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Caroline's Quiet Corner 2019: Chapter 1

This topic was continued by Caroline's Quiet Corner 2019: Chapter 2.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Edited: Jan 2, 5:38am Top

By Duncan Grant

I'm just plumping cushions and setting my corner up for the new year.

For new visitors, I'm Caroline, I live in London, and I'm a bookaholic. I roughly read equally fiction and non-fiction, and enjoy a broad range of subjects.

I haven't really thought about my reading for the coming year yet, but, as ever, I do aim to participate, if not complete, the AAC (American Author Challenge), this year run by Linda (Laytonwoman3rd), and Suz's (Chatterbox) Non-Fiction Challenge. These, with my RL reading Group, are about as many prescribed books as I can manage. I'm a mood reader.

There isn't a book in my home I don't want to read, but nowadays, whether I can find the book I want to read right now can be problematic. Slowly I am letting some go, and at minimum now, a book will have to leave if another comes in the house. I don't want to be cured of my disease, but as it's already chronic, I don't want it getting worse.

Last year's thread: https://www.librarything.com/topic/291758

Edited: Feb 7, 1:55pm Top

Read in 2019

The Red Notebook (Antoine Laurain) (01/01/19) ****
Rooms of their Own (Nino Stratchey) (06/01/19) ****1/2
My Name is Asher Lev (Chaim Potok) (09/01/19) (AAC) ROOT *****
The Gift of Asher Lev (Chaim Potok) (17/01/19) (AAC) ****1/2
The Plot Against America (Philip Roth) (reread) (25/01/19) ROOT (Book group)***
Thinking Like a Mountain (Robert Bateman) (25/01/19) ****
Mr Darwin's Gardener (Kristina Carlson) (27/01/19) *****
The Chosen (Chaim Potok) (01/02/19) ****1/2
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World (Debbie Tung) (02/02/19) ****
Some Tame Gazelle (Barbara Pym) (LL) (03/02/19) ***1/2
The Library Book (Susan Orlean) (06/02/19) ****
Book Love (Debbie Tung) (07/02/19) ****

Total: 12

Non-Fiction: 3
Female: 6
Male: 6
GN: 2
London Library (LL): 1
Other loan: 1

Edited: Feb 7, 1:56pm Top

Challenges 2019

AAC (American Author Challenge)

January: Chaim Potok - My Name is Asher Lev/The Gift of Asher Lev/ The Chosen
February: Louisa May Alcott - Little Women Re-read
March: Jon Clinch Finn
April: Jesmyn Ward
May: Jay Parini
June: Pearl Buck
July: Founding Fathers (and Mothers)
August: Ernest J. Gaines
September: Leslie Marmon Silko
October: DRAMA
November: W. E. B. DuBois
December: Marilynne Robinson

Non-Fiction Challenge

January: Prizewinning books, and runners up. - The Seabird's Cry (Adam Nicholson)
February: Science and Technology: Innovations and Innovators. Life 3.0 (Max Tegmark)
March: True Crime, Misdemeanors and Justice, Past and Present Day Eve Was Shamed: How British Justice is Failing Women (Helena Kennedy)
April: Comfort Reads: Whatever topic makes you feel warm & fuzzy inside.
May: History. In this case, my cutoff date is 1950.
June: The Pictures Have It! Any book that relies on pictures to tell the story, from an illustrated graphic text, to a book of photographs, to an art catalog.
July: Biography & First Person Yarns
*August: Raw Materials: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral
So, read a book that starts with animals, vegetables or minerals at its heart.
*September: Books by Journalists. On ANY topic -- just check to be sure that the author is a journalist -- employed by a paper, writing freelance, past or present.
*October: Other Worlds: From Spiritual to Fantastical
November: Creators and Creativity
December: I’ve Always Been Curious About…

* stands for a new topic for this challenge.

Real book group

25 Jan 2019 – The Plot against America by Philip Roth
22 Feb – The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
29 Mar – Morality Play by Barry Unsworth
26 Apr – Hag-seed by Margaret Atwood
31 May – The Rattle Bag by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney
28 Jun – Walking with the Wind by John Lewis
26 Jul – Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

Edited: Jan 11, 5:11pm Top

Last year's luscious literature

Favourites of the year

I have had a real non-fiction binge this year, so there are quite a lot of Non-fiction favourites. I also did more re-reads, as earlier in the year re-reading old favourites was all I could manage. There may be one or two more to be added by year's end. I note that the women are leading on the favourites list this year.

The Lost Words (Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris) *****
Kenneth Clark: Life, Art, Civilisation (James Stourton) ****1/2
The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas (Hilly James) ****
The Salt Path (Raynor Winn) ****
Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing (Lara Feigel) ****1/2
Mark Rothko: Toward the Light in the Chapel (Annie Cohen-Solal)****
Conversations on Writing (Ursula K. Le Guin) ****1/2
The Perfect Summer (Juliet Nicholson) ****1/2
Call Them by Their True Names (Rebecca Solnit) ****1/2
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Reni Eddo-Lodge) *****
Brief Answers To The Big Questions (Stephen Hawking) *****
Becoming (Michelle Obama) ****
What Truth Sounds Like (Michael Eric Dyson) ****1/2
Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire (Akala) ****1/2

White Houses (Amy Bloom) ****1/2
Meet Me at the Museum (Anne Youngson) ****
The Overstory (Richard Powers) *****
Warlight (Michael Ondaatje) ****1/2
The Lighthousekeeper's Daughters (Jean Pendziwol) ****1/2
Love is Blind (William Boyd) ****
Take Nothing With You (Patrick Gale) ****

Rereads: Fiction and Non-Fiction
The Guernsey Literary. And Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer) ****1/2
A View of the Harbour (Elizabeth Taylor) ****1/2
Remarkable Creatures (Tracy Chevalier) ****
A Room of One's Own (Virginia Woolf) (reread) *****
The Great Gatsby (38th read, I read it every year) *****

The Carrying (Ada Limon)*****

Read in 2018

The Body in the Library (Agatha Christie) (LL) (02/01/18) ***1/2
Sing Unburied, Sing (Jesmyn Ward) (Kindle)(10/12/17)****
Nemisis (Agatha Christie) (LL) (16/01/18) ***1/2
A Pocket Full of Rye (Agatha Christie) (LL) (17/01/18) ***
From the Heart (Susan Hill) (20/01/18) ****
The Lost Words (Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris) (21/01/18) *****
4.50 From Paddington (Agatha Christie)(LL) (22/01/18) ***
The Woman in Blue (Elly Griffiths) (30/01/28)
The 4 Pillar Plan (Dr Rangan Chatterjee) (03/02/18) *****
In The a Darkroom (Susan Faludi) (09/02/18) ****
Kenneth Clark: Life, Art, Civilisation (James Stourton) (18/02/18) ****1/2
The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle) (20/02/18) ***1/2
Demian (Herman Hesse) (21/02/18) ***
The River of Consciousness (Oliver Sacks) (28/02/18) ****
Appointment in Arezzo: A Friendship with Muriel Spark (Alan Taylor) (02/03/18) ****
No Time to Spare (Ursula K Le Guin) (06/03/18) ****
New Collected Poems: Wendell Berry (07/03/18) ****1/2
The Staircase Letters (Arthur Motyer/Elmer Gerwin/Carol Shields) (11/03/18) ****
Packing my Library (Alberto Manguel) (15/03/18) ****
The Beginning of Spring (Penelope Fitzgerald) (18/03/18) ***
A Room of One's Own (Virginia Woolf) (reread) (20/03/18) *****
Strangers (Anita Brookner) (LL) (21/03/18) ***1/2
Anecdotal Evidence (Wendy Cope) (21/03/18) ***1/2
The Little Book of Feminist Saints (Julia Pierpont) (27/03/18) ***1/2
The Guernsey Literary. And Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer) (30/03/18) (3rd reread) ****1/2
The Cemetery in Barnes (Gabriel Josipovici) (16/04/18) ***1/2
A View of the Harbour (Elizabeth Taylor) (22/04/18) (reread) ****1/2
If this is a man (Primo Levy) (25/04/18) (reread) *****
The Newton Letter (John Banville) (26/04/18) (reread) ****
White Houses (Amy Bloom) (29/04/18) ****1/2
The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas (Hilly James) (29/04/18) ****
The Salt Path (Raynor Winn) (06/05/18) ****
Remarkable Creatures (Tracy Chevalier) (10/05/18) (reread) ****
Wade in the Water (Tracey K Smith) (10/05/18) (Poetry) ****
The Waves (Virginia Woolf) (19/05/18) (reread) ****1/2
Meet Me at the Museum (Anne Youngson) (25/05/18) ****
Free Woman (Lara Feigel) (28/05/18) ****1/2
The Seven Sisters (Margaret Drabble) (07/06/18) ****
Warlight (Michael Ondaatje) (12/06/18) ****1/2
The Librarian (Salley Vickers) (18/06/18) ***
Reading with Patrick (Michelle Kuo) (21/06/18) ****
House of Names (Colm Tóibín) (24/06/18) ****
Morning (Allan Jenkins)****
My Name is Lucy Barton (Elizabeth Strout) ****
Tom's Midnight Garden (Philippa *) ***1/2
Mark Rothko: ****
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning (Margareta Magnusson) ***
100 Poems (Seamus Heaney) ****1/2
Nothing to Envy (Barbara Demick) (26/07/18) ****
Conversations on Writing (Ursula K. Le Guin) (31/07/18) ****1/2
The Overstory (Richard Powers) (05/08/18) *****
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman) (12/08/18) ***1/2
The Unpunished Vice: A Life of Reading (Edmund White) (15/08/18) ***1/2
To The Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf) reread (21/08/18) *****
The Lost Letters of William Woolf (Hellen Cullen) (23/08/18) ***1/2
The Corner that held Them (Sylvia Thownsend Warner) (30/08/18) ***1/2
Take Nothing With You (Patrick Gale) (01/09/1828) ****
Gloucester Crescent: Me, My Dad and Othrt Grown-ups (03/09/18) ****1/2
The Perfect Summer (Juliet Nicholson) (13/09/18) ****1/2
Call Them by Their True Names (Rebecca Solnit) (15/09/18) ****1/2
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Reni Eddo-Lodge) (16/09/18) *****
The Lighthousekeeper's Daughters (Jean Pendziwol) (20/09/18) ****1/2
Love is Blind (William Boyd) (25/09/18) ****
The Dark Flood Rises (Margaret Drabble) (30/09/18) ****
An Untouched House (WF Hermans) (02/10/18) ***1/2
In My Mind's Eye: A Thought Diary (Jan Morris) (09/10/18) ***
Melmoth (Sarah Perry) (13/10/18) ****
The Carrying (Ada Limon) (poetry) (14/10/18) *****
A Keeper (Graham Norton) (20/10/18) (20/10/18) ****
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) (25/10/18) ****
A Year of Reading Proust (Phylis Rose) ***1/2
Brief Answers To The Big Questions (Stephen Hawking) *****
To Kill The President (Sam Bourne aka Jonathan Freedland, political commentator on The Guardian) (07/11/18)****
Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know: The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats and Joyce (Colm Tóibín) (11/11/18) ****
Spy of the First Person (Sam Shepard) (15/11/18) ****
Becoming (Michelle Obama) (21/11/18) ****
The Life of Rebecca Jones (Angharad Price) (23/11/18) ***1/2
The Husband's Secret (Liane Moriarty) (29/11/18) ***
What Truth Sounds Like (Michael Eric Dyson) (02/12/18) ****1/2
Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire (Akala) (11/12/18) ****1/2
Browse: The World in Bookshops (ed Henry Hitchins) 12/12/18 ****
Ghost Trees (Rob Gilbert) 21/12/18 ****
Austerlitz (W G Sebald) ROOT ****1/2
Something of his Art: Walking to Lubeck with J S Bach (Horacio Clare) ****
The Great Gatsby (F Scott Fitzgerald) 38th read *****

