Banjo's 2018 reading adventures--continued
This is a continuation of the topic Banjo's 2018 reading adventures.
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Welcome to my new thread! The picture above is Edward Curtis's photo of Princess Angeline, Chief Seattle's daughter.
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
31. Behold the Dreamers
32. Snow in August
33. Lillian Boxfish takes a walk
34. Goodbye Vitamin
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
2018 reading part 2
51. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
52. Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
53. Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan
54. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters 8/4
55. Invasion of the Tearling
56, Fate of the Tearling
57. Upstream by Mary Oliver
58. The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall
59. A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
60. Worth the Wait by Karelia Stetz-Waters
61. Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
62. Educated by Tara Westover
63. Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian
65. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
66. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
67. A Match to the Heart by Gretel Ehrlich
68. What the Eyes Don't See
69. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
70. On Writing by Stephen King
71. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
72. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
73. Sugar Land by Tammy Lynn Stoner
74. Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
75. Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz
76. White Houses by Amy Bloom
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.
Happy new thread, Rhonda.
The Curtis book sounds interesting. I love his photos.
>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.
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.
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.
I'm so happy you liked the Tearling book, Rhonda!
Great, thoughtful comments on the DiAngelo.
>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"!
>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.
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.
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.
>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.
>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.
I'd better get on Fingersmith, then. I think I have both an e-copy and a hard copy... So, no excuses.
>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?
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.
>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.
>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.
>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!
>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!
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.
>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) .
>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.
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.
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
>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.
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.
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.
>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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
>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! :-)
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.
>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.
>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.
>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.
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.
Thanks for the well wishes . Looks like things are going well in your world. The stress of a job interview - not easy. Take care.
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.
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.
It's been a busy weekend, and I haven't had a chance to report on my reading or the plays. I will be back later to report.
Hi there! I have managed to fins one of the treasures. And that was all I had time for. Good for you for finishing it already!
I afraid that I found treasures on “breaks” Friday at work. I had a lot of paperwork to get through, so the treasure hunt was my reward.
Sorry to hear the job was a no go, Rhonda. You seem OK with it, though.
>68 banjo123: I know the feeling. I am visiting threads between grading essays.
>69 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. I haven't had many thoughts/regrets about the job, so it's probably for the best.
My current job continues to be a bit overwhelming. I am currently hiring for two positions, which would leave me trying to cover 3 jobs, but luckily my supervisor (who I really like); is helping with one. I came in this weekend, thinking I would catch up on stuff; however was unable to get into my computer, which informed me that there were trust issues. I was able to log onto another computer; and am trying now to alternate work with LT time; however this computer (a) is not in my office and (b) it has only one screen. Plus (c) the keyboard is annoying.
On Monday I will have to ask IT how to get my computer to trust me again.
It's been a couple of weeks since we were in Ashland for theater, but better late than never. Here is the account of what we saw.
Love's Labor Lost is rather problematic as Shakespeare's plays go, but this was a great production, very creatively directed by Amanda Dehnert. There was a band, music, and plenty of slapstick. The best part of it was the relationship between the 4 young men. The actors had great chemistry and talent. We were able to hear one of the actors, Jeremy Gallardo, at an artistic talk later, and he is definitely a talent to watch out for.
King Henry V was our next play. I was looking forward to it at Juli (SuziOregon) had reported really liking it when she was at the festival earlier in the year. It did not disappoint. It was in the smaller theater, the Thomas, which I really like for the intimacy. Good acting, and really made one think about leadership and what that means; as well as about the trauma of war and how that effects generations.
The best thing we saw at Ashland was Oklahoma. Bill Rausch directed it with same-sex couples, as well as characters who are transgender. Great acting, singing, and dancing. We left with all those songs in our heads for days after. "I'm just a boy who can't say no" was probably the best number.
