Donna's Book Therapy: Third Session
This is a continuation of the topic Donna's Book Therapy: Second Session.
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I Opened a Book by Julia Donaldson
“I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.
I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.
I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.”
1. Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. 3.8 stars. Comments.
2. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. 4.2 stars. Comments.
3. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. 3.8 stars. Comments.
4. The Line Becomes A River: Dispatches From the Border by Francisco Cantú. 4 stars. Review.
5. My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie; audio by Cassandra Campbell. 4 stars. Comments.
6. The Chosen by Chaim Potok. 4.5 stars. Comments.
7. The Promise by Chaim Potok. 4 stars. Comments.
8. Sabrina by Nick Drnaso. 3 stars. Comments.
9. Hunger by Roxane Gay. 2.7 stars. Comments.
10. The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King; audio by LeVar Burton. 3.5 stars. Comments.
11. The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye. 3.8 stars. Comments.
12. Quiet Girl In A Noisy World: An Introvert's Story by Debbie Tung. 4 stars. Comments.
13. History of the Rain by Niall Williams. 4.8 stars. Review.
14. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. 4.4 stars. Comments.
15. The Library Book by Susan Orlean. 4 stars. Comments.
16. A Catalog of Birds by Laura Harrington. 4.5 stars. Review.
17. Circe by Madeline Miller. 4.2 stars. Comments.
18. Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear; audio by Orlegh Cassidy. 3.5 stars. Comments.
19. Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear; audio by Orlegh Cassidy. 3.5 Stars. Comments.
20. Among the Ruins by Ausma Zehanat Khan. 3.7 stars. Comments.
21. The River by Peter Heller. 4.2 stars. Comments.
22. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. 4.5 stars. Comments
23. Four Boots-One Journey by Jeff Alt. 3 stars. Comments.
24. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. 4 stars. Comments.
25. Troubles by J. G. Farrell. 3.9 stars. Comments.
26. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. 3.8 stars. Comments.
27. Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooney. 3.8 stars. Comments.
28. These Truths by Jill Lapore. 4.4 Stars. Review.
29. Little Faith by Nicholas Butler. 4.3 stars. Review.
30. A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear; audio by Orlagh Cassidy. 3.5 stars. Comments.
31. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert. 4.3 stars. Comments.
32. My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. 3.3 stars. Comments.
33. In the Garden Of Beasts by Erik Larson. 4.1 stars. Comments.
34. A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane. Audio by Jonathan Davis. 3.7 stars. Comments.
35. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. 4 stars. Comments.
36. Bibliophile by Jane Mount. 4.3 stars. Comments.
37. The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. Audio by Lloyd James. 3.7 stars. Comments.
38. Bird Box by Josh Malerman. 3.4 stars. Comments.
39. Spring by Ali Smith. 3 stars. Comments.
40. My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl. 3.4 stars. Comments.
41. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. 4.5 stars. Comments.
42. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. 4.2 stars. Comments.
43. A Lowcountry Heart by Pat Conroy. 4.5 stars. Comments.
44. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. 4 stars. Comments.
45. Big Sky by Kate Atkinson. 4.2 stars. Comments.
46. A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton. Audio by Nick Sullivan. 3 stars.Comments.
47. Fallen Mountains by Kimi Cunningham Grant. Audio by James Patrick Cronin. 3.5 stars.
48. Lost by Alice Lichtenstein; Audio by Carringtom Macduffie. 3 stars.
49. There There by Tommy Orange. 4 stars. Comments.
50. Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson. 4.2 stars. Comments.
51. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. 3.9 stars. Comments.
52. Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard. Audio by Tavia Gilbert and Robert Fass. 3.5 stars.
53. Mohawk by Richard Russo. 4 stars. Comments.
54. Say Say Say by Lila Savage. 3.7 stars. Comments.
55. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. Audio by Katie Schorr. Comments.
56. If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais. 4 stars. Comments.
57. Deep River by Karl Marlantes. 4.5 stars. Comments.
58. Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo. 3.8 stars. Comments.
