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Banjo's 2018 reading adventures--continued

This is a continuation of the topic Banjo's 2018 reading adventures.

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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1banjo123
Aug 4, 8:27pm Top



2banjo123
Edited: Aug 4, 8:31pm Top

Welcome to my new thread! The picture above is Edward Curtis's photo of Princess Angeline, Chief Seattle's daughter.

3banjo123
Edited: Aug 4, 8:34pm Top

2018 reading

1. Birds of America by Lorrie Moore
2. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
3. Catfish and Mandala by Andrew Pham
4. Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller
5. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

6. Don't Skip Out On Me by Willy Vlautin
7. The Little Red Chairs by Edna O'Brien
8. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
9. Catherine the Great by Robert Massie
10. Zone ONe by Colson Whitehead
11. Love and Summer by William Trevor.

12. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
13. The Odyssey; a father, a son and an epic by Daniel Mendelsohn
14..The Garden of the North American Martyrs by Tobias Wolff
15. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
16. Citizen by Claudia Rankine
17. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
18. Open City by Teju Cole
19. Go, Gone, Went by Jenny Erpenbeck
20. Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblen
21. Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

22. The Singer's Gun by Emily St.John Mandel
23. News of the World by Paulette Jiles
24. All that Sang
25. Horses Make A Landscape More Beautiful by Alice Walker
26. The Tenderness Of Wolves by Stef Penney
27. Miss Burma

28. Trouble and her Friends
29 Water at the Roots
30. Dunbar
31. Behold the Dreamers
32. Snow in August
33. Lillian Boxfish takes a walk
34. Goodbye Vitamin
35. Maphead

36. King Lear
37. Swearing Off Stars
38. A Drinking Life
39. Under the Lights and in the Dark by Gwendolyn Oxenham
40. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
41. No Heroes by Chris Offutt
42. Why be Happy When You can be Normal by Jeanette Winterson
43. La Bastarda
44. The Language of the Game by Laurent Dubois
45. The Power

46. When Breath Becomes Air 7/1
47. Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
48. Macbeth by Jo Nesbo
49. Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
50 Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

5banjo123
Aug 4, 8:41pm Top

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan

It was really interesting to learn more about Edward Curtis, what a character he was! He was totally driven to chronicle Native American life, to the detriment of his finances, destruction of his marriage. This book gives a picture of a man who is dedicated to his own mission, and created something lasting as a result. The story of the Native people he photographs are also fascinating. If I knew more about photography, that part of the story would have been interesting as well. His photos are amazing.

The book also touches on some of the controversies about Curtis; whether he was romanticizing Native American life by focusing on pre-contact life; and some of the ways he really pushed to get access to ceremonies, with negative effects on his Native American contacts. I do think that this could have been expanded in the book, which focuses more on the respect that Curtis had for Native Americans and spirituality.

It is an interesting issue, because without Curtis's work, a lot of traditional language and culture would have been lost, and today some tribes are using his work to re-discover lost traditions. So much was positive, and he definitely had a lot of respect for the subjects of his photography.

6BLBera
Aug 4, 8:48pm Top

Happy new thread, Rhonda.

The Curtis book sounds interesting. I love his photos.

7banjo123
Aug 4, 8:56pm Top

>6 BLBera: thanks, Beth! It's a really interesting book. And the photos are awesome. I may post a couple of others, but I am challenged in the photo-posting.

8banjo123
Aug 4, 8:57pm Top

Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I really enjoyed this fantasy novel, with a strong female lead and social justice themes. Thanks, Beth for recommending.

9banjo123
Aug 4, 9:31pm Top

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

I received this as an Early Reviewer, so that means I had to read and now have to review. I feel ambivalent, because I wasn't really fond of this book. I felt like I should be impressed, as it's gotten good reviews and plaudits from people I admire, like Claudia Rankine and Cheryl Strayed. But it didn't work that well for me. A couple of issues:

1) I have actually done a fair amount of reading/workshops/discussion on racism throughout my life. It's not that I don't have further to go (I most certainly do); but most of the ideas and formulations in this book were not new to me. I have gotten more from some other reading and lectures, specifically TaNahesi Coates and Claudia Rankine. On the other hand, it should not be the job of persons of color to educated me about racism, so it IS good to have a white woman take a stab at it.

