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Ipsoivan's ROOTs for 2016

This is a continuation of the topic Ipsoivan's ROOTs for 2016.

2016 ROOT Challenge - (Read Our Own Tomes)

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Edited: Dec 11, 2016, 9:51am Top

Welcome everyone. My first attempt, and need, to start a new thread.

Some of my ROOTs will in fact be books I have read before but do not remember well, or they might be old favourites that deserve a re-read. One thing I have thought of doing this year is to read one book from each of my shelves in turn as there are some shelves that, for one reason or another, I don't often choose a book from. We'll see.

Oh, and I will count as ROOTs books that I begin but can't finish--I'll be weeding those out.

1. Far From the Madding Crowd-- Thomas Hardy
2. My Grandfather and Father, Dear Father-- Dennis Constanduros
3. Childhood, Youth and Exile-- Maxime Gorky
4. Out Stealing Horses-- Per Petterson
5. Otherland 1: City of Golden Shadow --Tad Williams
6. My Struggle: A Death in the Family-- Karl Ove Knausgard
7. Otherland 2: River of Blue Fire-- Tad Williams
8. Otherland 3: Mountain of Black Glass-- Tad Williams
9. The Gift of Stones --Jim Crace
10. My Uncle Silas-- H.E. Bates
11. A Case of Curiosities-- Allen Kurzweil
12. The Shorter Pepys-- Samuel Pepys
13. A Far Cry from Kensington-- Muriel Spark
14. Symposium-- Muriel Spark
15. The Railway Children-- E. Nesbit
16. Otherland 4: Sea of Silver Light-- Tad Williams
17. Devoted Ladies-- Molly Keane
18. The Fellowship of the Ring-- J.R.R. Tolkien
19. The Two Towers-- J.R.R. Tolkien
20. The Return of the King-- J.R.R. Tolkien
21. Little Kingdoms --Steven Millhauser
22. The String of Pearls-- Joseph Roth
23. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen-- Alan Garner
24. To Be a Pilgrim--Joyce Cary
25. How German Is It--Walter Abish
26. Chatterton--Peter Ackroyd
27. The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein--Peter Ackroyd
28. Brick Lane--Monica Ali
29. The Divine Comedy--Dante Aligheri
30. Bastard out of Carolina-Dorothy Alison
31. Dona Flor and her Two Husbands -- Jorge Amado
32. Bless Me, Ultima-- Rudolpho Anaya
33. The Bridge on the Drina--Ivo Andric
34. Deep Country -- Neil Ansell
35. Cogs Tyrannic -- John Arden
36. The Books of Bale -- John Arden
37. Human Croquet -- Kate Atkinson
38. Emotionally Weird -- Kate Atkinson
39. Collected Stories of Isaac Babel -- Isaac Babel
40. History: A Very Short Introduction -- John Arnold
41. A Whole Life -- Robert Seethaler
42. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow -- Washington Irving
43. The Children of Green Knowe and The River at Green Knowe -- Lucy M. Boston
44. The Women in Black -- Madeleine St. John
45. Young Adolf -- Beryl Bainbridge
46. The Camomile Lawn -- Mary Wesley
47. The Buried Giant -- Kazuo Ishiguro
48. The Bottle Factory Outing -- Beryl Bainbridge
49. Earthly Powers -- Anthony Burgess
50. The Long Ships -- Frans Bengtsson
51. Every Man for Himself -- Beryl Bainbridge
52. Birdie--Tracey Lindberg
53. The Road to Lichfield -- Penelope Lively
54. Dusty Answer--Rosamond Lehmann

May 10, 2016, 8:53pm Top

I may have not set this up correctly. I hope everyone can find me.

May 10, 2016, 9:06pm Top

Found you! :) Happy new thread!

May 10, 2016, 9:17pm Top

Oh, you're fast! Welcome!

May 11, 2016, 5:27am Top

Found you, too! And such an impressive list of ROOTs already!

May 11, 2016, 10:23am Top

Happy new thread!

May 11, 2016, 11:43am Top

>2 ipsoivan: lol you did fine ;)
Happy new thread!

May 11, 2016, 7:25pm Top

Hello, rabbitprincess, MissWatson, tess and ava!