59. The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel. (Reread) 4.3 stars. Comments.
60. The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. Audio by Cassandra Campbell. 3.8 stars. Comments.
61. Wish You Were Here by Stewart O'Nan. 4 stars. Comments.
1. The Shadow of the Wind
2. The Sympathizer
3. A Catalog of Birds
4. The Curse of Chalion
6. The Great Believers
7. Salvage the Bones
8. Crazy Brave
10. The Secret Garden
11. Bird Box
12. Among the Ruins
15. History of the Rain
16. A Lowcountry Heart
20. The Line Becomes A River: Dispatches from the Border
23. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
25. My Sister, the Serial Killer
Book No. 51: The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. My copy, 531 pp., 3.9 stars.
"My plan was as simple as it was crazy. During the day I would rewrite Vidal's book and at night I'd work on mine. I would write out of gratitude, despair, and vanity. I would write especially for Cristina, to prove to her that I too was able to pay the debt I had with Vidal and that, even if he was about to drop dead, David Martín had earned himself the right to look her in the eye without feeling ashamed of his ridiculous hopes." (95)
Book two in the "Cemetery of Forgotten Books" series was enjoyable, though not quite in the same category as the first, The Shadow of the Wind. It's a prequel dripping with the ambience of 1930s Barcelona coupled with the gothic suspense I expected. Pulp fiction writer David Martín falls in love with a lovely (unattainable) damsel and makes a bargain with Andreas Corelli, a stand-in for Lucifer. As we well know, when you sell your soul to the devil, there's going to be hell to pay.
Book No. 52: Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard; audio by Tavia Gilbert and Robert Fass. Hoopla, 352 pp., 3.5 stars.
This book about the early adult years of Abraham Lincoln showed how his relationship with Mary Todd developed and revealed his friendship to Joshua Speed, the storekeeper who took in Lincoln when he first came to Springfield, Illinois. I don't have much to say about the book except that I was a little disappointed, perhaps due to the overly dramatic voices narrating the book. I prefer readers who stay in the background and let the story tell itself. It was interesting to see how a backwoods self-taught lawyer became President. He found exactly the right woman for him, one who was devoted to the politics of the day. He also had his best friend coaching him in the social graces that took off the many rough spots in Lincoln's social skills. It was an interesting look into Lincoln's formative years, but I had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction that was written to sell books.
Happy New Thread, Donna!
Love your toppers and the poem. Happy Reading! I'll look forward to your reviews.
Happy New Thread, Donna. I have a copy of Courting Mr. Lincoln on shelf. I have to read Bayard and I have had a couple of his other books on shelf for years. Maybe, I should kick it off with this one.
I am buzzing along with Mohawk, at the 270 page mark. He really nails small town life and can juggle a multitude of characters. How are you doing with it?
I also started the audio of Big Sky today. Lots of characters to keep track of but I am enjoying it.
Happy new thread, Donna. I loved the Ruiz Zafón books. I'd like to read them all again together to see if I'm less confused.
Happy new thread, Donna! Catching up from your last thread, I’m so glad you made it up to MI this summer as I know how special it is up there to you but I’m sorry to hear of your aunt’s diagnosis.
Oh, and that ceiling! :( It always seems like something needs repair in a house, but that goes too far!
We all seem to be having a relaxed group read of Big Sky. It’s as if we all waited nearly a decade to finally read it and couldn’t wait any longer. I really hope we get another Brodie book soon!
>1 Donna828: Love that poem!
Happy New Thread, Donna!
That's a fun book reader poem up top.
I just gave My Sister, the Serial Killer to our BIL for his birthday. That one was a fun surprise for me when I read it earlier this year. (A fun serial killer book?! What an unusual one).
Happy new thread Donna. We head home from Denver tomorrow and hope one day our paths will cross here. Lots of good baby time was had by gramma and grampa.
It's good to come to my new "home" and see that I've had lots of visitors. I appreciate all the Happy New Thread wishes. I'm going to try to keep the emphasis on the Happy!
>8 streamsong: Keep reading, Janet, I came here to add another review.
>9 drneutron: Thanks, Jim!
>10 Carmenere: Hi Lynda, things are improving in my world.
>11 brodiew2: Hello, Brodie. Thanks for stopping in.
>12 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks for asking, Caroline. The damage has been repaired and the bedroom looks better after the facelift. I'll take a break in doing responses and post some pictures.
>13 figsfromthistle: It's good to see you here, Anita. I need to go look for your thread. I've been MIA for much of the year on the threads. Must do better…
>14 FAMeulstee: I've lost you, too, Anita from the Netherlands. I see you have been traveling again. I tend to keep up on FB better than LT these days, although I tend to lurk on both sites. I have starred both yours and Anita from Ontario's thread now.
