BLBera's Reading in 2019 - Chapter 2
This is a continuation of the topic BLBera's Reading in 2019 - Chapter 1.
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This book seems appropriate for February. It's one that Scout loves as well.
My name is Beth. I love books – talking about them, writing about them, reading about them. I also love to read with my granddaughter Scout.
I teach English at my local community college, so I am always looking for books I can use in my classes. I like to discover new writers.
I tend not to plan my reading, other than for my book club, which meets once a month. We meet in January to plan our year’s reading.
I tend to read more fiction than nonfiction and more women authors than men.
Welcome to my thread. Lurk or stop and say hello.
Reading possibilities for 2019
My public library's "Open Books Reading Challenge"
A book adapted into a movie
A book with more than 500 pages
✅ A book with fewer than 100 pages - Mouse House
A book about the Women's Suffrage/Women's Rights movement
A book with a color in the title
✅ A book with multiple authors - Well-Read Black Girl
A book by or about a person from Africa
✅ A book originally published in a language other than English - In Search of Lost Books
✅ A book published n 2019 - The Dreamers
✅A book about religion - If the Oceans Were Ink
✅ A book of poetry - Felicity
A book about sports or athletes
A book on the Great American Read list
A book about art or an artist
My Book Club's selection for 2019
✅ Mothering Sunday
✅ Maisie Dobbs
The Dark Circle
The Quiet Girl
My Own Words
Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy
In the Woods
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
The President's Hat
More reading possibilities for 2019
Last year, I read several selections from Electric Lit's recommendations by women of color. Here is their list for 2019:
The Collected Schizophrenias
Lost Children Archive
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
The Atlas of Reds and Blues
I Am Yours by Reema Zaman
The Source of Self-Regard
Where Reasons End
On the Come Up
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
The Other Americans
The Old Drift
Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls
Dealing in Dreams
Forward ed. Megan Giddings
Sabrina & Corina
Walking on the Ceiling
The Body Papers
Home Remedies by Xuan Juliana Wang
The Memory Police
The Bride Test
The Tenth Muse
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Shapes of Native Nonfiction
The Wedding Party
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
The Pretty One by Keah Brown
They Could Have Named Her Anything by Stephanie Jimenez
I'm Telling the Truth, But I'm Lying by Bassey Ikpi
Fall and Forward
How to Be Heard by Roxane Gay
Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste
Fairest by Meredith Talusan
Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Díaz
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Last of Her Name by Mimi Lok
Brown Album by Porochista Khakpour
Little Gods by Meng Jin
The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri
2018 Reading Stats
Last year, I tried to do a monthly reading report, so I wouldn't have to compile a year's reading at the end. Here's a look at the year's reading:
2018 Reading Numbers*:
In translation: 6
Short story collections: 4
Graphic novels: 2
Men: 28 - 21%
Women: 106 - 79%
This year I would like to increase my poetry and nonfiction reading. I would also like to increase my reading of works in translation.
* If these numbers don't add up, it's probably an error in addition on my part.
Read in 2019
1. A Killer in King's Cove*
2. Well-Read Black Girl*
3. The Bus on Thursday
4. Winter* 💜
6. A Fatal Winter*
7. The Golden State
8. If the Oceans Were Ink*
9. Mothering Sunday* 💜
10. The Dreamers
11. Henrietta Who?*
12. In Search of Lost Books
January Reading Report
Books read: 14
By Women: 12
By Men: 2
In translation: 2
From my shelves: 9
- Ebooks: 2
- Physical copies: 7
- Gave away: 3
15. The Clockmaker's Daughter
16. Maisie Dobbs* REREAD
17. Where the Crawdads Sing
18. So Horrible a Place*
20. Ghost Wall
21. The Fire This Time*
22. The Last Romantics
* From my shelves
Copied from Katie's thread (Thanks, Katie)
You must read this
A Catalog of Birds
This was one of my favorites from last year. It is underappreciated. My comments:
A Catalog of Birds is a beautiful, heartbreaking story of a family, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Set in 1970 at the height of the Vietnam War, this is the story of the Flynn family, especially the two youngest members, Billy and Nell. Billy returns from Vietnam badly wounded. His joy in nature is blunted by the extent of his injuries; he has trouble hearing the bird songs he loves and his right hand is so damaged that he can no longer draw. His younger sister Nell adores her brother and shares his love for nature; she does everything she can to bring him back.
