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Laytonwoman3rd's Thirteenth Year: Season Three

This is a continuation of the topic Laytonwoman3rd's Thirteenth Year: Season Two.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Edited: Jul 6, 1:58pm Top

Chiming in Summertime!

Hi! I'm Linda, a retired paralegal living in Northeastern Pennsylvania with my husband flamingrabbit (a retired broadcast engineer), and our sweet kitty, Molly O'Del, who we rescued from The Barn. Our daughter, lycomayflower, hangs around this group as well.

This is my 13th year of keeping track of my reading on LT. I have been a member of the 75 Book Challenge Group for most of that time. If you'd like to explore my reading backwards from here, there are links on my profile page to my earlier threads. Here is my last thread from 2018.

For toppers this year, I'm going to keep it simple, with seasonal photos from my collection.

Some flora and fauna from my front porch.

My goal is always to read more of the books I already own, and to acquire fewer books than I remove from the house. As you will see from subsequent posts where I keep track of that kind of thing, I'm rubbish at it. I just like browsing and buying books. Besides, as a board member of the Scranton Public Library (and now VP) I'm duty bound to attend ALL their book sales and bring stuff home, eh? They also have a nifty little independent bookstore/library branch which gets the best donations of used books, like art books, Folio editions, and such. And people keep GIVING me books...what's a woman to do?

I'll use these tickers to keep track of total books read, the number of those that I've had on my own shelves for at least a year at the time I read them, and the number of books I actually move OUT of the house in 2019.

Edited: Aug 23, 6:35pm Top

In this post I'll keep monthly lists of my completed reads.

I use some shorthand to help me keep track of my reading trends: ROOT identifies a book that I have owned for at least a year at the time I read it. CULL means I put the book in my donation box for the library book sale after finishing it, or otherwise gave it away. DNF means I didn't finish the book, for one reason or another, usually explained in the related post. ER means I received the book from LT's Early Reviewer program. GN refers to a graphic novel (don't expect to see a lot of that one!) An *asterisk indicates a library book; LOA means I read a Library of America edition; SF means the book was a Slightly Foxed edition, (NOT science fiction, which I so rarely read); FOLIO, of course, indicates a Folio Society edition. AUDIO and e-Book are self-explanatory, and probably won't appear very often. AAC and BIAC refer to the American and British Isles Author Challenges. (See more on those below). NF indicates a non-fiction read.
Clicking on titles in this post will take you to the message in which I reviewed or commented on that book.


69. Conversations with Jay Parini Ed. by Michael Lackey
68. The Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill ROOT
67. Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night by Barbara J. Taylor
66. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines AAC
65. The Quiet American by Graham Greene ROOT
64. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee ROOT
63. Marrying Out by Harold Carlton ROOT, SF, NF
62. Past Imperfect by Margaret Maron ROOT


61. American Gospel by Jon Meacham ROOT, AAC, NF
60. Spying on the South by Tony Horwitz NF
59. The Rose Garden by Susan Kearsley
*58. The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths
57. Candide by Voltaire ROOT, CULL
56. Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson
55.*Big Sky by Kate Atkinson
54. *M is for Malice by Sue Grafton
53. On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin ROOT
52. *L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton
51. *The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths


50. Well-Read Black Girl
49. The Mathematician's Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer
48. Imperial Woman by Pearl Buck AAC, ROOT
*47. K is for Killer by Sue Grafton
46. Murder on the Ballarat Train by Kerry Greenwood
45. Provence 1970 by Luke Barr ROOT
44. Furious Hours by Casey Cep


43. Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood
42. Burning Grass by Cyprian Ekwensi CULL
41. Seaglass Summer by Michelle Houts
40. The Passages of H. M. by Jay Parini AAC, ROOT
*39. J is for Judgment by Sue Grafton
38. They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
37. The Hawk of the Castle by Danna Smith
36. *The Absolutely Essential Heloise by Kay Thompson and Marie Brenner
35. Stories in the End by Jay Eldred and Tom Poole
34. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
*33. Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood
32. Predator and Prey by Susannah Burhman Deever ER
31. Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell ROOT
30. Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb ROOT, AAC


29. Bear by Marian Engel
28. I is for Innocent by Sue Grafton CULL
27. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward AAC
26. The Murder Room by P. D. James ROOT
25. Oranges by John McPhee CULL
24. The Mothers by Brit Bennett CULL


23. H is for Homicide by Sue Grafton CULL
22. A Stricken Field by Martha Gellhorn ROOT
21. Sabbaths 2016 by Wendell Berry
20. G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton CULL
19. Recruiters by Silas House
18. F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton CULL
17*. Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
16. The Thief of Auschwitz by Jon Clinch ROOT, AAC


15. English Creek by Ivan Doig ROOT
14. Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott AAC, CULL
13. *A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
12. * E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton CULL
11. Mind You, I've Said Nothing!" by Honor Tracy ROOT


10.* From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan
9. Mudbound by Hillary Jordan ROOT
8.* The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris BIAC
7.* My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok AAC
6. The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple NF, ROOT
5. D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton CULL
4. Strange Fruit by Lillian Smith
3.* Nerve by Dick Francis
2. How to See Fairies by Charles van Sandwyk FOLIO
1.* The Chosen by Chaim Potok AAC

Edited: Aug 17, 1:41pm Top


The lists for January through June are in my last thread.


48. Spying on the South by Tony Horwitz


49. The Tragedy of Brady Sims by Ernest J. Gaines
50. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
51. Mighty Justice by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe
52. Begin Again: Collected Poems by Grace Paley
53. African Myths of Origin
54. All Waiting is Long by Barbara J. Taylor
55. The Women of Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell
56. Prairie Fever by Michael Parker
57. Silver Ley by Adrian Bell
58. The Cherry Tree by Adrian Bell

Edited: Aug 2, 5:41pm Top


With the walls bulging and the shelves groaning, I need to have a good reason to hang on to a book these days, and I try very hard to remove as many as come into the house. So here I will keep track of those I let fly in 2019. Through the end of June, I managed to move out 34 books, which are listed here on my previous thread. That's not nearly half of my overall goal of 100, and not as many as have come into the house in the same period, so I'll need to concentrate on that for the rest of the year.


35.-36. Two Taste of Home cookbooks donated to library sale.
37. Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill
38. My Dream of You by Nuala O'Faolain
39. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
40. First Time Ever by Peggy Seeger
41. Candide by Voltaire
42. In the Company of Others by Jan Karon
43. Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon
44. Catskill Crafts by Jane Smiley


45. Skinner's Drift by Lisa Fugard

Edited: Aug 13, 5:51pm Top


I've long considered myself an "Americanist", with William Faulkner being No.1 on my list of favorite authors. I love regional writing, and am particularly drawn to the literature of the Appalachian South. This year, I am hosting the American Authors Challenge, which has been so ably managed for the last five years by Mark msf59.

Here is the General Discussion Thread for the 2019 AAC.

My own finished reads for this challenge will be noted in this post as we go along.

Here is the schedule of Authors we'll be reading in 2019:
(I'll add links to the individual monthly threads as they are activated.)

January: Chaim Potok Here is His thread.
Finished The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev

February: Louisa May Alcott Here is her AAC thread.
Finished Under the Lilacs

March: Jon Clinch Here is the Clinch thread.
Finished The Thief of Auschwitz Strongly considering a re-read of Finn

April: Jesmyn Ward Here is the discussion thread for Ward. Finished Sing, Unburied, Sing

May: Jay Parini Finished The Passages of H. M.

June: Pearl Buck Finished Imperial Woman

July: Founding Fathers (and Mothers) Currently reading A History of the Supreme Court by Bernard Schwartz Finished American Gospel by Jon Meacham

August: Ernest J. Gaines Finished The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

September: Leslie Marmon Silko

October: DRAMA

November: W. E. B. DuBois

December: Marilynne Robinson

BONUS/WILD CARD: Genre Fiction.

