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Witchyrichy Sweeps the Shelves in 2017

75 Books Challenge for 2017

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1witchyrichy
Edited: Jun 30, 2017, 7:43pm Top



I'm back for another year, and I am excited to be back in this group. I even got to meet a few of you in real life last year!

My reading plans are coming into view. I bought LOTS of books in 2016 and added them to already overcrowded shelves. So, the goal is to tackle the books I already own. I should mention that the Kindle is full as well.

Now, I'm trying to figure out how to do it. I have books in several categories: US history, nature writing, essays, and plenty of fiction. I am thinking I may try to do one book in each area each month. I may even clear some shelves and organize the first few months. Then, when I finish one book, the next one is ready to go. I'm not usually this deliberate, but I am feeling the need to be a bit more intentional. I may work on the essays throughout the month.

I have a lovely winter break next week and am looking forward to spending time in my library getting organized. It may all fall apart but it's a start.

NOTA BENE: Now I know why many of you reserve the first few slots on your thread. But I figured it out too late so I'm going to keep my reading list here. My goal is to have a second thread and that will give me a second chance to do it right.




January: Stats 9
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
We Never Asked for Wings
March, Book One
March, Book Two
March, Book Three
Persepolis
Essays After Eighty
The Care and Management of Lies
Inequality in the Promised Land

February: Stats 6
The Underground Railroad
Hidden Figures Review
Dark Corners
Escape on the Pearl
Bud, Not Buddy
The Good Lord Bird

March Stats 6
The Mighty Miss Malone
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Four Queens
Queen Dolley
Small Great Things
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

April Stats 6
Wonder Boys
The Flame Bearer
Spell or High Water
The Lost Book of the Grail
The Buried Giant
The Earth is Weeping

May Stats 6
The Lost Order
The Prime Minister's Secret Agent (Audio)
Coraline
A Company of Liars
Beyond the Hundredth Meridian
Buried In a Bog (Text & Audio)

June Stats 10
Scandal in Skibbereen
Notwithstanding
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
Ballad
People
13, Rue Therese
Grand Canyon
Thursdays in the Park
Death on Demand
The Hog's Back Mystery

2PaulCranswick
Dec 22, 2016, 6:48pm Top

Karen, nice to see you back again in 2017.

3drneutron
Dec 23, 2016, 8:55am Top

Welcome back!

4johnsimpson
Dec 23, 2016, 5:25pm Top

Hi Karen, happy 1st 2017 thread my dear and I have starred you.

5witchyrichy
Dec 26, 2016, 11:25am Top

>2 PaulCranswick: >3 drneutron: >4 johnsimpson: Thanks, all! Glad to be back!

6Storeetllr
Dec 29, 2016, 3:12pm Top

Hi, Karen! Glad you're back!

7karenmarie
Dec 29, 2016, 6:09pm Top

Hi Karen! You're starred. I'll be interested to hear how the organizing project goes.

8witchyrichy
Dec 29, 2016, 6:12pm Top

Five Favorites From 2017:

Crossing To Safety
The Wright Brothers
The Last Bus to Wisdom
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

I worked through two series last year that made up a good bit of my reading: The 39 Clues and Cotton Malone. I enjoyed them both as they focused on history and geography.

9johnsimpson
Dec 30, 2016, 4:27pm Top

Hi Karen, Karen and I would like to wish you a very Happy New Year and a prosperous and healthy 2017 my dear, sending love and hugs.

10The_Hibernator
Dec 31, 2016, 8:30am Top

11PaulCranswick
Dec 31, 2016, 9:09am Top



I am part of the group.
I love being part of the group.
I love the friendships bestowed upon my by dint of my membership of this wonderful fellowship.
I love that race and creed and gender and age and sexuality and nationality make absolutely no difference to our being a valued member of the group.

Thank you for also being part of the group.

12FAMeulstee
Dec 31, 2016, 10:01am Top

Happy reading in 2017, Karen!

13witchyrichy
Dec 31, 2016, 5:28pm Top

>9 johnsimpson: >10 The_Hibernator: >11 PaulCranswick: >12 FAMeulstee: Thank you all for the wonderful greetings.

>11 PaulCranswick: My plan is to be more involved with the group this year. It is a wonderful fellowship.

I just posted my last post for 2016, a brief review of March and its relationship to Little Women. Today, I read Indeh in preparation for The Apache Wars by Paul Andrew Hutton.

We had an early supper of ham, green beans, and sauerkraut and probably won't make it to midnight.

14karenmarie
Dec 31, 2016, 7:18pm Top

>13 witchyrichy: I never make it to midnight. *smile*

15streamsong
Jan 1, 2017, 6:04pm Top

Happy New Year, Karen!

I just left a comment on your other thread since my book club will be reading March this year and I have also contemplated rereading Little Women.

Couldn't help staying up until midnight last night, due to being surrounded by fireworks.

16porch_reader
Jan 1, 2017, 6:54pm Top

Hi Karen! Happy new year! I'm glad to see that Last Bus to Wisdom was among your favorites last year. I have that one on my TBR shelf. Enjoy your winter break!

17karenmarie
Jan 2, 2017, 11:58am Top

>15 streamsong: My sister lives in suburban Southern California and said it sounded like a war zone at her house. It's bad enough for the human beings, but her dogs are terrified of the loud pops and booms. I feel bad for them.

It was quiet in the wilds of central North Carolina. I didn't make it to midnight.

18AMQS
Jan 2, 2017, 9:54pm Top

Happy New Year to you, Karen!

19michigantrumpet
Edited: Jan 4, 2017, 8:41pm Top

Stopping by to plop my star. Glad to see The Wright Brothers made your 2016 list. Another big fan here. I worked through college as an historic interpreter at Henry Ford's Greenfield Village. The Wright brother's birthplace and bicycle shop had been moved there from Dayton Ohio. I studied up a great deal on them during my time there. I thought Mr.McCullough got it exactly right!

Happy 2017, Karen!

20Copperskye
Jan 5, 2017, 12:58am Top

Hi Karen! Happy New Year!

21witchyrichy
Jan 8, 2017, 2:01pm Top

Just back from my annual post-holiday visit to old friends in Pennsylvania. Loved the book group and can't wait to start attending the one at my local library. Managed to get in a couple movies including Hail, Caesar! and Florence Foster Jenkins. Fortunately, the party was on Thursday afternoon so I was able to attend before heading home on Friday ahead of the storm.

We got about a foot of snow. I spent yesterday tucked under my quilt, crocheting and reading. I decided to start with a "challenging" book this year. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men has been on the shelf for awhile. I was not prepared for the flowing prose and was actually considering putting it aside. I have persevered, however, and will probably finish it today.

Agee is curmudgeonly towards everyone it seems, except Walker Evans and the three families they profile in the book. He just took a break from the main narrative to record his angry responses to a survey from The Partisan Review.

I picked this up because it seemed like a good companion to JD Vance's Hillbilly Elegy that I read at the end of 2016. It provides some historical context of the culture that Vance describes.

22porch_reader
Jan 8, 2017, 5:49pm Top

Being tucked under your quilt sounds like a good plan! We don't have snow here in Iowa, but it is plenty cold. I am planning to read Hillbilly Elegy this year. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men sounds like a good companion to it.

23PaulCranswick
Jan 10, 2017, 8:00pm Top

>22 porch_reader: I am another who want to track down Hillbilly Elegy this year, Amy.

Hi, Karen. xx

24witchyrichy
Edited: Jan 10, 2017, 9:57pm Top

>22 porch_reader: Hillbilly Elegy is a worthwhile read but he has gotten some push back, of course. There's an interesting article from New Republic that offers a more liberal point of view of the culture and the region. Here's the link.

>23 PaulCranswick: Hi, Paul!

I finished Agee last night. The prose tumbles along, piling up details and impressions, swirling the story into the midst. Sometimes, it made for daunting reading and I would look ahead for the next break. Other times, I found myself in the flow, not worried so much about exact meaning but absorbing impressions as I rode along the natural energy of the words.

The book is, at its core, the story of three families living as cotton tenants in Alabama in 1936. The book has elements of an ethnography with detailed descriptions of homes, clothing, education and work. But Agee weaves in his own musings about his role in the process and his relationships with the families. And then he seems to leave the path altogether and it may take a moment or two or more for the reader to find herself.

Bruce Jackson in the Winter 1999 edition of Antioch Review wrote:

Some critics write about Let Us Now Praise Famous Men as a book out of control, a book that is nearly-great but missed it for this or that reason, a book that suffers from excess. One wrote: "When one first reads Famous Men, many passages may strike one as pretentious, mannered, precious, pompous, pontifical, smug, self-righteous, self-indulgent, willfully obscure, doctrinaire, self-congratulatory, sophomoric, belligerent; even Agee's self-abnegation, self-loathing, and modesty may offend."

