Talkdchaikin in Q4
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Astros are in the post-season. I might have to swap this picture if they get knocked out too quickly. But, for the moment, I'll be watching some baseball, and reading a bit too.
- V. by Thomas Pynchon (started Dec 31)
- Dictionary of Word Origins by Linda Flavell & Roger Flavell (started roughly Sep 1)
Currently Listening to:
- Archaeology and the Iliad: The Trojan War in Homer and History (The Modern Scholar) by Eric H. Cline (started Dec 28)
- Serial : Season Two, Fall 2015 (Podcast) by Sarah Koenig (started Dec 16. I'll try to follow as episodes are released)
Links go to posts in my first thread
1. 01.01 The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy (read Dec 26 - Jan 1)
2. 01.04 All Joy and No Fun : The Paradox of Modern Parenthood (Audio) by Jennifer Senior, read by the author (Listened Dec 18-Jan 4)
3. 01.09 This is How You Lose Her (Audio) by Junot Díaz, read by the author (Listened Jan 5-9)
4. 01.09 Poetry October 2014: Poetry from the United Kingdom - (read Dec 12 - Jan 9)
5. 01.21 The Country Life (Audio) by Rachel Cusk, read by Jenny Sterlin (Listened Jan 9-21)
6. 01.24 My Promised Land by Ari Shavit (Read Jan 5-24)
7. 01.25 Ecclesiastes (Read Jan 8 - 25)
8. 01.31 Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy (Read Jan 27-31)
9. 02.02 Poetry November 2014 (Read Jan 9 - Feb 2)
-- 02.05 Song of Songs (Read Feb 4-5)
10. 02.09 HHhH by Laurent Binet (Read Feb 6-9)
11. 02.12 Augustus : The Life of Rome's First Emperor (Audio) by Anthony Everitt, read by John Curless (Listened Jan 23 - Feb 12)
12. 02.13 Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (Read Feb 10-13)
13. 02.15 Poetry December 2014 (Read Feb 3-15)
14. 02.19 Serial : Season One, Fall 2014 (Podcast) by Sarah Koenig (Listened Feb 13-19)
15. 02.27 Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Read Feb 14-27)
16. 03.04 Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity (Audio) by David Bodanis, read by Del Roy (Listened Feb 25 - Mar 4)
17. 03.09 Behind the Beautiful Forevers : Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Audio) by Katherine Boo, read by Sunil Malhotra (Listened Feb 20 - Mar 9)
18. 03.16 The Rabbi of Casino Boulevard by Allan Appel (Read Mar 7-16)
19. 03.18 Boxers by Gene Luen Yang (Read Mar 18)
20. 03.18 Saints by Gene Luen Yang (Read Mar 18)
21. 03.18 American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (Read Mar 18)
22. 03.19 We Won't See Auschwitz by Jérémie Dres (Read Mar 18-19)
23. 03.23 The Book of Isaiah (Read Feb 14 - Mar 23)
24. 03.30 The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (audio) by Bill Bryson, read by the author (Listened Mar 23-30)
25. 04.12 Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. by Viv Albertine (Read April 2-11)
26. 04.19 Zealot : The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Audio) by Reza Aslan, read by author (Listened April 13-19)
27. 04.24 David and Goliath : Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (Listened April 20-24)
28. 04.26 The Lemon Tree : An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan (read April 14-26)
Links go to posts in my second thread
29. 05.07 Suttree by Cormac McCarthy (read Mar 23 - May 7)
30. 05.20 Tar Baby (Audio) by Toni Morrison, read by Desiree Coleman (Listened May 8-20)
31. 05.22 Jephte's Daughter by Naomi Ragen (Read May 8-22)
32. 05.23 A Short History of Nearly Everything (Audio) by Bill Bryson, read by Richard Matthews (Listened April 24-May 7, then May 22-23)
33. 05.29 The Buddha in the Attic (Audio) by Julie Otsuka, read by Samantha Quan & Carrington MacDuffie (Listened May 26-29)
34. 06.06 Outliers : The Story of Success (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (Listened May 31- Jun 6)
35. 06.06 Jazz by Toni Morrison (read May 23 - Jun 6)
36. 06.08 A World Lit Only By Fire : The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance, Portrait of an Age (Audio) by William Manchester, read by Barrett Whitener (listened Mar 30-April 9, June 7-8)
37. 06.13 The Book of Jeremiah (May 29 - Jun 13)
38. 06.17 Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (Listened June 8-17)
39. 07.05 Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (Read June 7 - July 5) (initial comments here)
-- 07.07 The Book of Lamentations (July 6-7)
40. 07.10 Ulysses Found by Ernle Dusgate Selby Bradford (read June 19-21, July 6-10)
41. 07.10 Here by Richard McGuire (read July 10)
42. 07.11 How Does a Poem Mean? Second Edition by John Ciardi & Miller Williams (read Feb 28 - July 11)
43. 07.18 Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, read by the author (Listened July 14-18)
44. 07.18 The Book of Ezekiel (read July 9-18)
45. 07.20 What the Dog Saw : And Other Adventures (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (read June 30-July 14, July 19-20)
46. 07.26 Uncle Ernest by Larry D. Thomas (read July 20-26)
47. 07.29 As You Wish : Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride (Audio) by Cary Elwes, read by the author and several others (Listened July 21-29)
48. 07.30 Paradise by Toni Morrison (read July 13-30)
49. 08.01 I Remember Nothing : And Other Reflections (Audio) by Nora Ephron, read by the author (listened July 30 - Aug 1)
50. 08.04 A Malaysian Journey by Rehman Rashid (read July 18 - Aug 4)
51. 08.05 The African by J. M. G. Le Clezio (read Aug 5)
52. 08.07 Stories from Ancient Canaan translated and edited by Michael C. Coogan and Mark S. Smith (read Aug 5-7)
53. 08.13 Love by Toni Morrison (read Aug 8-13)
54. 08.16 Malay Manuscripts : An Introduction by Ros Mahwati Ahmad Zakaria, Latifah Abdul Latif & Lucien De Guise (read Aug 16)
55. 08.19 My Michael by Amos Oz (Read Aug 13 - 19)
56. 08.21 How Literature Works: 50 Key Concepts by John Sutherland (read Aug 19-21)
57. 08.24 Creationists selected essays, 1993-2006 (Audio) by E. L. Doctorow, read by the author (listened Aug 1-4, 20-24)
58. 08.25 The interrogation by J.M.G. Le Clézio (read Aug 19-25)
59. 08.31 All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (read Aug 26-31)
60. 09.02 A Mercy (Audio) by Toni Morrison, read by the author (listened Aug 24 - Sep 2)
61. 09.16 The Book of Daniel (read Sep 2-16)
62. 09.18 I Feel Bad About My Neck : And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (Audio) by Nora Ephron, read by the author (listened Sep 15-18)
Links go to posts in this thread
63. 10.04 The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy (read Sep 2 - Oct 4)
64. 10.08 The Tipping Point : How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (read Oct 5-8)
65. 10.18 Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy (read Oct 4-18)
- finished The Border Trilogy, (read Aug 26 - Oct 18)
66. 10.18 The Help (Audio) by Kathryn Stockett, narrated by Octavia Spencer, Bahni Turpin and Jenna Lamia (listened Sep 24 - Oct 3, Oct 8-18)
67. 10.19 Los Días de los Muertos by Larry D. Thomas (read Oct 18-19)
68. 11.02 Quiet : The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Audio) by Susan Cain, read by Kathe Mazur (listened Sep 2-14, Nov 1-2)
69. 11.03 Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich (read Oct 19 - Nov 3)
70. 11.10 Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, read by Fenella Woolgar (listened Oct 19 - Oct 30, Nov 5-10)
71. 11.12 The Book of Minor Prophets (read Oct 19 - Nov 12)
72. 11.17 Home by Toni Morrison (read Nov 4-17)
73. 11.17 How to Read the Bible : A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now by James L. Kugel (read Nov 28, 2011 - Nov 17, 2015, read along with the OT)
74. 11.20 The Drunken Botanist : The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks (Audio) by Amy Stewart, read by Coleen Marlo (started Nov 2 - 5, 10 - 20)
75. 11.25 Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (read Nov 17-25)
76. 11.29 The Gods of Olympus : A History by Barbara Graziosi (read Nov 26-29)
77. 12.06 No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (read Dec 3-6)
78. 12.09 God Help the Child by Toni Morrison (read Dec 6-9)
79. 12.10 Kramberger with Monkey by Rick Harsch (read Nov 18 to Dec 10)
80. 12.12 Playing in the Dark : Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison (read Dec 9-12)
81. 12.19 A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (read Dec 12-19)
82. 12.23 The Wright Brothers by David G. McCullough, read by the author (listened Nov 20 - Dec 3, 21-24 )
83. 12.24 The War That Killed Achilles : The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War by Caroline Alexander (read Dec 19-25)
84. 12.30 Kindred by Octavia Butler (read Dec 26-30)
Regular Books (excluding audio, bible bits, lit magazines, juvenile, graphic novels, podcasts, etc)