There was a really good review of the production in the NYT; you can find it here
Finally, we say How the Mountain Moved; a new play that had some good parts, but could have used work. Here's the description:
In the world-premiere commission by OSF’s American Revolutions written by acclaimed playwright Idris Goodwin and directed by May Adrales (Vietgone), this powerful journey into the genesis of the Transcontinental Railroad explores the often untold perspectives on an iconic chapter in American History and the events that shaped the country’s moral and environmental future. In a remote desert in the 1850s, four men—a U.S. Army lieutenant, a sharpshooter, a botanist and an artist—set out to survey a route for the new continent-spanning railroad. After being scattered on separate odysseys, they cross paths with lost pioneers, cautious Native Americans, and an African-American Mormon couple unsure whether to befriend, fight or flee the newcomers. Whose dreams will prevail? This play joins All The Way, Roe, Sweat and other American Revolutions commissions that explore key moments of change in U.S. history.
Lots of interesting ideas, but it veered from preachy to unlikely (to impossible) so I would not really recommend. But I do appreciate that they tried something new
And now for information on books that I have read. Assuming that I can remember!
For the AAC, I read Prince of Tides. It is a good story, but Conroy does overwrite, in my opinion, and I found myself wanting a red pen in parts. However, by the end, I was into the story and not looking for my red pen anymore. Also,
I also read Educated by Tara Westover. This book tells about Westover's growing up in a survivalist family; with neglect and abuse a factor in her childhood. It is a very interesting story, and I highly recommend reading it. However, I didn't like this book as much as some others have. Her writing is good, but not, in my opinion, excellent. The story is fascinating, but I felt that it would have been a better book if Westover had been able to use her own experience to make broader statements about parenting/childhood/religion/social norms. I felt that was a weaker part of the book.
It is good to be back Rhonda and I couldn't return without a vist.
Have a lovely weekend.
Best wishes to you on the new job possibility, Rhonda. It sounds like you enjoyed A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet as much as I did. The second one's really good, too.
Hi Rhonda - The plays sound great. I have always loved Rogers & Hammerstein and love the new versions that people are doing.
I agree about Educated; I liked it, but I read it soon after reading The Glass Castle, which I liked better.
I will look for Beautiful Music.
I just read one that I think you would like - The Silence of the Girls.
>58 banjo123: And weeks later....
"I wish Portland had a WNBA team, I liked it back when we did." I don't remember the Portland WNBA team. We were HUGE fans of the Portland Power back when the ABL was still alive. I was very anger when the NBA managed to oust the women's league with the WNBA, such that the women have to play off-season, after the men's season is over. It still feels so much like second-class citizenship to me, but we're fans nonetheless. It's not the players' fault and watching the Storm is just fun.
>76 banjo123: and >80 BLBera: Interesting. I was chatting with a colleague yesterday and we were talking about Educated: A Memoir next to The Glass Castle. I have both, have read neither. She had read them both and preferred the former.
When I saw Tara Westover speak at University of Idaho a couple of weeks ago, she was asked about The Glass Castle; she said she liked it a lot and that the two authors had simply landed in different emotional places vis-a-vis their families. I kind of want to read the two books one right after the other.
>78 PaulCranswick: Great to have you back, Paul!
>79 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. It was super fun. I have Mrs. Banjo reading it now. I am saving the next one for some time when I really need a fun read.
>80 BLBera: Beth, The Silence of the Girls is totally on my list. I was ogling it at Powell's.
Oddly, I did not like The Glass Castle---I started it and didn't finish it. Maybe I should give it another go.
>81 EBT1002: Yes, it was super annoying the way the ABL was ousted. And the Power was fun! the Portland Fire was here from 2000-2002; so I guess not really long at all, b ut we used to take Banjo, jr.
And yes, I think you should read The Glass Castle and Educated and give us your opinion on both!
OK, so I finished Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic.
I read it for the Lesbian Book group. We all agreed, that it was NOT a lesbian book. Most people did not like it, and disliked all the characters. I wasn't sure, going into the group, how I felt about it. I knew that I didn't exactly like it, the characters were not very likeable, and the book somewhat creeped me out and interfered with my sleep Monday night (when I finished it, late at night, because I wanted it read for the book group.)
