Beth's Books in 2018 (BLBera) Part 6
This is a continuation of the topic Beth's Books in 2018 (BLBera) Part 5.
This topic was continued by Beth's Books in 2018 (BLBera) Part 7.
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Oscar Wilde in a Dublin park
My name is Beth. I love books – talking about them, writing about them, reading about them. I also love to read with my granddaughter Scout.
I teach English at my local community college, so I am always looking for books I can use in my classes. I like to discover new writers.
I tend not to plan my reading, other than for my book club, which meets once a month. We meet in January to plan our year’s reading.
I tend to read more fiction than nonfiction and more women authors than men.
Welcome to my thread. Lurk or stop and say hello.
Woman's Fiction Longlist 2018
It's here! Longlist:
🌼 The Idiot by Elif Batuman SL
🌼 Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
🌼 The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
🌼 A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
🌼 Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward SL
🌼 Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie SL WINNER!
🌼 Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
🌼 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar SL
Sight by Jessie Greengrass SL
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy SL
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
Electric Literature 46 Books by Women of Color to Read in 2018
🌸When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele
🌸 This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins
🌸🌸Halsey Street by Naima Coster
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
🌸The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
🌸An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
🌸The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu
🌸🌸 The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
🌸Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik
Secrets We Kept: Three Women of Trinidad by Krystal Sital
🌸 Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith
Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot
The House of Erzulie by Kirsten Imani Kasai
Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen
The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat (I was supposed to get this as an ER)
Everyone Knows You Go Home by Natalia Sylvester
Go Home!, edited by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
My Old Faithful by Yang Huang
🌸 The Beekeeper by Dunya Mikhail
🌸🌸Happiness by Aminatta Forna
Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith
Poignant Song:The Life and Music of Lakshmi Shankar
Heads of the Colored People
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture
Sick: A Memoir
Number One Chinese Restaurant
🌸 Convenience Store Woman
Old in Art School
🌸 Fruit of the Drunken Tree
How to Love a Jamaican
Love War Stories
What We Were Promised
A River of Stars
If You Leave Me
Everyday People: The Color of Life
This Mournable Body
October and Later
All You Can Ever Know
And It Begins Like This
Useful Phrases for Immigrants
The Body Papers
Book club books for this year:
🌼 The Power
🌼 Home Fire
🌼 Bad Feminist
🌼 A Gentleman in Moscow
🌼 The Innovators
🌼 The Lightkeepers
🌼 Fifteen Dogs
If the Oceans Were Ink
Reader, I Married Him
The Walter Scott prize longlist (Historical fiction)
The Clocks In This House All Tell Different Times by Xan Brooks
A dark social-realist fairytale, spotlighting the shadowy underside of 1920s England
🌷Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore
🌷Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan SL
🌷The Last Man In Europe by Dennis Glover
Sugar Money by Jane Harris SL
A tale of slavery and freedom, innocence and experience, love and despair set in the 18th century Caribbean
Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr
France, 1956. Bernie Gunther is on the run. The twelfth book in the renowned series
The Draughtsman by Robert Lautner
1944, Germany. A novel which shines a light on the complex contradictions of human nature and examines how deeply complicit we can become in the face of fear
Grace by Paul Lynch SL
An epic coming-of-age novel and a poetic evocation of the Irish famine as it has never been written
The Wardrobe Mistress by Patrick McGrath SL
A portrait of a woman struggling to make sense of her past and imagine a future in the seedy glamour of London’s theatrical world
Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves by Rachel Malik SL
1940s rural England sets the scene for a multi-layered tale of an unlikely friendship
The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers SL
Eighteenth-century Yorkshire. A gang of weavers and land workers embark upon a criminal enterprise that will capsize the economy and become the biggest fraud in British history
The Horseman by Tim Pears
An unexpected friendship between two children, set in Devon in 1911
🌷The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley
Read in 2018
71. A Piece of the World*
72. Island of the Mad
73. The Removes
74. On Turpentine Lane*
75. Fight No More 🎉
77. Thunder Bay*
78. World Made by Hand*
79. The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye
80. An Unmarked Grave
81. Convenience Store Woman
82. Clock Dance
Read: 12 - all fiction
By women: 8
By men: 3
By a couple: 1
Short story collection: 1
Graphic novel: 1
83. Red Clocks 🎉
84. All the Birds in the Sky*
85. Crossbones Yard*
86. This Will Be My Undoing
87. My Name Is Leon* 🎉
89. Armada Boy*
90. From a Low and Quiet Sea
91. The Lightkeepers*
92. You Think It, I'll Say It
93. The Paris Architect
94. Welcome to Lagos
95. Suicide Club
96. Fruit of the Drunken Tree
97. An Uncommon Murder*
98. The Incendiaries
By women: 13
By men: 3
Short stories: 1
Graphic novel: 1
101. The Guilty Dead
102. Only Child
103. The Giver* REREAD
104. Fifteen Dogs*
105. When God Was a Rabbit* 🎉
106. The Silence of the Girls 🎉
107. Cat's Cradle* REREAD
108. Washington Black 🎉
109. The Shadow District*
110. The Friend 🎉
111. The Dry
112. Feel Free 🎉
113. The Last Policeman* REREAD
114. A Long Way from Home
1. Edited to Death*
2. Books & Islands in Ojibwe Country*
3. Love That Dog* 🎉
4. The Power* 🎉
6. Walk Two Moons*
7. Go, Went, Gone 🎉
8. Out in the Open
9. Under Another Sky
10. Eternal Life
11. The Crypt Thief
* Off my shelf
January Reading Report:
Books read: 11
In translation: 2
12. The Origin of Others*
13. Halsey Street 🎉
14. Regency Buck*
15. What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky 🎉
16. The Weight of Ink
17. Parable of the Sower* 🎉
18. Here in Berlin
19. The Wedding Date*
20. A Catalog of Birds 🎉
21. The Fire Next Time*
22. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir
23. Citizen: An American Lyric*
* Off my shelf
February Reading Report
Books read: 12
Short story collection: 1
24. Call Me Zebra
25. A Hanging Matter*
26. The Queen of the Tearling*
27. So Long a Letter
28. A Wrinkle in Time* REREAD
29. An American Marriage
30. Home Fire*🎉
31. The End We Start From
32. The Invasion of the Tearling
33. When They Call You a Terrorist 🎉
34. The Fate of the Tearling
35. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
36. The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
37. Happiness 🎉
*Off my shelf
March Reading Report
Books read: 14
In translation: 1
38. Death on Nantucket*
39. Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life*
40. Prayers for the Stolen*
41. The Reader on the 6.27*
42. Miss Burma
43. The Merchant's House*
44. Brave New World* REREAD
45. The Female Persuasion 🎉
46. The Knowledge
47. A Long Way Gone* REREAD
48. The Beekeeper:Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq
*Off my shelf
April Reading Report
Books read: 11
By women: 8
By men: 3
In translation: 2
49. Hole in My Life
50. The Glass Castle*
51. The Heart Goes Last* REREAD
52. Exposure 🎉
53. Twisted Prey
54. A Gentleman in Moscow* 🎉
55. Dead Trouble*
56. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?*
May Reading Report
Books Read: 8
By Women: 5
By Men: 3
57. The Absolutist
58. A Dangerous Crossing
59. A Howl of Wolves
60. The Nonesuch*
61. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
62. The Last Man in Europe 🎉
63. We Were Eight Years in Power 🎉
64. Educated: A Memoir
65. The Dark Angel*
66. The Penderwicks at Last*
67. Florida 🎉
68. The Blue Castle*
69. The Jump-off Creek* 🎉
70. The Lost*
June Reading Report
Books read: 14
By women: 11
By men: 3
96. Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a wonderful first novel that vividly portrays the violence of Pablo Escobar's Colombia. Rojas Contreras tells us in her note that the story is loosely based on her childhood experiences in Colombia. She does an excellent job of portraying the fear that permeates the childhood of her narrators, Chula and Petrona.
The story alternates between the voices of Chula, eight or nine years old as the novel opens, and Petrona, thirteen at the start of the novel. Petrona is hired to be the maid for Chula's family. Chula, her sister, and her parents live in a gated community: "The only time Cassandra and I went outside was with Mama, inside the school bus, or across the street from our neighborhood to buy candy in the shops." Chula and her sister lived inside the walls of the community for their safety. Kidnappings, bombings, and murder were common occurrences; it was necessary to have armed guards to protect well-to-do families.