Total: 86

Dec 28, 2018, 12:04pm Top

Welcome back!

Dec 28, 2018, 12:26pm Top

Hi Jim, its good to have set my cushions down.

Dec 28, 2018, 8:22pm Top

2018 Stats:

N/F =36
Fiction = 45
Poetry = 5

Dec 29, 2018, 2:18pm Top

I'm so glad you'll be in, as much as suits you, for the AAC this year, Caroline. I must go check out the Non-Fiction Challenge for next year...I always learn about something fascinating there, even if I don't do well at keeping up.

Dec 29, 2018, 4:37pm Top

Hi Caroline, I love that topper painting. And is Virginia W yours?

Dec 29, 2018, 5:31pm Top

Dropping off my star and wishing you all the best in 2019!

Dec 29, 2018, 5:47pm Top

Hi Caroline I'm always stuck when it's my turn to pick a book for book club. My last pick I am, I am, I am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O'Farrell was not well received. I've starred your thread as a great place for book club suggestions. I love the way you've rated all your 2018 reads. Hopefully this year I'll pick a book that starts a great discussion.

Dec 29, 2018, 6:14pm Top

>8 laytonwoman3rd: I always have the best of intentions Linda, but I'm such a mood reader. Sometimes I've been Known to catch up with an earlier month later.

>9 charl08: yes, she is Charlotte. I commissioned her from Steve Paterson, I'd bought one he did of Oscar Wilde a couple of years before. I'd have more if only I could afford a bigger place.

>10 EBT1002: lovely to see you peeking round the door Ellen.

>11 socialpages: Welcome Jennifer. Amazingly four of my suggestions got chosen this time (we run Sept-July, with no sessions Dec and Aug). We read mostly fiction, but try and have 1 non-fiction or memoir, one classic, and a translation sometimes. This is only the second time poetry has been included.

Dec 29, 2018, 10:15pm Top

Dropping a 💫, Caroline. Your reading looks interesting!
Glad to see I’m not the only mood reader in the ranks.

Dec 30, 2018, 1:33pm Top

*waves* Hiya!

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 2:01pm Top

Hi Gail >13 bohemima:, and Laura >14 lycomayflower:. Good to see you in here.

Dec 30, 2018, 2:12pm Top

The Guggenheim Museum - Bilbao (Architect: Frank Gehry)

Vincent Van Gogh: Landscape with Snow

Dec 30, 2018, 3:40pm Top

Hello Caroline! Katie pointed me to a recommendation you made for Ghost Trees, so I thought I'd drop in and say thanks :-) I've reserved it and I hope to get it soon. Well, after the nine things I already have. I love your "shelfies" at the top of the thread.

Dec 30, 2018, 4:02pm Top

Hello, Caroline! I am going to have to dive into your favorites list from 2018!

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 5:10pm Top

>17 susanj67: Hi Susan, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Lots of little nuggets of knowledge in there. It made me more alert to the trees around me in London too.

>18 alcottacre: Stasia, it was a good year's reading this year. Some of those favourites will be reread down the line as well. I hope you find something that impresses.

Dec 30, 2018, 5:12pm Top

>19 Caroline_McElwee: Do you mind if I ask what you enjoy so much in The Great Gatsby? I did not care for the book at all and would like another point-of-view. I want to try it again to see what it is that I missed the first time around, many years ago.

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 5:49pm Top

I have a theory Stasia, that no one falls in love with The Great Gatsby first time round (I think there are a few books that applies to). I don't think I loved it first read, but I was 12 when I read it. Something about it tickled me and drew me back. It is now my marker for great writing, and I read it every year. There's not a sentence I'd delete. At one time there were a few chapters I liked less, but the more I read it, the less I felt that way.

I love Nick's narration of the story, and I feel about Gatsby what he does. It has a lot of autobiographical aspects to it, though it is also a metaphor for an era.

A few years back a US company brought a dramatised reading of the book to London, they called it 'Gatz'. I bought my ticket as soon as I heard. Eight hours cover to cover. Amazing. Done in roughly 90 minute bites with 15 minute intervals, and a 90 minute dinner break. The last 20 minutes were done extempor, and everyone was holding their breath, willing the performer not to lose his way. I loved it, but at the time I thought I'd never want to see it again. At a few years distance, I know I'd buy a ticket in a heartbeat.

Dec 30, 2018, 5:47pm Top

>21 Caroline_McElwee: Thank you for your input, Caroline. It is much appreciated! I am reading through some classics this year and will add The Great Gatsby to the list and give it a re-read. It is high time.

The production of 'Gatz' sounds fascinating!

Edited: Dec 30, 2018, 5:52pm Top

Taste the sentences Stasia. See what happens. I'll look forward to hearing what you think.

Dec 30, 2018, 6:11pm Top

Happy New Year & New Thread Caroline! Starred you!

Dec 30, 2018, 6:14pm Top

Good to see you out posting stars Rhian.

Dec 30, 2018, 7:59pm Top

>21 Caroline_McElwee:, >23 Caroline_McElwee: What beautiful explanations of why you love The Great Gatsby! I am looking forward to seeing what you have to say about the other books that you read this year. I also read and loved Warlight this year.

Dec 31, 2018, 12:05am Top

>21 Caroline_McElwee: The first time I read The Great Gatsby I was in my 30s and I couldn't understand why it was considered a classic. I read it again years later and I suddenly "got it". So perhaps there is something to your theory. I've recently finished Haruki Murakami's Killing Commendatore which is his homage to Gatsby.

Dec 31, 2018, 2:37am Top

Happy New Year Caroline!

Dec 31, 2018, 4:47am Top

>26 Cait86: Thanks Cait. I'd still say The English Patient is my favourite, and due a reread soon, but I did enjoy Warlight.

>27 socialpages: I have Killing Commendatore near the top of the pile Jen. Looking forward to it. Glad TGG finally did it for you.

>28 The_Hibernator: And to you too Rachel.

Dec 31, 2018, 9:19am Top

>29 Caroline_McElwee: I love The English Patient too, but my heart belongs to In the Skin of a Lion. I heard Ondaatje speak when he was on tour for The Cat's Table, and he signed two of my books, which makes them that much more special. I think he is a wonderful writer.

