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What are We Reading Now? (January-March, 2019)

Canadian Bookworms

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Jan 3, 9:22am Top

We consistently get under 100 messages, even with two-months, so I thought we'd try quarterly. If the thread gets too long, we can go back to a shorter time period. Hope this is ok!

I've been re-reading to start 2019: The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens and I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Edited: Jan 4, 6:12am Top

I noticed many prefer to list rather than converse, so I hope my input or questions aren't too much clutter. I like the difference between the CanLit read by Canadians, and all else read by Canadians. Endless inspiration!

Currently working my way through In A Glass Darkly by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Highly recommended by many in the Gothic Literature group. Three short stories are done now, and I'm on the first of two novellas, leaving Carmilla for last. So far so great! =) The term 'through a glass darkly' had come up in Villette, a 2018 read, and the character of Silas led me to read Uncle Silas, so this was a natural companion.

Happy New Year to all, and to the bibliotherapy we share here. The more we read, the healthier we are. To read outside is to magnify the effect. That is my goal for this year, be it audio/ebook/print ... to get outside with it!

Jan 3, 6:36pm Top

>1 LynnB: Sounds good, Lynn!

If all goes to plan I should finish The King's Agent, by J. Kent Clark, this evening. The king in question is James II/VII, the one ousted by his son-in-law, William of Orange.

Edited: Jan 4, 1:05am Top

>2 frahealee: I saw the talk around "in a glass darkly" and it kept throwing me because I know of a movie "through a scanner darkly" based on the sci-fi book by Philip K. Dick. I keep wondering where this glass is coming from. I never felt compelled to watch the film, but I'm curious to investigate the book(s) now to see what this expression is all about.

Starting the years with Polish lit as I'm reading into Sword of Destiny because video games started it. ;) I got a new book, Arrival: the story of canlit , but I'm debating if I should read Survival first. I keep wondering if the name similarity is intentional on Mount's part.

Jan 4, 6:32pm Top

Finished Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, by Barbara Ehrenreich, which was interesting in some parts (the medicine/biology) more than others (the discussion of the "self").

Next up in library reading is another book on this topic: With the End in Mind: Dying, Death, and Wisdom in an Age of Denial, by Kathryn Mannix.

Jan 4, 8:12pm Top

>5 rabbitprincess: Oh I have With the End in Mind arriving at the library soon. It would be interesting to hear what you think of it!

Jan 5, 9:43am Top

>6 mdoris: I had requested it back when the library first got it, but ran out of time to read it! It was on the Wellcome Book Prize list last year, which is what prompted me to request it in the first place.

I've finished The King's Agent (set from James II to George I of England, a period I haven't read much about) and have now started Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman.

Edited: Jan 5, 4:52pm Top

Jan 5, 5:18pm Top

>7 rabbitprincess:, Me too, I got the idea from the Wellcome Prize as well. There are some very interesting books listed there!

Edited: Jan 5, 5:30pm Top

>8 LynnB: I will tackle that one later this year, along with Hard Times. It is both terrifying and exhilarating. I might throw in Edwin Drood and Little Dorrit before this year ends, after reading two Dickens last year (previously unread options), but it will depend on page counts and endurance. =) He has ten on the 1001 list... is that a record? Wow. Is this your first time through it? The movie trailer looks good but the topic (courts/law) is a bit flat for me.

Jan 6, 9:04am Top

yes, this is my first read of Bleak House but I've read several other books by Charles Dickens. As always when I return to a classic, it seems to take me forever to read the first 50 pages or so. But then I get used to the style and things pick up. I'm on page 27!

Jan 6, 4:15pm Top

I'm finding With the End in Mind utterly fascinating but can't read it on my lunch breaks at work, because I don't like crying in public :) So instead I will take to work what I hope will be a delightfully grim read: The Royal Art of Poison, by Eleanor Herman.

Jan 6, 4:21pm Top

>12 rabbitprincess: Thanks for the update on With the End in Mind. It sounds very interesting. I am (im)patiently waiting for my library copy.

Jan 10, 9:39pm Top

You are all putting me to shame with your "literary" reads so far! I'm still recovering from working through the holidays while feeling quite unwell at times, so my reading hasn't been so sophisticated!
True crime reading: Blood, Sweat and Fear by Eve Lazarus, which I found very interesting, esp. about "old" Vancouver and then a "thriller": Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington.