I had a friend who lived in Colombia during this time period, and it sounds remarkably like the stories she would tell. She and her husband lived in a walled community, and could never leave it at night; it was much too dangerous.
Part of the problem, of course, is the contrast between the wealthy few and the many poor people living in the shantytowns on the city's outskirts. By alternating the two girls' stories, the difference is clear.
Really good first novel.
97. An Uncommon Murder is a clever mystery set during the Thatcher years. Alex Tanner is a researcher for an independent film maker. When she is given the assignment to look into a decades-old unsolved murder, she begins to realize that being wealthy does not guarantee happiness. Alex is the product of the foster care system, and constantly butts up against the class system. The chip on her shoulder gets old at times, but overall, I thought this was very clever. I would read more by Donald.
Someone on LT mentioned this, so thanks. Charlotte?
Happy New Thread - to infinity and beyond!
Both of your most recent reviews sound wonderful.
I've added Fruit of the Drunken Tree to my global reading possibilities. Wow - the gated communities sound so much like the ones in Margaret Atwood's Maddadam dystopian trilogy.
And I am a sucker for mysteries right now.
Happy new thread, Beth! Fruit of the Drunken Tree looks excellent. I'm half-way into series 2 of Narcos at the moment, but the story is told from the point of view of the DEA. It would be interesting to read what it was like for ordinary Colombians. The Narcos voiceover suggests that Escobar was seen as a hero by the people (as opposed to the Government and law enforcement) but somehow I doubt that.
>10 streamsong: Thanks Janet. Yes, we will be talking infinity for a while.
>11 figsfromthistle: Thanks Anita.
>12 msf59: Thanks Mark. I went to a Gladiola Days parade with my girls. Scout came back with a huge bag of candy that I suspect will disappear in the night.
>13 susanj67: Actually, Susan, Escobar gave stuff to the poor, so he was a hero to many, which is one reason it was so hard to catch him. Some of that comes across in the novel.
Happy New Thread, Beth!
>8 BLBera: My sister recommended What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky and I think I am in the queue at the library. I also have a copy of A Catalogue of Birds on my shelves, I think.... All the "I think"s are a sign that I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with books I want very much to read now!
Fruit of the Drunken Tree looks really good.
Happy new thread, Beth. I have the second of James Howard Kunstler's dystopia books lined up to read in September. The Witch of Hebron fit perfectly in one of the TIOLI Challenges so I thought I would slot it in and see what I think of it.
>23 DeltaQueen50: Thanks Judy. I'll watch for your comments on The Witch of Hebron; I didn't like the first one enough to really care to continue, but if you recommend it, I'll reconsider.
>24 Carmenere: Thanks Lynda.
Busy week - I am back at school, so less reading of books and more reading of student work.
98. The Incendiaries is a creepy little novel, mainly about Will and Phoebe, a couple who meet during college. Most of it is narrated by Will, in an attempt to understand Phoebe's reasons for joining a cult. Kwon skillfully creates a sense of dread. I'm not sure really what to say about this. Although the writing is outstanding, it's not a book I really loved. Part of the problem may be that I was distracted by the start of school, so I read it over several days. I think maybe it would benefit from reading in one or two sittings; it's pretty short.
I would like to talk about it to someone else who read it.
>26 BLBera: I'm sorry I have not read that one to discuss with you, Beth, though your description makes me think I might like it. There's quite a long holds list at the library, but I stuck my name on the end. If it ever comes to me, I'll let you know.
How was the first week of classes otherwise? I hope you have a good student mis this year.
Hi Julia - The first week went well; the students seem to be all on their best behavior. :) But I do have some initial grading to do this weekend, and with 100 students, I will be busy this semester.
I can't wait to see what you think of The Incendiaries.
I just started Warlight and am really enjoying the first part. It's reminding me of the Lissa Evans book set during WWII Crooked Heart.
>32 BLBera: 100 students! That's a lot of grading. Glad to hear your Dystopian group is a good one. : )
Glad to read the students have made a good start - hope the marking goes well. (=What Kim said) I hadn't thought of Lissa Evans, but that makes sense.
It is a lot of grading, Twin. I just have to try to keep up with them.
Thanks Charlotte. I think it's mostly the situation of youngsters being on their own...
I am SO FAR behind, Beth, after being gone much of August, but I've caught up here for now. Happy New Thread!
Happy new thread, Beth. Good luck keeping up with your students and the marking.
Happy new one, Beth. 100 students ?!? That's lots of work you have to do. Wishing you a relaxed Sunday.
>27 BLBera: Oh no! What happened to Bubbles? Does Scout know, or were her parents able to find a similar-looking hamster and smuggle it in to be Bubbles 2? (My parents had to do this with my brother's guinea pig, many years ago. He never noticed :-) )
I'm almost in time to wish you a Happy New Thread, Beth and certainly in time to wish you a lovely Sunday.
Thanks Meg - I will take all the luck I can get.
Thanks Barbara - it is a lot of grading. I do enjoy my weekends though. I imagine I will watch some tennis today.
Hi Susan - They're not sure what happened. She escaped and my daughter thinks maybe she ate something. Anyway, the following day, they found her dead in the cage. They went to the pet store to get a companion, but apparently unless hamsters grow up together, they will fight, so Scout said Stinky will have to be alone until he dies.
Thanks Paul - thanks for stopping by.
Hey Beth! Happy Sunday! Hope you're able to squeeze in a little reading time.
Thanks Lynda - I hope to squeeze in reading that isn't student related. :) Also tennis.
My daughter said she took is surprisingly well, Julia. I think my daughter was surprised. She even said she would just have one hamster until Stinky dies, then she can get two again. :)
Just posting a nothing-comment so I don't lose track of your thread...again!
Happy new semester, Beth.
Have a good new semester, Beth! I am sorry about Bubbles, but glad that Scout is doing OK with it.
Happy new semester!
Ooh, Brave New World. I do want to read that.
Glad to hear Scout survived the demise of Bubbles. I did not know that about hamster cohabiting: tricky!
>42 BLBera: I did not know that about hamsters either. I'm glad that Scout is OK with it. She is a kind child to put Stinky's welfare above getting a new Bubbles.
>50 charl08: BNW is really interesting, Charlotte. We usually have some great discussions.
>51 susanj67: Yes, I now know triple what I used to know about hamsters. Scout is very kind.
>52 streamsong: It's actually been a while since someone mistook us, Janet, so it's nice to see that we are still twins. :) I hope you're feeling better.
Feel free to read along. The next one is The Giver.
Hi Beth, glad to hear that the transition back to school is going okay. Lots of grading in your future. Our book group is going to read Brave New World in December. I have no memory of reading it. The Giver on the other hand is firmly in my mind because I read it in the past few years so I could give my copy to my great-nephew. I hope you share the highlights from your classes with us. Dystopian fiction leads to wonderful discussions.
I always love to come here Beth. Happy New Thread and Happy New School Year! I wish you some inspiring students.
Bless Scout - and you too!
Happy Labor Day, Beth. I hope you had a nice holiday weekend. I like creepy little novels so The Incendiaries might be a good fit for me.
>53 BLBera: I downloaded the sample, Beth, and resisted the urge to also download the 'student notes'!!
Thanks Peggy. I am always hopeful at the beginning of the year.
Thanks Mark. I hope you're enjoying the long weekend as well. I'll watch for your comments on The Incendiaries.
Hah Charlotte. Isn't it sad that I have to read the notes, so I know whether students are doing their own work?
Donna - I'll watch for your comments on Brave New World; I imagine it would give the group a lot to discuss.
Hi, Twin! I hope you don't have too much grading yet and have time for books and tennis today. : )
Hi back, Twin. I have some school work, but I will make time for reading and tennis.
99. Warlight, from the first pages, has an elegiac tone: "There are times these years later, as I write all this down, when I feel as if I do so by candlelight. As if I cannot see what is taking place in the dark beyond the movement of this pencil."
