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Laytonwoman3rd's Third for 2018

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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Edited: Jul 6, 12:01pm Top


THE QUAD, and LONG HALL (Administration Bldg)

RICH HALL residence

Hi! I'm Linda, a retired paralegal living in Northeastern Pennsylvania with my husband flamingrabbit (a retired broadcast engineer), and our sweet kitty, Molly O'Del, who we rescued from The Barn. Our daughter, lycomayflower, hangs around this group as well.

For toppers this year, I decided to feature photos of places that are important to me. On this thread I'm posting some shots of my alma mater, where flamingrabbit and I met, and where lycomayflower also got her BA.

My goal is always to read more of the books I already own, and to acquire fewer books than I remove from the house. As you will see from subsequent posts where I keep track of that kind of thing, I'm rubbish at it. I just like browsing and buying books. Besides, in June of 2016 I became a board member of the Scranton Public Library, so now I'm duty bound to attend ALL their book sales and bring stuff home, eh? They also have a nifty little independent bookstore/library branch which gets the best donations of used books, like art books, Folio editions, and such.

I've been keeping track of my reading here on LT since 2007.
Here is a link to my last thread for 2017.

If you want to explore my reading backwards from there, take a look at my profile page, where I have linked to all my earlier threads.

Back to the tickers, now that I've changed anti-virus programs, and this one seems to think TickerFactory.com is just fine:



and, BOOKS FROM MY SHELVES READ in 2018 (otherwise known as "ROOTS")

Edited: Oct 8, 12:04pm Top

In this post I'll keep monthly lists of my completed reads, from July forward. (First half of the year is documented in >3 below.)

I use some shorthand to help me keep track of my reading trends: ROOT identifies a book that I have owned for at least a year at the time I read it. CULL means I put the book in my donation box for the library book sale after finishing it. DNF means I didn't finish the book, for one reason or another, usually explained in the related post. ER means I received the book from LT's Early Reviewer program. GN refers to a graphic novel (don't expect to see a lot of that one!) An *asterisk indicates a library book; LOA means I read a Library of America edition; SF means the book was a Slightly Foxed edition, (NOT science fiction, which I so rarely read); FOLIO, of course, indicates a Folio Society edition. AUDIO and e-Book are self-explanatory, and probably won't appear very often. AAC, BAC and IAC refer to the American, British and Irish Author Challenges. (See more on those below) NF indicates a non-fiction read.
Clicking on titles in this post will take you to the message in which I reviewed or commented on that book.


*87. A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House
*86. Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell
85. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
84. The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser ROOT, CULL, NF
83. Hawk Moon by Sam Shepard ROOT, CULL
82. The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle ROOT, IAC
81. Three Houses by Angela Thirkell ROOT


80. Accent on Murder by Frances and Richard Lockridge
79. Clay's Quilt by Silas House ROOT
78. True Grit by Charles Portis ROOT
77. August Heat by Andrea Camilleri CULL
*76. Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
75. As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Alan Preston and Neil Gower
*74. Sackett by Louis L'Amour AAC
73. Taking Chances by M. J. Farrell (Molly Keane) ROOT, CULL, IAC
72. Blue Horses by Mary Oliver
*71. Seven For a Secret by Lyndsay Faye
70. Little Brown Bear by Elizabeth Upham
69. Sharyn McCrumb's Appalachia by Sharyn McCrumb
68. Cotton Top by Jean O'Neill
67. The Daybreakers by Louis L'Amour AAC
66. Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo ROOT

Really trying to concentrate on ROOT reads this month. (Also, switching back to most recent on top in my lists, which I abandoned during the first half of the year, for some reason.)

Some Miscellaneous short selections: short fiction reads

*65. The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
64. Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson ROOT
63. Corpus Christmas by Margaret Maron ROOT
62. This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash ROOT
DNF * Where the Past Begins by Amy Tan AAC, NF
DNF * Shelter by Jung Yun
61. Everything in This Country Must by Colum McCann ROOT, IAC
60. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham ROOT
59. The Weather in Africa by Martha Gellhorn ROOT

Edited: Sep 26, 12:11pm Top

My completed reads for the first half of 2018:
(See >2 laytonwoman3rd: above for codes, etc.)


1. Period Piece by Gwen Raverat FOLIO
2. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
3. First Time Ever by Peggy Seeger ER
4. Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart
*5. South Toward Home by Margaret Eby
6. She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb ROOT
7. Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault, Ill. by Fred Marcellino


8. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline ROOT, CULL
*9. Kinsey and Me by Sue Grafton
*10. B is For Burglar by Sue Grafton
*11. Blood Flies Upward by E. X. (Elizabeth) Ferrars
12. The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge BAC, CULL
13. 14. and 15. I, Crocodile by Fred Marcellino, The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward and The Story of Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman and Fred Marcellino.
16. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey ROOT
17. No Time to Spare by Ursula LeGuin
18. and 19. My Friend Mac by May McNeer, Illustrated by Lynd Ward and The Silver Pony by Lynd Ward
20. Hedgie's Surprise by Jan Brett
21. A Bit on the Side by William Trevor IAC
22. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead AAC


23. Old School by Tobias Wolff. AAC, ROOT
24. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by Simon Armitage BAC
25. The Romanovs and Mr. Gibbs by Frances Welch ROOT, CULL
26. Last Will and Testament by Elizabeth Ferrars CULL
27. The Dragon Man by Gary Disher
*28. Camino Island by John Grisham
29. Hank and Jim by Scott Eyman
*30. Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley
31. A Dark Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine ROOT, BAC


32. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann NF
33. The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley CULL
34. West by Carys Davies
35. The Hounds of Spring by Lucy Andrews Cummin
36. Fear and What Follows by Tim Parrish ROOT
37. The Color Purple by Alice Walker ROOT, AAC
38. Kittyhawk Down by Gary Disher


*39. Circe by Madeline Miller
40. A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell BAC, ROOT
41. Once Upon a Memory, Vol. 1 ROOT
42. Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers ROOT, BAC
43. A Charm of Goldfinches by Matt Sewell
44. Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart ROOT
45. New Boy by Tracy Chevalier CULL
46. Hedge Hog! by Ashlyn AnsteeER, CULL
47. Snow in August by Pete Hamill AAC, ROOT
48. The Piano Lesson by August Wilson


49. March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell GN
50. Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively ROOT, BAC 2015
51. When the Thrill is Gone by Walter Mosley AAC, ROOT
52. Fox and Raccoon by Lesley-Anne Green ER, CULL
53. The Ballad of Frankie Silver by Sharyn McCrumb
*54. Tangerine by Christine Mangan
55. The Rosewood Casket by Sharyn McCrumb
56. Darktown by Thomas Mullen
*57. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo NF
58. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Edited: Sep 19, 6:02pm Top


This year, I'm going to follow 3 challenges, without committing to participation in any but the American Authors Challenge. I enjoy meeting new authors, and often have picked up a book I'd been meaning to read for ages because the author was one of the Challenge selections at a given time. But I don't like to plan my reading too strictly. It just doesn't work well for me.

AMERICAN AUTHOR CHALLENGE hosted by msf59. This is my heart's darlin', and these are this year's selections:

January- Joan Didion read 3 essays "Goodbye to all That", "In Bed" and "Black Panther"

February- Colson Whitehead Finished The Underground Railroad
March- Tobias Wolff Finished Old School
April- Alice Walker Finished The Color Purple
May-Peter Hamill Finished Snow in August
June- Walter Mosley Finished When the Thrill is Gone
July- Amy Tan DNF Where the Past Begins
August- Louis L'Amour Finished The Daybreakers and Sackett
September- Pat Conroy It will be a re-read if I do.
October- Stephen King Probably Mr. Mercedes
November- Narrative Nonfiction
December- F. Scott Fitzgerald

IRISH AUTHOR CHALLENGE hosted by PaulCranswick

January : EDNA O'BRIEN Gave O'Brien's The Country Girls a try; not taken with it
February : WILLIAM TREVOR Finished A Bit on the Side
March : DEIRDRE MADDEN will skip her, as I read One By One in the Darkness last year, and have nothing else on the shelf.
April : Samuel Beckett Gotta say he tempts me about as much as James Joyce does, or maybe less...I think I will skip him.
June :ANNE ENRIGHT Skipped
July : COLM TOIBIN OK...I like this guy...I may get to him. ETA But I didn't.
August :MOLLY KEANE Finished Taking Chances
September : RODDY DOYLE Finished The Woman Who Walked Into Doors
December : JOHN BANVILLE, SEBASTIAN BARRY, COLUM MCCANN Finished Everything in This Country Must

BRITISH AUTHOR CHALLENGE Also hosted by Paul. This challenge will be themed this year, with 10 authors suggested in each month, and that will either make it easier or harder to fill!

JANUARY - DEBUT NOVELS - Having already read 3 of these, and having
none of the others on my shelves, I passed.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester
The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills
Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

FEBRUARY - THE 1970s - Not books about the '70's, but books
published in the '70's. I've read 3 of them already, and don't have any of the others at home. Finished The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge, which I believe fits the category.

1970 I'm the King of the Castle by Susan Hill
1971 Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
1972 To Serve Them All My Days by RF Delderfield
1973 The Siege of Krishnapur by JG Farrell
1974 The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge
1975 High Rise by JG Ballard
1976 Falstaff by Robert Nye
1977 The Road to Lichfield by Penelope Lively
1978 The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
1979 Pig Earth by John Berger

MARCH - CLASSIC THRILLERS - http://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6266669
Not much for spy thrillers, which seems to be the preponderance in this category, but psychological thrillers...now that's something else again. Finished Barbara Vine's A Dark Adapted Eye.

APRIL - FOLKLORE, FABLES AND LEGENDS - https://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6264065
Finished Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Simon Armitage

MAY - QUEENS OF CRIME -Finished Ruth Rendell's A Judgement in Stone Also Finished Dorothy L. Sayers' Clouds of Witness

JUNE - TRAVEL WRITING - http://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6266685
I hope to read Patrick Leigh Fermor's A Time of Gifts

JULY - THE ANGRY YOUNG MEN - http://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6266706
Don't need angry young men in my life right now...will skip

AUGUST - BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION - http://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6265570 I'm as unlikely to read any British sci-fi as I am unlikely to read any other kind.

SEPTEMBER - HISTORICAL FICTION - http://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6266539
Possibly I, Claudius?

OCTOBER - COMEDIC NOVELS - https://www.librarything.com/topic/276329#6266707
NOVEMBER - WORLD WAR ONE - https://www.librarything.com/topic/275745#6258461
DECEMBER - BRITISH SERIES - https://www.librarything.com/topic/276796#6268684

WILDCARD - THE ROMANTICS - https://www.librarything.com/topic/276796#6271176

Not so much a challenge as an intention, but I hope to read some from this list of books by women of color in 2018
Finished So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

as well as some of these essential works by Native Americans.

Edited: Oct 6, 1:24pm Top

I'm calling this post .

This is where I will keep a running tally of the books that come into the house in 2018.

January Yikes. Lookit, already.

1. Reconstruction: Voices from America's First Great Struggle for Racial Equality (Library of America)
2. Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart
3. The Fleet Street Murders by Charles Finch
4. The Great Leader by Jim Harrison
5. Absalom's Daughters by Suzanne Feldman
6. Fools Crow by James Welch
7. Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam
8. Darktown by Thomas Mullen
9. Under the Bamboozle Bush by Walt Kelly
10. Breath by Tim Winton
11. Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault, illustrated by Fred Marcellino


1. Hank and Jim by Scott Eyman
2. The Story of Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman, illustrated by Fred Marcellino
3. The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward
4. Last Will and Testament by Elizabeth Ferrars
5. Frog in the Throat by E. X. Ferrars
6. Something Wicked by E. X. Ferrars


1. The General's Wife by Ishbel Ross


1. Mornings Like This: Found Poems by Annie Dillard
2. Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehman
3. Those Turbulent Sons of Freedom by Christopher Wren


1. Silent Spring & Other Writings on the Environment by Rachel Carson
2. The Piano Lesson by August Wilson
3. Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night by Barbara J. Taylor
4. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
5. March, Book One by John Lewis
6. Famous Women by Giovanni Boccaccio
7. A Charm of Goldfinches by Matt Sewell
8. Macbeth by Jo Nesbo
9. Hedge Hog! by Ashlyn Anstee

June (This is getting pretty embarrassing.)

1. Albert Murray Collected Novels &. Poems
2. Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson
3. Joe Turner's Come and Gone by August Wilson
4. Circe by Madeline Miller
5. So Brave, Young and Handsome by Leif Enger
6. The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama
7. The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
8. Walking With the Wind by John Lewis
9. Ballad of Frankie Silver by Sharyn McCrumb
10. Blue Horses by Mary Oliver
11. Fear of the Dark by Walter Mosley
12. Cinnamon Kiss by Walter Mosley
13. Down By the River by Edna O'Brien
14. The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett
15. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
16. Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen


1. Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance
2. Finderes Keepers by Stephen King
3. The Trouble I've Seen by Martha Gellhorn
4. Chesapeake by James Michener
5. The Daybreakers by Louis L'Amour


1. Cotton Top by Jean O'Neill
2. Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb
3. Sharyn McCrumb's Appalachia by Sharyn McCrumb
4. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
5. Little Brown Bear by Elizabeth Upham


1. Hondo by Louis L'Amour
2. On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin
3. The Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin
4. All our Names by Dinaw Mengestu
5. The Coal Tattoo by Silas House
6. The Lake of Darkness by Ruth Rendell
7. Just As I Am by E. Lynn Harris
8. And This Too Shall Pass by E. Lynn Harris
9. If This World Were Mine by E. Lynn Harris
10. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
11. War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

Edited: Oct 6, 1:28pm Top

The ongoing struggle to purge books I'll never read, or never read again...


