lycomayflower reads what she's got in 2017--no, really (part 2)
This is a continuation of the topic lycomayflower reads what she's got in 2017.
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Welcome to my 2017 reading thread! Click here to go to my intoduction post. The photo above is a shelf devoted to science fiction and fantasy by women.
This first post contains an on-going list of the books I've read this year, with the most recent reads at the top. Click on the book title to go to the book's post within the thread, where you will find a review. Numbers in parentheses are page counts for each book. Click here to visit my 2016 thread.
Total Pages: 15,082
74.) Wallace the Brave (170)
73.) When a Wolf Is Hungry
72.) Daddy-Long-Legs (181)
71.) The Yearning Life (79)
70.) Silver Thaw (423)
69.) On Tyranny (126)
68.) Dear Fahrenheit 451 (244)
67.) Betsy-Tacy (113)
66.) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (audio)
65.) Antisocial (499)
64.) Red and Lulu
63.) The Origin of Others (111)
62.) Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
61.) My Life with Bob (242)
60.) Charlotte's Web (audio)
59.) Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History (232)
58.) Hidden Machinery (301)
57.) The Night Gardener
56.) Tash Hearts Tolstoy (372)
55.) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (audio)
54.) Our Souls at Night (179)
53.) At the Edge of the Universe (485)
52.) Morningstar (186)
51.) Mongrels (audio)
50.) Habibi (665)
49.) Then Came Heaven (343)
48.) Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (228)
47.) Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? (audio)
46.) Binti (90)
45.) The Maltese Falcon (217)
44.) Snow White
43.) The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virture (513)
42.) Roller Girl (240)
41.) Hyperbole and a Half (369)
40.) Girling Up (177)
39.) Harry Potter for Nerds (303)
38.) The Tales of Beedle the Bard (116)
37.) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (111)
36.) Pride and Prejudice (audio)
35.) Quidditch Through the Ages (107)
34.) How to Survive a Summer (338)
33.) The Nix (732)
32.) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (870)
31.) Witch, Please (audio)
30.) Playing for Her Heart (175)
29.) How to Bang a Billionaire (349)
28.) Harry, A History (audio)
27.) The Book That Made Me (220)
26.) The Norths Meet Murder (239)
25.) Beyond Heaving Bosoms (284)
24.) The Soldier's Scoundrel (308)
23.) O! Pioneers (170)
22.) A Bear Called Paddington (174)
21.) Natural Law (282)
20.) The Clancys of Queens (audio)
19.) Our Numbered Days (64)
18.) Holding the Cards (223)
17.) The Deep End (461)
16.) Childhood's End (224)
15.) Waiting for the Flood (78)
14.) The Crossover (237)
13.) The Fallen (254)
12.) The Expats (500)
11.) The Tolkien Family Album (90)
10.) Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees
9.) Christian History Issue #78: J.R.R. Tolkien (audio)
8.) Bandersnatch (audio)
7.) Letters from Skye (290)
6.) The 5 Love Languages (203)
5.) Rings, Swords, and Monsters (audio)
4.) Tolkien and the West (audio)
3.) A Gentleman in the Street (336)
2.) Nowhere Ranch (236)
1.) A Man Called Ove (337)
Hello! My name is Laura, and this is the tenth year I've kept an LT thread tracking and reviewing my reading. I read pretty widely, but I'm most likely to read romance, memoir, mysteries, YA, sci-fi, fantasy, and literary fiction. I'm in my mid-thirties, worked as an editor until this past spring, am married to a fellow reader, and carry on living in the south (it's been the majority of my adult life now) despite constantly missing winter and wanting to move back north (I grew up in north-east Pennsylvania). When I'm not reading, I like to do photography, write, crochet, bowl, swim, and watch TV. This year I'm also trying to get back into blogging at https://wonderatsix.blogspot.com/. Please feel free to talk to me there or here on LT. I love a good bookish conversation!
This year I'm continuing with some goals from 2016, looking to read more books by diverse authors (especially by poc, trans, and lesbian authors), poetry, literary fiction from my shelves, and loooong books I've been avoiding "because I won't make my book count goal." I'm also hoping to limit my book buying, shooting for only 2-3 per month (very low for me), and thus also readying much more from my shelves.
My favorite books read in 2016 were:
Symptoms of Being Human
A Castle Full of Cats
Hope I am not jumping in too soon to wish you a happy new thread, Laura.
Today at my blog, I talk recommendations for books I've read in the first half of 2017 plus a few reads I'm looking forward to getting to soon. Come on over, and feel free to leave comments at the blog!
