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What are you reading the week of July 20, 2019?

What Are You Reading Now?

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Jul 20, 10:30am Top

I've been spending most of my time reading a textbook, so there hasn't been a lot of pleasure reading. Well, that's not quite true. The textbook has been really fascinating or I wouldn't be focusing on it so avidly. I'm about halfway through A Crime in Holland by Georges Simenon and plan to finish it today.

Jul 20, 11:49am Top

I'm also planning on finishing my current book today, The Baby Bombers: The Inside Story of the Next Yankees Dynasty by Bryan Hoch. Interesting (for Yankees fans) but bland.

Jul 20, 3:17pm Top

Still rotating between Oliver Twist, Nine Perfect Strangers, and Happy Doomsday.

Jul 20, 7:04pm Top

cindydavid4, brought our convo over here. About Skloot's book, here's the link to my review, to save the uninterested from listening to me whine in the thread.


Regarding Brooks, my intro to her came via reading Caleb's Crossing. An original tale that I enjoyed because I like historical novels about intellectual female characters. Anya Seton's The Winthrop Woman is another example of that type novel and even better than "Crossing," IMO. I think I got hold of People of the Book recently, on an impulse of curiosity, but I confess beforehand that the subject didn't appeal to me and I had found myself resisting reading it because of that. So, my expectations are low.

P.S. Private msg'd you on your profile pg.

Edited: Jul 20, 8:38pm Top

Ayesha at Last
by Uzma Jalaluddin
4/5 stars
This is a fun spin on Pride and Prejudice though this time the background is set in Toronto amidst the Muslim world. Ayesha is a poet and teacher when she meets Khalid to work on a community project. They clash over her choices while he is very conservative. While she would like to have nothing to do with him, circumstances keep putting them together. I really enjoyed this debut book by Jalaluddin.

Edited: Jul 21, 12:49pm Top

As expected, yesterday I finished The Baby Bombers: The Inside Story of the Next Yankees Dynasty by Bryan Hoch. For baseball fans (and perhaps I should say "For Yankees fans") only. This very recent book provides some background into the development of the current Yankees team with a core of very young and talented players like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Luis Severino. The book tells about the work Yankees scouts and general manager Brian Cashman did finding these players and others, and the trades that have been made along the way, as some top prospects have been kept and some dealt away in order to bolster the team's recent playoff runs. Hoch also goes into the life stories of a few of these players, particularly those mentioned above. There's lots of interesting information about the ins and outs of the development of a major league baseball team in the current era. Unfortunately, perhaps because Hoch is a Yankees beat writer and so reluctant to damage his relationship with the team and the players, the whole thing is pretty bland. You'll find a bit more detail on my 50-Book Challenge thread.

Jul 21, 2:35pm Top

I finished Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith last night. It's part of his 44 Scotland Street series, and was really good fun. There is a six-year old boy in it, Bertie, who, after he lit his father's newspaper on fire while his father was reading it, has been taken to a Freudian psychoanalyst. The Bertie sections of the book had me in tears of laughter. It's been a long time since a book tickled me so much. I will definitely be reading more of this series.

I'm now reading Australian writer Jane Harper's third novel, The Lost Man and I am liking it thoroughly. She's a good writer, and an excellent hand at characterization and atmosphere. This book is set on a huge cattle station somewhere in the driest reaches of Queensland, and yet she's managed to make me feel claustrophobic in the midst of all this vast land. I'm planning to finish this book today, and then start on one of the hardcover novels that arrived from Amazon today. Working two jobs is a bit much, but it does allow me to splurge on books, so I'm not complaining!

Jul 21, 3:03pm Top

The Great Train Robbery – Michael Crichton

In 1855 a gang of thieves carried out an elaborate scheme to rob a train of the gold bullion scheduled to serve as payroll for the soldiers fighting in the Crimean War. “The Victorians always referred to this crime in capital letters, as The Great Train Robbery.” This is Crichton’s fictionalized novel based on what is known of the truth, with a good deal of conjecture and embellishment.

