Mary (bell7) reads extravagantly in 2019, a fine fifth thread

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Mary (bell7) reads extravagantly in 2019, a fine fifth thread

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1bell7
Aug 21, 2019, 8:55pm

Hello and welcome, whether you've been following my reading for years or are just joining in now!

If you haven't met me or read any of my early introductions, I'm Mary a librarian in western Massachusetts. I have no spouse or kids but I do have a very busy life, and you'll often seen me commenting on work, my niece & nephew, Bible study, knitting, or sports. I read somewhere between 100-120 books a year, a lot of fantasy, but also contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and mysteries as well as a smattering of other things that have interesting characters and engaging writing. For nonfiction, I especially love books about books, history and more. There's a lot I'll try, though I'm picky about romance and don't particularly go for horror. One thing I am trying to do consciously this year is read more diversely. You can track my progress in this spreadsheet.

I love that people's reading taste is so individual and I love hearing what makes a book work or not work for you, so even if you disagree with my take on a particular book, I'd love to hear what you think!

I'm a doting Auntie Mimi to my niece and nephew, and they'll serve as my thread toppers throughout the year. Here are selfies with Mia and Matthew on our way to Virginia Beach in June:



2bell7
Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 10:35am

One of my job responsibilities is facilitating one of our library book clubs (there's 3 - an afternoon one with my boss, an evening one with me, and a classics one with a volunteer). I'll often comment on the discussions we have since they give me a greater appreciation for what we read together and people have seemed to enjoy that the last couple of years. Here's what we're reading in 2019 -

January - My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. COMPLETED
February - Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese COMPLETED
March - Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks COMPLETED
April - Evicted by Matthew Desmond COMPLETED
May - Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon COMPLETED
June - The Radium Girls by Kate Moore COMPLETED
July - Sea Glass by Anita Shreve COMPLETED
August - The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead COMPLETED
September - Educated by Tara Westover COMPLETED
October - Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran COMPLETED
November - Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
December - A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass

3bell7
Edited: Oct 27, 2019, 8:17pm

Currently Reading
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Devotionals/Bible reading
2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Amos & Titus
Everyone's a Theologian by R.C. Sproul

October
94. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
93. No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant
92. The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz
91. Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt
90. The Huntress by Kate Quinn
89. A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
88. Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
87. Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg
86. The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh

4bell7
Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 10:35am

September
85. What if? by Randall Munroe
84. Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
83. New Suns: original speculative fiction by people of color edited by Nisi Shawl
82. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
81. Educated: a memoir by Tara Westover
80. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
79. Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison
78. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

August
77. Nest by Esther Ehrlich
76. A Better Man by Louise Penny
75. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
74. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
73. Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie
72. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
71. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London originally in Britain)
70. Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist
69. The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
68. Laguardia by Nnedi Okorafor

July
67. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
66. Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
65. Medicus by Ruth Downie
64. The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
63. The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth by Ken Krimstein
62. I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Gharib
61. Sea Glass by Anita Shreve
60. For Every One by Jason Reynolds
59. The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion
58. The Bay Path and along the way by Levi B. Chase
57. The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

5bell7
Edited: Aug 21, 2019, 8:59pm

Earlier in 2019:

June
56. The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
55. The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman
54. The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
53. The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz
52. Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
51. The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
50. Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
49. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
48. Mere Humanity by Donald T. Williams

May
47. Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key
46. The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
45. If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
44. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
43. Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
42. Ruined by Reading by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
41. Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
40. Cape Cod Collected by Jim Coogan and Jack Sheedy
39. Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea by Sarah Pinsker
38. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

April
37. A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
36. Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow
35. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
34. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
33. Red Bird: poems by Mary Oliver
32. Evicted: poverty and profit in the American city by Matthew Desmond
31. Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
30. Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley
29. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

6bell7
Aug 21, 2019, 8:57pm

March
28. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
27. Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman
26. The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
25. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
24. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
23. How Long 'Til Black Future Month? by N. K. Jemisin
22. The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney
21. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
20. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
19. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

February
18. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
17. The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake
16. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
15. The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore
14. Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev
13. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
12. The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

January
11. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung
10. The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King
9. The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren
8. Stars Uncharted by S. K. Dunstall
7. Everyday Millionaires by Chris Hogan
6. When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
5. The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
4. Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
3. My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
2. The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
1. The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker

7ronincats
Edited: Aug 21, 2019, 9:13pm

Happy New Thread, Mary!! And I love your photos!

8bell7
Aug 21, 2019, 9:11pm

And finally, here are some photos from meeting up with Marianne (michigantrumpet) yesterday. We went to The Mount, Edith Wharton's house in Lenox from 1902-1911 or thereabouts, and attended an author talk in the barn, followed by lunch on the terrace, a walk through the gardens, and a guided tour of the house. I'm afraid I haven't quite figured out how to get the photos she sent me of the two of us, as my phone is not an iphone. But once I figure it out, I'll post that too.

The author was Patricia Miller, a journalist who writes about politics and religion and their intersection with sex and morality. The book is Bringing Down the Colonel, the true story of a woman who sued a former fiance, Congressman Breckenridge, for breach of contract in the 1890s. She told a fascinating story and had old photographs of the people involved and now of course I want to read the book. We refrained from buying them and decided to get library copies.

Here's a couple of the photos I took:



The back of the house looking back up the grass steps from near the gardens.



The fountain of the walled garden.



A close up of one of the arches in the walls, showing the plants climbing the walls and the sun coming through the opening.



One piece of Wharton's library. Apparently she had over 4,000 volumes and annotated the books she read. Some of them were lost in the blitz in a warehouse in London, but 2,700 have been purchased and are back at The Mount, many of which can be seen the bookshelves of an absolutely gorgeous, cozy library (this picture does not do it justice). I'd love to see this as a Legacy Library project - there are a limited number of copies of the catalogue, but it's quite thorough for the 2,700 volumes that are known. You can have a two-person private tour of the library for $150 and I'm definitely thinking about it.

9bell7
Aug 21, 2019, 9:12pm

>7 ronincats: Thanks, Roni!

10msf59
Aug 21, 2019, 9:27pm

Happy New Thread, Mary. Hooray for a Meet Up, with Marianne, one of my very favorite LTers. I would love to visit The Mount someday. Looks amazing. Great photos.

Looking forward to your thoughts on The Starless Sea.

11foggidawn
Aug 21, 2019, 11:04pm

Happy new thread! Our library book club did Educated a while back, and it generated some good discussion. Hope it does the same for you.

12charl08
Aug 22, 2019, 2:48am

>8 bell7: That sounds amazing! Wow. It looks really beautiful.
And I love the idea of the legacy library on LT here. I came across a library recently that I thought would be good on here, but have no idea how to do that.

Happy new thread!

13scaifea
Aug 22, 2019, 6:14am

Happy new thread, Mary!

14jnwelch
Aug 22, 2019, 7:03am

Happy New Thread, Mary!

We visited the Mount on one of our visits to Pittsfield/Richmond, and loved it. Beautiful home and grounds, and that library was a snug little dream.

I'm glad you got to meet up with Marianne - what a cool place to do that. We didn't eat on the terrace, but I remember it well.

15figsfromthistle
Aug 22, 2019, 7:22am

Happy new thread.

What an awesome meetup! Wharton's library is to die for.
I see that your book club is going to be reading Educated in September. I hope you enjoy it. So far one of my best reads this year.

16richardderus
Aug 22, 2019, 4:29pm

>8 bell7: A two-person tour?!? OMG OMG OMG

I *really* want to go and I can't even travel to NYC anymore, darn it all. I wish your thunderstorms had held off a day. Well, Educated should bring in the punters (as the saying goes).

"Thanks" for the newly arrived TBR fattener!

17bell7
Edited: Aug 22, 2019, 7:23pm

>10 msf59: Thanks, Mark, we had a fabulous time! There will definitely be more meetups in our future. I'm thinking going out to the Boston Book Festival, actually. I will let you know about The Starless Sea - I started it today and so far I think it's going to be immensely satisfying.

>11 foggidawn: Thanks, Misti, I hope so too!

>12 charl08: The Legacy Library page gives you good places to start. Jeremy works at the University of Virginia now but he's still the point person for that as far as I can tell - I helped catalog a couple a long time ago when I had much more free time but haven't been involved since the International Space Station one went up. I enjoy comparing my library with the Legacy Libraries.

>13 scaifea: Thanks, Amber!

>14 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe! The Mount was definitely a great meetup place; I loved the library too. We went back to check out the catalogue. There's so much in the Pittsfield/Richmond area, I could spend a ton of time just in Massachusetts seeing many places of interest.

>15 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita! Good to know about Educated. It wasn't a title that was jumping out at me personally, but everyone in my book group voted to read it, so I will do so with good humor and hope to be wowed!

>16 richardderus: RIGHT? I saved the paper, I'm still pondering. And yeah, it was too bad about the storms but whatcha gonna do? I can't reschedule, there's so much going on in the room, and the Classics Book Discussion meets the week after and consistently draws a large number of people (I think they're at least in the 10-12 range). And you're welcome! I just picked up September's so if I'm timely getting through it, you'll have another one soonish. 'Cause we all need larger TBR piles.

18drneutron
Aug 22, 2019, 7:16pm

Happy new thread!

19bell7
Aug 22, 2019, 7:22pm

74. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
Why now? It was a possibility for one of the squares in Summer Reading bingo ("Read a travel book") and the July selection for the Monthly Author Read group. Yes, I know I'm behind on both.

Peter Mayle and his wife decided to pick up from their home in the UK and move to Provence. In this classic expatriate travel memoir, Mayle recounts a year from January to December recounting stories of their neighbors, fixing up the house, great food to eat, and all sorts of experiences they had in their first year in Provence.

First written in 1989, this book is 30 years old so of course there's a sense of reading it and realizing that it's probably changed dramatically since Mayle wrote the book. But he writes with a humorous eye and a real love for the place and its people that make for really enjoyable reading. It reminded me a lot of my favorite Bill Bryson stories with a little less whining and sarcasm. 4 stars.

20bell7
Edited: Aug 22, 2019, 7:23pm

>18 drneutron: Thanks, Jim!

If I missed anyone, holler away!

21bell7
Aug 22, 2019, 7:25pm

I started The Starless Sea today on break at work - I am so loving it only 30 pages in that let me just say it's a good thing I'm *not* working tomorrow. I should be packing for a dogsitting job, however, so I think I'll go do that and have some guilt-free reading time this evening.

22bell7
Aug 23, 2019, 8:33am

Happy Friday! I have today off and am spending a relaxing morning meanderingly getting ready for my dogsitting job. I'll schlep all my stuff over at some point, do a grocery shopping, and get settled. Then in the afternoon I'm planning a trip to a small local zoo with a friend and her kids.

The Starless Sea will factor into my reading this weekend. It's lovely: very much about reading and storytelling, something I know a lot of LTers will appreciate. It's a good readalike for The Shadow of the Wind and Among Others, especially as Morgenstern references several familiar titles (even the obscure one that still comes up as the most common touchstone when you first put her title in). I expect I'll read a chunk today and won't have a ton of time tomorrow, as I'll be working and then take my little out to a local food fest.

23PaulCranswick
Aug 23, 2019, 11:55pm

>22 bell7: Mornings meandering are mostly marvellous, Mary (couldn't help a little alliteration there!)

Happy new thread and have a splendid weekend.

24FAMeulstee
Aug 24, 2019, 7:40am

Happy new thread, Mary!

>8 bell7: Thank for sharing a picture of Wharton's library, a private tour sounds lovely.

25bell7
Aug 24, 2019, 9:15am

>23 PaulCranswick: Ha, I like the alliteration, Paul! I spent what I thought was a long time getting caught up on threads and packing, but when I got there they were still packing up the car... so, I dropped off food and went off to a library where I don't work to print out the U.S. Open draws and then did my full grocery shopping on my way back. Hope you're having a great weekend, too!

>24 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita! I think it would be really fun to have a private tour, see some of her books and the marginalia.

26bell7
Aug 24, 2019, 9:21am

I'm working today and then taking my little out for the afternoon at a food festival. Should be fun, if busy! And of course I did enough of a grocery shopping that I have stuff I really should cook tonight even if I don't actually eat it. Oh well! I accidentally left my phone behind where I'm dogsitting so it feels... not like I'm missing a limb, exactly, but maybe a pinky. Something is not quite right and it's irritating me that it's irritating.

I didn't get to read as much as I hoped yesterday in The Starless Sea, but I'm about a fourth of the way through and really enjoying it so far. Now that I'm not commuting far, I have the audio of Nest going in a CD player in the kitchen, and I turn it on when I'm busy puttering around, cooking or cleaning. I made myself pizza yesterday, turned on the oven and burned a couple of bags of stuff that had been stored in the oven, so that gave me a little more time cleaning/listening than I'd anticipated. I'd actually read Nest about 4 years ago and completely forgot, but the details of the story feel brand-new to me so I've kept going. It's a bit of a toss up right now which of these will make book #75.

27richardderus
Aug 24, 2019, 12:46pm

>26 bell7: burned a couple of bags of stuff that had been stored in the oven

*aghast*

Someone stores things in an oven. ...?!?...

28bell7
Aug 24, 2019, 6:27pm

>27 richardderus: I mean, some of it was trays and cooking things. But there were also some bags of nuts and chips, and those got rather roasted.

29MickyFine
Aug 25, 2019, 2:21pm

Happy new thread, Mary.

Sounds like whichever book is #75, it'll be a good read for you. :)

30Familyhistorian
Aug 25, 2019, 4:31pm

Happy new thread, Mary.

The meet up sounds like great fun and I love the pictures you posted.

Some people never use their oven and use it for storage instead. Something I became aware of when my father was on his own and I had to take all the stuff out of the oven if I wanted to use it when I visited him. I hope the toasted stuff didn't give you too much of a mess to clean up.

31bell7
Edited: Aug 26, 2019, 8:08am

>29 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky!

>30 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Meg! Yeah, I think they use the oven for mixed purposes. There are actually two ovens, one stacked on top of the other and the top one mostly had cookie sheets and trays and things, while the bottom one had some food and a bowl and more trays. So I'm thinking they mostly use the top one and just put stuff on the counter or in the bottom one when they cook. It wasn't terrible, I just threw out the really burned stuff, but there's one metal bowl that I can't get all the melted plastic off of. Ah well...