Dec 31, 2018, 10:05am Top

>21 Caroline_McElwee:, >22 alcottacre: I'll be interested to see what you think of a reread of Gatsby, Stasia. I've never liked it either--read it twice, but always for a course. I wonder if I might like it better if I read it entirely for pleasure....

Dec 31, 2018, 11:36am Top

Happy reading in 2019, Caroline!

I have just read The Great Gatsby for the first time and liked it a lot. But then, I was never forced to read it at a young age. Some of the ones I was forced to read in school are much better appriciated now.

Dec 31, 2018, 12:32pm Top

>30 Cait86: How lovely to have a signed copy of your favourite books Cait. I'm afraid the queues tend to be too long for me now. Though I was VERY lucky to get my copy of Sophie's Choice signed after a lecture, by William Styron, the year before he died, so precious.

For some reason I haven't yet read In the Skin of a Lion, will have to put that right. I liked Anil's Ghost, but The Cat's Table didn't quite hit the spot for me.

>31 lycomayflower: Third time lucky Laura?

When I came to taking my late degree, I talked myself out of taking English Lit, as I didn't want to spoil my pleasure in reading. I've heard many who studied it say they read far less now. They've theorised to death some great books.

>32 FAMeulstee: Glad you enjoyed it Anita. There is nothing like reading for pleasure.

Dec 31, 2018, 3:41pm Top

>33 Caroline_McElwee: I've heard many who studied it say they read far less now. They've theorised to death some great books. A friend of mine who did English Lit says that she’s pretty much never read another novel since, for that very reason. But my experience is very much the opposite: I’ve virtually always enjoyed a book much more if i’ve studied it.

Dec 31, 2018, 8:36pm Top

Happy New Year!!

Dec 31, 2018, 8:42pm Top

>23 Caroline_McElwee: I will keep you posted. I suspect I will be listening to the audio book. Maybe that format will help me with the enjoyment of the book.

Jan 1, 8:53am Top

>33 Caroline_McElwee:, >34 SandDune: I'd heard the same thing about those who study English Lit, and was worried my daughter would be turned off reading forever. During and immediately following university she read very little for pleasure, but a year or so after graduation she started to enjoy reading again. She doesn't read voraciously but is never without a book. So perhaps one just needs time to recover.

Jan 1, 10:40am Top

>33 Caroline_McElwee:, >34 SandDune:, >37 lauralkeet: It took me some doing to fully enjoy reading for pleasure again after grad school in English. For me it was not that I didn't want to read but that I had to retrain myself to turn off the analytical part of my brain (when I wanted to) in order to enjoy things on their own terms.

Jan 1, 11:04am Top

I just have to drop a star on your thread, Caroline. Anyone who gives The Overstory 5 stars needs to be followed. It was my favorite book of the year. Have you read anything else by Richard Powers? I got two of his older books for Christmas.

>21 Caroline_McElwee: Such good advice for Stasia...and anyone else. I liked The Great Gatsby better when I read it again as an adult.
>”Taste the sentences”... I LOVE that idea!

Jan 1, 11:35am Top

Happy new thread and happy new year, Caroline!

Edited: Jan 1, 2:31pm Top

Happy New Year, Caroline and Happy New Thread. Looking forward to sharing another year of books with you! I also hope to share some poetry.

Jan 1, 11:42am Top

>41 msf59: Mark, are you following me around the threads? LOL!

Edited: Jan 1, 1:07pm Top

>34 SandDune: >37 lauralkeet: >38 lycomayflower: really interesting Rhian, Laura and Laura. Sounds like you were specially lucky Rhian. >37 lauralkeet: I'm glad Kate got her rhythm back Laura. And I'm glad you did too >38 lycomayflower: Laura, and can switch your analytical side off as desired.

>35 Berly: nice to see you about Kim.

>36 alcottacre: I haven't listened to it yet Stasia, but I have the Jake Gyllenhaal audio version.

>39 Donna828: Lovely to see you over here Donna. I loved the first novel of Richard Powers' I read, it was The Time of Our Singing. It is years ago now, and due a reread. I've read a couple of others that were good, but not as good as that, and The Overstory. I have both The Gold Bug Variations and Orfeo on the shelf, so far unread.

I was lucky to hear Richard Powers read briefly from The Overstory last year, he has a lovely soft reading voice.

>40 jessibud2: Hi Shelley, glad to have you peek round the door.

>41 msf59: Thanks Mark. Definitely more poetry this year, I've about five volumes I bought in the second half of last year I still haven't got to yet.

Jan 1, 2:21pm Top

>33 Caroline_McElwee: I did the OU Humanities foundation year a few years ago, thinking I might study English literature. But the literature part drove me crazy (as it had at school. Evidently I wasn't paying attention to myself). Then I read the textbook that goes with the course, and it said that many people hated analysing everything so deeply, *and that was OK*. It was fine to want to read for pleasure, and study something else instead :-) It was the best advice I could have received.

I have to confess I've never read The Great Gatsby, but maybe I'll remedy that this year.

Jan 1, 2:25pm Top

Happy New Year and Happy new thread!

>16 Caroline_McElwee: Gehry certainly came up with interesting designs

Jan 1, 2:32pm Top

>42 jessibud2: Yep, Shelley. I am the Mad Stalker!!

Edited: Jan 1, 3:16pm Top

>44 susanj67: I sometimes wish I could spend more time studying/ analysing a book Susan, but I don't want to give up that delicious sensation of being lost between the covers. I do sometimes pay more attention when I reread.

>45 figsfromthistle: Hi Anita. I've been hooked on his work for a while. I may go and see his co-design in Prague in the autumn, and you can stay in that as part is a hotel. It's called the Dancing House (or Fred and Ginger).

>46 msf59: *snort*

Jan 1, 5:22pm Top

Happy New Year, Caroline. I look forward to following your reading journey this year.

Edited: Jan 1, 6:19pm Top

>48 BLBera: Hi Beth, good to see you peek round the door.

Jan 1, 6:22pm Top

Happy 2019
A year full of books
A year full of friends
A year full of all your wishes realised

I look forward to keeping up with you, Caroline, this year.

Jan 1, 6:33pm Top

Happy New Year, Caroline. I'm looking forward to sharing your reading experiences this year.

Jan 1, 7:36pm Top

>50 PaulCranswick: lovely thoughts Paul. I look forward to keeping up with you too.

>51 VivienneR: Hi Vivienne. Good to see you peeking round the door.

Edited: Jan 27, 12:12pm Top

1. The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain ****

A delightful little nugget of a novel to start the year off. A middle aged man finds a discarded handbag in the street, and decides to see if he can find its owner.

I wanted to know what happened in the end, but didn't want to finish it.

Recommended by my siblings.

Jan 1, 7:42pm Top

I am a fan of Van Gogh but have not seen an image of "Landscape with Snow," that I can recall. It looks like a lovely painting!

>53 Caroline_McElwee: Ooh, that sounds like a good one to start the year!

Jan 1, 8:40pm Top

>53 Caroline_McElwee: - First BB of the year. Thanks, Caroline!

Jan 2, 5:42am Top

>54 EBT1002: I must have seen a reproduction Ellen, as I have several volumes of his works, but it was a joy to see it. There were two others as well. I'll post them later.

>55 jessibud2: *Result* Shelley. I'm sure you will enjoy it. It's my kind of 'light' as in not too light, there is intrigue and it's quite sensory.

Edited: Jan 9, 7:41pm Top

Currently Reading

My Name is Asher Lev (Chaim Potok)

Rooms of their Own (Nino Strachey)

Jan 2, 7:36am Top

>53 Caroline_McElwee: I am adding to the BlackHole already in 2019. Thanks for the recommendation, Caroline!

Jan 2, 8:26am Top

>57 Caroline_McElwee: - Caroline, the book by Nino Strachey looks intriguing (I've read the original Virginia Woolf one, of course) but the touchstone leads to a different one (which also looks rather interesting, I might add).

Your thread is proving dangerous to me and it's barely the second day of the year!

Jan 2, 8:36am Top

>58 alcottacre: Pfft, BlackHoles are unavoidable for LTers I find Stasia. I've not got off to a good start on that level!

>59 jessibud2: Thanks Shelley, touchstone fixed.

The problem is..... its not only 10 still to read...

Jan 2, 9:06am Top

Happy new year Caroline! I hope you had a good Christmas and that 2019 is a great year for you in life and in books.

Jan 2, 9:14am Top

>53 Caroline_McElwee: Got me with a BB! Sounds lovely

Edited: Jan 11, 5:25pm Top

>61 Sakerfalcon: Thanks Claire, I hope it will be a vintage year for you too. Off to see if you are running a thread in the 75ers.

>62 lycomayflower: Ha! Good to have snagged you Laura.

Edited: Jan 2, 5:40pm Top

2018 reads with markers still in

I plan to return to all of these, would be good to finish them off by year end (one a month!).