The book centers around a young woman, Alice Hare, who is dealing with a lot of complicated identity issues and who is very unconnected to other people. Through the internet, she develops a stalker-ish relationship with a Japanese woman writer, Mizuko. Alice does some really not-good things in pursuit of this relationship.
In the end, I decided that it was a good book. Lots of room for thought, and I figured anything that made me feel that uncomfortable, must have had some depth. The book does have a non-linear and sometimes repetitive format. That bothered some people, I thought it was a reflection of how Alice moved through the world, and so I was OK with it.
>76 banjo123: I have been wanting to read Educated, and I admit your is the first real criticism I've heard about it (though I suppose I haven't been watching that carefully for criticism). I doubt I will get to it anytime soon, as I have SO many books on my to-read pile. So, I guess I'll just have to enjoy people's reviews of it.
>84 msf59: Thanks again, Mark, for the introduction to Beautiful Music. I may give the Glass Castle another try.
And regarding educated, I hope no one thinks that I didn't like the book. I believe I gave it 4 stars. It was just so highly recommended, that it didn't meet all of my prior expectations.
>85 The_Hibernator: Hi Rachel! I was glad to have read Educated, and hope you get to it as well.
>86 RebaRelishesReading: It WAS great theater, Reba.
and happy Sunday to all. I have had a busy weekend, mostly fun. No new books completed, but I am enjoying Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower and Middlesex which are my current reads. I convinced Banjo, jr to try the Tearling series, she is on the second one now, and also likes it.
Just dropping in to say hi, Rhonda. It looks like you have been doing some good reading.
Are you loving having Banjo Jr. home?
I am loving Parable of the Sower on the second read -- and my class seems to be enjoying it as well.
Hi Beth, yes, we are very glad that she decided to come back to Oregon. It is so fun to see her growing up.
And yes, I really liked Parable of the Sower!
Life has been super busy, mostly with fun things. I am hoping to get caught up here soon. I have three books read to report on.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.
As I mentioned, I really liked this one. I am so impressed that this book, written in 93, and taking place in 2026, seems frighteningly possible. In this dystopian novel, Butler deals with climate change, drugs, racism, income inequality and corporate greed. It is set in Southern California, and the place descriptions are very specific and believable. Great characters as well.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
I started this book YEARS ago, and put it aside. I couldn't get into it, I think that the main character remembering his grandparent's lives was too much for me. However, my book group chose to read it, and I am glad. This time around I loved it; great characters, descriptions of Detroit, Greek culture. And parts of the book are so funny.
I will try to come up with some coherent thoughts later, but my main take-away is that sometimes it's worth it to try again with a book.
Hi Rhonda, I'm glad to hear you liked Middlesex on the second try. I liked the book very much.
Happy Saturday, Rhonda. Hooray for giving Middlesex another try. I LOVED that book and hope to revisit it, one of these days.
I also want to read more Butler.
I hope your weekend is great, Rhonda. I just started Parable of the Talents, and it is as good as the first one, I think. There are some scary parts that are eerily parallel to our present political scene.
> 96 Thanks, Jan, I am looking forward to the book group next week.
>97 msf59: Mark, Mrs. Banjo is reading it now and she is LOVING it. She is a bigger fan than I.
>98 BLBera: I was looking at Parable of the Talents at Powell's last night, Beth, but thought I would try the library first. I will definitely have to read it.
Have you all heard of Cli-Fi? My daughter was telling me that it's a new genre, science fiction about climate change. I googled some lists, and none of them included Butler's Earthseed novels, which I see as a huge oversight.
I agree, I can't believe any list of "Cli-Fi" wouldn't include Butler.
