Aunt Marge and the kids read in 2019
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I'm back with various nieces and nephews for 2019. As the year begins we range in age from 18 to 70 and have been doing Club Read together since 2010, when the youngest was 9. Even with the kids now busy with college, marriages and careers, there's still an interest among them in keeping up the list, which delights me.
1. Housekeeping by Marilynn Robinson ****
2. Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan ****½
3. The Birdwatcher by William Shaw ****
4. The Witch Elm by Tana French ***
5. Incarnations: A History of India in Fifty Lives by Sunil Khilnani ***
1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling *****
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling *****
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling *****
Margaret's 2019 Reading by Original Year of Publication
Housekeeping by Marilynn Robinson ****
Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan ****½
The Birdwatcher by William Shaw ****
Incarnations: A History of India in Fifty Lives by Sunil Khilnani ***
The Witch Elm by Tana French ***
Hi, Margaret. I got your pm. I have tried to respond twice, and it doesn’t seem to be posting. We are neighbors. What a lovely surprise! I will try again later or tomorrow to see if it posts.
Happy New Year, Margaret! I'll be following your reading with interest and a pencil so I can make a note of the books that you're forcing me to read.
>7 RidgewayGirl: I'll do my best to add to your list, heh, heh, heh. And vice versa, of course!
A challenge for my new year:
1000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich
I just purchased this lovely tome, a quite different set of essays and recommendations than 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. Mustich seems to have pulled more from his own experiences than from a must-read list of the world's great literature. It's arranged by author, with the first section including:
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey
Flatland by Edwin A, Abbott
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
My Dog Tulip by J. R. Ackerly
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Oresteia by Aeschylus
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee
and so on for the "A"s.
I loved his inclusion of three of my favorite books, titles which have meant a great deal to me:
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta by Doris Lessing
The Glass Bead Game (or Magister Ludi) by Hermann Hesse
An LT author, David Abrams, who is also on FB, has begun to read the book one entry at a time and to give a summary (of the summary!) each day on FB. I do like that idea, of reading one (or maybe a couple) of entries a day. I've already read just over 100 of the titles, and I know I won't want to read them all (tried My Dog Tulip and Hitchhiker's Guide and didn't like either), but I think I may just find some great additions for my TBR.
Has anyone else got this book? It's available for Kindle, but the hardcover has beautiful color illustrations.
I'm fascinated by this list, while also trying to carefully avoid the bottomless pit it could send me to. In 2009 I read a book on 50 books I should read, and I'm still chasing those 50 books. But, still, great fun. Do you follow ELiz_M? She is past the halfway mark on this list or one like it.
Hi Dan, I think Eliz_M is reading the more well-known list, 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. I have that one, too, and have read some of the titles, but this new one (1000, not 1001, oy!) has snagged my interest right now. I'm sure some day someone will do an actual comparison of the two, and I'd like to read that!
But these kinds of books really are bottomless pits - especially with more new titles being reviewed on LT every year. Too many choices!!!
Housekeeping by Marilynn Robinson **** 1/2/19
Atmospheric, full of dreamy descriptions, and a finalist for the Pulitzer.
As young girls, Ruth and her sister are abandoned at their grandmother's house by their mother, Helen, who then drives her car off a cliff into the local lake. This is the same lake that took the life of Helen's father, who was aboard a train that drove off a local bridge into the water years earlier. The grandmother takes care of the sisters in a rather distant but caring way until she dies, and then two elderly great-aunts arrive and pick up where she left off. They don't quite know what to do with the girls either, and eventually they track down Helen's sister, Sylvie, to see if she will come and live with the girls. Sylvie is a tramp (of the train-hitching type), and while she does her best, she is very strange and brings the eyes of local officials on to their little family. Ruth is very much like Sylvie, ill at ease with the regular world, although sister Lucille makes every effort to be "normal".
Not as engaging as Robinson's Gilead, which I adored, but so well-written that the extensive descriptions and day-dreaming still pull the reader along to the, to me, surprising and satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended.
(In the film, Christine Lahti plays Sylvie - sounds like a perfect casting decision.)
>12 auntmarge64: I have wondered about this book ever since I read Gilead. Glad to have your description. Some day, maybe...
Happy New Year, Margaret. I look forward to following your reading again this year. Your first one looks like a winner. I also loved Gilead.
>13 dchaikin:, >14 BLBera:
I'll be interested in your reviews when you do read it. Wasn't Gilead superb? Until I wrote the review I hadn't realized how long ago Housekeeping was written (published in 1980), and it was her first novel!
Oh, I hope you do get to Gilead. It's one of the most beautiful books I've ever read.
Hello Marge! Happy New Year!
How were your holidays?
I'll be completing my 1st audio book today, a holdover from the end last year. None the less, a good start.
>Hi Brodie, I had very nice holidays with my brother and his family, who live 5 minutes away. All their kids were home, including those who keep their books on here with me. You?
Yes, it was nice. My mom usually gives me books at Christmas, but she has a huge collection offloads a few to me throughout the year. Sadly, many of them are books I don't usually read. However, this year she provided me with a Flavia De Luce mystery that I might just read.
Presently, I'm working on my second Charlie Chan mystery, The Chinese Parrot, the title of which, given the time, could have been a riff on The Maltese Falcon. I really enjoyed The House Without a Key.
Hi Margaret, found and starred. I look forward to seeing what you read this year.
>22 ELiz_M: Yup, a film: https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/B07KSYJDM5/ref=atv_wtlp_wtl_1
And I have to say I'm suitably impressed by you being 1/2-way through the 1001 list. That's a lot of SERIOUS reading!