2) some other ideas, I wasn't sure I agreed with. For example, early in the books she states that micro-aggressions from progressive whites are the most difficult part of racism for most people of color. I found that a bit difficult to believe, not that I don't think micro-aggressions are bad, but it seems that blatant racism, high incarceration rates, police violence and economic inequality would be harder. Perhaps DiAngelo is right... I was willing to be convinced, but she did not convince me.

3) I felt that the book would have been stronger if DiAngelo had been more specific. She references People of Color, but mostly she seems to be talking about African Americans. That is fair, and whites and African Americans have a very specific history in the US. I think she should have explicitly narrowed her focus to deal with that dynamic, and it would've been a stronger argument.

4) the other issue that she did not address, which I think is important, is the economic part of institutional racism, and how the economic powers use white supremacy to drive a wedge between white working class and working class people of color in order to perpetuate both racism and classism in the US.

But critiques aside, anything that makes people think more about racism and its impacts is important, and so I do thank DiAngelo for presenting this and the Early Reviewers for giving me a copy.

10msf59
Aug 4, 10:30pm Top

Happy New Thread, Rhonda. Good review of Shadow Catcher. I also recently loved this one. Egan is such a good writer.

I hope you are having a nice weekend.

11BLBera
Aug 4, 11:34pm Top

I'm so happy you liked the Tearling book, Rhonda!

Great, thoughtful comments on the DiAngelo.

12FAMeulstee
Aug 5, 8:04am Top

Happy new thread, Rhonda!

13drneutron
Aug 5, 10:11am Top

Happy new thread!

14jnwelch
Aug 5, 1:24pm Top

Happy New Thread, Rhonda!

15RebaRelishesReading
Aug 5, 2:01pm Top

>5 banjo123: Egan won The Chautauqua Prize for Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher in 2013 and did a presentation about the book at the award ceremony. I really didn't know much about Curtis before that but was most impressed by what I learned from the book. Glad you enjoyed it too.

Also "Happy new thread"!

16banjo123
Aug 5, 2:31pm Top

>10 msf59: Yes, I am definitely an Egan fan, though The Worst Hard TImes remains my favorite of his. But in this one, the Seattle setting was fun for me.

>11 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! And thanks for recommending the Tearling series. Work is kind of kicking my butt right now, and I wanted something lighter to read. (I guess that's a specific definition of lighter)

>12 FAMeulstee:, >13 drneutron:, >14 jnwelch: Thank you Anita, Jim and Joe!

>15 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks, Reba! I would love to hear Egan speak. And it's great that he is making more people familiar with Curtis.

17banjo123
Aug 5, 4:12pm Top

A surprising revelation: reading tastes vary. I had talked my book group into Why be Happy by Winterson; which both Mrs. Banjo and I loved from the first sentence. The book group, not so much. A couple of the members liked the book, after they got into it, but overall, the book group was pretty negative on it. I was shocked, because there are a couple of people that I was sure would love the group. For my next book groups suggestion, I am going to look for something very linear.

18banjo123
Aug 5, 4:16pm Top

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Speaking of varied reading tastes, we read this for the other book group (the lesbian book group). I am honestly not a big Sarah Waters fan. I find her prose is overly wordy and detailed; the characters make me feel uncomfortable (which I will grant is a sign of talent) and some of the plot twists are ridiculous. So I wasn't excited to read Fingersmith and I did have the aforementioned issues with the writing and characterization. However, the plot!

This book is amazingly plotted, and so has turned me into a reluctant Sarah Water's admirer.

19msf59
Aug 5, 4:39pm Top

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. Hooray for The Worst Hard Time & Fingersmith. I am crazy about both.

I could pass on my copy of Beautiful Music to you. Let me know.

20BLBera
Aug 6, 9:11am Top

>17 banjo123: Hah ...reading tastes vary indeed. The same thing has happened with my book group. Books I thought would be hits, bombed, while ones I thought would be duds created great discussion. Even after 15 years in one group. I still can't predict responses.

Have a great week, Rhonda.

Fingersmith is on my list. One of these days.

21charl08
Aug 7, 1:52am Top

>17 banjo123: Like Beth, the same thing here. I'm going to retire recommending for a while, after Ali Smith went down like a lead balloon!

Your ER review >9 banjo123: has a lot of food for thought.

22banjo123
Aug 7, 11:56am Top

>19 msf59: Thanks so much, Mark! I will take you up on the offer.

>20 BLBera: Yes, and I have come to discover that really smart, insightful people can have different takes on the same book. So, it's life. But the best book tips I get are definitely from LT pals.
And Beth, I can't believe Kim hasn't made you read Fingersmith yet!

