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SusanJ's 75 Books Challenge - Thread 3

This is a continuation of the topic SusanJ's 75 Books Challenge - Thread 2.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Feb 19, 6:46am Top

Hello, and welcome to my third thread for 2019.

I'm Susan, a Kiwi living in London for the past 24 years. During the working week I'm a lawyer so I love nerdy legal stuff, which crops up in more books than you might expect.

Over the past few years I've started to read a lot more non-fiction, so my reading is now more balanced between F and NF than it was in the past. I think I spend more *time* reading NF than F, but NF books tend to be longer and more complicated than a quick novel.

While I have been reading mostly from the library, I do have a fair few books that I've bought (mostly for the Kindle) and I need to keep my eye on those so that I actually read them instead of just accumulating them. Every year I give up reserving or randomly borrowing library books during November (which is renamed "No!vember") but I might need to add in another couple of months.

Edited: Yesterday, 3:32pm Top

Books read during 2019


1. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
2. The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes
3. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
5. Nerve by Dick Francis
6. An Unwanted Guest by Shari La Pena
7. Snap by Belinda Bauer
8. The Fast 800 by Michael Mosley
9. Ghost Trees by Bob Gilbert
10. The Law of Angels by Cassandra Clark
11. The Ravenmaster by Christopher Skaife
12. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
13. Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood
14. West by Carys Davies
15. The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
16. Murder by the Book by Claire Harman - January Gem
17. Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan


18. Blood on the Page by Thomas Harding
19. The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
20. A House for Mr Biswas by V S Naipaul
21. Pandemic by Robin Cook
22. Is There No Place On Earth For Me? by Susan Sheehan
23. Hitler's Beneficiaries by Gotz Aly
24. Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson
25. The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder
26. The Horseman by Tim Pears - February Favourite
27. The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths
28. Primate Change by Vybarr Cregan-Reid
29. The Familiars by Stacey Halls
30. The Cleaner by Paul Cleave
31. Book for work
32. The Captives by Debra Jo Immergut


33. Forfeit by Dick Francis
34. The Secret Place by Tana French
35. Threads of Life by Clare Hunter
36. Lab Rats by Dan Lyons
37. Outskirts by John Grindrod
38. A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey
39. A Plague on Both Your Houses by Susanna Gregory
40. The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury
41. A Parliament of Spies by Cassandra Clark
42. The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz
43. Crowner's Quest by Bernard Knight
44. The Darwin Awards - Countdown to Extinction by Wendy Northcutt
45. The Impossible Life of Mary Benson by Rodney Bolt
46. Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufmann

Feb 19, 6:48am Top

A couple of years ago I started a new NF challenge, which is to read the non-fiction winners of the Pulitzer prize. I stole this idea from Reba, who was doing a fiction challenge (and has now finished it. Hi Reba!) This is a long-term project, rather than something to be completed in a year or two. If I can't find the relevant non-fiction winner easily in the UK, I propose to substitute the winner of the history category.

Last year I didn't make great progess, so I'd like to read at least five this year.

Here's the full list:

2018 Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman
2017 Evicted by Matthew Desmond
2016 Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick
2015 The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
2014 Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin
2013 Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King
2012 The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt
2011 The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
2010 The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David E. Hoffman

2009 Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A Blackmon
2008 The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 by Saul Friedländer
2007 The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
2006 Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya by Caroline Elkins
2005 Ghost Wars by Steve Coll
2004 Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum
2003 A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power
2002 Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution by Diane McWhorter
2001 Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan by Herbert P Bix
2000 Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II by John W. Dower

1999 Annals of the Former World by John McPhee
1998 Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
1997 Ashes To Ashes: America's Hundred-Year Cigarette War, The Public Health, And The Unabashed Triumph Of Philip Morris by Richard Kluger
1996 The Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism by Tina Rosenberg
1995 The Beak Of The Finch: A Story Of Evolution In Our Time by Jonathan Weiner
1994 Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days Of The Soviet Empire by David Remnick
1993 Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America by Garry Wills
1992 The Prize: The Epic Quest For Oil, Money & Power by Daniel Yergin
1991 The Ants by Bert Holldobler and Edward O Wilson
1990 And Their Children After Them by Dale Maharidge and Michael Williamson

1989 A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan
1988 The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes
1987 Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land by David K Shipler
1986 Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families by J Anthony Lukas
1986 Move Your Shadow: South Africa, Black and White by Joseph Lelyveld
1985 The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two by Studs Terkel
1984 The Social Transformation Of American Medicine by Paul Starr
1983 Is There No Place On Earth For Me? by Susan Sheehan
1982 The Soul of A New Machine by Tracy Kidder
1981 Fin-De Siecle Vienna: Politics And Culture by Carl E Schorske
1980 Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R Hofstadter

1979 On Human Nature by Edward O Wilson
1978 The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan
1977 Beautiful Swimmers by William W Warner
1976 Why Survive? Being Old In America by Robert N Butler
1975 Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
1974 The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker
1973 Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam by Frances Fitzgerald
1973 Children of Crisis, Vols. II and III by Robert Coles
1972 Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-1945 by Barbara W Tuchman
1971 The Rising Sun by John Toland
1970 Gandhi's Truth by Erik H Erikson

1969 The Armies Of The Night by Norman Mailer
1969 So Human An Animal by Rene Jules Dubos
1968 Rousseau And Revolution, The Tenth And Concluding Volume Of The Story Of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant
1967 The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture by David Brion Davis
1966 Wandering Through Winter by Edwin Way Teale
1965 O Strange New World by Howard Mumford Jones
1964 Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter
1963 The Guns of August by Barbara W Tuchman
1962 The Making of the President 1960 by Theodore H White

Edited: Yesterday, 3:35pm Top

My 2019 reading challenge is going to be the Goodreads "Around the World in 52 Books" challenge, which is here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/174195-around-the-year-in-52-books

I'll post the names and covers of the books as I finish them.


36. A book featured on an NPR Best Books of the Year list - The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
3. A book where the author’s name contains A, T, and Y - The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes
27. A book off of the 1001 books to read before you die list - I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
14. A book with a title, subtitle or cover relating to an astronomical term - The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
11. A book related to one of the 12 Zodiac Chinese Animals (title, cover, subject) - Nerve by Dick Francis
35. A psychological thriller - An Unwanted Guest by Shari La Pena
9. A book from one of the top 5 money making genres (romance/erotica, crime/mystery, religious/inspirational, science fiction/fantasy or horror) - Snap by Belinda Bauer
47. A book related to food (i.e. title, cover, plot, etc.) - The Fast 800 by Michael Mosley
4. A book with a criminal character (i.e. assassin, pirate, thief, robber, scoundrel etc) - The Law of Angels by Cassandra Clark
50. A book that includes a journey (physical, health, or spiritual) - In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
10. A book featuring an historical figure - Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood
12. A book about reading, books or an author/writer - The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
16. A book told from multiple perspectives - Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
46. A book with a (mostly) black cover - Blood on the Page by Thomas Harding
34. A book with a person's name in the title - A House for Mr Biswas by V S Naipaul
33. A book you have owned for at least a year, but have not read yet - Is There No Place on Earth For Me? by Susan Sheehan
28. A book related to something cold (i.e. theme, title, author, cover, etc.) - Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson
51. A book published in 2019 - The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths
43. A book related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) (fiction or nonfiction) - Primate Change by Vybarr Cregan-Reid
7. Two books related to the same topic, genre, or theme: Book #1 - The Familiars by Stacey Halls (the topic is witchcraft in 17th century England)
42. A book with a monster or "monstrous" character - The Cleaner by Paul Cleave
19. A book by an author who has more than one book on your TBR - Forfeit by Dick Francis
6. A book with a dual timeline - The Secret Place by Tana French
18. A book related to one of the elements on the periodic table of elements - Lab Rats: Why Modern Work Makes People Miserable by Dan Lyons (the element is Silicon (i.e. Valley))
20. A book featuring indigenous people of a country - A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey
37. A book set in a school or university - The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury
40. A book you stumbled upon - The Impossible Life of Mary Benson by Rodney Bolt


1. A book that was nominated for or won an award in a genre you enjoy - Sugar Money by Jane Harris
2. A book with one of the 5 W's in the title (Who, What, Where, When, Why)
5. A book by Shakespeare or inspired by Shakespeare - The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson
8. 2 books related to the same topic, genre, or theme: Book #2 - Witchfinders by Malcolm Gaskill
13. A book that is included on a New York Public Library Staff Picks list - Little by Edward Carey

15. A book by an author from a Mediterranean country or set in a Mediterranean country
17. A speculative fiction (i.e. fantasy, scifi, horror, dystopia)
21. A book from one of the polarizing or close call votes
22. A book with a number in the title or on the cover
23. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #1 Something Old - Old Sins by Penny Vincenzi

24. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #2 Something New
25. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #3 Something Borrowed
26. 4 books inspired by the wedding rhyme: Book #4 Something Blue
29. A book published before 1950 - Rookwood by William Ainsworth
30. A book featuring an elderly character

31. A children’s classic you’ve never read - The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
32. A book with more than 500 pages
38. A book not written in traditional novel format (poetry, essay, epistolary, graphic novel, etc)
39. A book with a strong sense of place or where the author brings the location/setting to life
41. A book from the 2018 GR Choice Awards - I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

44. A book related in some way to a tv show/series or movie you enjoyed (same topic, same era, book appeared in the show/movie, etc.) - Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden
45. A multi-generational saga
48. A book that was a finalist or winner for the National Book Award for any year
49. A book written by a Far East Asian author or set in a Far East Asian country
52. A book with a weird or intriguing title

Edited: Mar 21, 5:48am Top

I have a few series on the go, so in this post I'm going to list them so that I don't forget where I'm up to. Reading in order is important to me :-)

Series I have started and still have squillions to go *happy sigh*

I'm going to list these in date order, because why not.