Harrington's writing is lovely. She has a keen eye for the natural world: "She closes her yes and catalogues what she hears: water over stones, the creaking wallow of the rowboat. A cardinal, now two. Finch, eastern phoebe, common yellowthroat. The poplar leaves are the most distinct to her ear, but she can sort out the great pines and the swaying hemlocks." The family's struggles take place in a vividly portrayed place, and we see the world on the cusp of change.
Happy New one from me too Beth. >10 BLBera: The title sounds familiar, but I don't think I've read it - maybe I've seen it at the library?
Hello hello. I've been assaulted by the photo bandit. None of the book covers display. Tried that log-out then log-in thing. Didn't work for me. I think it's that Polar Vortex. Or the Russians.
>11 katiekrug: It was wonderful, Katie. Thanks for the great idea.
>12 charl08: Hi Charlotte - Or maybe you remember my rave about it? It was one of my favorites from last year.
>13 Carmenere:, >14 RebaRelishesReading:, >15 mdoris: Thanks Lynda,Reba, and Mary.
>16 weird_O: Hi Bill. I can see them, so I don't know what's happening. LT gremlins?
I can't see the cover images either. I'm wondering if it is browser specific. I'm using Chrome. What are others using and can you see them or not? (None show up in 6 or 10; one cover shows in 2)
Happy new thread!
>18 thornton37814: The cover images have been up and down over the last week or so. I think LT is making some infrastructure changes that aren't working as well as hoped. I've been able to fix it temporarily by logging out and then back in again.
Hi Vivian - My turn hasn't come for The Water Cure yet. I think I'm 4 or 5 on the list. I might cancel the hold; there are just too many books I am anxious to get to. I just picked up two from the library today, including Where the Crawdads Sing, which I have been waiting for.
I am waiting for Normal People as well.
14. Zuleikha is a sprawling Russian novel supposedly inspired by stories from the author's grandmother. The exile of a rag tag group of people to the Siberian taiga makes for a good story. Zuleikha, a peasant woman from a Tatar village, and Ivan Ignatov, the commander of the settlement are the main characters, and we follow them from about 1930 to 1946. I was sorry to have to leave them at the end of the novel. Both were complex characters and through them we see the implacability and capriciousness of the Soviet bureaucracy -- although each is affected differently.
And the supporting cast of professionals, a doctor, and an artist, not to mention real criminals, add to the novel as well.
The setting is meticulously described, at times making it seem like a character in itself: "Death is everywhere here but death is simple, understandable, and wise, even just in its own way. Leaves and needles fall from the trees and rot in the earth, bushes break under a heavy bear paw and dry out, grass becomes quarry for a deer, just as a deer is quarry for a pack of wolves. Death is tightly, seamlessly interwoven with life, so it's not scary...No matter how terrible the peat fires rage in autumn, no matter how cold and harsh the winter is...Zuleikha knows that spring will come." This inhospitable country becomes a home of sorts to the characters.
Well done first novel.
If you would like my copy, please PM me your address and it's yours.
I picked up two reserves from the library today, both of which have a gazillion people waiting for them. I decided to read The Clockmaker's Daughter first. I like Kate Morton, and I seem to be on a historical fiction binge right now.
A Catelogue of Birds was only $6 for Kindle, so I took a chance based on your recommendation and bought it.
I hope you aren’t suffering too much with the polar vortex!
>17 BLBera: Yes, that makes sense! D'oh! I'm going to have to order it seeing as the library doesn't have a copy.
Fourteen books in January! Well done, you.
And Happy New Thread!
>25 BLBera: "We wrote the review together." ((((Scout))))
Hi Beth, I hope you are staying warm. We have been lucky here and are having a fairly mild winter with no snow yet although they are talking about a chance of snow flurries this weekend. I well remember living back east and shoveling snow and I am happy to have left that long behind me. I was all ready to add A Catalog of Birds to my wishlist but I see I must have taken a hit for it when you read it earlier as it's already there!
Happy new thread, Beth! I just looked up your review for Alma and How She Got Her Name :-)
>26 arubabookwoman: I think you will love it, Deborah. I hope all is well with you and your husband's treatment is going well.
>27 charl08: I'm always happy to add to others' TBR piles. :)
>28 brenzi: I really enjoyed it, Bonnie. It helped me put into context our current weather. We're above zero today!