1. 01.01 The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy (read Dec 26 - Jan 1)
2. 01.24 My Promised Land by Ari Shavit (Read Jan 5-24)
3. 01.31 Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy (Read Jan 27-31)
4. 02.09 HHhH by Laurent Binet (Read Feb 6-9)
5. 02.13 Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (Read Feb 10-13)
6. 02.27 Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Read Feb 14-27)
7. 03.16 The Rabbi of Casino Boulevard by Allan Appel (Read Mar 7-16)
8. 04.12 Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. by Viv Albertine (Read April 2-11)
9. 04.26 The Lemon Tree : An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan (read April 14-26)
10. 05.07 Suttree by Cormac McCarthy (read Mar 23 - May 7)
11. 05.22 Jephte's Daughter by Naomi Ragen (Read 8-22)
12. 06.06 Jazz by Toni Morrison (read May 23 - Jun 6)
13. 07.05 Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (Read June 7 - July 5)
14. 07.10 Ulysses Found by Ernle Dusgate Selby Bradford (read June 19-21, July 6-10)
15. 07.11 How Does a Poem Mean? Second Edition by John Ciardi & Miller Williams (read Feb 28 - July 11)
16. 07.30 Paradise by Toni Morrison (read July 13-30)
17. 08.04 A Malaysian Journey by Rehman Rashid (read July 18 - Aug 4)
18. 08.05 The African by J. M. G. Le Clezio (read Aug 5)
19. 08.06 Stories from Ancient Canaan (Second Edition) by Michael David Coogan & Mark S. Smith (Read Aug 5-6)
20. 08.13 Love by Toni Morrison (read Aug 8-13)
21. 08.19 My Michael by Amos Oz (Read Aug 13 - 19)
22. 08.21 How Literature Works: 50 Key Concepts by John Sutherland (read Aug 19-21)
23. 08.25 The interrogation by J.M.G. Le Clézio (read Aug 19-25)
24. 08.31 All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (read Aug 26-31)
25. 10.04 The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy (read Sep 2 - Oct 4)
26. 10.18 Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy (read Oct 4-18)
27. 11.03 Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich (read Oct 19 - Nov 3)
28. 11.17 Home by Toni Morrison (read Nov 4-17)
29. 11.17 How to Read the Bible : A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now by James L. Kugel (read Nov 28, 2011 - Nov 17, 2015, read along with the OT)
30. 11.25 Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (read Nov 17-25)
31. 11.29 The Gods of Olympus : A History by Barbara Graziosi (read Nov 26-29)
32. 12.06 No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (read Dec 3-6)
33. 12.09 God Help the Child by Toni Morrison (read Dec 6-9)
34. 12.10 Kramberger with Monkey by Rick Harsch (read Nov 18 to Dec 10)
35. 12.12 Playing in the Dark : Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison (read Dec 9-12)
36. 12.19 A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (read Dec 12-19)
37. 12.24 The War That Killed Achilles : The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War by Caroline Alexander (read Dec 19-25)
38. 12.30 Kindred by Octavia Butler (read Dec 26-30)
Audio Books (and podcasts)
1. 01.04 All Joy and No Fun : The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior, read by the author (Listened Dec 18-Jan 4)
2. 01.09 This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz, read by the author (Listened Jan 5-9)
3. 01.21 The Country Life by Rachel Cusk, read by Jenny Sterlin (Listened Jan 9-21)
4. 02.12 Augustus : The Life of Rome's First Emperor by Anthony Everitt, read by John Curless (Listened Jan 23 - Feb 12)
5. 02.19 Serial : Season One, Fall 2014 (Podcast) by Sarah Koenig (Listened Feb 13-19)
6. 03.04 Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity by David Bodanis, read by Del Roy (Listened Feb 25 - Mar 4)
7. 03.09 Behind the Beautiful Forevers : Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo, read by Sunil Malhotra (Listened Feb 20 - Mar 9)
8. 03.30 The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson, read by the author (Listened Mar 23-30)
9. 04.19 Zealot : The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Audio) by Reza Aslan, read by author (Listened April 13-19)
10. 04.24 David and Goliath : Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (Listened April 20-24)
11. 05.20 Tar Baby (Audio) by Toni Morrison, read by Desiree Coleman (Listened May 8-20)
12. 05.23 A Short History of Nearly Everything (Audio) by Bill Bryson, read by Richard Matthews (Listened April 24-May 7, then May 22-23)
13. 05.29 The Buddha in the Attic (Audio) by Julie Otsuka, read by Samantha Quan & Carrington MacDuffie (Listened May 26-29)
14. 06.06 Outliers : The Story of Success (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (Listened May 31- Jun 6)
15. 06.08 A world Lit Only By Fire : The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance, Portrait of an Age (Audio) by William Manchester, read by Barrett Whitener (listened Mar 30-April 9, June 7-8.)
16. 06.17 Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (Listened June 8-17)
17. 07.18 Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, read by the author (Listened July 14-18)
18. 07.20 What the Dog Saw : And Other Adventures (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (read June 30-July 14, July 19-20)
19. 07.29 As You Wish : Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride (Audio) by Cary Elwes, read by the author and several others (Listened July 21-29)
20. 08.01 I Remember Nothing : And Other Reflections (Audio) by Nora Ephron, read by the author (listened July 30 - Aug 1)
21. 08.24 Creationists selected essays, 1993-2006 (Audio) by E. L. Doctorow, read by the author (listened Aug 1-4, 20-24)
22. 09.02 A Mercy (Audio) by Toni Morrison, read by the author (listened Aug 24 - Sep 2)
23. 09.18 I Feel Bad About My Neck : And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (Audio) by Nora Ephron, read by the author (listened Sep 15-18)
24. 10.08 The Tipping Point : How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (read Oct 5-8)
25. 10.18 The Help (Audio) by Kathryn Stockett, narrated by Octavia Spencer, Bahni Turpin and Jenna Lamia (listened Sep 24 - Oct 3, Oct 8-18)
26. 11.02 Quiet : The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Audio) by Susan Cain, read by Kathe Mazur (listened Sep 2-14, Nov 1-2)
27. 11.10 Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, read by Fenella Woolgar (listened Oct 19 - Oct 30, Nov 5-10)
28. 11.20 The Drunken Botanist : The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks (Audio) by Amy Stewart, read by Coleen Marlo (started Nov 2 - 5, 10 - 20)
29. 12.23 The Wright Brothers by David G. McCullough, read by the author (listened Nov 20 - Dec 3, 21-24 )
Small Poetry Collections
1. 07.26 Uncle Ernest by Larry D. Thomas (read July 20-26)
2. 10.19 Los Días de los Muertos by Larry D. Thomas (read Oct 18-19)
1. 01.09 Poetry October 2014: Poetry from the United Kingdom - (read Dec 12 - Jan 9)
2. 02.02 Poetry November 2014 (Read Jan 9 - Feb 2)
3. 02.15 Poetry December 2014 (Read Feb 3-15)
Graphic Novels (or graphic non-novels)
1. 03.18 Boxers by Gene Luen Yang (Read Mar 18)
2. 03.18 Saints by Gene Luen Yang (Read Mar 18)
3. 03.18 American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (Read Mar 18)
4. 03.19 We Won't See Auschwitz by Jérémie Dres (Read Mar 18-19)
5. 07.10 Here by Richard McGuire
-- 01.25 Ecclesiastes (Read Jan 8 - 25)
-- 02.05 Song of Songs (Read Feb 4-5)
-- 03.23 The Book of Isaiah (Read Feb 14 - Mar 23)
-- 06.13 The Book of Jeremiah (Read May 29 - Jun 13)
-- 07.07 The Book of Lamentations (Read July 6-7)
-- 07.18 The Book of Ezekiel (read July 9-18)
-- 09.16 The Book of Daniel (read Sep 2-16)
-- 11.12 The Book of Minor Prophets (read Oct 19 - Nov 12)
Odds and ends
1. 08.16 Malay Manuscripts : An Introduction by Ros Mahwati Ahmad Zakaria, Latifah Abdul Latif & Lucien De Guise (read Aug 16)
-- Cormac McCarthy: American Canticles by Kenneth Lincoln (just peaking in. Jan 24 - Feb 1)
-- Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House (Audio) by Peter Baker, read by Mark Deakins (started Mar 9, abandoned Mar 23, 22% in)
-- A Basic History of the United States, Volume 1 : The Colonial Experience, 1607-1774 (Audio) by Clarence B. Carson, read by Mary Woods (started April 10, abandoned April 11 - terrible with Agenda, but does have some quirky entertainment value.)
-- Critical Insights : Cormac McCarthy edited by David N. Cremean (just peaking in, Feb 21)
-- Grain brain : The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar-- Your Brain's Silent Killers (audiobook) by David Perlmutter & Kristin Loberg, read by Peter Ganim (listened to introduction May 29 - quack)
-- Thinking, fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman, read by Patrick Egan (started June 24 - 29, got about 20% through it.)