>9 auntmarge64: I have an ARC of the book, which means only black-and-white illustrations... I bet they're gorgeous in color. Is anyone here familiar with Jim Mustich's former mail order company, A Common Reader? It was a wonderful eclectic bookseller that predated the Internet and lasted until 2006, with an amazing selection and great little blurbs—kind of a predecessor of literary social media. Anyway, I have a Top Secret Project that has to do with all of the above that I'll write more about as it happens. But isn't that a cool book? And I love what David Abrams is doing with it on FB. He's a nut.
>24 lisapeet: Yup, the illustrations in color are beautiful, and it's one of the reasons I bought the hardcover instead of the Kindle version. I wasn't familiar with either Jim Mustich or David Abrams before this, but I'm greatly enjoying David's commentary and Jim's input to David's FB page.
>3 auntmarge64: Question: What does noting the year of a book's publication mean to you? Are you tracking it for a reason? Just curious.
Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan ****½ 1/8/19
An immersive story of three generations of an Irish-American family, centered on the fate of two sisters who immigrate to Boston in the late 1950s. Nora, the eldest, hasn't seen her fiancé in a year and is apprehensive about a future with a man she barely remembers. She dreams of having a different future than marriage to him. Younger sister Theresa is pretty, young, and willful. It's not giving much away (and is revealed in chapter 1) that Theresa gets pregnant and Nora, convinced she has a duty, marries her fiancé and raises the child. Theresa finds her own niche at a cloistered convent, and the two fall out. The first chapter ends with Nora calling the convent to tell Theresa that her 50-year old son, Patrick, has died. The rest of the book goes back and forth in clearly-dated chapters to fill in the stories of their lives and those of Nora's now-grown family. But hanging over it all is the specter of Theresa's arrival at the funeral, an event Nora hadn't expected from a cloistered nun, and the response from her family as she must now explain that she has a sister of whom they're unaware. So cleverly is the story woven that the reader wants to follow all the individual lives and the family drama and, especially, the hope for a reconciliation. Beautifully done.
Hello auntmarge64! I hope all is well with you.
Did you miss me in >19 brodiew2:?
>30 auntmarge64: You have piqued my interest with your review. I’m going to add this one to my list.
>31 dchaikin: Thanks, Dan!
>32 BLBera: Hi Beth, This was the first title I've read by Sullivan. Maine seems to have gotten little enthusiasm from readers on either LT or Amazon, two places I routinely check, so I don't know if I'll try it or not. With Saints for All Occasions I was especially intrigued by her description of the the girls' first experiences in Boston and of the nun's life. I don't know how it compares, but what the hey, read a chapter or two and see what you think! I'll be interested in your thoughts if you do.
>33 brodiew2: Hi, Brodie, I've never read a Charlie Chan novel. What are they like?
>34 NanaCC: I'm always glad to add to other TBR piles, Colleen (evil grin).
The Birdwatcher by William Shaw **** 1/9/19
This is a rather unusual mystery, with interesting characters and a violent sub-plot from the past that colors the main character's life.
William South is an Irish-born police sergeant stationed in Kent, England, where he and his mother moved when he was 13. Although considered a smart and dedicated officer, he's never before worked a murder inquiry, always managing to avoid them because of his own guilt in a death from his childhood. Now he's forced to be involved in two murder investigations. One victim is a neighbor and fellow-birdwatcher, the other someone he'd known in Ireland. He has a new partner, transferred from Scotland Yard and arriving just that week with a teenage daughter in tow. As the cases progress, and even as William helps his partner with her lonely daughter, introducing the fascinated kid to birdwatching, her mother becomes less and less friendly towards William and he wonders if she's discovered his childhood secret.
There is a sequel, but for only one of the main characters, which will be strange. But I'd still like to read it.
Nice review of Housekeeping. I haven’t read anything by Marilynne Robinson, though I’ve been meaning to for a while; you must pushed her a few notches up my wishlist.
The Witch Elm by Tana French *** 1/14/19
What a disappointment after all her previous titles. I read to the end, expecting some reward, but even the final dramatic moments were dulled by that time by the book's unnecessary length (by at least a third) and the main character's endless musings. Where or where was her editor? - or is she such a big name now no one will correct her? Very average.
Hello auntmarge64! I hope your day is going well.
>35 auntmarge64: I am having great fun with them. they feel like you are watching a film from the 30s. the first books is really good, but Charlie is an secondary character, or part of the ensemble. In this second one, Charlie shares the spotlight with a young man about town, which is similar, but more fleshed out than in the first one. this element does not take away from Charlie. His stilted English works very well as he is an educated man, but he is underestimated from time to time. To bottom line it for you, I find the writing crisp, engaging, and fun.
>42 brodiew2: I was surprised to see that there are only 6 Charlie Chan books. These days we expect our series to go on, and on, and on..... I'll have to think about whether I want to give them a try.
Incarnations: A History of India in Fifty Lives by Sunil Khilnani **** 1/16/19
An engrossing look at 50 people whose lives exemplified major trends in the last 2500 years of Indian history, politics and culture. This is not a history book, per se, and it would help the reader to have a little grounding in the country's past. The personalities portrayed here include some who are well-known and some who will be completely unknown to most readers, and there are some expected names deliberately left out. So we have Mahatma Gandhi, Jinnah, and Indira Gandhi, but not Indira's father, Nehru. Vivekanada is in here but not his guru, Ramakrishna. There are political, economic, spiritual and industrial leaders, artists, filmmakers, and authors. Together their lives and accomplishments limn the directions taken in Indian history.
A very rewarding read for anyone interested in the Indian past or present.
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