim53: Happy reading in 2019! May your plans all come to fruition. :o)

>11 Jim53: I'm happy to hear this one blew your mind, as I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was a bit tough to take in places, though. :o/

Jan 22, 1:14pm Top

>14 jillmwo: Sorry, I didn't verify the touchstone for The Unicorn Girl. I fixed it. The only McCaffrey I've read are the first few Pern novels.

Jan 22, 6:00pm Top

>16 Jim53: Thanks for the clarification. You must have thought I was "half-witted while posting". (Is there an acronym for that condition? HWWP?)

Jan 22, 8:04pm Top

>13 Busifer: Thanks for the encouragement. I am enjoying the story line with Marce and his voyage. And once I saw the lawyer's name, there was s sentence that I felt sure I would be reading before too long. And there it is on page 162.

Jan 23, 3:13am Top

>18 Jim53: I listened to the audiobook, so have no idea of relevant page numbers, but I can guess! ;-)

Jan 23, 1:14pm Top

I finished The Consuming Fire, which turned out to be fun, although i agree with those who said it wasn't as good as the first volume. I'm not entirely sure i like the way that Grayland was able to learn so much; did that bother anyone else? I see problems in terms of narrative and morals. But given that the info is there, she's quite sharp to grasp it. And it's great to be reminded of that wonderful third-century band, The Rupture.

I particularly liked this line: "Kiva considered that she might be developing a thing for Fundapellonan, which on the one hand would be a very not-Kiva thing to do, but on the other hand who gave a (deleted) if it was 'not-Kiva,' because she wasn't some (deleted) fictional character destined to do whatever some (deleted) hack wanted her to do."

Now I'm looking forward to more, moreso than I would have said after reading the first hundred pages.

Jan 23, 2:19pm Top

I, too, felt troubled by the construct used to transfer such a load of information to one person. The one thing that troubled me the most was the not very disguised allegory between The Flow and its collapse and Global Warming, with the parallels in rhetoric, entrenched standpoints, and protectionism regarding trade rights/personal short term profit vs long term sustainable world/society.
In the main I managed to put all that in the background, though, partly because I enjoyed Kiva so much. (BTW that line is one of my favourites, too. It really says everything about who she is.)

Jan 25, 10:32am Top

>21 Busifer: yeah, I saw the global warming allegory too, although at one point I wondered if he was also riffing on Brexit. In addition to Kiva, I found Cardenia pretty attractive too. She's an interesting mix of humility and cunning. It's interesting how self-aware most of the major characters seem to be.

Jan 25, 10:43am Top

I flew through Kingdom of the Blind, the latest of Louise Penny's mystery series featuring Armand Gamache. It has all of the usual strengths and aggravations of the series: several intersecting story lines, very good writing with occasional annoyances (in this one it's her habit of making subordinate clauses into separate sentences. By using periods instead of commas), mysterious conversations that we know will be explained later, feelings and expressions of love among the residents of Three Pines, occasional humor, and Gamache's hand controlling surprising events behind the scenes. Not one of the very best of this excellent series, but a solid four-star read.

Jan 25, 10:47am Top

>23 Jim53: I have the same annoyance. With Penny's prose style. As you do. I do love the books though. While I was visiting a friend in the US last summer we found a TV adaptation of Still life and watched it. It was great!

Jan 25, 10:50am Top

>23 Jim53:
with occasional annoyances (in this one it's her habit of making subordinate clauses into separate sentences. By using periods instead of commas)

That annoys me too. Because it is totally unnecessary. I think.

Jan 25, 3:27pm Top

I'm bouncing back and forth between my interrupted read of Sing, Unburied, Sing and my book club's next entry, Things Fall Apart. I'm having some trouble getting traction in either. One reason I'm interested in the Ward is that it was chosen for the One Book, One Philadelphia program, and there are a variety of related programs being held over the next couple of months. Is anyone else looking at that? jillmwo? So far it's been a little bit too much trouble to get into town, but I'm hoping to get to a couple.

Jan 26, 11:14am Top

>26 Jim53: I'll be honest with you. I was so horrified by the descriptive blurb on Amazon talking about Sing, Unburied, Sing that I couldn't imagine reading it for entertainment. I realize that the prose is supposed to be marvelous, but reading a tale of a mother on meth traveling with two small children up along the stretch of the Northeast Corridor didn't sound like entertainment to me. It would be painful not like reading Bastard Out of Carolina.

I had less trouble with Things Fall Apart, but can't now tell you why.

