Torontoc reads and also sees films in 2019

Talk100 Books in 2019 Challenge

Join LibraryThing to post.

Torontoc reads and also sees films in 2019

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

1torontoc
Dec 30, 2018, 10:54am

Just setting up for 2019 I am reading some really big books now- I should finish one of them by the beginning of the new year!
I'll also list some of the films that I see.

2jfetting
Dec 30, 2018, 2:13pm

Welcome back! I like the idea of listing/reviewing films also - I may join you in that this year. Happy reading in 2019!

3torontoc
Jan 1, 2019, 10:13am

Thank you!
and the first book- I started reading it last week and finished it in 2019! I found that I didn't do much reading in Dec. - very busy with projects.

1. Moonglow by Michael Chabon. I read this book because one of my friends gave it a very positive review.I was slightly disappointed. I liked the novel but thought that there could have been more editing. Every time the plot moved forward there seemed to be some descriptive passages that went in a different direction than the events that were important in the story. The novel is narrated by a man. "Mike Chabon" who is interviewing his dying grandfather about family history. The reader is pulled into a story that might have some real elements from the author's life and family-but yet again it could be stories that were embellished. Mike's grandfather was an inventor, a man who went to jail for attacking his former employer ,and a soldier who was charged with finding German Nazi scientists for the Americans at the end of World War Two.He was obsessed about rockets throughout his life. He also married a refugee widow who had been hidden during the war along with her daughter. Mike's grandmother had mental illness -perhaps because her life in Europe.The reader discovers that Mike's mother was also affected by events in her life-the one described in the novel is her father's decision to have her live with his brother( former Rabbi and now full time gambler) while he is in jail and her mother is in a mental health institution. The stories are not fully told- everyone keeps secrets. The reader understands that the grandfather tells some but not all to his grandson. I found this an interesting book to read but I liked some of the author's previous works better.

I saw the Japanese film "Shoplifters" yesterday- Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda the story is about a very poor family who survive by working in low paying jobs and shoplifting. The young boy in this family group finds a four year old girl freezing on a balcony-he takes her home and the rest of the family- grandmother, mother and father find marks of abuse on the young girl's body. They take her in and she finds love and acceptance. However- the truth is not alway evident at first as the stories of each member of this family revealed. They have stayed together in order to survive and find acceptance. The story is both sad and hopeful as one traumatic event changes their lives. This film won the PalmeD'Or at the Cannes film Festival last year.

4wookiebender
Jan 2, 2019, 1:32am

I like Chabon, might still give that one a go...

I look forward to your movie reviews too! I had a (very mild) tantrum over Xmas when I realised I hadn't seen a single movie that hadn't been chosen by someone else (one of the kids or Don). Suffice it to say, I saw a lot of Marvel last year. :P (I rather like Marvel, but it's rarely my #1 choice.) I did see "The Favourite" with the wonderful power trio of Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone. Very good, quite black.

Good luck with your 2019 reading and movie watching!

5torontoc
Jan 3, 2019, 1:51pm

>4 wookiebender: I really liked "The Favourite" but many of my friends ( not all) didn't like it- I thought that the acting was really good and of course the sets and costumes-wow!

2. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie I think that everyone must have read this book by now but I found it recently somewhere in one of my book towers. I enjoyed reading it. The author himself had been "re-educated" in the Cultural Revolution. He writes about two young teenagers who are sent to a remote village in the mountains and have been separated from their now disgraced middle class parents. They make the best of a bad situation and befriend the daughter of the tailor. They still have to work at manual labour but find ways to exchange back breaking work for other activities. They help another exiled teenager who would be able to leave if he can collect revolutionary songs from the local people. The story of how they try to hoodwink a very old miller is very funny. The boys mange to steal books - a collection of many European classics that have been translated into Chinese. How they use the stories to entertain the Tailor's daughter and some of the villagers shows cleverness. However they don't realize how the words and ideas of Balzac will change the seamstress's life. This is really good book to read!

6torontoc
Jan 6, 2019, 5:41pm

3. The Lost A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn In this part memoir/history book the author searches for the true story of how his great uncle, aunt and cousins died in the Holocaust. Mendelsohn remembers his mother's father telling stories about his family-the Jaegers- in the town of Bolechow. (Part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire, then Polish then Ukrainian.) His older brother, Shmiel had actually emigrated to the U.S. in 1913 but went back to his home town, prospered, married and had four daughters. Mendelsohn's grandfather had letters from Shmiel begging for help as late as 1939. The reader is introduced to the complex story of this family and the author's growing interest in finding out what really happened to them. Interspersed with telling of the trips to the Ukraine, Israel, Australia and Sweden with his brothers, sister and other friends, Mendelsohn writes about his study of the torah and the commentary of the scholar Rashi( 11th century French Rabbi) and recent scholar Rabbi Richard Friedman on several passages that seem to related to the search for the histories of the Jaeger family. The author meets many older people with stories about Shmiel and his family and the town-some true and some perhaps not true. Mendelsohn discovers that the stories of how the family lived is as important as how they died. Some of the people he interviewed have amazing stories of their own on survival.This book is about more than dead relatives. Mendelsohn discovers some heroes and heroines who helped his family. It is both historical and personal as the reader learns about one family and the different journeys they took to either life or death in the 20th century.

7torontoc
Jan 9, 2019, 3:32pm

4. Winter by Ali Smith Ali Smith's writing sort of gives me a jolt- to sit up and react to her pointed comments about our present day society. The story combines the present and past of Sophia, her sister Iris and Sophia 's son Art. Art has got himself into a " situation' just before he is about to travel to Cornwall for Christmas to see his mother with his girlfriend Charlotte. Charlotte has left Art and is playing havoc with his blog. Sophia seems to be a rational older woman getting ready for her son's visit but events prove that she has issues that need dealing with. Iris is the exact opposite of her sister- always the radical she does come through to help Art deal with the crisis on Christmas. Art has hired a young woman to play his girlfriend, but Lux has her own ideas. She helps Sophia and also Art with their own problems with identity and decisions about their lives. The novel covers concerns with climate change, reckless use of arms and the growing realization that choices can be made for change- personal and perhaps political. I enjoyed the language, flights of fancy and essential grounding in understanding the contemporary world we live in.

8torontoc
Jan 10, 2019, 2:02pm

5.Christian Dior History and Modernity 1947-1957 by Alexandra Palmer This book refers to a show at the Royal Ontario Museum on Dior that took place a year ago. This catalogue was just published recently. The clothes referred to ( hard to call these creations clothes- some are amazing) were all displayed in the exhibit and are in the collection of the Museum. The history, the breakdown and descriptions of all the elements that went into the construction of these garments is exacting. In fact some of the dresses have had the patterns recreated- I now understand why the couturier design houses had so much influence on the development of style. Most of the photos are breathtaking- however the clothes in black are not photographed well. A black background does not do the garments justice. I enjoyed the read and look forward to looking at the photos again. ( the red dresses are spectacular)

9torontoc
Jan 14, 2019, 10:35am

6. Strangers with the Same Dream by Alison Pick Alison Pick is a very interesting writer- she wrote a novel that drew on her own personal family history and then wrote a memoir about her conversion to Judaism. This novel is structured like a Japanese film. ( the name I have forgotten) There are three main characters, Ida, David and Hannah, and we read about the same history told from their points of view. The time is 1921 and the place is Palestine where all three are building a communal farm in the north of what becomes present day Israel. The plot is more about the relationships that develop and those that deteriorate than the political. Ida is a young impressionable newcomer to this part of the world having escaped from a pogrom where her father was killed. David is the leader of the group that is establishing the new farm. He had been sent from another community as he had made a terrible mistake that jeopardized the relationships between the Jewish settlers and the neighbouring Arab community. Hannah is David's wife and has much resentment towards David for his actions. The reader see that the building up of farmland came with many sacrifices- from malaria, lack of medicine to treat what are today common ailments to inexperience. The building of this new society was not easy or necessarily understandable to the modern reader. I think that the author does convey the terrible conditions of clearing swamp and stone ridden land, the contradictions of rules agreed to by the new settlers and the problematic dealings with the neighbouring Arabs who are depicted in a sympathetic way. I do think that part of the story does become a little melodramatic but it is an interesting book.

I saw a play that was presented in the Inuit language of inuktitut by a performing group from Nunavut ( most Northern territory in Canada).The theatre sent all playgoers a translation of the play the day before and handed out the notes to all those in the audience. The story, Kiviuq Returns was a combination of story, dance and song. Parts of the play were narrated by Inuit elders on film that was projected onto the stage. It was very engaging performance.!

10torontoc
Edited: Jan 22, 2019, 9:44am

Another play
On Saturday night I saw a play - The Virgin Trial by Kate Hennig. This play had been produced at the Stratford Festival and this is a revival.The playwright has written three plays about the Queens of England- the first about Catherine Parr The Last Wife , this one about Elizabeth and the third-Mother Daughter about Queen Catherine and Queen Mary to be presented this coming summer.The weather was really cold ( -30C windchill) but since all the performances were sold out, I put on many layers of clothing and ventured out with two friends. We were glad that we did. The play concentrated on the time when teenaged Elizabeth was questioned about the behaviour of her stepfather Thomas Seymour and his intention for revolution against King Edward. The dialogue was contemporary and the costumes were set in modern times as well. The portrayal of Elizabeth as a very smart young woman who cannot be bullied and who can hide her true thoughts was really riveting. The plot may take liberties with accepted truths but it was so interesting!And because of that i pulled out a biography of Elizabeth and re-read

7. Elizabeth The Struggle for The Throne by David Starkey Ah- what can i say- Starkey chose to concentrate on the young Elizabeth and the beginnings of her reign.He showed how she did negotiate through some dangerous situations when she was threatened with treason and later how she worked through the problem of Protestant versus Catholic religious practices. A great re-reread

11wookiebender
Jan 22, 2019, 4:42am

Wow, I love the plays you're getting to see!

12torontoc
Jan 23, 2019, 2:51pm

I look forward to seeing the third play in the Queen trilogy by Kate Hennig.