-- Now is the time to open your heart (Audio) by Alice Walker, read by Alfre Woodard (listened to 50% Sep 18-24)
-- The HarperCollins Study Bible : New Revised Standard Version, Including the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books With Concordance (Fully Revised and Updated) general editor Harold W. Attridge (read the OT parts from Joshua through the Malachi, excluding Samuel)
-- The Literary Guide to the Bible edited by Robert Alter & Frank Kermode (read the OT essays while reading the OT- Jan 21, 2012 to Nov 20, 2015)
-- All the Light We Cannot See (Audio) by Anthony Doerr, read by Zach Appelman (Listened 48% from Dec 7-15. Yuck.) - reviewed here
The Book of Isaiah
The Book of Jeremiah
The Book of Lamentations
The Book of Ezekiel
The Book of Daniel
The Book of Minor Prophets
1959 How Does a Poem Mean? by John Ciardi (read 1975 edition)
1963 Ulysses Found by Ernle Dusgate Selby Bradford
The interrogation by J.M.G. Le Clézio
1965 The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy
1968 Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy
My Michael by Amos Oz
1973 Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
1978 Stories from Ancient Canaan by Michael David Coogan & Mark S. Smith (read 2nd edition from 2012)
1979 Suttree by Cormac McCarthy
Kindred by Octavia Butler
1981 Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
1985 Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
1986 The Rabbi of Casino Boulevard by Allan Appel
1989 Jephte's Daughter by Naomi Ragen
1992 Jazz by Toni Morrison
A world Lit Only By Fire : The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance, Portrait of an Age by William Manchester
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Playing in the Dark : Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison
1993 A Malaysian Journey by Rehman Rashid
1994 The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
1997 The Country Life by Rachel Cusk
Paradise by Toni Morrison
Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich
1998 Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy
2000 The Tipping Point : How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
2003 A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Love by Toni Morrison
2004 The African by J. M. G. Le Clezio
2005 Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity by David Bodanis
Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
2006 Augustus : The Life of Rome's First Emperor by Anthony Everitt
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
The Lemon Tree : An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan
Creationists selected essays, 1993-2006 by E. L. Doctorow
I Feel Bad About My Neck : And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
2007 How to Read the Bible : A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now by James L. Kugel
2008 Outliers : The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Malay Manuscripts : An Introduction by Ros Mahwati Ahmad Zakaria, Latifah Abdul Latif & Lucien De Guise
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
2009 HHhH by Laurent Binet
What the Dog Saw : And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The War That Killed Achilles : The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War by Caroline Alexander
2010 I Remember Nothing : And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
2011 We Won't See Auschwitz by Jérémie Dres
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
How Literature Works: 50 Key Concepts by John Sutherland
2012 This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
Behind the Beautiful Forevers : Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
Quiet : The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Home by Toni Morrison
2013 My Promised Land by Ari Shavit
Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
Saints by Gene Luen Yang
Zealot : The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan
David and Goliath : Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
Uncle Ernest by Larry D. Thomas
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
The Drunken Botanist : The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks by Amy Stewart
2014 All Joy and No Fun : The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior
Poetry October 2014 by Don Share
Poetry November 2014 by Don Share
Poetry December 2014 by Don Share
Serial : Season One, Fall 2014 by Sarah Koenig
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. by Viv Albertine
Here by Richard McGuire
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
As You Wish : Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
The Gods of Olympus : A History by Barbara Graziosi
2015 Los Días de los Muertos by Larry D. Thomas
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
Kramberger with Monkey by Rick Harsch
The Wright Brothers by David G. McCullough
Books read: 84
"regular books" (excluding various oddities. See post 8): 38
Formats: hardcovers 11; Paperback 28; ebooks 13; audio 29; lit magazines 3
Subjects in brief: Novels 27; Non-fiction 40; Poetry 7; Graphic 5; Speculative Fiction 1;History 13; Science 10; Journalism 14; Anthology 3; Short Stories 1; Essay Collections 7; Classics 6; Biographies/Memoirs 13; Interviews 2; On Literature and Books 9; Ancient 7
Nationalities: United States 54; United Kingdom 7; Canada 6; Israel 8; France 4; Malaysia 2; Lebanon; Belarus; Italy
Genders, m/f: 45/28 (mixed or indeterminate: 11)
Owner: Books I own 50; Library books 30; online 3
Year Published: 2010's 33; 2000's 21; 1990's 10; 1980's 4; 1970's 4; 1960's 5; 1950's 1; BCE 6
Books read: 786
"regular books": 522
Formats: Hardcover 182; Paperback 444; ebooks 59; Audio 64; Lit magazines 35
Subjects in brief: Novels 212; Non-fiction 351; Poetry 58; Graphic 42; Juvenile 32; Speculative Fiction 65; History 136; Science 60; Journalism 69; Anthology 41; Short Story Collections 26; Essay Collections 27; Classics 55; Biographies/Memoirs 152; Interviews 11; On Literature and Books 33; Ancient 22
Nationalities: US 506; Other English speaking countries 145; Other countries: 134
Genders, m/f: 523/194
Owner: Books I owned 547; Library books 170; Books I borrowed 63; Online 6
Year Published: 2010's 135; 2000's 252; 1990's 145; 1980's 97; 1970's 44; 1960's 28; 1950's 21; 1900-1949 23; 19th century 14; 18th century 0; 17th century 3; 16th century 3; 0-1499 2; BCE 19
*well, everything since I have kept track, beginning in Dec 1990
1. The Illiad-Homer (circa 900 B.C.)
2. The Odyssey–Homer (circa 900 B.C.)
3. The Old Testament (15th- to 2nd-century B.C.) ----- Read 2012-to-2015
4. The New Testament (1st-2nd century)
5. The Aeneid–Virgil (19 B.C.)
6. Metamorphoses-Ovid (A.D. 17)
7. Beowulf (10th century)
8. Inferno Divine Comedy)-Dante Alighieri (1308)
9. Paradiso (Divine Comedy)-Dante Alighieri (1321)
10. The Decameron-Giovanni Boccaccio (1353)
11. The Canterbury Tales-Geoffrey Chaucer (1400)
12. *The Faerie Queen-Edmund Spencer (1596) ----- read in 2011
13. *Hamlet-William Shakespeare (1600) ----- read in 2013
14. King Lear-William Shakespeare (1605)
15. Macbeth-William Shakespeare (1605)
16. Don Quixote-Miguel de Cervantes (1615)
17. Paradise Lost-John Milton (1667)
18. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling-Henry Fielding (1749)
19. *Pride and Prejudice-Jane Austen (1813) ----- read in 2005.
20. Faust I II-Johann Wofgang von Goethe (1832)
21. Eugene Onegin-Alexander Pushkin (1832)
22. Père Goriot-Honoré de Balzac (1835)
23. Jane Eyre-Charlotte Brontë (1847) - read in 1991, I will re-read this
24. Wuthering Heights-Emily Brontë (1847)
25. *Moby Dick-Herman Melville (1851)----- read in 2012
26. Bleak House-Charles Dickens (1853)
27. Great Expectations-Charles Dickens (1861)
28. Madame Bovary-Gustave Flaubert (1856)
29. *Crime and Punishment-Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866) ----- read in 2003.
30. *The Brothers Karamazov-Fyodor Dostoevsky (1880) ----- read in 2010
31. War and Peace-Leo Tolstoy (1869)
32. *Anna Karenina-Leo Tolstoy (1877) ----- read in 2004
33. Middlemarch-George Eliot (1872)
34. The Wings of the Dove-Henry James (1902)
35. Remembrance of Things Past-Marcel Proust (1922) ----- read the first two books in 2010...
36. Ulysses-James Joyce (1922)
37. *The Magic Mountain-Thomas Mann (1924) ----- read in 2011
38. The Trial-Kafka (1925)
39. To the Lighthouse-Virginia Woolf (1927)
40. The Sound and the Fury-William Faulkner (1929)
41. A Farewell to Arms-Ernest Hemmingway (1929)
42. Tropic of Cancer-Henry Miller (1934)
43. Native Son-Richard Wright (1940)
44. The Man Without Qualities-Robert Musil (1942)
45. Lolita-Vladimir Nabakov (1955)
46. Giovanni’s Room-James Baldwin (1956)
47. One Hundred Years of Solitude-Gabriel García Marquez (1967)
48. Gravity’s Rainbow-Thomas Pynchon (1973)
49. *Blood Meridian-Cormac McCarthy (1985) ---- Read June/July 2015
50. *Beloved-Toni Morrison (1987) ----- read in 2013
2015 idealistic goal one - finish the Old Testament (started Jan 1, 2012)
------------------------------End of 2012
------------------------------End of 2013
------------------------------End of 2014
Song of Solomon
12 prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
------------------------------November of 2015
--------------------------------------------------I've read to here
Additions to Esther (Vulgate Esther 10:4-16:24)
Wisdom (or Wisdom of Solomon)
Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira (or Sirach or Ecclesiasticus)
Additions to Daniel
Prayer of Manasseh
1. The Orchard Keeper (1965) -- read in January
2. Outer Dark (1968) -- read in January
3. Child of God (1973) -- read in February
4. Suttree (1979) -- read in March-April-May
5. Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West (1985) -- read in July
6. All the Pretty Horses (1992) -- read in August
7. The Crossing (1994) -- read in September/October
8. Cities of the Plain (1998) -- read in October
9. No Country for Old Men (2005) -- Read in December
10. The Road (2006) ---- read in 2008 -- re-read??
11. The Sunset Limited (2006 screenplay) -- ??
12. The Passenger (unpublished) -- ??
Not a Jan 1 goal. I sort of slipped into this goal in May or June.
1. The Bluest Eye (1970) - read in 2013
2. Sula(1973) - read in 2013
3. Song of Solomon (1977) - read in 2013
4. Tar Baby (1981) - listened in May
5. Beloved (1987) - read in 2013
6. Jazz (1992) - read in June
7. Paradise (1997) - read in July
8. Love (2003) - read in August
9. A Mercy (2008) - listened in September
10. Home (2012) - Read on November
11. God Help the Child (2015) - Read in December
12. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992 nonfiction) - December ?
Rebecca- the plan is working and I will try it again next year. I already have it mapped out (somewhere??). But there is a cost to it too. It hobbles the capricious side of reading.
I haven't followed baseball in years and did not realize until a couple of months ago that the Astros were now in the American League. The first major league game I ever saw was in Houston when the team was still called the Colt .45s. They were playing the Giants, and the highlight was seeing Willie Mays play. If it comes down to a series between the Astros and Rangers for the pennant I may have to watch.
>19 StevenTX: People are going out of their minds in this part of the world as the Rangers play in Toronto (a couple of hours down the road) today and tomorrow. However, I'm sure you can tell my sports leanings when I say I saw "Rangers" in your post and immediately thought of the New York Rangers of the NHL, which naturally led to a bit of confusion as I continued reading!
It must be very satisfying to make such progress on your goals, I've admired your dedication. My own have always had to be loose, but I think I may have read myself into defining some that feel right, have to see if that sticks.
I know what I want to be when I grow up :) I am hopeless with planning. I've lost track of your thread lately - very interesting list of books!
Funny the confusion with the Rangers. It's been a while since Canada had baseball during hockey season.
>23 tonikat: May we all read in different ways. That would be an admirable goal for a group.
>24 AnnieMod: Welcome to my new thread Annie. I'll need to put a review in here sometime. Will have to wait till the Astros have an off day. (They won tonight, so at least three more games. )
You and me both, Dan (for the reviews that is - my team is slightly different - and we just got a new manager - that may put me in a better mood...) :)
63. The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy (1994, 426 pages within an Everyman's Library Hardcover edition of The Border Trilogy, read Sep 2 - Oct 4)
Rating: 4 stars
Eventually McCarthy gives us a date, but in the mean time The Crossing leaves us wondering about the era and how it relates to All the Pretty Horses, and why this books is so completely different, and how long does the Peter and Wolf thing need to go on.
I'll spoil it a bit and tell you that Billy Parham crosses over to Mexico the first time about the winter of 1939, with his lame wolf in ropes. He's about 15 years old, making him about nine years older then John Grady. Billy is nothing like John Grady, nor really is his book. The Crossing is distinctly slow and plotless. Billy just wanders. The reader wanders with him, but mostly that reader is pondering the details, all the Spanish, and the various ways Billy handles the ropes to manage the wolf, the paths of his wanderings, the horses, and what exactly is unspoken. There is a managed tension throughout. Notably, from wondering if that wolf will get loose. But also between Billy and his younger brother Boyd. Billy is the epitome of hard luck. Boyd however naturally attracts affections and is quite beautiful in many different ways. Billy tries to protect Boyd, but he can never manage to talk to him.