Yes, but.


And there was definitely a Yes, but, for me. I wanted to wade in this book even as there were times when I thought I would just stop. After all, i wasn't really reading for a climax or the solution to a mystery. I kept going though and am glad I did.

25witchyrichy
Edited: Apr 15, 2017, 1:31pm Top

Pulled three books off the shelf for my next reads:

Persepolis
Essays After Eighty
The Selected Poems of Donald Hall

I started the Hall books in 2016 but somehow never finished them. All three books meet my informal commitment to read nonfiction but also "alternative" formats in 2017: graphic novels, essays and poetry. Alternative isn't right word really: just a bit more far afield than traditional beginning-to-end text-based books whether fiction or nonfiction. Make sense?

26karenmarie
Jan 11, 2017, 9:24am Top

Hi Karen! It does make sense to me, at least. Well over 90% of what I read in any given year are 'traditional' books. Essays, poetry, and graphic novels are always a stretch.

27michigantrumpet
Jan 11, 2017, 9:35am Top

Just started a graphic non-fiction book myself by Roz Chast, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant, which was highly recommended in these parts. Started with audiobooks a year and a half ago after some serious warbling from Mark. Seems as if this group has really stretched my horizons!

Good for all of us to being open to new adventures.

28witchyrichy
Jan 11, 2017, 12:10pm Top

The less standard formats require a different pace and style of reading. I am trying to get into a habit of a poem and an essay every day so I am reading the books over time. Meanwhile, I think I'll have a "regular" book going as well. My book group is reading We Never Asked for Wings so I need to get started on that.

>27 michigantrumpet: I have Roz Chast's book in my basket and have browsed a bit. Funny in a bittersweet kind of way.

29witchyrichy
Edited: Jan 11, 2017, 2:00pm Top

So how did the word "genre" escape me to describe graphic novels, poetry and essays? I decided to update my moribund personal blog and it came to me: these are newer genres for me! These are genres that share more nontraditional formats.

Yes, at one point, I was an English teacher!

If you're interested, I'm planning to do more blogging at In One Place. It's a personal space mostly about reading and some crocheting pictures.

30johnsimpson
Jan 11, 2017, 3:38pm Top

Hi Karen, just stopping by my dear to say hi.

31Storeetllr
Jan 11, 2017, 5:40pm Top

Loved Persepolis - hope you like it as much as I did! Although I don't read a lot of graphic novels, I've read the first two by John Lewis and just started March, Book 3 this morning. I had to stop after the first few pages, though, because it made me cry. Hard. I'll get back to it later when I'm feeling a bit stronger.

32witchyrichy
Jan 13, 2017, 12:46pm Top

>31 Storeetllr: I bought a boxed set of the March books but was thinking of reading it as my graphic novel for February since it's Black History Month. I've heard numerous interviews with him and they are very hard to listen to as he recites the stories. I saw his testimony to the Senate earlier this week where he described his experience of growing up in Alabama versus that of someone like Jeff Sessions. He doesn't rant or rave but quietly and forcefully reminds us that there is a moral center and it's not as hard to find as we sometimes think it is.

I am liking Persepolis. The humor amidst revolution and violence but also the frustration of watching a pretty progressive country go backwards on so many things but especially on women's freedom.

33witchyrichy
Jan 13, 2017, 12:47pm Top

>30 johnsimpson: Hello, John! Nice to hear from you!

34witchyrichy
Edited: Jan 13, 2017, 2:15pm Top

In his essay A Yeti In the District, poet Donald Hall describes a life time of trips to Washington, DC. The last one, in 2011, was made so he could receive the National Medal of Arts. He describes the event and the joy it brought him in some detail.

But, as Hall comments at the end of his essay, there was anticlimax. The photo taken of him--an aged wizardly looking man with a big grin on his face--was used by Alexandra Petri, a Washington Post columnist, for a "caption contest" where readers were encouraged to describe the photo. The entries were rude and derogatory of a man who once served as Poet Laureate and was being recognized for a lifetime of work. Petri was criticized by many for her loutish column but rather than apologizing, she chose to attack Sarah Palin, one of her critics. I know we live in a time when it seems as though everyone is easily offended but Petri's treatment of Hall is, in my humble opinion, beyond the pale.

Petri continued her attack on poetry and poets in an article in 2013 about the potential death of poetry after Richard Blanco's inaugural poem was widely criticized.

I am determined now, more than ever, to make a place for poetry in my life. It speak to emotions and experiences we cannot otherwise touch.

In a sad note, Hall is no longer able to write poetry, just one of the many diminishments he describes is his Essays After Eighty in which A Yeti In the District appears.

35Storeetllr
Jan 13, 2017, 1:57pm Top

>32 witchyrichy: ...the frustration of watching a pretty progressive country go backwards on so many things but especially on women's freedom. Sounds a lot like what has been happening in the U.S.

>34 witchyrichy: What an awful person Petri sounds! Does she even have a point? Or is it just another example of the unconscionably cruel behavior that people seem to feel is okay to exhibit these days? I don't read nearly as much poetry as I did when I was younger, and it may be time to get back to it. Perhaps Hall's poetry is where I should start.

36witchyrichy
Edited: Jan 14, 2017, 9:40am Top

>35 Storeetllr: It does, indeed. The past, with its fear of the other and the new, clutches at the last remnants of its former power.

As for Petri, I only discovered her today, tacked onto the end of Hall's essay. She continue to blog for the Washington Post on the Compost column and calls herself a pundit.

The Selected Poems of Donald Hall is a recent collection. It spans his long and very diverse career. His Postscriptum describes his progress as a poet and a person. He was married to poet Jane Kenyon who died quite young and his poems about her are heartwrenching.

37witchyrichy
Edited: May 1, 2017, 11:22am Top

Scanning the Shelves: 2017 Reading List

I walked around the library at the end of December and pulled together the following list of either books or authors that are just waiting to make it to the top of the TBR pile. I separated them by genre so I don't just read the fiction. My plan is, at the beginning of each month, choose books from at least three of the lists.*

Update: 4/15/2017 Read So Far

Graphic Novels:

Persepolis
March, Book One
March, Book Two
March, Book Three
Neil Gaiman: I have the full Sandman series plus Coraline and some others

Fiction:

The Underground Railroad
The Good Lord Bird
Cain At Gettysburg
Wonder Boys
Purity
Britt-Marie Was Here
My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry
The Buried Giant
Norah Webster
Thursdays in the Park
Rules of Civility
The Care and Management of Lies

Nonfiction:

Oliver Sacks
Daniel Levitin
Western History:
The Apache Wars
The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West
Sea of Glory
Valiant Ambition
Escape on the Pearl

Biography/Memoir:

Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life
The Trials of Lenny Bruce
Born to Run: Bruce Springsteen
The Blueberry Years
Man of Constant Sorrow
Carsick

Environment:

Prairy Earth
River Horse
Edwin May Teale
John McPhee
Wendell Berry

Essays:
Where I've Been and Where I'm Going
The View From the Cheap Seats
Hogs Wild: Selected Reporting Pieces
Essays After Eighty

*I just realized I missed POETRY! Back soon...

38karenmarie
Edited: Jan 14, 2017, 6:54pm Top

You've got some interesting reads planned, there, Karen.

Poetry and .... short stories? Or are some of the titles short stories? *smile*

39michigantrumpet
Jan 14, 2017, 7:07pm Top

>34 witchyrichy: What utter appalling behavior towards Donald Hall. That's taking animosity towards 'poultry' as Richard would call it, WAAAY too far. On the plus side, there are quite a few people determined to keep poetry front and center. Just heard a lovely interview with Henry Morganthau III -- 100 years old! -- discussing his just released book of poetry Sunday in Purgatory.

No touchstone for it yet, but here's the interview: http://www.npr.org/2017/01/14/509497058/a-century-old-poet-looks-back-and-fearle...

>37 witchyrichy: Some lovely reading planned there. Will be looking forward to following your progress through the year. If you enjoy Rules of Civility, you may want to consider Amor Towles' latest: A Gentleman in Moscow

40witchyrichy
Jan 15, 2017, 3:26pm Top

>39 michigantrumpet: Thanks for sharing the interview. I just saw the headline this morning and was hoping they would include a few poems. It's interesting that Morganthau didn't start writing poetry until later in life and Hall has now stopped as though you only get so many poems to write! I'm looking forward to listening to the interview.