32bell7
Aug 26, 2019, 8:07am

Monday and back to work today! Over the weekend, I've been reading the same books and discovered the miniseries of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell on Netflix when I was messing around on the TV. I have two episodes left and am not sure exactly when I'll be watching them now that the US Open has started too. I brought the sweater I'm knitting along with me and made good progress last night while binge-watching.

At work today, I have some prep I want to do for a volunteer training next week and Ancestry program the week after that. I already have 7 people signed up for a Sept. 12 program, so I think that one will be well-attended. I may see if I can get a volunteer to help me out for that one. After work, I'm going to the town's Selectmen's meeting, as they're going to present me with something for working for the town for 20 years (as of Aug. 30, isn't that unbelievable?). And in between work and that, of course, I'll be taking care of the dogs.

33jnwelch
Edited: Aug 26, 2019, 8:58am

Hi, Mary.

I loved that adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I thought they did a great job of capturing the weirdness of the book.

Congrats on getting the award for 20 years of working for the town. You must've started when you were 5? They're lucky to have you, and obviously know it.

34souloftherose
Aug 26, 2019, 12:39pm

Stopping by to say hello, Mary!

The pictures of The Mount look beautiful and I am very excited to hear you're enjoying The Starless Sea so much. I don't think that's released here until November but I noticed my library has it listed as on order so I've added myself to the reserve list (think I might even be first on the reserve list).

>32 bell7:, >33 jnwelch: Adding that I also really enjoyed that adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - very atmospheric.

35richardderus
Aug 26, 2019, 3:47pm

>32 bell7: et seq. I also enjoyed the miniseries for its atmospheric fidelity to the book.

Congratulations on your town-service anniversary! And thanks for the lovely card.

36bell7
Aug 26, 2019, 5:59pm

>33 jnwelch: I read the book back when I was in grad school, Joe, and remember absolutely loving it. I'm almost positive I have a copy of my own now and the miniseries is definitely making me want to go back and reread. Thank you and Ha! about the work anniversary. Some of my patrons certainly look at me strangely when I say how long I've been there.

>34 souloftherose: Thanks, Heather! I have an ARC that someone picked up at Book Expo America for me, but the book isn't coming out here 'til November either. I'll be very excited to recommend it to patrons. I've been noticing more fantasy readers lately and enjoying having books ready to suggest when they come in to the library (my town by and large likes mysteries and thrillers, while SFF has had historically poor circulation, but I think that's changing a little).

>35 richardderus: Definitely enjoyable, and since I can't, in fact, get the US Open on the TV I'll definitely be finishing it this week. Thank you and you're welcome :)

37bell7
Aug 27, 2019, 2:17pm

Went to the Selectmen's meeting last night to get said award of recognition for 20 years' service. My actual 20th anniversary will be Friday and it counts the part-time job I had in high school and college. I was first on the agenda, so simply accepted the award, had the photo op and skipped out to go back to the dogs and reading my book.

This being my late day, the morning was a little weird and the dogs are probably totally thrown off on their regular schedule (they're used to a snack and a walk in the middle of the day which happened around 11). I also got in an oil change. The folks there tell me that my engine should be perfectly fine as long as I keep on top of checking the oil and filling it when I need to. So, I need to buy more oil sometime in the next 1,000 miles but at least I know I don't need to replace the engine and the car should last awhile, at least 'til I decide I want to buy another one *shrug*.

I have about 10-15 pages left of The Starless Sea which of course is driving me crazy... Will finish it on my break and then I have the newest Louise Penny mystery ready to go. I also have a book of nonfiction, The History of Kidderminster (no touchstone), a book of essays by Toni Morrison, and the short story collection New Suns. I'll probably be dipping into all of them for the rest of the week, as I prefer to spread out my short story and essay reading rather than reading a bunch in a row. I won't promise any reviews tonight because I also want to be watching the rest of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. But it might happen.

38bell7
Aug 27, 2019, 5:45pm

75. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Why now? I received the ARC from friends/colleagues in our interlibrary loan bins and put it right to the top of the to read pile. I LOVED The Night Circus and was very excited to get a sneak peek of this one.

E-ARC received from Edelweiss/Above the Treeline in exchange for an honest review. I also received a signed copy of the ARC as a gift. Opinions all my own. Officially comes out November 5 in the US/UK/Canada, I believe.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is the son of a fortune teller and a grad student who really likes stories and video games but hasn't quite figured out what to do with his life. When he happens upon a mysterious book in the college library entitled Sweet Sorrows, he finds himself in the story and can't put it down. Where did the book come from? What is the Starless Sea - and why is he in the book?

Fans of The Night Circus will be ecstatic over Erin Morgenstern's latest, a riff on storytelling in multiple formats (yep, even video games). The intricate plot includes stories with fairy tale qualities alongside Zachary's tale in interlaced chapters, blurring reality and illusion and leaving you wondering about the importance of stories in books and the ones you tell yourself. Recommended for fans of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Among Others by Jo Walton. 5 stars.

Some readers may be put off by the intricacy of multiple storylines, but I really enjoyed that aspect of it and would read it again just to tease apart the way she brings it altogether. And Richard, fair warning, cats factor in to the story a bit but not in a way that you'd hate - I think.

39richardderus
Aug 27, 2019, 6:22pm

>38 bell7: NOOOOOOOO NOT...THEM!!!!!

::uncontrollable sobbing::

40bell7
Aug 27, 2019, 7:20pm

>39 richardderus: I mean... bees do too, and for what it's worth I have a huge phobia of them IRL but it didn't bother me for story purposes.

41msf59
Aug 27, 2019, 8:44pm

Hooray for The Starless Sea, Mary! Your 75th and 5 stars? Could it get any better? Wow! I am getting so pumped on this one.

42foggidawn
Aug 27, 2019, 11:15pm

>38 bell7: Nice! I am so looking forward to that one.

43charl08
Aug 28, 2019, 8:04am

>38 bell7: Unconcerned by cats, adding this to the wishlist - sounds a bit Thursday Next-ish.

44figsfromthistle
Aug 28, 2019, 8:47am

Congrats on reaching 75 books read!

45jnwelch
Aug 28, 2019, 9:07am

>38 bell7: Oh, that's great news, Mary! My wife and daughter loved Night Circus, and convinced me to read it - and I loved it, too. I just told Debbi your reaction to the new one, The Starless Sea, and she was thrilled. Our daughter will be, too. Looking forward to reading it when it comes out.

46bell7
Edited: Aug 28, 2019, 6:55pm

>41 msf59:, >42 foggidawn:, >43 charl08:, >45 jnwelch: I do hope I'm not overselling it for you all...but I did think it was wonderful.

>44 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita!

47foggidawn
Aug 28, 2019, 10:12am

>46 bell7: Oh, I was excited as soon as I saw the publication announcement a couple months back.

48streamsong
Edited: Aug 28, 2019, 10:23am

Wow - Edith Wharton's home and library are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your photos!

And congrats on the 20 year service award and for meeting the 75!

I'll look forward to The Starless Sea. Loved your review. Storytelling! Hooray!

49drneutron
Aug 28, 2019, 12:58pm

Congrats on hitting 75!

50MickyFine
Aug 28, 2019, 1:51pm

Felicitations on reaching the magic number!

51FAMeulstee
Aug 28, 2019, 6:03pm

>38 bell7: Congratulations on reaching 75, Mary!

52bell7
Aug 28, 2019, 6:59pm

>47 foggidawn: Good to know! I won't feel pressure for hyping it up on you ;)

>48 streamsong: Thanks, Janet! Glad you enjoyed the Mount photos, and hope you love The Starless Sea.

>49 drneutron:, >50 MickyFine: and >51 FAMeulstee: Thanks Micky, Jim, and Anita!

Whew! Look at all the visitors with the double whammy of fabulous new book and reaching 75 :)

Oh, and I did finish Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell last night. I thought they did a good job making it atmospheric and historical with just that little weird twist, similar to the book but in a visual way. I'm going to have to bookhorn in a reread at some point because I've been wracking my brain but I cannot for the life of me remember if the ending was the same or not. Also, they about perfectly cast the Man with the Thistledown Hair.

53richardderus
Aug 28, 2019, 8:24pm

I didn't attend to the celebratory nature of read #75:

Yay.

Even if it was sullied by...them.

54bell7
Aug 28, 2019, 8:58pm

>53 richardderus: *snort* Thanks, Richard :)

55kidzdoc
Aug 29, 2019, 4:39pm

Happy new thread, Mary! Congratulations on reading 75 books again this year. Nice auntie photos and photos of Edith Wharton's former home.

More importantly, what have you been cooking this week?

56bell7
Aug 29, 2019, 5:53pm

>55 kidzdoc: Thank you, Darryl! I've mostly stuck with some oldies but easy: spaghetti tonight, salad, and turkey burgers. But I did try one new recipe, Herb and Citrus Roast Chicken, that came out pretty good:

INGREDIENTS:
1/4 cup olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons sugar

2 whole lemons, one juiced and one sliced

2 whole oranges, one juiced and one sliced

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

10-12 pieces (about 4 1/2 lbs.) bone-in chicken parts (thighs and legs are best), pat dry

1 medium onion (any kind), thinly sliced

1 teaspoon dried thyme, or fresh chopped

1 tablespoon dried rosemary, or fresh chopped

Chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, parsley), for garnish, optional

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, garlic, sugar, lemon juice, orange juice, Italian seasoning, paprika, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.

Place chicken in a rimmed 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Place parts skin side up and spread them out evenly in the pan. Pour olive oil mixture all over chicken, turning pieces to coat all sides. (If you marinated the chicken in this mixture, still add it all in). Arrange slices of lemon, orange and onion around and under the chicken. Sprinkle all over generously with thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Bake uncovered for about 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked and juices run clear. Remove parts to a serving platter and garnish with additional chopped fresh herbs, if desired.

Enjoy!

Just 30-40 minutes is all that's needed to bake this recipe with chicken breasts in place of chicken parts.

I had chicken thighs with no bone and still had to cook it closer to the hour mark. I also didn't have a full 13 x 9 pan, I halved the recipe and used a tray which probably didn't make the citrus as flavorful as it could've (I put slices above and under the chicken), but I did marinade it and thought that part was tasty. I would try it again or try it and tweak it with different herbs/sides. I had a cilantro lime Rice-a-Roni that was pretty tasty with it.

57kidzdoc
Aug 30, 2019, 7:23am

>56 bell7: That sounds great, Mary! Thanks for posting the recipe. Can I ask you to post it in The Kitchen as well?

That reminds me...I tried two or three recipes from Soup for Syria this month. I'll post them to The Kitchen this weekend.

58bell7
Aug 30, 2019, 8:41am

>57 kidzdoc: I'd honestly forgotten I'd made it this week 'til you asked, so thanks for the push. I'll post it in the Kitchen as well and look forward to hearing about your recipes too.

59bell7
Aug 30, 2019, 6:53pm

76. A Better Man by Louise Penny
Why now? I've been enjoying this series for a long time (thanks to fellow 75ers) and grabbed the library's "bestseller" (un-holdable second) copy the day it came out. It's a Drop Everything And Read book.

Louise Penny's 15th entry in the Armand Gamache series finds him newly demoted to Chief Inspector - a position that just so happens to also be held by his son-in-law, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, until his and Annie's imminent move to Paris. One of the new agents asks them to look into a missing persons case for her friend, the father of a woman named Vivienne who appears to be in an abusive marriage and may be in danger. While this is happening, sudden thaw causes flooding rivers that threaten cities and towns across the province, including the Bella Bella near Three Pines, where Clara is having a bit of a crisis because critics - and Twitter - have not been kind to her latest work.

There is...a lot going on here, and while I usually like the more intricately plotted entries in this series, I had a mixed reaction to its execution here. I did enjoy seeing character development and the suggestion of new directions in which the story might go in future installments. The mystery itself was a little confusing and frustrating, and I'm not totally satisfied with the conclusion. The ideas the author seems to want to explore about social media are potentially interesting, but hindered by the fact that - unless I'm totally misreading it - she doesn't describe how one would use Instagram accurately. I seldom read series this long, and I may be getting to the point where I'm ready to leave Three Pines behind. It's compelling, but I'm ready to either see the series develop in a new way or see what Penny would write with a completely different setting and characters. 3.5 stars.

In case you're wondering about my Instagram comment: She has one of the investigators create an Instagram account and look through the posts of a pottery artist. Convinced there's a "private account" behind the public one with all the nice pictures, the agent poses as a gallery and asks for access to the private account. That's... not how it works. I have a private account, not a public one, on Instagram and that doesn't mean I'm posting nudes and all the sordid things I don't want people to see, it's to protect my privacy because I use my real name and location and post photos of where I am and my niece and nephew (both minors). I don't give people "access" to the account where they can then see private messages. They request to follow me and I approve or not. Then they can see the photos and comments. I don't have some public and some private, I have the option of one or the other, so I'm really confused why the agent was convinced there was a "private" account behind the public photos. I don't believe for a second that the PR person in charge of the artist's Instagram would be stupid enough to have a gallery follow a private account and see comments they've posted between her and her lover - who, by the way, *is* the artist who doesn't have Internet which is why she's in charge of the account. So, wait... they literally can't message/comment either. Unless she takes a turn with the account and he comments as the account below her which is...dumb. So that irked me more than a little haha.

60bell7
Aug 30, 2019, 7:03pm

Happy Friday! I'm back home after a week of dogsitting, and suddenly feel very tired. I've mostly unpacked and have laundry going now. I am putting off a grocery shopping 'til later and don't currently feel like cooking.

My brother gave me an invite to a Fantasy Football league and the draft was Thursday. I drafted what I thought was a decent team, but the league gave me a B- and projects I'll finish 7th. But well, that's why they play the game, no? I'm not going to worry about it too much *shrug* and it'll be fun to mess around with my brothers and smack talk them if I win. I think most of the other teams are my brother R.'s co-workers.

I've got the US Open on and will be picking a new book to read while I wait for my laundry to finish, and then call it an evening.

61richardderus
Aug 30, 2019, 8:06pm

>59 bell7: I fell off the Three Pines express some time ago...there was a boat trip and a completely in-credible identity disguising that caused it...but the spoiler? That'd really get up my nose!

