What are you reading the week of February 9, 2019?
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My co-workers have been saving up all of their crazy for the past couple of weeks to dump on me at the end of this week. :-) Everything from "The clock on my computer is three minutes off!" to complaints that make me want to yell, "It's spam! Get over it!"
On the positive side, I finished Gilgamesh: A Reader and The Overnight Kidnapper, the new Andrea Camilleri novel. I'm happy to say that both were exemplary.
I'm currently starting The Ahhiyawa Texts, part of the Society of Biblical Literature's Writings from the Ancient World series. This series continues to amaze me. They are all high quality books, with only tangential connection to The Bible. This book focuses on translations of Hittite texts related to a kingdom named Ahhiyawa that was west of, and over the sea from, the Hittite Empire. The documents seem to provide some background to the Trojan War. Very interesting.
>1 fredbacon: Fred, your new book sounds fascinating. Good luck with your new receptionist. If it's any comfort, being a middle aged woman sucks too.
Bowlaway by Eliz Cracken; Haven't read a book by her in years, reading this makes me satisfied that the wait was worth it (funny that her husband, Edward Carey, also had a new book out this year, after a 15 year hiatus, and that one was excelet as well! )
Enjoying this OverDrive audiobook ~
If Wishes Were Earls by Elizabeth Boyle
(Rhymes with Love series/England, early 1800s/Harriet Hathaway and the Earl of Roxley)
I agree! It sucks as a middle aged anybody because we see things so differently than our younger generation!
>1 fredbacon: Hi Fred! Iff your challenging new receptionist can be taught to channel the crazy into action (your keyboard is filthy? Here's the cleaning stuff, go to it! let me show you how to fix the clock) she's got the potential to make the place run pretty well. Annoying personality won't go away but value reduces annoyance in my experience.
>2 Catreona:, >5 momom248: Heh. Hang in there, y'all. I'm launched into seniorhood and the difference is marvelous. One simply quits caring and rolls with it. It just...happens.
Oh, books! I re-read one, The A.B.C. Murders, because I wanted to watch the new Amazon Prime mini-series, and liked both versions well enough; and I finally read (and watched on Netflix) The Other Boleyn Girl. It was okay in both versions, though the book annoyed me a lot more than the pretty-but-forgettable film did.
I'm still reading Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I'm interested to see how it's all going to turn out, and enjoying myself on the way.
I finished the astounding, if occasionally densely packed novel Milkman by Anna Burns. This is evidently one of those "loved it" or "hated it" books. I can see why that would be. Personally, I consider it awe inspiring and revelatory, if not always pleasant to read. Imagine an 18-year old girl is being harassed by a man of power more than twice her age, and that she has nobody who will believe her. Mix that into the realities of living in an insular, violent, repressive community in Northern Ireland during the troubles. There are, for me, very powerful insights woven into this book, despite (or maybe because of) a claustrophobic quality produced by stripping every character of a name and providing generic references only (first sister, maybe-boyfriend, second brother-in-law), etc. You can find my more in-depth (or at least longer!) comments on the book's work page and on my 50-Book Challenge thread.
Next up will be my early Valentine's Day present from my darling wife, All for Nothing, German author Walter Kempowski's last novel, which takes place in East Prussia during the final days of World War 2.
>6 richardderus: Well, fifty-five is old enough to join AARP and Greyroots Action. The latter actually uses the term 'elders'! Having turned fifty-five last month, I guess it's time to bite the bullet and admit to, or perhaps embrace, being an elder. *sigh* I don't feel old.
>12 Catreona: "Well, fifty-five is old enough to join AARP and Greyroots Action."
Also, old enough for the Senior Discount at IHOP.
Settled on Azazel, a volume of short stories by Isaac Asimov, starring a two centimeter tall demon who always manages to muff the assignments given him by George, usually to hilarious effect.