Jan 28, 11:49am Top

>26 Jim53: I have read both books and thought they were both works of genius.

>27 jillmwo: I found Sing, Unburied, Sing way less horrible to read than Bastard Out of Carolina, both were great books, tho. Works of art challenge us, and sometimes they challenge us not to look away from unpleasant things. Still, I have to be in the right mood to tackle something challenging in that kind of way.

Jan 28, 7:38pm Top

>27 jillmwo: >28 littlegeek: Thanks, lg, well said. I wouldn't say that I'm reading Sing, Unburied, Sing for entertainment; perhaps for edification, trying to understand better the experiences of those whose lives have been so different from mine. I'm not really finding it a painful read, because she's doing so many things so well. It's slow going because I'm afraid I'll miss out if I read quickly.

Jan 29, 1:55pm Top

>29 Jim53: Though much is sad in Sing, Unburied Sing, there is also so much love. This makes the difference, I think.

Jan 30, 10:30am Top

>30 littlegeek: I agree. I finished the book last night and find it staying with me. There is a lot that feels mysterious. I've started a separate thread to discuss it over here:


I hope you and others who have read it will join in!

Jan 31, 12:31pm Top

With my recent books not being suitable for bedtime, I've been reading Emma Bull's Finder before I fall asleep. I grabbed it from the library's giveaway shelf because I enjoyed her War for the Oaks so much a couple of years ago. It had a stamp from the Brooklyn Public Library, so it's made the rounds. I realized only after reading it that it's part of a shared-world series, with books by other authors including Will Shetterly.

Finder takes place in Bordertown, a town near the border between the World (ours, apparently) and Elfland. Bordertown's residents include humans, elves, and halfies (the species can interbreed). Orient is a human with the gift of being able to find things; born in the World, he ended up in Bordertown by accident while running away from a bad situation. His best friend is an elf named Tick-Tick, who has a gift for mechanical things; it sounds as if both had issues with being accepted. When a virus is released that promises to turn humans into elves, but ends up killing them, the police recruit Orient to help track down the source.

I liked the friendships among different sorts of people, including humans, elves, and a wolf-boy who communicates by scribbling on a pad. The mystery element was built around Orient's gift pretty well. There is real sadness, and an ending with as much realism as closure. The story works OK as a standalone, but I can see it working better as one of several other stories about Bordertown. Im undecided about tracking down any of the others--has anyone (here) read them?

Edited: Feb 1, 7:42am Top

>32 Jim53: I've read and enjoyed some of the Bordertown short stories, in The essential Bordertown and the first collection, Borderland (I preferred the former). I also read the two Shetterley novels, Elsewhere and Never never and enjoyed them too. I have the newest anthology, Welcome to Bordertown, on Mount TBR ... maybe I will dip into it now you've reminded me how much I like that world. I see that the Shetterley books are quite cheap on kindle in the UK, so if the same pricing applies in the US maybe that's the way to go.

Feb 1, 10:20am Top

>32 Jim53: no I haven't. WftO was excellent. I've read some of her Liavek and much better Shadow Unit books, both also shared world. Sounds fun though so I'll keep an eye out. .

Feb 5, 8:11pm Top

It took me a little while to get the rhythm of Things Fall Apart. In the early stages I kept looking for links among the things that happened. Finally the penny dropped and I realized that we were seeing a depiction of life on Okonkwo's village before the arrival of white missionaries and governors. Life was simple, and very patriarchal, but the culture was rich: there was proper behavior for all of life's passages and intersections, and a strict ordering of the village's hierarchy. Things appear to have been pretty stable for generations. Okonkwo, who has risen to a leading role despite his father's lack of achievement, is a proud man and a violent one.

When Okonkwo accidentally kills a boy, he is banished for seven years and moves to the village of his mother's family. There he prospers again, but he is impatient for the chance to return to his own village. By the time the seven years are up, white men from England have appeared: first a missionary, eventually troops and governors. Their religion and their political domination of the clan cause Okonkwo and his friends to feel that their world is falling apart.

Achebe portrays the village life as almost idyllic, but he shows us the problems with violence and with Okonkwo's quick temper. His depiction of the missionaries is balanced: they are not the evil empire, and in fact members of the clan convert to the strange new religion. So this is not just "things were great till the British came along." But clearly the conquerors have begun destroying the clan's way of life, and will continue to do so. Things Fall Apart is the first book of Achebe's African trilogy; I have requested the subsequent volumes from the library (I have to get them to send them from the inner burbs out here to the frontier). The book is understated but powerful; I'm very glad to have read it, and I'll be interested to see all the reactions in our book club discussion. Four stars.