Have a happier reading weekend.

62bell7
Aug 30, 2019, 8:37pm

>61 richardderus: It really took me out of the story, getting all eye-rolly and annoyed. I read the book quickly, it has good pacing, compelling storylines and I love the characters. But it's starting to feel too stretched, too much of the same thing instead of natural developments and possibly leaving some characters behind. I don't remember the boat thing, which of the books was that one?

Next up:
I started reading the short story collection New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color edited by Nisi Shawl. I first heard of this because of LeVar Burton Reads podcast; he reads one of these stories, and wrote the foreword.
I'll also be reading A History of Kidderminster to learn more about from whence my ancestors came. I'm most interested in this book because it has a chapter talking about non-conformists, and my great-great-grandfather's family who was living there in the mid-1800s were Methodists.

63richardderus
Aug 30, 2019, 9:33pm

>62 bell7: The Long Way Home, tenth in the series.

64PaulCranswick
Aug 30, 2019, 11:55pm

>62 bell7: Wow, Mary, I would be surprised if that is gripping read.

Sir Rowland Hill the inventor of the modern postal system and the Penny Black stamp was born in Kidderminster and Robert Page the lead singer of Led Zeppelin grew up there.

65bell7
Aug 31, 2019, 7:22am

>63 richardderus: I had to reread my review and remember a bit, but it looks like what turned you off was barely a blip for me...but I was very emotionally invested in the story and even cried (that takes a lot), so it could be that I let go some minor things that irked me. It's funny what catches some reader's eye and takes them out of the story - my Instagram reaction will obviously not affect everyone, and so far I'm the one who gave the book it's lowest rating.

>64 PaulCranswick: It's not exactly riveting, Paul, but I'm only in the Middle Ages haha. Interesting to know about Sir Rowland Hill, and I'll have to tell my brother that about the lead singer of Led Zeppelin. The part related to my family would be the weaving and mills in the mid-1800s (my great-great-grandfather Arthur Bell was born there in 1865 and his father Richard was born there in 1823) and I haven't decided yet if I'm going to read from beginning to end or just skip to what's relevant and move on. The family moved to Halifax sometime between the birth of Arthur and his younger sister Lily in 1869, so it's a fairly specific time period that I'm sure they lived there. Arthur and at least three of his siblings came over to the United States, and at least one sibling stayed behind and died in Kidderminster in 1919, so it's possible I would still have cousins there. Arthur followed the mill jobs (he was a carpet weaver in 1930) from Philadelphia to small towns in Western Massachusetts, so that branch of my family has lived in this area for about 100 years.

66bell7
Aug 31, 2019, 7:26am

I have a fairly busy Saturday to kick off the long weekend. This morning I'm going tag saling (yes, I'm from New England - does one say garage saling or yard saling the same way?) with my dad, and then in the afternoon I'm attending my cousin's baby shower. This is her first, and I'm really excited for her. She's due in October so I'll have to be working away at the Christmas stocking for the baby. Her sister tells me they know the baby's sex and name already, but I think they're keeping mum to most people so I'm not aware of either.

Now that I'm home I have full access to the US Open as well, and I'm planning on watching a bunch over the weekend.

67msf59
Aug 31, 2019, 7:46am

Morning, Mary. Happy Saturday. Enjoy the holiday weekend and your various "saling" adventures.

68katiekrug
Aug 31, 2019, 3:06pm

Belated congrats on 75, Mary!

I'm looking forward to the Gauff-Osaka match tonight :)

69bell7
Aug 31, 2019, 7:22pm

>67 msf59: Thanks, Mark! We had a fun time driving around town, I bought some new books and clothes, and now am relaxing at home.

>68 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie! I've got the match on now, and now that I've done adulty things like balance my checkbook and breakdown my savings, I'm planning on enjoying some of it! I don't have a huge favorite in this one, but I've definitely enjoyed Gauff's game and am curious to see how she does here.

70bell7
Aug 31, 2019, 7:29pm

77. Nest by Esther Ehrlich
Why now? I thought this was on my list for being an honor or award book, maybe Newbery or Mass Book Awards, but now I can't find it so I don't know how the title originally came to me. I needed some audiobooks while i was commuting from a far away dogsitting job, and that's when I started this. I'd forgotten I read it in 2015.

Here's my original review:

Naomi, or Chirp as everyone calls her, is an eleven-year-old living on the Cape with her sister Rachel and her parents in the 1970s. She loves to dance and to watch birds, and is generally an average girl though she stands out a bit in the community for being Jewish. Her mom, a dancer, has been having some leg trouble, and Chirp is worried about her - what will happen if her mom can't dance anymore? Can she keep her mother's spirits up?

I'm having trouble thinking of exactly how to describe this story. In some ways it was very quiet and understated. Most of the "action" is the interaction between characters: Chirp and her family, Joey the neighbor kid with whom she becomes friends, her teacher at school who seems doomed to misinterpret everything she does. Chirp is a great character and her voice is genuine, not sounding too smart or too young to my ear. I loved the details about the Cape and birdwatching. Adults reading the text will recognize more than children might - like the boy with OCD or the girl who isn't great with social cues. I can't quite put my finger on what didn't make it a perfect/excellent read for me, either. Maybe it was the way that the ending didn't quite resolve some things I hoped to see change. I know it's like real life, but I like more closure than that. Maybe it's that she and her friend just had to run away to Boston towards the end, and it felt like a classic story trope of trying to escape your problems and then returning home. Maybe it's just that I read it in a day when I was sick and grumpy so no matter what I read, I was going to find something to nitpick.


Not much to add - I do think this is one adults like to praise but kids wouldn't necessarily find and enjoy on their own. I'm also even more annoyed this time around that Joey goes back into an abusive situation and it doesn't appear that anyone's going to do anything about it. So apparently I'm just as grumpy reading it this time around, and it took me 11 days this time.

71bell7
Aug 31, 2019, 7:56pm

August in review

77. Nest by Esther Ehrlich
76. A Better Man by Louise Penny
75. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
74. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
73. Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie
72. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
71. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London originally in Britain)
70. Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist
69. The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
68. LaGuardia by Nnedi Okorafor

Books read: 10
Fiction/Nonfiction/Graphic Novels/Poetry/Plays: 8/1/1/0/0
Children's/Teen/Adult: 1/0/9
Library/Mine/Borrowed: 8/2/0
Rereads: 1

Standouts: I don't usually count rereads, but because I liked it so much more this time around, The Underground Railroad. Also The Starless Sea was simply marvelous

Thoughts: I was all over the board this month in my reading - both topic and anywhere from 2-5 stars - but then, life all over the place too this month. I listened to three audiobooks (two completely, one with about 50 pages read) and read/listened to Two Steps Forward, which is a higher number than usual for me, but definitely was impacted by my commute.

Not specific to this month, but I've still kept steady in my reading diversely - my goal was at least 25% for the year and it's hovering around 30% for #OwnVoices reads so far. I'd actually like to see it even higher than that, which shouldn't be hard because there are some really talented writers out there. I want to read a couple of N.K. Jemisin series I never finished and I have a book by Jason Reynolds on deck to read too. I haven't done a great job of reading globally, only one book in translation, but I think if I try to do too much I just get frustrated so, it is what it is for this year. I've also been reading 9-10 books a month, so I'm well on pace to read about 110-115 books, which is right about where I expect my numbers most years.

72bell7
Edited: Aug 31, 2019, 9:01pm

And in random life news, my youngest brother is engaged and I'm SUPER excited. I think I screamed in their (him & fiancee's) ears when they called me to tell me.

73jnwelch
Sep 1, 2019, 10:58am

Congratulations on the great news about your brother and his fiancee, Mary!

Following your thinking on the latest Louise Penny Inspector Gamache mystery, I lost my steam on the series a couple of books ago. I love the characters, especially Gamache, but the stories got convoluted and . . . I don't know what. Not engaging enough for me, unfortunately.

74richardderus
Sep 1, 2019, 1:01pm

>71 bell7: A good month, despite the low lows. Nest made my radar and then fell off it when I realized that I'd mistaken it for that triple-barrelled-name lady's book...Cynthia d'Something Something...and I didn't like the way this one sounded too much.

I hope you're having a lovely, sunny Labor Day weekend. It's been beautiful, but the forecast says rain tomorrow. Poor runners!

75bell7
Sep 2, 2019, 7:35am

>73 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe. I agree, it seems that several folks ran out of steam at certain points in the series. There were a few titles that kept me going and I won't say for certain that I'd never read another one, but this entry sure didn't leave me hungry for the next.

>74 richardderus: Yes it was a good month, Richard. I don't think this Nest would do much for you; the other was Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney and it was getting some buzz a few years ago when it came out but I haven't read it myself. It's been a very nice Labor Day weekend, enjoyable weather and a nice balance of busyness and tennis watching.

76bell7
Sep 2, 2019, 7:38am

Today's plan is to grocery shop and have a little food prep ready for the week, watching tennis, and going to dinner at my newly-engaged brother's house.

I'm currently reading A History of Kidderminster, New Suns, Playing in the Dark and The Golem and the Jinni. I'll potentially finish one or two today if I can get enough time to read in front of the US Open. Better get started on my day and write up my grocery list!

77bell7
Sep 2, 2019, 10:01pm

78. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Why now? I think fellow LTers first put this on my radar, but it was based on what was currently available as an audiobook/ebook library borrow option when I was looking for one to listen to / read before bed.

Tracing two individuals and two immigrant groups, we meet a golem who was created as the "perfect wife" for her master who then dies, and she has to find her own way in New York City, and a jinn that comes out of a bottle and lives with a Syrian immigrant tinsmith. The two could not be more different, but as two outsiders as magical creatures in a human city they meet and begin a friendship.

This was a really thoughtful take on the immigrant experience, set in turn-of-the-20th century New York City, which just happened to be compounded by having two magical creatures. I found it a really delightful story and enjoyed the slow burn of the plot that finally brought the narrative threads together in a pretty exciting denouement. 4.5 stars.

The author listed Alif the Unseen and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell among her influences, and I think both would be good readalikes for very different reasons. Her website/Twitter says there's going to be a sequel called The Iron Season, but it doesn't look like there's a date for that yet. I'll have to keep my eyes open.

78bell7
Sep 4, 2019, 8:43am

In the midst of a busy week. My boss is at a conference for the next few days, so I'll be in charge and doing payroll and turnover (adding up the $$ from the cash register to turn in to Town Hall). I have a training for new volunteers tomorrow, and I only work 9-2 on Friday, so I'll have four hours on the desk and one to run to Town Hall with the money and pick up our check receipts. At least it'll go fast!

As if that weren't enough, I unexpectedly heard about a small home (2 beds, 1 bath) that may be going on the market, so I spent yesterday morning getting pre-approved for a mortgage and *may* be checking it out this week. If not, I'm perfectly happy to wait another year like I'd planned and build up the full 20% down payment. But it's making the week interesting, at the very least.

Reading the same books as listed in >76 bell7:, minus The Golem and the Jinni of course, and started Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch last night.

I couldn't keep myself up for the US Open last night, so I was disappointed to hear that Fed lost in 5. It sure will make the rest of the tournament interesting - we may well have a new major winner on Sunday! But I won't feel so bad about missing most of the final for the football game now.

79norabelle414
Sep 4, 2019, 9:49am

>78 bell7: Fingers crossed on buying a house!!! How exciting!

80msf59
Sep 4, 2019, 10:34am

Happy Wednesday, Mary. Hooray for The Golem and the upcoming sequel. I really liked that book too.

81richardderus
Sep 4, 2019, 12:11pm

>78 bell7: That's a solid week of productive busyness. I'm eager to hear more about the possible new home!

82Donna828
Sep 4, 2019, 3:44pm

Happy New Thread, Mary! I'm a big Edith Wharton fan so I really appreciate those pictures taken at The Mount. That sounds like a wonderful spot for a meetup.

Congratulations on reading 75+ books and in getting your community service award.

I'm not the biggest Louise Penny fan on LT but I am in love with Three Pines. I think I stick around for the atmosphere and Ruth's hijinks! I should be getting my copy from the library any day now. I'm not on Instagram but I am bothered when authors make mistakes about things like that. I try to be forgiving, but I really don't understand why nobody catches those errors.

The idea of a new house sounds very exciting. I'll stay tuned...

83MickyFine
Sep 4, 2019, 4:21pm

Oooh, exciting things going on with you! Good luck being the responsible grown-up at work for the rest of the week. I hope the house is adorable and perfect for you!

84bell7
Sep 4, 2019, 9:49pm

>79 norabelle414: Thanks! Not sure if it'll happen this week or in the next year or so (my estimate for how long it'll take me to get the full 20% down payment), but I'll keep you posted :)

>80 msf59: Happy Wednesday, Mark! Wasn't The Golem and the Jinni a fun one? I enjoyed their friendship and the story.

>81 richardderus: Yes indeed, Richard, the week's going by fast with everything going on! I'm hoping to see the house with my parents tomorrow, so I'll let you know more for sure.

>82 Donna828: The Mount was a blast, and I'll definitely have to read more Wharton - I've only read The Age of Innocence. I do love Three Pines and all the characters there. I'll look forward to your thoughts on it, Donna.

>83 MickyFine: Ha, thank Micky, the days are going by super fast with all the stuff that has to get done. There's only 12.5 hours left in my work week!

85bell7
Sep 4, 2019, 9:59pm

79. Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison
Why now? With the news of Toni Morrison's recent passing, I wanted to read a book by her and this is the one I own (library discard).

Three essays on that originated as Toni Morrison's William E. Massey, Sr., Lectures given at Harvard are here in written form, exploring the way in which an "Africanist" persona is contrasted with individualistic whiteness in American literature.

Morrison delivers a challenging read that's just as prescient and timely now as it was when it was printed in 1992. She never calls authors racist, but talks about examples from the works of Poe, Hemingway, Twain and more, and analyzes the way in which race is presented in their works. Her argument that there's a sort of persona that becomes an other, a contrast for protagonists and a fill in for danger or subjugation is especially compelling. My reading was impeded somewhat by not having read the works she was analyzing, and I would want to reread it to get the full impact and mull over her points more. Excellent reading for any student of American literature who would like to think more about how race is written. 4.5 stars.