The narrator, Nathaniel, is writing this in an effort to understand his mother. Just as WWII ended, Nathaniel and his sister Rachel were left in the care of strangers while their parents supposedly travel to the Far East for work. The Moth and Darter, as well as others who appear and disappear in the children's lives are vivid and memorable.
The novel travels back and forth in time as Nathaniel tries to piece together his mother's life and understand the choices she made.
I loved this novel. The tone of the novel, one of longing and love is beautiful, and Ondaatje has created some wonderful characters, even if, in the end, we don't totally understand them. As Nathaniel comes to understand: "We never know more than the surface of any relationship after a certain stage, just as those layers of chalk, built from the efforts of infinitesimal creatures, work in almost limitless time."
Lovely review Beth - does justice to the book, I think. Those notes got me through school English exams (but I could never understand people who skipped the book!).
Loved your review of Warlight. I finished it on our trip and immediately began it again! Hope classes started well for you. Going back to work tomorrow will be difficult but I feel ready!
Thanks Charlotte. No comments on the notes. :)
Vivian! You're back! How was the trip? The first week went well. I'll let you know as the semester progresses.
Great review of Warlight, Beth. I'm adding it to my list. It sounds like you will have a very busy school year.
Beth, you definitely made the right decision not to read anymore of the World Made by Hand books, he continues with his bad attitude toward women and his throw-back characters.
Nice review of Warlight, Beth. It seems you liked it a bit more than I did, but it was still an enjoyable read for me.
I visited Kim, so it's only right that I come out of lurk and speak to you too, Beth.
I have Warlight on my wish list, but there's a lot of Ondaatje that I haven't read, so I'm in no great hurry.
Thanks for the visit, Peggy. I'm happy to see you're not playing favorites.
>72 Berly: Go Serena, Kith! Have a great weekend.
Oh my gosh, Beth, I miss your thread for a week and it has exploded. :) Happy new school year.
Warlight definitely has some buzz these days. I’ll have to check it out.
Hi Colleen - I know exactly how you feel. I have given up trying to keep up with people. I loved Warlight; Ondaatje has a way with words.
Sorry that the tennis didn't have a better final, Beth. Any (essay) questions for me now I've finished BNW? I think I need prompting.
I’m glad to see you and I both loved Warlight. I don’t think it’ll win the Booker mostly because Ondaatje just won the Booker international special award but it certainly belongs on the shortlist.
I watched the Serena episode unfold yesterday with a certain amount of disgust.
>80 EBT1002: Yes, Ellen, Serena has been the recipient of questionable calls throughout her career. I wish she had held it together better, but I can see why it's hard when this happens over and over. She has to be tired of it. You will love What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky. I can't wait to see your comments.
I'm unfamiliar with the Blind Justice series. I will not start another series. I will not start another series....
>81 charl08: It's unfortunate, Charlotte, because Osaka played an awesome game and that taints her victory. Really, you're asking for questions? Well, if we look at BNW in terms of Utopian lit, what exactly is Huxley responding to in the novel? What does the novel say about progress in a utopia? What role do women have in this utopia? Is utopia even possible? We can see how conditioning breaks down. Is it possible to condition humans to be happy?
How's that? :)
>82 brenzi: Hi Bonnie! I've only read the Ryan and Warlight, and while I liked Warlight better, it sounds like there are a lot of other good ones on the long list.
Serena does get more than her share of questionable calls.
100. Severance is a novel take on life after a pandemic -- Ma really focuses on what happens to cities when the people are gone. If you like post apocalyptic novels, you'll like this one.
Usually when we think of severance, we think of losing a job, but in Ling Ma's novel her protagonist Candace Chen is severed from her old life after Shen Fever decimates New York City. Candace stays in the city for a long time, documenting the emptying of the streets on her blog. After she escapes the city, she joins with another group of survivors and heads toward Chicago. As she travels, Candace remembers her past, her parents, her lover, her job, knowing that "The past is a black hole., cut into the present day like a wound, and if you come too close, you can get sucked in. You have to keep moving."
>84 BLBera: Yikes! That one sounds bleak. Apparently you are braver than I am!!
>85 Berly: Hey Twin, how's your Monday? It's about the usual for a post apocalyptic novel, but without zombies. :)
>84 BLBera: Ooh, that sounds like my kind of book. Off to the library to see if they have it ...
ETA: Yep, and there's a long holds list. Which I am now on the tail end of. I hope I remember who recommended it by the time it comes to me. You'll have to remind me.
>88 rosalita: I really liked it, Julia. There was a lot of interesting observations about the life of a city. That was a different focus. Most of it is set in NYC. If you hate it, it wasn't me; if you love it, I recommended it! ;)
>89 vivians: Hi Vivian - How is life back at home? Quite a few of the Booker nominees are not in my library yet. Of the two I read, Warlight is my favorite.
101. The Guilty Dead - In this latest Monkeewrench mystery, a lot happens, keeping the reader turning the pages. Detective Leo Magozzi and software designer Grace MacBride are expecting their first child any day. But work interferes when a prominent Minneapolis businessman commits suicide -- or does he? The search for an answer keeps Leo and his partner Gino busy, while a terror thread keeps Grace and her software team occupied. Lots of plot twists make this series entertaining.
I stayed up way too late reading last night.
Next: Only Child - I wasn't sure about this one, but I picked it up and was sucked right in. At least the first 20 pages are told from the point of view of a six-year-old who was in a school shooting. This is a first novel, and kids as narrators don't always work for me, but this seems like it might be a good one.
My class is finishing up The Giver.
I had just read a blurb about Severance yesterday and added it to my wish list, and here today, I get to read your thoughts on it. Sounds like it's right up my alley!
Hmm Warlight sounds interesting.
The Monkeewrench series kind of dropped off my radar several years ago. I should figure out where I left off and pick it back up again.
>91 BLBera: As if I need another series, you have added this one to my FictFact list. Thank you, I think. :)
This was an ER book, and Scout and I read it today -- twice. It is a very cute story about Rosie, who is lonely and how she makes friends. Scout's favorite part was Fifi, the little black sodden dog in the lower right corner. She thought Fifi had "a lot of energy."
We had a busy day today. We made cookies in the morning, then took the bus downtown, where we went to the library and Scout learned about two meanings of "check out." Most of the books she chose were the Piggie and Elephant ones. She loved We're in a Book.
We ate lunch on our way home, had a quiet time during which we read all of the library books we checked out, then worked on our Lego airport for a while. Oh, we also took Darla for a spin (Scout's scooter). She came up with that one on her own. We ended the day with a lecture from her mom telling me that she had too many sweets.
I'm tired. I'm going to read in bed for a while. Only Child has captured my attention.
>95 NanaCC: i'm always happy to turn people on to new series, Colleen. You're welcome. :)
National Book Award Long Lists - Literature in translation is a category this year:
102. Only Child
I always claim I'm not a fan of child narrators, yet I've read some excellent novels with them. This year I've read My Name Is Leon and am currently reading When God Was A Rabbit, which I like so far.
Maybe, I'm not a fan of child narrators who aren't really children? Anyway, in Only Child the story is told by six-year-old Zach. He tells us what happens after a gunman comes to his school and kills nineteen people. Among the dead is Zach's older brother Andy.
Navin does a good job of sticking with the six-year-old's perspective. We get additional information when Zach overhears things that he repeats. Even though he doesn't fully understand some of these conversations, they give us a more complete view of his family.
Zach loves the Magic Treehouse stories, and he retreats to them when there are "storms" in his house. When Annie and Jack, from the books, set out to discover the four secrets of happiness so that they can help a sad friend, Zach thinks that perhaps these secrets could help his family as well.
The details of the shooting reminded me of the Sandy Hook shooting in some ways -- this is a wealthy suburb of NYC, it takes place in an elementary school, the shooter is related to a school employee. Navin, by focusing on one family, reveals the cost these shootings exact on individuals. Zach has flashbacks and nightmares, for example. The way that this book responds to the Sandy Hook shootings, reminds me of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which shows how the 911 tragedy affects a boy who loses his father.
I loved this novel, but recommend it with the caveat that if you're not a fan of child narrators, this may not be for you.
Thanks for all the interesting reviews, Beth. I'm pledged to cull my stacks, but I'll try to slip one or two of them in between.
You are welcome, Judy. I also want to cull, but those shiny new books always get me.