8. Eternal Life by Dara Horn I am not sure about this novel. The idea is interesting but does it have a resolution in the plot? No. Do I understand the motivation of the two main characters? Not sure. Dara Horn writes well with a thorough grounding in Jewish History and religion that is a main thread in this story. My verdict is still out after finishing this read. Rachel is the daughter of a scribe in Roman occupied Jerusalem. She becomes the lover of Elazar the son of the High Priest. She marries another man but in order to save her son from dying, she undergoes a process that gives her eternal life. After she discovers that Elazar had done the same thing, Rachel meets him in different disguises throughout the years. After living a long life, if Rachel burns then she is reborn so it seems as an eighteen year old and can live a new life. The reader sees her dilemma as she tires of being reborn. I still have problems with where th plot leads us the reader.

13torontoc
Jan 28, 2019, 1:50pm

9. The Unfinished Palazzo Life , Love and Art in Venice by Judith Mackrell This book's title is somewhat misleading. The author has written mini-biographies about the three women who lived and redecorated the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in Venice. The three women- Luisa Casati, Doris Castlerosse, and Peggy Guggenheim- have some similar traits. All had many love affairs and were unhappy unless they had a lover who would help them enrich ( or really define) their lives. Luisa Casati and Peggy Guggenheim had terrible relationships with their children. The author seems sympathetic to all of these women. Luisa Casati had an immense fortune that she ran through during her lifetime as she became really her own work of art through fashion and events that she designed. Doris Castlerosse was probably one of the models for Noel Coward's play Private Lives. She really only had money when she was involved with a rich man. Peggy Guggenheim did put together the famous collection that would form the basis of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni. Her life was a mix of bad decisions, good fortune, and original work. She created three important galleries of modern art during her lifetime in London, New York and finally Venice. There is a great gossip component in this history with many famous artists involved with the three women. I liked the read but thought that the decisions made by these women were selfish and inflicted misery on many people. Yet some of the patronage by Peggy Guggenheim certainly influenced the work of a number of important 20th century artists.

14torontoc
Jan 31, 2019, 3:15pm

10. Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page This is a well- written book- it won the Writers' Trust Fiction Award in Canada in 2018. The author used some of the letters that her father had written her mother when he was in the army in World War Two in this novel. Harry Miles is a young man who joins the British army at the beginning of the war. He was a very good student who found an interest in poetry at school. However he does not go to university, preferring to work. Just before he goes into the army he meets Evelyn Hill at the library. They marry and the reader sees how they both cope during a trying period of war. After Harry comes back, the two settle into a life together and they have three daughters. The story follows them throughout the course of their marriage. The reader sees the early love and the undoing of the relationship as they get older. Evelyn seems to have an unreasonable rage at things she cannot control. Harry tries to live with her demands and at the same time connect with his early love of poetry. The story is heartbreaking as the reader follows both into old age. This is a novel that well deserves the Writers' Trust Prize.

15torontoc
Feb 7, 2019, 9:48am

11. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan There are some writers who draw the reader into the story immediately. Esi Edugyan certainly does in her novel about the life and travels of the boy and later young man, Washington Black. Born as a slave on a sugar plantation, Washington is befriended by the brother of the plantation owner. Titch as he wants to be called, is an explorer and inventor. He trains Washington to be his assistant as he develops a flying machine. After a series of catastrophic events on the plantation, Titch and Washington flee from the island and embark on a series of adventures as they travel to the Arctic to see if Titch's father is still alive. There are issues of abandonment, a searching for a true identity and perhaps a sense of an odyssey as Washington later travels to find Titch although he has established a life of his own. This is a truly wonderful book and well deserving of the 2019 Giller Prize. The ending does leave more questions but perhaps the author wants the reader to think about how trying to resolve an issue is not really the end.

16torontoc
Feb 12, 2019, 9:39am

12. The Golden House by Salman Rushdie In this novel the reader is introduced to a most unusual family who live in a big mansion that borders the Macdougal-Sullivan Gardens Historic District in Greenwich Village in New York City. Their story is narrated by a young man, Rene, who lives nearby. Rene manages to become a friend and observer of the Golden family as he imagines their lives as film that he wants to make. The Golden family appear suddenly in the area- they have come from India and are enormously wealthy. Nero ,the father has asked his three sons to take on names of Roman nobility. Each son has a story that will lead to tragedy. Nero marries a young Russian woman who will also change his life and that of Rene. The reader learns about corruption and the inter-gang rivalries that led Nero to leave India. Interspersed in the narrative are lengthy discussions about philosophy, literature, film, and the contemporary politics of the time of the Obama and later Trump presidencies. Those musings are not necessary in my opinion. This is not my favourite Rushdie novel.

17torontoc
Feb 15, 2019, 11:07am

13. Miss Mink Life Lessons for a Cat Countess by Janet Hill I wasn't sure whether this ER book was for children or adults. The illustrations are beautiful. The reader can see that the artist/writer paints so well and the cats and Miss Mink are depicted in a very charming way. That said, I think that this is a book for adults who need some encouragement in order to lead a better life. There are twenty lessons. Each are presented in a double page composition with lovely artwork and short pithy phrases. This is a gift book- I will ask my great nieces and nephew what they think and how the messages relate to them.

18torontoc
Feb 18, 2019, 9:57am

14. Stroll Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto by Shawn Micallef I have had this book on my TBR tower for a while now. It was published 8 years ago and some of the chapters were published in a weekly Toronto magazine. However it is still a good read and a guide to walking around the city. The author ( who has columns in a daily newspaper and publishes a great urban magazine -Spacing) has chosen some usual and unusual places for his walks. Some obvious areas ( Kensington Market) are not covered. I did discover some places that I had not considered. The information is not all historical- there are thoughts about the people who live in the area and the future plans for change and development. Some of those plans have been finished and are very successful- the Regent Park plan and the West Don Lands. Some are still controversial-the Portlands area.
Micallef discusses areas all over the boundaries of the city. He gives a good mix of information that helps the reader understand the city. The book is nicely published by Coach House Press ( an important Toronto literary press) and has good illustrations and a nice fold out map by Marlena Zuber.

19torontoc
Feb 23, 2019, 3:53pm

15. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. This novel is written beautifully- many paragraphs and phrases are so wonderfully expressed. The novel has an element of fantasy to it. It is hard to describe without letting the readers of this review know some of the essential details. However I think that the " surprise" part of the plot is important to the reading experience. The reader learns about two young people in an unnamed country somewhere in the Middle East or Indian continent region. Saeed lives with his parents. Nadia is more of a rebel and lives independently in a culture that is disapproving of such an action. The two become lovers in a time when there is a revolution breaking out. The menace of the life that they lead changes when they are able to escape. How and why lead to a very different life and the stresses that the two young people face. I have to recommend this book without revealing much of the very interesting plot.

20wookiebender
Mar 5, 2019, 5:41am

#18> How funny, Australia has its own Shaun Micallef too. :) He's a comedian and actor and TV host and writer and very very funny. (And if I ever meet him, I know I will just say something very nervous and lame like "mimble wimble".)

21haydninvienna
Mar 5, 2019, 6:36am

Looking at Shaun Micallef's Wikipedia page, I discover that he has published a book about time travel, Preincarnate. Only 2 LT reviews but both are favourable.

23torontoc
Mar 6, 2019, 7:46pm

>21 haydninvienna: hmm I 'll have to check out Micallef's book!

16. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker I read a number of books on my brief vacation in a warm climate ( Toronto had snow storms and really way below zero wind chill) so my reviews are going to be a lot briefer than usual. This novel shows the reader the life of the women who were taken as slaves after the Greeks conquered cities in Trojan territory. Specifically the reader follows the life of Briseis- formerly a queen and now the property of Achilles. The story follows the Greeks as they fight the Trojans and tangle with their own allies. The treatment of the women is brutal. Briseis narrates most of the of the time. The story also shows the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus and the rivalry of Achilles and Agamemnon. The book is a good counterpoint to the story told by Madeline Miller-The Song of Achilles

17. The Gown by Jennifer Robson Sigh! I know that some people really liked this historical fiction novel about the making of the wedding gown of Princess Elizabeth. I found it pleasant but not great fiction. The reader follows two stories- one about Ann and her friend and fellow worker Miriam in 1947. The two women embroider many of the flowers for the wedding dress.The second story features Ann's Canadian grand daughter, Heather in 2016 as she tries to piece together Ann's story before she moved to Canada.

18. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari I found this history of mankind to be very understandable and full of questions about the development of life on Earth and specifically men and women. i enjoyed the study of how we developed on earth and the future challenges.

and finally two mysteries by Alan Bradley and the adventures of Flavia de Luce

19.As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
20. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
The first book is set in Toronto- but the reader hardly sees much of the city. The second book has Flavia back in England. I just admit that I found the murders and the solving a little too manic. I didn't enjoy either as much as I did the earlier stories in the series.

24jfetting
Mar 6, 2019, 9:17pm

>23 torontoc: Oooh, The Silence of the Girls looks great! and I am envious of your vacation in a warm climate, no matter how brief. We've been pretty miserable in Chicago, too, although nowhere near as bad as you've had it.

25torontoc
Mar 10, 2019, 12:09pm

Yes- the weather has started to warm up now!

21. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell I had seen some of the BBC series that was based on this book . ( but the screen version did take many liberties with the story)The book concentrates on the Durrell family and their eccentricities but the main focus is the young Gerry and his fascination with nature. The book is full of his observations on any creatures, small and big and his obsessive collecting of two magpies, an owl, dogs, gull, water snakes and more. The interactions with his brothers Larry, Leslie , sister Margo and his very understanding mother lead to some very hilarious situations. Gerry makes friends of so many people on the island of Corfu where the family lives for five years. This memoir was fun to read and certainly makes the reader appreciate how Gerald Durrell's early experience led to his life as a leader in trying to preserve diversity of animal life.

26torontoc
Mar 13, 2019, 1:39pm

22. Days by Moonlight by Andre Alexis This is a very intriguing story by the author of Fifteen Dogs. The back cover information suggests that the story is " not real" but instead a journey through the psyche of the narrator , Alfred. Well, I am not sure about that although the journey taken by Alfred through small Ontario towns north of Toronto( some real some imaginary towns) does have some fantastic and surreal events. Alfred had been dealing with the death of his parents and the rejection of woman who he still loved. He agreed to take a friend of his father- Professor Morgan Bruno, on a tour of certain towns- Bruno is conducting a study of the poetry of John Skennen. Skennen had stopped writing and disappeared from sight. The towns were places where Steven had lived or was sighted. On the trail of the poet, Bruno and Alfred experience some very surreal events in the towns that they visit- an annual burning of a house, a parade for Indigenous peoples and a very mysterious place where visitor had visions. The characters tell stories about John Stennen and Alfred himself has discussions about life and belief.This is an interesting book but somewhat mysterious as to intent for me.