>21 charl08: Thanks Charlotte. I still need to read Ali Smith But I think for the book group I am going to try a straight forward narrative next.

I am going to a workshop with Robin DiAngelo next week, so I will get a chance to revise my opinion.

23BLBera
Aug 7, 3:15pm Top

I'd better get on Fingersmith, then. I think I have both an e-copy and a hard copy... So, no excuses.

24The_Hibernator
Aug 9, 3:06pm Top

>18 banjo123: I don't like overly wordy writing too. Especially when they try too hard to have "beautiful" metaphorical writing. Because metaphors should be used when they actually add something to the story, not just for the sake of showing what a great writer you are. I feel the same way about using a thesaurus when writing. If a perfectly normal word will do, why try to come up with something rare and flowery?

25banjo123
Aug 11, 2:04pm Top


>23 BLBera: Good plan, Beth.

>24 The_Hibernator: I think there is a lot to say for writers who say what they have to say, and then stop. Unfortunately, I think that the publishing industry works against that, as short stories and novellas are harder to sell.

26banjo123
Aug 11, 3:02pm Top

Invasion of the Tearling and Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Well, I finished this fantasy/dystopian trilogy recommended by Beth. I really enjoyed the read. I noticed in the reviews that some people disliked the ending, personally I loved the ending. It's a trilogy that gives you things to think about, adventure, and also a good semi-escapist read.

27BLBera
Aug 12, 9:05am Top

>26 banjo123: I'm so glad you loved the Tearling trilogy. I felt the same way about the ending; it seemed perfect to me. It does say a lot about power. Once I read the first one, I had to read the others right away as well, Rhonda. I was happy they were all available.

28PaulCranswick
Aug 12, 9:56am Top

>18 banjo123: & >24 The_Hibernator: I have thus far read three of Sarah Waters' books including Fingersmith. I get the criticisms of her writing and I'll grant that sometimes her plot twists are a tad bizarre but she does create a great atmosphere and tells stories engagingly.

Have a wonderful weekend, Rhonda.

29banjo123
Aug 12, 9:38pm Top

>27 BLBera: Thanks again for the recommendation, Beth! It was fun to read all three at once. I seem to be in a fantasy kind of mood.

>28 PaulCranswick: I was all for the plot twists, Paul, and so far Fingersmith is my favorite Waters.

The weekend has been good, but today was a bit exhausting. Wendy and I did a kayaking class this morning--it was gorgeous, but now I am tired, sore, and my shoulder is acting up. But at least we get to feel really sporty!

30EBT1002
Aug 12, 11:14pm Top

>18 banjo123: Why reluctant?

31Berly
Aug 15, 4:10am Top

>29 banjo123: Yay for Kayaking and Fingersmith!!! Did you do the class in a pool or outside? I am still not good at righting the kayak if it tips...

32EBT1002
Aug 19, 1:34pm Top

Hi Rhonda!

33Oregonreader
Aug 19, 6:37pm Top

>32 EBT1002: Rhonda, I agree with Kim. Anyone who can kayak gets my admiration. I have struggled with righting it and have now decided that I am at the age to give up trying!

34msf59
Aug 19, 8:59pm Top

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. Your kayaking class sounds fun. I should do one of those.

We are back from our Colorado trip and had an excellent time. I love the great outdoors.

I did not get the book out for you, before we left but I will send it out this week.

35banjo123
Aug 22, 12:42am Top

>30 EBT1002: and >32 EBT1002: Reluctant because I didn't think I liked Waters, and changing my mind isn't my favorite thing to do! But really, I did like Fingersmith

>31 Berly: In the Willamette, Kim, and I did get quite soggy. I think I need to take the rescue class.

>33 Oregonreader: I was almost ready to give up on kayaking, but decided to give it another try. But maybe not until next year.

>34 msf59: Oh yes, Mark, you'd love kayaking. And thanks in advance for the book, no hurry, I have a few others in my pile (s)

Hope everyone is well! I have been busy. Work, as usual, and then we had out-of-town guests. Fun, but tiring. I have a couple of books to report on, some day when I am not so tired.

And the big news here; Banjo, jr has landed a real job! She starts next week, and it sounds like a nice opportunity. Now she has to learn to drive a stick--- we are going to give her Wendy's old car, as she will need to drive to the job. Wendy has a brand new Honda Civic (another manual transmission) .