But the notable aspect of this book is that McCarthy has added in quite a bit of thought and philosophy. I think McCarthy tried hard to work out his own mindset here, the one running through all his work, and then to spell it out for the reader in his own way. That is to say, with some reconstruction a lot is revealed. McCarthy's worldview is cold, but not baseless.
He uses numerous prophets, including a gypsie, a variety of oddball wise men and women, and his favorite teller, an expriest. McCarthy loves ex- and fallen-priests. There has to be a loss of faith to get his attention. This one gets the most acreage, covering several pages, giving Billy a lesson and, as I'm only just now realizing, an accurate fortune telling. He tells his story in third person:
“And the priest? A man of broad principles. Of liberal sentiments. Even a generous man. Something of a philosopher. Yet one might say that his way through the world was so broad it scarcely made a path at all. He carried within himself a great reverence for the world, this priest. He heard the voice of the Deity in the murmur of the wind in the trees. Even the stones were sacred. He was a reasonable man and he believed that there was love in his heart.As for Billy, he will find only sadness and a very hard lonely world.
There was not. Nor does God whisper through the trees. His voice is not to be mistaken. When men hear it they fall to their knees and their souls are riven and they cry out to Him and there is no fear in them but only that wildness of heart that springs from such longing and they cry out to stay His presence for they know at once that while godless men may live well enough in their exile those to whom He has spoken can contemplate no life without Him but only darkness and despair.
He got his things from the house and saddled the horse in the road and rode out. He said goodbye to no one. He sat the horse in the road beyond the river cottonwoods and he looked off down country at the mountains and he looked to the west where thunderheads were standing sheared off from the thin dark horizon and he looked at the deep cyanic sky taut and vaulted over the whole of Mexico where the antique world clung to the stones and to the spores of living things and dwelt in the blood of men. He turned the horse and set out along the road south, shadowless in the gray day, riding with the shotgun unscabbarded across his lap. For the enmity of the world was newly plain to him that day and cold and inameliorate as it must be to all who have no longer cause except themselves to stand against it.I developed a lot of affection for this book. I read it slow and enjoyed lingering around in it. Scattered about are many lines of note, although as we say online, YMMV.
...(on the nature of the world)...
men wish to be serious but they do not understand how to be so. Between their acts and their ceremonies lies the world and in this world the storms blow and the trees twist in the wind and all the animals that God has made go to and fro yet this world men do not see. They see the acts of their own hands or they see that which they name and call out to one another but the world between is invisible to them.
To see God everywhere is to see Him nowhere.
...the truth may often be carried about by those who themselves remain unaware of it.
...the order which the righteous seek is never righteousness itself but is only order, the disorder of evil is in fact the thing itself.
... (on writing)...
Always the teller must be at pains to devise against his listener's claim—perhaps spoken, perhaps not—that he has heard the tale before.
... (I see this fragment as characterizing part of what drives McCarthy)...
...that elusive freedom which men seek with such unending desperation.
>28 avidmom: Susie, did I mention I'm flattered you are gave me credit for reading All the Pretty Horses. Hoping you find it worthwhile!
>29 SassyLassy:/>31 Oandthegang: these European sports I know nothing about. : )
>30 AnnieMod: OK, Annie, I'm one up on you now
As I was reading the book I tried to follow Billy's wanderings on a highway map of Mexico, but it was very difficult since many villages have the same names. I even thought about taking a highway trip based on McCarthy novels, but never got very far with the idea.
(I had to look up "YMMV," but I'm learning.)
>29 SassyLassy: I had always assumed that the New York hockey Rangers were named in honor of colonial military units like Rogers' Rangers which was active in the Hudson valley during the French and Indian War. (See Kenneth Roberts' great historical novel Northwest Passage.) But, at least according to the Wikipedia article on the team, the hockey team draws its name from the same Texas law enforcement agency as the baseball team. The original owner of the franchise had formerly been a town marshal in Texas and was known as "Tex" Rickard. When he started the team it was nicknamed "Tex's Rangers."
64. The Tipping Point : How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Audio) by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author (2000, 3:04*, listened Oct 5-8)
Rating: 4 stars
*amazon tells me the book is around 300 pages, but 3 hours on audio should be less than 100. I'm calling it ~85.
Gladwell's first of his five big books. It was apparently inspired by the dramatic drop in crime in New York City between the early and later 1990's. Gladwell explores how these kind of things, with no clear single cause, can happen.
Like all Gladwells, there isn't much here in content, and yet it's smart and gives the reader a lot to think about.
I had the impression that a lot of readers particularly recommend this one of his books. So, I was expecting something somehow better than his other books. It's not actually any better but much the same thing, only shorter. That's not meant as a criticism, just a side note to explain why, for no good reason, I was a tiny bit disappointed. On the flip sides, I'm bummed I don't have any more Gladwell's to read. I've now listened to all five.
From Susie, Border Trilogy translations ready online:
All the Pretty Horses:
Cities of the Plain
As for the New York Rangers, I might have fun passing that info on to a fan some time...
Susie, I'm glad you got something good out of it. Yay!
O, Chronologically The Crossing is actually first. But there is no plot overlap between it and All the Pretty Horses. They both cover one of the two key characters who come together only in Cities of the Plain. So, in that sense you can choose your order or read independently.
Having said that...I would still recommend reading All the Pretty Horses first just because it gives you "buy-in". The Crossing takes its time and requires some patience. Mentally, I carried a lot from AtPH into TC, and am currently carrying a lot of both into CotP.
65. Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy (1998, 292 pages within an Everyman's Library Hardcover edition of The Border Trilogy, read Oct 4 - 18)
Rating: 4.5 stars
John Grady Cole and Billy Parham finally meet up as ranch hands on an old New Mexico ranch run a old man, Johnson. Johnson is going slowly senile. He walks in his sleep, looks defeated and lost after the somewhat recent death of his daughter. His ranch is run by his son-in-law, Mac, but is about to taken by the US military. Let's call it 1952. Juarez, Mexico is the city of the plain. It's twin El Paso gives the title its plural, but doesn't get touched on all that deeply.
I found it interesting to learn the Cities of the Plain was the first book of the Trilogy written. McCarthy felt he needed to flesh out the back story for the book to work. So, John Grady and Billy each got their own book. But McCarthy's writing evolved and the first two books are probably better than this one, making Cities of the Plain somewhat anticlimactic. Also, I don't think the extra talkative Billy here can have come from the reticent, uncommunicative Billy in The Crossing.
But still I really got into this book, loved reading it, was struck by the end, and felt I had some insight into what drove McCarthy onto this trilogy. It's worth noting The Border Trilogy marks a major change in McCarthy's style. Gone are the hypnotic language-bending lexicon of Suttree or Blood Meridian. The language in the trilogy is toned down and very direct, where English. (There is a great deal of dialogue in Spanish.)
One affect of the end of the this story is the emotional thrumming it can leave in the reader. I was kind of stunned by the direction this went, and left in an agitated state for the books final, lengthy section; and in that state that section became one of the most interesting of the trilogy. An elder, homeless Billy meets another homeless man from Mexico and gets a tale. The man tells of a dream of man within his own dream. It's chopped to death, this dream, by the dialogue of Billy and the unnamed (?) Mexican. Billy raking him with blunt questions about the point and about how he knows what he has seen. The Mexican responds formally, elegantly, with patience, about the disconnect between reality and the dream, and the hopeless logic of trying to gather how one can dream of another dreaming and still give the story a logic that has some consistency with reality.
In any case it is difficult to stand outside of one’s desires and see things of their own volition....
I think you just see whatever’s in front of you.
Yes. I don’t think that.
about the dreaming traveler inside the dream
How do you know he was asleep?It's a dialogue about story telling, but one between two dramatically different characters that seem to define the whole trilogy. I think McCarthy's fascination with Mexico comes in a bit more clearly here. He loves the contrast between the blunt American cowboys and the stylized Mexican avoidance of such. Both are very much interested in the same thing, vaguely McCarthy's search of understanding.
I could see him sleeping.
Did he dream?
The man sat looking at his shoes. He uncrossed his legs and recrossed them the other way. Well, he said. I’m not sure how to answer you. Certain events occurred. Some things about them remain unclear. It is difficult to know, for instance, when it was that these events took place.
The dream I had was on a certain night. And in the dream the traveler appeared. What night was this? In the life of the traveler when was it that he came to spend the night in that rocky posada? He slept and events took place which I will tell you of, but when was this? You can see the problem. Let us say that the events which took place were a dream of this man whose own reality remains conjectural. How assess the world of that conjectural mind? And what with him is sleep and what is waking? How comes he to own a world of night at all? Things need a ground to stand upon. As every soul requires a body. A dream within a dream makes other claims than what a man might suppose.
A dream inside a dream might not be a dream
You have to consider the possibility.
All knowledge is a borrowing and every fact a debt. For each event is revealed to us only at the surrender of every alternate course.But the path they take and the mindset toward there are quite different. And in their meeting something is revealed about stories and their telling.
This last section is just to close my review:
Although I should point out that you are the one with the questions.
No you shouldnt.
Yes. Of course.
Just get on with it.
Mum's the word here.
Nothing. I'll shut up askin questions, that's all.
They were good questions.
You aint goin to tell the story, are you?
66. The Help (Audio) by Kathryn Stockett, read by the Octavia Spencer, Bahni Turpin and Jenna Lamia (2009, 18:07, 464 pages in hardcover, listened Sep 24 - Oct 3, Oct 8-18)
Rating: 3.5 stars
I had all sort of trouble deciding how to review this. I tried yesterday and just got all preachy about it. It's racist book by definition - white writer writing about the black experience. And it compensates for that with synthetic characters - a "good" and wholly inauthentic Skeeter and a handful of simple racist villains. This skewers any real depth. It's just another novel.