I've read that Cli- Fi is a new genre, Rhonda. I think I feel a little afraid of that. Not really of the genre, but more I'm not sure it'a a genre I will enjoy, though I firmly believe that we are seeing climate change right here and right now and we have for years.
Huh. Never heard of that before. But I’ve gotta start reading them now...
>100 BLBera: I think I will go and tag parable of the sower as cli-fi now. That was one thing that I was impressed with, how ahead of the curve Butler was on the issue.
>101 vancouverdeb: I am in a dystopian Sci Fi kind of mood, Deborah, so cli-fi seems perfect for me. I am not totally sure that it needs to be it's own genre, though.
>102 drneutron: and >103 charl08: Yes, I just heard about it this weekend, from my daughter. Here is an article about it, from Book Riot
I've heard the Butler called Ecotopia as well, Rhonda -- not sure why we need yet another label...
>105 BLBera: Agreed on not needing more labels. But I just looked on the Multnomah County Library Site, and Parable of the Sower IS listed as Cli-Fi there. And I was able to put Parable of the Talents on hold, so I can read it soon.
I have been in a little bit of a book funk this month. I did finish a couple of books which I really liked, but I have also started and then abandoned several. I just started American Gods, which oddly enough will be my first Gaiman, and so far I am really liking it.
Well, Rhonda, you and Beth and others have been talking about Parable of the Sower for a while now and I'm finally adding it to my wish list. I have read Kindred which I loved and Lilith's Brood which I liked a lot.
I just read an article a couple of days about about Cli-Fi. It seems to be a thing now. And, in my opinion, even among books that aren't cli-fi, per se, climate change is emerging as a common theme or background. Florida by Lauren Groff and The Overstory by Richard Powers are two recent examples. I loved both of them, by the way.
I"ve been in a bit of a funk as well, partly because I have so much school reading to do. It's hard to settle on one book. I have never liked to have several going at once.
>107 EBT1002: Hooray for Octavia Butler! & I definitely have Overstory on my list now.
>108 BLBera: normally I like to read several at once, but right now that is a bit much for me. And I can imagine that with school reading, it could get to be too much.
This has been an emotional week, in the news; letter bombs, Kentucky and Pittsburgh. Sometimes it is hard to feel hopeful about the future of this country. But I try to focus on all of the good people trying to make a difference in the world, and hope for better times.
And RIP Ntozake Shange.
sing a black girl's song
bring her out
to know herself
to know you
but sing her rhythms
carin/ struggle/ hard times
sing her song of life
she's been dead so long
closed in silence so long
she doesn't know the sound
of her own voice
her infinite beauty
she's half-notes scattered
without rhythm/ no tune
sing her sighs
sing the song of her possibilities
sing a righteous gospel
let her be born
let her be born
& handled warmly.”
>110 banjo123: That is a beautiful poem, Rhonda. I'm not been familiar with Ntozake Shange's work but I will seek it out.
>110 banjo123: That is lovely, Rhonda. Thanks for sharing.
Happy Halloween to you. Do you get a lot of trick-or-treaters?
Loving all the Octavia Butler talk here. I read The Parables this past year and really enjoyed them. Very thought provoking.
I am also unfamiliar with Shange's work, but I have liked both poems I read by her today. Thanks for sharing.
>114 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! We had a good number of trick-or-treaters, which was fun. One little girl was dressed as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, so pretty awesome, and also we had the Empire State Building, which was an amazing costume.
>115 Berly: Hi Kim, and thanks. I am looking forward to reading more Butler.
And happy November to everyone! November is actually my birth month, and I turn 60 on the 7th. This year I decided to spend some time on introspection and rejuvenation, so I am spending a couple of days on the Oregon Coast, with my little dog Chica. I never travel alone, so we will see if this works for me or not. I am planning to read, walk, journal, and catch up on LT. Then next weekend there is a little get-away with the family
>110 banjo123: I like this poem. I will have to seek her out.
Hi, Rhonda. Your plan for spending some time, alone, on the Oregon coast, sounds wonderful. The big 6-0, eh? I don't hit that landmark until next year.