Feb 5, 8:22pm Top

I've met Catriona McPherson briefly a couple of times at crime-fiction conferences. She has a quick and active wit and is a lot of fun. The only book of hers that I'd read was As She Left It, which was quite good. When I saw a description of Scot Free, subtitled "The lighter side of the dark underbelly of the California dream," it sounded like an amusing read. And it was. A young Scottish woman, working in northern California as a marriage therapist, is wrapping up her last case before returning to Dundee, helping an eighty-something couple end their marriage amicably, when the man turns up dead. She tries to help the wife, who is a suspect, deal with the investigation, gets pulled in herself, etc., etc. As a mystery it's nothing special, although she does a good job of not tipping her hand early. The humor is quite broad and occasionally very funny. A nice bedtime read; three stars.

Feb 7, 9:53am Top

After finishing Things Fall Apart, it seemed appropriate to look at things from the POV of the missionaries, some years later, so I've started The Poisonwood Bible. I tried it last year, when I was sick but didn't know it yet, and had trouble staying with it, but this time I'm finding it delightful.

Feb 7, 10:02am Top

>35 Jim53: Things fall apart is on my TBR pile. I should try and get to it sooner rather than later to judge from your comments.

Feb 10, 8:26pm Top

I've read about two thirds of The Poisonwood Bible and am very impressed. She does a great job with the points of view, and has found organic ways to bring in larger history

Feb 13, 5:44pm Top

The Poisonwood Bible was pretty great. I know I'm one of the last folks here to read it and that this isn't news to those who have. That's three excellent novels this year, which is a good start. I'm wondering about an Africa theme for some subset of my optional reading this year.

I've been reading At Home in the World, a collection of one- and two-page pieces by Thich Nhat Hahn. The pieces are so short that many of them are underwhelming, but I find the constant reminders to be present very helpful.

Feb 14, 9:26am Top

>40 Jim53: I haven't read The Poisonwood Bible yet, although it is on my TBR shelf. In fact, I've read nothing by that author yet because although I've heard enough about her to make me think I will like her writing, I feel I should read that one first, and when my mother read it she said it was terribly depressing. So that has given me pause.

Feb 14, 8:21pm Top

>41 MrsLee: I wouldn't call it depressing, although I can see regarding it that way. The missionary's wife and daughters are certainly in a bad situation. I found it interesting to see the different ways in which Kingsolver has each of them deal with it. The mother has a tough time, and I can imagine any mother identifying with her as the primary character and finding the story a downer. I tended to keep my view on the whole picture, and I found the storytelling and the writing pretty wonderful. I wonder how much my experience of the book was influenced by reading it just after reading Things Fall Apart. Others who have read The Poisonwood Bible, would you describe it as depressing?

Feb 14, 8:26pm Top

I started Lincoln in the Bardo today. Wow. I have enjoyed Saunders's short stories, and much of the writing here is comparably wonderful. He creates distinguishable voices for different ghosts, reflecting their lives, and his depiction of the grieving Lincoln is very convincing. I'm curious about the "next thing" that the ghosts must choose to move on to, and why the ones from whom we're hearing haven't chosen to do so. I'll provide a more coherent description/reaction when I'm done ;-)

Feb 18, 8:58pm Top

>40 Jim53: I was blown away by this one. I've read a bunch of her books, this this was something completely new for her. Amazing.

>43 Jim53: That one is a doozy, is it not? There was one bit I found a bit off-putting, but in general I greatly appreciated it.

Feb 20, 1:23pm Top

Finally made it over here. I was really interested in your review of Things Fall Apart, a book I hope to get to at some point. Great review. Poisonwood Bible has been collecting dust in my shelves too. Glad you’re enjoying Lincoln on the Bardo, a terrific book I took in through the bewildering audio (it’s terrific once you figure it out, but I had to listen to the beginning twice before things made any sense...well, and then listen again after I was done, but that’s just the nature of the book).

Enjoyed your thread.

Feb 20, 8:21pm Top

>45 dchaikin: Thanks for stopping by, Dan, and for your kind words. I read the paper version of Lincoln in the Bardo, and adjusted fairly quickly; I can only imagine how confusing the audio book would be. I agree that it's terrific; I'm very interested to see what Saunders does next. I particularly like the idea of how the experience "changed" Lincoln. I think. It was interesting that he formatted the conversations among the presumably fictional characters the same way as the citations from other sources. The format got a bit old in a few places, but overall it's a tremendously imaginative work.