1. The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O'Brien
2. Night by Edna O'Brien
3. We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg

4. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
5. The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge
6. The Lion in the Living Room by Abigail Tucker (JCK)

7. Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig
8. A is for Alibi Grafton duplicate
9. B is for Burglar Grafton duplicate
10. Last Will and Testament by Elizabeth Ferrar
11. The Romanovs and Mr. Gibbes by Frances Welch
12. The Anatomy of Violence by Adrian Raine (JCK)
13. Eternal Darkness by Robert Ballard (JCK)
14. "C" by Sir Stewart Menzies (JCK)
15. The Mind of Adolf Hitler by Walter Langer
16. and 17. Two more JCK books whose titles I failed to note down
17. The Diary of a Catholic Bishop by Edward Carden
18. This is My God by Herman Wouk (duplicate copy)
19. Incidents in the Life of John H. Race
20. The Oxford Pocket Dictionary
21. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language


22. Oscar & Lucinda by Peter Carey
23. First Light by Peter Ackroyd
24. The Terror by Dan Simmons (JCK)
25. Reign of Iron by James L. Nelson (JCK)
26. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin (JCK)
27. The Dancing Dodo by John Gardner (JCK)
28. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson (JCK)
29. Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks (JCK)
30. War As I Knew It by George S. Patton (JCK)
31. Jim Cramer's Real Money (JCK)
32. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
33.-45. LOA volumes of Philip Roth, Philip K. Dick and Saul Bellow
46. The Tangled Web by Michael J. Cain (JCK)


47. New Boy by Tracy Chevalier


48. Old Devils by Kingsley Amis
49. Hedge Hog! by Ashlyn Anstee
50. Fox and Raccoon Leslie-Anne Green


51. The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley
52. Night of January 16th Ayn Rand
53. The Fountainhead Ayn Rand
54. Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand
55. The Romantic Manifesto Ayn Rand
56. The World is Flat Thomas L. Friedman
57. Down By the River Edna O'Brien
58. Paradigms Lost by John Simon
59. Tennessee Williams: An Intimate Biography by Dakin Williams


60. Taking Chances by Molly Keane
61. Washington Square by Henry James (duplicate copy)
62. August Heat by Andrea Camilleri
63. The Paper Moon by Andrea Camilleri
64. Tamarind Mem by Anita Rau Badami
65. The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami
66. Passage to India by E. M. Forster (duplicate copy)
67. Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri
68. The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri
69. Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill
70. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
71. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
72. The All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton by Jane Smiley
73. Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill
74. The Bird Artist by Howard Norman (duplicate copy)
75. Voss by Patrick White (duplicate copy)
76. My Bright Abyss by Christian Wiman
77. Gilgamesh by Joan London
78. A Test of Wills by Charles Todd


79. Marcella Cucina
80. Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking
81. Hawk Moon by Sam Shepard
82. The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser
83. Underboss by Peter Maas
84. I Have Lived in the Monster
85. The Sweeter the Juice by Shirley Haizlip

Jul 6, 10:55am Top

Hi, Linda. Stopping by on the way back from Ireland. Be interesting to see the previous posts filled in.

Edited: Jul 6, 1:48pm Top

>7 weird_O: I'm glad to be on the route home, Bill! I see you bought an Edna O'Brien book in Ireland, and I've been clearing her stuff out...unfortunately she hasn't appealed to me so far. AND, I just finished a Colum McCann, who I see you also brought home with you. (See >11 below.)

Jul 6, 12:16pm Top

Repeating the reviews (from my last thread) of the two books I completed in July before starting this thread.

59. The Weather in Africa by Martha Gellhorn Although I've read at least one other work of fiction by Martha Gellhorn, I most often think of her as the tough-minded, fearless war correspondent, who learned something of her craft from Hemingway and lived to surpass him in the field of journalism. Yet she had a gift for story-telling as well, and in The Weather in Africa she tells three somewhat connected stories about European "settlers" in East Africa in the years immediately following WWII and just prior to Kenyan Independence. Some of her main characters are sympathetic on a personal level, while others are emblematic, in varying degrees of reprehensibility, of the colonial attitude toward the native people who serve them. There are only one or two fully realized African characters here, but they stand out as complex individuals, perhaps more so than the white players. Without being either predictable or unbelievable, each story moves toward an ending in which not everyone gets exactly what we may think they deserve, but the people we most hope to see happy are on a promising path.

60. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham Well this was a fun read for a quiet rainy afternoon. It's a young reader's novel, and Grisham handles that level very well indeed. Theo Boone (whose mother insists on calling him "Teddy", to his chagrin) is 13 years old, very bright, and well versed in the law, as he spends after school hours running errands and soaking up knowledge at his parents' lawfirm. He is well known in the courthouse by attorneys, clerks, judges and secretaries; all his friends seek him out when their families have legal trouble, and he explains the options and intricacies of the system. When a local man is on trial for murdering his wife, Theo finds himself drawn into a moral dilemma that is much too complicated for a 13-year-old. I found this kid totally believable, exactly smart enough, and much less annoying than other child prodigies in literature. He knows when he's in over his head, and trusts the adults in his life. I can't forgive him for feeding his dog spaghetti and Chinese food, but other than that I love him. This book should be absolutely irresistible to young readers interested in the law, as it niftily explains how things really work without being dry or tedious for a second. And Grisham left a couple of very itchy loose ends which I assume he has yanked into the next book in the series (there are six of them so far). I'm hooked.

Jul 6, 12:26pm Top

I'm patting myself on the back for not having lost your thread during this transition 😀

Jul 6, 12:32pm Top

61. Everything in This Country Must by Colum McCann McCann has a terrible gift with the words, so he does. This collection of two short stories and a novella is powerful, disturbing, brilliant but ultimately unsatisfying for me. The title selection has a straightforward beginning, middle and end, which I confess to admiring. But the ending, which I certainly saw coming, does not make sense to me on an emotional level. I knew as soon as the soldiers succeeded in saving Father's favorite draft horse from drowning that Father would have to kill it. The story allows for no other outcome. But I will simply never understand a person destroying the thing he loves because it has been sullied in his mind by the actions of someone else. The second selection, "Wood", is beautifully crafted and I was sailing right along with it...right up to the moment McCann dropped me in mid-air. Beginning and middle...no end. Star off. The novella, "Hunger Strike', is the most difficult and heart-wrenching of the three. An Irish teen and his mother attempt to cope from a distance with his uncle's hunger strike during the troubles. Although the boy has never met his uncle, he feels a great connection to him and his struggle. I wished for a better grasp of the politics while reading this one; Irish history has always confused me a bit, and I need to get it clear in my head. I suspect this story of a subtlety I was not quite equipped to appreciate, but I still found it moving and enlightening. Recommended.

Jul 6, 12:33pm Top

>10 lauralkeet:. I tried to leave a trail, Laura.

Jul 6, 12:43pm Top

I also enjoyed Everything in This Country Must, although it's been several years since I read it and don't remember the stories in it at all.

Edited: Jul 6, 1:36pm Top

Happy New Thread, Linda! I love the setup, especially the picture of the books in the wheelbarrow for purged books. I have been doing a lot of donating books I've read and won't ever read again this year. I suppose I should honor those "deacquisitioned" books with a mention of their titles. Maybe from now on…but probably not because I have been doing 50 or so at a time and am almost down to where I'm keeping the rest.

Happy Reading!

Jul 6, 1:37pm Top

Happy New Thread, Linda.

Your list of shiny new books that came into the house is full of good ones, but one that jumped out at me is March, Book One. It and the two after are exceptional. I can't wait to hear what you think of it.

Edited: Jul 6, 1:59pm Top

>13 kidzdoc: Hey there, Darryl! I've a copy of Let the Great World Spin here too, and it's been waiting for me for years. I intend to read it pretty soon. The man can paint a picture, that's for sure.

>14 Donna828: Hi, Donna! Thanks for stopping by. I think I just started last year (or maybe the year before!) listing the books I'm culling. I thought it would encourage me to do more of it if I could compare the numbers coming and going. I think that has worked pretty well, but it did NOT keep me from great buying binges.

>15 jnwelch: Welcome, Joe! I commented on March: Book One here. I'm not a big graphic novel fan, as you may have noticed. This one didn't change my mind, although I can admire the talent that goes into them.

Jul 6, 1:57pm Top

Just peeking in....

Jul 6, 2:03pm Top

>17 NanaCC: Care for a cuppa, Colleen? I'm about to settle in with a book, if you can imagine such a thing!

Jul 6, 3:01pm Top

Ooo, a shiny new thread Linda. Lovely topper.

>6 laytonwoman3rd: I have set myself a goal of releasing ten books a week, plus one for every book that comes in the door. I'm currently working near a secondhand bookshop, but not looking at the contents, just delivering. Two weeks in...

Jul 6, 5:24pm Top

>9 laytonwoman3rd: I read a small bit by Gelhorn some years ago but don't recall it (it was a WW2 non-fiction piece). Interestingly, however, I have picked up Paula McLain's newest novel, a sorta sequel to the Paris Wife - about Gelhorn Love and Ruin. It was sitting on the new releases shelf at the library and there was no way I could pass it by.

Jul 6, 6:49pm Top

>1 laytonwoman3rd: Yats Esool!

Jul 6, 9:21pm Top

Happy new thread, Linda. You are doing well with your culls. It really would be nice to cull as many as you bring in to the house, wouldn't it. I know that feeling. I am running out of shelf space. (actually that has already happened, I'm just in denial.)

Jul 6, 9:34pm Top

>19 Caroline_McElwee: "not looking at the contents" Hmmm....and how long do you think you can keep that up?

>20 RBeffa: Uh oh...I didn't know about that McLain. >22 Familyhistorian: SEE why it's impossible???

>21 lycomayflower: Lyco dog!

Jul 6, 11:57pm Top

Hi Linda. I love the toppers ~~ college campuses are usually so beautiful and I just love almost all of them. I'll have to post some photos of the campus where I'm about to start working. I have to admit that the UW campus is SO beautiful and I haven't yet fallen in love with this one. But I will. It's pretty, just different.

By the way, I loved Let the Great World Spin when I read it several years ago.

Jul 7, 1:31am Top

Hi, Linda! Happy new thread! Very nice thread topper -- handsome campus.

Jul 7, 8:34am Top

Happy new thread, Linda, lovely toppers!
My husband & me also met at the university.

Adding and culling... at least you did not bring home more books than went out.

Jul 7, 10:20am Top

>24 EBT1002: I love college campuses too, especially in the springtime. I miss having a reason to visit ours, and it's less than 2 hours away. I hope your new "love" develops quickly, Ellen.

>25 tymfos: Hi Terri...it is a lovely small college.

>26 FAMeulstee: Thanks for stopping in, Anita! The math is just barely in favor of culling at the moment---I need to stay on top of it, though.

Jul 7, 10:54am Top

Happy Saturday, Linda. Happy New Thread! I see you mentioned Let the Great World Spin. Let me add a warble: it is excellent and I have a keeper copy on shelf.
Just sayin'...

Jul 7, 11:18am Top

>24 EBT1002:, >28 msf59: If I'm not mistaken, a dear departed LT friend put me onto Let the Great World Spin way back when, and another dear happily-NOT-departed LT friend sent me my copy. I don't know why I haven't read it yet, but even if I don't care for it eventually, I'd say mine is a "keeper copy" anyway.

Jul 8, 11:28am Top

DNF Where the Past Begins by Amy Tan Amy Tan is the selected author for the AAC this month, and she's going to make me break my perfect streak with that challenge this year. I'm in a difficult phase of the mother-daughter thing right now, as my mom ages, so I would rather not fill my fiction-reading time with that particular theme, and I know it's prominent in most of Tan's novels. So I thought I'd give her "writer's memoir" a shot, hoping it would be a bit broader in scope. Unfortunately, it simply didn't engage me. I don't think I got to the heart of it, and I skimmed a bit hoping to latch onto a chapter that might be what I was looking for, but I just couldn't. I might not have been in the mood for this type of thing, but it seemed to me the book was a bit haphazard in its approach; Tan's introduction made it clear that this was not a book she wrote with a clear organizational plan, but a project based on spontaneity, randomness and a "potluck of topics and tone" gleaned from e-mails, journals and family memorabilia. The result, as far as I sampled it, is too introspective to be interesting to me. But it might be someone else's favorite memoir ever.

Edited: Jul 29, 10:40am Top

DNF Shelter: A Novel by Jung Yun Yes, that's 2 in a row. I picked this one up at the library knowing nothing about it. It sounded intriguing. And I read over a third of it before giving up. I couldn't decide whether it was a crime novel, or a dysfunctional family story, or a generational-disconnect story, or a cultural conflict story, or WHAT. I didn't like any of the characters enough to pick the one I wanted to sympathize with, and had no idea whether the solution of the house-invasion assault that begins the story was where we were heading, or whether there was going to be some startling family secret revealed because of it, or WHAT, and I just got tired of the apparent lack of focus. Probably this blurb: "an urgent novel, a book so alive, contemporary, and above all, honest that it could only exist right now", should have alerted me to the fact that what I had in my hand was a book designed for a certain sort of Book Club Discussion.

Back to books off my own shelves, where I'm supposed to be staying this month anyway.

Jul 8, 11:51am Top

>30 laytonwoman3rd: Have you enjoyed Tan's work before? My one attempt at a Tan novel many years ago did not work for me even though the book sounded like it would be right up my alley. Not to be sexist, but some books would seem to resonate more with a woman and others with a man. Also, I have certain hot button issues that I just do not want to read in a story and of course at different stages of life we are more cognizant of certain things.

Edited: Jul 8, 12:02pm Top

>31 laytonwoman3rd: I read The Joy Luck Club a few years back, Ron. It was an OK read for me, but not an outstanding one. I hate the term "chick-lit", and "women's fiction" isn't much better, but for lack of a better term I would say that Tan writes "women's fiction". A little of that goes a long way with me, because it tends to be too topical.