Sorry to be a dunce, but the help pages did not explain how to find a specific edition in the absence of ISBN, as in the following:
Anne of Green GablesNew York, Grosset and Dunlap, 1961
Most of the editions brought up by the search on the Add Books page are e-book or kindle editions. I want the one I actually read. Help!
>13 rocketjk: *grin* Well, the seniors discount at IHOP is certainly something worth having! Haven't been in an IHOP for years, but I'll definitely have to check that out!
>15 Catreona: Well, in the absence of being willing to wade through hundreds of results from the Library of Congress, you could look at the copyright page to see if the Library of Congress Catalog Number is there. It would look like this: "61-12345" with a two-digit number, a dash, and anywhere from four to six numbers after the dash. Switch your data source to Library of Congress, enter that number with the dash, and the chances are better than even that you'll get the work you're looking for. Otherwise, enter "anne of green gables" in a Library of Congress search and start wading.
>16 Catreona: Oh, heavens, not on my say-so! The only reason I even know that is that my mother, in her late 80s and early 90s, was in love with, I kid you not, the IHOP tilapia dinner. Sadly, my mom is now feasting at that great early-bird special in the sky, and I have not returned to IHOP since her table there became ready. Really, there's nothing wrong with IHOP burgers or simple pancakes. The simpler the better, though, unless you like your food slathered with whipped cream, cheeses and/or sauce of one kind or another.
>17 richardderus: Wading it will have to be then, because I don't have the physical book. What I copied above is the info from BARD, the download service of the Library of Congress' National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). That particular edition is the edition they recorded from, way back when. And no ISBN is listed.
*shrug* Thanks a lot anyway. I'll remember for any physical books lacking ISBN I come across on my shelves that need to be catalogued.
>19 rocketjk: That's what I do sometimes, and it is by far the saner not to say easier route. There are times, though, that I get really uptight about finding exactly the right edition. A touch of OCD perhaps?
Carrying Albert Home – Homer Hickam
Subtitle: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, His Wife, and Her Alligator
Hickam grew up in Coalwood, West Virginia, where his father, Homer Sr, was foreman at the coal mine. Over the years his mother, Elsie, and father occasionally made reference to a trip they had taken during the Depression, when they were a young married couple but didn’t yet have children; it was to “carry Albert home,” Albert being his mother’s pet alligator. This book recounts some of those stories of the trip and their adventures on the road.
I loved listening to the stories my father, mother, aunts and uncles would tell of “the old days” and adventures they had had. Even just a few years before my father died, I was still surprised to learn things about his youth as he related a story of sheep-shearing in Montana. (My father was raised on a ranch on the Rio Grande in Texas.) So, I was predisposed to like this tale of the author’s parents and a great adventure they embarked upon without any plan other than to “carry Albert home.”
And they DID have adventures. If even half of the episodes are true, they met with famous authors, helped blow up a textile mill, foiled a bank robbery, got kidnapped by bootleggers, learned to run a boarding house, got conscripted into the Coast Guard (and then thrown overboard by smugglers), helped film a Hollywood movie, and survived a hurricane. Most importantly, they found one another on this road trip, and learned what was truly important in their lives.
I found it fun and enjoyable, but gosh, Elsie got on my nerves. I don’t know why Homer didn’t just leave her and Albert somewhere along the way and go find a woman who truly appreciated him.
Winter Solstice – Rosamunde Pilcher
Digital audiobook narrated by Carole Shelley
Five very different people, ranging in age from teen-aged to mid-sixties, converge on a Scottish cottage just before Christmas. Each is facing some difficult changes in his or her life, and together they find a way to navigate the turbulence in their lives.
What a charmingly told story. I grew to love these characters. Elfrida is practical, giving, generous and compassionate. Oscar is reeling from loss, struggling to come to grips with his guilt and grief, and hesitant to take a chance. Sam is trying to find a new path in life and return to his home from years spent abroad. Carrie is stubbornly independent, afraid to open herself to love after having been badly burned, and yet willing to sacrifice to help her young niece. Lucy is feeling lost and abandoned, unsure what she wants but knowing that it is NOT to be a third wheel in her mother’s new romance.