Edited: Jan 11, 7:47am Top

>10 frahealee:, >11 LynnB:, it's a Bleak House year for me too, although I won't get there until later. One Dickens a year for me, and this is its turn. Court/law stuff is something Dickens often visited in prior novels (Pickwick, Nicholas I think, Copperfield), but I guess it wasn't to the same degree as it sounds here.

Jan 11, 10:48am Top

>14 ted74ca: Picture me as Marley, with a chain of books dragging behind me, and each time one is read and gets put on the shelf, the chain links lessen. Such a drag ; )

I consider myself way behind most, without a degree of any kind (3yr diploma), so now that my children are older, I can visit those volumes that have long been of interest to me. I go through phases, and covering classic literature is an attempt to discover what all the fuss is about. I never read with the intent of writing an essay or book review, and the free-style approach keeps me rolling along. I mix mysteries with humour, Gothic Lit with CanLit, non-fic with poetry. Keeps the dust off!

>15 Cecrow: Maybe it will make us all feel better about the current state of affairs, when we dip back into the mire of Victorian mud. Nicholas Nickleby was much funnier than expected (although tragic at times) and David Copperfield was a delight. The law proved critical when it came to Betsy Trotwood and co. =) Those small doses, alongside the humour, built up some callouses for me to approach more sombre fare. I also want to read The Lincoln Lawyer, and A Time to Kill, before seeing the Matthew McConaughey films. This might get me over my courtroom bias. Funny, since I have loved To Kill A Mockingbird forEVER but shy away from most.

With Carmilla still to go, I took a break to push through The Monk by Matthew Lewis. Wow, what a scorcher.

Jan 11, 1:09pm Top

>16 frahealee:, Your Marley metaphor is the kind of thing we talk about in our Unread Support Group, the weight of those chains and how willingly we forge new links. I've suggested the view that there are two distinct kinds of pleasure - the acquisition and the reading - and that the first thoughtlessly places pressure on the second, but in realizing this we can at least suffer less guilt about it.

Edited: Jan 11, 3:05pm Top

>17 Cecrow: Having never tracked my reading before, LT takes getting used to. Last autumn, I didn't even know I favoured gothic literature, let alone what I'd read that might qualify as such. Now there is not enough time to research all the offshoots! Seeing those 'tags' appear was like a gypsy prophecy. I have no smartphone, and use zero social media, so the excavation process for the site alone was extensive. I had never seen a touchstone before.

My former habits left it all to chance. I might see Drew Barrymore in Ever After (2000) with my daughter, and notice mention of Utopia. Then I would pick up that book from the library and realize it was Thomas More, which would lead me to Henry viii etc. Certain classics come up regularly in popular culture, like Quixote, so I wanted to better understand the allusions. I don't feel so much a time crunch pressure, as forgetting what was important to me and why. One thing nudges out the next, often before I'm ready.

Sometimes, for my writing exercises, I would pick one particular author and just pour through their works, as many as I could get my hands on. Watching their progression, how they handled short stories/novels/poetry/etc. is exciting, like with Wharton or DHLawrence (collections I picked up last year). Other things arose from innocent interest (The Weird Tradition) in the groups on LT, or from referrals, or from school experience (either my own or my kids) which need to be revisited. I could not have found time for Moby-Dick or Don Quixote in my 20s, likely would have underappreciated Milton or Scott. The Canterbury Tales was mentioned in the director commentary for A Knight's Tale, so I challenged myself to look into it, and write a few rhyming couplets. That was all for fun, not study.

Going public with intentions and accomplishments is traumatizing! I learned a lot from my 50 Books Challenge thread last year, but truly, it never dawned on me that I would have time to complete a book a week for a year. I am unsure if I pushed it, or if it evolved naturally. That's what I meant about the chains, kind of the cart before the horse image, and my cart is full of books! I am scrambling to keep up with my own concept of goal-setting, group reads, etc.

Now for my penance, after that...

Jan 11, 8:56pm Top

Just finished Washington Black by Esi Edugyan - excellent.

Jan 11, 9:57pm Top

I finished my first audiobook of the year: another Doctor Who Big Finish audio drama. Doctor Who: Classic Doctors, New Monsters, Volume 2.