41witchyrichy
Edited: Jan 15, 2017, 3:40pm Top



We Never Asked for Wings is A compelling story of a mother and son who were willing to break the rules to make life better for someone else. Letty Esposito was just 16 when her son Alex was born; Wes, the father, was already gone away to school, and Letty never told him. Instead, she turned over much of the responsibility for Alex and his younger sister over to her mother as Letty tried to eek out a living at service jobs. She is currently a bartender at an airport bar near her definitely wrong side of the tracks home. When her parents return to Mexico, Letty finds herself struggling to take care of her children even as Alex seems to be moving away from her into his teenage love and life. She must also navigate her own emotional landscape as she connects with a new and old friend.

We experience the novel mostly through Letty and Alex: their paths have strong parallels as they act out of love, impulsive, without fully considering the consequences of their actions. They are fighting for justice so it seems as though their mantra is by any means necessary. Their "crimes" seem minor as they are committed to break down barriers keeping them from realizing their potential.

One powerful lesson in the importance of your address. In this story, as in real life, it determines your access to not just a good education but also a safe one. The students in those schools did nothing except be born in a certain zip code and, unless their parents are able to better their lot, they are trapped. Their poverty exacerbates the isolation as transportation is often an issue. Cars are expensive to maintain and public transportation enforces limits of time and space. As Wes drives Alex to Stanford, Alex muses on the fact that he had never been on the campus that was not far from his home.

I enjoyed the book and can recommend for its story and its concern for justice. There were times when it felt like a young adult novel. I don't think it's considered as such but Alex's voice was so strong and it was as much his story as his mother's.

42witchyrichy
Jan 17, 2017, 5:08pm Top

Almost done with the Donald Hall Essays After Eighty and I am going to miss my daily does of this funny, self-deprecating, irreverent writer. He's old and he's taking full advantage of telling it like it is. He can no longer write poems, which is very sad:

New poems no longer come to me, with their prodigies of metaphor and assonance. Prose endures. I feel the circles grow smaller, and old age is a ceremony of losses, which is on the whole preferable to dying at forty-seven or fifty-two. When I lament and darken over my diminishments, I accomplish nothing. It’s better to sit at the window all day, pleased to watch birds, barns, and flowers. It is a pleasure to write about what I do.


Both his prose and the insights he communicates make it a pleasure to read about what he does.

In the essay “Physical Malfitness” he describes his physical failing as he ages, but also his lifetime failure as an athlete. However, even though he doesn’t play, he loves baseball. He watches every night during the season, cheering on the Boston Red Sox. He watches without doing anything else, and he compares this single minded focus on baseball with other writers like Yeats and Eliot who read westerns and mysteries in the evenings.

Our brains need to rest, to reach in different directions, to focus on something that brings us pleasure without any concern for a test. It may be baseball, or a particular genre, or…I like to crochet and stream PBS shows. I’m counting and creating with the crochet hook but also letting my mind follow a compelling story or engaging educational experience. The latter is a fancy way of saying “Great British Baking Show.” I’m watching the Master Series now so it IS educational as I’m learning how to bake classic breads and desserts and more.

43witchyrichy
Jan 17, 2017, 5:10pm Top

I spent time Monday reading March, Book One and March, Book Two and am almost done with the third volume. It just seemed right.

44michigantrumpet
Jan 17, 2017, 5:23pm Top

Very right to read on Monday!

45witchyrichy
Jan 17, 2017, 5:47pm Top

>44 michigantrumpet: As you may know, the series opens with John Lewis getting ready for President Obama's first inauguration so it is even more timely. The graphic format brings the violence to the foreground, I think, in a way that only prose would not do as well.

46porch_reader
Jan 17, 2017, 6:03pm Top

>43 witchyrichy: - I was drawn to March, Book One yesterday too. I am blown away by it. I thought the story would feel "thin" with only a few words to carry it along, but instead it feels multilayered. It affected me in a way that I don't think prose alone would have done.

47Storeetllr
Jan 17, 2017, 8:25pm Top

>45 witchyrichy:, >46 porch_reader: Ditto my thoughts on March One and Two. I started to read March Three the other day, but the opening panels were so horrific that I ended up crying really hard and had to stop. I have it here and intend to get back to it soon.

48Dianekeenoy
Jan 18, 2017, 6:18pm Top

>42 witchyrichy: Hi Karen, you got me with this one! I will be requesting right away, Essays After Eighty sounds wonderful to me!

49witchyrichy
Jan 18, 2017, 7:49pm Top

>46 porch_reader: >47 Storeetllr: It seemed to show up on lots of people's threads. I had just purchased the boxed set last fall. I had a coupon at Barnes & Noble :-)

Still working on the third volume. I was struck by how the lawmakers like Robert Kennedy who were supposedly on the side of the protesters, tried to encourage them to compromise. How disheartening for the freedom riders and other protesters.

50witchyrichy
Jan 20, 2017, 5:16pm Top

Finished March, Book Three, The Complete Persepolis and the last of Donald Hall's essays. I am enjoying exploring graphic novels. My only complaint of some of the text in the Lewis books was that it was too small. I added a magnifier to my phone and discovered that some of it was just squiggly lines to indicate people talking amongst themselves but some of it was readable and important to the story.

I have read graphic novels on my iPad and I was able to make them larger to zoom in on the text and images. It was a helpful tool.

51witchyrichy
Jan 20, 2017, 5:18pm Top

Up next: I had Journey to Munich and Inequality in the Promised Land on my January list. They are both Kindle books and I like to retire to bed with an analog book. So, I am going to read The Care and Management of Lies instead. Still Winspear but it's a paperback from the shelf. I'll keep it by the bedside and read Lewis-McCoy's book downstairs.

52michigantrumpet
Jan 21, 2017, 3:02pm Top

The Great British Baking Show Master Class series! Yes! I feel a pressing need to try making a madeira cake, even though I've never had one and don't even know if I'd care for one! Love that show!

Happy weekend, Karen!

53Storeetllr
Jan 21, 2017, 9:42pm Top

I've tried reading graphic novels on my laptop and it's just not the same as having the printed book, so for graphic novels I usually get a print copy from the library, though most other books are either Kindle or audio.

54witchyrichy
Jan 23, 2017, 8:22pm Top

>52 michigantrumpet: I haven't actually made any of the items from the show. I like to bake but I'm not a fussy baker. For instance, I'm a big fan of King Arthur Flour's No Knead Whole Wheat bread. Here's one recipe. They have different versions (white, crusty, etc.)

>53 Storeetllr: Reading graphic novels on the iPad is very different from the print version and each have their pros and cons. Maybe it's different on the laptop, too. You could read the full page or click to zoom in on the frames and navigate from frame to frame. But, that means the app controlled your view of the page and forced you to read in order. Like you, I prefer the printed book but as I get older, I appreciate some of the "assistive technology" features of digital devices ;-)

55AMQS
Jan 26, 2017, 10:19pm Top

Hi Karen! Oh, the Donald Hall sounds lovely. I have Life Work on my shelves thanks to Joanne, I think, but I haven't been able to get to it yet.

56Storeetllr
Jan 27, 2017, 12:29pm Top

>54 witchyrichy: Yes, I've read GNs on my laptop and my Fire (too too small) but for some reason I just prefer GNs as print books, even if the text is sometimes too small for me to read easily without a magnifying glass. Most other books, though, are better for me as ebooks and/or audiobooks. The only exception to that would be histories or other books that contain maps and photos.

Thank goodness my library has all of those formats!

57witchyrichy
Jan 28, 2017, 10:04am Top

>56 Storeetllr: Agreed about the multiple formats and it's interesting to see how we've fit the different formats into our lives, too. I like a "real" book at bedtime but prefer digital formats otherwise as I can read them on a variety of devices throughout the day so if I'm standing in line, I can get in a page or two on my phone.

58witchyrichy
Jan 28, 2017, 10:14am Top

Visiting my parents in central Pennsylvania for a long weekend. Tomorrow, my sister will come up and we're headed out to a nice Sunday brunch to celebrate their 62nd anniversary and my father's 82nd birthday. I am thankful that they are both still in good shape. They live in a condo in a retirement community and are very active volunteers.

Stayed up late last night and finished The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear. It seemed a slow start but quickly sucked me into the various characters and how their lives connected. Winspear faithfully depicted the horror of trench warfare and the courage of those who took various roles on the front lines from soldier to chaplain to ambulance driver. But she did not neglect the home front either from her descriptions of traditional farming practices such as the picking of hops to the government torture of suffragettes and peace activists.

Food forms the centerpiece of the book. The descriptions of the meals--both real and imagined--prepared by the main character are wonderfully written but also reveal the hard work of both growing and preserving food for the lean winter months.

59johnsimpson
Jan 28, 2017, 3:38pm Top

Hi Karen, hope you have a really nice weekend my dear and congratulations to your mum and dad on their 62nd wedding anniversary and your dad's 82nd birthday. 62 years is some going in this day and age, we will celebrate our 33rd in July and it only seems like yesterday and she still makes my heart skip a beat. Sending love and hugs my dear.