Edited: Jul 8, 12:35pm Top

>30 laytonwoman3rd: Harrumph, that was the one I was going to read this month Linda.

Jul 8, 4:17pm Top

>34 Caroline_McElwee: Maybe you will like it, Caroline. I'd be curious to know if you do.

Jul 8, 5:48pm Top

Oh dear, back to back DNFs, that's awful. I've not been drawn to Amy Tan's work either. I read The Joy Luck Club pre-LT, and it was okay but didn't knock my socks off. Anyway, I hope you current read is much better.

Jul 8, 6:42pm Top

I think I enjoyed The Kitchen God's Wife best of the two, but it was years ago.

Jul 8, 8:30pm Top

>36 lauralkeet: Fear not...just finished No. 62, and enjoyed it. See below.
>37 Caroline_McElwee: I think I'm finished with Tan now, but no worries...there is so much more to read!

Edited: Jul 8, 9:11pm Top

62. This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash With 2 DNF's in a row hanging over me, I turned to a proven favorite, Wiley Cash, for my next read. He didn't let me down. In 1998, baseball fans (and some of the rest of us) were caught up in a contest between Sammy Sosa and Mark McQwire to see who might break Roger Maris's home-run record. Against that background, Wiley Cash has set a suspenseful road-trip featuring 12-year-old Easter Quilby, her 7-year-old sister Ruby, and their ne'er-do-well father, Wade, a former baseball player himself. The girls haven't seen their father in several years, but suddenly he has re-appeared, determined to be a Dad, starting by kidnapping them from the foster home where they have been placed following their mother's death from a drug overdose. Easter is relatively fearless, old for her years, and protective of her little sister. Her memories of her father are colored by her mother's disdain for him since he's been gone, but she is still trying hard to form her own opinion---is he a loser, as she's come to think of him, or can he be trusted? Who is the guy that seems to be looking for Wade, and what is in that heavy black bag Wade is so attached to? The story evolves through multiple narrators---Easter, herself; the man Pruitt who is following them across the country with clearly evil intentions; and Brady Weller, a former cop who is now the girls' guardian ad litem and who has drawn some conclusions about just how much trouble Wade may have got himself into. There are dark moments, but Cash does not overdo the grim bits, and even when the devil takes a round, we are never led to fear he will win in the end. Reviewers have compared Easter to Scout Finch, and Cash to Cormac McCarthy. I think both associations are off base. I see way more of Addie Pray than of Scout in Easter--in fact there are a lot of similarities in the story lines of This Dark Road and Paper Moon. And Cash's outlook is never so bleak as McCarthy's. This is not quite a terrific as A Land More Kind Than Home, but it's pretty fine.

Jul 8, 9:34pm Top

I am a Wiley Cash fan, Linda. I was lucky enough to see him at a Booktopia event in Asheville, NC a few years ago (along with Mark!) - he's very smart and funny. At that event, he was talking about writing a new one about labor protests in NC in the first half of the 1930s - it was published last year (?) as The Last Ballad and I *really* need to get to it!

I'm glad the two DNFs didn't taint this one for you :)

Jul 9, 6:55am Top

>39 laytonwoman3rd: smart move Linda, choosing a beloved author. I really like Wiley Cash too. I loved A Land More Kind than Home and The Last Ballad -- both were 4.5 stars. Now I'm wondering how I missed This Dark Road to Mercy, especially since I have a nagging feeling it was a Kindle deal recently. *smacks forehead*

Jul 9, 8:34am Top

>16 laytonwoman3rd: Good for you for giving March Book One a go, even though you're not a fan of the graphic format. I can say the next two are just as good, and for me, the third was the best.

Edited: Jul 9, 9:52am Top

>40 katiekrug: The Last Ballad is really good, Katie. I can tell from the very funny author's note at the end of This Dark Road to Mercy that it would be a big treat to hear Cash speak.

>41 lauralkeet: I read both the other Cash novels before I got to This Dark Road too, Laura. Which is funny, because I think I had this one first... I wonder what he's working on now.

>42 jnwelch: Keep talkin', Joe...you might persuade me to read the others eventually!

Jul 10, 2:47pm Top

Two DNFs in a row is rough, Linda. I can't fault you for the Tan. I am currently reading The Joy Luck Club for the AAC and it is not knocking my socks off. Not sure that it would have back in the day either. I will finish it because I am a completest with a strategy. I read multiple books at the same time unless or until one really draws me in.

Jul 11, 11:21am Top

Happy newish thread, Linda. I love the toppers.

Sorry about your DNFs. I'm also searching for a great read right now.

Edited: Jul 12, 1:14pm Top

Keep talking about the March trilogy by John Lewis? Jeesh, I don't get that kind of offer very often. :-)

Here's a laudatory NYTimes review covering all three: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/27/books/review/john-lewis-march.html

"A galvanizing account of his coming-of-age in the movement, it’s a capsule lesson in courage of conscience, a story that inspires without moralizing or simplifying in hindsight."

I forgot the third one won the National Book Award. It deserved it.

Jul 14, 8:43am Top

Thanks for reminding me about Wiley Cash, Linda. I absolutely loved A Land More Kind Than Home, and really liked This Dark Road to Mercy. I still need to get to The Last Ballad.

When I emailed Cash after reading A Land More Kind than Home, he actually responded. Seemed very nice.

Jul 14, 10:01am Top

>47 tymfos: Don't you love it when you can connect with an author, Terri? I had a similar experience with Jon Clinch years ago after reading Finn. I sent him my LT review, and he seemed genuinely pleased.

>46 jnwelch: Hehe...I knew you'd warble some more with a little encouragement!

>45 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. I'm moving on, and will soon forget all about those DNF's. It happens.

>44 Familyhistorian: You know, I think I was generous with my review of Joy Luck Club because I could see what Tan was doing and appreciate it, even though I didn't love it as a story. I'm fairly sure that one of her novels was enough for me, though.

Edited: Jul 15, 12:28pm Top

We're just back from a short trip to Atlantic City, where we tried to do everything in two days. It was fun, but it wiped me out! Sun, food, alcohol, gambling, sensory stimulation, walking-walking-walking. We managed to tour both the world's largest pipe organ (at the Convention Center) and the oldest roadside attraction in America (Lucy the elephant in nearby Margate). Although it's very rare for us, this trip included no bookish activity whatsoever, other than a tiny bit of bedtime reading (your gasp here).

Here we are on the Boardwalk @ Park Place, the last morning. (That's fresh-squeezed OJ in that cup, whatdidja think?)

Jul 14, 11:25am Top

>49 laytonwoman3rd: I don't see any houses so that will be $35 rent for stopping there. ;)

Edited: Jul 14, 1:46pm Top

>50 RBeffa: Cheap enough! Prices have gone up some... (Notice our shirts are approximately the color of the hotels...please don't charge us that rent!)

Jul 14, 12:43pm Top

That sounds like a fun trip, Linda. I haven’t been to Atlantic City in years.

Jul 14, 1:46pm Top

>52 NanaCC: We hadn't been since about 1975, Colleen. It's a LOT different now!

Edited: Jul 14, 4:51pm Top

63. Corpus Christmas by Margaret Maron No. 6 in the Sigrid Harald series. In this installment, Sigrid attends a Christmas party at the Erich Breul House in Manhattan, a small 19th century art museum where her lover, Oscar Nauman, has reluctantly agreed to mount a retrospective of his work. The guests include trustees and docents, supporters of the arts, agents and gallery owners. A good many tensions and undercurrents can be detected among these worthies, and one of them is bound to end up dead. Sure enough, after everyone (or almost everyone) has gone home, the newest and nastiest member of the Board of Trustees is found at the bottom of the basement stairs with a shattered skull. Sigrid leads the investigation, which takes an unexpected turn or two as she and her team gradually eliminate suspects and zero in on the killer. As usual, it's interesting to watch Sigrid work, to trip around NYC with her, and to watch her coming out of her shell bit by bit as her relationship with Nauman advances.

Edited: Jul 15, 1:47am Top

>49 laytonwoman3rd: sounds like a full on trip Linda. Good to see you both.

ETA: just checked out Lucy the elephant, ha!

Edited: Jul 15, 11:04am Top

>55 Caroline_McElwee: My feet are just now getting back to normal, Caroline! And I did mean to include some links in that post about the organ and Lucy (and now I have done so). Glad you found her on your own.

Jul 15, 11:04am Top

Hi Linda - We might be headed to AC later this week. Any specific recommendations?

Sounds like you made the most of your time there!

Edited: Jul 15, 11:24am Top

>57 katiekrug: Take your own booze! Seriously, bar drinks are outrageously expensive (free at the tables and machines if you're gambling, but not as good as the ones you pay for--no surprise). Tip well...we found it paid off. Sign up for a rewards card at the casinos, even if you don't plan to gamble much. There's usually a worthwhile incentive attached--we got two $10.00 drink vouchers and free parking that way. Great food at Harry's Oyster Bar in Bally's. The Italian restaurant there is good, too, but it serves family style...one entree (small) is intended for three people. We were with another couple, and ordered bruschetta and one small entree---the four of us couldn't finish it all. If you want to grab a decent bite (sandwich, burger, fish & chips) at ridiculously reasonable prices, try The Irish Pub on St. James Place just off the Boardwalk. Wear comfy shoes. Watch out for marauding seagulls. If you're there on a Wednesday morning, are interested and have the time, do take the free behind the scenes tour at Boardwalk Hall. It's 2 hours, but well worth while, and there's an organ concert (about a half hour) at the end of it. We were there during the week, and nothing was particularly crowded. I understand weekends are just crazy.

Jul 15, 11:32am Top

Thanks for that. We're just going down for the day to check it out. I don't really like casinos, but The Wayne will play a bit of poker.We were going to go for at least an overnight but decided to see what it was like first before committing...

Jul 15, 11:50am Top

After I typed all that, I wondered if you only meant a day trip, since you're so close. We didn't spend too much time in the casinos either. We played mostly roulette, not on the tables, but on the machines that use a real wheel (not an electronic simulation). That was fun, and we managed not to lose more than the resulting entertainment justified. The friends we were with go often, but for us, this was a novelty and not something we'll plan to repeat any time soon.

Jul 15, 12:01pm Top

I'll have to remember that roulette - that sounds like something I could handle!

Edited: Jul 15, 12:25pm Top

>61 katiekrug: If I could, you could.

Edited: Jul 20, 5:50pm Top

64. Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson Just fascinating. The subtitle of this book is "Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior". Temple Grandin, who is autistic, made a career in designing humane systems for handling animals in slaughter houses, poultry farms, breeding stables and kennels, and other situations where the needs of production have often resulted in appalling, frightening conditions for the animals involved. She has also advised the operators of such facilities on behavioral issues because she understands the animal mind in a way "typical" humans do not. In this books she explains the ways in which animals and autistic humans see things similarly, and how this has helped her see the world through animal eyes. There is a lot of brain science, human and animal psychology, common sense and uncommon wisdom, humor and heart in this book. Grandin says people always wonder how she could work for the meat-packing industry when she loves animals. Her answer is that she doesn't see the human race converting to vegetarianism any time soon (and that she herself was highly motivated to do so but found herself physically incapable of sticking to it), that most of the animals we eat "wouldn't exist if human beings hadn't bred them into being"...and that therefore we "owe them a decent life and a decent death, and their lives should be as low-stress as possible. That's my job." "If we're interested in animals, then we need to study animals for their own sake, and on their own terms, to the extent that it's possible. What are they doing? What are they feeling? What are they thinking? What are they saying? Who are they? And: what do we need to do to treat animals fairly, responsibly, and with kindness?" She applies these questions to ALL animals---pets, dairy cows, egg-producing chickens, animals raised for food, animals studied in labs and in the wild, birds, squirrels, elephants, snakes---without limits. A formal review said this is "one of those rare books that elicit a 'wow' on almost every page." Ask my husband how many times I made him "just listen to this!" while reading it.

Jul 21, 10:15am Top

That sounds like a fine read Linda.

Edited: Jul 21, 10:23am Top

I recommend it, Caroline. Some fairly complex science is very clearly explained, and her love of animals is so evident.

I also should mention that I watched the film about the author, Temple Grandin starring Claire Danes, a while ago. It was excellent as well. Danes's performance is incredible.

Jul 22, 6:39pm Top

>65 laytonwoman3rd: The Temple Grandin movie was excellent, Linda. Claire Danes is a wonderful actress. You’ve made me interested in the book.

Jul 25, 1:09pm Top

>66 NanaCC: The movie isn't based on this book, as such, Colleen. I think the source for the movie was Grandin's first book, Emergence: Labeled Autistic. She has written several more since then. I will probably read at least one of her more autobiographical works.

Edited: Jul 26, 11:54am Top

65. The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje Although I did see the movie The English Patient, I have not read Ondaatje before. This was an excellent introduction to his work. In 1954, our narrator Michael, is sent alone by ship from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to London where his mother has lived for the last three or four years of his young life. Although he is only 11, he is virtually unsupervised on this voyage, and determined to make the most of it. He is aided and abetted by two contemporary companions, Ramadhin and Cassius, the latter of whom he knew slightly at school; the three of them vow not to let a day of the three week passage go by without doing something forbidden. In the dining room, the boys are seated at "the Cat's Table", with several "insignificant" adults who will never be invited to dine with the Captain, unlike the family friend traveling in first class who has promised to "keep an eye on Michael". Despite that assurance, the boys are left mostly to their own devices, although not without adult companionship. Their exploits range from mischievous and innocuous to stupid and life-threatening. Most of the adults they associate with are up to something as well, or at least so it seems to the imaginative boys, who see and hear much that they do not fully understand. To the reader, however, it is clear that not all of the grown-up undertakings are good and legal. As we travel through those 21 days with Michael, we also get glimpses into the future, as he looks back on the adventure years later, interpreting parts of it in light of new information and wider experience. The pacing is gentle (other reviewers call it "slow" or even "plodding"), the writing is fine; there is very little plot, but many little stories. I found it a moving read.