43.) The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, Mackenzi Lee ****
YA historical fiction set in the early 18th century and following Henry, a bisexual* young man on his Grand Tour. Along with him are his biracial best friend and his sister, Felicity, who he is meant to be dropping off at her finishing school. Henry has issues with his father, and loves his best friend Percy, though he can't bring himself to tell Percy that. Adventures ensue, involving highway men, mysterious puzzle boxes, alchemy, and pirates. This was a fun story which I enjoyed a lot (despite feeling like it was maybe a tad longer than it needed to be). I loved loved loved the way it dealt with privilege and prejudice and especially the question of how to help others while still honoring their choices and agency. Some nice stuff about gender expectations with Felicity as well. If I had any real issues with the book, it was that the tone was very much "young adult novel written in 2017," and while it was written very well, I had a hard time reconciling that with the setting, somehow.
*Not really a concept that had arisen yet in the way we understand it today, but for ease of understanding here....
>13 lycomayflower: Nothing important, just something to note that you had a new thread, and to make it show up under "Your Posts". So I wouldn't lose you, y'know. 'Cause Mom is supposed to know where her kid is.
44.) Snow White: A Graphic Novel, Matt Phelan ****
This graphic novel retells the Snow White fairy tale in 1920s New York. The evil stepmother is a theater star, the seven dwarves are street kids. Very light on words, the story is carried almost entirely by the illustrations, which are striking and used to excellent effect. Recommended.
Serafina and the Black Cloak, Robert Beatty
DNF: This is less DNF and more a non-starter, I guess, as I quit after the first chapter. The writing was irritating me right from the first pages (clumsy dialogue, weird word repetition, language that seemed simpler than it should be), and then there was a development at the end of the first chapter that squicked me but good. So I'm out. A little bummed, because this series looked promising, but it isn't as if I don't have other books to keep me occupied. *cough*
>16 lycomayflower: I really loved that one. One of my five star reads this year.
>17 lycomayflower: No...I rely on "Your Posts". Of course then if I only lurk, I lose people. I do have some threads starred, but I don't look at that view all the time.
>18 lycomayflower: I read it, but I felt the same way you did. I was surprised to see that the series is moderately popular, but I guess the things that bothered us don't bother its intended audience so much.
>19 MickyFine: Wasn't it great? Hang on, I think maybe it was on my list because of you? I have *got* to start making a note of where my book bullets come from.
>20 laytonwoman3rd: Your system confounds me, Mims.
>21 FlamingRabbit: Was it "squick"?
>22 foggidawn: I'm glad it wasn't just me. It seems to have a ton of really positive reviews.
Whereas I use "Your Posts" almost exclusively, and star things very rarely.
>23 lycomayflower: I occasionally used to make notes about sources of my BBs but since I've taken to keeping The List in Goodreads I haven't done so. I'm happy to take credit for you reading this one, though. :)
45.) The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett **1/2
There's something slightly compelling about the style in which this hardboiled detective story is written--it's very filmic, largely just showing the reader the action without commenting on it or getting into characters' heads. But the slight interest I had in the style did not make up for the rest of the thing, which was homophobic, misogynistic, and kind of boring. I was never interested in any of the characters, the plot never really takes off (there's little detecting, little following clues or figuring things out on the page), and the end makes me crazy. Meh.
***For Book Club
46.) Binti, Nnedi Okorafor ***1/2
Sci-fi novella about a young Himba woman who defies her family to leave home and study at the best university in the galaxy. And then things happen en route and the story turns into something else, something about prejudice and imperialism and colonialism and diplomacy and agency. I really really like what Okorafor did here thematically, I liked what the novella was *about*, but I was not at all taken with it as a story. It felt somewhat flat and without narrative drive. I did spend a good deal of time reading about the Himba peoples and various Eurpean awfullnesses in Namibia, and that was fascinating, important history I otherwise might not have come across. So I'm happy to have read the book because it prompted me to do that. I have a number of Okorafor's other books on my TBR, and I'm hoping I'll enjoy those more fully.
>31 MickyFine: I've seen the first Thin Man movie, and I quite enjoyed it, too! I have to remember to watch the rest. There's just nothing fun about The Maltese Falcon. I guess that's the difference.
47.) Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House, Alyssa Mastromonaco, read by the author ***1/2
Former Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations in Obama's adminstration Mastromonaco's memoir about working in the White House. Or rather, that's what I thought it would be. It's really more about being a professional working woman and what she's learned about how to do that well, with a fair amount of stories about working in the White House as examples of those lessons. I don't know if it was that the book wasn't what I was expecting or that I found Mastromonaco's narration of the book a bit dull and monotone and hard to engage with, but I found this book pretty meh. Some of the specific stories were really interesting, but on the whole I just wasn't that invested. I wanted more "behind the scenes at the White House" and less general advice-y stuff about being a professional woman. I also had a really hard time following her organization (she mentions that she organized around kinds of advice rather than chronologically, so my problems with this probably stemmed directly from my dissatisfaction with the focus of the book). Disappointing for me, but if you *want* what Mastromonaco delivered, probably a pretty great read.