60karenmarie
Edited: Jan 30, 2017, 11:48am Top

Wow. 62 years. That's fantastic. I do hope it was a wonderful visit.

61witchyrichy
Feb 3, 2017, 5:06pm Top

>59 johnsimpson: >60 karenmarie: Thanks, John and Karen. We had a wonderful visit. Shopped, ate good food, reminisced (we've all heard each other's stories a million times and we don't care!), and just generally relaxed.

Back home on Monday and hit the ground running with work and then visits to doctor and vet today for check ups. Dogs got shots along with pedicures. They don't click quite so much on the floors now. We go across the river on a ferry to our old home town for these kinds of things so it is an adventure! Saw two bald eagles on one of the buoys in the river on our way home. Tucked in now and just starting to think about supper.

62witchyrichy
Edited: Mar 3, 2017, 7:53pm Top

Books Read in January:

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
We Never Asked for Wings
March, Book One
March, Book Two
March, Book Three
Persepolis
Essays After Eighty
The Care and Management of Lies
Inequality in the Promised Land

Book Stats for January:

Books Read 9
No of Authors 7
New Authors 6 (85%)
Male Authors 4 (57%)
Female Authors 3 (43%)
Pages Read 2744 Average: 270
My Books 9 (100%)
Analog 7 (78%)
Digital 2 (22%)
Living 6 (85%)
Dead 1 (15%)
US Born 5 (71%)
Foreign Born 2 (29%)

63karenmarie
Feb 4, 2017, 9:51am Top

Nice job for January! All ROOTs. All new authors, too. Ha. Analog and digital. Good one.

64streamsong
Feb 4, 2017, 10:08am Top

Hi Karen - I'm glad you had a great visit with your family. And a ferry trip that included bald eagles sounds like a very interesting way to get errands done.

I love your compilation of January stats. I've finally received March: Book Three from the library so will reading that one soon.

65witchyrichy
Feb 13, 2017, 7:24pm Top

I got back from my trip and hit with work plus a conference. The latter was COOL: it's a Children's Engineering Conference that focuses on STEM and was mostly hands on. I attended a pop up book session where we made pop ups and another where we took electronic stuffed animals apart to see how they worked and then put them back together with different outer layers (Frankentoys). Fun but no chance to multi-tasking.

I am reading Hidden Figures and enjoying it, but can only seem to sneak in a few pages before bed so am not making good progress. Book group is next week, though, so I have some time...but I also have lots of other books to get to as well!

66karenmarie
Feb 14, 2017, 11:05am Top

Hi Karen!

I know the feeling about needing to get a book read for book club. Good luck with finding some time to finish it off.

67witchyrichy
Feb 17, 2017, 11:29am Top

>66 karenmarie: Thanks...all done!

I picked up the March book--Dark Corners--at the library yesterday and stayed up til midnight reading it. Been a long time since I've done that. I wasn't enthusiastic as I am not a murder mystery fan but it was well done as we watch a man unravel.

Now back to Escape On the Pearl that I had already started as part of my Black History month reading.

I had to drive to Richmond yesterday and saw two more bald eagles along the way. Always a thrill!

68witchyrichy
Feb 17, 2017, 11:36am Top

>64 streamsong: Late on replying but glad you read March, Book Three. We have lots of eagles flying around both near the river but also over our farm.

69michigantrumpet
Feb 17, 2017, 6:09pm Top

Interested in your thoughts about the book Hidden Figures. I'm looking forward with enormous anticipation 2/25 when I see the movie. Of the 9 Best Picture nominations, this one has really caught my eye.

70witchyrichy
Feb 18, 2017, 9:07am Top

Hidden Figures is the story the African American women who served as "human computers" at NASA, supporting aeronautics research and then, much more dramatically, helping ensure John Glenn's successful first orbit. But the story reaches beyond the lab into the segregated world where the women, despite their mathematical genius, lived by restrictive rules about what they could do and where they could go.

Yet, the women did not allow those restrictions to serve as excuses: they took advantage of the education that was available to them, were active in their sororities and churches, and provide mentorship to other women. These successes gave them the confidence to stand up for themselves against even the most stubborn engineers, defending their calculations and their reputations.

It was a good read, weaving science and stories into a compelling view of hidden history. White men might be the only ones in the photos but there is a crowd of others who supported their work and we are finally ready to tell that story.

71PaulCranswick
Feb 18, 2017, 9:11am Top

>70 witchyrichy: Interesting about Hidden Figures, Karen.

It is amazing that the segregation that we see as so obviously appalling today is within the lifetimes of many of us.

Have a lovely weekend.

72karenmarie
Feb 18, 2017, 10:10am Top

Hidden Figures is on my radar, Karen.

>71 PaulCranswick: My brush with true segregation here in the South came when I found out that a woman I worked with, Ann McCrimmon, went to the school that is now the middle school my daughter went to but was a segregated black high school back in the bad-old days. She's a bit younger than me and I'm 63.

73johnsimpson
Feb 18, 2017, 3:20pm Top

Hi Karen, hope you are having a good weekend so far my dear, sending love and hugs.

74AMQS
Feb 18, 2017, 3:39pm Top

Hi Karen. The Children's Engineering Conference sounds amazing! Where was it?

75witchyrichy
Feb 18, 2017, 5:56pm Top

>73 johnsimpson: Thanks, John. We are having a great weekend: it's my husband's birthday and we had an impromptu birthday party at the local winery. Local guitar player, good friends, even cake!

76witchyrichy
Feb 18, 2017, 6:03pm Top

>71 PaulCranswick: >72 karenmarie: The middle school I taught in when I moved to Virginia had been the black high school in the 1970s. Hidden Figures also describes the "massive resistance" that took place after Brown vs. Board of Education. In particular, they mention Prince Edward County where they chose to shut down their public education system rather than desegregate. It is going to be interesting to discuss the book with my book group since most of them are in their 60s and 70s and grew up in the town.

77karenmarie
Feb 19, 2017, 1:07pm Top

>76 witchyrichy: Ha. The same. One predictable and sad thing about our middle school/former black high school is that the quality of the buildings was seriously lower than the buildings built for the white children.

It will be an interesting discussion, for sure!

78karenmarie
Edited: Feb 19, 2017, 1:08pm Top



heavy handed - duplicate post. sorry.

79Storeetllr
Feb 19, 2017, 2:15pm Top

I've got Hidden Figures on the TBR pile and am very much looking forward to reading it! Thanks for your review and recommendation!

Happy birthday to your hubby!

80witchyrichy
Feb 22, 2017, 8:23am Top

>77 karenmarie: We had a fascinating discussion, indeed! I was surprised that some of the women who are from Virginia did not know anything about massive resistance. Many found the book a tough read as well...just not history fans, I guess.

I am looking forward to seeing the movie.

81witchyrichy
Feb 22, 2017, 8:40am Top

Escape on the Pearl told the story of slaves from Washington DC who made a desperate attempt to flee North on a ship. The narrative focuses primarily on the Edmondson family. Six children--two daughters and four sons--made the attempt, which was ultimately unsuccessful, and we follow them as they are captured and sold south.

The book uses this story to tell the larger history of slavery in Washington. It is complex: black families are often a mix of free and enslaved with the threat of sale looming over them. They worked for the famous and the infamous alike, sometimes able to use their wages to pay for their own or others' freedom.

The law, often, was on the side of slave owners with whites who helped slaves escape subjected to jail time. Abolitionist presses were destroyed and their editors run out of town by angry mobs.

82witchyrichy
Feb 22, 2017, 8:44am Top

Next up: The Good Lord Bird. Got through a few pages last night and am hooked. It reminded me that I started Cloudsplitter last year but never finished. Perhaps next to continue the slavery/Civil War/John Brown theme?

83karenmarie
Feb 22, 2017, 9:44am Top

Hi Karen! Today's Kindle Free Books has "Slave Narratives Collection" - it may have one or two that you don't already have of the 6 books.

84witchyrichy
Feb 24, 2017, 1:41pm Top

>83 karenmarie: Thanks for the tip! I missed the free day but was able to get them for 99 cents.

The Library of Congress has extensive collections of narratives collected by the Federal Writer's Project in the 1930s.

There are also audio interviews in the LOC memory collection.

85johnsimpson
Feb 24, 2017, 4:03pm Top

Hi Karen, hope all is well with you my dear today and wish you a very nice weekend dear lady, sending love and hugs.

86PaulCranswick
Feb 26, 2017, 6:56pm Top

>82 witchyrichy: How are you doing with The Good Lord Bird, Karen? It is on my to-do list too.