Steven Saylor's Gordianus the Finder (about 100 BC)

Roman Blood
Arms of Nemesis

Ruth Downie's Medicus (Britannia, 108)

Terra Incognita

Priscilla Royal's Eleanor, Prioress of Tyndal (East Anglia, 11th century)

Wine of Violence

Ellis Peters' Cadfael (Shropshire, 1135 - 1145)

A Morbid Taste for Bones
One Corpse Too Many
Monk's Hood

Bernard Knight's Crowner John (Devon, 1190s)

The Sanctuary Seeker
The Poisoned Chalice
Crowner's Quest

Susanna Gregory's Matthew Bartholomew (Cambridge, 1348)

A Plague On Both Your Houses

Cassandra Clark's Abbess of Meaux (Yorkshire, 1380s)

Hangman Blind
The Red Velvet Turnshoe
The Law of Angels
A Parliament of Spies

Michael Pearce's Mamur Zapt (Egypt, 1908)

The Mamur Zapt and the Return of the Carpet

Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver (England, 1920s/1930s)

Grey Mask
The Case is Closed

John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee

The Deep Blue Goodbye

Mal Sjowall's Martin Beck


John Sandford's Lucas Davenport

Rules of Prey

Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch

The Black Echo

John Harvey's Charlie Resnick

Lonely Hearts
Rough Treatment
Cutting Edge

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's Agent Pendergast


Harry Bingham's Fiona Griffiths

Talking to the Dead
Love Story, With Murders

Mari Hannah's Kate Daniels

The Murder Wall

Paul Cleave's Christchurch Murders

The Cleaner

Stuart MacBride's Logan McRae

Cold Granite
Dying Light
Broken Skin
Flesh House
Blind Eye
Dark Blood

Manda Scott's Ines Picaut

Into the Fire

Anthony Horowitz's Daniel Hawthorne

The Word is Murder
The Sentence is Death

Susan Mallery's Mischief Bay

The Girls of Mischief Bay

Series I'm caught up with and waiting for the next one *tapping foot*

Lee Child's Jack Reacher, obvs
C J Box's Joe Pickett
Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon
Elly Griffiths' Dr Ruth Galloway
Vaseem Khan's Baby Ganesh Agency
Abir Mukherjee's Sam Wyndham
Lynne Truss's Constable Twitten
Attica Locke's Highway 59

Not really a series but I need to keep track of my Dick Francis finishes (Hi Julia!)


Edited: Feb 19, 6:53am Top

Edited: Feb 22, 1:17pm Top

25. The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America by Timothy Snyder

This is a new book which was a Kindle Daily Deal a few days ago, so I snapped it up for just 99p. The author looks at attempts by Russia to dominate the world not by improving itself, but by causing chaos in other places so that Russia doesn't look as bad. Namely, Russia wants to bring down the US, destroy the EU and be at the centre of "Eurasia".

I thought he was convincing on the situation in Ukraine, and in respect of the US election, but he also said (without any real evidence) that Russia meddled in the Brexit vote, and I don't agree with that. Well, it may have meddled, but it didn't create dissatisfaction with the EU in the same way that it created "Donald Trump, successful businessman" out of pretty much nowhere. People in the UK have been moaning about the EU for years, and the fact that Nigel Farage appears on RT doesn't mean that people saw him and changed their views from Remain to Leave. Many people wanted to leave *despite* Nigel Farage being the poster boy for Leave, not *because* of it. They wanted to leave long before UKIP was invented, or the referendum was called, or Putin took over in Russia.

That aside, it was a very good read, and certainly thought-provoking. Recommended, although the first couple of chapters look at a 20th-century Russian philosopher who is all the rage now, and are a bit dry.

Feb 19, 7:33am Top

>6 susanj67: - Ha! So true.

From your previous thread, I'm glad it's not just airport security in the US that is non-sensical. It's the arbitrariness of it that annoys The Wayne so much he hates to fly. I'm just sort of resigned to it at this point.

Happy new thread, Susan!

Feb 19, 7:43am Top

Happy new thread. You've been getting some great reading done this year!

Feb 19, 7:48am Top

Checking in on the new thread, Susan!

Feb 19, 8:12am Top

>6 susanj67: Ah, there's always something to aspire to.

Not sure I mentioned, but I picked up Murder by the Book on your recommendation, and really enjoyed it. Although annoying, as I've not read anything by Claire Harman, and now I want to. I really liked the edition from the library - brand new, one of those handy hardbacks that doesn't feel like your wrists are going to struggle, and with beautifully done endpapers - a collage of newspaper cuttings. Rather tempted to get my own copy.

Happy new one!

Feb 19, 9:30am Top

>7 susanj67: harrumph, missed that, and it is now £12.99 Kindle! I'll wait for the paperback.

Feb 19, 9:46am Top

Happy new thread!

Feb 19, 10:18am Top

>7 susanj67: Sounds like an interesting book, Susan. I would disagree that it was the Russians who created the image/myth of "Donald Trump, successful businessman." The fawning New York and national media did that years ago — even the "failing" New York Times used to run excessively complimentary stories about him and his business "genius". And, of course, The Apprentice television series reinforced the impression of him as the sort of rich, brilliant businessman he never was.

To me, the biggest Russian influence on the 2016 election was in exacerbating political polarization by creating social media posts that spread wildly false and dehumanizing conspiracy theories. And, of course, hacking the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary's campaign manager. All done with the knowledge and cooperation of the Trump campaign, seemingly. Basically, they weaponized our worst traits against ourselves.

Feb 19, 10:44am Top

Happy new thread and sunny greetings from Davos.

Feb 19, 11:31am Top

Happy new thread, Susan. As usual, you're moving right along :)

Edited: Feb 19, 11:50am Top

>8 katiekrug: Hi Katie! I think people can get a bit power-crazed at times, but, as you say, there is really no alternative but to go with it.

>9 figsfromthistle: Thanks Anita! I'm pretty pleased with how the year is going so far - there has been nothing bad so far.

>10 alcottacre: Hi Stasia!

>11 charl08: Charlotte, I saw on your thread that you'd read Murder by the Book and I meant to say something. Glad you enjoyed it! I liked the actual book as an object too - it really invited me to pick it up and look at it. OK, I'm not a particularly difficult audience in that respect, but still...

>12 Caroline_McElwee: Caroline, I'll keep an eye out as I often see things repeated.

>13 drneutron: Thanks Jim!

>14 rosalita: Julia, thanks for your thoughts on the Trump issue. The author says that the Russians propped him up for years with money when no-one else would lend to him, making him feasible as a candidate when otherwise he wouldn't have been, but he also looked at the disinformation campaign (particularly through Facebook), which was shocking. It certainly seems that that was the clincher. I wasn't aware of the total lunacy of some of the conspiracy theories either - I'd only heard of the pizza-gate one (which was bad enough). You have to wonder why no-one said "Wait - this is ridiculous" but I suppose we exist in echo-chambers now. (ETA no-one on the haters' side. I mean, there is hating on the basis of actual fact and then there is just madness).

>15 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara!

>16 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks Reba - I have been assisted by some fairly short and/or gripping books :-)

Feb 19, 12:09pm Top

>17 susanj67: I used to check every day, but got out of the habit Susan.

Feb 19, 1:03pm Top

Happy new thread, Susan.
>6 susanj67: Doesn't happen in my house...

Feb 19, 4:49pm Top

Happy new thread, Susan. Thanks for the reply about the Fitbit. It's very difficult to shed oneself of electronics, isn't it. Arbitrary rules don't help either!

Feb 19, 5:34pm Top

>6 susanj67: That is true. Why is that?

Happy new thread, Susan.

Feb 20, 8:42am Top

Happy new one, Susan! So weird because I can see some but not all of the images here - even logging out and then back in doesn't fix it for me.

>6 susanj67: This made me laugh!

Feb 20, 11:08am Top

>18 Caroline_McElwee: Caroline, I have days when I jump on it and the odd day when I don't, but I'm getting better :-)

>19 Helenliz: Thanks Helen. It doesn't happen in mine either. That's why I love 3 for 2 deals - two shampoos and a conditioner :-)

>20 Familyhistorian: Meg, it is getting more and more difficult not to be electronic! I did confess to the Fitbit, though. I'm not sure it would have been picked up going through the arch. But they have guns at the Houses of Parliament - not really the best place to experiment :-)

>21 BLBera: Thanks Beth. Someone has probably done a study, but I haven't seen it written up in the Daily Mail yet.

>22 Crazymamie: Hi Mamie! I am also having trouble seeing a lot of images on other threads, but for the time being I can see them all on my own. Weird.

I went to the optician this morning, after they cancelled last week's appointment due to illness. My eye health is excellent *proud* but my prescription has changed a bit (although it is getting better, weirdly - something to do with age) so I am getting new glasses. Last time I kept the frames, but everything looks so different in glasses now that I think I'll get new frames too. Gulp. Glasses have been fairly skinny since I've been wearing them, and now they look enormous.

I started Primate Change last night, and it's very good indeed. I managed about 50 pages before the Netflix called to me to watch two episodes of something silly.

Feb 20, 9:00pm Top

Delurking with happy new thread wishes, Susan!

Feb 21, 5:41am Top

>24 lkernagh: Thanks Lori!

There are a few good UK Kindle bargains today:

Educated by Tara Westover: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Educated-international-bestselling-Tara-Westover-ebook/...

Ten Million Aliens by Simon Barnes: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ten-Million-Aliens-journey-through-ebook/dp/B00K1GBDG8/...

Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel (anyone who hasn't read this amazing series should start right here): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Clan-Cave-Bear-Earths-Children-ebook/dp/B004G8QZSI/ref=...

Forever by Judy Blume, which might come in handy for a "book you never read as a kid" category in a reading challenge: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Forever-Judy-Blume-ebook/dp/B00KPVMA98/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UT...

Edited: Feb 21, 2:17pm Top

>25 susanj67: I bit on Educated. Does Forever count as an unread book if we read the dog-eared bits passed around school? Asking on behalf of a friend, you understand...

Feb 21, 1:38pm Top

>26 charl08: Charlotte, yes it would count as unread as only parts of it were read. Also school was ages ago. Hope this helps your friend. I bought Aliens. I would have bought Cave Bear but I already have it...

I have tomorrow off! Yaaaay!

Feb 21, 1:39pm Top

>27 susanj67: and that's another person one could go off...

Feb 22, 5:02am Top

Hope you have a good day off! And indeed >27 susanj67: aeons ago.

Edited: Feb 22, 12:45pm Top

>28 Helenliz: Helen, and it's a PERFECT day down here too :-)

>29 charl08: Thanks Charlotte - I did! Well, it is only 2.30, so I still am.

I got the tube to North Greenwich this morning and walked for 20 minutes down to the new IKEA Greenwich. Strictly speaking it's in Charlton, but that sounds (and indeed is) a bit stabby, so they have got on board with the whole Greenwich Peninsula rebranding and it is IKEA Greenwich. It's very big and new and lovely, but I wasn't tempted to buy anything, not least because I wanted to do some more steps. Still it's good to know what everyone's talking about. It was very quiet for a brand new store on half-term week, but apparently the traffic is so bad at the weekends and the locals have started a petition to get the council to declare a climate emergency.