Jul 25, 2:55pm Top

>68 laytonwoman3rd: I'm glad to see this struck a positive note with you, too, Linda. I'm always a little nervous when I highly recommend a book on my thread, because that doesn't necessarily mean everyone will like it. We picked up Ondaatje's new book a couple weeks ago, and now that it's been nominated for the Booker Prize I'll probably read it sooner rather than later.

Edited: Jul 26, 11:57am Top

>69 lauralkeet: I'm surprised at how many fairly negative reviews there are of The Cat's Table, Laura. I thought it was quite well done. I think a lot of people don't care for stories that are non-linear, or don't have a conclusive ending. I rarely go wrong with one of your recommendations. (We won't mention The Stone Diaries.)

Jul 26, 11:45am Top

Jul 26, 11:52am Top

>71 kidzdoc: Of course you did! Good to see you, Darryl.

Jul 26, 12:26pm Top

>68 laytonwoman3rd: Ondaatje is one of those authors I feel I should read but haven't yet. I saw his latest "Warlight" on the new books shelf at the library and was very tempted to take it but I have been trying real hard to primarily read books on hand at home this year. Of course I regretted not taking it and will have to hope it shows up again soon.

Jul 26, 12:39pm Top

I would say I liked The Cat's Table, but less than I've liked his other books. All I remember about my feelings were somehow I was expecting a bit more.

Jul 26, 2:21pm Top

I was reading The English Patient but got stalled in the section titled Katharine. So I cleansed my palate (so to speak) by reading The Manchurian Candidate and starting The Bonesetter's Daughter. I do want to push through Katharine and finish TEP. And I want to read The Cat's Table.

Jul 26, 2:40pm Top

I have only read one book by Ondaatje and that was for a course on writing memoir. Running in the Family was one of the examples of how a memoir can be written. It was good but the story was not linear so I was more interested in the other example The Film Club as it was a tale written in a more linear fashion, which is what I tend to favour. Running in the Family was more about Ondaatje's early life.

Jul 26, 2:59pm Top

>73 RBeffa: I'm trying to read my own stuff primarily too, Ron, but there is so much to tempt me...

>74 Caroline_McElwee: Well, reading The Cat's Table has certainly made me want to read more of Ondaatje. Since Warlight is getting a lot of buzz, and made the Booker long list, I'll probably get to that one sometime soonish.

>75 weird_O: Having seen the movie made from The English Patient, I've never been too excited to read the book. I keep hearing some reviewer saying "Just die already!", and I kinda remember that feeling. But The Manchurian Candidate as a palate cleanser? Not exactly a laugh-a-minute...

>76 Familyhistorian: Yeah...there's that non-linear thing. That can really work for me...or not. Partly it depends on my expectations going in. If I don't know that's what I'm in for, and my mind just wants a beginning-middle-end story, it can mess up a good book for me. Timing is important too.

Edited: Aug 1, 10:11am Top

Some interim reading that doesn't add up to a book...

"Young Goodman Brown", "Wakefield", and "The Great Stone Face", short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The first is heavy on the symbolism, the second is just puzzling and the third predictable. I've had an elegant sufficiency of Hawthorne for a while.
"Hands Across the Water", one of Faulkner's so-called detective stories, with the brilliant but otherwhere love-lorn Gavin Stevens playing Sherlock Holmes. Read from the anthology Fifty Best American Short Stories 1915-1965 which I took from library, searching for something else entirely. 'Cause I wouldn't have a copy of it anywhere else in the house. No, seriously, folks, it's one of the six pieces that make up Knight's Gambit which y'all should go read. Like I'm going to. Again.

Also: "Of This Time, Of That Place" by Lionel Trilling---great character development and engagement, dim view of academia, ends with a dull thud; "That Lovely Green Boat" by Bill Berge---a story flamingrabbit read way back when, which has stuck with him for over 40 years, and which turns out to be quite good indeed on the subject of the end of childhood, and the difference 'twixt boys and girls in adolescence.

Edited: Aug 1, 10:08am Top

Following up a brief mention over on Katie's thread, my pencil collection and the boxes it lives in. (She laughed at me, so I had to!)

Aug 1, 10:28am Top

Aug 1, 10:35am Top

>79 laytonwoman3rd: Our pencil "collection" lives all over the house. I do believe I still have a troll topper on one of them. A garfield topper too. Those must be in a cigar box

Edited: Aug 1, 10:48am Top

>80 katiekrug: I knew you'd be impressed!

>81 RBeffa: Most of mine are souvenirs of places I've visited--or friends/family have visited and remembered to get me one...I'm SO easy to buy for! The troll one says "40 isn't old if you're a troll". I've had it a while.

Aug 1, 11:47am Top

>79 laytonwoman3rd: hmmm, I never thought of having a pencil collection Linda, though I have a few pencils here and there...Nice.

Edited: Aug 1, 11:50am Top

>83 Caroline_McElwee: Caroline, the red one horizontal in the middle is from the Tower of London! It has a helmet on top. (I wasn't there myself.)

Edited: Aug 1, 12:05pm Top

>79 laytonwoman3rd: wow! That is indeed impressive. They all look to be unsharpened, is that right? Like, you collect them but don't use them?

You are a perfect candidate for the CW Pencil Enterprise quarterly subscription. Sold out at the moment, but you can be notified when it's available again!

Aug 1, 12:12pm Top

>85 lauralkeet: Most of them are unsharpened, although there are a few vintage used ones in there. I usually buy more than one so I can both use and save. At this point (see what I did there?) I probably have more pencils available for use in desks and kitchen drawers than whole 75'ers group could go through in couple decades. Naturally I have to look at that subscription. *waves fist in air* Curse you, Enabler!

Aug 1, 6:04pm Top

>79 laytonwoman3rd: What a nice practical collection. They don’t take up much room, and might be a great conversation starter. Unlike my teapots, that need to be rotated periodically from the basement to shelves where they can be seen. I finally had to tell my hubby to stop buying them. :)

Aug 1, 6:58pm Top

Hi, Linda! It looks like I am missing some good book chatter, by being away. Sorry, your Amy Tan was a dud. I am not familiar with that title. I did love Shelter though. I met this author at Booktopia Vermont. Very dark and disturbing stuff, so it is not very every one.

Hooray for Wiley Cash and This Dark Road to Mercy. I agree with you that A Land More Kind Than Home is a better book but Cash still delivers and The Last Ballad was very good too. Yes, like Katie mentioned, it was nice meeting him at Booktopia Asheville.

Aug 1, 8:36pm Top

>86 laytonwoman3rd: *bats eyes* I don't know what you're talking about!

Aug 1, 9:05pm Top

>87 NanaCC: If pencils were ALL I collected, though...let's not talk about the books, and the ashtrays, and the tiny little carved animals...

>88 msf59: I see that Shelter has been well-reviewed (including by you), and I don't shy away from the dark stuff as you know, but it just didn't draw me in. Now Wiley Cash, on the other hand, should keep writing forever.

>89 lauralkeet: Don't you, indeed. *snerk*

Aug 2, 1:30pm Top

My daughter alerted me, via a link to a BBC piece, to the Japanese term Tsundoku. She posted it on Facebook, and since I viewed it, FB has concealed it from me. No going back.

Googled it. Damn! It's me, me, me.

"Tsundoku seems to better capture the lighter side of compulsive book shopping, a word that evokes images of precariously stacked tomes one good breeze away from toppling over."

Edited: Aug 2, 3:14pm Top

>91 weird_O: Tsundoku definitely sounds like some sort of meteorological phenomenon--a mighty wind that topples books, sure. FB did that to me the other day; a cousin shared something I really wanted to respond to, but I wasn't in a position to do so at the time because I needed to look something up first. When I got back to it, it was NOWHERE.

Aug 2, 3:45pm Top

I saw that piece this week too, and my neck did turtle head withdrawl actions.

Aug 3, 12:45am Top

>92 laytonwoman3rd: FB does that to me all the time. As soon as you leave the page the post is gone.

That is a most impressive pencil collection.

Aug 3, 4:27pm Top

>94 Familyhistorian: Well, I don't know about imPRESSive....but thanks!

Edited: Aug 3, 4:43pm Top

66. Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo I enjoyed this one a lot. But lycomayflower better be is reading it too, and hasn't finished yet, so I'll just wait a bit to post my review. Don't want to color her impressions, wrong-headed though they may turn out to be...

Aug 3, 4:35pm Top

>96 laytonwoman3rd: Look here, Mims

Aug 3, 4:39pm Top


I read a Russo and enjoyed last year. He was new to me.

Aug 3, 4:44pm Top

>97 lycomayflower: Yeeees?

>98 Caroline_McElwee: Good, innee, Caroline?

Aug 4, 9:06am Top

>96 laytonwoman3rd: I have this one on my Kindle. You’ve made me move it up the pile. I read Empire Falls a very long time ago, and remember liking it.

Aug 4, 12:31pm Top

I love the pencil collection, Linda!

You've been reading some good books, too. The English Patient was the first Ondaatje I read, and my least favorite, so far. I also liked The Cat's Table. Anil's Ghost is my favorite so far, and I look forward to his new one.

I also liked The Bridge of Sighs.

Have a lovely weekend.

Aug 6, 10:08am Top

>100 NanaCC:, >101 BLBera: Thank you, ladies. I've enjoyed all the Russo novels I've read so far. He can make me laugh and cry.

Aug 6, 10:22am Top

67. The Daybreakers by Louis L'Amour Having never read L'Amour before, I wasn't sure how I was going to take to him. I grew up on the American TV Western, loved Lonesome Dove, and Robert B. Parker's various forays into the Old West, but I expected L'Amour to be more "pulpy", y'know? The kind of stuff teenaged boys read before there was James Bond and Star Trek? Wellllll.....it is, and it really isn't.

This is the story of two of the Sacketts--Orrin and his younger brother Tyrel (Tye), who leave their difficult existence in the Tennessee hills to go west in search of a piece of land where they can move their mother and brothers to live in better circumstances. Naturally, they run into the usual hardships and challenges along the way, but there were way fewer stereotypes than I feared; our hero's (that would be Tye) attitude toward women, Mexicans and Native Americans is nuanced enough. His moral compass is nearly faultless, although he does have to struggle with it--again, just enough. His ability to bounce back from encounters with flying lead stretches credulity pretty far. But, as with all the best genre fiction, the pages just seemed to turn themselves. I haven't decided whether I'll put L'Amour in my rotation of what I call "R&R fiction"---the stuff I read when I just plain want to escape somewhere-- but I really kinda sorta do want to know more about that Sackett clan.

Edited: Aug 6, 6:00pm Top

68. Cotton Top by Jean O'Neill This delightful children's book from the early 1950's captured my heart. Sarah Jane (called Cotton Top because of her white hair) is a child of the Blue Ridge Mountains. She loves her home with its mists touched by sunshine, its birds singing and streams rippling. She thinks she must have "every single thing in this world that anyone could ever want". That is, until her city cousin Serena visits Possum-Trot Mountain to stay with their Grandma, bringing with her a touch of elegance Cotton Top has never seen before. While Cotton Top runs through the meadows and hollows bare-footed in a dress made of flour sacks, carrying her beloved homemade doll Tildy, Serena wears a pretty pink dress, fancy white shoes, and has a big beautiful doll with real hair. Cotton Top longs for these pretty things, and over the course of the visit, she persuades Serena to exchange dresses, to let her wear the shoes, and wonder-of-wonders, to trade dolls. Both girls learn a lesson from all this, as you might expect. The illustrations are just wonderful.

Aug 6, 11:35am Top

>104 laytonwoman3rd: Am very much looking forward to reading this one the next time I'm home.

>103 laytonwoman3rd: I am giving you the side-eye for that gendered reference to adventure stories, Mims. You do make me want to read some L'Amour though. And look, if you enjoy adventure heroes who have to struggle with their moral compass sometimes and whose abilities to bounce back after encountering flying lead are a bit suspect, boy, do I have a TV show for you!

Whooop! *runs away to avoid objects flung in my direction by my adoring mother*

Aug 6, 11:40am Top

*peers around door. checks left. checks right. casually tosses gif into the room*

*drops smoke bomb. disappears*

Edited: Aug 6, 2:05pm Top

*opens window to stifling outdoors, and fans away smoke* Pfui onya, 'cause sometimes those gender references are accurate; I'm thinking specifically of teenaged-boys of my own acquaintance. Two of whom you know well, and another you were never fortunate enough to meet. What I have to do now is watch the 1979 mini-series based on the Sackett books. I see by its cast listing that it must cover the events of The Daybreakers, because it lists characters who were introduced in the book but did not survive to appear in another. Oh, and Tom Selleck, who apparently plays the wrong brother...

Aug 6, 2:17pm Top

>107 laytonwoman3rd: I did not realize that mini-series was that long ago. Sheesh. Well Daybreakers must have been the L'Amour I read back then.

>103 laytonwoman3rd: I never thought of these as being aimed at teenage boys. No one I knew read these when I was a teen. I would hazard a guess that the men who played the Sacketts in the miniseries broadened the appeal in later years. I think these books can comfortably fall into an R&R category!

Aug 6, 2:37pm Top

>96 laytonwoman3rd: All right, I've posted my review. Convince me to think different about it?

Aug 6, 4:48pm Top

>109 lycomayflower: See, we agree on something. And thanks for prettying up the thread!

>110 lycomayflower: No, I did not have the issues you had with it, but I do not dispute the validity of those issues for you. I take your points upon reflection, but I somehow enjoyed the characters and the story a lot more than you did, therefore not being inclined to examine what the author was doing quite so carefully. I will grant that I thought it could have been considerably shorter. Still, I was engaged throughout.