48.) Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast ****
Chast's graphic memoir focuses on the declining years and death of her parents. Her stories about dealing with the intensification of her parents' personalities as they aged into their nineties, the years that she tried to care for them from a distance while they stayed in their apartment of forty years, and watching them adjust to and then die in a nursing home is by turns very funny and quite heartbreaking. Not an easy read, but one that anyone who has dealt with the death of an elderly loved one or who will be soon should find some something worthwhile in Chast's experiences. Recommended.
49.) Then Came Heaven, LaVyrle Spencer ****
I guess I'd call this a literary romance, in that it is primarily a love story (and one with a happy ending that you're never really in any doubt is going to come about), but the novel gets its story on the page and moves more like literary fiction than it does like a romance novel. The story opens with the sudden tragic death of Krystyna Olczak, a young wife and mother, and moves from there to follow her husband Eddie, her daughters, and her daughters' teacher, a nun in the local Catholic school, as they deal with the aftermath of her death. Spencer does an excellent job putting on the page the small 1950s Minnesota town where the story is set, and her exploration of Sister Regina's doubt about her vocation is handled very well. At times, the book is more character study and consideration of setting than it is anything else, and that is definitely part of what made it such a good read for me. I felt like I was reading about all my older relatives--almost recognizing people I knew as they might have been thirty years before I was born. My only disappointment was that the last tiny bit of the book (the last fifteen pages maybe?) felt a little less carefully put together. Once Eddie and Jean (Sister Regina) had navigated all their obstacles and were finally together, it felt a little, I dunno, almost creepy? Like Spencer put so much effort into exploring all their feelings and concerns and doubts along the way and then at the very end it was all just: and now here we are and everything is fine. Heh? But the journey up to that point was so satisfying that it almost didn't matter. Mostly recommended.
50.) Habibi, Craig Thompson **1/2
Wrrr. This graphic novel. Wrrr. The art is *amazing.* The structure and the intertwining of motifs and themes is by turns fascinating and compelling. The story is only so-so. And then there's the "urg" feeling I had the whole time I was reading. The story is set in an unnamed Middle Eastern country sometime in the near-ish future. Here's my first two "urg" feelings: Craig Thompson is not, to the best of my ability to discover, of any sort of Middle Eastern descent nor is he culturally adjacent in any way (like, say, having married someone of Middle Eastern descent). A white person writing a book about the Middle East is not an automatic "urg," but it does make me pay real close attention and start looking for an answer to the question, "Why *this* story, why by *you*?" I didn't feel like I ever got that answer. And the nonspecificity of the setting made me go "Hrrm" as well. Americans aren't historically so great at understanding Middle Eastern countries, cultures, and peoples with nuance and specificity, so the vague setting feels like maybe not enough effort. Then there's the dramatic sexualization of the female lead, who is shown naked *a lot* and who is raped *a lot* and who we *see* getting raped *a lot.* I didn't feel like this nudity and sexual violence was helping me confront anything or learn anything (except maybe demonstrating that whole "arousal does not equal desire" thing, but I never felt like Thompson was going for that, so.). There's a sultan who is one hundred percent governed by his lusts. Flrn. He's got a harem, and guess how many of the women in it are full-fledged characters rather than naked women we see the sultan ****ing in all kinds of positions? Dingdingding. Zero. And then there are the characters of African descent. They are decidedly simian in appearance. They are *treated* (some of them anyway) as fully-rounded characters; their depiction in the story is not racist as far I saw, but their *images* were. Whhyyyyyy? Aside from the eye-popping "wow" of the art itself, the positive thing that stood out to me about this graphic novel was the depiction of stories from both Christian and Islamic religious tradition that were woven into the larger narrative. These were magnificently illustrated, and the explanation of the differences between the same stories from the two different traditions were fascinating. It made me wish Thompson had teamed up with some religious scholars and done a nonfic comparative graphic work about Christianity and Islam. Alas.
51.) Mongrels, Stephen Graham Jones, read by Chris Patton and Jonathan Yen ****
A coming of age story of sorts about a boy growing up with his aunt and uncle and learning about his heritage as a werewolf. The writing is excellent. The audiobook was performed beautifully. Jones strikes a perfect balance between letting his story be a *story* and recognizing that it is about a whole lot of things that have nothing to do with werewolves. Recommended.
***For Book Club
>37 lycomayflower: Whoa. Well, then. Yes. I think I'll give that one a hard pass, then.
52.) Morningstar: Growing Up with Books, Ann Hood ****
Hood's memoir through books is organized around "lessons" she learned from various books she read in her childhood or young adulthood. A pleasant, entertaining, sometimes insightful little read. If you enjoy books about books and reading, not a bad addition to that genre.
More blog-y goodness: I wrap some of my most mistreated words up in blankets and scritch them behind the ears. Come on by and leave some support for the poor dears in the comments.
53.) At the Edge of the Universe, Shaun David Hutchinson ***1/2
The premise of this YA novel is that narrator Ozzie's long-time best friend and current boyfriend, Tommy, has disappeared from the world. There's no trace of him and no one else remembers that he existed. In between juggling school work and a succession of therapists, Ozzie tries to find Tommy. Oh, and the universe is shrinking.