The River in the Sky (Clive James) (poetry) - I was enjoying this but got distracted, I'm about half through.
The Odyssey (Homer, translated by Emily Wilson) - 2/3rds through, but as it is a hefty volume, I didn't want to tote it about.
With the End in Mind: Dying, Death and Wisdom in the Age of Denial (Katherine Mannix) - I had been reading a chapter every couple of nights, but needed a break.
Bad Feminist (Roxanne Gay) (Essays) - about a third through and was enjoying it, but with essays, I often set them aside for a while and return later.
Fascism: A Warning (Madeleine Albright) - Started this but wrong mood.
Behold, America: The History of America First and the American Dream (Sarah Churchwell) - As happened with an earlier book of hers, I'm enjoying it, then set it aside. With this there was a bit too much repetition, despite finding it fascinating.
Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell) ROOT - was reading this on Kindle, but stopped for no apparent reason. Was finding it fascinating. Mood thing I guess.

Slow reads

Kintsugi (Tomás Navarro) - reading each chapter several times. Gaps in between.
Why Write? (Philip Roth) - Essays.
Blind Spot (Teju Cole) - Photo's and mini-essays. Half through.
Portraits (John Berger) ROOT about a third through these wonderful essays. Some things I just don't want to gobble.

Jan 2, 11:08am Top

Happy New Year, Caroline! You have several enticing books going at the moment.

Jan 2, 2:00pm Top

>29 Caroline_McElwee: I picked up a copy of The English Patient after Christmas. I have only ever seen the movie so I am looking forward to the book.

Jan 2, 2:31pm Top

>66 Oberon: oh to be reading it for the first time Erik. Though rereads are a pleasure too, with a different kind of anticipation: tone, atmosphere, familiarity. I think it will go on my list for February.

Jan 2, 4:10pm Top

The Red Notebook goes on my WL, Caroline.

>64 Caroline_McElwee: These do sound good. I loved Bad Feminist and The Odyssey but haven't read the others. I love Gladwell. My tome that I really want to finish this year is Ulysses.

Jan 2, 9:58pm Top

Just stopping by to add a star Caroline. I look forward to your recommendations.

Jan 3, 1:37am Top

>53 Caroline_McElwee: Adding this one to the wishlist.

I picked up Asher Lev last year because Ellen recommended it. Like a glimpse into another world.

Thank you for posting >64 Caroline_McElwee: - clearly I am not alone with my large pile of ongoing books!

Edited: Jan 3, 5:44am Top

>68 BLBera: I meant to get a ticket to hear Roxanne talk last year Beth, but it was a busy time and it slipped off my radar.

>69 NanaCC: Hi Coleen, good to see you grazing in here.

>70 charl08: I don't think I've had a year where there haven't been a pile of partially read over-runs Charlotte. I'd like to finish all of these. I think I only actually had two deliberate DNF last year, which is great, and also about average for me.

Jan 3, 2:54pm Top

Happy New Year, Caroline!

Thank you for the reminder that this is Chaim Potok month for the AAC. I LOVED My Name is Asher Lev; I hope you enjoy it. I've got The Promise somewhere here, and I'll dig it out. (I'm also a big fan of The Chosen).

Debbi and I are going to try to focus on getting through the books on our tbr shelves one way or another. Either read them, or send them onto happy journeys elsewhere. Wish us luck!

Jan 3, 3:39pm Top

>72 jnwelch: I do wish you luck Joe, I know how hard it is, I'm trying to do the same myself. I let about 150 go in the last five months of last year, though about 40 came in over the same time. I did add fewer last year, though I've had a short indulgent splurge this week. An ongoing exercise.

I am enjoying My Name is Asher Lev, and have two other of his books heading my way.

Jan 5, 7:41am Top

Hi Caroline!

I'm a first-time visitor and already have a BB from you, The Red Notebook.

Happy reading in 2019.

Edited: Jan 11, 5:27pm Top

>74 karenmarie: Hi Karen, lovely to have you in here. Glad to have hit you with a bullet too.

Edited: Jan 6, 10:12am Top

>57 Caroline_McElwee: I'm really enjoying both books I've got on the go at the moment. Rooms of their Own is beautifully illustrated. I am especially familiar with Virginia and Leonard Woolf's home, Monks House, as I have stayed in the garden cottage there three times, and had access to the house when it is open, as well as spending long hours in their garden (the cottage is a National Trust Holiday rental, it was once the attic of their garage).

These are a few of my photos:

Monks House

Virginia's bedroom

Virginia's writing room

The view across the garden to the church, from the garden cottage

It's been a while since my last visit.

The other rooms in the book are those belonging to Eddy Sackville West, at Knole, and his cousin Vita Sackville West at Knole, Long Barn and Sissinghurst, the latter I've visited several times.

Jan 5, 9:30pm Top

>76 Caroline_McElwee: That is lovely, Caroline.

I would love to hear Gay speak. I'd also like to have a drink with her.

Jan 6, 8:48am Top

>76 Caroline_McElwee: How lovely there is a place you can stay at Monks House.
After reading some Dutch books about the children of Vanessa & the Bloomsbury Group and my first Virginia Woolf, it is nice to see some pictures.

Jan 6, 11:56am Top

>77 BLBera: >78 FAMeulstee: I really enjoyed my visits there Beth and Anita. I've long been a Bloomsbury fan, and especially Virginia and Leonard Woolf. It is rather lovely sitting in their garden and hearing what they heard, imagining you can hear them and their visitors. The cottage I stay in was, as I said, once the attic of their garage, and somewhere there is a letter about Leonard putting up a soldier who found himself without accommodation, in this attic and talking to him there.

They have also tried to recreate the garden using Leonard's gardening books.

Edited: Jan 27, 12:09pm Top

2. Rooms of their Own Nino Stratchey ****1/2

As I said in >76 Caroline_McElwee: I really enjoyed this book. Despite reading loads of books on the Bloomsbury Group, there are always new nuggets of information. For example I learned that Vita's mother, Lady Sackville lived in a street a friend now lives in in Paris!

I also knew next to nothing about Eddy Sackville-West. So always adding to the puzzle of the group and their milieux.

I'm also really into interiors, and there are lots of beautiful photographs.

Jan 6, 1:36pm Top

>80 Caroline_McElwee: - I didn't say it before but I really love the cover of this book, Caroline. I am going to see if my library has it. But perhaps AFTER I make my way through the 3 books waiting for me to pick up and the other 3 that will be, soon!

Jan 6, 1:38pm Top

The Bloomsbury palate is very aesthetically pleasing Shelley.

Edited: Jan 7, 3:08pm Top

It's all Ellen's fault that I caved in and bought a complete set of Persephone bookmarks. Here are a selection of my favourites.

If I had one wish to improve them, it would be a line on the back about the design. The back of the bookmark tells you about the book it is for, but not who the designer of the pattern was, or what era it is from.

Jan 7, 3:31pm Top

>83 Caroline_McElwee: - Good point, Caroline. You ought to write and mention that to them. Maybe they will change that for the bookmarks, going forward! The creators deserve the credit they are due!

Edited: Jan 8, 12:26pm Top

Hi Caroline. I have just had a fun visit to your thread. There are lots of good ideas to be found here for my future reading. I have just put the Macfarlane book on reserve at the library The Lost Words, (with thanks!)

>11 socialpages: I know the book selection for book club can be challenging. I once suggested a comparison of Marilynne Robinson Giliead and Home and the reception of them fell flat on it's face, which was hard on me as I adored those books. Oh well.

Jan 8, 5:16pm Top

>83 Caroline_McElwee: I'm using the horizontal one at the top right now!

Jan 8, 7:20pm Top

I find it highly amusing that you caved. They are awfully pretty though.

Edited: Jan 11, 5:30pm Top

Last night I finally got to see Matthew Bourne’s ‘Swan Lake’ at Sadlers Wells, which was quite stunning. Rumbunctious, not your usual elegance, as the swans were danced by men. The lead swan last night was played by Will Bozier and he was riveting, as I am sure the two other principle dancers he rotates with are. There is no chance the leads would have the energy to do consecutive performances, it is an energy high production.

I couldn’t find Bozier as the swan, but here is Matthew Ball.

Definitely worth seeing.

Jan 9, 5:47pm Top

>84 jessibud2: I may do Shelley.

>85 mdoris: You won't be disappointed in The Lost Words Mary. Both Macfarlane words and Morris's paintings are a delight.

>86 laytonwoman3rd: they are pleasing to the eye Linda.

>87 lauralkeet: you might have noticed I'm suffering from an attack of 'cave in' itis Laura, which has to stop.

Edited: Jan 27, 12:08pm Top

3. My Name is Asher Lev (Chaim Potok) (09/01/19) *****

A wonderful novel on so many levels. The writing is fine and vivid. You can feel what it is like living in that family, in that community. Every character has depth.

I learnt about Judaism, art and art criticism. I learnt about the problems art can create in such an environment. I understood better the power some art can have.

Even some of the finest art historians can struggle to describe for you the image they can see, but I saw all Asher Lev's paintings, even though he rarely offered up the colours.

This 320 pages are epic.

I am looking forward to the sequel landing on the mat.

A 5* book so early in the year!

Edited: Jan 9, 9:16pm Top

I finally caved in and bought Found in Translation: 100 of the finest short stories ever translated. Three times I walked away, I have a 20 volume set of short stories from around the world - nation by nation, I do not need this tome; and blah and blah. Anyhows, i had to change buses right outside Foyles tonight, you can use your imagination...