>108 RBeffa: To be clear, I definitely don't think L'Amour's books are aimed at teen-aged boys now that I have actually read one. It was my uninformed impression of what they might be like... When I was a little kid I had a teen-aged uncle; I stayed with my grandmother after school, and helped her clean his room. I remember flimsy paperback books with somewhat lurid covers featuring "Wild Indians" and "desperadoes" --- I have no idea what they actually were, and I was really much too young to judge, but the images sort of stayed in my mind. This is the type of stuff I feared I might encounter in L'Amour.

Edited: Aug 7, 4:52pm Top

Adore your pencil collection!

I think I've had the same worry as you about the L'Amour's but I think I'll let them pass me by all the same . . .

I have liked Mary Doria Russell's books about Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp though. Not really westerns, but about the west!

Edited: Aug 7, 9:17pm Top

>112 sibyx: Oh, yes, Lucy....I loved Doc and Epitaph...I should have mentioned them in >103 laytonwoman3rd: above. I understand if you aren't inclined to read the Sackett saga, but if you're ever stuck in a blizzard in somebody else's house, and the only books there are by Louis L'Amour....you should go ahead and read them! In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit here that I have now borrowed an omnibus from the library, containing the first three Sackett novels.

Aug 9, 12:03pm Top

Like your pencil collection. Does it include these? Very practical, but I foresee not having the correct pencil for the quandry you've just written yourself into.

Aug 9, 4:05pm Top

>114 weird_O: I do not believe I have any of those extremely pertinent writing implements, Bill. I see you lost the one prohibiting ending a sentence with a preposition.

Edited: Aug 9, 4:20pm Top

69. Sharyn McCrumb's Appalachia A small collection of essays and speeches that was just a treat to read, even if that story about the existence of a seam of green mineral (serpentine) that runs from Georgia to Nova Scotia, skips over the Atlantic Ocean and appears again in Ireland, running from there to the Arctic Circle, started to get a leeetle old by the 4th time it appeared in as many selections. In the grand old pre-human days, apparently, the Appalachians and the mountains of Great Britain were once joined together. It is fascinating to contemplate that Celtic settlers came to this land, looked around until they found a place that felt right, and ended up making their new home in fundamentally the same mountains they had left behind. McCrumb also has a lot to say about the character of the mountain people, how she goes about writing her historical novels, what she sees as her moral duty as an author (yes, she does quote John Gardner), how magic realism fits in, and some other good stuff. All of which makes me feel really happy that I love her novels so much.

Aug 9, 4:38pm Top

Edited: Aug 9, 4:48pm Top

>117 lycomayflower: I'll send it. It'll fit in an envelope.

Aug 9, 4:47pm Top

>115 laytonwoman3rd: Didn't lose it, Linda. Deliberately sharpened it right up to the ferrule. Not a rule I adhere to.

Aug 9, 4:55pm Top

>116 laytonwoman3rd: Well you do know how I live essays Linda >>>>> heading to shopping cart.

Aug 9, 5:24pm Top

>117 lycomayflower:, >121 Caroline_McElwee: I will caution you both that it helps to have read one or two of McCrumb's ballad novels, as she gets fairly specific regarding them at times.

Aug 9, 7:10pm Top

Do you have a specific recommendation Linda? Another book that will carry a 'Linda's Fault' tag. See Mark's thread!

Edited: Aug 9, 10:03pm Top

>123 Caroline_McElwee: Ha! I will take the same pride in having a Fault tag named after me as Mark does! I would recommend starting with the first "ballad novel", which is If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O. I read a couple of them out of order, without realizing they were part of a series. The recurring characters develop as the books go on, so it's helpful to read them in order.

Aug 11, 10:39am Top

>116 laytonwoman3rd: This one sounds really good, Linda. I keep meaning to start the ballad series.

Aug 11, 10:58am Top

>125 BLBera: McCrumb has become a favorite of mine, Beth. I still have several more of her books to read, and I hope she isn't through writing them.

Aug 11, 11:25am Top

70. Little Brown Bear by Elizabeth Upham Another vintage children's book I picked up last weekend at a flea market. The character of Little Brown Bear is very familiar to my memory, but none of the 10 stories in this volume triggered any recall when I read them. As the book dates from the early '40's, I suspect the one I'm remembering belonged to my mother's youngest brother and that I was exposed to it at my grandmother's house when I was quite young myself. They are quite simplistic, about a young bear learning little life lessons or sharing common experiences. Not sure how they would fare with today's small ones. The illustrations are nice, but have a very dated look about them, unlike the striking pencil drawings in Cotton Top, for instance.

I do see that there are updated versions of these stories with other illustrators, still crediting Upham as author, as well as a few "Little Brown Bear" books written by other people.

Edited: Sep 27, 10:42am Top

71. Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye This is the second in Faye's "copper star" series featuring Timothy Wilde and his wilder older brother Val, two of the first officers of the NYPD (when it was not yet called that) in the early 19th century. The historical aspects of these stories are gripping, grim and enlightening if not uplifting. Tim feels himself overmatched and under-appreciated by his brother, a brilliant complicated man with powerful connections and unsavory habits. In a very different milieu, Tim occasionally plays Watson to Val's Sherlock, but more often plays Sherlock to Val's Mycroft, though it's the elder brother who dabbles excessively in laudanum and "hemp weed". I find Tim a bit tiresome after a couple hundred pages; he needs to gain a bit of self-confidence, but he also needs to stop opposing his brother's advice just because of its source. This story involved the practice of kidnapping free people of color and selling them South into slavery; it's a heart-breaker, but it needed tightening up. It just took much too long and too many words to get to the conclusion. I believe there's only one more of these at the moment; I'll probably read it eventually, as I find the setting irresistible, but I'm not up for back-to-backing with this series.

Aug 11, 11:45am Top

72. Blue Horses by Mary Oliver I never know when to say I've "completed" a book of poetry. I've read some of the selections in this one multiple times; others I may have overlooked. I find Mary Oliver speaks to me. That's the only defense of poetry anyone needs to make, I think. I saw a review (from someone who professed to enjoy Oliver) that belittled some of these poems for "trite" images, "pompous" titles, etc. I say Pfui on that. They are eloquent in a simple, quiet way. They don't light up the sky or dance with exuberance; they acknowledge and celebrate reality. There's one of her books on my nightstand at all times.

I'm Not the River

I'm not the river
that powerful presence.
And I'm not the black oak tree
which is patience personified.
And I'm not redbird
who is a brief life heartily enjoyed.
Nor am I mud nor rock nor sand
which is holding everything together.
No, I am none of these meaningful things, not yet.

Aug 12, 11:12pm Top

>116 laytonwoman3rd: I've had the first in McCrumb's Ballad series, If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O, on my wish list forever. I love that part of the world so I really want to read the series.

>127 laytonwoman3rd: That looks so familiar but I have no concrete memory of Little Brown Bear....

I have Oliver's Dog Songs on my shelf and would like to read it soon. I loved her collection, A Thousand Mornings.

Aug 13, 6:52am Top

>130 EBT1002: I found myself in a used bookshop yesterday (how did THAT happen?!), and was pleased with myself for remembering to hunt for Sharyn McCrumb. Sadly, there were none to be found. I'll get to it one of these days.

Aug 13, 11:29am Top

>130 EBT1002: Dog Songs is going to replace Blue Horses on my nightstand for the time being. I don't have a copy of A Thousand Mornings...that must be remedied!

>131 lauralkeet: What sort of citified bookshops are you hanging out in, Laura? I find one of her books at almost every library sale...not always one I don't HAVE, but still.

Aug 13, 1:38pm Top

>131 lauralkeet: What sort of citified bookshops are you hanging out in, Laura?
Ha ha, Book Haven is a terrific used bookshop near the Philadelphia Museum of Art; we were in the area for an event there yesterday. The last time we visited, we came away with about a million hardbound PG Wodehouse novels, much to Chris' delight. This shop is also good for finding Everyman editions, which he collects. I found two Persephones.

While we can count on Book Haven to feed our specialized addictions, there's plenty of mainstream used book inventory as well, so I was surprised not to find McCrumb. I guess I'll just have to go back ...

Aug 13, 2:01pm Top

>133 lauralkeet: Mmmm....ok. Any shop where you can find Persephones and Everyman editions is good with me. Those are things I rarely come across in the wild.

Aug 13, 10:32pm Top

I also loved A Thousand Mornings, Linda although Blue Horses is wonderful as well.

Aug 14, 1:28pm Top

>135 BLBera: Another fine endorsement, as if I needed one!

Edited: Aug 14, 1:57pm Top

73. Taking Chances by M. J. Farrell (Molly Keane) I had this on hand, and so chose to read it for the Irish authors challenge this month. It's a tedious, repetitious story about shallow people "loving" the wrong people, marrying the wrong people, and consequently doing ill-advised downright stupid things that hurt everyone. Melodramatic unrealistic dialog (surely no man ever said "You darling! You are such an utter darling! Why do you love me? I'm a swine!" Surely no woman ever said "Oh,...wasn't I a silly?" after nearly killing herself and her unborn child attempting to ride a fractious horse). Despite all the hand-wringing over who loves whom, and how quickly love dies (or how endless love is) not one of the characters in this book has the first foggy notion of what love is really about. I realize this novel was written by a very young woman; that it apparently does capture something of the "leisured" (read: "pointless") lives of a certain class of people at a certain place and time, but what a slog to read about it. Once in a while a flare for description or a pointed sarcastic remark did shine through, but not nearly enough to save the day. If someone wants to tell me that Keane got better with age, I'll listen. But for now, I'm consigning her to the "been there, done that" shelf.

Aug 14, 1:58pm Top

>137 laytonwoman3rd: If someone wants to tell me that Keane got better with age, I'll listen.

Okay, I'll talk. Keane's early novels SUCK. Her later ones are much, much better. Here's an excerpt from my review of Taking Chances, which I gave a generous 2 stars; you can see we are of one mind on this dreadful book:
Yes, Mary is memorable, if not especially likeable. But the story itself is dreadfully cliche and boring. The minute Mary arrives, you know she's going to wreak havoc on the close-knit trio at Sorristown. And it's easy to predict the form this will take, as well as the consequences. And then there are the endless hunting scenes, described in such detail I wondered if Keane was trying to pad her novel. I skimmed the last third of this novel, simply to confirm it ended as I thought it would.

I've read several of Keane's later books and enjoyed her characters and social satire immensely. This is an author whose talent took time to develop and while it's interesting to see "where it all began," one experience like that was quite enough!

OTOH, I gave Good Behaviour 5 stars, and the Booker Prize judges thought highly of it as well (it won). So if you are ever thinking "hmm, maybe I should give Molly Keane a second chance," skip past all her early work (which I loathe) and her intermediate work (which is better but not great), and read Good Behaviour.

Edited: Aug 14, 3:07pm Top

>138 lauralkeet: I read your review before I posted, Laura. It gave me the courage to pull no punches with mine. And I was sort of hoping you might chime in on others. Where does Devoted Ladies fall on her time-line...have you read that one? It's the only other one of hers I have, I think. I'm put off by her writing about a lesbian relationship when apparently she had only "heard about" such things. This is a quote from another Virago-ite's (positive) review: "Sometime before writing Devoted Ladies – Molly Keane had been made aware of lesbianism and homosexuality – and this novel was her fascinated response to it." Hmmmmm, I say.

ETA: Oh, and I tried to skim the last few chapters of Taking Chances and found I couldn't snag on enough words to make sense of anything, so I. read. it. all.

>139 lycomayflower: LOL! That about sums it up.

Aug 14, 2:54pm Top

>139 lycomayflower: ha! I like that.

>140 laytonwoman3rd: I haven't read Devoted Ladies yet; I decided to read Loving and Giving last month instead. I'm a little wary of DL for the same reasons you described.

Edited: Aug 14, 9:36pm Top

Widespread flash flooding in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania (as well as upstate New York) in the last several days. It has not directly affected us, other than some road closures in places we might travel through. But this loss is going to be hard to recover from. This small community is a couple hours west of us.

ETA: changed the link to a story with more detail; it's even sadder than I thought.

Aug 14, 7:19pm Top

>142 laytonwoman3rd: oh, that's a real shame.

Aug 14, 9:38pm Top

>143 lauralkeet: I've swapped the link now for a story with more detail about the loss. Apparently not only books and building, which one hopes may be replaced in the future, but a lot of local history documents that may be irreplaceable.

Aug 15, 12:08am Top

>137 laytonwoman3rd: Yikes. That book sounds absolutely dreadful. Thanks for taking one for the team.

The flooding in NE and Central Pennsylvania has been awful. Two of my friends who live in Central and Upper Bucks County have posted several worrisome photos and articles of the flooding there, but it doesn't seem to be anywhere near as severe,

Aug 15, 10:39am Top

>145 kidzdoc: A good friend of mine who lives about 20 miles from here has a creek at the bottom of her back yard, and it floods with some regularity. About 12 years ago it was horrendous, making it well into the first floor of her house. Last night they were evacuated at around midnight, because it threatened to do so again. This morning, thankfully, they were able to return to the house, and found the water had not gone that high, but they do have a very very wet basement. It went down as fast as it came in, and that action alone causes a fair bit of damage.

Aug 15, 2:46pm Top

>137 laytonwoman3rd: Thanks for all the thumbs...first hot review I've had in a while, and it's for a clunker!