What a rollicking good story! I was entertained from beginning to end. Crichton starts out with a recitation of the facts and sprinkles the text with details of Victorian life and the specifics which came to light during the trial. But the way he imagines the lead characters, especially Edward Pierce (the gang leader), is what really breathes life into the story.

I first read this back in 1975 when it was a new release. In fact, I have a book-club edition I purchased at the time. It’s always been one of my favorite books by Crichton and I’ve recommended it to people over the years as a quick, fun adventure / crime story.

The book was adapted to film in 1978, starring Sean Connery as Edward Pierce, and Donald Sutherland as his accomplice Robert Agar. It’s a pretty faithful adaptation, and well worth watching.

NOTE: This review was written on my second (or third) reading, August 2015. One of my book clubs chose it for discussion in June 2019, so I’ve re-read it yet again. And I still love it!

Edited: Jul 21, 3:20pm Top

got your message, thanks

I loved wintrop woman; btw she also wrote a more famous work Katherine about the love affair between Chaucer and his mistress, based on a true story She is also a very strong character.

Im Jewish so the People of the Book really interested me. The story behind the rescue of the Haggadah actually first appeared in an article in the New Yorker, whre Brooks writes the true story behind the book. The book structure is intriguing ; the author uses a clue from the restoration to play on the history of how it got there, connecting each story backwards to the beginning. Its one of those books that could have stood on its own; the event and story were marvelous. It did not need the drama of the narrators backstory that turned it into a Dan Brown novel at the end. but if you are looking for strong women characters, you'll find it here!

Another author that might interest you is Eliz Chadwick. Shes listed as a romance writer, but she's really an extraordiary historic fiction writr, and her woman charactrs are very strong.

I'll go check out your review :)

ETA I agree with your point about medical knowlege at that time. Yes, a white patient would have been treated the same in that day and time; it wasn't that it was cruel or dicriminatory, the poor in general were treated thus, the idea of consent just never dawned on them. I think the strength of the book however came from the authors discussion of the medical world, how the cells were used, and the ethics of the issue. And as a teacher of the deaf, I was appalled that one of the daughters who was obviously deaf wa placed in an institution for the insane after her mother died. Good review.

Edited: Jul 21, 3:09pm Top

>8 BookConcierge: OMG i read the great train robbery in HS, and reread it so often the book fell apart! Saw the movie as well, you are right, an excellent adaptation. I liked lots of his books; read Juraisic Park long before it became a movie, and was scared enough from the book not to see it! Also loved Andromeda Strain, another book adapted on film that was quite amazing. I really liked this author for a while then stopped reading him when he got too much of an agenda. Maybe should go back and see what I've missed

Jul 22, 7:43am Top

I finished What the Butler Saw , a history and description of servants in England (with a couple of chapters about American servants) from 1700 to 1900+. As such it provides quite a description of everyday life both upstairs and down in the homes of the slightly rich to very rich. I found it very entertaining.

Jul 22, 9:28am Top

I'm almost finished Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan. I don't care for this book, despite it being a Heather's Pick from Indigo, and despite the accolades on the back of the cover. I can't warm up to either Joy Davidson or even C.S. Lewis -- who I liked a lot before I read this book! He is a chain-smoking, plodding but kind, and a little dense older man. And I find Joy pretty self-absorbed. I wonder if this was the reality of it all.

Jul 22, 10:53am Top

The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
Book on C.D. read by William Hurt

One of Hemingway’s earliest novels, this was first published in 1926, and has never been out of print since that time. It is loosely based on the author’s own experiences with a circle of friends frequently known as “The Lost Generation.”

The novel follows Jake Barnes, an American journalist, and Lady Brett Ashley, a twice-divorced Englishwoman who seems unable to function without a man fawning over her. Together with a group of friends, including Brett’s fiancé, the Scot, Mike Campbell they travel from Paris to Pamplona for the Festival of San Fermin, and the running of the bulls. Along the way more than one man is convinced he loves Brett and can win her affections.