From there I walked another 20 minutes into actual Greenwich, or "Maritime Greenwich", which is the touristy bit. I had some lunch and then walked through the foot tunnel onto the Isle of Dogs, and up to Cubitt Town library, which had The Secret Place by Tana French. I want to catch up with this series but I've had trouble finding this instalment. However, this time the catalogue was right. I intended to browse a bit but it was roughly as hot as Venus in there, so I left and walked up to the Wharf, where I bought an airer from Robert Dyas, which is much easier to take home off-peak. 17,525 steps! I amaze myself. And now I still have the whole afternoon, which I might use to do a load of laundry and try out the new airer. Excitement!*

*I may need to get out more.

Feb 22, 9:53am Top

Humph! I posted, and then it *disappeared*!

>28 Helenliz: Helen, it's a perfect day down here, too :-)

>29 charl08: Thanks Charlotte - I did! Still am, in fact.

I wrote two paragraphs about my stepping today, which took in the new Ikea Greenwich, actual Greenwich, the foot tunnel under the river, the Cubitt Town Library and Robert Dyas at the Wharf, where I bought a new airer, but long story short: 17,525 steps! Yay! I may now do some laundry to try out the new airer. Or read a bit and take a nap. Decisions, decisions...

Feb 22, 10:29am Top

What's an airer?

Well done on the steps!

Feb 22, 10:40am Top

I'm MOST impressed with the 17,525 steps!!

Was going to ask "what's an airer?" but Katie beat me to it :)

Feb 22, 12:22pm Top

>32 katiekrug: a thing to hang clothes on so that they dry, usually collapsable, so that you can put it up and down. My granny would have called it a clothes horse. I use one for most of my laundry. It saves electricity, not having to use the tumble drier. I will cheat and tumble towels (because I like fluffy towels) and undies (because I can't be ***ed hanging undies on the airer).

Post does seem to have stayed put, which is good. Excellent day out! Lots of lovely steps and productivity as well. It looked nice out of my study window today as well *grumpy face*

Feb 22, 12:29pm Top

>34 Helenliz: - Thanks, Helen. I think we most commonly call that a drying rack (at least, that's the only term I've heard over here). I use mine very little - only for things that *can't* be put into the dryer. Bad Katie.

Feb 22, 12:57pm Top

>32 katiekrug: Thanks Katie!

>33 RebaRelishesReading: And Reba!

>34 Helenliz: Thanks for explaining, Helen. I was, um...sitting in my chair. Reclined. I'm replacing one that is wire-covered plastic, as the plastic is starting to peel off. And I've only had it 27 years. I mean really. The new one has a much smaller footprint and goes up high. So high, in fact, that it's lucky I'm tall.

>35 katiekrug: Katie, I also call it that, but a lot of the websites have them under "airers", so I wrote that thinking that other people must use that term instead ;-) I use mine a lot as I don't have a dryer. I have two for towels and another one for everything else. That's what the new one will be doing.

The only slightly alarming moment of my day was when I got out of Ikea and looked at my phone to find the map for the next bit. Instead, I saw a flurry of emails and text messages from the office saying that "Due to an incident in London, the office is closed." OMG! I looked over at the Wharf wondering what terrible thing had happened in the hour I hadn't looked at my phone, and why there were no sirens. Then a sheepish email arrived from the building manager, apologising for the emails etc sent in error.

Edited: Feb 24, 2:15pm Top

26. The Horseman by Tim Pears

This is the first book in a trilogy set in the West Country (Somerset, in this book) and it's absolutely gorgeous. I loved the story of 12-year-old Leo Sercombe, the son of a carter on a large estate, who has a way with horses. Shortish chapters take us through the year of work on the farm as Leo observes what's going on in the natural world around him. The LT reviews think it has too much about farming methods, but I loved the whole thing, and, after an ending which is a huge shock, I want to get to book 2 very soon indeed.

Feb 22, 2:20pm Top

>37 susanj67: I've heard good things about this trilogy, Susan. I must get to it soon.

Feb 22, 3:17pm Top

>34 Helenliz: My granny would have called it a clothes horse I also call it a clothes horse, and so does Mr SandDune. I’ve never thought before at how odd that sounds!

>37 susanj67: I’ve heard good things about that trilogy as well.

Edited: Feb 22, 3:45pm Top

I veer between the two names, I think.

Susan I'm finally getting into Pale Rider. Very good so far - I think it was your recommendation. Really like the period photos too.

Feb 22, 3:56pm Top

>38 BLBera: Beth, I'm sure you'll love it. The writing is beautiful.

>39 SandDune: Rhian, a clothes horse will always be a wooden thing to me. That's probably because we had a wooden one when I was a kid. It was seldom used as everything was line-dried in those days, but occasionally if it had been used we would be allowed to put the picnic blanket over the top of it afterwards and make a hut :-)

>40 charl08: Charlotte, yes, Pale Rider may well have been me. I really enjoyed it, so I'm glad you are too!

Feb 23, 6:42am Top

It's another beautiful day here, with blue sky and most of the mist already lifted. I might even - gasp - open one of the balcony doors later. Meanwhile, I have just discovered that my Amazon music collection is available via the Fire stick! I noticed an app called Amazon music (yes, sometimes it takes a while for the penny to drop) and there it is! I don't have masses of music in it, but enough to keep me company while I do housework. I should probably get on with some, instead of writing about it. That could be where my cunning plan falls down.

Feb 23, 8:52am Top

It's always been a clothes horse to me - whenever I've thought to call it anything. I don't actually own one, but maybe I should. it would be much better than the current big bath towel on the floor arrangement that I've used for some years even though it is always in the way. The only problem would be where to store it when it is not in use. Hmmm....

The Horseman is on the you-list, as well as three or four from your previous thread that I finally finished the other day. Balcony doors open - sounds heavenly! We are nowhere near that here, but it isn't freezing and there are crocuses poking their way out of the ground and several big, fat, robins in the bushes. It's a start.

Feb 23, 9:03am Top

>43 Fourpawz2: Hi Charlotte! I have given the airer its first try, and it seems excellent so far. I can walk around it, which is quite a feat in this small flat :-) Definitely move The Horseman up the list - it is so lovely. Also, I would like someone to discuss it with :-)

I opened the door to the kitchen balcony, and the world didn't end. There is a chew-toy there, which I think is from one of the good boys upstairs. (The dogs, I mean. Not the Clompingtons themselves). I went to the supermarket earlier, and since I got back I have also vacuumed (with attachments) and done two loads of laundry. I think now is the time to reward myself with the new Elly Griffiths.

Feb 23, 11:09am Top

It's another snowy, gray day here and we're expecting another foot of snow overnight. :)

Feb 23, 12:20pm Top

>33 RebaRelishesReading: Yes, I would call it a drying rack too. I rally don't have room to store one but I do hang clothes on hangers over the shower rod sometimes which works pretty well for air drying.

Feb 23, 2:12pm Top

>45 BLBera: Beth, oh dear. I hope someone comes and shovels for you, at least.

>46 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, mine fold pretty flat - they go in a cupboard if I need to store them away. Mostly, though, they just live in a corner of the kitchen because no-one is here to judge me :-)

27. The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

Ooooh! This is the newest instalment in the Dr Ruth Galloway series, and all I will say is that it's a great one and fans will love it :-) I know it's not out in the US yet, so I'm not going to say any more, even hidden.

Feb 23, 5:38pm Top

Me waiting for the new Ruth...

Hmm, I could probably get it at LHR during my epic layover....

Edited: Feb 24, 2:10am Top

>23 susanj67: Yes, guns would tend to put one off experimenting. My eyesight improved the last time the optometrist checked it, as well.

I have a drying rack/clothes horse/airer - or whatever they are called, but mine is made out of wood. What is yours made out of, Susan? Kudos for getting all those steps in exploring The Greenwich Ikea.

Edited: Feb 24, 7:51am Top

>48 katiekrug: Katie, :-) But you probably could get it at Heathrow, so that's something cheering.

>49 Familyhistorian: Meg, I think mine is metal, or a plastic made to look like metal. I love it whatever it is, though. I wish I'd got it years ago because the one it will replace takes up so much room. It has "wings" whereas the new one goes straight up.

It's another lovely day here, and I needed some steps so I walked up to Bow library, which is an hour away. Tower Hamlets is a big borough, although not as big as Twelve Sleep County, obviously... I took one book with me to return, and only got two out because I had further to go. But FINALLY I found A Plague on Both Your Houses, which is the first in the Susannah Gregory series featuring Matthew Bartholmew, and Threads of Life, which is "A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle" and which I saw in the new books display. I've just got it out of my bag to check the title and realised that the lettering on the front and back cover is embossed, so that it is slightly raised like stitched lettering. Awesome. Then I looked up how far Westfield was from Bow, and it turned out to be 34 minutes, via the Olympic Park, so I did some more steps. I have never been to the Olympic Park before, which is a terrible thing to admit, but it was lovely. Also I discovered a new Pret at the entrance from the Westfield side, but I carried on into the mall to my usual Pret which has more seats. 13,325 steps so far, and I am going to try not to sit down all afternoon, but get up periodically and do housework. Somewhere there's a flaw in this plan...

28. Primate Change by Vybarr Cregan-Reid

As the subtitle says, this book is about how the human body/health has changed since our ancestors were hunter-gatherers on the savannah, and not for the better. An astonishing list of conditions and diseases were unknown in the very olden days, and even the more recent olden days (the author hunts for references in old literature, which is fun). Some were unknown because people didn't live long enough to develop them, but a lot more can be directly traced to the mess we have made of the modern world, where we now SIT DOWN nearly all of the time. They didn't do a lot of sitting on the savannah. But nor did they do a lot of standing still, so the fad for standing desks is unlikely to make any real difference. The key is MOVEMENT. Use it or lose it - that sort of thing.

It's very well done, although ultimately depressing, because, while we can all move a bit more, there are additional issues like food being less nutritious (and proper food, not the processed variety), terrible air pollution and the fact that 80% of us (in the UK, anyway) now work in the knowledge economy, and our bosses aren't really going to approve of us walking around the block twice every hour (breathing in diesel fumes anyway). Or hunting things at lunchtime.

Nevertheless, I would recommend it, although it has a very small print size, so people with print issues should perhaps look for the ebook version.

Feb 24, 8:02am Top

>50 susanj67: The flaw is the getting up bit, right?!

Impressive work on the steps!

Feb 24, 8:05am Top

>51 charl08: Charlotte, yes, the flaw is the getting up to do something boring. I need something exciting. How can I cram some excitement into mopping the kitchen floor? All suggestions welcome.

Feb 24, 10:45am Top

>52 susanj67: A great audio book in your ear? or some cool music to dance with the mop to?

Feb 24, 11:07am Top

>52 susanj67: Exciting and housework? That's an oxymoron if ever I heard one!