Edited: Aug 16, 12:02pm Top

74. Sackett by Louis L'Amour A relatively short novel about William Tell Sackett, older brother of Orrin and Tyrel from The Daybreakers. I read this now, because these two novels were combined to make the basis of the 1979 mini-series, The Sacketts, which we have started watching. Tell is bigger-than-life, and twice as sturdy. On his way to New Mexico to find his brothers, after a cattle drive in Montana, he happens on a starving young woman in a cave that also happens to hold a hella stash of easy-to-get-at goooooold that she and her grandfather were looking for with the help of a very old Spanish map. So Tell rescues her, dispatching some bad dudes who have been hunting for him for a while, and sets out to get as much gold out of the mountain as possible before winter makes it impossible to get there or----wait for it----get OUT again. Tell wants to settle down, and hopes maybe this girl is for him, but even after he's played the hero card, she won't be easy to convince. I enjoyed this slightly outlandish tale of adventure in the High Lonesome, and I sincerely hope Tell gets what he wants. He earned it.

Aug 16, 5:43pm Top

>148 laytonwoman3rd: Thank you for mentioning that miniseries again. I didn't think there was a chance that our library would have it but I was wrong - they have a DVD copy at one of the branches. I picked up a copy of Daybreakers at the libe, not positive I will read it before month's end, but probably will. They have Sackett (the book) also.

Aug 20, 6:57pm Top

>128 laytonwoman3rd: I stalled somewhere around the middle of the first copper star book. I really need to pick it up and finish it. I'm not sure why I am having troubles with it but maybe it is the Tim character like you pointed out.

Aug 21, 7:09am Top

>129 laytonwoman3rd: Hooray for Mary Oliver!

Hi, Linda. Back from our Rocky Mountain vacation and back to the grind. I am reading Sackett's Land and will finish it today. It is a solid book. I loved the Sacketts and Tell was probably my favorite. I should try and find the mini-series. I haven't seen it since the 80s.

Aug 21, 9:24am Top

Early Keane is not very good. Enjoying the discussion very much!

Edited: Aug 21, 10:11am Top

>149 RBeffa:, >151 msf59: I enjoyed the first half of the mini-series quite a lot; naturally there were some deviations from the book, but it worked. However, I found the second half terribly choppy, and if I hadn't just read Sackett I think I would have been fairly bewildered by some of it. Characters seemed to crop up, do their bit for the plot, and disappear, all too rapid-fire. But the performances were just wonderful to watch. I was especially impressed with the actor playing Tyrel Sackett, who I had not seen before; apparently he didn't do much else that might have come to my attention, but he reminded me of a young Jack Nicholson.

>150 Familyhistorian: I think Tim has developed a bit in the second book, but not quite enough. I will eventually read (or at least try) the third one. In an ongoing series, character development is one of those make-or-break elements for me.

>152 sibyx: I feel so validated! I was afraid I was just being cranky, but with you and Laura backing me up, I know I'm on the right track. So I will give it some time and try a later Keane one of these days.

>151 msf59: I'm reading a book now that you ought to enjoy, Mark. It's called As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Alex Preston. An exploration, bird by bird, of prose and poetry featuring our feathered friends, with exquisite illustrations. Although I probably will have finished a couple others by the time I get to the end of this one (I'm savoring it one bird at at time), I'm reserving my No. 75 slot for this one, because it's special.

Aug 22, 12:02pm Top

>153 laytonwoman3rd: Tim's character development sounds promising, Linda. I will probably pick up the first book again as soon as I read my way through my latest library holds. Why do they all come in at once?

Edited: Aug 24, 11:27am Top


75. As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Birds and Books by Alan Preston

A visually gorgeous and intelligently written compendium of references in literature (mostly poetry) to over 20 varieties of feathered spirits. The author has chosen birds who mean something to him personally, and shares memories in which their significance to him is explained. Some of the birds are native to places other than the US, or are slightly different than their US cousins with the same or similar names, such as the robin shown below. Illustrations are by Neil Gower, both portraits in full color plates, and simple black-and-white vignettes. An absolute treasure for bird- and book-lovers, like so many of us.

Edited: Aug 24, 11:35am Top

Congratulations on hitting 75! And I see why you savored this book so it would the "the one." What beautiful illustrations.

Was this an ER book? Amazon has it for pre-order, available Nov 6. Not bad timing for Christmas, so I've added it to my "Gift Ideas" list on Amazon.

Edited: Aug 24, 3:47pm Top

>156 lauralkeet: No, it wasn't an ER book. I got it through the Folio Society's catalog; they offer "special books from other publishers" a couple times a year. I didn't realize it hadn't come out yet here. I just looked, and mine is a UK first edition. I'm excited--thanks for pointing that out! I should have realized, since it came in a Royal Mail sack (with a couple other items...ahem.)

Aug 24, 3:53pm Top

76. Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan I picked this up off the library's new fiction shelf. It was a quick and fairly absorbing story about a young British MP accused of rape by his even younger Parliamentary assistant, with whom he had recently broken off an affair. The back stories of the MP, his wife, the prosecuting QC and the sitting Prime Minister are all explored from various points of view. As we move back and forth in time, we learn some secrets from the past that play a role in the present drama; it's skillfully structured to get the reader involved in sorting out the truth.

Aug 24, 4:22pm Top

77. August Heat by Andrea Camilleri During a long relentlessly hot August, our good Inspector Salvo Montalbano is faced with a dead body in the hidden first story of a rental property. Since taxes on new construction are based on the total living space, this home was surreptitiously constructed with two apartments, one up and one down, with the downstairs one then covered up on the outside with sandy soil that could easily be removed to allow access once the statutory period allowing "amnesty" for such violations had run. Corruption at every level (see what I did there?) is nothing new for Montalbano, but someone somehow managed to kill a teen-aged girl and hide her body in the underground apartment just before it was buried nearly six years ago. Montalbano needs to find out who, without stepping on the wrong toes (worse than stepping on a landmine in Sicily), and try to bring the killer to justice. As nearly always happens in these novels, "justice" is not likely to be administered by the proper authorities. Complicating Salvo's life further is the dead girl's twin sister, who is determined to "help" with his investigation in odd ways that involve midnight swims and clandestine dinners. Not surprisingly, the Inspector is not exactly at the top of his game for a while, but it all works out in the end. All, that is, except for what he may or may not tell his long-time lady-love, Livia, who has been away during all of this excitement. THAT, the reader is left to imagine.

I have now read 10 of the Montalbano series (five in a row, practically speaking, in 2012; then I slowed way down), and I think I may have had an elegant sufficiency now. The formula begins to wear thin. I probably won't pick up another one unless I find myself stranded somewhere with nothing else to read.

Aug 24, 4:41pm Top

Congratulations on passing 75 Linda. I'm lagging behind at 56.

Aug 24, 4:52pm Top

>160 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline. You've had a few other things going one in your life, after all.

Edited: Aug 24, 5:18pm Top

78. True Grit by Charles Portis I have a couple of indelible images in my head from the original movie made from this novel, but I only remembered the barest outline of the story, and not many details when I began reading True Grit. Who could forget John Wayne, eye-patch glaring, reins in his mouth, pistols in his hands, galloping toward destiny shouting "Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!". Classic American western fare. In fact I'm not a great fan of the Duke, but I loved him as Rooster Cogburn. The story of 14-year-old Mattie Ross* and her unbridled determination to bring her father's murderer to justice plays very well on the page. There's more cussedness and frank humor in this than in any book I've read since the last time I dropped into Faulkner's The Hamlet. Not a bit of it is believeable, but you won't realize that until you've closed the covers for the last time. That's perfect storytelling.

*Mattie belongs in a class with Addie Pray, and maybe Flavia deLuce. You don't want to underestimate any of them.

Aug 24, 5:02pm Top

>162 laytonwoman3rd: - I read this one for the first time earlier this year, Linda, and loved it. My indelible image from the original film was of the rattlesnake scene... I you get the cfhance, the 2010 version of the film is well done and worth a watch.

Aug 24, 5:20pm Top

>162 laytonwoman3rd: I have seen the new version, too, Katie. Both were quite good, but I didn't remember the rattlesnake scene from the first movie somehow. Don't know how many eons ago it was that I saw that one.

Aug 24, 5:56pm Top

Aug 24, 6:01pm Top

Congratulations on reaching 75, Linda!

Aug 24, 9:13pm Top


Aug 24, 9:47pm Top

>165 lauralkeet: I know, right?

>166 FAMeulstee:, >167 drneutron: Thank you, Anita and Jim.

Aug 26, 8:58pm Top

I did a fairly significant purge today, culling around 20 books I'll never read, or never read again, from the house. I didn't exactly set out to do that, but I was looking for a particular book that wasn't where it should have been, and I ended up searching through boxes, cabinets and double-shelved stacks, where I came across volumes I decided I could live without. Naturally, I did not locate what I was actually looking for...

Aug 26, 9:12pm Top

>169 laytonwoman3rd: You know you are not alone! I purged 8 or 10 last week, while looking for something I did not find. Today I found it in plain sight when I wasn't looking for it. I almost always regret a book here and there that I purged, but overall I am glad when I have been thinning the ranks.

Edited: Aug 27, 1:25pm Top

>170 RBeffa: Turns out it was only 17 of my books, plus a handful of others that I hadn't even catalogued, which a cousin gave me in a sack last week. I had read 2 of them, and the rest didn't appeal, so as she said "Re-home those when you're finished with them", I just dumped 'em in the library donation box straight away.

ETA: OK, I found a couple more. I think this may be getting as addictive as BUYING books.

Edited: Aug 27, 8:04am Top

>169 laytonwoman3rd: you'll find it when you are looking for something else Linda.

I'm a week behind on my ten books out the door a week because I was away last weekend, so I need to address that today, at least choose them, if not take them out the door, but preferably both.

ETA: 22 books heading out the door. No, I'm not competing Linda, just fulfilling my commitment.

Aug 27, 8:43am Top

Nice job purging books, Linda. My hubby is much better at that than I am. Our townhouse community does a garage/tag sale twice a year, and we always put books out then. My contribution is usually pitiful, but I figure every little bit helps to keep the piles down.

>159 laytonwoman3rd: I read the first book in the Montalbano series in 2015, and my comments show that I liked it. I’m not sure why I haven’t continued. I will probably have to read it again if I go on to the next book. The fact that you got through 10 of them is encouragement to continue.

I never thought about reading True Grit until now. Your comments are compelling. I’ll have to give it a go.

Edited: Aug 27, 1:27pm Top

>172 Caroline_McElwee: You go, Caroline! I'm up to 78 culled for the year, which equals the number I have read so far (not the same books, however) and I'm pleased about that. AND, it exceeds the number of new books that have come into the house in the same period. (I didn't realize that until just now when I counted.) I don't think that's ever happened before.

>173 NanaCC: My husband is better at it than I am too, Colleen. He will finish a book and tell me it's OK to get rid of it, just like that.

Edited: Aug 27, 5:07pm Top

Congrats on hitting #75, Linda. That is our magic number.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire sounds awesome. I will have to request that one.

Aug 29, 10:51am Top

>175 msf59: I knew that one would push your buttons, Mark!

Edited: Aug 29, 12:54pm Top

79. Clay's Quilt by Silas House Hey, all you fans of Wiley Cash---if you haven't also discovered Silas House, now's the time. This is House's first novel, published in 2001. He has since written two more in his "Appalachian Trilogy". Chronologically, the other two come first, it seems, and I must have them immediately.

Clay's Quilt is set in the mountains of eastern Kentucky in the late 20th century. It's people are bound tightly to land, church and family even when they have left the church and families have been fractured by drugs, death and dysfunction. For many of them, this bond is both precious and perilous, a tie that can be loosened, but never cut. At the age of four, Clay Sizemore survived the drunken rampage in which his father killed his mother and two other people. Although his memory of the event is fragmentary, it is embedded in his adult psyche, leaving him with a longing for his mother and an aversion to violence uncommon among his generation in that time and place. Clay voluntarily embraces the life of his community, going to work in the coal mines, spending his weekends drinking and dancing in the local honkytonk with his best friend Cake and walking the mountains he loves so deeply. He yearns for something more, but it is not a yearning that draws him away from his heritage. He wants to keep the celebratory life-affirming best of it without giving in to the destructive tendencies that are whittling away at so many of Appalachia's young men and women. Nature, love and music permeate this novel, and if there are any more honestly drawn characters anywhere in literature, I want to meet them.

ETA: Thank you, thank you, thank you, avaland, who sent this book to me, knowing how I love novels set in Appalachia. This one gets 5 stars, and you get a gold one.

Aug 29, 3:26pm Top

Congratulations, Linda!

Aug 29, 4:24pm Top

>177 laytonwoman3rd: stop, temptress!!

Edited: Aug 29, 6:27pm Top

>178 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl.

>179 lauralkeet: *evil laugh* Resistance if futile. The man has a new novel Southernmost, just recently published. A copy will be delivered to me Friday. Sadly, it appears his trilogy is a bit hard to come by, but my library does have all of it--in storage. I requested that they haul 'em out.

Aug 29, 7:50pm Top

>180 laytonwoman3rd: oh, you are one powerful library board member!!

Aug 29, 8:14pm Top

>181 lauralkeet: Nawww....anybody can do that. All you have to do is put a "hold" on a title that's listed in their catalog; if it's in storage (and they can find it) they'll retrieve it for you.

Aug 29, 8:55pm Top

Hi, Linda. I posted the Pat Conroy thread. Are you a fan of his?

I picked a narrative nonfiction choice for November, but I am wondering if I should just pick one author instead. What do you think? How about an author who deals mainly in NF? Or maybe pick 5 to choose from? I know, I know, lots of questions.

Aug 29, 9:59pm Top

>183 msf59: Hi, Mark! I think I've read almost everything Pat Conroy wrote, including his memoirs My Reading Life and The Death of Santini. I did not read South of Broad because the reviews seemed to suggest that he had done it all before...and better. I have also not read My Losing Season, mainly because I think it's probably too much basketball for me. But yes, I count myself as one of Conroy's fans. I may re-read The Great Santini or The Prince of Tides.