As Ozzie puzzles and agonizes over Tommy's disappearance and how the universe could possibly be getting smaller without anyone but him noticing (or remembering the things that are disappearing as it shrinks), we get some good exploration of issues among teenagers, including love and what it means, sex and what it means, gender and what it means, plans for the future and what figuring out who you are means. Some nice representation of gay teens and gender fluid teens here, as well.
I don't remember quite at what point I started thinking that the whole smaller universe thing was only a metaphor
>45 MickyFine: I may check that out then. I think I would rather like something like it that was well executed. And I keep hearing good things about Beth Revis.
54.) Our Souls at Night, Kent Haruf ****
When I heard that Netflix is making a movie of this, I decided it was time to read it. (I've been meaning to for awhile.) So I went to the bookstore, bought it, and read the whole thing in essentially one sitting. The writing is superb. The characters are deftly and seemingly effortlessly drawn. I was deeply in love with the book until the end, which I *hate*. It feels abrupt and slightly out of sync with the rest of the book (this is forgivable given that Haruf was dying when he wrote it), but the events of the end also make me unpleased. *grump* Recommended though, because such amazing writing, such lovely characters who are so real so quickly.
Loved the writing in Our Souls, but the son's condemnation felt like something out of Dickens.
>50 m.belljackson: I felt like his character wasn't nearly well enough developed for us to understand where he was coming from in the end. And therefore it just felt like an anvil dropped into the story.
DNF: Before the Fall, Noah Hawley
Mlerg. A small private plane goes down in the Atlantic, killing everyone on board except Scott, a small-time painter who had been offered a lift by one of the wealthy owners of the plane, and JJ, the young son of one of the wealthy owners of the plane. Scott swims to shore with JJ on his back and is hailed as a hero. Then we get the story of the people trying to figure out what happened to the plane and of each of the people on the plane, told through flashbacks. *shrug* I like Scott a lot and was invested in his story, especially how he felt connected to JJ after their ordeal. But much of the book is not about him (I quit about halfway through), and I can't stand any of the other characters. And I don't feel terribly compelled to find out what happened to the plane either. My suspicion is that one of the nasty, greedy humans circling around the event made it crash for some nasty, greedy reason. Nothing I've read in the first half of the book makes me think there's anything more interesting than that going on. Put that along with characters I'm not interested in and writing that's certainly fine but not a reason in and of itself to read the thing, and I'm out.
>52 lycomayflower: Good for you, Laura. I haven't read it, but I'm all in favor the DNF when it's not working for you.
>53 jnwelch: I'm in favor of it too, but somehow I seem to have trouble actually *doing* it a lot of the time. So... *pats self on back* :-)
Trying my hand at a new motivator for finishing books and reading things I have/reducing the number of books I buy. Above is a "book bingo" card I've made for myself, comprised of a few books I've been halfway through forever, a handful of new books I really want to read but never seem to pick up, and a few things I'm trying to get through on some kind of schedule (book club reads, books I want to pass on to someone else, books whose sequels are coming out soon, etc). The idea is that I reward myself for getting "bingos," thus encouraging me not to quit reading things for no reason and (hopefully) controlling a bit the new books coming in. I have a few additional rules set up governing BOTM credits, sequel buying, and so on, but the gist of the rules is this:
--A four corner bingo = $40 B&N gift card for myself that I can use whenever on whatever (the four corners is thus deliberately "hard")
--Completing any one row of five books = I can buy one new hardback (or one paperback)
--Completing any three books = I can buy one new paperback, but those three books are no longer eligible for completing five-book rows or four corners. The middle spot (traditionally the free spot) is exempt from this ineligibility.
Right. Now it's a game. Let's see how I do. *rubs hands together*
What great fun!
Is there any way to enlarge the photo so all titles are legible?
My cat would surely enjoy choosing the first book, as the one she lies upon.
>56 drneutron: Thanks! Hope it works.
>57 m.belljackson: Only by hitting Ctrl+ to make the whole screen bigger (or pinching it bigger on a touch screen), but the clarity is poo that way.
The Name of the Wind
Dog On It
The Long Haul
Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History
The Yearning Life
A Gentleman in Moscow
The Cloister Walk
Tash Hearts Tolstoy
The Metropolis Case
Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad
The Wangs vs. the World
The Lawrence Browne Affair
Jane Austen, The Secret Radical
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Secret Country
A Study in Scarlet Women
The Hidden Machinery
The House at Riverton
A Darker Shade of Magic
The Heart's Invisible Furies
LOL. Cats. Mine likes to knock over piles of books.
>58 MickyFine: Thanks!