I haven't racked up your steps. Due to logistics, I didn't have to go to out usual tower for ringing this morning, so decided I'd walk down to the nearest tower to support them for Sunday morning ringing. I arrived on time, to discover the church weas locked, as the service was an hour later than usual. So I walked home, then back down again for an hour later! It was a nice morning and the walk was nice each time. Hey ho. that'll teach me to check first.

Feb 24, 11:59am Top

>52 susanj67: Yeah, I've got nothing.
I walked to the cafe (with cake) and the bookshop. Not sure that counts...

Feb 24, 1:54pm Top

>53 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I went for music in the end :-)

>54 Helenliz: Helen, I thought of you this morning when I walked past St Dunstan's in Stepney and the bells were ringing. It's one of the best things about roaming around on a Sunday, particularly in the City where there are lots of churches quite close together.

>55 charl08: Charlotte, that sounds like the right decision!

29. The Familiars by Stacey Halls

This is a novel with some real people in it, set in 1612 at the time of the Pendle witch trials. I really wanted to like it, and it's got all sorts of plaudits in the publicity materials, but it didn't really work for me. The narrator is a 17-year-old woman (with the name of a real person) and it's about her friendship with one of the women (also real) who was later on trial for witchcraft (although there is no evidence that they actually met in real life.) I thought the dialogue was too modern, and indeed the narrator's behaviour seemed too modern for the time - riding round for hours and hours on her own, which I doubt would actually have happened, particularly as she was pregnant for the fourth time, having had three miscarriages. Also it turns out that the husband has done something awful, and she seems to forget about it and forgive him, which I found hard to believe. It was OK, but nothing to rave about. Fortunately I have another book (NF this time) about witchcraft in 17th century England, so together they will fit the "Two books related to the same topic, genre, or theme" categories of my reading challenge.

Feb 26, 8:05am Top

Well. I just went to the library, wearing only a light cardigan and a scarf. No coat at all. This time last year it was snowing. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-6745805/In-Pictures-What-difference...

I went to get a work-related book which the catalogue promised was on the shelf, and it actually was! I picked up two reserves while I was there (Outskirts, seen on Megan's thread at the weekend (!) and The Captives, from Katie's thread (Hi Katie!) and I also snagged a brand new copy of The History Man, which I read YEARS ago and was thinking about rereading for the "book set in a school or university" category of my reading challenge if only I could find a nice clean copy. I saw it as a sign...

I started The Cleaner last night, which is by a Kiwi author and set in Christchurch. It's excellent (although gruesome) but, even though I have a British edition, the temperatures are in Fahrenheit, "mum" is "mom", people take "elevators" and not lifts, and they talk about the "trunk" of a car and not the boot. Somehow I seem to have the US version of the text, because we don't talk like that in NZ. Very strange, and a bit sad because local language is part of the fun of things written in different places. It also needs a jolly good copy edit, because at one point someone goes to get their car twice on the same page - one by running up the stairs and the second time in the "elevator".

Feb 26, 8:25am Top

All caught up with you, Susan! I am adding The Horseman to The List, so thanks for that - why on earth does the touchstone want to go to Beast Quest #4?

I also wondered what an airer was, but I did not have to wonder for long - I say drying rack, but I think most people down here would say clothes horse. I do not own one - I just hang anything that can't go in the dryer on hangers in my tiny laundry room/pantry. You would not want to dry anything outside down here because it would immediately be covered in pollen.

Hooray for the stepage - nicely done!

Your thoughts about The Cleaner are reminding me of a conversation on my thread years ago where I was telling a story about dumpster divers and Megan said she had to look that up as it is called a skip there. I love stuff like that - language is so fun!

Feb 27, 4:30am Top

>58 Crazymamie: Hi Mamie! I think the touchstones have their own internal logic, which just isn't evident to anyone else. But I'm going to venture a guess that the Tim Pears Horseman is better than Beast Quest #4 :-) I walked to work this morning as it is still beautifully fine, and I have 6,000 steps already. Yay! In Auckland we called skips "Jumbo bins" because that was the name of the company that rented them out. They're still going, but I see they're only an Auckland thing.

30. The Cleaner by Paul Cleave

Joe is a serial killer, being hunted by Christchurch police for the "Christchurch Carver" murders of seven women. Except...Joe is only responsible for six of them. Incensed, he decides to find out who is copying him. As the body count rises, Joe closes in on the killer, but encounters unforeseen problems, and a woman called Melissa with something truly horrifying in her handbag.

I thought this was going to be too gruesome for me, but the (inky) black humour saves it. That, and the fact that there are so many deaths that the violence takes on an almost cartoonish quality. And women aren't the only victims.

It's the author's first novel, and, as I said above, I didn't like the language changes to US English (particularly in the UK edition!). There also seemed to be some plot points that went nowhere, but it's the first in a series of seven books called the "Christchurch Murders" so it's possible that those points are picked up in later books. But I whizzed through it in two evenings, and couldn't wait to find out what happened. Despite being a psychopath, Joe had a great "voice" with lots of snark. The second one is available at Cubitt Town, and I'm very tempted to go and get it at lunchtime, even though I have six books out already. Maybe I could learn patience.

Edited: Mar 1, 3:38am Top

Book 31 was one I read for work, so I won't name it. But the library copy was gruesome and I was glad to finish it and take it back. It was an interesting read, though.

32. The Captives by Debra Jo Immergut

I saw this on Katie's thread (Hi Katie! Stay inside today!) and it looked good. It's about a prisoner and her psychologist at the prison, and seems to be heavily influenced by Orange is the New Black (which is even referenced in a quote on the cover). But I read it very quickly, so it certainly held my attention. It's a first book for the author, and I'll look out for what she does next.

Mar 1, 6:33pm Top

Happy new thread :)

Mar 2, 7:51am Top

>61 ChelleBearss: Thanks Chelle!

I met up with Charlotte yesterday (Hi Charlotte!) and we walked around the Barbican, managing to find TWO book sales :-) Appropriate, really, for a LT meetup. I bought Persian Fire by Tom Holland and Emperor of the North by James Raffan, which is subtitled "Sir George Simpson and the Remarkable Story of the Hudson's Bay Company". I know woefully little about Canadian history, and I'm sure it's not really like Frontier (ahem) but that's what got me interested. It looks pretty much brand new, and has deckle-edged pages and the covers turn into flaps ;-) St Giles Cripplegate has book sales from time to time and they told us when their next one was, so I'm going to go through the hall cupboard and donate some.

In Fitbit news, I got my Nile badge this morning for 4,132 lifetime miles. The next badge is for 5,000 miles, and I do feel motivated...But not today. I've done some steps around Westfield, but I'm going to read my book for the rest of the pm, with maybe a little light housework in my new slippers :-)

Edited: Mar 2, 10:33am Top

>47 susanj67: SO jealous that it's already available for you.

>48 katiekrug: I'm with you, Katie. And if you do get a copy, you can think of your LT buddy, Beth, to pass it on to...:)

Susan, you have been getting in a lot of steps. Since my cough has been better, I've been trying to get back into the practice of exercise. With all the cold and snow, it's hard to feel motivated.

I do have a great story about our massive snowfall on Sunday. On Monday afternoon, my daughter arrived and told me to stop shoveling, that my SIL was coming to blow it out. So, we went into the house. A little later, I saw snow flying through the air and thought SIL had arrived. Instead, a complete stranger was shoveling my drive. He said his sister works in the school across the street from my house. She'd seen me shoveling and had called her brother to come and be a good samaritan and help. Wasn't that nice?

Mar 2, 10:59am Top

I assume you and Charlotte were meeting up to make plans for our meet-up in June? Right? Right?!?

Good on you with all the steps.

Mar 2, 12:44pm Top

BB! Emperor of the North sounds interesting to me and I know it would be of interest to Hubby. I may have to go looking for that one.

I'm impressed with your life-time (measured) walking distance. One thing I like less about my Garmin than I did about Fitbit is the "badges" and other cumulative data. I was planning to walk to my son's house this afternoon (about 7 miles) but it's raining and I'm a California wimp who is afraid to go out in the rain...so guess I'll drive.

Mar 2, 1:08pm Top

>63 BLBera: Beth, the Elly Griffiths will be out in the US before you know it. Somehow it is already March. That is a lovely snow story :-) What a sweet man, particularly as he was a total stranger.

>64 katiekrug: Katie, there *may* have been some discussion of that very topic :-)

>65 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba! I'm looking forward to both of my new things, but Emperor of the North is a particularly nice book to look at and flip through. I love my Fitbit badges :-) I was in the queue at Pret this morning when I saw the notification, and just wanted to show it to someone. But I managed not to...I don't blame you for driving today - it is still pretty fine and quite warm here (well, not cold, if not actively warm) but tomorrow is supposed to be very rainy and windy so that may well be a day inside.

I'm making progress with The Secret Place, but I could be doing better. I'm tempted to spend the evening finishing up Dirty John on Netflix. And I've found another Ted Bundy documentary on one of the TV catch-up services. aaargh.

Mar 2, 3:02pm Top

>66 susanj67: - Ooooooooooooh!

Mar 2, 3:24pm Top

>64 katiekrug: Definitely Katie. Ships were mentioned! Ships!

Edited: Mar 2, 3:42pm Top

>68 charl08: - And a happy coincidence - The Wayne got his passport photos taken today and is going on Wednesday to submit everything.

ETA: Helen may have some thoughts on ships, too :)

Mar 4, 4:13am Top

>67 katiekrug:, >68 charl08:, >69 katiekrug: Yes, there were ships. And the best way to get to and from Greenwich (more ships but also other things). Great news about the passport, Katie!

I didn't read as much as I hoped/planned over the weekend, but The Secret Place is coming along, and so is Threads of Life, although I did find a snippy (no pun intended) review of that one as I was going through some book review supplements over the weekend. I can see what the reviewer means but it's still a decent read.

I also watched all of Dirty John on Netflix (very good but that stupid woman! OMG), episode 2 of of Grey Zone (Walter Presents on the All 4 hub) and the first four episodes of The Clinton Affair, which was apparently on recently (All 4 hub again, in the box sets category). It's an A&E production from the US and very well done. I also watched the BBC documentary broadcast last week marking 30 years since the publication of the Satanic Verses, which is an eye-opener, particularly when one of the vox pop interviewees runs back into the frame, snatches the book from the presenter and tries to set it on fire.

Mar 5, 8:01pm Top

>70 susanj67: I'm off this week but I'm not making as much progress as I thought I might. I'm finding other things to do.

Mar 6, 1:32am Top

>57 susanj67: I ran into something similar in a book that I was reading. It was set in the UK and most of the language was right but they talked about miles and it wasn't an historic book when miles would still have been in use. It through me right off but I can't remember the title.