But it's also quite enjoyable and readable. And I liked it. The book opens with Abilene narrating about her life as a maid, trying to care for children neglected by their own white parents, her bosses, while trying to manage after the death of her only child. The setup is terrific and Abilene is quite beautiful. As she talks, I would be carried away. Minni Jackson is also well done. But, in Abilene, Stockett has created a memorable and special character.
So, yeah, I liked and yet I was annoyed and never did fully get over that. If I were Stockett's editor, I would have edited Skeeter completely out of the book. And if I were Stockett I never would have touched the topic. Those are probably as good reasons as any why I shouldn't pursue a career in editing or writing.
>46 dchaikin: I liked The Help quite a bit and own both the book and the movie (loved Jessica Chastain as Celia). But I think you're right, it would have done just as well without the whole "Skeeter" thing.
As for The Help... Haven't seen the movie. Maybe someday.
>48 rachbxl: there is a word for your reaction to McCarthy - normal. Seriously, he's an odd writer and has an odd appeal that I can't quite place. But he's not one anyone needs to read.
Racist? How does trying to represent and understand a different type of person's life experience (even if the attempt is a failure) equate to prejudice and discrimination?
But the flip side is the author knows this. She knows she is writing the black experience from a white perspective and that this opens her up to racist criticism. (regardless of whether it actually is racist.) So, how does she handle this problem? It's not an easy problem to handle and maintain author integrity.
But, I haven't answered your question. It can be done, to write the book and not be racist about it, but it's not something easy to do, or try lightly. If a white author voices the black experience, there is just a natural sense superiority in the effort itself. There is a tint that the white person is writing it for the black person, and that leads to a partial sense, peripheral yet clearly present, that she thinks she'll do a better job. That is what I see Stockett was up against.
It probably wouldn't have even been on my radar, but my book club read it and went to the movie as a group. Most of the people in the club were between 60 and 80 years old (a few even older than that!) who were around back in the height of the Civil Rights movement. Boy, did they have some stories to tell!!! It was a lively discussion - probably one of the liveliest we ever had.
The one thing I did like about Stockett's book was that her hero, Skeeter, wrote her book, and didn't really end up being the savior of anyone. There's not really a happily ever after ending for anyone, (at least not from what I remember.)
Interesting about the accents. Did she get them wrong?
I have relatives that come from the South and they don't always speak the king's English. They say "ain't," and "is" when they should say "are" and vice versa. (And they are some of the smartest people I know.) So, I'm a little familiar with the Southern "quirks" and it sounded pretty spot on to me. But, I think the gripe was, basically, why do Abilene and Mini speak with this Southern/Ebonic dialect and the white women don't in the story?
(If you google The Help + controversy, you'll get a load of articles!!!!)
67. Los Días de los Muertos by Larry D. Thomas
2015, 12 short poems in an online chapbook, read Oct 18 - 19
artwork by Clarence Wolfshohl
link to chapbook: http://www.righthandpointing.net/#!larry-d-thomas-los-dias-de-los-muertos/c1q63
No review, just seemed like a good day to add this to the thread.
>60 NanaCC: Colleen - I didn't have any major issues with how The Help was read audio. I think it's a difficult book to preform and they did a decent job.
68. Quiet : The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Audio) by Susan Cain read by Kathe Mazur
2012, 10:39 (352 pages in hardcover)
listened Sep 2-14, Nov 1-2
Rating: 2.5 stars
The low rating is meant to express how annoyed I was. Disappointed really.
Cain has a nice point for all of us introverts in the world. She makes an argument that we are overlooked, and under-appreciated because we are so quiet. The business world is basically ready to run over introverts and actively looks for and promotes the most extroverted extroverts (think Enron). The classroom, at least in the United States, encourages extroversion and discourages any signs of introversion. The world is against us. And yet, we play valuable roles throughout all levels of society and it is aspects of our introverted character that allows us to do that. This is an introvert's manifesto.
The problem is that Cain is so smug about this and she really oversimplifies.
She tells us story early on about a quiet lawyer who is finally placed in a lead role, and she excels. She was smart and she was better prepared and calmer and more thoughtful than the other people in the room. This introverted hero turns out to be autobiographic - Cain is Ms. Perfect.
As the book carries on, the reader slowly realizes that Cain thinks all introverts are basically like her, and that all extroverts are basically shallow yapping idiots. She never comes out says it, and she always makes qualifying statements about extroverts, but also she never corrects the impression either. It’s there under the text as the background argument. It’s not only unfair to non-introverts, but actually very unfair to introverts too. We are not all so quietly perfect as she likes to think we are. As the book carried on, this bothered more and more.
For me that overshadowed all the many very interesting parts to the book. Cain did a lot of research and presents a lot of interesting information. She talks a lot about introverted children (although I don’t have any. My are insanely extroverted. And, another bitter note, she spends a lot of time on the problem of extroverted parents with introverted children, but not a single sentence on the problem of introverted parents with extroverted children.)
One of the most interesting factoids I pulled out of this book was the comparison of introverted and extroverted managers. Overly extroverted managers excel at motivating employees, but they get in the way of their better people and actually hold them back. Introverted managers struggle with unmotivated employees, but generally help their better people excel more. I’m not sure I agree with her analysis. She doesn’t bring up the possibility that introverts may simply stay out of the way more and let people be. But still, it’s interesting…and I can relate.
There is a place for an introverts manifesto, but it doesn't require such an unbalanced take. There is a wide and interesting and useful psychology around introversion. I would have liked a more carefully balanced view.
I read the book blurb on Amazon a while ago, but did wonder how she'd extend the subject of her Ted Talk into enough content for a full book.
>63 avidmom:/>65 March-Hare:/>67 AlisonY: What March-Hare said. There is a lot I didn't get into in the review.
>67 AlisonY: Alison, she actually has a lot to cover and she spends a lot of time at the end on introverted children. I didn't listen as closely to those parts since mine aren't like that (although I was). It might be really useful to you. One of her main points is for parents to be understanding. Sounds like you are top of that.
>66 baswood: Bas, no, it's not about Cain. Only that one small story. I just felt that she used herself as a model. It begins to seem like all introverts are basically kind of like her...and I kind of got annoyed by it.
I think introvert and extrovert are still valid as descriptors, particularly if you read Jung's original descriptions.
I don't know anything about Enneagrams.
But, yeah, good point Flo
In general, I try to choose audio books that work with my limited attention to them. So, the most difficult books and the books with the more elegant or convoluted prose don't work. Quiet and most non-fiction works well for me. Fiction is iffy. Life After Life was borderline.
The three instincts are:
Self preservation - tend to look to oneself to ensure adequate resources and security.
Social - tend to look to group for protection, but also for participation.
One to one - tend to look to bond with one other person.
There is a link here to Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
The theory is that everyone has all three instincts, but not in equal measure. There is one instinct that is fundamental to how each of us live our live.
69. Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich
1997, 257 page Kindle ebook
translated from Russian in 2005 by Keith Gessen
read Oct 19 - Nov 3
Rating: 5 stars
“We’re afraid to talk about it. We don’t know how. It’s not an ordinary experience, and the questions it raises are not ordinary.”It’s an odd horror story. It’s just a really strange event. There is no war or enemy, and nothing actually looks wrong. The land is still green and quite beautiful. The dead are still alive, acting quite normal, if inconvenienced. Radiation is an odd poison, the effect delayed and seemly unconnected from it.
And it’s a story that is so relevant to us in the worst of ways. "These people have already seen what for everyone else is still unknown. I felt like I was recording the future.", writes Alexievich, who otherwise writes very little.
Alexievich doesn't provide explanations. There is no analysis or sequence of events. She quotes those interviewed but doesn't give us the questions that inspired the answers. An oral history detached from any quotidian strings. The answers, which she calls monologues, are long and uninterrupted.
In the first monologue a woman tells the story of the first responders, including her husband. They lived about two weeks, sent in because the soon-to-die USSR fretted about a much larger explosion. But the men sent in later didn’t fair so well either. Liquidators, those sent to clean up, would slowly die by the thousands. But the interviews stay very personal.
"None of those boys is alive anymore. His whole brigade, seven men, they’re all dead. They were young. One after the other. The first one died after three years. We thought: well, a coincidence. Fate. But then the second died and the third and the fourth. Then the others started waiting for their turn. That’s how they lived. My husband died last. "It’s an emotionally exhausting book. I had a lot of trouble starting a new chapter. When I finished, often I would just put the book down. The evacuees, their babies, their pets, the refugees of the fall of the Soviet Union who resettled (!) the area because they felt they had no where else to go. And the liquidators, on their suicide missions.
“We used to have an old man who sat on this stoop, the house is leaning over, it’s going to fall apart soon, but he’s talking about the fate of the world. Every little factory circle will have its Aristotle. And every beer stand. Meanwhile we’re sitting right under the reactor. You can imagine how much philosophy there was.”I find it difficult to make any concluding statement. You can find some basic facts here:
>82 FlorenceArt: Enneagrams- i came across another site that said the origin was hokey, but that they do have some value. So, YMMV. (YKMV? Is there a word like kilometerage?)
>83 AlisonY: reading the interviews I connected most with the people who thought about how odd the whole thing was. That last quote, about all the philosophy, says a lot, I think.
>84 baswood: thanks Bas. Your comment means a lot.
Enneagrams are at least unscientific, in the sense that they are too vague and fluid to be falsifiable. Conversely, it means that if you want to verify the theory it's very easy to do. But meaningless.
>80 dchaikin: Terrific review. This seems to be a book everyone should read, I know I will, but I'm still trying to square it with a Nobel Prize.
edited to correct my bad habit of using the book number instead of the post number
>88 SassyLassy:, >89 sibylline: thanks, re the review.
Sassy, I thought about the Nobel before and after, but oddly not while I was reading it. Voices from Chernobyl is an important book and I'm glad the Nobel committee brought it to my attention. Part of me is glad that a nonfiction book like this won. I think these oral histories are terrific things, and, more importantly, that journalism should play a roll in the Nobel awards. But, why a 1997 book and why this particular one?
>87 FlorenceArt:, >89 sibylline:, >90 .Monkey.: - interesting.