Gasp! When the first post I read on this visit starts with "Happy Labor Day", I know I've been gone way tooooo long. Great review of Warlight! Wonderful writing! Surely it will make the short list, don't you think?
Hi, Beth. I hope you had a nice weekend and your Monday was a smooth one. Mine was not bad, but it was a HOT one here, which is never fun.
Good review of Only Child. I do not mind a well-written child narrator now and then.
Buenos dias, Beth! My Spanish course started yesterday :-) I can't do the accent characters on LT yet - I wonder whether there is a way to put an accent over the i in dias.
Your Friday sounded busy, quiet time notwithstanding :-) And I'm not sure there is such a thing as too many sweets at Grandma's. Mine had a lidded Wedgwood dish that was always filled up in advance of our visit, so I think there is a Grandma exemption.
>102 Carmenere: Hi Lynda. I have gotten behind here, too. Real life. Sigh. I am terrible at predicting, so I won't say. Also, I've only read two books from the long list.
>103 Copperskye: Joanne, as a dog lover, you will love Good Rosie!. If you like historical fiction, try Warlight.
>104 msf59: Hi Mark. I like cooler temps as well. We're expecting rain and a cool down this week. I imagine it's not fun walking in a downpour either.
>105 Ameise1: Hi Barbara: I've read all the books in the series. If you don't mind starting in the middle, you might try The Sixth Idea.
>106 susanj67: Susan! Muy bien. For accents, I type in a Word document and paste into LT. I don't know any other way to get them in.
Regarding the Grandma exemption, I wish someone would tell my daughter. This Friday we have book group, which Scout always enjoys.
I'm very famous in not reading series in the correct order. :-D
BTW my library has only that copy and nothing else.
>106 susanj67: If you have a Mac or an iPad/iPhone, you can access accented characters by pressing and holding down the keyboard key, which pops up a selection of various versions of that letter to choose from.
Barbara - I am also guilty of reading things out of order. Don't tell Susan.
Thanks, Julia. Duh. I never knew that. It will make my life so much simpler. The little things...
>113 weird_O: I was contused, Bill, I had the twins mixed up .....again :P
104. Fifteen Dogs is a fable in which Hermes and Apollo, for a bet, give human intelligence to dogs. Apollo bets his brother that the dogs will be more unhappy than humans, while Hermes thinks they could be happy. The story makes one question the nature of god, of humans and of animals.
I liked this much more than I expected to. It made me think and laugh, and I fell in love with the dogs. My favorite, Majnoun, a black poodle, wonders what it meant to be human: "The question was, ultimately, impossible for him to answer. He had been born outside of the human and, so, was ignorant of the implications of a world created by their limitations. What would it be like, for instance, to be unable to distinguish the smell of snow in winter from the smell of snow in early spring? What kind of world was it in which one could not, blindfolded, distinguish the great range in the taste of water or smell when a female was in heat? To be so limited?...And, of course, it was impossible to know a state (to know the human) by subtracting things in oneself, as if 'human' were what is left once the best of dog has been taken away."
Surprising, the dogs do not regard humans as superior.
This is my book club's selection for this month, and I look forward to the discussion.
>110 BLBera: It's one of those hidden features that you never discover except by accident or when someone else tells you. I don't know why they don't shout these nifty features from the rooftops!
>109 rosalita: Thanks Julia - it works on my (Android) phone but I have non-Mac computers so I just get iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.
>110 BLBera: Beth! I'm *right here*!
>116 BLBera: I think I would like that one, Beth, and I have a couple of friends who would *love* it. I must interrogate the library catalogue.
Hi Susan -
>110 BLBera: Oops. Do you read each entry, or just the ones with your name? I'm asking because I'm thinking if you just read the ones with your name, we need to come up with some kind of code when we're talking about reading things out of order, not that any of us would ever do such a thing...
I already gave away Fifteen Dogs, or I would send it on to you.
Speaking of Fifteen Dogs, I just got back from book group. People were surprisingly on the fence about this one. I thought it would be a love it/hate it kind of book.
Some mentioned the humor. One member thought it was too depressing. Not a great discussion, even with me reading my favorite parts...
Hi Twin!! I have had a crazy week and a half. Finally getting back on LT. What did your class think of The Giver? I loved it. Happy Friday. : )
I can't believe I haven't visited your thread since September 8!
I'm not usually a fan of child narrators but Only Child sounds interesting. I'm also interested in When God Was a Rabbit because I love the title. :-)
>116 BLBera: "...the dogs do not regard humans as superior." Naturally.
Now that I'm at a semester school, you and I are on more similar schedules in terms of work. I kind of like that.
This was a tough week and I actually snapped at folks at work a couple of times. Uncharacteristic of me. My new VP/boss frustrates me and I have realized that she brings her college experience as a Debate team member to the work more than I like. She is also more directive than I am used to. I may have to talk with her about my need for some autonomy and authorship of my leadership. I didn't come here to follow directions. I want to articulate the outcomes we want and be trusted to move us toward those outcomes. So. We'll see how it goes.
>121 Berly: My class did like The Giver. Many had read it before, but they were surprised to see many of the issues raised in Brave New World. Next is Cat's Cradle.
>122 EBT1002: Hi Ellen! You have been busy with your new gig. I think you would like Only Child -- if only from a psychologist's point of view...
I know, When God Was a Rabbit is a great title. Someone on LT liked it, but of course, I don't remember who it was.
I was surprised at how much I did like Fifteen Dogs. Alexis is a wonderful writer. I suspect I'll read more by him. That is one great thing about book clubs; we read things we wouldn't normally pick up. I promised my copy to a colleague, or I would send you mine.
I am so sorry to hear about your week. It is tough to work with a directive boss. I've always been someone who likes autonomy as well. I know you will eventually get things straightened out, but I imagine it's stressful right now, on top of a huge move.
So, is your home office complete now? Will we get to see pictures?
Our college composition conference will be in Spokane in 2021 -- I will keep that on my radar.
Adding Fifteen Dogs to the wishlist, although sorry the group discussion wasn't better - funny how that happens. Our next one is discussing Eleanor Oliphant and I am not a fan of the book and don't really want to spend much time discussing it.
Am hoping that I remember Ellen's phrasing in the post above. So nicely put.
>116 BLBera: I really enjoyed Fifteen Dogs as well. Too bad your book club didn't :(
Twin--Did you recommend the Tearling series by Erika Johansen to me? I have cruised through books 1 and 2. Working on number 3 now. Love them! I want to give you credit if it was your doing. ; )
I did! I think Rhonda liked them as well. I can't wait to see what you think of the last one. I thought the end was cool.
Only about a third of the way in...thanks for the suggestion!! (And Rhonda, too, because you probably both talked me into it at Powell's.)
You are very welcome, Twin. I think Rhonda bought the first one on my recommendation at Powell's. The Power of Powell's!
Have a great Sunday.
I hope your boss is flexible enough to allow you more autonomy. Micromanaging is the pits.
105. When God Was a Rabbit is difficult to describe. It is a coming-of-age story, but it is much more than that. Elly and Joe are siblings who share a big secret. The family is unconventional. Their father's sister Nancy, an actress, is a lesbian who is also in love with their mother. And when they move to Cornwall and start a bed and breakfast, other people become part of their family.
I loved the humor, the characters, and of course, the title. There was perhaps an excess of melodrama. Still, it was a great novel. I will probably read this again. Reading it in the gym in bits and pieces probably wasn't the best way to experience it.
THERE ARE SOME GOOD BOOKS ON THIS SITE HOPING TO GET TO READ THEM SOON ADD THEM TO MY NEW BLOG
Beth, thanks again for the Tearling suggestion. I liked the end; it really made sense.
>139 Berly:, >140 banjo123: Rhonda put it perfectly. It made sense. I like that she created the world and let events happen consistent with the world. I don't need a happy ending, and I thought this one really fit well. Even though I felt bad for Kelsea at the end.
Twin, enjoy Sing, Unburied, Sing. I loved that book.
>133 BLBera: - I'm a big fan of this one, Beth. Glad you liked it. I have Tin Man on my shelf - I think I'm saving it. For what - I don't know...
Hi Vivian - I haven't read anything else by Winman. I'll have to look for Tin Man. I think she's written one other as well.