May 12, 2016, 6:07pm Top

2 ROOTs down today, but neither in a good way. Back in the 80s, I really enjoyed Peter Ackroyd, and read all his early work, including his unreadable book on postmodernism. Working my way through my 'to read or reread list' has brought me up against my past tastes, this time with a clash.

I came really close to Pearl-ruling Chatterton, but slogged through to the end. It was not all bad, but Ackroyd has/had a theory that the essential spirit of England was resurrected each generation, and he also really loved camp and the grotesque. All of this jammed into one novel...exasperating. Also the man just couldn't write dialogue or about contemporary characters without using arch language-- people are always capering and clapping their hands in delight or calling themselves or others 'Mother' in high camp style, or sticking out their tongues at each other; he also takes a run at being Dickensian, with a full roster of 'characters' that never make it off the page.

There was enough here that was good that I did read to the end, but I think I'm done with Ackroyd unless anyone has some strong recommendations for one of his more recent.
In the spirit of giving him another chance, I started The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein. I think I have blown my Ackroyd tolerance to smithereens. I just could not do it.

2 to donate, along with any others that were not in the tbr.

May 16, 2016, 2:56am Top

Found you too!

Re: the moving in the previous thread.
I've been living in the same town since I was 10 years, different houses though. So I'm not much of a mover. The house we live in now is the 5th in all those 53 years since my parents moved with us (the children) to Roermond because of my dads job.

May 17, 2016, 9:33pm Top

Wow. My family moved so much, but I find it pretty easy. Although that may no longer be true, now that I've lived in the same place so long.

Edited: May 18, 2016, 8:56pm Top

Root 28 complete, Brick Lane by Monica Ali. Absolutely brilliant! Next up in reading alphabetically thru my tbr is The Divine Comedy, Alighieri following Ali in my list. This one scares me.

May 19, 2016, 2:56am Top

>12 ipsoivan: Ah! I'm going alphabetical by title the remainder of the year!

May 19, 2016, 6:02am Top

Good to have the company. I'm finding this an intersting way to shake things up a bit and potentially tackle some roots that I've shied away from, like, ehem, the daunting Dante.

May 19, 2016, 8:16am Top

>14 ipsoivan: I agree! I will read a fiction/novel over a non-fiction any day. But with the alphabet rooting, I've read 2 non-fiction and have loved both of them!

May 19, 2016, 8:05pm Top

>15 tess_schoolmarm: I've cheated just a smidge, and have taken the non-fiction that I don't want to read out of my TBR. Although, comr to think of it, I've also removed most of it from my house too.

May 19, 2016, 9:24pm Top

>16 ipsoivan: I read mostly non-fiction for work, so I consider most non-fiction "work" and that's why I don't usually enjoy them; I can relate!

May 20, 2016, 10:15am Top

>12 ipsoivan: good to hear! My sisters and I ran across that book years ago, and thought about getting it for mom... I'm not sure what ended up happening, but I think it's one one of our shelves somewhere... must go find it.. ;)

>17 tess_schoolmarm: ditto ... I read so much non-fiction for my job... I really love the novel in my free time. Though when I have found myself reading non-fiction, I am often happy I did.... (e.g., Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air was fantastic)

May 20, 2016, 3:42pm Top

Now I'm much more of a non-fiction fan than fiction, but I'm prepared to admit that I'm a bit of a freak :) I think it's just that I'm quite nerdy, and love a really well-researched book, it almost doesn't matter what the topic is! Having said that, I'm reading a fiction book at the moment and really enjoying it, but I think if I didn't have 3 fiction categories and was just choosing for myself I'd go for non-fiction most of the time.

May 20, 2016, 6:17pm Top

>18 avanders: Oh, you must find it--and read it before you give it to her! I was so taken with it I couldn't gather my thoughts to write a review.

>19 Jackie_K: I've always found fiction to be my drug of choice, but you're right, a well-researched and well-written non fiction book is a joy. I'm considering going back a step to read Ackroyd's biography of Blake -- it's either that or move forward to Dorothy Allison's Bastard out of Carolina--back to non fiction or forward to what looks to be quite bleak fiction?

