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Laytonwoman comes down to the wire-- (Thread Four for 2016)

75 Books Challenge for 2016

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Edited: Jan 3, 2017, 2:13pm Top

For those who do not know me yet, I am Linda, I'm 64, and I retired on December 31st, 2015. If you'd like the full story on that, you can go back to my first 2016 thread, post 1. This is my 10th year of keeping track of my reading here on LT; since 2009, I've done it in the 75 Book Challenge Group. Here are links to my previous reading threads:

Here is my first thread for 2015, and
the second and the third. I finished 2015 with this thread.

First thread for 2014.
Chapter Two is here.
And Chapter Three.
The Fourth and final chapter for 2014 is here.

This is my last thread for 2013.

My first thread for 2013 is here.

Here's where I began my 2012 reading record. And I continued with a second thread for 2012. Yet one more thread for 2012 can be found here.

My first 2011 thread is here. and Part Two and Third and final thread for 2011.

My 2010 reading thread can be found Here. and Here and

Links to my 2009 threads at Laytonwoman3rd ups the ante for 2009
and its spin-off here with yet another extension here.

My 50 Book Challenge thread for 2008 is here

This is my 2007 thread

Edited: Nov 7, 2017, 1:00pm Top

Total for the year: 113 books read; 98 books culled from the house; 37 ROOTS

Tickers removed due to McAfee warning about TickerFactory.com

Edited: Jun 2, 2017, 10:57am Top


I'm going to do this a bit differently this time. Instead of keeping the whole list of what I've read each month this year in this post, I'm just going to link back to the last thread where all that is documented. This post will be updated with what I read for the rest of the year.

Titles will link to the post where I commented on the book. ROOT means it's been on my shelf for a year or more; CULL means I gave it away or donated it to the library after reading. LOA means it was read from a Library of America edition; ML refers to a Modern Library small format edition (beloved by me); FOLIO means I read it from a Folio Society edition; SF means I read a Slightly Foxed edition. Library books are marked with an *. AUDIO is self-explanatory.

ETA 6-2-17 : All numbers from 94 on are off by one, because I somehow neglected to add
a book to this list in November, and then used 94 again on the next book I read, in the posts. SO, my actual reading total for 2016 is 113.


112. The One Way Bridge by Cathie Pelletier
111. The Clothing of Books by Jhumpa Lahiri NF
*110. Dancing in the Dark by Caryl Phillips BAC, DNF
109. Acastos by Iris Murdoch ROOT, CULL
108. The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester NF, ROOT, CULL
107. Thrush Green by Miss Read ROOT
106. Libra by Don DeLillo AAC
*105. The Poet's Dog by Patricia MacLachlan
104. The Quiet Don by Matt Birkbeck


103. Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard AAC, ROOT
*102. Robert B. Parker's Kickback by Ace Atkins
*101. The Trespasser by Tana French
*100. Taft by Ann Patchett
99. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan ROOT
98. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany
97. The Battle of the Villa Fiorita by Rumer Godden ROOT, BAC
DNF S. A Novel about the Balkans by Slavenka Drakulic ROOT, CULL
*96. The Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker


*95. Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
94. The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater ROOT, CULL, NF
94. {sic} Robert B. Parker's Blind Spot by Reed Farrell Coleman
DNF Still Here by Lara Vapnyar CULL
93. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon AAC, ROOT
92. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
91. The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys ROOT
*90. Cajun Waltz by Robert H. Patton
*89. My Father and Atticus Finch by Joseph Madison Beck NF
88. The Home Place by Wright Morris
87. Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee BAC, FOLIO

July, August and September lists can be found here.

April through June reading is documented in this post.

January through March lists can be found here.

Edited: Jun 6, 9:17am Top

Reading Challenges:

I'll keep track of my reading challenges here. I declare I don't want to over-plan my reading, but every year this group tempts me into yet another challenge. And then there are the well-meaning folks who aren't even members of LT who are always giving me lists to "help me out"...

I'm participating on some level with the American Authors Challengehosted by Mark msf59; with the British Authors Challenge hosted by Paul PaulCranswick; and with the Canadian Authors Challenge hosted by Ilana Smiler69. I have also committed to the group read of War and Peace beginning in January. EDIT: I must admit to having given up on War and Peace, possibly forever. I think this was my third try at reading it, and I tried two different translations this time. It just was not working for me.

AND, just for shits and giggles, I'll keep my hand in with the Non-Fiction Challenge for 2016.

2016 AAC
I will read nothing but ROOTS for this challenge in 2016; here's what I'm thinking so far:

January- Anne Tyler - finished Noah's Compass
February- Richard Russo - finished Mohawk
March- Jane Smiley - skipped Smiley
April- Poetry Month finished Donkey Gospel by Tony Hoagland, Nancy Willard's In the Salt Marsh and Mary Oliver's Blue Horses
May- Ivan Doig finished Work Song
June- Annie Proulx finished Bird Cloud
July- John Steinbeck finished The Winter of our Discontent
August- Joyce Carol Oates - finished The Museum of Dr. Moses
September-John Irving Didn't get around to Irving.
October- Michael Chabon - finished The Yiddish Policeman's Union
November- Annie Dillard - Finished Teaching a Stone to Talk
December-Don DeLillo - Finished Libra

2016 British Authors Challenge
I will be hit or miss with this one. Unlike the AAC, there are two authors per month, and I will probably read something by about half a dozen of them. I've linked the authors I have unread works by on my shelves, or whom I especially want to get acquainted with, and left the others in plain text:

January - Susan Hill finished The Bird of Night & Barry Unsworth
February :Agatha Christie & William Dalrymple finished Cat Among the Pigeons and read 3 Miss Marple short stories from The Tuesday Night Club series.
March : Ali Smith & Thomas Hardy finished Tess of the D'urbervilles
April : George Eliot & Hanif Kureishi Perhaps The Mill on the Floss
May : Jane Gardam & Robert Goddard Skipped; nothing on hand
June : Lady Antonia Fraser & Joseph Conrad selected short fiction finished "Youth" and "An Outpost of Progress"
July : Bernice Rubens & H.G. Wells Could not find my copy of Rubens The Elected Member If it turns up, I will still read it. Finished The Elected Member in December, 2017
August : Diana Wynne-Jones & Ian McEwan Used this as excuse to take a hard look at McEwan and decided I don't want to read any more of him; Finished Howl's Moving Castle
September : Doris Lessing & Laurie Lee Finished Cider With Rosie
October : Kate Atkinson & William Golding SKIPPING
November :Rebecca West & Len Deighton Ran out of time and didn't get to West.
December : WEST YORKSHIRE writers Caryl Phillips DNF Dancing in the Dark
Wildcard : Rumer Godden and George Orwell Finished The Battle of the Villa Fiorita

AND the Canadian Authors Challenge This is the one where I feel I have the most to discover. Again there are 2 authors for each month, and I have indicated those I may seek out or have on hand by giving them their links:

January: Robertson Davies, Kim Thúy finished Ru
February: Helen Humphreys, Stephen Leacock finished Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
March: Farley Mowat, Anita Rau Badami dipping into The Farfarers by Mowat
April: Margaret Atwood, Michael Crummey finished Surfacing by Atwood
May: Michel Tremblay, Emily St. John Mandel SKIPPING; nothing on hand
June: Timothy Findley, Joseph Boyden SKIPPING; nothing on hand
July: LM Montgomery, Pierre Berton SKIPPING; Picked up Anne of Green Gables for a re-read, but found I didn't really want to.
August: Mordechai Richler, Gabrielle Roy SKIPPING; nothing on hand
September: Miriam Toews, Dany Laferrière Finished A Complicated Kindness
October: Lawrence Hill, Jane Urquhart Finished The Book of Negroes /aka Someone Knows My Name by Hill
November: Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Laurence Skipping
December: Alice Munro, Rawi Hage

2016 Non-fiction Challenge:

January: Biography/Memoir/Autobiography
finished The Greater Journey by David McCullough

February: History Finished The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

March: Travel A Southerly Course by Martha Hall Foose Yes, I know it's a cookbook; I'm counting it as travel, since it took me to the Mississippi Delta.

April: Religion & Spirituality (Easter/Passover) Finished My Rebbe by Adin Steinsaltz

May: The Arts

June: Natural History/Environment/Health Finished Wolves & Honey by Susan Brind Morrow

July: Current Affairs Finished Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

August: Science/Technology/Medicine Finished The Knife Man by Wendy Moore

September: Philosophy/History of Ideas maybe The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater Didn't get to it. Bumping it into October.

October: Politics/Economics & Business/Commentary: Finished The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater

November: Essays Reading Loren Eiseley, selections from Volume I of the Library of America collection of his work. Will likely not finish a full "book".

December: Quirky/Who Knew? Finished The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

Edited: Jan 2, 2017, 3:46pm Top

Coming and Going:


I'm doing this thing...and it isn't making me feel better. I was hopeful of moving more books out than in this year, because the floor boards are creaking. As you can see, the numbers ain't co-operating.
# indicates this book was selected and purchased by flamingrabbit. It will show in his catalog and not in mine, but of course it will still be in the house, so it must be counted here.


1. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
2. The Siege by Helen Dunmore
3. The Gap of Time by Jeannette Winterson
4. His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
5. An Irish Country Love Story by Patrick Taylor
6. Absolutely On Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa by Murakami Haruki
7. Retro Photo: An Obsession
8. Overview by Benjamin Grant
9. The Secret History of WWII by Neil Kagan
10. Great Contemporaries by Winston Churchill
11. Clouds of Witnes by Dorothy L. Sayers
12. Carson McCullers: Stories, Plays and Other Writings
13. The Paper Moon by Andrea Camilleri
14. August Heat by Andrea Camilleri
15. Upstream by Mary Oliver
16. The Indian Wars National Geographic
17. Manhattan '45 by Jan Morris
18. Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
19. The Bill the Cat Story by Berkeley Breathed
20. Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes
21. Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart
22. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
23. The New Great American Writers Cookbook ed. by Dean Faulkner Wells


1. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
2. Crusoe's Daughter by Jane Gardam
3. The People on Privilege Hill by Jane Gardam
4. Blue Calhoun by Reynolds Price
5. May Sarton: A biography by Margot Peters
6. Collected Essays, Vol. 2 By Loren Eisely (LOA)
7. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
8. Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
9. The Collected Works of W. B. Yeats, Volume 1; The Poems