>29 EBT1002: Today is a Scout day. She's been doing art and is now in her "clubhouse" taping art to the walls. I'll have to take a picture one of these days.
I can't believe I read 14 books in January - some of them were pretty short.
Happy new thread, Twin! Looks like you and MN made it thought the record-breaking cold snap. Phew! My sister said it was a doozy. I dug out my copy of The Fire This Time, but I probably won't start it for a few more days yet. Wishing you a wonderful weekend!
Happy new thread, Beth!
I'm one of those obsessive-compulsive people who won't use Amazon covers - if there's a member-uploaded cover that matches mine I use it, otherwise I upload my own. That way I always have an LT-based image link and the covers seems to show up. Not for everyone, definitely, but the time spent works for me. I'm slowly going back and getting rid of the Amazon covers for all my books.
>35 Berly: Yes, it was miserable. I'm just glad I had some snow days, so I stayed in as much as I could. I have my copy of The Fire This Time ready to go. It might be a few days for me as well.
>36 karenmarie: Thanks Karen. Hmm - so the Amazon covers are the problem?
>37 RidgewayGirl: Kay, you will like them, I think.
I am reading The Clockmaker's Daughter, and it is excellent historical fiction -- at least for the first 100 pages.
Glad to hear it is warming up (relatively speaking) there, Beth. Sounded miserable!
Scout and I went to the library yesterday. We came home with 14 books, all of which she wanted to take home. She is loving a rather disgusting series Fly Guy, which is about a boy and his pet fly. She also picked some Berenstain Bears books. She said she likes them because Brother and Sister Bear are naughty.
Three picture books that she really liked were: Florette, A House That Once Was and The Christmas Day Kitten.
They had giant cut-outs of Annie and Jack from the Magic Treehouse series, so she took home a couple of those as well.
Sounds like a very successful library trip there, Beth.
I just went in to my local branch today to swop some books: they've got some great displays at the moment, from Costa award winners to library users' favourites. Hope you have a good weekend!
I hope you're feeling better, Charlotte. It does sound like a good display. We noticed yesterday that they have done some painting in our library. It looks really cheerful.
Kate, I'm shocked. :)
Happy Saturday, Beth. Happy New Thread. I hope you are enjoying the weekend. Much better today. Working on getting rid of all this snow. Hope the books are treating you well.
Hi Mark - Stay warm and dry.
Hi Mary - Maybe I heard about the Herriot on your thread. I read his books for adults years ago, but I wasn't familiar with his children's books. Scout really liked the kitten one. I'll look for others because she loves her animals.
Good to know that The Clockmaker's Daughter is good so far. I have it in my TBR pile. 14 books in January. Great going! Happy New thread!
Happy New Thread, Beth! You are a reading machine!!
I'm currently reading Zuleikha (100+ a few pages in), and your review makes me hope that I'll like it more than I do right now. So far I'm finding it a page-turning story, but not much more. (There's nothing wrong with a page-turning story, I might add.) With her awards and nominations for awards, I was hoping for more depth. I'll see. Meanwhile, I'll say that I had no idea that the Tatars were Muslim. Where have I been????
As to getting rid of stuff - my cousin and I were talking about it just today. In his family home we have DH's grandmother's stuff, his parents' stuff, his dead sister's stuff, and our stuff sort of floating on top. Unless we get busy, our nieces and nephew will have a hard time of it when we die. I ought, at least, to start getting rid of my 1970 and 80s mysteries. *groan*
Hi Stasia - I'm still here.
The Clockmaker's Daughter is excellent, Deborah.
Hardly a reading machine, Peggy. Several of my January reads were pretty short, and I was on break for the first half. I hope you end up liking Zuleikha more as you continue. And it seemed to me that Zuleikha was partly Muslim - she believed in gods of the forest, etc. Culturally, though, she seemed to practice Islam. I found that part very interesting.
Oh, stuff. We all have it. I tend to try to go through drawers and closets in the summer when I have more time.
15. The Clockmaker's Daughter is outstanding historical fiction. When Elodie Winslow, an archivist finds a Victorian portrait and an artist's notebook, the tale begins. Kate Morton weaves together a story of a Victorian artist and his model, a WWI veteran, a murder and a theft of a priceless diamond, WWII evacuees. Birchwood Manor is the place that connects the stories -- and Elodie -- to the artifacts she finds. Although the real star of this novel is our ghost narrator, Birdie Bell.