87witchyrichy
Feb 27, 2017, 7:09pm Top

>85 johnsimpson: Thanks, John. We had a wonderful weekend! I baked pumpernickel bread and friends came by Sunday afternoon to chat about our farming plans for the spring.

88witchyrichy
Feb 27, 2017, 7:24pm Top

>86 PaulCranswick: Almost done and I can say it is an excellent book. McBride's take on historical fiction is intriguing with its mix of raw history (this isn't your American history textbook version of Brown) and almost fantastical fiction peopled by larger than life characters: John Brown is a fanatical abolitionist and radical Christian who lives in a fanatical, radical time. He had relationships with Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman and important New England abolitionists, all of whom show up in the novel. The narrator is the one who brings us edgy, often funny but also often tragic fiction. There's plenty of drunken violence with a stunning portrait of the Kansas/Missouri chaos that erupted before the Civil War. I can highly recommend it.

89witchyrichy
Mar 3, 2017, 7:58pm Top

Finally, the stats for February

Books Read in February

The Underground Railroad
Hidden Figures Review
Dark Corners
Escape on the Pearl
Bud, Not Buddy
The Good Lord Bird

Book Stats for February

Books Read 6
No of Authors 6
New Authors 5 (83%)
Male Authors 3 (50%)
Female Authors 3 (50%)
Pages Read 2176
Average Pages 363
My Books 4 (67%)
Analog 3 (50%)
Digital 3 (50%)
Living 5 (83%)
Dead 1 (17%)
US Born 5 (83%)
Foreign Born 1 (17%)

90witchyrichy
Mar 3, 2017, 8:10pm Top

If you're looking for two good juvenile historical fiction books, I can highly recommend Bud, Not Buddy and The Mighty Miss Malone. They are both set in Depression-era Michigan, mostly in Flint. They are not really sequels but Miss Malone makes an appearance in the first book. So, we get to hear the story of their meeting from both points of view.

Both children are living in extreme poverty, just one disaster away from being homeless and hungry. Bud's story opens in an orphanage while Deza, the Miss Malone in the second book, has strong family bonds that are strained by struggle. Libraries and books help both of them escape but also give them hope. We learn about both segregation and the Depression without being pummeled by historical fact; Christopher Paul Curtis makes these larger events very personal.

91johnsimpson
Mar 4, 2017, 4:24pm Top

Hi Karen, hope you are having a good weekend my dear and send love and hugs.

92witchyrichy
Mar 4, 2017, 5:20pm Top

>91 johnsimpson: Thanks...same to you!

93witchyrichy
Mar 4, 2017, 5:28pm Top



March Reading Plan: I'm moving from Black History Month to Women's History Month with the perfect transition book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I had sort of avoided it on the shelf as I thought it might be too "medical." Instead, I've been pulled in by the interwoven stories of Lacks, her family and the scientists and doctors.

The rest of the books on the pile came from the shelves. I think I can get them all done by the end of the month. I'm traveling a bit and if I manage to keep the TV off in the hotel rooms, I can get quite a bit of reading done!

For the written record, here's what is on the pile:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Four Queens
Queen Dolley
Letters of Dorothy Wordsworth
Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser
Real Women, Real Leaders
Women Who Kept the Lights

94witchyrichy
Mar 5, 2017, 6:29pm Top

Finished up The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Quite a story spanning many generations and historical events from slavery to segregation to medical experiments to modern day questions about medical ethics. I'm sorry I waited so long to read it!

I was particularly intrigued with the relationship of the author with Henrietta's daughter, Deborah, who was still a toddler when her mother died. Poor, with little education, Deborah did not really understand what had happened to her mother beyond a sense that the doctors had taken advantage of her. It took her a long to time to trust Rebecca Skloot, often withdrawing but then coming back.

95AMQS
Mar 6, 2017, 12:39am Top

Hi Karen! I haven't read Henrietta Lacks yet, though both my husband and one of my daughters has, and both loved the book. Need to get to it. Along with countless others!

I hope you have a wonderful week.

96karenmarie
Mar 6, 2017, 6:26pm Top

I loved The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It's a great book for anybody who hasn't read it yet.

97johnsimpson
Mar 8, 2017, 3:59pm Top

>96 karenmarie:, I have it on my TBR pile which I am still adding to, lol.

98witchyrichy
Mar 26, 2017, 2:19pm Top

Well...March has been a bit of a blur! Two professional development events, a weekend of out-of-town meetings, and a new project with urgent deadlines seemed to have sapped all my time and energy. Last week's summit included a keynote by General James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, discussing cybersecurity.

>95 AMQS: >97 johnsimpson: Yes, to Henrietta Lacks! I've been recommending it to everyone.

It seemed to take forever to finish Queen Dolley, billed as a "biographical novel" of Dolley Madison. The first part of the book describing her family life pre-Madison was very good. The second half, while still interesting, seemed to be mostly a catalog of visitors to Montpelier and parties at the White House. The author did weave in history including the famous story of Dolley saving the Stuart portrait of George Washington as she fled the White House ahead of the British. I learned more about the War of 1812 as well as the early days of the country.

I was also intrigued by the story of Thomas Jefferson and the Cheshire Mammoth Cheese. As a fan of The West Wing, I was aware of Andrew Jackson's big block of cheese but didn't realize it originated with Jefferson.

99johnsimpson
Mar 26, 2017, 4:28pm Top

Hi Karen, thanks for the kind message, things are a bit awry at the moment but Karen sees the consultant in the morning so hopefully we will come away with some good news, sending love and hugs my dear.

100PaulCranswick
Mar 26, 2017, 7:37pm Top

Lovely to see you back posting, Karen.

101karenmarie
Mar 26, 2017, 8:25pm Top

Hi Karen!

Last week's summit included a keynote by General James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, discussing cybersecurity. Wow. That must have been a wonderful speech.

102streamsong
Mar 27, 2017, 11:09am Top

Wow! March has been really busy for you! It's nice to see you posting again.

103witchyrichy
Mar 27, 2017, 2:09pm Top

>100 PaulCranswick: >101 karenmarie: >102 streamsong: Thanks for the welcome back!

Clapper WAS amazing! I was able to chat with him informally at a reception the night before the event along with his son.

104witchyrichy
Mar 27, 2017, 2:15pm Top

I went from struggling to finish two books--Four Queens and Queen Dolley-- to reading one in the past 24 hours. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult pulled me in and wouldn't let go. Ruth Jefferson, a neonatal nurse, finds herself confronted with racism in an ugly, life changing way; her story touches all the other characters in the book from her son to her lawyer to her accuser. At the beginning, the story seemed to be too "black and white" but as Picoult moved along, she began exposing the gray areas. Readers might feel a bit manipulated by the ending but the afterword shows how our reactions to events define us as human beings.

A must read: it's for my RL book club and I can't wait to discuss it!

105witchyrichy
Apr 11, 2017, 8:27pm Top

Another ten-day run: a quick trip to Chicago for a conference but mostly meetings and a little bowling (I'm really bad). Then back for a conference in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and a gathering in Radford. I love heading to Harrisonburg: Green Valley Book Fair was open this time and I picked up a few titles:

Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County
All The Stars in the Heavens
Carrying Albert Home
The Dust That Falls From Dreams

I think I showed a lot of restraint.

Added two books to the "read" category: My Grandmother Told Me To Tell You She's Sorry and Wonder Boys. Two very different stories. The first bordering on fantasy; the second grittily realistic.

106johnsimpson
Apr 14, 2017, 3:31pm Top

Wishing you a very Happy Easter.

107witchyrichy
Apr 15, 2017, 1:10pm Top

>106 johnsimpson: Thanks, John, and same to you! We are staying home and having Easter dinner with our farm interns and one set of their parents coming from New Jersey.

I picked up two nucs of bees yesterday and have gotten them in their hives. They seem happy, buzzing around their new world, dancing, flying, yellow legs full of pollen. I had to drive them two hours home and the bee store owner insisted they ride in front with me with the air conditioning full blast. They get hot stuck in the boxes with just two air holes.

I've made some light sugar water for them but it's such a windy day, I think I may wait until tomorrow to get the feeders on. I also have to check my other two hives...they look great but I want to get in and see if there are healthy queens and maybe add and swap a few frames.

Spring has sprung here at the farm!

108johnsimpson
Apr 15, 2017, 3:51pm Top

>107 witchyrichy:, I didn't know you kept bees my dear how interesting, we have mentioned having a hive but it is a small garden we have and with Hannah playing thought it unwise at the moment. You will have to keep me updated about your bees my dear, have a lovely weekend sending love and hugs.

109witchyrichy
Apr 16, 2017, 5:13pm Top

110karenmarie
Apr 17, 2017, 7:54am Top

Hi Karen! Happy Easter one day late.

Bees, how interesting!

Spring has sprung here in central NC, too - isn't it wonderful?