In thinking about the bingo card (>55 lycomayflower:), it occurred to me that I ought to have room for reads that aren't on the card. I mean, I have tons more books that fall into all those categories represented on the card. So I've made up a second card with categories instead of specific titles. I'll work on both cards at once. Same rules, but any one book can only satisfy one square and only on one card. *nods*
Oooh, I've had The Name of the Wind on my Read Soon shelves for ages. Need to get to it...um...soon.
Hooray for book bingo! I'm going to try it for my reading goals next year.
>61 MickyFine: I feel like it's possible I'm straying into "overthinking it" territory, but I'm excited about the bingo cards, so thhsbt to overthinking it, I say!
>62 lauralkeet: Me too! Fingers crossed it's a method that sticks. If it is, I think it'll be fun.
>63 scaifea: Husbeast keeps telling me it's some of the best fantasy and one of the best books he's ever read. I'm excited to read it, but the length always seems to make me pass for something a little more manageable.
>64 foggidawn: Whoohoo! Cool!
Well Played, Katrina Ramos Atienza
Well, ding dang, this is disappointing. I came across this modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in a university in the Phillipines on amazon and it had a handful of good reviews. And the premise made me all "yes please gimme hands." But I cannot get into it. There are so many character introduced so quickly, and they don't have enough distinguishing characteristics to make any of them stand out from the others. Big scenes with all the characters were making my eyes glaze. And the writing (or possibly the editing) is sloppy. Nuts.
>67 MickyFine: Oh! I have that on my TBR somewhere. I think maybe you've recc'd it to me before. *shuffles it up the pile*
Okay, someone stop the DNF train. I want to get off.
You'll Grow Out of It, Jessi Klein
A good many memoirs are completely effective without the reader needing to connect with or like the narrator. But for You'll Grow Out of It, I found myself struggling with the book precisely because I felt so alienated from the narrator. The book's back material talks a lot about Klein being a tomboy as a child, and the first essay or so discuss her confusion about what it was to be feminine and whether she wanted to be that/why it didn't feel "natural" to her to perform femininity. And I thought, "Cool, this is going to be a funny, relatable discussion of being a woman in 21st century America, and how we sometimes feel at odds with what that's supposed to mean even while still wanting to do it 'right.'" And then it just kind of went off the rails for me. The funny bits seemed way more dark or depressing or mean than funny. And as Klein moved on from discussing her childhood, a lot of statements (that I guess were supposed to be funny?) started creeping in that undermine the idea that we can pick and choose which bits of femininity feel right to each of us (or reject them all) and that's fine and good and right. At one point, while discussing buying really expensive makeup, she says, "This despite the fact that I. . . still have trouble buying socks that don't come in a bag because I just can't believe a singe pair costs more than six bucks" (p. 31). There's some implication in there that there's something wrong with buying socks that way, that the "feminine" thing (or adult thing?) to do is definitely not buying the kinds of socks that come six to a pack. And the thing is just peppered with these little "funny" moments that make it clear what behaviors are doing it wrong. She makes a similar comment at some point about the time when she was still wearing cotton underwear and not grooming her lady bits. Like becoming an adult women means, you, what, wear silk next to the skin and get waxed twice a month? I mean, come on. Femininity is a complicated subject, yes, and it means different things to different people and what some of us would never be caught dead doing is something others of us couldn't imagine leaving the house without having done. I thought that's what this book was going to be about. Maybe it gets there? But to the point I got (~87 pages in), I was done with the assumptions about the "right" ways to do things and the urg feeling the book was giving me. YMMV.
>69 lycomayflower: Sorry you hit another dud. Crossing all crossables the next one is better.
55.) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale ****
The Jim Dale performances of the HP audiobooks are such a strange combination of utterly delightful and perplexingly annoying. For the most part I adore being able to listen to these favorites, and Dale does an excellent job much of the time. However, sometimes (especially in the dialogue) his intonation is very odd, and not infrequently he puts the emphasis on the wrong word in the sentence (like the difference between "*I* didn't do that" and "I didn't do *that*"), which suggests to me that he doesn't fully understand what's going on in the story (which is distracting), and occasionally he pronounces a name wrong (for instance, "Filch" is usually "Filch," but sometimes "Filsh"; don't get me started on Vol-de-more rather than Vol-de-mort; I know that isn't necessarily wrong, but flrn). Despite all that, I did enjoy this very much and will likely move on to HP2 shortly.
>74 scaifea: I would love to have the Fry versions! I've never been able to find them in this country?
I don't know how Tomm managed it, but he ordered them as they were released, somehow, and we have a full set. If I could figure out how to load them up onto a usb or two, I'd send them your way...
56.) Tash Hearts Tolstoy, Kathryn Ormsbee ***1/2
Tash's web series, a retelling of Anna Karenina has gone viral. She has to deal with the ramifications of this peculiar kind of fame as well as figure out what her asexuality means for her, navigate friendships and changing family relationships, and decide what she's going to do about college. I kept losing interest in this YA novel, despite thinking it was pretty good and not being able to put my finger on anything that was making me lose interest. I read the last ~100 pages in one sitting and enjoyed that more than any of the rest of the novel, so maybe it was just that I never gave myself enough time in one go to get really stuck in. *shrug* Recommended if the premise sounds up your street, especially as the ace aspects were handled quite well, I thought.