36charl08
Aug 22, 3:24am Top

Congrats to Banjo Jr! Hope the new job is all she is hoping for.

37RebaRelishesReading
Aug 22, 10:32am Top

>35 banjo123: Congratulations! That's a big milestone. Best wishes to Ms. Banjo, Jr. I hope she loves her new job and thrives in it.

38Berly
Aug 29, 1:22am Top

Go Banjo Jr!! ya for the job. And tell her good luck with the stick. We taught all of our kids how to drive one and now they love that they are some of the few that know how.

39BLBera
Aug 31, 8:40am Top

Hooray for Banjo Jr.!

40The_Hibernator
Aug 31, 12:03pm Top

Was great meeting you yesterday Rhonda! Kayaking is so much fun! I had been contemplating a kayaking trip around Isle Royale for my honeymoon, but decided that since we were trying to get pregnant, that might be a bad thing to book months in advance. Turns out I was wise. Lol

41banjo123
Sep 1, 4:45pm Top

>36 charl08: >37 RebaRelishesReading: >38 Berly: and 39 Thank you Charlotte, Reba, Kim and Beth! Banjo, jr seems to be doing well with the new job, although it is a steep learning curve and she comes home very tired. Apparently they have told her it takes 3 months to learn, and she is now one week in.

>40 The_Hibernator: It was great to see you and Aaron! Yes, I think you were wise to forgo the kayaking for now.

42banjo123
Sep 1, 4:56pm Top

Hello Reading People!

It's been a busy week, but it is a 3 day weekend, so I am hoping to catch up on LT. We don't have much planned, though we are going out later, to see Crazy Rich Asians.

Highlights of my week were the meet up with Rachel and Aaron. So nice to meet you for real! And it's always good to see Juli and Kim. Kim has photos on her page, and I do think that they came out well.

I also spent part of this week interviewing for a new job, which I found amazingly stressful. The new job would have some pluses and minuses; but would pay better and be less stressful than what I am doing now. I had a second interview on Friday, so will wait to hear, but I think that it went well.

Reading wise, I have been in a lighter mood, and have been enjoying SciFi and fantasy. I am reading The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and I LOVE it.

43PaulCranswick
Sep 2, 5:19am Top

Have a great weekend, Rhonda.

44BLBera
Sep 2, 9:48am Top

Fingers crossed for the new job, Rhonda. How long before you know?

45RebaRelishesReading
Sep 2, 10:21am Top

Wishing the best to Rhonda Jr. for learning the new job and to you and your interview process. May it all work out for the best.

46banjo123
Sep 2, 1:02pm Top

>43 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul!

>44 BLBera: Thanks Beth. When I asked, they were vagueish about timelines. I think pretty soon. I am trying to be philosophical, and also feel a lot of anxiety about leaving my current job. I guess I will be happy when the issue is all resolved.

>45 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks, Reba. I am sure that it will all work out.

We did see Crazy Rich Asians yesterday, and I can recommend it. Lots of fun.

47banjo123
Sep 2, 2:51pm Top

And onto book thoughts:

The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall

Read for book group. It was pretty good, the story of a Native American boy who had been run over by a mail truck, and his experiences in boarding school, foster care, etc. Udall creates a unique voice for Edgar, which I liked. However, I felt the book could have been improved by editing. Edgar tends to give exhaustive details, which makes sense given his character, but it was a bit much for me at times.

48banjo123
Sep 2, 4:57pm Top

Worth the Wait by Karelia Stetz-Waters

For the lesbian book club. Stetz-Waters is a good writer, and this is set in Portland, which is fun. However, romance is not my genre, and in the end the book just seemed too silly and unlikely. But if you want lesbian romance, this is probably a good pick.

49banjo123
Sep 2, 8:11pm Top

upstream by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver's book of essays, Upstream. I think that fans of her poetry would really like the book. I am not a huge Oliver fan, and this book did not convert me. Some interesting thoughts, however. Here is the part I found the most interesting:

"Adults can change their circumstances; children cannot. Children are powerless, and in difficult situations they are the victims of every sorrow and mischance and rage around them, for children feel all of these things but without any of the ability that adults have to change them. Whatever can take a child beyond such circumstances, therefore, is an alleviation and a blessing.
I quickly found for myself two such blessings---the natural world, and thw world of writing: literature. These were the gates through which I vanished from a difficult place."