>44 clamairy: I'm curious about what you found off-putting. More please?

Feb 20, 8:47pm Top

One of my fellow MLK Advocates has been encouraging us all to read White Fragility, so I ordered a copy and started it today. It's quite well written and cogent. I'm looking forward to discussing it.

For evenings, I snagged a copy of Grey Sister, the sequel to Red Sister, which I enjoyed last year. Nothing beats killer nuns. I also put a hold on City of Brass (good shooting, Jill) and will get to that soon.

Feb 21, 9:58am Top

>47 Jim53: Jillmwo did a professional hit on me with The City of Brass. Two quick taps to the back of the head and I was down. I have about 100 pages left to go and have already ordered the sequel which is due for publication here today. It is an enjoyable read. I hope you will enjoy.

Feb 21, 12:20pm Top

>48 pgmcc: good to hear!

Feb 22, 5:25pm Top

>47 Jim53: Well, I for one am interested in your findings on White Fragility. I believe the author spoke at ALA Midwinter. Not having traveled to Seattle for that event, I missed it.

Feb 25, 7:28pm Top

I finished Grey Sister. It was OK, but I didn't feel pulled back to it as I did with Red Sister. He does a nice job of bringing a lot of threads together at the end. I'll certainly look for the third one when it becomes available, but not too urgently.

Feb 27, 7:14pm Top

I found White Fragility to be excellent and compelling. Here is my review:

White Fragility is an important, cogent, well written book. I wish everyone would read it. DiAngelo begins with the premise that western society is built on white supremacy. We are bombarded with a preference for whiteness in virtually every context. "Fragility" is the term she uses to describe how white people react to discussions of race and bias, turning the problems on the messenger rather than accepting that their words and actions reflect an inherent bias based on the society's systematic racism. This acceptance is the first step required to combat the systematic racism. We also need to stop hiding behind our good intentions and accept that the effects of our words and actions matter in themselves. A good bit of humility is called for, and a willingness to accept feedback and learn from it. This is an outstanding contribution to the effort, and it includes pointers to many more.

Mar 1, 1:40pm Top

I finished another nonfiction: Thich Nhat Hahn's At Home in the World. I was disappointed with this one. The entries are so short that with few exceptions they can't do justice to the incidents that they describe or the concepts that they illustrate. There's too much "I got into this situation, I did this correct thing, life was beautiful." More fleshing out of each piece would have been a big improvement. 2.5 stars.

Mar 1, 3:14pm Top

>52 Jim53: - Took a hit on that one - thanks.

Mar 2, 8:27pm Top

Exit West is one of several intriguing-looking books that LT says I should borrow from kidzdoc. Since he's too far away, I borrowed it from my public library instead. Hamid tells the story of Saeed and Nadia, twenty-somethings in an unspecified Middle-eastern country that is at war with itself. After we spend some time seeing them there, we find that their world contains doors that enable people to move instantly to another part of the world. This is presented very matter-of-factly, with minimal sensawunda. We see Saeed and Nadia, among many others, moving and starting new lives in a new part of the world. Without going into a lot of detail, Hamid shows us societies adjusting to this virtually unstoppable form of immigration and the crises it creates. He slides easily between telling us about the days of our protagonists (who I think are the only characters with names) and showing us enough of the bigger picture to help us see the world as he imagines it. At one point he shows us a family living in one place for a long time and observes that we are all migrants through time, if not through space. The book is short, the telling deceptively simple but thought-provoking. I'm glad to have read it. Four stars.

Mar 2, 8:34pm Top

I've gotten started with City of Brass, and I see the attraction. It looks as if it will take a while, especially if I read it primarily at bedtime, which seems likely so that I can keep up with other things, such as our next book-club book, Eleanor and Hick.

Mar 3, 2:21am Top

>56 Jim53:
I hope you enjoy The City of Brass.

Mar 4, 3:58am Top

>55 Jim53: I have had the pleasure of meeting Darryl (kidzdoc) in person on many occasions as he makes frequent visits to London. He does indeed have excellent taste in books! Glad you enjoyed Exit West; the use of an SF device to raise issues around a real world problem is interesting to me.

Mar 5, 10:49pm Top

I've been reading the short interviews in The Jazz Ear. Ratliff sits down with a musician, whom he asks to select a few pieces of music to discuss. Really interesting variation in how different musicians think about music.