I'm not sure what phase our house remodel is in. I think I will call this latest unexpected repair, due to a leak in the attic, Phase 3, with Phase 1 being the master bathroom before Christmas, and the extensive Phase 2 being the updating of ceilings, floors, and walls on the main level of our house. I hope we get finished before we need to start over again! Lol!
The leak in the ceiling happened right before we went to Michigan. We got the HVAC pipe fixed but left things in a mess. We were lucky to find some great workers who came in to fix it as soon as we got home. They were here less than a week.
Over a third of the ceiling had to be replaced so we went ahead and had the undamaged part redone as well (goodbye popcorn ceilngs!) and decided to continue the new color scheme upstairs. We have three other bedrooms and two bathrooms to go!!!
This is the room where my youngest granddaughters like to have sleepovers.
I took apart the old crib where all six grandkids have slept as babies. It has sentimental value to me and now serves as a settee. I need to get a floor lamp in there so it can become a(nother) reading hideaway.
I'm calling this The Bear Room. We are supporters of Missouri State University whose mascot is Boomer the Bear. I'm holding my breath while our oldest granddaughter, Sadie, makes her decision about the college she will attend in the fall of 2020. She visited Missouri State this spring and it is still on her short list. *Crossing fingers*
I told her she could have a dedicated room of her own if she went to school here. She's like her Grandma and needs to have lots of quiet time, something that is almost impossible to get in a dorm. It would just be a getaway for her and she can come and go as she pleases. We'll see what happens.
>15 msf59: Hi Mark. We are certainly channeling each other's reading recently. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the Bayard. It's my first book by him. I finished Mohawk yesterday and really enjoyed it. It's Russo, so of course I did, right? I still have a few of his older works to read. Yay! I haven't heard any negative talk about Big Sky. I probably would get lost in the audio as I had to keep flipping back to reacquaint myself with some of the characters…kind of like Russo with a plethora of interesting characters.
>16 BLBera: I agree, Beth. My plan is to read the other two before I get super busy in the fall. I heard the next one (No. 3) is the weakest. I will persevere nonetheless so I can get to the payoff of the latest one, The Labyrinth of Spirits, which my "bestie" reading friend loved.
>17 Copperskye: I'm glad you liked my simple poetry selection, Joanne. I quite liked it myself. I think Big Sky has got to be one of the most popular books on LT right now. And everyone loves it. Yes to more Jackson Brodie! The Michigan trip was so rushed that it seems like a dream now. It was so good to see my Aunt while she is still lucid, at least most of the time. Thank you for those kind words.
>18 jnwelch: Joe, I think I took Serial Killer too seriously. It was indeed a fun (in an unexpected way) kind of read. I'm not sure it is Booker worthy, however. I'll be surprised if it makes the short list.
>19 RebaRelishesReading: Thank you, Reba.
>20 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. I hope when I go to your thread that I'll be reading about your new quarters. You've sure been having a rough year. Let's hope the second half goes much smoother for both of us.
>21 mdoris: Your grandaughter is perfect, Mary. I'm so glad you got to bond with her already. I'm sure Denver will be in your heart and you will try and get back whenever you can. It would be great to coordinate visits and meet at The Tattered Cover. I'm glad you could fit in a side trip there.
Book No. 53: Mohawk by Richard Russo. My copy, 418 pp., 4 stars.
“...he had to comfort himself with the firm conviction that most of what he objected to in Mohawk and the world at large was not the result of people reading the wrong books, but rather of not reading any at all.”
This book may have been a little rough around the edges, but I won't hold it against the author. He is writing about some gritty characters here who are barely scraping by in life and get their entertainment from playing poker and betting on the horses. Russo shines when he writes about life in a small town and the everyday lives of his large array of characters. Life in Mohawk, New York, in the 1960s centers around The Mohawk Grill and the short order cook, Harry, who doesn't miss a thing as people filter in and out and do what people do best, talk about other people.
I had to concentrate to keep the characters and the love triangles straight. In a way, RR my have been a little ahead of his time. This book struck me as more like interconnected stories rather than a typical novel. Whatever. It was a fast and memorable read. My old copy is a little beat up, but I think I'll hang on to it as it mimics most of the characters in the book who have been used and abused by life.