86bell7
Edited: Sep 5, 2019, 9:02pm

I saw the house today...and was not too excited, really. I have no good reason I can really say, maybe that it was small (almost claustrophobic, like, if there were one other person living with me I'd feel like we were tripping over each other) but mostly it just didn't feel like home. *shrug* It was useful to go through the process and I'm certainly not sorry I did it - I feel confident that when the time and house is right I can make a good decision, and that's a good thing to come away with. I have a realtor friend I may ask to start sending me good potentials and see if I can't see a few more places and get an idea of what's really in my price range and if I'm being unrealistic about what I have in my head vs. the reality.

Work continued to be very busy as I anticipated, but I did start training a couple of new volunteers and have payroll ready to go for tomorrow. I'll run the cash register in the a.m., get that all sorted and run to Town Hall for the one hour I'm *not* scheduled on the reference desk. It's my short day - last time before it switches to Mondays again! - and then I'll be off at two. I'm going over my brother and his fiance's in the evening; her siblings are all coming to visit (I've met two out of three so far) and we're going to hang out and play games.

I haven't had much time to read tonight, as I had the house showing and got back in time to have dinner and put on the US Open women's semis. I've been hard at work on that Christmas stocking for my cousin and have made excellent progress yesterday and today. The baby's due Oct. 27 so I'll have it ready in plenty of time and will just have to duplicate stitch in the name and year.

87MickyFine
Edited: Sep 6, 2019, 1:41pm

>86 bell7: I did some house looking when I was still single and some of the houses in my range, in the areas of the city I was willing to live in were less than ideal. Mr. Fine and I are planning to buy out in suburbia next year and now my problem is looking at gorgeous houses I'd love that will be in our price range but haven't quite finished saving for yet and can't have. I'm under a self ban from looking at real estate websites for a while.

88bell7
Sep 8, 2019, 9:05am

>87 MickyFine: Yeah, that's one of the reasons I hadn't been seriously looking, because I know it's possible but not likely in until maybe a year from now in the price range I'm looking for. It doesn't help any that I really want to hold out for a 15 year fixed rate mortgage, which severely restricts the price (and thus the size) I can look for. But it was encouraging to run the numbers and realize how close I am to getting there, so while I'm not quite ready to troll all the real estate sites, I may talk to a realtor friend of mine to reach out beginning feelers and see some houses to get a sense of what's out there and in my price range before I absolutely commit to being ready to buy.

89bell7
Sep 8, 2019, 9:16am

It's been a very busy couple of days: Friday night went over to my brother G.'s and had fun with my (local) siblings and hers (one brother I'd never met before), as well as two of her co-workers. We ate and played games, and I was the first one to leave at like 10:30 which is super late for me. Saturday was a group meeting at my church for one of the ministries I'll be participating in this year, I got some training on some software I'll be using for data entry. Then I went to a sports yoga class that kicked my butt, my shoulders and abs are so sore today I'm contemplating a trip in the hot tub. A bunch of us from class hung out for awhile afterwards, and then I'd planned on going to a place where my brother R. was playing music, but talked so long we missed the show and only got to say hi to him before he went off to another show and I went home absolutely exhausted. I went to bed at like 8:30, and read or dozed 'til I really fell asleep for the night.

Today is church, a lunch and sign up for small groups kick after service. Mine is full again so I won't have a table for sign ups, but I did offer to help serve food, so I'm committed to staying to that for awhile. And then of course it's the start of football season so I'll be headed over to my parents for Giants/Cowboys at 4:25.

And then... I'm back to work. It'll be more last-minute than I like to be, but I may ask my boss if I can take Wednesday as a personal day just to be able to have a relaxed day to myself to do stuff at home. Next weekend is going to be just as busy as this was. I have Monday the 16th off, but have lunch plans and the start of small group, so while it won't have a ton of things planned both will take my time and energy.

Needless to say, have made little progress reading any books. Will be started Educated for book group soon.

90MickyFine
Sep 9, 2019, 1:16pm

Sounds like a crazy full weekend, Mary. Hopefully you get that Wednesday off. :)

91bell7
Sep 10, 2019, 8:43pm

>90 MickyFine: I looked at the schedule, realized I had to train a volunteer in the morning and was scheduled in the desk for 3-5 p.m. and chickened out from even asking. But now I'm coming down with a cold so I just may leave early tomorrow anyways? Fun times.

In other news, while I just barely started Educated yesterday and meant to read more tonight, I left it at work so I'm going to change into PJs, read a fun book and go to bed early. Have a great night, all!

92bell7
Sep 11, 2019, 10:28am

Well, as I mentioned to Micky in >91 bell7:, I've come down with a cold. I'm downright miserable today and can barely stand without feeling exhausted. I've got my chair set up with book, laptop, and tea and will ply myself with chicken soup, tea, OJ and decongestants all day. I did have decide to run into work to prepare a couple of things for volunteers coming in the morning, send an email to a colleague regarding a program I have tomorrow, and shoot my boss a text to let her know I'd be out sick today and much of tomorrow. I have a program on using Ancestry scheduled for tomorrow night, and I will plan on going in for 3 hours, strictly for that. In the meantime, today is as low key as I can possibly make it with reading, DVD watching and napping planned.

93katiekrug
Sep 11, 2019, 10:34am

I'm sorry you're not feeling well. I had a cold last week, and it's lingering a bit now but not badly. I hope you feel better soon!!

94foggidawn
Sep 11, 2019, 11:09am

>92 bell7: Hope you feel better soon! Sounds miserable, but at least you can take the time to go easy on yourself while you're feeling poorly.

95MickyFine
Sep 11, 2019, 1:01pm

Sorry to hear you've come down with a bug. Hopefully all your rest will kick it to the curb tout suite!

96charl08
Sep 11, 2019, 2:04pm

Just adding to the get well wishes: hope you feel more the thing soon.

97richardderus
Sep 11, 2019, 2:15pm

>86 bell7: A wonderful use of disappointment.

>92 bell7: Blech! I am so sorry. I hope you feel better soon.

My finger is improving daily, the antibiotic lethargy is continuing so it's still working, and The Testaments came in for me today!! The librarians saw my name on the holds list and our library bought one, instead of relying on the system's multiple copies. That way I got my hold immediately instead of being wherever I was in the triple digits.

They like me. They really like me.

98bell7
Sep 11, 2019, 6:36pm

Thanks Katie, Misti, Micky, Charlotte, and Richard for the commiserations and well-wishes.

I slept for 3 hours this afternoon, and still feel completely wiped out. I did manage to read half of Educated and finished Moon over Soho. I'm going to try to make progress in A History of Kidderminster (or skip to the part relevant to my family history and leave the rest unread) so I can return it to the library whenever I next work. I'm still planning on going in for a couple of hours *just* to run my program - it's almost maxed out with 19 people and I *really* don't want to reschedule. I have a fair amount of plans for the weekend and really hope I'm feeling more energetic soon!

>97 richardderus: I hope you enjoy The Testaments, Richard, and it's good to hear that your librarians are ordering books for you. (Buying books and talking about them are two of my favorite parts of the job, honestly.) I have yet to read The Handmaid's Tale and really should get on that. And glad to hear that finger's improving!

99bell7
Edited: Sep 11, 2019, 6:50pm

80. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
Why now? I enjoyed book 1 and saw that the audio was available to download through my library system, so decided to read the book alongside listening before bed.

Constable Peter Grant is a fairly normal copper in London, except for one thing - he's learning to practice magic under one Thomas Nightingale, and the two of them are called in on any, well, unusual case. When jazz musicians begin dying for no particular reason, leaving a faint sense of magic used behind in the tune of the jazz classic "Body and Soul," Grant is on the case.

The second book in the series starts soon after the first left off, with Leslie, for example, still dealing with the physical aftermath of Peter's first case, and the rivers of London still present as secondary characters. There are these threads that continue, but the story and mystery also finish and leave this a story wholly its own. I enjoyed the setting and genre-bendedness of the story, and I like Grant's narration and humor. The sex read like, well, a hetero guy wrote it and though it did end up having a point in the story I'd figured out part of it way before Peter himself had. A fun, light read and while I'll probably read the next one eventually I won't knock myself out to get a copy soon. 3.5 stars.

Edited to fix touchstone. And then again to fix my numbering.

100richardderus
Sep 11, 2019, 7:08pm

>99 bell7: re spoiler, oh dear. Seldom if ever a happy thing.

101bell7
Sep 12, 2019, 9:20am

>100 richardderus: It knocked off half a star, anyway, and makes me more reluctant to pick up book #3.

102bell7
Sep 12, 2019, 9:24am

DNF - A History of Kidderminster by Nigel Gilbert

I guess I knew going into it that a book on the history of an industrial town of carpet weavers in the center of England was hardly going to be riveting reading. I trudged through approx. 100 pages because my 3rd great grandfather Richard was born there, got married near there, and had several kids (including my 2nd great grandfather Arthur) there until moving to Halifax c. 1869. I did read through the chapter on non-conformists, which was actually about the Puritans in the mid 1600s as opposed to the Methodists that my family was. And I did skip ahead to read about the industrial period when I know my family was living there, in 1823-1869. I did learn that Richard was around 5 when a major strike happened, that the school system was lousy when he was a kid and getting better around the time they moved to Halifax. Sanitation was also lousy. It makes me wonder if 1) that’s why they moved and 2) that’s why he died at 45?

Anyway, not enough there to keep me reading every word. My ancestors were the mill workers, not the rich people that get named in such histories. I learned what I wanted to about the conditions they were living in and now can move on to reading that piques my interest more. Oh, and if you’re wondering, Arthur was my immigrant ancestor. He came to the U.S. when he was approximately 14 and worked in mills all his life, whether in NY, Philadelphia, CT or MA. Some of his siblings came over, too, though whether that was together or separately I have no idea. I wasn’t able to figure out what happened to all his sisters, but one brother, Enoch, married and brought his family back to Kidderminster, where he died in 1919.

At this point, to learn more about my Kidderminster ancestors, I probably have to go there and start looking through church records.

103bell7
Sep 12, 2019, 4:08pm

81. Educated: a memoir by Tara Westover
Why now? My book club read for next week

Tara was the youngest of seven children, growing up in rural Idaho, to a survivalist father who distrusted the government and doctors, and a mother who was a midwife and herbalist.

Though you might expect this memoir to be a "weird childhood, but look now I went to college and I'm normal!" story, that's a reduction and doesn't do justice to Tara's story. One of the epigraphs reads "I believe finally, that education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience; that the process and the goal of education and one and the same thing." That, I think, gets to the heart of what Tara's attempting in writing and exploring her story. As a child, she had one experience, driven by her parents' perception of facts and what got passed on to her. As she grew older, as some of her brothers left the family fold and one encouraged her to get an education, and as she goes to college and has wider experiences, she starts to look at her own story with new eyes. She doesn't shy away from the fact that memory is faulty, and even includes a couple of footnotes explaining alternate ways something may have happened. But what she does do is reconstruct her experience, powerfully and empathetically. I highly recommend this book. 4.5 stars.

I wouldn't have picked this up if it weren't for my book club. I was homeschooled - and my mother was very by-the-book, we're going to be organized and disciplined, created a transcript and everything. So I too have no GED or high school diploma, but I have 3 college degrees. Because of my experience, and that of many that I know, I can be extra picky about how homeschooling is represented or misrepresented in mainstream books. But that's not at all what Tara experienced (she basically had no formal education at all, and had to teach herself enough math to pass the ACT) and not how she portrays it (she mentions that one of her brothers homeschooled his kids and that they had a high standard of education). She even is careful to say this isn't representative of mainstream Mormonisn or any other religion - it's just her life experience. Anyway, I'm glad I read it and I'm looking forward to the discussion next week.

104foggidawn
Sep 12, 2019, 4:22pm

>103 bell7: Like you, I was homeschooled by an organized and determined mother. I like to tell people that I never got a high school diploma, but once you've got your master's degree, it hardly matters. ;-)

105bell7
Sep 12, 2019, 4:39pm

>104 foggidawn: Ha! Love it. And so very true... I actually had the following conversation with someone at the community college I went to -

Woman behind the desk: You should get your GED.

Me: But...I'm already in college and you don't need my GED for me to attend here.

WBTD: Other colleges might need it.

Me: I'm going to have my degree here, and then I'll be a transfer student so they'll only need my college transcript, right?

WBTD: Oh...yeah, that's true.

Though I will say, getting a GED used to have more of a stigma than the equivalent test does now. When I was being homeschooled, people were very concerned that my parents might be inflating my grades...and then I went to college and learned about scaling!

106bell7
Sep 12, 2019, 4:53pm

Well, I *feel* a little better, but am still pretty tired and have a low-grade fever. So no going into work to run a program for me - they don't want my germs!

I've officially taken tomorrow and Sunday off, too. Not how I'd anticipated the week going, but clearly I needed the rest. I've finished my book club book and will have plenty of time to prepare for small group on Monday night, two things I was super stressed about.

Am off to ply myself with more fluids, read good books, and possibly watch a movie.

107msf59
Sep 12, 2019, 5:38pm

Loved your thoughts, on Educated, Mary and your backstory with your own homeschooling background. I also loved this memoir .

108bell7
Sep 12, 2019, 10:32pm

>107 msf59: Thanks, Mark! It was a good one, wasn't it? It's still been super popular in my library, and only by working the holds system to my advantage was I able to get several copies for my book club.

109bell7
Sep 12, 2019, 10:39pm

82. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Why now? After seeing Jason Reynolds as the keynote speaker at ALA, I decided to read some of his books, and this was one that I'd requested a few weeks ago - I found the audio (read by him) available to download and planned on reading a little bit before heading to bed...only to discover it was written in verse and super intense, so read it in one sitting.

Will's brother Shawn is murdered, and even at fifteen Will knows the Rules: 1. No crying 2. No snitching 3. Get revenge. Planning on doing just that the next morning, he gets in an elevator, his brother's gun tucked in his pants. But he's in for a wild ride.

This novel in verse is intense. I thought I understood the direction it might go in, but with the first visitor Will has in his elevator, I realized I was along for the ride myself. I read it in one sitting, in only a couple of hours. Without judgment, Reynolds presents the life Will has left and the legacy of one man killing another that has led up to this moment. For all that it was short, I was completely invested and almost cried at parts. 4.5 stars.