Edited: May 20, 2016, 7:14pm Top

ROOT 29 The Divine Comedy by Dante Aligheri. OK, I only made it through 77 pages of Hell, but I felt that was enough. I got the gist of it. The allusions are either to classical characters/people or to political figures from Florence, and my copy had no footnotes, not that that mattered in my lack of progress. The translation I read was Clive James's--I'm not sure how that stacks up against others. There were plenty of aha! moments when I came across famous bits like T.S. Eliot's borrowing in The Wasteland, "I had not thought death had undone so many", but they and the idea of reading Dante, could not carry me through even to the end of Hell.

I spoke to my 22-year old daughter about it on the phone tonight, and she offered her copy with footnotes and, perhaps, a better translation, but then agreed that life is short and there are plenty of other books to read. So I'm letting go of the dream of reading Dante.

So onward to my final ROOT: it feels as if it should be special. I was toying with backtracking in my alphabetical progress to read Peter Ackroyd's Blake, or to move forward to Dorothy Allison's Bastard out of Carolina, but I'm not sure I have the strength--it seems bleak. I may invoke a wild card read. Off to peruse my shelves.

May 22, 2016, 1:19am Top

>21 ipsoivan: The Allison book is powerful and it is incredibly well written, but I felt like I had been mauled by the time I finished it. It's rough but it is worth it.

May 22, 2016, 7:31am Top

>22 enemyanniemae: yeah, at the beginning I thought it was going to be fun, but wow is it good.

May 22, 2016, 7:39am Top

On another note, I reorganized my shelves alphabetically yesterday, something I speculated I might do in the last thread. Becuase my shelf heights are not completely adaptable, a lot of books had to go horizontally, but I like the way these stacks add some relief to the eye, and it's just so easy to find things now! I need to get some books back from a friend so that I can do a proper inventory and clean up my lists on LibraryThing. It seems that I got rid of quite a few books that I didn't remove from my lists; I also found quite a few that missed my first inventory.

May 22, 2016, 1:22pm Top

I've reached my goal of 30/30 today with Bastard out of Carolina. What a great book to finish on! I'll be continuing to read alphabetically, adding my totals to the group's.

May 22, 2016, 3:23pm Top

>25 ipsoivan: well done on reaching your goal! Hooray! :)

May 22, 2016, 3:31pm Top

Congrats on reaching your goal!

May 22, 2016, 5:06pm Top

Congratulations on reaching your goal so early! We are doing great this year, aren't we?

May 22, 2016, 5:27pm Top

Thanks to you all!
>28 MissWatson: Yes, in my case I'd worried that I had bitten off more than I could chew and loweed my goal. This now gives me two pleasures: one of reaching my goal, the other of continuing to read my roots without feeling any pressure.

May 23, 2016, 10:05am Top

>20 ipsoivan: such high praise! I'm sure we can find it :)

>21 ipsoivan: lol ouch .. it's good to know where your limit is!

>24 ipsoivan: oooooh SO MUCH FUN! That is one of my top favorite things to do - reorganize my shelves :) I'm (im)patiently waiting until the upstairs is ready for me to bring my books up there and get going... ;) I lay some of my books horizontal too.. And I agree, I like the way it looks :) I even stack some trade paperbacks that way, just because I like its appearance... and because you can usually stack more trade paperbacks high than you can put in the stack's width. If that sentence makes sense...

>25 ipsoivan: Congratulations on meeting your goal!!

Edited: May 26, 2016, 9:38pm Top

> 30 Merci, madame! Yes the book re-org made my week--I thoroughly enjoyed it. My partner thinks I'm nuts, but is used to it.

Jun 2, 2016, 7:18am Top

Dona Flor and her Two Husbands. I read this one decades ago, and it is only by reading my shelves alphabetically that it would have occurred to me to reread. What a treat!

Flor's marriage to her first husband, Vadinho, is stormy; Vadinho is a womanizer and gambler, but wonderful in bed and brings her a lot of joy. When he dies, she eventually marries again, to Vadinho's opposite, someone who is a wonderful husband but maybe not the most exciting. Flor prays to see Vadinho again, and chaos ensues when he returns from the dead and she finds she has two husbands at the same time.

How I loved this book.