>27 Donna828: Nice comments, Donna. I like Russo and should look for more work by him.
Fingers crossed that your granddaughter chooses to go to Missouri. It would be so nice for her to have a getaway, and so nice for grandma to get to see her. :)
I imagine you are ready to be done with the remodel.
Russo is my favorite author for when I need "salve for my soul" (like when I've read too much distopia or politics). I told him that when he was here last year and he seemed to really like the idea.
>28 BLBera: Beth, I think after we will be ready for a break after we get the upstairs finished in late summer. Maybe we will replace some carpeting in 2020. There is always something that needs attention it seems. I would love to downsize to a one-level house with a small yard but don’t see my husband going along with that idea until we start having health issues. *sigh*
>29 RebaRelishesReading: That is so cool that you got to meet Richard Russo last year, Reba. I love the “salve for the soul” designation and can see why RR was pleased.
Belated happy new thread. You remind me to go back reading some Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I haven't read him for a long time.
>31 Ameise1: Hi Barbara. Those Zafón books are like candy for book lovers. I just wish I had access to that Cemetery of Lost Books.
So, I've had a couple of so-so books in a row. Not exactly a book slump, but I'm ready for a Wow! book.
Book No. 54: Say Say Say by Dila Savage. Library, 164 pp., 3.7 stars.
"Jill's loneliness was a horror to Ella. It seemed the very worst in the bouquet of suffering and loss brain damage carried. It was this horror, combined with her own powerlessness, that provoked Ella to explore nearly every conceivable route to connection…Language, of course, was the most obvious, and seemingly the most futile, route to human connection. This did not stop Ella from trying, verbal creature that she was." (135)
I read this book because I am in awe of caregivers who get paid so little and give so much. This is the short touching story of Ella who has been hired as a companion to Jill who is quickly declining in health and lucidity due to a brain injury. Jill has a husband and grown son who love her very much, but find it difficult to be around her because of her strange behaviors and inability to respond to their concern. Unfortunately, this happens to the best of people and it is a challenge to be around them day after day and night after night.
In the author's bio, it mentions that she was a caregiver for ten years. Her experience shows in her writing as she captures the frustrations and the patience required to serve in this role. I didn't find the sections on Ella's love life added much to the story. I wish she had given more background about Jill and her family life before she had the accident that took the spark out of her life. It left me wanting more...
Book No. 55: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. Audio by Katie Schorr. Hoopla, 320 pp., 3.9 stars.
This book drips with atmosphere. Set in 1930s Eastern Kentucky, it tells the story of the backwoods version of a Bookmobile and the gutsy young woman who delivers books to the hill people who rarely get to town. Instead of a motorized vehicle, Cussy Mary (mostly called Bluet) "drives" a mule and carries the precious books in a satchel. She was employed in the Pack Horse Program under FDR's New Deal.
It made me sad that she only had access to castoff books from city libraries and resorted to making scrapbooks from old newspapers to supplement her wares. Even sadder was the racism that she encountered in her hard life. You see, she was one of the "Blue People" of Kentucky whose skin was discolored because of a rare blood disorder. She was lucky to find meaning in her life by passing on her love of reading. But life was hard for her and her coal-miner father. Her story was so full of hardship that it bordered on melodrama. The narrator had such an earnest young voice with un understated Southern drawl which made for a satisfying listening experience. It reminded me of the books I fell in love with as a young reader, with a protagonist who was inspiring by overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
>33 ronincats: Hi Roni. We're having a brief respite from workers in the house for a few weeks. Work will resume in mid-August. Can't wait to get my house and life back again!
>36 Donna828: I feel your pain Donna. I don't know if I could survive the disruption that I see in these pictures you've posted. I'm just too old for that hahaha. Give me a book and a quiet room any day😏
Happy newish thread, Donna. The after photos of your house look much improved. I hope the rest of this year's renos go smoothly and quickly.
>36 Donna828: Good idea to just sometimes take a break and a deep breath before the surge to the finish line, Donna.
Have a lovely Sunday.
>37 brenzi: Bonnie, I hear ya and agree wholeheartedly. Hopefully Phase 3 will be over and done with quickly. It's all upstairs work so I have places I can go hide with a book.
>38 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Meg. We probably won't do the last phase until the end of August. I'm soaking up the quiet time to gear up for the mess and noise.