27torontoc
Mar 17, 2019, 12:48pm

23. Molly's Game by Molly Bloom I saw the film and I must admit- I liked it better than the book. However the book really fleshes out the whole story of the author's work in creating the poker games that made her famous. I gather that she only used real names of the players if they had been mentioned publicly elsewhere. It is a story of greed and unlimited money and what those who have it , do with it.

28wookiebender
Mar 19, 2019, 12:46am

I'm glad you liked Silence of the Girls too! I just finished it last night. I really should read her Regeneration as well, I've got a copy somewhere. (But have decided in favour of light heartedness right now, and am reading Georgette Heyer.)

29torontoc
Mar 27, 2019, 10:25am

24. One Night, Markovitch by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen This was an odd book to me. I wasn't sure whether I had trouble with the wordy prose because of the translation ( the original is in Hebrew) or maybe it was just the author's style. The story is about a number of people who live in Palestine prior to World War 2 and then early in the state of Israel. The main premise is that a number of men from Palestine are sent by the Irgun organization to Europe to marry an equal number of Jewish women fleeing from what becomes the Holocaust. When they reach Tel Aviv, the plan is that these couples will divorce. However , one man, Yaakov Markovitch is so entranced by his wife, Bella, that he refuse to divorce her. This refusal sets off a number of events. Bella lives in Yaakov's house in a small farming village and refuses to talk to him. Yaacov's friend, Zeev Fienberg has his own issues ( some caused by what we now call PTSD) and soon there are a number of liaisons that cause babies to be born, and secrets soon revealed to the detriment of all. It gets confusing and no-one is happy( spoiler but the reader can see what is happening fairly early.) I did finish the book- there is some nice writing but also some puzzling and coarse descriptions that I don't think helped the story, One of my friends loved the book- I did not.

30torontoc
Mar 27, 2019, 3:45pm

25. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles I re-read this book for my book club meeting- still a wonderful story!

31torontoc
Apr 1, 2019, 5:42pm

26. Greeks Bearing Gifts by Philip Kerr I am sad that this series will end as the author has died. This book had the familiar amount of betrayals and twists as the author took real people (former Nazis working in West Germany) and real facts ( the mystery of gold stolen from Jewish families in wartime Salonika) and placed Bernie Gunther into a complicated plot. Gunther was back in Germany in 1957. He is offered a job as an insurance adjuster and travels to Greece to find out what happened to small ship that sunk. He discovers a murder of a suspect and a larger plan where his case plays only a small part.
A good read for the adventure.

27.Melmoth by Sarah Perry Some readers didn't like this book as much as the author's earlier novel The Essex Serpent. I agree. The story begins with the introduction of a suicide note -perhaps- and then the description of Helen Franklin. Helen works in Prague as a translator but is hiding part of her life. In fact she seems to be deliberately punishing herself. The reader meets her friend Karel, his companion Thea and the story of a ghost- Melmoth- who has haunted people throughout the ages. We meet some of them and witness their crimes both big and small. I was disappointed in the end after the buildup of some very impressive stories.

32torontoc
Apr 7, 2019, 8:36pm

28. Spies of No Country Behind Enemy Lines at the Birth of the Israeli Secret Service by Matti Friedman I like reading the works by this author. This account is about the undercover spies sent to Lebanon just before the the state of Israel came into being. This particular group were organized by the Palmach-the undercover group based on the communal farms. ( kibbutz)The men selected shared a commonality- they were all Jews who had been born in Arab countries. Known as members of the Arab Section , these men were trained to blend into Arab society and listen and report. They had all escaped from their native countries, and had been living and working on the kibbutzim. Friedman interviewed two ( in their nineties ) about their training and lives. In the beginning the men worked and had no way of contacting anyone in Israel. Eventually they received a radio and operator and reported about the political climate. There were some members of the Arab section who tried to live in Jordan and Egypt -they were caught and executed. Friedman discusses the conflict between the Jews who were originally from Europe and those who came from Arab countries. This is s avery interesting account and gives the reader a small understanding of the beginning of Israeli society and the issues still faced today.

33torontoc
Apr 13, 2019, 11:40pm

29. Stealing the Mystic Lamb by Noah Charney I really like to read art history accounts and this one was a very satisfying book to read. Charney first describes the Ghent altarpiece by Jan Van Eyck in great detail. Having studied this work and actually having seen it in Ghent, I appreciated the concentrated descriptions and discussions about the symbolism and style of this work. I knew that one panel had been stolen in the 1930's but wasn't aware that there were many attempts ( both successful and not) to remove the panels from Belgium. The step by step story of how the altarpiece and other important paintings were stolen and hidden by the Nazis and the complicated way they were recovered was a very good account.

Film "Sunset by Laszlo Nemes. This Hungarian film was directed by the same film maker who directed " Son of Saul". This film was more puzzling. A young woman is seen trying on hats in an elegant store in 1913 Budapest. The viewer learns that she has come to apply for a job. The store had belonged to her parents but they were killed in a fire when she was very young. She had been placed in an orphanage and eventually moved to Trieste. The new owners refuse to hire her but she is very persistent - almost unnaturally so. The young woman finds out that she has a brother. She also learns about his participation in a terrible murder. She becomes more and more unhinged as she find out the truth about the store, and her brother's actions. In fact she doesn't seem to care about her own survival. Some members of the audience were as confused as I was. - we talked afterwards. but it was filmed beautifully.

34torontoc
Apr 22, 2019, 9:18am

30. Been Hoping We Might Meet Again The Letters of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Marshall McLuhan by Elaine Kahn
I really enjoyed this annotated compilation of the correspondence between two incredibly important figures in Canadian history. McLuhan has been almost forgotten. However his views and writing on the impact of technology, media and television on society are very prophetic as we read them today. He was writing in the 1970's yet his work is very modern in approach to what he calls the " global village". His correspondent, Pierre Elliott Trudeau was at first justice minister and then Prime Minister of Canada. The two men were practicing Roman Catholics and very involved in the change in society in the last half of the twentieth century. They did not agree on everything but were interested in maintaining a relationship where ideas and theory were debated through their letters.

31. The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman. Rachman writes about the life of one Pinch or Charles Bavinsky, son of painter ,Bear. Pinch was raised in Rome by his mother Natalie, an aspiring potter who lived with Bear. Eventually Bear moved back to the United States and had many relationships with other women. He somewhat supported Natalie but had a significant and ultimately damaging effect on his son. Pinch tried many careers- hoping at first to be a painter like his father, then an academic and finally an Italian teacher in London. Bear was a larger than life character and Pinch suffered in his own relationships as he tried to win his father's approval. How Pinch ,in his own way, works to help his half sisters and brothers before and after Bear's death provides the reader with a biting satire in the art world and its values.
This is ultimately a sad book on how a son's life can be altered by the actions of parents.

35torontoc
Apr 29, 2019, 8:51am

32. The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis I am always for looking books that might interest my great nieces and nephew. I picked this one up at a conference in the fall and finally got around to reading it-the intended gift receivers will visit in June. I liked the story about children with super science powers-one is a boy who is great at building innovative things but is not good at tests in school. I did think that the illustrations were kind of hyperactive but will have to ask the experts when they arrive in the summer.

36torontoc
May 4, 2019, 9:05pm

33.Rome A History in Seven Sackings by Matthew Kneale I liked the author's fiction and was looking forward to this history of Rome. Kneale concentrates on seven time periods. He describes not only the political landscape but also the social history of the city at seven points in time ending with the Nazi takeover of Rome. The power of the Pope and church, the role of civil rulers and the changing physical description of Rome play an important role in this history. It is an interesting history of the conflicts that shaped the city.

I saw two films at the Hot Docs Film Festival this weekend.
The first was
"Well-Groomed" was about the groomers of dogs who are part of a new group that- how shall I say-dye and clip dog's hair into fantasy compositions. There were poodles with hair shaped liked chickens and Alice in Wonderland collages.
the film was about a group of groomers who are deeply involved in the competitions for grooming. Quirky but fun although I couldn't believe the way that the dogs were accepting of the contact dying, combing, clipping and washing to achieve the desired effect. ( and the application of doggy rhinestones!)

37torontoc
May 4, 2019, 11:07pm


The second film that I saw was
" Marek Edelman...and There Was Love in the Ghetto" Marek was one of the last survivors of the Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto. He stayed in Poland, became a cardiologist and was active in politics. This film shows an interview that he gave just before he died in 2009. In these interviews he tells stories about people in the ghetto who were in love and the tragedy of their brief lives. The stories were dramatized and the film was very powerful.

38torontoc
May 8, 2019, 8:23am

34. The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas I was looking forward to reading this book as I had read non-fiction accounts of the geniza in Ibn or Ben Ezra synagogue in Cairo. ( the geniza was a storage room that held over 300,000 Jewish texts that could not be destroyed- saved-they are now at the University of Cambridge, England) This fictional account was disappointing. There were three stories told- a modern day man searching for information about his father in Cairo, a man who was one of first watchmen of the synagogue, and the two Victorian women who were mainly responsible for the finding and transport of the manuscripts to England. On to the next!

39torontoc
May 11, 2019, 12:23pm

35. Immigrant City by David Bezmozgis This book of short stories involve for the most part Jewish Russian and Latvian immigrants to North America- and specifically to my home city Toronto. The author 's first book of short stories also chronicled the lives of recent immigrants to the city. He then wrote two novels but I am glad that Bezmozgis returned to the short story format. Each vignette is very poignant with characters who examine their lives and the effect of their immigrant background experience. This is a very good book and a great read for me.

40torontoc
May 13, 2019, 10:46am

36. The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff. I read this book because my book club will be discussing it at the end of the month. There is a reviewer booked so the presentation might be interesting. I found the story-sigh- not to my taste. I had a discussion with one of my friends who is a daughter of Holocaust survivor parents. She is very angry about writers who did not have a direct connection with the terrible history and who write fiction about this time period. Sometime these new " fictional histories" use real events and seem to trivialize the time period. This book does that for me. It is the story of two women- one a young woman cast out by her Dutch family for having a baby out of wedlock and the other a former trapeze artist who has to go back to perform after being forced out of a marriage in Germany. Both women work in a shabby circus that is travelling from Germany to occupied France during the war. Some readers will like this book as the language is easy to follow and the story is a heartbreaker. Me, I have read memoirs and histories that mean more to me. However, I do like the mysteries and historical fiction that combine both history and believable fiction. I am thinking of the work of David Downing and Alan Furst.