Mar 8, 3:32pm Top

I've turned most of my attention to Eleanor and Hick, which I'm reading for our community book club. It tells the story of Eleanor Roosevelt's long-time relationship with reporter Lorena Hickok. The style is rather dry and journalistic; it's easy going but not all that much fun. I'm still reading City of Brass at bedtime, but I'm finding the Ali sections seem boring in comparison to the more exciting Nahri sections.

Mar 8, 5:50pm Top

>60 Jim53:. Be patient with Ali.

Mar 11, 11:36am Top

>61 pgmcc: I have been. They have arrived in the city and I expect all this groundwork that she's been laying to come to fruition soon.

Eleanor and Hick is turning into a real chore. The subject is at least somewhat interesting, but the telling is ridiculously flat. The author makes no distinction between trivial day-to-day matters and more significant events. At least it's quite long :(

Mar 14, 1:39pm Top

OK, I finished City of Brass. The epilogue confirmed some things that I had wondered about and lends greater interest to the continuation of the story. Without it, I'm not sure I'd have picked up the next one. Even with it, it will probably be a while. 3.5 stars, not fabulous but not great. I wish we had seen earlier in the book more of what the epilogue hints at; it would have made for more ongoing interest (for me, anyway).

Mar 14, 2:57pm Top

>63 Jim53: U-hu. And here I have it lined up for reading in the near future, maybe I'll go with one of the other two that is in the competition...

Mar 14, 3:27pm Top

>64 Busifer: Others, including Jill and Peter, have been more enthusiastic about City of Brass than I am. As they say, YMMV. I'm aware that I started the year with several pretty great reads, so my standards are pretty high right now. I don't regret having spent the time to read this one, but I'm not jumping-up-and-down excited about it.

Mar 14, 6:46pm Top

>64 Busifer: & >65 Jim53: One of the things I liked about it was the use of different viewpoints to give the reader a balanced view of what was happening and what was the thinking on both sides of a cultural divide. Given my origins I found this a marvelous approach. It took it out of the fictional space and told me a real story in allegory; it reminded me of home and the mistakes made on both sides of the sectarian divide.

Mar 14, 7:55pm Top

>65 Jim53: Mileage does vary from reader to reader, (thank goodness). I still plan to read these books but I also plan to wait for all volumes to be published. GRRM has taught me that lesson all too well. Besides, there is plenty on the TBR to keep me occupied while waiting. ;-)

>66 pgmcc: Thanks for that perspective. I often forget to think in terms of allegory when reading fiction. Some titles, (Animal Farm, for instance), are quite obvious in that regard, while others are not. The less obvious ones tend to fly over my head with a soft *whoosing* sound...

Mar 14, 10:19pm Top

>67 ScoLgo: I have heard that “whooshing” sound often enough myself.

Mar 15, 11:23am Top

>66 pgmcc: I was certainly reading it as a commentary on different forms of racial/religious animus and discrimination, and that added interest, particularly because it wasn't clear whom she regarded as better or worse in that respect.

Mar 15, 11:34am Top

I finished Eleanor and Hick, which had the potential to be interesting but was told in such a nice boring way that it turned into a bit of a snoozefest. I'll be interested to see whether the others in our book club felt the same way. OTOH, I really enjoyed finishing up The Jazz Ear, with interesting interviews of numerous jazz figures.

Not sure what will be next; I just received a new ER book, Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss, which looks entertaining, and the library has just come through with a copy of Barbara Brown Taylor's latest, Holy Envy. Plus I've got a few other things I want to get to. I guess too many is better than too few!

Mar 15, 11:57am Top

>69 Jim53: I thought the balance was very good. I thought it showed that any such conflict is never simple and that there is seldom a right and a wrong side; just varying degrees of misunderstanding and manipulation.

I did think that Dara acted unnecessarily belligerently to be consistent with his character as it had been presented up to that point. However, had he not done so the story may not have had the crisis points needed to tell the tale. There are still mysteries we have not been told. It is obvious that there are secrets about Ali's past and I do not think we have heard the full story of Dara's background.

As this is Friday 15th March, and St. Patrick's Day is Sunday, I shall wish you a very HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!.

Edited: Mar 16, 9:32am Top

<66 Thanks for the added perspective. I tend to look for allegory and underlying ideas; we'll see how the book fare when I come around to reading it :-)

>71 pgmcc: Happy St Patrick's to you, too!