Jun 2, 2016, 10:20am Top

>32 ipsoivan: What a lovely re-read!

Edited: Jun 3, 2016, 10:32am Top

>32 ipsoivan: I love it when that happens!
Sometimes I look at my books and think "am I ever really going to read that?" But then I re-read the back cover or a review or something and remember why I got it in the first place...
The book sounds really interesting!
ETA: added to Amazon wishlist......

Edited: Jun 10, 2016, 7:29am Top

ROOT 32 Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya. I've had this for about 30 years, I'd guess. I loved it the first time I read it, but had remembered nothing of it before I read it this time around as it was next alphabetically in my TBR. Yes, I really liked it, but I would hesitate to say I loved it.

The novel is a Chicano coming of age story: Antonio lives in a tiny, remote village with his parents, siblings and grandmother, who is a curandera, a healer who relies on herbs, roots, and a kind of earth magic to achieve her miraculous cures of locals who are physically ill or beset by evil spirits. Antonio is pulled beteen his father's side of the family, the wild caballeros, and his mother's side, the quiet farmers, and he is also torn between accepting the Christian god or the golden carp, a giant fish that only a small group of children can see. This oppositional symmetry is disturbed by Tenorio, the local bad guy, who has it in for Antonio's grandmother, Ultima.

A little clunky at times, but overall I liked it a lot. It helps to know some basic Spanish.

Next up is The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric.

Edited: Jun 10, 2016, 1:20pm Top

>35 ipsoivan: oh! That's on that list of books people really super recommend to me but that I haven't yet been able to bring myself to read.... I did NOT like his other book, Albuquerque (no touchstone?), and unfortunately it has colored my opinion on the author... Glad to hear that you enjoyed it though! I will someday get to it... most likely... ;)

Jun 11, 2016, 9:46pm Top

>36 avanders: ah yes, the southwestern connecrion. What was Albuquerque about, and what turned you off about it??

Jun 12, 2016, 6:20pm Top

>37 ipsoivan: phew, I hardly remember what it was about, but what turned me off so much about it was his depiction of women... all of his female "main" characters were ... ya know, only interested in sex in the male characters. Like, oh, look, smart strong female mayor character? right, until she just can't resist that sexy guy. Please. I mean, sure do it occasionally, but ALL of them? It was too 2-dimensional for my tastes and made me think the author probably had some rather paternalistic/misogynistic tendencies... And I'd just sort of come to the realization that that was actually a bit of an issue here in Albuquerque in general.. so it was just a turn off. I've heard from other readers of both books that Bless Me, Ultima does not suffer from the same issues... :)

Jun 18, 2016, 3:34am Top

Congrats on reaching your goal, Maggie!

Jun 18, 2016, 7:06am Top

>38 avanders: Well, Bless Me, Ultima is more like a myth--struggle of good and evil, people are either of the moon or of the llano, etc. Women are wise healers, good mothers, or prostitutes. Mind you, it is also the world through a small boy's eyes. Sounds very different from the one you read--or didn't read.

>39 connie53: Thanks, connie!

Jun 18, 2016, 8:46am Top

Congrats on reaching your goal!

Jun 20, 2016, 10:20am Top

>40 ipsoivan: lol I did read Albuquerque, I just really really did not like it. ;P
But I think I will still try Bless Me, Ultima someday.. does sound interesting! (even if women are still limited in their roles ;))

Edited: Jun 28, 2016, 8:57pm Top

#33 The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric This took me a while to finish, not because it is particularly long or I resisted it; it's just not the kind of book you rush. The bridge of the title is at the centre of a small town in the Balkans that is initially Persian, then Austro-Hungarian, then contested territory in the First World War. The novel tells the stories of the people of the town over the centuries until WWI who live around the bridge, and the bridge serves both as a symbol of the peaceful times of unity but also of their subservience to the powe of distant world forces.

Edited: Jun 29, 2016, 1:04pm Top

>43 ipsoivan: looks like a BB for me!

Jul 23, 2016, 10:10am Top

#34 Deep Country by Neil Ansell. I absolutely loved this book. In the heat and frenzy of a summer intensive teaching job, this book about living alone in the Welsh hills and observing nature was just what I need.