Okay, it is ridiculously hard to properly review this without spoilers. Anyone read this one? What did you think?

110scaifea
Sep 13, 2019, 6:56am

A fever now, too? Ooof. I hope it clears up for you toot sweet and I'm glad to see that you're taking the time off you need to get well!

I need to get round to Educated. The audio version has won some awards, so I'm hoping to go that route, and soon.

I was completely blown away by Long Way Down; you're absolutely right that it's intense. So good, and so important, I think. Should be required school reading.

111bell7
Sep 13, 2019, 7:23am

>110 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! I will probably take a nap today to get enough sleep too. I hope you enjoy Educated when you get to it!

Ooh ooh, so Long Way Down. Which was brilliant, by the way. I'm really curious how you read the ending: Was "You coming?" an invitation to kill Riggs and end up with them? Or to leave the gun behind? I usually hate ambivalent endings, but wow, was it powerful to end it before his decision! And I totally agree with you about required school reading. Not only is in an important subject, I defy anyone to read it and tell me reading is boring. Also if you were a teacher you just may be able to get Jason Reynolds to come to your school, which would be a huge plus.

112bell7
Sep 13, 2019, 7:39am

Still feeling sick, too early to say how bad. I'm planning on spending much of the day reading and relaxing. I had a lot of plans for the weekend, starting this evening with my cousin's show, but I've been so wiped out the past two days it's impossible to say how much of that will happen. I may have to modify some things - such as something lowkey with my little rather than hiking tomorrow.

Currently I'm only reading a collection of short stories, so I'll probably start a new book soon. I've been listening to What if? before falling asleep the past couple of nights, and while Wil Wheaton's reading is fabulous, I can't see the comics in that format. The e-book is really poorly formatted so that no matter what size I make the font the right margin is wonky and words start to bleed over into the next "page", making it almost impossible to read. I'll probably get the book when I get back to work on Tuesday, or make a trip this weekend to my local library to get the paper book.

On my nightstand now:

Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Behind the Lines by Andrew Carroll

These will likely show up reviewed on my thread over the next few days. I'm thinking of starting Paladin of Souls and Palaces for the People next.

113scaifea
Sep 13, 2019, 7:55am

>111 bell7: Ooof, it's been long enough since I read it that I can't remember details very well, but yeah, that ending was powerful. I have a love/loathe relationship with ambiguity in endings, but this one is *so* well done and I love that we don't really know what his decision will be. I think if it had ended with him deciding one way or another, it would maybe have felt too pat? Anyway, I loved it from start to finish.

114bell7
Sep 13, 2019, 8:23am

>113 scaifea: I usually really dislike ambiguity in endings but I completely agree with you on this one.

115streamsong
Sep 13, 2019, 9:04am

I'm sorry that you are still feeling poorly. I hope you have a relaxing day of reading - feel better soon!

Congrats to your brother!

It sounds like your plan to home ownership is a wise one. Still, it never hurts to let your realtor friend know that if the perfect home comes along, you might be interested.

I loved your review of The Golem and the Jinni. I've seen it mentioned several times, but now it's seriously on my tbr list.

116bell7
Edited: Sep 14, 2019, 8:04pm

>115 streamsong: thanks, Janet, I've got some energy back, thank goodness, and did enjoy having some relaxing days. That's exactly what I'm hoping for with this realtor, she knows me and hope I'll approach the money part of it well, so between her, my landlord really knowing his stuff with flipping houses and my dad working as a lawyer in real estate, I'll have a very good team ready to advise me. I hope you enjoy The Golem and the Jinni when you get to it!

117bell7
Sep 14, 2019, 8:08pm

I had a busy day, hanging out with my little at home, going to my friend's son's birthday party, then dogsitting. I've fed and walked then, and now all four labs are spread out in the room sleeping. In about an hour or so I'll take them for their last walks before bed, feed and walk them in the morning and head out to start my day.

For now, though, a little time for reading.

I've left my knitting at home, but I'm making good progress on the sweater I'm working on and started on one of the sleeves today. It uses short rows and wrapping and turning for the shoulder, so I had to look up that technique today, but once I get going I should be able to finish it up pretty fast. I'll take some photos at some point to share.

118bell7
Sep 15, 2019, 8:26pm

83. New suns: original speculative fiction by people of color edited by Nisi Shawl
Why now? LeVar Burton had read the first short story on his podcast, LeVar Burton Reads, and it took me a few weeks of having it from the library to get to it, but I wanted to check out this diverse collection of SFF short fiction.

It's always so difficult to review short story collections, and this one is no exception. New Suns may be even harder than most. The authors hail from many backgrounds and cultures, including African American, Native American, Japanese, Korean and more. Several are award-winning and well-known authors with other story collections or novels. Some I'd heard of; many, I'm afraid, I did not, but that's part of why I read it - to introduce myself to more and diverse authors writing in genres I enjoy.

The stories themselves are quite as varied as the authors. There's some SF with aliens, there's more fantastical involving magic or djinn, and there's some deliciously creepy leaning-towards-horror tales. Some I enjoyed, others left me cold. But each one did give me a taste of an author I had never read before, and most if not all were excellent examples of short stories complete on their own, not leaving you feeling like they should have been longer. One of my favorites was "The Fine Print," in which a man who has made a contract with a djinn - just as many in his village have - is told he must fulfill the terms, by bringing his firstborn son and realizes just what the fine print has meant all these years. 4 stars.

119bell7
Sep 15, 2019, 8:38pm

I hope everyone had a good Sunday. This week kicked off our church's Sunday School and small groups, so I rushed all morning, got up fed the dogs, walked the dogs, went home because I forgot things like deodorant that one needs every day, went to church an hour early, had Sunday School, went to service, came home. I spent much of the afternoon watching football and knitting.

The Giants lost again, making them 0-2 so far. I don't expect them to win the Super Bowl or anything, but was hoping for a little better start to the year. I'm in a Fantasy Football league this year, and I'm actually well on my way to being 2-0 to start off the year (one of 3 still undefeated, at least what it looks to be before Monday night football comes around and changes scores last-minute). The only other time I was in a league was with all my siblings, my brother-in-law and his brothers and friends, and I came in 2nd. Now as the only woman in the league with my brothers, one of my brother's co-workers, a friend of theirs, and a bunch of other people I *don't* know, I'm kinda feeling competitive and as much as it's really left to chance I'm hoping to prove I'm decent at this :)

I'm still recovering from the cold and coughing a bit, though feeling a lot better and more energetic. Tomorrow I'm off from work - I was scheduled to work today and be off tomorrow, and when my boss told me to stay home today I asked to take tomorrow as a personal day since I had already made plans. My small group starts that night, so I'll have some final prep to get ready for that, including making a dessert or app to share, and I'm meeting a friend for lunch.

The second half of the month will probably not have nearly as many books finished as the last week has because of my illness. I am, however, reading Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold, and might start Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg soon to have some nonfiction going too. I'm listening to What If? by Randall Munroe and read by Wil Wheaton still and may pick up the book at work on Tuesday to be able to glance at the comics and read through the answers where I think I dozed off part way through (it's a good listen, but I put it on almost exclusively at bedtime to fall asleep to).

120katiekrug
Sep 16, 2019, 9:46am

I console myself re: the Giants by being glad I'm not, as The Wayne is, a Dolphins fan :)

Glad you're feeling better!

121bell7
Edited: Sep 16, 2019, 5:20pm

>120 katiekrug: *snort* And ouch... that rout of the Patriots against the Dolphins on Sunday was painful for even not-a-fan. Though Antonio Brown is on my fantasy team, so I wasn't too sad. As my dad reminded us this morning, it's the anniversary of Coach Coughlin declaring, "I think we're a better team than we've shown. Obviously I have no real grounds for saying that, it's just a belief" the year of their improbable Super Bowl run against the 18-0 Patriots. Don't think it'll happen, but there's precedent for saying we're not completely out of the running ;)

122katiekrug
Sep 16, 2019, 2:58pm

I have a T-shirt with "18-1" on the front and "The not-so-perfect season" on the back :)

123bell7
Sep 16, 2019, 5:19pm

>122 katiekrug: That is simply beautiful. And would probably get me mugged anywhere near home hahaha.

124richardderus
Sep 19, 2019, 10:19pm

Hi Mary! Drive-by hug time.

125bell7
Sep 21, 2019, 10:50am

>124 richardderus: *hugs* back

I'm still here! It's just been an exceptionally busy week. A bunch of fall events are kicking off at my church, I'm back to work and almost over that abominable cold and...well, actually that's pretty much it. Oh, and I had an overnight dogsitting job and am walking the five labs today. I got my coffee and have let them all out to stretch legs and gnaw on toys. I've got Sports Center on and will read a bit before getting lunch and walking them again.

The rest of the weekend is pretty low key, which is good because I have a lot of "at home" stuff to catch up on. Still reading the same books, enjoying them but not reading a ton with so little downtime.

Happy weekend!

126bell7
Sep 24, 2019, 10:27am

84. Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
Why now? I really enjoyed The Curse of Chalion when I read it in July, and decided it was a good time to read book 2 in the series - also, it's the soonest due back to the library!

Ista is the the mother of the ruler of Chalion, but she's in her mother's household and was thought to be crazy. She's had her fair share of hard knocks, losing husband, son, and now mother. Not wanting to stay cooped up forever, Ista decides to go on pilgrimage, going incognito and taking a few attendants along with her. But she soon finds out that the gods aren't quite done with her yet, and this former crazy saint has something important to accomplish.

I really enjoyed the worldbuilding in The Curse of Chalion. Paladin of Souls expands on that, giving us more insight into exactly how the world works, and making me read a little more slowly at times than perhaps I wanted to - though to be fair, that assessment could be me, because after finishing almost a book a day on a sickbed, I was back to a busy work week and didn't have as much time to be reading. Still, I found the story and especially the ending very satisfying and would certainly read it again. If you like intricate fantasy with complex characters, give it a whirl. 4.5 stars.

127bell7
Sep 24, 2019, 10:34am

Life update:

It's been a crazy week and a half or so, I'm back to work and have a lot of programs coming up. Both my small group study and a program I agreed to be secretary for started up the same week, so that's two nights a week I'm out, and I work Tuesday nights leaving me only a couple of nights to myself. And with football season and Sunday hours at the library starting, weekends are pretty busy too.

But on Saturday I did a nice thorough cleaning of my apartment, which felt fantastic to have done (now I just have to maintain that!), and on Sunday the Giants actually won!

Today, we have a program where student volunteers are coming in to tutor adults on their devices - we're calling it "Tech Tuesdays" and leaving it pretty open ended what exactly they have questions about. It's one-on-one, and last spring worked really well. We have four people signed up and I might get some drop ins as well. Not sure if I'll just be greeting the students and off the hook for awhile or really legging it, so we'll see what happens.

Tonight one of the two TV shows I actually watch in real time, This is Us, comes back on, so I'll probably get some knitting time in front of the TV this evening.

The only book I'm currently reading is What if? by Randall Munroe and I'll probably pick another one to bring to work for my break today. But first - I better hurry up and get a walk in!

128MickyFine
Sep 24, 2019, 1:15pm

Sounds like you're settling into your busier schedule really well. Hopefully your reading offers the perfect level of escapism.

129richardderus
Sep 24, 2019, 4:45pm

>127 bell7: You're a one-armed tiler with poison ivy! I'm amazed you're able to squeeze in even the occasional drive-by. But since it sounds like the busy is a fun busy, it's all good. *smooch* See you when you have time!

130bell7
Sep 25, 2019, 5:10pm

>128 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky, I'm certainly trying to keep that balance between commitments and time to myself. I have to pretty regularly reassess, I find. Adulthood is...not what I'd pictured as a kid in so many ways, but I think that's one of the biggest ones!

>129 richardderus: Well thank you, Richard! Though I don't work any extra hours in the week, times I have programs certainly *feel* busier than others, so I suspect the next month or so will feel especially like a whirlwind. But then I'll have a week of vacation, so I know there's a break in sight.

131bell7
Edited: Sep 28, 2019, 9:25am

85. What if? by Randall Munroe
Why now? The audiobook read by Wil Wheaton was available from the library when I was looking for one, and it sounded entertaining. I think one of my friends read the book a few years ago when it first came out and originally recommended it to me.

Using questions and answers from his popular webcomic xkcd, former NASA roboticist Randall Munroe takes some of the outlandish questions he's received, including several that hadn't been answered on the website, and answers them with science & math, aplomb and some fairly humorous references to pop (or nerd) culture.

The answers are entertaining, often including stick figure cartoon drawings illustrating what he's talking about. The questions themselves are entertaining, anything from "How fast do you have to drop steak to cook it?" to "Could you make a Lego bridge from New York to London?" (And in that one he definitely has fun with the spelling of LEGO). Some of it was way over my head, but I could enjoy the premise if not entirely follow his reasoning and equations. His answers sometimes tend to the ridiculous, but, well, that's kind of what you sign up for with the entire book! If you listen to the audio, Wil Wheaton gives an excellent performance but you do miss a little something of the visuals, so I found myself going back and forth between formats a lot. 4 stars.

132Familyhistorian
Sep 29, 2019, 6:17pm

Very belated congratulations on reading 75 and beyond, Mary. It’s a good thing you’re feeling better because it sounds like you have an uber busy autumn in front of you!

133richardderus
Sep 29, 2019, 7:18pm

I got a lovely missive today, and a Near Occasion of Bibliogluttony, and am sending hugs northwestward!

134ronincats
Sep 29, 2019, 10:30pm

Glad you loved Paladin of Souls, one of my favorites because I love Ista! Also glad you are feeling better, Mary.

135PaulCranswick
Sep 30, 2019, 5:59am

>130 bell7: I am also trying much the same balance but myself continues to take second place!

136bell7
Sep 30, 2019, 5:05pm

>132 Familyhistorian: Thanks, Meg! And yes, busy four weeks or so coming right up!

>133 richardderus: *hugs* back and hope you add much to the TBR pile muahahahaha

>134 ronincats: Nice to see you, Roni! I have some fun reading ahead of me looking into more of Lois McMaster Bujold's work, I think.

>135 PaulCranswick: It's always a tough balance, isn't it, Paul? I have to say no to some things - even things I want to do - to have enough margin, and it isn't always easy.