The first Hemingway work I read was his The Old Man and the Sea, which was assigned reading when I was in 8th grade. I loved it and have been a fan of Hemingway’s ever since. Still, some of his works fail to resonate with me. And this was one of them.

The ennui with which these people live their lives just doesn’t interest me. I am as bored as they seem to be by their own lives. I don’t understand the attraction to Brett, who seems unable to form any lasting relationship but lives for the conquest. Yes, she beautiful and apparently has some money, but men are literally coming to blows over her affections.

And Jake? I get that he’s been wounded in WW1, and that has resulted in impotence. I can understand his resultant reserve and reliance on alcohol to dull his emotions. But I just didn’t get the relationship between he and Brett. Or for that matter, his relationship with the other characters. What drew them together? And what kept them connected?

I may have liked (or at least appreciated) the novel more had I read rather than listened. I absolutely hated William Hurt’s delivery on the audio. He is a wonderful actor, but in this case he sounded so bored and uninterested. I felt that the pace dragged. He even managed to make the bullfight sound boring. 1* for his performance of the audio.

NOTE: The book was published in Britain under the title Fiesta

Jul 22, 11:00am Top

I finished a round of "between books" over the weekend:

* “Ernie Pyle Supplies a Worm’s-Eye View of Yank Infantrymen in North Africa” from A Treasury of Great Reporting: "Literature Under Pressure" from the Sixteenth Century to Our Own Time edited by Louis L. Snyder
* “What Happened to the Tucker Car?” from Magazine Digest - August 1949 edited by Murray Simmons
* The chapter on the Houston Colts from 1963 Official Baseball Almanac by Bill Wise
* “On a Legend of the War” from Leaves in the Wind by Alpha of the Plow (a.k.a. A. G. Gardiner)
* “The Writers’ Model” from Creek Walk and Other Stories by Molly Giles
* "L’On" - Part Three, Chapter 21, from the novel The Apostle by Sholem Asch
* “Deus Dixit” by John Updike from Esquire Magazine - 40th Anniversary Celebration edited by Don Erickson

I've begun The Longest Debate: a Legislative History of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by Charles W. Whalen and Barbara Whalen. The book was first published in 1985. Charles Whalen was an ex-Congressman (although he didn't enter Congress until 1967) and Barbara Whalen was a journalist. Over the first 25 pages, the book is detailed yet clearly written. I am very much looking forward to digging into this history further.

Jul 22, 11:02am Top

Last night I finished Wizard and Glass by Stephen King. It was a great addition to The Dark Tower series and I look forward to the next installment.
Next up is The Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir. I've had it for about a year and am reading it for a summer challenge: a book translated from a country I've never visited. Also I saw on Instagram that Alice Hoffman just read it and liked it so Bonus!

Jul 22, 11:03am Top

Arthur and Sherlock – Michael Sims

Subtitle: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes.

This is an interesting biography / history of Conan Doyle’s life as a young man. The reader learns of the people and events that influenced and inspired him when he created his most famous character: Sherlock Holmes. There was the professor in medical school who had trained himself to keenly observe a patient’s demeanor, clothing, and general appearance and from those observable “clues” infer the man’s occupation, background, and even marital status. And there were the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, Wilkie Collins, Emile Gaboriau and others, on whose foundations Doyle built his own style.

I also found it interesting to learn of the publishing business in this era, and stunned to discover that Conan Doyle had to basically sell his copyright in order to get that first Holmes mystery published.

Edited: Jul 22, 1:10pm Top

Finished this OverDrive audiobook ~

First Mistake by Sandie Jones

(England/suspense/involves a woman, her husband and her "best" friend/Brit narrator)


Edited: Jul 31, 11:44am Top

Started this NF OverDrive Kindle eBook Alexa can read to me ~

American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump by Tim Alberta

(Covers 2008 thru 2018)

UPDATE: ***** (the GOP has been on a decade-long suicide mission)

Jul 22, 6:09pm Top

I finished Pico Iyer's The Man Within My Head which I liked very much. The man within his head is the writer Graham Greene and I learned a great deal about Greene -- and Iyer himself -- by reading this book. It is also a book about fathers and sons and so there is a look at Iyer's father, Raghavan, too. As always, Iyer's writing is beautiful and insightful.