>64 katiekrug: *sigh* My timing is always wrong for meet ups. I will be in London in May not June so will miss Katie but would love to meet up with you, Susan.

Mar 6, 5:00am Top

>71 thornton37814: Lori - I can sympathise! I always have tons planned for time off, and usually end up doing something else.

>72 Familyhistorian: Meg, people still use miles here, whatever the official position is, and I'm not sure what it is with distances. That said, the NHS has a popular running app which promises "Couch to 5K" (kilometres) so it seems officialdom uses kilometres. Weights are supposed to be metric, though, and I remember when I came to the UK there was a lot of news about greengrocers not being able to advertise or sell things by the pound, and having to use the newfangled metric ("European") system. Shops now have prices displayed on the shelf per 100 grams, as well as the unit price of the thing concerned. But baby announcements are usually in pounds and ounces - the EU can't stop that :-) Great news that you will be here in May! It would be lovely to meet :-)

This is day 5 of the library catalogue being unavailable due to being upgraded. True, it's a planned outage, referred to on the main page of the library website, but still. It's going to be a *new* system, apparently, which makes me wonder what will happen to my wishlist. As I can't check the reserve situation every half hour, I went over yesterday at lunchtime just in case something had come in, but nothing had. They did have new displays, though - red books for "Books we love", a selection for International Women's Day, something about the Oscars, and an intriguing collection of books with covers with a white background, a grey main figure and colour accents in red or blue. And they weren't from a series - it must be a "look" that's popular at the moment, because there were at least a dozen of them. Perhaps trying to distract us from the lack of a catalogue, though, quite a few new ebooks have been added to that part of the website. Yay! They seem to have brought the Hannah Swensen series up to date, and this morning there were new books by Indian and African authors.

Mar 6, 7:50am Top

Five days!

(and the one that sprung to mind as odd - we are still drinking pints in the pub, which is weird now I think about it!) When I was at school they were convinced we were going over to metric completely, so that's all we were taught. Nothing about how to convert miles to km, or ml to pints. Talk about unhelpful. Baking seems to have pretty much gone over to grams now, but for ages we only had a lb scale, which made things interesting...

Mar 6, 8:11am Top

>:-o How do they expect you to manage with the catalogue offline for that long.

I'm a member of the mixed up generation as well. I work in metric, but live in imperial. So I'm perfectly happy ordering material at work in 20 kg sacks, or instructing someone to rinse in 20 mL of water. But at home I use 4 oz of pasta and know my height in feet and my weight in stones. Never the twain shall meet.

Mar 6, 8:20am Top

>74 charl08: Charlotte, yes, FIVE days. Not that I could actually reserve anything else right now because, um...but ANYWAY. And we still have pints of milk, too! (Although every bottle also says 568 mls). A dual scale is a must. And even then it's hard with US recipes which talk about exotic things like sticks of butter and quarts. A quarter of what? I think it's a gallon, but then I don't really know know much that is either. In pints, I mean :-)

>75 Helenliz: Helen, my parents were imperial, so I am bilingual, if you like (apart from the whole quart thing, which we didn't have in NZ). I also know my height in feet but not cm although I can do the maths if I have to. But stones to kilos...no idea. Stones are interesting though, because they don't seem to have them in the US. Everyone talks about their weight in pounds. I wonder whether stones went over with the early settlers and fell out of use, somehow, or whether there's another explanation.

Mar 6, 8:36am Top

>76 susanj67: kg to pounds is easy enough, double it and add 10%. 2.2 lbs to a kg. But I'm not that good at my 14 times table, so kg to stones usually takes a little bit longer.

Mar 6, 8:40am Top

When I was in elementary school (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth in the 1970s) we were told that "eventually" everything would be metric, but our actual learning of it was pretty haphazard and of course the stubbornness of Americans has won out so far.

Susan, a quart is indeed one-quarter of a gallon, or 32 fluid ounces. If I'm remembering the mnemonic correctly, there are two cups in a pint, two pints in a quart, two quarts in a half-gallon, two half-gallons in a gallon.

And yes, no stones over here for weighing things, which was completely confusing when I started reading (for example) the Dick Francis books, where the jockeys are always talking about how many stone they weigh. I finally learned it's 14 pounds, but having to do that math in my head is still painful! I don't know where that particular bit of measurement got lost in translation across the pond.

Edited: Mar 6, 9:48am Top

>77 Helenliz: Helen, thanks for that!

>78 rosalita: Julia, I was *also* at primary school when dinosaurs roamed the earth! New Zealand had certainly gone decimal by then (that happened in July 1967) but I'm not sure about measurements and weights. Thanks for the quart explanation - I am going to try and remember that. I can see that stones would be confusing if you'd never encountered them before! It's interesting that, although the US is still "imperial" for weights and measures, you've had 100 cents to the dollar for much longer than the UK has been decimal.

The longlist for the Walter Scott historical fiction prize is out: http://www.walterscottprize.co.uk/tenth-walter-scott-prize-longlist-announced/ .

Little by Edward Carey
A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey
After The Party by Cressida Connolly
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey
Dark Water by Elizabeth Lowry
Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller
Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
The Wanderers by Tim Pears
The Long Take by Robin Robertson
All The Lives We Never Lived by Anuradha Roy
Tombland by C J Sansom

I had a vague plan to read them all, and I have in fact already read three, but some of the others look a bit...not really me. And one of them I started and gave up on. I might think a bit more.

ETA: OMG Tombland is book 7 in a SERIES! Noooooo...

ETA more: They also have a list called "Academy Recommends" which is twenty more excellent novels that aren't part of the competition: http://www.walterscottprize.co.uk/2019-academy-recommends-list-announced/

Mar 6, 10:02am Top

>79 susanj67: - Most of the list is new to me, and several sound good. Which one did you give up on? And which did you read?

Mar 6, 10:27am Top

>80 katiekrug: Katie, I've read After The Party (superb), Washington Black (meh) and Warlight (also meh). And I've read the first one in the trilogy by Tim Pears - book 3 (The Wanderers) is in this list. Book 1 was my February Favourite, so I want to read the other two.

I started Dark Water and gave up pretty quickly, but I remember having quite a few things out from the library (really!) and perhaps feeling a bit pressured, so I could give that another go. The Andrew Miller looks hard, and is set at the time of Napoleon which is my least favourite time and place for historical books.

I suppose I don't have to read *all* of them, though :-) Oh no - not completing something. eek!

Mar 6, 11:13am Top

After the Party and The Western Wind sound the most interesting to me. I have the first in Pears' trilogy on my library WL...

Mar 6, 11:17am Top

>76 susanj67: a "quart" in a U.S. recipe is a quarter of a gallon...but not an Imperial gallon (just to really confuse things our quarts and gallons are smaller than yours). Also I noticed that speed limits are posted in miles per hour when I was driving in Scotland last fall. An nope, we don't have stones here except the ones on the beach and in the garden.

Mar 6, 11:41am Top

>82 katiekrug: Katie, you should totally read the first Pears one ASAP :-)

>83 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, oh my word! I had no idea they were different (particularly as we don't have quarts in regular usage). But I found this Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quart

So. Confusing.

Mar 6, 11:44am Top

>79 susanj67: Thanks for posting, Susan. I've read Washington Black and Warlight - I think I liked both of them more than you did although maybe not as much as some.

Mar 6, 11:46am Top

Ooh, and I found an answer to the "stones" question on Reddit, but it does cite an actual proper book :-)

The stone (14 pounds, about 6kg) sounds like it should be a really ancient unit of measure, and it is. But it was only added to the UK's Imperial system in 1824*, several decades after the U.S. had left the Empire. Today we also often call the U.S. system of measurement "Imperial," but that's technically wrong. We're actually using the "U.S. Customary System," a variant of the earlier British avoirdupois system, which shares many unit names with Imperial...but not the stone. (Source: Weights and measures standards of the United States, Lewis Van Hagen Judson, 1963)


*other sources say 1835

Mar 6, 11:47am Top

>85 BLBera: Hi Beth! I liked the first part of Washington Black, but then it all got a bit silly. I wanted to like it more.

Mar 6, 12:21pm Top

OMG the library catalogue outage has been extended until *8 March*. That's Friday! And if it's the whole of Friday, then that actually means Saturday. And I bet it's not up on Saturday, which means Monday. Humph.

Mar 6, 1:58pm Top


Mar 6, 2:04pm Top

Yowzers. Sympathetic face.

>81 susanj67: I can't believe you don't remember my review of Andrew Miller's book. I love his writing, I read ingenious Pain more years ago than I care to remember, and this one had me on the edge of my seat. He does historical fiction beautifully. Honest!

Mar 6, 2:40pm Top

>89 katiekrug: Katie, I know!

>90 charl08: Charlotte, I thought you had read it but found it difficult, and I thought that if you didn't like it then what hope would I have? But maybe that was something else...

I've downloaded the Peter Carey from the elibrary for the time being. And I'm trying very hard to nearly finish The Secret Place tonight - it started really well but it's about 200pp too long and I just want it to finish now. It does at least fit a couple of categories for the Goodreads challenge.

Mar 6, 4:33pm Top

>73 susanj67: I think one of the few things that stuck when we changed to metric was kilometers instead of miles so that's why it seemed so odd to me to read an English book with miles in it. But then we probably go by the official measurement because we have so many more kilometers over here and signage is always in kilometers. Grocers still sell things by the pound though and I am not very good with temperatures having learned in Fahrenheit and then everything switch to Celsius.

>76 susanj67: Weight is still measured in pounds but we never used stones which is odd if it made its way to NZ. Some of our measurements are in quarts and gallons but be aware that US quarts and gallons are different than the ones we use in Canada which makes the math tricky when nipping across the border to get cheaper gas (petrol). People still do nip across the border to fill up though because Vancouver has the highest gas prices in North America.

I am looking forward to meeting up in May. Right now I am working on excursions for the cruise part of my journey but will start in on the London dates soon.

Mar 6, 6:55pm Top

>84 susanj67: I checked out the quart entry in Wikipedia and then went to "Comparison of the imperial and US customary measurement systems" -- that will really cross your eyes.

Mar 7, 4:50am Top

>92 Familyhistorian: Meg, my last roomie came in one day and said that she'd tried to bake something over the weekend, but her oven didn't go high enough, so she'd put it in at the very highest temperature and it had got burned. I had to explain Fahrenheit and Celsius in recipes :-) British sovereignty was proclaimed in NZ in 1840, so I assume that we inherited whatever the British system was at that time. As stones seemed to have been added to weights and measures in the UK either the 1820s or 1830s, they would have been part of the NZ system too. Maybe Canada was earlier?

