detailmuse ROOTs through 2019
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My main ROOT goal is to read 44 TBRs that I acquired prior to 2019. In msg#2, I’ll keep a list and links if I’ve posted a review.
I also have a few secondary pursuits:
• read TBRs relevant to Chicago (I’m contemplating moving away in due time and want to appreciate everything here while I’m local)
• read TBRs relevant to Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland (for an upcoming trip)
• continue to triage/purge TBRs that are no longer of interest to me
• indulge in new acquisitions when they’re at their shiniest
ROOTs Read in 2019:
13. Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne
12. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
9. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (3.5)
7. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (4)
6. Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (4) (See review)
1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (4.5) (See review)
11. Heating & Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly (4.5) (See review)
10. Becoming by Michelle Obama (4.5)
5. The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple (5)
4. The Right to Privacy by Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy (4)
2. Welcome to the Writer's Life by Paulette Perhach (3) (See review)
8. Monument by Natasha Trethewey (4) (See review)
3. Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda (3) (See review)
TBRs relevant to Chicago:
High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing by Ben Austen
A People's History of Chicago by Kevin Coval
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
The Nix by Nathan Hill
An Unfinished Season by Ward Just
✔ The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
✔ Becoming by Michelle Obama
Working by Studs Terkel
TBRs relevant to Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland:
How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
✔ Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Dubliners by James Joyce
Fiere by Jackie Kay
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror by Robert Louis Stevenson
Rick Steves Scotland
Rick Steves Ireland 2019
Instead of saving whole issues of magazines, I’ve taken to tearing out articles of interest and collecting them to read later. Setting a space to record them here:
Welcome, MJ, Good to see you back with your own thread. Happy ROOTing.
Hooray, you're back! Good to see you, and I'll look forward to hearing about your upcoming trip!
Welcome back and have a great reading year! I have Eleanor Oliphant on deck as well -- lots of good things being said about it :)
>7 connie53:, >8 Jackie_K:, >9 rabbitprincess: Good to see you! Trip is in summer, going with husband, brother, sister-in-law (who is fan of Outlander so I will definitely want to finish the (first) book and then watch the tv series with my husband). Looking forward to Eleanor Oliphant … and honestly, everything!
>10 detailmuse: Outlander! Read the books twice and watched the series, all 4 seasons of them. Season 4 is still ongoing.
I really enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant (much more than I had expected) - I hope that you, too, will love her!
Hi MJ! I’m looking forward to another great year of ROOTing with you.
>10 detailmuse: and >11 connie53: Oh yes! I read the first four books along time ago, then did a read of the complete series April – July 2016. We’re re-watching the series now – we’ve already seen seasons 1-3 and will enjoy watching season 4 for the first time. Have fun!
>10 detailmuse: >11 connie53: >15 karenmarie: I have the first and third books on the TBR (they were both very cheap!) but they're not really my kind of thing, I don't think. My husband watches the series, and from what I've seen of it I don't feel that fussed about it. I'll give it a go when I pull the book out of the Jar of Fate, but I'm not going to hold my breath. Maybe I'll be surprised!
Happy New Year, Karen and Birgit!
Jackie, Outlander didn't appeal to me either (primarily because it's fantasy and a series), but I felt the passion every time Connie and other ROOTers mentioned it. I'm liking it, especially the historical fiction aspect, the times were brutal :0 !
I posted some 2018 reading stats on my prior thread. Happiest takeaway is that my ratings of last year's reads are well above recent years!
>19 detailmuse: Thanks for the reminder - I meant to include a ratings bit on my stats too! Going to go back and look now.
>10 detailmuse: Does that mean an Outlander tour will be part of your sightseeing in Scotland?
>21 Familyhistorian: haha I don't know enough yet about Outlander or the TV production to know where the sites would be! Have to get reading and watching ... and talking with my sister-in-law!
>22 detailmuse: I don't know where it was all filmed either, but if you're anywhere near Stirling on your travels then give me a shout!