As for the November challenge, I do think it might be helpful to make some suggestions, especially if you have particular favorites who you think do an excellent job of narrative NF. (I'm SURE you do, and a couple come to my mind right away.) But I see nothing wrong with leaving the month open to individual choice outside those suggestions.

Aug 30, 7:08am Top

>182 laytonwoman3rd: good to know, but I prefer the mental image of you stamping your foot and demanding action!

Aug 30, 11:21am Top

>185 lauralkeet: Well, I have been known to stamp my foot when absolutely necessary!

Aug 30, 11:24am Top

I have no doubt. 😀

Aug 30, 2:35pm Top

80. Accent on Murder by Frances and Richard Lockridge A re-read of an old favorite from the Lockridges' vintage series. When the lovely young wife of a Naval Intelligence officer is brutally murdered while sunbathing, Captain Heimrich of the NY State Police must try to sort out who and why. As usual, the obvious suspect doesn't suit him, but he carefully investigates all possibilities, with the able assistance of Sgt. Forniss (I so often picture Raymond Burr and William Hopper in these roles...dunno why). In this case, Walter Brinkley, delightful professor emeritus of English Literature at Dyckman University, who is not nearly as fuzzy-brained as he believes himself to be, may just hold the critical clue. Always fun.

Aug 30, 5:49pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Linda. Glad to hear, you are such a Conroy fan. I want to read more of his early stuff.

Thanks for the advice on November's AAC. I think I will leave it the way it is and give some strong recommendations, like you suggested.

Aug 31, 9:15am Top

Happy Friday, Linda.
>155 laytonwoman3rd: The bird book looks beautiful -- a great one for your 75th.

>158 laytonwoman3rd: This one looks interesting as well.

I loved True Grit, but I read it years ago; maybe it's time for a reread.

This thread is dangerous - Clay's Quilt also sounds wonderful!

I always enjoyed the Lockridge mysteries. Was this from your shelf? I wonder if it's easy to find these still?

Aug 31, 4:00pm Top

>190 BLBera: The Lockridge was from my shelf, Beth. (I didn't count it as a "ROOT", because I've read it before, and I save that designation for unread books.) I believe I own a copy of every one of their books. I spent years collecting them, and some of the rare ones were a leeetle pricey. But I started reading them in high school, and they have never lost their appeal for me. For a while I had a whole box of duplicates too, since I would buy them when I found them cheap, before LT, when I couldn't easily check whether I already had that particular book. But I've donated all those now. They do occasionally turn up at library sales, and some of them can still be found at reasonable prices on abebooks.com or Ebay.

>189 msf59: I'm looking forward to non-fiction month, Mark.

Aug 31, 6:42pm Top

Thanks Linda. First, of course, I will check my library. I think I read them in high school as well.

Sep 2, 9:26pm Top

>184 laytonwoman3rd: Another Pat Conroy fan here, Linda. I just picked up My Exaggerated Life from the library. It is based on a series of interviews with Pat before he died. I'll let you know how it is. I think I've read everything he's written except the cookbook.

Sep 3, 3:22pm Top

>193 Donna828: I hope you enjoy the Conroy interviews, Donna. I saw him do some TV interviews near the end of his life, I think.

Sep 3, 3:26pm Top

>192 BLBera: Here...I found a photo of my Lockridge hardcover collection, which takes up two shelves of one of the bookcases my Dad made back in the 1960's. (I also have quite a few of the vintage paperbacks with rather lurid covers, as well as some that were re-issued later, but those are stored away.)

Sep 3, 3:43pm Top

81. Three Houses by Angela Thirkell This memoir of early childhood was published before Angela Thirkell had established herself as a popular novelist. It was an entertaining read, with its nostalgia for carefree days of exploring her grandparents' sprawling, oddly composed house with her siblings and cousins. Thirkell's grandfather was the pre-Raphaelite artist, Edward Burne-Jones, who collaborated with William Morris on stained glass windows, as well as making a name for himself as a painter. As a child, Angela was sometimes allowed to sit in her grandfather's studio while he worked. She was also related through her mother to Stanley Baldwin and to Rudyard Kipling, whose daughter Josephine was her best friend during brief happy holiday intervals at North End House and The Elms, before Josephine tragically died at a very young age. As with most memoirs, it is hard to imagine remembering so much of one's childhood, or that so many marvelous and memorable things could have happened in such a short time. But it is delightful to surrender to the author's tales, just as she and her contemporaries did to "Uncle Ruddy's" renditions of his "Just So Stories".

Sep 3, 4:20pm Top

>1 laytonwoman3rd: What a wonderful idea to post images of places near and dear to you. And, congratulations with your work in the Scranton Library. When I retire, I will be involved with a group called "The Friends of the Library." Basically, as I understand it, the group will coordinate the book sales and get the books in order before the sales begin.

While I know I will enjoy this group because they also get together periodically for dinner and take misc. trips, I know it will be a danger for me to see all the books first hand and try not to bring many of them home.

Congratulations on reading 81 books. I am way behind this year. For the first time since 2008, I am not sure I will read 75 books.

Your 75th book looks lovely!!!!!

Edited: Sep 3, 5:36pm Top

Hi, Linda...thanks for visiting! The Friends of the Scranton Public Library is a very active, wonderful organization. They run 4 book sales a year (one is coming up next week), and contribute a lot of volunteer hours to various library activities. They have committed to paying for the custom-built circulation desk at the Albright Memorial Library (the main branch of the Scranton Public Library), which was part of our recent renovations. They also run at least one bus trip every year. This year, in the spring, they went to *drum roll* Lehigh University for a tour of the library and the art gallery. It was the first time I signed up for one of the trips; after hearing you praise the campus so highly over the years, I really wanted to see it for myself. You are so right...it's a gorgeous place, and we were there on a beautiful spring day (one of the few we were blessed with this year). I did wonder how students with any significant mobility issues manage to get around, though---so many hills and steps to navigate! We also visited the Moravian Museum and downtown Bethlehem. If I had thought there would be a minute to spare, I'd have tried to co-ordinate a meet-up with you, at least briefly, but the day was very carefully scheduled pretty much every minute.

Sep 3, 8:12pm Top

How wonderful that you were on the Lehigh campus! It is truly a magnificent place. One of my sadnesses is that I have been so busy with working at Lehigh, that rarely do I take the time to enjoy the beauty. But, a few weeks ago, as I was walking to the building where I work, there was a mother and baby deer walking up the area from the Linderman Library and Coppee Hall where I work. I stood and watched them, and they did the same. I like to think we enjoyed the morning together.

Sep 5, 6:19pm Top

82. The Woman Who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle Doyle is the selection for September in the Irish Authors Challenge. I have previously read his Paddy Clarke, Ha, Ha, Ha and thought it was excellent. This one is brilliant as well. In the face of her abusive husband's violent death, 39-year-old Paula Spencer mentally processes her life, hoping to make some sense of it, trying to hold on to the illusion of normalcy she has fostered for nearly 20 years. Everything we see takes place in Paula's head; this is stream of consciousness on a very approachable level. As she moves back and forth through her teen years, her early married life and her present circumstances, her perception of reality is challenged, her memories boiling up so that the ones she prefers to suppress keep rising to the surface, confirming some of the reader's suspicions about what she may be hiding from herself, and yet surprising us too with some less obvious conclusions.

Sep 5, 8:15pm Top

Oh I really liked Paddy Clarke and somehow never got around to reading any more of Doyle's work. Damn, so many unread books out there ...

Sep 5, 9:20pm Top

>200 laytonwoman3rd: I recently acquired a copy of this book, and held it in my hand, intending to read it. The cover copy or something made me put it back on the shelf. I had the impression it was an gritty story of a woman physically abused by her husband. I did want to read about men beating up women.

Sounds like I should get it off the shelf and back into my hand. Well...pretty soon. After two Jasper Fforde books, a Pat Conroy, and perhaps a Kent Haruf.

Did you ever find Doyle's Facebook page?

Your visit to Lehigh; nice. Granddaughter Helen took the college tour there this summer. She and her twin sister have started their senior year and were looking at colleges. I pointed out to her that both her grandfathers and her Aunt Heather were Lehigh alums. And she retorted, "I could see the middle school from there." She (and her sister) are drawn to big cities for college.

Edited: Sep 6, 9:29am Top

>201 lauralkeet: Same here, Laura. I grabbed several of Doyle's books when our independent bookstore, Anthology, was selling its stock and going out of business a few years back, and just never read another one 'til now.

>202 weird_O: I wouldn't say it's about a woman abused by her husband, although that is definitely a big element of it. It's more a reflective take on what goes on in the head of a woman who lives with and accepts that kind of life, in this case from her perspective after it's over. The book ends a bit up in the air, but I've just discovered that there is a follow-up, titled Paula Spencer, where we see what her life has become 10 years later than where this one stops. Naturally, I want to get my hands on that.
And yes, I did find Roddy Doyle's Facebook page, and I'm following him.

I understand the granddaughters wanting to get out into the great wide world for college...do they think they want to go to the same place?

Sep 6, 6:47am Top

>202 weird_O: my oldest started out "certain" she wanted to go to NYU and ended up at Kenyon, so you never know.

Sep 6, 12:57pm Top

>200 laytonwoman3rd: I love Roddy Doyle, Linda. My favorite is A Star Called Henry, but The Barrytown Trilogy is also excellent.

Sep 6, 2:14pm Top

>203 laytonwoman3rd: >204 lauralkeet: Boston University is the only school on both Helen's and Claire's Top 4 lists. Neither feels a need to keep the duo together. Time and the admissions processes may ease or complicate where they go.

Sep 6, 5:37pm Top

>205 NanaCC: I have both those titles on my shelves, Colleen. I'll definitely not wait another 9 years before reading Doyle again!

>206 weird_O: Yes, I assume the choice will be clearer once acceptance letters and aid packets arrive...

Sep 6, 6:50pm Top

>200 laytonwoman3rd: it's years since I read Doyle, and that book was fine Linda.

They made a movie based on his Barrytown Trilogy, they called the movie The Commitments, did you see it, maybe in the 90s?

Sep 8, 11:30am Top

>195 laytonwoman3rd: Wow!

>196 laytonwoman3rd: This one sounds good, Linda. I keep meaning to try Thirkell. Too many books...

Sep 8, 11:50pm Top

I ordered a used copy of If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O from Amazon so I can read it this fall. Right now I'm reading Blind Justice by Bruce Alexander and loving it!

>177 laytonwoman3rd: Taking note and adding to my wish list. I love Wiley Cash.

Sep 9, 11:20am Top

>208 Caroline_McElwee: I did not know about that movie, Caroline. I will see if it's available somewhere. I have The Barrytown Trilogy and am looking forward to reading it.

>209 BLBera: Thirkell is good for decompressing, Beth. When I've just finished something deep or troubling or just plain powerful, I usually want a gentler read next---not fluff, necessarily, but something that goes down a little easier. Thirkell isn't fluff, but she isn't challenging.

>210 EBT1002: That makes two copies of Pretty Peggy-O I'm responsible for---my daughter bought it too! I hope you enjoy both McCrumb and House...I know you like the Appalachian setting as I do. I have my eye on Blind Justice as well. (See what I did there.)

Sep 9, 1:01pm Top

You’ll be responsible for a third copy one of these days. I fully intend to start this series and my library doesn’t have Peggy-O.

Sep 9, 9:01pm Top

FWIW, each of the books in the Barrytown Trilogy was made into a movie. The Commitments has a great soundtrack, but the last time I looked, no DVD of the movie was available. Squabbling over rights. The Van and The Snapper are both available. so far as I know. Coincidentally, while we were in Ireland in at the end of June, a stage play of The Snapper was being performed in Dublin.

Edited: Sep 10, 2:51pm Top

>212 lauralkeet: *applause* !

>213 weird_O: Well, I just checked Amazon, and it seems there are multiple video versions of The Commitments available. Collector's edition, and 25th Anniversary edition, blue-ray and DVD...not sure how to choose among them. But my library also has a copy, so I think I'll settle for that one.

Edited: Sep 10, 9:09pm Top

I was very excited to learn today that Colson Whitehead will be the speaker at our county library system's "American Masters" lecture in November. I will try to read more of his work before then. Last year's speaker was Derek Thompson of The Atlantic, and in the past the series has featured Douglas Brinkley, Michio Kaku and David McCullough.

Here's a list of Whitehead's upcoming speaking appearances, in case you might be lucky enough to catch one of them too.

Sep 10, 8:59pm Top

Hi, Linda. Great news about the Colson Whitehead event. I am a big fan of his.

I am really enjoying The Lords of Discipline and will wrap it up tomorrow. I am very glad I picked this one.

Sep 12, 5:32am Top

Great news about Colson Whitehead's appearance in Scranton, Linda!

Thanks for posting that link to his upcoming appearances. None of them are convenient to me, though.

Sep 12, 4:34pm Top

Hi Linda: I also bought a copy of Pretty Peggy-O, so that makes four?

How lucky that you get to see Whitehead.

Sep 12, 4:41pm Top

I bought one, too, a few months back :)

Edited: Sep 13, 1:32pm Top

I'm thrilled with all you potential readers of the ballad novels. Let me give you all a heads-up (don't tell anyone else!) I will be hosting the American Authors Challenge in 2019, taking over with some trepidation after Mark's stellar five year run. I'm working on the list of authors now, and will start a thread shortly where I'll ask for some input from potential participants. I am pretty solidly inclined to include Sharyn McCrumb as one of the authors...perhaps as part of a tie-in with the traditional May "Murder and Mayhem" theme reads. So keep those copies of Pretty Peggy-O handy, y'all!

Sep 12, 4:50pm Top

>217 kidzdoc: I hope you eventually get a chance to see Whitehead speak, Darryl. I have seen him on television, so I know he's good to listen to.