>93 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I think I'll just focus on the UK and metric systems for the time being :-) It's fascinating how different it all is, though, and where the old measurements came from.

I'm closing in on finishing The Secret Place, and I'm less than a hundred pages from the end of Threads of Life. Go me! I didn't even watch any silly TV last night (although srsly, is it just me or is Safe on Netflix the *most* ridiculous thing?)

Mar 7, 3:46pm Top

I work in a real mishmash of measures. Cooking is definitely metric, and I will shop for ingredients in metric (cheese for instance). I know my height in feet and inches and my weight in stone and pounds, although when J was small I knew his height in centimetres, and had no idea what that was in feet and inches. I work in centigrade as regards temperature: I have a rough idea about Fahrenheit temperatures if it's hot, but no idea at all if it's cold. I can probably do miles and kilometres fairly interchangeably, but if I was to measure something around the house it would be in metres or centimetres.

Mar 7, 10:46pm Top

Loving the whole metric versus imperial measurement systems discussion! I can only understand outside temperature readings in Celsius (but oven temps only in Fahrenheit). Cooking/baking measurements are in cups, teaspoons and tablespoons but I purchase my ingredients in metric terms. If I have to measure or weight anything, I think in inches/feet and pounds. Always baffling to see my height/weight on my driver's license in kg/cm. ;-)

Looking forward to seeing what you think of The Secret Place when you finish!

Mar 7, 11:08pm Top

My generation was brought up in the cross over between imperial measurements and the metric system being introduced post EEC.

I still think of my weight in stones rather than kilos as the number is so much smaller!

I have now gotten weaned off gallons for my fuel at the pump.

I still recalculate road signs from kms to miles in Malaysia and now find myself doing vice versa when I am in the UK!

Mar 7, 11:10pm Top

My height is also still calculated in feet and inches and disappoints me whether I switch to metric or not!

Measurements on construction plans and drawings are all in metric nowadays so at work I am very much a metres and milimetres kind of guy.

Mar 8, 2:55am Top

>91 susanj67: Any sign of life on the library catalogue?
Hope the Peter Carey is going well. Which one is it? Did I miss a new one?

Mar 8, 3:42am Top

>95 SandDune: Rhian, I'm definitely like you with Fahrenheit - if it's over 100 then that's hot, but things in the 50s and 60s mean nothing to me. I do love the way that the papers here quote F when they're trying to make things sounds REALLY HOT but otherwise use C.

>96 lkernagh: Lori, The Secret Place is very long, isn't it? Well, not so much long as very repetitive. How many times can they be fascinated by what teenage girls get up to? I should finish it in the next couple of days but, unless something changes, it's going to be the weakest of the series so far.

>97 PaulCranswick:, >98 PaulCranswick: Paul, I know what you mean by converting things back and forth when you travel. For ages I used to convert pounds sterling int New Zealand dollars to work out how much something cost, but now of course I do it the other way round. I think height here is commonly still feet and inches regardless of what it's supposed to be.

>99 charl08: Charlotte, the Carey is A Long Way From Home, from the Walter Scott prize longlist. So far it's not grabbing me but I'm only about 25% of the way into it. No change with the catalogue - the front page of the site says 2 - 8 March so I'm assuming that it won't be back up today. Although I may check later :-)

I have a day off today - I'm still trying to use up holiday before the end of our holiday year, which is the end of April. I plan to read :-) Oh, and get the laundry done. It's so nice to have it all finished for the weekend.

33. Forfeit by Dick Francis

This is the second book in Julia's shared read of novels by Dick Francis (Hi Julia!). It's quite different from the first one, and involves a racing journalist trying to work out a warning given to him by a fellow journalist just before he fell out of a window and died. There is quite a lot of running around and, as seems to be normal for these books, the hero is beaten up more than once, and has to stagger around trying to solve the mystery while he's black and blue (and, in this case, drunk). I've seen things saying that Dick Francis' wife was the real author of his books, with his name being used to sell them, but, on the basis of the three I've read so far, I can't believe it. The way he writes about women is just not the way a woman would do it.

Edited: Mar 8, 7:40am Top

34. The Secret Place by Tana French

I have finally finished this. Yay! I love French's books, and I liked the story in this one, but it was far too long. It got very bogged down in the middle, which was a shame, because it picked up really well towards the end. I saw the next one at the library recently and it seemed to be normal-sized, so I'm looking forward to that, and to the new standalone one.

ETA: This would fit at least the following categories in the Goodreads challenge: A book longer than 500 pages, a book set in a school/university and a book with dual timelines. If you have other French books on Mount TBR you could also use it for the "author who has more than one book on your TBR". I'm going to use it for the dual timelines category, as I think that will be harder to fill than the others.

Mar 8, 10:59am Top

>100 susanj67: Hi, Susan! You didn't mention liking Forfeit, so I won't, either. I'm currently re-reading it for the first time in years and I have to keep reminding myself that it was published in 1969. The, shall we say interpersonal relationships, seem very dated to me. And whether it was Dick or Mary putting the words down on paper, neither of them could write an interesting sex scene to save their lives. I just assumed that was classic British stoicism at work!

>101 susanj67: I love Tana French as well, and I agree that The Secret Place is the weakest one. I figured it was because I really don't give a flip about today's crop of teenagers, but also I simply can't relate to the whole boarding school concept, I don't think. Those sorts of books always lose something in the translation for me.

I meant to pop by and thank you again for the tip to the Gabriel Allon series. I finally got around to reading the fourth one and enjoyed it. I keep losing track of the series I'm meant to be reading ...

Edited: Mar 8, 12:21pm Top

>102 rosalita: Julia, I did enjoy it, although is it wrong of me to think that while things set in the 80s are not historical fiction, things set in the late 60s/70s might be? They do seem very old-fashioned, although that is a comment rather than a criticism. I may be in denial... I didn't mind the setting in The Secret Place as much as the unnecessarily complicated faffing around in the middle - I'm just not sure that teenagers are that interesting. We weren't in the 80s :-) I'm so pleased you're enjoying the Gabriel Allon series! Not too long now till the new one - it's the highlight of my reading year.

35. Threads of Life by Clare Hunter

Subtitled "A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle", there is lots that is interesting in this book, which looks at the role of stitchery in various cultures over the centuries. There is quite a bit of woo-woo, though, and there are no pictures at all, which really lets it down. The author does give some websites to look at, and I have added the Elizabeth A Sackler Center for Feminist Art to my list of things to visit when I'm next in New York (ha - that sounds like it may be any day. It won't be). It's the home of a famous exhibit called The Dinner Party, which sounds excellent. https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/dinner_party

If you're a stitcher then I would recommend this, with more concentration on the actual stitching and less on the overall commentary about women and stitching generally.

Mar 8, 1:22pm Top

Oh, just hop on a plane and come visit! I have friends from London coming in today :)

Mar 8, 4:19pm Top

>104 katiekrug: Katie, have fun! And, um, don't mention Brexit :-)

Mar 8, 10:56pm Top

Ha! We covered the gamut of US and UK politics. It was good fun!

Mar 9, 3:14am Top

>106 katiekrug: Excellent!

The library catalogue is back up, officially. Unofficially, it doesn't actually *work*. Well, a simple search doesn't. I'm still trying to load the "Advanced search" page. Aha! That doesn't work either. But I can see my personal details, and my current loans and holds, although I'm sure I had 12 holds and now there are only 9. The Wych Elm has disappeared altogether, anyway. That's annoying. Maybe I only had 10 holds. BUT we can now suspend holds (previously we could only do that in the elibrary). AND there are some new things available - a 7-day pass to Indieflix, which is a film site, and a pass to the Great Courses, which is excellent. My wishlist appears to have gone entirely, but then again it was in no order of any sort so it mostly just annoyed me because I could never find anything in it. I'm trying to create a new list and add something to it. Ooh, I now have a "Fiction" list :-) But I still have to add things from the catalogue, which doesn't work. I hope they're still working on it, but it's good to be able to see my holds, anyway. And I've finally been able to change my default pick-up library from the branch I joined 20 years ago to Canary Wharf. I'll have another look at it later to see if anything has improved.

Mar 9, 3:22am Top

>107 susanj67: Gah re the search function.
But the film bit sounds marvellous. Hope they manage to sort out the glitches quickly!

Edited: Mar 9, 8:23am Top

>108 charl08: Charlotte, it now seems to be up and running properly. I snuck a look on the bus (and managed to reserve The Wych Elm again) and I've just had a proper look on my laptop. There are a few more things to click than there were before but I think I'm working it out.



I just tested out the reserves, which were previously capped at just 12 items, and got up to 14 with no window telling me no. Ha! I've deleted a couple because 12 may be enough for now (no-one ever quote me) but the possibilities are potentially endless. Well, up to 14 at least. I wonder how many more I could have. I will have to have a quiet word with FLA and get the inside running. It's not that I couldn't spend the afternoon randomly adding things just to see what happens, but I've done something painful to the left side of my neck, and I should probably sit quietly and read things.

I have, however, been out and done some steps, so that's something. I was going to do more but it is ridiculously windy and I can't really look to the right without turning my whole self, neither of which is optimal for gadding about.

Mar 9, 12:56pm Top

So sorry to hear about your neck. I hope that will work itself out soon.

You mention having access to Great Courses via your library making me wonder if that's the same Great Courses we have here. I've recently discovered them and we watch them on the TV while eating lunch most days. They can be rather pricy so I must see if our library has them. (sorry for stream of consciousness there)

Mar 9, 2:48pm Top

>110 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks Reba. A nap seems to have helped a bit. Mind you, a nap helps most things :-) The Great Courses is the same - it's a seven-day pass, though, so I'd have to do quite a bit of intensive watching to get through one in the seven days. However, it's good to remember for if/when I have more time.

36. Lab Rats: Why Modern Work Makes People Miserable by Dan Lyons

This is excellent - an excoriating look at how the Silicon Valley "tech bros" and half-witted management philosophies have ruined the way that we work, ripped off workers by at least a couple of trillion dollars and normalised practices which make workers super-stressed and unhappy. The "disruptors" (Uber etc) come out of it very badly indeed (entirely rightly in my opinion) and the author has nothing good to say about my former pretend-boyfriend Elon, either (and that was *before* the first SEC row, the Thai caver tweet, the second SEC row, the smoking pot on a radio show and the reviewing of his security clearance by the Department of Defense after the pot incident).