Edited: Aug 2, 5:40pm Top

I've been participating on a more or less irregular basis in the last few years in the British Authors Challenge and the Irish Authors Challenge, hosted by PaulCranswick. This year he has combined those two into a broader "British Isles Authors" Challenge, alternating theme months with featured authors (one male and one female). Here is his list:

January: The Natural World https://www.librarything.com/topic/296824#6632759
Finished The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris

February: Pat Barker and Peter F. Hamilton Pearl-ruled Barker's The Silence of the Girls. Tough subject matter, and I didn't care for the narrator's voice, which sounded way too 20th century for the Trojan war.

March: The Murderous Scots https://www.librarything.com/topic/296824#6637458 These guys got by me in March.
April: Rosamund Lehmann and John Boyne
May: The Edwardians https://www.librarything.com/topic/299559#6656870
June: Nicola Barker and Willkie Collins
July YA Fantasy https://www.librarything.com/topic/299559#6660927
August: Anita Brookner and Jim Crace
September: Biography and Memoir https://www.librarything.com/topic/299559#6674204
October: Rose Tremain and Louis de Bernieres
November: The British Jewish Contribution http://www.librarything.com/topic/301575#6688724
December 2019 - Zadie Smith and Michael Morpurgo
WILDCARD - Back to the Beginning - LIVELY and ISHIGURO

You'll notice I'm not doing much with this one this year. Paying a lot of attention to the AAC, and it's cutting into other challenges. I'm keeping the list here with its links, because it's a terrific resource, and I will still try to acquaint myself with some of these authors as time permits.

I'm just linking to the post in my last thread where I was keeping track of the Virago and Dick Francis challenges. Those have fallen by the wayside as well.

Jul 4, 11:00am Top

Love the photos, especially the top one Linda.

Jul 4, 11:05am Top

Thanks, Caroline!

Jul 4, 11:27am Top

Happy new thread!

Jul 4, 11:44am Top

Happy new thread, Linda.

Also happy 4th July

Jul 4, 11:44am Top

Happy new thread, Linda. Wishing you a summer full of fantastic reads.

Jul 4, 1:15pm Top

Happy new thread, Linda. Great seasonal topper photo!

Jul 4, 1:33pm Top

Happy new one, Linda!

Jul 4, 3:42pm Top

Happy new thread, Linda!

Edited: Jul 4, 6:14pm Top

Happy 4th, Linda. Happy New Thread. How far are you from Pittsburgh? We are thinking of coming in for a Cubs game, mid-August.

Jul 4, 5:49pm Top

Happy new one!

Jul 4, 5:52pm Top

Thanks, everyone!

>15 msf59: Psst...Mark...are you lost? I don't know how far Janet may be from Pittsburgh, but we're about as far from it as possible while still in the state of Pennsylvania.

Jul 4, 6:16pm Top

>17 laytonwoman3rd: LOL. I must have been distracted, while watching the Cubs & Pirates and I am completely sober. I did see you were in northeastern PA, so I should have been able to figure it out. Duh!!

Jul 4, 6:57pm Top

Hi, Linda! Happy New Thread!
I love the photos.
I'm rather partial to the one in >2 laytonwoman3rd:

Jul 4, 8:20pm Top

>19 tymfos: Does it remind you of your handsome fella?

Jul 4, 10:17pm Top

>20 laytonwoman3rd: A little bit, Linda!

Jul 5, 1:13pm Top

'Lo, Linda. Hope you had a safe and pleasant 4th. We did.

Jul 5, 2:13pm Top

>22 weird_O: Entirely safe, quiet and pleasant until the neighbors started with the fireworks, Bill. I don't know whose idea it was to make that stuff available to the general public in PA, but I suspect it puts money into state coffers somehow....if only they'd use it to fix some roads... (I might be grumpy today...interrupted sleep'll do that.)

Jul 5, 8:32pm Top

>23 laytonwoman3rd: As far as I know, personal fireworks are still illegal in NJ, but it doesn’t stop the madness. I feel sorry for everyone’s pets.

Jul 6, 1:50pm Top

Happy new thread, Linda. I love your photos!

Jul 7, 3:09pm Top

Hey there, Linda3rd. I'm all cool, calm, and collected after going outside for two hours. Yech!

Jul 8, 8:47am Top

Happy New Thread, Linda!

I might've missed your comments while we were gone - how did you like your first Ruth Galloway mystery? I'm a fan of the series.

Jul 8, 10:11am Top

>24 NanaCC: Pets, Vet(eran)s and people who like to sleep...

>25 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. The little newt is my favorite.

>26 richardderus: Ha! Soupy, was it?

>27 jnwelch:. Hi, Joe. Yes, I did enjoy the first Ruth Galloway. I have No. 2 stacked up here. I do wonder how often a set of mysterious bones crops up in Norfolk, though.

Jul 8, 10:15am Top

52. L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton No. 12 in the Kinsey Millhone series, which I'm re-reading. Kinsey continues to get herself into the damnedest dilemmas. In this one she follows an impulse and a suspect (in a case she isn't being paid for) and ends up more or less stranded in the company of some pretty unsavory ex-cons who are searching for the remains of a 40-year-old heist. Fun, if farfetched. Extra points for a daft little old lady with a baseball bat.

Edited: Jul 8, 10:39am Top

>28 laytonwoman3rd: I do wonder how often a set of mysterious bones crops up in Norfolk, though.
I'd say at least a dozen times (there are 11 books with a 12th on the way)! All kidding aside I wondered the same thing but I'm reading the third book right now and I like the way this particular set of mysterious bones connect to something in the present day, so there are two things to unravel.

Jul 8, 10:46am Top

>1 laytonwoman3rd: What is the image #2 on your opening thread photo? Is this a different type of butterfly?

Jul 8, 11:04am Top

>30 lauralkeet: I often have a quibble with series set in such small places....the number of murders and disappearances always starts to stretch credulity, and then when you add another fairly unusual element to it, I'd think the author might get herself stuck after a bit.

>31 Whisper1: It's a moth that I found on my porch step a week or so ago, Linda. I've never seen one like it before, but apparently it isn't uncommon. It's a giant leopard moth, and those blue spots are iridescent. But it's nocturnal, so seeing one in the daytime is rare. I suspect there was something wrong with it. It didn't move when I passed by, but it was gone when I came back from my outing---either it managed to fly away or something ate it.

Jul 8, 11:22am Top

I just finished the most recent Ruth Galloway, and I always enjoy them, but the various sets of bones and mysteries do tend to run together in my head...

Jul 8, 11:28am Top

>33 katiekrug: I find the personal life story lines are often what keeps me reading a series like this. As I've noted elsewhere, in my re-read of the Grafton alphabet series, I haven't really recognized a single plot line yet, but I do recall fairly well the changes in the lives of the characters.

Jul 8, 11:29am Top

I totally agree. It's the characters that keep me going, especially with Griffiths' series.

Jul 8, 12:43pm Top

>32 laytonwoman3rd: series set in small places
Oh ... like Three Pines? I know what you mean! But I still love Inspector Gamache. At least Norfolk is a decent-sized county, although very rural and less populous than some.

>34 laytonwoman3rd:, >35 katiekrug: and I totally agree about the characters and their stories. That's what has kept me going with Gamache. And I really like Ruth Galloway. The characteristics of her personal life are unique compared to other series I've read.

Jul 8, 1:20pm Top

Dame Agatha didn't tether M. Poirot to a particular city or even country, which put fewer constraints on her.

Jul 8, 1:31pm Top

>28 laytonwoman3rd: >30 lauralkeet: Ha, it's almost not as bad as Midsomer...

Jul 8, 5:17pm Top

>37 weird_O: True...but St. Mary's Mead seemed to provide an endless supply of bodies for Miss Marple.