111streamsong
Apr 17, 2017, 8:54am Top

Hi Karen! Interesting about your bees - what's a nuc? Have you had them before or is this a new venture?

I've been wondering about My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry since reading A Man Called Ove for the RLBC last month. I thought I'd pick up at another of his books when I'm in the right mood.

112witchyrichy
Apr 17, 2017, 7:17pm Top

>110 karenmarie: Spring is indeed here in all her glory!

>111 streamsong: I've had two hives for about three or four years and don't get much honey so I decided to add two this year. A "nuc" is a nucleus of a hive: five frames with bees, brood in various stages, a viable queen, and some honey. You take it home and put it in a box with five other frames and the nucleus becomes the hive. They need tending: I'll feed them a light syrup this year to help them build their honey stores and probably won't take any honey from them. But one of my older hives is hopping and I am hoping to get at least a frame or two or more of honey this season.

113witchyrichy
Edited: Apr 17, 2017, 7:33pm Top

Reading stats for March

Books Read in March

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
Small Great Things
Queen Dolley
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Mighty Miss Malone
The Four Queens

Book Stats for March

Books Read 6
No of Authors 6
New Authors 3 (50%)

Male Authors 2 (33%)
Female Authors 4 (67%)

Pages Read 2284
Average Pages 456.8

My Books 4 (67%)

Analog 4 (66%)
Digital 2 (33%)

Living 6 (100%)

Foreign Born 1 (17%)
US Born 5 (83%)

114PaulCranswick
Apr 18, 2017, 4:18am Top

A belated Happy Easter to you, Karen. xx

115witchyrichy
Apr 19, 2017, 2:38pm Top

>114 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! Hope you had a joyful Easter celebration.

116witchyrichy
Apr 19, 2017, 2:48pm Top

I am enjoying the spring lull: it happens each year after our late winter/early spring events are over and the summer/fall are not upon us yet. I've been on the road for a good bit of March and had wonderful opportunities to connect with educators across Virginia. They are working hard often in tough circumstances, putting their students first as they try to navigate between high stakes tests and making learning more than just a test. And they see possibilities for how to integrate digital technologies so come to our events ready to learn and share.

But...then they all go back to their schools and engage in that very testing I just mentioned, leaving me mostly at home to get caught up and enjoy the spring lull. I spend a lot of it in the garden or tending bees but I also find LOTS of time to read...from carrying my morning latte back to bed with a book to enjoying late afternoons in the rocking chair on the back porch. Aah...I'm not completely on vacation but the work to do can be fit into a few hours a day. It will change but for now, I'm doing what has to be done and otherwise relaxing.

Aaah...

117karenmarie
Apr 20, 2017, 7:24pm Top

Sounds good, Karen! Books, latte, porch.

118johnsimpson
Apr 22, 2017, 4:29pm Top

Hi Karen, hope you are having a really good weekend my dear and the weather is good with you dear lady, sending love and hugs.

119witchyrichy
May 1, 2017, 11:20am Top

Reading Stats for April

Books Read

Wonder Boys
The Flame Bearer
Spell or High Water
The Lost Book of the Grail
The Buried Giant
The Earth is Weeping

Statistics

Books Read 6
No of Authors 6
New Authors 1 (17%)

Male Authors 6 (100%)

Pages Read 2343
Average Pages 390.5

My Books 4 (66%)

Analog 4 (66%)
Digital 2 (33%)

Living 6 (100%)

Foreign Born 1 (17%)
US Born 5 (83%)

120karenmarie
May 3, 2017, 5:18pm Top

Hi Karen!

All male authors. Interesting. I also had only male authors for the month, which is unusual for me.

121johnsimpson
May 4, 2017, 3:33pm Top

Hi Karen, I think I once had an all female author month, it is sometimes the way it goes my dear when you have some good books to read.

Hope all is well with you my dear and that you are having a good week, sending love and hugs.

122PaulCranswick
May 7, 2017, 4:20am Top

Karen, I do believe that one of these months I am going to set out to read only female authors.

Have a great weekend.

123witchyrichy
May 7, 2017, 6:50pm Top

>120 karenmarie: >122 PaulCranswick: I read "about" women for March but not necessarily books by women although I did read more women.

I haven't done these kinds of stats before and I am enjoying taking some time to review my reading trends.

124witchyrichy
Edited: May 18, 2017, 7:44am Top

I visited my parents this past weekend. They live in a retirement community in Cornwall, Pennsylvania and this weekend was the "Blooms and More" festival: plants, crafts, food, and a flea market. I took flats of herbs along from the farm and helped set up and sell plants. But, I also had time to shop, including a stop to the book shelves in the thrift shop. Books were sold for $1 a bag! it used to be $5 per bag but they are moving to another location soon so were eager to reduce inventory.

Here's the haul:

Solo: My Adventures in the Air
Year of Wonders
Nightwoods
Night of the Jaguar
Interpreter of Maladies
The Crimson Petal and the White
The Book of Unholy Mischief
Scandal in Skibbereen
Death on Demand
Something Wicked
Deadly Valentine
A Little Class On Murder
Brava, Valentine
Dark Star Safari
'Tis
Mountains Beyond Mountains
Dombey and Sons
Staying Tuned
The Great Plantation
How the South Could Have Won the Civil War
Labyrinth

125karenmarie
May 7, 2017, 10:48pm Top

Very nice haul, Karen!

I hope you have a great week.

126johnsimpson
May 8, 2017, 3:31pm Top

Nice haul there Karen my dear.

127johnsimpson
May 12, 2017, 3:46pm Top

Hi Karen, hope you have had a good week my dear and wish you a really good weekend dear friend, sending love and hugs.

128PaulCranswick
May 13, 2017, 7:58am Top

>124 witchyrichy: There are some goodies there, Karen.

I have been to Skibbereen and I find it hard to imagine a whiff of scandal there!

Have a great weekend.

129witchyrichy
May 18, 2017, 7:44am Top

>125 karenmarie: >126 johnsimpson: >127 johnsimpson: >128 PaulCranswick: Thanks, all, for checking in! I had a GREAT weekend...I turned 55 years old on Sunday and was able to celebrate with my nephew who shares my birthday and my parents. We congregated at my sister's house in Annapolis, Maryland, and had fun buying plants for each other at the garden store on Saturday and going to church and eating at Luna Blue on Sunday. Lobster-stuffed ravioli is a favorite of mine and theirs was excellent.

I had been in DC Thursday and Friday doing advocacy work around educational technology. My colleagues and I headed to the Hill and talked with our legislators. Friday afternoon, I headed east to Annapolis and got a coffee and a few books at the Barnes and Noble:

Jane Austen: The Secret Radical
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
How Music Works
The Book Thieves

I got a birthday package from a good friend in Pennsylvania that included Books for Living and Cooking with Mary Berry.

LOTS of good reading ahead! I bought a nice set of Jane Austen's novels from Bas Bleu and am thinking about reading them along with Helena Kelly's book. She goes book by book to reveal how Austen uses her writing to communicate radical ideas.

130drneutron
May 18, 2017, 7:25pm Top

Happy birthday! I'm 55 in early June.

131witchyrichy
May 20, 2017, 7:07pm Top

>130 drneutron: Thanks! It's an interesting age: I'm starting to think about what I want to do as a kind of semi-retirement work. I love doing professional development for teachers and helping kids learn how to code and make stuff. So, the goal is to find someone to organize the events and then I show up and "play."

132witchyrichy
May 20, 2017, 7:24pm Top

I've been absorbed by Beyond the Hundredth Meridian by Wallace Stegner. A fascinating story of the career of John Wesley Powell, moving from his exploration of the Colorado River to his travails in Washington. There is so much about it that seems contemporary when it comes to the intersection of politics and science.

I've been exploring web-based resources related to Powell and his work from Google Earth to the Smithsonian and Library of Congress. It's amazing how accurate the 1873 map is when compared to today's maps created with sophisticated technology.

I'm about 3/4ths of the way through and am looking forward to continuing.

But, I decided I needed some fiction to read along with it so picked up Company of Liars. It's been sitting on the shelf for a long time. I read it in between gardening today: planting my birthday plants and weeding ahead of spreading mulch.

133witchyrichy
May 22, 2017, 2:22pm Top

I abandoned Powell completely to finish A Company of Liars. Perhaps a bit more violent than I prefer but the story pulled me a along. Besides a good mystery, it was also a portrait of England rocked by the plague as people struggled to understand a death that seemed to come without warning and that no amount of praying or paying could keep away. It was a brutal time to be alive and particularly difficult for anyone considered the other whether because of disability or religion.

It was, in many ways, a story of not believing the truth even when it confronts us and even as we harbor our own lies.

I figured out most of the mystery along the way but was surprised at the ending.