My plan is to read it roughly 2 stories a week through the year. The length of the stories varies, so sometimes I may read more or less, though I want them to last me the year.

I'm hoping to find writers I haven't met before, and rediscover old friends, as well as stories old friends may have kept secret from me, they can be a sneaky bunch.

I intend to keep track of this reading in here each week, with a few lines on each story and a line about the author.

Jan 9, 9:19pm Top

Currently Reading

Jane Austen at Home (Lucy Worsley)

And >91 Caroline_McElwee:

Jan 10, 4:20am Top

Hello Caroline!

My reading journal is in the Green Dragon group, because I read quite a lot of SF and Fantasy. This year I'm taking part in the Virago group's Reading the 1940s project, and also trying to read more non-fiction too. Here's a link to my thread.

My friend and I saw the Matthew Bourne Swan Lake over Christmas. We'd seen it before, years ago, but it was even better than we remembered. The wariness and violence of swans comes across so well, and the leads seemed to connect emotionally in a very convincing way.

I think I'm going to have to try My name is Asher Lev as both you and @laurelkeet have praised it so strongly.

Jan 10, 5:46am Top

Lovely to see you peek round the door Claire. Off to set down my cushion in your thread.

I don't think you will be disappointed in My Name is Asher Lev.

Jan 10, 6:15am Top

>91 Caroline_McElwee: I love the cover. Look forward to discovering more translated authors with you.

Jan 10, 4:06pm Top

Posting this here for Shelley.

I volunteered in a monkey sanctuary a couple of times, years ago. This is Aunt Bella. The monkeys were Brazillian Woolley Monkeys. Clever and adorable.

Jan 10, 5:37pm Top

Thanks, Caroline, Interesting, that she looks rather large. I thought only the three larger species (gorillas, orangs, and chimps) didn't have tails. I need to go back and read more about them. I have not even heard of Brazilian Woolley Monkeys!

Edited: Jan 11, 10:59am Top

1. The Glass Graduate (Miguel de Cervantes 1547?-1616) (trans C.A. Jones) (Spain) (18 pages) ***

In the first few pages the main protagonist travels far and wide, is known and becomes increasingly known. Then fate takes its course and a transformation occurs. Perhaps one might describe this story as a precursor to Magic Realism. It had fine moments, but didn't hang together as well as I would have liked.

Irritated by the seven or eight untranslated Latin quotes. The translation is probably of it's time, presuming its reader is a university educated male.

2. The Tiger Guest (Pu Songling 1640-1715) (trans Herbert A Giles) (China) (2.5 pages) ***

On the road he met a traveller.

There are likely to be plenty of these, they are a cornerstone of storytelling.

Jan 11, 5:55am Top

>97 jessibud2: Woolley monkeys have prehensile tails, with the little palm at the tip to grasp and balance, Shelley. You are honoured when one wraps it's tail around your wrist to walk alongside of you. Bella will be long dead now, but was one of the larger of the group. They had all been given sanctuary as they had outgrown their domestic homes, inappropriately acquired as pets.

Jan 11, 10:14am Top

>88 Caroline_McElwee: Oh wow, that sounds amazing. Swan Lake is my favourite ballet, though I've only seen the traditional version. I try to attend at least one or two National Ballet of Canada performances a year. In November I saw Anna Karenina, which unfortunately I didn't love. It was very modern, and while I usually like new ballets, I sometimes find that they try to do too much at once, and so lose the overall concept. This one suffered from too much going on, in my opinion.

>91 Caroline_McElwee: That book looks great, Caroline! What are some of the other stories in it?

Jan 11, 10:58am Top

>100 Cait86: there were a couple of times in this production with too much going on on stage, that you couldn't take it all in Cait, but for the most part, it was just spectacular. I go to a fair amount of dance, but not especially ballet. So I'm maybe less wedded to traditional ballet than others might be.

There is a story by almost every great writer who does not write in English, and some who do, but wrote their story in another language (Samuel Beckett for instance), and many I'd never heard of Cait. You'll have to wait for my weekly bite.

Jan 11, 2:39pm Top

I love being introduced to new artists. Mary (mdoris) has led me to Canadian Robert Bateman's work:

There is something soulful about that snow leopard.

I've ordered a couple of books of his work.

Edited: Jan 18, 9:00am Top

Currently reading

As well as >92 Caroline_McElwee:

This fell on the mat this morning and I'm immediately into it..

Jan 12, 8:15am Top

Great progress so far, Caroline! I remember studying The Chosen in English when I was 17, but I'm not sure I've read anything else by Potok.

>83 Caroline_McElwee: I love the bookmarks! I couldn't see them on the Persephone website, though - were they a limited edition set?

I hope you're not out in the drizzle today.

Jan 12, 9:11am Top

>104 susanj67: Unfortunately I did have to go briefly out in the drizzle Susan.

No, you have to email them about the bookmarks. They are quite expensive, no discount for the bulk buy, but a treat that will be used, and I'll no doubt use a few to put in gifted books.

As I also have to reread Roth's The Plot Against America this month for reading group I will be taking as bigger bite out of The Gift of Asher Lev this weekend as possible.

Edited: Jan 12, 1:42pm Top

Wow, so much going on, Caroline.

I LOVED My Name is Asher Lev, and I'm glad you did, too - loved your comments on it. I knew/know nothing about The Gift of Asher Lev - can't wait to hear your thoughts on that one.

>76 Caroline_McElwee:, >80 Caroline_McElwee: How cool that you do this kind of Bloomsbury group journeying (mental and physical). I'd love to hear more about it next time we're in the same restaurant. :-)

>83 Caroline_McElwee: I love these bookmarks! I'm not an avid collector like Ellen, but I do try to keep an eye out for ones I like.

I hope you enjoy Jane Austen at Home as much as I did. I thought it was really well done.

Jan 12, 3:59pm Top

>88 Caroline_McElwee: Looks like an evening well spend, Caroline.
It has been years since I last saw a ballet, I'll have to look if there are any interesting ballet productions near us.

>102 Caroline_McElwee: The snow leopard is beautiful.

Jan 12, 4:04pm Top

>106 jnwelch: Lovely to see you peeking round the door Joe. I certainly look forward to being in the same restaurant again with you and Debbi. Are you London bound this year?

I'll get back to you about The Gift of Asher Lev once I've taken a bigger bite out of it Joe.

Jane Austen at home may be a slower read with the two chuncky novels to complete in the next week and a half, but I've enjoyed what I've read so far.

Jan 12, 4:05pm Top

>107 FAMeulstee: I think I'm going to look for a print of the snow leopard Anita. I love it too.

Jan 12, 5:19pm Top

>101 Caroline_McElwee: I look forward to hearing about more of the stories!

Jan 12, 6:36pm Top

Caroline, I just posted on Mark's thread that I found the name of Robert Bateman's short book of essays: Thinking Like a Mountain. I read it back in 2010.

Jan 12, 7:43pm Top

>110 Cait86: the next one is a long one Cait.

>111 jessibud2: Ha, pipped you to that, and already dropped a copy in my cart. I don't hang about when someone has waved something enticing under my nose Shelley, but thanks for coming back to me on it.

Edited: Jan 12, 9:25pm Top

>102 Caroline_McElwee: I saw the snow leopard at the Bateman Gallery in Victoria a few days ago. Some are original paintings, some giclcee prints and some numbered prints. The snow leopard was stunning. Along with the paintings there is lots of pertinent information.

Jan 12, 9:37pm Top

>80 Caroline_McElwee: Hit, felled, gobsmacked by a book bullet

>90 Caroline_McElwee: What a marvelous cover for that book! I went through a serious Potok phase and have never lost my love for nearly all his work. Somehow I got the Lev sequel many years after I read the first book. As always I was absorbed and moved by his consideration of the individual’s place within their society, and the sometimes dreadful tug of war between duty to the group and duty to oneself.

Jan 12, 10:40pm Top

>83 Caroline_McElwee: These are lovely! I wonder if they're having a lot of demand right now? You and Ellen should get a cut of the profits!

The short stories in translation look interesting; I'll have to add this one to the WL.

Great comments on Asher Lev.

Jan 13, 12:12am Top

>83 Caroline_McElwee: This makes me so happy! I'm not the only one! Aren't they just beautiful?????

Jan 13, 12:14am Top

Oh, and I agree that I wish they had some info on the back about the pattern itself. It's a small quibble but spot on.

Jan 13, 12:17am Top

One more post for the evening (really!): I'm a fan of Robert Bateman (I love the description of the snow leopard as "soulful" -- indeed), and My Name is Asher Lev is one of my all-time favorite novels.

Jan 13, 12:22am Top

>83 Caroline_McElwee: Beautiful bookmarks and awesome books. I leave here...wanting! Happy Sunday.

Edited: Jan 13, 7:07am Top

>113 mdoris: ooo, lucky you Mary, there is nothing like seeing a painting in the canvas.

>114 bohemima: Ha, loving your gobsmackedness Gail. It's a lovely book.

My Name is Asher Lev had been in my shelf a few years, so AAC gave me the excuse to read it, and add several of his other books to my groaning shelves. It may well be the first time I've read 2 (maybe 3!) books in a month for the same challenge.