Mar 16, 9:56am Top

Can't see me celebrating St Pat here, but happy (and safe) St Patrick's Day to everyone who does celebrate it. Peter, would you mind dedicating a Guinness to me?

Mar 16, 5:40pm Top

>72 Busifer: & >73 haydninvienna: HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY to you, too. Thank you for your good wishes.

Richard, I would be honoured to dedicate a Guinness to you. Do not be jealous, Pella; I shall dedicate a Guinness to you too. :-)

Mar 17, 12:13pm Top

>74 pgmcc: Not too fond of stout - I'm more of an ale person - but I appreciate the sentiment :-)

Edited: Mar 18, 2:54pm Top

>75 Busifer: Smithwicks is now producing a nice Pale Ale. I shall dedicate one to you.

Mar 18, 2:14pm Top

>76 pgmcc: I'm delighted!

Mar 18, 4:21pm Top

Oh I used to love Smithwicks.

Mar 18, 4:45pm Top

>78 Bookmarque: I still do!


Mar 18, 6:56pm Top

I suppose I do too, but I don’t drink beer much anymore, and haven’t seen it in WI.

Mar 18, 9:40pm Top

In News of the World, we get Captain Kydd, a former printer and Civil-War soldier who makes a living by travelling around Texas and reading selections form newspapers at gatherings in small towns. He accepts the task of accompanying a ten-year-old girl, recently ransomed from the Kiowa, to relatives near San Antonio. Johanna remembers very little of her life before her time with the Kiowa, and she adjusts slowly as the Captain's tries to teach her English ways. The two develop an affectionate relationship as she helps him fight their way through country left lawless after the war. I don't know much of the relevant history, but Jiles gives us a bit of an idea of what it would be like. The book is short (208 pages) and pretty enjoyable reading, although she doesn't use quotation marks. This didn't bother me at all, but I know some folks don't like it. I envisioned the captain as Tommy Lee Jones as Captain Coll. He reflects on events, briefly but with some insight.

OK, back to ale and stout ;-) And a belated happy St. Patrick's Day to all.

Mar 19, 3:30pm Top

We toasted the Saint's day with Rogue Brewery's Dead Man's Ale. Very nice.

>81 Jim53: That sounds like a fun book to read.

Mar 19, 4:54pm Top

>82 MrsLee: There is a pub not far from here called “The Deadman’s Inn”. Best pub name ever!

Mar 19, 6:58pm Top

>82 MrsLee:

I recommend News of the World. The movie is supposed to come out later this year.

Edited: Mar 20, 5:54pm Top

From Carol Pouliot:

Mar 20, 6:07pm Top

Mar 21, 9:11am Top

>85 Jim53: lol!

>81 Jim53: & >84 suitable1: LT says I have that book, in hardcover no less. The cover is familiar. But do you think I can find it at the moment? Not a bit. I think our clamairy liked it too, those are enough recommendations for me to put it on by TBR soon pile, if it can be found. :/

Mar 21, 5:26pm Top

I zipped through my ER book, Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss, and reviewed it. An economics professor is forced to reexamine his life after a heart attack. Not nearly as dull as that sounds ;-) Chandra and other characters are well realized, and the author has a good sense of absurdity. Not a fabulous read but a good one--3.5 stars.

Mar 22, 9:19am Top

>85 Jim53: Love it! It's just made my colleague laugh out loud too - probably because we both work in a library.

Mar 22, 9:27am Top

>87 MrsLee: I found News of the World! Last night, after I had given up looking for it, I decided to grab a book to read out of a very inaccessible part of my shelves, thinking that I didn't want to store books there anymore. This is a place I had looked at three times for that book. I reached down without looking and pulled out a book, and what do you think it was? Yes, News of the World.

Mar 22, 11:25am Top

>90 MrsLee: I often find things after I give up looking for them. But it doesn't always work.

Mar 22, 11:28am Top

I can't remember who it was that mentioned Hope Never Dies, an Obama/Biden mystery. I saw it on the new-books shelf at the library yesterday and couldn't resist. It's quite silly; I don't even know if I'll finish it, but it's been good for a few chuckles.

Mar 22, 2:40pm Top

>90 MrsLee: & >91 Jim53:
My wife and I have taken a weekend trip to Westport in County Mayo. (Photos and details will follow when we get back.) I mention it here because I spent two hours last evening looking for my camera battery charger. I knew I was always careful with it and always put it back into my big camera bag. (It’s a big bag; not a bag for a big camera.) I recalled having used it but thought I had put it back into the bag. I remembered having trouble finding it before and found it in a particular pouch in my bag which I had discovered but could not find the last time I looked. I sesrched my other camera bag. I searched every room. I even went back to the big bag to see if I was misding something; I felt around the sides and lining to see if I could feel anything in a hidden section.