Hi Katie - I was thinking maybe I'd heard about this one from you...I loved it.
So, you are reading Queen of the Tearling trilogy too?! This must be an awesome series. I will add it to my black hole of a wish list.
I read it earlier in the year, Lynda, and recommended it to Kim and Rhonda. I know I heard about it here, but I can't remember who recommended it to me.
>138 BLBera: I have not read it, Beth, but I'm going to look for it at the library.
>134 BLBera: 'only' a trilogy? Well, that sounds feasible...
I seem to have When God Was a Rabbit on the kindle, but have forgotten all about it! Hope you're having a good week.
>147 rosalita: I hope you can find it, Julia. I had an e-book; it must have been on sale at some point.
>148 msf59: Hi Mark. I loved Fight No More. I'm glad you are also enjoying it.
>149 Copperskye: Hi Joanne - I'm so happy to hear Winman has written other good things. I will definitely read more by her. I liked Fifteen Dogs a lot more than I expected to.
>150 charl08: Do I detect sarcasm? It is a quick read. I found that after I read the first book, I had to find out what happened and read the others right away.
I'm happy you found When God Was a Rabbit on your Kindle.
My week is OK -- lots of essays to grade.
Scout's family went camping, and while they were gone, Annie Cat tipped over Stinky's cage and the door popped open, and well, she did what cats do.
Scout was talking about how she couldn't wait to see Stinky on the ride home, so there were tears and a rapid trip to the pet store.
Sofia is the new hamster in Scout's life. There was only one in the pet store.
>152 BLBera: Oh no! Poor Stinky. Hamsters sure have a short shelf life, don't they? I hope Sofia can help Scout feel better.
Considering that Scout is on her third one in less than two months, through no fault of her own, I'd have to agree with you about the short life, Julia. Fingers crossed that Sofia lasts longer. I can't wait to hear Scout tell me all about it.
>152 BLBera: Oh no!! I’m sorry for all involved. Well, except Annie...bad kitty!
Thanks Charlotte, Katie and Joanne. My daughter asked Scout if she wanted to give Annie Cat away, but she said no. She loves all her animals.
And I guess Sofia is a speedster. She's running on the wheel all night long.
>134 BLBera: yeah, meant that comment for Ellen. Thanks for redirecting me.
Somehow I lost your thread Beth. Caught up now. And oh my, poor Scout. So hard being a pet owner.
Aww poor Scout and Stinky. Hope the new hamster has a lovely, cat free, life.
Wow, Beth. You get the best of the new ones, don't you? *SofG* is firmly on my wish list, and I'll be interested to see what you make of it. I think Pat Barker (not to be confused with Nicole Barker whom I also like) is phenomenal.
>169 BLBera: Oh, that's one that I lost track of - look forward to hearing more about it.
>170 LizzieD: Hi Peggy - I reserve a lot of the new ones at my library. I love it so far. I haven't read the Regeneration trilogy yet, but I have loved the others by Barker that I've read.
>171 charl08: I am loving it, Charlotte. I hope to finish it this weekend. Then I'll comment more fully. Now, grading...
I'm amazed that Scout is taking all the hamster problems so well. I remember how badly upset I would become when even a guppy died.
You've been reading some wonderful stuff. Your thread is so dangerousto my TBR pile!
I'll look forward to seeing what your book club feels about Sing Unburied Sing.
Hi Janet - Yes, Scout certainly is being exposed to the circle of life.
It's actually my Twin who is reading Sing Unburied Sing for her book club, but I'm sure they'll have a great discussion. :)
I'm always happy to add to others' TBR piles.
106. The Silence of the Girls is what one headline says "The Iliad Meets #MeToo." This is an apt description. The novel tells Briseis's story. She is the queen of Lyrnessus, and is mentioned a few times in The Iliad. When her city is defeated by the Greeks, she is given to Achilles as part of the spoils. And she is one of the lucky ones. Women of lesser rank are given to the soldiers and live hard lives.
Briseis is never reconciled with her life as a slave. She reflects on the war as it affects the women and reflects: "Yes, the death of young men in battle is a tragedy -- I'd lost four brothers, I didn't need anybody to tell me that. A tragedy worthy of any number of laments -- but theirs is not the worst fate. I looked at Andromache, who'd have to live the rest of her amputated life as a slave, and I thought: We need a new song." Briseis tries to create a song for all of the women suffer the effects of a war they had no part in. And, she comes to realize that "they'll never be able to forget us. Decades after the last man who fought at Troy is dead, their sons will remember the songs their Trojan mothers sang to them."
Briseis voice is clear and compelling. I found the sections told from Achilles' and Patroclus's points of view less compelling, although the story of Achilles' mother Thetis, shows us that even a goddess doesn't have the freedom accorded to a god.
>106 susanj67: Will look out for that one for sure. Briseis' role in the overall tragedy is a significant one so her point of view - rarely heard - is interesting to consider.
Have a lovely weekend, Beth.
Hi Paul - Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks Charlotte - it was especially relevant after our hearings of last week. To some people, women's voices still don't matter. Sigh.
Outstanding essay by Rebecca Solnit.
I'm glad to read that you found the Barker worthwhile. It was reviewed by Geraldine Brooks this week in the NY Times Book Review and she pretty much panned it. I think I'll listen to your opinion and give it a try!
I started Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves today, from the Walter Scott list. So far it's great: a struggling farm just 60 miles outside of London in 1940 and the "land-girl" that is sent as an extra hand.
Hi Vivian. I liked the Barker a lot. I'll have to check out the Brooks review and see what she didn't like about it. I'd like to get your take on it. It sucked me in from the very beginning. In the middle, I thought it slowed when she switched to Achilles' point of view, but overall, I thought it was worthwhile.
I've had my eye on Miss Boston and Miss Hargreaves. One of these days. I am so busy with school that it takes me forever to finish anything.
I don’t have the excuse of being busy with school but it’s also taking me forever to finish anything Beth lol. My grandkids have a dog and a cat. The little one just loves laying with and softly stroking the cat. So sweet
"...Spokane in 2021." It seems like a LONG time until we get there but you and I both know the time will fly. Still, I hope to see you again before that. As I get settled in, traveling to other places -- Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, etc. -- will be come more feasible.
>175 BLBera: Is this the Pat Barker of Regeneration Trilogy fame? If so, I'm not at all surprise to hear that The Silence of Girls is powerful. I'm tempted to just go ahead and order it....
I'm SO sorry to hear about Stinky and I hope Sophia has a better go. Poor Scout.
>184 ronincats: Thanks for the link, Beth. I didn't see the evidence live as I had a work dinner, but I'm not sure I agree with her that they "don't want to know" - I think they know exactly what Dr Ford is talking about, and they probably believe her. They just don't *care*. I saw clips where some of them looked almost bemused that they were having to listen to it all, because what else are women *for*? Why won't they stop *whining* and just accept their biological destiny is to do whatever men say that they should? Etc.
>175 BLBera: The Pat Barker book looks excellent - it's one that I hope to see at the library.
>179 BLBera: Finally got around to reading it. I echo the sentiments: excellent. I want to get one of her essay collections.
"Their indignation—and Kavanaugh’s fury, displayed in red-faced shouting and histrionic tears of rage—is that anyone dare to hold a white male product of the country’s most elite institutions accountable."
So. Spot. On.
>182 brenzi: Bonnie - Yes, the kids are adorable with their animals. Scout calls them her family. Sofia Nuts is still a little wild, but she doesn't seem discouraged.
>183 EBT1002: Yes, I hope to see you before then, Ellen. Yes, The Silence of the Girls is by the same Pat Barker. I still haven't read the Regeneration trilogy and must get to it one of these days. I'm pretty sure you would love her new one, especially because of what is happening in our world these days. I'm not convinced women have more value to some men than they did in the time of Troy.
Fingers crossed that Sofia Nuts will survive longer than the other ones.
>180 vivians: Vivian - I looked at Brooks' review and she didn't like the shift of point of view away from Briseis either -- it just didn't bother me as much as it bothered her.
>184 ronincats: You are welcome Roni. I'm thinking of switching it out for another essay by Solnit that my students will be reading.
>185 rosalita: You are welcome, Julia. Solnit is a dynamite essay writer.