1. Collected Essays, Vol.1 By Loren Eisely (LOA)


1. Wind's in the West by Josephine Lawrence
2. The Home Place by Wright Morris
3. Mistress Bradstreet by Charlotte Gordon
4. Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides
5. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
6. Shakespeare, The World as Stage by Bill Bryson
7. Book Lust by Nancy Pearl
8. A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell
9. Memoirs of a Book Snake by David Meyer
10. Sand Sharks by Margaret Maron
11. Robert B. Parker's Blind Spot by Reed Farrel Coleman
12. # Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
13. # Dark Tower Concordance by Robin Furth
14. #When the Mob Ran Vegas by Steve Fischer
15. #Ian Fleming's Commandos by Nicholas Rankin
16. #The Great Pianists from Mozart to the Present by Harold C. Schonberg
17. #It by Stephen King
18. The Complete Novels (Everyman's Library) by Flann O'Brien
19. Fox Tracks by Rita Mae Brown
20. Libra by Don DeLillo
21. White Noise by Don DeLillo
22. Daughter of the Queen of Sheba by Jacki Lyden
23. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
24. Diners Drive-Ins and Dives by Guy Fieri
25. Nickel Mountain by John Gardner


1. In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul
2. The Passages of H. M. by Jay Parini
3. Why Poetry Matters by Jay Parini
4. Miss Zukas and the Island Murders by Jo Dereske
5. Miss Zukas and the Stroke of Death by Jo Dereske
6. Still Here by Lara Vapnyar LT ER
7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
8. Beloved Everyman's Library Edition by Toni Morrison


1. Pax by Sara Pennypacker
2. Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick
3. Papa Gatto by Ruth Sanderson
4. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
5. Gator Gumbo by Candace Fleming


1. Reading Henry James by Louis Auchincloss
2. Mind You, I've Said Nothing! by Honor Tracy
3. The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham
4. Mystery Mile by Margery Allingham
5. The State of Music & Other Writings by Virgil Thomson
7. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye


1. Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers & Swells ed. by Graydon Carter
2. The Letters of Abigail Adams LOA
3. The Exorcism of Page 13 by Caryl Burtner
4. As Good As Gone by Larry Watson LT ER
5. Whose Names Are Unknown by Sanora Babb
6. An Owl on Every Post by Sanora Babb


1. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
2. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
3. American Gospel by Jon Meacham
4. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
5. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
6. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
7. The Life of Rembrandt by Hendrik Van Loon
8. The Interrogation by J. M. G. LeClezio
9. On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry
10. Limitations by Scott Turow
11. Adam Bede by George Eliot
12. The Virgin and the Gipsy by D. H. Lawrence (Folio)
13. Complete Short Stories Vol. 1 by D. H. Lawrence
14. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
15. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
16. The Farmer's Daughter by Jim Harrison
17. The Woman Lit By Fireflies by Jim Harrison
18. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
19. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (Folio)
20. Beyond the Style Manual, Bundle #1 by Laura E. Koons, Kris James and Stefanie Spangler Buswell
21. The Hiding Place by Robert Shaw


1. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
2. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
3. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
4. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
5. National Velvet by Enid Bagnold
6. The Peddler's Grandson by Edward Cohen
7. Clear Pictures by Reynolds Price
8. When the Thrill is Gone by Walter Mosley
9. Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
10. The Disappearing Dictionary by David Crystal
11. Marrying Out by Harold Carlton
12. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
13. John Adams: Writings from the New Nation 1784-1826
14. The Shoe Bird by Eudora Welty


1. The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer
2. The Traitors' Gate by Avi
3. I'm the King of the Castle by Susan Hill
4. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
5. Everything in This Country Must by Colum McCann
6. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff Slightly Foxed edition
7. The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner
8. From a Cornish Window by "Q" i.e. Arthur T. Quiller-Couch
9. Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner
10. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler


1. Shylock is My Name by Howard Jacobson from LT's ER program
2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens; a lovely Franklin Library edition with some rare 1855 illustrations. From my library's sale shelf ($2.!)
3. John James Audubon; The Making of an American by Richard Rhodes Also from the library's sale shelf.
4. Noonday by Pat Barker
5. A Slant of Light by Jeffrey Lent
6. Murder Out of Turn by Frances and Richard Lockridge

BOOKS CULLED in 2016 :
(Not all of these will be books I read...if I decided I'd never read it, or never re-read it, or if my husband culled it, or if my daughter re-claimed something of hers that's always been here, I'm counting it!)


1. The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
2. Acastos by Iris Murdoch


1. S. by Slavenka Druklic


1. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much
2. Still Here by Lara Vapnyar
3. The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater


1.-19. Box of Time-Life "Enchanted World" series books that have been in the attic forever, and no one read them to begin with;
20. The Authenticator by William M. Valtos
21. Horseshoes, Cowsocks & Duckfeet by Baxter Black
22. Old Betty Crocker Cookbook
23. Pillsbury Bake-Off Cookbook
24. Low Cholesterol cooking cookbook
25. Emily Post (from 1970's)
26. Astrology by Louis MacNiece
27. The Dog Care Manual by David Alderton
28.-33. Box of Laura's books that have always lived here, including her Gardners and a few other hardcovers.
34. Sand Sharks by Margaret Maron (bought copy when I had already read it, so donated it immediately to library sale).


1. Tsotsi by Athol Fugard Pearl-ruled
2. Emerson The Basic Writings of America's Sage very old paperback;
Emerson fully treated by LOA
3. Beloved paperback, replaced by Everyman hardcover edition
4. The Sociopath Next Door


1. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
2. Death's Half Acre by Margaret Maron
3. The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck (hardcover Viking
edition, duplicated in LOA)
4. Victorian Outsider by Roy McMullen
5. Trouble for Lucia by E. F. Benson
6. Queen Lucia by E. F. Benson
7. Miss Mapp by E. F. Benson
8. Living Out Loud by Anna Quindlen
9. Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. ross
10. Miss Julia Takes Over by Ann B. Ross
11. Miss Julia Throws a Wedding by Ann B. Ross
12. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
13. The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean Pearl-ruled
14. Saturday by Ian McEwan
15. Atonement by Ian McEwan


1. The Portable Mark Twain
2. Uncle Tom's Children by Richard Wright
3. Alexander's Bridge by Willa Cather
4. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
5. Collected Stories of William Faulkner
6. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
7. The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad
8. One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty
9. The Unvanquished by William Faulkner
(All of the above June titles are duplicated in my library somewhere, and so I donated these copies to the Indian Valley School Library in Northern California.)
10. Letters Between Six Sisters, The Mitfords


1-6. Miscellaneous useless books that had not even made it into my catalog, but were taking up space and putting stress on the attic floor.


1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
2. My Rebbe by Adin Steinsaltz


1. A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva
2. National Velvet by Enid Bagnold (old Scholastic paperpack replaced)
3. The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin
4. Roughing It by Mark Twain Konemann Travel Classics*
5. A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain Konemann Travel Classics*
6. Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain Konemann Travel Classics*

* These are nifty little editions with great covers, but I found the print akin to a grayed-out option on a web page, i.e., not easy on the eyes. Since I have all of Twain in LOA, as well as some treasured college paperbacks, I decided to part with these three.


1. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff paperback copy
2. Mohawk by Richard Russo (given away)
3. Hiding My Candy by The Lady Chablis


1. The Devil's Workshop By Alex Grecian
2. Primo Levi's Resistance by Sergio Luzzatto
3. The Bird of Night by Susan Hill
4. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's Magic by Betty MacDonald
5. War and Peace Pevear & Volokhonsky translation
6. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (inferior duplicate copy)
7. Maconaquah's Story by Kitty Dye
8. Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (old ratty pb, not in catalog)

Edited: Oct 3, 2016, 8:40pm Top

I am nearly finished reading Cider With Rosie, by Laurie Lee, for the September BAC. What with traveling and visiting, I didn't read as much in September as I usually do. Hoping to do better this month, and catch up on some challenges.

Edited: Oct 3, 2016, 11:48pm Top

At your recommendation, Linda, I going to work my way through the Easy Rawlins books in order. I read Devil in a Blue Dress in March and finished A Red Death on the weekend. I have White Butterfly in the TBR pile atop the tall chest in the bedroom. Have to shop for Black Betty. Etcetera etcetera etcetera.

Tip o' the hat.

ETA: Sooo much listingness. Lordy.

Oct 4, 2016, 7:04am Top

Lovely new thread, Linda!

Oct 4, 2016, 8:18am Top

Happy New Thread, Linda! Hope you enjoy your Chabon selection. I liked that one.

Edited: Oct 4, 2016, 9:45am Top

>7 weird_O: Congratulations, Bill...you're my first visitor!

It seems you are enjoying Easy's adventures. That's good.

And I know...about the list thing....it kind of got away from me. And I didn't even move all of them over to this thread.

Oct 4, 2016, 9:16am Top

>8 scaifea: Thanks, Amber!

> Hey, there, Mark. Welcome. I have had The Yiddish Policeman's Union around for years, now. I'm looking forward to it.

Oct 4, 2016, 9:39am Top

I've been cooking, now that the weather turned cooler. Leg o' lamb followed by Shepherd's Pie from the leftovers.

Edited: Oct 4, 2016, 9:42am Top

87. Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee. Just beautiful...a memoir of childhood that ranks right up there with A Child's Christmas in Wales and A House in Flanders.

Oct 4, 2016, 9:49am Top

Happy new thread, Linda! The leg of lamb and shepherd's pie look delightful.

Oct 4, 2016, 9:58am Top

>14 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl. Wish you could have been here to share. Here are the photos I promised of dinner at The Press Room in Shepherdstown, WV (do you sense a common thread?). The rack of lamb was my husband's choice. Mine was grilled duck breast on a duck confit hash. We were not told what the greens were, but they were tender and delicious; the pink item was pickled onion.

(focus not too good on the duck---I think I was shaking from hunger and anticipation)

Edited: Oct 4, 2016, 10:01am Top

>15 laytonwoman3rd: Fabulous! I love lamb and duck, as you probably know, and I would have been in heaven having your lamb, or the lamb and/or duck in Shepherdstown. I'll have to come back to look at those photos later, as I'll appreciate them much more when I'm feeling better.

Oct 4, 2016, 11:10am Top

>12 laytonwoman3rd:, >15 laytonwoman3rd: OMG I am starving. This did not help.

Oct 4, 2016, 11:35am Top

How will I ever lose weight if you keep up that level of culinary eye-candy?!

Happy new thread Linda.

I am so pleased that you enjoyed Cider with Rosie which remains an all-time favourite of mine.

Oct 4, 2016, 12:16pm Top

Mmmmm. Shepard's Pie!

Oct 4, 2016, 3:31pm Top

Happy New Thread, Linda!

I'm another fan of Cider with Rosie. Glad you had a good time with it.

Oct 4, 2016, 3:48pm Top

As a pescatarian I leave the shepherd out of the pie!

Happy new thread Linda.

Oct 5, 2016, 6:36am Top

Oh gosh, that food looks amazing!
And I need to get round to rosie and the cider soon.

Edited: Oct 6, 2016, 1:20pm Top

Glad to see I got everyone's mouths watering (with the possible exception of Caroline---I don't know about fish pie, except for that scene in Ladies in Lavender with the very-unappetizing Stargazey pie...). Now, back to books!

Edited: Oct 7, 2016, 4:02pm Top

88. The Home Place by Wright Morris I picked this up recently at Too Many Books, in Roanoke, VA, a wonderful used book shop that also has some very pricey special volumes. This one wasn't expensive, but it was packaged in a plastic sleeve, suggesting there was something special about it, and that certainly proved to be the case.