I was about to give up when I moved the bag and noticed a zip under a strap. Do I need to go on?

I wonder if I shall be able to remember where that compartment is the next time I am looking for the charger.

Mar 22, 9:21pm Top

>93 pgmcc: sometimes I wish I could use those arrows that you put into images in the real world.

Mar 23, 9:48am Top

>91 Jim53: & >93 pgmcc: Something is definitely up. I think we need to call The Doctor. Yesterday at work both my boss and I were missing important documents. Documents which we knew exactly where they should be. If they show up in those places on Monday, we will know that it is the work of aliens or poltergeists.

Mar 23, 10:11am Top

Yep, that would be three times, which definitely indicates enemy action.

Mar 23, 10:13am Top

>95 MrsLee:
Do not forget the fairies; they are always up to mischief.

Mar 23, 10:16am Top

Joe: Can we solve this?
Barack: Yes, yes we can.

Mar 23, 7:30pm Top

This looks potentially interesting:


I'm mildly curious about what he's done, but I don't know if I'll ever find out.

Mar 23, 8:27pm Top

Hi Jim - Just catching up on Club Read intros and wanted to say welcome!

Mar 24, 11:59am Top

>99 Jim53: I agree, mildly interested.

Mar 24, 6:16pm Top

>100 auntmarge64: Welcome, Aunt Marge! Thanks for stopping by.

Mar 24, 9:22pm Top

I did go ahead and finish Hope Never Dies. The narration, in Biden's voice, is a bit whiny. But the story moves along pretty well. I had guessed one crucial detail before it was revealed; mostly it's all revealed at the end, so if anyone should consider reading the book as if it were really a mystery, don't bother. It's mostly just having a bit of fun with the personae of #44 and his sidekick.

Today I began Holy Envy, which describes BBT's experience in teaching a world religions course and her reflections on learning in detail about other faiths. It's off to a good start, but I don't think I'll read it at bedtime. Decisions, decisions...

Mar 25, 7:31pm Top

>99 Jim53: I saw the same article via links on Twitter. I can't quite fathom what the issue is. Who is in control of the C.S. Lewis literary estate these days?

Mar 27, 11:04am Top

>104 jillmwo: According to the C.S. Lewis Foundation website, the copyright rests not with them, but with an entity known as The C.S. Lewis Company.

As far as I can see, the issue is quite simple: Francis Spufford wishes to make money by making use of the copyrighted characters, settings and written material (quotes) of another author.

The copyright holders, a media company, are not convinced that his work will not tarnish their brand, and impair their ability to make money out of the deceased author's own works, so they have declined to license these characters and settings to Spufford, or give him permission to publish those quotes.

If Spufford has really just written it for his daughter to enjoy, without any intention to profit by it, he could always publish it for free on the web. But as long as he wants to make money from another author's copyrighted creation, only his "select few" will see it.

The 75 copies seems to be a rather cynical ploy to recruit voices to harry the company and persuade them of the merits of his book, to get them to change their collective mind.

Mar 28, 5:21pm Top

I decided I wanted a comfort read, so I picked up the next entry in SJ Rozan's Lydia Chin and Bill Smith series, Reflecting the Sky. It's one of the best I've read in this series. It's an odd-numbered book, so it's Lydia's turn to narrate. She and Bill travel to Hong Kong to deliver a gift from an old man who died to his young grandson. When they arrive, the boy has been kidnapped. The family doesn't want to involve the police, so they engage Lydia and Bill to find their son. Of course, this gets them into all sorts of complications and trouble. Rozan does a great job of showing Lydia's fascination with Hong Kong and her exploration of its sights and smells (and oppressive heat). The plot is a bit loose at the beginning because we really don't know what's going on, but it progresses logically. Now I want to zip through several more of these.

Edited: Mar 28, 5:57pm Top

>105 -pilgrim-: Okay, if that's the situation, then you're right that it's purely an issue of Spufford making the effort to gain the necessary permissions. I thought there was something more arcane or legally murky being discussed by the various parties.

>106 Jim53: I have enjoyed the Lydia Chin books as well, although I haven't read as many of them as you have.