Many times authors rely on the "stranger in town" to justify the uptick in crime. But that can't be sustained either, except possibly in the case of a seaside resort town where there's an influx of new people all the time.

>36 lauralkeet: Funny you should mention Three Pines. I liked the first one of that series quite a lot; was annoyed with the second one; picked up the third hoping to get some answers to questions I didn't think should BE questions and Pearl-ruled it. And there I quit. So, I didn't get far enough to question the murder rate.

Edited: Jul 12, 10:23pm Top

53. On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin The leisurely story of the lives of identical twin brothers Lewis and Benjamin, who spent almost all of their 80 years together on the family holding near the Welsh border, keeping body and soul together with hard work. This is not so much a novel as a photo album...we get marvelously detailed descriptions of the landscape, the house, the neighbors, the animals, the mucking, the shearing...but there just isn't much story to it, at least no over-arching plot. I enjoyed reading it very much, but it's hard to say much about it. The single-person-split-in-two nature of identical twinship is very nicely illuminated. I will resort to the old fall-back of "If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you'll like".

Jul 12, 6:56pm Top

>40 laytonwoman3rd: It is one of my favourite novels Linda. And they made a beautiful film of it too. You are right, it is relatively plot free, but I love the tone. I like your thought of it being a photo album as well.

Jul 12, 6:58pm Top

Happy Friday, Linda. I am really enjoying Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. Franklin is my favorite Founding Father, and he gets bonus points for not being a slave-owner. He was a teetotaler but I sure would have loved having a couple of beers with him. Have you read this one?

Edited: Jul 12, 10:25pm Top

>41 Caroline_McElwee: Oooh...I didn't know about the film, Caroline. I wonder if it's available? And I should have anticipated that you would have read and loved this one. I know you're fond of Chatwin. I have a couple more of his books on hand, and am looking forward to getting to them.

ETA: I just checked---the film is available, and included with my Prime membership at no add'l cost! I'll try to watch it this weekend. Thank you for mentioning it!

>42 msf59: Mmm...no. I haven't read that one, Mark. Was he always a teetotaler, or was it enforced by gout or other health issues? 'Cause I thought he was rather fond of wine.

Jul 12, 10:44pm Top

I am still early in the book, so Franklin is still a young man, and it sounds like he avoided alcohol. That may change later.

Jul 13, 3:56pm Top

I'm a fan of On the Black Hill, too, Linda. So beautifully written.

Jul 14, 12:31pm Top

>45 jnwelch: Me too, Joe.

Have a splendid Sunday, Linda

Jul 15, 12:22pm Top

You would think that people would have avoided St Mary Mead due to the death rate! But Christie did move Miss Marple around, like in At Bertram's Hotel, which is one of my favs. The Ruth Griffiths series also moves out of Norfolk a bit, maybe to give the locals a chance to survive?

Jul 15, 2:46pm Top

>47 Familyhistorian: Jessica Fletcher did a lot of episodes out of Cabot Cove too!

Jul 15, 3:21pm Top

Happy Monday, Linda3rd!

Jul 16, 1:36am Top

>48 thornton37814: She did and she often ended up with a love interest there as well, too!

Jul 18, 12:19pm Top

>45 jnwelch:, >46 PaulCranswick: Nice to see so much love for Chatwin. I'm just getting around to him, after hearing his praises here and there for years.

>47 Familyhistorian: Hmmm... I don't recall having read At Bertram's Hotel. That will have to be remedied!

>48 thornton37814:, >50 Familyhistorian: I watched a fair amount of Murder, She Wrote on TV years back. But I never read any of the books.

>49 richardderus: Monday was pretty OK here, probably thanks to your good wishes!

Edited: Jul 19, 10:49am Top

54. M is for Malice by Sue Grafton Just knocking these off. It's interesting to read them in a bunch this way. This one had some weird psychic stuff going on that I don't remember at all. Kinsey seeing things and feeling presences, and experiencing a tremblor that no one else in the same house at the same time felt . Not sure what that was all about; partly her processing her abandonment issues, but it felt odd to me at this point in her life when she'd never exhibited much in the way of spirituality before. Dietz is back in the picture, both improving and complicating her life. As usual, the job becomes personal, and Kinsey gets involved beyond the scope of her contract. At least she was in no personal peril in this one. I did figure out approximately who and why, which doesn't always happen.

Edited: Jul 19, 10:45am Top

Happy Friday, Linda. I am starting Mohawk and I was tickled to see that there was a postcard in it, from you. I am glad I saved it, otherwise I would have forgot. Thanks, again.

I also have his new one on shelf, and hope to get to it in a few weeks.

Jul 19, 10:47am Top

>53 msf59: Ah...I had forgotten I sent that one to you as well, Mark. Enjoy. I'm thinking about reading That Old Cape Magic sometime this summer.

Edited: Jul 20, 9:06pm Top

Hi Linda. I notice that Gaines is the AAC for August. I love his work and would like to read more so this may be the month I join in.

I think it was around M is for Malice that I stopped reading the Kinsey Milhone series. I think it would be fun to read quickly through as you have done. I also appreciate your comments about series set in small places -- or with repetitive tropes like, say, old discovered bones -- and how it's the development of the characters that seems to be most memorable. I'm finding that with Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series. I'm currently listening to Old Bones and while the story is engaging enough, it's the characters and their relationships that gives it richness.

Jul 20, 10:30pm Top

Longmire is one of the series I'm keeping in the back of my mind, Ellen. I'm "in" too many right now to start another, but I think that one would be a bit different from most of those I've read and I've heard good things about it.

I'm also looking forward to reading more Gaines in August. I have read A Lesson Before Dying and A Gathering of Old Men, as well as some of his essays and short fiction. I think I have another novel on hand.

Jul 21, 9:13am Top

The AAC is my excuse to finally read A Lesson Before Dying, which I've had on my Kindle for *gulp* five years. I think I snagged it in a daily deal; not sure why I never got around to reading it.

Jul 21, 10:38am Top

Edited: Jul 21, 7:07pm Top

55. Big Sky by Kate Atkinson Well, it's been a long time since there was a new Jackson Brodie adventure, and lots of things have happened off the page. The man himself hasn't changed much...or has he? After losing his fortune, he seems to be making ends meet but his PI case load is uninspiring, to say the least. Following cheating husbands...our Jackson? Yes, well, he's also trying to connect with his young son, Nathan, and perhaps rekindle something with Nathan's mother...or not. Meanwhile, swirling around him are multiple sub-plots, as always in Atkinson's novels, with mostly invisible connecting threads that we just know must be there. The reappearance, all grown up, of Reggie Chase, the amazing child protagonist of When Will There Be Good News is one of the niftiest parts of this story. She's smart as ever, now a DC with a partner named Ronnie (Google the Kray twins, if you're American and never heard of them---just one more of Atkinson's allusions turned on its head), engaged in a lot of legwork hoping to find the "third man" involved in a criminal enterprise previously shut down (or was it?) with the death and arrest of its other two principals. As compelling to read as the rest of this series, Big Sky also suffers from the authorial quirks that bugged me in the past---too many cultural and literary references that aren't always subtly tucked in, so many characters it's sometimes hard to keep them sorted from one appearance to the next. No spoiler here...it all comes right in the end. But I thought we were going to get through the entire book without the appearance of Louise Monroe and that would have disappointed me. Trust Atkinson to know we couldn't be having that.

Jul 21, 7:43pm Top

>59 laytonwoman3rd: great review, Linda. I made an audible sound when I realized who Reggie was (it didn't register at first), and I loved Atkinson's allusion to the Kray twins. I totally agree about your spoiler, which was a nice little surprise. What a fun read.

Jul 21, 8:14pm Top

>60 lauralkeet: Thanks, Laura. When Will There Be Good News remains my favorite of the Brodie novels...but bringing Reggie back was brilliant.