>216 msf59: I might revisit The Lords of Discipline myself. I don't have much recollection of that one. Interestingly, there was a piece on the news this morning about the first woman to lead the Corps of Cadets at the Citadel. I gather it's a much different world there now from what Conroy experienced.

Sep 13, 2:19am Top

>220 laytonwoman3rd: your secret is safe with me, Linda. I've watched the AAC from a distance more than as a participant, and have read selectively depending on the author. I like the idea of putting Sharyn McCrumb on the list.

Sep 13, 6:44am Top

>215 laytonwoman3rd: That will be a treat Linda.

>220 laytonwoman3rd: I will hope to be a better participant next year than I managed so far this year for Mark, Linda. I did at least say I would be pretty absent this year. Too many books too little time etc.

Edited: Sep 13, 1:38pm Top

83. Hawk Moon by Sam Shepard There's no doubt Sam Shepard is multi-talented. This is some of his early work, consisting, as the subtitle informs us, of short stories, poems and monologues. It's interesting, sometimes weird, often too personal for anyone else (meaning me) to get a grip on. He fools with form, or lack of it. His subject matter is usually not for the faint of heart--one extremely vivid piece describes the experience of riding, being thrown and then trampled by a bull in the rodeo. I see the genius in it, but I don't want to know that guy, you know? I've passed the book on to my brother, as the only person I know who might really like this stuff.

Sep 13, 1:56pm Top

84. The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser I've had this "true story of the world's largest unsolved art theft" on my wishlist for a few years, and in 2017 my 75'ers Secret Santa granted that wish for me. Written nearly 20 years after the theft of over a dozen works of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston, this is the author's story of his involvement late in the game, when he himself grew determined to find out what happened to the missing art, and try to return it. Boser started out to write a feature story about Harold Smith, an insurance investigator who had been on the Gardner case for years. After meeting Smith, and being granted access to his voluminous files, Boser himself "caught the bug" and decided to pick up the investigation himself when Smith died within a few weeks of their meetings. The book is well put together, and quite readable, but ultimately unsatisfying as a there is no real suspense, and no resolution. After re-interviewing dozens of witnesses and potential leads, traveling all round the country as well as England and Ireland, Boser came no closer to finding the paintings or the thieves than his predecessors, and put himself in jeopardy of succumbing to an obsession, if not in actual danger of winding up dead, as had so many of the people who might have been involved in the heist and its aftermath. Boser did a good job of summarizing the known facts and the years of searching done before he came on the scene. He also illuminated the bizarre world of art collection, theft and recovery---that was probably the most fascinating part of the story. But his own efforts seemed unfocused and unskilled, and weren’t all that interesting to read about. Knowing that nearly 10 years after this book was published the frames of so many masterpieces still hang empty in the Gardner Museum didn’t help, either.

Sep 13, 3:49pm Top

The rumors are all true....I attended a book sale yesterday, and came home with this modest haul:

Sep 13, 6:23pm Top

>224 laytonwoman3rd: I love Shepard's writing Linda, and have this volume in a pair with Motel Chronicles, which you might have liked better. He's never an easy read or view, his characters have seriously damaged lives, they come from a gritty place. The plays make you really think. He is certainly in the cannon of great American playwrights along with Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller IMO, if maybe playing a narrower window than both.

>226 laytonwoman3rd: Nice haul. On the Black Hill is one of my favourite novels.

Sep 13, 6:34pm Top

>227 Caroline_McElwee: I know you are a fan of both Shepard and Chatwin, Caroline. I found a couple of the selections in Hawk Moon incredible, but others were too stark and unrelenting even for me. Although I know his reputation as a playwright, I have not seen any of his work. I think there will be a "Drama Month" in the AAC next year, so I will take your assessment to heart.

Sep 14, 2:18am Top

>228 laytonwoman3rd: ooh, a drama month? I'm liking your AAC ideas Linda. You're tempting me ...

Sep 14, 8:51am Top

>229 lauralkeet: *rubs hands together* I'm gonna getcha, getcha, getcha!

Sep 16, 8:53am Top

<226 Nice haul, Linda.

Good luck hosting the American authors challenge! I can't wait to see who you choose.

Sep 16, 7:16pm Top

>220 laytonwoman3rd: Thanks for that heads up, Linda. I will save my reading of Peggy-O until next year. It's been in my TBR stack now for several years so a few more months won't matter. It looks like I'll be in good company if indeed it does make the final cut for the AAC.

Btw, My Exaggerated Life went back to the library unread due to the too many books, too little time conundrum.

Sep 16, 9:31pm Top

>231 BLBera: Thanks for the encouragement, Beth.

>232 Donna828: I'm not sure I'm going to get to any Conroy this month either. I thought I might read My Losing Season, which is the only thing I have of his that I have not read before....but time's getting away from me.

Sep 18, 9:46pm Top

WOOT! I received my copy of the new Cormoran Strike novel, Lethal White. in the mail today. But it's over 600 pages long!!! Still, can't wait to get into it.

Sep 19, 7:02am Top

>234 laytonwoman3rd: I added my name to the library list a couple days before the release and I was #55. Speed will depend entirely on how many copies they have circulating, but this morning I'm #41 and the list shows more copies coming soon.

Even better: I'm #23 for the next Inspector Gamache!!

Sep 19, 1:57pm Top

>234 laytonwoman3rd: I’m looking forward to that one too, Linda. I’m 3rd in line at the library. I’ll be waiting for your comments.

Sep 22, 6:38pm Top

>226 laytonwoman3rd: Oh I couldn't pass one of those up. Somebody says that's a strange tattoo you have on the side of your head ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehRHFTu5xi4

Sep 23, 10:55am Top

>234 laytonwoman3rd:, >235 lauralkeet:, >236 NanaCC: The only thing wrong with having it on hand is that once it's finished I'm right back where I was last week....waiting for the next one to come out!

>237 RBeffa: Yeah...I'm going to have a Silas House binge in a bit. I have A Parchment of Leaves checked out of the library, and two more of his novels on my shelves.

Sep 23, 12:25pm Top

85 The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell Highly recommended as this came, it took me a long time to decide to take the plunge, because I just didn't think I was in the mood for another "first contact" story, let alone an exploration of faith. I should have trusted my sources, as well as my previous experience with Russell's excellence at story-telling. I found The Sparrow engrossing, and loved the characters immensely. Naturally, I knew right from the beginning that they were all going to come to a bad end, so I tried not be become too attached, but they were so freakin' REAL...

The basic background is this: After a musical signal is detected through the SETI program using the satellite dish array at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, an independent interstellar mission backed by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) is launched to Alpha Centauri to find the beings responsible for it. Many of the crew are Jesuits with appropriate education and experience for this type of thing, and the idea that they are following God's will in mounting this exploration is strong with them. Others are just exhilarated by the possibility of making first contact with an extraterrestrial race of intelligent beings. Written in the late 20th century, but set in 2019 and 2060, I think the science has some thin spots in it, but it holds together well enough not to cripple the story. Wonderful things happen...and then horrible unthinkable things happen. Without going into details I will say that as a story, this book worked quite well for me almost to the end. Then I think the author made things a bit too easy; after building the emotional tension to the bursting point for Father Sandoz, the only survivor of the mission, whose suffering has driven him to despair and a crisis of faith, Russell asks us to believe that he wakes up the morning after finally revealing the ultimate horrors of his last days on Rakhat, on the path to healing, willing to forgive God and possibly even himself, for what he had seen as betrayal and failure. I do not doubt that confession is good for the soul, but it seemed to be much too quick a fix for the utter devastation of a man in this instance.

There are some marvelous reviews of this book here on LT (I won't count the one that said, simply, "utter drivel"). I wouldn't recommend reading too many before reading the book, because a lot of them do go into spoilerish detail. HOWEVER, if you havealready read The Sparrow, and are looking for some intelligent consideration of its strengths and weaknesses, I commend you to this one. The Mayflower and I don't entirely agree about what's wrong with the ending, but we do agree that it didn't quite hit the mark. Our discussions continue. I think she gave it a half star more than I'm willing to do.

Sep 23, 1:07pm Top

>239 laytonwoman3rd: sigh. I guess I'll have to read The Sparrow one of these days. Like you, I've resisted despite many accolades and recommendations.

Edited: Sep 23, 1:50pm Top

>240 lycomayflower: Same to you.

>241 lauralkeet: You probably should. BTW, I just added a copy of Proust's In Search of Lost Time to my catalog---after your Paris reports, I went on-line and ordered it from Shakespeare & Company, complete with stamp! I had a copy, which is currently on loan to someone just upthread, there, but it seemed a very appropriate thing to buy from Shakespeare & Company. SO, >240 lycomayflower:, feel free to keep the one you've got, OK?

Sep 23, 3:13pm Top

>242 laytonwoman3rd: oh wow, how cool is that? So did you order just the first volume or the entire work? And which translation did you choose?

Sep 23, 4:57pm Top

>243 lauralkeet: I only got Vol. 1. And as I recall, I didn't have options; I think maybe only certain editions were available to be ordered on-line. It is the Penguin Classics edition, translated by Lydia Davis.

Sep 23, 6:24pm Top

>244 laytonwoman3rd: got it. I read a Lydia Davis translation for Vol 1, but we also own a full set of the Kilmartin-Montcreif translation. Because, why not. Ha.

Sep 25, 6:12pm Top

Wonderful review of The Sparrow, Linda! I felt much the same, and you really articulated it well. As did Laura in her excellent review.

Edited: Sep 25, 10:31pm Top

>246 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie. I'm very glad I read it. Still weighing its strengths and weaknesses.

>245 lauralkeet: Why not, indeed? (Says she who owns maybe 6 different editions of The Sound and the Fury and multiple copies of some other Faulkner works.)

Sep 26, 6:51am Top

>247 laytonwoman3rd: I knew you'd understand. 😀

Edited: Sep 26, 1:21pm Top

86. Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell The tailored-for-book clubs-title nothwithstanding, this was a pretty good read. Intertwining stories of two women, one white and one black, in small town Mississippi in the 1950's, it touches on various aspects of the early civil rights movement, a woman's sense of herself, and the importance of knowing and telling your own story. There are good women and bad men in it; there are also men who are not quite as bad as they think they are; women who are no better than they ought to be (that was my grandmother's gentle way of referring to women she liked all right, but didn't quite approve of); at least two very good men, and a whole lot of in-between people. Odell pokes fun at the foibles of humanity, and is not at all hesitant to give us irreverent one-armed bar-tenders, ancient one-eyed black women and clueless daddies who don't know what to do about their sons who hate wearing jeans and would rather play with homemade dolls than learn about baseball. All of the characters, with one exception, are sympathetic, at least to some degree. That exception, the Senator, is nobody's favorite human within the story. Black and white, rich and poor, male and female (including his fine wife) all have his number. He can make things happen, but no one admires him for it. There are hints of The Help in the way a group of black maids come to matter to one white woman in particular, and to the community as a whole. But in this novel these women seem to have a firmer grasp on their own stories right from the start, and the association between Miss Hazel and her own maid, Vida, begins with Vida holding all the cards. I enjoyed this story even while a part of my brain knew some of it is rather fanciful. The best comparison I can make is to Fannie Flagg's marvelous Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe. The book has recently been revised and re-issued, having originally been published in 2004 under the title The Road to Delphi. The author's note makes me believe that revision was probably a good idea, and I suppose changing the title was a smart marketing move, but I kind of wish they hadn't done that.

Sep 26, 12:52pm Top

>249 laytonwoman3rd: not heard of this writer at all Linda, but the comparison with the Fanny Flagg novel (read years ago) means it goes on the WL.

Edited: Sep 26, 12:58pm Top

I started reading Roddy Doyle's The Woman Who Walked into Doors this morning, Linda. You counseled me against my fear that this was a book focused on a husband battering and abusing his wife, so I put it back on the bedside table. Now I'm reading it.

Just finished Edna O'Brien's The Little Red Chairs, which I got in Cong, County Mayo, for 6 euros. (The only bookstore I visited in Ireland, but that's another story.) I recall you saying you didn't get along with the O'Brien book or books you read. Was this one of them? It was quite harrowing, I must say, but I thought it was excellent. (Side note: I read some thoughtful reviews of this book by 75ers—Ellen, Lori, Barbara. Even flagged them.)

Edited: Sep 26, 1:26pm Top

>250 Caroline_McElwee: I had not heard of Odell before either, Caroline. The book caught my eye on the "New Fiction" shelf at the library---still one of my favorite ways to discover new authors.

>251 weird_O: No, The Little Red Chairs wasn't one I tried, Bill. I read some of her short fiction, and tried a bit of Down by the River, and The Country Girls, neither of which clicked with me.

Oct 1, 9:22pm Top

87. A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House My last read of September, finished rather late last night. This is the story of a young woman named Vine, from an assimilated Cherokee family living in Kentucky in the early 20th century. She falls in love and marries a white man named Saul Sullivan, who takes her to live among his family, far enough away from home to make visits a rare occurrence. She finds life among these strong descendants of Irish immigrants different from what she has been accustomed to, and she misses her parents, but she builds strong relationships with her mother-in-law, and other women of God's Creek. The character development is good, the regional history and culture very well presented, but there isn't an awful lot to this story, until a traumatic event threatens to destroy Vine's composure and possibly rip her new family apart. I enjoyed spending time in this place, with these people, but the ending was a bit abrupt and unsatisfying. This is considered to be the first of House's Appalachian trilogy, but he wrote these books chronologically inside out, starting with Clay's Quilt set in the late 20th century, then A Parchment of Leaves which takes place during WWI, and ending with The Coal Tattoo set in the 1960's. I'm reading them in publication order by happenstance, not choice.

Oct 3, 8:50am Top

I need to start a new thread...and I will, if I can ever stay home long enough!

Oct 5, 12:50pm Top

I've put up a thread for discussing and planning the AAC for 2019. You can find it here. Please drop in and share your thoughts.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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