Instead of building lasting companies, the vogue now is to talk up a "unicorn", get lots of investment, IPO and then cash out PDQ, leaving someone else to clean up the mess. Even real businesses have been bought out and wrecked by the raiding of pension funds and no real growth in wages. And they sell it to us all on the basis that the "gig" economy is what young people want. I've never been convinced by that. I think that everyone, old and young, would like (or at least like the opportunity to have) a regular salary, paid holiday, a pension and health insurance, along with a desk to sit at and a feeling that they actually matter. The author does find some people who run companies offering just that. One said that he was constantly criticised because "that's not what Steve Jobs would have done", to which his response is that he doesn't want to be like Steve Jobs.

The bits where the author tries out things like Lego Serious Play are funny (in an OMG sort of way), as he wonders when someone will finally dare to point out that the Emperor has no clothes. And the best quote is about a book which has 200+ principles of management, described by the New York Times as "like Ayn Rand and Deepak Chopra collaborated on a line of fortune cookies."

I want to hope that things are changing - that the "unicorns", most of which never actually make any money, will disappear and people will learn from the experience, but it will be too late for those irreparably damaged (or dead) as a result of the current nonsense.

Very highly recommended.

Edited: Mar 10, 8:56am Top

It's still blowing a gale down here, and a half-marathon running along my street meant that I couldn't even cross the road and go stepping. So I got the tube up to Whitechapel (fortunately the station is on my side of the street) and had a look at the library. I got the second book in the Matthew Bartholomew series by Susanna Gregory (there was a display with some of the books in random order. They're in a different order now :-) ) and Now We Shall Be Entirely Free by Andrew Miller, which Charlotte says is not in fact hard. So if it's hard I know who to blame. Or maybe whom to blame. Grammar experts, please step in! Then I went upstairs to the NF and got Black Tudors from a display, mostly because it was the cleanest-looking book there. And last I popped into Sainsbury's. I managed just over 4,000 steps, most of which were trying to get out of Whitechapel station when I got there. It's a mess of temporary routes and bad signage while the Crossrail work continues.

I started Outskirts last night, and realised that I've read the author's earlier Concretopia. I am such a nerd. Anyway, it's good, so I'll continue this afternoon if I can stay awake. I absent-mindedly took one of my pain pills this morning (I usually take it in the evening) and the main side effect is turning into a total zombie. I'm not doing too badly so far, but I sense a nap in the fairly near future :-)

Mar 10, 6:41pm Top

Susan, I was in my library earlier this week and finally I managed to remember to ask if there was a limit on holds, or reserved books. Yes there is! 15 books is the max. Lucky Charlotte with her 50 book cap. Though I'm not sure if I could handle more holds coming in at once than already happens. Well, out for my steps too and I sure don't feel like it, but the dog must go on her walk.

Mar 10, 8:46pm Top

>112 susanj67: Must be the day for half-marathons. We had one down our street today too.

Mar 11, 5:26am Top

>113 vancouverdeb: Deborah, 15 sounds pretty good. I'm up to 17 now and it's still letting me add things. I feel like I'm breaking the rules, but maybe these are the new rules :-) The new system shows me where in the queue I am for each one, so at least I can suspend some of them if too many look like they're going to arrive at once. I hope you got your steps done - a dog must be very motivating!

>114 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I hope it didn't confine you to your building. They are *so* annoying. The marathon is one thing, as it's been going on for years and is famous, but we have too many new runs/triathlons etc. They need to find a field and run around that.

I went through a few more book review supplements last night, while I kept an eye on the good boys and girls at Crufts, and now I have even more things. Aaargh. I started A Plague on Both Your Houses on the bus this morning, and I think I'm going to like the series. There are nearly 30 books in it, I think.

Mar 11, 8:15am Top

>111 susanj67: Wow. This sounds pretty grim. How nice that there are good employers out there though. Perhaps a little slant of light?

>113 vancouverdeb: I wish it was 50! It's 20. Somebody has mentioned 50 though - I can't remember who that was.

>115 susanj67: At least yours aren't parades with bagpipes. Speaking from (bitter) experience, there. Although the police were always very nice about helping to get across when you needed to get out, so perhaps the noise pollution balanced out...

I like that Gregory series. Hope you like the Miller as well. Otherwise I'm denying everything!!!

Mar 11, 8:29am Top

>116 charl08: Charlotte, yes, it was a grim read. I feel very sorry for the young ones starting out their careers in the "gig" economy. And yes, I'll have to remember to be grateful for the lack of bagpipes :-) There was some cheering from people watching, but not much noise. And, although there were a lot of plastic water bottles discarded in the street when I left, they had all been cleaned up by the time I got home again about 90 minutes later, so at least the organisers seemed to have that under control. I also hope I like the Miller, but I still feel a bit scared...

Mar 11, 9:53am Top

>101 susanj67: Glad to see you are enjoying the Tana French series. I think I got about halfway and need to get back to it someday

Mar 11, 11:45am Top

>115 susanj67: We have the often too, even the annual Rock and Roll Marathon which is in June, but it isn't a problem. They run in the street in front of us but our garage goes out to the alley in back so we can get the car out and, with some preplanning of route, get where we want to go that way. If we're walking the police always help us cross streets when necessary. There never seem to be spectators and any litter left behind is cleaned up before we even notice.

Mar 12, 9:10am Top

>118 ChelleBearss: Chelle, yes, overall I have enjoyed it a lot. I'm hoping the next one is shorter and more to the point :-)

>119 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, it sounds like at least yours are organised well. I was surprised all the rubbish was cleared up so quickly, but pleased :-)

Four of my, um, 17 library reserves are "In Transit." Two have been for quite a while, but two others are new. I am now wondering whether I should suspend some of the others, or live dangerously. Ooh.

Mar 12, 9:19am Top

Live dangerously!

(Says the woman who returned the 4 library books she had out because she was feeling overwhelmed...)

Mar 12, 9:25am Top

How do you feel about leaving a delievered book on the shelf for a bit? Can you cope with more books than you know what to do with?

I have up to 20 renewals, so they just sit on my shelf until I get around to reading them... which can take quite a while!

Mar 12, 9:33am Top

>121 katiekrug: Katie, I might give it a try :-) I'm feeling fairly on top of things, book-wise at the moment, as I don't have lots of hard NF out.

>122 Helenliz: Helen, if it's on the reserved shelf at the library then I feel I need to go and get it. Plus I'm in there so much anyway it would look a bit odd if I didn't go to the shelf. Sometimes they see me and say "Oh, something just came in for you", as if it's a co-incidence that I'm there :-) I also like to read reserves ASAP. The old system used to show whether a book could be renewed or not (we can have 5 renewals), but I can't see anything similar on the new system. It just shows how many times a book *has been* renewed, not whether there is any scope (left) for renewal.

I should finish Outskirts tonight, so the pile will be one book shorter :-)

Mar 12, 11:05am Top

>120 susanj67: Live dangerously! At the rate you read it isn't that much of a risk anyway :)

Mar 12, 11:27am Top

I'm really jealous of the hold feature. I have to delete and re-request, and even then it doesn't usually work!

Mar 12, 12:15pm Top

>124 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, you are all a very bad influence :-) But I did just ask someone not to schedule a meeting on Fridays until the end of the holiday year...

>125 charl08: Charlotte, perhaps be jealous when it actually works :-) The ebook suspension works beautifully, but I have no idea how it works with hard copies.

One of my pals at work has been here 40 years today. I told the roomie this and she looked shocked. "That's ten years longer than I've even been alive," she said, awed. I didn't pass that comment on...

Mar 13, 5:32am Top

37. Outskirts: Living Life on the Edge of the Green Belt

I saw this on Megan's thread, but didn't realise until I got it that I've also read the author's first book, Concretopia. That was about the postwar built environment. This one is about the "unbuilt" environment - the green belts around large towns and cities in the UK. I'm not sure whether the concept is just a UK one - I don't remember it in NZ but (a) that was ages ago and (b) NZ has a land area bigger than the UK but only 4 million people, so there isn't the same pressure of space. Even if cities (like Auckland) keep expanding outwards, there's plenty of space before they hit another city.

The book is part memoir (the author grew up in New Addington, and "green belt" land was literally on the other side of the street) and part history of the green belt movement and the various challenges made to it over the years. Both parts were good, but I didn't think they worked particularly well *together*. However, it's still a good read, particularly if you're interested in planning and development.

Mar 13, 1:25pm Top

I have checked my reserve status at least six times twice today and nothing has moved. Hmmm. I'm going over shortly to return something, though. I hope FLA is there so I can find out just how many reserves I can have. Then I'll head home to watch Parliament implode. It's all very confusing. But the pound rose last night after the vote against the "deal" on offer which apparently means that the markets think Brexit won't happen. Interesting. I can only echo the spokesperson for one of the industry groups: "This is no way to run a country".

Mar 13, 1:34pm Top

I'm down to 15 books out! *Proud*

Mar 14, 5:33am Top

>129 charl08: Charlotte! Um...yay!

I went in last night to return a book and picked up a silly one to read on the bus. All the machines are broken now, so I took it to the desk to be issued. The lady looked worried. "You have two due back on the 19th," she said, as if perhaps I had forgotten, or was unable to read two books in six days. "And more on the 31st." I wondered whether I should introduce myself. "Hello, we haven't met, but I'm one of your best customers." But I didn't. Nor did I really feel I could ask my question about the number of reserves allowed with the new catalogue. Darn. No more reserves are on the move this morning, and I'm aiming to have tomorrow off (again!) so I might actually whittle down the TBR pile over the weekend.

Mar 14, 10:58am Top

Another book is in transit! Most exciting. Not that I'm totally addicted to checking my reserves page or anything. Well, maybe a tiny bit.

Mar 14, 11:19am Top

Mar 14, 11:26am Top

>132 katiekrug: OMG, it's like you've hacked my webcam :-)

Mar 14, 11:33am Top


Edited: Mar 15, 5:31am Top

>134 katiekrug: No really, it's uncanny :-)

38. A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey

This is one of the Walter Scott prize nominees, and immediately available at the elibrary. It's set in the 1950s, and involves a famous car rally. I didn't like it at all, sadly. I couldn't really see the point, and I was relieved to finish it and send it back.

39. A Plague on Both Your Houses by Susanna Gregory

This is the first book in the Matthew Bartholomew series. Matthew is a physician who teaches at Cambridge university in 1348, and the first book involves the plague, which thins down the considerable list of characters. I thought there were perhaps too many people, and the plot was a bit convoluted, but overall it sets up the key character well, and it's fairly clear who the other key people will be as the series unfolds. I already have book 2 in my pile of TBRs, but I'll read a couple of other things first.

Mar 15, 8:28am Top

"which thins down the considerable list of characters" lol, Susan.

Mar 15, 2:35pm Top

>136 charl08: Well, but there *were* a lot of characters...I really want to start the next one, but The History Man is due back on Tuesday so I'm reading that instead. I can't let the library lady's worries come true.