Jul 21, 9:07pm Top

Looking forward to Big Sky. You and Laura have me wanting to read this NOW. 😄

Jul 22, 8:41am Top

I also loved Big Sky, Linda. Great comments. I didn't remember much about When Will There Be Good News except for the fact that I loved it.

Jul 22, 9:35am Top

How terrific for Atkinson to return to a beloved series with such a winner. Happy that you enjoyed the read so much!

Jul 22, 10:06am Top

>62 NanaCC:, >63 BLBera:, >64 richardderus: A thoroughly engrossing and ultimately satisfying read. And of course now I want more...

Edited: Jul 22, 11:40am Top

56. Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson Been missing Calvin and Hobbes? Mount your trusty steed of choice and get yourself a copy of this one (and the next one or two while you're at it, 'cause...well....UNICORN!) Can't begin to describe the delightfulness of this concept. Phoebe is a rising fourth grader with all summer to skip stones, when one of her throws bops a unicorn on the snout, breaking the narcissistic spell that has kept it staring at its own reflection in the water. This odd rescue results in the granting of a wish -- just one, and no, Phoebe, it can't be "infinity wishes". But what could beat having a unicorn (Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, specifically) as your best friend?

There are other great characters, too. Like Todd, the Candy Dragon and Max, Phoebe's spelling partner back at school. It's all sparkly and wry...just the break all us pointy-headed intellectuals (that's unicorn humor) need from time to time.

Jul 22, 12:01pm Top

>66 laytonwoman3rd: I *knew* you would like it. Yaaaay!

Jul 22, 12:31pm Top

>66 laytonwoman3rd: that looks delightful.

Jul 22, 1:44pm Top

Very nice review of The Big Sky, Linda. Louise - right? Maybe the time is finally right for the two of them? I hope we find out in the next one.

Jul 22, 2:06pm Top

>67 lycomayflower: You are wise, grasshopper.

>68 lauralkeet: Absolutely.

>69 jnwelch: We can hope, Joe.

Edited: Jul 22, 3:04pm Top

57. Candide by Voltaire Well, I finally finished this. I've been reading at it for months, as short as it is. I feel like I've completed an assignment (I did--one I gave myself). I suppose it's something everyone should have under their belt, but...meh.

Jul 22, 2:43pm Top

>66 laytonwoman3rd: That looks very cute!

>71 laytonwoman3rd: Oh dear, you didn't love Candide? I remember it as a gigantic revelation when I read it...but now that I think about it, that was at least forty-five years ago and I'd be hard-pressed to get back into that "WOW how long has THIS been goin on?!?" head.

Edited: Jul 22, 3:04pm Top

>72 richardderus: Yeah...I think I should have read it at 19, when I probably would have been blown away. Now, I just found it sort of teedjus.

Edited: Jul 22, 3:42pm Top

>71 laytonwoman3rd: I agree Linda. I felt exactly the same.

>72 richardderus: Agreeing with you too Richard, on when you read a book affecting how it lands with you.

Jul 22, 7:15pm Top

>66 laytonwoman3rd: This looks great, Linda. I'll have to try it on Scout. Her mom put a moratorium on Calvin after Scout called her a communist. :)

Jul 22, 8:26pm Top

>74 Caroline_McElwee: Validation! I felt a little bad about not admiring Candide, but really, I think it's time has passed, for me at least.

>75 BLBera: Oh, I'd love to share Phoebe with a bright young'un, Beth. I hope to hear how Scout takes to it.

Jul 23, 3:08pm Top

>66 laytonwoman3rd: You hit me with that one, Linda. Looks like precisely the kind of fun I could get into.

Jul 24, 11:30am Top

>77 MickyFine: It's a hoot, Micky.

Jul 24, 11:33am Top

58. The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths No. 2 in the Ruth Galloway series. While Ruth comes to terms with her pregnancy, she is troubled by multiple sets of children's bones, and the undeniable fact that someone is trying very hard to frighten her away from a particular dig. Old mysteries surface, and new dilemmas arise, just as you might expect.

Jul 24, 11:35am Top

Linda3rd, I'm going out on a limb and recommending a read to you: Convenience Store Woman. It is strange, yet possesses that necessary flicker of Truth to make it utterly relatable and engrossing. I keep running across bits that I want to share. Isn't that just about the highest compliment a biblioholic can pay a book?

Jul 24, 11:40am Top

>80 richardderus: I've been seeing a lot of chatter about that book around the threads lately, and I remember it coming up before. I guess I'd better take a look. I think the lycomayflower may have a copy...she might be willing to lend it out to Mum.

Jul 24, 11:49am Top

>81 laytonwoman3rd: Lycomayflower feels like she might have culled that? But is happy to lend it out to Mims if that is not the case.

Jul 24, 12:33pm Top

>66 laytonwoman3rd: Thats a winner, for sure. Thanks for taking a chance on it! Now I’ll take the same chance.

That’s an interesting take on the Grafton books. With only a couple of exceptions (Christie and Sayers are waving their hands), I’ve found that sort of straight-through rereading of old favorite mystery authors not as rewarding as I always fondly hope. That said, I’ve read a few Milhones, some of them twice, but it’s not a series I’d want to read the whole run of.

I seem to be alone in being not a big fan of Ruth Galloway books. I liked the first one just fine, but too much angstsy romance makes me itchy.

I’ve found a couple of new-to-me mystery authors this year and last that have renewed my faith in mankind. Humor will always draw me in.

Your thread is as interesting as ever.

Jul 24, 1:21pm Top

>83 bohemima: Hi, Gail! I'm glad you find my thread interesting, and I hope you get a kick out of Phoebe. I have a feeling I won't be reading the Ruth Galloway books in rapid succession, but I have enjoyed them well enough to keep them in my rotation. I agree...humor is always a plus.

Edited: Jul 27, 9:56pm Top

59. The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley At loose ends after her sister's death, Eva Ward returns to Cornwall, where they had good holidays as children, to scatter Katrina's ashes, and maybe to decide what to do with herself. Should she use her marketing experience to help her cousins launch a tea room on the family estate to help with mounting expenses? Or maybe drop into the 18th century and fall in love with a smuggler with Jacobite leanings who once lived in the house? Sounds preposterous put just that way, but that's really about the size of it. A fine romance for a few lazy afternoons and late nights...along the fine old lines of Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Winston Graham, perhaps Daphne DuMaurier on a slightly off day. It kept me reading and offered a surprise or two. And, after all...Cornwall...cliffs...smugglers' caves...men in linen shirts or form-fitting T's, depending on the century. (Decidedly NOT a bodice-ripper, though, in case you thought I was hinting at that.) Well-done dialogue and believable characters to care about carried me over some "how's THAT happen?" moments. If you like this kind of thing, it's the kind of thing you'll like.

Jul 28, 2:14am Top

Phoebe and Her Unicorn looks like a fun one, Linda. I'm still working my way through the Jackson Brodie series and will be reading the third book shortly. Probably all the hoopla about Big Sky will be over by the time I get to it but by then it should be easier to get my mitts on it at the library.

Jul 29, 11:49am Top

>86 Familyhistorian: I think Phoebe will provide me with a reliable dose of fun for some time....there are many many books in the series. I think the third book in the Brodie series is still the best...lucky you with it still to look forward to!

Jul 29, 2:16pm Top

60. Spying on the South by Tony Horwitz In the 1850's, in his journalist days, Frederick Law Olmsted traveled through the slave-holding American South from Maryland to Texas looking for its soul, and hoping to "promote the mutual acquaintance of the North and South" during a very troubled era. His dispatches from the roads and rivers resulted in a trilogy of works which were later abridged into a single volume titled The Cotton Kingdom.

In the 21st century, while attempting to cull some books from his library, Tony Horwitz picked up his college copy of that volume, cracked the covers (as you do when culling), and got caught up by the idea of recreating Olmsted's journey in our own polarized time. Being an intrepid world traveler, journalist, war correspondent and historian himself, he did just that, and this book is the result.