Mar 29, 12:53am Top

>107 jillmwo: With the whole issue of further films, or a TV drama, being imminent, now that Netflix have "acquired the film? rights to the series" there is big money at stake.

The copyright holders are likely to be particularly chary of additions to the canon right now. (Of course, Spufford's timing may actually be a cynical attempt to cash in on these developments. )

If Netflix goes in the direction of a TV series, they may well be intending to expand the canonical material themselves. In which case the outlook for the authorisation of additions to canon by another hand does not look good.

Mar 29, 1:37pm Top

I'm finding Holy Envy quite good, worthy of a slow, thorough read. One thing that strikes me is the humility of Taylor's approach: she mentions numerous things that she learns from students, not just what she was able to teach them.

Apr 1, 7:55pm Top

Statistics for 1Q19:

books read: 22
fiction: 18
nonfiction: 4
by men: 12
by women: 10
by persons of color: 6

The Orphan Master's Son
White Fragility
The Poisonwood Bible
Sing, Unburied, Sing

followed closely by Lincoln in the Bardo, Things Fall Apart, and several other good ones.

Apr 3, 1:11pm Top

I finished Holy Envy and had to return it today for the next person on the hold list. OTW I would have looked back through it a couple more times. What an excellent book. From my review:

Taylor describes her experiences teaching a World Religions course and meditates on its meaning for her own spirituality. She finds much to admire in each of the five major world religions; so much so that a student feels compelled to drop her class because she wasn't pointing out where the non-Christian religions were in error. She envies the ferocious mysticism of the Sufis and the focus of Judaism on good works. She loves the imam who says that he does not want to convert them to Islam; he wants them to be better Christians, Hindus, or whatever they already are. She reflects on the need of some religions to make others wrong so that they can be right. Throughout she displays an admirable humility about her own knowledge and depth. That humility, I think, is what makes it possible for her to see the attractiveness in other ways of looking at God. In the end, her focus is on finding the best ways to love her neighbor, especially those neighbors who are spiritual strangers.

4.5 stars

Apr 4, 9:22am Top

>111 Jim53: Ah, she wrote Learning to Walk in the Dark. I'm still assimilating that one. I have another by her on my wishlist, dare I add this one also? I love what you wrote about it, but I hesitate to read too many spiritual books by one author, lest I get into a rut. :)

Apr 4, 11:26am Top

>113 Jim53: I loved LtWitD, especially because the Quakers focus so much on light. It can be blinding. We have to remember that growth occurs in the dark.

I'm a big fan of BBT. I will occasionally read the sermons in Home by Another Way at bedtime, and i was very impressed with An Altar in the World. I haven't read Leaving Church yet; I imagine I'll get to it at some point. I see her as having enough variety that her books don't all feel the same, or at least, she gets at some of the same things in very different ways. I do see the concern about reading too much of one author in this space; I need to get back to a couple of others that I've been ignoring, including Richard Rohr.

Apr 5, 9:10am Top

>113 Jim53: To be clear, I was in no way criticizing you or anyone of reading to much of one author. Only commenting that it has been a problem for me in the past, and I am at a very skeptical point in my life where I want to be careful of my influences for good or evil. :)

Apr 6, 12:16pm Top

>115 Jim53: I wasn't taking this as criticism at all. I try to be careful in various areas; for example, I try to read various news sources and not succumb to a single worldview. Being careful about influences is crucial.

Apr 6, 12:22pm Top

I decided to celebrate national poetry month by checking out Tracy K. Smith's latest, Wade in the Water. I didn't immediately like it as well as Life on Mars, but there are numerous wonderful entries. I especially liked one about learning to ride a bike, and one in which we mistake angels for members of a biker gang. There is a section based on letters home from black civil-war soldiers and their families. Have you read your poetry this month?

Apr 9, 7:19pm Top

Hi, Jim. I finally realized that you weren’t going to start a thread in CR. I’m a bit late to the party, but I have you starred now.

Apr 13, 8:06pm Top

>117 NanaCC: Thanks for stopping by, Colleen!

Apr 13, 8:09pm Top

I finally gave up on The Shadow Land. There just wasn't enough to keep me reading through a LOT more pages. It might be me: I've been having trouble settling on something else. I've started Homegoing, which I'm finding quite good. I can't remember if I took a bullet on it or read about it somewhere else. The first section was a little odd because one of the characters has my first and last name.

Apr 16, 9:34pm Top

RIP Gene Wolfe. Some found his work too difficult; I found it tremendous fun, and some of the very best fiction that I read in the 80s and 90s.

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