When a novel tells a number of stories, there's always the danger that some stories are more compelling than others. That is not the case here. Morton injects personality and life into each of the characters, and each plays a part in the final solution of the mystery. As Birdie tells us, "People value shiny stones and lucky charms, but they forget that the most powerful talismans of all are the stories that we tell to ourselves and to each other." Morton tells a wonderful story here.
>53 BLBera: I bought that one earlier this year. I will have to move it up the stack!
It is great, Stasia. It's long, but it is hard to put down, and to really do justice to the storylines, I think Morton needs every page.
>53 BLBera: That one is already on my radar. Glad to see you really enjoyed it.
Found you! I enjoy Kate Morton's books. I'll join the library waitlist for this one.
Happy new thread, Beth! I loved The Clockmaker's Daughter, but than, I have yet to hate any of Kate Morton's books that I have read. ;-)
>56 weird_O: Thanks for checking, Bill.
>57 thornton37814: It was great Lori.
>58 japaul22: Hi Jennifer. Welcome! I think I've read all of Morton's books and this is my favorite. I had to wait for it, but it was worth it.
>59 lkernagh: I know that I had seen someone rave about it, Lori. It must have been you.
>60 vivians: I was thinking of you, Vivian, as I was reading. I think you will love this.
The Fire This Time
"The Weight" talks about going to see James Baldwin's home in France, among other things. A couple of things struck me about this essay. First, she talks about getting to know Baldwin while working as an intern at a magazine. She was the first black intern and her comments about that reminded me of Michelle Obama's comments about being the black first family, how one feels the weight to be better. Baldwin's home it seems was scheduled to be torn down, which distresses Ghansah until she realizes that we don't need physical artifacts to remember him; we have his words. I really liked this one.
>62 BLBera: I need to nudge this volume up Beth.
Yes, I was sad they were going to demolish his home. But we find him in his books most vividly, and there are recordings and interviews, but there is something about place. I like to pilgrimage to the places my 'dead friends' have lived. My 'dead friends' are creatives I love, a friend named them that as she says I talk about them as if they have just left the room: Oscar Wilde, Vincent Van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Jimmy, to name those who have been with me since my early teens.
I've yet to read anything by Kate Morton but you've got me interested in The Clockmaker's Daughter Beth.
I see things are still in good order. But I do enjoy checkin' in and eavesdropping on the chat. My wife's sister has sent her a couple of Kate Morton books. I haven't been tempted. Sorry. Reading Prof. LePore now, with Little Women glowering at me from the wings. You know, for the 2019 AAC.
Glad to see you liked The Clockmaker's Daughter. I'm anxious to read it, hopefully later this year.
I've picked up A Catalog of Birds: already gripped. Thanks for the recommendation!
It's wonderful, Beth! I am already trying to work out who to press it on first...
>73 charl08: I know, right? I would like to see it get a lot more love.
>74 SuziQoregon: Hi Juli. Happy Friday. I've liked all her books, but this one is by far the best one.
>75 katiekrug: I think you'll like it, Katie. Have you read Maisie Dobbs? Would you like a copy? I just reread it for my book club, and I will be looking for a new home for it.
>76 Berly: You'll love it, Twin, guaranteed! Happy Friday. Well, I'm off to read another essay!. :)
16. Maisie Dobbs is an excellent mystery set in the years after WWI. Winspear vividly shows the wounds of the war. Maisie was a nurse and everyone she knows has lost someone. And not all the wounds are visible. This is a reread for me and I'll see what my book club thinks of it, especially since Mothering Sunday was our last book.
One thing that we see in Maisie is how the war provoked a massive change in the class system. Servants who left to serve never returned. And people like Maisie had a chance to improve her lot in life.
Next: Where the Crawdads Sing,
>77 BLBera: - Thanks, Beth, but I have read Maisie Dobbs. Glad you enjoyed it. I thought it was fine but decided it was not a series I wanted to continue.
>77 BLBera: But also
>78 BLBera: That is a series I need to pick up again. Thanks for the reminder, Beth.
Did your BG like The Secret Keeper, Karen? I've enjoyed all of the books by Morton that I've read, but The Clockmaker's Daughter will stay with me the longest.