>39 PaulCranswick: I like the idea of a surge to the finish line, Paul. Ready, set, GO!
>40 ChelleBearss: Thank you, Chelle.
Book No. 56: If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais. Library, 435 pp., 4 stars.
"Five months after the baby first showed up on our doorstep, his room is ready and waiting. All it needs now is Mandla. That's the baby's official name as registered on his birth certificate. It means 'strength' or 'power' in Zulu, and it's also only one letter away from spelling 'Mandela,' the man who made history be becoming president on the day Mandla was born. The name was given to him as a kind of talisman by the black staff at the orphanage and I like it; it suits him." (167)
This story about two white sisters, the black baby who was left on their doorstep, and their black maid is set in post-apartheid South Africa when racial struggles and violence were still strong. It's a story that reads quickly because of the short chapters. And I mean short as in two to three pages. I didn't care for the frequent change of voice, but the situation was believable and heartwarming so I can overlook my slight discomfort. I enjoyed seeing how these disparate characters were blended into a family against all odds. The author knows her subject matter well as she grew up in South Africa surrounded by Afrikaners. I wish I had known about the glossary in the back to help me with the language. This is the author's second book and, for a change, I thought it was even better than her first.
Book No. 57: Deep River by Karl Marlantes. Library, 724 pp., 4.5 stars.
"She paused to look at Ilmari's tiny purchase of civilization in the vast forest where rain-swollen streams, hidden from view by trees too large and close together to see through or by salal taller than a man and too thick to penetrate, ran unseen to wide tidal rivers. The farms here, unlike the tidy farms at home, seemed more like survivors in a battlefield of stumps and slash, just waiting to be reclaimed by the forest that rolled unconquered and impenetrable, all the way to the other side of the Cascade mountains." (247)
I love me a good family saga and this one will definitely be in my Top Ten books of the year. It follows the Koski siblings, Ilmari, Aino, and Matti, after they emigrate to the Pacific Northwest in the U.S. from Finland to escape the Russian takeover of their homeland. Their lives were hard but they were Finlanders who had the "secret" power of sisu which defines the Finnish character traits of courage, resilience, and strong will. As the two brothers pave their way in the new world via the logging and fishing industries, their sister Aino, who has resolved never to marry after losing the love of her life in the old country, becomes a leader through sheer force of her strong beliefs of equality as she tirelessly works to support the idea of labor unions.
As a side note, I usually delight in strong female protagonists but I was not a fan of Aino who shunned the idea of having a family and a traditional life. That I was able to overcome my dislike is a real testament to the author's skill in weaving such a spellbinding story based on his family background. Aino and I would never be friends in real life yet I truly came to admire her spirit and tenacity. I also have my own feelings about logging as a form of raping the land. However, it was a way of life for these men and I had to respect their skill and bravery in a treacherous occupation. I was captivated by this book and the look into a culture that I was vaguely familiar with due to my Norwegian ancestry. I liked learning more about the Finnish people and the hardships they conquered during the early years of the 20th century. This is a big book but one that I could not put down except for the necessities of life. I totally resented the need to eat and sleep for the two days I spent immersed in Marlantes' frontier wilderness epic.
Good reviews, Donna. I know Mark really liked If You Want to Make God Laugh, too. We got to see Bianca Marais at a local bookstore, and she was impressive - smart and not full of herself.
I liked Marlantes’ Matterhorn a lot, but never read his second one. Deep River sounds really good, especially in its making you not want to waste time eating and sleeping when you could be reading it.😀
Hi Joe. I would have liked to be with you and Mark at the Bianca Marais evening. It’s so cool to meet with an author in person. I don’t have many of those opportunities here in Southwest Missouri.
I own a copy of Matterhorn and will try to work it in this year. I was very impressed with my first date with Mr. Marlantes. It’s a shame he started writing late in life. I read that he is in his mid70s. The good thing about it, though, is that he has all that life experience to write about.
Just catching up here
>24 Donna828: What a great remodel! Looks nice :)
I loved Matterhorn and asked my library to buy the eBook for Deep River Donna but then it popped up on my Overdrive list and I saw how many pages it was I though, um, no. Not right now. But I see I may have made a mistake so I probably will add it back on. Sigh. I just finished a 500 page book and thought that's my limit. We'll see..I want to get back to Trollope too and you know how long his books are. BTW do you know how to get to the Trollope Group Reads?