>117 msf59: Thanks Mark! Sounds like you will catch up to me soon enough!
What the Eyes Don't See by Mona Hanna-Attisha
Hanna-Attisha is a pediatrician and the residency director at MSU. This memoir details how she was instrumental in bringing attention to the lead crisis in Flint's drinking water, though pulling together data about lead levels in children before and after Flint changed the water source. It is appalling to read about how local politicians and public health officials covered up the problem, until Dr. Hanna-Attisha and other whistle-blowers made that impossible. Dr. Hanna-Attisha is definitely a hero.
That said, I believe she is a better doctor and activist than a writer. Her writing isn't bad, but it is pedestrian. Also, she alternates between stories of Flint, and her family stories (her family are Iraqi refugees). Interesting idea, but it did not quite work.
The book does do a good job of pointing out how important the environmental justice movement is for low income and minority communities.
Thanks, Kim! It is sometimes difficult, having a birthday near election day. This time around, I am hopeful but nervous.
And hoping everyone her was able to vote without too long of a lines or waits.
Ah! I'm guessing it's your birthday tomorrow based on the posts above mine. :) Happy birthday! I hope the election turns out well for
Happy Birthday, Rhonda! Many happy returns. I'm still older than you are, but you are catching up. :)
Enjoy your break and introspection.
Thanks for the birthday wishes, Beth! I had a good day, waking up older and wiser; enjoying the Oregon Coast, and then coming back home to family. We had a lovely birthday meal at a local Ethiopian restaurant.
And I indulged in a lot of reading, and finished American Gods. What a fun book!
Today I am off work, was planning on running errands but it seems like mostly a time-wasting day. That's OK, I need some down-time. Poor Chica is off getting groomed, which she needed, but didn't especially want. I am planning on going downtown later, for the rally in support of the Mueller investigation.
So next on my agenda, a book review, and hoping to post some pictures, just for fun.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
This book was a bit intimidating (such a chunkster) and it took me a bit to get into it. But quite an amazing book in the end, full of digression, but also tightly plotted. In this book the Gods, led by Wednesday (Odin) have come over to America along with immigrants who believed in them. This includes Gods from all over, Norse, African, etc; and they are losing their power as people's belief in them wanes. A storm is brewing, a battle between the Old Gods, and the New Gods of Technology, Media, Internet, etc.
I loved this inventive, big-hearted book, and it has given me lots to think about.
Happy birthday, Rhonda!
>126 banjo123: Good review, I haven't read any of Neil Gaiman books in the last years. Thanks for reminding me, as I did like the 4 books I have read.
>125 banjo123: Thank you for participating in the Mueller rally! I want him to continue and I want to know the findings.
Thanks Anita and Kim!
I wanted to post some photos of the Oregon coast, but now we are in Hood River Oregon for another little getaway. When I get back!
Great comments on American Gods, Rhonda. I've liked all the books by Gaiman that I've read, and this one is on my shelf. It sounds like I should add it to the "read soon" pile.
Thanks, Beth! Which Gaiman books have you enjoyed?
Today is the last day of my birthday vacation. Hoping to post a few pictures, and do a little reading. I just got back from a bookstore trip, so life is good.
I hope you had a great birthday, Rhonda. The photos from the coast are amazing. I am glad you ended up loving American Gods. It is not my favorite of his work, but there is still plenty to admire.
Thanks, Beth! Maybe I will look for The graveyard Book.
Mark, what are your favorite Gaiman? Also, I was thinking of you when we were at Hood River, because it is a very brew-pub kind of town, and I had an amazing Winter Ale at pFriem Brewers. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture, but here is a pic from the internet:
Thanks, Reba and Charlotte!
And, happy weekend everyone! We spent this morning volunteering at book sort, always fun, and tonight is the symphony. Beethoven's Emperor. So it should be a good weekend.