Next up: Everything Under by Daisy Johnson

Edited: Jul 31, 11:45am Top

Finished this iTunes audiobook ~

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency: BBC Radio Casebook: BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisations by Alexander McCall Smith

(Vol. 1/eight mini-plays AMS wrote based on his long-running series)

UPDATE: *****

Jul 22, 9:22pm Top

I’m nearly finished with Thomas Mullen’s Darktown. What a great book - historical fiction, murder mystery, and police procedural all wrapped up in one engrossing story!

Jul 22, 11:42pm Top

> 4, 9

I was fascinated by People of the Book and also Year of Wonders by Brooks; less so by March. Although I have a couple of reservations about her stories overall, which seem to me to be 'wish-fulfillment' of a certain type of adventurous female life, I do find them immensely rewarding to read. Probably, as you both mention, owing to the strong female characters.
Will have to try Caleb's Crossing.

Jul 23, 2:34am Top

I finished listening to the outstanding piece of historical fiction, The Only Woman In The Room.

Next up for listening is A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey.

Edited: Jul 27, 6:55am Top

Enjoying this OverDrive audiobook ~

War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
(part 2/WWII England/Ada is a very independent 11-year-old with a younger brother/middle-grade lit/narrated by Jayne "Flavia" Entwistle)

UPDATE: ****1/2

Jul 25, 12:40am Top

Heart of the Mirage by Glenda Lark

I'm also listening to Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and reading Frey by Melissa Wright on ebook - yes, all at once.

Maternity leave and being awake at weird hours is helping with this...

Jul 25, 8:54am Top

I just finished
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the last trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep
***interesting account about Rev Willie Maxwell who manages to kill several family members to collect on the insurance money. Apparently, Harper Lee had written a book called The Reverend which was never sent to publishers. The book explains how her fixation on perfection stalked her writing career. Also, it explores the life long friendship with Truman Capote.

I’m half way through

A Means to an End (Cold Case Investigation #3) by Lissa Marie Redmond
***This is the third book in a series due to be published in September 2019. Lauren Riley is a cold case detective working with her partner Shane Reese. Divorced with two adult daughters, she takes on cases as a private investigator on the side. She has a complicated relationship with her ex-husband Mark who is an accomplished attorney.

I would not recommend these books as a stand alone read.

Jul 25, 12:56pm Top

I finished this week's issue of The Economist with unusual dispatch and have been listening to back issues of Contemporary Soundtrack, which is a "Review of Pop, Jazz, Rock, and Country Music A bimonthly magazine produced in recorded format". Mostly,I'm interested in Jazz, but sometimes the other articles and reviews are interesting. Besides, it's good to keep up with what's happening. Also continuing Darwin and the Mysterious Mr. X. Last night I started an omnibus edition of G.K. Chesterton's Fr. Brown stories, which is probably destined to be an in between book. I'd only read a couple of volumes through the years, so am looking forward to making my way through the complete collection.

Jul 25, 2:59pm Top

The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende
Audiobook narrated by Marisol Ramirez and Thom Rivera.

Review UPDATED on second reading

Allende covers three generations of the Trueba family in her native Chile. Based loosely on her own family’s history, the novel weaves together personal and political triumphs and tragedies into an epic story of love and history.

I first read this with my F2F book club back in 1997 and was completely enthralled. I’ve been a fan of Allende’s ever since. I love Allende’s luminous writing, and the way that she seamlessly introduces elements of magical realism into her stories. Her gift for vivid description had me feeling cold drafts, luxuriating in sumptuous fabrics, enjoying the sweet juiciness of ripe fruit, hearing the cacophony of a busy marketplace or a student riot, cringing at the stench of human waste in a prison cell. She makes me believe that a woman can have bright green hair, or be clairvoyant and commune with ghosts.