The Nobel prize is awarded to an author, not a specific book. And at least it didn't go to a singer ;-)
I just read a very good article on the Nobel site about the history of the prize, and how the interpretation of Nobel's will varied over time. Here it is:
69> So many environmental disasters -- Bhopal, Chernobyl, ExxonValdez, Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf, Fukishima, and dozens, if not hundreds in third world countries that we never hear about.
>96 sibylline: Lucy - That's interesting. I've "known" Pintos were a bad design since early grade school. Just a myth...hmm
>95 zenomax: Z - power to you. I have trouble stepping off the rational pathways and knowing it, but yet, of course, we really do all live there.
>92 FlorenceArt: - thanks for the correction Florence. I had some how equated the one book I had read with the prize. Very silly of me. (See the last fragment in my response to Z)
>93 SassyLassy:/>94 FlorenceArt: - And I would like to read more of her work (Svetlana Alexievich).
I think there are different types of rationality. Habermas somewhere makes the distinction between technical, interpretive, and emancipatory rationality (Sorry can't remember where. Maybe I am mistaken.) At the very least, he makes a distinction between technical and communicative rationality.
I would say that personality typing systems fall into the interpretive category. To be sure, they could still fail as interpretations, be downright scams, or just plain silly, but I'm not quite ready to say they are irrational as such simply because they are not science.
70. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
read by Fenella Woolgar
2009, 18:07 (464 pages in hardcover)
listened Sep 24 - Oct 3, Oct 8-18)
Rating: 4 stars
Borderline for me on audio because it's more complex then I like for audio. As Urusula Todd goes from one life to the next characters return with different histories in different positions, I wanted to go back and check things and I know I missed stuff.
I loved the affect of all these lives. With each life we learn more about characters, and so each life becomes richer for the reader, with more and more going on. By the end I was quite caught up in her world's and felt I had a whole new perspective on WWII. (I found the Eva Braun stuff dull though.)
Overall a very nice read. I might want to try this in text form sometime and I certainly hope to revisit this world yet again in A God in Ruins.
>101 Nickelini:, >102 Nickelini: Thanks Joyce. CR does that. I'm all caught up, and then I'm suddenly 100 posts behind.
71. The Book of Minor Prophets (read Oct 19 - Nov 12)
Read in The HarperCollins Study Bible : New Revised Standard Version, general editor Harold W. Attridge (2006, 96 pages within the Paperback edition).
It's very difficult to give an interesting summary of the minor prophets. They just don't group that well. They range over several hundred years into vastly different settings. And they range in style from the angry raving country boys shouting oracles from god to the Jonah folk tale with barely anything resembling an oracle.
They have some very uninteresting things in common. They are all shorter in length, hence the term "minor". Most sound as if they are quoting some mad angry prophet at some point in the text, some with first person "I". Most have very unpleasant parts, and this includes, in most, the oracles against nations. Some are just oracles against nations.
These oracles against nations are a big problem. They are a big deal with the prophets. As a reader you can't ignore or overlook them, and yet they are unpleasant to read, pretty much impossible to re-interpret into any unhateful manner, and generally uninteresting. I never did come to terms with them.
Twelve noteworthy things:
1. Hosea gets a famous line: "Yet I have been the Lord your God
ever since the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior." The word is the yet, as in despite everything bad you have done.
2. Joel and his locusts weren't very noteworthy to me, although he apparently quotes or references about every book in the OT.
3. It all seems to begin with Amos, the first prophet, the southern country boy who went up north and ranted against the wealth and corruption in Samaria. They asked him to go away and prophecy elsewhere. He replied he was no prophet, and that he had no choice, "If the Lord God speaks, who will not prophecy". He is also the source of the line, "But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."
4. Obidiah rants against Edom
5. Jonah is a folk tale. It has the several literary elements and explores death and faith and capriciousness of this god and is wonderfully re-invented in the early part of Moby Dick.
6. Micah was actually likable and easily my favorite. He is the only one who put me in something like a good mood. He's for the poor and peace and I like to think of him of the source the best parts of Isaiah - notably the "sword into plowshares" line.
7. Nahum is supposed to be poetic but uses it mainly to rant against Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire
8. Habakkuk has likable parts and is the source of the line "but the righteous live by their faith", the key line of three different New Testament books.
9. Zephaniah gets overlooked
10. Haggai of the second temple period isn't that interesting
11. Zechariah has more to say but isn't much more interesting
12. Finally there is Malachi, whose name may not be a name. Malachi means simply "my messenger". Anyway, he predicts a messiah and the return of Elijah as some point. He is quoted in 19 different New Testament passages.
72. Home by Toni Morrison
2012, 148 page Kindle ebook
read Nov 4-17
Rating: 4 stars
Korean veteran Frank Money, called Smart by his friends, gets a note that his sister, Cee, has died. Somehow he knows this means she needs help. He leaves his girlfriend in Washington state and heads south with just a little money, to make his way to his hated hometown in rural Georgia.
He his haunted by his Korea days. As he travels to find and help his sister, he works through his memories and interacts with several chance helpers along the way, all within the black community. It's an Odyssey of sorts.
This is the first Morrison that I have actually enjoyed since Beloved. It's not as complex or ambitious as her great books. Instead it was just a pleasant place to spend some time. I liked Frank and enjoyed his experiences and felt bad about his troubles.
>108 avidmom: I liked Jonah. In The Literary Guide to the Bible, James Ackerman has a chapter on it that was quite good. I also like James Kugel's suggestion (or reported suggestion?) that perhaps the psalm that makes up chapter 2 existed first. Then, later, someone might have picked up on the sea imagery and the "belly of Shoel" comment and come up with a sea voyage and Jonah getting swallowed by a fish. Even if it's totally wrong, it's an interesting idea.
True emancipation, then, means that we do not fall under the sway of complete scientism, where science becomes the only form of knowledge, rather than one possibility.
But I'll have to read the essay much more carefully to figure out what is behind that. Not sure I'm up for doing that.
Read Jan 1, 2012 to Nov 12, 2015
What I read:
The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary by Robert Alter
The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel by Robert Alter
The Wisdom Books: Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes: A Translation with Commentary by Robert Alter
The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary by Robert Alter
The HarperCollins Study Bible : New Revised Standard Version, general editor Harold W. Attridge (2006). I used this text for: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel and the 12 minor prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
the really great ones:
Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible by Karel van der Toorn -- Review
The Bible Unearthed : Archaeology's New Visions of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman -- Review
The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book by Timothy Beal -- Review
How to Read the Bible : A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now by James L. Kugel
The Literary Guide to the Bible by Robert Alter - I only read the OT essays
Reading the Lines : A Fresh Look at the Hebrew Bible by Pamela Tamarkin Reis -- Review
The Art of Biblical Narrative (Revised and Updated) by Robert Alter -- Review
Good Book : The Bizarre, Hilarious, Disturbing, Marvelous, and Inspiring Things I Learned When I Read Every Single Word of the Bible by David Plotz -- Review
The Brick Bible: A New Spin on the Old Testament by Brendan Powell Smith -- Review
The Epic of Gilgamesh -- Reveiw
Stories from Ancient Canaan (Second Edition) by Michael David Coogan and Mark S. Smith -- Review Link
Cain by José Saramago -- Review
God Knows by Joseph Heller -- Review
Books I would still like to read:
Surpassing wonder : the invention of the Bible and the Talmuds by Donald H. Akenson - I have read a small part of this.
Pen of iron : American prose and the King James Bible by Robert Alter
The Oxford History of the Biblical World by Michael David Coogan
Purity and Danger : An analysis of concepts of pollution and taboo by Mary Douglas
Lion's Honey: The Myth of Samson by David Grossman
Creation by Gore Vidal
First Five Books http://www.librarything.com/topic/138560#3472119
1 & 2 Samuel http://www.librarything.com/topic/138560#3698957
1 & 2 Kings http://www.librarything.com/topic/147378#3937339
1 & 2 Chronicles http://www.librarything.com/topic/154187#4183198
Ezra & Nehemiah (Tobit & Judith) http://www.librarything.com/topic/163456#4533123
Song of Solomon https://www.librarything.com/topic/185746#5095236
12 minor prophets: https://www.librarything.com/topic/197329#5352355
*Daniel is sometimes grouped writings and sometimes with prophets
As an overall affect, it is a collection of texts and feels that way. They are really widely varied in style, complexity, affect, purpose and meaning. Surprisingly the purposes aren't always clear, but, and this is not surprising, sometimes when they are clear I didn't like it. Certainly the best parts have a degree of complexity and uncertainty in the meaning. The story of David in 1 & 2 Samuel is a great example of this, it has several examples.
I was somehow surprised to find that it basically adds up to a history with very little religious instruction. There aren't many explorations on the nature of god, or explanations. This concept is largely presented as a given. And there isn't all much guidance on how to live.
I find it interesting that the religious practices of Judaism don't follow the OT. Jewish rituals come from the commentary, and are a later development after the OT was completed. The laws are based on this. And when the commentary contradicts the OT, the commentary always takes precedence. Catholicism has it's own interpretative history. So, if you add that up, it seems that in the reformation protestant Christians were the first people who tried to follow the bible to the word. It had never been done that way before.
I was not surprised by all this reinterpretation through history. New interpretations far from the original meaning lead to whole complexes of thoughts and yet more reinterpretation. Most of this happens after the OT, in Jewish commentary, in the NT, and in the medieval and reformation era commentary. And then it happened once again with non-religious scholarship. Scholars first tried to find an original meaning (which isn't there). There is, within the OT itself, a significant amount of reinterpretation, some of which is unclear because we don't know what parts came first.
One idea is that poetic parts of the OT are older. Then later stories were woven around these elements, with new or even mistaken understandings. This could apply to the Jonah and to Moses splitting the Red/Reed Sea. But poetry isn't necessarily older, even when it sounds older and uses an older vocabulary. So, we really don't know if this idea has any truth to it.
Over in the What Are You Reading Now thread someone wondered how this book affected me religiously and I said it had no affect. I would like to correct that comment a little. Reading the OT does have me thinking a lot about religious ritual. Now, when I attend a religious service, I'm always thinking about the texts used and interested in the way they are used. I'm generally uncomfortable with religion. I'm Jewish but preferred all Jewish stuff to be in Hebrew so that I wouldn't understand it and wouldn't worry about what it meant, because I probably would find issue with it. Now I look for the English translation, and it's place within the OT, or how it links to the OT. In Christian ritual, which is usually in English, I have always been very uncomfortable - even for weddings and funerals. That has changed because of this read. Now, instead, I find myself very interested in what is going on and what text are used. I can actually enjoy these events now.