Jan 11, 10:54pm Top

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant / Joanna Wiebe
4 stars

Anne is being sent to a private school across the country from her California home, on an island in New England. It’s a school with mostly rich kids, so Anne isn’t sure how her dad managed to pull some strings to get her in. However he managed it, she’s hoping for a fresh start with other kids who don’t know her. But, when she arrives, there is something very odd about this school… She is heartened to find someone she knew from California is also there, though, and he seems to be the only person interested in being friends.

I really enjoyed this! Yeah, many of the characters were unlikeable, but they’re teenagers. That didn’t bother me. I was interested and curious to find out what the heck was going on at this school! There were a few surprises along the way, though at least one of them I guessed very shortly before it was revealed, anyway. Unfortunately, it’s one of those books that ended on a cliffhanger. I’m not a big fan of that, but I was hoping, as I read, that it would be the first in a series, and it looks like it’s a trilogy. I will definitely pick up the next book.

Jan 12, 10:07am Top

wosewoman, the subject matter of Washington Black doesn't interest me much, but her first book, Half-Blood Blues was so good that I'm tempted to read it nonetheless.

Edited: Jan 12, 2:08pm Top

>19 wosewoman:
>22 LynnB:
Me too! Her writing in that book was superb, so I will have to make time for this new one. Any other Giller long list options from last year of interest? I had a tough time deciding, so bypassed it, since I'd focused on Canada Reads earlier in the year for the first time. Sometimes the sidelines is ok...

Juggling two currently, The Beetle by Marsh on Kobo/ebook and Melmoth the Wanderer by Maturin via audio. After that, back to Carmilla. Bloody vampires... ; )

Jan 13, 6:25pm Top

>22 LynnB: I really enjoyed both. They are quite different in subject matter but her wonderful writing style bleeds through. I rated Half Blood Blues slightly higher but would recommend both.

Jan 14, 11:24pm Top

The Book of Negroes / Lawrence Hill.
3.75 stars (3rd read; overall - all 3 reads, 4 stars)

**********POSSIBLE SPOILERS***********
In the mid-1700s, Aminata is only 11-years old when her parents are murdered and she is kidnapped from her village in Africa. She is forced to walk for months to the ocean where she boards a ship to cross. She arrives in South Carolina, where she is sold to an indigo plantation owner and works there until she is then sold to another man and his wife, where she helps keep their home. After a number of years, "Meena" escapes to New York, and after a time, she finds herself in "The Book of Negroes" - a real list of Negroes who want to escape New York and the rebels for Nova Scotia as British Loyalists. All her life, she has really just wanted to go home, back to her village in Africa.
*********END SPOILERS***********

This was very very good, there was so much detail, and it seemed so realistic. The Book of Negroes was a real list - something I had never heard of - and it was interesting (and sad) to read how the mostly former slaves were treated when they arrived in Canada. I waffled for a long time between giving the book 4 or 4.5 stars; unfortunately I lowered it to 4 stars because I was disappointed in the ending, which took away from the book's realism for me.

Reread, 2 years later:
I still really enjoyed this book on a reread. I did remember some parts of the book before I even started rereading it, and a lot of the rest of the book came back to me as I read. My rating remains the same as the first time around.

3rd read, just over 5 years after the last time:
3.75 stars
This is my 3rd time reading this one, and I think rereading is just not for me. I rated it 4 stars the first two times, and 3.5 this time around, but I listened to the audio this time and would give an extra ¼ star for the narrator, so 3.75 this time. Good story; still find the ending unbelievable. I really don’t think I should reread it again, though – not without a long long time in between, at least.

Jan 15, 9:01am Top

I found Aminata just too perfect...that was my main concern with The Book of Negroes

Edited: Jan 15, 7:06pm Top

Two books finished in the last week: I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus, which was heartrending to read. I still remember clearly reading of the abduction and murder of little James Bulger in a Liverpool suburb the early 1990's, and have always sort of followed the story in the news, probably because except for a twist of fate in the 1950's, I too would have been born and raised in a nearby town in Merseyside where dozens of my extended family still live, and because I had a little boy at the time only a bit younger than James was when he died, and because I've always been interested by the concept of inherent evil and the fact that his killers were only 10 years old at the time. My other read was thankfully just fiction-one in a long time favourite series of mine-Dust by Martha Grimes.

Jan 15, 7:35pm Top

>26 LynnB: Hmmm, yeah, I think I would agree, actually.

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