Hi Donna! I just listened to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek myself. I've spent most of my life in Appalachia not terribly far from where this book is set. I loved the narrator because her voice sounded just right. And the dialect in the book is right, too. Living conditions are better now than they were at the time the book was set thanks to welfare and food stamps, but there's still a lot of poverty in the region. I grew up in a rural corner of Knox County and I went to elementary school in the 1970s with children whose homes didn't have indoor plumbing. I think they all had electricity but I'm not sure about that.
>46 figsfromthistle: Thank you, Anita.
>47 brenzi: Bonnie, I love family sagas and they tend to be long. I think I need to read a few slimmer books to catch my breath. We read the Trollope books starting back in 2013. If you go to Groups and check the wiki for that year, there should be the listings of the individual books. Good luck!
>48 BLBera: Deep River was pretty wonderful, Beth. I'll be reading Matterhorn fairly soon. I liked Marlantes' attention to detail. You will learn a lot about logging. lol.
>49 cbl_tn: I thought Book Woman sounded authentic, Carrie. I loved hearing about how much the books were treasured by those without easy access to a library. I agree on the choice of narrator. She had the perfect soft drawl without being overdone.
Wow! You are pounding out some terrific reads! It looks like we both enjoyed Mohawk and Make God Laugh. I hope to get to her earlier novel, Hum, in the coming weeks. It is great to hear that you loved Deep River, since I have a copy of that one on shelf. I had not seen any LT activity, on that one, until now. Need to bump it up. I love Marlantes.
>43 Donna828: I read the description on that one as well as your review, and it sounds right up my alley. Unfortunately my libraries don't own a copy. I suggested it via TNReads--and since it is new, they may actually order a copy. I may also consider it for the leased book collection at the university library, but I may need to forego it for something I think will circulate better.
Book No. 58: Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo. Library, 169 pp., 3.8 stars.
"To imagine the spirit of poetry is much like imagining the shape and size of the knowing. It is a kind of resurrection light; it is the tall ancestor spirit who has been with me since the beginning, or a bear or a hummingbird. It is a hundred horses running the land in a soft mist..." (164)
This slim memoir by our country's newest Poet Laureate was a feast of words, images, and emotions. Joy honors her Creek Nation heritage through her poetry, music, and art. What a talented woman who overcame her harsh and sometimes abusive upbringing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The four sections of the book were headed by the directions her journey took her beginning with the sun in the east, heading north toward the cold winds, then west to the doorway of ancestors, and finally south in the direction of release. She is propelled by the stories of her ancestors and her visions. Story is a word used repeatedly. Most of her stories are of her early life, although many of them describe the vignettes of her imagination and dreams. It gave me a little insight into the creative mind of a poet. I listened to her haunting music while I wrote my comments. Who knows, I might even look into one of her poetry collections.
>53 thornton37814: Hi Lori. I am always so disappointed when the local library doesn't have a copy of the book I want. I can usually get it from a regional library but hate the hassle. I'm coming across the problem more with older books because it seems the library keeps fewer copies in circulation than they used to. Gotta make room for those rows of computers I suppose. I do hope you like Deep River when you snag a copy.
>55 Donna828: I suspect one of the libraries will end up getting a copy. I really wish we had a regional depository here which kept one or two copies of the titles libraries seem to weed--a copy of last resort. I know many states have such arrangements. I wish Tennessee would do this.
I also loved Crazy Brave, Donna. I have gotten to listen to her read and perform a couple of times. I have a couple of her autographed poetry collections as well!
Book No. 59: The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel. Library, 203 pp., Reread, Book Group, 4.5 stars.
"Knight said he really didn't know why he left. He'd given the question plenty of thought but had never arrived at an answer. There was no specific cause he could name--no childhood trauma, no sexual abuse. There wasn't alcoholism in his home or violence. He wasn't trying to hide anything, to cover a wrongdoing, to evade confusion about his sexuality." (77)
I liked this book just as much the second time around, although I probably wouldn't have reread it for any reason other than my book group chose it. We had another good turnout of 15 members and this time we stayed on topic. We tended to agree that some people are just wired differently than others and that Christopher Knight was born to be a hermit. Here are my comments from April of 2017:
"What makes a person drop out of society and live in the woods with no contact with other people for several decades? Christopher Knight always preferred his own company, but he did finish high school and was able to hold down on a job. So why did he drive off into the woods, abandon his car, and make no attempts to reassure his family that he was still alive? Who knows, perhaps not even Chris. But it is clear that he felt fulfilled in his life in the wilderness and had the patience and cunning to break into cabins for 27 years, taking only what he needed, until he was finally caught by the authorities. Henry Thoreau was a boy scout compared to the subject of this psychological study by Michael Finkel. Kudos to the author for his gentle treatment of someone who just wanted to be left alone. I kind of wish they had become friends but it seems that Chris Knight would probably have been happier if he had never been discovered in the Maine woods."