>80 lycomayflower: Excellent post. And it's reminded that I really do want to get around to Lost in Austen one of these days. Noticed the absence of Eligible from your list. Have you tried it yet?
ETA: Also for pure, ridiculous fun I do enjoy the film adaptation of Austenland so, so much. Worth it for the credit sequence of lip syncing alone.
58.) Hidden Machinery: Essays on Writing, Margot Livesey ****
Does what it says on the tin, really. Some of these essays on craft were excellent, some really missed the mark for me. The degree to which any single essay in this collection will work for any single reader has a lot to do with what that reader already knows about writing, what she still struggles with, and how she connects with the personal aspects of the individual essay in question. That's why some of them seemed wonderful to me and others tedious. Other readers may react precisely oppositely. Recommended.
>81 jnwelch: Thanks! I think it's time for a LiA rewatch for me as well!
>82 MickyFine: Thanks! I have Eligible, but I haven't gotten to it yet. Austenland doesn't quite work as well for me as Lost in Austen (they're quite different, but I put them in the same category somehow?), but I did watch the movie a few months back and enjoyed the ridiculousness!
>84 lycomayflower: I totally get putting LiA and Austenland in the same category. They've got a similar vibe.
Wishing you a wonderful long weekend!
59.) Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich ***1/2
Back in the seventies, Ulrich coined the phrase that serves as the book's title in a history article. As it became more and more widely used as a slogan, she decided to write a book about women in history centered around that idea. There's a lot of great info in here about various women, but I'm afraid much of it felt like just one thing after another to me. It didn't really all hang together. YMMV.
***For Book Club
>87 lycomayflower: Not sure that the title is quite true as I don't envisage her fitting Florence Nightingale and Mother Theresa too well into that particular theorem!
Have a lovely weekend, Laura.
60.) Charlotte's Web, E.B. White, read by the author ****1/2
What a treat to get to hear White read this! He does a simply amazing job. I think this is the first time I've read this since childhood, and there were a fair few bits I didn't remember. I was surprised at just how philosophical it was--not just about death and the life cycle but also about how best to live and what's valuable. It's a testament to how well White writes for children, I think, that this book didn't freak me out when I was a wee sprout. The reality Wilbur faces is stark, and it strikes me listening to this as an adult just how much White does not shy away from it. Recommended.
61.) My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues, Pamela Paul ***1/2
Pamela Paul has been keeping a journal of every book she's read since junior high. In this memoir she uses that journal as a jumping off point for talking about parts of her life she was reminded of by entries in the journal. *shrug* On the face of it, this should be right up my street. I love books about books, I like bookish memoirs, I also have kept a journal of books I've read since childhood. But it didn't grab me. I never warmed to Paul, there's not enough about the actual books to please me, and I was hoping for the book journal to play a bigger, geekier part in the whole thing, I guess. YMMV.
62.) Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree, Robert Barry *****
I heard about this children's book somewhere and ordered it sight unseen for the nieces for Christmas. Of course I had to read it (carefully!) to be sure it was up to snuff. I loved this rhyming story about how a rich gentleman gets the perfect tree but has to chop off the top bit to make it fit in his parlor. He gives the top to his maid, who has to chop of the top to make it fit in her attic room. She throws it out, and the gardener finds it and takes it home, where he has to chop off the top bit... et cetera through a succession of smaller and smaller recipients of the tree tops until the last bit ends up with the mouse family in the mouse hole in Mr. Willowby's parlor. Lovely! Great, fun illustrations, too.
63.) The Origin of Others, Toni Morrison ***
Wrrr. This is a series of essays developed from a series of lectures Morrison delivered at Harvard last year. *drums fingers* And Iiiii *glances around furtively* found it really underwhelming? I feel like I *have* to be missing something--I mean, it's *Toni Morrison*--but so many of the essays felt not cohesive. Most of them contained insightful statements about belonging in literature and/or interesting and enlightening and disturbing information about history, but I was left wondering what the conclusion was for most of them too. Possibly the lectures didn't translate well to essay form (I think most things designed to be spoken rather than read work better when they *are* spoken)? Possibly I didn't pay close enough attention? The book has been out for almost three weeks and it is very slim (people have had time, is what I'm saying), and there's almost no chatter about it--few reviews on LT, amazon, or Goodreads, and I don't find any professional reviews either. I'm perplexed.