41torontoc
May 14, 2019, 3:33pm

37. Swarm of Bees by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Rilla Alexander. This is an ER book ( for some reason the majority of ER books for Canada seem to be children's literature) and I thought that it would be a good read for my young great nephew. However, the story is really for the under 5 years old crowd. The illustrations are quite fun as the reader sees a swarm of bees travelling through a variety of situations and people. The narration is simple and to the point. The nice thing about this story is that there is a lesson to be learned about anger and when to stop. I think that the story and bright design will appeal to a young reader( or to a parent who will read to a child).

42torontoc
May 15, 2019, 9:01pm

38. You're All Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld Sometimes you need to read something funny but clever and this book hit the spot. Tom Gauld has a wicked sense of humour as he skewers literature, religion and more. The cartoons are well drawn and clever. And this book was just what I needed. Thank you to LT readers who have featured Gauld's work on their threads and this is how I found out about him!

43torontoc
May 17, 2019, 7:16pm

39. Motherhood by Sheila Heti This novel reads like a memoir- in fact I have to remind myself after reading some very intense passages that is not the author's personal story but you wonder.... The narrator is deciding whether she will have a baby or children for that matter. She has a husband who already has a daughter by a previous relationship. The choice is up to the narrator who wrestles with the idea of nurturing another being versus what she feels would change in her life. She is a writer and solitude is important to her. As well, she sees the changes in life that friends have made when they have a baby. The arguments for and against are measured, thought out and finally decided upon. In this journey, the narrator relates the story of her grandmother and mother and the decisions that they had to make. The writing is excellent although I thought that the arguments went on a little too long for me.

40. They Left Us Everything by Plum Johnson This is a memoir about the author and her family. After her mother dies, Plum Johnson and her brothers have to declutter the very big house that the family owned in Oakville, Ontario. Plum decided to live in the house in order to catalogue the valuable possessions and throw out the mass of other stuff collected over the years by her mother and father. The book relates the very interesting histories of her parents. Her father lived in Portugal, escaped from the Japanese during World War Two and worked in Hong Kong and Singapore before coming with his family to Canada. Plum Johnson's mother was a Southern Belle who went to college in the north, and worked for the American Red Cross in England. The two met and decided to marry fairly quickly. Some of the parent's habits in raising Plum and her brothers would seem too harsh to a modern audience. This book is the author's way of dealing with the relationship she had with her mother and coming to terms with a resolution. A really good book to read.

44torontoc
May 23, 2019, 3:13pm

41. Conviction by Julia Dahl I was disappointed in the author's third novel featuring reporter and crime solver Rebekah Roberts. The first two books had the Orthodox Jewish community as one of the main themes and Rebekah's relationship to her mother. This mystery features a crime committed 20 years earlier and the miscarriage of justice. The reader hears about the present and the past-although the person who committed the crime seems like a caricature.I hope the next novel is better.

45torontoc
Edited: Jun 9, 2019, 12:40pm

42. The Map of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History of How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found by Violet Moller. I enjoyed reading this careful accounting of how certain texts written by classical scholars -Euclid in mathematics, Ptolemy in astronomy, and Galen in medicine-were saved, translated and survived the havoc of kingdoms destroyed from 500 AD to 1500 AD. The book is divided into chapters on the cities that were important centres of knowledge and study. The heroes of this history are the translators scribes( the book has to be written out by hand onto scrolls)and builders of important libraries. The saviours of these books of knowledge were from Alexandria, Baghdad, Cordoba. Toledo, Salerno, Palermo and Venice. The transmitters of this material were Muslim and Christian and Jewish.
This book was supposed to be a gift for my brother in the US. He had been struggling with the return of cancer for the past few years. Sadly he died at the end of May. We shared a love of reading. We liked the works of China Mieville, Philip Kerr and C.J. Sansom. We suggested books to each other. He was a leading environmentalist and a believer in interfaith dialogue. He was a kind of Renaissance man- with interests in religion, science fiction, science, Japanese Manga, magic( he was a magician as well), and history. He was a member of Al Gore's Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps. And he was once invited to speak at a international interfaith conference on the environment held in Tehran in 2005. He did go and had some interesting stories to tell afterwards.He didn't publish a book but had written many chapters for anthologies on the environment and articles for publications.
He would have really liked this book.

46torontoc
Jun 11, 2019, 6:31pm

43. Toronto Then and Now by Doug Taylor I read this book for the non-fiction challenge in June- read a book that tells the story in visuals. This book shows pairs of photos of Toronto landmarks with an abbreviated history of the buildings. Many of the places were familiar to me. It was nice to see the differences and some similarities. The original use of the buildings have changed over the years. Some have become part of the Toronto Museum system.

44. Albert's Quiet Quest I could have used this children's book( from ER) for the non-fiction challenge as well. Albert is a young boy who wants to find a place to read. His friends keep on coming by to ask him for help or to take part in their activities. His quiet reading spot becomes noisier and noisier until Albert raises his voice to shush everybody. He apologizes and his friends find their books to show him that they can appreciate both reading and the activities that they were doing. The story is told in illustrations and very few word. The author also illustrated this lovely book for young people.

47torontoc
Jun 17, 2019, 10:12pm

45. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld ( touchstones are not working well tonight) I reread this book for my bookclub meeting. I think that they will like it. This is a modern day interpretation of Pride and Prejudice The author does a credible updating but there are a few awkward " I think that I have to put this character in although he/she doesn't really have much to do in the modern day plot line". The three younger Bennet sisters are the best transfers in personality.And I enjoyed the read.

48jfetting
Jun 18, 2019, 5:38pm

>45 torontoc: I am so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a very interesting person.

49torontoc
Jun 21, 2019, 9:34pm

>48 jfetting: thank you- he was!

46. The Snooty Bookshop by Tom Gauld This was just a fun read of Gauld's work on literary themes. I enjoyed them all and needed a humorous break.

50torontoc
Edited: Jun 23, 2019, 4:29pm

47. The Judge Hunter by Christopher Buckley This historical fiction novel was not as funny as the last one that I read by Buckley but I certainly learned a lot. The story uses real people from the past but... some of the events are definitely fiction. Samuel Pepys ( of the famous diary) finds a way to get rid of his free-loading brother-in-law, Balty de St. Michel. Balty is sent to the British colonies to find the two judges who signed the death warrant for the late Charles I. He bungles his way through Puritan strongholds, rival governors,New Amsterdam and more with the help of the spy Huncks. He is almost killed a number of times. The background story of the colonies during the reign of Charles ll is really interesting.The book was good but is not really a comedy. Some of the true facts about this time were really horrible.

51torontoc
Jun 27, 2019, 10:06am

48. The Victorian and The Romantic a memoir, a love story, and a friendship across time by Nell Stevens This is a lovely book. The author has constructed a comparison between the life of novelist Elizabeth Gaskell and her friendship with Charles Eliot Norton and her own relationship with Max-an American writer.In London, Stevens was working towards her Phd in London on artistic and literary circles in Rome in the nineteenth century focusing on Gaskell. At the same time she was obsessed with her relationship with Max who was living in Paris. The book chronicles her struggle to reconcile her love with Max and her work. Stevens also writes about Gaskell's attraction to Norton when she travels with her daughters to stay in Rome. The chapters alternate with the author writing about Gaskell's work and personal problems and the memoir about Stevens and her own proccupations. Well written, the book offers an interesting comparison of love gained and lost in two different time periods.

52torontoc
Jun 28, 2019, 8:37pm

49. Douglas by Randy Cecil. This is an Early Reviewers Advanced reading copy of a story about the adventures of a mouse who has been named Douglas after the actor Douglas Fairbanks. However , Douglas is a girl mouse who was named for her feats of acrobatics by a little girl named Iris. Iris inadvertently takes Douglas home with her after viewing a film at the movie theatre. Douglas finds that she has to escape from not one but many cats who follow her every move as she tries to get back to the movie theatre. The illustrations are all done in monochrome greys. This story is for children ages 5-8. I think that early readers will enjoy the exploits of the mouse and her daring escapes.

53torontoc
Jul 4, 2019, 1:42pm

50. An Odyssey A Father, A Son, and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn The author teaches at Bard College and had his eighty-one year old father sit in on his spring seminar. This memoir is about his father's life, the seminar,(a close reading of the Odyssey) the Greek cruise that followed the Odyssey story that the father and son took , and the relationship of father and son. In fact I think this book and memoir took on the structure of the Odyssey as the reader and narrator circle around the story. I learned a lot about the Odyssey as well as the strained relationship of father and son. Mendelsohn discovers new truths about his father and his early life. He relates his own issues while describing the events in both his father's and his own life that shaped their actions. This is a wonderful tribute to Mendelsohn's father and mother in addition to being a great seminar on the Odyssey.

54torontoc
Jul 6, 2019, 12:18pm

51.A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert The author sets this novel in the Ukraine, 1941. She follows a number of people who are impacted by the invasion of the Nazis. Pohl is a German engineer tasked with building a road in the difficult terrain of a small town. He has misgivings about the Nazis and has tried to shield himself from the army. Two small Jewish boys run away from their home as their family prepares to pack and follow German commands. A young teenager, Yasia tries to find her sweetheart, Myko who has joined the Ukrainian police force working with the German army. Each person faces decisions that will change their future. This story is well written. I have to think about my thoughts about new stories based on the Holocaust. I think that this one- with the theme of actions taken based on moral ideals works so well. Maybe other books that I was not happy about were just badly written.

55torontoc
Edited: Jul 9, 2019, 11:29pm

52. The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky. The author was born in Russia but moved to Germany when she was a teenager. This book started off promisingly. The narrator, Rosa, is always scheming to better the life of her daughter, Sulfia, and later her granddaughter Aminat. Rosa pressures Sulfia into marriages which don't work out, and later into an almost relationship in order to move the family to Germany. Nothing really works out for Sulfia although Aminat changes her own life in a way that Rosa could not have planned. The beginning of this novel was interesting and sometimes funny. The story then became tiresome to me and I cannot recommend it.