It is an inspired combination of text and photographs (black & white) telling the story of a family's visit to the father's "home place", a farm where he spent summers as a child, and where his aged relatives, whom he hasn't seen in nearly 30 years, still live. It takes place shortly after WWII, and for reasons that are not explained the visiting family is homeless, having left New York City with "no place to go". They contemplate moving into an empty house across the road from the home place. It is wrenching in its reality, its celebration of the stark beauty of ordinary, worn and tired objects and people; and it is full of dark humor, as when the two young children, totally out of their element, encounter fly paper for the first time, and become so totally entangled and stuck up that they must have their hair completely cut off, and their poor bald heads covered with straw hats before their mother catches sight of them. This is fiction, but it feels like documentary, with each page of text faced with a photo. On the other hand, at times the poetry of this work took my breath away, largely because there is a "home place" in my life that in my youth was still about a half century behind the times, and some of my most vivid memories are rooted there. This quote from the novel speaks very loudly to me: "The word beauty is not a Protestant thing. It doesn't describe what there is about an old man's shoes. The Protestant word for that is character. Character is supposed to cover what I feel about a cane-seated chair, and the faded bib...of an old man's overalls. Character is the word, but it doesn't cover the ground. It doesn't cover what there is moving about it, that is. I say these things are beautiful, but I do so with the understanding that mighty few people anywhere will follow what I mean. That's too bad. For this character is beautiful...there's something about these man-tired things, something added, that is more than character."

I was not familiar with Wright Morris before, but I will seek out more of his work. He has won the National Book Award, and was a correspondent with Muriel Spark for many years...he clearly needs to be warbled about a little.

Edited: Oct 7, 2016, 4:31pm Top

89. My Father and Atticus Finch by Joseph Madison Beck. A son's exploration of a case that presented his parents (as yet unmarried) with an ethical dilemma long before his birth. Joseph Madison Beck researched the arrest, trial and execution of a black man accused of raping a white woman in South Alabama in 1938. There are some parallels to the story line of To Kill a Mockingbird, and Harper Lee may have heard something of this case as a child (she was 12 years old when it was happening), but when asked decades later she acknowledged the similarities but said she had no recollection of knowing about it. Regardless of whether she did or didn't, the differences are really more striking than the similarities. The defendant, Charles White, was a "healer" and fortune teller from Detroit, had a criminal history, and was no Tom Robinson. He was neither deferential nor sympathetic; refused to accept his counsel's advice, and chose to take a chance on receiving the death penalty rather than accepting a plea bargain that would have saved his life. The alleged victim was a 20 year old woman whose mental age was purported by her attorneys to be no more than 12, removing any question of her ability to consent to whatever may have happened between her and White. Unlike Mayella Ewell in the novel, who was never examined by a doctor, she was examined, and medical testimony established that she was unbloodied, unbruised, and still a virgin immediately after the "attack". Foster Beck was not an established successful attorney; he was young, unmarried, with his career yet to be made. Sadly, his agreement to act as Charles White's defense attorney, and his persistent efforts on White's behalf, including appealing his conviction to the Alabama Supreme Court, probably ruined any chance of a prosperous future in private practice in his home territory. White was well protected by the local Sheriff and a large contingent of State Police officers during his imprisonment and trial.

The author was hampered by not having begun his research into the case until his parents and many of the other participants were no longer available; letters that might have filled in holes in the history had not been saved. The public record was nearly all he had to go on. I found it a bit disturbing that he occasionally let his own surmises about significant unrecorded conversations guide his narrative. That must often be true of narrative non-fiction, but it was not particularly skillfully managed here. He includes a lot of family history of both his parents, which was mildly interesting, but not especially illuminating, and he was often pointedly repetitious to the point of insulting the reader's intelligence.

Although I read through this book quickly, and found it interesting as documentation of a failure of justice, my family will understand what I mean when I say this is another case of proving that Mark Twain was not Little Big Man. A weak 3 stars.

Oct 7, 2016, 4:32pm Top

Happy new thread, Linda. That last book sounds like it could have been interesting. It's a shame it wasn't more well done.

Oct 7, 2016, 4:35pm Top

>26 tymfos: There just wasn't quite enough solid information here to fill a book, Terri.

Oct 8, 2016, 11:31pm Top

>25 laytonwoman3rd: Failures of justice madden. Failures of reportage sadden. Your happy weekend will of course gladden.

Oct 9, 2016, 6:51pm Top

>28 PaulCranswick: Well said, sir! My weekend did indeed gladden, as I was privileged to share a trip to the pumpkin patch and farm attraction with my niece, her husband and their two beautiful little girls.

Oct 9, 2016, 6:55pm Top

90. Cajun Waltz by Robert Patton. A page turner with soooooo many intertwined plot elements and character connections that I could never begin to summarize the story line. It involves love and betrayal and longing and death and disappointment, and the only people who end up happy are....well, that would be telling. It was a good entertaining read set in Southeast Louisiana in the late '40's and early '50's.

Oct 9, 2016, 7:48pm Top

Oct 10, 2016, 12:31am Top

>4 laytonwoman3rd: "I declare I don't want to over-plan my reading, but every year this group tempts me into yet another challenge."
I'm already promising myself not to over-commit to challenges in 2017, to let my reading be a bit more laissez-faire. We'll see how I do. Heh.

The photos of your grandnieces at the pumpkin patch are adorable! Two lovely children.

The Home Place sounds good and I will look for it. I will skip My Father and Atticus Finch.

Have a great week, Linda!

Oct 10, 2016, 6:44am Top

Oh, what sweet little girls! Thanks for sharing!

Oct 11, 2016, 4:23pm Top

>29 laytonwoman3rd: Great pics, Linda! How great. Thanks for posting them.

Edited: Oct 12, 2016, 10:52am Top

91.The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys . A lovely, poignant story of a horticulturalist assigned to a oversee a group of Land Girls in clearing ground and raising produce on an English manor during WWII. Many thanks to The Warblers up there in >9 msf59: and >34 jnwelch: for putting me on to this one.

Oct 12, 2016, 11:37am Top

Linda, looks like you and relatives had a great daye at the farm. I have been enjoying your summaries of books that are outside of my usual reading circle. Except for Martha Grimes--I've read a few Richard Jury books, but pretty scattershot about it.

>35 laytonwoman3rd: Reminds me of an episode of Foyle's War. I dog-sat for a friend in August and got to experience Netflix for the first time. So I decided to watch the whole series in order (except for the final season). Love, love, love the show. Anyway, "They Fought in the Fields" from season 3 features Land Army girls clearing land and planting on one of those farms.

Oct 12, 2016, 12:02pm Top

>35 laytonwoman3rd: I hop over to your thread for the first time in ages, and I'm immediately hit by a BB. Dunno whether this means I should visit more often...

Oct 12, 2016, 12:14pm Top

>36 justchris: Welcome, Chris. I keep meaning to watch Foyle's War...I know I have it on my Netflix list. The Land Girls have interested me for some time, and I'd like to know more about them. There was a BBC TV series about them, I believe. And we also had a version of the Women's Land Army here in the US during WWII.

>37 qebo: Well, OF COURSE you should visit more often. Wear your Kevlar vest if you're too concerned!

Oct 12, 2016, 2:51pm Top

The photo at the top does make me smile.

Oct 14, 2016, 6:39pm Top

>39 Caroline_McElwee: Good! Those little doodads grace the top of my small format Modern Library Faulkners. I know you understand about such lovelies.

Edited: Oct 14, 2016, 7:09pm Top

92. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye Somebody warbled about this one to such an extent that I felt compelled to buy it, but I did not make note of who that was. So if anyone wants to take the credit, pipe up, because I absolutely loved this homage to (one might say parody of) Jane Eyre. From the counterpoint names (air and steel) to the "Reader, I murdered him" line, which grabbed me by the curiosity, I was delighted and tore through 400 pages in record time. Calling Jane Steele a "serial killer" is very misleading; she is no psychopath. Nor is she a victim of anything but occasional bouts of self-doubt. She is an orphan whose circumstances often mirror Jane Eyre's misfortunes, but the outcomes are wildly different. She is in every way bolder and more resourceful than her namesake, and way more fun to read about. To begin, Jane falls under the care of her nasty Aunt Patience and is tormented by her nastier cousin Edwin, whose perverted advances lead her to give him a mighty shove, thereby beginning her career as a murdereress. The basic framework of the story follows Jane Eyre in many broad particulars, but the plot is full of marvelous variations, upside down elements (in JE there's something peculiar going on in the attic--in JS, one must not go into the basement;) and other surprises. If you've never read JE, fear not...JS is a cracking good read even if you make none of the connections at all, and Miss Steele herself points out a thing or two to the reader as she goes along, because Jane Eyre is her favorite book.

I understand the author has a crime series set in 19th century New York City---I'll be hunting those down, as I really like her style.

Oct 14, 2016, 8:39pm Top

I liked Jane Steele, too, and I know Suz was another fan. Also another warbler - I cant remember who. It was good fun. Ive read the first of her mystery series, and it was also a great read.

Oct 15, 2016, 3:42pm Top

>29 laytonwoman3rd: That looks like a very happy time!

Oct 15, 2016, 5:14pm Top

>42 katiekrug: Might have been Joe or Mark, too. I see they both have it in their catalogs, and Becca reviewed it favorably. I need to keep closer track of such things.

>43 RBeffa: Those two make me happy, that's for sure!

Oct 16, 2016, 6:20pm Top

Jane Steele looks like a fun read, Linda! I'll keep an eye out for it and for others by Lyndsay Faye, of whom I've never heard.

Oct 17, 2016, 3:03am Top

Great book haul on your previous thread, Linda. I have a couple of those Lyndsay Faye books on the shelf and I hear they are good. I need to get to Gods of Gotham soon.

Oct 18, 2016, 12:26am Top

>12 laytonwoman3rd: a perfect use for a leg o' lamb! Lamb has been getting cheaper and cheaper in New Zealand, but I have still yet to cook myself a leg.

Great kid and pumpkin pics up there, so many pumpkins! Do I see a pumpkin pie in your future?

Oct 18, 2016, 6:54am Top

Morning Linda! I was not the first to read Jane Steele but I did warble about it. She did a great job. Roberta is a fan too.

Yes, try to track down her The Gods of Gotham book. It is also very good.

Glad you liked The Lost Garden. i liked it too.

Edited: Oct 18, 2016, 9:42am Top

>48 msf59: You should probably always be my prime suspect, Mark!

>47 LovingLit: Oh, give it a try----it's not a bit difficult, and so wonderful! There is also quite a lot of Scotch Broth soup in my freezer made from the bone---maybe I'll manage to take a picture of a bowl of that next time I serve it.

>46 Familyhistorian: I'm still suffering the hangover from all those new books....can't figure out where they're going to "live" til I get around to reading them.