Horwitz cadged a ride on a towboat moving coal barges along the Ohio River; traveled from St. Louis to New Orleans by steamboat (a rather different experience than the rowdy 19th century equivalent); met with remnants of the Old South aristocracy in Tennessee; drank in a lot of local bars in Louisiana and Texas; and took a mule-back expedition along the Rio Grande. He managed it all without getting into any serious trouble until the very end, when he inadvertently offended the mule and got a bit of an attitude adjustment handed to him.

He found a lot of what you would expect in the "unreconstructed south", and reports it as you would expect of a Yankee liberal... and that disturbed me through much of this book. Despite Horwitz's assertion that "Like Olmsted, I'd embarked on my journey believing--or at least hoping--that Americans on opposite sides of the national divide could listen to each other and air their differences in a rational and coolheaded fashion", I got the feeling that the author's own prejudices may have led him mainly to encounters that would reinforce them.

I nearly quit after the chapter titled "The Drift of Things in Ruby-Red America", which related his stay in the Republican stronghold of Crockett, Texas, where despite meeting some people he professed to like, he was left with a "bad taste in {his} mouth", and a very pessimistic feeling about "what is to become of us...this great country & this cursedly little people" (the latter being Olmsted's words). Pretty discouraging stuff, with nothing much to foster hope for coming out on the other side of the current mess. And yet...if I had given up at that point, I would have missed the chapter titled "And Absalom Rode Upon a Mule", which was really a hoot, and in which Horwitz got his come-uppance from both man and mule, restoring my faith in him as an objective observer. It has to be difficult to report your "story" when you're smack in the middle of it yourself; he could have cast himself in a better light and no one would have been the wiser. Neither the mule nor its unidentified handler are likely to read his account.

After a respite to recover from the effects of concussion and saddle sores in the comfort of a New England summer, Horwitz returned to Texas to finish his planned sojourn to the Rio Grande and into Mexico. Here he visited towns on either side of the border, where Americans crossed into Mexico to shop and Mexicans crossed into Texas daily to work; met with a representative of the long-unrecognized Kickapoo tribe; and attended Day of the Dead festivities as guests of a Mexican family.

Horwitz ends his book with a chapter about Olmsted's other iconic endeavor---New York's Central Park. And here he did find grounds for optimism. Touring the park with a former Commissioner of the city's Depatment of Parks and Recreation, he came away with the impression that this "deliberate, democratic experiment" (Olmsted again) worked, and continues to do so, offering an escape from the pressures of urban life to anyone and everyone. He observed an unforced, comfortable mingling of all sorts of strangers, including a Harlem sixth-grader and his little brother who, after Horwitz had given him a brief history of Olmsted's creation, advised him to "Tell Fred he did good".

Edited: Jul 29, 2:52pm Top

>88 laytonwoman3rd: that sounds fascinating Linda. I enjoy 'pilgrimage books' ie walking in the footsteps of...

Jul 29, 7:44pm Top

>88 laytonwoman3rd: Hm. One wonders, only half in jest, if something Putin-y was behind Horwitz's sudden death.

Jul 29, 10:01pm Top

>89 Caroline_McElwee: It really made me want to read Olmsted's work, Caroline. I hadn't known about this aspect of his life at all. I knew him as the designer of Central Park, and the grounds of the Biltmore estate in Asheville, NC.

>90 richardderus: Goodness...

Jul 30, 8:13pm Top

Fascinating account of the Horowitz book.

Edited: Jul 31, 2:36pm Top

>92 bohemima: Thanks, Gail. It was a good read, although parts of it struck me as very similar to Confederates in the Attic in theme and tone; that, combined with the hopelessness generated by much of the narrative, caused me to bog down a bit 2/3 of the way through. This was one of those cases where I was very happy I did not set the book aside.

Edited: Jul 31, 2:38pm Top

Calling all AAC participants! The Ernest J. Gaines thread for August is up and running here. My research for his introductory post has placed Mr. Gaines solidly on my Dream Dinner Party list.

Edited: Aug 1, 12:38pm Top

61. American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation by Jon Meacham A quick exploration of the place of "public religion" in the founding of the United States, this book also emphasizes the personal faith of some of our leaders into the 20th century. Meacham's own text comes to only 250 pages, but he includes the meaty bits he drew on in appendices that comprise another 100 or so. It's a good summary, leaving no doubt about two fundamental points: Our founders were pretty clear about seeing the need to keep the government free of established religion. They were also certain that a higher power was at work in the affairs of man. Read this one for the AAC.

Aug 2, 3:34pm Top

>95 laytonwoman3rd: This sounds interesting, Linda.

Scout did like the Phoebe and the unicorn books that we checked out of the library, but my daughter said there were just enough questions to make her think we'll wait a year or two before continuing.

Aug 2, 5:30pm Top

>96 BLBera: How old is Scout, Beth? Timing is so important with kids....and with us grown-ups too. Of course some of the best books work for many ages, if differently for any given reader from one time to another.

Edited: Aug 2, 5:59pm Top

62. Past Imperfect by Margaret Maron No. 7 in the Lieutenant Sigrid Harald series. A past-it detective is shot on his way home from a routine late night ramble with his dog. A young Police Administrative Aide from the precinct he had been temporarily assigned to meets an untimely end a few nights later. Sigrid puzzles over the detective's connection to her long-dead father, and ultimately finds another connection that could be the key to both deaths. Pieces of her parents' past are revealed to her, with consequences apparently reserved for the next book! Oscar Nauman appears only in answering machine messages, but Sigrid takes another reluctant step or two in the direction of fashion when her grandmother sends her a gift certificate for an expensive make-over which includes "having her colors done". Lots of fun for the reader, if not for Sigrid. Perfect distraction for a couple lazy afternoons.

Aug 2, 9:10pm Top

>98 laytonwoman3rd: I am still working my way through the Deborah Knott series, Linda, but I am looking forward to this one too. It sounds like fun.

Aug 2, 9:59pm Top

>99 NanaCC: Sigrid is so much different than Deborah...less likeable, but maybe more interesting. Deborah really doesn't have any "issues" to speak of. Sigrid is a work in progress. Their paths do cross eventually (they're shirttail relations, you know) and that's fun to see too.

Aug 3, 3:10pm Top

>97 laytonwoman3rd: She'll be six in a couple of weeks, Linda. She starts kindergarten this fall.

Aug 3, 3:24pm Top

>101 BLBera: Well, I'd agree she probably would love the art, but have a bit of trouble with the content. Something to look forward to!

Aug 4, 12:21pm Top


Hi Linda! Good comments on the Horowitz, which was already on my WL.

Aug 4, 2:55pm Top

>98 laytonwoman3rd: I seem to remember reading Bootlegger's Daughter once upon a time, but can find no record of it. Maron's done 20 of those and 9 of the Sigrids, so clearly no lack of material for me to get my series-lovin' teeth into.

Edited: Aug 4, 6:40pm Top

>104 richardderus: Get goin', then, Richard. I love Maron to bits. (Sigrid appears in 17 and 18 of the Deborah Knott series as well.)

>103 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie.

Aug 5, 3:57am Top

>98 laytonwoman3rd: How did I get to (nearly) 53 without having heard of Margaret Maron?

Hope your week will be all you wish for it, Linda.

Aug 5, 9:46am Top

>106 PaulCranswick: Clearly you haven't been paying nearly enough attention to my threads! I believe Margaret Maron came to my attention through our late LT friend, brainflakes, Charlie Callahan. Another continuing legacy from a perceptive reader, greatly missed.