64.) Red and Lulu, Matt Tavares ****
Another Christmas picture book destined for the nieces. Two cardinals live in a grand evergreen tree and delight in watching the world go by and the seasons change. One day Red flies off to find food to bring back to Lulu and discovers his tree on its side on a truck. When the truck drives away, he follows it. Eventually he loses sight of the truck, but after some searching, he finds his tree again, in Central Park, all pretty in lights. And there's Lulu right were he left her in the branches! They enjoy the Christmas season in their now-famous tree then move to another tree in the park when it's time for their tree to come down. Lovely illustrations and a pleasant enough story. (He almost killed me during the Red searching for Lulu part, jeez, but I think little kids will be invested in the "what happens" bit and not, you know, choking up over the poor cardinal losing his mate because the silly jumped up monkeys like to cut down and decorate trees at the winter solstice.) While the humans in the story are pretty much completely incidental, the humans pictured on the page are fairly diverse, so that's a nice plus in a kids book that is animal-centered. Recommended.
65.) Antisocial, Heidi Cullinan ****
Two college seniors who at first seem like they have little in common fall in love. Lots of manga, anime, and other Japanese culture involved, as both of them are into it. Nice representation and exploration of asexuality and gray sexuality and how someone who is gray and someone who is not might have a romantic relationship.
I loved all the pieces of this book to little bits--the characters, the references, the exploration of sexuality--but ultimately it was a little too long and/or a little too floppy. It isn't what I would call tightly plotted, and at some point with ~150 pages to go, I said, "What else is there that needs to happen for this many pages to be left?" And then more stuff did happen, and I enjoyed it as it played out, but still that sense of the thing not necessarily being a comprehensive whole. That being said, absolutely recommended if you are looking for a gray-ace romance.
66.) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale ****
This audio book of HP2 is much like the Dale-read HP1: sometimes amazingly wonderful, sometimes annoyingly off-base. Dale does Lockhart to a T, however, and I did thoroughly enjoy getting to listen to the story while I went about my chores and driving all over creation.
67.) Betsy-Tacy, Maud Hart Lovelace ***1/2
The first of the Betsy-Tacy books, what I first heard about (like many of my generation, I'm guessing) when Kathleen Kelly recommended them to Joe Fox's aunt in You've Got Mail. A year or so ago I found a boxed set of the first four on the Friends of the Library shelf at the library for next to nothing, and I'm just now dipping in. This was too childish to be fully engaging to an adult first-time reader, but I definitely see the appeal as a chapter books for elementary school younguns. Will likely keep on through the rest of them, especially as I am interested to see how the children, and consequently the books, grow older with each installment. I think there are ten of these all together and by the end Betsy at least is married, so I suspect they may become more interesting to me as I go along.
*tiptoes in. siiiidles to the lightswitch. flips it quick* Ah HA! I see all you lurkers scurrying into the shadows. Come out and say hi!
>99 lycomayflower: Haha, that gave me a good chuckle :)
I'm just catching up on a few threads after being mostly absent from everywhere but my own this summer. *waves*
68.) Dear Fahrenheit 451, Annie Spence ****
This fun little book by a librarian is comprised of letters to books (the first ~3/4) and lists of book recs (the last ~1/4). I enjoyed the letters more than the lists, but some of the lists were good too. Most of the letters are humorous, and while Spence occasionally used her humor to be just a little meaner than I really dig, for the most part, this was a lot of fun to read and made me laugh out loud quite a bit. A nice spin on the genre of personal books about books.
69.) On Tyranny, Timothy Snyder ***1/2
I mostly found this depressing and a retread of advice I've already heard and have been taking since November (such as: read and financially support print journalism; have a valid passport; disengage from the internet more often; read "slow" texts, that is things that take time to absorb like books and long-form journalism; seek out and listen to the experiences and opinions of people from other countries; be critical and wary of alarmist language from "leaders"; speak up; support charities; support the institutions you value). It's incredibly important stuff, but I also wish there had been more to it, more specific advice and more (any) references* to other works of history or political science to back up Snyder's facts and to direct one to further reading. After talking to LW3, who reacted much more favorably to the book than I did, I'm willing to concede that I'm probably asking the book to do things it wasn't intended to do. For many Snyder's book will probably work just as it is meant to and will be a welcome source of advice. For me, it woke up the rattlers in my stomach without making me feel like there was much I could do about it. YMMV.
*That is, citations. He does reference other works.
70.) Silver Thaw, Catherine Anderson ****
Quite possibly at a different time I would not have had any patience with this book at all. It's a little gender stereotype-y, and the hero is pretty much too good to be believed, and there isn't quite enough character development, and it sometimes stretches suspension of disbelief around details (a town so small that everyone knows everyone else's business has enough deputies that three of them are frequently off duty all at once?), and the details of the abusive husband sometimes felt a little convenient for the story, but apparently I was in receptive mood. Anderson pulls you along at a clip, and the whole thing felt cozy and escapist in precisely the right way for the last couple of days.
71.) The Yearning Life, Regina Walton ****
Poetry collections, man. For me they are always, like, eighty percent "Wha--?" and twenty percent "OMG that was the best thing I ever read." This one follows that pattern. I *loved* "Sleight," and while I don't think I fully got the antiphons section on this read, it intrigued me enough that I suspect I will be coming back to it again.