The novel changes perspective with each chapter so the reader gets to know the characters slowly, learning what is important to each as they go about their lives. There are a few coincidences that are just too good to be true, but they add to the joy and the promise of a happy ending.
I’d never read anything by this author previously, and her work reminds me of Maeve Binchy’s. I look forward to reading more of her books.
Carole Shelley does a fine job narrating the audiobook. She has a wide range of voices to handle in this cast of characters and she has to skill to do it well.
>22 Catreona: I'm sorry for the trouble it's causing you, then. It's quite a process of discovery...though, to be honest, since the text is the same, I'd choose any of the Grosset & Dunlap reprints of the title as my catalog entry. There was not a foreword or anything unique to the edition except the cover illustration.
Books had SBNs starting in 1966, and ISBNs starting in 1970. Your reprint is too old to be included in those systems. The Library of Congress catalog numbers were often printed on the copyright pages of books likely to be sold to libraries, as G&D books frequently were.
>22 Catreona: & >27 richardderus: "Books had SBNs starting in 1966, and ISBNs starting in 1970."
Just a quick note that if you're searching for a 1966-1970 book via its SBN, on most search engines (probably including LT's), you need to turn the SBN into an ISBN via the simple method of sticking a 0 in front of it.
I was asked at a store recently if I qualified for the seniors' discount. I asked how old I would need to be; the young woman told me 65. I'm 55. I've been slightly depressed ever since.
I haven't been much in a reading mood for the last few days. Ostensibly I'm reading Sapiens, as well as Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I'm sure I'll get back to them soon.
>29 ahef1963: "I was asked at a store recently if I qualified for the seniors' discount. I asked how old I would need to be; the young woman told me 65. I'm 55. I've been slightly depressed ever since. "
Well, at least you were asked! A couple of years ago I got to the point where the 16-year-olds behind ticket windows at movie theaters just started giving me the senior discount without asking, and I wasn't at the actual age for the discount yet. To a teenager, everyone over about 40 is a senior citizen.
My reading has been really scattershot over the last few weeks. I don't know if it's the summer lazies or just the fact that I've picked up some thorny, difficult literature that asks for multiple readings or what. I finished Edie Meidav's Kingdom of the Young this weekend but may want to reread a few of those stories before posting my review. In any case, they're excellent. I'm also reading Robert Stone's Bear and His Daughter for the first time since college and it's still super. And I'm also boring through Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, which goes super, super slow but which I'm still convinced is one of the finest Irish novels since James Joyce last did his thing. It's certainly one of the most Joycean. Holy cow, is it something else. One of those books that feels that it wasn't written so much as it just burst out of the writer's chest like a baby Alien.
And if that's not enough I started Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder. I haven't read his Bloodlands but this seams like an odd counterpart to it, considering that one was supposed to be a history of the World War II period with much of the ideology excised. Anyway, this one is good, compact intellectual history about awful human behavior.
>29 ahef1963: That is depressing. *mutter, mutter* obnoxious young whippersnapper!
>30 rocketjk: LOL At sixteen I thought anyone over thirty-five was practically a fossil. Funny how your perspective changes.
Not all the stories in Azazel are funny or absurd. "The Eye of the Observer" is quite touching.
I'm really enjoying my NF read Wasteland: The Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror. I like the author's way of breaking the dense analysis into 5pp-7pp chunks within the thematically linked chapters.
>30 rocketjk: >32 Catreona: I've been told several times (I've been complaining to my friends) to just take the discount, go to the 'seniors' day' sales, and save the money, but I'm afraid I'm too proud and too vain for that! I just keep doing my makeup differently, hoping that one of the looks will make me seem eternally young!