>45 EBT1002: Well, consider yourself struck by my BB!

Oct 18, 2016, 11:17am Top

Hi, Linda. Yes, I was one of those who enjoyed Jane Steele, too. And The Lost Garden. I've become a big Helen Humphreys fan. I also liked Gods of Gotham, and look forward to reading more of Timothy Wilde's adventures.

Oct 18, 2016, 11:41am Top

>41 laytonwoman3rd: Jane Steele is getting a lotta buzz on the threads and the crime series looks good too... BBs in abundance.

Oct 18, 2016, 5:01pm Top

>50 jnwelch: AHA! You and Mark are in cahoots, then. No surprise there.

>51 qebo: We're all dangerous, aren't we?

Oct 19, 2016, 12:10pm Top

I've seen Lyndsay Faye at the library a number of times but never gave the books a look. Maybe I should fix that!

>48 msf59: The Gods of Gotham and The Lost Garden both look like books I would enjoy.

Oct 22, 2016, 6:04am Top

>53 RBeffa: Ron got me interested there but I realised eventually he was talking about the books and not the person!

Have a splendid weekend, Linda.

Oct 22, 2016, 1:18pm Top

>54 PaulCranswick: you gave me a chuckle. A rather misleading sentence I wrote.

Oct 22, 2016, 1:25pm Top

>53 RBeffa:, 54, >55 RBeffa: Hey...she could have been at the library---why not? Reminds me of a joke Myron Cohen used to tell, about a man and wife at a cocktail party, a little out of their league. Someone was discussing Mozart, and the wife said "Ah, Mozart. I know him well. In fact, just the other day I saw him on the No. 5 bus going to the beach." Naturally there was a shocked silence. When they got home the husband said to the wife "What's wrong with you? You don't know when to keep your mouth shut! You know very well the No. 5 bus doesn't go to the beach!"

Oct 23, 2016, 11:58pm Top

Just saying hi, Linda. I hope you're doing well and that you have a great week ahead!

Oct 24, 2016, 12:00pm Top

>57 EBT1002: Hi, Ellen! Thanks for stopping by.

Edited: Nov 1, 2016, 5:18pm Top

93. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon A quirky, often very funny venture into alternative history and detective fiction from a master storyteller. This novel is set in the fictional Federal District of Sitka, which was established in Alaska by the US as a refuge for Polish and Russian Jews escaping the impending Holocaust (which consequently only resulted in the death of two million Jews). Apparently there actually was a proposal to do such a thing in the late '30's, but it was given a big thumbs down by Alaska's Territorial Delegate to the House of Representatives, so it never became a reality. Chabon solves that problem by having the gentleman run over in a traffic accident.

With the subsequent collapse of the infant State of Israel in 1948, Sitka in effect became the long-sought Jewish homeland. Our cast of characters here include ultra orthodox Jews of a villainous sort; police detectives faced with the execution-style death of an unfortunate young man once believed to be the messiah of his generation; and mysterious government agency types whose motives are murky but suspect. In the great Jewish tradition, naturally this Alaskan homeland is turning out to be only temporary; sixty years after its creation, it is scheduled to revert to Native control, and its inhabitants will be citizens of nowhere, with an uncertain future. Orders are that there must be no open cases left on anyone's desk when this occurs, and the preferred means of closing them is to be "effective resolution", a phrase the detectives understand to mean they shouldn't waste their time seeking the truth.

Chabon's imagination is really fine; this was an engrossing reading experience, full of wry humor. Not exactly literary fiction, but certainly not your average genre murder mystery either. If it were the latter, it would make a fine first entry in a series-- I would really love to know what the future holds for Meyer Landsman, his ex-wife and current commanding officer Bina Gelbfish, and his half-Indian cousin/partner Berko Shemets.

Oct 26, 2016, 12:33pm Top

Jane Steele sounds like a lot of fun. I am very familiar with Jane Eyre, having read it multiple times and written term papers about it in high school and college. I've read one of Lyndsay Faye's series books, and don't remember much about it. But this sounds worth looking into.

Edited: Oct 26, 2016, 8:30pm Top

>60 tymfos: Ooooh....I think you'd love picking through Jane Steele for the bits she co-opted and tweaked. I'm sure you'd find lots that I overlooked. It's been a few years since I last read Jane Eyre, and I never went academic with it.

Edited: Oct 26, 2016, 8:41pm Top

94. Robert B. Parker's Blind Spot by Reed Farrel Coleman This is the first of Coleman's contributions to the Jesse Stone franchise. He made no attempt to emulate Parker's writing style, and this story is somewhat richer and more complex---certainly less dialog-driven---than either Parker or Brandman's were, but his Jesse is authentic. In Blind Spot, Jesse faces some very old demons---the loss of his baseball career and the girl he thought might be "the One" before an injury robbed him of the future he had planned. Lots of interesting characters here, a potential recurring love interest, and an alarming loose end that will lead us all by the nose into the next installment.

Edited: Oct 27, 2016, 12:44pm Top

DNF Still Here by Lara Vapnyar I dislike baling on an LT ER selection, but I simply could not read this one. I couldn't even get to page 50, although I tried talking myself into that. The first 40 pages were tedious, uninspired back story about 4 Russian immigrants whose lives I suppose we are meant to take an interest in. This read like a laundry list of what had happened to these shallow people up to their mid-30's, including all past "relationships", some of which intersected--there was no narrative flair to it at all. Let's imagine the TV series "Friends" with older characters who have learned nothing in the last decade, and lack the physical attractiveness, wit, zany humor and occasional loveable-ness of Ross, Rachel and the gang. In the past, I read and enjoyed Vapnyar's short fiction collection, There Are Jews in My House, which led me to request a copy of this novel. Unfortunately, it just wasn't working or promising me anything. Life is too short for this.

Edited: Oct 27, 2016, 4:06pm Top

>12 laytonwoman3rd: It's cold, bleak and windy today. Just the time for some of the Scotch Broth soup I made from that lamb bone---this was the last of it from the freezer.

Oct 28, 2016, 10:19pm Top

>62 laytonwoman3rd: Mmm, soup. It's soup weather here too. Have a great weekend, Linda.

Oct 29, 2016, 11:17am Top

>65 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Meg. There's a new pot of turkey soup simmering now, and I'm about to mix up some oatmeal bread to go with it. I really could live on bread and soup for a long time.

Oct 29, 2016, 2:33pm Top

Bread, with lots two of good butter, and soup is one of my very favorite things...

Oct 29, 2016, 2:37pm Top

One of my favorite things about fall and winter... homemade soup and crusty bread. Yum.

Oct 29, 2016, 3:42pm Top

>41 laytonwoman3rd: Jane Steele sounds like a fun book. I've added it to my never-ending list. I read Jane Eyre ages ago and really didn't understand why people loved it so much. I had the same reaction to Wuthering Heights. I really didn't get why the characters behaved the way they did.

>59 laytonwoman3rd: I read The Yiddish Policemen's Union back when I was working my way through all of the Hugo award winners for best novel. I haven't read any of his other books. I appreciated his writing talent and this imaginative alternative history and the concepts he explored. His prose was amazing, but also just ugly. But then, I've never understood the appeal of pug dogs either.

So, all of that is to say these books have shown me the limits of my own imagination and aesthetic sensibilities.

I haven't read any of the Jesse Stone books, just watched the movies. Sounds like the books are worth exploring too.

>64 laytonwoman3rd: The Scotch broth soup looks very, very tasty. Had a terrible cold all week and been longing for soup. A friend is bringing me oxtail soup tomorrow. Thanks for sharing the lovely food pix.

Oct 29, 2016, 4:58pm Top

>67 katiekrug:, >68 NanaCC: Well, the bread didn't get made. Maybe tomorrow. But as the soup isn't for today either, maybe it's OK.

>69 justchris: "I've never understood the appeal of pug dogs either" Hmmm....me either. But I wouldn't necessarily call Chabon's prose "ugly". Some of the situations, yes. I've read a couple of his other books, and while I wouldn't call him a favorite author of mine, I find him quite worth my time.

I've loved the Jesse Stone movies, and am sorry there haven't been more of them. I know Tom Selleck has been trying to get another outlet for Jesse and the gang since CBS dropped them. If you do explore the books, you'll find some divergence in the story lines, though.

Oct 30, 2016, 9:55am Top

Ooof, that soup and bread sound wonderful. And count me in as a Chabon fan - I need to get back to more of his stuff soon.

Oct 30, 2016, 2:55pm Top

Bread is rising now, and almost ready for the oven.

A little Challenge assessment, because it's easy to calculate percentages in October (e.g. 8 out of 10 = 80%)

I am currently at
80% with the American Authors Challenge
70% with the British Authors Challenge
50% with the Canadian Authors Challenge (or will be when I finish Somebody Knows My Name, today or tomorrow)
80% with the Non-Fiction Challenge

I'm fairly happy with these numbers, and will be reading at least one more book for each challenge before the year is out.

Oct 30, 2016, 11:18pm Top

94. The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater Finished this for the Non-Fiction Challenge. It could fit in either September or October, and is a very interesting and somewhat unsettling look at the philosophy (not sure what "conscience" really has to do with it) of a man who had hopes of occupying the White House. His view of the world, and the United States' place in it, could have taken us in a very different direction domestically and globally. He advocated the withdrawal of federal involvement in a "whole series of programs that are outside its constitutional mandate" including education, agriculture, public power and urban renewal; he favored a flat rate for income tax, and the development of a "variety of small, clean nuclear weapons" with which to meet the threat of Communism. (If anyone knows what those weapons would be, you're one up on this kid.) He proposed making participation in Social Security voluntary, and opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which he viewed as an intrusion of the federal government into matters properly left to the individual states. (Despite this position, he later became a proponent of legalized abortion and gay rights, and took great exception to the growing influence of the religious right on the Republican Party.) In 1964, the electorate found Senator Goldwater too right-wing and/or too immoderate for its taste, and Lyndon Johnson soundly defeated him. Goldwater is a fascinating historical figure, and I'd love to read a biography of him written by someone like David McCullough. (No, not someone like McCullough...)

Nov 2, 2016, 10:31am Top

Goldwater was a very interesting person especially with the views you have outlined then standing up for abortion and gay rights. I didn't remember that he did that.

Nov 2, 2016, 3:45pm Top

>74 Familyhistorian: There is a biography by Robert Goldberg (not familiar with his work) which is pretty well-reviewed. I may seek out a used copy or see if my library has it.