Jul 24, 2016, 1:13pm Top

#35 Cogs Tyrannic by John Arden. 4 novellas that share the theme of the individual pushing against state tyranny, with the use of new technologies either helping or hindering the cause.

The first story is of an Egyptian functionary sent to investigate the wild claims of a sailor that says he has sailed around Africa, and that the sun shifted its position in the sky throughout the journey--heresy to the Egyptian sun-worshippers. The sailor, it turns out, is one of those barbaric Sea People, Odysseus, a wild man by the cultivated Egyptian standards. The functionary must use unwieldy hieroglyphs to write his official report, whose form constrains what can be expressed, but he has developed his own script with which he feels he can capture the truth. But what is the truth? This was my favourite of the stories.

Briefly, the plots of the other stories: a woman of the 16th century in Germany comes up against the Inquisition because of a book her shop has printed. The rail line between Liverpool and Manchester is opened, changing the possibilities of policing an insurrectionary public yet at the same time enabling the revolutionaries to spread their message and mobilize. This one features Fanny Kemble and the Duke of Wellington, along with a few less well known historical figures. In the final story, a squaddy is blown up in Northern Ireland: in his locker a poem written to his love, Judy, is found that gives a human and romantic aspect to the British Army's occupation -- but did the squaddy actually write it, or is it part of a larger plot of British intelligence? Computers figure largely in sorting out, and obscuring, the truth.

I enjoyed these, but they required an attentiveness that made me reach for some lighter reads along the way to relax with. I'm trying to decide now between another of Arden's books or moving on.

Edited: Jul 24, 2016, 1:18pm Top

>45 ipsoivan:
>46 ipsoivan:

They both sound like great reads! What do you teach?

Jul 25, 2016, 7:28am Top

Thanks, Tess. They were both wonderful.

As to my work, officially I teach academic writing, although that makes it sound pretty dull. I work for the Centre for Teaching and Learning at U of Toronto, so I do foundational skills teaching, and there is a lot of variety as I support courses from all disciplines. This summer I've been working in a program for Chinese students helping them transition to university. The course is about inter-cultural communication, with a lot of applied linguistics theory, but it is really just a way to help them adjust to university in a new culture.

Jul 25, 2016, 7:51am Top

Sounds very interesting. I'm an adjunct professor at two local universities teaching Western Civilization and American History.

Jul 31, 2016, 2:51am Top

Just popping in and saying 'Hi' to you, Maggie!

Aug 2, 2016, 7:51am Top

>49 tess_schoolmarm: Ahhh, history. I just finished marking 65 essays, not all terrible, but it always seems like what they write about could be more interesting. Now if I had them writing about history, that might do it.

>50 connie53: hello connie! Nice to hear from you. Hope all is well with you and your wee one.

Edited: Aug 8, 2016, 6:56am Top

#36 Books of Bale by John Arden. This one took quite a while to read-- maybe 2 weeks, which is quite a commitment from me. Worth it. It's long and complex, so I had to reread some sections twice to figure out what was going on, and to fully appreciate what Arden was up to. At some point I will need to reread this.

John Bale was a friar during the time of Henry VIII. He went Protestant for the same reason as Henry--he wanted to be able to marry; in Bale's case (at least in this version), his love was a one-time prostitute, dancer, actor and musician, Dorothy, aka "Haut-Jambes", a force of nature and an amazing character. He eventually becomes a bishop in the new Church, but falls out of favour in the reign of Mary and has to flee to Germany.

The book is far from straightforward historical fiction: instead it is a series of vignettes of Bale, Dorothy, their daughter Lydia and grand daughter Lucretia (in Arden's imagining, Shakespeare's Dark Lady). The religious exposition dragged a bit for me, but whenever those women came on the scene, I was riveted. Bale remains something of a cipher, seen from a variety of perspectives but never his own, a kind of absence in the centre of the story. Nonetheless, I got a bit teary at his death.

Aug 8, 2016, 1:31am Top

>52 ipsoivan: When I follow your link to The books of Bale I end up with a book by a writer named Colette. I don't know if that's what you mean, Maggie.

Aug 8, 2016, 6:54am Top

>53 connie53: I took out the word "The" at the beginning of the title, and now it works. Thanks for letting me know, connie.