>29 ahef1963: Ive never asked and never been questioned and I've been getting discounts since I was 55. Not sure if I should be happy about them never asking or depressed
I am now 62, ready to retire so its not a big deal. Tho I am getting asked by people I just meet 'so how many grand kids do you have?' rather than how many kids? None, but it does make me feel older! (tho I teach preschoolers so I always stay young, body willing :) )
Haha! I tell people I am 5 years older than I am hoping they will think "She looks pretty good for that age"
If I tell them I am 5 years younger than I am, I am afraid they will think "She could use some work!"
I finished A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers. It was an intriguing book about cultural differences and communication written in a very clever way. My hesitation is that it seemed to me the strong focus on sex was not integral to the story.
I love visiting Portland, Oregon, where you are recognized as an 'honored citizen' instead of a senior!
I'm so grateful to be a senior...so many young gay men of my generation didn't have the privilege...that calling me "old" just makes me smile.
I'm thoroughly adoring Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd.
I finished Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls which is an amazing book. It took me longer than usual to read because I decided early on to reread parts of The Iliad -- the "girls" of Barker's title are the Greek and Trojan women --and when I went looking for my copy found that it wasn't there. Then I vaguely remembered discarding it (and The Odyssey) a decade or so ago. They were the paperback copies I bought in college and were quite worn and tattered -- I graduated from college 50 years ago this May so you can imagine -- so I had to order new copies. I've enjoyed reading Barker's novel along with passages from Homer.
I ordered The Odyssey, too, because I recently purchased Daniel Mendelsohn's memoir An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic about the cruise he and his father took to see the places Odysseus visited on his journey home, and I know I'll be wanting to reread that classic as well. Pat Barker's book made me think of David Malouf's beautiful novel Ransom about Priam's journey to the Greek camp to ask Achilles for the corpse of his son Hector. I hope to reread that one again soon while The Iliad is so much on my mind.
Next up: Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
>34 richardderus: Absolutely! Even people ten years younger than myself, that is forty-five, don't seem to have grown up in the same world I did or to have any, what would I call it, national memory. Events, people, ideas, even in some cases ones dead or past before my birth, that are real and vibrant to me seen as distant and irrelevant to them as the zigurats. More than ever, I find I only feel comfortable with people of my own age or older. That may be because I have no children of my own, nor yet any nieces or nephews, no direct, immediate and vital connection with the next generation, but on the whole, I don't like young people. It makes a person feel rather isolated and alienated. Then again, "I have my books and my poetry to protect me," as Simon & Garfunkel said. "I am shielded in my armor." It's enough, I suppose.
>molly , had you already read Circe and Song of Achilles? If so, how would you compare with Barkers book?(all I know of Barker is her WWI books which I loved; this could be intriguing)
>42 Catreona: For me the difference is when the internet arrived and social media got started. Seems like the kids from that generation and after are a different species to those who grew up before. With the cell phones and tablets know, I wonder what thes kids even younger will be like.
I also tend to connect with my own age and older, but since I am a teacher I am in contact with many young parents of my students, and in them see some hope for the future.
iTunes audio ~
Double Blind by Iris Johansen
(Kendra Michaels series/suspense/Kendra, a PI, and Adam Lynch work on a vengeance case/a favorite series)
This was a wonderful book on the early life of Homer Hickman, living in a coal town along with the stress of that, while he and his friends were being inspired by the space race and wanting to be a part of it. He did eventually become a NASA engineer but not without the help of his friends and the town that supported him.
>44 cindydavid4: I've read Song of Achilles and enjoyed it, but it didn't take me any further than its pages. Of course, it may have been that I didn't have the time to explore other works as I do now, but I think it didn't have the kind of depth or excitement that I found in the book by Barker. But I did like both books -- they both make me consider deeper layers of meaning in the epic poem and add to my pleasure in encountering it again.
>42 Catreona: My Young Gentleman Caller's *father* was born after the moon landing. I'm a bit more prepared to accept their absence of information since I've been *APPALLED* at what passes for their public education. It's genuinely terrifying but explains a lot about current events.