>115 BLBera: I've had a few of the bookmarks over the years Beth, they are lovely.

The first two of the short stories were interesting, but didn't blow me away. We will see.

>116 EBT1002: Tee hee Ellen. You are such a bad influence :-)

>118 EBT1002: I'm so looking forward to getting the Bateman books.

My Name is Asher Lev is definitely going onto the favourites shelves. I'm liking The Gift of Asher Lev too.

Jan 13, 7:43pm Top

I am a big Robert Bateman fan and enjoyed the pictures you posted upthread, Caroline. I bought my husband a book of his work quite awhile ago. He looked puzzled so I told him I thought he was one of your favorites? We had seen an exhibition in an airport and he liked what he saw but promptly forgot about it. I'll have to look for "our" book.

My hat is off to you for your planned reading of short stories this year. I just can't seem to get into them unless they are the connected ones as in Olive Kitteridge. For some reason, they leave me unsatisfied. I'm too in love with long complicated novels I guess.

Jan 13, 8:02pm Top

>80 Caroline_McElwee: Into the BlackHole it goes!

>103 Caroline_McElwee: I still need to get to that one.

Jan 14, 4:52am Top

>105 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline - I thought my internetting skills had deserted me when I couldn't find them! I'm a bit bemused that they don't make them more easily available. There must be legions of fans who would love them.

Jan 17, 11:31am Top

Hi, Caroline.

Yes, we plan to be in London again this fall. We may work in a short trip to Wales this time - we've never been.

>121 Caroline_McElwee: Love it!

Jan 17, 4:07pm Top

>122 Donna828: I have always loved short stories Donna, but, like with poetry, I have long periods when I don't read them. I thought drizzling them through the year might be interesting.

>123 alcottacre: ha Stacia. There are a lot of black holes in LT.

>124 susanj67: it is odd Susan, but maybe it is logistical, they print a book mark for every book, and a few spare, but it might make it difficult to guess how many folk will want a complete set, and storage is tight I think, it's quite a small shop.

>125 jnwelch: Good news Joe. I am going to get to know Wales better myself this year, as my sister is moving to Telford soon, as many of her clients are in Wales, so she won't need to do so much overnighting. She will enjoy exploring it, and taking us about when we visit.

Ha, yeah, that photo has a lot of me in it Joe.

Jan 17, 9:50pm Top

I know I already said this but I love that photo >121 Caroline_McElwee:. I just want to enlarge it and identify as many objects (and specific books) as I can. And I love your comment to Joe ^

Question, if you please: as there is no “right click” on an iPad, how do you copy photo links for posting of said photos?

Jan 17, 9:51pm Top

Never mind! You just told me over on my thread. Thank you!!

Jan 18, 2:31am Top

>127 EBT1002: Glad I wasn't the only one!

Thank you for answering my question about the sculpture: really like that you know the artist, that personal connection is lovely.

Edited: Jan 18, 7:53am Top

>127 EBT1002: I have far too much stuff Ellen, but because I only buy things I love, it is hard to let them go. Of course there is plenty of stuff I must sort through and let go this year though.

Hope you sort your photo issue out, I see something didn't quite work.

>129 charl08: The joys of the internet Charlotte, I only know Steve online, though bought both my pieces from him direct, and I have nudged him when I've seen an opening where his work might be sold, successfully I'm glad to say. I suggested he get in touch with the Portrait Gallery when they had a Bloomsbury exhibition, and he sold a couple of Virginia's there. It is a limited edition of 50.

Still coughing after three weeks, so taken some sick leave and seen the doc, I do suffer from coughs grrr. More meds.

Jan 18, 7:53am Top

>130 Caroline_McElwee: Sorry to hear about the cough. When I get sick, I know that it is always the last to go. Feel better soon!

Jan 18, 7:57am Top

>131 alcottacre: Thanks Stasia. Coughs are so debilitating, as they take so much physical energy, but although you are ok otherwise, you can't go to the cinema and it's not much fun for your colleagues either. Hopefully I'll be in better shape by Monday.

Edited: Jan 18, 8:58am Top

My favourite Mary Oliver poem

Bone by Mary Oliver


Understand, I am always trying to figure out
what the soul is,
and where hidden,
and what shape
and so, last week,
when I found on the beach
the ear bone
of a pilot whale that may have died
hundreds of years ago, I thought
maybe I was close
to discovering something
for the ear bone


is the portion that lasts longest
in any of us, man or whale; shaped
like a squat spoon
with a pink scoop where
once, in the lively swimmer's head,
it joined its two sisters
in the house of hearing,
it was only
two inches long
and thought: the soul
might be like this
so hard, so necessary


yet almost nothing.
Beside me
the gray sea
was opening and shutting its wave-doors,
unfolding over and over
its time-ridiculing roar;
I looked but I couldn't see anything
through its dark-knit glare;
yet don't we all know, the golden sand
is there at the bottom,
though our eyes have never seen it,
nor can our hands ever catch it


lest we would sift it down
into fractions, and facts
and what the soul is, also
I believe I will never quite know.
Though I play at the edges of knowing,
truly I know
our part is not knowing,
but looking, and touching, and loving,
which is the way I walked on,
through the pale-pink morning light.

Edited: Jan 27, 12:06pm Top

4. The Gift of Asher Lev (Chaim Potok) (17/01/19) ****1/2

Another fine novel by Chaim Potok, a continuation of Asher Lev's story, as he strides into manhood. The novel retained the tone of the first, introducing new characters as well as continuing with the ones we have already met.

There are so many things to be pondered in these novels, and I don't think a reread will be too far into the future, a more studied reading.

There is a chance I might squeeze in a third Potok this month, in the final week.

Edited: Jan 25, 1:40pm Top

Currently Reading

Thinking Like a Mountain (Robert Bateman)

Beautiful little hardback about 6in square.

The Plot Against America (Philip Roth)

Reread for local book group. Wondering if I will see different connections in the current climate, and 14 years after I first read it.

Jan 18, 4:25pm Top

Bones is such a lovely Mary Oliver poem, Caroline. Thanks for posting it. I love how she's never been afraid to take on the big issues - like trying to figure out what the soul is, and where it's hidden.

The Gift of Asher Lev - what a gift your reading it is! I didn't even know it existed. Adding it to the WL, pronto.

Jan 18, 5:28pm Top

>136 jnwelch: that poem speaks to the spirit, the senses, and the eyes as you see that 'squat spoon with a pink scoop' so vividly Joe.

I suspect Potok might have written another Lev book had he lived longer. I'm probably going to conclude the month with The Chosen, and add the non-fiction The Gates of November to next months reading.

Jan 18, 10:57pm Top

>133 Caroline_McElwee: Lovely.

I also really like the cat card off to the right of Virginia Woolf (in >121 Caroline_McElwee:).

Jan 18, 11:56pm Top

>133 Caroline_McElwee: That is a lovely Oliver poem. I love her poems about nature.

I need to read Potok.

I remember liking The Plot Against America, but I think it would be depressing to read now.

Have a lovely weekend, Caroline.

Edited: Jan 19, 7:04am Top

>138 EBT1002: ha, I cut that little cat picture from a magazine and backed it in card, as that is what bliss looks like. That cat is in that place of purrfect bliss. I like to be reminded of that place Ellen.

>139 BLBera: Thanks Beth, I hope you do get to Potok, he is worth it.

I probably wouldn't have read the Roth again now, if it hadn't been chosen for book group.

Jan 19, 9:44am Top

Haida Spirit (Robert Bateman)

Jan 19, 11:58am Top

>141 Caroline_McElwee: Mmmm...so peaceful.

Jan 19, 12:14pm Top

>141 Caroline_McElwee: That is beautiful.

Edited: Jan 19, 1:35pm Top

I know, it stopped me in my tracks in the book Linda and Beth. So serene.

Jan 19, 1:42pm Top

>135 Caroline_McElwee: I will be curious to see how you feel about Thinking Like a Mountain. The title has me intrigued.

>141 Caroline_McElwee: I really want to go there. It looks very peaceful.

I hope you are finally over the cough!

Edited: Jan 19, 2:26pm Top

>145 alcottacre: I'm about a third through Thinking Like a Mountain, Stasia, the title comes from a quote:

The cowman, who cleans his range of wolves does not realise that he is taking over the wolf's job of trimming the herd to fit the range. He has not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.

Aldo Leopold

It's gentle environmental reminders through stories of his own life and learning. I'm rationing them, as it is a small book. I've already gone to YouTube to listen to the singing of the Ba Mbutu. I shall be following up on Aldo Leopold, who I think is an environmentalist, too.

I went to the docs, and have silent acid reflux (a contradiction as coughs are loud, but it doesn't present with the usual symptom of heartburn, so gets missed). I'm just over the 'gets worse before it gets better' period, though I have to be on the meds for two months, though lower doses in the second month. Thanks for checking Stasia.

I too would love to go there >141 Caroline_McElwee:. After the cough has abated though :-)

I love the shape and craftsmanship of the boat. Bateman often paints from a canoe. One of the stories in the book tells of how he started that.