134witchyrichy
May 28, 2017, 9:20am Top

Still working on Powell and hope to finish today. I started Killing Mr. Watson but then discovered that Peter Matthiessen had reworked the trilogy in to one volume, which was his original plan for the book. I ordered the one-volume Shadow Country along with Far Tortuga.

I'm finding that I prefer reading an analog book these days. I can read it anywhere, especially before bed at night.

My copy of Powell is all marked up with stickies coming out all over. I've blogged about one passage: A Homemade Education.

And, I've been exploring for Powell-related resources. I started at the Digital Public Library of America, a fascinating portal into digitized collections across the United States. I'm an ambassador so consider this an advertisement.

135streamsong
May 28, 2017, 9:27am Top

Late Happy Birthday! It is an interesting age. I'm about 5 years ahead of you.

Beyond the Hundredth Meridian sounds interesting. I would like to read more Stegner.

I still haven't dipped my toe into analog reading. I think that's really interesting that you prefer that format.

136witchyrichy
May 30, 2017, 6:45pm Top

>135 streamsong: I was an early adopter of digital technologies and have an extensive collection of digital books. I check out books via Overdrive from my library. But recently, I have found that I just like an old-fashioned book. (Maybe it's because the piles in the library are starting to look overwhelming while I can easily ignore all those digital titles.) That being said, I just bought a Kindle book and the audio to go with it...want to see how that works.

I think, as a Western Montana resident, you would find Stegner's book fascinating as it provides insight into the current debates about the fate of public lands. A bit depressing at the end as his work is overturned by "credulity, superstition, habit." But, Stegner finds the silver lining, believing that Powell's ideas were simply ahead of his time.

137witchyrichy
May 30, 2017, 7:26pm Top

True confessions: I have been averaging 6 books per month. But, Wallace Stegner put me a bit behind. So, what to read to get to the sixth book? One of the cozies I bought at the book sale in early May makes sense. But, I have to travel tomorrow, too, so that's two hours or more of time when I could be reading but will be driving.

I bought the Kindle version of Buried in a Bog along with the Audible add on. I haven't tried reading and listening but figured an easy traditional mystery would be a good first attempt. Not quite sure how the syncing worked so downloaded the Kindle version and the Audible version. But, now I'm in the Kindle app and it is downloading the audible version again.

I shall report back...

138witchyrichy
Jun 1, 2017, 6:40am Top

I did it! I finished Buried in a Bog with a combination of reading and listening. And, it went surprisingly well. The reading flowed from text to audio and back with little disruption. I think part of it worked because it was an easy book with a straightforward plot and lean prose. Not sure I would want to read Faulkner that way.

The book itself was a traditional cozy set in County Cork. I liked that the author used a real location and had a funny moment when I went to Google maps to check out the scenery. The book includes an elderly woman and that is just who shows up when you go into street view. An older woman on the narrow street with her walker! I couldn't help but wonder if she was some inspiration to Sheila Connolly, the author, even though it seems silly. More seriously, I thought about what a good writing exercise it would be: find a street view with a person in it and create a story around that setting and character.

139johnsimpson
Jun 1, 2017, 3:48pm Top

Hi Karen, just popping by to say hello my dear, hope you are having a good week dear friend. Sending love and hugs.

140streamsong
Jun 3, 2017, 9:24am Top

I'm a dunce at listening to mysteries - my mind wanders a bit and suddenly we have Important Characters and Clues quietly introduced and I have to check back to see who or what they are.

I do a bit of combo listening and reading. I'm working on getting books read from Planet TBR and so have been choosing audios for books that I physically own. Usually, though, I'm going back to clarify passages where I feel I've missed something on the audio.

That does sound like a great writing exercise! How fun!

141Storeetllr
Jun 7, 2017, 8:32pm Top

>138 witchyrichy: Oh, great idea! I've seen the audio version of ebooks offered and wondered why I would want to have both. Now I get it! I usually have a car "book" i.e. audiobook and a bedroom book (often another audiobook) and a dining room book and... Anyway, glad it worked out for you.

142witchyrichy
Jun 11, 2017, 8:58am Top

>139 johnsimpson: Hi, John! Not sure how it got to be June 11 without checking in to LT! I had a lovely weekend and am in the midst of another one. We're heading out to a retirement party this afternoon: two hours away but near Shenandoah National Park. Looking forward to getting away from the farm and drive some pretty back roads.

143witchyrichy
Jun 11, 2017, 9:01am Top

>140 streamsong: The County Cork mysteries are not too complicated although the second one--Scandal in Skibbereen--moved between past and present and was a little confusing. Not sure I'm going to read any more of them although I like the setting of the Irish village.

>141 Storeetllr: I don't do as much driving as I used to but it was fun to be able to keep "reading" even when I was on the road.

144witchyrichy
Jun 11, 2017, 9:07am Top

Between binge watching Midsomer Murders and the County Cork mysteries and Notwithstanding, I feel like I have a foot in Ireland and England.

A friend bought me Notwithstanding for Christmas. It was a lovely read: short, connected stories set in a mid Century English village. We see the world changing around them as city folk begin to buy in for weekend homes and expect the village to change for them. There is an air of bittersweet sadness in the book and a reminder to savor each simple moment of our lives as change will come.

I've already started reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. It's my RL book group read for June. I can't attend the meeting but I'm reading the book anyway as I own a copy of it.

145witchyrichy
Jun 11, 2017, 9:25am Top

Reading Stat for May

Books Read:

The Lost Order
The Prime Minister's Secret Agent (Audio)
Coraline (Overdrive Loan)
A Company of Liars
Beyond the Hundredth Meridian
Buried In a Bog (Text & Audio)

Statistics

Books Read 6
No of Authors 6
New Authors 1 (33%)

Male Authors 3 (50%)
Female Authors 3 (50%)

Pages Read 2233
Average Pages 372

My Books 5 (83%)

Analog 3 (50%)
Digital 3 (50%)

Living 5 (83%)

Foreign Born 2 (33%)
US Born 4 (67%)

146johnsimpson
Jun 11, 2017, 3:11pm Top

Hi Karen, glad to read that you are having a really good weekend my dear.

147PaulCranswick
Jun 11, 2017, 8:47pm Top

Wishing you a wonderful Sunday evening, Karen.

148witchyrichy
Jun 13, 2017, 7:14pm Top

A bit of blogging about reading: http://www.ivyrun.com/inanotherplace/?p=1488

149karenmarie
Jun 14, 2017, 10:11am Top

Happy very Late Birthday, Karen!

I hope you're having a good week, perhaps enjoying some of your birthday book haul?

150witchyrichy
Jun 14, 2017, 10:18am Top

>149 karenmarie: I'm trying hard not to dig into that stash since there are so many older books waiting their turn. But, I did pick up The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend and couldn't put it down!

151witchyrichy
Jun 14, 2017, 10:26am Top

My RL book group is reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend for June. I can't be at the meeting next week and am sorry for that because the members bring such thoughtful responses to the books we read.

I loved it! What's not to love about a book that includes lists of books and authors in the back. I had read many of the books discussed but not 84, Charing Cross Road. I can't find an analog or digital copy at the library so may have to spring for a copy from Amazon.

Bivald did such a great job creating rich characters living in a dying Iowa town. Sara from Sweden comes into their midst and shows them the possibilities that they had forgotten for their town and their own lives. One of Sara's bookshelves in the shop is labeled: For Those Who Need a Happy Ending. This book should be on that shelf.

And for readers, there are wonderful thoughts and reading and books. I quoted Bivald in my blog post linked above:

She had thrown herself into one ambitious reading project after another, but things had rarely gone according to plan. It was boring to think of books as something you should read just because others had, and besides, she was much too easily distracted. There were far too many books out there to stick to any kind of theme.

152johnsimpson
Jun 14, 2017, 3:59pm Top

Hi Karen, hope all is well with you my dear and that you are having a good week, sending love and hugs.

153Storeetllr
Jun 14, 2017, 4:01pm Top

It was boring to think of books as something you should read just because others had, and besides, she was much too easily distracted. There were far too many books out there to stick to any kind of theme.

Oh, boy, this is so me!

154witchyrichy
Jun 16, 2017, 9:21am Top

>153 Storeetllr: Me, too. I haven't signed up for any challenges this year and only set a few of my own. I am reading what I want, when I want.

155witchyrichy
Edited: Jun 16, 2017, 9:30am Top



I read two lovely mostly picture books yesterday, recommended by Austin Kleon in last week's newsletter. Both were created by Blexbolex. Ballad is a magical story of normal life turned, in some cases, literally upside down. People is a series of illustration of, well, people. But as you look at the illustrations, you find interesting connections between the different people. I think it would be a great conversation starter if read with a child.