Edited: Nov 3, 2016, 9:47am Top

95. Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill I read this for the Canadian Authors Challenge; its title outside the USA was originally The Book of Negroes, because the main character is employed for a time registering names and a few personal details of black people who had been loyal to the British crown during the American Revolution, and who were promised freedom and land in Nova Scotia. The actual historical document referred to as Book of Negroes is one of the very few sources of information on black Americans of that time period. This novel features an African girl named Aminata Diallo, who was abducted around 1756 at the age of 11 and force-marched with other captives from her village in West Africa to the coast of Sierra Leone, where she was shipped to the British colony of South Carolina. Aminata's father, a Muslim, had taught her to read and write some prayers in Arabic, and her mother, a midwife, had begun training her to "catch babies". With these skills to offer, Aminata lives a life which is often more that of a servant than a slave; she is rarely beaten or confined after arriving in America, many of her owners treat her with a measure of respect, and in some circles she is admired as a teacher and midwife. Nevertheless, her status is never that of a free woman and her soul is never at rest. She loses a mentor, a husband, her children, but never loses her dream of returning to the village of her childhood and the freedom she knew there. This is almost Roots in reverse---rather than a modern descendant of slaves seeking to learn his family's history we have a victim of the slave trade seeking to return herself to her original home. Upon arrival on the North American continent Aminata is puzzled to be referred to as an "African", as she knows only the names of a handful of villages and a river in her homeland; the concept of "Africa" means nothing to her, and the Atlantic Ocean is simply an enormous terrifying river beyond imagining, which she has managed to cross without dying as so many others died. Later, when she has an opportunity to look at maps of the "Dark Continent", she finds much of it is quite unknown to the mapmakers as well. Aside from a few coastal locations, there are no names on the maps, merely drawings of elephants, bare-breasted women, birds and apes. Although Aminata is not based on any historical figure, there are "real people" in the novel, including Moses Wilkinson, Samuel Fraunces, and the abolitionist brothers Thomas and John Clarkson. Other characters are more loosely connected to people who did exist. I enjoyed this story quite a lot; it is fortified with extensive historical research about a time and a group of people that I had not known about previously. Occasionally, when outside the story thinking about it, I felt that Aminata's life was a bit too strange for fiction...the kind of thing that only makes sense if it really happened. In order for her to serve as the narrator of her own story, she had to be personally involved in many different events in several locations, and be particularly well-informed for a slave. For the most part, the author did a fine job accommodating this need without stretching my credulity too heavily. One late development (her reunion with her daughter), however, struck me as utterly improbable and unrealistic, as though the author had felt the need to bring the story round to a relatively happy ending.

Nov 3, 2016, 4:54am Top

Great review of Someone Knows My Name, Linda!

Nov 3, 2016, 9:37am Top

>77 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl. Except that I made Hill British to begin with; I've edited it now to correct that!

Nov 3, 2016, 12:10pm Top

>76 laytonwoman3rd: Good review, Linda, I read it last month.
What struck me most was how the writer made me feel how it felt to be owned by an other human being...

Nov 4, 2016, 10:30am Top

Thanks, Anita. It was powerful, and Aminata is a very strong character.

Nov 6, 2016, 9:13am Top

Fascinating that you read the book by Goldwater, Linda. I am often keen to read books on political philosophy by people whom I hold polar views and am pleased to say that the experience normally helps me to reinforce my own views.

He was an interesting fellow for sure.

Have a great Sunday.

Nov 6, 2016, 1:39pm Top

>81 PaulCranswick: The historical perspective made it fascinating, Paul. I vaguely remember Goldwater's presidential run, and it seems to me now that it was all about changing the income tax---that's probably what the grown-ups around me were talking about most at the time.

Nov 6, 2016, 5:59pm Top

96. The Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker No. 2 in the Bruno, Chief of Police series set in the French wine country. This one didn't grab me right away, as I thought the subject matter wasn't my glass of bubbly. But what began as looking like corporate intrigue and green terrorism turned much more personal and (to me) interesting after a while. I do think the first half suffered a bit from pacing issues. I'll give Bruno a rest for a while, although I do love the food and wine bits. And Gigi the basset hound, of course.

Nov 11, 2016, 9:06am Top

Hi, this is Becca--I wanted to say I got the book from you yesterday from the Book Exchange, and I am so excited to read it! Thank you so much!

Edited: Nov 12, 2016, 2:14pm Top

>84 seasonsoflove: Becca, you are most welcome. I sincerely hope you enjoy the book!

Edited: Nov 12, 2016, 2:38pm Top

97. The Battle of the Villa Fiorita by Rumer Godden When 14 year old Hugh and his 12 year old sister Caddie decide to sneak away to Italy to find their divorced mother, rather than taking their respective trains back to boarding school as their father expects them to, you know things probably aren't going to work out as THEY expect them to. The plan is that their mother, who has fallen in love with a movie producer thereby precipitating the divorce and leaving them in their father's custody, will realize the mistake she's made once she sees them and will return home where everyone will live happily ever after. It isn't even a particularly well-laid plan, and man does it go awry. Godden romps around a bit with tense and point of view here, which takes some getting used to. But she somehow manages to make us sympathize with everyone in the triangle, as well as the children; there are no villains or heroes. The adults are almost as unequal to the challenges of the situation as the children, but they strive valiantly to make it all right to the best of their ability. In the end, it's sadly clear that love does not conquer all, and that some battles cannot be won.

Edited: Nov 12, 2016, 9:15pm Top

98. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, J. K. Rowling et al. A quick and not especially satisfying read. In one of those reading coincidences that bemuse me, I picked up two books back to back dealing with children trying to make things right by messing with stuff they don't understand. There's a neat little study here about relationships between fathers and their children, but I wish Rowling had written it straight. I dislike reading scripts, and am not fond of time-travel story lines either. With those two strikes against, I still managed to enjoy some of the interplay among the old friends and rivals as flawed adults, but it didn't satisfy me the same way the epilogue to Deathly Hallows didn't, although it did answer the questions raised there.

Now that I've said all that, go and read what my kid said about it. She's right about all of it. Including the subtext. But maybe not the play/script thing....because I still think I would have liked it better as a piece of straight prose writing.

Nov 14, 2016, 6:04am Top

It's a playscript because it is a play, but actually I think it is good for kids to learn to read in different ways. Now if Faulkner wrote plays, you wouldn't be grumbling Mrs! Haven't read it as I wasn't overly into Harry Potter (or kids books generally).

Edited: Nov 14, 2016, 10:30am Top

>88 Caroline_McElwee: I didn't say it was a bad playscript! And I agree it's good for kids to read all sorts of forms. I don't think this is for the kids, though.

Edited: Nov 16, 2016, 7:40pm Top

>73 laytonwoman3rd: Goldwater sure was a strange one, wasn't he? A real bundle of contradictions, all in all.

and I'd love to read a biography of him written by someone like David McCullough. (No, not someone like McCullough...)

LOL! There is no one quite like McCullough!! :)

Nov 16, 2016, 8:47pm Top

>90 tymfos: I sort of end up comparing most biographers to McCullough, and they don't usually come up to this standard!

Edited: Jul 26, 2017, 3:29pm Top

99. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan I've had this book hanging around for a decade. I think I resisted reading it when it first appeared because EVERYBODY was reading it; then I grabbed a paperback copy at a book sale somewhere because I figured I probably OUGHT to get around to reading it; then last weekend I said "Now's the time; let's get this off the shelf." Well, naturally, I ended up loving it. It took a little time to get into the swing of the alternating intertwined stories, but I like that sort of thing, so I persisted. Yes, this book asks something of the reader---nothing wrong with that. Four immigrant Chinese women (the four corners of the Mah Jong board--the four directions---the four winds) and their American daughters tell us about their lives. Sometimes we get varying versions of the same events from different generations; sometimes friends of the same generation give us conflicting perspectives; at least once I felt great sympathy for one character only to have another character present her in a very unflattering light. The daughters all seemed to feel their mothers were tough on them, whether they fully understood their mothers' histories or not. The mothers all felt their daughters were losing something vital by rejecting "the Chinese way" they struggled to teach. In the end, the myth and the magic of the ancient culture cannot be denied, and each young American woman must learn to embrace her heritage in her own way.

Nov 17, 2016, 3:11pm Top

>92 laytonwoman3rd: I think you just promoted my next book. :). I was having trouble deciding, and this has been on my shelf for ages.

Nov 18, 2016, 6:13am Top

>92 laytonwoman3rd: I read that ages ago (probably back when EVERYBODY was reading it). I enjoyed it, too.

Nov 18, 2016, 1:46pm Top

>92 laytonwoman3rd: years since I read it, but I was reminded of her recently as my sister read one of her books and enjoyed it too.

Nov 19, 2016, 1:53am Top

>92 laytonwoman3rd: I had to laugh at your description of how you ended up with The Joy Luck Club on your shelf, Linda. That's what I did only I didn't get around to reading it yet. Good to know that it is an engaging story. Maybe I should move it up in the pile.

Nov 19, 2016, 3:21am Top

Looking forward to seeing what you select to bring up triple figures, Linda.

Have a great weekend.

Nov 19, 2016, 11:06am Top

>96 Familyhistorian:, >93 NanaCC: I'm glad I'm not actually the last person on earth to have read this one!

>94 lauralkeet:, >95 Caroline_McElwee: Now that I have this group, I'm less wary about reading a popular newcomer---if it's popular HERE, that's an endorsement I pay attention to!

>97 PaulCranswick: You wait is over, Paul. See the next post.

Edited: Nov 19, 2016, 11:54am Top

100. Taft by Ann Patchett I believe this was Patchett's second novel; it's the first of hers I have read. I came across it by chance while browsing in the library last week, and it sounded just right. John Nickel, manager of a bar in Memphis, hires a young white waitress. Although he has some reservations about Fay's age and ability, she seems to be working out well enough. She also seems to be developing a bit of an attraction to the older black man, which he doesn't quite know how to handle. Is this a longing for a father figure, her own father having died fairly recently, or is it something else? And then her brother Carl, almost her twin, shows up and becomes part of the increasingly unsettling picture. Nickel has some domestic issues of his own, and starts to create these kids' previous life in his imagination, focusing on their father, the "Taft" of the title. We know what Taft did for a living, how he died, and that his children loved him and miss him. Beyond that, however, his character as presented to the reader is entirely Nickel's invention. As the story flows on, Nickel seems to be drawing on this mental image to guide him in his relationship with his own young son, and in his response to Fay and Carl. Unfortunately, he falls into a common parental trap, attempting to protect a child from the consequences of its own actions. It is nearly a fatal mistake. Up until the final plot development I was ready to give this novel a very high 4 or 41/2 star rating. The writing is fine, the characters felt authentic, Nickel was just flawed enough to be interesting, but not so much that you wanted to shout at his obvious errors in judgment. But in my view Patchett sort of jumped the shark with her climactic events, and I had a tough time believing a crucial piece of the action. It was a "that couldn't happen" rather than a "nobody would DO that" situation, and even while caught up in the story I couldn't quite suspend my disbelief. So. 3 1/2 it is. But now I do want to read more of Patchett's work, and I hadn't been too eager to do so before.

Nov 20, 2016, 7:21pm Top

Hi Linda! Lot's of interesting reads here. I have a copy of Someone Knows My Name and will likely read it in December. And I was another who read The Joy Luck Club back when everyone was reading it and I remember liking it a lot and feeling that it expanded my point of view.