56torontoc
Jul 11, 2019, 11:14pm

53. The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson This adventure novel is a perfect summer read. The action is fast and the premise intriguing. The President of the United States, Jon Duncan, is facing possible impeachment hearings. At the same time he is orchestrating a response to a possible attack on all internet and computer systems that will cripple the US and possibly the rest of the Western world. The reader sees the opponents who are staging this attack and the allies that are helping to thwart it. There are surprising twists to the plot and there is tension as the countdown to the attack and assassination attempts bring the US to a potential shutdown. This is a good story.

57torontoc
Jul 15, 2019, 10:53pm

54. Memories of the Future by Siri Hustvedt What a pleasure it is to read the wonderful prose of Siri Hustvedt! This novel is a multi layered account. An older writer recalls her first year living in New York City in 1978. Identified by her initials, S.R. or her nickname " Minnesota", the young woman moves to New York for a year of writing and reading before she takes up graduate studies. The older S.R. discovers her diary of that first year and the reader has the benefit of both the young woman's account as well as her older self recalling what she remembers. The diary is about S.R.'s life and her relationship with her next door neighbour ,Lucy Brite. Lucy seems to talk to her self or others about a tortured past with a dead daughter falling from a window to her death. S.R. listens through the walls to Lucy who talks incessantly through out the night. S.R. also writes a mystery novel that the reader is able to read although real life trauma and rescue lead to S.R.'s abandonment of her mystery characters. This is a story about maturing and lessons learned through experience. A great read.

58torontoc
Jul 17, 2019, 8:54am

55. The Jewish Journey Haggadah by Adena Berkowitz The Jewish holiday of Passover is centred on the home and family. Beginning with the dinner known as a "Seder" ( or "order")families recite the story of how the Jewish people were enslaved in Egypt and how Moses brought them out of bondage. Many families, like the author, use or display many different Haggadahs ( a "how to "conduct the seder with passages, prayers and directions) My late brother used to put out his collection of Haggadahs- modern versions, facsimiles of ancient documents and one family heirloom belonging to his wife. I,too, collect Haggadahs. I have a copy of the Sarajevo Haggadah and a modern update that features the history of Jews in Canada in English, French and Hebrew. This new Haggadah has some very interesting additions to the traditional text that I really appreciate. The author relates the history of many of the passages and explains how and when they were incorporated into the Haggadah over time. There are interesting reflections that can be discussed at the Seder table. Discussion and debate are really an important part of the Seder meal. There are some suggestions of activities for children-who have an important role to play at the Seder as they ask what we would call the " trigger questions" that lead to the recital and discussion of the story of the Exodus from Egypt. There are some new songs added at the back of the book( a little cheesy but would appeal to young children) and a section on recipes. I did enjoy the read and think that for me -the parts that I liked the best were the sections on the history of the prayers and passages.

59torontoc
Jul 18, 2019, 10:32am

56. Cleaving A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession by Julie Powell. This can be an off-putting book. The author takes up butchering- she worked as an intern in a butcher shop in a small town in New York State. There are many descriptions of the "how " to take apart different sections of the animals that we eat. However, this memoir is also a story of the author's relationships with her husband, Eric, and her lover know as "D". Although she lives with her husband in New York City, ( he also had an affair ), Powell obsesses over "D" as well as determining to master the art of butchering. After six months at the butcher shop, Powell takes overseas trips to Argentina, the Ukraine, and Tanzania . She wants to learn as much as possible about meat and local customs about meat. The personality of the author seems very different in this book than her previous memoir Julie and Julia. In this book she is tougher and not as sweet ( and certainly not like the portrayal in the film). So it is interesting but her relationship issues are not resolved ( well it is a memoir and not a novel).

60torontoc
Jul 22, 2019, 10:05pm

57. Solitaire by Jane Thynne This novel is part of a series on the life of Clara Vine, an actress and spy living and working in Berlin. This story takes place in 1940. Clara is half German and half British. She has infiltrated the highest levels of Nazi society for the British Secret Service in the past. In this novel Clara has not heard from the British but was asked by Nazis to spy on a German entertainer in Paris.The story seems to move slowly in the beginning of the book but certainly speeds up in the last half to include encounters with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Ian Fleming. I did like this book but it was not as well constructed as previous books in the series.

61torontoc
Jul 27, 2019, 11:18am

58. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead I liked this novel very much. I was affected by Elwood- the main character who tries to rise above adversity and injustice , remembering the words of Dr. Martin Luther King. Elwood, through no fault of his own, is thrown into a reform school in Florida. The Nickel Academy is modelled after the real Dozier School for Boys. The corruption and violence are described as Elwood tries to lead a good life and make plans for the future. His friend, Turner is more realistic about the situation and understands where idealism can lead to trouble in a poisoned place like the Nickel School. The writing is affecting and the surprise twist at the end is - I am going to say satisfying - and perhaps give some hope to the choices that the boys from this institution made. This story is about tragedy and the lost souls who had the misfortune to be placed at Nickel and places like it.

62torontoc
Jul 30, 2019, 11:07pm

59. The New Girl by Daniel Silva Sigh! I read the latest in the spy series by the author( I heard him speak last year- he has a contract to write one book a year) and there are a lot of killings, mayhem and sabotage. I liked earlier novels by Silva but this one -while a good read- is not as good as previous books in the series. The plot includes current incidents but rationally -some of the events in the story seem a little forced to me.

63torontoc
Aug 5, 2019, 2:34pm

60. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. Summer reading for me means mysteries. And hopefully a book from my too large book towers. I hadn't read any of this author's work before today. His mystery story is well written- the reveal of
" who killed the victim" is a bit of a surprise but plausible. Three boys, Sean, Jimmy and Dave survive a terrible event although one of the boys- Dave- does go missing but escapes.. They go their separate ways as adults. A terrible tragedy leads to their reuniting. Sean has become a policeman and he is trying to solve the murder. Jimmy tries to get through the loss of a loved one. And Dave is married to a cousin of Jimmy's wife. The reader learns about clues that could lead to the killer. The story is well paced . I thought that the novel was well written with good character revelations.

64torontoc
Aug 12, 2019, 8:52pm

61. Happiness by Aminatta Forna This is a beautiful novel. The writing is so good and the story gives the reader hope. Attila is a psychiatrist from Ghana who travels all over the world to consult on trauma. He is in London where he will give a keynote speech at a conference. Jean is an American , living in London where she researches the habits of foxes. Jean and Attila meet and work together to find a runaway boy-the son of Attila's niece. They engage with Jean's network of hotel doormen, traffic wardens, and street sweepers who help find the boy. Jean uses her network to track the city's foxes. At the same time Attila is concerned with a former colleague and lover, Rosie, who has Alzheimer's disease and lives in a residence. There are a number of plots that " seem to twist together" as the readers learns the backstory of both Attila and Jean. Attila realizes that to live a good life involves more than the pursuit of happiness.

65torontoc
Edited: Aug 19, 2019, 10:59am

62. The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland I received this ARC from the publisher ( one of the few times I entered a draw and was lucky) The book, however, is rather sad. The story is about the extended family of Annette Feldman and their time on a cruise. Annette wants to celebrate her 70th birthday with her daughter and son and their families. She also wants her husband, David, to have a good time as he has cancer( although the children don't know). The reader learns about daughter Elise and her husband Mitch, their teenage children , Rachel and Darius and son Freddy and his girlfriend Natasha. Of course during the cruise everyone's secrets are revealed, and some roles are reversed. I think that some parts of the story are meant to be funny but , no, they are not. Everyone seems to solve their problems at the end of the cruise and book. I was disappointed.

66torontoc
Aug 19, 2019, 10:59am

63. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai This is a wonderful and very touching novel about the beginning of the AIDS crisis and the effect on friends and relationships. There are two connecting stories told in alternate chapters. In 1985, Yale is struggling with his relationship with Charlie and his friends who are getting sick. His friend Nico dies and this sets off an number of events that impact on Yale. He is also working hard at his job at a university gallery. Yale is trying to bring in a collection of 1920 's drawings and paintings to the gallery. They are the property of Nora -the great aunt of Nico and his sister, Fiona. The second story takes place in 2015 where Fiona travels to Paris in search of her estranged daughter, Claire, and grand daughter. She stays with a photographer, Richard who had documented the lives of her brother and his friends many years before. The stories of love, loss and a lot of betrayals combine with the damage that the AIDS epidemic had on Claire, Yale and their friends. This is a very sad but beautifully told story.

67wookiebender
Aug 20, 2019, 3:28am

I'm sorry to hear about your brother. (And apologies for only just catching up on your thread!)

68torontoc
Aug 20, 2019, 9:22pm

69torontoc
Aug 23, 2019, 9:41pm

64. A Table for One Under the Light of Jerusalem by Aharon Appelfeld This memoir has so many interesting passages that reveal the growth of the author. Appelfeld's history and writing style as well as his influences of place and person are covered as he details the cafes he frequented. Appelfeld struggled with a new language and his personal history of Holocaust survival as a young boy. The reader learns about Appelfeld's past and his growth as a writer as he uses the various cafes in Jerusalem as his writing office or laboratory. This memoir is brief and so well-written,It contains so many truths about human nature that it is a book that I will return to again.

I am about to pick my films for the Toronto International Film Festival- this year the festival decided not to publish a paper schedule and of course the computer systems failed. In addition- the schedule had the wrong times for the films so it took some time to figure out what I want to see. Hmm...

70torontoc
Aug 25, 2019, 8:26am

65. Salt Fat Acid Heat Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat This is a very different cookbook than most. The author discusses the role that salt, fat ( think olive oil and butter) acid and heat play in cooking. Nosrat gives clear explanations of the chemical reaction that these elements play in the change in vegetables, fruit, grains, and meat when cooked or baked. In addition, she provides cooking lessons in cooking techniques and gives the reader a wide variety of recipes to try. I learned a lot and have bookmarked several of the recipes for use.

71torontoc
Aug 31, 2019, 11:23pm

66. Alis The Aviator by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail and illustrated by Kalpna Patel This illustrated alphabet book ( and an ER book for me) for children has three parts. The first part is an alphabet book based on historic ( with an emphasis on Canadian) airplanes built and flown in Canada, Britain and the United States. The planes are illustrated in cut paper and then photographed. The pilot in the alphabet section is a young woman. The second part of the book introduces the reader to the pilot-Dr. Alis Kennedy. Dr. Kennedy is the first Indigenous woman to get her pilot's licence in Canada. She has had careers that range from probation and parole officer, military service in the Royal Canadian Air Force to distinguished volunteer work. The third part of the book is devoted to an illustrate glossary of the many different airplanes illustrated in the alphabet section. This book is directed to the young person who has some reading skills and appreciates good illustrations. The information is very interesting and the format is very attractive.