And also I have a couple of books to report on! I finished King's On Writing (late, for October's AAC) and also Home Fire. Reviews to come.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
This is a retelling of Antigone; using a British-Pakistani family as the main protagonists. It was a good read; it made me think about duty to family and to country, and the different ways they can be interpreted. It also gives a good picture into the conflicts for a Muslim British family, and insights into why some young people from that group could be drawn into terrorism. The writing style is good, and Shamsie comes up with some great phrases, like "Googling While Muslim."
That said, there is something about adaptations that can be fun, but also a little flat. It's a great plot, but at times it did feel a bit wooden. I would be interested to read Shamsie's other work.
>137 banjo123: Sorry, I was a little late getting over here, Rhonda. That beer looks awful tasty. My favorite Gaiman, is The Graveyard Book. I even have a copy on my "Keeper" shelf. I have enjoyed all of his books, but I also have a special fondness for The Ocean at the End of the Lane & Neverwhere, which was my very first Gaiman.
Happy Sunday, my friend. I had a great day with the books.
I've never read anything by King, Rhonda, but this sounds like one I might like. Maybe that's a good place to start.
I think I liked the Shamsie more than you did. I also liked the other one I read by her, A God in Every Stone. I have a couple of others on the shelf. I should read them and pass them on.
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.
Managed to get myself free enough to flit around the threads to wish my pals the very best of Thanksgiving Weekends. xx
>145 msf59: Thank you, Mark! I think I will look for The Graveyard Book as it seems like an overall winner.
>146 EBT1002: Thank you, Ellen! Thanksgiving WAS great.
>147 BLBera: It seems like most people liked the Shamsie more than I did, Beth, and actually I liked it very well. I think that I would like to try A God in Every Stone; I think I might prefer her writing in historical fiction.
>148 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! and wishing you lots of spare reading time, soon.
My reading time and focus has been less in 2018, and these last months have been slow for me. Work continues stressful, but I do have a new employee who is starting well, and I am hoping that I get a better work/life rhythm in 2019.
My current reads are The History of Love; which we are reading for a book group, and Confederates in the Attic for the AAC non-fiction month. Both are good, but I seem to be reading slowly.
I think this time of year has a lot of distractions, too, Rhonda. I am having a hard time settling into books that aren't for classes.
Thanks, Beth! I will just hope for a burst of energy in 2019.
Last weekend we went on a mural walk with my sister and brother-in-law. There are some really cool murals in Portland's Central Eastside, and we had a great time. I am going to post a few pictures, for fun.
^Love all the murals. Very cool.
Happy Sunday, Rhonda. How are you enjoying The History of Love? I was crazy about that book.
Those are very cool, Rhonda. I saw some great ones in Northern Ireland. I'll have to post some.
Rhonda--Love the coast photos, of course, but I have been there. The surprise were the mural photos from Portland's Eastside! I will have to go hunt around for them. : ) Also nice Halloween pic and I hope your new employee works out well.
My favorite Gaiman's are The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. Have fun with him!
Ooo, I love the street art!
Like Mark, my three favorite Gaimans are Neverwhere, Ocean at the End of the Lane, and The Graveyard Book. I'm also a fan of the Sandman graphic novel series, but it's not everyone's cuppa. I hadn't thought about including Good Omens, but that one with Terry Pratchett is great.
>157 msf59: Mark! I just finished History of Love last night, and in the end I loved it. Lots to think about in that book, and I loved Leopold.
>158 BLBera: Awesome, Beth, looking forward to seeing the Irish mural pics.
>159 Berly: Kim, I will try to post a link to the mural map we used. It was super fun. THere is another walk in the Alberta area, and we are eager to do it.
I just bought a copy of Good Omens, because I found it in the dollar bin at a new bookstore on Belmont. Obviously it was meant for me!
>160 The_Hibernator: What, there is an abridged version of American Gods? That is bad. You need all the digressions. Plus
>159 Berly: Kim (and anyone else interested) a link that includes our mural walk ishere. The walk we did is billed as a bike route, but worked as a walk.