Jackie it would be terrific to see you! I'll look at locations/dates and message you.
1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, ©2017, acquired 2018
This popular YA title (now also a film) is about 16yo Starr, who splits her life (physically, culturally, psychologically) between her home and family in the 'hood of an unnamed city and her 99%-white school in a suburb. Her best girlfriend was killed by gunfire in front of her at age 10, and now, (early spoiler)
The characters and environment are twisty, complicated mixes of past and present, good and bad, alliances and rivalries. The story explores race and culture as Starr reacts and considers the dangers of speaking out about both community and law enforcement. The title comes from the late Tupac Shakur, whose acronym THUG LIFE (The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody) testifies to the collateral and enduring harm of racism and violence beyond the obvious victim.
I gobbled it up. The difficult topics inform and validate, and they are safely managed for the intended teen audience (note profanity). Being YA, there is teen angst and at least one teen quest that strains believability. I think its accessibility (and length, nearly 500 pages) may turn reluctant readers into more confident, eager readers.
2. Welcome to the Writer's Life by Paulette Perhach, ©2018, acquired 2018
This introduction to the writing life covers establishing a writing routine, a writer-reading routine, some elements of craft and some elements of business. It’s okay ... too many words for too little content; I felt it would keep beginners from writing rather than inspiring them to write. There are many better introductory books out there.
3. Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda, ©2018, acquired 2018
Lin-Manuel Miranda is a wellspring of generosity and creativity (including the musical, “Hamilton”) who tweets supportive messages morning and night. He has collected a couple hundred of them into this book, illustrated by Johnny Sun. My favorite is the Gnight I first encountered from him on Twitter:
Wow I regret sounding negative about what is a lovely and supportive thing, but these are better on Twitter. Side by side here in a book, they’re too similar morning/night, and the illustrations (although absent on this single page) overpower the messages and annoy me. But go follow him on Twitter!
Looks like you are getting a lot of ROOTs read. Keep up the good work!
4. The Right to Privacy by Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy, ©1995, acquired 1996
If I were reviewing this exploration of the legal protections of personal privacy closer to its time of publication, I would be rating it 5 stars. Even now, 24 years after publication, I can only ding it for currency to 4 stars.
I thought of today’s headlines (has there been no progress?!) as I read each section of legal case studies and court summaries about alleged invasions of personal privacy -- by law enforcement; by the press; by voyeurs; in healthcare decisions; in the workplace; and a short prediction of what was to come with the Internet and personal information. I was shocked by the (mostly) upheld judicial support of those invasive actions and that many would still be upheld today.
To be sure: it is not dry legal material -- it's as engagingly written and fascinating as fiction.
5. The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple, ©2017, acquired 2018
This history of White House Chiefs of Staff was so interesting that I savored it over the course of almost a year. In the 1950s, Eisenhower had a Chief of sorts (modeled after his army chief of staff), but it wasn't until three presidents later that Nixon (who had been Eisenhower’s VP) began the tradition of every president having one (and usually a sequence of many more than one) -- even as almost every president railed against having one. Alas, only in fiction has a woman held the position. Reviewing presidential administrations over the past 50 years necessarily includes a lot of history that was interesting to look back on, and the author is a frequent media commentator these days about the position. I acquired the paperback, which is updated with an additional chapter on Trump/Priebus/Kelly...
6. Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly, ©2017, acquired 2018
This Newbery Medal-winning middle-grade novel is narrated in the perspectives of four kids in the summer after sixth grade -- a shy boy; a solitary deaf girl; a girl exploring her mystic/psychic interests (with a hilarious younger sister-assistant); and a bullying boy.
It’s an exploration of diversity (ethnic, physical, personality) and connection (“there are no coincidences”) more so than having a strong plotline, but the short chapters in alternating narratives keep the story moving.
7. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, ©2017, acquired 2018
The less said about this the better for those who haven't read it yet. It's light but riveting -- funny and sweet, sad and horrifying. It’s the author’s debut novel, very well done.