137bell7
Sep 30, 2019, 5:14pm

Whelp, today was my day off and going to be fairly relaxed, but I ended up being the driver for my mom to some appointments. While it wasn't super serious or anything, it was a little surreal to realize this will probably happen more and more in the near future. And I'm talking, like, a decade or so to clarify. My parents are in their early 60s and in reasonably good health so I'm not anticipating anything major, just the normal shift that happens as parents get older.

After that morning, I did get what I needed to done at home, took a walk, etc. Just not the day I'd envisioned. I'm heading out now for my evening commitments.

I did start reading Palaces for the People and am enjoying the author's thesis that social infrastructure - places people get together from libraries to schools to public parks - are important, and can bring cohesion to a neighborhood, reduce crime, and help people survive heat waves and the like.

In fiction, I picked up The Wolf Wants In, not one that was on my radar but I'm reading for book club this week with my brother's fiance and her friends from work. I thought it looked like a thriller and was surprised to find out when I picked it up yesterday that the pacing is a little more deliberate. I didn't make much progress in it today, but I have tomorrow morning off and Wednesday night to read it - and I can, it'll just take some focused reading time instead of puttering around my apartment, knitting, etc.

Saturday I have off, and I've decided it WILL be a very low key day!

138richardderus
Sep 30, 2019, 5:56pm

>137 bell7: Palaces for the People sounds interesting. I'll wait until I see what you end up thinking of it before haring off to load it on the TBR.

139bell7
Oct 2, 2019, 8:35am

>138 richardderus: I will certainly let you know when I finish - I had to mostly put is aside so I could concentrate on the book club book over the last few days.

140bell7
Edited: Oct 3, 2019, 11:27am

September in review
85. What if? by Randall Munroe
84. Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
83. New Suns: original speculative fiction by people of color edited by Nisi Shawl
82. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
81. Educated: a memoir by Tara Westover
80. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
79. Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison
78. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Books read: 8
Fiction/Nonfiction/Graphic Novels/Poetry/Plays: 5/3/0/0/0
Children's/Teen/Adult: 0/1/7
Library/Mine/Borrowed: 7/1/0
Rereads: 0

Standouts: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds blew me away

Thoughts: Despite finishing nearly a book a day while I was sick, this was a little on the light side of average (I've mostly been reading 9-10 books a month) for me this year. Not surprising given how busy I've been between work, volunteer commitments, and trying to step up my walking again. Half of what I read was fantasy. Three out of 8 were by people of color, an average I'd like to keep up or raise by the end of the year. None of my September reads were complete clunkers, either, which was nice. I think with October getting me back into the fall routine I may be able to read a book or two more than I did in September. I have a stack of 8 library books that are due anytime from Tuesday to 3 weeks from now, so I'll concentrate on those first and then I'm really thinking of reading my own books for much of the rest of the year, including ARCs received at ALA and through Edelweiss.

141bell7
Oct 3, 2019, 11:35am

This week has been very busy once again, but I think now that my commitments have been going for a couple of weeks and my work stuff is in the swing of things, life should be calming down and I may have not exactly more reading time but more focus and back into a routine that allows me to take more reading time when I do have downtime. Tonight is book club at C.'s (my brother's fiancee) on The Wolf Wants In. I finished it yesterday and have mixed feelings about it, but I'm looking forward to seeing what the others things tonight. I should be writing a review for it soon - I'm taking my 15 minute break at work now just to catch up on my own thread a little and report on September reading.

Next week will again be a busy work week (two programs scheduled, one on Tuesday and one of Friday), and then my sister's family is coming up for Columbus Day weekend. I have plans with my Little for that Saturday, but the rest of the weekend I'm planning on spending as much time with the kiddos as possible. My sister sent me a video of Mia "reading" Green Eggs and Ham on the front porch, where she remembered some of the words and would say, "No, Sam I Am!" with great gusto and hand motions. She can also write letters (sometimes upside down) when you tell her how to spell something, so I imagine real reading will be coming soon. I'm looking forward to sharing so many good stories - now while she's reading picture books and later as she can start to listen to longer stories too. I've started keeping a list of books for both Mia and Matthew that I'd love to share with them, either purchasing or getting from the library. Next weekend I imagine will be full of Dr. Seuss books if I can help it!

142MickyFine
Oct 3, 2019, 12:11pm

Glad to hear that life is happy and full. :)

143bell7
Oct 4, 2019, 7:41am

>142 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky!

144bell7
Oct 4, 2019, 7:57am

86. The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh
Why now? Read for my book club with future sis-in-law

Sadie Keller is reeling from the news that her brother died from an apparent heart attack, but he was so young and she didn't think he has heart problems that she keeps her ears open for the possibility of foul play - after all, they barely knew his wife, Crystle, of only about a year. Henley is a young woman just out of school that dreams of leaving the small town and her no-good rotten family with a mom, Missy, who's hooked on drugs and uncles who love her but are pretty much up to no good. In interspersing chapters, readers learn about these women, their families and towns, and what really happened the night Shane died.

I'd never heard of the author or this book before it was picked for book club - which is kind of fun, because that's at least in part why we join book clubs, right, to read books we might never have chosen otherwise? This one turned out to be a mixed bag for all of us. The cover and front flap make it sound like a thriller, so I waited 'til only a few days before we were going to meet to even start it, expecting it to read fast. Well, the pacing turned out to be a little uneven like she was trying to write both literary fiction giving us a picture of a rundown Midwest smalltown struggling with opioid addiction and the story of Shane's death. She gave us so many details about Sadie and the Kellers that the first hundred or so pages were quite deliberate, and then only at the end did it pick up as everything came together. The characters were well done, but I'm not sure why she chose to have two narrators, and why one (Sadie's) was first person and the other third. The ending was satisfying and while I'd probably try another of this author's books somewhere down the road, I think this could have been a tighter, better novel than it was. 3.5 stars.

We were all kind of middling about this one, spent some time talking about the book but we were sort of awkwardly "meh" about it, and then ate dinner (we'd all made food somehow related to the Kansas/Midwest setting) and talked about other things. Actually, we really did have a fun time it was me, future sis-in-law, and three librarians she works with, thus I'm going to start calling this my Librarian Book Club. I ended up staying much later than I should have with my working today (by which I mean 11 or so), talking shop and playing Jackbox and hanging out.

145bell7
Oct 4, 2019, 8:02am

Next up in reading:

I'm about halfway through Palaces for the People and will probably try to read more over the weekend because for the last few days I've put it aside to read the have-to book. I started The Ten Thousand Doors of January yesterday and will bring it along on my break today.

Weekend plans:

I am working today (staff meeting/training, an hour on the reference desk, and a workshop on using our Local History section that only one person has signed up for so far...), then have AWANA at my church where I'm checking kids in and keeping track of awards - I have two to give out tonight! I'll head home after that and crash after staying up late last night.

Saturday is very low key. I'm planning on going grocery shopping and doing some meal planning so that I have food for next week, but that's about it. Otherwise, I'm tidying the apartment and reading and knitting. Sunday will be church and watching the Giants at my parents' house. I'm looking forward to catching up with my mom about the trip she took this week to my sister's and hearing about the kiddos.

146richardderus
Oct 4, 2019, 8:20am

>144 bell7: Oh dear...not the happiest of reading experiences but it sounds like the party was pleasant.

>145 bell7: A solid and satisfying weekend schedule. I hope it goes exactly as planned.

147bell7
Oct 5, 2019, 10:58am

>146 richardderus: It was kinda meh reading, but yeah, a really fun get together. So far so good with weekend plans - I have a to-do list for home as long as my arm and I will see how much I can whittle it down today.

148richardderus
Oct 5, 2019, 11:36am

>147 bell7: Heh...if it's like my to-do list, it's just gonna get longer as items get ticked off.

149bell7
Oct 6, 2019, 8:11am

>148 richardderus: Well yes, that can happen but the joy of crossing them off (or wiping them off the whiteboard) sort of makes up for that.

I did actually get quite a bit done, including cleaning the inside of my fridge (things had spilled/leaked and it was looking gross) and my microwave, which were just those chores you don't do that often and were annoying me.

I didn't get a lot of reading done, but I expect to finish Palaces of the People today between football games, and I'll probably pick up The Ten Thousand Doors of January from where I left it on my desk at the library on Friday on my way to my parents to watch the Giants.

I'm making good progress on the Christmas stocking for my cousin's baby (due later this month) and should have photos to share soon!

150bell7
Oct 7, 2019, 8:36am

87. Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg
Why now? The author spoke at ALA in a session I attended, a Q&A with the librarian of congress, Carla Hayden. I was really impressed and it made me interested in the book, which I'd taken out once before and didn't read it time. This time, I made it!

Sociologist Eric Klinenberg begins with a fatal heat wave in Chicago in the summer of 1995. Sociologists studying it tried to figure out why some neighborhoods had people suffering more or dying from the heat, while others seemed to have better support in place. Accounting for wealthy and poor neighborhoods didn't quite cover the split, as some less well-to-do neighborhoods had even better survival rates. From there, Klinenberg begins his argument about the importance of social infrastructure, those places where we gather - libraries, bookstores, college campuses, parks, churches, and more - that allow us to build relationships in our neighborhoods and communities.

The beginning of the book especially focuses on libraries, the way in which they support the community with programs and a third space, connecting multiple generations and building relationships. No one who knows me will be surprised by the fact that this was the part that interested me most. Even when he starts talking about other avenues that personally interest me less, however, Klinenberg makes a strong argument that we should start thinking about these spaces in a variety of ways, from how we address crime (cleaning up areas that are abandoned or overgrown makes a huge difference) to functional infrastructure in dealing with storm surges being made beautiful spaces to bring people together. He may be, I think, a little on the idealistic side but his ideas are worth thinking about and bringing before city planners. I have not heard many - well, any before him - people talking about social infrastructure, and I will start paying attention to ways in which his ideas play out in the public sphere. I will also keep it in my back pocket that while I can't always point out to a quantitative result in the daily work I do, I make a qualitative difference in the lives I touch every day at work, at church and at play. 4 stars.

151richardderus
Oct 7, 2019, 1:49pm

>150 bell7: The concept of the "third space," the place you can go without entering private property or being expected to toe a particular line, is dying in end-stage capitalism. It is a tragedy on a human scale and a gigantic unwinding of the social contract that will only continue to erode civility and consensus building.

152bell7
Oct 8, 2019, 9:22am

>151 richardderus: Well, and the thing is I'm not anti-capitalism per se. Klinenberg has this one sentence early on that's very telling, he mentions that libraries - if they didn't already exist - probably wouldn't be created in this day and age. And I definitely think that's true. There are people who work for my town that think libraries have had their day rather than seeing them as a vital service. But to me, I can't see how anyone on either side of the political spectrum can see them as a bad thing. The average town library sees 1-2% of a person's property taxes into their budget. If you think of the expertise of librarians and library staff, books bought and services provided, you can go to *one* program a year or borrow *one* TV series on DVD and you have pretty much made your money back. The return on investment is astounding. Of course, not everyone goes to the public library. Not everyone uses the school system either, but that's one thing my hometown will never skimp on and it's because the high standards and reputation of the school system means a lot to them. That should spill over to all sorts of departments, and it should foster not competition for the money (there is only so much to go around in a town) but ways to complement each other and create these places of infrastructure that just...make sense. Andrew Carnegie championed libraries. Ben Franklin (one of the Founding Fathers) had a lot to do with the philosophical underpinnings of the early library system. Why such a way of serving the community - that, mind you, continues to be popular, used, and vital rather than dying out as everyone predicted 20 years ago - will be divisive is something I will never understand.

153Familyhistorian
Oct 12, 2019, 1:18am

Were libraries predicted to be dying out 20 years ago? I think they have done a wonderful job of finding new ways to welcome people inside their doors and are good at changing with the times.

154msf59
Oct 12, 2019, 6:36am

Happy Saturday, Mary. I have not stopped by in awhile. No explanation. Glad to see the books are treating you well. I am still making my way through my ALA haul. I have not been disappointed yet.

155bell7
Oct 14, 2019, 10:14am

>153 Familyhistorian: Certainly in my area, there was talk of the Internet and then e-books making them obsolete. Maybe more like 15 years than 20. I remember when our library was looking to expand (a project that ended up ultimately not happening when it came to a bond raising property taxes to pay for it in addition to the grant we'd received) someone at the town meeting coming down the aisle, laptop in hand, holding it up and proclaiming that this was the new library. In fact, we're an essential place for people without Internet and even for those with, we end up becoming a sort of tech support. Yes, some basic questions like the capital of Singapore can be answered with a Google search, but how about a more complex research project or something specific to the history of the town? All that to say, I completely agree with you that we have been changing with the times :)

>154 msf59: Thanks, Mark! I'm hoping to finally get to my ALA haul in the coming months. I took a vacation week at the end of the month and I'm looking forward to taking some time to read and relax.

156bell7
Oct 14, 2019, 10:34am

88. Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
Why now? This month's book club choice, discussion on Wednesday

Solimar Valdez, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, becomes pregnant on her journey and makes a new life in America living with her cousin Silvia and working as a housekeeper. Kavya Reddy and her husband Rishi desperately want a child, but no matter what they try they have not been able to. Interweaving their two experiences, Lucky Boy puts a human face on the experiences of mothers and foster mothers in a challenging situation.

It's hard to say much about this book without feeling like I'm reducing it to something pat or easy. It's also almost impossible to say anything concrete about the story without giving spoilers, because the pacing at the beginning is so deliberate: a lot of story time is devoted to Soli's crossing the border and her 9 months of pregnancy; then time collapses a little bit and two years goes by quickly, with jumps of months at a time. Sekaran does a really good job of giving the reader differing immigrant experiences, both Soli's individual experience and that of the Latinx housekeepers that work for Silvia, and Kavya's as an Indian-American whose parents put a lot of pressure on her to be a "perfect" girl. There are no easy answers. Both Soli and Kavya are sympathetic, which makes for heartbreaking reading, because someone's going to get hurt regardless. A couple of times, I wondered if events panned out a certain way because the author just didn't know which direction to take the story, especially at the end. But while it's not a perfect book, there's certainly much fodder for discussion. 3.5 stars.