This weekend has been nice, fairly relaxing, which was good after a pretty intense week. Some walks, some shopping, a little reading. Tonight is the first night of Chanukah! We are looking forward to it
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
I really liked this book, which I read for book group, but am struggling with what to say without too many spoilers. It's a story with two main voices, one a Polish holocaust survivor and the other a young girl with a spectacularly dysfunctional family. But that doesn't really capture the feeling of this novel, which is about the aftermath of trauma, the power of art, and the intricacies of lies and truth. The characters, are great, and I loved the way the plot folds in on itself.
>165 banjo123: I know I read this, Rhonda, but I don't remember it. Perhaps it deserves a reread. I know my sister loves this book.
I'm the same as Beth. At least I'm in good company, even if I do have an appalling memory.
Love the big green monster street art.
Hi Beth and Charlotte! That's interesting. Sometimes I am surprised when I look back on my reading, as to which books stick with me, and which, even though I like them at the time, don't make a huge long term impression. Or the opposite, books that I think are middling when I read them, and then later can't stop remembering. Once in a while I will go an change a rating as a result.
Most notable, I did that with Cheryl Strayed's Wild, which I liked when I read it, but thought it had plenty of flaws. I rated it 3.5, I think, but then couldn't stop thinking about it and telling others to read it, so went back and now it has 4.5 stars from me.
I like the end of the year, on Library Thing, because it gives me a chance to review the year's reading, and pick my favorites.
And another book read, for the Lesbian Book group. Sugar Land by Tammy Lynn Stoner. The group met yesterday, and the consensus was that you all can skip it. Too bad, there were some interesting ideas, and the writing was pretty good, but it didn't come together for us.
I also like to look over my year's reading and remember the best ones. It's a welcome change from end-of-semester work.
Yes, Beth, and it's fun to look at the Best of 2018 lists, and think about 2019.
I am currently reading Parable of the Talents; not nearly as good as Parable of the Sower, but I want to read it fast because it's due back at the library. And still reading Confederates In the Attic. When I finish those two, it'll be 75, so the rest is gravy. I would like to read something by Fitzgerald for the AAC, since it's Mark's last month, but not sure that is going to happen. I also want to read Tales of Two Americas for the Nonfiction Challenge, but again, it may just not happen.
So, my reading is slow right now, real life is pretty good, actually. Work is intense, but I am hopeful for a little more reasonable workload very soon. Also, I have had a couple of workplace successes, and that makes me feel hopeful for the future. Banjo, jr seems to be doing well in her post-college real job.
At home, we have been busy, but also enjoying the holidays. Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah, and it's been nice to have Banjo, jr around for Hanukkah this year. (we celebrate both Christmas AND Hanukkah in the Banjo Household.) We have lots of fun social events lined up for the rest of the year.
Yesterday we were out cheering on the Portland Timbers as they played Atlanta United for the MLS cup. Unfortunately, the Timbers lost, but they have had a good year, and we are hopeful for 2019.
Any reading plans for 2019? I thought Parable of the Sower was better than the sequel as well. The pacing didn't seem as good. There were parts that dragged for me. I wish Butler would have kept going; I would have read more about Earthseed.
I noticed lots of new street art in Seattle when P and I rode the Light Rail downtown. I didn't want to get off the train to take photos but I did have the impulse. Similar style to that you've captured here.
>173 BLBera: I am trying to read without planning in 2019, since I have been in a bit of a reading lull, and over-committing can be a bit of an issue for me. However, I was looking at the NYT's list of the best 10 books of 2018, and it IS tempting to plan on completing those in the next year.
I did finish Parable of the Talents last night. Review to follow.
>174 EBT1002: and >175 EBT1002: Thanks for stopping by Ellen! We had an awesome time checking out the street art, really a fun walk.
Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
As Beth notes above, this book did suffer from uneven pacing, and also the story-telling structure is a bit awkward. However, Butler is brilliant, and as I read more, I was drawn into this dystopian SciFi novel.
I really could not get over how prescient the story telling was, considering that it was written in the 90's. There is a religious zealot right-wing politician whose slogan is "Make America Great Again." (really) Christian Americans separate the children of "heathens" from their parents. Corporate power overtakes individual liberty. Many of the scenes in this book are difficult and violent, and the more difficult because it doesn't seem entirely removed from present reality.
And then there is the overarching issue of our hero, Lauren, who is admirable in many ways, but also with the flaws of any leader seeking power, and the difficult mother-daughter dynamic that sets up.
I don't like to plan too much, either, Rhonda. Of the NYT list, I would like to read There, There, The Great Believers and Asymmetry. I've read a couple of the others. I'll have to take another look at it. I would also like to read more from my shelves.
>177 banjo123: Nice comments. My students loved Parable of the Sower. Next week we'll discuss their favorites. They also are loving The Power.
Have a great weekend.
>178 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! Yes, reading from one's shelves is always a good goal. At least until one gets to a bookstore.
This has been a fun weekend, but not too much reading. Yesterday was our neighborhood progressive dinner. This year we volunteered our house for the main course, so we had about 50 people squeezed in eating enchilada casserole and drinking wine. Lots of fun! Tonight is book group, we are discussing The History of Love
>179 banjo123: Sounds like fun. We used to do this as students - I fed nearly 30 people a 'main course' one year, was very impressed with myself. I'm sure yours was much more sophisticated though!
I must read more Butler.
Confederates in the Attic
Well, this is my 75 book for 2018. Hooray for that! I did a little bit wish to make 75 with a book that I was more excited about. Not that this isn't a good book, but I found it difficult. Written in 1998, it's a narrative non-fiction piece covering Horwitz's travels with and attempts to understand civil war, and especially, confederate army buffs. Reading it in 2018, it's just so clear how much racism informed, and continues to inform, the veneration of the confederacy and confederate heroes among many southerners.
Horwitz does confront this in the book. However, his style is to be sympathetic and to explore the motivations of all of the people he comes across, and to marvel at their eccentricities. I think that if I would have read this 20 years ago, I would have been charmed by this style; but after Charlotesville, my patience for that sort of thing wore thin very quickly. However, I am glad that I read this book, because it gave a very detailed picture of how deeply this brand of white nationalism, masquerading as Southern Pride, is embedded in our country.
Congratulations on 75, Rhonda. Sorry the book wasn't a better read. I certainly understand why it was difficult to read. Hope you can find something pleasanter to end the year on.
Have a great holiday with the family, Rhonda. And congrats on hitting #75! Great timing and with a terrific book, as well.
And thank you Mark! You slipped in while I was posting. That is a perfect picture for you.
Thanks, Ellen, Jim and Paul!
We had a lovely, very social holiday. Now we are happy to have a quiet-ish weekend. I did finish one more book...
White Houses by Amy Bloom
This is a novelized version of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickock, told from Hickock's point of view. I really enjoyed it, overall. The writing is good, and Hickock's perspective was well done, and interesting. The book shows the tender, and vulnerable side of Eleanor Roosevelt, which is nice. It is told in an episodic fashion, which I like, but I know is not to everyone's taste.
My only real issue with the book is that I am always a bit uneasy with books that fictionalize real people, as it's hard to know what is real and what is fiction.
Congratulations on reaching and passing 75, Rhonda. Isn't it nice to have some quiet time in the midst of the holidays?
Thanks Beth and Ellen!
>200 thornton37814: cute!
Happy end of 2018, everybody! I will be starting a new thread for 2019, soon. Maybe tomorrow?
In the meantime, RIP to Amos Oz
"Every single pleasure I can imagine or have experienced is more delightful, more of a pleasure, if you take it in small sips, if you take your time. Reading is not an exception. " Amos Oz.
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