I checked my reserves (just once today!) and eight books are "in transit". However, I am number 4 in the queue for one of them, so I'm not sure how that works. Maybe they're in transit to someone, but not to me. I nearly freaked out and suspended all the others, but I decided to hold my nerve until I see what "in transit" means in terms of things actually turning up. One thing has been in transit for around a month and there is still no sign of it. Hmmm. Meanwhile, I am greatly enjoying the new list feature of the revamped catalogue - instead of just one list in no order whatsoever, like the old system, I can create as many lists as I want. I have fiction, historical fiction, science, tech, royalty, women, Walter Scott prize nominees, and so on. Well, that might actually be all for the time being. But there doesn't appear to be a limit on the number of lists I can have. Maybe that's another question for FLA, or maybe I need to spend less time making lists and more time reading stuff. Today has not been a huge reading day. I've mostly just been watching the news, and I watched a couple of things on PBS America.

Mar 15, 9:46pm Top

Hey Susan! I'm happy all is back to normal, more or less with your library world.

>111 susanj67: Lab Rats sounds interesting. Teachers don't make any money, but at least we have some control over our classrooms.

I also read the Carey and don't remember much. I liked the woman, I think, but your comments are very apt.

So, what's up with Brexit? :)

Have a lovely weekend.

Mar 16, 1:18am Top

>94 susanj67: I am not sure when the measurement system was brought over to Canada, Susan. Probably earlier than New Zealand as the British have been in control in British North America since the 1760s.

Good luck with managing your reserved books. I still haven't figured out how to do it right. We have unlimited holds which means that you can reserve as many as you want but it also means that everyone else can put reserves on books as well which means that most of the time you can't renew items because someone else has put a hold on them.

Mar 16, 9:38am Top

>137 susanj67: "In transit" notations in library systems usually mean the book is being transferred from one branch to another. If the status never changed during that time, it may mean the book was lost in the delivery system--or, if multiple copies of a book are owned and you are not #1 on the list, you might be getting the "in transit" every time a copy is returned and being routed to the next on the hold list. You might ask the library for clarification of statuses and tell them you noticed that one has been "in transit" for a month.

Mar 17, 5:16am Top

>138 BLBera: Hi Beth! Interesting that you also thought A Long Way From Home was not a great read. Usually I assume that I've just failed to appreciate some aspect of wonderfulness that everyone else gets :-) I'm still getting used to the new library world, but it's an improvement on the last one, although I did get an email yesterday warning me that two books were due back on Tuesday and - sigh - it is STILL called a pre-overdue notice.

>139 Familyhistorian: Meg, I hadn't thought of that downside to unlimited reservations, but I can see that it would be annoying. I've just been focused on the possibility of getting All The Books :-)

>140 thornton37814: Lori, thanks for explaining! I will definitely follow up the one that's been in transit for a month. I'm #1 in the queue now, but it's possible that there was someone ahead of me before. The old system never told us where in the queue we were so I may only have been #1 since last weekend when the new system started to display it. A #2 and a #4 are also "in transit" so I must indeed be getting that notation when the book is moved somewhere, even if it's not to me.

40. The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury

The library had a brand new copy of this book, which is now part of the "classic" line of the publisher. I read it many years ago and remembered liking it, so I thought I'd reread it for the Goodreads challenge, which requires a book set in a school or university. Howard Kirk is a sociology lecturer at Watermouth University, which is a "new" university somewhere in the south-west of England. He and his wife Barbara are obsessed with themselves and how they have changed over time, becoming entirely new people who have cast aside conventions like marital fidelity. Except...they're not really. The book is a satire of certain "types" found in academia and elsewhere in the 1970s, and the various plot strands all revolve around Howard being awful. The writing style takes a bit of getting used to, but I enjoyed it all over again :-)

Mar 17, 9:39am Top

>141 susanj67: ha, I remember reading The History Man way back when, too, Susan. Glad you enjoyed the reread.

Mar 17, 10:14am Top

>141 susanj67: This sounds funny. Onto the list it goes.

Pre-overdue? Interesting terminology.

Mar 18, 10:58pm Top

>101 susanj67: - I see we are of like minds. The Secret Place was her weakest book in the series, IMO. On the potential good news front, I found The Trespasser to be more "back to solid French' entertainment value. I was not a fan of The Witch Elm, but I can see how the story - and the story structure -can appeal to some readers, so I will be curious to see what you think.

Mar 19, 3:27am Top

>141 susanj67: I had this on the shelf for a while, but I don't think I ever read it. I clearly should!

Is it Friday yet?

Edited: Mar 19, 5:55am Top

>142 Caroline_McElwee: Caroline, I was struck by how old-fashioned it seemed - the way they lived, shopped, communicated - which I don't remember the first time round :-)

>143 BLBera: Beth, yes, pre-overdue. I thought they might take the opportunity to change it to something that actually makes sense, but sadly not.

>144 lkernagh: Lori, that's good news about The Trespasser! I now seem to be #1 in the queue for The Wych Elm, but it hasn't reached my borough yet. Some of the other libraries have it, though.

>145 charl08: Charlotte, sadly it isn't Friday yet. However, it is post-pre-Tuesday. Wait, there ought to be an easier way of saying that...

There are now nine reserves in transit, and my list is in a different order every time I look at it. It's exciting and terrifying at the same time.

41. A Parliament of Spies by Cassandra Clark

This is book 4 in the Abbess of Meaux series, and sees Hildegard travelling to London with the Archbishop of York and his retinue for the parliament called in 1386. On the way there are murders to solve, and once they reach London Hildegard finds herself in the middle of even more intrigue. There is a shocking development half-way through, and then something else happens which throws Hildegard's close relationship with Abbot de Courcy into doubt. All this was more than enough to compensate for the fairly involved historical background, which I found quite hard to follow. It's a period I should read more about.

Mar 19, 12:37pm Top

>146 susanj67: I don't know very much about this period either, so if you come across a good NF history book, recommendations welcome. I made the mistake of going on the Zed books website earlier. My resolution to try and clear out my 'currently reading' stack must have lasted a recordbreakingly short time, even for me!

Mar 19, 1:21pm Top

>147 charl08: Charlotte, I want to read the Peter Ackroyd History of England series (ha! because it's only half a dozen volumes so how long could it take) and the first one covers right up to the death of Henry VII: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Foundation-History-England-Peter-Ackroyd/dp/0330544284/...

Ooh, that Zed Books website! NSFMtTBR

Ten reserves in transit now. Gulp.

Mar 21, 5:42am Top

Eleven reserves in transit - I'm nearly too scared to look at the page.

But I have some finishes:

42. The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz

This is book 2 in the series which features the author as himself, going about his ordinary work (shooting series 7 of Foyle's War in this case) with a fictitious crime to solve in the middle of it all. Still a weird concept, but it's growing on me.

43. Crowner's Quest by Bernard Knight

I love all the legal nerdery in this series, which is about the coroner for Devon in the 1190s, when the role has recently been resurrected. As always there are murders to solve, but this time "Crowner John" also gets involved with some treasure trove, and the ownership of a sturgeon (which is a royal fish (along with whales)). For me, the series is let down by the way the author writes about women, who are either shrews or cheerful whores, but he's probably a product of his time. As I've said before, I'd love to read this series written by a woman.

44. The Darwin Awards - Countdown to Extinction by Wendy Northcutt

Sometimes it's hard to leave the library empty-handed, is all I can say. This is a collection of stupid deaths, which I felt the author treated a bit too lightly (they are someone's family, after all). There are interludes of science, which are better. This is fine for reading in bits and pieces on the bus, or during ad breaks, but I won't be looking for the other six. Yes, this is book 7. Oh dear.

Mar 21, 8:38am Top

>149 susanj67: I only just read the first one of the Horowitz, so was surprised there was already book 2!

I've hardly done any reading the last couple of days, but have just started The body in the Ice, the sequel to The Body on the Doorstep.

Mar 21, 9:18am Top

>150 charl08: Charlotte, thanks for the reminder of that series. I have now added book 1 to one of my new lists :-) The second Horowitz came out late last year, I think. There's no sign yet of book 3, but he mentions a three-book contract in the book itself, which might or might not be right.

Something odd is happening at the library, because there are virtually *no* reserves on the shelf where they have them. They have maybe 20% of the normal amount, which suggests that the catalogue is busy redirecting things to places, but the messages haven't quite caught up with the people driving the vans. So I got The Century Girls: The Final Word From the Women Who've Lived The Past Hundred Years of British History by Tessa Dunlop from a display, as I would hate to run out of stuff to read.

Yesterday, 3:30pm Top

45. The Impossible Life of Mary Benson by Rodney Bolt

I was looking for something in the library catalogue, and this book randomly appeared, despite being totally unrelated to my search topic. Fortunately, there's a category in the Goodreads challenge for a book you stumbled across, so I thought it would be good for that. The Mary Benson in question was the wife of an Archbishop of Canterbury, and the mother of the author E F Benson. And if it seems like I'm defining her only in relation to other people in her life, that's really the point of the book. She didn't seem to have much of an identity as a person in her own right, possibly because her future husband declared an interest in her when she was *nine* (nine! he was in his 20s) and proposed when she was 12. These days he would be in jail. They married when she was 18, and she had six children, two of whom died relatively young. Of the three remaining sons, it seems that at least two of them would also have been in jail. Really not a nice family, despite being well-known and respected at the time. I couldn't help thinking that the author's time would have been better spent on someone else.

46. Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufmann

While black figures appear in paintings, drawings and written works from Tudor times, it has been widely thought that there weren't many of them, and that they must all have been slaves (not that there was ever slavery in England). The author says that's not true - we are looking back with the knowledge of what happened afterwards (English involvement in the slave trade didn't start until the 1640s, save for four voyages in the 1560s) and not from the viewpoint of Tudor times, when slavery was unnecessary (there were no colonies to require slave labour). Instead, black people lived here doing ordinary jobs, owning property and living pretty much like everyone else. The author looks at how they got here and why they came. As the LT reviews note, there is relatively little information about the people in the ten case studies in the book, and the author quickly starts talking about life in general rather than life for those people (or black people more widely) but her point seems to be that normal life *was* in fact their life. A lot were servants, but at a time when there was nothing wrong with being a servant and lots of white people were also servants. Some learned trades. One was a diver who helped to recover the weapons from the wreck of the Mary Rose. And one appeared to be a single woman living rurally, making her living from a cow. This was a good read, even if it was more about Tudors in general than black Tudors. No doubt there will be more research in the future, and it will be interesting to see what the historical record produces.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

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