Congrats on reaching 100 books read!!!!

Nov 21, 2016, 5:18am Top

Ooo 100 books and not even the end of the year. Congratulations Linda. I'm going to be lucky to make 70 this year.

Nov 21, 2016, 10:32am Top

>100 EBT1002: I probably should have stuck something useless in there at message 99, so I could have logged my 100th book on the 100th message!

>101 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline. I have just hit my all time high total, so this will be a record-breaking year for me.

Nov 21, 2016, 1:04pm Top

>102 laytonwoman3rd: I probably should have stuck something useless in there at message 99, so I could have logged my 100th book on the 100th message!

Oh, what a missed opportunity! Is the dissonance just killing you?

Taft looks interesting. I'm a Patchett fan myself, but haven't read that one.

Nov 21, 2016, 2:52pm Top

>103 lauralkeet: What's killing me is that I didn't notice the opportunity until it had passed!

Nov 22, 2016, 8:36am Top

The Battle of the Villa Fiorita is one of my favourite Godden novels.

I listened to The Yiddish Policeman's Union and simply loved it! Enjoyed Jane Steele too.

Great reading you've been doing!

Looking forward to your thoughts on the Atwood and the Gardams.

Nov 24, 2016, 11:13am Top

I am thankful for your presence in the group, Linda.

Congratulations on passing 100. xx

Edited: Nov 24, 2016, 2:15pm Top

101. The Trespasser by Tana French As always, French grabs me by the collar and then keeps me trotting after her at a compulsive pace. This entry in the Dublin Murder Squad series features Detectives Conway and Moran, as did The Secret Place, but this time it is told in the first person, in Antoinette Conway's voice. She's a tough cookie, and she has to be, as the only female on the squad. She takes a lot of crap from delayed reports to a vandalized locker to outright harrassment, and it's starting to have an effect. She trusts no one but her partner, and because she's paranoid, so are we. We get no information she doesn't have, so when she heads down the wrong path we can only follow, even if our own gut says this isn't the way through. French is very skillful at this, throwing in the red herring theories, never slapping us in the face with obvious clues to the truth, nor to the mistakes our investigators might be making. I did think she glided too easily over one or two little points that should have been bigger issues to certain characters, and although I find Conway very interesting I wish she'd grown up just a little more a little sooner, but all in all this novel was a grand engrossing read.

Nov 24, 2016, 11:25am Top

>105 sibyx: Thank you, Lucy. I hope to get to the Atwood shortly, as it is an ER selection, and I will owe a review to the system. I've enjoyed the other Hogarth Shakespeares, and expect she will do an admirable job.

>106 PaulCranswick: How very nice, Paul. Thank you! I'm thankful for the group, and for those intrepid souls who take on hosting the various reading challenges especially. (You know who you are.)

Nov 24, 2016, 12:17pm Top

>107 laytonwoman3rd: I just started the 1st in the series yesterday, as an escape from the real world. It's doing a pretty good job.

Nov 24, 2016, 12:20pm Top

>109 qebo: Yes...French really takes me out of things.

Nov 24, 2016, 12:40pm Top

Happy Thanksgiving, Linda! Great review of Someone Knows My Name. That will end up being a top read of the year for me.

Glad to know you enjoyed The Trespasser. That is high on my To-Read list.

Nov 24, 2016, 1:22pm Top

>109 qebo: oh, good choice Kathryn!

>108 laytonwoman3rd: looks like we had similar views on this one Linda. I really liked it and I love your wish that Antoinette would have grown up faster. That describes a feelOmg I had but couldn't articulate.

Nov 24, 2016, 6:21pm Top

Way behind here due to RL. Forgive me?!

Nov 24, 2016, 9:20pm Top

>111 msf59: Thanks, Mark. We'll actually be celebrating on Saturday this year---we have a fireman in the family, and he had to work today. Hope you had a lovely feast.

>112 lauralkeet: Now we have another long wait for the next one!

>113 Berly: Oh, heavens...no need for forgiveness. Glad you could stop in, Kim. Real life can be awfully intrusive sometimes! Hope all is well with you. Happy Thanksgiving.

Nov 26, 2016, 7:17am Top

I am looking forward to The Trespasser. You and Laura are making the wait more difficult.

Edited: Nov 26, 2016, 8:47am Top

>115 NanaCC: *cue Carly Simon* Aaaanticipipaaaaaaashun.....

Edited: Nov 26, 2016, 1:34pm Top

>86 laytonwoman3rd: I've been wanting to read a Godden this year and have that one in an omnibus stashed away somewhere. Out of sight out of mind. Glad it seems to have passed the test for you.

Congrats on the 100!

and a Happy Saturday Turkey day to you and the family.

Nov 27, 2016, 11:38pm Top

Hi, Linda! Congrats on #100! I am planning to read The Trespasser soon. I'm glad to see you enjoyed it so much.

Nov 28, 2016, 9:40am Top

>117 RBeffa: Godden is one of those authors that sneaks up on me...I'm never sure when I begin one of her novels whether I'm going to keep going, and then suddenly I'm 50 or 60 pages in and hooked.

>118 tymfos: Thanks, Terri. This is only the second time I've hit that 100 mark since I've been keeping track. It feels good!

Edited: Nov 28, 2016, 9:40pm Top

102. Robert B. Parker's Kickback by Ace Atkins Atkins continues to do a good job with this series, and I admire the fact that he owns up to how long our man Spenser has been at his rough profession by letting age impair him just a little bit. This story line is based on real events that are very familiar to me---the "kids for cash" scandal that played out in a neighboring county to mine in 2008. Two county judges were convicted of accepting money from the builder of private, for-profit youth centers for the detention of juveniles, in return for contracting with the facilities and imposing harsh sentences on juveniles brought before the judges for minor, sometimes non-criminal offenses. (While the lawfirm I worked for never dealt with juvenile matters, or much criminal law at all, the set-up of our local courts often had judges hearing both civil and criminal cases, and several of our attorneys appeared before both of the judges involved in this scandal at one time or another.) In the book, as in real life, one boy was sentenced to 18 months detention without the benefit of counsel (parents were persuaded to sign away their children's rights in the hope of getting lesser sentences) for setting up a fake social media account in his school principal's name and posting embarrassing messages. Atkins has moved this whole ugly mess from Northeastern Pennsylvania to the suburbs of Boston, and made the detention center a sort of Alcatraz on a landfill island in the harbor. I think he has taken great license with the conditions there, as I don't recall hearing that the juveniles were treated brutally or that their lives were endangered as happens in the novel, but the other details stick pretty close to the facts, proving once again that you don't NEED to make this stuff up. Naturally, when the mother of one of the boys sent off to "Fortune Island" seeks Spenser's assistance, the jig is up, and justice eventually prevails.

I listened to some of this on audio, and Joe Montegna (who played Spenser in some TV movies) does a decent job of the narration.

Nov 30, 2016, 4:44pm Top

103. Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard For the AAC.

Annie Dillard sees things others don't see; she also sees things differently than the rest of us, sometimes. Her prose can be gorgeous, but it can also be baffling, and I just don't get what she's talking about all the time. That last bit is almost a direct quote from Eudora Welty, who said the same thing upon reading some of Dillard's early work. She was referring to Dillard's personification of inanimate objects, I believe, but I sort of get that part. (Rocks, after all. Seriously. "It is all, God help us, a matter of rocks." )
Where she loses me is in her deeper philosophical musings, which are sometimes so personal (like poetry) that I doubt if anyone understands all of them. But when she touches a chord, it vibrates right down to the soles of my feet. And she makes some very pertinent observations regarding God, spirituality and nature. This, in particular: "God does not demand that we ...lose ourselves and turn from all that is not him. God needs nothing, asks nothing, and demands nothing, like the stars....You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it."

This collection of essays, published several years after her Pulitzer Prize winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, is alternately brilliant, boring (I've had it with tales of polar expeditions---it's not really her fault), entertaining and enlightening. I loved her unexpected mind meld with a weasel; her inability to tear herself away from the spectacle of sea birds diving for the openings of their nests in crevices of a sheer lava cliff face in the Galapagos Islands (she missed the boat back); her description of the sense of disorientation even an educated 20th century human can experience in the face of a total solar eclipse. In fact, with the exception of "An Expedition to the Pole", there is not a single selection in this volume that I do not look forward to revisiting, often.

Edited: Jan 4, 2017, 10:13pm Top

Just posting this list here for my ownself, mainly. But this is the line-up for the 2017 American Authors Challenge, which Our Man Mark will be hosting once more. I'm looking forward to all of it--yes, even Hemingway. I must be mellowing in my old age.

January-Octavia Butler
February- Stewart O' Nan
March- William Styron
April- Poetry Month
May- Zora Neale Hurston
June- Sherman Alexie
July- James McBride
August- Patricia Highsmith
September- Short Story Month
October- Ann Patchett
November- Russell Banks
December- Ernest Hemingway

Edited: Dec 3, 2016, 6:36pm Top

104. The Quiet Don by Matt Birkbeck Subtitled "The Untold Story of Mafia Kingpin Russell Bufalino", this was a fascinating, if flawed, read about Northeastern PA's (and for a time, possibly the country's) most powerful crime boss. Russell Bufalino kept a low profile, living in a modest house in Kingston, PA, while running the local garment industry, controlling the powerful Teamsters Union, holding enormous influence over politicians from the county courthouse to the PA governor's mansion, socializing with and benefiting from the Batista regime in Cuba and eventually running the Genovese crime family as well as his own. Evidence now suggests he was instrumental in arranging the death of Jimmy Hoffa. While he wielded enough power to shut down production of the film version of The Godfather, he decided he liked the Shakespearean tragedy aspect of the way Coppolla was presenting the story, so gave his blessing to the movie, even spending time on the set, in consultation with Marlon Brando. Birkbeck reports that Brando's performance was, according to people who knew Bufalino, a "wonderful imitation of him". The book also spends a fair amount of time dealing with another local bigwig with "connections" whose name is associated with banks, casinos, auto junkyards and landfills, as well as with hospitals and universities, but never, so far as I am aware, with the kind of violent "extreme prejudice" we think of when we talk about the "Mafia". Reading this book was like eating a salty snack mix; the choice bits get you hooked, and then you just keep eating when there's nothing left but peanuts. For a journalist, Birkbeck has a deplorable grasp of grammar and sentence structure, and if there was an editor involved in this effort, I'll eat a chapter. Extra salt, please. The writing is full of misplaced clauses, sloppy pronoun usage, faulty parallels, and muddled verb tenses. Of course, maybe readers of "True Crime" aren't expected to be concerned about those things? One glaring factual error (which could have been a simple misprint) caught my eye, and it casts some doubt in my mind about the reliability of Birkbeck's reportage, although some of Bufalino's saga was hot news hereabouts in the late '70's, '80's and '90's, so I do know there are journalistic sources and judicial records supporting much of it. I really just couldn't stop eating reading until it was gone done.