There are some things the author does very successfully and others that were less so. She had a few unnecessary similes in there, some of her writing wasn't quite my style. But she does a great job with her characters, making them flawed but relatable. The story is pretty depressing - the author's note indicates that the immigration and family law stuff refers primarily to how things were in 2012-13 and I'm sure it's only more difficult now. It's going to be interesting to see the turn the discussion takes, because it's going to be almost impossible *not* to have political comments with this one. I have several new people that joined last month that I'm not sure of their leanings, so I may have to bring side conversations back in to the discussion or mediate a bit more than usual. But there's a lot here we can discuss, and I think the author herself did a good job of asking questions without giving us pat answers, so I do think it will be a great discussion on Wednesday if we can keep it focused and respectful.

157bell7
Oct 14, 2019, 10:56am

Well, as you can tell from my lack of posting over the last week or so, it's been a busy week (and weekend). I had plans most days after work, including Tuesday when I get out at 8 - my uncle was up visiting from Florida, so I went up to an open mic night that he was playing at, and did get to see my brother and him on stage together, which was fun - I never quite caught up on sleep after that late night, either. Thursday night I went to the Giants-Patriots game with my brother R. (my brother G. and dad also went, in a separate car, and had a pair of seats in a different section); we had a good time getting dinner and watching the game, which was actually competitive for a half and thus surpassed my expectations. On Friday night after AWANA I went over to my parents' house, read for a bit in my book club book (they lost track of time after going to my brother's show that night and didn't get home for over an hour), and then my sister A's family arrived late. I stayed there 'til about midnight as they kids ran out their energy from being in the car 8+ hours and then went home.

Saturday was a full day, at my parents' early to visit, then took my Little up to a fall fest where we did run into family so I was able to introduce her to some of them. My nephew was busy throwing a ball up on a tent and having it roll back down to him, which was clearly going to keep him busy for awhile, so we said our goodbyes and spent our own time at the fair. After dropping her off, it was back to my parents' to hang out with family, get pizza, and watch some Bruins. Some of our extended family came out to visit a bit with A's family, which was fun but tiring. And then on Sunday, I had nursery and went to my parents' once more for lunch and to say goodbye to A's family. I came home after that, turned on some football and read my book club book, which I finished this morning.

And that's...my week in a nutshell. Things should calm down a little this week and next, and then I'll be off on vacation the week after that. I have a Tuesday morning massage and manicure booked, and the only other plan is to go to a Fiber Arts retreat up in Maine.

Knitting projects are just the sweater I've been working on (one arm, neck, and finishing to go), the Christmas stocking (finishing), a scarf for a mindless in-front-of-football project, and a pair of fingerless mitts to match a hat I finished several months ago.

In reading, I'm sort of listening to A Year Down Yonder before bed, but I've been listening to the same half hour for awhile. I had been listening to / reading Going Clear by Lawrence Wright and while I didn't hate it, I did stop because some of it was just all out weird and not conducive to putting me to sleep (though the narrator of the audio was a little monotone). I had started a few pages of The Ten Thousand Doors of January before having to put it down for Lucky Boy, and I'll probably just start it over this week.

Today's plan is to prep for Bible study, plan meals and do a grocery shopping. This week should be a little more back to my normal routine, though I am planning on going to the Boston Book Festival on Saturday. I'm off on Sunday.

158richardderus
Oct 14, 2019, 3:59pm

>157 bell7: That is one full week! And the Boston Book Festival to come sounds exhausting and fun at the same time.

Have a happy book club!

159bell7
Oct 15, 2019, 9:33am

>158 richardderus: Yeah, it was pretty intense. This week is much calmer in comparison, and I'm looking forward to getting back to a normal routine with some downtime instead of running steady. Now I'll be walking steady? lol

But the Boston Book Festival should be a blast, and I am looking forward to book club and local history programming this week.

160richardderus
Oct 15, 2019, 6:40pm

161katiekrug
Oct 15, 2019, 7:00pm

162richardderus
Oct 15, 2019, 7:22pm

>161 katiekrug: "I love the sound policy makes when I break it."

LOLOL

163bell7
Oct 15, 2019, 8:27pm

>160 richardderus:-162 Also LOVE

You should hear me get on rants about leveled reading that boil down to "can we please just let kids read whatever so they'll love reading and not make it a chore?" (I realize that "whatever" doesn't work for certain school assignments and that each parent is going to have different rules, but as far as what a kid takes out at the library...please, try a bunch, and if it doesn't work, stop reading and bring it back!)

164PaulCranswick
Oct 15, 2019, 8:56pm

>163 bell7: I was lucky at school in that I had several very able and understanding teachers. My reading level was off the charts at seven or eight years old and I could read pretty much what I liked as soon as I was in double figures.
My teacher allowed me to do additional english instead of art (which for some reason I hated) which was essentially me reading poetry with my teacher - I think she got a bit of a kick out of it too looking back - but Auden, Betjeman, Larkin, Yeats, Dylan Thomas and Eliot at 11 does seem a tad precocious thinking about it now.

My head teacher gave me free run at his personal library at the same age and I will be eternally grateful to both of them.

165bell7
Oct 16, 2019, 8:22am

>164 PaulCranswick: I was fortunate too - my parents were strict about some things and would often read books before I did when I was little, but that became less and less common as I grew older. I was grateful they never told me books were "too easy" so I was able to read and reread books in series I enjoyed for a long time, and I don't think they would've blinked if I was reading graphic novels (well, maybe the name, but once they understood what it was...) or told me to try a "harder" book. In high school I was a grade ahead in my English reading and my mom gave me a whole course on fantasy literature in 9th grade (I read most of the books over the summer and the only two I didn't get to, she hid in her room - I still maintain she should've just let me read them all and then found *more* books for me to read over the semester).

I do wish there was more free choice instead of pigeonholing kids into levels and "is this book hard enough for you?" I mean... James Patterson writes at a 4th-6th grade level depending on the book. Are we really requiring it to be hard for us to read? No, we want to read it for fun. My sister was so far ahead on the levels for school that she had a teacher tell her they were going to move her down at the beginning of next year "because there are so many good books in those levels you haven't read." I have a suspicion it was actually because it got harder to find books that were in her level and age-appropriate for grade 4, because there's no real incorporation of content in the levels they were using. And what about kids who are a "low" level but have a deep and abiding love for books on a particular subject, like dinosaurs? They can probably handle a much harder book than their "level" suggests because of subject interest, what they've previously read on the subject, and their own determination.

As you can see, I have strong feelings about this! Nothing makes me sadder than a kid who won't take a book out of the library because he or she can't find a book that's in the right level.

166bell7
Edited: Oct 16, 2019, 8:33am

89. A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
Why now? I wasn't making progress in the audio-before-bed I was listening to, so decided to revisit an old favorite.

Mary Alice has to go live with her Grandma Dowdel in a small town in Illinois because the Depression is hitting her family hard, with her father out of work and her parents temporarily moving to a place too small for her to stay with them. She starts off a bit appalled by life at her grandma's, without the amenities she's used to in Chicago, but grows to appreciate the town, its quirky people, and her relationship with her tough grandma.

This Newbery Medal winner is a sequel of sorts to Long Way from Chicago, but can be read as a standalone and was in fact one of the first books I read by Richard Peck. Where Long Way from Chicago was more a series of short stories from the summers Joey and Mary Alice stayed with Grandma Dowdel, and in fact focuses more on Joey, this one is Mary Alice looking back and remembering one year. I loved the humor and the character sketches readers get following a school year in 1937-38. Grandma Dowdel is a force of nature, and most people are afraid of her. But the relationship she has with Mary Alice grows strong, and I loved seeing how both of them changed in the course of the story. There's a lot of humor and hijinks that make for fun reading or listening. 4.5 stars.

This is one of my favorites. Richard Peck's books seem to work especially well in audio, and I can't wait to someday read it to niblings.

167jnwelch
Oct 16, 2019, 10:26am

Hi, Mary. I'm enjoying the book-reading discussion, and I'm all in favor of >160 richardderus:! We had some kind of weird reading comprehension levels system one year in elementary school (no doubt the brainchild of some "innovator"), but thank goodness it disappeared after one year and I don't remember that being an issue after that. A fond memory is we had a group of guys in 4th or 5th grade who loved science fiction, and we started writing our own book (you know, write down part of the story and then pass it to the next guy), and the teacher actually encouraged it, sending us out to a stair landing to do it so we could talk as necessary. Pretty cool. Wish I knew where it went!

168charl08
Oct 16, 2019, 5:39pm

Another fan of >160 richardderus: and the book reading discussion. I've recently discovered a scheme for adults who struggle to read (or who are learning to read in a new language) - they challenged best selling authors to write short, accessible books (but about interesting / gripping themes). It's that kind of variety that libraries make possible for readers, too.

I remember reading a lot of (I suspect, looking back, bowlderized) Greek myths in the top end of a level scheme when I was 10 or 11 which bored me to tears. Why they didn't just let me read what I liked, I couldn't understand! But the point about the schools not having enough content makes complete sense.
And I do think censorship of my reading had the opposite effect intended. My mum had a thing against books about witches - I loved practically every witch book I ever came across (especially The Worst Witch, with the lovely illustrations).

169bell7
Oct 20, 2019, 7:45pm

>167 jnwelch: Writing the story together sounds like fun! I'm so glad the teacher was encouraging and let you continue to work on it - many teachers really are excellent, so I certainly don't mean to harangue them when I complain about levels. Just the way it ends up affecting a child (or how the parents interpret it) when they start looking for a book to read...

>168 charl08: Charlotte, it is great to see some accessible adult fiction out there. My aunt is looking for some for her 16-year-old adopted daughter, so if you have any recommendations... Had to smile at your story about your mom not liking witch stories and your response. My mom wasn't sure about fantasy for some of my childhood, but by the time I discovered I loved it I was reading anything I liked. (She's not as strict as she once was, we've had excellent conversations about Harry Potter.)

170bell7
Edited: Oct 20, 2019, 8:02pm

Life continues to be busy enough that I'm not visiting threads still, so thanks to those commenting here and keeping me dipping my toe in to LT from time to time!

Yesterday was a really fun time at the Boston Book Fest. I left early in the morning and returned in time to go to bed. I had breakfast with Marianne (michigantrumpet), Caroline (cameling), and four friends of Marianne's (she knows everyone, y'all). Then I had some time to wander the booths on Copley Square. I went to see Tim O'Brien and got a copy of The Things They Carried signed for my brother. They'd run out of his new book, Dad's Maybe Book which I'm definitely going to have to check out soon. Then I went to lunch and a panel with three women writers reading from their new books with New England settings. I went on a walking tour of Back Bay which was a nice stretch of the legs in the late afternoon, and then I saw Elizabeth Strout interviewed by Andre Dubus III, which was delightful. He clearly read and loved her books, gushing as only a fellow writer can over a sentence here or a description there. She had some interesting things to say about her writing process, and now I want to reread Olive Kitteridge and check out her newest follow up (I couldn't get into The Burgess Boys at all, but I ended up loving Olive in large part due to the last story, though my memory of what actually happened is very fuzzy).

Then today was church and football. The Giants had a disappointing loss in a very winnable game against Arizona. My parents and my brother G. and his fiancee were at the game. I watched from home and got a lot of knitting done on a sweater - I'm more than halfway done the final sleeve, and then there's sewing it up and completing the neck left. I'd given myself the goal of finishing it before my friend's birthday in December, so I'm well on my way there.

I'll try to post some photos from Boston tomorrow - no promises, though!

I'm currently reading The Huntress by Kate Quinn and just started Behind the Lines by Andrew Carroll yesterday as well. Reading The Huntress on the T ride in was interesting, because it's set partly in Boston and there's an antique shop "on the corner of Clarendon and Newbury," an intersection I happened to walk through on the way back to the library after our literary walking tour.

171richardderus
Oct 20, 2019, 8:04pm

>170 bell7: Busy life indeed! Well spent busyness, but still tiring I'm sure.

Looking forward to photos! Happy new week.

172ronincats
Oct 20, 2019, 9:08pm

>170 bell7: Sounds like a very full and entertaining weekend, Mary!

173katiekrug
Oct 21, 2019, 8:30am

Ooh, I don't envy your family at that fame, Mary. Not just because they lost, but the weather was awful!

I'd like to try to get to the Boston Book Festival one year...

174MickyFine
Oct 21, 2019, 2:45pm

Book festival sounds fun and glad to hear that life is going well even if it continues to be busy.

175bell7
Oct 22, 2019, 9:52am

>171 richardderus: Argh, sorry no photos yet! Coming soon, honest...

>172 ronincats: Indeed it was, Roni! Thanks for stopping in :)

>173 katiekrug: No, I was rather glad I'd gone to the Patriots and skipped out on the crappy weather game. You should definitely come out to the Boston Book Festival! And maybe the National one too ;)

>174 MickyFine: Hi, Micky! Yep, life is good and busy. That seems to be my state this year - but I'll take it. I have a lot of vacation time accrued so I'm going to seriously look at taking a random day off here and there just to relax. We'll see if my good intentions pan out!

176bell7
Edited: Oct 22, 2019, 7:16pm

90. The Huntress by Kate Quinn
Why now? The author first came on my radar with the success of her book The Alice Network which I have yet to read - I'd downloaded the ARC of The Huntress last year and never got to it, then the book was given to me for my birthday by my brother and his gf (now fiancee). So it's double-duty as a Book Off the Shelf and working my way through those Kindle ARCs, moved up to *now* because the e-audio version I'd put on hold became available through my library's collection.

Jordan McBride, aspiring photojournalist, is a little suspicious of her father's new wife - she thinks, not just because she's sorry to give up being just her and her dad, that Anneliese may have Nazi connections but has no way to prove it. Meanwhile, Ian Graham and his team, Tony and wife Nina, are tracking down The Huntress (die Jagerin), a war criminal who needs to answer for her crimes.

To call this novel "The Huntress" may be a bit of a misnomer, as I thought from the beginning that it referred to die Jagerin, but came to the conclusion that it was really more about Nina Markova. Her backstory serving Russia in World War 2 and how she eventually met Ian makes the third strand in the narrative, and several characters discuss a desire to "hunt", whether for good or evil. Despite the multiple timelines and viewpoints, the story itself is fairly straightforward with few, if any surprises. I enjoy complex storylines and liked the way the three story's - Jordan's, Ian's and Nina's - came together in a satisfying way. Ian's absolute assurance of his own righteous "hunt" was a bit grating, and I wished die Jagerin wasn't such an enigma (why did she do what she did? What was her war experience?), but it was a compelling read and I learned about an aspect of World War 2 I hadn't known before. 3.5 stars.