I think that my frustration with Oliver is that she focuses on the escape, with details of literature and the natural world, but doesn't fully explore the reasons for the escape. I have compassion for her, it sounds like her childhood was very difficult. But without a fuller exploration of that difficultness, her work can seem flat to me.

50banjo123
Sep 2, 8:17pm Top

And I just finished A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.

I LOVED it. I was just in the mood for a clever and creative SciFi romp. I don't have anything deep to say about this one, but I am glad there are sequels.

51banjo123
Sep 2, 8:18pm Top

By the way, I meant to mention that I went to a workshop with Robin DiAngelo; and while I hadn't been a huge fan of White Fragility when I read it, she is a great speaker and the workshop was very worthwhile. Maybe the book was better than I thought?

52Berly
Sep 7, 1:36am Top

Happy Friday!!! Wishing you good luck on the job interview outcome.

53banjo123
Sep 8, 2:23pm Top

Thanks, Kim! No word on the job interview, which I imagine means that someone else was a better fit. I am OK with that, I have lots to do where I am now!

Last night we went to the Thorns (women's soccer) game, and it was tons of fun; as we won 3-1 against Seattle (our arch-enemy). This means that we have the semi-finals here in Portland next week. That game will also be against Seattle, and honestly it could go either way. However, if we win, we will be in the finals, which we really, really want, since the finals are here in Portland this year!

54msf59
Sep 8, 6:39pm Top

Happy Saturday, Rhonda. I hope you are having a R & R weekend. It seems folks have mixed feelings about Upstream. Since, I am a big fan of her poetry, I will probably give it a try.

55EBT1002
Sep 8, 10:58pm Top

>42 banjo123: "...would pay better and be less stressful than what I am doing now." Two true virtues of a possible new job. I hope you hear from them with good news even though you sound okay with it however it ends up working out.

>53 banjo123: I'm totally focused on the Seattle Storm right now so I'll wish your Portland women's soccer team good luck agains the Seattle team! :-)

56Oregonreader
Sep 9, 1:13am Top

hi Rhonda, I'm right with you rooting for the Thorns. I hope the outcome is good for your job interview. I'm retired now but still remember the stress of interviews.

57charl08
Sep 9, 4:13am Top

>50 banjo123: Loved this one too - and read the sequels very quickly after each other, as much fun (although not really conventional sequels, more loosely linked).

Hope the job interview has the outcome you are after.

58banjo123
Sep 9, 9:38pm Top

>54 msf59: Hi Mark! I think you will like Upstream, if you like her poetry.

>55 EBT1002: Thanks, Ellen! I am feeling very OK with not getting the job, the whole uproar of leaving and then starting something new seems difficult. However, I talked to a friend today who has a teeny bit of inside scoop, and she didn't think the decision was settled yet. So we will see.

And GO STORM! That was quite a game today! I wish Portland had a WNBA team, I liked it back when we did. You should feel free to root for the Reign, though, they need fans. And, Megan Rapinoe.

>56 Oregonreader: Thanks, Jan, and yes, interviews are the worst. Thank goodness I don't NEED another job.

>57 charl08: Charlotte, I think I read about Becky Chambers in your thread. So much fun! I think I am going to wait a little for the sequels, just to spread out the fun.

59Berly
Sep 10, 12:07am Top

Go Thorns!!!!

60banjo123
Sep 19, 10:30pm Top

>59 Berly: Yes, go THORNS! The NWSL championship is on Saturday, and the Thorns play North Carolina. They are going to need some luck, and we will be there cheering.

And I hope everyone is well. We were away for the weekend, in Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We saw some GREAT performances, more about that later.

Today I managed to finish the Pirate Treasure Hunt here on LT. Fun! Have others been doing this.

61msf59
Sep 19, 10:34pm Top

Hi, Rhonda. Glad things are going well. We are going camping in Michigan, for the next 4 days. We have a nice bunch of friends going so it should be a lot of fun.

62vancouverdeb
Sep 20, 6:12am Top

Thanks for the well wishes . Looks like things are going well in your world. The stress of a job interview - not easy. Take care.

63BLBera
Sep 20, 7:00pm Top

Fingers still crossed about the job, Rhonda. I can't wait to hear about the plays. I do want to make it to Ashland one of these days.

I managed 12 of the clues, great for me because I'm generally not very good at these things.

64The_Hibernator
Sep 21, 11:03am Top

There's still hope on the job! Though I got the feeling ypu were rather ambivalent about it, so I hope the RIGHT thing for you happens.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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