8. Monument by Natasha Trethewey, ©2018, acquired 2018
I’m new to poet-laureate Natasha Trethewey’s work and was captured from the moment of the first poem in this omnibus. These are vignette-ish narratives, with close-in perspectives of people of color, past and recent -- their traumas and histories, grief and resilience -- including Trethewey herself, particularly as regards her white father and her mother’s death at the hands of an ex-husband.
My typical practice with collections of short works is to note in the table of contents the entries that especially resonate. I managed to do so with that first poem ... and then was repeatedly surprised to find I’d become so immersed in a series of poems that I’d forgotten to pause and note them.
Beginning total TBRs: 286
ROOTs* read: 8
Other books read: 2
Books purged unread/DNF from TBRs: 4
Books acquired: 2
Ending total TBRs: 274
YTD ROOTs* read: 8 (year-end goal: 44)
*acquired before 2019
>37 Jackie_K: Not sure yet how much our fiction tastes match, but will admit I almost put Eleanor aside very early on … don't give up too soon!
>42 Familyhistorian: Wondering how far you are into the book... I gave up early on with audio last year yet still acquired a hard copy, then almost put it aside again in January, until the author dropped in an intriguing twist.
>43 detailmuse: I have read up to the second part of the novel which is labelled "Bad Days". Is that where the intriguing twist happens?
>44 karenmarie: Thanks Karen, you too!
>45 Familyhistorian: I need the gritted-teeth emoji here, I'm feeling your frustration :) ! No, I'm thinking of small twists, maybe as early as page 50ish, that made me relieved the novel was going to be about more than watching a woman go about her day. I thought the author dropped them effortlessly. I remember a plural noun that was very telling at one point.
9. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, ©2009, acquired 2018
This is my second by Moriarty, after enjoying Big Little Lies so much last year. Here, a woman’s head injury causes her to forget the past ten years -- including her three children and the fact she’s divorcing her husband. It has some of the humor and social satire of Big Little Lies, but it’s not as substantive or well done, and it’s 100 pages too long. But it does pose an interesting exploration of whether one can reboot back on-track, after an accumulation of decisions have caused life to derail.
10. Becoming by Michelle Obama, ©2018, acquired 2018
This is Michelle’s recounting of her own life (not Barack’s, except as they overlap) and it’s more an autobiography (a full-life, factual account) than a memoir (a thematic, emotional/reflective account). It’s well written and extremely listen-able as read by the author. I have a lot of respect for her and am glad to know more of the details of her lower-middle-class beginnings and her dedication to success and service.
11. Heating & Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly, ©2017, acquired 2018
The “52 micro-memoirs” in this collection range in length from a single sentence to several pages. They’re non-linear, at turns whimsical, fascinating or profound, and they’re addictive, I’d read a hundred more. Here’s one:
In every book my husband’s written, a character named Colin suffers a horrible death. This is because my boyfriend before I met my husband was named Colin. In addition to being named Colin, he was Scottish, and an architect. So you understand my husband’s feelings of inadequacy. My husband cannot build a tall building of many stories. He can only build a story, and then push Colin out of it.
>47 detailmuse: What Alice Forgot was my first Moriarty. I think I liked it a tad better than you. I’ve also read The Husband’s Secret and The Last Anniversary. I just decided to cull the three I’ve read and liked – daughter will never read them and the Friends of the Library can sell them.
I’ve got Truly Madly Guilty on my shelves, and saw a copy of Nine Perfect Strangers donated to the Friends of the Library. If it doesn’t go during the end-of-March sale in the first 15 minutes (when I’m over in DVDs and audiobooks) I’ll snag it.
>48 detailmuse: On my shelves, just waiting for the right time!
>49 detailmuse: On the wish list it goes. It sounds irresistible.
I finally put Eleanor on my Kobo. And now I find Karen, Meg and Jackie are reading it or want to read it too. I like the company.
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