I've been a little *grump* this year about being behind (sometimes it seemed impossibly behind) last year in books read, but I just shot past last year's pace, so maybe there's hope yet for beating last year's number.
I *am* still way behind on page count, though. By 1,278. *drums fingers*
>106 lycomayflower: I definitely liked this more than you Laura. You might find a George Monbiot's Out of the Wreckage more to your taste. I've already got a list growing of books mentioned, I'm two-thirds through. And he posits solutions.
Monbiot is mostly known for his environmental work and his book Feral: rewilding the land, sea and human life is a fine read.
>111 Caroline_McElwee: Oh, interesting. I will have to check that out. Thank you for the rec!
>106 lycomayflower: "I'm willing to concede that I'm probably asking the book to do things it wasn't intended to do" And, as we discussed, you're probably not among the audience of people it was intended for. It's a primer, and you're already in the advanced class, m'dear.
>111 Caroline_McElwee: I'm making note of that one, too, Caroline. Thanks.
It's that list! Below is my list of my favorite books/the books that meant the most to me/the books that had the biggest impact on my life published in each year of my life. This is a work in progress; as I continue to read backlist and/or just discover other books I have already read from any given year that I like better than what's listed, I'll update the list.
This was such a fascinating exercise. For some years I basically had to pick *the* book I'd read from that year (of course there are limitations here around how I found books published in any given year). Other years I had to think really carefully and choose from among four or more books that all argued for a spot on the list. It's interesting to me, too, that most of my favorites from my childhood years are children's books. Apparently as an adult I haven't read adult books from that time that I liked better than the kids' books I'd already read. I ended up using Wikipedia's list of books published in given years plus Google and Goodreads lists to make a base list. Then I went through my LT collection of 5-Star Reads and checked those for ones that were better for their years than what was on the base list. Bob's your uncle! List.
My Favorite Books Published in Each Year of My Life:
1983—A Solitary Blue
1984—Star Trek: The Vulcan Academy Murders
1986—A Murder for Her Majesty
1987—Calvin and Hobbes
1989—Number the Stars
1991—Heir to the Empire
1992—Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture
1995—The Courtship of Princess Leia
1997—Moab Is My Washpot
1998—About a Boy
1999—The Perks of Being a Wallflower
2000—J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century
2002—The Midwife: A Memoir of Joy, Birth, and Hard Times
2004—Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell
2006—The Thirteenth Tale
2007—Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
2011—The Song of Achilles
2012—Mrs Queen Takes the Train
2017—Dear Fahrenheit 451
>113 laytonwoman3rd: It's a primer, and you're already in the advanced class, m'dear. Yeah, I *guess*. I always think I'm way behind/not doing nearly enough when it comes to this sort of thing. Course, I'm comparing myself to my friends, and I'm blessed with very smart, very active friends. So. Compared to, like, every American adult, I guess.
Nice list. I've only done mine up to 1990, but already we have two matches.
Fabulous list, lady. Fry!! The Sparrow!! Song of Achilles!! Matilda!! Excellent choices.
72.) Daddy-Long-Legs, Jean Webster ****
I never read this as a kid, but I remember a friend carrying it around with her a lot. foggidawn reviewed it a little while ago, bringing it back to my attention, and it sounded like fun. I loved it and got very caught up in all the little details of women's college life in the 1910s. The identity of the "mysterious" Daddy-Long-Legs seemed very obvious to me, though I rather suspect I might not have thought so if I had read this when I was ~nine. While some of the story is a bit dated, very little terribly much bothered my modern sensibilities, especially as I think Jerusha would have been a fairly forward-thinking and "modern" woman in her time.
I have a film of the same title with Fred Astaire in it saved on my pvr but I'm not sure if they're related.
>123 MickyFine: It is "loosely based" on the book, according to Wikipedia.
Interested in listening to some podcasts but not sure how to fit them in? I can help!
73.) When a Wolf Is Hungry, Christine Naumann-Villemin, illustrated by Kris DiGiacomo ***1/2
Picture book about a wolf who goes to town to eat a rabbit. And then
74.) Wallace the Brave, Will Henry *****
A comic strip collection about 7ish- year-old Wallace, his family, and his friends. This is a tiny bit Peanuts and a good deal Calvin and Hobbes but all its own too. I loved every panel. The humor is exactly my sort of humor. I love the parents. They are Calvin's parents if they were a little less strict, a little more fun, and if Calvin engaged a little more fully with *their* humor. It's hard not to read them as a kind of response to Calvin's parents, but in a wonderful way. There's no friend only Wallace can see, but he does have a best friend--Spud. Spud has anxiety and he's never left out because of it. *loves* Spud and Wallace have a slightly antagonistic friendship with Amelia, a girl in their class, but there's never any reference to that antagonism springing from her being a girl. *loves* I suspect I will be reading this again and again.
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