So, while reading the OT hasn't changed my belief system in anyway, which is patently atheist, it has changed my appreciation for religion and religious tradition a great deal.
At 126 to 129 - note that I did not approach this in a belief-non-belief perspective. I tried to avoid the whole debate and when there was a group reading with me, I tried to steer away from that kind of discussion. One way to do that is to take a literary approach. Treat the bible as a human text to be studied in human terms. It allows some reverence (and irreverence) without any necessary religious faith/non-faith aspect. It becomes a very old, and influential historical document, but also a complex living artwork of some antiquity. It also allows one to respect the text even as you criticize it - very much the same way you might treat a classic you appreciate- think Homer, or maybe Gilgamesh. What then comes out is a great deal complexity and nuance...and also, when the text is seen in context with other ancient texts and with the archeology, some interesting insights into history (and into the presentation and manipulation of history)
... so actually, there are two ways to avoid the religious debates - literary and historical/archeological. You can mix them as you like. In general, biblical criticism neglects the art in search of the artists (ie authors).
73. How to Read the Bible : A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now by James L. Kugel
2007, 777 page Paperback brick
read Nov 28, 2011 - Nov 17, 2015, read along with the OT
Rating: 4.5 stars
My plan was to use this as advertised, as a guide in how to read the bible. I would read part of the bible and then read the corresponding chapter here. It started out well. He has some nice introductory essays then chapters in order on Genesis 1-3, then on Gen 4, then 6-8, then Gen 11...and so on. But then at some point it started skipping larger and larger sections, with no explanation, and then sections began to be covered out of order, or different non-adjacent books were discussed together, or entire books were barely touched on, or the same book would be split into different, not even adjacent chapters. There is no explanation as to why some things are covered and other things aren't, or as to why the order goes scrambled. Anyway, it's not that kind of a guide in How to Read the Bible.
What this book actually intends is to summarize all the latest biblical scholarship and also to capture the various interpretations of the bible through time. His essays are quite interesting as he covers what the ancient and medieval interpreters thought, then he brings up the ideas of modern scholarship, including many of his own ideas. Some of the best parts of the book are in the end notes - there are 79 pages of them. In many essays he brings up some really interesting problems...and then he stops. No conclusion. The essays just end.
He is very interested in the changing interpretations through time, especially those within the bible itself. Such as how did Song of Songs, a romantic love song, become a biblical book seen as about love of God? It's possible the words never changed as it evolved from one meaning to the other.
For modern scholarship, his guiding lights are Julius Wellhausen who is the originator of the Documentary Hypothesis, Hermann Gunkel, and William F. Albright. In his conclusion he has some very interesting things to say about modern scholarship. It began as a effort to search under the text for an original and now mainly lost meaning. What was found instead is that the bible was written in parts over a long period of time, and has no original meaning or core. But the side effect of all this scholarship was the reducing of the text from a divine to a human creation. There was a entire shift from learning from the bible to learning about it. In the process the loser was the Bible. No longer a sacred emblem, the scholarly insight, while fascinating, remains of interest only to scholars - and everyone else interested in the origins.
What Kugel mentions, but neglects, is the literary criticism of the bible, a different kind of scholarship. In western literature throughout time the bible has kept its divine value. And the text itself has significant literary elements and studying them requires a different but still real reverence. Of course this a different kind of reverence, and not the one the bible once held.
He has few words for fundamentalists and basically says that anyone who has studied the bible and is aware of the biblical scholarship knows better than to see anything within the text other than a complex human creation.
74. The Drunken Botanist : The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks (Audio) by Amy Stewart
read by Coleen Marlo
2013, 10:16 (400 pages in hardcover)
listened Nov 2 - 5, 10 - 20)
Rating: 4.0 stars
I saw this in a bookstore and thought it might be mildly interesting but perhaps not so good on audio. It's certainly not ideal for audio, but I was thoroughly fascinated. The amount of information within is pretty striking.
Seriously this was a bit of an eye-opener for me. It never occurred to me how interesting the worlds drinks are or the world of cocktails. I wasn't even really curious about cocktails before. That has changed.
75. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
2015, 156 page ARC paperback
read Nov 17-25
recent winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction.
Written in the form of a letter to his son, Coates writes as if trying to explain to his son the nature of being black in the United States. It's about racism and how it leaves no solace to turn to, no corrective, but instead has a hopeless unfixable future with consequences. It's not a comfortable read.
Coates writes about his life in Howard University and his exploration of the history and nature of black history and the racial state of the country. How he worked through the intellectual literature expecting to find a clear narrative and instead found conflict, contradiction and confusion. Then he writes about his own history, and his personal development as a writer ("Poetry was the processing of my thoughts until the slag of justification fell away and I was left with the cold steel truth."). And he writes about the shooting of his college friend by a black police officer out his jurisdiction who...well, you should read it yourself. There is a lot of meditation on this. He strives for something like James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time (which I haven't read). What it evolves into is a modern equivalent of prophecy of doom, an oracle of sorts on the future fall of the country.
This book put me in a weird place, which is an awkward thing to admit. Is it really a great book, or just a brave one? And is it a groundbreaking brave book, or just another rage against American history and present? It certainly is an important book, and I think if you are American it will make you uncomfortable, and upset or angry or both.
76. The Gods of Olympus : A History by Barbara Graziosi
2014, 276 page paperback
read Nov 26-29
Rating: 3.5 stars
This was fun, but was a little less than what I was hoping. Graziosi traces the history of the Greek gods from their origins within the Greek cultural area through their evolution in time, merging with various Roman, Egyptian and Near Eastern gods, falling out of their religious context then being reinvented anew.
One of the interesting insights was how the Greek pantheon served as cultural unifying force, establishing norms across the Greek world and essentially establishing what was Greek. It was also interesting to see how gods were force-molded in such strange ways, such as how the Romans combined their very important god Mars into the minor and rather pathetic Greek God Ares.
What was missing, I felt, was a good sense of who these gods were in the religious and mythological context. She not only doesn't bring them alive, but doesn't really even spend much time on them. She walks through the Elgin marbles and gives a short bit on each of the twelve gods there, which I did find of interest. But she pretty much leaves off the biographies at that and moves on to their evolution.
side note - this is the first book for my Homer theme, one of my planned themes for 2016.
77. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
2005, 309 page trade paperback
read Dec 3-6
Rating: 4.5 stars
McCarthy's version of a thriller. A Vietnam veteran stumbles on drug deal gone wrong, circa 1980, with no survivors. He walks away with $2.4 million in cash and a violent world pours in on him. I bet it made quite a movie. It feels like a 1990's era Tarantino movie, along the lines of Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and True Romance, with meditations on violence and execution and with violence so intense it becomes almost humorous...except here in this book where it doesn't.
All of that is a shot on the unoriginal aspects of this 2005 book, and a deserved one. But still, what an intense book which I could not put down and what a cold as steel feeling it left me with, even if it doesn't last. This is an interesting look at McCarthy's style applied to a more modern setting, a rural world no longer isolated, but infiltrated by the urban culture and technology. But it doesn't have the weight of his other works.
You aren't alone in avoiding McCarthy. He is an experience though.
78. God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
2015, 178 page hardcover
read Dec 6-9
Rating: 4 stars
I've learned to be wary of Morrison's later books and I had read some qualified negative comments about this before I started - vaguely to the affect the book was very discomforting. So I read it sort of on guard, looking out for some really bad stuff, and also with very limited expectations. What I found was pretty good book.
Child abuse is a re-occurring theme in this novel, and the source of most reader discomfort. In Bride's case it starts with being born with very dark skin, despite having two light-skinned African-American parents. Dad disappears with false claims of infidelity, and mom, Sweetness, raises Bride by withholding affection for the daughter she is ashamed of. But Bride is born in the 1990's California, and by 2015 her very dark skin color has become attractive, especially when she wears white, which she always does. She becomes "a midnight Galatea". It helps make her very successful. You can begin your racial analysis now.
Morrison works in a lot of her themes on race and the hollowness of American consumerist culture and the fall of America - this last is a theme I have found in all the authors I'm reading lately - McCarthy, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jennifer Egan. Bride's boyfriend, who abandons her on page 8 saying, "You not the woman I want", looks deeply into the intellectual side of racism, especially it's economic drive. I thought this line was notable for all of Morrison's writing: "...he read Frederick Douglas’s biography again, relishing for the first time the eloquence that both hid and displayed his hatred." As a young black man in search of a purpose, he also picks up from Son in Tar Baby, and maybe from Milkman in Song of Solomon. I tried to find Morrison's own deceased son in him, and maybe there was some of that.
But, and this is important, Morrison contains all this stuff. And out comes a novel with a lot going on, that is talking about a lot of stuff without directly saying so. I think it's notable that there are white characters in here and, while maybe not exactly likable, that they are human and very small in big world. They don't represent, for example, white empowerment, at least not so overtly as in Tar Baby. The point I'm trying to make is that she is working within the novel's constraints with a lot of success. A lot is going within the text and what comes out is complex and interesting and still readable work evolves. It's not one of her great novels, but it's one to get the reader thinking.
The complexity makes picking up key themes very difficult, it really becomes one of selecting themes. But child abuse, rape, abduction and murder aren't little things you just slip into a book. I'm on a bit of limb here, but I felt a key theme throughout was one of power play - on controlling and being controlled - through economics, slavery, murder, vengeance, rape, abuse, relationships, and, of course, racism, sexism and parenting.
>151 janeajones: - Jane, that it could have just been your mood, but also could be a reflection of how much more you have read than I have...if I understand your meaning correctly. I mean certainly she may have used some cliche methodology that was non-cliche to me. Something for me to think about.
>152 kidzdoc: - Darryl, I recall you have read and not liked a Morrison, but I don't remember which is was. Anyway, this might be an OK one to start with. It must be on one or more of those award lists that you are targeting...(?)