These two examples show both her range from the vaguely humorous to the creepily eerie:
He had to make an enormous effort not to follow her around the house like a hypnotized chicken.
It had an impossible labyrinth of dark, narrow halls, in which the stink of cauliflower soup and cabbage stew reigned eternally.

And this passage perfectly described the entire novel:
…he told her about his family: a collection of eccentric lunatics for several generations, whom even ghosts made fun of.

The audiobook is narrated by Marisol Ramirez and Thom Rivera, changing narrators as the primary points of view change in the novel from male to female and back again. I thought they did a marvelous job. But this was my second “reading” so I was already familiar with the story. Because it has so many characters and complex story-telling I may not have enjoyed it as much had I not read it previously.

Jul 25, 6:52pm Top

I read it about when you did; we had read her Paula and knew I couldn't stop there. Loved this one and have reread it. Read most of her books but have lost track of the newer ones,

Jul 26, 8:00am Top

I finished White Fragility. I found this an enlightening book, not only for pointing out the various ways that racism manifests and perpetuates itself, but also how quickly most whites insist they're personally not involved in racism. That response of innocence just maintains and fuels the problem. It has made me reflect on my own roll.

Edited: Jul 26, 11:50am Top

>30 snash: I haven't read that book, but I think it is super important that these points are being raised. We will not be able to move forward on these issues as a society until we all take a clear-eyed look at what our roles have been, each of us as individuals, in perpetuating these conditions. Sadly, we grow up with a certain set of assumptions and behaviors installed within us. I doubt they'll ever be fully erased from our society, or at least not without a couple more generations of work, but the more aware of them we are, the better. As a white male, I put the "Me Too" movement in the same category.

Jul 26, 11:56am Top

Time and Again
by Jack Finney
3/5 stars
This is the story about a government organization recruiting citizens to go back in time using self-hypnosis. The goal is to just observe but not change anything in the past. Set in the 1970’s Si Morley has shown adeptness in going back in time. He has done his first mission when the organization is upended when one of their other members who time traveled caused someone’s life to disappear after a mission. Despite that Si is urged to go again to the past and he ends up falling in love with someone from the past. Well told but at times the descriptive narrative just goes on and on and I just wanted something to happen and also the use of self-hypnosis to go back in time seemed implausible to me.

Jul 26, 11:15pm Top

also the use of self-hypnosis to go back in time seemed implausible to me.

Well its a sci fi book! No stranger than how Dr Who moves around. I did love the book, but have not read it as an adult so I might feel the same way you do :)

Jul 26, 11:24pm Top

I have been reading two books this week. 'About Grace' by Anthony Doerr and 'Exile' by Shannon Messenger (Second book of Keeper of the Lost Cities series).

I will probably finish one of them at least by the end of this week.

Edited: Jul 27, 12:11pm Top

The new thread is up over here.

Edited: Jul 28, 6:05pm Top

>33 cindydavid4: I guess I am taking this book too seriously but I felt liked this book just dragged on and on. One of my favorite books is Audrey Niffenger's The Traveler's Wife and I had no problem with that premise.

Jul 27, 7:10pm Top

I also loved TTW (consider it not only among my fav sci fi book, but among my top books of all time) despite some really serious quibble that seemed implausible. So I do know what you mean..... .

Jul 29, 9:14pm Top

>33 cindydavid4:

Reversing time's arrow always seems implausible to me, regardless of method. ;^) Any such book can't be sci-fi, only fantasy-fi. Like Dr. Who (a great series!).

Jul 29, 11:47pm Top

no you are right, fantasy it is. I guess becaus Time and Again was actually considered sci fi when it was written (not sure there was a fantasy genre labeled such back then) made me use the term for TTW.

Its not the plausibility of time travel that interests me, its the way the author has imagined it might happen. The door into summer, is one of the more imaginiative ideas. Many others out there

One book that for me walks the line between sci fi and fantasy is The First 15 lives of Harry August but a very interesting take on time travel if you can handle some rather implausible plot lines that have nothing to do with sci/fan!

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