I finished the memoir, The Hue and Cry at Our House. The author is present reminiscing about his 11th and 12 years, with forays earlier and later. The events and emotions are presented both as they were then and as viewed from adulthood. He was an awkward sensitive Jewish boy in Fort Worth Texas who is now happy with his memories.
How the García Girls Lost Their Accents – Julia Álvarez
The García family flees the Dominican Republic for the United States amid political unrest. The four sisters – Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia – find 1960s New York City very different from the upper-middle-class life they knew “back home.” Absent their maids and extended family, the García girls do their best to assimilate into the mainstream; they iron their hair, forget their Spanish, and meet (and date) boys without chaperones.
This is a wonderfully entertaining look at the immigrant experience and at the strong family ties that see these sisters (and their parents) through a tumultuous adolescence and young adulthood. The novel is told in alternating perspectives, focusing on a different sister in each chapter, and also moving back in time, from 1989 to 1956.
When exploring their childhood in the DR, Alvarez allows the innocence of youth to be apparent. Children may sense that something isn’t quite right, but they typically don’t know the realities facing their parents. The family’s sudden departure for the United States is at first a great adventure, but the reality of reduced circumstances and cramped city apartments (instead of a large family compound with gardens and servants) quickly makes the girls homesick. Once assured that there is no going back, they struggle to fit in with their peers at school. They don’t want to stick out due to dress, language, food, or customs. With their assimilation, however, comes a greater clash between the girls and their parents’ “old world” values.
The use of multiple narrators and non-linear time line, however, made for an uneven reading experience. I would be invested in one sister’s story, and then jerked to a different time and place and narrator with little or no warning. Some members of my F2F book club found this so distracting that they lowered their ratings significantly. But for me the “confusion” is indicative of the immigrant experience. Each immigrant ultimately has to choose the extent to which she will adopt the customs, foods, dress of her new environment, and how much of her native customs, foods, dress to keep and share with her new neighbors. The García girls draw comfort from their deep roots in the Dominican Republic while bravely and enthusiastically facing and embracing their future as Americans.
I've reviewed The Burning Page, third Invisible Library novel, and a treat it was.
Have set aside The Wave in the Mind and picked up Making America Great Again: Fairy Tale? Horror Story? Dream Come True? by David N. Moore. It's fascinating to hear a black Evangelical pastor's views on white evangelicalism in America.
>57 richardderus: I've read and enjoyed this series! The 5th installment The Mortal Word was released in Nov. 2018. The author posted on her website that the 6th novel in the series is forthcoming.
Finished: The complete "Selection" series by Kiera Cass from the library. The novella collection Happily Ever After: Companion to the Selection Series is a bonus.
Next up: Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian
The new novel follows events started in Ash Princess.
I finished two books over the past few days.
First was All for Nothing by German author Walter Kempowski. It tells in muted terms of the horrific last days of World War 2 in East Prussia, as hundreds of thousands of terrified Germans take to the road, fleeing the advancing Russians whose artillery they can already hear. Not as well known in America, I guess, it seems that Kemposwki is considered a classic writer in his native country. He himself, as a teenager, lived through the events this books tells of, only to be imprisoned by the Russians as a spy, serving eight years. Originally published in 2006, a new English publication came out in 2018 as part of the New York Review of Books' Classics series.
Next was Canaries in the Mineshaft: Essays on Politics and Media by Renata Adler, a collection of fascinating pieces dating from 1976 through 1980 (with one addition from 2000) about Watergate, the Starr Report, and many other issues that are contemporary to those times but also resonate strongly to the present day.
My more in-depth thoughts on both can be found on the books' work pages and on my 50-Book Challenge thread.
Today, I've begun the novel The Debt to Pleasure by English author John Lanchester.
Wednesday night I picked up Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman. With a reading time of approximately two hours, it sounded perfect to read in one sitting. Only, I fell asleep about halfway through. That's the downside of listening to talking books in bed. Finished it last evening, though, and found it delightful. Also finished Azazel, another enjoyable read.
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