72torontoc
Sep 4, 2019, 4:21pm

67. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld The author has taken some incidents from the lives of George and Laura Bush and created this fictional account of the life of the wife of a president. Alice Lindgren comes from a modest background in
Wisconsin. Her early life does involves some dramatic events- she has an automobile accident that kills a boy in her senior high school class. A brief traumatic involvement with the boy's brother leads to more trouble. Afterwards Alice becomes a school librarian and leads a quiet life for many years until she meets Charlie Blackwell -the charismatic son of a wealthy family that is prominent in Republican Party circles. Alice's marriage to Charlie means that she makes many decisions that seem to go against her own private liberal opinions. She thinks about her private beliefs and the public stands that Charlie and his family make. The book delves into Alice's thoughts about the life she leads and the compromises that she has made. This is a very interesting novel and I enjoyed the read.

73torontoc
Sep 5, 2019, 10:22pm

First film of the film Festival

Our Lady of the Nile
directed by Atiq Rahimi
France/Belgium/Rwanda

This film is adapted from a book by Scholastigue Mukasonga that was published in 2012. The story traces the lives of some young Rwandan girls who are at a Catholic boarding school in Rwanda. The school's mission is to educate the elite of the country. However although the book is set in 1973, events at the school foreshadow the genocide of 1994. There is tension between some Hutu and Tutsi girls.The school only accepts a small percentage of Tutsi girls. The story focuses on a Tutsi girl who wants to know more about her ancestors. Another is determined to get rid of the Tutsi girls that she does not like. And there is a young who struggles with identity being half Hutu. The story is empathetically directed by Atik Rahimi- this is his third film and the first that he has not adapted from his own novels. ( Atik Rahimi is from Afghanistan, and received political asylum in France. It is a beautiful film.

74torontoc
Sep 6, 2019, 12:39pm

68. The Acts of My Mother by Andras Forgach This book is a memoir about the author's mother and father. Their history is very complicated. Marcel Forgach and his wife Bruria had Hungarian parents but Bruria's parents moved to Israel when it was Palestine and under British rule. Marcel's parents died in the Holocaust and he was lucky to get out and also go to Palestine. They were members of the Communist party and eventually moved back to Hungary although Bruria had to learn the language. Marcel became a journalist but also was paranoid and had to be sent to a hospital that dealt with mental illness. When he was working, Marcel was an agent reporting to the secret police. When he became incapacitated, his wife took over. Here is where the book becomes interesting and a little confusing. The author doesn't use a linear plot and throughout the book there are time shifts as the reader finally figures out the story. Forgach discovers his mother's activities later in life after both parents have died. The secret activities involve Mrs. Forgach or to use her secret name Mrs. Papai- making many trips to Israel to see her parents and theoretically trying to recruit people to spy for Hungary. I wondered who was tricking whom- Mrs. Papi didn't recruit anyone. She did have very strong anti-Zionist opinions and did report to the government on her relatives in Hungary and abroad. She also reported on her children. The author has a deep love for his parents and in this book tries to reconcile their actions and his feelings for them. There are many excerpts from the government reports and Forgach use poetry to talk bout his parents in one section.
Very interesting study.

75torontoc
Sep 6, 2019, 10:20pm

The Personal History of David Copperfield
directed by Armando Iannucci
United Kingdom

At the end of the film there was a Q &A with the director and film stars. Iannucci said that with all that is going on in the world today, this film's was to bring joy. And it really did. There is a wonderful cast that is colour-blind. Dev Patel was a terrific David Copperfield. The story of Davi'ds early childhood and the hardships that he endured give way to success that is due to friendships that overcome bad decisions and foolish acts. The visual effects are surprising. And I must say-what a cast! Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi, Rosalind Eleazar and more. The staging and vision bring this story to the 21st century. Great film!

76torontoc
Sep 7, 2019, 11:34am

Red Fields
Directed by Keren Yedaya
Israel/Luxembourg/Germany

Mami is a young woman living in a desolate community in Israel. She marries her sweetheart , Nissim who then has to return to his army service. When Nissim is traumatically injured, Mami has to think about a way of supporting them. Here is where the film becomes very surreal. Nasty big city corruption, the plight of Palestinian workers, the divide between the establishment and the poor, and the conflict between Israelis of Sephardic ( middle Eastern or North African) and Ashkenaz ( eastern European) backgrounds are the main focus. And this film is a musical- every word is sung by musicians who play all the roles in this film. The director updated a rock opera performed in Israel in the 1980s and commissioned new music to reflect the present day. Does it work? I am still thinking about that.

77torontoc
Sep 8, 2019, 9:29am

yesterday- two films that had great acting but ( not really a spoiler) left the viewer to figure what the next step in the plot would be.

Son-Mother
directed by Mahnaz Mohammadi
Iran/Czech Republic

This story is told from two points of view. First the mother and then the son. Leila is a widow working at a failing factory. She has two children-a little girl and a 12 year old son, Amir. A bus driver has proposed to her but one of the conditions of marriage is that she cannot have her son living with the family as the driver has a daughter who is about the same age. As the driver explains, he would not have any trouble with Amir living with them, but others would condemn them for this.
Leila is conflicted but when she is fired from her job and her daughter becomes sick. She looks for a solution. An old woman friend convinces Laila to place her son in the school where the woman works. However, the family will have to lie as the school is for students who are deaf. At this point the film focuses on the son who seems like an ordinary boy. The pain on his face as he tries to take part in the masquerade is heartbreaking. The viewer sees how this custom will destroy the future for Amir. This is a very sad story. The director ( who had just flown in from Iran) had done extensive documentary work in Iran. The film had gone through the inspection system of the Iran government. But I believe that the writer of the script and co-producer, Mohammud Rasoulof cannot leave the Iran now.
https://www.screendaily.com/news/iranian-director-mohammad-rasoulof-sentenced-to...

Sound of Metal
Directed by Darius Marder
USA

O.K. This was a free film from TIFF for members and I am one. The story is about a drummer who loses his hearing. He has been traveling with his girlfriend to various cities for performances but it is a precarious living. The sounds in the film imitate what the drummer-Ruben- would have experienced. ( Riz Ahmed gives a great performance) Eventually Ruben ends up in a community for deaf people and one that also deals with those who have been addicts. He rebels against some of the classes where teaching is done to increase communication using sign language. In fact this community creates a deaf culture where sign language is the only way to talk. Eventually he does learn and does fit into this society. However, he still wants to hear and does have the operation to give him back kind of hearing. Some parts of the plot are not realistic- where does he get the money to pay for the surgery and later take an expensive flight- but Ruben's discovery of what is important to him works. The film is till too long and could use some editing

78torontoc
Sep 9, 2019, 9:02pm

Africa
Directed by Oren Gerner
Israel

This was a lovely " quiet " film. The director's parents were the lead actors. The story focused on Meir, an older man who find himself at loose ends when he is no longer needed to work on the annual village event that he has organized in the past. His children have lives of their own and his physical condition is not as good as it was. He was always a busy person with a workshop that was always in use. He decides to build a bed for his grand son in order to keep himself occupied when his wife is busy with her activities. The title refers to a trip to Meir and his wife took to Namibia. Some of the events filmed did involve Oren Gerner's parents. It is a tribute from son to his parents.

Tammy's Always Dying
Directed by Amy Jo Johnson
Canada

Kathy is a bar maid living in Hamilton( Ontario) who has always rescued her mother Tammy. Tammy is an alcoholic and regularly tries to kill herself by jumping off a bridge. Kathy is always there to stop her. Kathy is treated very badly by Tammy with insults and more. Kathy's life seems almost as chaotic as her mother's. Her one relief is the friendship of her boss and friend Doug who also helps Tammy. Tammy is played so well by Felicity Huffman. There is a crisis and Kathy tries to change her life by making some choices that do not involve her mother. This is a well told story with great acting.

79torontoc
Sep 10, 2019, 11:35am

JoJo Rabbit
Directed by Taika Waititi
USA

Jojo Betzler is a 10 year old living in Nazi Germany. He is an enthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth although he doesn't have any co-ordination. ( he injures himself throwing a grenade that backfires) He also has an imaginary friend who cheers him on-that friend is a version of Hitler.( play by Waititi) So starts this satire that has elements of Monty Python and the violence of war. Jojo is confused when he discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their house. At this point Jojo has to confront his own prejudices. The combination of satire and the sobering violence of war make this film amazing. At the Q and A , Waititi was asked why he made this film. He said that there were statistics that showed that adisturbing percentage of American youth did not know what Auschwitz was. He mentioned that his grandfather fought in World War Two and that his mother's family were Russian Jews who ended up in New Zealand. He said that he used satire to bring the threat of Fascism to the public's attention.

80torontoc
Sep 12, 2019, 9:38am

The Capote Tapes
directed by Ebs Burnough
United Kingdom

American director Burnough was able to access tapes made by George Plimpton about Truman Capote for this documentary. Plimpton interviewed many of the friends and society ladies that Capote cultivated. The story of Capote's rise to fame as a writer and later exile from his society friends is told skillfully by the director. There are many insightful interviews- Kate Harrington was Capote's assistant. The story of Capote's unfinished book-Answered Prayers- shows how Capote used his society connections to write a devastating account that theoretically was fiction. However many of the people who Capote befriended saw their stories in the three published chapters. A very good documentary.

81haydninvienna
Sep 12, 2019, 11:20am

>80 torontoc: You led me to read Capote's Wikipedia biography. Would anybody dare to write this as fiction?

82torontoc
Sep 13, 2019, 8:13pm

>81 haydninvienna: I know- I end up buying books based on the stories of the films that I see- I found the book that the first film that I saw- Our Lady of the Nile - was based on.

Two films that have art as their focus but very different- both star Claes Bang.