156karenmarie
Jun 16, 2017, 10:31am Top

Hi Karen!

It was boring to think of books as something you should read just because others had, and besides, she was much too easily distracted. There were far too many books out there to stick to any kind of theme.

And me. My reading's all over the place. I think this is a good thing. Thanks for sharing the quote.

I like the idea of the For Those Who Need a Happy Ending shelf. "A Challenging Read" is not always a good thing.

Reading what you want when you want is my mantra, too, mostly. My only current challenge is the year-long read of the Bible as Literature. I lost May by being in CA, but am going to start up again today with Job. Got some catching up to do.

I am toying with the idea of joining Mark and Bill's read of Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson. I've pulled it off the shelves, and it's staring at me. *smile*

Happy Friday!

157Copperskye
Jun 16, 2017, 9:29pm Top

Very belated birthday greetings! I'm a couple years your senior. Still not sure how that happened!

>154 witchyrichy: Me three!

I've got a couple Stegner's on the shelf that I haven't read yet - it's so nice to know those good books are waiting!

84, Charing Cross Rd is a charming read!

My husband and I are also catching up on Midsomer Murders. They are fun to binge on.

158witchyrichy
Jun 18, 2017, 9:01am Top

>156 karenmarie: >157 Copperskye: Glad the quote spoke to you as well! I do have a summer challenge I am toying with that I shared above: reading Jane Austen along with Helena Kelly's book about Austen as radical. The pool is open and when I get back from my trip to San Antonio, there will be lots of time to float and read.

>157 Copperskye: Thanks for the birthday wishes! The years do move along, don't they? But sometimes time seems to stop when I'm in the middle of a good book. I'm in season six or seven of Midsomer Murders and they seem to be delving into British mythologies with one about the Green Man and another about the Fisher King.

159witchyrichy
Jun 18, 2017, 9:10am Top

I stayed up late and finished 13, Rue Therese. Quite a story that moves from past to present through the artifacts in a memory box. I'm still thinking about the ending and wondering how our dreams can connect us with others.

Elena Mauli Shapiro based the story on a real box that her mother found in the apartment of an old woman who died when they lived at 13, Rue Therese. At the end of the book, Shapiro includes QR codes that link to photos of the artifacts that form the heart of the story. You can also view them at the website for the book. Scroll down on the home page and also click the Explore link to set the context of Paris in the late 20s.

160witchyrichy
Edited: Jun 18, 2017, 10:51am Top



Wallace Stegner's story of John Wesley Powell led me to Jason Chin's wonderful book Grand Canyon. Wonderful drawings based on the author's own trip to the Canyon along with his imaginings of what the canyon might have looked like during certain periods of its long history. We move through the canyon from bottom to top, learning about flora, fauna and geography. Small cutouts link present to past.

Tomorrow, I start a class on using Google maps for story telling and am thinking about focusing on the canyon.

161Storeetllr
Jun 18, 2017, 1:25pm Top

>160 witchyrichy: Good review, and thank you for the reminder it's time to read another Stegner!

Hmm, I've never heard of Midsomer Murders. Guess I'll need to check it out, see if I can stream it.

162witchyrichy
Edited: Jun 19, 2017, 12:07pm Top

>161 Storeetllr: It's on Amazon Prime and I think I have access because I pay a bit extra for Acorn, the British channel. We don't do cable so I am willing to pay for extras.

163witchyrichy
Jun 19, 2017, 12:06pm Top

I'm heading out tomorrow for a week on the road: a workshop in Northern Virginia and then a big conference in San Antonio. Browsed the shelf for some books to take along and found three that have been around for awhile: Thursdays in the Park, Annie Dunne, and Nora Webster.

I carried Thursdays in the Park out to the porch with a cold drink, then read more before bed, and just finished it. (So much for the trip ;-) It was a fairly typical romance story, I suppose, although I don't read a lot of them. I suppose the appeal was that the main character, Jeanie Lawson, was a woman just turning 60 and beginning to question her long marriage. Her husband, while kindly, is manipulative, always sure he knows best for her and she is struggling under the restraints even before she meets Ray in the park as they both babysit grandchildren. The plot has a few twists and turns to keep it interesting. It was a good read although I felt like the book group study guide at the end was trying to make the story more "deep" than it was.

164streamsong
Jun 19, 2017, 12:10pm Top

Your class sounds really interesting! I hope to see you post more about it as you get into it.

165witchyrichy
Jun 24, 2017, 7:11am Top

Greetings from San Antonio! Got into town yesterday for a national ed tech conference...the same one that took me to Colorado last year where a highlight was my first LT meetup!

I like staying at the Crockett Hotel. It's old and a little quirky but it's right next to the Alamo. I've visited the Alamo before but a long time ago. (The photo is from a trip with my husband in 2007.) So, I booked a tour with a tour guide for Monday morning.

166karenmarie
Jun 24, 2017, 7:37am Top

Fantastic, Karen!

Have a fun, productive, and safe trip. Great pic, too.

167PaulCranswick
Jun 24, 2017, 12:45pm Top

Have a lovely weekend in San Antonio, Karen. xx

168drneutron
Jun 24, 2017, 8:07pm Top

Oh nice! It's been a bit since I've been there, but I used to stay on the Riverwalk in a hotel in an old bank building. Lots of odd-shaped rooms, very eclectic. Have fun!

169Copperskye
Jun 25, 2017, 12:45am Top

Have fun in San Antonio! Too bad it wasn't in Denver again! 🙁

>160 witchyrichy: That one sounds interesting. Have you read All the Wild that Remains? I listened to it a few years ago and enjoyed it.

>158 witchyrichy: We just started season 6 and are constantly amazed at how deadly those little English villages are!

170johnsimpson
Jun 25, 2017, 5:05pm Top

Hi Karen, hope you are having a really lovely time in San Antonio my dear, sending love and hugs dear friend.

171Storeetllr
Jun 27, 2017, 10:50pm Top

Hi, Karen - How is/was your trip to San Antonio?

Our meetup during your trip last year to Colorado was a highlight for me too!

172witchyrichy
Jun 30, 2017, 11:17am Top

>169 Copperskye: Thanks for the tip on All the Wild that Remains. I haven't read it but added it to my wish list. I learned something new about Stegner recently: he moved to Stanford after WWII and was the leader of a housing co-op who wanted to build affordable houses outside the city. Because the group of 400 included just 3 African Americans, the FHA refused to loan them money and they had to disband. Here's the full story from NPR.

173witchyrichy
Jun 30, 2017, 11:34am Top

>166 karenmarie: >167 PaulCranswick: >168 drneutron: >169 Copperskye: >170 johnsimpson: >171 Storeetllr: Back from San Antonio and settling into summer. I had a wonderful, if a bit hot, visit to the city and a good conference. My guided tour of the Alamo filled in a lot of history and I enjoyed one of the barge rides, something I haven't done before. I was disappointed to not have time to get to The Twig Bookshop, an indie store that looks like a lot of fun.

One fun photo: the gargoyles are on the Tower Life Building. We could see them from the barge.

174witchyrichy
Jun 30, 2017, 7:33pm Top

>169 Copperskye: >171 Storeetllr: I LOVED our meetup in Denver! It was certainly a highlight of my trip to Colorado.

175witchyrichy
Jun 30, 2017, 7:38pm Top

Reading Stats for June

Scandal in Skibbereen
Notwithstanding
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
Ballad
People
13, Rue Therese
Grand Canyon
Thursdays in the Park
Death on Demand
The Hog's Back Mystery

Statistics

Books Read 10
No of Authors 9
New Authors 100%

Male Authors 5 (50%)
Female Authors 5 (50%)

Pages Read 2769
Average Pages 276.9

My Books 10 (100%): some of them were brand new but they were all mine!

Analog 10 (100%)
Digital: I just haven't been reading books on my kindle. I seem to have so many analog books that I am focusing on reading them. And I really just prefer an old-fashioned book.

Living 9 (90%)

Foreign Born 8 (80%)
US Born 2 (20%)

176witchyrichy
Edited: Jul 2, 2017, 4:39pm Top

Statistics for First Half of 2017

Books Read 43
No of Authors 40

New Authors 29 (66%)

Male Authors 26 (59%)
Female Authors 18 (41%)

Pages Read 14,549 (Average Pages: 330.65)

Off My Shelf 35 (80%)

Analog 32 (73%)
Digital 12 (27%)

Living 40 (91%)
Dead 4 (9%)

US Born 28 (64%)
Foreign Born 16 (36%)

177karenmarie
Jul 1, 2017, 9:19am Top

Nice stats, Karen! Congratulations on your reading this year so far.

I prefer paper books over the Kindle, too. For me the Kindle's good for trips and books that are so big that they hurt my hands.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2017

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