>186 susanj67: Unfortunately, Susan, I suspect you are right. I have been furious for the past few days. It seems as though some things will never changes. The Silence of the Girls resonates even more now. I don't think the Greeks and the US Senate are that far apart in their attitudes toward women.
>187 EBT1002: Yes, Ellen. I thought she expressed my fury very well.
Hi Beth, sorry to read of the demise of Stinky but a warm welcome to Sofia. I am also reading and enjoying the Tearling trilogy, I still have the third one to read and hopefully will get to it soon.
Judy - I think I originally heard about the Tearling books from you. Once I started, I had to read all three of them -- the advantage when one starts a trilogy that is already completed!
Fingers crossed that Sofia lasts longer. My daughter is tired of the hamster drama, so I have a feeling this is the last one.
I used to have gerbils when I was a kid, and although the cats knocked over the cage many times, she never caught one. My mom killed one (SQUASH!) by setting something heavy in its cage while I was out of town once. And my sister starved one and a half of them to death (the other would have died, but obviously ate the first). I was not left with a particularly good feeling about rodent pets in the end. So when D wanted a hamster, I really tried to say no, but she kept pushing and pushing and Aaron didn't quite listen to what I was saying and so finally she got one regardless. And, as expected, Una just sits there in her cage untouched (but fed, at least). The cats are not allowed in D's room, and D is tired of keeping the door shut, so she may be fine whenever Una bites the dust. I hope. Fingers crossed.
I mean, really, Una is like money-sucking accessory that must be fed and cleaned up after. She's not treated like a pet.
Maybe you should send Una to Scout, Rachel. She loves her pets. Sofia is not becoming tame as quickly as Stinky did, and my daughter is over hamsters, I think.
I just watched the Ken Burns film on the Mayo Clinic, and it's excellent. Highly recommended.
Beth, my daughter loved her hamster and it lived several years which I guess is pretty good for a rodent. Muffin got lots of exercise both in her cage and with the see-through ball that contained and protected her as she ran around the house. My son didn't fare as well with his gerbils, one of which was pregnant when we bought the duo. We were able to trade the babies to the pet store for food and cedar bedding which was good, but at one point we had multiple cages because of the prolific procreation. Poor kid spent his weekends cleaning cages, etc. It's probably a very good idea to just have one little furball at a time. I'm glad Scout loves her critters and hope Sofia has a long happy life.
On the reading front, I enjoyed the Regeneration trilogy and have duly noted Barker's latest. We will never catch up to our TBR lists but it sure is fun trying, isn't it?
>188 BLBera: Beth, glad to hear that Sofia Nuts is still doing well. (I love that she has a last name :-) ) And is she actually untame, or just an independent free-thinking female? Maybe a point to ponder there with Scout on Friday!
>194 Donna828: It IS fun to add to the TBR list, Donna. I love LT for expanding my reading.
>195 Berly: Hey Twin! Happy Monday to you. It is raining here, rather dreary. I hope you are well.
>196 susanj67: Sofia Nuts is a biter, so I will go with wild, Susan. Poor Scout just wants to play with her, and so far, not much joy. Still, she persists, so I guess that's a good lesson as well. I will, however, bring up your question on Friday. :)
I guess kids want little animals after having them in class. Many years ago, when my son was in grade school, I can remember him asking for white mice. When I pointed out that we had a dog and a cat, he said he would keep them in his room. He never did get those mice. I hope that Sofia lasts longer and gets tamer.
I'm adding The Silence of the Girls to my wish list. And I do encourage you to read the Regeneration trilogy. It's excellent.
Hi Beth, I've added Silence of the Girls to my wish list. I hadn't heard of it before and it sounds fascinating.
I also appreciated the essay on Kavanaugh. I am still struggling with anger on that one.
Sorry to hear of Stinky's passing. Maybe Scout should consider a guinea pig. My granddaughter has had one for several years. Captain Nibbles does love attention.
>198 Familyhistorian: One of Scout's great aunts has hamsters, so that is where she got the idea, Meg. Sofia is still biting.
>199 EBT1002: I think you would like The Silence of the Girls; every year I plan to start the Regeneration trilogy, but stuff happens. I own all three of them.
>200 Oregonreader: Jan, I really did enjoy it.
Solnit is a wonderful essay writer. I've had to tone back the amount of news I consume to keep the anger in check. I'll mention guinea pig to my daughter although right now she is over little rodent pets, I think.
I've had to tone back the amount of news I consume to keep the anger in check.
Me too Beth.
I couldn't even read the essay, but if it's helpful, I'll give it a try.
>202 brenzi:, >203 Crazymamie:, >204 LizzieD: I just hope many people keep this in mind and vote. The essay won't help with the anger, but it is spot on.
Jim Jeffries had a pretty good segment tonight on victimhood.
And, here's a Scout story:
Scout's dad, who is a police officer, had to help guard our president when he came to town. His comment: "It was a zoo."
Scout, reporting to me: "My dad had to guard President Trump. He was in a zoo." The last was said in a puzzled way, like why should the president be in a zoo...
Just finished reading Vox...women have to wear bracelets that shock them if they speak more than 100 words a day...it was really good...ask yourself how could that ever happen?...everyone better vote!!!
Hi Beth - I've been lurking, so thought I should at least let you know I was here :)
>208 BLBera: Oh, that reminds me, I've been meaning to read more Butler.
I wondered if you had a list of your memoir books for the class next term? No worries if you'd rather not post it though.
>209 susanj67: I thought it was pretty funny, Susan.
>210 katiekrug: Lurk all you want, Katie. I've been doing a fair amount myself.
>211 charl08: I'm happy to share my book list: Unbowed, Persepolis, The Story of My Tits, When They Call You a Terrorist, My Beloved World, and I can't remember the others, two, I think. Two are graphic, which I thought students would like. I'm getting a weird message about touchstones, so, I hope you can figure out which ones they are.
I also love the Scout story! I hope that Sofia is getting tamer. I would second the guinea pig recommendation, Banjo jr had four, and they were really sweet and social. But I can sympathize with your daughter, and the rodent pets are really a lot of work, with the cage cleaning, etc. In some ways, a cat or dog is easier.
I'll pass on the guinea pig recommendation. Scout says Sofia is still "bad."
I've been reading Zadie Smith's essays and I just read a couple that I love, they show what a creative thinker she is. One is called "Dance Lessons for Writers," and she says, "One of the most solid pieces of writing advice I know is in fact intended for dancers...Graham writes: 'There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost."
Happy Friday, Beth! Caught up on my Scout story fix! From the mouths of babes, right?
Have a wonderful weekend!!
Thanks Lynda. She's playing with cars right now and told me that "I want to play by myself."
I hope your weekend is wonderful as well. Go Browns, right?
I got my ER book! I've had back luck this year; two of the volumes I won never arrived. But Bookends looks like it will be a fun little book. I love Michael Chabon and am happy to have this one.
You got it, Beth, Go Browns! I like how Scout is perfectly happy playing by herself. True sign of independence, I'd say.
Stopping in to say hello. Lots of lurking and not much posting from me, lately
108. Washington Black is a novel based on a slave narrative. The title character is a slave on a sugar plantation on Barbados. His story starts when he is around ten years old, and the new master's brother Titch chooses him as a servant. He is terrified of being separated from Big Kit, the only mother he's ever known and being thrust into a new job.
For me, the early part of the novel, while Wash was on the plantation and getting to know Titch were the best parts of the novel, certainly the most realistic. I've read many slave narratives, and fantastic journeys are not needed to create tension in the narrative. Still, Wash is a resilient character and Edugyan makes us care enough about him to forgive the more outlandish parts of the plot.
I just would have liked it to be a touch more realistic, I think.
Next: The Friend.
I think the Arctic bit might have been inspired by the research into Equiano's life, where he did spend time there as part of a long sea-going life. (But that's only a guess) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olaudah_Equiano
I rather liked how she brought together the wonder of the new (balloons and so on): craziness of still believing in slavery whilst all that scientific discovery was underway.
Hey Charlotte; I wondered if the story were inspired by Equiano's life -- I guess I preferred his telling... But I like your point about the juxtaposition of the new/science vs. believing in slavery. I hadn't thought of it in quite that way -- the joy of discussing books!