"Lonely in America" by Wendy Walters is another essay from The Fire This Time. In it, she describes feeling lonely, but at first she attributes it to the end of a relationship. However, after a visit to New Orleans after Katrina, she realizes "my loneliness had deeper roots than I had initially suspected, and that, in addition to personal disappointments, it came from having a profound sense of disconnection from what I thought America was, and who, in that context, I knew myself to be."
She discusses the fact that slavery existed in New England, although many Africans were referred to as "servants." Still their burial grounds were separate and often paved or built over.
I read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton some years ago and I've got The ClockMaker's Daughter in hardcover in my TBR . I'm delighted that you enjoyed it. I'll move it up the TBR pile. As you likely know, I'm a big fan of Maisie Dobbs and I'm looking forward to her newest book that is out sometime later this year. I'm not sure of the month , off hand.
Vivian - I think you will love The Clockmaker's Daughter. Where the Crawdads Sing is beautiful. I love all the description, and Kya is an unforgettable character. The book is living up to its hype.
>90 mdoris: Mary: We have been waking up to snow about every other day, which is not unusual, but I am ready for spring. I love the Shulevitz book
17. Where the Crawdads Sing is the lyrical story of Kya Clark, the Marsh Girl. Kya's mother leaves the family when Kya is six and is soon followed by her siblings. She finds herself along most of the time, nurtured by the life in the marshlands. More than anything else, this novel portrays the beauty of the disappearing marshlands on this isolated stretch of North Carolina coast. Owens writes: "A great blue heron is the color of gray mist reflecting in blue water. And like mist, she can fade into the backdrop, all of her disappearing except the concentric circles of her lock-and-load eyes."
The description is breathtaking, and this story is one that will stick with me for a while. Raves about it are well deserved.
Wahhhh I have so many people ahead of me for Where the Crawdads Sing. I'll get it at some point.
>93 Berly: Thanks Twin - I have a cough and scratchy throat right now, hoping it doesn't get worse.
>94 banjo123: You will like it, Rhonda.
>95 mdoris: Mary, it is delightful. Scout and I have read it over and over and we still love it.
>96 charl08: I think you'll like, Charlotte. The description and sense of place is amazing.
>97 brenzi: I had to wait a long time to get it as well, Bonnie. I think when I started I was 40 something on the list.
I woke up to more snow today. I must ask the weather gods to send some to Susan.
From The Fire This Time:
An essay by Isabel Wilkerson points out that black progress has always been followed by setbacks. She points out that the police killings of black men teaches us that "the journey is far from over and that we must know our history to gain strength for the days ahead. We lost love ourselves even if -- and perhaps especially if -- others do not. We must keep our faith even as we work to make our country live up to its creed. And we must know deep in our bones and in our hearts that if the ancestors could survive the Middle Passage, we can survive anything."
"'The Dear Pledges of Our Love': A Defense of Phillis Wheatley's Husband" by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is an interesting essay detailing the lack of information about Phillis Wheatley's life. Most of what we know about her comes from a biography written 50 years after her death by a white woman. Jeffers says that "It is distressing that, in 176 years, scholars have not questioned Odell's right to speak for Phillis Wheatley. This blind trust continues the disturbing historical trend of African Americans, and black women in particular, needing white benefactors to justify their lives and history.
This essay is fascinating, especially for those who do research.
>99 BLBera: I was appalled that Odell claimed to be a relative, supposedly entitling her to comment on Wheatley's history, but that claim can not now be justified. Also, it appears she got the dates all wrong and may have totally misconstrued Wheatley's relationship with her husband. Grrrr.
>100 Berly: I'm with you, Twin. I hope modern scholarship can look at some of these older claims and come closer to the truth.
18. So Horrible a Place is another entry in the Ingrid Langley and Patrick Gillard series. Entertaining view of the making of a film. The end was a little pat, but Ingrid and Patrick are as enjoyable as ever.
Hi Beth! Lately I seem to be way behind on threads; on the other hand, I’ve gotten lots of good books read. Looks like you have, too.
>38 BLBera: I don’t know if it’s just Amazon covers or not, but none of my LT-based linked images ever fails to show up. I import everything I want to display to LT and it seems to work.
Hi Karen - Yes, I am also very behind. Lots of schoolwork right now, so I don't think things will change.