The Burnt Orange Heresy
Directed by Giuseppe Capotondi
USA/ United Kingdom

This is supposed to have film noir aspects. Well, I found that plot to be not so clever. James Figueras is an art historian who gets by by giving lectures to tourists in Italy. He meets a mysterious American woman who accompanies him to a villa on Lake Como owned by art collector Joseph Cassidy. ( played with relish by Mick Jaggar) Cassidy wants James to procure ( aka steal) a painting by recluse painter Jerome Debney ( played with fun by Donald Sutherland) Debney is noted for not exhibiting for many years and also for the destruction of his two studios. He is living on the property owned by Cassidy. Well, the clues are weak and there is much destruction. The film is good for seeing the acting skills of Jaggar and of course, Sutherland.

Lyrebird
Directed by Dan Friedkin
USA

This film is based on a true story and real people. As one audience member said to me- this is a good film -not a great one. Joseph Piller is a Dutchman and Jewish who had fought with the Dutch resistance during the Second World War. Afterwards he was attached to the Canadian army and tasked with hunting for collaborators who had stolen art. He focused on Han van Meegeren who had sold a Vermeer to Hermann Goring. Van Meegeren is a dandy who seemed to have profited from his many sales to the Nazis. His defence was that the paintings were all fakes. The films shows the conflict between the Western allies in Holland and the Dutch government. Piller tries to prove that Van Meegeren was really a master forger before the Dutch government executes him. Guy Pearce plays Van Meegeren as a vain and sly person with many secrets. Claus Bang is the solid investigator trying to find the truth. A gripping film( Van Meegeren was found innocent but died soon after the trail. The film was interesting in that the audiences saw how the forgeries duped many experts.

A Bump Along the Way
Directed by Shelly Love
United Kingdom

This story takes place in Derry, Northern Ireland. Pamela is a single mother who likes a good time. She hooks up with a man 20 years younger than her the night of her 44th birthday. As a result she finds herself pregnant. Her daughter Allegra is a fairly straight laced teenager who is vegan and focused on her schoolwork and art. Allegra is horrified that her mother is pregnant. A reversal takes place. Pamela is more attentive to better diet and behaviours and Allegra finds new friends at school and tries to be a party girl. A few mishaps lead both mother and daughter to a better understanding of each other and a meeting in the middle for how they will live happily. A very nice film!

83torontoc
Sep 14, 2019, 7:15pm

The Two Popes
Directed by Fernando Meirelles
USA/United Kingdom/Italy/Argentina

It was so good to watch two excellent actors- Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Bergoglio and Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict. The film concentrates on the dialogue between the two men as Bergoglio wants to resign as cardinal and Benedict is thinking about giving his role as pope. Benedict is the more conservative and Bergoglio believes in a more liberal church. The Argentinian's history is described more than that of Benedict. Bergoglio made some bad choices during the so-called " Dirty War" in Argentina. He describes his anguish at the fate of former friends and priests. And the dialogue! The two men spoke in English, Latin, Italian and Spanish. see this one.

Harriet
Directed by Kasi Lemmons
USA

This is a biography of the life of Harriet Tubman. Cynthia Erivo is terrific as Harriet Tubman. Tubman only got her name after she escaped from the farm that she worked on as a slave and walked 100 miles north to Philadelphia. The story does have some moments that are more fiction than fact. However the majority of Harriet Tubman's accomplishments are true- the number of slaves that she freed and took north, her role in the Underground Railroad, her travels to take Blacks to Canada after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed by the US Congress, her role in the Civil War as a leader and more. Erivo is abled assisted by the fine acting of Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monae.

84torontoc
Sep 15, 2019, 8:24pm

69. All Things Consoled A Daughter's Memoir by Elizabeth Hay Elizabeth Hay is a Canadian author who has written many fine novels.( She has won the Giller Prize.) Here she writes about her relationship with her very aging parents and recalls some troubling early memories. The time periods shift between their home in London, Ontario and their residence in Ottawa at a seniors' complex. Her father, Gordon, was a teacher and later a superintendent. Her mother discovered painting and was very adept at her work. However, as one of five children, Hay's memories are sometimes very grim with her father's terrible temper, her mother's accommodations to him as well as some eccentricities towards saving food. Hay also seems to feel that her own accomplishments are not recognized. (When her father packs up books to take with to Ottawa he leaves out Hay's set of personally inscribed novels.) As Hay and her husband are the prime caregivers to her parents in Ottawa, she learns how to work with them as the weakness of old age, health and memory loss contribute to their decline. Hay also recognizes the strength of her parents love for each other and their children. This is a very moving memoir.

And last films today.

Radioactive
Directed by Marjane Satrapi
United Kingdom

This is a very different biography of Marie Curie. Rosamund Pike plays her as a very difficult woman to deal with- she is headstrong and totally devoted to her science. She does meet and marry Pierre Curie and the two of them discover Polonium and Radium. The film uses animation to explain radioactivity. This story was taken from a graphic novel by Lauren Redniss. There are many scenes of the modern world that show what radioactivity led to in terms of destruction.
This is a very feminist version of Marie Curie's life- the story concentrates on her struggle to be recognized and to get the financial support that she needed for her work.

Greed
Directed by Michael Winterbottom
United Kingdom

This is a satire that does a great job of explaining how very rich and immoral businessmen can obtain great wealth for themselves while driving companies into bankruptcy. I like watching the films of this director. Steve Coogan stars as a very rich ( or super rich) businessman, Richard McCreadie, who is planning his sixtieth birthday party on the island of Mykonos. He has hired a writer to create a biography and the viewer sees how McCreadie exploits small factories in India and Sri Lanka for his clothing empire. The big birthday party is off to a rocky start as Syrian refugees are camping on the public beach near his hotel , the fake Roman arena is nowhere near completion and the lion that is supposed to be part of the event is too tired to work. His ex-wife, mother, children and assistants have their own issues. This film is funny but does pack a punch in explaining how the very rich get their wealth by exploiting the very poor.

Well- 16 films in 10 days

The winner of the People's Choice Award for the Festival is Jojo Rabbit.

85torontoc
Sep 19, 2019, 9:30pm

70. Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga I had to get the book after I saw the film at the film festival. The plots are similar although the book describes the visit to the school of the Queen of Belgium. The book was translated from the French and has the same evocative feeling that I got from seeing the film.

86torontoc
Sep 21, 2019, 5:06pm

71. Frederick H. Varley by Peter Varley I decided to read some of the art books that I own. Frederick Varley was a member of the Group of Seven but did go his own way for the majority of his career. Although he painted some wonderful landscapes, today he is known mainly for his portraits.This book not only shows photos of his paintings but has three accounts of his life- by his son Peter, art historian Joyce Zemans and former director of the National Gallery of Canada Jean Sutherland Boggs. The story of Varley's life is grim. He did not sell many of his paintings and survived with the help of his friends. He was unfaithful to his wife and really couldn't support his children. His affairs did produce some excellent portraits. The descriptions of Varley's work and the influence of his travels are key points in this volume.

87torontoc
Sep 23, 2019, 10:45pm

72. Fly Already by Etgar Keret Etgar Keret's short stories are surreal sometimes, sometimes sad, funny, and are about how people don't connect in the way that they should. His stories take place modern day Israel, the US and some time in the future. The stories are unsettling-they throw the reader off guard. I think that that is why I keep on reading them. They make you think.

73. Splendors of Imperial China Treasures from the National Palace Museum. Taipei by Maxwell K. Hearn I went to the museum in Taipei many years ago. I also went to see this exhibit in 1996 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This is the catalogue that I bought in New York. The author gives an overview of Chinese history with an emphasis on the development of painting, calligraphy, pottery, lacquerware and jade carving. I was reminded how wonderful this collection is. I know the history of how it got to Taipei. No matter the politics- it is important that the collection exists.

88torontoc
Edited: Sep 25, 2019, 7:45pm

74. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood Reading the work of Margaret is effortless-her prose is clear and I couldn't put the book down until I finished it. About 15 years after the time of The Handmaid's Tale the reader encounters the testimonies and diaries of three women. We read about Baby Nicole who is now Jade or Daisy, Agnes Jemima and Aunt Lydia. Each tells her story about their origins and their lives. How the three intersect is important. There will be a surprise about Lydia. The reader learns about the lives of the aunts, the lives of girls who have important fathers in Gilead and the expat life in Canada. I had to read and learn what happens to the daughters of June and how they helped in the war against Gilead. I enjoyed this book. I had stopped watching seasons 2 and 3 of the TV series The Handmaid's Tale because it was so cruel and depressing. Your faith will be restored in this book. Margaret Atwood is a great storyteller!

89torontoc
Sep 27, 2019, 8:49pm


and I reached 75 books read so far in 2019!

75. Hidden Figures The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterley O.K. this is one case where I liked the film better than the book. I wasn't prepared for the dense compendium of facts. Now they were interesting- with the stories of how the women got their educations, their interests and the development of the NASA agency. It is just that the individual stories of these very accomplished women got lost in the presentation of the background in the 1940's and 1950's attitudes towards Blacks in the southern states. I didn't know how the state of Virginia defied to the order to desegregate public schools but shutting them all down for a number of years. I missed the account of the work done by the women employed as human computers and later engineers. I think that the film did simplify the story but did the women justice by focusing on their work.

90torontoc
Oct 6, 2019, 9:38am

76. Lampedusa by Steven Price It is such a pleasure to read prose that is so evocative of the time and the people in this novel. Price imagines the life of Giuseppe Tomasi.The real Tomasi writes one book at the end of his life. His novel, The Leopard was published after he died and became very popular. Tomasi was the last prince of Lampedusa. He lived through two world wars and saw the once influential and extensive holdings of his family in Sicily decline. The reader learns about Tomasi's life and that of his family. His controlling mother, and his strong wife play important roles in Tomasi's life. However, the 19th century attitudes to nobility have no place in post-war Italy. The time periods shift between the 1950's and the beginning of the 20th century. I really enjoyed reading this novel and was sad to finish the book. Price's novel has been shortlisted for the 2019 Giller Prize and I see why!

91torontoc
Oct 11, 2019, 8:55pm

77. Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough Every once and a while when everyday life ( politics, bad cold) get to me I reread a comfort read and this is one of my favourites. In the 1920's the authors took a trip to London and Paris when they were nineteen. They sailed on the Empress of France and the stories of their adventures always make me laugh- from wearing money belts that swung near their knees while dancing, trying to save a drowning man by throwing a deck chair overboard that nearly rendered him unconscious to sneaking through British customs while disguising a bad case of the measles. In truth, reading this memoir reminded me that there were some phrases that are not used today. However, the story of two real innocents abroad ( the story about logging in the brothel is funny) gave me much pleasure.