Aug 10, 2016, 10:04pm Top

# 37 Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson. What a wonderful book! Some of the themes are familiar from Life After Life, here done in a somewhat more lighthearted, funny way.

Aug 13, 2016, 2:19pm Top

#38 Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson. This marks the end of the A's in my TBR. I loved this book, despite some relatively poor reviews. Maybe you need to have been doing an English degree in the 70s to get a lot of the allusions. Sure, it's rambling and pointless, but at the risk of sounding too much like one of the pretentious characters that Atkinson parodies, it's intertextually linked to Tristram Shandy--there is even an allusion to the marbled page.

Effie and Nora (ostensibly daughter and mother) entertain each other on a remote Scottish island with their life stories, interspersed with contributions from Effie and other students from the University of Dundee's creative fiction class. Wonderful characters, ridiculous situations. I loved it.

Aug 13, 2016, 2:23pm Top

>56 ipsoivan: That's a BB for me! (even though I have never read Tristram Shandy or have any desire to!)

Aug 14, 2016, 7:22am Top

>57 Jackie_K: Oh, Tristram Shandy is hilarious. As is Emotionally Weird if you lived through university in the 70s.

Aug 14, 2016, 6:17pm Top

#39 Collected Stories of Isaac Babel. I did try to get into this. I just found these stories kind of impenetrable and Pearl-ruled the book.

Aug 18, 2016, 7:34am Top

#40 The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami. A family in a small city in India with enough problems already trying to cope after the death of their daughter and the consequent arrival of their granddaughter from Canada. I really like this one.

Edited: Aug 25, 2016, 7:38am Top

#40 History: A Very Short Introduction and my 6th root for August. This was an interesting overview of the changes in historical methods and philosophies over the years, with some good stories thrown in.

Aug 26, 2016, 5:09pm Top

#41 A Whole Life. Beautiful and very moving in a really understated way. A real contrast to #42 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which is less story and more bravura bit of fun. My last 3 reads have been very short.

Aug 29, 2016, 5:52am Top

>56 ipsoivan:. Yes. a BB for me too. And by following the link I found 2 other books to complete my Dutch Kate Atkinson books. Now I have to find them or rather, ask my brother to find them.

Aug 29, 2016, 12:10pm Top

Hello! I couldn't possibly catch up on the threads after my crazy-long absence, but I just wanted to drop by and say hi :)

Edited: Aug 30, 2016, 1:05pm Top

>65 ipsoivan: so good to know you're back!

Edited: Aug 30, 2016, 1:16pm Top

Roots 43 and 44 completed. The Children at Green Knowe Collection contains The Children at Green Knowe and The River at Green Knowe, but I'm counting it as one, as they were purchased as a single e-copy. I also just finished The Women in Black by Madeleine St. John. All 3 were short and really fun.

This brings my total to 10 for August, but I dumped one book after 50 pp, and several of the others were quite short. I may even manage to sneak in another that I'm partway through that is also short.

Aug 30, 2016, 8:19pm Top

Well, I did manage to finish that short one that I was part way through. Young Adolf is my 45th root this year, and my 11th for August.

Sep 1, 2016, 7:06pm Top

Root 46, and my first for September, Mary Wesley's The Camomile Lawn. Clearly not in the right sequence for my reading my TBR from A-Z, but I wanted a comfort book. It was actually pretty sad, but quite engaging.

Sep 2, 2016, 3:23pm Top

>65 ipsoivan: nice to finally be back! :)

>66 ipsoivan: congrats! Great reading pace! Even if some were short & you ditched one... pulling a ROOT is pulling a ROOT :)

>67 ipsoivan: that sounds interesting.. how was it?

Sep 3, 2016, 9:19pm Top

>69 avanders: How was Young Adolf? I'm digesting still. I have to admit I didn't really like it. It's black comedy, and quite bleak--it was a bit of a hard go to finish, actually. I took time away to read some kids books.