From The Fire This Time, Carol Anderson's essay "White Rage," claims that every time African Americans make progress, there is a backlash, "...the election of Obama gave hope to the country and the world that a new racial climate had emerged in America, or that it would. But such audacious hopes would be short-lived. A rash of voter-suppression legislation, a series of unfathomable Supreme Court decisions, the rise of stand-your-ground laws, and continuing police brutality make clear that Obama's election and reelection have unleashed yet another wave of fear and anger." And look what we have.
I also enjoyed Jesmyn's essay about DNA testing and how it validated her family's stories about where they come from. It also complicates her ideas about identity.
My students are starting Sing, Unburied, Sing and The Round House. I've never used Sing, Unburied, Sing, so we'll see what the response to that one is.
To celebrate Black History month, I'm going to read my ER book Corregidora, which I have never read.
Hi Beth. I also won Corregidora through ER. Look forward to your thoughts on it...
Strong start, Katie. Not, I think, a happy book, though.
We had another snow day today. We've had about ten inches, which brings us about 20 inches above normal snowfall for the year. My wonderful SIL stopped by and cleared my driveway this morning, but I think another inch has fallen. I'll go out later and clean up.
I loved the only book I've read by Jesmyn, which was her memoir (the name of it slips my mind at the moment). It was quite haunting what she (and many other people) have to go through. Seemed like a real-life version of The Hate U Give.
Her fiction is wonderful, Rachel. I think you'd like it. I've yet to read the memoir. I'm reading a collection of essays edited by her now. Speaking of which...
From The Fire This Time:
A great poem by Clint Smith called "Queries of Unrest"
Maybe I come from the gap
between my father's teeth.
Maybe I was meant to see a little
bit of darkness every time he smiled.
Maybe I was meant to understand that
darkness magnifies the sight of joy.
Maybe I come from where the sidewalk
ends, or maybe I just read that in a book once.
It can be hard to tell the difference sometimes.
Maybe that's because when I was a kid
a white boy told me I was marginalized
and all I could think of was the edge
of a sheet of paper, how empty it is--
the abyss I was told never to write into.
Maybe I'm scared of writing another poem
that makes people roll their eyes
and say,"another black poem."
Maybe I'm scared people won't think
of the poem as a poem, but as a cry for help.
Maybe the poem is a cry for help.
Maybe I come from a place where people
are always afraid of dying.
Maybe that's just what I tell myself
so I don't feel so alone in this body.
Maybe there's a place where everyone is both
in love with and running from their own skin.
Maybe that place is here.
Maybe that's why I'm always running from
the things that love me. Maybe I'm trying
to save them the time of burying darkness
when all they have to do is close their eyes.
More from The Fire This Time:
"Blacker than Thou" an essay by Kevin Young about black identity and why people want to do things like blackface -- a bit timely this one. The reason he wrote it was when Rachel Dolezal was discovered to be passing as black when she wasn't. Young posits various ideas why white people pose as black in this entertaining essay and says, "When you are black, you don't have to look like it, but you do have to look at it. Or look around. Blackness is the face in the mirror, a not-bad-looking one, that for no reason at all some people uglify or hate on or wish ill for, to, about. Sometimes any lusting after it gets to be a drag too."
>110 BLBera: Hi Twin--I loved that poem , too, and wrote an excerpt on my thread. Guess I better get going and catch up to you again!
Winter is almost over....winter is almost over....
>92 BLBera: That one is already in the BlackHole or I would be adding it again!
Beth, I envy your students getting to read some contemporary fiction with your guidance. It also gives you a chance to dig in a little deeper in some great books. Win win!
>114 msf59: Mark, raise one for me on Friday. I would have tried to join, but I have been sick and don't want to spread germs around.
>115 lauralkeet: Hi back, Laura. I haven't read that one yet. It's on the list.
>116 alcottacre: That's a good thing, right Stasia?
>117 RidgewayGirl: Thanks Kay. The collection is a little uneven, but overall I am enjoying it.
>118 Donna828: Thanks Donna. I would like to say my students agree, but I think most of them feel I am a big pain for requiring them to read and think.
>119 ChelleBearss: Thanks Chelle. I had forgotten.