Edited: Aug 5, 10:09pm Top

63. Marrying Out by Harold Carlton Excellent memoir covering about 3 years of the author's adolescence, growing up in London in a dysfunctional Jewish family in the 1950's. Although his father and maternal grandfather both agree with Howard's conviction that religion is "baloney", it is important to them, and most of all to his grandmother, that he have a traditional bar mitzvah---in fact that all the Jewish rituals of life's milestones be observed, and when one of his uncles falls in love with a Gentile girl, the end of the world is imminent. Howard's father is a frustrated unhappy man, ulcer-ridden, and subject to occasional bursts of violent temper. His mother is also frustrated with her status as a housewife; she wants to go out to work, and sympathizes with Howard's longing to become an artist. But Jewish boys don't become artists, they are meant to become doctors, lawyers, or in his case, to take over the handbag factory his father hates so. His grandfather is the sanest member of the family, a man who listens, who cares, and who lives with his own demons, not the least of which is his wife. Grandma rules her household, the rest of the family, and probably even the rabbi, with an iron fist. A fist on which every nail is perfectly manicured at all times, and protected by white gloves. She gets what she wants, and if she doesn't...it's murder. Much of this story is familiar material exploited by countless Jewish comedians. But here, it isn't played for laughs, although there is a wry chuckle to be had from time to time. Grandma is a self-centered drama queen, concerned only with appearances---Shirley Maisel on nasty pills. Her daughter feels stuck in a loveless marriage; her sons operate their business in ruthless competition with their brother-in-law; her husband seeks solace from a good woman around the corner; her grandchildren dread Friday night suppers at her table. But you gotta love Howard (the author changed his own name within the context of the memoir, but tells the reader plainly in a foreword that " 'Howard Conway'...is, of course, me"), who does his best to navigate the very choppy familial waters, while worrying about his own maturity and learning a few family secrets he'd rather not know. Not as depressing as it sounds, as "Howard" tells it all without a single whine, and we conclude that he became a man worth knowing in spite of it all.

Aug 7, 10:43pm Top

Hi, Linda! I started reading Spying on the South but had some technical issues with the e-book. I do want to try again! I was starteled to learn of Horwitz's sudden death.

American Gospel has been on my bookshelf for ages. I really should get to it.

Aug 8, 10:39am Top

>108 laytonwoman3rd: Oh nay nay nay! Retro me Sathanas.

Happier new reads!

Edited: Aug 8, 11:13am Top

>110 richardderus: 'S okay, Richard...you don't have to read it. I should have put a trigger warning at the beginning, maybe?

>109 tymfos: Sorry you had to give the Horwitz a break, Terri. It's not a comfortable read, by any means, but a worthwhile one, in the end. And American Gospel has the advantage of being relatively short and fast moving.

Edited: Aug 9, 2:14pm Top

64. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee Well, it has taken me 4 years to get around to this, and I am rather glad I waited until the hype and hoopla had faded. While it is definitely not as polished, poignant or poetic as TKM, it surprised me by being quite powerful in its own way, bearing absolutely none of the comforting nostalgic tone of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic.

We all know by know that the story here is set some 20 years after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird, as a grown-up Jean Louise Finch comes home to Maycomb from New York City for her annual visit. The reader, unless he has been under a rock for the last five years, has the advantage of her, as she is unprepared for what she learns about the town and people she grew up with. Atticus isn't a saint? Calpurnia didn't love the Finches like family all those years she worked in their house? Uncle Jack is a pain in the ass who can never answer a straight question with a straight answer? Actually, that's the one that bothered me most. I really liked Uncle Jack in TKM. I find nothing astonishing in the "revelation" that Atticus's attitude toward the black population of Maycomb was paternalistic and therefore racist by 21st century standards. Read TKM with a modern eye and you can't help but see it. It is, as Toni Morrison said, a white savior story. In the 1960's, that was less of a condemnation than it is now. TKM served as important a literary role in the civil rights movement as Uncle Tom's Cabin did in rousing support for abolition. It made ME a supporter of equal rights at a pretty crucial time in my moral development. I would hate to think that, like UTC, there will come time when it is virtually unreadable. But it's a possibility I accept.

What struck me repeatedly as I was reading Watchman was that I kept filling in background that I could only know from reading Mockingbird. I found it hard to believe this story came first, or could make any sense whatsoever without the underpinning of TKM. Aside from the changes easily explained by the passage of time or a child's lack of understanding, the only obvious inconsistency between the two stories is that in Watchman Atticus won an acquittal for his black client accused of rape. The trial itself plays no part in the narrative of this novel---it is only referred to. It is much easier to believe that Watchman was a lesser sequel to Mockingbird than that it was the "first draft" of that superior novel. In fact, for the first half I was firmly convinced that Harper Lee’s notes or draft may have been the starting place for this book, but that it had surely been written by someone else much more recently. I'm still not sure that isn't what happened. So much of it sounds distressingly current. Like this passage (I could have written it last week): "Why doesn't their flesh creep? How can they devoutly believe everything they hear in church and then say the things they do and listen to the things they hear without throwing up?"

Ultimately, Go Set a Watchman is a story of disillusionment....not ours, as readers of a fondly remembered novel with a beloved protagonist, but a daughter's when she makes the inevitable discovery that her father was a real man of his time and not the flawless idol she had set up to worship. Most of us come to that realization gradually...Jean Louise had it thrust upon her. Jean Louise is a believable young adult version of the Scout we know and love from TKM. However, without the context of the childhood experiences we shared in that novel, she is a minimally developed character whose emotional framework we have less basis to appreciate. Her ranting against her father (and his maddeningly cool-headed responses to it) are poorly crafted, but understandable because we already know who she thought her father was. "If a man says to you, 'This is the truth,' and you believe him, and you discover what he says is not the truth, you are disappointed and you make sure you will not be caught out by him again. But a man who has lived by truth---and you have believed in what he has lived---he does not leave you merely wary when he fails you, he leaves you with nothing."

As an extension of To Kill a Mockingbird Go Set a Watchman works to shake us up a little...to cause us to examine our own assumptions and hidden prejudices, as perhaps Harper Lee was doing when she wrote it.

Aug 8, 2:26pm Top

>112 laytonwoman3rd: Excellent review Linda.

Aug 8, 3:47pm Top

>112 laytonwoman3rd: I've often wondered if the problem Harper Lee had was that she needed an Editor, someone with the horsepower to wrangle her raw talent into some kind of coherent narrative. Tay Hohoff-type lapidary gem-polishing isn't common.

Aug 8, 7:34pm Top

>112 laytonwoman3rd: Brilliant review, Linda. I read this book shortly after publication, and I really liked it. I see Watchman and TKM as companion pieces, a sort of yin/yang, or two lenses on the same events. I also think Watchman allows Harper Lee to show anger about issues of race (through the adult Scout), in a way she could not in TKM.

Aug 8, 8:46pm Top

>113 Caroline_McElwee: Thank you, Caroline.

>114 richardderus: I think it's pretty clear that we wouldn't have had To Kill a Mockingbird without Tay Hohoff, and that if she had lived as long as Nelle Lee lived, we never would have seen Go Set A Watchman.

>115 lauralkeet: Excellent points, Laura. Obviously TKM can stand by itself. But Watchman needs TKM to make it complete.

Aug 8, 8:46pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Linda. Great review of Go Set a Watchman. I thought I would hate the book, but found enough to admire. Interesting look at an early development, of a truly classic novel.

Aug 8, 9:22pm Top

>116 laytonwoman3rd: Thank you, Mark. I am quite glad I finally read it.

Edited: Aug 9, 1:30pm Top

I just acquired Go Set a Watchman a week or so ago. You are making me glad I picked it up; wasn't interested when it was published. Time changes my mind, if no one else's. Your reviewed clarified its relation to To Kill a Mockingbird for me. I get it now. Maybe I'll add it to my TBR collection.

Oh! Wait...

Edited: Aug 10, 12:09pm Top

>119 weird_O: All the talk about how Atticus's character was so different put me off for a while, Bill. But I knew eventually I'd have to read it....and as it turns out, that was a typical "OMG" reaction from many early reviewers that doesn't really accurately reflect the content of the book. In context, I had no trouble merging the two representations at all.