It's not as if this is a brutal reading experience, as reading about Hitler's actual political career might have been. This is a fictionalized account that has Adolf in his late teens or early 20s going to live with his half-brother in Liverpool to escape the draft in Austria. He mostly just sleeps on the couch a lot and disturbs family life, but there are lots of totally out-there rages, both remembered from the brothers' memories of their father, and each of the brothers as well--precursors to what would come with Adolf. Worth reading? I'm not sure. I'm feeling quite ambivalent about Bainbridge at this point, having also started The Bottle Factory Outing and not making it past the mid point. I think my main response to these 2 works is that they are boring/weird. I did love According to Queeney, from much later in Bainbridge's career.

Sep 4, 2016, 7:22pm Top

#47, and my 2nd for Sept., The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. After I finished -- so reluctantly-- I checked the LibraryThing page, and found this to be an extraordinarily divisive book, with most reviewers coming out against it.

I was incredibly moved by this book. It's a fable about love, death, and forgetting, and explores the question of why, sometimes, we really do need to forget to survive.

Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple living in a post-Roman, post Arthurian-never-never Britain where ogres, pixies and dragons co-exist with Saxons, Picts and Britons, leave their village on a quest to find their son.

A mist has taken away most people's memories; Beatrice, in particular, worries about this, as she has heard a tale of an island that people are taken to where everyone wanders alone, sometimes sensing the presence of others but unable to communicate with them. But some rare loving couples manage to evade this fate: if they answer the ferryman's questions in the same way because they feel the same way about important memories, they will be allowed to be together on the island. Beatrice is not sure that she and Axl can pass this test if their memories of their long lives together are so evasive.

In their journey to find their son, Beatrice and Axl are told that a dragon has caused the forgetfulness mist to cover the country. Their journey then turns into a quest to not only find their son, but to somehow help kill the dragon. Along the way they meet the knight Gawain, who has been sent to slay the dragon, as well as the Saxon warrior Wistan, and a young boy, Edwin, who shows signs of becoming a celebrated warrior, but has a strange link to the dragon.

There are bonds between Axl and Beatrice, between the boy and the warrior, between the boy and his long-lost mother, between the dragon and its hawthorn bush, between Gawain and his horse, that are incredibly moving. The overall tone is very understated, even austere, and clearly a lot of people did not connect with it at all. For me a 5 star read.

Edited: Sep 5, 2016, 2:52pm Top

#48, my 3rd for Sept., The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge. I just could not compel myself to finish this book, finding it dreary. I know many admire her, including readers whose opinions I respect, but into my give away pile it goes, along with Young Adolf and maybe Every Man for Himself. Just not my cup of tea.

Sep 5, 2016, 3:25pm Top

Just as I was about to deposit Every Man for Himself into my give away pile, I opened it and started reading. This one looks like I'll enjoy it.

Sep 17, 2016, 1:18pm Top

>73 ipsoivan: LOL! And did you enjoy it?

Sep 18, 2016, 8:46am Top

>74 connie53: I still haven't finished it. I got distracted by another 2. I'll get back to it today and let you know.

Sep 18, 2016, 8:48am Top

#49 Earthly Powers and #50 The Long Ships. I remember enjoying Earthly Powers in my 20s, but this time around found it both trying too hard and dull. Into the donate pile. I did love The Long Ships--good fun.

Sep 19, 2016, 10:09pm Top

#51 Every Man for Himself. Bainbridge has me completely puzzled: some of her work I just cannot get along with, but with 2 of her novels, this one and According to Queeney, I was totally blown away. I'm so glad I rescued this from the give-away pile!

This one is about the maiden voyage of the Titanic, and we all know how that ended. What is so compelling about this novel is that what is foregrounded is the element of class unrest that the sinking of the Titanic stands in for, as well as the voice of the narrator. Amazing book, great characters.

Sep 22, 2016, 10:18am Top

>70 ipsoivan: Hmm, I can completely understand your difficulty with reading.. sounds like I would probably have the same issue :)

>71 ipsoivan: oh! That's on my "watch list" ;) Sounds like a book that I would probably also really enjoy :) I'm glad you did!

Edited: Oct 22, 2016, 7:01pm Top

Wow-- a whole month away. i've been reading, just not roots. Lots and lots of wonderful library books. I did go to a library sale today and got all the Anthony Powell A Dance to the Music of Time volumes that I was missing for $2 each, as well as A.B. Guthrie's The Big Sky. A wonderful haul. I may begin back at the beginning of the Powell series now that I've got them all, and work my way through them by the end of the year.