Edited: Jan 19, 3:12pm Top

I love that you are enjoying Bateman so much, Caroline. He lives on Saltspring Island, in British Columbia, surrounded by nature. Did you know that Bateman was a high school geography teacher for nearly 20 years before he turned to art full-time?

I once heard of a book by Aldo Leopold and was intrigued, more so when it proved not so easy to find. Isn't that always the way? Then, one day, browsing through a used bookstore, there it was! It's called A Sand County Almanac and Sketches here and There. Though I haven't read it through yet, I have browsed through it. It was published in 1949.

Glad to hear that the source of the cough has been identified and is being addressed. Not knowing what is causing distress is so frustrating!

Jan 19, 4:35pm Top

Hope you are feeling better and the cough is gone very soon. I have put Thinking like a Mountain on hold after reading about it here and looking forward to reading it after seeing his beautiful paintings in Victoria B.C..

Edited: Jan 20, 5:34am Top

>147 jessibud2: I do love new discoveries, and learning how they link up with existing passions too Shelley. I enjoy a lot of nature writing, so Bateman's painting and writing resides there.

You are right, having a diagnosis helps. Just assumed I had the cough that is going round here, but as I also can get an asthma cough, I went to check if it had moved to that stage.

>148 mdoris: Thanks re the cough Mary, I hope it goes soon too. It is exhausting, and keeps me from the movies and the library!

I'm sure you will enjoy Thinking Like a Mountain. I wonder if we'll ever get an exhibition of his work here. There were a few of his paintings that put me in mind of another favourite artist, Andrew Wyeth.

Jan 19, 9:11pm Top

I hope you feel better soon, Caroline.

Jan 20, 4:31am Top

Also sending healing vibes, Caroline. xx

Jan 20, 5:37am Top

>150 BLBera: >151 PaulCranswick: Thanks Beth, and Paul. Not the best night, but it is worse at night generally. It's a Sunday, so a reading day, yay.

Edited: Jan 23, 1:24pm Top

>137 Caroline_McElwee: Oh my. I think The Chosen will knock you on your keister, Caroline. It did me. What a sweet reading month you're having!

I didn't realize you were feeling lousy with the cough. I'm glad it's diagnosed.

I've had a persistent cough, too - it turns out my poor sinuses are plugged up, and I go in for a sinuplasty in a few weeks. Oh joy.

Jan 22, 1:15pm Top

>153 jnwelch: Sorry you have a cough too Joe. They are frustrating. I arranged to work at home this week as I'd have driven my colleagues nuts if I'd gone in, it's a small face space. Today is the first day I feel I'm turning a corner. I found a way not to cough in bed, by putting gentle pressure on the dip at the base of my throat, just below where men have their Adam's apple. It's worked pretty well, except a couple of times when I've started to doze, and my arm has relaxed and the cough has started again. So I slightly wedge my arm now. I can cope better when I've had good sleep.

Well other than the Roth, my reading has been very sweet this year. I remember I wasn't greatly enamoured of The Plot Against America 14 years ago (I've liked other Roth), and although in the current climate I can see the prescience, I'm not loving it second time around either, but am reading it for my local book group. He does capture the angst of a young 7 year old boy well though.

Jan 22, 2:29pm Top

Glad you have been able to work from home Caroline. I think just not having to travel to work can help when you're under the weather. Hope you feel better soon.

Crazy snow here today. And then it all melted!

Edited: Jan 22, 2:58pm Top

>155 charl08: this evening feels like a small turning point on the cough front Charlotte, but it was still loud enough to gain scowls on the bus when I went out briefly for an appointment. I felt I should have worn a sign saying 'not contagious'!

Just an hour of snow here this evening too, but it's not cold enough to settle for long.

Jan 22, 3:05pm Top

>147 jessibud2: Sand County Almanac is a good one, Shelley. If you ever get a chance to read it, I would suggest going for it.

Edited: Jan 25, 5:47pm Top

5. The Plot Against America (Philip Roth) (reread) ***

I have to say that I didn't enjoy this book any more the second time around. I only reread it for my local book group.

Absolutely I acknowledge the knowledge and breadth of research that would have been required to achieve this novel. And the second time reading, in the current climate, the prescience of Roth's imagination, but I found it a slog. There was a flatness about it somehow. It played almost totally on one note.

I thought he got the anxiety of a 9 year old boy quite well. It was in this area that the key thing I had remembered in the book resided. I remembered Philip being locked in a neighbour's tiny bathroom, and how the anxiety escalated.

I did also notice how he had homaged Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, with his list of White House guests.

I'll be back later to report whether I was in the minority at book group.

ETA: I'd say most of my book group enjoyed it more than I did.

Jan 25, 12:28pm Top

>157 alcottacre: I'll put that on my list Stasia.

Jan 25, 12:30pm Top

Frustratingly I'm still having coughing jags. I had hoped a week's meds and working at home would have nailed it on the head. I had a couple of good nights sleep, and a couple of days with longer gaps between coughing, but it got a bit worse again today. Harrumph.

Edited: Feb 7, 1:59pm Top

Currently Reading

Mr Darwin's Gardener (Kristina Carlson )

Imaginary Cities (Darren Anderson)

Edited: Jan 27, 12:04pm Top

6. Thinking Like a Mountain (Robert Bateman) ****

I loved this little volume of environmental essays by artist Robert Bateman (thanks for the tip-off Donna >122 Donna828:, and Beth, I think, in another thread).

Environmental messages through autobiographical stories mostly, accompanied by some of Bateman's drawings.

I think my favourite was 'Homo Sapiens Teenager Consumerensis', even more in evidence than it was 19 years ago when this little volume was written!

Jan 26, 11:54am Top

Sorry to hear about the cough, Caroline. Chronic coughs are horrible. I used to have problems with them in the spring. I well remember people moving away from me whenever I was in public. Fingers crossed that it will be better soon.

I haven't read the Bateman, but the collection definitely goes on the list.

I love the cover of Mr. Darwin's Governor.

Jan 26, 11:36pm Top

Hi Caroline. Sorry to hear about the cough but I suppose it's good to have a diagnosis and treatment plan. But I think coughing jags are the worst. (I mean, even that we call them "coughing jags" tells us something!).

>162 Caroline_McElwee: Adding that one to the wish list, too.

Jan 27, 8:47am Top

I've picked up the same Pereinne (Mr. Darwin's Gardener) Such a lovely thing to hold.

Jan 27, 11:27am Top

>164 EBT1002: well fortunately Ellen, this past week I've at least got good sleep, which means I'm able to cope with it. And I have had worse coughs (the longest went for four months, though another infection got in and aggravated the situation). Hopefully this will subside soon.

I'm sure you will like the little Bateman book.

>165 charl08: they are very nice books in the hand Charlotte.

Edited: Jan 27, 12:01pm Top

7. Mr Darwin's Gardener (Kristina Carlson) (27/01/19) *****

I loved this short novel. It punches above its weight on a lot of levels. It is one of a handful of novels I've wanted to turn back to page 1 and read again when I got to the end.

Thomas Davies is an aethiest, and Charles Darwin's gardener. His wife has died, and he is left to raise his two young children alone, both of whom have health issues. We see him through his own thinking, and through the eyes of the village.

The novel captures the claustrophobia of rural village life, with its eccentric participants and its obsessions.

In its 122 pages we have nature, an exquisite evocation of silence, God and the lack of God. Desires and limitations.

Somewhere I read that the novel shared a style of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, which I can see. It also put me in mind of a pared back Thomas Hardy novel. Carlson really captured English rural village life of the time, which maybe is not hugely different from its Finnish equivalent.

I found this little article about Carlson and her slow writing.


Edited: Jan 27, 2:42pm Top

Hmmm, I'm slipping on the short story project >91 Caroline_McElwee: oops. Back on track next week. I had an excuse this week, having to finish a book for my RL book group.

Jan 27, 12:51pm Top

Bringing these Mary Oliver poems from Beth's thread, so I don't lose them


When I moved from one house to another
there were many things I had no room
for. What does one do? I rented a storage
space. And filled it. Years passed.
Occasionally I went there and looked in,
but nothing happened, not a single
twinge of the heart.
As I grew older the things I cared
about grew fewer, but were more
important. So one day I undid the lock
and called the trash man. He took
I felt like the little donkey when
his burden is finally lifted. Things!
Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful
fire! More room in your heart for love,
for the trees! For the birds who own
nothing -- the reason they can fly.

The Tall Distance

That tall distance where
the clouds begin,
the forge that pounds out the lightning
and the black porch where the stars
are dressed in light
and arrangement is made for the moon's path --
it's these I think of now, after

a lifetime of goldfinches,
meandering streams,
lambs playing,
the passionate hands of the sun,
the coolness under the trees
talking leaf to leaf,
the foxes and the otters sliding on the snow,
the dolphins for whom no doubt
the seas were created,
the spray of swallows gathering in autumn--
after all of that
the tall distance is what I think of now.

Edited: Feb 1, 5:16pm Top

Currently Reading

The Chosen (Chaim Potok) for AAC (my third Potok of the month)

and continuing with Imaginary Cities and

Jan 28, 8:45am Top

I look forward to seeing what you think of Imaginary cities. It has piqued my interest.