AND...in other news...many thanks for your positive review of the next one (see below), which contributed to my decision to read it.

Edited: Aug 10, 1:29pm Top

65. The Quiet American by Graham Greene I was too young to have heard any of the criticism of this book when it was published in 1955 ("Anti-American!"), and I never encountered Greene's work in school later on...yet I somehow feel like I've always known it was controversial in its day, and down-right prophetic in hindsight. Set in Viet Nam during the first Indo-China war, before partition, at the very beginning of America's covert involvement in the country's affairs, it presents a most unlovely picture of the not-so-quiet American, of nearly all the other foreigners caught up in the conflict between French colonialists and independence factions, and many of the local players as well. As it had something of a Hemingway tinge to it in my mind, I never felt inclined to read it until two very perceptive LT'ers brought it my attention separately, a couple years apart. I will refer you to their reviews for the full treatment, and only say for myself that I found it compelling on multiple levels, heart-breaking as almost any decent novel set in time of war must be, and disheartening in its confirmation that the human race simply never learns anything from history. Ever.

The late rebeccanyc's review is here: http://www.librarything.com/work/10158/reviews/113296636

And weird_O Bill's is here: http://www.librarything.com/work/10158/reviews/122684657

Aug 10, 1:40pm Top

Great comments on Go Set a Watchman, Linda. I agree that it certainly needed editing.

I must get to the Greene one of these days. It's one of his that I haven't read, and I have enjoyed the other ones of his that I did read, especially The Comedians.

Aug 10, 1:46pm Top

>121 laytonwoman3rd: The entire history of the US is proof there is not one shred of common sense to be found in a thorough, complete search of History.

Aug 10, 1:49pm Top

>122 BLBera: I read Travels With My Aunt many many moons ago, but don't remember a thing about it. I presume it's considerably different than much of his other work. I also read Gun for Sale a/k/a This Gun for Hire a few years back, and disliked it. I think I'll probably look for some more of his novels now.

Aug 10, 3:07pm Top

>122 BLBera: I too liked The Comedians but I don't remember it now as it was so long ago. Also The Power and the Glory.

Aug 10, 3:13pm Top

>121 laytonwoman3rd: My favorite Graham Greene novel. It is anti-American but it doesn't exactly paint the British and French pretty either. I regret that you didn't read it sooner. I have those sorts of regrets all the time on things I somehow passed by for one reason or another. How we ever got into Vietnam knowing what this book shows (and they knew) what the situation was ... I do understand the national need to slow or stop Communist China, and that is why we went there, besides the empire and arms builders....

Aug 10, 3:54pm Top

>125 Caroline_McElwee: Rebecca liked The Power and the Glory best...I think that's what I'll try when I'm next in the mood for him.

>126 RBeffa: I've avoided the entire subject of Vietnam in literature until the last decade or so, Ron. I just wasn't up to it, having lost people I knew, and having been scared witless that my (now) husband was going to get sucked into it. It's far enough removed now, and the personal consequences were slight enough, that I can see it from a historical perspective and read about it. Movies are still way off limits, however.

Edited: Aug 10, 5:29pm Top

>127 laytonwoman3rd: I do love The Power and the Glory too. It was my favorite until I read the Quiet American 5 years ago. I too avoided books on Vietnam until The Quiet American. To date it is still the only one although I have tried to push myself a little to try The Things They Carried, or Matterhorn or the Paul Vann book. I just can't get there tho - too personal to me and it will probably always be that way. My draft # was 57 when Nixon cancelled the draft. I had already gone for my physical etc. I can never hate Nixon. Some friends with low #'s had already enlisted ... So I understand the personal effect on you Linda.

ETA: I came across my papers in a box about a year ago. It still felt like a punch. I was away at college and had to come back home to go through the draft board crap. College deferments had ended a year or so before. I was not a happy camper.

Edited: Aug 10, 5:31pm Top

>128 RBeffa: My husband's lottery number was 22. He enlisted in the Coast Guard upon graduation from college. They wanted him in OCS, but didn't have a class opening for months...he didn't dare wait so he joined the "regulars". It was another 2 years before the draft ended. He has recently completed a nifty personal memoir of those years for family posterity. You ought to do the same.

Aug 10, 6:39pm Top

>121 laytonwoman3rd: I haven't read the book, but it was made into a pretty good movie starring Michael Caine who is of course brilliant.

Aug 10, 6:53pm Top

>130 lauralkeet: Iiiiiinteresting. I wasn't aware of that movie.

Edited: Aug 10, 10:28pm Top

Great review of Go Set a Watchman, Linda. I doubt that I'll ever read it or To Kill a Mockingbird, even though the sister of one of my African American classmates from medical school, who is an editor for the Dallas Morning News, loved TKM, met Harper Lee in her home, and wrote about her experience:

My crazy quest to meet the very private Harper Lee

Aug 11, 1:22pm Top

Excellent reviews here, Linda.

The Power and the Glory is my favorite Greene, but I can’t think of one that I haven’t liked.

Vietnam: oh my. Husband and brother both changed, and not in good ways, by multiple tours of duty there. Much family anger and dissension. I was ardently against the war and remain so to this day. All that said, however, I’ve read a few books about it: Fire in the Lake probably being the best nonfiction one. The one good thing about the war was that both brother and husband maintained an enduring and very real love for the Vietnamese people.

Anyway, thumbs distributed, and a bb well aimed.

Edited: Aug 11, 8:28pm Top

>132 kidzdoc: What a wonderful article, Darryl. Thanks so much for sharing it. If you ever change your mind about reading To Kill a Mockingbird, I'd be very interested in knowing how it hits you. It's so hard to evaluate it dispassionately now...for the same reasons the author of that article put forth. It's just been part of my literary life and social consciousness forever, it seems.

>133 bohemima: My dad served in Korea, although before fighting broke out there, and he felt the same way about the Korean people he met.

I have a several histories of Viet Nam that I have dipped into, but never finished. (Stanley Karnow's Viet Nam A History, as well as A Bright Shining Lie, and Viet Nam: The Origins of Revolution. It's pretty dense stuff, but fascinating. Then there is the two volume Library of America set of Reporting Viet Nam. I think the only book I read straight through on the subject before was The Things They Carried, and it was brilliant. Tim O'Brien was one of the contributors to Ken Burns' excellent documentary on Viet Nam, which really bears watching.

Aug 11, 4:32pm Top

>121 laytonwoman3rd: I will look for that one. I'd like to read more fiction from the VietNam war/conflict.

Aug 13, 5:56pm Top

>135 thornton37814: It was a good one. But I think I will stick to non-fiction on the subject for a while now.

Edited: Aug 13, 7:00pm Top

66. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines Classic first person narrative of the life of a woman from emancipation (which came when she was 9 or 10 years old, and an orphan) to the early days of the modern civil rights movement. The historical context is familiar territory, but there's not really another literary heroine like Jane. From the moment a Yankee soldier gave her her "freedom name" of Jane Brown, and told her she was no longer a slave, Miss Jane Pittman was a force to be reckoned with. No matter her circumstances, she endured, and often prevailed, by banishing fear, accepting reality, and never for a moment losing her sense of self.

Gaines is the August author for the 2019 AAC. I'll try to read his latest work, The Tragedy of Brady Sims later this month.

Aug 13, 7:06pm Top

>137 laytonwoman3rd: A 1974 TV film was the first time I'd run into that book. Read it, found it a bit preachy, but was deeply involved from giddy-up to whoa.

Aug 13, 9:56pm Top

>138 richardderus: It didn't strike me as preachy, but if I think about it, Miss Jane may have come off that way later in her life. But then, if a 110-year-old former slave isn't entitled to preach at us a little, who is?

Aug 14, 1:50am Top

>121 laytonwoman3rd: I read The Quiet American fairly recently - within the last few years, probably for the AAC as it is not my usual kind of book. I was impressed by the writing but depressed by the setting. I never read or watched anything about the Vietnam War if I could help it but then, it wasn't as close to home for us. We didn't have to deal with the draft, just the draft dodgers.