ETA: 13 library books read!! I still have a couple lined up, but then back to roots.
Listed here to keep track:

The Scent of Death--Andrew Taylor
A Spool of Blue Thread--Anne Tyler
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennesey--Rachel Joyce
Life, Only Better -- Anna Gabaldi
Slade House-- David Mitchell
Kitchen Confidential--Antony Bourdain
A Test of Wills--Charles Todd
A Long Shadow--Charles Todd
A Pale Horse--Charles Todd
A Far-Away Scent of Lemon--Rachel Joyce
Tortilla Flat--John Steinbeck
The Constant Gardener--John LeCarré
The Sense of an Ending--Julian Barnes

and soon to finish:
Americanah--Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Bell--Iris Murdoch

Nov 2, 2016, 11:34am Top

>79 ipsoivan: at least you've been reading in your absence.. can't say the same for myself ;P
Congrats on continued reading -- it's okay that it's library books :) Just enjoy the reading!!
& fun haul! looks like a great set!

Nov 2, 2016, 9:02pm Top

Thanks, ava. I have enjoyed my vacation away from my own shelves--and it continues with a new haul of library books. Hope all is well!

Nov 3, 2016, 1:16pm Top

>81 ipsoivan: lol It's so much fun going to the library and just perusing and taking... knowing it's not costing you anything! I'm glad you're enjoying it :)

Dec 1, 2016, 6:53am Top

I've read one more Root this month, Birdie by Tracey Lindberg. I've actually almost read it twice: once to figure out what is going on, the second time to take notes and absorb. Fascinating book.

Dec 1, 2016, 4:37pm Top

wow - I just read the blurb - I can see why you went through it more than once! Sounds intense...

Dec 2, 2016, 7:20pm Top

I'm not sure intense even begins to describe it. Dense. Puzzling. What I've realized is that the author has made a deliberate decision to reject any easy understanding of what is going on in the novel. We can't really be cultural tourists--you enter into the experience, or it tosses you out; but even if you enter into it, you can't really understand it.

Dec 5, 2016, 10:48am Top

>85 ipsoivan: Re this: " the author has made a deliberate decision to reject any easy understanding of what is going on" ... what an interesting decision!
It sounds like ... a kind of bizarre reading experience ... but, as you say, fascinating.

Dec 11, 2016, 9:52am Top

Another ROOT down, Dusty Answer by Rosamond Lehmann. On the shelf for years, but not worth the wait.

Dec 23, 2016, 10:39pm Top

Dec 24, 2016, 10:13pm Top

Thank you, Tess, and same to you!

Dec 27, 2016, 12:32pm Top

I missed your page too! A belated:

Dec 30, 2016, 10:02am Top

Thanks, ava. I see that you met your goal -- congratulations!

Jan 2, 2017, 7:10pm Top

Also, Happy New Year & see you in the new 2017 group!

Jan 2, 2017, 8:02pm Top

Actually, I'm not sure I'll be joining. I've jettisoned a LOT of books, and I'm not feeling any angst about not finishing those I now have. No guilt --> peaceful 2017 reading!

I'm sure I'll be checking back on all my friends from the group from time to time. I'll be excited to hear any news about the baby, so you know I'll be lurking!

Jan 2, 2017, 8:38pm Top

>93 ipsoivan: ooooh how nice! I debated for a while.. more because of everything else that's going on.. but I just reduced my goal to 12 ;)
Peaceful 2017 sounds wonderful!!
Looking forward to hearing from you in any event & enjoy your year!

Jan 3, 2017, 3:41am Top

>93 ipsoivan: It's so good to hear that it's actually possible to exit the program. I always thought of it more as an endless quest with an ever-moving target in the Horizon!

Jan 3, 2017, 6:25am Top

>93 ipsoivan: >95 Henrik_Madsen: Yeah, that's pretty much where I'm at too, I'm amazed that it's possible to be ROOT-guilt-free! I love the idea of it being a quest though! I will have to think of an epic reward, for if I ever reach that happy goal!

Jan 3, 2017, 12:07pm Top

>95 Henrik_Madsen: lol! "exit the program"
love it.


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