Dec 4, 2016, 7:41am Top

>122 laytonwoman3rd: I like Mark's list this year and have something for every month already.

Pssst don't forget to mosey on over to my place and check out the BAC for 2017. There may be a couple that tickle your fancy.

Have a lovely weekend, Linda.

Dec 4, 2016, 12:17pm Top

>124 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. I have been keeping an eye on your BAC as it developed. Not contributing much, but I do intend to dip in and out of the challenge in 2017!

Dec 4, 2016, 12:35pm Top

Dec 4, 2016, 12:39pm Top

SO, again for my own ready reference, here is PaulCranswick 's final line-up for the 2017 British Authors Challenge. I rarely do particularly well with this one, considering numbers, but I never fail to "meet" a new author by dipping into Paul's inspired recommendations.





MARCH : A DECADE OF BRITISH NOVELS : The 1960s - 10 Novels by Men; 10 Novels by Women


MAY : BEFORE QUEEN VIC : 10 Novels written prior to 1837




SEPTEMBER : THE NEW MILLENNIUM (Great Books Since 2000) A novel chosen from each year of the new century

OCTOBER : WELSH AUTHORS (Born in or associated with Wales) : JO WALTON & ROALD DAHL

NOVEMBER : POET LAUREATES : British laureates, children's laureate, National Poets


Dec 4, 2016, 10:57pm Top

105. The Poet's Dog by Patricia MacLachlan A lovely story about a dog who was rescued by a poet, then rescued two children lost in a storm, and then was rescued again by their grateful parents. Simple and heart-warming. As a mother, I do quibble with how the children came to need rescuing in the first place. Still a highly recommended read for those with a taste for excellent children's literature.

Dec 5, 2016, 12:39pm Top

>128 laytonwoman3rd: Agreed on the quibble, and the rest of what you say, Linda. What a charmer.

Edited: Jan 4, 2017, 10:10pm Top

The Non-fiction Challenge for 2017 includes these categories:

January: Prizewinners
Non-fiction books that have won, or been short-listed for, any kind of literary prize.

February: Voyages of Exploration
You define it. It can be a literal voyage (travel) or an imaginary voyage into one's own psyche. The key words here are exploration and voyage -- the book must have some kind of journey, real or rhetorical, toward some kind of goal.

March: Heroes and Villains
People you admire or people you hate. Or people others admire or hate, and that you're just curious about.

April: Hobbies, Pastimes and Passions
Anything you want. People suggested categories about gardening, cooking, animals, sports, etc. Whatever excites and interests you. See if you can get the rest of us excited, too...

May: History
Pretty self explanatory. One of a few holdovers.

June: The Natural World
Another holdover. Anything about rocks, logs, the sea, the air we breathe, what grows around us, animal life, etc. And the pollution of same...

July: Creators and Creativity
Rather than just a category about the arts, I've broadened this. So, writing, books about books would qualify.

August: I’ve Always Been Curious About….
A catch-all category. If the topic of the book can complete the sentence, you can add it to the challenge.

September: Gods, Demons and Spirits
Religion, spirituality of al kinds; read about the Salem witch trials or animism in West Africa if you want.

October: The World We Live In: Current Affairs
It will be a year after Brexit; a year after Trump's election. What does the world look like? What forces are driving us? Find a book about some of the themes and issues that are at the top of the news by then.

November: Science and Technology
Probably self-explanatory, another holdover.

December: Out of Your Comfort Zone
A nonfiction book that isn't something that you would normally gravitate to, about a subject you'd never normally read about, or that is a "book bullet" you'd never previously heard about from another LT reader.

Dec 12, 2016, 1:15pm Top

Oh flip, I'm not great with challenges - being such a mood reader, but that is very tempting Linda. Can you paste the link to the thread please. Off to find a book for January. I've already got my AAC for January on my Kindle.

Edited: Dec 12, 2016, 7:09pm Top

I'm glad you enjoyed The Poet's Dog, Linda. Apart from the valid quibble you mention, I loved it. It made me want an Irish Wolfhound.

Do you know yet which Octavia Butler you'll read in January?

Edited: Jan 1, 2017, 4:39pm Top

>131 Caroline_McElwee: I'll find the link and post it, Caroline. I certainly won't manage all of these categories; I didn't do very well with the NF this year, but I like the guidance anyway.

>132 EBT1002: The only Octavia Butler I have is Kindred, so I will give that a go. If I can find it!

Edited: Dec 13, 2016, 4:10pm Top

>131 Caroline_McElwee: The list for 2017's Non-Fiction Challenge is located in the December thread of this year's challenge. I don't think the new thread for next year has been created yet.

Dec 13, 2016, 4:09pm Top

>134 laytonwoman3rd: did you nod off oh retired one :-)

Edited: Dec 13, 2016, 4:12pm Top

>135 Caroline_McElwee: Ooops, sorry, Caroline! It was a missing bit of HTML code that did that. And I didn't even look at it when I posted it, so I didn't realize!

Edited: Dec 13, 2016, 10:54pm Top

106. Libra by Don DeLillo Read for the AAC challenge. I'm rating this novel with 4 stars, in spite of the fact that I didn't really enjoy reading it very much. This is a fictional account of events leading up to and including the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. If you didn't live through that time, or if you only know the barest outline of what happened and who was involved, this could be an outstanding literary adventure for you. I appreciated it, without loving it, and I believe that is almost entirely due to the fact that I was once so completely immersed in reading about the Kennedy assassination that I simply cannot distance myself from the history and let the fiction carry me away. At first, I didn't think I could handle DeLillo's style, but I soon realized that he was doing something quite remarkable with his multiple characters and points of view. I think the novel is a masterpiece of imagination, as DeLillo put himself (and me, very often) directly and brilliantly into the heads of Lee Harvey Oswald, his mother, his wife, and many of his associates. He made it clear in an author's note that he "made no attempt to furnish factual answers to any questions raised by the assassination". And by changing the perspective from one character to another throughout, DeLillo also made it difficult to come to any conclusions about what "really" was happening. Any given character only knew--or told-- part of the story, and many of them were thoroughly unreliable narrators. Nevertheless, it's hard not to come away from Libra with a strong impression that in this version of events, Oswald himself didn't believe he fired the shot that killed Kennedy. It's fascinating stuff, but it didn't need fictionalization for me to find it so. Having said that, though, I'm a bit disappointed that I couldn't have read this unquestionably fine piece of work without knowing a blessed thing about the historical events it is based on. I'm pretty sure I would have loved it in that case.

Dec 13, 2016, 5:08pm Top

I read it years ago Linda. Yes, I imagine not knowing about the historical fact would give you a different reading experience.

>134 laytonwoman3rd: >136 laytonwoman3rd: thanks Linda, I'll keep track. I think I've chosen a January prospect. The biography on Humbolt.

Dec 13, 2016, 8:13pm Top

>137 laytonwoman3rd: Good take on Libra, Linda.

Dec 17, 2016, 4:41am Top

>127 laytonwoman3rd: Thanks for that, Linda and the very kind words. xx

Your thread has been a constant nudge to read good books since I joined the group.

Have a lovely weekend.

Edited: Dec 17, 2016, 3:20pm Top

107. Thrush Green by Miss Read A comfort read, to follow the challenge of Don DeLillo. I've never sampled Miss Read before, but gave books from each of her two cosy series to my Mom and MIL for Christmas last year. As usual, they came back to me once the ladies were through with them. Pleasant, engaging tale of a small village (in the Cotswolds, I believe) in the first half of the 20th century on a single spring day when the annual "fair" (we would say "carnival" in the States) came to town. Things aren't all rosy, but they do seem to work out as they ought to, allowances being made for meanness and mortality. Just the ticket with a cup of tea and a cat on your lap.

Dec 17, 2016, 12:13pm Top

>141 laytonwoman3rd: I love Miss Read's books. I discovered them years ago when I was living in Cincinnati and read through the entire series.

Dec 20, 2016, 5:11pm Top

>137 laytonwoman3rd: Wow, you actually make me want to read Libra even though I didn't particularly enjoy White Noise. I appreciate your ability to separate your enjoyment, per se, of a novel from its merits as a work. I try to do that but I'm not always successful.

Dec 20, 2016, 5:32pm Top

Happy Holidays to you!

May your holiday be filled with light, love and laughter. And, may you have peace and health.

Dec 21, 2016, 4:01pm Top

>142 thornton37814: Hi, Lori! I was pleasantly surprised by Miss Read. I'm glad I have a few more on hand to dip into when I'm in the right mood.

>143 EBT1002: Thanks, Ellen. I think I will probably give DeLillo another go, one of these days. I have White Noise and Underworld sitting around.

>144 Whisper1: How very lovely, Linda. Thank you!

Dec 21, 2016, 9:38pm Top

Hi, Linda! You're gently pushing me toward Thrush Green, which seems like a good place to escape to.

Dec 21, 2016, 11:11pm Top

>146 bohemima: I don't know if you've ever read any of Jan Karon's books (the Mitford series, or the later Father Tim books), Gail, but Miss Reed's remind me of those, without the Episcopal clergy element.

Dec 23, 2016, 9:26pm Top

Oh, there are so many good challenges around! Alas, I'm one of those moody readers. I start off with the best of intentions to do a bunch of challenges, and can't seem to follow through on any of them. I did the Hillerman/Johnson challenge thread because I'd already read all the Logmire books, so just concentrated on the Hillerman. As for AAA and BAC . . . (sigh).

That non-fiction challenge looks interesting . . .

>141 laytonwoman3rd: Just the ticket with a cup of tea and a cat on your lap.
I've never read Miss Read, but that description sounds quite appealing!

Dec 23, 2016, 9:27pm Top

Wouldn't it be nice if 2017 was a year of peace and goodwill.
A year where people set aside their religious and racial differences.
A year where intolerance is given short shrift.
A year where hatred is replaced by, at the very least, respect.
A year where those in need are not looked upon as a burden but as a blessing.
A year where the commonality of man and woman rises up against those who would seek to subvert and divide.
A year without bombs, or shootings, or beheadings, or rape, or abuse, or spite.


Festive Greetings and a few wishes from Malaysia!

Dec 23, 2016, 9:38pm Top

Merry Christmas, Linda! Enjoy the holiday! Glad you liked Libra. I ended up really liking White Noise. A nice surprise.

Dec 23, 2016, 9:48pm Top

>148 tymfos: I'm a "moody" reader too, Terri. I have enjoyed participating in the various challenges, but I sometimes skip a particular author simply because I don't think the timing is right for me. But I'm still taking note of the suggestions, and of what people are saying as they read authors unknown to me. It's a grand way to acquaint myself with new works...and there's always "someday"!

>149 PaulCranswick: What wonderful sentiments, Paul. And I love the graphic. There's a similar bumper sticker that I see from time to time, with those symbols put together to spell the word "Coexist". If we all do what we can to make it so...

>150 msf59: Thank you, Mark. The cooking, baking and eating will proceed non-stop for the next several days! My daughter is home, MIL is visiting, Mom will come Sunday...