Book No. 60: The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. Audio by Cassandra Campbell. Hoopla, 742 pp., 3.8 stars.
I invested 30 hours in this novel and liked most of it. It was set in the late 1800s in New York City, a time of poverty and change. The 'moral police' were relentless especially when it came to women and their bodies. One of the main story lines was about illegal abortions. There was much information about women in medicine, in particular two cousins, Anna and Sophie who were dedicated to improving health care in a time where most women were home raising a family. This might have been the gilded age in NYC but it was also the time of an immigration explosion and orphans wandering the streets or in overcrowded orphanages. I relished the historical aspects of the story but got tired of the romantic scenes. Now that the two female protagonists are married, perhaps the sequel coming out this fall will focus more on the much-needed social reforms as the saga progresses into the 20th century.
Book No. 61: Wish You Were Here by Stewart O'Nan. My copy, 517 pp., 4 stars.
"She was obsolete, the product of another century, like her grandparents. Everything she had loved was gone, everything she knew was useless, all the songs and dances, the trendy recipes, like an old lady whose clothes had long gone out of style. But that's what she was, that least desirable of things: an old lady. She'd never thought it possible." (104)
Read this book only if you enjoy way too much detail about ordinary people on a week-long family vacation. This is the last annual week at the Maxwell vacation cottage at Chautauqua, New York. Emily (self-described in the above quote) is the matriarch and is selling the rundown place after the death of her husband, Henry. The chapters are headed by days of the week and include lots of minutiae about the everyday events of Emily, her sister-in-law Arlene, daughter Meg whose husband has left her for a younger woman, son Kenneth married to the petulant Lisa, and a combination of their children including two adolescent girls and two prepubescent boys. We are privy to their thoughts, dreams, disappointments and most of the details of their activities, meals, and personal hygiene for the week of their last hurrah. I am making it sound bland and boring, which it would be to many people, but it struck a chord for me as the perfect book for the late-summer doldrums. Don't say I didn't warn you!
>62 Caroline_McElwee: Thank you for sharing that bittersweet memory about your father and The Stranger in the Woods. I have some of the books from my parent’s library. I should read more of them. I got very emotional rereading my mother’s copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It was one of her favorite books.
I liked my first time out with Mr. O’Nan. I’ll definitely read more by him.
And interestingly I have Wish You Were Here on my shelf, Donna. I wonder when the time will be right for bland and boring lol.
>61 Donna828: You see, I loved the detail! :) If you haven’t already gotten enough of the Maxwell family, check out Henry, Himself, basically a prequel, and Emily, Alone, which would come third in chronological order. I plan on a reread of Wish You Were Here now that I’ve gotten to know Henry better.
I’ve loved just about everything else I’ve read by O’Nan, Donna, and feel you can’t go wrong with any of them. Oddly, probably his most popular book, Last Night at the Lobster, is my least favorite (and I read it twice thinking I may have just missed the charm in it, but no...). Katie is a big fan, too.
>60 Donna828: That one sounds interesting!
>66 Copperskye: - I am a big fan! I loved 'Lobster,' though. I think I've read it 4 times now :)
I haven't read Wish You Were Here yet, though. I was thinking I might get to it this summer, but....
>65 msf59: - WYWH came before Emily, Alone, Mark. And his newest one, Henry Himself is about the husband.
>66 Copperskye: Hi Joanne. I loved O’Nan’s attention to detail, too. I was impressed that he was able to get into the heads of both genders and such a wide range of ages. I’m always delighted to “discover” a new author, and I have you to thank for this one.
Also, thanks for answering Mark’s question.
>67 katiekrug: Hi Katie. I am looking forward to reading more books by Stewart O’Nan. Thanks for chiming in! You and Joanne have piqued my interest in Last Night at the Lobster.
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