92torontoc
Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 11:49am

78. Flights by Olga Tokarczuk The author just won the Nobel Prize and this book is a winner of the Man Booker International Prize. The novel is composed of a group of stories and fragments that loosely have a theme of travel. Some of the stories do have an ending and some do not. The fragments cover a wide variety of topics although there are some that focus on dissection and the preserving of anatomical specimens. The time periods vary as well from the carrying of Chopin's heart from Paris to Poland, the letters of a daughter begging the Emperor of Austria to let her bury the preserved skin of her father ( on exhibit in the emperor's collection) to a modern day woman escaping from her life in Russia. Some times there is a theoretical discussion of life and some times not. I don't know - I am thinking of other authors who also play with prose- like Italo Calvino or W.G. Sebald and I have come to the conclusion that I like their works better. I did learn some things in reading this book but one of the stories ( about the skin) I knew before and had more of an understanding about the circumstances.

93torontoc
Oct 16, 2019, 8:54pm

79. By A Lady :Celebrating Three Centuries of Art by Canadian Women by Maria Tippett This book has been on my shelf for a long time. The author was very upset that a popular history of Canadian Art didn't mention many or very few women. Maria Tippett set out to write a detailed account about the women artists who painted for the past three centuries. She describes style, and training of the many women who painted in Canada. Tippett makes the point that these women were not taken seriously.(hence the title referring to how women's work was described) Recognition was something that happened in the 20th century. There are many women artists described. I was surprised but happy that Tippett was able to write about out the many women artists and have examples of their work in this book. A nice discovery.

94torontoc
Oct 22, 2019, 9:03am

80. Water-Based Screenprinting Today by Roni Henning I am giving a silkscreen workshop in a few weeks and wanted to review some techniques from this book. Some of the work is very sophisticated and needs highly specialized equipment. However there are directions ,samples and illustrations of screen printing that is accessible to the beginner. This is a good resource book for the artist/teacher.

95torontoc
Oct 22, 2019, 11:38am

81. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard I have been reading this account of the rise of Rome for a while now. The author is refreshingly candid as she uses evidence from recent archeological excavations and digs to describe the beginnings of the Roman empire. She corrects the stories and myths about Rome and its leaders. The reader gets a sense of the scope of the city, the empire, and the rulers both early kings, the senate, and later emperors. I really enjoyed Mary Beard's understanding of the evidence of Roman rule and accomplishments.

96torontoc
Oct 27, 2019, 11:00am

82. Small Game Hunting At The Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles I should not have finished this book. But it is on the Giller Prize Short List so I was curious. Well, the story was so depressing-it took place during a bad storm in Newfoundland. The author had the various characters give what was almost a soliloquy on their life and present circumstances. Two of the main women characters- Iris and Olive- were victims of bad choices and the inability to act. The men were aggressors or witnesses to terrible actions. The setting was the Hazel restaurant where most of the people were stuck during the storm. I don't know why this writers used very weak women as the focus of the novel. Anyhow I have a cold, and reading about the awful weather and women being victims was not good for me.

97wookiebender
Oct 29, 2019, 1:17am

Just catching up a bit here... :) We watched the Netflix Salt Fat Acid Heat and it was excellent. I'm on the lookout for the book now!

Also, I've been looking forward to the David Copperfield movie, the trailer looked like so much fun! And I didn't know about JoJo Rabbit, but it's certainly on my watch list now. Thanks! (I've been bemoaning my lack of movie attendance of late - I put my foot down with "no more Marvel!" some months ago, but instead of going to see other movies, I seem to be going to see NO movies. Not what I intended...)

98torontoc
Edited: Oct 29, 2019, 11:07pm

>97 wookiebender: I just saw the film " Judy" about Judy Garland and would recommend it as well!

99torontoc
Oct 29, 2019, 11:07pm

83. The Dinner Party a symbol of our heritage by Judy Chicago This is a reread of the first of two volumes on the origin and making of Judy Chicago's massive art piece. I remember that I saw this exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario-the only reason there was a show was that the Women's Committee( since disbanded but oh how valuable) made arrangements to bring the piece to Toronto. This book is about how the Dinner Party originated, the collaborations that were established and the descriptions of the plates and the floor. There were biographies of all the women who were chosen to have their names inscribed on the tile floor. There are illustrations of all the plates and the women that they honour. It was good to do this reread and remember all that we take for granted today.

100torontoc
Nov 3, 2019, 10:25am

84. Embroidering Our Heritage The Dinner Party Needlework by Judy Chicago This is the second volume of the catalogue on The Dinner Party. This book shows the work and techniques that made up the personal embroideries that were part of the place settings for the clay plates. Each woman honoured at this installation had unique works of art created that took the history of needlework popular during their lifetime. I was interested to read about the research and care that went into the design and creation of the cloths. There were many women who worked on this part of the artwork. The photographs refer not only to the designs created but also serve as a guide to the role of women craftsmen throughout the ages. This is really a valuable reference book to the history of needlework and the changing roles of women.

101torontoc
Edited: Nov 7, 2019, 9:26am

85. The Quarter Stories by Naguib Mahfouz This ER book consists of very brief stories recently discovered by the late author's daughter. The book also has the author's 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech. The stories give the reader a glimpse of life in some of the poor quarters of Cairo. There are descriptions of events rather than places. The plight of the poor, the demons who destroyed lives and the problems of bad marriages, and the solutions to seemingly hopeless situations are simply told. The author gives the reader a snapshot of life and the problems faced by those who lived in the Cairo that Mahfouz described in many of his books. This book serves as a reminder to read Mahfouz's other books.

102wookiebender
Nov 7, 2019, 10:29pm

>98 torontoc: Oh yes, "Judy" is on my wishlist already. :)

103torontoc
Nov 10, 2019, 11:23am

86. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Some author's have a writing style that " invites" the reader into a story so easily. Ann Patchett is one of those authors. This novel tells us about the lives of Danny and Maeve. Growing up near Philadelphia, Maeve and her younger brother Danny live with their father in a very unique house called " The Dutch House". The father had bought the house with it's furnishings and painting as well as the service of two sisters who cooked, cleaned and took care of th children. There was another woman known as Fluffy who was fired. Maeve and Danny's mother left the family and they did not know what happened to her. The father marries Andrea who comes to live in the Dutch house with her two daughters. The novel explores the relationships between Maeve who acts as a guardian for her younger brother and Danny who learns about the family secrets. After the death of the father, Maeve and Danny survive the trauma of exile from the Dutch House. The story follows their lives and the effect that the Dutch House had on their life decisions. Old friends and relations come back into the lives of Maeve and Danny. This story was very engrossing to read and I was sad to reach the end.

104torontoc
Edited: Nov 14, 2019, 9:47am

87. Gilded Lions and Jeweled Horses The Synagogue to the Carousel Jewish Carving Traditions by Murray Zimiles I decided to pull out some of the books that my late brother gave me over the years- this is a catalogue about an exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum. The exhibit and book trace the history of carving by Jewish artists in Europe and later the United States. The history covers the carving of arks and synagogues in Eastern Europe ( many were destroyed), grave stone symbols, intricate paper cutting and finally carousel horses in the United States. There were many Jewish woodcarvers who worked for companies that produced carousels in the US. The author shows the transference of skills used for religious artifacts in synagogues to the secular depiction of horses on the carousel. The history was really interesting and the images show how motifs from arks for the synagogue show up later in secular work. I must admit I learned a lot about the meaning and importance of symbols used in all the examples.

105torontoc
Dec 4, 2019, 10:35am

88. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo I understand why this novel won the Booker prize ( along with The Testaments) Evaristo divides this story into chapters that feature a number of women who are British, Black and all related in some way. The first Chapter features Amma, a playwright. Her play is about to be performed at the National Theatre in London. The reader learns about her struggles as a writer, and her relationships with lovers and family. Each subsequent chapter introduces a person from Amma's life and in turn about those who are important in their lives. The problems of discrimination, acceptance as lesbians and non-binary persons, or as Black women in English society are presented with empathy, humour and clarity. The writing is set up as poetry sometimes. ( I am thinking of Lincoln in the Bardo as I read this book. The rhythms of words lead the reader through a history of life for a Black person for a number of generations. I highly recommend this novel.

106torontoc
Dec 17, 2019, 9:22am

I might not make 100 books read this year- I sort of had a reading funk- not interested in what I had on my book pile or in the case of the following -just a hard one to read.
89. Yiddish Civilisation The Rise and Fall of a Forgotten Nation by Paul Kriwaczek I have mixed feelings about this history. The topic was interesting as the author traced the development of Jewish or Yiddish language and people from the time of the fall of the Roman Empire through to the medieval times. The development of Yiddish words from Latin and Greek was interesting. The descriptions of Jewish society and movements from the west of Europe to the eastern areas of what is now Ukraine and Poland was new to me. However the author used only secondary sources in his study and made the decision to have his work extend to the 1930's in the US and England. I would have liked this book to give more information on the medieval sections and perhaps use more primary sources. The author also made statements about how certain people in his study " probably would have" done certain things. I admit that in this day and age there is little physical evidence to support certain conclusions and the author's guesses are probably right. So, an interesting study but I think that I wanted more.

107torontoc
Dec 17, 2019, 9:30pm

90. Fairy Science by Ashley Spires This is an Early Reviewers book- I find that books available to Canada from ER are usually children's books and sometimes young adult stories. This beautifully illustrated story shows young children the important role that science plays in our lives. The story relates how a young fairy named Esther believes that scientific method is important in the discovery of how things work in nature. Her fellow students believe in magic to solve any problems. Esther looks at data and evidence. She helps restore a tree to life using a scientific method. At the end of the book there are instructions given by Esther to grow seedlings from beans. The design is attractive and the story shows the young reader how to think about cause and effect in nature. This story is a very good teaching tools for young readers.

108torontoc
Dec 24, 2019, 10:17am

91. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen I never get tired of re-reading this novel. I use it as a " cure" when I get into a " non-book reading" period of time. I really wasn't happy with some of my book choices in Dec. I abandoned them, watched really bad TV ( I don't have Netflix) and then read this book/. I love the language, the manners and ideas about relationships. ( especially Mr. and Mrs. Bennet's ). So I read, enjoyed and am now interested in a number of books - it helped that my nieces gave me some really interesting books for Hanukkah!