Aug 15, 1:45pm Top

>137 laytonwoman3rd: I remember the same TV movie as >138 richardderus: watched. As I recall, it won or was nominated for numerous awards.

Aug 15, 1:55pm Top

>139 laytonwoman3rd: ...if a 110-year-old former slave isn't entitled to preach at us a little, who is?

Certainly not Ernest Gaines. But there it is.

>141 thornton37814: Boatloads of them! And well-earned, considering how extremely underknown the story was at the time.

Aug 15, 6:18pm Top

>142 richardderus: I'm going to give Ernie a little leeway on this one too.

>141 thornton37814: I thought I had seen the movie, but I can't picture any of the incidents in the book featuring Cicely Tyson or any of the other actors in it, so maybe it's something I just thought about watching. I'm going to try to correct that oversight.

>140 Familyhistorian: It's a difficult subject, as all wars are. I've always been fascinated with WWII and the US Civil War in fiction, non-fiction and film, but Vietnam was just too close to look at from a historical perspective until recently. You were lucky not to have the draft pulling your young men into that conflict, Meg. But Canada did lose some people to it, and of course your country took in a lot of Vietnamese refugees.

Aug 17, 7:31pm Top

67. Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night by Barbara J. Taylor I bought this book some time ago from our library's bookstore...it was on the local author's display, and it sounded interesting as it was set in Scranton, the city I know and love. I was looking for my next read, and picked this up. Then I discovered that it was blurbed by Jay Parini, who I admire, and I'm currently reading Conversations with Jay Parini, so that's one of those nifty coinkidinks I just love.

This is the story of a Welsh family and their neighbors in early 20th century Scranton, PA. The father is a coal miner; there is an inordinate number of ways for people to be killed or maimed in this time and place, and the Morgans have experienced several of them. There is a lot of sadness here, and Grief is a character who speaks and entices Grace Morgan to succumb completely to his "charms". Her daughter, Violet, struggles with guilt over her older sisters death, and because the adults are preoccupied with their own grief and guilt, she misinterprets many an action or remark to her own detriment. She is "saved" by her love for her friend Stanley and his benefactress, the widow Lankowski. Taylor has the locale and the history pitch perfect, and I really enjoyed reading this book, being able to follow almost every step of the characters through Providence, Chinchilla, Greenridge and the Patch....although occasionally I had to go look at old maps to see how certain streets used to connect with others where they are now blocked by flood control measures or commercial development or expressways, or University expansion. Even without knowing the local area intimately as I do, you can find a heartfelt story to enjoy here.

Aug 19, 9:14am Top

So, has everyone but me noticed what happens now when you hover over a touchstone?

Aug 19, 9:21am Top

>145 laytonwoman3rd: hm, nope, but then I'm mostly on an iPad where you don't really "hover."

Do tell.

Aug 19, 10:55am Top

>145 laytonwoman3rd: Well now that you pointed it out ... handy feature!

Edited: Aug 19, 11:36am Top

>146 lauralkeet: The cover and description of the book pops up in a little box. On my Kindle if I touch a touchstone, that box pops up briefly before the site takes me to the book page.

Aug 19, 5:53pm Top

That is sooooo wonderful. An improvement of great merit. Tim and whoever deserve Gold Stars for their foreheads.

Aug 19, 7:57pm Top

>145 laytonwoman3rd: Oooh, thanks for pointing that out - very cool!

Aug 20, 12:02am Top

Phoebe and Her Unicorn looks marvelous!!!! Adding to my wish list immediately.

>145 laytonwoman3rd: I had noticed! Very cool!

>137 laytonwoman3rd: Adding The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman to the wish list, as well.

Aug 22, 9:36pm Top

Glad to spread the joy around...

Here's another bit of good news, that may be of interest to some. When we were reading Jay Parini for the AAC, I wanted to get my hands on a copy of Conversations with Jay Parini. It was ridiculously expensive, especially compared to other volumes in the "Conversations" series, several of which I own. Our library didn't have it, so I put in a request that they acquire it, which they did. It took a while, but I was eventually able to check it out. My 2nd renewal period is now running out, and I have decided I NEED to own it (more on that in a later post). So I checked Amazon and a couple other used book sites again. $50.00 for a new copy; the cheapest used one available---$36.00. No paperback edition; I don't do Kindle, but even that version is $25.00. For a lark, I checked the website for the University of Mississippi Press (which published it). Whaddya know---you can get it from them for $10.00 plus $5.00 shipping. You may not want this particular book, but apparently checking with the publisher, especially if it's a university press, can be a money-saver. Doesn't hurt my feelings to buy it from Not Amazon, either.

Aug 23, 6:49am Top

Linda, that last bit made me smile. There is a tiny used book shop in Montreal, right near the McGill university campus. The guy who runs the shop has a bowl on his desk filled with stickers that say, proudly, *I didn't buy it on Amazon!* He lets customers take them for free. I brought a bunch home for a friend of mine who loves them. She puts them on the covers of her books! :-)

Aug 23, 7:09am Top

>153 laytonwoman3rd: wow! Who knew? I'm glad you found it for such an affordable price Linda.

Aug 23, 8:50am Top

>154 jessibud2: That's cool...I love it.

>155 lauralkeet: I should have thought of it sooner, because I bought something else from a university press not too long ago--something I couldn't get at all elsewhere---and I was impressed with the service and the price. And now it makes me wonder what the library had to pay for its copy.

Aug 23, 11:45am Top

>153 laytonwoman3rd: Yay, I love when that happens Linda.

I need to get back to his essays.

Aug 23, 6:05pm Top

68. The Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill This is No. 6 in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series, and I think I enjoyed it the most of any so far. Lovely young country girls are being wooed and wed by a government employee passing through their villages on a work assignment...and then ending up dead and tied to a tree. Because of the remote nature of the villages, the lack of co-ordination or even communication between various police departments, and the wiliness of the killer, some of the families are not even aware that their daughter has gone missing, and it takes Dr. Siri and his "crew" to realize that there is a serial killer on the prowl. Interest is heightened by sections written from the disturbed killer's point of view. The interaction among the recurring characters is at its peak in this story, and there is so much humor in it that it was a delightful read, despite the tragic story line.

Aug 23, 6:26pm Top

69. Conversations with Jay Parini ed.by Michael Lackey Thoroughly engrossing interviews with a man I believe to be one of America's finest living men of letters --novelist, poet, essayist, biographer, teacher, philosopher, Parini counts Robert Penn Warren, Gore Vidal, Borges, Peter Akroyd, Seamus Heaney and many other literary greats among his friends, colleagues and mentors. Inevitably some of these pieces are a bit repetitive, as the same ground was covered by more than one interviewer, but Parini never sounds like he's tired of his subject, or working from a script. And one or two of the selections are so thought-provoking and informative that I will be re-reading them often. Especially not-to-be-missed: Parini's "self-interview", in which he gets to all the questions he wishes people would ask him.

Aug 23, 6:37pm Top

>158 laytonwoman3rd: I loved Dr. Siri! And Mme Daeng...did we meet her in this book? Possibly the next...anyway, you'll love her too.

Fourteen books in the series to date. I think I'm still on #10. But they are good fun.

>159 laytonwoman3rd: Worth that $15!

Yesterday, 10:27am Top

>158 laytonwoman3rd: Oh, I haven’t read any of the Dr. Siri after #8. I should get back to him. They really are good fun.

Yesterday, 4:12pm Top

>160 richardderus: Mme Daeng is very much present in this one, running her noodle shop and trying to keep Siri out of trouble. She's the source of much of the humor, as well. Love her I do.

>161 NanaCC: I'm not sure why I let so much time lapse between No. 5 and No. 6---I had Misogynist on hand, and the next one is here too.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

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