Dec 23, 2016, 10:16pm Top

>151 laytonwoman3rd: Indeed. Coexisting would be a great start wouldn't it?

Edited: Dec 23, 2016, 10:19pm Top

108. The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester.

Some history of dictionary-making; the circumstances of Dr. William Minor's involvement, while he was an inmate of the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, in researching and contributing to the vast undertaking that became the Oxford English Dictionary; and the details of Minor's particular form of paranoia and dementia make up the substance of this book. Although I found it interesting enough, I was not as impressed with the book overall as some of the warblers around here. First, it was slightly repetitive, and even though it is short at under 250 pages, it is longer than it needs to be. There’s too little butter spread over too much bread. My biggest quibble, however, is that I noticed instances of what I consider sloppiness--one glaring historical error, a long sentence featuring three (3!) separate pronouns with unclear antecedents, and a bad choice of a word (in a book about dictionaries!) intended to make a distinction. In relating that Dr. Minor was posted to Governor’s Island, New York, in 1866, dealing with the cholera epidemic, Winchester notes that this illness was blamed on “Irish immigrants who were then pouring in through Ellis Island”. While he is correct that it was believed immigrants brought the disease to America, they were not entering New York through Ellis Island in 1866. The famous processing center there opened some 25 years later, and was in fact designed to identify and isolate any immigrants who might be carrying an infectious disease. No historian should have made this mistake; no publisher should have allowed it to pass through its fact-checking and editing process. As for the faulty word choice, in describing the professor and the madman, Winchester notes that they looked a good deal like one another, but that “Doctor Minor’s nose looks a little hooked, Doctor Murray’s finer and more aquiline (emphasis mine). My Pocket Oxford English Dictionary defines aquiline as “(of a nose) hooked or curved like an eagle’s beak”. So he seems to be saying the noses are different from one another by both being hooked. Again, I find this to be a fairly astonishing bit of carelessness in a book about two men mutually obsessed with the precise meanings of words. I won’t reproduce the bewildering sentence with its multiple “he’s” and “they’s”. Nevertheless, I am glad I read The Professor and the Madman, and I remain in awe of the accomplishment of the many dedicated individuals who created the magnificent OED.

Dec 24, 2016, 12:19pm Top

>153 laytonwoman3rd: Nice review Linda. I've had this book on hand for quite a while without reading it. Several times i have almost thinned it out as an "I'll never get to this" book. Your review actually sparks my interest a little. Maybe someday.

>137 laytonwoman3rd: I skipped DeLilo but this book sounds intriguing. What I really loved (among many things I really loved) in Stephen King's 11/22/63 was how he got me to look at and see Oswald in an entirely different way. He really put me back into that time.

Hope your holidays are warm and loving.

Dec 24, 2016, 10:11pm Top

>154 RBeffa: Thanks, Ron. My husband and daughter have both read the King book. I will too, one day, but I'll let the DeLillo settle for a while first.

Dec 24, 2016, 10:15pm Top

Sorry to have been such a rare visitor. I'm hoping to do better next year.

Happy Holidays!

Dec 24, 2016, 10:23pm Top

>156 sibyx: Thanks, Lucy! We all have trouble keeping up...I look forward to doing better in 2017 myself.

Dec 26, 2016, 11:14am Top

109. Acastos by Iris Murdoch Subtitled "Two Platonic Dialogues", this little philosophical exercise did very little for me. It read like a laundry list of well-worn thoughts, not really like intellectual dialogues at all. Perhaps in performance I would like them better, given some talented actors. The Dialogue on Art was slighter more engaging for me than the Dialogue on Religion, but I've never had a lot of patience with pure philosophy. I really picked this book up to see if I thought I should cull it from my shelves, and now I know the answer to that question!

Dec 27, 2016, 2:05pm Top

Delurking to say Hi! and hope that you are enjoying the holiday season. : )

Dec 27, 2016, 2:31pm Top

>159 Berly: Thank you Kim. It's been very busy, but also very lovely.

Dec 28, 2016, 8:02pm Top

I hope that you've enjoyed your Christmas, Linda, and that your new year is filled with peace, love and happiness.

Dec 30, 2016, 10:10am Top

>161 NanaCC: Thanks, Colleen. That's what I wish for all of us!

Edited: Dec 30, 2016, 10:42am Top

110. Dancing in the Dark by Caryl Phillips DNF, for the BAC. Although I did not finish this book, I am counting it---I read over half of it, and much of that I read two or three times. I'd find myself at the bottom of a page, with no idea what I had just read. The style is not difficult, or dense, but I simply could not seem to absorb the text without re-reading. At first I thought it was a failure of concentration--holiday visitors, pre-occupation, etc. But once that settled down I was still struggling. The novel is a fictionalization of the life and career of Bert Williams, a black comedian who appeared in the first African American production on Broadway in the early 20th century. It should have been gripping, but there was a lot of repetition; the author belabored some points (yes, I GET the irony and desperation of an educated, classy black man putting on burnt cork and exaggerated lips to play the part of a "nigger" to white audiences) and hinted so vaguely at others that I feel he didn't want me to understand. So I moved on.

Edited: Dec 30, 2016, 10:37am Top

111. The Clothing of Books by Jhumpa Lahiri A long essay (actually it was originally a speech) on the importance of book jackets to an author, and the ways in which they almost always disappoint. Not earth-shattering, but enjoyable to read. Lahiri is always impressive; this one was written in Rome...in Italian...and translated by her husband. Oh, and it is nicely bound, with a very nifty jacket!

Dec 30, 2016, 6:00pm Top

>164 laytonwoman3rd: I just read that earlier this week and enjoyed it, too, Linda. Not life-changing but definitely enjoyable. And yes, a lovely little volume.

Dec 30, 2016, 6:06pm Top

>165 EBT1002: I saw that, Ellen! I'm desperately trying to catch up on threads after a busy holiday, but it's hopeless, as I see many have begun their 2017 threads, and a few will be needing a second one any minute!

Dec 31, 2016, 7:04am Top

Looking forward to your continued company in 2017.
Happy New Year, Linda

Dec 31, 2016, 7:06pm Top

>167 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul. I think the "hello" will take a bit of bravery as we leap into this new year, but I'm taking a deep breath, and I expect to find comfort and companionship as always among the dear souls in this group.

Dec 31, 2016, 7:31pm Top

Happy New Year, Linda!

Jan 1, 2017, 10:51am Top

Thanks, Joe! May we all be as happy as we can manage in 2017.

Jan 1, 2017, 12:05pm Top

112. The One-Way Bridge by Cathie Pelletier I finished this one last night, some time before the neighbors got out the shotgun (i.e., before midnight, for those of you who live where no one discharges firearms in celebration of things like New Year's arrival). Never would have picked it up on my own, I'm sure, because...well...the author spells her name C.a.t.h.i.e. (Hey, we all have our prejudices...I'm working on it! I'm definitely going to read more of Ms. Pelletier's work.) My daughter told me I'd enjoy the book, and I did. Very much. Goings-on in a small town in Maine (small town stories are among my favorites), some of them hilarious, some of them touching, some of them downright heart-rending. Misunderstandings, rivalries and romances all woven together in a sort of Richard Russo kind of way that I liked a lot. The characters are perfect, from the retired school teacher who puts up a new vocabulary word on a poster in her front yard every week, to the Vietnam vet still dealing with the consequences of his experience, to down-on-his luck Billy Thunder, who may just be rescued by a neglected dog. My only quibble is the title, because that bridge--it's a one-LANE bridge, so only one vehicle can cross at a time, but you can go in either direction, so one-WAY, it ain't.

So that's it for 2016 reading. I'm working on a summary. My initial impression is that I didn't hit 5 stars very often this year, that I read quite a few books I might never have picked up except for the various challenges (AAC, BAC, CAC, Non-fiction), and, of course, that I didn't do very well at getting more books out of the house than I brought in. We'll see what the numbers say about all that.

Jan 1, 2017, 12:15pm Top

>171 laytonwoman3rd: I love Maine, and stories that are set there. I may have to try this one.

Jan 1, 2017, 12:37pm Top

>171 laytonwoman3rd: woven together in a sort of Richard Russo kind of way
Well that sounds promising.

Your firearms reference cracked me up. I haven't noticed that near us but it's probable. In these parts folks are into their pyrotechnics and seem to set off fireworks for any reason they can imagine.

Happy New Year!

Jan 1, 2017, 8:52pm Top

>173 lauralkeet: I had actually fallen asleep and the BOOM BOOM woke me up---I heard about three blasts before it registered that I was hearing celebration. I really ought to be used to it by now, but New Year's Eve is such a non-event in our house that I had almost forgotten about it!

>172 NanaCC: I think you'd enjoy it, Colleen. The writing is good, and it moves right along.

Jan 1, 2017, 9:07pm Top

>171 laytonwoman3rd: vocabulary word on a poster in her front yard every week
Now there's an idea for my Little Free Library.

Edited: Jan 2, 2017, 3:48pm Top

OK, here's my rough summary of what I read in 2016.

Total books read: 112
Books Pearl-ruled (or some version thereof): 5

Non-Fiction Books Read: 28 (this is almost exactly 1/4 of my entire reading---I'd like to get the number up to 1/3 or more)

Children's and YA Books Read: 9

Books by Women: 51
Books by Men: 58
Books by one or more of each: 2
Books by Lady Chablis: 1

Books in Translation: 5

Books Acquired: 134
Books Culled: 98

Library Books Read: 31
Audio Books Completed: 2
Graphic Novels: 1
e-books 1

Re-reads: 3

Canadian Authors 5 of 12
American Authors 10 of 12
British Authors 8 of 12
Non-Fiction 9 of 12

Books Read from My Own Shelves: 37
(Books in my possession at least 1 year
at the time of reading-- My goal for this category was 50. I really need to get better at this!)

Faulkner reads: Not a single one. What a shame.

So, that's it for 2016 for me. I'm working on my 2017 thread, but it's bare bones at the moment. Stop by and say hi!

Jan 2, 2017, 9:37am Top

You did very well with your culling!!!

Remind me, Lady Chablis????

Edited: Jan 2, 2017, 10:06am Top

>177 sibyx: The Lady Chablis was a transgender actress, comedienne and all-around outrageous personality. Appeared in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and wrote Hiding My Candy, which is the book of hers I read in 2016. And because you asked, I looked her up and discovered that she died in September. I hadn't known that. She was only 59 years old.

Jan 2, 2017, 11:33am Top

People shooting off guns for celebration scare the bejeesus out of me. I had a neighbor killed about forty years ago while she was washing the dog in the bathtub on the second floor of their house. The kids were taking pot shots at street lights and the bullet went astray and through the wall of the house. Those bullets have to go somewhere.

Jan 2, 2017, 7:23pm Top

>179 NanaCC: You're absolutely right, Colleen...it's an irresponsible thing to do, especially when you consider the individuals involved have probably been drinking for hours, and have little sense of caution.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2016

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