Jan 28, 9:08am Top

>167 Caroline_McElwee: Adding that one to the BlackHole, Caroline. Thanks for that recommendation.

Sorry to hear that the cough continues. I do hope it will stop bothering you soon!

Edited: Jan 28, 11:52am Top

>171 Sakerfalcon: I'm only reading a few pages a day, as I'm gobbling up the last novel of the month at the moment Claire.

>172 alcottacre: My second 5* read in a month Stasia, I hope the year progresses in similar vein.

Thanks for the sympathy on the cough. It is driving me nutz, as even when I'm feeling OKish, it is restrictive. I did come into the office today, but there was only one other colleague in. I can only drop off and collect books at the library tonight, lounging in the reading room won't be an option harrumph.

Jan 30, 2:01pm Top

Just dropping by to say hello, Caroline. I'm enjoying the discussion and your experience with Robert Bateman, a jewel in British Columbia.

Good luck with the cough, which seems to be one of the most enduring and annoying conditions.

Jan 30, 2:27pm Top

^This is a male Northern Cardinal, visiting my feeder today. His wife was around too.

Happy Wednesday, Caroline. I hope your week is going well. I have really enjoyed being off this 2 days but tomorrow will be as equally as brutal. Sighs...

Thanks for the BB, of Thinking Like a Mountain. Sounds like just my cuppa.

Jan 30, 2:29pm Top

>173 Caroline_McElwee: My reading year has started off pretty well too and I too am hoping it keeps up!

Sorry to hear that the cough is still driving you nuts!

Jan 31, 6:23am Top

>174 VivienneR: Hi Vivienne, yes I've enjoyed discovering Bateman indeed.

The cough is better today, but it is sneaky, it has made me think I'd reached a turning point before. Fingers crossed though.

>175 msf59: Thank you for bringing your colourful friend with you Mark. I think we all need more time ff. I've at least been working at home mostly, with my cough.

>176 alcottacre: I love it when I get a run of really fine reading Stasia, and if I'm honest, I rarely get more than a couple of serious disappointments a year, if that. While trying to read a bit out of my comfort zone occassionally, I know what I really don't enjoy, which is good.

Jan 31, 6:33am Top

Hope it continues to improve, Caroline.

I don't think I've ever properly counted my book fails: I tend to change my mind about library orders and return them instead. Also just not get back to books I've started.

Jan 31, 12:00pm Top

Hope you are feeling better soon Caroline. Coughs can be gripping and awful. I've started Thinking like a Mountain.

Edited: Feb 1, 8:09am Top

>178 charl08: >179 mdoris: the cough is annoying me because it appears to improve, then comes back again. I did a couple of days in the office, but will now work from home until it goes. That saves me three hours commuting time a day, and protects my colleagues ears!

>179 mdoris: I hope you enjoy it Mary.

Feb 1, 6:41am Top

I think there is definitely something to be said for saving that commuting energy for your recovery.

Feb 1, 3:12pm Top

>180 Caroline_McElwee: Sorry the cough is so persistant, Caroline, I hope working from home for a while will help.

Feb 1, 4:17pm Top

>181 charl08: >182 FAMeulstee: Thanks Charlotte and Anita.

I took a chance and went to see 'Mary Queen of Scots' and barely coughed, when I'm really concentrating, I can control it a bit. I liked the film. Some fine performances.

Edited: Feb 1, 5:35pm Top

8. The Chosen (Chaim Potok) (01/02/19) ****1/2

Another fine read from Chaim Potok. I even survived the first chapter on baseball, which for someone who has absolutely no interest in sport is an achievement!

What I love in his books is there is a wealth of information about Jewish culture, so I'm learning a lot. There is a lot to think about, which I know will draw me back. First reading for me is really just getting involved with his characters.

This novel, first and foremost, is about deep friendship. And I really enjoyed watching this evolve.

This was my third Potok, for January's AAC.

Edited: Feb 3, 10:53am Top

Next up

Some Tame Gazelle (Barbara Pym)
The Library Book (Susan Orlean)

Edited: Feb 2, 7:46am Top

9. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World (Debbie Tung) (02/02/19) ****

I'm not especially a GN reader, but Joe (jnwelch) was so enthusiastic about this, I caved.

I enjoyed seeing elements of myself in it, especially as a young woman, and to see how far I'd come in dealing with and resolving some of those behaviours. Not everything applied to me. But I definitely need my solitude...

Lovely, illustrations. Her Book Love comes into land next week.

I think this book will be very good for young people learning to cope with their introversion, and for people around them to understand behaviours of an introvert

Feb 2, 7:50am Top

Happy Saturday, Caroline. Some good reading going on over here. Everyone seems to have loved The Chosen. I hope I can fit that one in this year. I requested Quiet Girl from the library and speaking of libraries, I loved The Library Book. Enjoy.

Edited: Feb 2, 10:38am Top

>186 Caroline_McElwee: - I picked this one up from the library yesterday, too and it's good so far. I will finish and probably return it today. I have requested Book Love

Feb 2, 9:54am Top

The Tung looks good, Caroline. Book Love's title has sold me.

Potok sounds great. I need to get to him.

I hope the cough keeps improving.

Feb 2, 10:51am Top

>186 Caroline_McElwee:

I bought Quiet Girl in a Noisy World for my daughter for Valentine's Day.
My only disappointment on previewing it was that the author did not offer solutions other than finding a perfect boyfriend, then husband.
For too many young women, these guys are hard or impossible to find! A shortage for many reasons...

Feb 2, 11:16am Top

>187 msf59: Hi Mark, I'm looking forward to starting The Library Book later today.

>188 jessibud2: it has its flaws, and of course no book is totally inclusive Beth, but it's a nice book.

>189 BLBera: I'm looking forward to Book Love landing next week Beth.

I'm glad to say there has been less coughing today.

>190 m.belljackson: that, for me, was it's weakness too Marianne. But then it is maybe a romance too, clearly it is autobiographical. I hope your daughter enjoys it.

Feb 3, 11:00am Top

10. Some Tame Gazelle (Barbara Pym) (03/02/19) ***1/2

Pym's, as ever, sharp eyed observation. Two middle-aged, different but simpatico sisters living in a rural village, one carrying thirty years of unrequited love for the archdeacon, the other cosseting the string of curates who live there over time. Both with different takes on the comings and goings of the community.

(Library Book)

Feb 4, 6:46pm Top

Yay for The Chosen! I think that's still my favorite of his, although My Name is Asher Lev rang a lot of bells for me.

Good to hear you enjoyed Quiet Girl in a Noisy World. You can see why I couldn't help being enthusiastic about it! I enjoyed Book Love, too - a natural for our LT gang.

Feb 5, 7:17am Top

>192 Caroline_McElwee: This evokes all the warm and comfy feelings I get from reading Barbara Pym. Her novels are a delight. Was this a re-read for you, or your first time?

Feb 5, 7:38am Top

>192 Caroline_McElwee: That one has been on my watchlist for the longest time, Caroline.

Edited: Feb 5, 10:24am Top

>194 lauralkeet: >195 PaulCranswick: First time of reading, Laura and Paul. Claire (Sakerfalcon) who you both know, reviewed it on her thread, and I picked it up at the library.

Feb 6, 8:38am Top

I finally got to Mr Darwin's Gardener last night, Caroline. What a little gem of a book.

Edited: Feb 6, 5:10pm Top

>197 charl08: That's what I thought Charlotte. Loved it.

It has to be said, many of the books I feel that way about are short, but somehow quietly epic, as in still feeling rich in the wealth of content. Some of those include: A Month in the Country, Fair Play, Train Dreams , Giovanni's Room, Legend of the Holy Drinker, Embers, Sum, Of Mice and Men, and the non-Fiction: 84 Charing Cross Road, Plant Dreaming Deep.

Edited: Feb 7, 2:17pm Top

11. The Library Book (Susan Orlean) (06/02/19) ****

Designed by Bertram Goodhue, and subsequently extended.

A fascinating glimpse into the life of a public building, and the people who populate it. Hung on the structure of a mystery, who set fire to it in 1986, Orlean wraps the history of the building, and some of the beginnings of Los Angeles through this book. She writes of the many men and women who were responsible for its care, most of whom were passionate book lovers, and of the staff who support them. Like the books in the stacks, each has a story of their own, as do the other characters who come into contact with the library.

More information about the building here:


Feb 7, 9:17am Top

I'm glad you enjoyed Some tame gazelle, Caroline! It's one of my favourites by Pym.

I've never been to the LAPL but it looks like I should visit if I ever find myself back in the city. I have been to Seattle PL twice, which is another fantastic building.

Feb 7, 1:31pm Top

>200 Sakerfalcon: Not sure I can justify a trip to LA simply to visit the library Claire, but it is temping. Seattle PL looks stunning in a different way. Ha, a trip across America visiting is iconic libraries.... it's a thought (buys an extra lotto ticket!!).

Edited: Feb 7, 1:43pm Top

12. Book Love (Debbie Tung) (07/02/19) ****

Very little here that did not apply to me, I haven't read a book about dragons for some while...

This topic was continued by Caroline's Quiet Corner 2019: Chapter 2.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

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