From The Fire this Time:
"Black and Blue" by garnet Cadogan is an essay about walking. I loved this one because I am an avid walker. Cadogan talks about his experience walking growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, walking while in college in New Orleans, and walking in New York City. It may surprise us to learn that walking in Jamaica was much safer than walking in the US. As Cadogan notes: "Walking while black restricts the experience of walking, renders inaccessible the classic Romantic experience of walking alone."
I'm not familiar with Cadogan, but I will look for his work. The essay reminds of one by Brent Staples, "Just Walk on By," which is widely anthologized.
Scout wanted to write a note to her dad that read: "Dear Dad, You are the sweetest dad. You are so good to me and to the dogs, at least to Charlie."
I guess he doesn't love Lola, the other dog, as much. She wanted to put money into the card. I told her to get money from her clubhouse stash(she charges for admission and it has to be "paper" money). She looked at me and smiled, "Tita, I know you have money. You're not homeless."
Caroline, I can't believe how fast she is growing up. I try to treasure each moment with her.
Hi Beth! I love the Scout story :-) And the fact that she has a clubhouse in one of your closets :-)
19. Corregidora is a raw, powerful story about the endurance of memory. Ursa Corregidora, the title character is descended from slave women who were raped by their slave owner, who fathered both her grandmother and mother. They tell Ursa the story over and over again, so that it will never be forgotten: "My great-grandmama told my grandmama the part she lived through that my grandmama didn't live through and my grandmama told my mama what they both lived through and my mama told me what they all lived through and we were suppose to pass it down like that from generation to generation so we'd never forget."
Ursa doesn't forget, and her relationships with men are scarred by the memories. Even her singing is informed by the memories and she notes that when she performs she is often considered a commodity. The story of her life is the story of her trying to come to terms with this past. Her relationship with Mutt, her husband, reminds me of Tea Cake and Janie's relationship in Their Eyes Were Watching God.
This novel, with its uncensored memories and raw language, is powerful. Ursa's story will stay with me for a long time.
The Fire This Time:
"The Condition of Black Lives Is One of Mourning" by Claudia Rankine
Rankine does not mince words. This essay talks about how a black mother has to fear for her child's life every time they leave the house:
"The Charleston murders alerted us to the reality that a system so steeped in anti-black racism means that on any given day it can be open season on any black person -- old or young, man, woman, or child. There exists no equivalent reality for white Americans. We can distance ourselves from this fact until the next horrific killing, but we won't be able to outrun it."
Hi Beth! I just finished Corregidora as well. A tough read, but I am really glad I requested it.
>133 banjo123: I agree, Rhonda. I can't believe I never read it before. Poor Ursa.
Thanks Anne - My kids' book collection has gotten huge, thanks to you, so I am happy to add to your WL. I hope you like them. I can't believe MY baby will be 36 this year.
Hi Judy - Glad your computer woes are over. If you liked Their Eyes Were Watching God, I think you'll like this one.
Hi Barbara. Take care skiing.
20. Ghost Wall - Creepy and disturbing are two words that come to mind when I think about this short novel. Moss really knows how to create an atmosphere. The cover should have clued me in -- it fits well.
Silvie, her parents, and a group of university students and their professor are reenacting Iron Age life for two weeks. What could go wrong? Told from Silvie's point of view, we get a picture of a home life that is seriously disturbed. As the weather gets hotter, tempers flare, and the atmosphere becomes more menacing. When they build a ghost wall, at first the students ridicule it, but Silvie finds it strangely authentic: "They made drumming, as the eastern sky darkened and stars prickled above the band of pale cloud. They made chanting, and I found myself joining in, heard my voice rise clear, hold its notes, above their low incantation. We sat on the ground before our raised bone-faces, sang to them as they gleamed moonlit into the darkness. We sang of death, and it felt true."
There seems to be power in these ancient rites that perhaps shouldn't be played with. Very creepy. Moss can set a stage. This is my first work by her, but I will pick up more of her work.
Next, I need something less dark, I think.
I just started Ghost Wall last night and I have The Clockmaker's Daughter going for my commute. Thanks for the great recommendations!
You are welcome, Vivian. I'll watch for your comments on both of them. I imagine you'll finish Ghost Wall pretty quickly.
>125 BLBera: Great story.
Slavery and rape, creepy and dark. What about a Heyer, given our discussion on my thread?
>92 BLBera: I’m hearing nothing but good things about this one.