177bell7
Edited: Oct 22, 2019, 7:17pm

DNF - Behind the Lines.

I had heard Andrew Carroll speak at an ALA genealogy preconference and his project to collect letters from war sounded fascinating. The book was... okay, but I got a few hours in and realized it would feel like more of a slog to get through it all than something I was genuinely enjoying. Moving on.

178bell7
Oct 22, 2019, 7:46pm

Currently reading -

I started Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt on Saturday on my way to the Boston Book Festival. Ally Nickerson has reached 7th grade without anyone realizing just how dumb she is - and how hard school is when the letters she attempts to read dance along the page and gives her a headache. She's the bane of the administration until a new teacher comes along who doesn't see her - or some of the other kids in her class - as trouble. Mostly listening to this one, on the last CD. A little too angst-ridden for me personally, but I can see how it would be super important to a lot of kids (and the author has some personal experience with it too),

In looking around for a new audio-before-bed, I started The Inquisitor's Tale last night. I also started reading the e-book on the treadmill this morning and got about a fourth of the way in. Sort of a Canterbury Tales style story so far that I'm not sure will appeal to kids or drive them nuts 'cause they don't get the reference?

179bell7
Oct 23, 2019, 9:20pm

91. Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Why now? I needed an audio to listen to on a long drive, so picked it up at the library last week. I enjoyed One for the Murphys by this author, and I knew our teen librarian really liked this one as well.

Ally Nickerson knows she's just dumb, and she's managed to get by in school up 'til now by causing a little bit of trouble when it's time to write in class. She can't read - the letters dance along the page and give her headaches. And getting bullied by the popular girl, Shay, doesn't help. But when a new teacher, Mr. Daniels, starts teaching and Ally begins making friends, her attitude starts to turn around.

This was a really well-done story featuring a main character with dyslexia by an author who experienced it herself. Adults will probably have no trouble diagnosing Ally's school trouble from the start. This made the beginning for me a little less enjoyable, but I think this was in part because listening to it rather than reading it made me spend a little more time in the part where Ally was really down on herself than I would have if I was just reading at my normal speed. I enjoyed the well-drawn characters in Ally's classroom, including her friends Albert and Keisha; even the mean girl had a little more of a back story hinted at. An affirming story I will be recommending to upper elementary-age kids who like Wonder. 4 stars.

180richardderus
Oct 23, 2019, 9:27pm

Permaybehaps it's time for a dose of Cajun-sister-fiction? I liked Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears...might could be you would, too. *smooch*

181bell7
Oct 26, 2019, 10:20am

>180 richardderus: Thanks for the recommendation, Richard, I will definitely look it up!

182bell7
Oct 26, 2019, 10:24am

I have finished two more books (including one graphic novel), finished that stocking and...while I don't have time to post all my pictures, I have laid the groundwork for doing so by uploading them to my member gallery junk drawer.

Today I'm getting together with my Little and then meeting friends for a bit afterwards. I have to leave pretty soon (thus no photos nor reviews), but after work tomorrow I have a week off and am looking forward to catching up on home projects and LT before heading off on a Fiber Arts retreat next weekend.

183richardderus
Oct 26, 2019, 10:36am

Happy weekend busyness!

184bell7
Oct 26, 2019, 6:28pm

>183 richardderus: Thanks, Richard! So far, so good :)

185bell7
Oct 26, 2019, 6:32pm

Here's a bit of the stocking I worked on, first all knit up but no finishing:



Santa all finished up:



and the moon on the front:



I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and I'll be shipping it out to my cousin soon. It's a surprise for her - I've only told her sister I was working on it, but hadn't shown them photos while in progress. The baby was born on Sunday, so it'll be a nice welcome-baby gift well in time for Christmas.

186bell7
Oct 26, 2019, 6:46pm

Here's a bit from the Boston Book Festival. After breakfast, I had nowhere I wanted to immediate go so I took a look around the booths on Copley Square:



I went down the street from the library to a church where Tim O'Brien presented:



This was probably my favorite talk of the day. The moderator was okay, he clearly enjoyed O'Brien's work and seemed a little star-struck and having a hard time actually asking questions with a point. But Tim O'Brien did a fabulous job answering both questions from the moderator and the audience with sometimes humorous and sometimes poignant stories. He has a new book out, Dad's Maybe Book, that I'm definitely going to have to read at some point. The only book I bought ended up being The Things They Carried and I got it signed to give to my brother for his birthday. I was going to buy the new book, but they'd run out.



Here are Carla Neggers, Lisa Duffy and Randy Susan Meyers. This was called "Great (New) England Reads" and was probably my least favorite, as each of the three (and I'd never read any of their books) read a selection from their newest work. Though I did decide I might try a book by Carla Neggers at some point, and it was nice to sit at the Newsfeed Cafe and enjoy my lunch while they read. After that I took a literary walking tour of Boston's Back Bay, which was fun. I took one or two pictures on the way and liked the chance to stretch my legs in the middle of the day.



Probably the biggest crowd I was a part of was for Elizabeth Strout, interviewed by Andre Dubus III - I've read one book each of theirs, so that was fun!



Here they are. This was really enjoyable, too, and I do want to read Olive, Again but I need to reread Olive Kitteridge first. Andre Dubus III really admired Elizabeth Strout, too, even picking out particular sentences that he thought were perfect writing, and that was kind of neat to see his unabashed admiration. He was also really good at asking clear questions, which made their back and forth fun. I was up on the side in the balcony, though, and I had a little bit of a hard time hearing.

We met up for dinner afterwards at Tico Boston which had some nice small plates and Mexican food. We each selected a few and shared, which was a great way to try a lot of different yummy foods. It was fun hearing about what other people did because there was absolutely no way to get to everything I would've been interested in. I would definitely go again. It's one of those hectic, full-of-people days though so I'm not sure I'd want to do it *every* time. I think next time I go I'll see if my brother's fiancee wants to come along too (she would've this year but was working).

187bell7
Oct 26, 2019, 7:01pm

There! I have promised pictures and delivered - now to catch up on reviews!

92. The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz
Why now? It's been on my list as a Newbery Honor for a couple of years. I was looking for audios to listen to on the way to Boston - this was choice #2 and since I went with Fish in a Tree, I ended up reading this afterwards, primarily by e-book on the treadmill and book (it has delightful illustrations!)

A man goes to a pub and starts asking the clientele what they know about three children and a dog, potential saints and now outlaws. Each chapter is different folk's telling of the story - a nun, a jongleur, and more.

Set in the Middle Ages and told in a similar style to the Canterbury Tales, The Inquisitor's Tale is the kind of story I started out wondering if it wasn't just a little too clever for it's own good, but it won me over in the end. I think I would've liked it even more as a kid, if a parent was reading it aloud to me and I could follow the illustrations peeking over their shoulder. It takes a little while to get going, telling the separate stories of the three children and how they came together, and it's very episodic though the chapters tend to end on cliffhangers at the same time. I thought I had the narrator pegged at a certain point and was delighted when I was wrong. The author's note at the end gave some fascinating information about what was fact and what was fiction and where on earth he got ideas for various aspects of the story. 4 stars.

93. No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant
Why now I saw them present at ALA in a panel on graphic novels in libraries so I've been wanting to read this one and finally just brought it home to read it over this weekend.

When Hazel was a homeschooled high schooler, they joined a "No Ivy" League for a summer job cleaning invasive ivy off trees in a local park. They writes this graphic novel memoir looking back at a more naive self and what they learned that summer working with a diverse group of people. Black and white watercolor and ink illustrations and an honest expression of what they learned over the summer - working with people they hadn't known before and struggling to fit in, as well as coming to terms with why they were homeschooled - this is an insightful expression of one person's experience that many high schoolers will relate to. 4 stars.

188bell7
Oct 26, 2019, 7:11pm

*dusts of hands*

There, I'm now totally caught up on my own thread :D

Today was a blast first at Yankee Candle then catching up with some friends. I'm working tomorrow after church, so that will be a busy work day but then I'm off for the rest of the week. I don't think that will kick in until Tuesday morning, where I've booked a morning full of pampering with a massage and a manicure. I have a few projects at home I want to catch up on a bit - cleaning, one more knitting project, and I'd like to start organizing my genealogy papers so I have a clear idea on what I have proved and what I need to re-do when I'm ready to get serious and research right. That'll take me a lifetime, really, but I'd like to begin in with binders for different families with what I've found on them so far - mostly on my paternal side, as my grandma did a lot with my maternal side that I've inherited from her and that's going to take a *ton* of time to work through on its own.

I've now just started The Ten Thousand Doors of January and I am hoping to read They Called Us Enemy before I leave on Thursday as well.

189ronincats
Oct 26, 2019, 10:11pm

Enjoy your time off, Mary!!

190richardderus
Oct 26, 2019, 10:54pm

Happy happy, joy joy, at a week off!! Have a great read.

191charl08
Oct 27, 2019, 4:43am

Lovely photos Mary - what an amazing venue for a book event. The ones I've been tend to be in tents. Usually ok but the last one was super windy and I wondered if we were all going to be blown away.

Great to hear Elizabeth Strout getting some love, too. I thought Olive Again was a perfect sequel. Hard to do.

And the knitting looks wonderful. So clever!

192msf59
Oct 27, 2019, 7:42am

Happy Sunday, Mary. The Boston Book Festival looks fantastic. I will have to attend, one of these years. Hooray for hearing Elizabeth Strout. I have been lucky enough to see her a couple of times. I have Olive, Again waiting patiently in the wings. I should get to it next week.

193bell7
Oct 27, 2019, 5:29pm

>189 ronincats: Thanks, Roni!

>190 richardderus: YES! Unfortunately I left my phone there today so I'll schlepp down tomorrow to get it. Oops.

>191 charl08: Thanks, Charlotte - it was a good time! Outdoor venues can be fabulous too, but definitely more prone to weather issues ;) It's been so long since I read Olive Kitteridge that really I have only a few impressions of it in my memory and that I found the last story pitch perfect, but very little of the actual story has stayed with me. I would want to do a reread before attempting Olive, Again, but I'm glad to hear it holds up well as a sequel!

>192 msf59: Happy Sunday to you too, Mark! Definitely let me know when you get a chance to attend, and Marianne too of course, as she coordinated all the meals :) I very much enjoyed hearing Elizabeth Strout, and her comments about how fascinating ordinary lives are stayed with me.

194bell7
Oct 27, 2019, 5:33pm

Well hooray for vacation week that starts...now! I left my phone at work today (BOO) so while I'm fine without it tonight, I'm going to get it tomorrow. I'll have to figure out some other errands so I'm not *just* going down the mountain to pick up my phone. Maybe I can watch a movie or read a graphic novel to return? We'll see...

I have Bible study tomorrow as per usual, and have booked a massage and a manicure for Tuesday morning. What will be especially nice is not working Tuesday night. I'd say I'm not going to know what to do with myself, but that's not at all true. I need to clean my apartment, have a knitting project or two I want to finish *before* the retreat, and of course plenty of books to read! I'm looking forward to having a few days to just relax at home guilt-free and do whatever I might feel like doing that day instead of feeling like I must get stuff done to be prepared for the work week.

195bell7
Oct 27, 2019, 8:16pm

94. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
Why now? It's been on my list since I first heard about it at ALA; picked it up now because I was in the mood for some quick reads, and knew I'd get a chance to read a couple of graphic novels this weekend.

This graphic novel memoir of Takei's memories spending a couple of years in internment camps during World War 2 hardly needs introduction, as it's had a lot of press and several people here on LT singing it's praises. Well, I'll add my voice to that. The story is, I think, surprisingly complex. This are his childhood memories, and he admits at one point that as horrible as some of these memories are, he actually has a memory of joyfulness in some of it too. And yet, some of what happens is terrible and traumatic. Not only that, but he explores remembered conversations between him and his dad about the internment camps and the importance of being involved in government, with a complicated but mostly optimistic view of the American government. Readers can see how much that time in the internment camp affected Takei and the way in which it's impacted his attitudes and political involvement. A challenging read, and I highly recommend it. 4.5 stars.

196Whisper1
Oct 27, 2019, 8:34pm

>179 bell7: Hi Mary. I am a big fan of the writings of Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

I'm visiting a few threads today. I haven't been as active as I would like to be.

All good wishes

197MickyFine
Oct 28, 2019, 12:33pm

Enjoy your week off, Mary!

198richardderus
Oct 28, 2019, 12:39pm

>195 bell7: Oh yay! Another good review. I loved that story, and the artwork was pitch-perfect.

199bell7
Oct 28, 2019, 1:10pm

>196 Whisper1: Thanks for stopping by, Linda! I continue to think of you often and send you good wishes as well.

>197 MickyFine: Thanks, Micky! Today is the day I normally get off for working Sundays, so tomorrow is when it will really start to feel like vacation. I did get off to a good start, though, by finishing a book :D

>198 richardderus: I thought it was superbly done, Richard. Not surprised it would be one of the few graphic novels you'd give eye blinks to ;)

200bell7
Oct 28, 2019, 1:27pm

95. The Reading Life by C.S. Lewis
Why now? It's one of the e-book ARCs sitting on my Kindle and I started reading it a few mornings ago when I had a few minutes to lay in bed. I can't say no to a good book about books.

*E-ARC received from Edelweiss/Above the Treeline in exchange for an honest review. No money or other goods were exchanged, and all views are my own.*

This short book includes excerpts of C.S. Lewis's thoughts on reading from his various published works, letters, and introductions.

Collections like this one, that draw on an author's writing on a subject and necessarily, in some cases, divorce a thought from its larger context can be hard to pull off well. The Reading Life by C.S. Lewis, however, does it well and in some cases brings passages that came from different published works but were about a similar topic (such as George MacDonald's Phantastes) together to even give the reader a fuller understanding of Lewis's thoughts on certain subjects or books. I spent a delightful couple of hours reading through and discovering which authors Lewis loved and which he never would, his reviews of Tolkien's books, and more. Recommended for fans of C.S. Lewis and bibliophiles alike - my only complaint is I wanted it to go on longer. 5 stars.

*happy sigh*