>153 baswood: - Thanks Bas
>134 dchaikin: That sounds like a book I would be interested in, though it also looks terribly long for my tastes. But, hey, it's actually in audio format, and I DO have an awful lot of audiobook time right now. Perhaps I'll throw it in my wishlist. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
I can't remember which books of hers I read. I think it was pre-LT, which would have been at least nine years ago. I should give her another try.
Merry Christmas to you too and all who celebrate.
79. Kramberger with Monkey by Rick Harsch
date unknown, maybe 100 pages?
read Nov 18 to Dec 10
Rick is an LT personality who I know well enough, in our virtual world, to make it about impossible to properly review his book. Kramberger with Monkey was published in Slovenia, in Slovenian, but was never published in English until Rick begin posting it on his blog in October - here.
Ivan Kramberger, an inventor with a self-made rags to riches story, ran for president of Slovenia in 1990 without any prior political experience. He got about 18% of the vote. He was shot and killed on June 7, 1992, although no one really knows by who or why. He also had a pet monkey. I'm pretty sure this is true. There is a wikipedia page dedicated to him, although it does not mention his monkey (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Kramberger ).
As for the book, it’s a wild ride of a farce that is not a farce, actually there is a true story behind it of a maybe pointless assassination in 1992 of what may or may not have been a nice, interesting guy, who was also something of special creator. Anyway, he’s dead so who cares.
It’s maybe this attitude of “who cares?” combined with a much more honest and yet unspoken sense that we all do really care, but in ways that are very hard to express that kind of drives this book and its elusive suite of narrators. At few points in the book does the reader get the sense of an actual narration, much less a narrator. It’s like he’s running away from us, hiding even as he speaks to us. We look and there is something of a story that comes out, but voice has moved along and we are not quite sure where it came from. It’s hard to explain. And just then, just as it all begins to come together for the reader - the monkeys revolt and take over the text and the reader…well this one anyway, takes a confused while to figure this out.
This was fun and there is a clear sense that our author had fun writing. The writing struggle isn’t apparent, it’s playful and fully managed throughout it’s wild ride. And it’s a quick read for those interested — well, unless you try to make sense of the monkey parts.
80. Playing in the Dark : Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison
1992, 100 page hardcover
read Dec 9-12
These essays are work but also enlightening if you can manage to fight your way through them. Morrison is so angry and yet she never tells you, never expresses it in any overt way. But she lays it in raw when one compares the balanced tone and the emotion that almost logically is underneath. She writes objectively, ”Black slavery enriched the country's creative possibilities.” - if you aren't cringing, read that again.
From there she just goes on to talk about it. I found myself so uncomfortable reading this, that it became a hard read. If I could have stayed on her tone, it would just been a somewhat interesting, boring and yet very informative read. Yet, that’s not where she is going. She says it, and you think that’s extreme and then eventually you come around to see how much racism plays such a fundamental unconscious and key a roll in american story telling, and how universal it is. It's like the message sinks in and a knife twists in your gut
Think again about Finn in The Force Awakens. Go see any American movie and look at the roll the black characters play - but these servile roles are child’s play. In serious literature blacks play critical roles in balancing main, non-black characters. They provide a critical sense of freedom and independence to those characters. Morrison brings up Henry James, Faulkner, Gertrude Stein, Flannery O’Connor (a bit more respectfully), Mark Twain’s Jim, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Willian Styron, Saul Bellow, Carson McCullers, Edgar Allen Poe, Willa Cather’s Sapphire and the Slave Girl, Melville’s Pip, and she hammers Hemingway. Melville was actually conscious about his racial play, using race in an exploratory and creative manner. Certainly he’s comes across as more modern in his sensibilities in this aspect than all these other authors, and most literature coming out today.
Perhaps I should go back and tone this one down. This reviews seems a bit discouraging. But it is an uncomfortable read, with some uncomfortable revelations that you thought you already knew, but really you only knew a small piece of it.
“As a writer reading, I came to realize the obvious: the subject of the dream is the dreamer. The fabrication of an Africanist persona is reflexive; an extraordinary meditation on the self; a powerful exploration of the fears and desires that reside in the writerly conscious.”
All the Light We Cannot See (Audio) by Anthony Doerr
read by Zach Appelman
2014, 16:03 (531 pages in hardcover)
listened to 48% from Dec 7-15
It felt really nice to give up on this book. Enough to make me want to thrash it, so I’ll preface this by saying a lot of readers really like this Pulitzer Prize winner.
As for the book, Doerr writes a very slow almost fairly tale story of a blind French girl with a love of Jules Verne and a young Nazi German soldier with an affection for experimenting with electronics, especially radios. Doerr is a pretty writer and fills in all his details. But I just couldn’t escape the impression that he merely created assortment of stereotypes in a very stereotypical story. He can add all the detail he wants, add all the texture he wants, but he’s only bringing into focus what we already knew before he started describing it. At least that is the sense he left me with and I couldn’t avoid thinking about it. I was bored and annoyed.
81. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
2010, 340 page trade paperback
read Dec 12-19
Rating: 4.5 stars
I know I can’t do justice to this. Egan’s writing here has a hyper current feel - she maximizes the details, breaks up the narrative into chronologically out of order pieces with different narrators, she works to keep something of a hip edge in the writing, keeping it vibrant, there is an emphasis on technology and even a futuristic element as the 2010 publication seems to extend through about maybe 2018 or 2020. Most notably she does all his stuff, messing with the reader, keeping the book interesting and yet still manages to create a very moving work. Parts of this book are really beautiful. (There are elements of Infinite Jest in all those descriptions, but you would never confuse the two books.)
I really like how she makes fun of characters as she attaches you to them, and how she adds human touches in such unexpected moments. How she centers the story, arguably and at best loosely, around a character she picks up, makes fun of, and then drops, who never once becomes important in this play on the music industry and yet who grounds the book wonderfully. Anyway, fun, intelligent, creative, moving, recommended.
82. The Wright Brothers by David G. McCullough, read by the author
2015, 10:01 (290 pages in hardcover)
listened Nov 20 - Dec 3, 21-24
Rating: 3.5 stars
McCullough's books tend to be terrific on audio. They are intelligent, thorough, but mainly he is just very good at making a story out of the era he covers, bringing alive the people, atmosphere and time period. The pacing is slow and clear and interesting. Well, until the Wright Brothers had already finished showing the world they could fly and the book kept going.
The Wright family is quite lovable. Their mother died when the Wilbur and Orville were still young. Their father was a bishop who must have emphasized some kind of morality that involved living humbly and working very hard. Of the five siblings, Wilbur and Orville never married, and their sister Katherine only married when she was in middle age. Two older brothers would marry and have families.
Wilbur and Orville were industrious. They financed their interest in flight with their bicycle shop in Dayton, OH, where they sold their own bicycle design. They were probably very lucky to be first in flight (known at the time?) because it's a bit amazing it took so long. But they were never likely to fail...and that is something. They knew the physics before they really go started. Their main technical challenges were first how to control a machine in flight and then later, when they moved toward an engine, how to figure out the physics of a propeller. They were as surprised as I was that no one had done so yet (even though propellers were common on boats). Beyond those to challenges, for them it was largely a matter of construction, trial and error and practice. As master craftsman, they were up for the task...and when they weren't they found someone who was, a local Dayton, OH mechanic named Charlie Taylor designed their first engines.
If there is tension in the story it has to do with the idea of these guys crashing. Pretty much every other early pilot I have heard was marked by a brazen streak, a personality drawn to some danger, even if they were as careful as Lindbergh. But the Wright brothers weren't. They were humble nice guys who never drifted from character and not the kind to take risks they didn't have too. I think a young Wright dying in a crash would have been the kind of tragedy the reminds us life isn't fair.
But this tension only gets us so far as the book gets involved into a series of much less interesting happenings...until, thankfully, a prologue quickly covers their later lives, letting the book end in a pile of interesting facts.
If you are really into the Wright Brothers, this is maybe a great book. If you really like McCullough, this is a decent book. But if you just want a nice history book, try a different McCullough.
>179 AlisonY: - Alyson - you know, he's a pretty writer. I don't know. Maybe I just read All the Light We Cannot See the wrong way, or maybe he toed too close the YA line. Not sure.
>181 rebeccanyc: - Rebecca - I certainly recall you saying that. I think it's one of the best American "new" novels I have read in a while (I don't read much new fiction...). I should have read it in 2010, but I love that it still works so well in 2015.
>182 ursula: - Ursula - Ha! Maybe he was leading us on a very tight leash and maybe that is what bothered me too. I thought the German boy was just your standard mechanically inventive poor boy trope. He never felt real to me...but she didn't either. And goodness, the adults - oh, I better stop.
83. The War That Killed Achilles : The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War by Caroline Alexander
2009, 283 page library Hardcover
read Dec 19-25
Rating: 3 stars
This was work. It was informative and left me with lots of stuff I could follow up on if I wanted to, but I had to force my way through. The best chapter was Alexander's translation of the death of Hektor - which just goes to show I probably don't need to read about Homer just now, and instead just read Homer - I'm starting on Friday.
I don't think I could cope with all that anger in Morrisson's essay. Does the anger get in the way of her writing I wonder?
>177 dchaikin: A Visit from the Goon Squad I found this an entertaining read. It was smart sassy but ultimately as empty as the lives depicted. I thought it read more like a well scripted American movie rather than a prize winning piece of literature. "All front and no Knickers" to coin a phrase. But I then again I don't enjoy that much contemporary fiction.
- regarding Morrison - Does anger get in the way?
Well, her great books are just as angry as some of her suppposed misses (like Paradise). I like to imagine her anger as an engine - not something that gets in the way.
- regarding AVftGS - all front and no knickers
There is a lot of front, but I think you're too harsh. I think she creates some special things in there.
- The Invisible Circus (1995)
- Look at Me (2001)
- The Keep (2006)
- A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010)
I really like Egan too. The Keep was my first, and I liked it a lot. Then I listened to Look at Me on audio and liked it even better. I soon followed that with the audio of The Invisible Circus which had a very annoying reader, and I don't think the novel was as good as the others. The fourth is in my TBR pile and I will get to it one of these days.