109. The Shadow District is set in Iceland and travels between the present day and WWII. The times are connected by a murder of a young seamstress during WWII and a ninety-year-old man who was one of the detectives who investigated the WWII murder.
Mysteries that move between two time periods are fairly common, and I often enjoy them. This one gives an interesting view of Iceland during the war, and the effect of the American presence. I would have preferred the novel to remain there because I didn't find the present day sections nearly as compelling.
So, this was OK -- I want to read his other series, which gets a lot of love on LT.
>224 BLBera: I think I read the other one of these war-set books first. Sssh. Don't tell Susan.
>227 charl08: My lips are sealed, Charlotte. We should probably have a code name for you-know-who. She always seems to find out when people read out of order. :)
How was it, by the way?
>221 BLBera: I still hope to read that one, but I know after reading your review and that of others it likely won't meet my original expectations. Maybe it will exceed the expectations I now hold for it.
Lori - You might love this one more than I did. Many did. I think the fact that I was so busy with school work and read it in bits and pieces didn't help. And I did like many things about it.
Happy Sunday, Beth. I hope you had a nice weekend. Good review of Washington Black. I have that one requested from the library. I'll be watching for your thoughts on The Friend.
I have started The Overstory. This is going to be a slow read for me, but it is very well-written.
Hi, Beth. I've also started The Overstory but haven't had the brain to engage with it yet. I love Richard Powers though, so I'm not worried.
Thanks for your review of *Wash Black*. I'll hope to get to it eventually!
Hope you had some real downtime over the weekend!
>221 BLBera: I think we had similar experiences in appreciating the first half of Washington Black more than the somewhat less realistic second half. It is what dropped it a half-star for me, and is holding it in second place on my personal Booker Prize list, after The Overstory.
>222 charl08: Hmm. Well. That is helpful, Charlotte, as it makes me think I was being asked less to suspend my disbelief than I thought I was.
>231 msf59: I'll watch for your comments on Washington Black, Mark. I didn't love it as much as some, but I think part of that is due to the fact that I've had so much other stuff going on that it was hard to sit and read big chunks.
>232 LizzieD: Hi Peggy - I hope all is dry with you! Your part of the world has certainly had more than its share of catastrophic weather recently.
>233 EBT1002: Hi Ellen - I've been so busy lately, that I feel I'm not giving good books their due. So, I'm going to wait with The Overstory until break, I think. I expected to like Washington Black more than I did, but part of that is due to my distracted reading, I think. It might be worth another read in the future.
>234 vivians: How was Kingsolver, Vivian? I'm going to stop by your thread to see if you've posted. I am due a NYC trip!
Sorry you're not getting much time to read. I'm feeling so tired in the evening I'm not doing much challenging stuff: but looking forward to holiday reading (not sure I'll be able to carry all I want to take though).
I'm reading and loving a novel by someone in your neck of the woods...Leif Enger's Virgil Wander. I've enjoyed his other works as well.
I really enjoyed seeing Kingsolver. It was her first stop on what she called an extended book tour, so it felt like none of her responses were canned or simplistic. She spoke a lot about her writing process and the difficulty of placing protagonists in two separate time periods. There is also an historical character who plays a significant role, a female scientist from the late 19th century about whom no biography has yet been written (Kingsolver said she wished someone would write one!). I loved hearing about how she wove this person into the novel without distorting or manipulating actual events.
>235 The_Hibernator: I'll watch for your comments, Rachel.
>238 charl08: Right now I feel as if anything challenging is wasted on me, Charlotte. That's what e-readers are for -- long vacations with not enough space in the suitcase.
>239 vivians: I'm not familiar with that one, Vivian. I am loving The Friend; I was thinking it might be one you would like.
Kingsolver's novel sounds interesting; I'm in the line at the library, so I should get it soon.
>240 BLBera: I used to like finishing books and leaving them on planes and in airports, but I'm wondering if this Is now a security risk! My online visa thing has been approved, so it looks like all I've got to do now is pack (!)
Forgot to ask: Any plans to read Milkman in the near future? I need a push.
I still leave books when I travel. I might try Milkman over break. Right now I don't think I would fully appreciate it, too much distraction. How great that a writer from Northern Ireland won.
110. The Friend is a lovely contemplation of grief. But although the description sounds depressing, I didn't find the novel to be so. The narrator, a writer and teacher of writing has lost her best friend to suicide. As a result, she has inherited his dog. Together, the dog and narrator work their way through their grief.
Organized into sections like journal entries, the narrator discusses writing, writers who have written about suicide, and writers who have written about dogs' s well as the current state of writing. In one of the many quotes about animals, she quotes from Milan Kundera: "Idyllic is how Kundera describes human relationships with animals. Idyllic because animals were not expelled wit us from Paradise. There they remain, untroubled by such complications as the separation of body and soul, and it's through our love and friendship with them that we are able to reconnect to Paradise, albeit by just a thread."
Really a lovely little book. My only minor quibble is her use of "you." The narrator uses it both to talk to her dead friend, whom she addresses directly throughout, but she also uses it as a third person pronoun, which is sometimes confusing. But that's a minor complaint. This is a book I would probably pick up again.
Next: A Long Way from Home - it's been on my shelf for a while, and it has to go back to the library next week.
Just picked up The Friend from the library so I'm glad to hear of your reaction! I'm hoping to get some reading time in this weekend but it looks like too many things going on. Hope you have a good one.
Happy Saturday, Beth. Good review of The Friend. It is now on the list. I am picking up Washington Black from the library today. And I am continuing to love The Overstory. Best book of the year? Quite possibly...
Hi Mark - I hope to read The Overstory this year. We'll see. It sounds like I have something amazing to look forward to.
Have a great weekend.
I'm continuing to read through Zadie Smith's collection of essays Feel Free. I just finished reading her comments on Buddha of Suburbia, "...there was also something truly striking in seeing a name like Karim, familiar to us -- though rarely seen in typeface -- sitting here calmly...Kureishi was another familiar name."
This comment struck home with me. I just had a student tell me one of the things she loves about Parable of the Sower is that the protagonist is black and she can identify with her, that she hardly ever reads books where that is the case.
Anyway, Smith is rereading Buddha of Suburbia and still finding value in it. I would like to read it.
Has anyone read Kureishi? Comments?
111. The Dry is a well plotted mystery set in a drought-stricken Australian town. Harper has a strong sense of place and is a deft plotter.
Aaron Falk returns to his hometown after a twenty-year absence to attend the funeral of his best friend from childhood. He is convinced to investigate the death of his friend, and finds that many people remember why he left, and that there are a lot of secrets in the town. I enjoyed discovering them along with Aaron. I'll read more by Harper.
I don't remember who recommended this, but well done. Julia?
Hola, Twin!! So glad your class is enjoying Parable of the Sower -- I love your class reading list this term.
Hi Beth - I just started listening to a books podcast called "Books on the Go", hosted by young Australian woman. She chooses wonderful books to review, I thin one a week, and I've really enjoyed listening to her take, usually after I've read the book. She just talked about another one of Jane Harper's books, The Lost Man, which is a stand-alone. I've added it to my list. Do you think you'll read the sequel to The Dry?
>252 BLBera: Glad to hear that one is good---it's on my TBR pile waiting for me.
>255 vivians: Can agree with the podcaster's taste: I really enjoyed The Lost Man.
>253 Berly: I started Parable of the Talents, Twin, and am loving it as well. The class is going well; the students seem very engaged.
>254 thornton37814: Hi Lori - I won't tell anyone that you're reading the second one first.
>255 vivians: I'll have to check out the podcast; I've been looking for things to listen to when I walk. I've read the sequel isn't as good, but I will probably read it at some point, The Lost Man as well. I'm reading Peter Carey's new one, also set in Australia, so that is working nicely.
>256 laytonwoman3rd: You have something to look forward to.
>257 charl08: I KNEW someone on LT had loved it. I should have guessed it was you, Charlotte.
I'm really enjoying Zadie Smith's book reviews in Feel Free. She loves Edward St. Aubyn:
"Parental death, heroin, childhood rape, emotional frigidity, suicide, alcoholism -- stop me when it sounds summery. Nothing about the plots can prepare you for the rich, acerbic comedy of St. Aubyn's world or -- more surprising -- its philosophical density."