>125 BLBera: Love the Scout story!
>139 BLBera: While waiting for my library hold, I happened to pick this up off the Express shelf last week. I only read the first page or so and decided it was way too dark for me that day! I still have my hold (frozen now) but I’m not so sure about wanting to read it now.
>2 BLBera: I have a ticket to hear Kamila Shamsie in the series 'Writers on Art' at Tate Britain at the end of the month. I'm looking forward to it Beth.
That sounds wonderful, Caroline. I would love to hear her speak. I've loved both books by her that I've read.
I've already got Ghost Wall on my Overdrive list Beth. I love dark novels so I think I'll probably like this one.
Good to see that you liked The Clockmaker's Daughter, Beth. I checked my books to make sure that I had that one and found out that I have another one by Morton, The Forgotten Garden. Hmm, I wonder where I put that one?
You got me with a BB for Ghost Wall so I am now on the library hold waiting list for that.
Trying to avoid adding to the TBR list and failing miserably. I love that Scout has dens all over your house. Sounds like lots of fun. I am going to miss Shamsie by one day: talk about bad timing for a trip! Looks marvellous. (>146 Caroline_McElwee:) I have the four books she put together for Penguin as 'women writers', and I really like her intro to them. Hoping she picks more (and that Penguin supports her to republish them).
>151 charl08: What a shame Charlotte, we could have had an LT meet-up!
Oh my goodness, visitors. Well, instead of grading, I'll talk to my friends. :)
>148 brenzi: I think you'll consume this in one sitting, Bonnie. I'm not usually a fan of dark, but I found this very compelling.
>149 Familyhistorian: I'm always happy to spread the BBs around, Meg. :) I've enjoyed all the Morton books that I've read, but The Clockmaker's Daughter was my favorite.
>150 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura. I think that scene made the finale plausible.
>151 charl08: Hah! Happy to add books to your list, Charlotte. It's only fair. You get me with your reviews every week! Too bad you and Caroline don't get a meet up.
>152 Caroline_McElwee: What a missed opportunity. We'll have to have one next time I visit.
>153 souloftherose: Hi Heather. This was my first by Moss. Which others would you recommend?
21. The Fire This Time is a collection of essays inspired by James Baldwin's essays in The Fire Next Time. While several of the writers mention Baldwin directly, many invoke his ideas indirectly. I found the collection a bit uneven, which is normal with any anthology, but overall I learned from the collection and would recommend it. I even found a couple of writers whose work I would like to explore: Kiese Laymon and Garnette Cadogan.
Edwidge Danticat's words to her daughters seem to be a fitting closing to the collection. She writes to them, "Please know that there will be times when some people might be hostile or even violent to you for reasons that have nothing to do with your beauty, your humor, or your graces, but only your race and the color of your skin. Please don't let this restrict your freedom, break your spirit, or kill your joy. And if possible do everything you can to change the world so that your generation of brown and black men, women, and children will be the last who experience all this."
In keeping with Black History Month, I'm going to start another collection of essays by Toni Morrison: The Source of Self-Regard.
Beth, I read Kiese Laymon's memoir, Heavy last year, and it was excellent.
>158 BLBera: I love that quote from Danticat. It made me tear up.
22. The Last Romantics is the story of the Skinner family, especially the siblings: Renee, Caroline, Joe and Fiona. When Fiona is four years old, their father dies unexpectedly. Their mother retires to her bedroom for "the Pause," as the siblings later call it. Renee, the oldest, takes over, and somehow the children survive.
The story of the siblings is told by Fiona, almost a hundred years later. She is a renowned, elderly poet and starts to tell the story in response to a question about the inspiration of her most famous poem, a love poem. This framing device is the weakest part of the novel. Supposedly there is some environmental catastrophe going on, but this storyline is not developed and it hardly seems necessary to the story.
The characters are alive, and the author treats them with an affection that I also felt by the end of the novel. As Fiona says, when telling the story of her family, "What I wanted to say...was that the greatest works of poetry, what makes each of us a poet, are the stories we tell about ourselves. We create them out of family and blood and friends and love and hate..."
Anyone who likes family sagas and doesn't mind shedding a tear will love this novel. Conklin, in her acknowledgment, says it was inspired by a family tragedy, which could account for the emotion of the novel.
Next: The Auschwitz Violin, one from my shelves.
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