And, "Writing reviews, you spend quite a lot of your time typing out the sentences of other people, i.e. quoting. Usually this is dull work; with St. Aubyn, it's a joy. Oh, the semicolons, the discipline! Those commas so perfectly placed, so rhythmic, creating sentences loaded and blessed, almost o'erbrimmed, and yet sturdy, never in danger of collapse."
>252 BLBera: I did read and rave about The Dry when I read it, Beth, but I got the recommendation from Steve, so it might have been both of us working on your subconscious. :-) I liked the sequel a lot, too, but it isn't quite as good as the first. It's very different in a lot of ways, though of course Aaron Falk is still the main character. I'd still consider this one of the best new series I've read recently.
Hi Jan. White Teeth is my favorite Zadie Smith.
Oh, Julia, I will read the next one. Does she plan to make it a series?
>262 BLBera: I don't know if Jane Harper plans for the Aaron Falk books to be a series. It's certainly starting out that way, but she could end up like Kate Atkinson who wrote just four (I think) Jackson Brodie novels before moving on to other topics, though I understand she (Atkinson) is writing a new JB, so hurrah for that.
Happy weekend, Beth! That is so cool that your students are enjoying the dystopian class.
Morning Beth and Happy Sunday!
Adding The Friend and The Dry to my wish list. I'm thinking I read some thriller-type novels by Jane Harper a long, long time ago and they were gripping. If I'm remembering correctly. I will look into it.
Okay, now I'm adding Feel Free to my wish list, as well. As always, your thread is particularly dangerous.
How's our Scout doing these days? Does she don a costume and go trick-or-treating?
I get so frustrated with LT sometimes. I'm trying to add The Friend: A Novel to my wish list. It shows up in the touchstones but when I click on it to "search," the search function can't find it. GRR.
ETA: I know it's the catalogues in which I'm searching, not LT. I finally got The Friend: A Novel via Amazon Canada.
And I'm misremembering. Jane Harper is not the author I was thinking of. I wonder what her name was.
Great to "see" you here, Ellen. I just finished reading some student reflections on media use. Most spend about eight hours per day on their phones, a goodly part of that on social media. I think my LT use, in comparison, is acceptable.
Scout is so much fun. We made cookies for my class on Friday. She is very handy in the kitchen. Then, we did art, played house with Legos and little people, and generally had a good time. I think she is going to be a witch for Halloween, but that may change. It's gone from kitten to dinosaur to witch and has changed a few times.
I'm happy to return the favor with some WL books; I always add to my WL after visiting you.
Feel Free is a library book, and it's taken me since June to finish it -- I'm almost there. It's due on Wed., and someone is waiting for it, so I am determined to finish it this time and not have to check it out again. As with all collections of essays, some are better than others. I love her book reviews and essays on personal life. The last section, which I am reading now, seems particularly good.
You will love The Friend I think.
>268 EBT1002:, >269 EBT1002: You are too fast for me, Ellen. The Dry had a strong sense of place and was the kind of mystery you like, I think. Harper has written a couple of others after this, one of which has the same character. Julia thinks highly of them.
It's weird that The Friend doesn't show up... Maybe it's just you. 😉
Hi Beth, I remember all the excitement around Halloween with my grandkids, it seems to have gotten bigger since my own kids were little. I thought being in an apartment this year I didn't have to worry about Halloween this year, but my daughter and granddaughter are putting together a "haunted house" theme at their place and so I expect we will drop in and check it out.
I have The Dry on my shelves and, hopefully, will get to it soon, it seems very popular here at LT.
Hmmm, apparently I didn't add The Dry to my LT list of books. I remember it well, and yes I did like it. Must investigate. It's a good thing I keep a written list of my books as a backup. It goes back way before LT.
Haley (second grader) is also going to be a witch. Molly will be some type of super hero. I can't remember the name. She was Wonder Woman last year.
Well, a witch would be fun but a kitten might be even more fun (says she who likes kittens better than anything except books).
Count me as another who liked The Dry, Beth. The next in the series, Force of Nature, was also really good.
I saw Kate Atkinson at a writer's event recently. She was very funny. The book she was promoting was Transciption but she said that she has already finished the fourth Jackson Brodie book and the audience cheered.
Hi Meg - Lucky you to see Kate Atkinson. I hope to get to Transcription this year. Nice to know, also that Jane Harper has another one.
>277 Copperskye: Hi Joanne - it is so easy to lose things on the e-reader! Scout is going to be a witch.
>278 EBT1002:, >279 EBT1002: Lucky you, Ellen. I was thinking that I should reread. I remember very little, except I really, really liked them.
112. Feel Free is a really great collection of essays -- Smith is a great observer and man, can she write! It's also obvious that she has an inquiring mind and varied interests. I've talked about the essays as I was reading, and she finished strong.
I need to read some Zadie Smith. Recommendations? I'd prefer novel to essays, I think.
>282 msf59: Thanks Mark. Lots of grading this week. I'll watch for your comments on Washington Black.
>283 rosalita: My favorite still is her first novel White Teeth, Julia. I've read it a few times and still love it. And she was a child, I think about 21, when she wrote it.
Speaking of Zadie Smith, in her essays she made frequent references to her Irish husband. Has anyone read anything by Nick Laird?
I read White Teeth long before I found LT and my memory is that I struggled with it. I would like to do a reread and when I do, I know where to come for discussion!
>284 BLBera: I've heard him on the radio but never read anything by him. (Laird) I think he's been relatively successful (but nothing compared to her, of course).
First US halloween last night. Very surreal experience seeing something you'd only ever seen before in a film.
>287 ChelleBearss: I hope you enjoy it, Chelle.
>288 vivians: Wow, Vivian. You are doing well with the Walter Scott SL. I've only read one although, thanks to you, I have two others on my shelf. Eventually... I just looked, and my October was not a month with a lot of reading done. I suspect the rest of the school year will be similar. Last year I did much better, and I'm not sure why. I'll watch for your comments on The Dry.
>289 charl08: Hi Charlotte! Welcome to the USA. How long will you be here? Will you be here for the elections? Fingers crossed...
I'm going to try Laird, I think. One of these days.
>289 charl08: First US halloween last night. Very surreal experience seeing something you'd only ever seen before in a film.
Ooooh, more feedback, please! And how different is it in England? And which films? The one that always comes to my mind is ET>
I hope you enjoy it, Ellen. I'm still in Australia with Peter Carey's A Long Way from Home. I hope to finish it today and start the new Kingsolver.
>293 BLBera: I don't think it was very unusual - just wandering the local neighbourhood. But it's not something I grew up with (although it's much more common now).
I'll be interested in how you like the new Kingsolver, Beth. She is a favorite of mine and that one (as you know) has received some mixed reviews.
114. A Long Way from Home starts as a road race adventure for Irene and Titch Bobs, as they participate in the grueling Redex race around Australia. They want to promote their car dealership. The sense of place and Carey's descriptions of Australia are outstanding.
Titch and Irene take their neighbor Willie Bachhuber with them to be the navigator. His secret past is revealed as they travel to parts of Australia with an Aborigine population. Set in 1950s Australia, the novel goes from a madcap road race to a sober commentary on the destruction of the Aborigine people and culture. As Willie discovers when he becomes a teacher on an isolated ranch in the west: "I used the opportunity to have them teach me their language. Only then did I discover how many tribal languages were in that cave, all those broken pots with all their shards swept in together, including little Charley Hobbes who was one of a dozen descendants of a slaughtered tribe. They were prisoners of a war not mentioned by the education department."
The story is told mainly by Irene Bobs and their neighbor Willie Bachhuber, but the voices are not always distinct, and at times I had to read a bit to figure out who was speaking. For me, the novel wasn't entirely cohesive, but I enjoyed Carey's descriptions, and this first novel that I've read by him won't be the last.
Next: Barbara Kingsolver's new one.
>296 charl08: It sounds like you're having a good time, Charlotte.
>297 EBT1002: Actually, I haven't really read much about it, Ellen. When I know I want to read something, I tend to pass on reviews until after I've read it. Still, there have been a couple of hers that I didn't love.
>298 Berly: Oh Twin! I know. I should do it today, too, because I won't have time during the week.
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